Erase Me Not

Stop Erasing Me
So in the war between good and evil, the battlefield has become a war of words as much as that of guns and bombs. 



If you can’t exterminate a people physically, then why not try to do it historically? 



With despots like former Iranian president Ahmadinejad as a exemplar for Holocaust denial, history revisionists now make fair game of rewriting the past, so that it plays their way.



How convenient–if you don’t like how something turns out, simply change it in the history books so it never even happened. 



I was surprised recently to see how far this method of verbal warfare has gone, when I happened to look up some information online about the Jewish Exodus from slavery in Egypt and trek to the Promised Land of Israel, only to find that in Wikipedia, this has now been deemed a “Charter Myth.”



I wondered how both the thousands year old Jewish Torah and the Christian Old Testament that records my people’s hundreds of years of slavery and redemption in the Biblical book of Exodus was now just recorded in the most prominent online encyclopedia on the web as a false belief!



Ah, maybe those pyramids in Giza just showed up one day–and my people didn’t build them with straw, mortar, and dead Jewish slave bodies.



Forget about how convenient calling this a myth is to the terrorists who don’t want to acknowledge that the Land of Israel was given by G-d to the Jewish people and instead want to believe in Jihad against all “infidels.”



My daughter asked me on a recent walk why they hate us? 



And I answered and said, if another people–i.e. the existence of the Jews and their homeland, Israel–is a refutation of their hate-filled “religious” beliefs, then maybe we can understand why they want to get rid of us, the inconvenient evidence.



This same story is playing out in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, where despite incredible destruction to Hamas in Gaza, they are claiming victory on social media. 



The Jewish people are small in numbers, and if millions of religious militants wants to write us off in the history books and on the web, they can certainly try. 



But what Jewish people do that is smarter than trying to erase something bad from history is that we force ourselves to remember it–to learn lessons from it and become better despite what happened. 



That is why we celebrate Passover to remember the Exodus from many thousands of years ago. The same with Yom Hashoah to memorialize the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, and Tisha B’Av to remember the destruction of the two Jewish temples. 



Even we the commandment to blot of the remembrance of the evil that Amalek did in attacking the our infirm and elderly among us in the dessert in Exodus, we remember this annually!



The Jews are a people of the book–we remember, we study, we learn, we grow. 



In the Bible, there are plenty of people that did bad things, but we would never think to rewrite it or any portion of it. It is sacred and most valuable to learn from–the good and the bad. 



While damning the memory of someone bad is not uncommon among all cultures, it is really more a remembrance of what they did bad, rather than forgetting they ever did it. 



It is far more courageous to remember history and learn from it, then try fledglingly to rewrite the parts that you don’t like or are inconvenient to you. 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Holocaust To Nation State

From Holocaust To Nation State
This is a really beautiful representation of the historical developments of the Jewish nation.



Where the Jewish people went from the fiery depths of the Holocaust to the rise of a modern democratic nation state of Israel. 



We are the same sons and daughters of Israel, but no longer exiled from the Holy Land and paraded like sheep to the slaughter from the hate mongers de jour. 



On the right are represented generations, who with the rise of every crazy demagogue that needed to blame their religious, political, social, and economic problems on a scapegoat, the Jewish people suffered at their bloody hands, discriminatory expropriation and expulsion, tax and torture, rape, pogrom, and slaughter.



On the left are shown the Jews from a free democratic State of Israel who are proud to seek a life of peace and security from persecution and who can chart their own course for their people and be a light unto nations for doing what is right and moral and contributing to the world in every significant development and advance of humankind. 



As the Jews went from slavery to freedom many thousands of years ago with the Exodus from Egypt and settlement of the land of Israel, so too today, we can count on the miraculous transition from exile to promised homeland and from persecution to self-determination. 😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Eliyokim Cohen)

Biblical Art

Biblical Art

So we turned the clock forward this morning and spring was here…it was warm enough to go hiking again. It was a long one, but great to be back outdoors.

After the hike we stopped at Max’s in Silver Spring for their famous shawarma sandwiches…OMG are they amazingly good (I got mine extra spicy and mixed with the tahini sauce and fresh meat right off the spit…it is delicious!

