Monday, August 3, 2009

You’re not cool enough to stay…

Getting to my blog has been really hard lately. I keep looking over the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz and thinking ehhh.

My friend Scott works for the Jewish Agency getting new Olim situated there first few months in Israel. He always posts on Facebook his activities: camps for kids just off the plane or "OLIM CHADASHIM @ MEZCAL עולים
חדשים @ מזקל because aliyah is supposed to be fun." They meet every Wednesday night for Mexican food and conversation. Every time I see a post, I think, "Wow, I want to go." The young immigrants group has a page on Facebook for people to ask questions, post jobs, look for help. Of course, he's not the only one helping olim find their place in Israel. Dreams of making aliyah are great. Dreams may even get you there, but once you're actually on the land, you need a job. The reality is without a job, making it is hard. When people can't find jobs, they move back to galut. (exile). That's where Brad Bernstein comes in a transplant from San Diego, he realized that while he'd created great connections in Israel, other olim where having a much harder time. The Jerusalem post covered his story in
King of the Anglos.

According to Bernstein, if they didn't have work, they couldn't stay. Thus, in order to keep new Israeli's in the country, he connected his contacts with olim in need of work. He created Jobs In Israel, "Simply titled "Jobs in Israel," the blog, which receives a couple hundred hits a day, is exactly that - a listing of jobs that would be of interest to white-collar English-speakers like Bernstein himself."The goal is to help people," Bernstein explains." (King of the Anglos)
When Jews come to Israel when they are young, university and army service allows them to become a part of society; however, "Bernstein took it upon himself to create a frame, of sorts - edged by the "Jobs in Israel" blog and weekly parties - in an attempt to help immigrants assimilate holistically." (
King of the Anglos). His parties were very exclusive and people had to be invited in order to join. This is the point of the article that I thought, " What, seriously? Now getting a job means you have to be cool? That's how we get people to feel comfortable staying in Israel?" The article says the parties are over (of course it doesn't say why), I suppose it's a marketing strategy: look how awesome these people are, they are cool enough to come to my party, they must be cool enough to work for you. Have I got it wrong? I feel like the goal is to make people feel comfortable and get them jobs. Not, get them into some exclusive club. Besides, "I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lone Soldiers

I love that people in Israel care about lone soldiers. Before I met my husband, he was in the Marine corps for almost eight years. One of his biggest complaints was that men with families always got precedent over him. Holiday coming up? He had to work because it was important for the men with families to be with their families. They received more time off because they weren't alone. However, in Israel lone soldier doesn't mean they have to be singled out for being single. Instead, informally they have the opportunity to see their faraway families or connect with Israeli families. Now, the lone solider program has become official. They have opened a center where lone soldiers can connect with each other. Jpost article

They have more than a center. They also have an online social network where they can connect to one another. The online community allows them to ask each other questions like " how long can I go home to visit my family for?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Great Nakba Debate

My

 My professor posted an article on my class forum: Weaker Nakba bill approved as government legislation. The article talks about legislation fining Arab-Israel groups who commemorate Nakba. He then posed the question: Does the State of Israel have the right to deny its Arab citizen's desire to commemorate the establishment of the State as a catastrophe?


 

In the article, one of the Arab-Israeli groups stated, "Acknowledging the fact that the establishment of the State of Israel was accompanied by a human tragedy does not challenge Israel's fundamental right to exist," the NGO argued. However, I think that's just plain wrong. At its very core, Nakba commemorates the day of catastrophe. For them, it's really analogous to tisha b'av. The Orthodox Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple and pray for the building of a new Temple just as Arabs mourn the creation of the state of Israel and pray for its eventual destruction.  Nakba isn't simply acknowledging human tragedy; it is a statement of contempt and anger at the establishment of the State. How can a government allow funds to go to organizations that commemorate Nakba? Israeli Arabs have chosen citizens. It's one thing to commemorate Nakba if you remain a Palestinian, but to be an Israeli, even an Arab Israeli and even call it Nakba seems rather counterproductive. How can their real concerns about Arab Israeli's be taken seriously, if they start with the premise that the establishment of the State was a catastrophe? As I always want to say to the socialists I grew up with in ultra-liberal Madison, Wisconsin, if you hate America so much, move!

