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!