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Dvora Marcia, my grandmother was a Palestinian. I have the documents to prove it.

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My grandmother – taken in Tel Aviv 1933

She went to school in Palestine. She grew up in Palestine. Got married, had two boys and worked with her (first) husband in Irgun Hashomer to protect Jewish land from being stolen by Bedouin. My grandmother worked as head secretary in the Israel Diamond Exchange and served as a liaison between members of Israel’s different underground resistance units, helping them pass messages between each other – all for one purpose… to free Palestine.

From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free!

Free from the British. Free to return to her natural state. To return to being what she always was – Israel, Zion.

My grandmother went to America to lobby for the foundation of the State of Israel. She distributed pamphlets and spoke on the radio. She spoke passionately in front of a number of different audiences, raising money and awareness for the plight of the people of Palestine.

My grandmother was a freedom fighter. Not a terrorist, she was a real freedom fighter, fighting for the right of her people, the Jewish people, to live freely in their homeland.

It was hearing my grandmother speak on the radio that compelled my grandfather to seek her out. He felt he had to meet her. Once I asked him why he, born in to a non-practicing Christian family, was interested and so moved by my grandmother’s plea to free Palestine and help the Jewish people rebuild their homeland.

He is answer was: “Because I thought that Jewish blood was worth more than Arab oil.”

He then went on to tell me that, when he finally found her, it took him a total of 3 seconds to realize that he had to marry her. It wasn’t long before he did, becoming her second husband.

My grandparents danced in the streets of New York celebrating their joy over the end of the British Mandate and the official establishment of the State of Israel. Shortly afterwards, they left America and moved to Israel. My mother was born in Jaffa.

My grandmother, the Palestinian, had an Israeli daughter.

In a time when the world seems to have gone insane, everything is topsy turvy. Black is white, up is down and facts that were once understood by all have now become extremely confusing and too complicated to comprehend.

Palestine.

Palestine is a name given to the Land of Israel for the sole purpose of disconnecting the Jewish people from Judea, from Israel, from Zion. This was done in the 2nd century CE, when the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), and gained control of Jerusalem and Judea which was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel. After World War I, the name “Palestine” was applied to the territory that was placed under British Mandate; this area included not only present-day Israel but also present-day Jordan. Leading up to Israel’s independence in 1948, it was common for the international press to label Jews, not Arabs, living in the mandate as Palestinians.

Words give meaning and form to reality, thus names are of vast importance. It is obvious that Jews belong in Judea, but who belongs in Palestine?

Palestine is and always was, a politically motivated name. It is a name that is meant to denigrate and destroy the Jewish connection to her homeland.

If you will – calling Israel, “Palestine” is the original hate speech.

And today, out of nowhere, there suddenly is a new people called “Palestinians” and they are demanding “Palestine” for themselves. And most people in the world go along with this story, furthering a narrative that is a perversion of history and one that steals and makes a mockery of the efforts my Palestinian grandmother and thousands of others like her to reinstate Palestine to her rightful status of being recognized for who she really is and always was – Israel.

It’s probably the biggest media stunt in the history of the world. And everyone has accepted it. The world has recognized that there is a “Palestinian people” and they no longer mean what this term always meant – Jews.

Any people, the world agrees, has the right to self-determination (unless they are Kurds or Tibetan). Suddenly it becomes reasonable to give “Palestine” to the “Palestinians.”

When Palestine, Texas was named, its founders were not thinking about an Arab nation. Neither were the people of Palestine, Illinois. They were thinking of Zion, the country who America’s founders modeled her after.

The “Palestinian narrative” is one big commercial that the world has swallowed, hook, line and sinker. This is based on the premises that if you repeat a lie enough times people begin to believe it. If enough believe it becomes fact.

But the facts are that there are Jews and there are Arabs. There are Israeli Arabs, Jordanian Arabs, Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian Arabs. There are Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs.

Arab “Palestinians” are a nationality invented to facilitate and justify cleansing Jews from Israel.