There is something fundamentally unpatriotic to think your country shouldn't exist at all. While as a citizen you can think what you want and commemorate privately, the government shouldn't have to condone such behavior.


 

Am I being too harsh?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Viewpoints

I came across a post from the Obama meeting. I think it gives a wider perspective then I can ever offer:

http://rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/

T-shirt Models Wanted; Jews need not apply

Anyone else see anything wrong with these models on this website for Israeli army shirts?

Every time I'm shown on Al Jazeera they show me at the Western Wall with a yarmulke on,"

HAARTEZ posted an article today on Obama's Monday meeting with Jewish leaders.

Obama to Jewish Leaders What are we supposed to take from this meeting? It seems a lot of the same blah blah blah…

"Stop building settlements, but don't worry I totally believe you should be a secure state."

Then he says, "he wants to help Israel overcome its demographic problem by reaching an agreement on a two-state solution, but that in order to do so, Israel would need "to engage in serious self-reflection." What is this serious self-reflection?

I think Mr. Obama needs some serious self-reflection. Although I understand why he doesn't want Israel to build more settlements…why is he really meeting with Jewish leaders? Does Israel really care if he has a good relationship with American Jews? Wouldn't Israel rather have the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel on the same page? While certain unnamable sources believe he's out to destroy this country and other's believe he is our savior, I tend to believe he's a politician acting like a politician. He feels like the Jewish vote is important, so he's gathering the Jewish lobbies and Jewish religious organizations and have a sit-down, just so they know he hasn't forgotten about them.

My question is why? I realize people have this misguided idea that Jews make up a huge percentage of the population of American. What vote is going on now that he needs to be politiciany about?


 

Maybe, I'm just not getting it today.


 


 

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Perfect Hiding Spot

Hmmm, I wonder about the story behind this article. Do you think he's hiding in Israel because he was planning an attack? Or was he hiding in Israel because it's the last place anyone would look?

Either way, this sounds like the start of a thrilling novel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Turn off Fiddler on the Roof and read Tevye the Dairyman

My professor brought this article to our attention in our forum. In Perspective: It's a new world, Bibi By DANIEL GORDIS

http://http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1246443703081&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Gordis basically argues that Israel, like Sholem Aleichem's famous character Tevye, needs to learn that this is a new world, and it has to find a way to stay true to herself while rolling with the punches of the international community.
Here's the thing Gordis misses with his Tevye analogy, although he caves to the traditional norms of his eldest Tsaytl marrying a tailor instead of a scholar (and by the way, he wanted her to marry a scholar, but he had her set to marry a rich butcher which was just as out of norm as marrying a tailor) and his second oldest Hodl from following a Jewish socialist to Siberia. All of Tevye's love, patience, and openness to new modern ideas do not prepare him for his daughter Chava. Like her two older sisters, she falls in love with a man not picked by her parent. Unlike, her sisters, however, the man Chava chooses is not a Jew. He is a Gentile. With his other daughters, Teyve has bent his own rules. He's allowed their love and their worldview shape their lives. Although Tsaytl and Hodl married men that didn't fit into their father's dreams for them, they still married Jewish men. Tsaytl may be penniless but she's penniless with a Jew. Hodl may be living in Siberia, but she's living there with a Jew. Chava, on the other hand, has crossed a line. She's gone beyond what Teyve deems acceptable. Thus, although he loves his daughter, once she chooses Christianity, he turns from her. In the end, Chava eventually comes back to her family and Tevye lets her back, but only after she leaves her Christian husband. Tevye has limits and Chava has tested his limits and lost.
Israel, may be analogous to Tevye, but he never fully gives in, he learns to change with the modern world because of his daughters, but he has a limit. Gordis seems to miss the last part of the analogy. Israel can be proactive, work harder than they need to help the Palestinians, try to give speeches before America, but like Tevye they can't give into every whim and desire of the rest of the world. just because the world jumps and cries and throws temper tantrums, and passing mean notes to each other in class doesn't mean Israel has to give in. We can expect abhorrent behavior without giving into it.

The international "community" reminds me of Generation X's obsession with parenting. Once upon a time, parents could be parents. If they told their children no, they didn't have to explain themselves. These days, parents are expected to reason and explain every expectation. Instead of simply protecting their children from their world by being parents, they must coddle and give into the whims to their selfish fussy children. The international community wants Israel to involve themselves in the game of parenting instead of letting them simply being parents.

