Tag Archives: Israel

Mental Illness is Not an Excuse for Sexual Abuse

Mental illness and it’s various forms affect countless people around the world. But unlike physical illness and it’s many variations, mental illness does not get the respect it deserves.

Back in 2008, Malka Leifer was accused of sexually abusing several students at the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a teacher. But before she could be brought into the courtroom to face her accusers, Ms. Leifer left Australia for Israel. Twelve years later, she faces extradition back to Australia. Her lawyers and supporters claim that she is mentally ill.

I have a huge problem with this claim. The problem is that her claim (if it is not true) is not only foolish, but it could also have life-shattering consequences. Millions of us wake up every day with mental illness. I wake every day with depression hanging around my neck. Does that mean I will commit such a heinous crime as sexual assault on a minor?

No.

It’s hard enough to admit that one is living with mental illness and needs help. The last thing those of us who live with this disease need is for someone to use it as an excuse for moral failings.

Mental illness is NOT an excuse for sexual assault and never will be.

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Filed under International News, Mental Health, World News

Yom Haatzmaut: They Tried to Kill Us, We Survived, Let’s Eat

There is an old joke about Jewish history:

“They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” 

Today is Israel Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut).

Today is both a day to celebrate and a day to remember. We celebrate because we have returned to the land of our ancestors. We can physically follow and pray in the footsteps of past generations who have long since shuffled off this mortal coil.

But we also remember those who gave their lives and those who continue to give their lives for Israel. I think most, if not all of us are aware that Israel lives in a neighborhood in which relations with their neighbors is tenuous at best.

I have had the pleasure of visiting Israel twice so far in my life. I can only describe both experiences as life altering. I hope to be able, at some point in the future, go for a third time.

May those who gave their lives for Israel’s security and freedom forever a blessing and may we continue to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut for many years to come.

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Filed under History

Practicing One’s Faith During the Coronavirus Only Needs a Little Creativity

It is without a doubt that the coronavirus has upended our lives as we know them to be.

This includes religious practice. With the holidays of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan coming quickly, the faithful must find new ways to celebrate their respective holidays while following the recommendations of the experts.

Across the country and across the world, religious leaders are turning to video conferencing services programs such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other programs to hold services.

What is frustrating to me is that there are some who are are willingly putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones in danger by acting as life is normal. Last month, a Fundamentalist church in Indiana held services in spite of warnings against holding large gatherings. In Israel and in my hometown of New York City, some ultra-Orthodox Jews ignored the edicts by the government to prevent coronavirus from spreading further than it already has spread.

Anyone who has read this blog knows of my Jewish faith. Though I am not as religious as others, my faith is important to me. Passover starts Wednesday night. My family, like many other families, are being creative when it comes to the Seder and the traditional ways of telling the Passover story.

If the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is that it takes a little flexibility to get through tough times. To say that we are going through tough times is an understatement. That requires us to understand that we cannot live as we did a month ago. Those who willingly ignore that fact endanger us all.

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Filed under National News, New York City

Does You Know Who Really Care About American Jews?

I think that it’s pretty fair to say that the subject of Israel and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict cannot be boiled down to a quick soundbite or a headline. There are deep nuances and shades of grey that go well beyond what the news media tells us.

This past weekend, you know who spoke at the Israeli-American Council’s annual conference in Florida. He touted his record as pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. He also said the following:

“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more. Because you have people that are Jewish people that are great people – they don’t love Israel enough,”

While I have to agree with him (as much as I hate that), I still feel like he is as disingenuous as he has always been. He can argue that he has a Jewish daughter, a Jewish son-in-law, Jewish grandchildren, Jewish friends, and colleagues, etc. But he is also known for speaking out of both sides of his mouth and sending out numerous antisemitic dog whistles.

He is a top-notch salesman. He knows what to say and whom to say it to so he can close the sale. In the world of real estate, one needs to be a top-notch salesperson to professionally survive.

In the world of politics, one also needs a touch of the salesperson to professionally survive. However, when one lives in a Democracy and a politician sells the voters a false bill of goods in order to get elected, the voters have every right to kick that person to the curb.

It would be nice if I had a crystal ball to predict the outcome of the Presidential election and the impeachment trial. But I don’t. I can only hope that common sense, decency, and mutual respect will take us back to where were before the chaos started.

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Filed under International News, National News, Politics, World News

Bernie Sanders Lost My Vote

With the 2020 Presidential Election a little more than a year away, the time is coming in which voters must choose which Democratic candidate will go against you know who.

Though I like a number of the candidates, I have yet to choose just one to push as the Democratic nominee. But there is one nominee who has forever lost my vote: Bernie Sanders.

To be honest, something about Senator Sanders (D-Vermont) never quite clicked with me politically. I appreciate his ideas, but they have always been a little out there, at least from my perspective.

But his decision to hire Amer Zahr, a staunch advocate of the BDS movement has turned me off from voting for Senator Sanders altogether. The fact that Senator Sanders, who is Jewish, would bring on a surrogate who actively campaigns for the destruction of Israel is repugnant.

The problem is the mixed message that Senator Sanders sends out with this decision. He has spoken in the past of being Jewish and yet, he hires someone who advocates for the destruction of the Jewish homeland and Jewish lives.

