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Israel and Israelis have been blaming everyone from Shimon Peres to President Barack Obama and even Jonathan Pollard himself for the American government’s refusal to free him from prison, but the real reason is American Pride that sits deep in the gut of the United States .
It is easy, and perhaps partly correct, to cry “anti-Semitism,” but that does not explain why most of the American Jewish establishment has not been campaigning for his release.
Pollard was sentenced to life for handing over secret documents for Israel, a crime that usually is punishable by two to four years in jail.
He has languished in jail, except when he was taken to the hospital for medical emergencies. He was not even allowed to go the funeral of his parents.
Pollard was accused of but never was convicted of “spying,” but American media to this day still report he “spied” on the United States.
Pollard is different from others who have been caught in the act of espionage,
He is an American. He was born in the United States. He is not an immigrant.
That is what hurts Americans.
Whatever damage he did to American security, if any at all, Americans suffered far more pain in its pride, a characteristic that Israel cannot understand because it takes on a different form in the Jewish state.
The United States always has been proud of itself, and it had good reason to be when it was the leader of the world, economically, culturally, morally and financially.
“When willful wickedness comes, then comes disgrace, but with the modest is wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2.
Israel is proud in the positive sense of the word – affiliation and association with its raison d’tre and the feeling that every Jew belongs to the same tribe.
Israel is known for its divisiveness, but that is the root of its strength. Jewish thought never would have developed and flourished if rabbis had not argued over minute points, discussions that are written in the Talmud.
The deep divisions in Israeli society disappear in the time of need, such as when virtually the entire country recited Psalms for the well-being of Nachshon Waxman, the soldier who was kidnapped by Arab terrorists and eventually killed in a botched rescue effort by the IDF.
Israel, from left to right, was bound together when three yeshiva youth were kidnapped by Hamas murderers last June, and the entire country, from left to right with the exception of a few zanies, walked hand in hand during the Hamas war following the kidnap-murders.
On the other hand, America was supposed to be a melting pot that has turned out to be a collection of different religions, ethnicities and races, like any other country whose only common bind is that they leave in the same country.
Except for eating a turkey on Thanksgiving, the melting pot is more like a strange and totally coincidental mosaic
Mom, flag and apple-pie no longer represent America’s manufactured pride. ”Mom” doesn’t mean much in a society that not only accepts but also encourages homosexuality; “God” has a hard time in a society that goes out of its way to keep religion in the home. As for apple pie, there is only so much that one can eat.
So when an American, a born and bred American, is reported to be a “spy,” it punctures the illusion that the United States is pure, a country of patriots without knowing exactly to what.
The same false pride that keeps the Obama administration acting as if it is the power broker that can make peace in the Middle East, put Russia in its place and turns Africa into a continent of democracies, also keep Pollard behind bars.
And think of Pollard while you are eating turkey.
I already have erased the first version of this article, which was preachy and snotty, when I realized I have lived in Israel too long to remember that I lived too long in America before moving to Israel.
All of the rah-rah Israel attitude than landed with me 30 years ago comes out like a tired preacher fed up with his flock of sinners and no longer able to lead them to the path of Truth and Beauty.
So for all of you still in the United States, and in Canada where I lived for eight years, the only way I know to get inside you is to write the news and views the way I see it, and not as the journalist I once was, when I had traded in Judaism for Journalism as The Way of Life.
My trip into idol worship – H. L. Mencken was one of my gods – ended in the news room at a major metropolitan daily in Canada, where I had the fancy title of Senior News Editor with a salary I have not seen again until this day.
That was in 1981, during what was known as the Peace for the Galilee campaign, usually referred to as the First War in Lebanon. I was ripping off UPI and AP copy, poring through the reports and deciding what our readers would read and what would go into the trash bin.
At that time, Judaism was a memory, and Zionism was an embryo, which I did not know existed.
Let’s go back a bit, but briefly. I grew up in a home where my parents of blessed memory became observant when I was almost too young to remember. Fast forward to 1960, when I was 16 and when they already were heavily involved in the Orthodox Union and Hadassah and took their first trip to Israel.
I was going to public high school but was very serious in my religious learning, which I continued at the “afternoon Hebrew school” well after my Bar Mitzvah. My favorite bedtime reading was the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch on Jewish laws.
Israel was never a part of my studies, except for stories about Jews in the days of “Palestine.”
When my parents returned with photographs of Israel, I refused to look at them. I blurted out instinctively, “Israel is not a religious state. I do not want to see pictures from a Jewish state that is not orthodox.”
