Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The True Face of the World

It has been four days since Israel has finally responded to the relentless attacks by Hamas lead Arabs in the Gaza Strip. One cannot help but notice how the peace loving nations of the world and organizations of caring people cry out against the “Israeli aggression” daily. One can only be touched by the efforts of all of these individuals and governments in the quest for a peaceful solution in the Middle East and the cessation of violence by both sides in the current conflict. It is impressive to see how the Muslims of the world, and other Peace loving people are rallying behind the green flag of Hamas and the residents of Gaza and for what they stand. The European Union and other nations are rushing to supply humanitarian aid to the destitute residents of Gaza while they ignore the oppression and poverty that Hamas forces upon them.
I have to admit my curiosity to the silence of all of those involved demonstrating and condemning Israel today, while the rockets and mortars were flying daily and indiscriminately against the civilian population in Israel, where were their voices then?. Where were their cries for the Jewish children who learned to live in fear of terrorism raining daily from the skies in both the south and north. One might think that Jewish lives aren’t as important to them as others, could this be? Various Arab governments stated openly that a Hamas downfall would be welcome, even Abu Mazen said the Palestinian Authority is ready to assume the leadership once Hamas is defeated. Yet still the cries against Israel’s fight with Hamas still reign loudest. Even the true face of many Arab citizens of Israel is shining through the smoke. We now see flags of the PLO and Hamas flying in many Israeli-Arab towns as the demonstrations and their renewed violence spreads throughout Israel once again.
Such is our world today, when the Jewish nation defends itself, it is in the wrong. So we are being conditioned and taught, all over the world. It has become politically incorrect for a Jew to defend himself or his country against the poor Muslims. Mind you it has become politically incorrect for anyone from any denomination to express any opinion that might upset a Muslim today. We Jews are being taught to lay low and not make waves, to keep our heritage and history to ourselves, while the books are rewritten. What is happening in Israel is a small example as to what is happening in the world today, bend to the will of “Allah”, even if it means self-destruction. Europe is already on its way, with plans set on the U.S. next. Such is the result when we show the world weakness and a lack of identity instead of strength and self respect.
Where are our friends when we need them, the whole world knows the truth about what is going on, where are the voices of justice, are they hidden behind the smoke of the Grad missiles? How much longer will they cling to their self imposed blindness? Israel is the barometer for the world against terrorism, we are the experience that those that believe in freedom need to see and learn from. No one has fought against terrorism as we have.
Israel changed its methodology towards the Arab nations and people over a decade ago in hopes of finding quiet in this volatile region. Instead of grasping the hand of peace, they spat in the face of opportunity. The only peace achieved was that of a glorified cease fire. Our sacrifices were not enough, nothing less than total submission would suffice the throngs of our Arab enemies. Again the result of the lack of identity, strength and self respect.
This message and lesson, while understood by many in Israel is becoming more and more clear to the Jewish inhabitants of our ancestral homeland. It seems that one of the disadvantages of being a “stiff necked people” is that sometimes it takes time to learn a lesson. With every rocket and mortar that lands, with every rock and Molotov cocktail thrown, and every shot fired at us, this lesson sinks in deeper. The number of “educated” Jews in Israel increases day by day. There is no choice as our survival depends on it. Who knows, maybe even our government will even admit to their ignorance and learn to accept reality as it is.
The fact is that we hate and despise war more than any other nation on earth. We have no choice but to fight for our survival. Jews in Israel do not crave the glory of victory only the quiet of peace, something our enemies have no concept of. It is ironic that in order to achieve this we must learn to fight like lions.
No other nation or people on this earth would ever accept the conditions under which we have been living for the past decade, to be fired upon and not respond, hopefully these conditions will change so that we too eventually will enjoy the serenity of peace. No one will come to our aid, it is up to us and us alone, all of us around the world. We see the world and their reactions to a simple act of self defense, to them it is preferable that we just keep quiet and count our dead and wounded. A friend once told me, the entire Jewish/Arab problem started when Jews decided to defend themselves, if this is so, I prefer the “problem”.
It is apparently the hope of many in the world that the aggression ends soon so that Hamas may get back on track and institute Sharia Law in Gaza, thus restoring Law and Order in that region by the severing of limbs and the execution of the guilty and the infidel, while they become the new hub of terrorist operations against the west and free world.
It is our prayer that our soldiers are successful and come home soon, without a scratch and grow old while they enjoy their grandchildren in the peaceful, quiet, Jewish State of Israel.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fine Wine

