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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: How Do You Eulogize a 13-and-a-half Year Old Girl?

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Rena Ariel, whose daughter Hallel was murdered this morning, eulogized her:

I am giving you one last hug…I am standing here with a heart filled with pain and I am turning to you, the Arab mother, the Muslim who sent your son out to stab. I raised my daughter with love, but you and the Arab Muslim educators, you taught him to hate. Go, put your house in order…

How do you eulogize a 13-and-a-half year old girl? Tell me what words to use to eulogize a flower, a pure soul, who is courageous and beautiful. Your only sin was that you were almost perfect.

You were a ray of light in my life. You were the one who turned me into a mother.

You [God] gave me a present and now I am returning it to You. Take her. She is the flesh of our flesh. Hug her, because I will never again be able to touch her. Make room for her, so she can dance.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The ‘Times of Israel’

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

In general, I have never found that four letter words are more effective than…let’s say five letter words or six or seven. It’s always been how you use them, what meaning you create with them and yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the Times of Israel’s best recorded hits will go to those that use four letter words. It seems to be a measure of their journalistic talents…or perhaps a failure of it.

I met a friend in the supermarket today. We spoke of the tragedy in Kiryat Arba today. There are no good attacks, but there are sometimes particularly bad ones. It happened the day after you were in one place, the very day you planned to be there until something changed. You have a child the same age, or with the same name. Somehow, there are attacks that make us bleed more deeply, cry from the depths of pain.

This morning, I heard the first announcements. A terrorist jumped the fence into the Harsina neighborhood in Kiryat Arba and stabbed a girl – aged 16, they reported (she was only thirteen and a half…she’ll never get to be 16). “Oh God, oh God, oh God,” I said aloud in my empty car. I started to cry…I have to call Aliza.

Aliza is my youngest daughter. She is 16 years old. She studies in Kiryat Arba. I wasn’t worried about her. She was safe at home, in bed. My hands were already shaking as I pressed the numbers. By then, I knew the girls name, Hallel Yaffa, daughter of Rena. Aliza told me she was at least a year younger and not in her grade; I told her she was badly wounded. “Her mother is asking people to pray for her. She doesn’t have a pulse,” Aliza told me when she called back after speaking to her friends.

“I’ll pray for her,” Aliza said, “and I’ll pray for you.” Through tears and a broken voice, I told her I was fine and she didn’t have to pray for me. I had to go to a meeting. I had to pull myself together enough to smile and pretend. “I want to pray for you,” she answered, assuring me that she was fine. She knows me, my beautiful daughter and her calm voice helped me in more ways that I could ever write.

After the meeting, I drove to do a quick shopping and there my friend told me about the obscene headlines in the Times of Israel. Why was I surprised by their f*****g apathy to a young Jewish child who was murdered in cold blood in her bedroom?

Ah, her bedroom. You see, according to the Times of Israel, it’s really important to tell you where that bedroom is because, naturally, you can calm down. It only happened in a West Bank bedroom.

And she died. Did you know that? Apparently writing that she was murdered took up too much space. Or worse, it might get you to feel the tragedy more. She died. And anyway, she was in a West Bank bedroom, so really, she probably deserved it, right David Horovitz? Right, Sarah Tuttle-Singer? Right, Miriam Hershlag?

In one stinking article, to make sure you really understand where this terror attack took place…no, I’m sorry, it wasn’t a terror attack, it was a “stabbing attack”, these are the words they use:

  • West Bank settlement home
  • into the settlement
  • her bedroom in the West Bank settlement

And, if that isn’t enough, the Times of Israel wants to add some perspective. There have been 34 Israelis murdered since October 1. And then, wait for it, lest they be thrown out of the left-wing media consortium, they rush to point out, that “Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed over that same time frame, the majority of them while carrying out terror attacks, according to Israeli authorities.”

