BDS – Belligerent, Disruptive and Silly

This blog post is currently featured in the Algemeiner:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/04/26/bds-belligerent-disruptive-and-silly/

‘Tis the season to cause folly? Hot off the trail of Israel Apartheid Week, a global festival of anti-Israel invective that appears on University campuses around the world that extols the “virtues” of boycotts, has come a flurry of anti-Israel activity, compliments of the BDS movement.

 Perhaps the most vocal of all has been former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters. Waters has forsaken writing rock classics to concentrate on his campaign of endorsing cultural boycotts against the Jewish State. He felt the bite of the American Jewish community when his plans for a public interview at the Theresa L. Kaufmann Concert Hall was cancelled following outrage from officials at religious group JCC Watch. Waters has done some serious back peddling. He is quoted in the Huffington Post, “I am considering my position. The letter asking my fellow musicians to boycott Israel has never appeared. I am thinking all of this through extremely carefully and I’m thinking it all through extremely carefully because I care more about the outcome, because I care about the people involved, than I do about the moment.” A mea culpa or has sanity prevailed?

While Waters’ previous stance had been comfortably dumb, he is realising that there are repercussions….

 While anti-Israelists do have a democratic right to voice their opinions do they have a

right to be belligerent and disruptive? BDS supporters have taken their right to protest as meaning a right to do harm. This week, three out of the four Jewish students forcibly removed from an event on campus hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at ColumbiaUniversity formally lodged a complaint. The rationale for their removal? A “plausible inference can be drawn that the removal of the four students was motivated by their political viewpoint.”

 Who can forget BDS poster boy, George Galloway, storming out of a debate at Oxford University because he doesn’t “recognise Israel or debate with Israelis.” Tsk Tsk Georgie, perhaps “Respect” is the wrong word for your political party.

 

Who can forget the trolley jockeys in the French town of Carrefour who removed Israeli produce from supermarket shelves or the flash mob in the USA demanding the removal of Israeli hummus to the tune of Lady Gaga’s song “Telephone”. The irony being that Lady Gaga is a recent visitor to Israeli shores…

 

And then there is South Africa. South Africa is a very important factor in the BDS movement as it is not just the birthplace of Apartheid but the seaside city of Durban was the venue for the UN Conference against Racism in 2001 where a variety of NGO’s unleashed this nefarious campaign. Some of Israel’s greatest detractors hail from the southern Africans state – Desmond Tutu, UNHRC’s Navi Pillay and John Dugard. South Africa is perhaps the most important country when it comes to BDS trend spotting. Over the last two months, BDS activists in South Africa have taken their protesting to another level.

 

 During Israel Apartheid Week held on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand, Israeli concert pianist, Yossi Reshef, who lives in Berlin, had his concert interrupted by vuvuzela-blowing, screaming protesters. Reshef had been invited as a guest of Tararam, an Israeli culture initiative to showcase the myriad of cultural gifts that the country has to offer. The concert abruptly ended after a short while with Diplomatic guests being hastily removed by their respective security. Members of the audience were traumatised and manhandled.

 His crime? Being born in Israel.

 This type of action continued at last week’s Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations when BDS protestors threw stink bombs and disrupted a performance by Israeli opera singer Yaniv D’or, in Johannesburg. This time they were in for a surprise because the community fought back. Security officials removed hostile protesters and the concert continued.

 

Yes, something sure smells rotten. In their haste to prove how concerned they are about Palestinian human rights, BDS activists have trampled on the rights of Jews in communities across the world. Our students have a right to protest just like you. Our concert pianists have a right to perform. Our Opera singers have a right to sing. Our community members have a right to decide for themselves. And we all have a right to celebrate our holy and national holidays without intimidation.

 

While the BDS campaign may have enjoyed minor victories, they have failed to score a major boycott goal. But here is a message to BDS activists:

 It is summertime in Israel and apart from expecting the influx of tourists who visit us every year, we are gearing up to welcome a plethora of famous faces that includes Depeche Mode, Cliff Richard, Alicia Keys, Rihanna and another lady you may have heard of (and in my opinion Jewish royalty) Ms Barbra Streisand. We are the start up nation – a natural investment haven for major technology brands like Apple, Google, Microsoft and others who see this as a R&D haven. But don’t take my word for it – ask Warren Buffett or Stephen Hawking…

 Perhaps one of our fabulous start ups will invent some technology that will allow BDS activists to hear the anguished cries of our neighbours who wonder why nobody is paying attention to how their autocratic governments are trampling on their human rights…

 Their failure to do so and their singling out of Israel for opprobrium just enforces the fact that they are belligerent, disruptive and downright silly!

