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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘people’

Some People Just Can’t be Helped

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

When the Zionists began to build the yishuv, the enterprise that would become the Jewish state, they had to develop an economy, a political system, an army for defense, a legal system, an educational system, a transportation network, a postal service, and countless other things. They got help, first from wealthy benefactors like Montefiore and Rothschild, and later – when they needed to resettle hundreds of thousands of often penniless refugees from the Holocaust and, later, from the Muslim world – from organized appeals in the Diaspora. In a highly controversial arrangement, Holocaust survivors in Israel also received billions as reparations from Germany (the state also received several hundreds of millions).

The Jews created cooperative enterprises in every economic sphere which enabled them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, despite a war of independence in which they lost 1% of their population, and massive immigration. Later they surprised the world by repeatedly defeating their more numerous enemies, and little by little transformed their economy to a more entrepreneurial model. Today Israel, despite the challenges, is a remarkable success, economically, socially and culturally. Not perfect, but still a remarkable success.

Despite what people think, Israel does not receive non-military aid from the US, and only modest amounts of money from Diaspora charities. Indeed, many Israelis think we can and should end the military aid, which comes with many strings attached.

Now let’s look at another group that ostensibly aspires to a state, the ‘Palestinians’.

Take the Gaza Strip, with 1.8 million residents, 72% of them with refugee status, wards of the international dole. There is no economy to speak of, except that created by UNRWA which feeds and educates its population with funds provided primarily by the US and Europe, and Hamas, which manufactures rockets, digs attack tunnels and prepares for war.

This population is rapidly growing; it is expected to reach 2.1 million by 2020, with a fertility rate of 4.2 children per woman (a conservative estimate). For comparison, the fertility rate among Arabs in Judea and Samaria is only 2.8. 21% of Gazans are between the ages of 15 and 24, and 64% under 25.

This huge ‘youth bulge’ combined with a lack of employment, is a guarantee of continued violence. And it is all paid for by the West, which, through UNRWA’s welfare policies, incentivizes Gazans to have children. Welfare costs for Palestinians increase every year, along with the population.

The West went along with Arab demands to prevent any resettlement of ‘Palestinian refugees’ and the UN granted refugee status to anyone who lived in pre-state Palestine for as little as two years – and to all their descendents in perpetuum, something done for no other refugee population. 99% of UNRWA employees are Palestinians, and the curriculum in UNRWA schools is aimed at keeping alive the narrative of Arab dispossession and dishonor that fuels the conflict. UNRWA does not ameliorate the conflict, it nourishes it.

Consider also the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, the great majority of whom live under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The PA, like UNRWA, is totally dependent on American and European money. The PA burns through most of the more than $1 billion a year it receives on corruption and its multiple ‘security forces’ (which sometimes engage in terrorism). It also disburses large payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails for security offenses, and to families of ‘martyrs’, including suicide bombers. The PA and its official media continue to incite violence and murder of Jews, and treat terrorists as heroes.

Large monopolies, like cement and telecommunications are in the hands of PA insiders. Crime is rampant and economic activity is stunted.

Both Israel and the Palestinians received injections of capital from abroad. Israel used it to help build the infrastructure of a state, and turn her refugees into productive citizens. The Palestinian Arab leaders stole much of the money, nurtured their people’s hatred and created a permanent class of stateless refugees as an army to fight Israel. Indeed, even if a Palestinian state were created in the territories, the refugees would not be welcome in it, because according to Palestinian dogma, the only way to stop being a refugee is to ‘return’ to ‘your home’ in Israel!

When the international community gave the Palestinians money for building infrastructure like waste treatment plants or power stations, they built mansions for PA and Hamas officials. Hamas took cement for rebuilding homes after the last war and used it to line attack tunnels. The only area in which they have shown any initiative is getting attention by killing people.