Well, I’m happy the Israeli authorities took the time to point out that a [VAST] majority of those 200 Palestinian were terrorists. Of course, if there were some that were not terrorists, it is interesting that the Times of Israel doesn’t bother to explain the important detail that the vast majority of those few who were not involved in terror attacks were in close proximity to an attack, but never mind. Integrity and fact have little presence on the webpages of the Times of Israel.

You know, there are days that the anger chokes you. Well, to the Times of Israel Staff, congratulations. I can only pray and hope that Hallel’s parents are smart enough not to waste their time reading the Times of Israel.

Times of Israel? Israel? You know, now that I think about it, you really should consider changing your name. You have no right to use “Israel” – you do not represent this country; you do not speak for it. You don’t even report about it.

A child was murdered today. In her bedroom. In a place she should have been safe. She was murdered by a 17 year old Palestinian. The news was wrong. She wasn’t my daughter’s age, but the murderer was. This morning, Hallel was murdered once by Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah and then she was casually dismissed by the “Times of Israel Staff” who wanted to make sure that you know that had Hallel been in Tel Aviv, Afula, Beersheva, Beit Shemesh, Raanana, and all the other cities and places that were hit by terror in the last few months, they’d care a bit more.

But she was a settler, Hallel Yaffa, daughter of Rena, who will be buried in a few hours. It is rare that I feel physically sick from reading the Times of Israel. It happens often when I read BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, etc. And I bet the Times of “Israel” would just love that because in their self-centered world they probably dream of being that big. But really, a body without a soul is worthless and a media outlet without truth isn’t much better.

The friggin’ Times of Israel deserves all the four letter words it can think to use. And most should be used today, for the staff of the Times of Israel.

As for the real Israel, today we mourn a beautiful girl who was murdered – not because she was in Kiryat Arba, but because she was Jewish. Where her bedroom was is not relevant; that she was in her bedroom, a place where she should have been save, is what matters.

Today, a Jewish girl of only 13 years was brutally murdered in her bed, in her room, in her home. The nation of Israel and those who speak for us, those who report what is happening here, mourn for the loss of Hallel Yaffa and pray that her memory will be blessed.

{ The author’s opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press}

 

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: What Religion Are We?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Apparently, this is a question asked by a child of his mother. I don’t know what she answered him. None of my children ever asked me this question. They have asked me what month we are in…in fact, when my oldest son first got married, my daughter-in-law was surprised that my youngest daughter, then about 11 years old, didn’t know the months of the year.

Aliza responded that, of course, she did know the months – Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev…

What religion are we? Perhaps I can offer this mother the answer that she should provide for her child…

We are Jews – not Jewish, because the “ish” means something like…it isn’t that we are something like Jews…we are Jews.

We are the descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. We are the children of Sarah, of Rebecca, of Rachel, of Leah. We were lead into freedom by Moses; we were protected as we walked through the wilderness. We created a home, built a Temple and worshiped our God, the One and Only God.

We were exiled and returned, exiled and returned. This is our land. During the centuries we wandered, searching for home, we struggled but survived. We taught our children to read, long before other nations even had an alphabet. We created a just society where the poor are taken care of, the evil ones punished. We have held to laws that demand social justice, compensation for injuries, honoring elders, protecting children. We are Jews.

We have built a land like no other in the world, where kindness…yes, kindness, is an integral part. Last week, a young man directed us to a store and then told us it might be closed. He asked for our phone number, said he would walk there while we drove around the long way and he would call to tell us if it was opened…and he did. Today, waiting in a long line to exit a parking lot, a man waved his arm telling me to lower the window, handed me a cookie, and told me what blessing I should say on it.

When a security guard was attacked in our neighborhood, within a week, over 50,000 shekels (just under $15,000) was raised in days to help his family cope. When a young woman was suddenly orphaned, her father murdered, days before her wedding, she responded by inviting all of Israel to the rescheduled celebration – and they came…from all over Israel, from the United States, even from Australia. We are Jews.

