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90 years. In the video this is stated as obvious however I don’t think many westerners have any idea that for the past 90 years Islamists have been dreaming of reinstating the Caliphate.

Islamists around the world have been actively working towards regaining the Caliphate by any and all means – the sword, politics (creeping sharia) and the womb.

Did you know that? Many still don’t realize that the Caliphate, the single ‘Nation of Islam’ that is not in one state but encompasses ALL states, is the ultimate goal. The Islamic State is not the name of one terror organization, it is a centuries old idea that is becoming a reality. It’s not just in Iraq and Syria. It’s in England, France, Norway and Sweden. It’s in India, Australia and even in America.

While we’ve been sleeping others have been striving to attain their goal.

Westerners get bored quickly. When’s the next big thing? Problems in one place or the other don’t grab our attention for long. There is always some celebrity that got pregnant or was caught driving drunk…. What does it matter if there is some terror group in Somalia or a nightclub explodes in Bali? They don’t have anything to do with each other. Right?

Westerners want quick solutions. When will the war be over? How much longer will we have to fight? If we bomb a few terrorists, can we avoid actually fighting them face to face?

Islamists are in for the long haul. 90 years to wait is not too long to attain a ‘glorious vision’.

The Islamists morals and values are vastly different from ours. But then again, maybe the culture gap isn’t as wide as it once was… As I watch this video and listen to the man extolling life in the Islamic State where everything is taken care of for you I cannot help thinking of today’s generation, in western countries worldwide, that is demanding the government care for them, give them, feed them, decide for them… Is it any wonder that so many westerners have flocked to the IS flag? They at least have a goal, a vision, a purpose and they promise “free stuff” and a wonderful life. What vision exists in the west today?

Long term thinking, planning and actions taken accordingly will always win over short term thinking. THAT is why I am afraid for our future.

The man in the video says that he believes “It is already over for America.” Sad to say it but he could be right. If the people of the west remain asleep, I have no doubt that his vision will become reality.

These are the Children of Israel, the protectors of our nation.

Look at them and consider the 18 to 20 somethings of your country. Can you compare the burdens they bear? What do the young people in your country worry about?

Look at these “girls” and consider the images portrayed of the IDF soldier in the international media. Robots on a mission from their heartless government? Killing machines? Do you think those images have anything to do with reality?

Demographic problem

“Allah will grant victory to Islam in Europe without swords,
without guns, without conquest.”

~Muammar al-Gaddafi

Surrounded, they know that they are the last hope. The fighters, few against many, prepare for the last stand…

The dark forces swarm around their town. They have breached the perimeters and are already inside, advancing.

The dark forces grow in numbers. Although the fighters have killed many, the dark ones keep coming. Their weapons supplies are constantly being replenished. From those they already defeated, the dark ones have captured some of the most sophisticated weapons available today.

The dark ones have already brought death, rape, torture and slavery to the surrounding nations. They have made it clear that they will not stop, will not be deterred until all submit to their ways.

There is no way out. No rescue. No help.

Other nations have expressed their horror at the impending disaster. “If the fighters fail the dark forces will commit mass murder!” they say. Whispers speak of worse than mass murder, of genocide. The dark forces did it before, what will stop them now?

The brave fighters asked for help but received only half hearted, token assistance. This, they say, is better than nothing but nowhere near enough.

Their brothers living in a bordering nation raced to stand shoulder to shoulder, to fight the last fight with the ones that confront death. They raced – to a shut border. The host nation prefers to watch the fighters die. They would not help the fighters and they do not want to allow brother to assist brother. Even more adamantly, they refused to let weapons be sent to the fighters.

The world watches, sighing: “How horrible! How brave the fighters are to stand, for so long, against the dark ones!” The fight continues and the world watches.

No real help. No rescue. No way out.

