Thursday, February 18, 2010

Proud to be, Dati Leumi

With the current predicament that has arisen in the Dati Leumi it is difficult to be proud of anything. Harav Motti Alon, the former Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hakotel, and an important figure in the Dati Leumi world as been discovered to have been sexually harassing boys that were under his tutelage.

For many, this information is hard to digest. This Rabbi was considered to be one of the greater Rabbis in the Dati Leumi movement. How can a man who has dedicated his life to being closer to G-d be so misguided?

I, on the other hand, find this the most opportune time to be proud. Rav Alon was not outed by the media, or a lawsuit, he was outed by a small organization within the community called "Takana."

Takana, is an organization whose sole purpose is to protect the community from sexual harassment. I find this impressive. The community not only admits that such a problem can, and does exist, but they took measures to prevent and stop these incidents from happening.

What's more impressive is that at some point Takana decided that they could no longer control Rav Alon, and the public needed to know. They informed the world that one of the most recognized names in the Dati Leumi community could not be trusted. Despite knowing full well what this information may do, they realized that the public safety was more important than personal egos.

This story could have been a scandal, but due to the knowledge and wisdom in which Takana handled the situation, it is nothing more than a sad story.

I am proud that we understand that we are not perfect.
I am proud that we understand that we are only human.
I am proud that we understand that no one is above reproach.
I am proud that we have Takana.
I am proud to be, Dati Leumi!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obama and the Middle East - Mistake or Incompetence?

Recently, I read an article pertaining to President Obama's Middle East Peace Plan. The New York Times said "Obama acknowledged in an interview published last week that he underestimated the domestic political forces at play in the region and overreached in expecting a quick breakthrough." This from a man who won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

While, I, unlike many others, do not have any specific issues with Obama as a President, I find this statement to be very troubling. Ignoring the fact that Obama is continuing in the footsteps of his predecessors; demanding that Israel make the first move towards peace. The fact that Israel, and the world are relying on a man who foresaw a quick breakthrough were others have constantly failed is worrisome.

Did Obama really believe that peace could be achieved this quickly? Did he truly expect that two nations who have been fighting for over sixty two years would suddenly bend to his will?

It is not as if he had a revolutionary plan for peace. He is just doing what every other president before him has done. They have turned to Israel and said "you are more mature, you make the first move."

I may not have the solution that will lead to peace in the Middle East, but I do not that it will take something radical before anything will happen to change the current situation. Charisma will only get you so far.

I find it intriguing that he managed to underestimate the political forces at play in the region. They only have been killing one another and fighting over every blade of grass for the sixty two years. In the USA many people believe that President Obama is the voice of change; singlehandedly he will bring about the change needed to save the country. I wonder, how a man with such optimistic foresight can be so wrong about something so simple. Peace in the Middle East? In a year? Even Bush was not that oblivious.

Maybe we should give Obama the benefit of the doubt. He is not lying in the interview; he is just oblivious to the facts. Allow me to clarify:

1) Israelis and Palestinians both want the same land
2) They are not good at sharing
3) Palestinians continuously try killing innocent Israeli civilians
4) Israelis have taken the "first step" quite a few times
5) Palestinians enjoy the Israelis good will gestures and give nothing in return
6) Their is a religious war happening in Israel on a daily basis
7) It may take some time to settle their differences (more than a year)

To clarify, President Obama seems to have been overly optimistic without truly understanding the situation. He set unrealistic goals despite the obvious outcome.
It just makes you wonder, what else has he done this by?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2009 Elections: A Second Chance For Us All

With the upcoming elections we are forced to choose between three different failed leaders.

The Kadima Party now led by Tzipi Livni, have done nothing but prove their incompetence since being voted into office. Since it's creation, the Kadima party has subjected the Israeli people to numerous disasters. The disengagement led by Kadima, was quickly followed by the rise of Hamas in Gaza. Consequently, the Southern part of Israel has suffered from unrelenting rocket attacks from Gaza.

Ehud Olmert, the now departing Prime Minister has brought us the failure of the Lebanon War, the capture of Gilad Shalit, the bungled captive negotiations, and the premature retreat during Operation "Cast Lead."

The only thing that Tzipi Livni has going for her is the fact that she is a woman and she seems to be in denial. Last year she did not manage to build a coalition what makes her believe that she can do so now?