Days of Remembrance. Days of Celebration. Days of Awe.

 

When we think of the term “Days of Awe” we usually associate it with the High Holy Days,

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The week between Yom Hashoa and Yom Kippur are days ofreflection, remembrance and renewal. This got me thinking that in Israel, the days betweenYom Hashoa, when Israel stops to remember the 6 million heroes and martyrs slaughtered during the Holocaust and including Yom Hazikaron when we remember our fallen soldiers and victims of terror, culminating in Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day are also days of awe.

 

The passing of time reminds us that we have precious little left to hear and gather the stories of Holocaust survivors. Every Yom Hashoa I am not only heartbroken by the magnitude of what we lost but also what could have been. The numbers are too much to bear. It is very hard to comprehend 6 million, including 1 500 000 children. Our families, our future. The pain is still insurmountable so many years later. And as time continues to march on it has become more important than ever to remember and to share their stories with the generations to come. Stories about heroism, individual and organised, personal stories, stories of the great houses of Torah learning, stories of our children whose lives were snuffed out. Stories of bravery and righteous gentiles, stories of those whose lives were saved. Stories of those who made their mark on history and stories of the potential of what could have been. Stories of our families, stories of our history. Stories of the once vibrant

 communities who contributed to their host countries. And the stories of how they ceased to 

exist. May their memories forever be blessed.

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 And the story of the creation of the modern state of Israel. Even though Jews have had a 

continuous presence in our holy land for thousands of years, we only became a modern state in 1948. On the backs of the brave pioneers, Holocaust survivors who in their frail state became warriors, our fledgling state rose out of the ashes of war to become the miracle it is today.

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There have been far too many wars. A week after Yom Hashoa we commemorate Yom Hazikaron, a day of remembrance for our fallen warriors and victims of terror who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom in our beloved land.

 

These days of awe create an incredible sense of solidarity amongst Jews around the world but it is here in Israel where the emotions are seriously heightened. Soldiers are no longer

 uniformed strangers who serve but the children or spouses or lovers of people we know. And they are people we love. Yom Hazikaron is not only a day of remembrance for me but one of gratitude. Few words can express how grateful I am for those who protect us on land, sea and air. Those we see in uniform and those whose identities are secret. These warriors, these lions of Zion who are attacked and denigrated all over the world and threatened with war crimes trials are our guardians and protectors, following an honour code that is their backbone. We are proud of them, we embrace them and we love them. Israelis respect life. We revere life and we revel in it. And it is on this solemn and heartbreaking day that we are reminded of its fragility. We hold the victims of terror attacks and their families in our collective hearts. Their suffering is our suffering and we remember that their lives were cut short because they represented what our enemies tolerate – life.

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And as the sun sets on a day of mourning, the mood of the country changes to one of celebration. This year we celebrate Israel’s 65th year of independence. And she has never looked better! Relatively young in the international family of nations, this petite but plucky lady has survived insurmountable hatred aimed at her, UN resolutions detracting her character and her fair share of war not to mention two Intifadas. Yet, she continues to blossom with barely a wrinkle. She has extended her arms to gather in millions of exiled Jews, sent her greatest humanitarian help to the four corners of the earth to help those in need, including countries that plot her demise. She has bloomed the desert, changed the way we practice medicine, received a disproportionate amount of Nobel prizes to her size for science, medicine, literature and peace. She is a hi-tech wonder and is leading the family of nations in contributing to the world. She has and continues to punch above her weight and  never takes her eyes of the prize – a lasting peace.

 

Happy Birthday Israel – long may you grow, achieve and welcome all who seek refuge in your arms.

 These are the days of miracles and wonders. These are the days of awe.

אם ישראל חיי

Comfortably Dumb?

This blog post currently appears in the Times of Israel:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/comfortably-dumb-2/

Calling all Pink Floyd fans! It is time we demand that the band reunites. It is clear that
Roger Waters needs a hobby besides letter writing and Israel bashing.

