He Who Saves A Life

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “He Who Saves A Life.”

We all know the Jewish dictum of “He who save a life, saves the world.” In Judaism, every single life is invaluable, and hence we are even allowed to violate the holy Shabbat for the preservation of human life (“Pikuach Nefesh“). Similarly, when it came to a prisoner exchange for IDF Sargent first Class, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas terrorists for five years (2006-2011), Israel exchanged1,027 Palestinians in a prisoner exchange for Shalit. Life is truly sacred to the Jewish people.

This week, I had the opportunity to meet and hear from members of Israel Air Force’s Elite Search and Rescue, Unit 669, at Magen David Synagogue in Rockville, Maryland. There I was reminded of the brave Israeli soldiers who not only defend the holy land and people of Israel, but also who are there to search for missing soldiers and rescue them and civilians “regardless of location or conditions” when faced with war, terrorism, or other disaster. Soldiers from unit 669 go into every possible dangerous situation, and under fire, to save lives at whatever cost to themselves.
(Source Photo: Flikr)

Turning Nakba to Babka

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called Turning Nabka to Babka

The term Nakba, in relation to Israel, was actually was first used in August 1948 by Syrian Professor Constantin Zureiq not to condemn anything Israel did to the Palestinians, but rather is a call for the Arabs themselves whereby:

We must admit our mistakes…and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.

The displacement of the Palestinians and their refugee problem is attributed not primarily to Israel, but rather to the mistakes that the Palestinians and Arabs made themselves! So, while, the Arabs and Palestinians have tried to make Israel into the aggressor and blame them for their troubles, the truth of the matter is that the Palestinians Nakba is to a great extent caused by their own religious intolerance, gross hatred of the Jews, including the desire for their genocide, and that this has led them down a true disastrous path of Middle East recklessness and extremely bad decision making, over and over again.

The goods news is that in more recent times, the Arab nations are thank G-d changing their hostile approach to Israel and instead moving to make peace. Not only Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1993), but in the last year with the Abraham Accords with both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as with Sudan and Morocco normalizing relations with Israel. Even this morning, I was amazed once again to read an editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling for Iraq to join the Abraham Accords too! Of course, the hope is that more and more Arab countries as well as the Palestinians will choose the path of peace and collaboration with Israel, as Ben-Gurion had originally held out to them in 1948 (it’s never too late). The prophetic vision of swords turning to ploughshares is perhaps today’s turning of the shedding of tears and assigning blame over a perceived Nakba into sitting down together on Sukkot for a nice piece (peace) of chocolate babka!

(Credit Photo: Andrea via Flikr )

Unstoppable Fear Meets Immovable Humiliation

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Unstoppable Fear Meets Immovable Humiliation.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really about fear vs. humiliation. The Jews are fearful of the Palestinians and the Palestinians feel humiliated by the Jews. The Jewish people collectively suffer post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders after millennia of persecution culminating in the Holocaust and multiple Wars in Israel against far greater Arab forces. Further, this has been perpetuated by decades of terrorism and Intifadas that have left the Jews feeling vulnerable in their own land of Israel. The net effect of this Jewish history and of being surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs, many resentful and angry, is that Jews are naturally afraid. At the same time, the Palestinians, as part of the greater Arabs, feel humiliated after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the carving up of their lands by the West and the colonialism and occupation that followed by Britain and France. More recently, the Palestinians feel humiliated by the founding of the State of Israel amidst the multitude of Arab lands of the Middle of East, as well as by the barrier wall and regular checkpoints that protects Israel from terrorist intruders, by the West Bank settlements (and actually by Jews anywhere in Israel), and by general Israeli military control over the territories.

There is hope that in time and with G-d’s help, the opposing forces of fear and humiliation will weaken and thereby become less oppositional. At that miraculous time, please G-d in the near future, the factors that prior resulted in a cosmic explosion of war, terror, Jihad, and Intifada will dissipate. Then instead of suicide bombers and terror tunnels and walls and checkpoints, we can have hope for the arrival of a beautiful white dove with an olive branch of peace that knows no bitter boundaries of Jew or Palestinian anymore.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

More Daring than a Prison Break

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “More Daring Than A Prison Break.”

Unlike the Jews that came as refugees from the horrors of the concentration camps and expelled from a multitude of the Arab nations, the Palestinians have been supported all this time by the Arab League, the United Nations, and the West capitulating to Arab oil dependence and ongoing fight against an encroaching Russia in the Middle East. There is no question that the Palestinians have squandered billions of dollars in aid, spent decades engrossed in terror, maintained unrealistic goals to “have it all,” and passed over many chances for achieving their people’s autonomy. If only their efforts at building tunnels to escape from prison as well as to get into Israel and attack, murder, and kidnap innocents would be channeled instead toward building solid institutions to advance the governing of their people, educating and growing prosperity, and living in freedom and peace, side-by-side with their neighbor, Israel.

While I am sure that there are many good Palestinians who are deserving of autonomy and opportunity, unfortunately, their corrupt leaders and terrorists have been brainwashed by radical Islam and have used the Palestinian people as political pawns leaving many still languishing in refugee camps today. In stark contrast, the Jewish freedom fighters, who also endured incredible hardships, focused their efforts towards their independence, and even those taken prisoner managed to escape again and again until they made their way back to Israel to celebrate the achievement of the independence of their people. Like many things in life, setting the right goal is half the battle, and a goal of life and freedom is a much more compelling vision and driving force than ever hate and terror will be.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israeli Determination and the Afghanistan Debacle

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Israeli Determination and the Afghanistan Debacle.”

