Fire

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When Rosh Hashanah came around, I knew we were headed into a year of revelation. Of what, I wasn’t sure. But I knew…

And sure enough, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, it began.

You can say it began a long time ago; it’s true, it did. But this was the beginning of 778 terror attacks from Rosh Hashanah until now.

And after last week’s attacks on the father and his son, and today’s separate terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion, I feel emotionally exhausted.

I wanted to write out of passionate fury but my passion has weakened and my emotions are frayed. This is too much, too much for one nation, let alone multiple families and friends, to bear.

Our voices are hoarse from screaming to be heard, our eyes are red from the endless tears we have shed for centuries – for this land, this home we have been yearning for, and for our people, who have died to give us this precious homeland. These forces which seek to vanquish us, those who state that our heritage and our claim are illegitimate – they are fighting tooth and nail to deprive us of what rightfully is, has been, and always will be, ours.

But those who have died – whether intentionally in the name of the Jewish people, Israel, and God, or unintentionally – have not died in vain. Though our limbs may be fatigued and though our hearts sit heavy, we will march forward into that bleak, desperate future. We will shuffle forward despite the putrid black smoke ahead. We will stop to weep beside the rivers of Babylon and we will swear to remember Jerusalem always. And we will run like no one has ever run to the light which we see just at the horizon, the faint, elusive promise of what will certainly be but is not yet. And despite those who wish to destroy us, whether by word or by deed, we will prevail because that is the beauty of our existence.

Our fire is an eternal flame.

We will prevail.

Am Yisrael chai.

Fire

Paris

In light of the Paris terror attacks, I would like to point out a few hypocrisies.

While Israel has been facing terror attacks for nearly two months, nobody bats an eye. Obama (and his administration), possibly the worst president in the history of the United States, though a good representative of popular opinion, blames both sides, equating the Israelis to the Palestinians, believing both are capable of acts of terrorism (so these attacks on innocent civilians are justified, because both Israelis and Palestinians have been involved in terrorist acts…?).

On the other hand, the Paris terror attacks, perpetrated by people whom he does not even wish to think about or label (Muslim terrorists, are you surprised?), are unequivocally branded by Obama as “an attack on all humanity” and an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”

The world reaches out in support of France, posting pictures of an Eiffel tower peace sign, writing about how terrible and awful that innocent civilians are being gunned down by people who are most certainly terrorists and have no justification whatsoever.

What if I turned it around, and said that both sides – the French and the Muslim terrorists – were equally responsible? What if Obama called on both parties to stop inciting violence? What if he did not condemn the terrorism very strongly, instead hinting that in some way, these attacks are justified?

I think there would be a mutiny on his hands if he ever said anything like that about almost any country – except Israel.

Israel has been suffering from terror attacks almost daily for two months – and probably many more that are either prevented or go unreported – and these include stabbings, shootings, firebombing, and rock throwing, to name a few. But there is no mass swelling of support for Israel. Because in the sick, twisted mind of popular and public opinion, the attacks on Israelis are justified.

While Israel has certainly been very lucky, and has avoided mass casualties, that is due to a combination of the Divine, ordinary but vigilant citizens who have become accustomed to a lifetime of terrorism, and the Israel Defense Forces. Perhaps if there was a confluence of all the attacks of the Stabbing Intifada on a one or two day period, the world would reach out in support of Israel and condemn the terrorism. It’s unlikely, but possible. However, I think the more likely scenario, the one which is already taking place, is either total silence or uproar against the killing of Palestinians during this time period. Meanwhile, these same people who say nothing or scream their support for Palestine even when innocent civilians are targeted, weep over the tragedy in France. These same people look on in shock and anger at the Paris attacks without so much as blinking at a headline about Israel’s Stabbing Intifada.

Here we are, well into November, and the State of Israel has been suffering from attacks for nearly two months. Where is the outcry against this?

