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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: Wishing Away Terrorism

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

A friend posted an image to Facebook and right away, something struck me as wrong. How is it possible that only two Americans were killed annually by “Islamic jihadist immigrants” and a total of nine were murdered by “Islamic jihadist terrorists (including US citizens)? Something was wrong…until you read the fine print below the table. Then what was wrong is understandable, while at the same time, another problem becomes clear.

No, this table is not about the statistics of 2016, not even 2015, nor 2014 or 2013. What this image does is take into account ten years without considering that in the last few years, Islamic terrorism has shown a sharp rise.

To further encourage the reader to dismiss any concerns, it uses the tactic of hiding the trees in a forest of unrelated statistics. Note that armed toddlers have killed 21 people in the same period of time, lightning has killed 31, and lawnmowers have been involved in the deaths of 69. And by far, the worst seems to be “falling out of bed” (737), which is only beaten by “being shot by another American” with a grand total of 11,737.

What you are supposed to get from that is a sense of calm, unless you are related to the average of nine people killed yearly, and ignoring the 49 murdered in Orlando just this year and the 2,977 murdered on 9/11.

I’m sure they are totally comforted to know that their relatives were more likely to have been hit by lightning. Yeah, I can hear them being comforted…not.


It took me a few seconds to read the fine print at the bottom of this table/infographic, and when I did, I felt equal shares of anger and disgust, both stemming from the same place. Note the first little note. This is a 10 year average. So, it doesn’t include September 11, because that would scare Americans. And, by taking a 10 year average, rather than looking at just 2016, we can somehow blur over the 49 people murdered in Orlando.

Further, we’re only talking about dead, so we can ignore the four people slashed with a machete in Columbus Ohio in February and the police officer who was shot three times “in the name of Islam” in Philadelphia.

What the Huffington Post is attempting to do, almost successfully, is belittle the number of Americans attacked and murdered by Islamic terrorists because, after all, so many more are murdered by lightning and beds and lawnmowers and toddlers with weapons. This seems to be the goal of those who share it on Facebook as well.

I’ll ignore lightning as I doubt there is much anyone can do to avoid a lightning strike (other than staying in basements with no windows while sitting rubber mats during rain storms). What beds, buses, lawnmowers and toddlers have in common are that these are accidents that were not intentional. Hamas fires on a city in Israel, their target is the Israeli citizen; their goal, murder and terror. When they miss, they mourn and we celebrate. When Israel fires on Gaza, our target is a precise military target. Our goal is to stop further attacks. When we miss, we mourn and they celebrate. Our goal is to MISS civilians; their goal is to hit them.

The goal of a bus, a bed, a lawnmower and a toddler is not to murder innocent people. The goal of an “Islamic-jihadist immigrant” and/or “all Islamic-jihadist terrorists (including US citizens” is to murder, glorify Allah and Islam, and cause terror.

The reason that this table bothers me so much is that it is a symptom of what is wrong in America, the need to rationalize away the true dangers of terrorism and minimize and ignore the existential threat these dangers pose to the very fabric of American society. When I pointed out that rates are higher in the Western Europe, a friend quickly reminded me that this was about America. Yes, I guess that makes what is happening in Western Europe – in Brussels and London and Paris and Nice irrelevant, right? After all, it didn’t happen in the US…

Where you can’t change the statistics, apparently the best thing some Americans can do is manipulate the numbers. At least 49 Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists this year; at least 100 were wounded. For a time, Wikipedia even removed the Orlando victims from this category despite the clear evidence that the attack was motivated by Islam (remember the terrorist yelling Allahu Akbar?). Over 200 people murdered in France, let’s not count them!

Some victims in the US have been viciously stabbed or slashed with knives – let’s not count them!

Almost 3,000 were murdered by terrorists on 9/11 – how does that number translate to an average of 2 per year? I guess it takes a lot of years and a lot of cowardice but apparently, it can be done.

Look at this graph below, but focus on the last four years presented. Clearly, over the last four years, there has been a marked increase in the number of terror attacks in the US.


Yes, more people apparently died over the last ten years because of lawnmowers – likely something really stupid that THEY did. On average, 21 toddlers were armed enough to kill themselves or someone else – again, utter irresponsibility and stupidity. A lot of people were hit by buses – does anyone think there is a conspiracy by bus drivers to murder people?