The “Palestinians” are stealing my history in order to steal my land. Stealing my land is one step before my annihilation. Without Israel there is no Jewish people. The “Palestinians” are claiming my history as their own. Denying my roots, to deny my future.

Words are powerful. Every single person who uses the terminology as defined by the Arabs who wish to establish the State of Palestine is complicit.

Every time you say “Palestinian” and don’t mean the Jews who were striving to free their land from occupiers you are complicit. Every time you utter the word “Palestine” you are denying my past, my roots and worse, you are denying my future.

You are literally, wiping Israel off the map.

We have all been complicit. It is time to change our language and return to the factual, historical definitions. Before it is too late (if it is not already too late).

It’s really not that complicated. Palestine was always Israel. Palestinians were Jews.

For the love of Zion, my grandmother was a Palestinian.

These are people. Real people.

Do not look away. Do not say you didn’t know.

Today I posted this clip on my Facebook feed with my thoughts about this. Within minutes my post was deleted as was the source where I found it.

I guess Facebook doesn’t think it’s nice to see that the Islamic State burns people alive. People shouldn’t see the horror. Many people seem to think that way. And it’s exactly that thinking that perpetuates the horror.

It isn’t ‘nice’. It’s horrific and ignoring it is allowing it to continue.

You cannot fight an enemy you refuse to name. Pretending these atrocities are not happening does not make them go away. Apathy kills.

You can say you don’t know what to do. Don’t say you didn’t know…

Not to speak is to speak.

Have we learned nothing from history?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

This could never happen where I live! Right?

Wrong.

There is absolutely nothing that differentiates between Rotherham and anywhere else in the western world. If this can happen there, it can happen in your neighborhood, to your children.

The problem is the culture of the politically correct, of not being willing to call a spade a spade for fear of being labeled racist. By no means are all Muslims pedophiles or abusers however it is critically important to recognize that there is a centuries long culture that permits (if not encourages) the sexual abuse of very young girls, particularly those who are “white”, non-Muslim.  (Suggested reading: Why Muslim Rapists Prefer Blondes: A History).

In Rotherham girls were groomed to submit, they were manipulated to the point where sexual abuse became normalized. In Syria and Iraq girls (Christians and Yazidis) are simply abducted and sold in to slavery. The methods are different, the end results are the same. Maybe even more importantly – the motivation is the same.

It is the people who stay silent, pretend they don’t see the atrocities, who perpetuate them. “It’s not in my backyard. It’s over there. It has nothing to do with me…”

Are you sure?

Have compassion for the abused and enslaved women and girls (and sometimes young boys).

It could be your daughter in that very same situation.

Be vigilant. This can happen in your neighborhood.

Not to speak is to speak.

The cult of Trump

It amused me to listen to Donald Trump on “The Apprentice”. Sometimes listening to his rationale,his explanation of his choices was interesting.

The current interest and supposedly growing Trump following is not at all amusing. Could a significant number ofAmericans actually be considering this man to be a good choice for office of the President of the United States of America?! Donald-Trump

I long for the day people will be judged, not by the color of their skin, or the size of their wallet or by the volume they shout at but by the content of their character.

There seem to be a group of people who follow Trump, who enthusiastically support him because, in the moment, a man who boldly speaks his mind is very appealing. There seems to be no consideration of the long term. Giving this man the Presidency is handing him the most powerful position in the world. What effect will that have?

The problem is that those who desire power are usually the least suited. Of course all the Presidential candidates have put themselves forward because they believed themselves right for the position however, as far as I know, only one is renowned for his self-aggrandizement. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for someone who works hard and makes bucket loads of money. There is nothing wrong with naming towers you had built after yourself. Such a man can, if he sees fit, plate his toilet with gold or the gold plate interior of his private jet. The problem, as I see it, is that he does see fit. Donald Trump’s behavior is on par with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian not that of a leader of people or of a nation.