It’s not always the largest, strongest, fastest, and best financed that wins. Like with the story of David and Goliath or even one of my modern-day heroes, Rocky, the determination of the little guy can overcome the biggest and the best of them. The Taliban were patient and over twenty years continued to wage their struggle against us, but more than that they knew that our patience was limited and that eventually we would leave, and they took the long view and planned for the overthrow of the government and the return of their rule after we were gone. They waited us out and that can be an incredibly successful strategy!

Israel is the Jewish homeland and the Biblical Promised Land from G-d. What the Palestinians haven’t understood in all these years, since the State’s founding in 1948, is that no matter how long they try to wait us out, we have more determination than they have patience! The Jewish people will never give up our historical and legitimate rights to be a sovereign nation in our land, Israel. In the end, the Palestinians may be very patient, but we are the ones who are utterly determined: whether Ashkenazi or Mizrachi, Labor or Likud, Tel Avivian or Jerusalemite, one thing that we all fundamentally agree on is our sheer and utter determination as the Jewish people to survive and be a free nation in our land.

(Source Photo: Pixabay)

Paradoxically Jewish

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Paradoxically Jewish.”

While Israel and the Jews are filled with paradoxes from our forefather Abraham to the modern State of Israel, we are a people who try to wear these paradoxes well. We relish our commonalties even as we are proud of our differences and uniqueness. We argue and fight with each to try to get to “the truth of the matter,” and we negotiate, compromise, threaten and cajole to that sometimes elusive end. Paradox is just another word for our survival against all odds and our determination to overcome the blind hate, anti-Semitism, and scapegoating of Jews throughout history. We Jews are individually broken, but together, we are a beautiful, paradoxical mosaic—a little meshuggah (crazy) and with an unfortunate dose of PTSD, but fundamentally good in intent and deed—working to fulfill our optimism, hope, and mission to usher in the universality of G-d in the world and of betterment for humankind.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

No Talking To A Terrorist

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “No Talking To A Terrorist.”

The fact of the matter is that when a terrorist who hates you and wants to kill you talks, they are telling you that homicidal action is soon forthcoming. It starts with words of disdain, loathing, threats, and hostility, but make no mistake, that those words end in terror and death. Terrorists, like the radical Iranian mullahs are not someone you can sit down with for tea, have a nice conversation, and work out a meaningful or binding diplomatic agreement. Unfortunately, the only thing that a murderous, racist terrorist understands is a punch in the nose! Accordingly, no amount of talking with Iran is going to lead to them ceasing their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to use against the Jewish State and the United States. In their own very distorted “religious” minds, the irrational Iranian mullahs hate us and want us dead, period. To them, we are the scorned infidels, and they are the holy jihadists on a mission of murder. As much as we want peace with all our neighbors, in this case, a military response is not only necessary, but required.

The Jewish people have learned very well the hard and painful lessons from tyrannical madmen who have sought to destroy us over the centuries. The Holocaust is seared into our present-day consciousness like the tattooed numbers were into their victim’s flesh. We have learned to never let our guard down, to expect the unexpected, and to fight like hell when we have to. I am confident that with G-d’s help, Israel and the United States will not wait until it’s too late or stand by for a genocide to happen again! What Iran “says,” it means, but what Israel “does,” it expertly succeeds at.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Practical Approach to Peace in the Middle East

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “A Practical Approach to Peace in the Middle East.”

The question then is why? What is so intractable about the Israel-Palestinian conflict that no one seems to be able to solve it and that it has become virtually the Holy Grail of world issues on which if only we could solve it then everything else would-be nirvana. The conflict has been blamed for everything from the endless Palestinian refugee situation to Soviet aggression and expansion during the Cold War, the oil embargo of 1973, the rise and proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and countless other of the world’s ills. Anyone who even contributes to Middle East Peace like Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat win the Noble Peace Prize, and that’s without there being a full and final solution!

I am certain that Israel’s willingness to negotiate and even to make painful compromises for peace has been far more prevalent, far-reaching, and consistent over time—whether in Oslo, Camp David, or Taba. In the meantime, Israel and the Palestinians continue to “take the risks” and remain in a perpetual state of sometimes active and more often passive war that is fought by Israel through military control and incremental settlement expansion and by the Palestinians through terrorism and their pursuit of the demographic population time bomb. When it comes to achieving peace, perhaps the wisdom of the ages applies here: “the short road is long”—there are no shortcuts to serious negotiation and compromise—and “the long road is short”—eventually, a solution for peace will be found even if for now it tragically and painfully evades us all.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Passivity To Power

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “From Passivity To Power.”

Over the course of our history, the Jewish people have grown from a passive and helpless people during 2,000 years of exile to become, once again, an assertive and strong nation in the Land of Israel as we once were in the days of Joshua, King David and the Maccabees.

In the end, we need to be as faithful as “Jacob” and as strong as “Israel.” As we learn in the Torah and from the rest of Jewish history: inside every Jacob, who just wants to serve G-d in peace as the “People of the Book,” there is also a determined, strong, and brave Israelite fighter and innovator who can stand up for his people and his faith.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Compromise Means Death

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “When Compromise Means Death.”

The nations of the world look on with horror at the “plight of the Palestinians,” but they turn a blind eye to the chants of “death to Israel” and as the Palestinians turn billions of dollars of aid into relentless homicide bombs and send thousands of missiles into Israel civilian population centers. The compromise that Israel has shown would end the Palestinian “victim status” and thus endanger their endless money and support that flows freely from the UNRWA to prop up the corrupt Palestinian leadership. The reason that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want an agreement is that they want the Jews dead “from the river to the sea!”

Israel has shown that is willing to make difficult and painful decisions and support Palestinian autonomy for the sake of peace, but will the Palestinians ever compromise at all? As Golda Meir said:

Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.

Please G-d, the day will arrive soon, when reason will overcome hate, and peace will prevail over prejudice, and Jews and Palestinians can live side-by-side, as neighbors and as friends.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)