So before you post your Eiffel tower, and before you weep about the civilians in Paris, ask yourself – are you truly concerned about the innocent lives which have been lost? Or are you operating out of an agenda, perhaps subconsciously, believing at heart that some lives are more significant than others? Do you believe that the French are completely innocent, while the Israelis deserve to have chaos and terror wreaked upon them? Will you plainly label this as terrorism, perhaps even go so far as to say that radical Islam is to blame, but simultaneously call for justice for the Palestinians?

“Only crime and the criminal…confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to core.” Hannah Arendt

UPDATE: As it turns out this, this was more strongly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict than I had previously realized. The Bataclan Club was specifically targeted due to Jewish owners and a history of having Pro-Israel events.

Paris

Rage

For quite a long time now, I’ve felt a wild fury growing in me. I’m not proud of it. I don’t live for anger. And yes, I know it’s unhealthy. But this anger is burning with such insistence that I cannot simply fold it up and put it away neatly into a little shelf in the corner. If, at the very least, my anger was directed at something that was not such a hot topic, I could let it go. If, at the very least, people who knew nothing on the subject kept their mouths shut, I could let it slide.

But even the world’s most supreme morons have something to say on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When I read the news, and the headlines blare: “Palestinian X shot after XYZ,” I feel that rage simmering beneath my skin (did you not hear the part where Palestinian X was throwing firebombs at cars?). When I hear about Pro-Israel students and professors on college campuses throughout the USA being silenced and drowned out by the outcry against them, that wrath jumbles my thoughts and all I want to do is scream wordlessly at those warmongering savages who won’t come out directly and say that they wish for the end of the State of Israel, by any means necessary.

Yet despite their illogical approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I know that it is important, despite my anger, to combat such insanity with facts, logic, and truth. I don’t delude myself into thinking that the majority of people actually listen. The majority is a mob, moving and acting only with the crowd, rejecting reason and favoring impulse. Take each person by him or herself and you will find that they are much more open and rational-minded than they would be in a group.

So I say this to each and every individual person: for God’s sake, or for Truth’s sake, or for whomever’s sake you wish: if you have an opinion, fine. But why are you so desperately trying to drown out the other opinion?

Why do you refuse to listen to facts? Or reason?

Why do you perpetuate the cycle of violence and hatred, instead of seeking to educate yourself and others?

Why do you allow yourself to be manipulated by age-old propaganda that has been recycled over and over again in order to effect the kind of change which in retrospect you will probably regret to have supported?

As the familiar catchphrase goes, “You are part of the problem.”

Rage

Truth

I believe that human nature gravitates to the truth by default. However, there are many ways that truth can be clouded and warped, particularly when popular opinion and truth no longer align. Mankind’s nature might be to gravitate to truth, but it simultaneously runs from it. It’s paradoxical, but so is human nature.

But I think it’s high time for the world to learn some objective truth. No good ever came from running from it. The same is true regarding the conflict in Israel.  Despite my small, insignificant voice, which is likely lost in a sea of many loud and vitriolic voices, I feel that it is important to present some basic facts which even purported intellectuals fail to mention.

For brevity’s sake, I will focus primarily on one Pro-Palestine argument I constantly hear:

“Palestine is occupied.”

In order to fully comprehend present-day conflicts, one must always look to history for guidance and explanation. There is no isolated incident in the grand scheme of things; there is a definite pattern and backstory for each and every event. The same is true of the modern day conflict in Israel. So, let me address this point. To do that, I want to take the word Palestine and examine it closely.

This tiny piece of land has certainly changed hands throughout history, but for centuries it was recognized as Judea, or the Kingdom of Judah, until Emperor Hadrian called it Palestine for a short time:

“…before 135 A.D., the Romans used the terms Judea and Galilee to refer to the Land of Israel.

…”It was not until the Romans crushed the second Jewish revolt against Rome in 135 A.D. under Bar Kochba that Emperor Hadrian applied the term Palestine to the Land of Israel. Hadrian, like many dictators since his time realized the propaganda power of terms and symbols. He replaced the shrines of the Jewish Temple and the Sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem with temples to pagan deities. He changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitalina, and changed the name of Israel and Judea to Palestine. Hadrian’s selection of Palestine was purposeful, not accidental. He took the name of the ancient enemies of Israel, the Philistines, Latinized it to Palestine, and applied it to the Land of Israel. He hoped to erase the name Israel from all memory. Thus, the term Palestine as applied to the Land of Israel was invented by the inveterate enemy of the Bible and the Jewish people, Emperor Hadrian.”