Do you see the difference here? The Jews really wanted a state. They were ready to sacrifice and struggle for it. They took advantage of the aid that was available and used it to build something. The Arabs aren’t even trying. All they want is to destroy our state.

The ‘Palestinians’ have contributed nothing to the world except violent terrorism since they invented themselves in order to oppose Jewish sovereignty some 60 years ago. It’s time to start weaning them off welfare. If they can switch from stabbing to state-building, then they should go for it. In any case, the world can’t afford to keep feeding them.

Vic Rosenthal

Al Aqsa Worshipers Confused By July 4 Fireworks Not Aimed At People

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

{Originally posted to the PreOccupied Territory website}

Jerusalem, July 4 – Palestinians attending the prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque today voiced bewilderment at traditional US Independence Day festivities featuring fireworks, noting that none of the American fireworks displays they had seen involved pointing the pyrotechnic devices at other humans.

Numerous worshipers at the contested holy site hesitated before commenting on the American July 4 fireworks tradition, confused by the evident lack of intent to harm others in the celebration. “You mean they do it just for the noise and the light?” wondered Batl Rahqet, 19, of nearby Abu Dis. “They must be reading the instructions wrong. Fireworks are supposed to be pointed at occupiers and colonialists. Isn’t that what the Americans used to fight off the British?”

“We must not be getting the whole picture here,” insisted Dahlia Emayti, 18, who dedicates much of her time outside the mosque to screaming and hurling objects at visiting Jews. “I suppose it might be nice to have a celebratory display using the stuff, kind of out of curiosity for the different forms, but isn’t that kind of quaint? I’m sure the footage we’re seeing is just when they go off by accident or something. The standard use of fireworks is as a weapon.”

When informed that the typical use of fireworks in July 4 celebrations involves significant precautions to prevent others from coming to harm, Al Aqsa attendees reacted with disdain. “That’s just not what they’re for,” declared Ali Hummr, 20, with evident disgust. “It’s like saying a house of worship is supposed to be a place of serenity and communion with the Creator – we all know the primary purpose of such a place is to stockpile rocks and weapons to use against Jews too mindful of so-called ‘ethics’ to violate that space. There is just so much those Americans don’t know about the world.”

Hummr and Rahqet went into the mosque itself to inspect the packaging and instructions for the devices, and emerged several minutes later. “I admit I’m stunned,” said Raquet. “It actually says the opposite of what I thought – the safety warnings specifically tell you not to point it where it might hit somebody. It makes no exceptions even if the somebody is an Israeli policeman reacting to rock-throwing.”

“This can only mean one thing,” concluded Hummr. “The instructions and safety warnings were altered by the Zionists to trick us into thinking these aren’t weapons.”

“The next thing they’ll tell us,” added Emayti, “is that Plymouth Rock isn’t for throwing at those filthy-footed Jews.”

 

PreOccupied Territory

A Despicable Act by a People in Dire Need of Introspection

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

I oppose the current badly formulated and poorly implemented Israeli policy of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. I oppose it not because Jews should not live there. Jews should be able to live anywhere, so should Muslims, Christians, and atheists. I oppose it because Israel is allowing the settlements to be used as an excuse by corrupt Palestinian leaders to demonize Israel and to reject peace. However, I also strongly reject violence, particularly the type of inexcusable violence that we saw yesterday where a young Israeli girl was stabbed to death in her sleep

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency described the killer (who was killed by security guards after he committed his terrorist act) as a “martyr.”

This is not peace making. This is not nation building. This is not even resistance. This is a crime of unspeakable horror that no human being worth their salt can accept. It is despicable. Yet the Palestinians’ highest authority approved of it and glorified it. By giving their approval, they changed the crime from an individual’s crime to a crime by all Palestinians. How can anyone think that a society that is led by such thugs can go anywhere but down the sewer?