What kind of country is Israel supposed to be? A weak, second-class citizen? A dhimmi?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Obama and Truman

I was writing my paper on Truman and the creation of the State of Israel, and I found myself revisiting two speeches by Obama. I thought I'd share with you the introduction and the conclusion to my paper. The middle of my paper gives an analysis of the role Truman played in the creation of the state of Israel. I'd like to revisit Truman in more depth in the near future. According to the research for my paper, Truman was much more interested in gaining Jewish votes than actually supporting the creation of the State of Israel. I found great similarity between President Truman and President Obama.

In June, President Obama’s speech in Cairo sought extend a hand to the Muslim world and remind the world of the American stance on Israel. “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”( President Obama).

He spoke of finding common with Muslims and working together to find peaceful and thoughtful solutions. He reminded his Muslim audience that although he was born a Christian, much of his family in Kenyan and he had much personal experience with the Muslim world. Thus, he had a deeper understanding of their perspective. “So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't." He then requested that the Muslim world dispel the same penchant for stereotyping Americans as Americans should expel about Muslims.

When he finished speaking of problems with the Muslim world, he turned his attention to Israel. Obama then connected anti-Semitism and the Holocaust to the creation of the state of Israel. “America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied." In other words, after all the pain the Jews have suffered they deserve a homeland. He warned the Muslim world, “Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve."

However, Obama didn’t stop at Israel, he then turned his attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. “Let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own." Thus, according to Obama, while American remains Israel’s alley, they also want to fight for the Palestinians:

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (Obama)

Obama’s desire to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not unique. Like many American Presidents before him, Obama proclaimed his desire to heal the conflict. However, by taking both sides, he never really has to take a strong side for either. He’s come into his Presidency during an unpopular war. He’s walking in the shoes of a man hated by most of the world. Thus, he seeks to find a solution that will keep both Israel his ally, make the Muslim world his friend, and continue as the hero to the American people.

Exactly one year prior to his Cairo Speech, and a few months before the election then Senator Obama spoke at AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “The speech comes the day after he secured enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination and become the first African-American candidate for president. In these prepared remarks provided by his campaign, Obama tries to allay doubts that some Jewish voters have expressed about his candidacy.” (NPR) Like Truman, in order to get elected Obama needed Jewish vote. Like Truman, Obama stressed the plight of the Jewish people:

I first became familiar with the story of Israel when I was 11 years old. I learned of the long journey and steady determination of the Jewish people to preserve their identity through faith, family and culture. Year after year, century after century, Jews carried on their traditions, and their dream of a homeland, in the face of impossible odds. (Senator Obama)

Obama underscores the horrors the Holocaust and the importance of the Jews finding a home away from such atrocities. “We know that the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle and decades of patient work. But 60 years later, we know that we cannot relent, we cannot yield, and as president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security.” Throughout the speech, he emphasized the safety of Israel. “That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat — from Gaza to Tehran.” Although he explains that he supports two states: Israeli and Palestinian. The Palestinian state cannot come at the price of Israeli security. “The Palestinian people must understand that progress will not come through the false prophets of extremism or the corrupt use of foreign aid. The United States and the international community must stand by Palestinians who are committed to cracking down on terror and carrying the burden of peacemaking.” Finally, he highlights the need for diplomacy in order to create peace.

His speech in front of a Jewish audience before being elected President focuses completely on the interests of the Jewish people and Israel. Yet, one year later when he gives his Cairo speech as the new American President in front of the Muslim world extending a hand of friendship, he talks about Israel, but he also stresses the negative role Israel plays in the plight of the Palestinians in a manner he never used in his AIPAC speech:

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress. (President Obama)

Just as Truman used the Jewish lobby to gain votes in New York, Obama used the Jewish lobby in order to gain votes for the President. Now that he’s President, will he, like Truman only give lip-service to the security of Israel, or does he truly intend to keep them safe? Underneath it all, Truman never really supported the State of Israel. Is this true for Obama? Is his Cairo speech an indication of a shift in policy or will he, also like Truman, eventually protect his relationship with Israel before he protects his new friendship with the Muslim world?