Thomas S. McCall, Th.D.

Palestine was also the name of this region under the British Mandate, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. It was only sometimes referred to as Palestine under the Ottoman Empire, and was more commonly viewed as “Southern Syria.”* After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, had you asked almost anyone – Jew or non-Jew – what Palestine referred to, you’d get one of two answers:

“The region of land under British rule” or “The Holy Land (Israel).”

And when the Zionist movement was really flourishing in the early 1900s-1930s, you would exclusively hear the word “Palestine” as an allusion to Israel. The word did not connote a land belonging to Arabs, like the modern usage of the name implies. It was the name of the land under British rule, and more popularly recognized as Israel, the land of the Jews, the Promised Land. The name Palestine as we know it today was invented as part of a ploy to uphold grievances against the Jewish people, and the people who are now called “Palestinians” are largely Egyptian and Saudi.

“In March 1977, Zahir Muhsein, an executive member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said in an interview to the Dutch newspaper Trouw: ‘The ‘Palestinian people’ does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel.’”

While some modern “Palestinian” Arabs do indeed have ancestral roots in the land, the majority of them moved to Israel from surrounding countries at the encouragement of various Arab leaders to undermine the creation of the State of Israel. The Jewish people, on the other hand, despite many exiles, have maintained a consistent presence in the land since the 2nd millennium BCE. A census of Jerusalem in 1844** found that Jews constituted the majority at 45.9% of the population. There had, of course, been waves of immigration – particularly from eastern Europe and Russia – prior to this date. However, the sustained presence of Jews in the region has been well-documented for over 3,000 years. How can a land be occupied by its own natives, or descendants of natives?

Furthermore, the international community recognized and accepted the creation of the State of Israel – in 1917, with the Balfour Declaration; in 1922, with the League of Nations Mandate of 1922; and in 1947, with the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which recommended the establishment of two separate states. The UN Partition Plan of 1947 recognized both a Jewish state and an Arab state (see photo below). The Jewish side accepted; the Arab side did not.

UN Partition Plan 1947
The blue region is the Jewish State; the pink region is the Arab State.

So let’s reconsider that idea again: is “Palestine” an occupied territory? First of all, the name “Palestine” as we know it today is purely modern and has no historical precedence. Let’s rephrase it: Is the land on which the Palestinians live occupied? But wait, who are the Palestinians? They’re mostly Egyptian and Saudi. Do you mean Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Nevermind, moving on to the next part. Is this region occupied? Well, how can it be? That is a statement working under the assumption that there is a native population being subjugated by a higher power who are defying rule of law and have taken over. The first problem: Jewish people are native to this region, some directly and some indirectly. The second problem: the Jewish people have already appealed (more than once – and have been approved, more than once) to the international community for a Jewish state. An occupier does not ask for permission to occupy. The third problem: Israel has repeatedly accepted smaller land portions, only to be thrown into battle, followed by an expansion of territory and ceding of said territory in the name of peace.

You see, the real conflict in Israel is not that we are “occupiers” and that Palestine must be liberated from us. The real conflict is that despite many attempts at a two-state solution before and since the creation of the State of Israel, Arab leaders have again and again rejected peace treaties, instead calling for the complete annihilation of the Jewish State.

For those of you who are Pro-Palestine, I understand the sympathy for the “Palestinians” (or rather, Arabs living either under the Palestinian Authority or the State of Israel). Many of them are caught in the throes of war and terrorism. But so are the Israelis, and to make a statement such as, “Palestine is occupied” or “Free Palestine,” I ask you: who is occupying them? From whom do they need to be freed? Do they need to be freed from us, the Israelis? Or do they need to be freed from the violence and manipulation of terrorist organizations and deceitful, radical Arab leaders?