The Labor (Avoda) party headed by Ehud Barak is no better. We all watched as they plummeted when led by Amir Peretz. The Labor party managed to bring us the worst Security Minister who managed to make a laughing stock of himself.

More importantly, Barak already was Prime Minister in 1999. It is hard to forget his term. He managed to build a coalition rather quickly after being voted in, but it deteriorated as he continued to go against their basic wishes.

Finally, the Likud party. This Likud is different than the one that brought us the Disengagement led by Ariel Sharon. With people such as Benny Begin and Effi Eitam on the Likud staff we can feel the Likud become the right-wing organization it once was. Unfortunatley, Benyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the man running for Prime Minister.

When remembering Bibi as a Prime Minister his impeachment comes to mind. After being voted into office in 1996, by 1999 he had been impeached and replaced by Ehud Barak.

Israeli politics seems to be filled with failures begging for a second chance. As a people we are left with no other choice. As a people, we are defined by our leaders. If we continue voting in leaders like these we will always be Israel, a failed country begging for a second chance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gaza War - What for?

Over the past few days we have watched as the troops left Gaza, leaving piles of rubble and hundreds dead in their wake.
As we pull out I cannot help but wonder what it was all for. Of course we wanted to stop the rocket attacks on the Southern part of Israel, attacks that only enlarged after we enter and did not stop until we left. In fact, Israel did not stop the Hamas, did not stop the rocket attacks. These attacks on Gaza seemed only to enrage the Hamas, kill 1300 Palestinians, and build world sympathy for the Palestinians in Gaza.

That being said, I cannot help but think that our Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is purposely trying to sabotage Israel. With only a few weeks left to his term as Prime Minister, it makes you wonder.

For three years, Israel has endured constant rocket attacks from the Hamas in Gaza and Olmert has done nothing. Suddenly, a month before he is destined to leave office he decides to enter Gaza. Suddenly, Gaza is being bombed, and bombed hard. An almost disproportionate amount of explosives are used on the Palestinians. Israel, a country known for its low citizen casualty in wartime manages to kill a few hundred citizens.

It is interesting to note that Olmert decided to go into Gaza as President Bush was leaving his office, and left before President Obama was sworn in.

By exiting Gaza when he did, Olmert is saying that there was no reason to enter Gaza in the first place. If he had stopped the rockets, or stopped the Hamas, they we could have walked away with our heads held high. Instead, we once more are agreeing to a shaky cease-fire that will only allow the Hamas to re-arm. By leaving the Hamas in power, by leaving before we managed to stop the rockets, Olmert has agreed with the world media.

Sure we may have destroyed the morale of the citizens, but the fight was not against the citizens, it was against the Hamas.

Here in Israel, we have been told that we won the war, that the Hamas was hit hard, that we managed to kill over 400 Hamas terrorist including some of the organizations leaders.

But, I see the Hamas in power, I see them receiving aid and world sympathy. The Hamas openly announces that they will re-arm. By pulling out too early (once again) Olmert has placed all of Israel in a very precarious position. One in which the Hamas has the upper hand, where they will be able to buy stronger and better rockets.

Olmert has not only made Israel look horrible in the worlds eyes, but he has created a world in which the Hamas won.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Price of Freedom

This morning the government of Israel has decided to free 200 Palestinian prisoners. Olmert, our great and illustrious Prime Minister, explains that it is a good will gesture to Abu Mazen, the leader of the Palestinian Authority. One can only sit and wonder what the government is trying to accomplish. Possibly they are trying to turn Gilad Shalit into the next Jonathan Pollard, and have him stay where he is for the next twenty years.

Of course, it is possible that Olmert actually believes that giving up two hundred prisoners with no accompanying conditions could actually help bring peace to the Middle East. Then again it is highly likely that the pressure of the constant police investigations into is private life have caused him to half memory loss.

The last time we began in unconditional trade with the Palestinians we gave the only piece of land that separated Ashkelon from Azza. Olmert must have forgotten how badly that went.

Strangely weeks before he is to leave his office he finds it crucial to free prisoners for peace. Almost as if he is setting up the next office for faliure. It is a common enough practice that when you are fired and upset about it you destroy something in the office, delete files, or something of the sort. Maybe Olmert is nothing more than a disgruntled employee and just wants to screw over the next guy.