The fate of 19 year old Ceylan Ozalp who appeared in a report about female Kurdish fighters is uncertain. Turkish newspapers reported Miss Ozalp was fighting ISIS fanatics near the Syrian city of Kobane – which has a Kurdish majority – when she ran out of ammunition, leaving her facing rape and murder. Rather than fall into the Islamists’ hands, Miss Ozalp is said to have used her final bullet to take her own life – calling her colleagues over the radio to say goodbye before killing herself, it was claimed News of her suicide – which was initially said to have been confirmed by pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey’s BDP party – have since been called into question however, with several Turkey-based journalists quoting senior Kurds as saying Ms Ozalp is still alive and continues to fight against ISIS.

The fate of 19 year old Ceylan Ozalp who appeared in a report about female Kurdish fighters is uncertain.
Turkish newspapers reported Miss Ozalp was fighting ISIS fanatics near the Syrian city of Kobane – which has a Kurdish majority – when she ran out of ammunition, leaving her facing rape and murder. Rather than fall into the Islamists’ hands, Miss Ozalp is said to have used her final bullet to take her own life – calling her colleagues over the radio to say goodbye before killing herself, it was claimed
News of her suicide – which was initially said to have been confirmed by pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey’s BDP party – have since been called into question however, with several Turkey-based journalists quoting senior Kurds as saying Ms Ozalp is still alive and continues to fight against ISIS.

The ones that confront death are not characters in some epic novel or movie. This isn’t The Lord of the Rings. The dark ones are real and the ones that confront death are the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters. The fight is not imaginary, it is now, in Kobani, Syria.

American airstrikes are not enough to help the Kurds hold off the Islamic State. It is very difficult to target terrorists hiding amongst civilian population (we in Israel are all too familiar with that problem). Maybe that’s why the airstrikes are so few and far between. Maybe not. The US army usually finds “collateral damage” excusable, when the mission is important enough.

The Kurdish fighters have requested weapons to deal with the American weapons and tanks in IS hands. They are on the ground, the only fighters on the ground, holding out against the Islamic State.

Instead of helping the Kurds, America (and the rest of their “coalition”) wants to arm “moderate” Syrian “rebels” – those that fight shoulder to shoulder with Al Nusra, if they don’t directly belong to that Syrian version of Al Qaeda.

Turkey will not help the Kurds. Turkey finds it easier to identify with the Islamic State than with the Kurdish battle for freedom.

To the Jewish people NEVER AGAIN means something. I don’t think it means much of anything to anyone else. The world promised that a holocaust will not be allowed to happen again, ever. I don’t believe, for one moment that if, like Kobani, Israel is overrun by the dark ones, anyone will lift a finger to help. The world will sigh and wonder, say it’s horrible or maybe say that we deserve what we are getting.

Like they sigh about Kobani…

The Kurds don’t need sympathy. They need help. Real help. NOW.

Epic battles are not a thing of storybooks. Heroes, heroines and villains are real, as are the regular people caught in between. Battles between right and wrong, freedom and submission / oppression are happening NOW.

The outcome will affect all of us.

The only question is, what side are you on? Will you be contented to sit on the sidelines and sigh?

Survivor

“Will I ever see you again?”

As I turned around I saw that these words were not meant for me. They were directed at the stones of the Kotel, the Western Wall of the destroyed Jewish temple, in the heart of Jerusalem.

Hanna Marx had tears in her eyes as she told me: “The last time I was in Israel I would never have imagined that I would be able to come back here again. That I would live this long, be strong enough. This is the greatest place on earth. Thank you for bringing me here.”

Hanna came to Israel with her friend of many years, Gerhard Maschkowski. Gerhard and Hanna are both survivors. He survived Auschwitz. She survived two concentration camps and a two and half month long death march. The fact that they are alive today is a miracle (or maybe, to be more accurate, countless small miracles).

Lenny and I spent a weekend with Hanna (86 years old) and Gerhard (89). They stayed at the Dead Sea, for the unique health benefits of the location. Although both had been to Israel before, Lenny could not bear the thought of them not visiting any other place in the country so he decided to take them to Jerusalem and the Kotel before they flew home to the USA.

Hanna Marx & Gerhard Maschkowski in Jerusalem Sept 20th, 2014

Hanna Marx & Gerhard Maschkowski in Jerusalem Sept 20th, 2014

I had not imagined that the brief time at the Kotel would be so moving to Hanna. (Please read more about Gerhard at http://forestrain.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/a-sign-upon-your-arm/ an article I wrote after his previous trip to Israel).

