Tag Archives: war

Hypocrisy

masked-girl

Let me sketch a picture for you.

Women (and men) scream that it is a woman’s right to abort her baby – her body, her choice.

These same people often weep at the near extinction of many species of animals – whether by natural or unnatural causes – and weep about the destruction of forest life.

(I guess trees are more alive than an embryo?)

I hear varied arguments from pro-choice advocates. For a long time, the argument for it was that a fetus isn’t a baby until… some unspecified point. Abortions, advocates argued, are operations which simply remove “embryonic tissue.” Lately, though, the brunt of the arguments I hear are this: “my body, my choice” – which suggests that these women do recognize that they are killing living beings, but are loath to admit it.

But the law states that one who murders a pregnant woman is responsible for a double homicide. And the world wails when a pregnant woman in Gaza is killed in an IDF airstrike. Why specify that she is pregnant if it doesn’t mean anything? According to pro-choicers, she is just a woman with a growth in her body, perhaps equivalent to a tumor.

I would like to point out another deranged mentality.

People call for justice when Palestinians are injured and die. And yet they remain silent when innocent Israeli Jews are injured and die – or worse, justify it.

They hate imperialism of any variety, and yet fail to acknowledge that nearly every country on this planet has been conquered by foreign entities who are still present in those lands to this day.

(If you truly feel as though you are intruders on Native American soil, then leave.)

They demand strict gun controls, when most shootings happen in “gun free” zones.

(And a terror attack in San Bernardino becomes a narrative on gun control rather than terrorism, while the Planned Parenthood shooting is indicative of the radicalism of the right.)

They condemn racism but hate those who are white and “privileged.”

(Most politicians, both on the left and the right are “privileged” and yet nobody’s complaining about the vast wealth of these corrupt politicans.)

They claim to be open-minded, but scorn anyone who disagrees with them.

(They are accepting of everyone except those with different viewpoints.)

They eschew Islamophobia, homophobia, and most of the bad “isms,” but embrace anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

(They embrace Islam, which has historically and consistently been oppressive to women and homosexuals, while hating Christianity, which has demonstrated far less intolerance and has generally conformed to modern ideals.)

They demand peace and spew hatred.

This is hypocrisy.

We are all guilty of it at times – it is only human.

But ask yourself…

Do you see your own hypocrisy?

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” ~André Gide

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.

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.

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.