Tag Archive | muslims

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.

Soldiers Are Just Kids in Uniform

This is a post I wrote in the middle of Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge, this past summer) and never published.

The first time I came to Israel, I was twelve; I came for my cousin’s wedding and it doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  When I saw soldiers they were cool and practically grown up.  Definitely with a lot of responsibility.

The next time I came, I was post high school, studying in a one-year program that would count as part of my degree when I got back.  I remember looking at the soldiers and thinking that we were the same age but living in completely different worlds.  I wasn’t sure which world was preferable; I did know that I owed them a lot and in many ways they were more mature than I was.  I remember thinking that we were so different, but still so much alike.

I’m not the same age as the soldiers anymore; I have a brother who, if he lived in Israel, would be just starting, or about to start, his stint in the army.  I see soldiers, I see high school boys and girls – and I see kids.  Young and innocent, immature, sweet, kids.  I wonder what they want to do with their lives.  I wonder what they’ve been through already.  I wonder, especially when I see soldier couples, if they were neighbors or met during their service, and if they will marry when they get out of the army.  I wonder who will go to Thailand to find himself and who will start studying for a degree.

I look at my youngest brother in law, a year and a bit older than me, and think about what the army has done for him.  Maybe he’s chronologically older than me, but he’s still just a kid.  And being in the army has matured him – a lot.  He’s not all for fighting, like he was at first.  And there are other changes, but I won’t write them.

I look at the kids finishing high school and know that in three years, when they finish army, they will be different people.

Unfortunately, thanks to Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge), I’ve seen way too many pictures of soldiers on the internet.  Most of them, if not all, were of soldiers who are no longer with us.  Smiling faces of kids, young and innocent.  Kids who were engaged, kids who were two weeks before their weddings.  Kids whose younger siblings are still in grade school and asking the prime minister why this had to happen and why there was a ceasefire.

Kids who had plans for the future, who had their whole future before them.

Of course, some of those killed weren’t kids.  Some of them were career soldiers, or reservists; officers with wives and children.  Some of these career soldiers left behind children who will never know their father – because their father was killed a short while before they were born.

I’m not sure what’s worse – a dead kid soldier or a dead soldier who leaves a wife and five orphans.

I do know that when I see the faces of these kids, smiling faces full of life and hope, I can’t help but smile.  And then I remember that they’re not here anymore.  And I have to ask why.  They were kids!  Kids barely out of high school.  You see it in their jawlines, in their attitudes, in their crooked pubertal smiles and disproportionate noses, in their optimism, in their barely-there facial hair.

Kids.

Like any other kids.

High school kids in uniform.  That’s what they are.

Why did they have to die, and why can’t we respect their deaths, and their families, and make their deaths worthwhile?  Those are questions I don’t have the answer to.

I wish I did.

And I hope and pray that by the time Shlomo finishes high school, we won’t need to fight anymore, because we will have quiet.  Peace – probably will never come.  King Solomon didn’t have peace – the countries were afraid of him.  We don’t have peace with Syria – Syria is afraid to start up with us.  With Egypt we don’t have peace, either – they just hate Hamas, and so do we.  When Jacob’s sons fought and killed all of Sh’chem (Nablus?), they didn’t make peace with their neighbors.  No one came to kill them, because everyone was afraid.  That’s not peace.  But it is the only way we’ll have quiet.

I know that this hope, and prayer, may very well be in vain.  Those who fought in 1948 had the same hope and prayer for their children.  It didn’t happen.  Those who fought in 1967 felt the same way, and prayed that their children would never have to wear an army uniform.  That didn’t happen, either.  Every parent in this country, every soldier in this country, every reservist, hopes and prays that the fighting of today, that the soldiers of today, will be enough, and that the next generation, my generation’s children, will not have to wear uniforms and will not have to fight.

This is what we hope.  This is what we pray.

But as Golda Meir said, “We will not have peace until Hamas loves their children more than they hate us.”

Hamas hasn’t gotten there yet.  And as long as they turn their children into suicide terrorists, we will have to fight them, and so will our children.

I hope, I pray, that the world will wake up, that we will wake up, and that no more innocent high school kids will have to die.