If you have not gotten the point, I was far from a Zionist. As a cub reporter in a small hillbilly town in Virginia during the Six-Day War, I remember my managing editor calling out, “Hey, do you know what you guys are doing to the Arabs?
I did not know and could not have cared less. I was more interested in pounding the police beat.
But what happened in the news room in Canada during the war in Lebanon tore me up.
Journalism was my Truth, but something did not read right between the lines of the wire copy.
It said that Israeli soldiers were attacking “guerillas” inside Lebanese territory and then noted the “invasion” followed some rockets that had fallen on Israel, killing a few people here and there.
And you thought that the anti-Israel bias on the war against terror in Gaza, Judea and Samaria is something new? Every day, I read about Israel “invading” Lebanon and killing these “guerillas,” with the obvious bias that Israel was to blame for the violence that I could see between the lines was initiated in Lebanon.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My belief in Journalism was extinguished in a flash. I was devastated. After six weeks, I walked into the news room and said, “I quit.”
The bosses were astonished but did not ask for an explanation, and I do not know if I could have answered. Journalism had become a lie, and there would be no sense telling the gods they have ears and cannot hear and have eyes and cannot see.
Two years later, I took my first trip to Israel – on a one-way ticket, intent to stay, which I did.
So dear, reader, I am trying not to preach to you. I can only let you know of one person’s path to The Truth.
Everyone has his or her own path, and I cannot communicate to you other than through the news and views.
You have your reasons – let’s be honest and call them excuses, in most cases – to remain outside of Israel. I am not referring to those with children. I mean all of the singles and couples without children and without the financial responsibility that could be a question mark before moving to Israel. We can discuss that some other time.
I cannot persuade you or convince you other than to write through my eyes that see Israel with its warts and puts them in perspective of a Divine Presence that protects this country, and see the warts of American in the perspective of a fading empire whose Jews are living in their hope that there will always be a tomorrow.
All of this comes to mind on what is being called Thanksgivukkah, a name which says volumes.
I am sure Americans have a lot to be thankful about, and I will let each one count his own blessings.
My “anti” stage has long passed; I am not anti-American nor anti-America. I was born there, grew up there, was educated there and worked there.
And I am thankful that Thanksgiving is so far behind me that I don’t have the burden of having to celebrate the Miracle of Lights and the Jewish victory over the Romans in the home of the Jewish people along with the holiday that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
According to my prayer book, every day is a day of thanksgiving.
Fifty lone soldiers and over 200 young professional Olim celebrated “Thanksgivukkah” at a festive event organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and White City Shabbat.
Revelers celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime double holiday of Chanukkah and Thanksgiving at the landmark Goren Synagogue in Tel Aviv with a three-course meal replete with traditional holiday foods including latkes and turkey.
After the meal, Tel Aviv’s deputy mayor Asaf Zamir led the Chanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. This event was also sponsored by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Israel, JNF and the FIDF as a part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s ongoing social events for its Olim and Lone Soldiers.
As a gesture of showing thanks and in order to promote acts of kindness towards those less fortunate, dinner guests were encouraged to donate lightly worn clothes for the event’s clothing drive.
“We are excited to have teamed up with White City Shabbat on this exceptional holiday event. This was a great opportunity for young professionals and lone soldiers to enjoy a traditional festive meal and express their thanks together with fellow Olim from around the country,” said Benji Davis, Events & Programs Coordinator at Nefesh B’Nefesh.
White City Shabbat is a volunteer-run portal for Jewish life in Tel Aviv that hosts a range of intercommunity events, including its hugely successful monthly Shabbat meals.
As a native Brit, Deborah Danan doesn’t feel that Thanksgivukkah is exclusive for Americans. “The theme of Thanksgiving is anyway inherent to the festival of Chanukkah which all Jews celebrate,” said Danan, who co-directs White City Shabbat together with Eytan White, “And of course, as our tagline states, ‘you don’t have to be American to give thanks!’ People from a broad spectrum of nationalities are coming together to show their gratitude for being able to celebrate this unique holiday in Israel.”
It now is official. This year’s rare coincidence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will be known as “Thanksgivukkah” where the Boston Tea Party took place, retiring Mayor Thomas Menino declared.
The proclamation notes the special “diversity of all its citizens” and the values embodied by both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, including “unity, hope and gratitude.”
