Tag Archives: Israel

Is the Newfound Peace in the Middle East Enough to Sway the Election?

Peace in the Middle East has been the wish of many for generations. The problem is that it is not as simple as it sounds.

In the past two years, you know who declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Then there were peace agreements with the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain.

Now it seems that is maybe a reality, thanks to you know who. But two questions come up. Does he genuinely believe in what he is doing? Or, is this just another ploy to win votes?

A part of me would like to believe that these peace deals were achieved because he genuinely wanted to see these countries work with one another. But I know better. After nearly four years in office, he has yet to prove that he can see beyond number one. He has even admitted that the move to Jerusalem was only to gain support from the Evangelical Christians.

Only time will tell of these peace deals will help in November. The only thing that I know is that I don’t trust him and will not be voting for him.

#BidenHarris2020

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Filed under International News, Politics

I Agree With Eliezer Sherbatov

For most of the world, Auschwitz is the most well known of the Nazi death camps. Millions of people were starved, tortured, and murdered simply because of who they were.

But the residents this unfortunately infamous town know it as Oswiecim.

Recently, Israeli Ice Hockey star Eliezer Sherbatov signed on to play for Unia Oswiecim. Unia Oswiecim is the local hockey team for Osweicim. The reaction to his decision was both positive and negative, depending upon who one spoke to.

Defending his choice, Sherbatov stated the following:

“I tell them, what happened 80 years ago will never be forgotten. That’s why, 80 years later, I want to show young people that they should be proud of their heritage and that now anything is possible.”

I agree with him. Though I fully understand the criticism, I feel like this is a sign of hope and the ability to triumph over tragedy. While the we must never forget what happened with the borders of the death camp, we must also live. The fact that the Jews and Judaism is alive and thriving nearly 100 years later is sweet revenge on it’s own.

While we cannot go back in time and change history, we can remember those who were taken from us. Eliezer Sherbatov joining Unia Oswiecim is in itself a memorial to those who were murdered and a reminder that love and humanity still exist.

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Filed under History, International News, World News

The Israel/UAE Deal is a Good First Step

In our modern world, the nearly century long conflict with Israel and her neighbors (and Palestine specifically) is just another part of the news cycle.

Earlier this week, Israel reached what many have described as a historic deal with the UAE.

I believe that this deal is a good one and a necessary step toward a reasonable peace in the region.

That being said, I am not surprised about the responses. Both Iran and the Palestinians are displeased, to say the least. You know who thinks that he actually solved the problem as a whole. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it will not create a peaceful utopia. There is still a long way to go.

I am also not sure that temporarily stopping the so called “West Bank Settlements” will create the necessary change. Though this another topic for another blog post, when Israel goes back to building what is essentially Israeli land, she will be met with the same criticism and damnation. But in the meantime, putting the settlements on hold is imperative.

But overall, my gut reaction is that the agreement is one to celebrate. Only when we put aside our prejudices can we see the common goals that exist between us. By putting hate aside, both Israel and the UAE are demonstrating that it is possible to live with your neighbor. It just requires the ability to listen and compromise.

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Filed under History, International News, Politics, World News

Israel Sends Aid to Beirut in Spite of Threats of Destruction

There are two sides to humanity. There are ways in which we are different (which is not all that bad). There are also ways in which are we similar.

One of the ways in which we are similar is how we are instructed to treat one other. The Golden Rule aka “Do to no one what you yourself dislike.” exists in multiple religious texts from a variety of belief systems.

Yesterday, a building filled with chemicals exploded in Beirut. As of tonight, 100 people died from the explosion, thousands are injured and many more are homeless.

In response, other countries have sent humanitarian aid and support. Among those countries is Israel. Yes, Israel.

In spite of the constant threat of destruction by Hezbollah, the Israelis put whatever enmity and bad blood they have aside to help the victims.

That is the Israel that I know and love. Perhaps you should get to know her as I do.

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Filed under International News, World News

Seth Rogen is Wrong About Israel

There are far too many myths and lies about Israel for my taste. The problem with these myths and lies becomes worse when they come out of the lips of my fellow Jews.

Recently, actor Seth Rogen was a guest on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. Both Rogen and Maron are Jewish. While talking about Israel, Rogen made the following statement:

“as a Jewish person,..I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel…You know, they never tell you that […] there were people there. They make it seem like it was just sitting there.”

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows how I feel about Israel. I have visited twice and hope to visit a third time at some point in the future. It is a beautiful country with warm people and delicious food. However, that does not mean that I agree with everything that is said and done over there.

The issue I take with Rogen’s comment is that it gives those with antisemitic views the permission to make a similar statement.

If Rogen does not agree with the decisions made by the Israeli government, that is one thing. He is, like all of us, entitled to his opinion. But to publicly make a general assertion without consideration of the facts is another thing entirely and just plain wrong.

We live in a world in which hate and racism have a firm hold on us. The only way to break that hold is to speak the truth and be willing to listen to one another. Unfortunately, Rogen’s declaration only added fuel to the fire that is hate and racism.

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Filed under International News, World News

The Ultimate Social Media Hypocrisy: Iran, Twitter, & Israel

When the Internet and social media took off decades ago, they both seemed to be a beacon of freedom of speech and communication. We would speak to and (virtually) meet people who we might otherwise not meet and become a better world.

But while the technology has changed, the world has not.

While the social media giants claim that they are all for freedom of expression, they continue to ignore the elephant in the room. That elephant is racism and antisemitism that continually flows from various tweets and posts.

Twitter, while claiming that hate speech is not allowed on the platform, does not prevent Iranian officials from threatening Israel with annihilation via tweets.

I wish it was easy to remove ourselves from social media. But, they are so much of a part of lives that to do so would be akin to cutting off a limb. The only solution is that the people who run the social media platforms follow through on their terms of service. The question is, will they?

Probably not.

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Filed under International News, World News

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