Monday, July 28, 2014

Not Enough Dead Jews

A while back, a friend told me,
This is the real truth: Israel exists because an obscene number of Jews died and the ones who were left couldn't stay where they were. So they partitioned part of the Turkish empire called Palestine. It was the only way to stop what would've been an overwhelming wave of refugees who would not, could not assimilate into a Christian country.
I think he was right. No, actually, I know he was right. No country wanted the dregs of the Holocaust and driving them into the sea really wasn’t a viable option. There were 6,000,000 dead Jews already. More dead Jews would’ve been in exceptionally poor taste.

Felix Bonfils: Jews at the Wailing Wall c. 1880s
What do you do with the leftovers? Someone finally figured out the best thing to do was send them home. After all, Jews had never really left the land. Immigration had already started picking up back in 1878 and a new, working economy was beginning to take shape with the support of Jewish investment from all over the world. And if anyone so much as glanced at history, they would’ve noticed the only independent sovereign nation states that ever occupied that barren strip of sand were The First Kingdom (1000-586 BCE) and the Second Kingdom (538 BCE - 135 CE) and both were Jewish nation states. There had never been a Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim independent state on that land. In fact, until 1948, it has been conquered territory, a vassal satellite, a colony for the Babylonians, Persians, Hellenes, Romans, and ultimately the Ottoman Empire until the Brits took it over as The Mandate For Palestine in 1922.

In other words, this little strip of land has always been Jewish for more than 3000 years. Jews have always been there. Jerusalem is there. The Temple Mount is there. Jesus was there. So this really isn’t a debatable issue. If the Egyptians get to have Egypt, and the Syrians get to have Syria, and Babylonians and Assyrians get to have Iraq, why should Israel get special treatment and be denied residence in their own country…where Christians, Arabs, Druze, Baha’i, and Jews all get to be citizens with civil rights, voting rights, driving rights, and all the other rights regardless of religion? Why is that such a big deal? Sounds downright Western to me!

Meanwhile, in the rest of the Islamist world, Sunnis blow up Shi’ites with impunity. They destroy each other’s markets and mosques. They blow up their own co-religionists over a difference of interpretation. Children die by the hundreds. The noble rebels overthrowing the tyrant Assad have become the gangs of Syria, murdering and destroying anyone who does not go along with their brand of whatever. Where are the demonstrations in London for those dying Muslims?

Over in Iraq, my G-d! This borders on genocide on both sides. Now, ISIS, this new roving band of miscreants, are expelling and killing the Christians who have lived there since the birth of Christianity. The Yazidis and the Shabaks, two other religious sects, are also being targeted for expulsion and murder. Where are the crowds in Paris to decry the murder of Muslims and Christians alike?

As Libya falls victim to yet another round of sectarian violence, where are the crowds in Berkeley to protest the slaughter of those innocents?

But as soon as Israel fires back to put up a defense against the endless barrage of missiles meant to destroy Israel… knowing that what Hamas would do to Jews would make Hitler, Eichmann, and Goebbels look like amateur hour…the world cries FOUL!

Fighting back is an offense to all sorts of people, not just those in Paris and London.  The Muslims in London call Israel the aggressor…. I suppose they also think London brought the blitz on themselves. In Paris, they call Israel “war mongers.”… they don’t count the bodies on the buses, in the cafes, or at the hotels as human bodies just because these people were going about their daily business when they were blown to smithereens by homicide bombers. In Antwerp, they insist that Israel end control of the borders, allow all manner of free import.  And then what? Israel starts the state-run program for discount funerals?

Maybe this is because we’re losing the body count competition.  Maybe if more Hamas rockets landed on the schools of S’derot or on supermarkets or even happened to bring down a plane, there would be enough Jewish body bags to get their attention. Or maybe, the IDF should’ve left the tunnels alone so that Hamas could’ve staged their planned Rosh HaShannah massacre extravaGaza in order to demonstrate to the world that Hamas just wants to kill Jews. Kill? Try exterminate. It’s a better fit.

It took a lot of Jews marching into gas chambers to get the world to notice Hitler was serious about the final solution. How many body bags does Israel need to fill to get that same attention?

Not one single body bag. The world already knows.

