Tag Archives: Israel

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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Bill Maher is Right About BDS

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one that can be construed as simple or complicated, depending on one’s point of view.

While I certainly recognize the shades of grey in this conflict, my perspective is that Israel is trying to defend herself and her people from neighbors who would love to her wiped off the face of the Earth. The BDS movement is just one of those complicating factors that makes this issue even murkier.

Last week, Bill Maher blasted the organization on his weekly HBO politics talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

Aside from the implications for our political future, this statement I believe speaks the truth. It is a truth that many either refuse to hear or if they hear it, refuse to believe.

Speaking of Israel, the ban on Reps Tlaib and Omar entering the country last week were lifted after a fair amount of controversy. Representative Tlaib decided to turn down the invitation and not visit her grandmother. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was kid, my grandparents were my world. They are all long gone, there are days when I wish I could still see them and talk to them.

Others have said and I agree that she hates Israel more than she loves her grandmother. If I was in her shoes, I would be on the next flight out. Family is more important than politics will ever be.

I wish there was a way out of this conflict. I wish both sides would see each other as fellow human beings, instead of labels and political/historical baggage. But wishes don’t often become reality.

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Reps Tlaib and Omar Should Be Allowed Into Israel

There is nothing like a first hand experience to change hearts and minds. But unless one has that experience, it is unknown if hearts and minds can be changed.

Over the years, Israel has been a regular destination for members of the United States Congress. She has also experienced more than her fair share of criticism, prejudice, lies and half truths.

The latest news regarding Israel is that Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) have been banned from visiting the Jewish state with their colleagues.

The reason, as per the Israeli press is as follows: “Israel has decided. We won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Kan News. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision.”

This decision, in short, is a huge mistake. While I disagree with both Representatives’s opinion of Israel, I also strongly disagree with this ban.

The ban feels like it was more than the decision of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet. The invisible hand of you know who also played a role in choosing to ban the Representatives.

I want Representatives Omar and Tlaib to see the Israel that I know and love. My Israel is a beautiful, thriving and vibrant democracy. My Israel is a land that is both ancient and modern. My Israel is a nation in which one can walk in the footsteps of the Bible while experiencing modern technological breakthroughs.

Like any nation, Israel has her fair share of problems. However, she deserves to be seen for what she is without relying on momentary news bites or flashy headlines.

I believe that it would be a wise decision by Prime Minister Netanyahu to lift the ban. But that may not happen and if it is does not, I am concerned that it may negatively impact both the United States and Israel for years to come.

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I Agree With AOC On Many Things, But Not About Israel

Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog) knows that as politics go, I am fairly liberal. But that does not mean that I agree 100% of the time with liberal politicians.

Earlier this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was a guest on the Ebro in the Morning radio talk show. When the topic of Israel came up, she said somethings that I completely disagree with.

Before I go further, I need to make one thing clear. There is a stark difference between criticizing a government/country because of the governmental policies and criticizing the government/country because of the religious or cultural identity of said government/country.

I agree with AOC on many things, but not about Israel. Instead of being the intelligent woman that I know she is and replying thoughtfully, she just repeated the same lies that have unfortunately become part of our political rhetoric.

Israel is one of America’s greatest ally, especially in the Middle East. We should not be cutting of our nose to spite our face because of lies and half truths.

We have, as we all know, a Presidential election coming up next fall. Israel will be one of the many topics that will come up during the election season. The Democrats, as a political party, will need everything in their arsenal to oust you know who from office. In speaking as she did, AOC has given the Republicans an edge, especially with Jewish voters. If she is as committed to the Democratic party as she says she is, I would suggest that next time, she does her homework before publicly speaking about Israel as she did.

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Thoughts On Reps Tlaib and Omar’s Visit to Israel

There is an old saying: Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.

I firmly believe that this saying not only applies to an issue on the personal level, but it also applies to an issue on a political or cultural level.

Israel has been one of the go to countries for American politicians to visit over the years. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Rep Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) will be the latest American politicians to visit Israel, in spite of their openly antisemitic and anti-Israel comments.

When it comes these two members of Congress, I have to admit that I have two distinct feelings. I was appalled by you know who’s comments on Twitter last weekend. These women, both as citizens and members of the political class, have every right to speak their minds. However, I was hurt and disgusted by their public statements regarding Israel and the Jews in general.

Israel, like any country is imperfect, both at the government level and the personal level. This country, like all other countries, must face head on the racism that exists within her borders.

That being said, I have been to Israel twice in my life. I saw a country like my own. I saw a multi-cultural country in which most citizens (hopefully) don’t care about the religion or background of their fellow citizen. They just go about their business.

I challenge anyone who believes that Israel is an apartheid state to visit Israel. Ignore, for a short time, what the peanut gallery is saying. Make a decision based on what you are seeing, thinking and feeling.

I am not in the minds of Reps Tlaib or Omar. Nor can I influence what they are thinking or feelings. But I can hope and wish that their visit opens their eyes and convinces them to see the truth about Israel.

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Thoughts On Shavout

Compassion can be taught one of two ways. The first way is teaching via the phrase “thou shall”, threatening figurative fire and brimstone if one looks away from the suffering of their fellow human. The second way to teach compassion is via kindness and example.

This week, Jews around the world celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavout. The heroine of the holiday is Ruth. An unlikely heroine, her story teaches compassion and kindness for the poor, the stranger and the outsider.

