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Is it Okay to Decide Others’ Fates?

nuclear weapons, nukes, nuclear warheads, nuclear missiles, nuclear bombs, hiroshima, nagasaki, iran, iran nuclear deal, nuclear proliferation treaty, israel, iran, p5+1, america, obama, kerryRegarding Iran, suddenly I realized something. Most non-Shiite countries in the Middle East, most prominently Saudi Arabia and Israel, are mad about the deal that P5+1 have signed with Iran.  It’s not just us. And what I realized today was this question:

What right do Obama, and the leaders of Europe have, to decide what happens in our neighborhood?  We are the ones most directly affected; why shouldn’t we be the ones making the decisions?

It’s like this: Imagine if Israel suddenly decided that anyone living in New York who wanted to own a weapon had to pass Israeli security standards.  No one else would be allowed to own weapons, not even police officers.  Only people that Israel chose would have weapons, and only they would be allowed to make decisions on the subject.  How would New Yorkers feel?  How would America feel?  What right does Israel have to decide who is allowed to bear arms in a country that isn’t theirs, and is so far away from them?

Yes, it’s true that guns in New York could possibly hurt Israel, or Israelis abroad.  It’s also true that Iranian nuclear missiles can (and will, if Iran gets the chance) hurt Americans and Europeans.  However, they are not the ones facing the greatest, and most immediate danger: a radical Muslim country, in their neighborhood, with nuclear weapons and no common sense or humanity to match.

Tell me, world: What right do you have to decide what goes on in our neighborhood, without consulting us, and against our wishes?  Note that not one of the P5+1 is actually a Middle Eastern country.  Not one.

What right do America and Europe have, to make our decisions for us?

Obama’s Dangerous Iran Deal

I write about politics, yes.  But I don’t usually mention the possibility of Iran turning nuclear.  I try not to think about Iran, because it scares me.  It would be called burying my head in the sand, except that Yitzchak makes very certain to keep up with any sort of news on the subject.  So I told him a while ago to tell me ONLY what I need to know, and what affects my everyday life, and the rest of it to keep to himself.  Which he does, kind of.  I still have to tell him sometimes that, “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT,” but other times he just speaks to his Dad.  That’s what Dads are for, right?

But at the moment, I feel like I can’t just ignore the topic.  And so I turn the computer over to Yitzchak, who will write what he likes, without telling me about it.

What can I say? In the middle east, there is no such thing as negotiating in “good faith”. Mostly because there is no relevance between “faith” and “negotiations” (it’s rather equivalent to “military intelligence” in that both are a contradiction in terms). Iran is in this deal because they see it as an opportunity to get rid of sanctions, and no other reason; in this case “negotiations” are a means of removing sanctions, without giving up what they want. “Compromise” is not a goal here, it is a contest, the winner being the one who dupes the other into thinking that he won the deal. Hence, for all of our good secular liberal arts education, we’re probably at a worse vantage point for appreciating the cross cultural exchange than if we were, say, some ignorant redneck in Eastern Kentucky with a pickup truck on cinder blocks in his front yard, and a loaded shotgun resting on his door post.

If Kerry were culturally informed, he would forget about a “happy compromise” and stick to the cultural standard. However they are pursuing a “Legacy”. In my opinion, saying that the negotiations failed is not a problem. It is a courageous act, stating to the world “we tried, and it didn’t work”, and by no means does it not mean that we can’t order the SSBNs in the Persian Gulf to open fire when the “time limit” runs out (a deadline should mean something shouldn’t it? we’re the ones in power here).

In my opinion, seeking nuclear weapons should be punished by being a victim of the self same weapons. (And don’t bring me Israel, we had nuclear weapons before the NPT and gave them to France, itself a nuclear weapon power on the NPT; so if we go, so do the Frenchies, not that it bothers me that much.)

ISIS vs. the Muslim World

To the ISIS and those Muslims fighting it

in Afghanistan,

in Gaza,

in Iraq,

in Syria,

in the PA,

and everywhere else where Muslims fight other Muslims,

may no one in the West or East get involved,

may no non-Muslims need to join your fight,

and may we wish much success to both sides;

may G-d be with you in your holy war against each other

and grant both the ISIS and Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah, PA, PLO,

and all religious Muslim governments,

much success in their endeavors.

We await news of the valiant fighters of Islam

fighting to the death

sacrificing their lives

with screams of “Allahu Akbar,”

‘Allah is Great’,

(or as Yitzchak and I like to joke, “Allah is a mouse,”)

may you die deaths of honor on the battlefield,

and may all who come after you say,

“What a great, holy war,

with such devotion,

see how many people on each side died,

only 100 were left on either side,

and soon,

they, too, succumbed to their wounds

and died.

Many of the women,

and much of those children

who were not yet able to fight,

assimilated and forgot that they were Muslims,

within a single generation.”

.

So, to our cousins fighting their own brothers,

Sunni and Shiite alike,

we wish both sides much success,

and await the day when peace will reign

and there will no longer remain

even a single person

who wishes to convert the whole world to Islam,

and kill the heathens who remain.

.

Much success to you all,

and may we say,

Amen.

And MORE Terrorism

Really, guys.  I’m kind of sick of it.

Not just sick of it, scared of it.  Like there would be any place to move to.  Europe is filled with rising anti-Semites, Canada has had over 1,600 anti-Semitic incidents last year alone, and in America – oh, America.  All you need to do is look in this past week’s news.  Wonderful, isn’t it?

And why is Boston allowed to execute a terrorist, but Israel isn’t?  I think the answer is this: Jewish blood is cheap.  Always has been.  And unfortunately, probably always will be.  I feel like we’re dealing with a repeat Holocaust, just slower; this is frustrating for two reasons: 1. The world claimed to have learned its lesson, and we claimed to have learned ours. 2. Hello, nutcases!  We have our own state, our own government, our own army.  Yet it is a little state, and little states need to keep big friends.  Those big fiends like to tie our hands.  Yes, sir.  Unless we stand up for ourselves soon, and do what needs to happen instead of playing along with what the world wants to have happen, we will all be in the sea in record time.  (Muslims aren’t smart enough to build gas chambers, but you have to ask what’s better – to die quickly and painlessly in a gas chamber, or to be shot or knifed the middle of the street, or to be drowned at sea.  Honestly, not sure.  I think I’d prefer the gas chambers.  And I kid you not.)

Rockets, yeah.  That’s the smaller of the problems.  Tunnels, that’s a much bigger problem.  People walking around with knives, Molotov cocktails, metal rods, rocks; terrorists driving cars, trucks, and sometimes buses – those are much bigger problems.  And the guns, too.  But luckily guns are more controlled; except that we have allowed the PA “government” to own guns and are now paying for it.  Oh, and Iran.  Yeah, Iran.  Big problem.  Not that big, if Israel is allowed to deal with it efficiently and the world either supports us or turns a blind eye.

Guys, this is scary.  I haven’t written too much this past week because I just don’t know what to say.  What am I supposed to say?  Let’s ship all the Muslims off the Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia?  Well, I wish I could say that, but no one would listen, and I kind of feel like saying it is counterproductive.  Again, maybe if the attacks were criminal in nature, we could make the terrorists’ lives better and that would be the end of the story.  But when 43% of the Arab population wants to conquer all of Israel AND kill all the Jews, it’s not criminal, it’s nationalistic.  And there is no choice but to kill the terrorists and potential terrorists, and nothing that we can do to better their lives will help us save our skins.

The world’s Jewish population has just returned to pre-Holocaust levels, 60 years later.  I wonder what it’ll be in another sixty years.  I wonder if Israel will still exist then, or if the world will be partying because they managed to create a world without Jewish communities in other countries and without a Jewish state.

Here are some of the nationalistic terror incidents from [just] this past week:
A farmer was beaten to death in the field, by Arabs who came in illegally from the PA looking for “work”;

Arabs threw firebombs at a Jewish school, three times in a row, and the police did nothing;

an ambulance was attacked (lynched, more accurately) by a group of Druze (and I’m disappointed, I thought better of the Druze community);

obviously, the UN blames Israel for abusing Hamas; we Jews are the only ones blamed for the murder of our own people;

a border policeman was injured in an attack by an “innocent Arab youth”;

there was a rocket attack;

Hamas is proud of the fact that they steered a drone into Israeli airspace;

two youth who stopped to answer a question put to them by an Arab youth were shot by said Arab youth; one is seriously injured and one is dead;

the terrorist who attempted to murder two Jewish youths on Shavuot is not being charged with attempted murder, but with “aggravated assault.”