One thing is for sure, freeing Gilad Shalit will only get harder. If we were giving away two hundred prisoners for free, imagine how much it will cost when we actually want to buy something

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Jewish State or State with Jews

The other day was Tisha Be-av a fast commemorating the destruction of the second temple; a day in which we mourn our exile. Yet in this country despite, the hours spent in prayer and fasting there is no sympathy for the religious. While many of my non-religious colleagues do keep the customs of this day many do not. Therefore, work is mandatory. I of course had to spend a vacation day so as not to come.

A little background on the customs of this day. Up until noon you are not supposed to be involved in anything that does not have directly to do with the fast. This includes studying Torah which surprisingly is also not allowed. You cannot sit on chairs, cannot shower, shave, watch TV, read a book, or anything of the sort. This is a day that we remember the greatest tragedy that ever happened to the Jewish Nation.

While other fast days come and go, I do not complain. On a regular fast day I can work despite not eating or drinking. This fast is unique and yet the "Jewish State" pays no attention.

Some people may argue that a Jewish State does not necessarily mean a religious state, and I wholeheartedly agree. This is a secular state and must remain that way. But, we cannot forget what makes us Jewish. We can never have a one hundred percent secular state, because who we are is based on our religion. What makes us different, and what singles us out from the rest of the world is our beliefs.

As a Jewish State we cannot ignore our past nor can we ignore our traditions. If anything we must be a traditionalist state. A state that remembers where it comes from and where it is going.

When we forget why we have the need for a Jewish State, why it is important. How we have been singled out time and again for extermination by almost every nation in the world. Only then will we remember that we have to stand up and protect ourselves. Only then will we refuse to give away our hard earned land to our enemies. Because we will remember that at some point in time we were oppressed by almost every nation on this planet. We will remember what is so important about a Jewish State.
The only people we can rely upon are our own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hizballah 2: Israel 0

With the first pictures of the coffins coming in, I can't help but be impressed by Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hizballah. He played his part well and in the end of the staring match Olmert blinked first. Then again maybe it is hard to win a staring contest after surviving a bout of eyelid cancer.

Two years ago Ehud Olmert stood before the Israeli Parliament and declared his intentions for the Lebanon War. They were twofold. First, his main goal, was two free the captives Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev. Second, to dismantle the Hizballah and to move them away from the Israeli border.

Nasrallah, promised to defeat the Jewish Zionists and to return prisoners of the Zionist state to Lebanon.

On August 14th 2006, the war ended. Israel had returned home with its tail between its legs. They returned with the loss of both soldier and civilian lives, heavy property damage, and no victory. What they did not return with was what they set out to retrieve in the first place, the hostages.

Throughout the past two years, Israel has not managed to discover any clear cut evidence regarding the hostages. Hizballah made a point of this yesterday by announcing in a local Labanese newspaper that the Israeli's were in for a surprise because one of the hostages are still alive.

Against the security cabinets advice, Ehud Olmert, decided to free five known murderers, and over a hundred bodies in return for the two soldiers. Nothing could change Olmert's mind, even after the soldiers were pronounced to believe to be dead, Olmert stood firm. Almost as if to say, I do not really care if they are alive or dead.

Olmert could not stand the pressure place on him by the families and the media. He could not stand before the crying relatives who wanted their family members back. Olmert did not have the fortitude to do what was right for the country, for future hostages, or for Gilad Shalit who still sits in Gaza.

He could not stand up against the citizens who told him how to do his job. This decision was not based on intelligence, or insight. No, this deal was decided by his inability to stand up for what is right.

In the meantime, families such as the Haran family, whose family was brutally murdered by Samir Kuntaur have been ignored. Their pain was not enough, their tears not large enough, their dead not fresh enough. So they watched, powerless, as the man who destroyed their family was pardoned and freed.
Samir Kuntar the man who brought 31-year-old Danny Haran father of two down to the beach with his four year-old daughter Einat. Samir Kuntar who shot a father in front of his daughter. Samir Kuntar who proceeded to smash a four year-old's head with the butt of his gun until she was dead.

I cannot help but look up in awe at Hasan Nasrallah the man who has twice beaten Israel. First in the Second Lebanon War, when he sent Israel home empty-handed. And once more today, as he fulfills his promise to his people of bringing home the prisoners.
Ehud Olmert had been defeated and humiliated once more by his enemies. Let us be fair it is not Olmert's fault, they pressured him into it, he had no choice.
In the future, we need to be stronger, because we know that he will not be.

First hand account of the Haran family murder in the Washington Post.