Thoughts On the Friendly Fire Admittance by the IDF

Friendly fire is defined as follows:

An attack by belligerent or neutral forces on friendly troops while attempting to attack enemy/hostile targets.

It is an aspect of war that is unfortunately unavoidable.

After months of investigation, the IDF announced that it was very likely that friendly fire caused the death of journalist of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Two things are apparent to me from this announcement.

The first is that as usual, Israel is figuratively being the bigger person. Their leadership and maturity prove that they are willing to do the work to create lasting peace and coexistence. The second is that the Palestinians, on the other hand, are so committed to the lies that they are spreading, that they will use anyone and anything to support their “truth“.

As usual, the only victims are the innocent people whose lives have been turned upside down at best, or at worst are maimed and/or killed because one side refuses to work with the other.

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L.

Thoughts On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Munich Massacre

Anniversaries are a funny thing. Whether they are happy or sad, they dredge up memories of what was.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich massacre. 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage and murdered simply because they were Jews.

It took half a century for the Olympic committee to publicly recognize and remember those who were killed during the games. During this year’s games in Tokyo, a moment of silence commemorated those whose lives were taken.

The German government, led by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, apologized for the inaction that led to the slaughter.

“In the name of the Federal Republic of Germany, I ask for forgiveness for insufficient protection of the athletes” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

While I appreciate the apology and the memorial to the victims, it’s not enough. What we need to do is to educate ourselves about the lies of antisemitism and shut down those who would make stories about the Jews and Israel for personal/political aims.

May their memories be a blessing. Z”l.

How Many More Anti-Jewish Crimes Will be Committed Before Something is Done?

Antisemitism is a very real thing. Nearly a century after the Holocaust, the same lies and hatred that killed 6 million Jews have once more found new life.

On August 20th, Eyal Haddad, a French Jew of Tunisian descent, was murdered with an axe by a Muslim neighbor. His body was burned and mutilated. Just like Sarah Halimi in 2017, the only reason why he was killed was that he was a member of the Jewish faith.

Yesterday, an Orthodox Jewish man in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn was hit over a parking spot. The young man who hit him threatened to find his victim again and repeat his actions.

I find both events to be extremely frustrating. In regards to the murder of Mr. Haddad, the authorities are already stating that he was not killed because of his faith. It does not take a brainiac to figure out why Mr. Haddad is no longer alive. When it came to the assault in Brooklyn today, no one stood up to this punk kid. They just stood around and let it happen. The person who was behind the camera I find especially culpable. They decided that it was more important to keep filming.

What I am bothered by is the double standard. When Israel (and the Jews by extension) defends herself against verbal and physical attacks from her neighbors, the accusations are fast and brutal. But when we try to call out the antisemitic lies, no one listens.

Cry Those Crocodile Tears, Bella Hadid

We are all entitled to our beliefs. But when those beliefs cross the line and encourage murder and destruction of other people because they are different, that is no longer acceptable.

For some time now, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid and his daughters, Bella and Gigi have been using social media to spread lies against Israel and inflame the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Earlier this week, Bella has been complaining that she has lost jobs and friends.

Of course, there are those who would come to her defense. But I will not give them oxygen on this blog. I will only say that their true antisemitic and anti-Israel colors are showing. If the only way to make them see the errors of their ways is to lose friends and job opportunities, so be it.

Cry those crocodile tears, Bella Hadid. They mean nothing to me.

Sad Cry Me A River GIF by The Bachelor - Find & Share on GIPHY

In International News: Palestinians Kill Their Own Children & Brittney Griner Sentenced Because she is American

Politics is a game of give and take. But there are some boundaries that if crossed, will result in conflict, in one form or another.

Over the last few days, Palestinians have been again shooting rockets into Israel, purposefully targeting civilians. Approximately 120 rockets never got to Israel proper. They fell to the ground instead of hitting their targets. Nine Palestinian people were killed, four were children. These people do not care about their own. They only care about making the Middle East (and the world by extension) Judenrein.

In Russia, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in jail for carrying less than 1 gram of cannabis in her suitcase. After six months in prison, she pleaded guilty with the following statement:

“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom.

“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.

After the sentence, Griner told a CNN producer as she left court, “I love my family.”

When breaking a law, one should be punished. But the punishment should be appropriate to what they are accused of doing. It seems to me that the Griner is being used because she is an American. Putin and his government cannot strike us directly, but they can use one of our citizens as a pawn. I do wonder that if she was paid the same as male basketball players, would she have had to play overseas and be in her current predicament?

There is talk of a prisoner swap. So far, only talks have been confirmed by either side. Time will tell when Griner comes home. But I am hoping and praying that she does so soon.

That concludes this week’s dip into international news. Thank you for reading and have a good rest of the day.

Jews Don’t Count Book Review

Intersectionality and progress go hand in hand. We cannot make this country and this world better if we only speak to or include certain groups of people.

David Baddiel‘s 2021 book, Jews Don’t Count, takes this racist concept and drops it squarely in the lap of the reader. He speaks about antisemitism on both the right and the left, referring to certain politicians in both the US and the UK. On the right, we are not accepted because we are Jews. On the left, we are seen as the oppressor because the image of the Jew is often of one of Ashkenazi descent (i.e. White). And of course, the issue of Israel is packed in and used as needed.

He also takes on Jewface and the controversy of a non-Jewish performer playing a Jewish character. Particularly when this character is a full-on stereotype without the nuances and humanity that are given to the non-Jewish character.

The problem he points to is loud and clear: if we are to move forward and create a better world, all groups must be included. No one should be left out.