This conflict, like any in the history of the world, is not simple. It is not cut and dried.

So before you answer, think. And before you judge, learn.


* Please note that I am not dismissing the historical origin of the word Palestine, which is derived from the Biblical word Philistine, and has no correlation to the modern usage of the word. The original Philistines were of Greek origin, and have nothing to do with Arabs.

**I found this census elsewhere, but could not relocate it, so I had to use Wikipedia, which I never use as a primary source.

Truth

Pigua

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Pigua, or פגוע, is the Hebrew word for terror attack. We all hope we never have to use this word, but the reality of the past few weeks has resulted in its too-frequent usage. The word itself evokes a sense of dread, and then the attack itself must be contended with.

I remember reading stories of people who witnessed 9/11 from surrounding areas, as well as the testimonies of those in the thick of it. There’s a sense of awe – can this really be happening? – and then all you can do is weep, until the tears are spent and then you’re left with the thoughts of either people you know or the victims and their families.

Now I wasn’t here in Israel for the Second Intifada, and while I’m not sure that this is officially the Third Intifada, I do know that this is very, very bad, even by Israel’s standards. I have heard the word “pigua” volleyed back and forth most days of the week, I have seen the looks on fellow public transport passengers’ faces when Arabs board, I have felt the transformative effect of fear on all of us. We do not normally look at Arabs this way, and we do not normally check twice over our shoulders, but current circumstances necessitate it. There is a fear lingering in the atmosphere that cannot be so easily dismissed – people die everyday in car accidents, right? Is there really a difference, when you can lose your life in an instant?

The difference is that someone is forcibly trying to take your life from you. The difference is that you don’t spend every single day worrying about being in a car accident, but you do worry that the man who is walking behind you, looking angry, might pull out a knife and stab you. The difference is that you weep when you get home, with both relief that you successfully avoided death, and sorrow at the attacks.

Last week was disturbing and upsetting due to my proximity to several terror attacks; first, the attack at Ammunition Hill by a male and female Arab; second, the attack in Pisgat Ze’ev by 13 and 15 year old Arabs; third, the multiple attacks on Tuesday, October 13 in Armon Hanetziv and the City Center. The first and second terror attacks were closer to me than the third; I had been in Ammunition Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev within minutes of the attacks. Tuesday’s attacks were further away, but nothing in Jerusalem is very far. After Tuesday’s attacks, I had my first experience calling friends who lived in Armon Hanetziv to make sure they were alright (thank God, they were).

My normal schedule is as follows: wake up around 6 AM, leave around 7:30 for Jerusalem’s City Center, and have class from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM. Most days I return directly home, usually arriving by 2 PM. Today, I just so happened to have an appointment, after which I ran some errands – all in all, not an extraordinary day, but an average one in an adult’s life.

My timing couldn’t have been more uncanny. After getting onto an uncomfortably crowded bus, we are stopped on the road right near my yishuv (Hebrew word for settlement) in the Shomron (“West Bank”). Suddenly I hear the word “pigua” over and over again. Really? Another attack? My mind is racing. Then the messages and calls start. “Are you okay?” “I heard there was an attack right near where you live.” I quickly check online to see the news: a female IDF soldier was stabbed in the neck by a terrorist who may be wearing a bomb vest. The bomb disposal unit is on its way. Meanwhile, the highway is blocked off and we are sitting on the roundabout with a growing number of cars and busses. The sound of honking, chattering, and yelling fill the air. My Hebrew is decent, but I can’t make sense of all the chaos.

We’ve become almost numb to the invasion of emotions which might normally rattle a person. Instead of crying, or screaming, or panicking, we do our best to fill the space with words. We all call or answer the calls of family members and friends, struggling to piece information together. Whatever known details of the story are repeated over and over. I put my thoughts on mute as I watch the policemen and soldiers hopping out of cars a few meters away. I sit. I wait.

Finally, we are moving – rerouted through a road that is normally blocked off. We drive uphill. Make a turn. Pass an Arab village. I see the yishuv to my right. A sigh of relief escapes me. The bus makes its stops as normal. It’s almost as if nothing happened – but we’re all looking at each other. Kids are huddling together as they walk to their houses. All I can think of is getting to the safety and comfort of my home.

