Monday, August 4, 2014

When History Is In The Balance

Had this great weekend planned: my college friend Wendy was here for a family wedding, so we had an exciting Saturday planned....until FIL had a little episode and I spent a less-than-thrilling Saturday with the ambulance corps and the ER folks at St. Joe's. Wendy is the ultimate good sport and I am thankful she was supportive, kind, and full of funny stories to tell. She also delivered the best line of the weekend when, upon arrival at Chez Wifely, she spied good ol' John Deere in the garage and cried, "Oh my God! It's the tractor!" That just tickled me to pieces! 

Now, if all goes according to plan, I'm springing FIL tomorrow afternoon......

Meanwhile, back in the real world: for those of you who understand the vagaries of the Jewish lunar calendar, tonight happens to be the exact 4th anniversary of the blog. The very first one, WELCOME TO MY WORLD was written on Erev Tisha b'Av, and tonight is Erev Tisha b'Av.  At that time, it was the Haredi, the ultra-orthodox, who were tearing the country apart. This time, it's the world at large. 

There is a little piece floating about the net these days by a fellow named Yashiko Sagamori which may or may not be a pseudonym but regardless of who or what he is, I think is a brilliant questionnaire for any one claiming sovereignty over anything. When confronted about restoring Palestine to its former glory, express interest in that storied past. Here are 12 very serious questions you want to ask:

1.    When was it founded and by whom?
2.    What were its borders?
3.    What was its capital?
4.    What were its major cities?
5.    What constituted the basis of its economy?
6.    What was its form of government?
7.    Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
8.    Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
9.    What was the language of the country of Palestine ?
10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine ?
11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.
12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

The same set of questions can be asked about any country, including Israel, and if you know history, you know the First and Second Kingdoms meet the criteria.

The point is that history must be addressed alongside the hopes and dreams of a state to be created as Palestine. And that state must be that is a brand new entity in the truest sense of the word.

Sitting here on Erev Tisha b’Av wishing I was sitting in Jerusalem…or Herzliya for that matter, I am so saddened by the growing hate and venom in the streets of London, Paris, Antwerp, Hamburg, and now, New York City. The most cosmopolitan cities of the world….festooned with banners of hate and destruction. Calling for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews, there is no way to say this is anti-Zionist; let’s just call it what it is: anti-Semitic hate speech.

Israel is not perfect and there are actions by the IDF which could have been better planned or executed and no, they are not off the hook, but you cannot fault Israel or the IDF for defending the people of Israel. ALL the people of Israel. That includes the enemy combatants who find themselves being treated in Israeli hospitals. It includes the injured from Syria who are being treated secretly in field hospitals near the northern border. No one asks for an identity card or the politics of their families….they are provided with the best possible medical care.

When the King of Saudi Arabia issues a statement that says, in part,
This [international] community, which has observed silently what is happening in the whole region, was indifferent to what is happening as if what is happening is not its concern…. It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this….They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes.

you have to wonder how much weight his words carry.  He called what’s happening in Gaza a crime against humanity, and he pretty much lays the blame on Hamas. But at least he stood up and said something.

When we sit on the floor to read the Book of Lamentations, it is as if we all sit on the side of the road watching the destruction of Jerusalem. We do this every year lest we forget that we have lost Jerusalem before this, and now there are those who would see us lose this, our chiefest jewel, once again. And this is what Hamas just hasn’t figured out: this is our home. We built it, once, twice, three time's a charm, and we will defend it, whether we wear the uniform of the IDF, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, or maybe even a long skirt and a tichel.

It’s just that simple.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week

Looking for something fun to do? Go see DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE on the Centennial Showboat. It’s so worth the price of a ticket!


  1. Today is Tisha b'Av. This day in the Jewish calendar traditionally commemorates the great tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. The destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Exile. The destruction of the Second Temple. The Ten Martyrs. The defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt and the Roman massacre of the city of Betar. The more than 1 million Jews who perished during the First Crusade. The massacre and annihilation of the Jews of Mainz, Cologne, Strasbourg, and 60 major and 150 minor Jewish communities in Europe following the Plague. The expulsions of the Jews from England, France, and Spain. The Pogroms. The Holocaust.

    Today we remember the martyrs. All those who were slain simply for the crime of being Jews. Those who gave their lives for the sake of their people.

    Today we remember that even today we are not free from hatred and bigotry. Protests in Europe turn violently anti-Semitic, and synagogues are targeted for hate and destruction. Hamas, Hezbollah, and many other terrorist groups actively seek out Israel's annihilation. And in every generation, there will be those who will seek the destruction of the Jews. Today we remember that to be a Jew is to be conscious of the fact that we must be on our toes, ready to fight or flee.

    But today is also a day to remember that we are resilient. We survive. For nearly 3000 years, the Jewish people have been subject to persecution, exile, and murder. And yet we survive. Over the course of 3000 years, we as a people have never lost the will to survive.

    As the war in Gaza winds down, we may look with pride on our prowess, our ability to defend ourselves even as the world stands by. We may claim that after 3000 years of oppression, we will no longer take it lying down, that we take our fates into our own hands, and fight for our survival, and we may point to Israel's incredible string of military victories as vindication for this view. And indeed, it should be a source of pride that Israel is able to defend herself so effectively. But to turn Tisha b'Av into a day of pride for our newfound ability to fight against oppression is to miss the point.

    The point is that in every generation, there is suffering. There are those who would commit inhuman, unspeakable acts of hate and destruction. And in every generation, innocent people lose their homes, their families, and their lives.

    Today we remember that we have an obligation. We have an obligation to do everything that we possibly can to help the innocents who have fallen victim to the wars and destruction brought on by those who seek only hate. Specifically, we have an obligation to the citizens of Gaza. Many thousands of innocent people lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their families in the war as a result of Hamas's hatred, and Israel's determination to teach Hamas and the world that we will not go gently into the night. As Jews, we know destruction. We know death. We know loss. And so we have an obligation to the innocents in Gaza. We have an obligation to empathize with their loss, and to understand that they are not Hamas, they are innocent people living innocent lives, who have lost nearly everything. Israel has an obligation to help the civilians of Gaza rebuild, and help them pick up the pieces and move on, just as we did after each calamity that befell us. And we have an obligation to do so for all people who suffer, particularly at our hands.

    Today, on Tisha b'Av, we must remember not only the horrors and destruction and misfortune; we must also remember our humanity.

    1. Well said. Thank you for posting here.

  2. Israel has three options. It's interesting to see a non-jew articulate it much better than most jews: