Tag Archive | Israel

World War Three: Imagined, or Real?

So here’s the deal.  Yitzchak and I had a couple of long talks and didn’t quite like the realizations and results.

1. On September 17, the Congress will decide if they wish to accept or reject the Iran deal.  If they accept it, Israel will take out Iran.  If they reject it, Obama will try to veto the rejection, sanctions may or many not be lifted, and the time that Iran has to do whatever it wants will be lengthened.  Israel, and the West, may or may not decide to take Iran out.

2. If Israel sees that Iran is closer than we thought to getting nuclear weapons, Israel will simply get rid of those weapons.  As it stands now, it looks like Iran is trying to convince both America and Israel that the deal meant nothing, and that the only solution is military.

2a. If Israel has nukes, and decides to use those nukes, Israel will be condemned and will to fight a war to defend itself.  However, Iran will no longer be able to retaliate.

2b. If Israel does not have nukes, or does have nukes but decides not to use them, Israel will face retaliation not only from Iran, but from other nations – and terror groups – as well.

3. At some point, the Sunni-Shiite war may or may not spill over into Israel.  Hezbollah may or may not decide to rain rockets on us, either as part of that war or as a last-ditch attempt to “take Israel with it when it goes.”

4. If a major regional war does start (i.e., not simply Israel versus proxy terror groups), it will be impossible, or nearly impossible, to leave after said war breaks out.

5. The intifada is seriously getting out of control.  Dealing with Iran can only make it worse.

5a. On the other hand, the Israeli public is waking up, and our patience is getting shorter – which means that there is reasonable hope that the intifada will be squashed fairly soon.

6. We may just be pessimists imagining things, but Dad doesn’t think so.  And I trust Dad.  He was right last time, about the Iran deal.  And I think he’s right this time, about the coming war.  Unfortunately.

So now we have two big questions, and their names are Shlomo and Tova, the two kids with whom we are blessed, and the two kids to whom we have a responsibility, as their parents.  Shlomo still hasn’t quite gotten over Tzuk Eitan (big understatement).  Do we stay, because

– it’s where we belong,

– it’s familiar,

– no one in the family needs the upheaval of moving continents at this point,

– the community here is something really special,

– moving costs an enormous amount of money

– it’s our home – and pray that Dad is wrong, or if he is right, that we still live in relative peace and normalcy, with nothing except a few trips to the bomb shelter to show for it?

Or do we leave, because

– we don’t know what will be, and when we do know, it may be too late,

– Shlomo doesn’t need any more traumas,

– we have a decent offer to work as shluchim (Chabad emissaries),

– we are, well, parents, and part of being parents is making sure that your kids are safe?

Obviously, there are lots of little things that make it much easier to stay than to go, and make Israel a much better place to live than anywhere else (besides for the fact that we never really imagined ourselves as shluchim, for several reasons).  Plus, maybe we are just pessimists, and none of this stuff is actually going to happen.

Hm.  What would you do, if you were in our place?

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Tisha B’Av: Mourning, Reflection, and Future

Every year, on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the Jewish people fast and mourn.  This year, we are fasting, and mourning, on the tenth day of Av, because the ninth day was Shabbat – and on Shabbat, we do not fast or mourn.  On this day (like on Yom Kippur), we do not wash, wear leather shoes, or use creams.  Think about not showering when it is forty degrees Celsius outside.  Think about how awful the pit in your stomach would have to be, for you to do it.

Ten years ago, those living in Gush Katif, and northern parts of the Shomron, were expelled from their homes.  They were promised land, and houses, and help resettling; they were given caravans, that they stayed in until they could afford better.  Ten years later, there are still families that have not been able to rebuild.  Many of those expelled were farmers, and found it hard to integrate into the job market.  They were forced out of their homes, and made to build their lives from scratch.

It is hard to imagine what being forced out of your home means.  Many of the communities have stayed together, hoping to resettle together and maintain some semblance of normalcy.  But imagine the police coming to force you out of your home and out of your city.  You have no job, no home, no money, no schools for your children.  You have nothing.  They pick you up from your home in Maine, and move you to Oregon, giving you a caravan, and expecting you to start over.

Ten years later, that “be niceexperiment has proven to be an utter disaster.  From the very beginning, we saw that it would not work; the first thing that the Arabs did was not to take over the existing structures, but to burn all the synagogues down to the ground.  If you remember, today they are claiming that they have no homes and no infrastructure.  Why is that?  They were handed everything on a silver platter – places of worship to renovate, schools, community centers, pools, theaters, farms, greenhouses, hothouses – everything.  Everything was burned, ransacked, or used for terror activity.  This was their choice, not ours.

And from there, they used all the humanitarian aid (that they wouldn’t have needed if they were truly homeless refugees looking for permanent homes) to build tunnels and shoot rockets.  Some of the expellees were expelled from Yamit, in Sinai, and went to live in Gush Katif at the direction of Ariel Sharon – the very man who later expelled them a second time.  And all this, why?

So that we could fight Operation Cast Lead (Oferet Yetzuka, 2008), Operation Defensive Shield (Amud Anan, 2012), and Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan, 2014).

So that we could get thousands of rockets fired at us; towards Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Lod, Beit Shemesh, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Mitzpe Ramon; Hertzliya.

So that we would have to worry about not hurting the human shields that the terrorist regime uses to protect itself, even though many of those human shields are future terrorists or wives of terrorists.  Would you pity Osama bin Laden’s wife?  Then why do you pity the wives of Islamic Jihad terrorists?  Why is Islamic Jihad, or Hamas, different from Al Qaeda?

Now, on Tisha B’Av ten years later, we are living in the ominous shadow of an Iran deal.  No matter what we do or don’t do, we are in trouble.  “Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  (Excuse my language, please.)  If we wait, we are in trouble, because by September, Iran may be able to defend itself.  If we don’t wait, we will be accused of not giving Iran a fair chance.  If Congress decides against the deal, well, dontcha know, it’s Israel’s fault.

But when Saudia Arabia and Israel agree, you know that something is up, and that it’s serious.

I won’t give away any of Israel’s theoretical plans by writing them on the internet.  I will just say that Yitzchak and I have full faith that Israel can deal with an Iranian nuclear threat, provided that we do not wait until they actually have nukes, and provided that we have cooperation from certain countries.  I will also say, that at least two of the four countries that we would like to have helping us, will help us.

This does not mean that we have nukes, because of course we do not have nukes.  But we do have an extremely smart army, and the worst person to fight is one who has nothing to lose, because if he has nothing to lose, he will fight to the death.  We believe that the reason all of the recent wars have been such utter failures, is that we knew that we could scare our enemies without hurting them.  We tried to be as nice and humane as possible.

But I need to tell you: If Israel is forced to deal with Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah all at once, we will not have the ability to be patient or humane.  We will do what needs to be done, quickly and efficiently, and spare no lives but our own.  We will carpet bomb Gaza, if necessary, and take out Hezbollah’s stock of chemical weapons; we will cripple Iran’s nuclear and military infrastructure so that they have no hope of retaliation of any sort, and we will do it all in a way that ensures that World War Three does not break out with all the “civilized” Western countries coming to “innocent” Iran’s defense.

Because if it is a question of fight or die, we will fight.

The world is turning Israel into some kind of inhumane monster, responsible for all the world’s ills.  We, as Jews, who have survived centuries of persecution, and have not yet forgotten the Holocaust, hear a familiar ring to these words.  We, as Jews, hear Jew-blaming as a lead-up to pogroms.  We, as Jews, see the rise in anti-Semitism the world over, and know that our only hope is in the Jewish army that G-d has given us, in the land that G-d has given us.

Because we know that the world cannot be counted on.

And therefore, we have been keeping up with Iran’s abilities, and have been setting them back, successfully, for as long as we could.  When it comes down to it, we will finish them off.  And as soon as we do, we will see another war with Gaza, in retaliation, and we will retake Gaza.  We will have to fight Hezbollah, and we will cow them into putting their energies into their fights in Syria.  Let the Muslims kill each other, and the world will be a better place for it.  We will put a halt to the intifada that is happening at this moment, because we will simply not have the ability to ignore it or deal with it in a nice way – so, we will deal with it any way that works, no matter how brutal.

Because no matter how humane Israel is, as a people, as a nation, as a country, if we are forced into a glaringly obvious fight for our lives, we will decimate our enemies’ ranks.  And when we stand up for ourselves, G-d is with us.  When we are cowards and think that we can manage on our own, G-d lets us try it out.

This is not new.  This is thousands of years old.

The Persian Jews thought they could make Achasverosh their friend; they were nearly killed.  During the Greek rule, they thought that the closer they were to Greek culture, the better they would be treated.  Under Nazi regime, the thought that assimilation was a solution, was disproven; the solution was hide, leave, or be sent to the camps.  And now, the solution is either fight like we mean it, or be crushed.

All I can hope is that we will see the intifada for what it is, and fight instead of allowing ourselves to be crushed.  About Iran – and Gaza, if necessary – I have no doubts.  We will fight; we will not be crushed.

Today iis Tisha B’Av.  Today, we mourn the loss of both Holy Temples (Batei Mikdash), the martyrs of our nation, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and the Iran deal.

Today, we pray that G-d will be with us, and Av will turn to Adar and Tisha B’Av to Purim.

Today, we pray that Israel will, very soon, deal completely and fully with all the threats surrounding us: Iran, Gaza, Hezbollah, ISIS, and (nearly worst of all) the terrorist intifada that the PA is quietly waging against us.

Amen.

Woo-woos: A Year Later

It has been a year since Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge).  In that year, since Tzuk Eitan, we have not had a single siren.  Not a single woo-woo.  We have not even told Shlomo that there have been sirens in other parts of the country.  Because in our book, when it comes, it comes.  We are going to take it day by day.

Shlomo was traumatized, as were thousands of other children living in the line of fire, and rightly so.  In the year that has passed since, we have had, off and on, obsessions with sirens.  It was more like, three months on, two months off, three months on, one month off, three months on.  We have a Childcraft set.  He continuously wants to read about the Battle of Britain, and the invention of rockets that could carry missiles.  This is his favorite topic.

Yesterday, he made a woo-woo plane out of kipodim [literally: porcupines; it is also the name of a type of building toy].  I’m not sure what the difference is between a woo-woo plane and any other plane with two engines, but it is his plane and he made it.  And he flies it while imitating the air raid siren.  Today, he “read” to me from the Childcraft about the woo-woos (Battle of Britain), and told about how the planes were fighting each other and how they have to stop making woo-woos.

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Shlomo’s woo-woo plane that he made from kipodim.

Yesterday, he told me to bring Tova to the bedroom, and “he would protect her from the shoshanim.”  When he plays, any ambulance or police or firetruck siren comes out as a woo-woo.  It may not start out that way, but that is what it becomes.

We thought that with time, the trauma would heal. We were wrong.  It has not healed for us, and it has not healed for him.  We are worse off than he is, because we read the news.  He is worse off than we are, because he senses that we are worried, but doesn’t know why.  We are always worried, though, so maybe he doesn’t think it out of the ordinary anymore.  Parents are always worried, I think.  Perhaps it is just par for the course.

Shlomo also went through two sirens during Amud Anan (Operation Pillar of Defense).  He didn’t forget those, either, and when we moved here, we realized that he had simply thought we were done with them.  I think he felt let down when he realized the sirens were back.  We have taught him to differentiate between practice drills or remembrance sirens, and real sirens.  Mostly, by warning him, and when applicable, telling him that it wouldn’t go up and down.  Then “he” made the siren and it wasn’t a real siren, nobody was trying to hurt us.

When Yitzchak and I read yesterday morning that the Iran deal signed by [Obama] Bin Laden and the rest of P5+1 included a clause in which the West would train Iran to block Israeli strikes, we were left reeling.  It’s not that we don’t think Israel can and will preempt Iran’s training.  It’s not that we don’t believe that Israel can deal with Iran’s having S-300.  It’s that, well, we were expecting Israel to strike soon, but not that soon.  We were debating if it would be smarter for Israel to strike now, or to wait to hear what Congress has to say about the deal.  But maybe now Israel doesn’t have a choice.  One thing is sure:

Someone is going to strike, with nuclear, biological, or conventional weapons, someone else, and very soon.  And the woo-woos will probably be back, hopefully, probably, only conventional woo-woos.

For the sake of the entire free world, we hope that Israel will wipe Iran off of the map, and not the other way around.

My Newest Obsession: Antarctica

This post was written on April 24, 2015.  I didn’t publish it then, because it needed a few tweaks.  Later, I didn’t publish it because life got hectic, and Antarctica was the furthest thing from my mind – besides for the fact that I was glad, at that point, that we live in a regular, civilized country.

Probably, you have already read about my Antarctica joke.  It goes like this:

Oh, no, X/Y/Z happened.  This world is such an awful, scary place.  I don’t know why I want to live in it, and I seriously don’t know why I am bringing another kid/ want to bring more kids into it.  Ugh.  It’s not safe in Israel, but at least here it’s more safe than other places, and we have a government and an army that doesn’t stick their heads into the sand.  If I thought there was a safer place, I’d go, but I don’t think any country is safe now . . . there’s really nowhere you can live safely . . .

Hey, wait! We can move to Antarctica!

Except that Yitzchak always pops the bubble:

Antarctica will suffer the after-effects of nukes in other places, just like every other country will, he says.

In twenty years, Antarctica will be the center of a major war, as every country tries to stake its claim, when the weather warms up and the land becomes habitable (there’s a treaty until 2048, maybe it will be extended?).

We would have sun six months out of the year, and we would have to accept Shabbat at one in the afternoon sometimes.  On the other hand, Shabbat would end at one in the afternoon – nice, but it makes the day pretty rushed, with barely enough time to daven and do kiddush.

Hmmm, there’s no mikva, and the snow doesn’t sound too nice.

At one point, he tried to scare me by telling me that it wasn’t exactly a safe place for women, because half the researchers are single guys who haven’t seen a woman in years.  Turns out, there are families there, too.

Our heating bill will be outrageous . . .

And so on . . .

But as we come closer to understanding that Iran will be allowed to get nukes, as far as Obama is concerned, and Putin has no issues giving Iran the tools to help them defend their nuclear reactor – and North Korea continues to help them develop nuclear weapons;

and as I hear more and more often about kidnappings, shootings, and who knows what;

and as we start and stop, start and stop, the task of getting rid of Hamas;

I’ve started to think that it’s better just to pick up and move.

To Antarctica.

Yes, seriously.

Now all I have to do is convince Yitzchak.

What Would YOU Do?

This video allows you to take the pilot’s seat and decide whether to continue the mission that the IDF sent you on, or to abort it.  I ask each of you to watch the video and try to decide what you would do, if you had been the pilot in that particular mission.

Israel has the most humane army in the world.  We go beyond the letter of the law, putting ourselves at risk, so as not to hurt Muslim women and children, and any other innocent civilians, who are being used as human shields to protect the very terrorists who aim to kill us – and who have killed hundreds of innocent men, women, children, and babies.

What would YOU do?  Would you be as humane as Israel?  Or would you do the logical thing, and kill the terrorists while you had the chance, regardless of who they were hiding behind?

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.)

Shmita – The Land’s Sabbatical

Well, the year is almost over, and I’ve never blogged about Shmita (pronounced shmee-tah’).  I remember that just after Rosh Hashana, I wanted to write about it, but it didn’t end up happening.  So, what is Shmita?

The background: Every seventh year, we are required to let the land “rest”.  No farming, and no gardening, either.  In addition, everything is “hefker,” free for all.  This means that nothing belongs to anyone, and everyone can come take.  The idea is threefold:

1. Practically speaking, it is good for the land to rest a year, so that the soil does not get depleted.

2. Spiritually, it allows for everybody, once in seven years, to devote a year to spiritual and personal growth, as well as learning, instead of being focused and worried about their livelihood.

3. Perspective: It allows you to remember that what you have is not yours because you deserve it, but because you happen to have it.  By making everything free for everyone, people gain different perspective, and, I would like to think, become more friendly and more accepting towards others.  Also, poor people can take what they want and “stock up” for the next year.

This ideal works, but it is not perfectly fitted to today’s modern world, but rather to the farming society that we used to be.  Today, it’s more complicated, and many of the purposes are not realized, at least not on a national level.

So, what does Shmita mean today?

The short answer: A headache.  The long answer: A lot of things.  First of all, Shmita fruits are holy, and therefore not to be disposed of in the regular fashion.  Second of all, they are not allowed to be taken out of Israel.

If everything is holy, and you’re not allowed to farm, what do Israelis eat the entire year?  And so, there are several solutions:

1. The simplest, but not necessarily the most practical, is to import.

2. “Heter mechira”: A “loophole” in the law that says that if a Jew sells his land to a non-Jew for the duration of the year, the land is not Jewish-owned and can therefore be farmed.  This solves the problem very nicely, and in addition, the fruits are not considered holy.  Hoewver, the non-Jew is usually an Arab, and so these vegetables, as Yitzchak and I sometimes say, have blood on them.

3. “Yevul Nochri”: This is similar to heter mechira, except that the land wasn’t Jewish-owned to begin with.  In other words, instead of a Jew selling his land to an Arab for the duration of the year (kind of like we sell chametz for the week of Pesach), you are buying straight from the Arab.  This kind of vegetable is usually dirty, not good quality, and in general, not something you’d want to eat if you have a choice.  However, among many groups, it is considered the best option, and the most “mehadrin”.  These vegetables have lots of blood on them, but though we prefer not to buy them, we sometimes get stuck.  These are not considered holy and therefore no precautions need to be taken.

otzar beit din, shmita, israel, vegetables, fields, farming, kedushat shvi'it

A sign that says, “This field has been given over to Otzar Beit Din.”

4. “Otzar Beit Din”: Our favorite option.  Kind of complicated, and not available throughout the entire year, but the best you can get while it lasts (though there are some who disagree).  It works like this: Even if you don’t farm the land, many of the plants will continue to grow.  In addition, the farmers who own the land need to eat, and pay for their electricity, during Shmita, and while in the past, they could make do on their crops or others’ , today’s world is different.  The Beit Din makes a deal with the farmers: They pay each farmer a set stipend, and collect all the produce, selling it at a price that covers distribution costs.  This produce is considered holy, and therefore care must be taken not to waste it, not to do unreasonable things with it (like throwing, stepping on, making inedible experiments), and the peelings and other waste either get thrown in a special Shmita bin, or double-wrapped and placed gently into the regular garbage.

5. “Matza Menutak”: Plants that are not connected directly to the ground.  Examples are a greenhouse with a tarp on the floor, flowerpots, etc. “Gush Katif” is a specific type of matza menutak, and during Shmita, they export it less because there is a greater need for the products in Israel itself.

6. Produce grown in areas of Israel that were not settled, and therefore not made holy, during any of the relevant time periods.  Included in this is the Arava, Eilat, and other areas.  Vegetables grown in these areas are considered halachically, to have been grown outside Israel, and therefore can be planted, harvested, and sold as usual.  They are not considered holy.  For instance, the tomatoes that we now have are “Olei Mitzrayim,” grown in a place that those who left Egypt settled, but was not settled when the Jews came back from Bavel (Babylon).  It’s complicated.  But the tomatoes are beautiful, much nicer than the ones we had to make do with when they were Yevul Nochri.  Our sweet potatoes last week were Yevul Nochri, they were disgusting and had mold on the outsides (that disappeared after peeling), but they were all that was available.

7. “Shishit”: Produce leftover from the sixth year.

One of the problems with Shmita is that these issues continue not only during the Shmita year itself, but also during the year afterwards.  The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, is in the fall.  Therefore, what grew last summer and is eaten now, is “Shishit,” which, obviously, is practically gone, except maybe for the potatoes and onions.  However, the flip side is that what is growing now is “Shvi’it,” and we will still be eating it until the middle of next year (around January).  In addition, fruits are only Shvi’it if they ripen during the Shmita year.  So, as long as we are eating last year’s fruits, we are fine.  But now we are starting to see this year’s fruits, and we will continue to eat this year’s fruits well into next year.  So, we deal with Shmita issues for about a year and a half – all of the seventh year and half of the eighth.

One thing that you do not have to worry about during Shmita is t’rumot and ma’asrot: the tithes that are separated from the fruits and vegetables in Israel.  Usually, you need to check if these tithes have been taken off.  You can buy produce that was not tithed, and tithe it yourself, but it’s slightly complicated.  However, during Shmita you do not have to worry about this; all you have to worry about is that your produce has been purchased using one of the solutions mentioned above (and there are farmers who choose to ignore the commandment and keep selling as usual, just like there are farmers who choose not to tithe; although the Chief Rabbinate usually tithes everything under its supervision, there is always the option not to get supervision).  In a way it’s easier, in a way it’s harder.

Another issue with Shmita is that because there’s less to go around, the prices go up.  Oh, well.

I know I have put in a lot of Hebrew words that are not on my dictionary page; I will try to update the dictionary sometime soon.

One thing that I forgot to mention was “Shmitat Kesafim,” a monetary Shmita.  During the Shmita year, all debts are canceled, unless a document called a “pruzbul,” is signed, that allows the person to collect his debts during the Shmita year.  This document was instituted so that people would not stop lending money in the years just prior to Shmita, because they were worried that they would not be able to get it back.

Honestly, as a kid, I always thought it would be cool to live in Israel during a Shmita year.  I remember that we used to buy Gush Katif lettuce, and it was hard to get, and expensive, during Shmita.  Then, I thought it was because they weren’t supposed to be selling it; now, I realize it’s because the market for it here grows during Shmita, so they choose not to export.  I’m not sure why I thought it was cool as a kid (or a young college student; during my first Shmita here I still thought it was cool), because now it’s just a headache. Hey, I’ve been living in Israel for seven years!  I think I made aliya during the last Shmita.  Wow, that’s a looong time.

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.