As soon as the bus reaches my stop, I’m racing out the door and heading home. I reach my front door. Unlock it and open it. Everything is normal here, thank God. I unload my backpack and take this moment to sit down – and to process.

But can I really process this? I have too many different feelings. I am livid and full of sorrow, knowing that this took place right near my home. I am unsettled, disturbed, and yet at ease to be home, and thankful that I am alive. Any one of these attacks could have happened to me. And all of these attacks have been close to home – but this one was too close.

May we never hear the word pigua again.

Pigua

Propaganda

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” –Adolf Hitler

Yesterday, after I posted my thoughts on the current situation in Israel, I received a lot of positive feedback. Additionally, I received one comment which claimed that I was generalizing all Palestinians as terrorists, and “promoting war on an entire ethnic group.”

I was not shocked by this reaction, but it inspired me to ask one of my best friends, a Muslim who shares the same concern for humanity that I do, if I had not been specific enough in my article, and if she interpreted my words to mean that I viewed all Palestinians as terrorists and wished to wage war on all of them. She said that it was abundantly clear to her that I was not accusing all Palestinians of being terrorists, nor was I warmongering, but that it was very explicitly directed at terrorists.

That’s right – TERRORISTS. Not Palestinians as a whole. Not just any Arab person passing by on the street. I took pains to ensure that my post would not be construed as a cry against all Palestinians, but I suspect that this reaction arose due to this commenter’s failure to fully read the article. Anyone who has studied high school English will understand the difference between a sweeping generalization and a commentary on a very specific group of people.

This commenter’s response, however, is merely representative of a very popular opinion right now. That is, that Israel desires the death and destruction of all Palestinian people, which is a patently ridiculous and simultaneously evil statement.

Take, for example, this quote from the Facebook page of US Uncut:

“After Israeli soldiers shot a 13-year-old protester and left him gasping for air on the pavement without medical aid, an Israeli settler filmed himself yelling at the injured boy: ‘Die you son of a bitch! Die now!’ Ahmad Saleh Elmahania died this morning, the 30th Palestinian killed in recent weeks. At this moment, 20,000 Palestinians are peacefully marching to demand an end to violence.”

I have not seen the video, and so I cannot verify that a “settler” yelled this, but either way, I believe it is inappropriate to say something of that nature to a dying person, no matter what the circumstances. Otherwise, this supposed news site offers a nearly complete fabrication of the events. Minutes after I left Pisgat Ze’ev the other day, I heard the story of the 13 and 15 year old Arabs who went on a stabbing spree, and nearly killed a 13 year old Israeli Jewish child and a 25 year old Israeli Jewish man. After the terrorists attacked innocent bystanders, they ran toward police officers, who shot at them in self-defense (you can watch the video here). There was no such protest, peaceful or not, going on in Pisgat Ze’ev, and if they were referring to the protest in GAZA, many miles southwest of Pisgat Ze’ev, that was not peaceful by any stretch of the imagination. (UPDATE: Footage was released yesterday of Ahmed Mansara, not Elhmahania, who is alive and well, recovering in an Israeli hospital).

To falsely accuse a single person, let alone an entire country, of such despicable intent, while unashamedly ignoring substantial evidence to the contrary, is tantamount to the kind of willful and sadistic criminal action which they claim to witness in the nation and people of Israel. This puts media outlets such as these, who pretend to respect the field of journalism and decry dishonesty, with the likes of Joseph Goebbel’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. The degenerate liars who spout the kind of hatred one rarely sees in Israel feed the empty-headed sheep stories of the evil nation called Israel, which is not a diverse and eclectic country filled with thinking and feeling humans, but a totalitarian machine which, as a whole, wishes for nothing more than to stomp out their unwelcome native population. And these sheep, who are eager to hop onto any and all bandwagons which will increase their standing with their equally thoughtless peers, bound onto the anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic bandwagon and recklessly refuse to listen to reason, facts, or truth. Yet, despite all of their classically Nazi Era practices and notions, they lambaste Israel – who is perhaps the most humane nation on earth – of running the country with the same kind of Nazism that they themselves fundamentally embrace.