Survivor. What a small word for something so huge. Survival. Triumph. Overcoming the most unspeakable horrors…

From now on, when I hear the word “survivor” Hanna’s image will come to my mind.  An iron lady, even at 86 years of age, it seems like nothing can stop her. After what she endured as a teenager, what could stop her?

Hanna (like Gerhard) is unusual in that she is able to talk freely about her experiences during the Holocaust while not showing signs of bitterness or hate. She has smile lines and a joy for life. She magnetizes people to her and, when she can, teaches them.

Many survivors refuse to talk, saying they don’t want to burden the younger generations with the horrors of the past. Others do articulate their memories but are also trapped by them, stuck in bitterness. Some have difficulty connecting with their families, difficulty showing emotion, afraid to love because everything they once loved was ripped from them.

Hanna said that for many years she did not tell her children about her experiences. They heard about them in a roundabout way and then began asking questions. After that she began telling her story in front of school children, teaching them about the Holocaust.

Candidly Hanna told me that her beloved husband (also a survivor, now deceased), did not like it when she gave talks about her experiences because on the nights after she’d spoken she would cry and sometimes scream in her sleep and he’d have to hold her until she could stop shaking.

Calm, pleasant and articulate in the day, the horrors she remembered haunted her at night.

Although she didn’t tell me much of her story, some of the experiences Hanna described gave me nightmares too. I can’t imagine how it is possible to survive such experiences. How is it possible to smile, be happy and loving? How is it possible to trust other people?!

I asked Hanna about the death march. For two and a half months she and some 5-6 thousand were forced to march. They weren’t given any food. They had no shelter or even warm clothes (I wonder how many had decent shoes?). Anyone who collapsed or lay down was shot and left on the side of the road. They ate snow. How can you survive on snow? How can you have enough strength to walk mile after mile? They slept at night on the side of the road and in the morning, those that were still alive were forced to get up and march.

She said that sometimes farmers had piles of food outside in the field, vegetables meant for their animals to eat. When they could, Jews that saw this ran in to the fields and grabbed whatever there was and ate it – raw, dirty, it didn’t matter. Often they would be shot for running in to the field but they didn’t care. People that died on the way had their clothes taken by the freezing, starving survivors.

By the end of the march only some 300 hundred Jews were still alive.

I asked Hanna if, during the march she believed she would survive. She said no.

I asked, if she thought she was going to die, what made her keep getting up in the morning, keep walking? It would have been easy enough to lay down and die.

Her answer was that she didn’t know why. Something in her made her keep moving. Something in her tells her that despite the horrors she endured, God was with her, watching over her.

Two miracles helped Hanna through the Holocaust.

The first was when a German officer made a decision that saved Hanna’s mother and allowed mother and daughter to remain together. At the beginning of the war there were 58 people in Hanna’s family. At the end, 4 remained. Hanna lost her father and brothers but remained with her mother until they were both liberated.

The second miracle came at the end of the death march when German soldiers sent with grenades to blow up a hanger that housed the Jews that survived the march, changed their minds. The Russians were coming and the soldiers were supposed to act quickly. Instead of committing mass murder they decided to simply walk away.

Hanna’s mother spoke to the soldiers and her perfect German made them see her as a human being (most of the other survivors of the march were Polish and Latvian). She did not match the anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews prevalent in Nazi propaganda, she was a proper German lady. One of the soldiers said to the other: “I was raised in church and was taught that if I have to fight to protect myself that is ok but I must not kill innocent people and I am not going to kill these people.” He left and the other soldier followed him.

A few hours later the Russians liberated the surviving Jews.

Even in the darkest places, the most horrible times, there is still hope.

Hanna has attained “Jewish revenge” the ultimate “davka” – although she was subjected to unspeakable horrors, she has survived and more. She has thrived! Although her family was ripped from her, she created her own family, married and lived many happy years with the love of her life. They had children, grandchildren and now there are even great grandchildren! Each member of her family is happy and successful in their own right, leaving her free from worries about their future.