The story, for those who are unaware, is as follows: Moabite Ruth’s Israelite husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law are all dead. Her mother-in-law, Naomi left ancient Israel decades ago due to a famine with her husband and sons. Neither Ruth or Orpah, her sister-in-law, have children via their late husbands.

Naomi bids the younger women to return to their families, as she has nothing for them. Orpah goes back to her family, but Ruth stays with Naomi. To make a long story short, Ruth will travel back to Israel with Naomi, eventually convert and re-marry. One of her many great-grandsons is King David.

The stories in the Bible speak to us for any number of reasons. For me, the Book of Ruth is not just a lesson in helping out those less fortunate. It is the lesson of accepting and respecting others who are different from us. It is also the story of two women who take control over their own lives instead of waiting for a man to rescue them.

For those who celebrate, have a happy Shavout.

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Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel Book Review

Spying is rarely as glamorous or simple as it appears to be in film and on television. It is often dangerous, requiring those who take up the charge of spying to potentially put their lives on the line for their cause and their country.

In the new non-fiction book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, author Matti Friedman tells the true story of four young men of Sephardi Jewish descent (Jews who come from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East) who pretended to Muslim to spy for the newly born Israeli state in the late 1940’s.

Spy novels, whether they are fiction or based on fact are usually not my go to genre. However, this book is one heck of a read. It had the narrative of a James Bond movie combined with the true stories of four young men who put their own needs aside to protect their country and their people.

I recommend it.

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Sadness Is a White Bird Book Review

There are many (myself included), who strongly believe in one side of the narrative when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, there are others may have a more nuanced and complicated view of the conflict.

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is one of these individuals. His new novel, Sadness is a White Bird, is the story of a young man who is torn between two ideologies. Jonathan was born in Israel, raised in America and returned to Israel two years before the novel begins. He is ready to do his duty and protect Israel via his service with the IDF. However, his best friends are Palestinian twins and Jonathan begins to see that his world view is not so black and white.

In this semi-biographical novel, Rothman-Zecher explores the grey areas of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and how the human experience is often ignored in favor of bold faced headlines and cold facts. What I liked about this book is that it presents both the Israelis and Palestinians as fully human, reminding the reader that there are human beings behind the headlines.

I may not agree with the author, but if there is one lesson to be learned from this book, it is that if we are to live with our neighbors, we must get to know them on an individual level and not just as a member of their specific cultural or religious group.

I recommend it.

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If the Democrats Want to Win the 2020 Election, I Suggest That They Squash the Antisemitism In Their Party

For the nearly twenty years that I have been able to vote, I have voted mostly Democrat. My family has been also voting along the Democratic lines for as long as I can remember.

I hate to say it, but I may have to rethink my political affiliation. Earlier today, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) made some comments regarding Israel, Palestine and the Holocaust are not only historically inaccurate, but they also have the capacity to inflame what is already a dangerous conflict. During the interview, she stated the following:

“There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports. I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time, and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them,” she said.

There are a number of inaccuracies that I would like correct the Representative on.

  1. The origin of the name Palestine comes from the Greeks who conquered ancient Israel and changed the name to prevent future generations from identifying Israel as their homeland.
  2. Before 1948, anyone who called the British Mandate of Palestine home was a Palestinian, even those of the Jewish faith.
  3. When Israel was declared to be an independent state, Arab leaders at the time promised a quick and easy war to remove the Jews and establish a new Arab state. The war did not go as planned. Meanwhile, no one talks about the Jews who were living in Muslim countries and had to leave everything behind to stay alive.

I am the first to admit that the actions of the Israeli government are not always perfect. I am the first to agree that there is racism is Israel, as there is everywhere in the world. But it is the only legitimate democracy in the Middle East, where all citizens are treated equally.

I don’t want to have to change my political party. I have no doubt that antisemitism exists in the Republican and Independent parties. But the fact is that if the Democrats do not excise this wound, they may lose the 2020 election. The last thing I want is to have you know who win another four years in office.

P.S. If you are interested in additional reading, Liel Leibovitz’s excellent article in Tablet Magazine hits the nail on the head.

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Thoughts On Yom Ha’atzmaut

Earlier this week was Israeli Independence Day or Yom Ha’atzmaut.

I don’t want to tell about about the Israel that you see on the news. We all get enough of that when we turn on our televisions or open the local newspaper. I want to tell you about the Israel that I have been to and I hope that one day, you will visit Israel for yourself.

Foodies will be high heaven when they visit Israel. There are more than enough options to please any palate (vegan included). I haven’t been to Israel since 2005, but my mouth waters at the memory of some of the food that was consumed.

There is nothing like a home cooked Bedouin meal with bread fresh from the oven.
If hospitality means good food, the Druze homeowners who invited American strangers into their home for a meal understood that meaning of the word.

The beaches in Tel Aviv are some of the most beautiful beaches on earth.

Putting my toes into the Mediterranean was heaven, given that I was visiting when the East Coast was experiencing the usual cold January weather.

If there is one place that you visit in Israel, I recommend that you go to the Dead Sea. Besides the skin nourishing mud, the floating in the Dead Sea is an experience that you must have for yourself.

And finally, for the history buff, Jerusalem is the ultimate one two punch of history and the modern world. One cannot help but see where the past and the present collide.

Jerusalem, if I forget you….
Jerusalem, where the past and the present collide.

Happy 71st birthday, Israel. May you have 71 more.

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