There are only a handful of books that I think everyone should read. Jews Don’t Count is one of them. Especially those of us who are fighting for a future in which we are all equal and judged on our merits, not on our labels.

There was one line that has stayed with me. At this stage of his life, Baddiel is an atheist. He stated that if he were a hidden Jew who was outed during World War II, he would still be killed because he is Jewish. Nothing else would have mattered to the Nazis.

A couple of recent headlines perfectly summed up this idea. Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro (whom I disagree with about everything) made the following statement about Reform Jews:

“What do you think about what former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer once said: that Israel should put its political fortune in the Evangelist community rather than in the Reform Jewish community [in the US]?” Segal asked Shapiro, who at just 38 years of age has written 11 books.

“As a matter of blunt fact, that’s true,” Shapiro answered. “It’s an unfortunate reality of life in the United States that Reform Judaism, as a branch, does not see Jewish identity in a serious way, as central.

“It’s a very simple rubric for me: If as a Jew, your values are more in line with same-sex marriage, transgenderism and abortion than they are with, for example, the safety and security of the State of Israel – I have serious questions about how you think about yourself as a Jew,” he continued, receiving a standing ovation.

Then Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano (who is also on the political right) said the following about Shapiro:

“We don’t want people who are atheists. We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country.” He also added: “Ben Shapiro is not welcome in the movement unless he repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior

It doesn’t matter to Mastriano and his ilk that he and Shapiro have the same beliefs when it comes to this country’s identity and future. It only matters that Ben Shapiro is a Jew.

The only way to stop this kind of thinking is to stand together. Until we do, the ideals that our founders believed in will be just that.

Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.

Jews Don’t Count is available wherever books are sold.

Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres Documentary Review

Dreams sustain us when everything seems dark. Without that light and that hope that dreaming provides, what we wish for will always seem far away.

The new Netflix documentary, Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres tell the story of the late Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres. Born in a small shtetl in Eastern Europe in 1923, Peres and his family immigrated to what was then British-controlled Palestine in the early 1930s. When the modern state of Israel was created in 1948, he joined the newly formed government and over the decades, rose up and down in the ranking of leadership.

His story is both the story of Jews in the 20th century and Israel as we know it to be today. He faced political challenges that are universal and unique to the region. Above all, he believed that peace and co-existence with the nation’s Arab neighbors are not unattainable goals. Though they were not achieved within his lifetime, Peres opened the door for future generations of Israeli leadership to follow in his footsteps.

Narrated by George Clooney, this narrative is about a dreamer who was also realistic. Peres knew what he wanted the future to look like. At the same time, he understood that it would take work, courage, and being open to new possibilities to get the job done.

What I took away from the film was that dreaming is a good thing. But without getting your hands figuratively dirty, the image in your mind will remain just that. That inspiration crosses all boundaries and perhaps provides the lift we need to get off our buts and do what we need to do.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres is available for streaming on Netflix.

AOC Speaks the Truth About the State of Our Government

One of the key aspects of being in politics (as I see it) is the ability to clearly communicate with the voting public. Supporting legislation that fits within your belief system is good and obviously part of the job. But if the public is not aware of it, it makes us wonder if we voted for the right person.

The frustration coming from many Democrats is that while those in power are doing what they were hired to do, their Achilles heel is messaging. Meanwhile, the Republicans are exceptional at sharing their message. However, the implication is that they want to tear down this country and rebuilt it as a religious autocracy in which anyone who is not a caucasian Christian heterosexual male is a second-class citizen.

Last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Though I thoroughly dislike her stance on Israel, she speaks the truth about what must be done to save America from itself.

If only those at the top would listen…

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem Series One Part One Review

Family is complicated. Marriage is complicated. We can only do our best and hope that it is good enough.

The new Netflix series, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, is based on the novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel, by Sarit Yishai-Levi. The first half of the first series is set in the 1920s and 1930s. It follows the women of the Ermoza family, a Sephardi Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Gabriel (Michael Aloni) is in love with another woman but is forced to marry Roza (Hila Saada), by his mother Merkada (Irit Kaplan). He tries to be a good husband and father but is not exactly dedicated to his family. Almost twenty years later, their eldest daughter, Luna (Swell Ariel Or) is growing up in a time of political tension and struggle.

I don’t recall if I read the book, but the first series is fantastic. Set against the backdrop of British-controlled Palestine (i.e. pre-1948 Israel), the emotional conflicts within the Ermoza family collide with the heady and complicated world events of the era. It is fantastic, immediately grabs the viewer, and does not let go until the final credits roll. If nothing else, it reveals a side of history in this region that is not often talked about in the mainstream press.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The first season of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is available for streaming on Netflix.

P.S. The second season is scheduled to be released sometime in July. I eagerly await its arrival.

Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted Book Review

If there is one thing we can hopefully agree on, it is that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not as black and white as it appears to be on the surface. The truth is that there are grey areas that are not often explored or given time in the spotlight.

Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted, by Daniel Sokatch, with illustrations by Christopher Noxon, was published last fall. This premise of the book is to answer as many questions as possible in a concise, readable, and understandable manner in regard to one of the world’s longest modern disputes. Starting in the distant past and ending in today’s world, Sokatch explores the history of the region, the people who have called it home, and the arguments that have lasted generations.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While he highlights the antisemitism that has, unfortunately, been part and parcel of Jewish history, I think he gives the haters too much latitude. While I am again hoping that the consensus is that there has been too much destruction and loss on both sides, I am disheartened that the author ignores the many times that real attempts for peace have been shot down by the Palestinians.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted is available wherever books are sold.

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