The news that I, along with Rabbi Avi Weiss (Rav Avi), would be embarking to the north of Israel on a mission of solidarity and unity was met by many friends and colleagues with a myriad of responses. Many were supportive of the mission, all were apprehensive about the dangers, and yet some were cynical about our motives and chances of success.
The Washington Post's Richard Cohen, in a July 18 op-ed on the current fighting between Israel and Hizbullah ("Hunkering Down With History"), declared that Israel's creation was a "mistake." He based this judgment of Israel on its Arab Muslim neighbors' opposition to its existence.
People have very short memories.
When our son phoned to say he was coming over with his wife and children, my husband said, "Fine, we're home tonight, and for a change there's real food. Ima prepared supper for other family members that are on their way over."
Northern Israel is a vacationer's paradise. From hiking trails to walk on, to rivers to swim in, to luxury hotels to bask in, to mystical sites to seek inspiration from, it has something for everyone. This is why, when last week I took my first vacation in four years, I made my way to the North.
The fires that consumed the First Temple on the Ninth of Av continued to burn until the middle of the following day. The Talmudic sage Rabbi Yochanan stated, "Had I been alive in that generation, I would have fixed [the day of mourning] for the Tenth [of Av] because the greater part of the Temple was burnt on that day."
July 21 - Five Israeli soldiers were buried today. Among them was Benjy Hillman, 27, the son of one of my oldest friends. Benjy, z"l, was a commander in the elite Egoz unit, who was killed fighting Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon last night.
There are things that should not be said out loud, at least by people with little authority, because they might come out wrong. They might be construed as arrogant, naïve, impossible. The tone of voice must be just right, timbre calm and measured - even the pauses between words dare not be too great or noticeable, or you run the risk of being dismissed as preachy and holier-than-thou.
I must begin by expressing that our hearts are with our soldiers on both the northern and southern fronts, and our prayers beseech the Almighty to protect them so that they all return home safely.
As I write this, Israel is being heavily bombed. City after city in the north, like Sderot in the south, is reeling from the intense rocket attacks. The streets are empty. The people of Safed, Nahariya, Carmiel, Meron, Kiryat Shmona, Shlomi and Haifa are huddled in their safe rooms and community shelters. The rockets are deadlier and far-reaching.
In 2001, Mexican president Vicente Fox made something of a splash when he, contrary to his campaign rhetoric, came out in support of the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. Fox noted that, despite the number of people imprisoned for drug trafficking, and despite the legal penalties for the possession and use of substances, drug use was going up, not down.
Few facets of today's politics are more obvious or more startling than the Left's hatred of Israel. Be it the United Nations, elite universities or The New York Times, the Left unashamedly uses its institutions as forums from which to conduct its relentless campaign of vilification.
Based on his soaring rhetoric on the defense of freedom and the threat of terror, George W. Bush no doubt recognizes what is at stake if Iran goes nuclear - a sure high-tech escalation of that country's drive to impose Islamic rule over non-compliant infidels. Presumably, he also took the time to read the May letter from the Iranian president threatening the United States with war unless it followed "the true path," i.e., conversion to Islam.
Even by the standards of the British chattering classes, the reaction to the crisis in Gaza defies belief. Malevolent lies have mutated into a pathological departure from reality.
As I carefully followed the news of the disengagement in Gush Katif last year, I ached for the loss of Israeli security, and for the homes, employment and lives that so many families were forced to give up. I felt connected as a Jew, but at the same time distant as a safe, content American.
The reaction to Israeli president Moshe Katsav's reported "snub" of Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has almost uniformly focused on the propriety of Mr. Katsav's apparent refusal to address Mr. Yoffie as "rabbi" and on its implications for Israel-Diaspora relations. But what' s being missed is a bigger story, which is the failure of the Reform movement to create "facts on the ground" in Israel necessary to gain the attention and respect of Israel's leaders it so dearly craves.
Israel has no shortage of avowed detractors. It also has many genuinely avid supporters. Even more people and institutions claim to support Israel. But what does supporting Israel really mean?
BellSouth and other telecommunications companies, including Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Nextel Sprint, are also defendants in the lawsuit, accused of turning over "records" (but not the contents) of millions of their customers' phone calls (which BellSouth denies doing).
What could I possibly say to this woman, who had lost all her family in the Holocaust, who married another Holocaust survivor, started a new chapter in Israel and gave birth to two sons - only to lose them as well as her husband, who died heartbroken after Issachar was killed?
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