During the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the ghettos, the Holocaust…they hunted us, attacked us, stabbed us, beat us, starved us, humiliated us, shot us, gassed us, cremated our bodies or buried us in mass graves, and still we turned three times a day to this land and prayed. We carried the hope of two thousand years with us. We are an eternal people.

We compromised from the very beginning and so many times since. We do not wage wars against innocents; we do not target babies. We have warned the innocents among our enemies, and our soldiers have paid the price many times and still, we will warn them again in the future when pushed into war. We have sent our sons and daughters to the front lines to fight for this land and more, we have sent our sons and daughters around the world to help others. We are Jews.

We worship One God and believe that His protection is all we ever need. He grants us miracles, often daily, sometimes every hour. The missile hits a room where someone was moments before; it moves to the west, against all odds and misses a building with thousands of people in it. The grenade didn’t explode; the bomb didn’t go off.

We live our lives according to the seasons and the holidays – of freedom, of light, of the harvest, of the new year, of judgment day, of spring, of victory. We are not animals that we eat without thought. We bless the fruits and the vegetables, the bread and the wine. All that we put in our stomach ultimately comes from God. He blesses our fields and they prosper. We are Jews.

We have invented technologies that have changed the world a hundred times over – advanced medical research, telecommunications, security, data. We are a center of hi-tech, innovation, and more.

Our children grow in this land, strong and proud. We march through the streets of our land, unafraid and yet committed to helping others, seeking peace, treating others with respect. Where violence is the rule in many societies, here it is the exception. Crime rates are very low; the quality of life quite high. People are happy in this land; our children are blossoming.

If your son or daughter asks you what our religion is, don’t hesitate to explain. He was born into the religion that was the first to recognize and accept a single God; he has inherited a proud and strong history that stretches thousands of years. He has nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of.

We. Are. Jews.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Facing the Enemy

Monday, June 27th, 2016

When you think about an army and soldiers, your first thought might be about war. Soldiers fight wars, right?

But the reality is that soldiers do so much more, especially in Israel. Here, they are an integral part of our society and the army not only knows this but encourages these thoughts. Yes, God protect them, they fight in wars. But they also patrol the streets and roads of our country, not just our borders, our skies, our seas.

They are often used to help – one day during basic training, David, my son, and his unit were taken to a farmer nearby to help him prepare the ground for planting. What’s the connection? Pretty simple – they work the land…the land they are going to be protecting. They are doing physical work, perhaps using muscles that are different than the ones they have been developing for the last six months. More, they are doing good, showing that farmer, his community and beyond, that the army and soldiers are a fundamental foundation of our society.

Two weeks ago, we traveled south to Givati’s home base for the closing ceremony for his basic training. That’s it…he’s a soldier, fully trained and, God help him (and me) ready for combat. This week, for the first time, the army ignored the soaring temperatures. During training, commanding officers watch the weather and change their plans accordingly. At a certain temperature, soldiers are not allowed to train; at a higher temperature, they are restricted to virtually no activity beyond resting and drinking. If possible, they will train through the night when it is cooler and sleep during the day.

Last week, as the temperatures reached into the upper 30s C (high 90s F), Davidi’s group did what it had to do, regardless. They drank more, they took smaller breaks, but they had to continue. That’s what it’s like when you are stationed at a check point. There is no stopping because of the weather. For the next while, David will be subjected to intense heat in the summer, and then the cold of Israel’s winters. Rain when it comes, though probably not snow. Wind, dust storms…more than a mother can bear to think about.

This all starts next week for real. Last month and for the last six+ months, it was all about training. This week, it was about simulating, learning, preparing. Next week, my son will be at a check point “somewhere” in Israel. The first is a relatively quiet one; for this I can be grateful, at least.

But starting next week, I can no longer pretend he isn’t in danger, that but for the weapon he carries, his fellow soldiers, and the Ever-Watching God of Israel, he is “out there.”

This is the time in a soldier’s service I have come to dread.