Last week former band member, Waters admitted to writing a letter to fellow recording artist and UN Ambassador, Stevie Wonder, asking him to not perform at a benefit for the organisation Friends of the IDF. A jurist on the Russel Tribunal for Palestine, a glorified Kangaroo court, Waters has become one of Israel’s most virulent critics. Water’s favourite target is Israel’s “Apartheid Wall”. Hey, this is a man who has built a career singing about walls so he would know….

No Roger, it is not another brick in the wall, rather it is mostly fence with a small percentage of concrete to keep those pesky suicide bombers out. We Israelis object to being blown up in cafes and on buses. You get the picture.

Now Roger’s pet project is advocating BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) against the Jewish State. He has made the switch from writing some of the greatest rock classics to
writing the kind of fictional drivel that should line the bottom of a bird cage. After
targeting Stevie, he has set his sights on Steve van Zandt, member of Springsteen’s E Street Band. This coincides nicely with the campaign Israelis have embarked on to ask The Boss to include Israel in his upcoming world tour. Van Zandt is famous (okay apart from his pompadour he had while playing mobster, Silvio Dante on the Sopranos) for forming Artists Against Apartheid in the 1980′s. Artists against Apartheid advocated cultural bans and boycotts against South Africa which had impact.

What BDS advocates like Waters fail to understand, or maybe they just choose not to, is that the very people that they are trying to help are the ones they harm the most. True peace will only come from discourse and not from boycotts.

The singling out of Israel for approbation at the expense of other conflicts in the world just shows nefarious motivation. Waters and his ilk are comfortably numb when Israel is singled out for rocket attacks from terrorists who target her civilian population. Yesterday remains of a rocket were found in a Sderot kindergarten fired during US President, Barack Obama’s visit to Israel.. By sheer miracle the kindergarten was closed when it fell, sparing the lives of Israeli children.

Waters waxes lyrical (sometimes even literally!) about Apartheid practices but I haven’t heard a word from him about the gender Apartheid practiced by hamas who have instituted gender based schooling or cancelled the Gaza marathon because, heaven forbid, women might participate. Invoking words like Apartheid which are highly emotive and provocative to describe a very complex conflict not only belittles the true victims of Apartheid and makes light of their suffering but shows a great ignorance and dare I say, laziness to investigate the truth.

If Roger Waters and his fellow BDS kangaroo court members are in need of a hobby or wanting to weigh in on human rights abuse, we gladly offer a tour of our Middle Eastern neighbourhood, starting with Syria and moving swiftly on to Iran and the rest. The victims of genocide, rape, persecution and abuse are wondering when their voices will be heard.

One of these days…..?

 

 

The Russell Tribunal – Kangaroos in Smart Clothing….

This article currently appears in The Algemeiner:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/03/20/the-russell-tribunal-kangaroos-in-smart-clothing/

With humble apologies and much respect to the fabulous Australian marsupials, it must be said that the Russell Tribunal is nothing more than a kangaroo court. The  Russell Tribunal or International War Crimes Tribunal was founded by British philosopher, Bertrand Russell in 1966 with the aim of investigating America’s foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was founded in March 1999 with the purpose of investigating crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians. Charges of practising Apartheid have been levelled at the Jewish state. Strange how no investigations have ever been carried out by the Tribunal against suicide bombings or incitement to hate.

 

This weekend the Tribunal wrapped up four years of “investigations” and members made their recommendation to the ICC to investigate crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians, simultaneously calling for a boycott on the import of goods from the West Bank.

 

Let’s examine the credentials of some of the esteemed jurists who serve on the Russell Tribunal for Palestine:

 

The jury in this particular Tribunal included the late Stephane Hessel, who claimed to be a survivor of Buchenwald Concentration Camp. On closer inspection it was found that the only records of a Stephane Hessel were of prisoner 10033 who entered Buchenwald on 17 August 1944 and died of typhoid. The Stephane Hessel in question died on the 26th of February 2013 at the age of 88.

 

Former Pink Floyd member, Roger Waters, seems to have forgone bass playing and song writing for political posturing. Fond of commenting on walls, whether it is The Wall or the erm….other wall (we call it a security fence), Waters has made his dissatisfaction and disdain public. On the issue of the rights of Israeli civilians who are targets for rockets and suicide bombers, Waters is comfortably numb.