I could go on, but Tova is insisting on drinking ‘Mama milk,’ so I need to stop here.

The C and G Bagrut, Or, The System is Messed Up

The first bagrut (matriculation) exam this season was the English exam.  The way Israeli exams, in most subjects, work is like this:

A few hours before the exam, each school is sent more than enough test booklets, for every test that they will be giving.

They bring in  proctors, unrelated to the school, but usually from a sector and gender that will be mutually comfortable.

The proctors make sure that the room is ready for the test, and then the students come in.

The students hand over everything that is not a pen, food, or drink, or whatever material is allowed to be brought in (for instance, a dictionary, or simple Bible).

Then the proctor hands out the exams, the students do what they can, and hand it in.

This is the process in short.

But what happens when someone finds a copy of the test and uploads it to the internet, so that he and his friends can prepare?  It’s no longer an “unseen” text, and the questions are known, and the students have the opportunity to prepare answers . . . but not across the board, and therefore, the test isn’t really fair anymore.

The ideal would be to isolate that student, or possibly school, and punish them appropriately.  But half an hour before the entire country is going to take the test, there is no time for that.  So, what do they do?  The following is what they did while I sat in the teacher’s room and waited, and while my co-teacher kept calling the Bagrut hotline to find out, as soon as possible, what we were supposed to do.

First, the people in charge of the bagrut exams talk.  Then, they decide to change questions, and the new questions will be sent by email to the secretaries, to be printed and attached to the existing test booklets.

But what about the students who are LD, and therefore only do half the exam, orally?  Which questions do they do?  Previously, we had a list of which questions were necessary.  Now, what do we do?  What about those LD kids who have a disk?  The disk doesn’t have a recording of the new questions, and it’s not fair to make them do the test without having those questions read aloud to them.  And what about students who already started the test?

We got the list of questions for the first LD set, and the second LD set was told to do the original questions.  Then we saw the replacement questions – they were practically identical to the originals, except maybe in a different order.  The students who had already started had to start over, and had two options: 1. extra time, 2. moed bet (another chance to do the test, in a few weeks).  Even for those who chose to take the extra time, the test isn’t really fair.  It was late in the afternoon, and doing a matriculation exam is taxing.  I think it’s fair to say that the answers they gave the second time around were probably of a lesser quality than those they gave the first time around.

Because all anyone knew was that the exam that was supposed to be at 4:15 had been leaked, this whole process happened to 2 separate exams – C and G, which were both scheduled to take place at 4:15 that afternoon.

Two days later, we hear unwelcome news: Now, 45 minutes before the start of the exams, all students testing must be phone-less in the examination room.  Then the tests will be sent by email to the secretary, who will print them out for the students.  This is a bad plan, and if this is what we have come to, then we are in big trouble.  First, let’s see why it’s a bad plan:

1. 45 extra minutes in the exam room.  Expect grades to drop immediately, because that adds 45 extra minutes of stress, and certainly won’t help anyone do better on the test.

2. What happens if the school’s internet happens to not be working exactly when it needs to be?  What happens if a specific city has a power outage exactly when the bagrut needs to start?

3. Previously, the test booklets were sent to the schools.  Who is going to pay for the photocopying?  And for bigger schools, is 45 minutes going to be enough?

4. Who says the test won’t leak, anyways?

In my opinion, there are major underlying issues in the system, if this is what we have come to.  But on the other hand, I thought that anyways.  I’m not sure how standardized, stupidized, matriculation exams help our academic ranking, use, or level at all.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does the opposite.  But I’m no minister of education, so my opinion doesn’t really matter, does it?

In addition, the new system punishes everyone.  Why not just punish the sector that started the leak?  I understand that in today’s age of Facebook and Instagram, the leaked test will make it to everyone.  But not fast enough to be a real threat to the test’s integrity, for the rest of the country.

Update: The Education ministry has responded to the anger of teachers and parents, by finding a middle ground.  Some schools will get direct delivery, and some schools will have to send two representatives who will be held responsible for the integrity of the exam in that school.  Students will have to hand in their phones 30 minutes early.  This is much, much better.  Will it work?  I don’t know.  Honestly, I am of the opinion that a student who wants to cheat will find a way to do it, no matter what guidelines are set.  This is a global problem (as in, affecting the entire Western world) and will not be solved until we stop making academics into a golden calf that everyone is required to serve.  

We, as a whole, need to put more emphasis on who people are, and a solid value system, and less on grades, academics, and what people have.  “Keeping up with the Joneses,” should not exist, and is a symptom of this same problem; when you have to prove that you are a worthwhile person by grades, money, or lifestyle, you cannot put the same energy into living according to proper values.  But that’s a subject for a different post.

 

Hamas: Hated by Gazans and Israelis Alike?

Let’s forget for a moment that Hamas’ major goal is not independence and a good life for themselves and their brothers, but the destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews.  We’re not getting into that at the moment, true as it may be. Today I want to look at Hamas from a different perspective – that of Gazan citizens.  Or, in other words, the very people that Hamas is supposed to be working to protect and help, to defend and build for.  What do Gazan citizens think of Hamas?  What do they think of Israel?  If they had to choose between Israel and Hamas, who would they choose? I think the answer is obvious, but evidently, it’s only obvious if you know the facts, something which most people today seem not to know, or perhaps are simply unable to see.  Let’s take a look: Mudar Zahran writes,

“While the world’s media has been blaming Israel for the death of Gazan civilians during Operation Protective Edge, this correspondent decided to speak with Gazans themselves to hear what they had to say. They spoke of Hamas atrocities and war crimes implicating Hamas in the civilian deaths of its own people. Although Gazans, fearful of Hamas’s revenge against them, were afraid to speak to the media, friends in the West Bank offered introductions to relatives in Gaza. One, a renowned Gazan academic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as soon as someone talked to a Western journalist, he was immediately questioned by Hamas and accused of “communicating with the Mossad”. “Hamas makes sure that the average Gazan will not talk to Western journalists — or actually any journalists at all,” he said . . .”

And according to the Algemeiner, most Gazans want a permanent ceasefire:

A recently released poll published by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy corroborates Perlov’s view that Hamas has been losing support within Gaza. The study, which notably was conducted prior to Israel’s July 18 incursion by a respected Palestinians pollster, demonstrates that the majority of Gazans are unhappy with Hamas governance – for myriad reasons.

The Way,’ also spoke to Mudar Zahran:

“Not a single Gazan that I spoke to supported Hamas,” said Zahran, who came to the “West Bank” to cover the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip.
“Come on, do you guys think we are animals? That we would love seeing Hamas terrorists hiding among our crowds just to have Israeli F–16’s bomb us so we can get the sympathy?” he asked in an interview with JerusalemOnline. “Please understand, yes, Gaza elected Hamas, but people make mistakes. Didn’t the Germans elect Hitler? Were the Germans still in favor of Hitler when Russia and the Allies were marching into Berlin and bombing the hell out of it?”
Of course, that doesn’t mean most of the population in Gaza is ready to ally with Israel or even return to Israeli rule.
“We have to be clear; Palestinians hate Israel,” Zahran reminded his Israeli readers. “This might change in thirty years or so, but they hate Israel. So Gazans hate Israel, but for sure and I can authoritatively say this, they hate Hamas even more now.”
.
So, where does that leave everyone else?  Is it aiding civilians when we give Gaza food and building materials, or is it aiding Hamas and hurting the innocent?

Disappointed by the Coalition

I knew that the coalition would probably look about the way it does (I was counting on Lieberman, though), but I didn’t think that the agreements would be this bad.

The ministry of religious affairs is in Shas’ hands.  They will not do anything good with it, and will probably do much harm.

Shas has Bibi’s consent to build cheap housing for the chareidim – which will mean that the housing crisis for everyone else will just get worse.

More money will be given to schools that do not teach the curriculum; I assume that this includes Arab schools, not just chareidi schools.  Bad, bad, bad.

They want to reinstate the draft exemption – bad.

The only maybe-good thing that Shas wants to do is get rid of the 18% tax on basic food items.  But why does pasta count as basic?

And we forgot that they want to raise the child stipends – something that costs the government blllions, takes responsibility off the parents, and worst of all, people use it to give themselves a salary for having kids.  Yes, that’s right.  With each cut to the child stipends, birth rates of groups that have children just to get money drop – and big time.  It’s not just a demographic war; it’s a war against people who try to live off the public pocket, with laziness as their only reason.

Shas got all of its demands, even at the expense of Bayit Yehudi.  And it makes me sick, especially since Shas is so corrupt.