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah last fell on the same day in the late 19th century and after a couple of more concurrent holidays the next 100 years or so, they are not expected to converge again for more than 75,000 years.
That means most of us will not have to suffer the “Thanksgivukkah” shtick again in our lives.
JNS contributed to this report.
Middle East experts are experts by virtue of their positions of power.
Some of them, like former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, even have learned a thing or two about international affairs. Rice actually has a Ph.D., which as comedian-pianist Victor Borge once said, should be read as “phttttttttttt.”
The experts, and that includes John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Catherine Ashton and the Oslo Accords crowd, may have learned about prophets, kings, oil and sheikhs in International Relations 101, but they missed out on the basics, like selling non-kosher turkeys to the Arabs.
I learned more about Arab-Jewish relations by working in kibbutz turkey barns than Kerry and Ashton could ever learn in their worldwide visits to official residents of presidents and prime ministers in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Amman.
Turkeys, like people, are cute when they are babies, but after a few weeks, they are not like most people. Their feet are scratchy and they begin to stink. When they get to be three months old, some of them pick up a cold, a little bronchitis, or start to hobble on weak knees, probably from too many carbohydrates.
Then they start acting like grown teenagers. The stronger turkeys pick on the weaker ones, just like fifth-graders playing king of the hill. They peck at the skin until the poor gobbler cannot stand on his feet.
When I was in charge of the birds on a kibbutz farm, the sick and injured had their own quarters, a fenced-off intensive care ward where the bullies couldn’t bother them. But sometimes it was too late. Their broken legs and their bronchitis often are more than modern medicine can cure on a cost-efficient basis.
What can you do with a sick and lame turkey? You sell it cheaply. After all, the reason to raise turkeys is turn them into fat candidates for the slaughterhouse and convert them into cold cash. The Humane Society really does not have much demand for them.
That’s where a revised International Relations 101 course could have taught the experts, sitting in their sterilized offices, something besides making roadmaps to nowhere. Even Professor Yossi Beilin, the darling of the Israeli Left, doesn’t know a kibbutz from Damascus.
Peace is a business, like anything else these days. But you have to know the rules of the game. A good Western businessman knows that a handshake is a handshake, a word is a word, and a deal is a deal.
For instance, Tom wants to sell his two-year-old Chevy for $5,000. Clyde wants to buy it for $4,000. One of them budges or there’s no deal. Jim tries to cut a deal at $4,400. If Tom and Clyde compromise at $4,500, Tom gets his money and Clyde gets his wheels. As for Jim, that’s his problem.
But that’s not the way it works in the Middle East. Here, Abe writes out a check and Ahmed gives him the key. The next day, Abe discovers the key doesn’t fit. “Of course it does not fit,” Ahmed retorts. “The price of the car was according to the real value of the dollar. The inflation rate went up 0.2 percent yesterday. You owe me $10!”
Abe protests, “Where’s the cell phone antenna that was on the roof? I am stopping payment on the check. You owe me $25 for the bank charge.”
“I’m not finished stripping the car,” retaliates Ahmed. The DVD is mine, but I’ll put back the original radio. It works most of the time, especially the Al Jazeera channel.”
“Look, here,” snarls Abe. “I paid you $4,500, but that was based on the price of gold. It went up two cents yesterday. The real price is $4,498.09.”
“You can add another $120 for the deluxe hub caps, or I’ll take them with me,” Ahmed shouts.
They agree to talk again tomorrow. That was 10 years ago. They still are talking.
It doesn’t matter that Abe still has to thumb a ride to work and that Ahmed does the same because he doesn’t have enough money for gas. The principles are that the other guy didn’t get what he wanted so they can continue arguing.
In Western societies, negotiations are a means to an end. The objective is to make a deal so both sides get what they want.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Monday he is postponing what was supposed to be a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority next week and will return to the region after the Thanksgiving holiday.
He did not explain reasons behind the new timetable but did state, “It looks as if I probably will not be able to get there over the course of this weekend.”
Given his undiplomatic remarks last week, threatening Israel it will face a “third Intifada” if it does not do as he says, nothing will probably be lost by his remaining out of Israel for another week.
Iran also has been a sore point between him and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Kerry tried to some smooth talk Monday. He said of Netanyahu, “I have great respect for his concerns about his country. The prime minister should express his concerns and he has every right in the world to publicly state his position and defend what he believes is his interest.”
But he added that the Prime Minister is wrong. “Nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk,” Kerry said.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kerry-postpones-next-trip-to-israel/2013/11/19/
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