In the last few years, terror attacks in the US and Western Europe have clearly become more common. I question not the interpretation of the fact, but the almost-desperate need to deny it, to manipulate it into the world of innocuity (and yes, that’s a word). Why?

Why is it so important to put terror deaths “in perspective.” Where is the outrage that these deaths, these intentional murders were perpetrated against unarmed Americans in the streets of your country? How are these murderers mitigated by lightning strikes or people who fall out of bed and die?

Islamic, fundamentalist, extremist violence is on the rise. Even the life of one American is too much, never mind the nearly 50 lives destroyed this year. When American citizens are more upset by what they think Donald Trump said, than the stabbing and slashing and ramming and shooting of American citizens in the name of Islam, I am truly left wondering where the nation of my birth has gone.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: A Quiet Unyielding Anger

Monday, September 12th, 2016

It’s been 15 years since one of my children called me to the television to tell me something had happened. There were bombing attacks in Israel on a regular basis; many brought to my attention when the cartoons they watched back when we had a television were interrupted.

First there was a map of a city somewhere in Israel with a voice explaining about early reports of an explosion. There was never a question that it was terrorism; never a thought of who had caused it. It was only really about what city was hit this time, how many were hurt, and how many funerals the next day would bring.

I walked to the top of the stairs after I was told about “something,” only this time, there was news from America, and an image of the World Trade Center. It took me a second to understand. It wasn’t Israel. It wasn’t a bomb. It wasn’t a bus. It was New York. It was a building. A building I knew, I’d seen, I’d been in. The World Trade Center. A Plane. They didn’t know the cause of the “accident”, they said, but I did. It wasn’t an accident. I knew. I knew it and I longed to reach across the ocean and tell them they had to stop pretending. They had to take it seriously. They had to understand.

That which has hated us, hates them too. That which reaches out to murder my people had crossed an ocean to murder theirs. Wake up, I cried inside. Say it. Say it already. Terrorism.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

And as I waited for them to admit what I knew without question was the truth, I discovered inside myself a tiny emotion that has filled me with shame for all of the last 15 years. My first reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center was horror, but the second was some small sense of…not happiness, never happy, but “good” – good only because now I thought America would finally understand what it was like to live with the agony of terror.

I listened with disappointment and almost pity as the news broadcasters bantered around about how a plane could have come to crash into one of the tallest building. “Silly man,” I almost shouted, “Terrorism. Come on, you can say it.”

And then, in horror, as I watched, the second plane hit. I started to cry as the shocked voices could be heard through the television; I started to pray, “Oh God, I didn’t mean for this. I didn’t want this. I just wanted them to understand, not this.” My children looked at me, trying to understand. I stopped crying and told them it was time for a snack. I bribed them with cookies and milk upstairs in the dining room; I brought them crayons to color and did everything I could to keep them away from what we loosely called the “TV room”. The television droned on and I would slip away, or sit on the steps and watch half-turned so I  could watch my children and keep them far from what was happening in the distant city where I had met their father, fallen in love, married, and brought three of them into this world.

Two towers on fire, rescue workers rushing in, people panicking in the streets as the Pentagon was hit next; all planes ordered to land. Suddenly, there was a loud sound and I watched in horror again, as the south tower crumbled into itself. And then the northern tower. The people, I thought. oh God, how many were inside? How many didn’t get out?

Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America.

They kept saying “as many as 50,000 people” came to work each day. I remember them saying that another plane was missing and last tracking said it was heading towards Washington; the White House was evacuated. The count down was running as to when it would hit Washington and the potential targets. Then, reports of a plane crash in Pennsylvania…was it the fourth plane? No one knew and so they kept waiting for it to hit Washington.

Hours and hours of horror. I don’t remember it growing dark here in Israel or putting my children to bed that night; I do remember praying for the injured; even praying there would be injured and not just endless bodies to recover. I remember sitting and crying as I listened to George Bush.

Each year, like tens of thousands of people all over the world, I remember what I was doing on September 11. And I watch the videos. And I pray for the families. I light a candle in their memory – all of them, everywhere they died.

Last year, in shock, I listened as the United States approved the Iran Deal – what a joke, I thought. They are rewarding the very people who perpetrated 9/11. That’s how they commemorate the day?