Obama's Cairo Speech Transcript:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/04/obama-speech-in-cairo-vid_n_211215.html?view=screen
Obama's AIPAC Speech Transcript:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91150432

I urge you to look at the two speeches side-by-side. Please take a moment to comment if you see anything new or worthwhile!

Friday, June 26, 2009

One More NBA note

My father wants me to remind everyone that back in the day there were famous Jewish NBA players!

http://www.nba.com/history/players/schayes_bio.html

I would like to remind him that I do live near enough to philly that I'm very aware of the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. However, for those of you who need a little reminder of Great Jewish Basketball History, here is an old, yet good article:

http://www.aish.com/societyWork/arts/Jewish_Basketball_Giants.asp

(btw, I wrote my first post before reading the article, so forgive me for making the same joke)

Mishta Gie Aqvar Melech lyhot

When I saw that the Sacramento Kings picked Israeli Omri Casspi in the first round of the NBA draft, images of the movie Airplane flashed through my mind:

Elaine Dickinson: Would you like something to read?
Hanging Lady: Do you have anything light?
Elaine Dickinson: How about this leaflet, "Famous Jewish Sports Legends?"

The stereotype is hard to shake. I also think that it's a stereotype most Jews would just laugh at if a gentile made a joke about. I certainly can't think of many professional openly Jewish athletes in America today. (My father would scream, "what about Sandy Koufax?" To which I'd reply, " Sandy Koufax who refused to pitch on Yom Kippur during the 1965 world series? 1965!" of course, Shawn Green of the LA Dodgers also refused to play on Yom Kippur in 2004 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3935847 How many people even know about that?)

Obviously, in Israel the stereotype of the weak athletic abilities of is moot. Almost every Israeli athlete is a Jew, and there are many great ones. So, I felt a rush of excitement at Omri's draft. While not the first Israeli to ever be drafted by the NBA, he will be the first one to ever play in the NBA. Maybe it's silly, but I couldn't help wondering: if he's good and he's noticed will he actually be good PR for both the Jewish people and for Israel? 1) Good for Jews by showing we are good athletes 2) Good for Israel by having an Israeli in the spotlight that has nothing to do with conflict.

On a personal level it also makes me smile. My own nice little Jewish boy might walk around with a Casspi jersey one day. Not to mention the fact that when my father brings my Israeli cousin presents from America, he asks for an NBA jersey. Now, he can love an Israeli in the NBA!




http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1245924934204&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Dead Sea

I thought the Dead Sea was supposed to be relaxing!http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20090623/ap_tr_ge/ml_travel_brief_israel_dead_sea_sinkholes

The sink hole brings up a real conundrum...on the one hand we want tourists to come to Israel and we want industry so Israel makes money. On the other hand, the tourists are injuring the land. I suppose we just can't win.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Imperialism

My course this week focuses on early Zionism and the characters leading up to and involved in the First Zionist Congress. so I was drawn to this opinion article "The myth of Zionist imperialism" by Eli Kavon on jpost.com. Kavon argues that calling Zionist imperialists is absurd. He explains that Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai desired a Jewish homeland far before Herzl as a direct reaction to the imperialism of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, the Zionism movement in general was a reaction to the Jews inability to true members of European nations. "From the beginning, the Zionist movement has been a foe of imperialism. Rebellions of national independence against the Ottoman and Russian empires influenced precursors of the Zionist movement, such as Alkalai and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer. Moses Hess, a socialist, looked toward Garibaldi's Italy as his inspiration for a Jewish homeland in Israel." (Kavon, 2009).

The Zionist never wished to create an empire. They wanted only a homeland for the Jews. While Zionist eventually worked with the British empire to create the state of Israel, Britain eventually turned her back on the Jews. Additionally, Kavon argues that on top of calling Zionist imperialists, they also call them racists. Again, in what way are they racists? As Kavon states in his article, "Racist hatred is not just a matter of hating a people for the color of their skin. The Holocaust is the ultimate proof of that. Europe and the Muslim world were never a home for the Jews. The empires of the Christian and Muslim world could have cared one iota about Jewish survival and the Jewish future." (Kavon) Jews were excepted by neither society and suffered at the hands of both (either by genocide or exile). Even if Jews were allowed to live within a society, like Napoleon's France, they were expected to prove themselves as citizens. Like the people of Europe and the Middle East, Jews wanted to have their own culture and their own nation. Israel gave them a land away from the crushing colonialism.