For Davidi, it is a relief, a break from the strenuous training schedule. They won’t make him walk tens of kilometers a week, though he will be standing for hours and hours at a time. Where once he called his commander by the formal address of “Mifaked,” (Commander), now they are addressed by their first names. They are all soldiers of Israel.

For me, he has passed through another door – further out of reach than he was before. Closer to our enemies, those who mean him harm. My phone will always be near me; my heart always on alert and afraid. My brain will once again look to the heavens and wonder why hearts are so illogical.

It is a contradiction of life in Israel – that you raise your son to be where he is, only to wish desperately that he wasn’t.

May the God of Israel look after my son, watch over him, protect him. Him and all the soldiers of Israel.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The Danger of a Politician with a Big Mouth

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The danger of a politician with a big mouth and a larger ego is that he will place himself and his opinion above the needs of the country. Rather than serve the country, this type of person tends to inflate his own self worth and take advantage of the privileges of office. Worse, he endangers lives and security by offering options that really are not on the negotiating table – most likely because there isn’t actually a table on which we are negotiating and there’s currently only one chair in the room. The chair is marked with the only people willing to be there unconditionally – and that would be Israel.

It has always been recognized that only the standing government has a mandate to determine the future of its people, especially in a democracy. This has been true throughout the centuries; it is true today in Israel. Yitzhak Herzog is a very dangerous man because he believes he is entitled. His entitlement comes through his blood, he will tell you. He is, after all, the son of Chaim Herzog, a general and former president of Israel. He is the grandson of the first Chief Rabbi of Ireland who then became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel. He is, the grandson and son, a rather pathetic and pale shadow of these great men, ever seeking stardom and importance.

To be a thriving democracy, which Israel most definitely is, you must have a strong opposition, unafraid to challenge the path the government chooses to take. What you cannot have, is one that seeks to subvert, undermine, weaken the government, and therefore the country itself. This and much more, Yitzhak Herzog has done in the past and yet again more recently when he took it upon himself to enter negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Who is Yitzhak Herzog to reach an agreement that Israel would surrender land and our capital? He has decided that Israel will pay financial compensation to the descendants of Arabs who chose to run away so that their brothers from five nations could invade the tiny and vulnerable new entity called Israel?

Will he also pay, perhaps out of his own miserable pockets, the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were robbed and expelled by numerous Arab nations? These are the Jewish refugees that came to Israel with practically nothing and we clothed them, fed them, housed them until they were able to pull themselves up and become active, vital, thriving, inseparable parts of our society today. Will Herzog compensate them?

I would expect such idiocies from Barack Obama but I think even he would be surprised at the absurdity of a standing member of the Knesset having the nerve to attempt to negotiate without any power behind him.

Forever ready to twist facts, Herzog doesn’t deny that he circumvented the legally elected government but haughtily declares, “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority president during 2014, I made efforts whose goal was to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terror whose arrival I foresaw, just like I’m making efforts now so that this extreme right wing government’s abandonment of the initiative for a regional conference won’t bring the next war down upon us.”

Really, Herzog? You foresaw a new wave of terror? Gee, after so many previous waves I guess that makes you practically a prophet, huh? Who would have thought that without an agreement of utter capitulation from Israel, the Palestinians would revert to violence again. You’d think after 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982…2001, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, they’ve have learned, right?

And if you think Bibi Netanyahu’s government is “extreme right wing”, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. If the violence continues despite all our efforts to achieve peace, believe me, Israel WILL turn to the right.

Abandonment of the initiative for a regional conference, are you serious? What initiative? What regional conference? The one that is regularly held without Israel? The ones that have been consistently rejected by Palestinians?

There will be another war, on that Herzog is correct. But it will not be brought on by the actions of the Israeli government but rather by the unwillingness of the Palestinian leaders to truly accept that only through negotiations will there be compromise.

But perhaps the best response to Herzog’s inept attempt to thrust his opinion on the people of Israel can be found in the Palestinians’ response to Herzog’s pathetic efforts, “We didn’t treat it as if it’s something that can be implemented, since obviously the one who makes the decision ultimately is the Israeli prime minister.”