This year, I am filled with sadness as never before. The United States stands on the edge of a more dangerous world than ever before. What Hitler did in 6 years of war, Iran could now do in minutes. The Soviet Union, the evil, repressive, totalitarian society which imprisoned its own people is no more; Russia today is weaker, divided, and still searching for ways to return to the glory that was their former incarnation.

And America, weaker as well. Divided, isolated and much ridiculed by the world. You play a dangerous game of denial; terrorism has been relegated to being less dangerous than lightning, getting hit by a bus, or meeting death at the “hands” of a lawnmower. This is what people post to Facebook…because terrorism is not their main concern, perhaps not even a concern at all. They laugh and joke about the bus and the lawnmower. Are they laughing today? Probably not, but they will laugh again tomorrow and deny the dangers, just as they did that mourning as the first tower burned.

The numbers are manipulated, 9/11 erased because by factoring it in, the numbers would be so much scarier, or perhaps not. Maybe 15 years later, the pain has lessened, the horror of watching those towers collapse somehow faded?

I don’t know. I can still cry each time I think of that day. The World Trade Centers were relatively new when I started college and we all made fun of them. How ugly we thought they were; how modern and without character. At Columbia University, the buildings were older and so dignified. Years later, I can confess that as a student living in New York, I never liked those towers. They represented a world dedicated to money and business when I was learning about things that seemed so much more important – life, history, humanity.

And then they came down and I have missed them terribly. For years, I missed the innocence I felt was stolen from America on that day. I mourned for the families, but for the nation as well.

I haven’t been to America in 18 years. The timing was wrong, my family was growing. Finances. Life. One son in the army and then another and another. From far away, I have watched in sadness. I hurt for what America has become. Racial intolerance still shocks me. The first best friend I ever had was a young black girl in my class (no, she wasn’t African American then, she was black) and someone called her a nasty name and she looked about to cry. I turned to her as we walked past those nasty children and I asked her if she was black. It had never occurred to me that she was, or that her parents and siblings were. It wasn’t in my vocabulary; not something I noticed. She said what she was. My friend. My neighbor. Sherry. She nodded in what I now think was a rather solemn way and said that she was black. I remember answering, “Oh.” And then remembered I wanted to tell her something about what happened in school. We never discussed her race again; we never discussed my religion. We were two little girls with a love of dolls and playing house. We walked home from school together that day, as we always did because she lived in an apartment on the other side of the open court where we played together. And the next morning, we walked back to school, and home and back and home and back. Until a year or two later, she and her family moved away.

I have always loved that I didn’t know that my best friend was black because it was completely and entirely irrelevant to who we were. Yesterday, I read a long story about “the Falling Man.” Over the last 15 years, the media has been obsessed with identifying this man who was captured falling to his death. Paragraphs and paragraphs of how reporters went from family to family, going through lists of names as if identifying him was some holy grail.

Ultimately, said the article, they think they know who he is. Yes, but what about the wives and children you harmed by invading their privacy and showing a picture of a man seconds away from his death before their eyes? All that 9/11 is about, is lost to people such as these. It isn’t about Sherry being black or the name of that man. It isn’t about each individual,

It was never about that little black girl or her best friend, the white girl who lived across the courtyard. It was never about that man falling. It was always about America.

I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us.

There are those that say 15 years on,  Al Qaida is weakened…other than a few massive terror attacks here and there. There are those that say they know how to make America great again…and those who ridicule that statement simply because of who made it.

There are black people dying in the streets of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York – daily. Literally, every day. There are cops, police officers being murdered – murdered and their deaths considered a just response in a violent and racist society. Where have you gone, America?

I look at the images of the burning towers and I remember listening in shock, as President George Bush addressed a nation in pain. I had never liked him before…until that speech. Sometimes, when you make a wrong turn, all you can do is go back and correct your error. After 15 years, America, you need to go back.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

Listen to this speech. Read it. Look at the unity. Listen to the voice of a leader. It was the first time I thought that George W. Bush had really stepped up to meet the challenge. It was a speech like none we have heard since. Forget the economy, forget the politics. Listen to the speech of an American president – perhaps the last one who cared more for his country than his party.
Text of President George W. Bush’s speech, September 11, 2001.