Fine wine has always been appreciated by all, from those who are involved in the process to those that partake of the final product. A vintner’s objective is to produce the best wine possible. In order to do so, he must seek out the best vineyards available – always placing quality above quantity. He needs the best to produce the best. Often his first step is to find a “grower” who shares the same values, to produce the best. He looks for a vineyard with top quality fruit, strong vines and roots that are deep and strong. Once found, this vineyard is regarded as a treasure, one to be cherished and nurtured, and if possible expanded upon. Providing the basic ingredient for award-winning wines, the grapes grown on these vines are then processed carefully, getting the most out of them. Putting them in the proper environment so they can develop to their fullest potential is of utmost importance. The finished product is a source of pride to all involved, from those at the beginning to the one who ultimately tastes the wine.

Developing a nation follows much of the same process - start with the best available product - material that is strong, connected to the land and its people, and then provide a good, strong environment for the maturing process. In most cases, when these factors come together, a win-win situation blossoms.

I look today at Israel as a nation, similar to that of the vintner. I see Yehuda and Shomron as a vineyard from where prize-winning grapes are harvested. The IDF is a prime example. It is no secret that many of the elite troops are made up of a large proportion of soldiers raised in the communities of Yehuda and Shomron. Officers trained in the IDF preparatory institutions from YESHA are among the most sought after.

These “vines” are grown in ground that is fertile with Judaism and our rich heritage and history. They have developed roots that grow deep and strong. Their vines continue to stretch out producing the highest quality fruit. They are then harvested and matured in an environment that is abundant with our traditional values, while maintaining an everlasting connection to the earth from where they come. The final product being some of the highest quality produced.

Common sense tells us that such a vineyard should be nurtured, protected and strengthened. Such are our communities throughout Yehuda and Shomron. If Israel is to continue to produce some of the best defenders of the Jewish people, these modern day Maccabees and their environments must continue to grow and develop. It is obvious that to produce the best all must be involved, from the grower all the way down the line to the taster.

We ask these soldiers to go into the field of battle and do the best they can for all of us as a people - to leave their families, their spouses and children - often far away from their homes for weeks at a time. The least we can do for them is to continue to nurture the communities that produced such gems. We need to play our role of protecting their families so as to enable them to do their job knowing that their families are safe. We, as a people must recognize the value of these communities and stand strong in the face of those that wish to diminish and take away one of the main resources of our strength and history.

The communities in which these children are raised are filled with a strong Jewish identity - not just historically but in the current-day actions and ways which they live their lives. They are taught, not to be ashamed of who they are or where they come from, but rather to focus upon only bettering themselves as people and defenders of the land of Israel. Connection to our people, land and history are paramount. Taking trips around the country, connecting them with all of the land is part of their regular education and vacation time - all the while being shown our historical and ancestral belonging to our homeland. Being a productive member of the Jewish People is a value that is taught along with being proud and strong and not bending before our enemies. The list goes on and on. This “vineyard” has become a true “natural” resource for some of the best “wine” produced today.

I was recently with a group of soldiers outside of Gaza, delivering a gift to them from a family from the United States. I was amazed at the high level of morale, despite the political atmosphere. We spoke of the challenges before them, the dangers they face and so on. One of the soldiers stood and spoke for the group, and said they are doing this for the Jewish People and our Land. He spoke how the connection with Jews abroad adds to their motivation and strengthens their connection to the land - all of the land. He insisted that this message must get out, that we must show the world our connection to all of the land and not let politics or politicians dictate what is ours and what is not. All of this and more coming from a group of soldiers ages ranging from 19 to 21, not yet corrupted by the political world.