 

Former South African Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, is also a card carrying member of the ANC.. Kasrils’ own human rights record is almost farcical. Ask him about the Bisho massacre which resulted in the deaths of 28 people. The Bisho massacre is a serious black mark on Red Ronnie’s record. Investigated by the Goldstone Commission (yes, it is true) Kasrils was severely criticised for his part. Then sometimes Red Ronnie goes green – Hamas flag waving green. For a man who prides himself on his fight against the racist Apartheid machine, one has to wonder what he was thinking inviting Hamas leader, Ismael Haniyeh, he who advocates the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews to South Africa. Now that is just not cricket…

 

John Dugard is a professor of International Law. A favoured UN lackey, Dugard reports to the  UN Human Rights Council on “the situation in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967″.In 2001 Dugard was appointed as an unpaid expert by the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate only violations by the Israeli side, prompting Israel and the U.S. to dismiss his reports as one-sided. Now with friends like this….

 

Alice Walker is one of America’s most celebrated writers. Famous for writing “The Colour Purple”, Walker was active in the civil rights movement and credits Dr Martin Luther King as the catalyst for her involvement. She must have been absent when Dr King, always a strong supporter of Israel and Zionism declared that “Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvellous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.” In an interview in June 2011, Walker characterised the United States and Israel as “terrorist organizations” stating “When you terrorize people, when you make them so afraid of you that they are just mentally and psychologically wounded for life — that’s terrorism.” Walker has banned The Colour Purple from being published in Israel. She dishonours the memory of Dr Martin Luther King and all he stood for.

 

                                                                                                     

While the Tribunal enjoys no legal jurisdiction and cannot implement penalties, it can make recommendations as discussed above. In the interest of balance it would behove the Tribunal to allow for pro-Israel jurists or take testimony from victims of terror in Israel.

 

Anything else is just a witch hunt or in this case, kangaroo court, albeit in smart clothing.

Hate-a-Palooza – Apartheid Israel Week Begins!

It is an annual event held on university campuses around the world. An anticipated festival featuring clowns and jokers and a whole bunch of magic tricks. The rock stars of hate finely tune their instruments for the tour that covers over 250 cities across the globe and occurs in February and March every year.

The tour will feature its usual playlist – activists spewing venom and vitriol and leveling accusations of the practice of Apartheid at the Jewish State. If you strip away the “glamour” and look at the motivation behind such an event, it is easy to see that although disguised as concern for human rights abuse, these rock stars of hatred and discrimination single out only one country, Israel, and use words like Apartheid to rally support behind their nefarious cause.

On many occasions I have lamented the tragic hijacking of the word “Apartheid” which in essence meant the legislated and enforced laws of racial segregation that classed the black citizens of South Africa as disenfranchised and second class. Instead, this definition has become a sexy way to package, market and sell anti-Israel hatred. The word Apartheid is provocative, emotive and evocative and inspires a variety of strong emotions. The rock stars of hatred are well aware of what people’s reactions to the word Apartheid will be. In their haste to demonize Israel, detractors have forgotten to define what Apartheid was! The black people of South Africa suffered tremendously under the Apartheid regime and by comparing Israel, an imperfect but thriving democracy, to the former South Africa makes light of their suffering. It is an odious comparison to say the least.

This campaign of hatred is nothing more than a scurrilous attempt to assault the legitimacy of the State of Israel. One must note that even in the darkest days of Apartheid, NOBODY questioned South Africa’s right to exist as a country, no matter how much the world objected to its racist policies. Calling into question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State or the rights of Jews to organize themselves along political lines and call it Zionism IS racism. By painting Israel as a pariah state that has little right to exist and ignoring true racist states says more about those pointing fingers than our plucky little country. I grew up in South Africa and bore witness to the horrors of Apartheid and I live in Israel and while it is not perfect and yes, racism exists, it is a far cry from the daily humiliation and persecution suffered by the people of South Africa. South Africa is perhaps one of the most important centres for this campaign of delegitimisation because it is the country that not only holds the benchmark for defeating Apartheid but exports anti-Apartheid activists to the above mentioned centres to promote their Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel and spew forth their vitriol.

And Gaza is the favoured symbol of oppression. It is astounding that some will say that Israel is practicing policies worse than Apartheid in Gaza (an area that Israel completely disengaged from including the uprooting of the dead) while ignoring true crimes of Apartheid perpetrated by Hamas – the guardians of Gaza. Gender apartheid, religious apartheid, restriction of freedom of the press, persecution of political opposition and the persecution of Homosexuals. Should I go on?