Good evening.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance. America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.

Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.
9/11 attack on Twin Towers: Will Obama use next week's anniversary as a platform to attack the Assad regime?

9/11 attack on Twin Towers: Will Obama use next week’s anniversary as a platform to attack the Assad regime?

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

Paula Stern

Missing My Mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Friday, September 9th, 2016

 These are most difficult words for me to write. Today I got up from sitting shiva for my beloved mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. For seven days I opened my mother’s front door, waiting for her beautiful smile to greet me. I walked into my mother’s kitchen where photos of all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren plastered the walls. I looked for her but her chair was empty. The pain is raw. Where is my beautiful Ema?

To the world she was The Rebbetzin. The Jewish soul on fire. Powerhouse, visionary, survivor of Bergen-Belsen, founder of Hineni, charismatic speaker who packed Madison Square Garden, trailblazer in the world of outreach, and a woman who fearlessly traveled the globe igniting the spark she believed lay dormant within every Jew.

While sitting shiva we met people who came from far to share their stories of connection. Some spoke of her blessings that brought children and healing; others of her Torah teachings that helped bring peace to their divided families. Couples who met through her matchmaking shared pictures of sons and daughters who bring joy to our people. Men and women recounted incredible tales of being inspired to discover Judaism and leave assimilation behind.

My tears joined with those who came to offer consolation. They tried hard to express their words but many simply could not speak. The grief was overwhelming. Over and over, I heard, “We lost our Bubby.” “We lost our Torah Ema.”

A great light has been extinguished. Our world has dimmed.

To me and my siblings the Rebbetzin was our Ema. She was my mother who was always there for me, loved me, guided me, and gave me life. After each baby I would return home where my mother rocked my newborns to sleep singing the Shema.

To our children and grandchildren, she was “Bubba.” Whenever we would visit, Bubba would insist on walking us to the door. We kissed Bubba and said goodbye. My mother placed her hands on our heads and gave us her blessing. She would always shed tears. Once outside she would call us back. “One more blessing,” she would say. “As long as I am alive, always come back for one more blessing.”

Down the driveway we would turn. Bubba was still standing there. Her lips were moving. She was whispering her blessings. She’d wave and we would wave back. A few more steps before her figure was just a dot. But we knew she had not budged. She was still watching us, not letting us out of her sight, constant prayer on her lips.

When my mother was a small child, before deportations to the concentration camps had begun, young Hungarian Jewish men were drafted for slave labor. Szeged, my mother’s hometown, was their stopover. Zaida, my grandfather, was the rabbi of the city so my grandparents’ home became their refuge. Soon after, they were shipped away.

These young men were forced to wear yellow armbands identifying them as hated Jews. But at my grandparents’ table they were transformed. They studied the holy books and were enveloped with love. Yellow badges of shame became badges of honor. When the hour would come for them to take leave, Zaida would place his hands on each young man’s head. He would cry and give his blessing. Then he would accompany them to the door and whisper blessings until they were out of sight.

Out of the ashes, my mother brought Zaida’s blessings home to us, the next generation.

My mother’s Book of Psalms is worn, the pages frayed, saturated with her tears. How many times we would call her with our burdens, asking my mother to shake the heavens above with her prayers. Each time a grandchild went into labor, it was Bubba whose number we dialed. “Ema, please daven,” we would ask, no matter the hour.

Who will pray for us now? Who will bless us? Who will see the hidden miracle that lies within each of us?

When my mother looked at you she saw beyond your body. She saw your soul, the pintele Yid. Though I was just a little girl I will forever remember sitting in Madison Square Garden with thousands of Jews from every walk of life. My mother passionately proclaimed, “within every Jew there lies is a spark, a flicker of a light, a tiny flame. And if you wish it that tiny flame can become a great fire from which the words ‘Hineni, here am I, my God,’ shall emerge. My children, shuvu banim, come home.”

My mother brought the Jewish nation home with her love and unwavering belief in God. The flames of the Holocaust that consumed our great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and infant cousins only strengthened her conviction.

As our children grew, all the cousins would sleep over my parents’ home for Shabbos. Friday night after the meal they would run down the stairs and quickly get into their pajamas. “Bubba, tell us a story from when you were a little girl.” My mother would share how she had stood in the freezing cold of Bergen-Belsen feeling frightened, eyes glued to the ground. She put her hand in her pocket and felt a crumpled piece of paper. Somehow her father had placed the words of the Shema in her pocket.