Listening to them is the same as listening to the kids growing up in many of the communities of Yehuda and Shomron and indeed there were many representatives from these communities in this unit.

It is no coincidence that some of the best wines of Israel are coming out of Yehuda and Shomron. Awards from prestigious contests continue to pour into many of the wineries throughout the region. Just as it is no coincidence that some of the best soldiers today in the Jewish army hail from these communities and the awards that they continue to receive.

Separately we are weak, together we are strong. We will always have our differences - such is the reality of a family – especially one derived from the “stiff-necked people”. If we look back a bit on our recent history, one of the main ingredients to our “unity” has been the return to our State of Israel - its birth and development. The direction in which Israel developed has been a main factor in the growth and success of the Jewish People throughout the world. When that mission changed over the last decade our unity suffered as did our strength and pride. Yehuda and Shomron represent that same idealism that brought us together so many years ago and today provides that main ingredient to return us to that idealism which we so cherished. It is our national treasure.

We must all be involved with this national treasure and we must teach the same values that are taught in these communities. We must continue to nurture it so it may grow and expand till our cups are flowing over with its goodness.

Chanukah Sameach!

Attack on Mumbai

The attack in Mumbai has shaken the majority of the Jewish world. The cruel way in which once again innocent Jews were executed has caused most of us to wonder why did this happen? It isn’t Israel, how could the Moslems attack Jews in India. What was their crime? How could this happen?
Security professionals are being asked time and time again to give our thoughts on the event. Many are asking the following questions; could it have been prevented, what can be done in the future and so on. Where I am sure many ideas have been presented on how to provide improved security, my inner thoughts are focused deeper, towards the heart of the problem.
The whole concept of “protecting” and “securing” a facility has many faces. With any reoccurring injury, we have to decide whether to buy a box of band aids or delve deeper to find a remedy to the problem. Sometimes a “quick fix”, is good for the first response, but it is always recommended to cure the problem. The results are often much more positive even if the pain or danger doesn’t go away as fast as the “quick” and superficial remedy.
In the past I have lectured about the growth of Islamic terrorism and how the security situation in Israel affects the world.
The following is a piece from an article I wrote;
“Islamic terror against western society took on new dimensions in 1993 with the first bombing of the World Trade Center. I find it interesting how this coincides with western pressure on Israel to limit its fight against terrorism and the start of the Oslo negotiations. In fact if we look at the rise of Islamic terror in the world we see it rise as Israel negotiates with the leaders of Islamic terrorism. This is no coincidence. The Islamic Terror mentality views negotiations as weakness and it views western pressure on Israel as just that.
With the increase of US pressure on Israel to give up its heartland, we see the West capitulating to Islamic terror. The leadership of “Western” government has chosen to try appease Islamic extremist terrorism, rather than fight it. The strategy is simply, let’s make them happy and maybe they will leave us alone. History has taught us that this is not the case. Have our analysts started to ignore history and experience? Indeed, Israel by choosing to bend to US pressure is also responsible for the results. The Israeli leadership back in the year 1993 and during the Oslo process already started to ease up on terrorism, this due to the lack of backbone in the Israeli Prime Ministers and Parliament. This policy leads to the increase in Islamic Extremism. By seeing that the west is willing to ease up, it was and is perceived as weakness and fear. This being the stepping-stone needed to create an infrastructure of terrorism.”
When we as a people are strong and united, the acts of terror against us decrease. When we act strong in the face of our enemies and let no crime go unpunished, the world and we enjoy more of a peaceful existence. This is not my opinion, but cold facts. No one in the security world was surprised by this attack, it was simply a question of when and where. It is known and understood that Jews, no matter where they are will be targeted in this day and age. Why not? Israel, the “Champion” of the Jewish people allows daily attacks against her own people and country, this champion bends over backwards to appease the enemy, while the continued dissent in the ranks continue to weaken this champion. So Israel, while being lead by the weak of spirit and identity, stays in the corner doing nothing and continues to remain weak in the eyes of our enemies, this only boosting their motivation to attack us more and more.
While the courage and strength of Jews stand out in that the Mumbai Chabad House will Gd willing, be reopened soon by another remarkable team, a long term remedy must be sought and put in motion, now. Our enemies must once again know that we will, with Gds help, protect and defend our people and at the same time find and punish those who wish and cause us harm, wherever they are.
It is time for us to come together again and stand strong as one in the face of the enemy, to grasp that which has been commanded to us. We are often told, when we are in pain or suffer, to look into our heart for the answer. So it is today, we must look up and then we should look to our heart and to our heartland, and seek out the strong Jew again. We will find people who are not afraid to be Jewish, who are not afraid to live in land that Gd commanded us to live in, and who will not hesitate in the face of our enemies. The more we talk about giving up what is ours the weaker we become, the more danger we put our people in. We take for granted the gifts and miracles that have been given to us over the past 60 years. Having a land to live in, one that is part of our heritage and identity is truly a precious gift, one to be appreciated and cared for, and not to be given over to those who wish our destruction. If we continue down this path, payback will carry a heavy price.
The solution is within our reach, we just have to reach out and grasp it. This way, Jews, no matter where they travel or live, will, Gd willing be safer.