I can’t blame Lieberman for not joining, but I am kind of peeved that he didn’t.

I don’t think that this coalition is going to last too long, though.  I think that Shas is going to get annoyed at something and bolt, giving us new elections.  Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, especially if it’s Shas’ fault.

Herzog is acting like Livni did a few years back – having a temper tantrum that Bibi managed to make a coalition.  Of course, Herzog himself probably wouldn’t have been able to do it, because there are not enough people willing to sit with him AND with each other.

But enough of this.  We have a right-wing coalition, shaky as it is.

Ayelet Shaked is justice minister, and this is good.  The left, of course, is calling her the injustice minister, as if Tzipi Livni had been better.  Yaakov Litzman is not the world’s best health minister, but neither was Yael German (I think she was awful).  We will finally have a sane education minister, instead of the crazy Shai Piron.  And hey, for all of Obama’s interference, we managed to outsmart him in the end.

I, along with the majority of Israelis, am not completely happy with the new coalition, but on the other hand, it’s quite obvious that this was our only choice.  I’m just sorry that there were so many unreasonable demands made, and given in to.  It reminds me of a three-year-old who screams for candy until his parents get sick of hearing the screaming and give in.  Short-term gain, but long-term loss, and big time.

Oh, well.  G-d will help.

Because if He doesn’t, we are in big trouble.

When a Muslim Asks For a Ride

Quite a few weeks ago, we spent Shabbat in Kfar Chabad.  Traveling back after Shabbat, we had two options:

1. Take the train all the way home, which meant a second train switch.

2. Get off where we normally would, in Be’er Sheva, and take a bus.

Although our hosts thought the train was a better idea, we didn’t have a carseat for Shlomo with us, and so we preferred to take a bus, instead of having to take a taxi from the train station.  I checked the times and found out that from when we were supposed to get off, until the last bus home left, was fifteen minutes – which should be exactly enough, giving us 2 minutes to spare if we moved fast.

As it turns out, I made a mistake.  The time we were supposed to get off the train, that gave us 15 minutes, was the time we were supposed to get off the train at a previous stop, to catch the connecting train.  The train got to Be’er Sheva five minutes before the bus was supposed to leave.  We ran and ran – and missed the bus, the last bus, by two minutes.

Then we had two options: Wait until the wee hours of the morning, or take a cab.  Yitzchak insisted that there were night lines.  He’s said this a lot, and I know that at one point such bus lines existed, but in practice, we have never seen any sign of them.

There were two other people who needed to get home to our city there, also.  We thought about finding a big shared taxi (together, if we paid for both kids, we would be 6 people, and even if we paid the extra for the others who weren’t there, it would still be cheaper than a regular taxi).  But none of the taxi companies were answering their phones.

A shared taxi, or 'monit sheirut'.

A shared taxi, or ‘monit sheirut’.

Then a religious driver offered to take us for 60 shekels off the usual price, in his words, “I’m practically losing money, but I figured, you’re religious, and I want to help you out.”  We were going to split the cab with the other people going, but when the driver saw how many we were, he refused to take all six of us.  I told G-d we were going to do this once, He should protect us from our stupidity and get us home safely, and next time we go anywhere where we might need a cab, we are going to bring a carseat for Shlomo.

During the drive, the taxi driver (religious with a knit kippa) started talking to us.  I asked him why there was such a huge price difference between a taxi during the day and a taxi at night, and he told me.  Then he said that when he sees an Arab, he doesn’t take him.  I asked how he would know just from looking that it was an Arab – some of them are almost indistinguishable from Jews, if you just look at them.  He said, first of all, he locks all the doors and closes the windows.  Then, he pulls over and opens one window a crack.  He asks where the guy is going and talks to him a bit, and if the man is an Arab, or even if he’s simply not 100% comfortable, he finds some excuse and drives away.  “It’s not worth it, even if he would offer me 400 shekels, it’s not worth the money, and I’m not going to take a risk by picking him up.”

He’s the first taxi driver I ever heard of who does this, and I think, honestly, that he’s a smart guy.  Maybe a little racist, maybe the refusal in itself carries risks, but it is still the safer route to take.  What is absolutely true is that picking up an Arab – whether you are a taxi driver or just a nice guy willing to give him a tremp (let him hitchhike) – can be very, very dangerous.  Often, it leads to carjackings, and more often, to murders, though these have become less common recently because of the awareness.