To put it simply – do Americans really want to put an ego-maniac in the White House? Has the celebrity culture permeated America so deeply that someone who catches the limelight at the moment can really win the biggest prize that there is? Running for President is not the same as competing on “Survivor”. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Sure it’s nice to hear someone say the things that many “regular folks” think. It’s almost a relief to see someone speaking, uncowed by the politically correct. That doesn’t mean this is a person who can be the leader of the free world.

America fell for a man with a great smile who promised “hope and change.” The people didn’t bother asking: “What is it that you are hoping for? What are you planning to change to?” When he did drop hints about his intentions, no one bothered to pay attention.

When the man chosen for office lied and committed what should only be considered treason, few cared. All he had to do was visit a few talk shows, smile and say a few jokes. Who doesn’t like the hottest celebrity in town? Why hold him responsible for the promises he made or the people he betrayed?

Remember Benghazi? What difference does it make??

Americans voted in their celebrity once again.

The Donald is supposedly running for a different political party but the behavior of the people supporting him is no different from that of the supporters of the current man in office.

The Donald is making wild statements about things he will do as President. Is anyone asking him “How? How do you plan to achieve those goals?” Hope and change was enough to sway America TWICE. Now Americans are demanding solutions but they don’t seem to be checking that the man chosen actually has the capabilities (or desire) to do what he is promising.

Those that follow people blindly, those that adhere to the cult of celebrity will excuse a way any behavior. Yet again we are seeing admiration of a celebrity, not confidence in the content of the man or his character.

Obama currently does practically anything he wants, with no regard to the constitution or the laws of the land. I can only imagine how Trump will behave when he has that amount of power in his hands.

President of the United States is the most important job in the world. I hope that the candidates are chosen wisely. Not because they have a cult following or are charismatic but because they are people of character with solid values and moral clarity.

This choice is not only critical to America – it will influence the entire world.

America needs a leader that “eats last”, someone that puts the people he is responsible for first, before himself (or, herself). America needs someone who will remind the Nation of her core values – those are what made America great, not anything else. The proposition that man can govern himself is what set America apart from the other nations on earth not the idea that big government will swoop in and save the day.

America needs a leader that is humble. Someone who listens. Someone who is wise. Someone who is guided by clear and unswerving moral clarity. Someone who understands the importance of freedom and how difficult it is to regain it once it is lost.

Do you think Donald Trump is that man?

How many of the people you know find it difficult to apologize, to ask for forgiveness? How many people find it difficult to admit, even to themselves, that they have done something wrong?

Jewish tradition puts forgiveness and asking for forgiveness very high on the scale of importance. Selichot prayers are a ritual of admitting to God that we have sinned and asking for God’s mercy. This ritual is a way to make each individual internalize that no matter what they did, how they behaved in the previous year, in the next year they can do better.

Admitting, giving voice to the idea of having failed is walking half way down the path of actually doing and being better.

Interestingly, in Jewish tradition, an individual cannot be right with God without being first right with his or her fellow men. People come first. If you know you have hurt someone you need to ask for their forgiveness before God will forgive you.

Sephardic communities begin reciting Selichot at the beginning of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashana, (the Jewish New Year) so that a period of 40 days, similar to the time Moses spent on Mount Sinai, is devoted to prayers of forgiveness. The practice among the Ashkenazi community is to begin saying them on the Saturday night prior to Rosh Hashanah.

Originally, Selichot prayers were recited early in the morning, prior to dawn. There was a custom in Eastern Europe that the person in charge of prayers would make the rounds of the village, knocking three times on each door and saying, “Israel, holy people, awake, arouse yourselves and rise for the service of the Creator! It later became common practice to hold the first Selichot service‑-considered the most important‑-at a time more convenient for the masses of people. Therefore, the Saturday night service was moved forward to midnight. It is always darkest before the dawn. Dawn is the time that brings hope for a new day, for light and better times.