Condi's last shot

Condi Rice has said that “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state”. Absolutely, the timing is right! With Islamic terror spreading, the growth of extreme Islamic factions, Islamic terror “sleeper” cells being created in the US, it is definitely the time for the establishment of a “Palestinian” state. While US forces make it difficult for Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, they will need a new headquarters. Gaza is simply not big enough. Having a stable democracy in the Middle East is longer “in”. With Europe being taken over by Muslim extremists, it just isn’t in “fashion”. How can you have a Ramadan party in the pentagon if there is no “Palestinian” state?
Yes, it is time for the establishment of a “Palestinian” state, prepare it for a Hamas takeover and throw the Middle East into another horrific war. However, this time, beware, this will spread terrorism to the US and the rest of the free world. We simply have to look at Gaza as a prime example of a peace loving “Palestinian” state. While Condi, and her teams, continue to reward terror with prizes, their strength grows. With every visit of hers to the region she increases her presence in the Palestinian strongholds, this sending the simple message of just how she actually supports the PLO factions in their quest against Israel, while ignoring the continuing growth of a more defined terror infrastructure. Most responsible officials of governments would make an effort to see the whole picture. I don’t recall Ms. Rice making a fact-finding mission to the various Jewish communities throughout Yehuda and Shomron, without the escort of officials who oppose our existence. We welcome her and her successor to come meet the people here. Come, see for yourselves if we are the monsters you are lead to believe, or do the intelligent thing, and learn for yourselves. You and your successor are charged with bringing the most accurate picture possible to the executive branch of the United States government, do so. You will be pleasantly surprised to find people that you probably share much with. It seems now however that the State department is doing its best by wearing blinders and ignoring not just our reality here but the entire region.
The logo of the last US elections was “Change”, this is something that is yet to be seen. In the mean time, the present US government seems to be acting with urgency to achieve the same goals of the diminishing left in Israel, the cessation of Jewish presence in Yehuda and Shomron. Increasing there financial grants to the Palestinian Authority, stepping up their military training programs and lets not forget pressuring Israel to put an end to the “outpost” problem. The current reality in US politics pressures the Jewish community there, if you are for a Jewish presence in the Jewish heartland you are against the government, unpatriotic and against “change”. There is need for a peaceful solution in Israel, but it is not to be found in Washington DC.
How easy is it to forget the media footage of the cheers of the US loving “Palestinians” from all factions in the wake of 9/11, the throngs of “Palestinians” making their way to Iraq to fight and train the insurgents against US soldiers. One simply needs to look at the educational system within the “Palestinian Authority” to understand that peace with Israel and the US is not one of their goals. The picture is a bit confusing. Both leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority do not have the support of their respective nations, yet they are the one negotiating. The US state department, who are supposedly looking for peaceful solutions are actually facilitating confrontations on both sides, effectively ripping apart the peoples they claim the are helping. Of course they are doing this while ignoring the history of the Middle East.
The Palestinians have proven themselves to excel in marketing and have succeeded in convincing the world that they are a peace loving people, not connected to terrorism. Their lack of curbing terrorism and continued support of it in their society and media should hint at their true intentions. This however hasn’t been shown to American Society. I have to wonder, how the world forgot who started the wars in the Middle East. The Arabs living in the west bank were Jordanians, and they were Palestinians (along with the Jews) before 1948. Who is the “Palestinian people?? For that matter, what is Palestine?
The US has benefitted from Israel’s friendship as Israel has benefitted from the US. We both share common values, what happened to convince the US leadership otherwise. Maybe oil is thicker than blood, but oil won’t last forever. The Arab world is working overtime in order to influence US leadership. Of course, there are plenty of Jews behind this plan as well, they too having their outlook distorted by a successful marketing campaign and their lack of identity.
I do understand why the US has changed their stance; they have been convinced that they are too weak to fight the threat of terrorism on their shores. It seems that the US state department has lost its faith in the American people; they have lost faith in American values and have become frightened. The same merits, strength and faith still exist, it might need to be reawakened, but it is there. Still, one has to think where is the American voice today? Don’t let Allahu Achar” switch “Gd bless America”. We, the strong Israel, will still stand by you.