The world is standing in silence while Muslims slaughter Muslims. You think they’re going to raise a finger to stop Hamas from killing Jews?

Guess again.

The Palestinians should have a state. Their own state. Not our state. They need to have a government more interested in their citizens than in bloodshed, in spending capital on infrastructure than on tunnels, and promoting education and economy instead of Iranian missiles to nowhere. When the people are more important than the rhetoric and there is a partner for economic growth and development, there will be peace.

Gaza sits on the same kind of land as Israel. There is not a reason on the planet that it should not be green, growing and healthy. Except one: Hamas.

Wifely Person's  Tip o'the Week
When in doubt, call Cousin Perdie. She knows everything

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Four Years In the Blog-o-sphere...and still chugging along

Saturday just happened to be July 19th. Now, I’m sure most of you have no idea why July 19th is important because in truth, it is not one of those giants amongst days….like, say, May 29th…with that great trifecta- the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the birth of JFK in 1917, and the arrival of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. But like that date, this one has personal significance for me.

My very first blog entry appeared on July 19th, 2010. That means I’ve been doing this every week for four years. That means I’ve since then, I’ve written 208 episodes making this one 209. For someone who thought she had nothing to say, 208 episodes at approximately 850 words per is a whole lotta words.

On my first anniversary in the blog-o-sphere, I wrote about what I’d learned in that first year. Not much has changed. I find the same issues going round and round, but what has changed is the expanse of my fact-checking ritual. I figure if one was going to talk about the biggest/best thing I've learned in doing this it would have to be that there is no excuse for not doing my homework. If I quote, I cite the source and provide a link wherever possible. I find I cannot abide bloggers/posters/op ed writers who do not vet their sources to back up their facts. You can opine into next week for all I care, but make sure what you present as facts are just that.

It's also an excruciating exercise in temper control. One blog in particular stands out as the most incendiary yet clearly not-read episode. Which only lends credence to the idea that a whole lotta people only read one sentence per graph and then draw their own conclusions, right or wrong. It takes a long, cold glass of seltzer to get my blood pressure down enough to prevent me from responding with nasty-grams. You know...the whole discretion is the better part of valor thing. I think I'm getting better at that part. Or not. 

And as dreadful as it might sound, having this blog has been a tremendously freeing experience. I get to write whatever the hell I want to write. I get to say what I want to say and I have been taken to task for some statements. That's okay. I figure if people take the time to write, then I should at least read what they have. 

And course, there was lesson number 10:

   Always include something to embarrass your children. A blog isn’t nearly as much fun to write if your kids aren’t rolling their eyes after you write it. You don’t even need to mention names or even personal details; all you have to do is express an opinion. That’s usually more than enough to send at least one of them over the edge.

After four years, I’m pretty sure a mother with an opinion is embarrassing enough without having to mention said mother has a blog AND a pretty stalwart world-wide readership these days. Since neither guy is terribly interested in what said mother has to say on any topic, they are pretty much in agreement that the world is a pretty crazy place….especially if people are voluntarily reading whatever it is said mother has to say on any given topic on any given week. Good thing I'm not required reading around here.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am loath to remind you all that we are entering the dreaded election cycle. I, for one, am wondering what I'm gonna do with Mmes Bachmann and Palin for comic relief. I have to find some new candidates on which to pick. Do let me know if you have any suggestions. 

So as we kick off Season 5, onward and upward. Let the wild rumpus begin!  (Apologies to Maurice "Vilde Chaya " Sendak for borrowing his line!)

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The best root beer float is made with A&W and coffee ice cream.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Between The Keyboard And The Chair

War is not tidy. It is not sanitary, sanitized, clean, nor anti-bacterial. War creates chaos, rubble, dirt, and dead bodies. These days, however, war mostly creates photo ops and sound bites.

Doesn’t much matter which war, but the most gruesome picture wins. No one reads the caption; no one vets the picture. If you have a really good picture, you can haul it out periodically and say it was from yesterday even if it was from a decade ago…or even a different war. As long as there’s enough shock value in the shot to get it on the front page of the world’s morning editions, you’ve succeeded.