Those advocating BDS assume that by “punishing” Israel with cultural, economic, sporting and other sanctions it will bring us to our knees, and we will abandon the idea of a Two State Solution. They assume that by isolating Israel it will result in Palestinians and Israelis living happily ever after in a giant rainbow nation like South Africa and everything will be sunshine, lollipops and roses. Except for one small detail. Palestinians and Jews both have their own national aspirations based on their own ethnic or nationalistic identities.

By advocating a One State Solution, BDS advocates not only patronize Palestinian national aspirations but Jewish as well.

During last year’s on-campus hate fest an attempt was made by an Israeli student to engage with a representative of the BDS movement. His hello was met with a call to F… off. Offensive, appalling and it just proves the point that discourse and engagement is not the aim of these movements, but rather isolation and abuse. It is my belief peace will be built from the ground up and cutting off engagement is contrary to any attempts to broker peace.

It has become trendy to join the anti-Israel frenzy on campus. It saddens me that in order to become pro-Palestinian the trend is to become as anti-Israel as one can possibly be. Academic institutions are supposed to be hotbeds of free thinking so I am going to send this message to students: start a new trend – become rebellious rock stars and buck the system by becoming pro peace and being informed of the realities in this part of the Middle East. Rebel by choosing not to harass Israeli speakers, diplomats and IDF representatives who visit your campus. Look for positive ways to build dialogue and change. Don’t be a supporting act by advocating policies of BDS.

Come on students, this is YOUR time to challenge authority….

Disclaimer: Hate-a-Palooza is in no way a slight or criticism of the highly successful rock tour, Lollapalooza.

This post is featured in The Times of Israel.

The Little Party that could….

Last week Israelis went to the polls in the highest numbers since the 1999 elections. The eventual results surprised everyone – especially the media who in the run up to the elections had put Israel on trial, predicting that the Jewish State would take a radical jump to the right.

We Israelis are passionate and unpredictable and just when the the world media thinks it has us all figured out, we take another sidestep in our never ending tango with the press and public opinion, defying predictions. While Bibi and his Likud faction won by a much more narrow margin than expected, the real winners on the day were democracy and Israel’s new Prince, Yesh Atid (There is a Future) leader, Yair Lapid. Dubbed “The Kingmaker” this former journalist now holds all the cards when it comes to forming the new coalition.

So what prompted Israelis to move more to the centre than the right as predicted?

Read the complete article as it appears in The Jewish Thinker:

 

http://jewishthinker.org/2013/01/28/the-little-party-that-could/

A Modern Day Scramble for Africa?

The African continent is becoming the latest battlefield in the existential war between Iran and Israel. It would appear that both countries are engaged in a modern day scramble for a piece of Africa. This has nothing to do with the colonial aspirations of times past but rather it is a battle for the hearts and minds of the people and in the case of Iran, gaining a foothold on the African continent. The methodologies adopted by the two countries are somewhat different.

After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, relations between Israel and most African countries soured, and it was only in the 1980′s and 1990′s that Israel returned to Africa. There are strategic interests – countries situated in the horn of Africa have geographical significance not just for airspace but for their close proximity to Arab countries. Israel understands that Africa is a new frontier ripe for cooperation and has embarked on targeted diplomatic missions and has made great strides through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MASHAV programme which has brought much needed agricultural and medical assistance to impoverished communities and countries across the continent. Examples of this include water purification projects, assisting in circumcision rituals in countries such as Swaziland which has significantly reduced HIV infection rates, as well as numerous agricultural projects. It was part of Zionism’s founding father, Theodore Herzl’s dream to help the oppressed in Africa.

Read the complete blog as it appears in The Algemeiner:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/01/22/a-modern-day-scramble-for-africa/

Surviving Aliyah – A-musings from an Olah-not-so-Chadesha

They say that time flies when you are having fun. This is so evident when one makes Aliyah and seeing that today is my second “Aliyahversary” I thought it right to mark the occasion by sharing some of my observations or a-musings….with a little advice sprinkled on top!