Palestinian leaders are worthless crooks, so it is up to the Palestinian people to confront the hate that they have so far embraced like a most precious treasure. If they do not, any dream of a Palestinian state will die and so will the very notion of Palestinians. If they do not, Palestinians will be remembered in the annals of history as a bunch of haters and terrorists who never achieved anything and then melted away like a meaningless entity.

Fred Maroun

Thousands Attend Funeral for Miki Mark

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Thousands attended the funeral of Miki Mark in Otniel on Sunday morning. Mark was murdered by Islamic terrorists on Friday after they opened fire on his family car. His wife was seriously wounded. One of his daughters was moderately wounded. Both are still in the hospital.

One of his sons was lightly wounded, and was able to attend his father’s funeral.

The couple have 10 children.

President Ruby Rivlin spoke and said, “Our best continue to fall in the mountains of Hebron, the cradle of Jewish settlement. Our roots are deep in this land. Terrorism is not undermining our hold on our land and will not. Jewish blood is not free. We promise to fight without fear, and we will win. The IDF and the security forces will cut off the hands of the murderers. Michi, the light of the way you paved will not be extinguished.”

Rivlin speaks at Mark Funeral

Miki Mark Funeral 1

Miki Mark Funeral 2

Photos by Hillel Meier / TPS

Jewish Press News Briefs

‘People Don’t Look, People Don’t Think’

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Here is an interesting Jewish thought:

The Torah at the end of Parshas Noach records that Terach was seventy years of age when his son Avraham was born. The family then sets off to settle in Canaan (Israel) but doesn’t quite manage to get there (this happens to lots of us.) They settle instead in a place called Charan and there, at the ripe old age of 205, Terach dies.

The next parshah, Lech Lecha, says that Avraham is told by Hashem to set off to complete the journey and at the age of 75 he arrives in Israel.

The interesting thing is that the Torah tells us Terach died before Avraham set off to the land of Israel. This is clearly not the case.

Do the math: If Terach was 70 when Avraham was born and Avraham was 75 when he set out, then Terach was 145 when he and Avraham parted and he lived another sixty years.

Why does the Torah imply that Avraham only left after his father died?

Rashi supplies two answers. The first is that from a Jewish philosophical perspective, a wicked person, although alive, is considered dead – and Terach was a particularly wicked person.

His second answer is little short of baffling: In order to prevent critics and cynics from claiming that Avraham abandoned his poor old father for sixty years, the Torah draws a veil over the truth and related the story as though Avraham had only left after his father’s funeral.

But any child can add 70 and 75 and subtract that from the 205 years the Torah tells us Terach lived. The Torah’s own words clearly reveal what actually happened.

Reb Simcha Zissel Ziv, founder of the Yeshiva of Kelm, says an uncomfortable and explosive thing about this paradox. It’s true that the evidence about what really occurred is staring us in the face. What Rashi is telling us, he says, is that if you want to draw a veil over the truth and cover up the facts, it need only be the very thinnest of veils because “People don’t look, people don’t think.”

Three weeks ago I drove to Queens to speak at a shul in the heart of the Bukharian community. The title of my talk I took from my April column here in The Jewish Press, “Send in the Clowns” and I added a subtitle, “The presidential election and the Torah.”

I chose my words very c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y.

I noted that I was Scottish and can’t vote. Having established neutrality, I went on to address the general criticisms leveled at each of the candidates by o-t-h-e-r-s (not me, you see!) and looked at those criticisms through a Torah lens to ascertain whether or not they were serious concerns.

I began with Hillary and her penchant for being economical with the truth. (It’s not that I’m against politicians lying, you understand; I expect them to. I just expect than to be much better at it than Hillary is).

Then I turned to Donald (who has had more than a few Pinocchio moments himself), focusing on his habit of speaking in offensive and crude terms about other people. This was particularly true with regard to his comments about women and I explained to the audience why this was a concern from a Torah perspective.

Finally I turned to Bernie, that proud self-described son of “Polish” (not Jewish) immigrants.