My dad once told me World War II was the first real “photog’s war.” He explained that even though there were gruesome photographs taken during WWI, everyone had a camera in World War II and journalists were everywhere. The amount of photographic documentation is overpowering. Even the Nazis were copious about taking pictures of how the Final Solution was going. So it should come as no surprise that in subsequent wars, we were treated to up-to-the-minute pictures of the horrors taking place somewhere else in the world. And everyone who wants to get a message out understands the power of video gone viral. It’s really neither the medium nor the message that counts; it’s the image. The old TV adage, if it bleeds, it leads, is seriously ramped up.

Rabbi Yosi Gordon, a well known educator in these parts, is in Israel for the summer and had been posting his thoughts on his Facebook page. Yesterday, he made a comment that whacked me right between the eyes. He wrote:

Some terrorist organizations have all the luck. I really hate the idea of killing — what was it? — 17 members of a family in order to eliminate a Gazan police chief. It’s not a question of proportionality. It’s a question of 17 members of a family. Even if we “knocked” on their door with phone calls and fake bombs and a birthday present from Amazon. 
Jeffrey Goldberg is right again. If Hamas dies better than we do, they win. And they will die much better than we will, because babies crying in shelters is kids’ stuff compared to babies being all blown up. Emotional trauma is serious stuff, but dying is forever.

This is the voice of frustration with the media, and I think he’s spot on.

You have to wonder why the press is not marveling at Iron Dome and the fact that hundreds of rockets launched at Israel are being destroyed mid-air. You have to wonder why the media hasn’t exploited the human shield Hamas has set up as a barrier to air attacks. You have to wonder why there is not worldwide outcry at a government deliberately telling its population to stand up and die. And you have to wonder about a government who, knowing lobbing missiles at another, better-armed country will provoke a response, digs tunnels to smuggle but does nothing to provide underground safety for its citizens.

But maybe that’s just me. I always thought part of a government’s responsibility was to protect its people, not preach on television about how to embrace death. Clearly, I was mistaken.

So what are the choices?

Yosi suggests:
So here is how Israel can stop the war: don’t bomb. Tell the world, We’re staying home. We love peace. We’ll defend ourselves. Iron Dome and shelters and other defensive measures will keep us safe. We’ll invite the press to show pictures of Israelis trembling in protected areas, dashing for safety, embracing screaming babies, soothing terrified children. Tsahal can continue to do stuff that doesn’t photograph well, like undermining tunnels. But we’ll be the peace team. This has never happened before, in all of history. It will make headlines all over the world. What if they threw a war and one side didn’t show up?
Would that that were an option. 

But there are things we can do, too. All of us. On whatever "side" you're on. It doesn't matter, and the most obvious one is to stop clamoring for the 60-second new cycle. That constant spinning does more to spew mis’n’dis-information than Faux News. All of us aid and abet that process every time we share something on social media that we have not personally vetted in some way for accuracy. All we are doing is giving hatred a chance; we are adding to that mass of chum floating around cyberspace and it stinks, it’s wrong, and it’s unnecessary.

Yehuda Kurtzer, in his blog entry in The Times Of Israel, writes:

There is a long-standing critique of social media that many of us self-style our personal “brands” and images in ways that are far different (and look better) than the more complex realities of our lives; in crisis, and in moments of profound anxiety, this narcissism quickly transforms from being harmless to being destructive. Coupled with the built-in nature of the media – which reward speed and wit more than long-developed substance – the pitfalls of instant commentary and vitriolic response emerge easily, and the usefulness of the media for public discourse are undercut by their own limitations. 

Talking about it does not quite drive the point home. He suggests that for an observance of the Fast of Tammuz, we abstain from spreading hysteria on social media. The fast, albeit a minor one, is observed on Tuesday, July 15th, and, like the Ramadan fast which is taking place now, extends from dawn until dusk. Why not use that period to abstain from spreading hysteria on social media?

We can be silent for a day. We can take a moment to read all the way through instead of skim. We can make it a point to verify before we share. 

If everyone thought through that process, if everyone took a moment to think, "What message am I sending?" we are half way to honesty. 

The other half can be found between the keyboard and the chair, and again between the mouse and the monitor. 

The choice is ours. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Know any widows or widowers?
When they are having grieving moments, it's all about them, not you. 
Unless you have direct experience in that condition, you don't know. 
Try to remember that.