If Senator Sanders wants to win the nomination and possibly the Presidency, recognizing the importance of Israel and her American supporters is tantamount. Especially given that most Jewish voters are Democrats.

As much as I would love a Jewish President of the United States, I doubt that Senator Sanders will be that President.

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Filed under International News, Politics, World News

Demi Lovato Should Not Apologize About Visiting Israel

Travel happens for many reasons. For business, for pleasure, to visit loved ones, etc.

Recently, music star Demi Lovato visited Israel. Since returning home, she was forced to apologize for her trip.

There should be no need to apologize for her trip. For whatever reasons she had, she chose to spend her free time in Israel.

The sad and disgusting irony of this unnecessary apology is that if she had chosen to visit any other country, it wouldn’t have even made the news. But because she chose to visit Israel, it becomes a big deal.

Israel is a beautiful country with warm people, delicious food and the opportunity to walk through history while living in the present. I apologize to Ms. Lovato that she was forced to apologize and I suggest that if you have the chance to visit Israel, you take it. It may be the vacation of vacations.

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Filed under International News, Music, World News

Thoughts On the Results of the Israeli/Egyptian World Judo Championship Semifinals Match

Sports is supposed to be free from politics and international conflict. It should be about skill, talent and hard work. But that does not mean that politics and international conflict cannot get in the way.

Israeli athlete Sagi Muki met Egyptian athlete Mohamed Abdelaal met on the mat during the World Judo Championship semifinals in Tokyo. Mr. Muki was named the winner of the match. Instead of being a good sportsman and shaking Mr. Muki’s hand, Mr. Abedelaal just walked off the mat.

Mr. Abdelaal’s actions, in my mind, represents what I think is a sad mentality when it comes to Israel and Jews. Regardless of ethnicity or national origin, Mr. Muki won fair and square. But to Mr. Abdelaal and millions who think like him, he was beaten by an Israeli Jew. In their mind, it is an unthinkable act.

I wish that we lived in a world in which we respected one another as individuals. I also wish we lived in a world in which when one entered any sports arena, one only saw their fellow athlete and not their ethnicity. But wishing sometimes goes nowhere.

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Filed under International News, Thoughts On...., World News

Put the Blame Where it is Due and Not on Israel

When one gets to a certain age, the blame game become immature and a waste of time. It takes an adult to see that. Unfortunately, not all of us who are grown act like adults.

In the latest twist in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) blamed Israel for the honor killing of Israa Gharib. Her crime is that she was fraternizing with a man outside the bonds of marriage. In her world, this was a crime for which the only punishment is death. The men accused of killing her are her father and brothers.

I agree with Rep. Tlaib that toxic masculinity was responsible for Ms. Gharib’s death. She was not seen by the men closest to her as a flesh and blood creature with thoughts, feelings, ambitions, dreams and flaws. She was seen as an object to be used and sold in the name of marriage.

However, the blame for her death lands solely in the lap of her father and brothers. It has nothing to do with Israel.

The sooner Rep. Tlaib and the rest of the Israel haters recognize that, the sooner we will get to a legit and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

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Filed under Feminism, International News, World News

90 Years After the Hebron Massacre, Another Child is Killed Because She is Jewish

August 24th, 1929 started out as an ordinary day for Jewish population of Hebron. By the time the sun set, nearly 70 Jews were murdered in what would become the Hebron Massacre. As a result, the authorities (which was then the British) moved the survivors out of Hebron. After thousands of years of Jews calling Hebron home, it was Judenrein.

This week, another young lady was killed because she is Jewish. The same blood lust and hatred that killed nearly 70 people 90 years ago caused the death of Rina Shnerb. 17 year old Rina was hiking with her brother and father when they were hit by a terrorist bomb. Rina died at the scene. Her father and brother were seriously injured and are still hospitalized.

I am not saying that every Muslim who lives in Middle East or any place in the world for that matter has a blood thirsty hatred of Jews. However, there are many in that part of the world that would dearly love and would do anything to see the region become Judeinrein.

May the memories of Rina and the people killed in Hebron be a blessing and a reminder that until this blood thirsty hatred ends, Israel and Jews around the world must always be on the defensive.

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Filed under History, International News, World News

The Jexodus Is Not Happening

For generations, most of American Jews have voted and stayed firmly within the Democratic party.

You know who made the following statement today about American Jews and who they may vote for in next year’s Presidential election:

“Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,”

Americans have unfortunately become accustomed to his off the cuff remarks, dog whistles and half truths. The statement above is all three and much more. I find it to be personally offensive.

When one speaks of loyalty and the Jews, it smacks of antisemitism. The question of whom the Jewish community is loyal to has led the persecution, destruction and murder.

If he thinks that the whole Israel debacle from last week will make American Jews jump ship to the Republican party, he is dead wrong. Most American Jews that I know of still openly and proudly vote Democrat.

If nothing else, this statement may have the opposite effect and it I hope it does. This Democrat is not jumping ship anytime soon.

P.S. If he thinks that Ivanka converting to Judaism and raising Jewish children gives him cred with the Jewish community, he is wrong.

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Filed under International News, National News, Politics, World News