Hanna’s message to the world is one of acceptance, tolerance and kindness:

“Be good to people and it will come back to you”.

“If you are discriminated against, prove that you are better. They will respect you later.”

“Survivor” means so much more than the one little word can convey… After Hanna’s example how can I say: “I’m dying of hunger” or “I’m dying for a drink”? How many of us feel we can’t survive without that vacation, new car, pair of jeans, shoes or whatever? How many of us waste time whining, complaining, taking for granted, wallowing in misery, giving up… We are all so spoiled and we don’t even realize it.

The world we are living in today is shaped by our attitudes. It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about what you create out of what happens to you! Don’t like what is happening around you? Change it! Do something about it!

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

~ “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Victor E. Frankl

The words below are not mine, they are a translation of a post Ziv Shilon wrote on his Facebook page.

Ziv-Shilon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading it brought tears to my eyes. Ziv is inspiring, a true leader.
When things seem terrible and frighteningly dangerous in this little country of ours I remember that people like him exist and it gives me renewed hope.

This is Israel. Here Ziv is “just” another guy. Anywhere else he would be considered the stuff that legends are made from…

(To see more about Ziv go to my article from 2012: http://forestrain.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/the-stuff-that-legends-are-made-from/ )

Please read Ziv’s words below:

*********************

Nearly two years have passed since I was severely wounded on the border of the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kisufim.

To this day, I am undergoing rehabilitation for my right hand which was almost completely cut off, I have had quite a few surgeries and there will be more in the future!

For almost two years I’ve lived with my hand like that and my other, a hand of iron. I learned to eat again, get dressed, hold things in a different way, to drive and dozens of other little things that people tend to take for granted.

Aside from all the physical difficulties there is also the need to deal with mental difficulties. It’s not simple to deal with everything, the visual aspects and how it affects my masculinity!

Along with difficult surgeries every six months that throw me with a boom back to the Sisyphean experience of the first stages of my rehabilitation, there are the looks, the questions children ask about my “strange” hand, the need for help so I can eat falafel in a pita… these are equally difficult challenges for me. As a person with an inflated ego I confess, until recently I walked proudly with my head held high and a Tabor on my thigh, as a person that dedicated his life to my dear warriors for 7 years, as a person who did not know how to ask for help, I became one who occasionally needs a hand – literally!

With time and with the help of family, friends and in all honesty, all the people of this dear nation, who for two years have made me feel special (in a good way!), every kind word, clapping at the end of each lecture I give, every person who came from the heart to help with whatever I wanted makes me realize each day anew – blessed is God who has made me a Jew, an Israeli!

There is no other place on earth that would have granted me a particle of the enormous empathy and affection I receive from you, all of you, and that is what compels me to continue moving forward, step by step towards the goal!

I will share with you, Operation Protective Edge was a breaking point for me. It was right after my mother passed away after a fierce and years long battle with cancer, during the Shivah [7 day ritual morning period] that the fighting began in Gaza.

My heart was in Gaza, with the warriors, my body strong and ready for the task with just my unhealed hands keeping me from being there physically. I felt a deep longing, a yearning to return to command, lead and protect this country. The country came together, united for the fighters in the field and I, for the first time in my life, felt helpless. When our boys came home the storm in my soul quieted but at the same time left me with the need to project strength, power as Ziv, the private person and also as an IDF warrior, in order to convey a message to the heroes who were wounded in this Operation and are now experiencing the stage that I think it the most complex – when the spotlight shining on them is turned off and they need to begin dealing with the aloneness, the new, the future, which is often frightening.

I want to show that even with serious injuries there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To prove to our enemies, yet again, that IDF soldiers did not surrender. Ever. For every Jew who has lost hope, anywhere in the world. To show my mother, Margalit, that I progressed another step towards perfect fulfillment and above all to prove to myself that one day I will be able to return to command fighters!

This month I close three circles – marriage to the love of my life that has gone through so much with me, as a Company Commander, release of IDF soldiers after three great years and two years since my injury. Now I am beginning a new, long journey, to one of the most challenging competitions that exists in order to prove that anything is possible.

When I need your back, I know you will be there, as always!

Iron Man here I come

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