“It was only a piece of paper but it told me that I was not alone, that my God lived. Slowly, I lifted my eyes.”

My mother connected us to our roots. She made us understand that if we don’t know where we’ve come from, we cannot possibly know where we are going. She taught us how to live with hope. She created a legacy of emunah, pure faith. She embedded within me the understanding that no matter the darkness, we are a nation of miracles. God is watching over us. Never stop believing. Never be afraid. No matter how you have fallen there is no barrier between us and God.

Ema, my heart is full. I miss hearing your voice. Your seat at my Shabbos table is waiting for you. We ache for your blessings.

Thank you, Ema, for your footsteps. We will try to kindle your light and continue your mission.

And please, Ema, pray for us in the heavens above. Because we are all your children.

Slovie Jungreis Wolff

A Soldier’s Mother: A Really Important Secret about Israel (Sh! Don’t tell anyone…)

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

I have a secret to tell you about Israel. You may not know this…and you won’t know it if you read the news.

Today, a building collapsed – or, to be accurate, an underground, four-level parking lot in one of the center’s of Israel’s thriving hi-tech community. Within seconds, literally seconds, emergency calls were generated. The Home Front Command mobilized, the IDF sent their search and rescue division, including search dogs.

So far, no secret. This is what was the top news in Israel and is likely featured in media around the world.

Here is the secretAs Israeli rescue forces dug through the rubble, endangering their lives in the face of potentially further collapses, every one of those workers and most Israelis knew something that won’t appear in mainstream media. Those in desperate need, those screaming out from below the rubble begging Israelis to come help them, were definitely foreign workers or Palestinians. You see, very few Jews actually work in construction in Israel.

The area under question is a building. A single building site. We sent a 60-member national reserves search and rescue unit. We sent 45 specially trained crew members from three different battalions. We also sent another 33 rescue workers from the Home Front Command Central District.

It’s a very sad truth. The work is hard and the pay relatively low for those living in Israel. For Palestinians, the salary is worlds above what they could earn in their own areas and they are grateful for the conditions and the work.

What you saw was a wounded person being carried by seven or 8 rescue workers and medics. As they begin to move, the ground is not level and at least one person almost stumbles and several more rush in to grab the stretcher and assist.

Now, remember my secret. There’s a really good chance that the man lying on that stretcher, having just been pulled from the rubble, is a Palestinian. Do you see any hesitation among the Israelis?

Today, these human beings needed help and our highly trained emergency teams did not hesitate. There are emergency forces in the fire department. This was a civilian building. And yet, no one was fooling around. They called in the guys we send around the world. This is an area in which we excel and one that we share readily with others.

They rushed to the aid of the construction workers, knowing with a very high probability that they were helping Palestinians.

Will we be thanked? Nope, not once.

Will the UN pass a resolution praising our response? Nope.

Will President Obama congratulate us on our humanity, our compassion. Yeah…not.

But you see, it doesn’t matter because what we did, we did because we truly are a society that operates with a simple principle. When a human being is in danger and we have the ability to help, we do.

We have offered help to Turkey, to Syria, certainly to the Jordanians and the Egyptians. We provide constant assistance to the Palestinians – medical, financial, and more.

Today, we simply rushed in to save lives where lives needed to be saved. Nothing else mattered – not their religion, not the color of their skin, not their gender, their economic status. Nothing.

I am very proud of my country at this moment. The best of Israel came shining through today because that’s the kind of nation we have created. Surrounded by enemies, we remain true to a commitment to cherish lives, save lives.

Paula Stern

Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal’s Mother Dies in Jordan

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

The mother of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal died in Jordan, local media reported.

Meshaal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, was born in 1956 in Silwad in Judea and Samaria during the Jordanian occupation. He attended Silwad Elementary School until the 1967 Six-Day War, after which his father moved the family to Kuwait for financial reasons. Mashaal joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971. He holds a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Kuwait University.

David Israel

A Soldier’s Mother: An Apology Deserved

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

There is a concept that is “holy” to those of us who grew up in the west hold dear. It is, in many ways, the foundations of the difference between “us” and “them. It would be great to believe that there is no “us” and “them” but we all know there is – so let’s stop playing that game.