During my talk, no one seemed upset with my less than positive remarks about Hillary and Bernie. I had chosen my words c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y and I was very pleased with the results.

But then came my remarks about Donald and – boom! – a man was on his feet demanding to know what evidence I had “that Mr. Trump had ever spoken badly about any woman.”

For starters I reminded him about the well-known female journalist Donald attacked in the most offensive terms.

“That,” replied my interlocutor, “was only because she had attacked him!”

I furrowed my brow and asked, “So you do concede he has spoken badly about women?” The man simply ignored what I had told him and repeated, “Mr. Trump has never spoken badly about any woman.”

I considered pointing out that he was ignoring the facts but then I recalled the aforementioned observation that “People don’t look, people don’t think” and thought better of it.

Which brought to mind a recent conversation I had with a well-known New York journalist about the differences between broadcast media here and in the UK.

In England, newspapers declare their political preferences and people buy them for that reason. TV and radio, though, are different. The BBC as well as commercial stations are hardly free from accusations of bias, but none would dream of debating any issue on air without all sides of the debate represented. In the U.S. that is simply not so.

My friend agreed. Then he claimed that Americans generally do not want to hear the other side of the debate. They like to have their preferences and prejudices confirmed by others who share the same preferences and prejudices.

After the slaughter in Orlando, President Obama got very, very angry at those who would link the outrage to Islam. Should the U.S. Muslim community be under surveillance? he asked incredulously. (Millions listened, rolled their eyes, and said “Duh!”)

The focus, he argued, should be on gun control more so than the Islamist threat.

Many in the media then immediately swung into action to condemn the Republicans for allegedly supporting even the most extreme anti-gun control measures. Pundits and Democratic Party officials noted that you can be on a government watch-list as a suspected terrorist and be banned from flying but still legally buy a gun with which to kill innocent people. Insane, right?

But…that is not the position of the Republican Party or even the NRA. Because I like to check the facts, I went to the NRA website. Turns out the organization is opposed to suspected terrorists (as well as people with a history of serious mental illness) being able to buy guns.

So someone here is exploiting a tragedy for political capital. It might be Obama, Hillary, and the Democrats. It might be the GOP and Donald (although he tweeted that he supports banning watch-list people from buying guns). It might be all of them.

To those who like to have their existing preferences and prejudices confirmed by people who share them, the “truth” is always obvious.

But there are those who prefer to check the truth and who object to people like Barack, Hillary, Bernie, and Donald drawing the thinnest of veils over it because they are convinced that “People don’t look, people don’t think.”

That’s a good thing, particularly when a country is about to choose someone who will lead it for at least four years. Not thinking about the facts is a condition that can have serious consequences. Sometimes they’re fatal.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Video of the Day

Guck To Gold: Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Years ago I was introduced to a compelling logical argument that helped me a lot later on when I would struggle with difficult Talmudic passages: If someone gives you too many answers to a question, it probably means there is no real answer.

So many answers have been offered to the question of why bad things happen to good people. Here too, the answer remains elusive. Indeed the Mishnah (Pirkei Avot 4:15) teaches: “Rabbi Yannai would say, We have no comprehension of the tranquility of the wicked, nor of the suffering of the righteous.” Despite various approaches to this question that were known at the time, Rabbi Yannai believed the ultimate answer was yet to be known.

Does this mean we can never have even an inkling of understanding of human suffering? No, there are many small but meaningful and compelling answers that help along the way and offer hope and relief. And focusing on making sense of at least the tip of the iceberg of suffering can be pivotal for transforming oneself from victim to victor, from overpowered to empowered.

I will highlight some of those answers, which in many ways correspond with the Kübler-Ross model of emotional stages experienced by individuals upon the death of a loved one (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance).

The first is answer is that anger and frustration are legitimate, understandable, expected – and desired. The importance of communicating one’s feelings to God can be found throughout Jewish sources, from the most basic to the most advanced. The expression of one’s frustrations should come not in a disrespectful way, not in a demeaning way, but in a way that expresses a person’s feelings.