The mere gathering together of people at a time when they are usually asleep is impressive. There is nothing like Selichot in at the Kotel. Thousands mass together, with the same intentions, in the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people.

(Actually the Kotel is the western, side wall of the ancient Jewish Temple on top of which was built the Muslim Dome of the Rock. That is the holiest place on earth for Jews, the rock that is called the Foundation Rock, believed to be the rock on which God built the world – but Jews are not allowed to prayer there).

Selichot prayers are supposed to promote introspection. The melodies are sad and full of longing. Properly chanted, they form an oratorio expressing the despair that accompanies separation from God and the desire to change and repent. The self‑deprecation contained in the words, which express the feeling of life’s fleetingness, and the burden of vanity that motivates so much of what one does, all cause us to ponder how we can break the cycle of our lives and change ourselves for the better. The possibility of change and of a better life is inherent in these prayers:

“O Lord, hear our voice in the morning; in the morning we set them before You with hopeful expectation. Hear our voice…”

We live in very dark times but there is always hope. It will be the actions of individuals and the way they move through the world that will decide the fate of all of our lives. One person does not have the power to change the world but each person has within the power to change themselves and THAT is what change the world, possibly even could save the world.

Thank you Matisyahu

I would like to thank Matisyahu.

In a time when so many are afraid courage is not to be taken for granted.

The bullies shout: “Sit down! Shut up!” and most people obey. They succumb to the pressure. And the pressure can swiftly become overwhelming, it is no wonder that so many give in, give up.

In this atmosphere it is appropriate to thank those that are courageous. Thank you Matisyahu. Matisyahu at Rototom Sunsplash

Matisyahu did not fight and he certainly did not attack. He simply refused to succumb. In his song “Jerusalem” he sings: “Ain’t no one gonna break my stride. Ain’t no one gonna pull me down.”

The beautiful thing is that in real life, when the test came, he lived these words.

Bullied, asked to denounce Israel, being rejected (having his performance at the Rototom Sunsplash festival cancelled), Matisyahu did the simple and yet so difficult thing – he said “No”.

Self-respect and doing what is right, without fighting, without attacking, just doing what is right – is very powerful. People around the world were moved. I was moved because this is so rare. Because, in a way, what he chose to do was also for me.

Outrage from fans and people who simply do not agree with the concept of singling someone out because of their religion compelled the festival to re-invite Matisyahu. I was wondering what he would choose to do. Would he agree to perform? Would you go someplace where you had already been told that you are not wanted? Singing, performing is a way of giving of yourself, baring your soul. Would you do that for an audience that had already rejected you?

The flags in the crowd are indicators of who was in that audience. It takes a lot of internal strength and graciousness of spirit to perform in front a sea of hostility. Reports say that not only was the audience full of people waving immense Palestinian flags there were also those that began chanting “Out! Out!”  Those who sought to have Matisyahu banished stood before him in protest.

And then Matisyahu sang. He did it with a twist, with chutzpah, performing his beautiful music, with words that speak of peace and better times and also of who he is and the importance of the Jewish roots and Jerusalem.

What courage!

Thank you Matisyahu for speaking (singing) for yourself. And for me. And for everyone who believes that hatred is unacceptable. Too often there is no one to stand for us, no one to give voice to what is right. Thank you for the example you set. I hope more people will take notice and learn from your example.

‪#‎StandUpZion

“It’s not about the land or the sea. Not the country, but the dwelling of his majesty”.

Matisyahu explains what no one seems able to put in to words, the problem and the solution rolled together in one beautiful song:

“Jerusalem”

[Chorus]
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.

In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And them don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty

[chorus]

Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be

[chorus]

Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze
Don’t you know it’s just a phase
Case of the Simon says
If I forget the truth then my words won’t penetrate
Babylon burning in the place, can’t see through the haze
Chop down all of them dirty ways,
That’s the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey
Aint no one gonna break my stride
Aint no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving
Stay alive

[chorus]

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