There will be an us and a them until one of two things happen – either they overtake us and overpower the values we have; or we convince them that life is better than death, light is better than darkness, peace is better than war, love is better than hate. It really really really is that simple. Until one side is victorious in convincing the other that their way is correct, there will always be an “us” and a “them.” Perhaps from the time of Cain and Abel; perhaps from the time the ancient Egyptians enslaved the ancient Hebrew. Certainly from the time the Romans believed they had the right to overpower and exile, there has been an “us” and a “them.”

I don’t believe I will ever think that murdering innocents is correct; that firing on a city is justified. I will never accept that the only way to live is to force others to think my way – and I will never find justification in the use of a suicide bomb, opening fire in a restaurant, entering a home and stabbing a child to death.

Perhaps, they will never accept that these things are abhorrent, wrong, unacceptable for any and all reasons. One of the fundamentals of Judaism is the concept that my life has the greatest value…as does yours. If you threaten me, try to take my life, I am completely justified in taking yours first, or killing you to save myself.

What I cannot do, is kill another to save myself. That is not allowed in Judaism. If murdering innocents is the only way to get what I want, what I need, even to save my life, I am not allowed. There, that is it. That is the difference. That is the basis upon which we have built our world.

An extension of that, in a way, is the belief we have in ourselves and in each other, that we will all choose life, that we are all innocent until proven guilty.

A few months ago, a soldier named Elor Azarya shot a terrorist. According to a distorted video, part of the story came out. It would seem, from the misguided and morally bankrupt video of a B’tselem activist, that the soldier shot an innocent man – we know that to be false. The man on the ground had just stabbed a soldier – innocent, he was not.

It would seem that the man on the ground was not armed. This too, the soldier could not have known at the moment the terrorist was shot. So says, finally, senior military experts. What they are now admitting is what I noticed from the start.

The commanders did not secure the area – their mistake. The commanders did not neutralize and check the terrorist – their mistake.

Into their errors, entered a young soldier. What that soldier thought and did cannot be judged lightly by others – certainly not by those who were not there, those who rely on a manipulated video that tells only part of the story. It is wrong for those people to judge, especially wrong for them to slander the soldier, to say that he should “rot in jail” or that he is a “murderer.”

Within days of the incident, an Israeli military judge put aside any claims that this was murder. They thought, at best, it could be termed manslaughter.

Today in Israel, the trial continues – and commanding officers who were there are coming forward to verify that there was justification, that there were concerns.

Two things have to happen now.

First, media outlets such as Haaretz and the Times of Israel, and specifically, journalists such as Gideon Levy and Sarah Tuttle Singer have to apologize to the soldier. Their words were a declaration that the soldier was guilty until proven innocent – and that is outrageous. And now, not only outrageous, but wrong.

Second, the Israeli government has to free the military to do what it has been trained to do – to fight the enemy and while doing so, monitor itself to be the moral compass of our nation. There is no military in the world that is more moral than the Israeli army. We do all that we can to eliminate injury to civilians but we are fighting an enemy that thrives on terror and pain – even that of its own people.

If they place their missiles inside their cities, that does not lessen our moral obligation to protect our cities. We have no choice but to fire into that building, that city. What of the concept presented above, that I have no right to save my life by taking the life of an innocent person?

There is no contradiction. If we warn the civilian population in Gaza that we are about to bomb a target or an area and they choose to surround it and protect it with their lives and the lives of their children (which happened several times during various conflicts/operations/wars), they are no longer innocent bystanders. With their bodies and their lives, if they choose to protect terrorists, they forfeit the right to be called innocent.

Elor’s commanding officers are appearing in court to say that they too had concerns, given the way the terrorist was dressed, that he could be hiding explosives, that he could post a threat. That fear, and the terrorist movement triggered Elor to shoot. If he was wrong than what we have is the wrongful death of a combatant in a war situation – a war triggered by the very man who was killed. That Arab chose to stab a soldier in Hebron. Had he not attacked the soldiers, he would not have been lying there; he would not have been shot. Elor did not open fire in cold blood to kill an innocent man; he opened fire on a confirmed terrorist who could have been armed with an explosive and was moving in an area where other soldiers and medics were around.