Roger that, Yitzhak. You’ve been defeated again.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Random Acts of Being Israeli

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

There is something that I have always noticed about Israelis but seem to forget to write about. It’s a characteristic many don’t see at first glance or worse, fail to recognize the base behind the action. The action changes from day to day, situation to situation, but the base is always the same. Israelis are actually very kind people.

There are rules and there are exceptions. Our enemies, especially those from within our society, yearn for the exceptions so that they can declare they are the rules. But that is a lie, slander, libel. It is a vicious attempt to destroy the foundation of our society and so these random acts that happen nearly daily must be told, shared. And so I will.

A few days ago, we drove north and while in Tiberias, along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret), we tried to find a bakery. It was getting late and we were worried that we’d lost a chance to buy some snacks. We stopped and asked a young man who was carrying packages. He told us about two places, one behind us, “the best” he informed us, and another that might have what we want a bit ahead of us and to the left.

“Give me your phone number and I’ll walk to the bakery over there and if it is still open, I’ll call you.” And he did. And it was open. And he was right; the pastries were fresh and delicious. A random act of kindness.

Yesterday in an underground parking lot, a long line of cars were waited while the machine ahead failed to allow one car to exit. Next to me, in a parking spot, a car started to go in reverse. I honked my horn afraid that he would hit the side of my car…the last thing I needed when I was trying to rush home to my grandson’s first birthday party (happy birthday, beautiful little baby). Just to my left was a man standing. The cars had parked so close together that he was waiting for his friend to pull out enough to let him get in the car.

He signaled that I should roll down my window, which I did. He handed me a cookie, told me not to worry, that his friend wasn’t going to him my car, and then instructed me to say the blessing for a cookie. Random acts of kindness.

This morning in a store, an older woman was reaching up for a container of ice tea. A young man reached out and took it off the shelf, and then he took the basket of purchases she was intending to make from her arm and asked her if she wanted anything else. She said that she was finished and so he walked her to the cashier. I thought perhaps that he worked in the store, but after putting the basket on the conveyor belt, he turned around and returned to take down a bottle of soda for himself. Yet another random act of kindness, unsolicited, given simply because it would help someone else.

A few weeks ago, on a horribly hot day, a truck filled with water was sent to the Western Wall and water was given freely to any and all. A few months ago, a man and his son were murdered in cold blood in a vicious terrorist attack just days before his daughter was to be married. Palestinian ambulance drivers were the first on the scene but left when they realized the victims were Jews. By contrast, my sons serve on Israeli ambulances and regularly treat Arabs. When the daughter rescheduled her wedding to the young man she loves, she asked all of Israel to escort her and celebrate her marriage. And Jews came from all over – from the US, from Australia and from all over Israel to be with a bride on her wedding day, when her father couldn’t be there.

Two years ago, during the war, a father jumped out of a car during a missile attack and crouched around his infant trying to protect him; and was surprised when seconds later, another man rushed out of his car and bent down in front of him – further shielding both father and child. An act of kindness in the midst of war.

In the last few days, it was published in various places that an injured soldier who had risked his life during the last war was being denied the government benefits needed to renovate his home because it is located 32 kilometers north of Jerusalem instead of 32 kilometers to the west. Within days, people donated double the amount of money the family was seeking to raise and more, the government was shamed into announcing that funds would be released immediately.

In the hospitals in Israel, men and women walk through the halls and ask family members if they need sandwiches, or food for the coming Sabbath. If you say yes, they will bring you a cooler filled with grape juice for the Kiddush (blessing of the fruits of the vine), challot (sweet rolls), fish and casseroles, and hot soup in a thermos. No cost and often it comes with the whispered prayer that your loved one has a complete and speedy recovery.

Each time there is a natural (or man-made) disaster, Israelis mobilize within hours. To Nepal, the Philippines, to Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, even to places in the US, Israelis fly without hesitation. These too are acts of kindness.