When one decides to make Aliyah, apart from the reams of research you should do and questions you should ask, you need to bring along your most important asset – a sense of humour. This will serve you well when navigating the challenges and sometimes riotously funny scenarios that Israel presents. Israel is highly entertaining and as a new immigrant you can make one of two choices – complain a lot about the cultural differences or jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride! So without any ado…and in no particular order, here are some of Roro’s a-musings and advice:

1) There are no subtitles – even though people say that you can get around with English, it is really advisable to learn Hebrew. Apart from being the lingua franca of the country, it is a necessary survival skill in order to integrate properly, find those really good jobs and understand what people are saying about you. Do an ulpan! Hebrew is a language that is constantly evolving and living in Israel is an introduction to some wonderful hybrid languages – Hebrish, Hebrench, Hebranish, Hebrussioan to name but a few. Okay, so nobody understands Hebrussian. And when in doubt, no curse word is as effective as a passionate invective…in Arabic!

2) And on the subject of cursing, those of us from slightly more conservative countries are a bit taken by surprise that there seems to be no censorship on radio or TV. The F bomb is not really considered a curse word in hebrew and one can tune in for their morning news and traffic report and musical choice, complete with a liberal dose of f-bombs. Kanye West, 50 Cent – rest assured your music is safe and uncensored here. Only on The Voice Israel can a judge voice (pardon the pun) his admiration by saying “Go mother$%&#*@^! S’True!

3) Jewish geography – how many times have you been at a party/shouk/work/pretending to mind your own business when someone hears a) your accent b) your surname c) something you shouldn’t have been saying but dafka the person who heard it is related to the person you are gossiping about? Yup, happens often in Israel. And then you connect the dots and realise you are a) related b) know the person they are talking about. This makes gossiping about people quite difficult. Somewhere along the line, we are all connected. Oy vey!

4) Toss away your dignity – when you are new to a country and don’t know the systems or the language, sometimes you have to forego your dignity in order to make your point. This is a phenomenon I have tried and tested! And the Oscar for Best Performance of a demented-chicken-desperately-flapping-its-wings goes to….Rolene Marks for her award winning role of customer-who-wants-chicken-breasts-but-has-no-idea-how-to-order-them-at-supermarket-counter. Insert curtsy here.

5) Talking about food, you can tell what season it is by the food on sale at the time. If it is spring, then Oznei Haman (Haman’s Ears) just in time for Purim. As we approach summer, it is Matzah and then a little later, cheesecake as we mark Pesach and Shavuout. Oh who am I kidding, it is always time for cheesecake! If it is Fall/Autumn, then it is Crembo, delicious chocolate covered squish and if it is winter, sufganiyot (donuts) for Chanukah. Yes, our seasons revolve around our history living up to the tenet they tried to kill us, we survived, lets eat!

6) A land of many contradictions – Israel is a country that has absorbed immigrants from over 80 countries. On any given day, you may engage with several different cultures, each as bewildering as the next. Now where else in the world can you walk in a shouk (market) and have the guy who is reading Al Quds newspaper and the latest Hamas drivel sell you a t-shirt that says “Don’t worry America, Israel is behind you!”. You gotta love the irony!
7) Driving me crazy – the most trying experience any new immigrant will have is driving in Israel. This is guaranteed to turn any seemingly rational person into a raging lunatic. Myself included. Just know that driving here is like fight club – and we don’t talk about fight club! Just do what the rest of us do – simply fling yourself and your vehicle into the craziness and hope for the best. Good luck!
8) Every Israeli a Prime Minister – ever heard the joke about Israeli Prime Ministers? No? Okay so here goes, the President of the US and the Israeli PM are chatting. Israeli PM says,”you are the President of 300 million Americans, I am the Prime Minister of 7 million Prime Ministers!” Never a more true word said in jest. Debating, arguing and sorting out the issues of the country is our national sport and with an election next month with more party swapping than a game of musical chairs, it is bound to be a blast. Arm yourself with your ID and a healthy dose of idealism and make your mark on your new society.

9) We truly are a special people – all jokes aside, nothing demonstrates how special this country is than in a time of crisis. Last month, Israel embarked on Operation Pillar of Defense to stop Hamas’incessant rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. Strangers opened hearts and homes to fellow countrymen. In a time of crisis, Israelis really do stand together, strong and united. Afterwards, we resume the bickering that is a sign that we really do regards each other as family.

10) Just do something – as Olim we often wonder what we can do to give back to our new country. If you are not at an age where you can serve in the IDF then I highly recommend joining a volunteer orgamisation. Not only will this help you integrate and make friends but you will be doing something positive for a country that gives its immigrants so much. My organisation of choice is WIZO – what is yours?
Everyone has a different story to tell about their Aliyah experience. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel. Jump in with open (but informed!) mind and make the most of this wonderful, sometimes hard, always fulfilling experience.