If he was wrong in shooting – blame the commanding officers who did not secure the site; blame the commanding officers who did not protect the perimeter. This is Israel, where the commanding officers step for forward and lead the way. I personally know of an incident in which a commanding officer took responsibility for neutralizing a terrorist who died of gunshot wounds fired from no less than three different directions and more than a dozen angles. One officer stepped forward and said that he killed the terrorist. Elor’s commanding officers must do the same.

On March 27, 2016, I posted an article to the Times of Israel condemning an unnamed journalist/blogger for  rushing to condemn an Israeli soldier before any facts were in. Four days later, the Times of Israel proved the post. Their claim that they are the “marketplace of ideas” was a lie. I was accused of “threatening” and “endangering” the life of the woman who had called for our soldier to “rot in jail.” No threat was made; I didn’t endanger anyone. All I did was share what she said (and show how it went against democracy, against decency, against Israel).

Today and in the months since her cruel words were published (and yes, another of my posts from the Times of Israel was rejected because I had “published” it on a closed group on Facebook, so I can use the term “publish” when speaking of a Facebook post), she has continued with the rhetoric against this soldier, never once accepting that she lacks the knowledge or the right to determine the outcome of a trial without making a travesty of justice.

The Greatest Threat to Israel Today remains those who want us to surrender, to weaken ourselves, to hold ourselves to a standard above all others, even if it means paying the price for that standard with our blood and the blood of our children.

An apology is deserved. That it will never be delivered (at least not in a sincere and honest fashion) is the greatest of insults – not to Elor Azarya, but to the very foundations of the country we have built here.

Each day, more and more, I believe that Elor will walk away from this horrible time in his life, stronger for having had the courage to deal with the pressure placed upon his young shoulders. The only open question is whether Israel will walk away nearly as strong.

Paula Stern

Conspiracy Theory and Aliens Expert Barry Chamish, 64

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Canadian-born Israeli writer and public speaker Barry Chamish passed away at age 64. He is best known for his conspiracy theory regarding the Yitzhak Rabin assassination, which received a great deal of support at the time, especially on the right. In addition, Chamish wrote extensively on Unidentified Flying Objects, particularly their sightings in Israel in the 1990s. Chamish’s work was featured on four episodes of the NBC-TV program Sightings as well as a half-hour of prime time coverage on FOX-TV. He also won the 1987 Israeli Scrabble Tournament.

His son Ariel posted the following eulogy on Facebook:

“With great sorrow I must announce the untimely passing of my father, journalist and author Barry Chamish, at age 64. It isn’t my habit to expose in public (or in private) heartfelt feelings that aren’t well wrapped and protected in a plethora of metaphors and amorphous images, clearly the result of my complex relationship with my father, whom, regretfully, I haven’t seen for close to nine years.

“Since the day he left I’ve chosen consciously to distance my soul from the fragility of depending emotionally on another person. For years this meant especially my connection to him. I’ve chosen to ignore the complexity of his personality and to justify my own inability to deal with a complex situation using imaginary universal rules that helped me suppress and keep away from the pain involved in the connection to a man I loved. I think both of us were this way, but he at least tried. I, on the other hand, in my selfishness, was looking for the easy way out, lying to myself that the Atlantic ocean is wide enough to keep us apart forever. And, new age cliché that I am, when I finally remembered — it was too late.

“At this moment of temporary weakness I want to thank you for the first time in my life for what I inherited from you, despite the fact that on the face of it I’ve become a man who is different from you: the anti-establishmentarianism and the anarchism, the critical thinking and the ability to express it in writing, the penchant for Rock and Roll and marijuana, an uncompromising faith in your own righteousness, your impressive ability to survive and, above all, the pure innocence that made you believe the world can be improved.

“I’m not really sure how much you believed in metaphysics, but on the outside chance that you believed enough and that your soul is listening somewhere out there, I ask for forgiveness. Forgive me for being too weak to say all these things when I still could. I’m sorry I didn’t try hard enough. I love you and I’m proud of you for your crazy legacy. I forgive you everything.

“Your only son, Ariel Chamish.”

Click here to visit the late Barry Chamish website.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/conspiracy-theory-and-aliens-expert-barry-chamish-picked-up-by-mother-ship/2016/08/23/

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