Beyond being historically connected to the land of Israel, the Jewish state was created on land that had never been a settled state. It was always the land of some foreign power. In 1948 a partition plan was offered and it was refused. Calling Jews imperialist is an excuse. It gives the anti-Israel side a "rational" reason to hate Zionism: no one can call them antisemitic. No one can assume they want the destruction of Israel. No one can wonder if they've fallen into the trap of believing there is a mass Zionist conspiracy to take over the world. They are simply racist colonizers and the only way to promote peace in the region is to take their land away.

See http://http//www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=2&cid=1245184859050&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Settlement we can all agree on

With all this talk of conflict and violence, I thought I'd turn my attention to an Israeli working on making her country a better place for those who can't always speak out for themselves. An educator and rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, Judith Edelman-Green devotes her life to Israelis with special needs. She created a program Bar/Bat Mitzvah for the Special needs child. She's devoted her life to ensuring that children and adults in Israel get a chance to work in their community and actively participate in Jewish life. Her newest project is the Rimon Village: a living community for young adults with mild to moderate special needs. "In Israel there are more than eight thousand adults with special needs who do not have a housing/living solution." (rimon village website). The village will be located in Kfar Sava just north of Tel Aviv. They have volunteers, a board, and land. Now, they just need enough money to turn their vision into reality.
www.rimonvillage.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Humanity

Yes, I know the shooting yesterday at the Holocaust Museum has nothing to do with Israel. It has to do with a crazy American White-supremacist. However, I can't stop thinking about the Guard that died protecting the lives of the people in the Museum. www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_holocaust_museum_shooting_guard.html

Of course, the scene made me stop and think more than usual because it was the Holocaust Museum. More than anything, it makes me appreciate the people out there who risk their lives to protect us no matter what race or religion. Despite the crazy racist old man hell bent on destruction, not everyone is hell bent on destruction. Many are willing to put their own lives on the line, so that we don't have to worry as much when we go out in the world.

I saw a short blurb in the Jerusalem Post two days ago http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371054699&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
A settler woman and her baby were trapped in an overturned car, they were rescued not by other settlers, but by Palestinians. I had to smile. Despite my pragmatic outlook on the world, their are some acts of love and kindness that crosses all boundaries. In all our theories of conflict, we tend to forget the personal stories going on in reality. Not every Palestinian wishes for the destruction of the Jews. Many are just neighbors going about their lives. They aren't going to sit there while a mother and child struggle for their lives.
I'm sure I'll be cynical again in five minutes, but despite all the evil in the world, there are still people willing to lend a hand to others, no matter who they are.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Old Post New Location

I wrote this little story a year or so ago...It was on my other blog, but I thought this viewing audience may appreciate it:

Morning In Jerusalem

It is a little past four in the morning and I cannot
sleep. My internal clock is screaming at me, so is the
baby. I'm not sure who built this house, but I'm
starting to think Jesus may have turned water into
wine next door. I think I watched a chunk of the wall
fall to the ground. I thought that I knew Jerusalem,
but I'm confused. I got lost like three times walking
to that playgroup. I don't understand why my sister
felt the need to live close to so many relics. I'm
frightened of falling in a large hole. I'll open my
eyes and find a small group of smelly, teva-clad Brown
students trying to figure out what archeological pile
I fit into. Then they'll find little Jacob tipped
over in his bugaboo stroller. They'll decide that the
Bal Shem Tov really is the Moshiach and he's come back
as an Israeli child stuffed into an American pram.
Chaos will ensue, Hasids will be running
everywhere...they'll fly in the Moshiach Mobile.