This has been the goal of many leaders of Arab nations for years, and these radicalists were particularly inspired by the works and accomplishments of Adolf Hitler – including, notably, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The modern day perspective of Israel is drawn directly from those sources, who created a false story about the Israeli Jewish occupier, and told it to the world. These falsifiers are driving toward one goal and one goal alone: to destroy Israel at whatever cost, and to incite violence against innocent Jewish people throughout the world. To do this, they took Hitler’s words to heart: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it…”

And guess what? They believe it.

Propaganda

Dear leaders,

creation-of-israel-speech-1948

It’s been nearly two weeks since this current mess began, and these disgusting attacks never fail to leave lasting damage on people, both physically and emotionally. I should clarify: only the people who are directly involved or emotionally invested in the future of the State of Israel seem to take issue with what’s going on. The outside world remains silent, only to pipe up with cries of, “Palestinians dead after air strike” and “Palestinian teen shot dead by IDF.” This is not a surprising reaction, given the current popular opinion of Israel. Yet it is infuriating to think that much of the world is in blatant denial of the facts.

There are too many who, even in the face of reality, continue unabashedly condemning Israel for its “aggression” and “failure” to achieve peace. So why on earth are the leaders of Israel still desperately trying to please the arrogant fools of the world? It makes no difference whether we lie down and freely allow the terrorists to murder us, or stand up and destroy them. To the world, we are occupying the land, stealing from our Arab neighbors, murdering innocent Palestinians. So I ask you, leaders of Israel, especially Netanyahu: Why do you let the world’s opinion of us dictate how we act?

Israel was created as a Jewish state, a haven for any and all Jews who wished to be free of persecution, for Jews who wished to finally live out the centuries-long wish of living in the Promised Land. And here we have been under attack – in our own land. No matter what some members of the population might think, we are not America. We do not separate church (or synagogue) and state. We are a Jewish State. And as such we have the obligation to the Jewish people of the State of Israel. Yes, our faith is a very humanitarian one. Yes, we do not want to neglect the other non-Jewish members of this state. But the safety of the Jewish people is, or rather should be, the foremost priority of Israel.

When Israeli Arabs live among us, work with us, and learn with us – and then turn around to kill us – mere prevention of each individual crime is not enough. As I rode the light rail yesterday toward Pisgat Ze’ev, worrying about any possible attacks and watching the Arab towns pass by, it occurred to me that Israeli Arabs are the safest people in this country. They can walk about freely without a care in the world, in both Arab and Israeli cities. Of course, Jews do sometimes attack Arabs – but rarely. And here we Israelis have to look anxiously over our shoulders constantly, wondering if we’re going to be stabbed or shot at in our own neighborhoods. How is that fair in a country which is supposed to be the haven for the Jewish people? The answer is that it’s not, and it’s time to do more than mere defense.

So what am I asking the leaders of Israel to do? Fulfill the original purpose of Israel’s creation, both the modern state and the ancient land. Stop rolling over and playing the diplomat. Though deluded so-called “progressives” will have you believe that the world operates on negotiations and peace talks, history, if nothing else, has been a clear indicator that the real world makes progress through (often harsh) action. I am trying to speak the truth in a world where truth is no longer respected nor grasped, and despite the cries of many – even Jews – that we can’t discriminate or react too strongly, I say unequivocally that we must react strongly. We must respond with an enormous display of strength and show these terrorists that we would rather die fighting than accept their reign of terror.

Our justice system needs to put the fear of God into them. Smear pig fat on the terrorists’ bodies. Hang them publicly in their hometowns for their brethren to see – and have a female executioner. Make them understand that no, we will not allow our citizens to be ravaged by their evil. If they want to continue living and prospering in our land, then these are our terms. Otherwise, they can live under the Palestinian Authority, where they will be used, abused, and forgotten.

Dear leaders,