After paying, I noticed there was this beautiful wall hanging between the register and pickup counter…I started to take a closer look and there were these gorgeous scenes from the bible:

– Creation and the 7th Day of Rest

– Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

– Noah and The Ark, Cain and Abel, The Tower of Babel, and Abraham

– Joseph, Moses, The Exodus from Egypt, and The Ten Commandments

– The Promised Land of Israel, The Fall of Jericho, King David, The Temple, Hezekiah, and Jonah and The Whale

The detail, colors, and flow on this artwork was absolutely amazing.

It is called “A Celebration of Spirit” and I believe that the artist is Charles Fazzino.

The lithograph was tall and narrow, and I would love to see it as a whole wall mural…it is really beautiful and brought the bible so alive.

I found out today that not only the shawarma is good at Max’s… 😉

Swarming For Social Order and Disorder

Swarm

A swarm is a large number of organisms generally in motion.  According to Swarm Theory, the collective exhibits superior intelligence or abilities beyond that of any individual.

Swarms are powerful forces that we see in our society today in everything from the worldwide riots of 2011 to crowdsourcing on the Internet–to put it simply as they say, “there is power in numbers.”

And swarms and their immense power dates back to the Bible, where the 8th plague sent on Egypt in Deuteronomy 10:14-15 was the plague of locusts:

“And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt…for they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees…”

This past year, we saw the power of swarms in the riots around the globe–from Tahir Square to Occupy Wall Street. In the case of Egypt, Mubarak was deposed after ruling for 30 years and in the case of Wall Street, the Occupy movement sparked protests around the globe lasting for many months.

Similarly, swarms are being put to the test in multiple military applications from the Army’s Future Combat System (since renamed) that envision brigades of manned and unmanned combat vehicles linked via an ultra-fast network creating a highly coordinated and maneuverable fighting force to DARPA’s iRobotSwarm Project creating a mesh network of mobile robots with sensors that can coordinate and perform surveillance and reconnaissance gaining dominance over the battlefield.

The power of the swarm is not just a physical phenomenon, but also a virtual one where crowdsourcing is used online to do everything from building incredible sources of knowledge like Wikipedia to soliciting citizens ideas for solving national problems such as on Challenge.gov.

Traditionally, the power behind the swarm (in nature whether bees, ants, or locusts) was the collective behavior of so many to attack an enemy, build a colony, or ravage the landscape. Today however, the swarm is powerful because of its collective intelligence–whether in pooling information, vetting ideas, or just coordinating activities with such sophistication that the group can outwit and outmaneuver its opponents.

Wired Magazine  has an article for the new year (January 2012) called “Crowd Control” in which the riots of 2011 are viewed as  both “dangerous and magnificent”–they represent a disconnected group getting connected, a mega-underground casting off its invisibility to embody itself, formidably, in physical space.”

“Today’s protest, revolts, and riots are self-organizing [and] hyper-networked”–and just like a swarm, individuals deindividuate and base their ideas and actions on the shared identify of the group and therein, a social psychology takes hold and with basic communication and social technology today, they can spontaneously form potent flash mobs, “flash robs,” or worse.

The age old phenomenon of swarming behavior is intersecting with the 21st century technology such as smartphones and social media to create the ability of individuals to gather, act decisively, disperse into the crowds, and then reconvene elsewhere to act again.

The power of this modern swarm is no longer about “sheer numbers,” but about being interconnected through messaging, tweets, videos,and more.

Many today are finding the power of the swarm with both friends and foes.  Friends are using swarming to try to accomplish new social and scientific feats.  While foes such as Al Qaeda are utilizing swarming for hit and run terrorism–moving agilely between safe havens and targeting their victims with tools of terror such as IEDs, car bombs, and other flash attacks.

Swarming is not just a behavior found in the animal kingdom any longer, today it is a fundamental source for both social order and disorder.

Swarming is now a strategy and a tactic–we need to wise up and gain the edge with social swarming behavior and technology to “outwit, outlast, and outplay” those who want to threaten society, and instead use it to improve and secure it.

(Source Photo: here)