And like we saw last summer, taking a ride with an Arab, or even someone you don’t know (because they can dress as Jews and some speak beautiful Hebrew) can be very risky.  Three teenage boys took a ride with someone whom they believed to be a religious Jew, and who turned out to be a Hamas terrorist.  They were kidnapped and killed . . . remember?

Yesterday, a 60-year-old man in Tel Aviv agreed to give two young Arabs a tremp.  In return, he was stabbed, bound, put in the trunk of his car, and driven by those same Arabs towards their home in the PA.  By some miracle, the police decided the car was suspicious, and heard his cries for help in time.

Think about it: The guy lives in Tel Aviv.  Why under the sun didn’t the terrorist find someone closer to home?  Why does he need to go all the way from Tel Aviv?  Is there no one murder-able closer to his home?  Of course there are (unfortunately).  But here he had a chance to kill two birds with one stone: He gets home free of charge, and takes a Jew, dead or still living (and therefore torturable, and a good bargaining chip, as well) back with him.  Eventually, of course, he will kill the Jewish captive and get his 72 virgins (when he dies) – as well as a nice, fat, salary while he lives.

And if any of you had any doubts whether these Muslim extremists kill Jews because they are oppressed and want a decent life, or whether they kill Jews because they are taught to kill Jews, no matter how good their life is – watch this:

Neville Chamberlain vs. Barack Obama

Did Neville Chamberlain do the right thing?  If you can honestly say yes, then you agree that Obama is doing the right thing.

If you think that in retrospect, Chamberlain was absolutely wrong and inexcusably stupid, then I ask that you try to open your eyes and see that Obama is following in his footsteps, and ultimately, if we do not stop him, Obama will cause World War Three by giving Iran a free pass to do what Nazi Germany failed at.

Notice, please, two things:

1. Neither Obama nor Chamberlain directly sold their own country; instead, they sold their allies’.

2. In the first case, war was imminent and broke out the same year.  If we do not prevent it, the second case, might G-d forbid turn out the same way.

We might also add that both believed in peace, despite clear warning signs that the people with whom they were signing treaties had done several things that clearly showed a lack of desire to actually achieve peace.  Both of the other parties are extremists who believe that the entire world should be under their rule.

One difference:

We can forgive Chamberlain, because he had no one to learn from.

We cannot forgive Obama if he does not wake up and learn from Chamberlain’s example.

There are many, many other comparisons, but I think the point is made and therefore I will not cite them all.

I would add something else at the end but I am afraid of U.S. government trolls and do not want my citizenship revoked; therefore, I will just say that if we do not want another world war, we need to do something about Obama’s mindless race after a place in history, before he kills us all.  Obama may get his place in history, but at the rate he’s going, it’s not going to be a very honorable one – IF there is a free world around to learn about him in the future.

Holocaust Memorial Day

This past Thursday was Holocaust Memorial Day.  Outside of Israel, it falls on a different day (I don’t remember which anymore); in Israel, Holocaust Memorial Day is right after Pesach – on the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.  Calendar-wise, it’s not the best day, but okay, it works.

At 10am, the Home Front Command (Pikud Ha’Oref) sounds the sirens all over Israel.  It starts off like an air-raid siren, but keeps going “flat” instead of up and down.  However, the first five seconds sound the same, and I have to admit, even though I was expecting the siren, my heart still dropped when it started.  Obviously, we told Shlomo that the siren would sound, and thank G-d, Shlomo took it well.  When he got back from gan, he told me, “In two days (holding up 2 fingers) there will be a siren, okay?  I’m not scared, it’s not a woo-woo.  In two days there will be a siren, Mama.  Okay?  In two days and I’m not scared of the siren, it’s not a woo-woo.”

The soldiers in charge of sounding the siren invited a Holocaust survivor to be their guest, and to be the one to activate the siren.  It’s a very, very sweet video.

As a kid, and as a teenager, I read a lot about the Holocaust.  Maybe because there was so much material, maybe because it was so recent, and maybe just because it is so, so, horrendous, it was the period of history that I learned most about.  At some point, I grew up, and shortly after that, I found that I just couldn’t stomach it anymore.  It’s just too awful.  But what is most important, as one survivor told Netanyahu, is to prevent another Holocaust.