What is essential is to make sure one is angry at God – not angry about God. When a person is angry at God, it means he has a healthy and robust relationship with the Creator, but when a person is angry about God, it suggests the Creator is no longer in his life. Anger and frustration can – should – be expressed, but as part of one’s relationship with God.

The second point that is essential to remember is that no suffering is meaningless. Whatever the reason for suffering, it is not in vain; we may not know where it is leading to or the reason for it in the first place, but it is neither meaningless nor arbitrary.

The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 91:6) states that Yaakov Avinu never said anything wrong except for asking his sons “Why did you harm me?” When God heard Yaakov saying this, He responded: “I am busy bringing his son to kingship in Egypt and he says why did you harm me?”

Sometimes, more painful than the suffering itself is the inability to see any reason for the suffering. While the reasons for struggles, pain, and loss may vary, they are not meaningless.

The third thing we must always remember is that we are never alone in our suffering. When Hashem first reveals Himself to Moshe, He purposefully speaks from a thorned bush. The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 2:7) teaches that by doing so God was saying: When my people are in trouble, I am right there with them though the hardship.

The verse in Exodus famously says, “And the children of Israel sighed…and they cried, and their cry came up unto God…and God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob; and God saw the children of Israel, and God took cognizance of them.

No pain goes unnoticed. God is there and takes consideration of every bit of our pain.

A fourth key realization is that this world, with its suffering and strife, is not the final destination. Though that may sound to some to like a cheap “out” from the profound questions related to suffering, it is powerful enough to be at the epicenter of religion. We believe in an afterlife. Suffering is not our final fate but a temporary one.

The Talmud (Arachin 16b) says that if a person puts his hand into his pocket with the intention of pulling out three coins and instead finds only two (so that he has to put his hand back into his pocket), even that “suffering” is noted above. God did not create us to suffer, so when the smallest suffering does occur, God takes that into account.

We don’t know why we suffer. We do know that Someone is looking at our suffering, listening to our cries, and factoring it all into His considerations. We are not suffering to no end. It is all accounted for and will be factored into a broader scheme of things.

The fifth idea to have in mind is that although we don’t necessarily see or understand the positive outcomes of our suffering, such outcomes should not be ruled out. Not knowing why we suffer goes both ways – we may not know what good could possibly come of it but we cannot say with any certainty that nothing good will emerge. An example that comes to mind is that of Joseph. Sold into slavery in a foreign land and then imprisoned for making a heroic moral choice, Joseph had every reason to question his suffering. But that very suffering was what brought him to the throne of Egypt.

Does this mean we should wait for a magical outcome or fairytale-like solution to difficult situations? No. But a healthy way of dealing with suffering is to immediately ask questions such as: “What opportunities do I now see of which I previously had been unaware?” “How can this help me to help others?” “How will this experience leave me stronger, smarter, or more sensitive than I was before?”

Finally, look to others for help. Yes, God is with you in your pain. Yes, prayer should be used at every possible point. But we should still look to others who care for us and will look out for us.

The Torah teaches (Vayikra 13:22) that one of the things a person with leprosy should do is vocally let people know of his affliction. The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni) understands this to be teaching us that a distressed individual is obligated to alert people to his distress.

Letting others know can help. It can help because they will pray. It can help because they will sympathize. It can help because they will offer social support or have relevant advice that might help us. Will everyone be as sympathetic as we would like? Not necessarily, but we will also be touched to discover those special people who come our way and can help.

So while we will never understand, at least not on this side of eternity, why bad things happen to good people, we do know what good people can do when bad things happen. And we know that good people, often utilizing the tools described above, are able to take really tough situations and turn them around.

It is our task to make sure we take the guck that sometimes is handed to us and to turn it into gold.

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/guck-to-gold-why-bad-things-happen-to-good-people/2016/05/22/

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