To sum up my Aliyah…Israel tries to challenge me, I survive…..gonna eat!

Shaken, Stirred but NOT Deterred!

By the time you have finished reading this sentence, 15 seconds would have passed. In these fifteen seconds millions of Israeli citizens may have had to run for cover in their bomb shelters as they are pounded by rockets fired tirelessly at them from Gaza-based terrorists. This has been the story of their lives for the several years now.

It may have taken you a minute to read the above paragraph. This is how long I have to get to my shelter should a rocket fired from Gaza reaches my home in Modiin, in the centre of the country. We thought it could never happen here. Our hearts have broken a thousand times as rockets pound our fellow citizens. We have stood in solidarity. And we have heaved secret sighs of relief – thank goodness we are safe.

Until now.

Last week, Israel embarked on Operation Pillar of Defence in response to the incessant barrage of rockets. From the air and from the sea, our airforce and navy have taken out tunnels, terrorist rocket launchers, Hamas leadership and their allotted targets with pinpoint accuracy. If there have been mistakes, rest assured, inquiries are immediate. Unlike our adversary Hamas who commit a double war crime by firing at our civilian population from within the confines of their own. But don’t take my word for it – you can hear them boast about on numerous YouTube clips appearing on a social media platform near you!

Hamas have fired rockets that can strike deep into the heart of the country putting 45% of us under threat. Rockets have been fired at Tel Aviv for the first time since the Gulf War and at our nations capital, Jerusalem. Not only our eternal capital, Jerusalem is home to many Arab citizens and Christianity, Islam and Judaism’s holiest sites.

Nearly all of us are on alert at all times should we hear the alarm that signals an incoming rockets and tells us to scramble for safety. I have heard and felt the booms as they reach their targets. I can only imagine what those under constant attack must feel.

As I write this post, footage from a terror attack on a bus in Tel Aviv is streaming in on my computer and television. It has been years since we saw a terror attack of this nature strike at the heart of Israel’s commercial capital. Once again our telephones beep with messages from concerned family and friends and social media platforms are a-buzz with our posts to worried loved ones that we are okay.
Next month I will celebrate the second anniversary of my aliyah. Many have asked me if I regret my decision to make Aliyah. Hell no! This is my home and there is nowhere else I would rather be than right here in her time of need. Am I scared? A little. Am I angry? You betcha! I am fuming that Hamas use our citizens for target practice. I am fuming that the world sees our right to defend ourselves as “disproportionate” or worth less than a 5 second sound bite. Would they prefer we remove our shelters, Army and Iron Dome so we can rack up numbers of dead Israelis? This is not a zero sum game. I am angry at the cowards who stalk our citizens with terror by planting explosive devices on our buses. I am angry at Hamas who instead of using the exorbitant funding they receive to build a nation, prefer to advocate genocide on their neighbour. Educating your children to become martyrs and not ballerinas, doctors, teachers, nation builders is not resistance – it is child abuse!

I am angry that our children sing songs about what to do when they hear the siren. I am angry that they play games of “siren and rocket” and not plain hide and seek.

And while the rockets rain down and the sirens wail, I look at my fellow citizens and take pride in our resolve and resilience, our strength and our unity.

I may be shaken, stirred but I will not be deterred! Am Yisrael Chai!

Gideon Levy and the dangers of the Apartheid Canard

As a young child growing up in Apartheid South Africa I witnessed the daily humiliation and persecution of my fellow citizens who were denied their basic human rights. I cannot forget the ominous visuals of armoured vehicles or “Caspirs” as they patrolled through the city streets enforcing “law and order” during the state of emergency years. Neither can I forget asking my mother why “nannies” (as we called our domestic workers) liked to sit on the grass, never park benches. I often wondered if they just didn’t like benches. My mother’s uncomfortable response was that they were not allowed by law to sit on park benches. My child-like brain just couldn’t comprehend this.

I grew up in blissful ignorance of the reality that surrounded me. Black children were a fascination as they never attended my school or ballet classes or played in the park with me. Yes, childhood in South Africa was seemingly idyllic until I grew into a curious teenager and my Zionist youth movement, along with many other organisations both Jewish and non-Jewish started to question and rebel against the system of law in our country. Many of South Africa’s Jews left the country in protest.

Read the complete article as it appears in The Times of Israel:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/gideon-levy-and-the-dangers-of-the-apartheid-canard/