When I thought I had finally freed myself from the trenches of the old city, I pushed the baby toward a group of Korean Catholics. I thought I'd be able to wind my way through them. I thought they would step aside for a nice Jewish girl and a beautiful baby. Apparently baby edicate was not on their minds. They were focused on one task: following Jesus. Suddenly I'm trapped on the Via Delarosa with a busload of Koreans. Station after station they push and prod me toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. All I can think is: Holy Fudge-Sticks, this guy fell a lot.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Argument against Settlements

I ran across this letter to the editor from Minneapolis's Star Tribune. I'm still mulling over how I'd respond.
http://www.startribune.com/opinion/letters/47240652.html?elr=KArksc8P:Pc:Ug8P:Pc:UiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr

Israeli Solider

My friend Josh is an Israeli Solider. When we were young our parents were very good friends, they moved we we lost touch. In the past few months, I've reconnected with his family. Josh and I send information back and forth about Israel. I love following his tweets because he gives another more personal perspective to life in Israel...especially life as a solider. His mom was the one who sent me the article in my last blog post. As I was reading and writing about settlements from America, Josh was actually spending time there. Here are a few of his last tweets:
RT @andyls was attempted infiltration at migdal oz, 1 palestinian arrested 4 escaped
9:03 AM Jun 6th from mobile web
@andyls security guard said migdal oz or something like that
8:42 AM Jun 6th from mobile web
Left the area. Not sure how serious it was, will only be reported if someone was hurt
8:32 AM Jun 6th from mobile web
Shooting at settlement next to us, leaving now before main road is closed
8:07 AM Jun 6th from mobile web
Trying to leave the settlement, but there has been a shooting. Not sure of what is going on
8:01 AM Jun 6th from mobile web
I'm off to the Gush Etzion settlement block (south of Jerusalem) with the army for Shabbat.
11:21 PM Jun 4th from TweetDeck"


He went to the settlement for Shabbat, while he was leaving the settlement there was a shooting. They finally left, but didn't know how serious it was. Later he learned that five Palestinian tried to enter the settlement. I assume there was a shootout and some arrests.
It's interesting to hear of these stories from people actually living them, instead of a news report. It makes me think of life in my own little, yet dangerous city. I live in a nice city neighborhood surrounded by drug infested dangerous neighborhoods. There are drug deals in the park by my house. Teenage mothers who let their two-year-old wander to the park alone, but my block is nice. My neighbors are great. I'm happy there. I wouldn't want to leave. Because my husband is a prosecutor, I hear of shootings all the time. Shootings that occur four blocks from my house. My friend once commented that the nice neighborhoods in the city remind her of the settlements on the west bank, little oasises in the middle of chaos.
I'm not sure yet, what to make of it all. I know things aren't perfect on the settlements. I know Palestinians aren't the only ones who incite violence. The religious Jews can be just as dangerous. I just think, that on both sides, we forget that more than anything these are people's homes. No one wants to be forced from their homes...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Settlements--a hard place to start

If I'm going to jump into this blogging about Israel, I might as well start bold. As my high school drama teacher used to say, "Do it big or go home." My dear friend Stephanie who made aliyah, sent "The Settlements Myth" by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post via Twitter.

http://bit.ly/1r2Tl

Basically, the article admonishes the Obama Administration for it's stance on Israel. While assuring every other country that American will no longer make Policy for them, the Obama Administration tells Israel what they need to do in the West Bank Settlements: close them, stop building, stop growing. The author, Charles Krauthammer, wonders what will happen to the settlements that already exist. What happened to the plans for the settlements in the past?

"That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why expel people from their homes and turn their towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?"

Where is everyone supposed to go and why are the boundaries so strict? By pointing to the settlements as a large part of the solution to the problem, according the Krauthammer, Obama misses the real problem. None of the leadership wants Israel to exist. In the past, they'd rather go war than have two states. When they were given Gaza, instead of working on creating a positive fruitful piece of land, Hamas shot rockets at Israel. As Krauthammer states:" In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts."

Obama wants so badly to work things out with the Arab leadership. If we could just sit down and talk, things might get better. Will a comfortable chair, Hillary Clinton's smile, and Obama's oratory prowess change the minds of Arab leaders? Will Hamas's leaders wake up in the middle of the night, sit up and think, "You know, that Obama is right. Maybe Israel isn't so bad. Maybe we should let them stay. Look at all the nice trees they've planted."

I worry that if we spend so much time talking, we'll miss the behind the scenes movement. If we spend so much time talking, we'll start to trust. That being said, I know plenty of Israelis (including many of my family members) who'd happily give up the settlements because the hope of peace: do we hold onto hope because hope is real or because hope feels so much better than hate?