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Speaking your mind can be the most frightening, most dangerous thing in the world.
This woman is a true heroine.
Israel and the world needs more people like Annette.

Muslims in the IDF

It’s not a matter of religion; it’s a matter of what side you are on and what values you uphold.

Things that are good to remember every day…

enjoying snow in Israel

“Hey kids! Go over there and pretend to be cold!”

We had a snow storm. Snow fell in some places and lasted for a few days. In a country that rarely sees snow it was a big deal.
People got stranded in their cars. Power lines went down and it took days to get them back up. Roads were in accessible.
Lots of trees were damaged.

The emergency lasted a few days.  The snow turned to icy sludge and melted away.
Again one or two (thin) layers are plenty to be comfortable.
The emergency is no longer the weather, its back to politics, murderers being set free and people complaining about houses being built in our own land.

Yesterday a reporter on tv “reassured” the public that the explosions that were heard in the south are “only” the Hamas testing their missiles. “No big deal, they do that almost every day.” How reassuring. And when the missiles are ready, who exactly are they going to be aimed at?

Everything is relative.

To my friends around the world I would like to wish a wonderful New Year.
The best thing I can advise for the year to come is to take everything in proportion. Remember what is truly important and ignore the rest.

Wishing you all the much happiness and joy!

Mind the Gap

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These words are written in the London Underground and announced on the loudspeaker to warn travelers of the gap between the tube (for you Americans that’s – subway) and the station platform. “Mind the Gap,” be careful, don’t trip.

After ten days in beautiful London my thoughts are on a different gap. The culture gap.

British order is impressive. Thousands of people travel back and forth, in the tube, walking the sidewalks, driving cars. There is no pushing, no honking and very little noise (the only people I heard shouting in ten days were other Israelis!). Massive streams of people were walking Oxford and Regent Street, doing sightseeing and Christmas shopping. Instead of a human mess, they simply, automatically arranged themselves in a stream per direction – people going one way walked on one side of the sidewalk while people going the other direction walked on the other side.

That would never happen in Israel.

If you bump in to someone in London they apologize to you. When store clerks say “it was a pleasure to serve you” you get the feeling like they actually mean it.

Mind the gap.

Israelis jumble all up together. They have no sense of the meaning of a waiting in a line, being patient or being quiet. Israelis are noisy, nosey and messy. Israelis don’t automatically follow any rules or orders. First they ask “Why?” and then, if they agree, they comply.

This is why we annoy many people from different cultures. This is also why we excel above and beyond many people.

On the flight to England, there was a group of British women who had just completed an organized tour of Israel. They were mostly lovely, pleasant grannies – regular women.  One of the women was walking up the aisle of the plane and Lenny (my boyfriend) noticed that she looked ill. Her eyes begin to roll up in to her head. Although she was right next to her friends, none of them saw that anything was wrong. Lenny quickly took the tray and the coffee pitcher from the hands of a stewardess close to the women, saying: “Give this to me and catch that woman, she’s about to fall!” Though startled, the stewardess immediately reacted, gave him everything she was holding, catching the elderly woman before she hit the floor. The El Al staff took the woman to the back of the plane and on the loudspeaker asked for assistance from any doctors who might be on the plane. A number of passengers were doctors. They immediately rushed to the back of the plane to assist the woman.

Not a single member of the woman’s group turned around to look at their friend. No one made a move to help her. Not one.

I don’t believe any of the people in that group was bad. They simply felt that “the authorities” were taking care of things so everything would be ok.

Mind the gap.

After some time, a few of the British women did go to check on their friend, hold her hand and keep her company. When the situation was critical none of them looked out for their friend, it was only after the fact that they stood by her. It was the Israeli alertness, quick reaction and assistance to strangers that kept this woman from being severely injured. She could have easily hit her head, broken a bone or worse.

When there is a problem do you notice? If it is someone else’s problem, do you get involved? Do you wait for the “authorities” to fix it for you?

This past weekend in Israel there was a snow storm. In a country unused to snow, a small storm can cause a huge amount of trouble. Municipalities don’t have the tools to keep the roads open. When trees fell, taking down power lines, the electric company found it impossible to reach many of the places cut off from power.

It is not pleasant to spend the weekend in freezing weather with no heating, no hot water, no ability to go anywhere…

As in other times of trouble the media created an open channel of communication, with constant updates on what was happening across the country and a telephone line for people to call and report any problems. They connected people and rescue workers, reported to the electric company, guiding to where help was needed. People who saw cars stuck on frozen roads went out to the trapped drivers bringing them food and drinks. When they saw that the roads wouldn’t open any time soon they invited the drivers to come stay in their warm homes. When the police announced that it might take days for the roads to open students began organizing places to stay for stranded people who couldn’t drive back to their home towns.

The police did their job. The electric company worked (and still is working) hard to fix the problem. Rescue workers helped the injured. Average people did everything else. No one told them what to do. No authority solved the problem. It was just common sense. It was cold and there were stuck people who needed a warm and safe place to stay so the people who could, arranged it.

During the weekend the news commentators spoke to many people while they were on-air. One of the conversations was with a man who had not had electricity in his home for 24 hours. The reporter asked him: “How are you managing? If I came to your home now, what would I see?” The man answered: “Well, I am sitting on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me. My wife is next to me. When the storm began we realized there was going to be a problem so we left the gas on a low flame (many religious families use an electric hot plate to keep their food warm during the Sabbath). If you came to our home now you’d see the table set and ready for Sabbath dinner.”

The reporter asked the man: “Are you ok? Are your neighbors ok? Did you call anyone to come and help you?”