Please Condi, wake up and smell the hummus!

Future of Israel

The adventures in Israel never cease. The story goes that Rabbi Akiva upon seeing a fox running out of the Beit HaMikdash started laughing. In short, he explained to his students that despite this terrible omen, it is yet a sign of better times to come. The question remains, what to do until those times arrive and should we make an effort to bring them quicker and on a more positive note. A few years ago I spoke (privately among my peers) about the involvement of various individuals in government positions in creating a violent atmosphere throughout Yehuda and Shomron. Other topics I spoke about were the signs of a repetition of violence based on facts in the field, and how the government is feeding this possibility. A while back Shimon Peres repeated his statement that Jews wishing to remain in Yehuda and Shomron are welcome to adopt Palestinian Authority citizenship. This in sync with the infusion of more Arab soldiers in the guise of policemen to Hevron and other areas. Again in sync with the latest act of taking more weapons out of the hands of active soldiers though out the communities of Yehuda and Shomron.
Let’s take a short break just to look at some of these facts.
1) Weapons given to Arabs and taken away from Jews.
2) Terrorists released and Jewish Activists arrested.
3) Defense Budgets cut to Jewish Communities in Yehuda and Shomron and an increase in funding to the Palestinian Authority.
4) Acts to boost Arab Nationalism in Israel while the attempted actions to dejudaize the state increase.
Something is definitely wrong with this picture.
There is at least one reason to smile at the mention of this news. As in the parable with Rabbi Akiva above, this is sign of better times, providing we act to make it so. I would like to say that the only enemy to the Jewish State of Israel are various Arab nations, but this is not so.
We always hear the talk of the politicians of the concept of Two States, one Jewish, One Arab, living side by side in peace. Didn’t we hear this in 1947?
We hear that once the Jews are out of Yehuda and Shomron, there will be peace. Like Gaza?????
Unfortunately, some of the loudest advocates of these not to be repeated mistakes are often from our own people.
How can we smile while all this is going on, and what can we do in the face of this reality?
There are a few facts that are constantly overlooked when discussing the land and the people of Yehuda and Shomron. We constantly hear of the demographic threat to Israel because of the birth rate of the Arabs residing in Israel, we don’t hear how the birth rate of the Jews throughout Yehuda and Shomron is actually the highest in the country. We will soon see the face of Israel changing; this is a fact that is already taking place.
The military in Israel has always been a source of pride to Israel and the Jewish people. Today we see all of the elite units, not just peppered but flowing with the residents of the “Yeshuvim”. In all units, at all levels these young people have become the new pride of the country. It is no longer difficult to find a “minyan” in officers course or the top “Recon” units.
Agriculture has returned to Yehuda and Shomron. This historically abundant place of olives and vineyards has been reborn to its former glory, but this time by the hands of Jews. Award winning wines and olive oils are not uncommon, and seeing “Kippahs” in the field is always an inspiring sight.
Industry is growing by leaps and bounds. In all fields of business, up to the executive levels, from the sciences to hi-tech, we see the presence of this new face of Israel.
The population grows everyday, and the “Yeshuvim” are filling up along with every new neighborhood created. Yes, we are building, because we are growing and will continue to grow. Those that demonstrate against this growth and hold hands with our enemies are shrinking and will continue to do so. Their shouts are their last efforts against the will of a people, and they will diminish soon.
We have done this together, as one people, disregarding physical distances and overcoming the challenges our enemies have put and continue to put before us. It has been a difficult and painful journey, with blood, sweat and tears. But this same journey bears fruits beyond our wildest dreams. This venture that we set out to do with “Achdut” together has blossomed and provided a return that Wall Street veterans would envy.
No wonder our enemies wish to hide this from the majority of our people, for we would only gain more strength from it. That is exactly what those that are against us want to avoid.
I often take security officials from around the world through Yehuda and Shomron. We discuss counter terror tactics, suicide terrorism and the real reality on the ground, not what is reported. They are always amazed how Israel hasn’t destroyed the P.A. and Hamas, this coming from people who are not our supporters. One of my favorite places to take them is the lookout from Maale Levona. I point out Ben Gurion Airport, and how close it is. Among some of the topics we discuss is how if the “two state plan” comes into effect, Ben Gurion Airport will be in mortar and Kassam Range. Shut down the airport, shut down the economy, and bring devastation to the country. Mistakes are easy to make, recovering from them is another story.