Unfortunately, the world hasn’t yet learned its lesson.  To be honest, the world may never learn.  But even more unfortunate is that we, as Jews, refuse to learn the lesson.  The “rabbi” (more like principal) of our school gave a speech during the school Holocaust ceremony that I really didn’t like.

The first part was about the fact that we need to realize that this is not in the past, and that not only can the Holocaust happen again, we are seeing the warning signs right now, and that if we don’t do something, it WILL happen again.  He quoted what Netanyahu said about Iran’s goal being to wipe Israel off the map.  Yeah, duh.

holocaust, little kids, yellow star, jewish kids, world war 2

I wonder if these cute kids survived . . .

He said that one day, our great-grandchildren will say, “Wow, you actually saw Holocaust survivors?  You heard them speak, in person?” and that what we are seeing and hearing is not just for ourselves but for all future generations.  Okay, fine.

The next part was not so fine – in an attempt to make everyone feel better, he said that no one will ever be able to annihilate us – they always try, and always fail, and then they try again.  The only thing we can do is add light to the world, and strengthen our connection to Torah.  We must pray, we must become stronger, and only through this will our nation survive.  We need to make sure that the life we live is true life, that we make the most of it, and the way to to make sure that we live to the fullest, and to make sure that we preserve our nation’s legacy, is by keeping Torah and strengthening ourselves spiritually.

Now, I am a religious person.  I agree that we need to keep the Torah, and that we need to add light to the world; I agree that we cannot lose faith and that the core of our nation’s existence is our belief in G-d.  BUT, first of all:

a. His first part and second part are complete non sequiturs.  There is no connection between them – he jumped from one topic to another with no bridge between them.

b. The people who believed in G-d, strengthened their connection to Judaism, and did nothing else – DIED.  Yes, they all died.  Entire communities, who chose to play Ostrich, died.  Those who saw the warning signs, including great rabbis, and decided, in addition to their learning, praying, and belief, to pick up and leave – and aid anyone else who would agree to leave – they all survived.  Because G-d doesn’t want us to sit and do nothing but pray and keep Torah.  G-d wants us to do what we can to save our own skins.

Now, I don’t believe that leaving Israel will help – after all, if Iran gets a nuke, the entire world is at risk of being nuked.  Even Antarctica will suffer the consequences.  But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do – and saying that there is nothing to do but pray does two undesirable things: It causes hopelessness and helplessness by tying everyone’s hands behind their backs, and it says that there is nothing that can be done.  Both are harmful.  People who feel trapped become trapped, and depressed  Plus, there is lots that can be done:

We can fight propaganda with propaganda.

We can get the other 2 senators to override Obama’s veto (turns out not to be necessary, but still).

We can write on the Facebook pages of Israel’s leaders, American leaders, and others, pressuring them to fight Iran.

We can push politicians to give Israel the green light to nuke Iran before they can become dangerous.

There are lots of things to do – but no one will do anything if they feel trapped and useless.

Last Thursday, as I was walking out of the classroom with some of my tenth graders, two of the students asked me, “Teacher, what happened to your family in the Holocaust?”

I smiled and said, “My father’s parents are from Russia.  My mother’s father was put on a boat of orphans (even though he wasn’t an orphan) and came to Israel; later, by some miracle, his entire family came to join him.  My mother’s mother’s family immigrated to Israel at the start of the war.”

And they said, “Wow.  That’s a real miracle.”  And I said, “Yes, it was definitely a big miracle.”  And it was.  Still is.  That’s not to say that my grandparents didn’t have aunts and uncles that died in the Holocaust – of course they did.  But they and their immediate families were spared – because they saw what was coming and left.

If we are ever going to be able to prevent another Holocaust from happening, we will have to look it in the face before it hits full-on.  Unfortunately, there are many countries in the world who would like for Iran to do their dirty work for them, and there are many countries who don’t really care either way.

The problem is, Islam is Islam, and the idea is to take over the world.  First they want to kill the Jews; then they will go after the Christians, and then the other “heathens”.  Anyone who is left will either convert or die.  Those who convert will live the oppressed life that many Muslims already live.  Gone will be feminism, gone will be freedom of speech, and gone will be democracy.  Islam isn’t a fun religion, and living under Muslim extremists is not what any of the Western world really wants to be doing.

But, if the world doesn’t wake up, that is what will happen – and while it’s true that the Jews will probably be first, it’s also true that the Christians will be second.