Next time you hear someone describe large numbers of Israelis as extremists, remember that out of such people comes regular acts of immeasurable kindness. And measure too one other fact. When Israelis are accused of extremism, it is most often simply because they want to live in one particular place or pray in another. That’s right – pray. A Jew can be arrested for saying “amen” on the Temple Mount, and a “leading journalist” can condemn Jews for walking through the Muslim quarter while ignoring the Arabs who can and do walk unmolested, unharmed, and uncondemned through Israeli city streets regularly.

The Jerusalem light rail travels from a mid-southern point on the west side of the city (Mount Herzl), to the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev in the north, eastern side of the city. It is regularly attacked (stones, firebombs) in only one place – the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat and occasionally attacked in another – the Arab neighborhood near the Damascus Gate (stones, tear gas, and even a stabbing attack).

And beside the train, there have been attacks in two other stops – both perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists who came from the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat. Jews are not stoning the train, ramming random Arabs standing waiting for buses. Israelis are not stabbing people, blowing up buses…ours or theirs. Instead, our army fights to find a balance and too often that balance limits our soldiers to a dangerous level.

Blind are the people who live in fear in Israel; uneducated and manipulative as well. We live in a society of kindness and if that kindness doesn’t stretch entirely into the Arab community (beyond our hospitals that treat them, our budget that pays for their schools, our shopping malls that cater to their purchases, and our streets and trains and highways that are shared with them), the reason could well be found not in our hearts, but in theirs.

We are a kind and open society. So long as a Jew (no, not a blond one that dresses like a tourist and speaks with an American accent, but an obviously Jewish – even, can you imagine, a religious Jew dressed in modest attire that quickly proclaims his or her identity…so long as THAT Jew cannot walk safely through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem and the Arab villages throughout our country, there can be no peace.

Israel is an open society, not just a kind one. Last week, Israel surprised itself – over 200,000 people walked the streets of Tel Aviv declaring that homosexuality does not bring a death sentence. Women drive in our country, serve at the highest levels of government. Children are cherished and protected, the first to be rushed into bomb shelters.

Israelis are free – free to speak, free to live, free to travel – even free to use the very foundations of our freedom to attempt to undermine the very society that feeds them, supports them, defends them.

Israel has proven itself, again and again, to be a kind society. When the Palestinians can say the same, let’s talk.

Paula Stern

Bereaved Mother at Knesset NGO Law Debate: ‘Foreign Countries Are Funding Terror’

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Devorah Gonen, whose son Danny was murdered by a terrorist while he was hiking near Dolev in Judea and Samaria, told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday that the attorneys for her son’s killer were funded by foreign countries. “These funds encourage murder,” she said. “The terrorist knew he would be defended [in court] and that his family would receive funding. The terrorist is still alive, and his family will get a generous support, and I am left with the ‘privilege’ of being a bereaved mother. Foreign countries are funding terror. You must take the consequences of the foreign funding into account.”

The Committee debated a bill requiring NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governments to declare this fact in every publication and at meetings with public officials. The government-sponsored bill had been returned to the committee for hearings and amendments after passing a first reading in the plenum.

During the meeting, MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) argued that an NGO may receive small donations from a number of countries and one large donation from one country, so the legislation “would not help us know how the donations are distributed.”

MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Camp) told the bereaved Gonen: “I sympathize with your feelings and feel the pain of the tragedy you experienced. However, the State of Israel receives billions from foreign countries, and it uses these funds to wage wars which kill people.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) added that “government funds are transferred to NGOs for the purpose of building [Jewish] outposts from which terrorist operations emanate. This money is not transparent, and it is kept confidential in the Registrar of Non-Profit Organizations.”

Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi) said representatives from foreign embassies in Israel had asked to participate in the meeting, but he requested that they take part in next week’s debate instead. However, a representative from the Dutch embassy was allowed to audit the meeting nevertheless.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bereaved-mother-at-knesset-ngo-law-debate-foreign-countries-are-funding-terror/2016/06/16/

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