We find ourselves standing on a cusp in time. Change is not a possibility but inevitable. It is within our power to bring the change about sooner than later, and we can influence the direction in which we will go. The time is critical, and that is why we must make that extra effort now.
A cornered and threatened animal may become more dangerous and is often still capable of inflicting a devastating blow. We see the Left in Israel taking desperate steps against those who believe in a strong and Jewish Israel. It is for this reason we must remain vigilant and strong. By increasing the strength of the communities in Yehuda and Shomron, we strengthen our people, all of our people. We return to them some the values that we were brought up with. Those of strength, self respect, honor, duty and more. Being a proud and strong Jew is a privilege and not something to apologize for.
To recap some of things discussed, we can plainly see the direction that the world wishes to force on us, mind you by using our own people. The tactic being discussed is to disarm the Jews, arm the Arabs. Inflict pain on the Jewish residents of Yehuda and Shomron though economic and security means. Take away the heartland from the Jewish people and weaken them once again.
I say NO! We can and will fight back and we will remain strong. We do this by being involved in the security of these communities, taking part with the various projects going on, by investing in businesses throughout the area, and boosting the economy. Achdut is the answer. Partnerships are the answer, in all aspects of life. We are not fools that moved into a bad neighborhood, we are the future, and together we hold the solution.
The work is not done, far from it, but we are headed in the right direction. We must continue with more determination and effort than before. The future of Israel lies in what happens in Yehuda and Shomron. By continuing to strengthen these communities and people, we secure ourselves as a people a brighter future. As more and more people flock to our heartland daily, we see that together we hold the key. Whereas the Jewish people and country of Israel are affected and influenced by Yehuda and Shomron, so are Yehuda and Shomron affected and influenced by all of us and our continued efforts and projects. Join us in making dreams into reality and being part of Yehuda and Shomron.