The man responded: “We’re ok and so are our neighbors. You see, we live in a neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other. If one of us has a problem, someone will pitch in and help. We don’t need anyone to come to help us. You should come over, we’d be happy to have you!”

Mind the gap.

Besides working to fix the storm damage throughout the country, the Israeli government also sent aid to the Palestinian territories and to people in refugee camps in Syria.

In Israel the general attitude is, “I am my brother’s keeper.” And also that of others who are in need, even if they don’t like me very much. They may even want to kill me. They still need help.

Mind the gap.

People who insist on doing the right thing are often disliked. They are considered annoying and others often wish they would just shut up and go away.

It’s no different for countries.  But Israel is not shutting up and we aren’t going away.

As our Prime Minister strives to save the free world from the threat of a nuclear Iran, the message we are getting in return is “Sit down. Shut up.”

We are told that Israel should wait until America concedes to everything Iran requests, allow them to develop nuclear weapons and then lodge a request for assistance from America or possibly the UN. After all, the thousands of Iranians who go to rallies and scream “Death to Israel, death to America” don’t really mean it. They replaced their leader with a man who smiles when he speaks so that means that Iran is now our friend. Everything is ok. Right?

Our Prime Minister has been accused of being hysterical.  Of fear mongering. Mr. Obama won’t take his calls and the negotiations (read capitulation) go on.

While Secretary Kerry insists that Prime Minister Netanyahu wait till he closes a deal and criticize after, while he explains that Netanyahu doesn’t really know what is going on and he should just keep quiet, our Prime Minister continues to warn the world. It is his job to protect the people of Israel and the only homeland of the Jewish people. But it is not “just” Israel he is protecting. The free world is in danger and it is the leader of the tiny State of Israel who is taking a stand, front and center.

It’s not fun and certainly not easy but it is the right thing to do.

While our Prime Minister strives to protect freedom a team of 150 Israeli doctors and search and rescue experts strive to protect and preserve life in the area of the Philippines devastated by typhoon Haiyan. There is nothing politically expedient about assisting the Philippines. Tiny Israel is not so overloaded with extra money or resources that we need to search for a way to give them away BUT when thousands have died and countless more have been displaced – Israelis help.

Hundreds have already received medical treatment. The Israeli team installed a water cistern on a nearby island that had no access to water.  They assisted in renovating a school. The first baby born in the Israeli field hospital was given the name Israel, in honor of the Israelis who came from half way around the world to help them.

Just yesterday the President of France gave a speech here in Israel telling us, “It’s better to be few, on the right side than many on the wrong side but I don’t have to tell you that. You are used to being in that position.”

How true.

You can fool all the people some of the time. Enough to get elected twice.  You can fool some of the people all the time. They will even continue to believe you after it is proven that you lied to their face. But… you cannot fool all the people all the time.

Let’s consider the reasons America is giving for attacking Syria….

Morality? The poor Syrians should not be subjected to chemical weapons directed at them by a brutal dictator. Of course not! No one should be slaughtered in their own country… where was the America and the rest of the world for the past two years when Syrians were butchering each other in the streets? Real Hollywood actors, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, have actually been trying to help the thousands of wounded, displaced and homeless Syrians. Israeli doctors have been treating wounded Syrians dumped on our border by fellow Syrians who know that we are their best hope for proper medical assistance.

Use of chemical weapons is against the rules of war and has been banned by the civilized world since World War I. That’s why America wants to intervene now? To show that using chemical weapons is unacceptable? Where was America the 14 times before when chemical weapons were used in Syria? Since this past April there’s been a long time to decide to intervene in the name of “showing that chemical weapons are unacceptable”.

Intervention that actually removed the chemical weapons from Syria would be a positive thing however that doesn’t seem to be the plan.  Today we watched as Mr. Obama stuttered and stammered, insisting that there would be “no boots on the ground” and America really is only planning a very limited action in Syria. And that he hasn’t yet decided what he actually wants to do and he’d keep talking to allies and the American people. How scary. How convincing

In Israel, people are preparing to be bombarded by missiles (we got a few just last week). It’s not far-fetched to think that either side in the Syrian conflict might send missiles our way.  If America bombards Assad it is very possible that it would be easier for him to hit back at us than at far away America or American troops. And if he has no qualms about gassing his own people what will stop him from gassing Israelis?

No one in Israel is really panicking though the thought of being gassed is not a pleasant one. The lines at the gas mask distribution stations are unbearably long and instead of the normal holiday shopping people are also stocking up on water and canned food (things you can eat when you can’t cook – like when you are stuck for long periods of time in a bomb shelter).

September is a month full of the Jewish high holidays and the main question people are asking is: “Do you think the Americans will mess up Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year)? Or will they ruin Sukkot?” In other words – will we be bombed next week or in two weeks?

On another note (possibly not such a different note), Nidal Hassan was sentenced for his 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood. I don’t understand why the American media is still giving this terrorist the honor of the American military rank ‘Major’. He rejected his uniform, committed treason and mass murder. The Obama administration has decided that Hassan’s activities were “workplace violence”. What a clear moral voice! These are the same people who are saying that Syria must be attacked for “moral reasons”. Certainly they will know what the right thing to do is… right? 

FYI – I don’t believe the death penalty is the right punishment for Hassan. To him “martyrdom in the name of Allah” is a prize. Certainly one death does not appease, avenge or bring back the murdered or heal the wounded and traumatized. Life in prison with mandatory daily bible study would be a better punishment. The prison could play hymns in his cell all day. You never know, he might actually learn something.

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