Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My thoughts on a Palestinian State

One of the email lists that I’m active on is the New Zealand Jewish list.

Not surprisingly, after Obama’s speeches over the last few days, there has been discussion on the list about the pros and cons of a Palestinian State and “Defensible Borders”

On of the regulars on the list, who in the past has expressed opinions against a Jewish Sovereign State in a long message included the following comment:

I do not believe that there is an existential threat to  Israel  whether or not the Palestinians recognise Israel or not.

Below is my response:

I have no idea whether there is an “existential threat to Israel”, however if there is a Palestinian State under present circumstances, I think that it a near certainty that there would be missiles on or near my home within a short space of time (probably within a year, certainly within 5 years).

I live in Modi’in, which is regarded by much of the Palestinian leadership as “Occupied Territory” as, like Tel Aviv, it has been occupied by Israel since 1948. I cannot conceive of the possibility of a Palestinian State that would not necessitate me preparing my bomb shelter for use.

If the Palestinians were ready to live in peace alongside Israel, and accept the existence of a Jewish State next to their borders, and would be prepared to accept Jewish Residents in their state, it wouldn’t matter where the border was any more than the Americans and Canadians are bothered by the exact location of their border – people are free to cross the US-Canada border relatively easily and there is no risk of life crossing from Windsor to Detroit, or from Niagara NY to Niagara Ontario.

On the other hand, in the present circumstances when it is extremely dangerous for Jews to enter any areas under Palestinian control and Palestinians regularly fire missiles from their territory to Israeli towns and cities, I don’t think that there are any safe borders that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to co-exist.

What would it take for me to support a Palestinian State? A show of willingness to co-exist from the Palestinians; they need to say clearly in English and Arabic that they respect the right of Jews to live in Israel, and would be happy to accept and protect a Jewish minority in their state (The way that Israel accepts and protects an Arab minority within its borders).

They need to educate their children to live in peace and have their mosques and media preach co-existence, the way that co-existence is taught in Israeli schools.

They need to crack down on ALL attacks against Israel, and live up to their obligations to provide safe access for Jews to visit sites within Palestinian security control.

As soon as Jews can freely visit Joseph’s Tomb in Shchem, or the markets in Janin, or set up joint-ventures with firms in Ramallah, the way that Arabs can safely walk around in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Modi’in, then I would support the existence of a Palestinian State; in the meantime, I want to make sure that I don’t have to teach my children how to run to a bomb shelter within 15 seconds (would actually be less than 15 second warning if Modi’in came under attack).

Happy (Belated) Lag B’Omer

I love a well written cartoon, and I think that the best cartoon is when you would not have anticipated the ending. There is a style of humour known as the “brick joke” where the ending shows up where you’d least expect it. (See for example the Garfield cartoon where he kicks Odie into next week)

Well full marks to Dry Bones – Last March he ran the following cartoon to make “Israel Apartheid Week”


Cartoon, was OK – but at the time I thought that he’s done much better in the past.

Until yesterday, with the following Lag B’Omer cartoon.


Sheer Brilliance.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Orthoprax Jew on Yom Hashoah

Over recent weeks, many blogs have been talking about the recent Ami article about a practicing Jew who keeps Torah and Mitzvot, yet doesn’t believe in HaShem.

It is impossible to know details about the story, to understand exactly what this person does or does not believe, and how it effects his performance of Mitzvot; however I found the story inspiring – that Torah and Mitzvot have meaning and purpose, even without belief.

But I wanted to share a different story about a different Jew who possibly could be defined as Orthoprax.

Three years ago I was privileged to visit Budapest with my father who was born there in 1934, and lived there until the age 13 in 1948.

We were walking back from shacharit down a wide street not far from the shul. The street was busy with street cars and traffic and had a large supermarket with large signs in the window advertising various kosher products. At the end of the street was a sign saying that this had once been the edge of the Jewish Ghetto; in 1945 the ghetto housed the remaining Jews of Budapest, including my father who shared a tiny room with his younger brother and grandfather – his parents had both been taken away

When we passed a small doorway my father stopped and told me that in 1945 he was walking down this street with his grandfather, when suddenly a plane appeared overhead, strafing the street with machine gun fire. My father and his grandfather managed to duck into the doorway and weren’t physically hurt but were very shaken.

In that small doorway, my great-grandfather looked at my father and said one phrase: “There is no G-d”. I’m not sure whether this caused my Great-grandfather to abandon belief, possibly he had already given up belief years earlier, or possibly he still believed in spite of everything.

In any case, it didn’t matter – the following morning my great grandfather woke up in the tiny room that he shared with his two grandsons, and did the same thing that he had done every morning since his Bar Mitzvah, he put on his Tfillin and prayed to the G-d in whose very existence he had questioned.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Song for Yom Hashoah

In honour of Yom HaShoah tonight, here is Yaakov Shwekey’s “Shema”.

The song retells the legend of HaRav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman. After the Churban in Europe, Rav Kahaneman travelled throughout Europe trying to find Jewish orphans and bring them to Eretz Yisrael.

Legend has it that Rav Kaheneman heard rumours that a Jewish child was hidden in a convent orphanage, however the people who ran the orphanage denied that there were any Jewish children there, and invited the Rabbi in to see for himself that none of the children were Jewish.

When confronted with a room full of orphans the Rabbi stood up and loudly cried out Shema Yisrael. Sure enough, a small child started crying “Mama! Tate!”. And so Rav Kaheneman was able to leave with the child he came looking for.


He raised his hand to wave goodbye
Saw the pain in mother's eyes
Who left her little precious boy of four
In a citadel of ashen stone
That preached a faith unlike his own
Perhaps he may just yet survive this war
In the shadows stood a man in black
My child he said, you must not look back
Yet one image lingered, the tears on her face
And mother's words from their last embrace

Shema, Shema Yisrael
Know that there is but one G-d above
When you feel pain, when you rejoice
Know how He longs to hear your voice
Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad

Deep within the iron gate
Far from the stench of war and hate
He knew not of a world gone insane
You must believe us, he was told
Our faith alone can save your soul
Please let us heal your wounds and ease your pain
He tried not to forget his past, his home
But he was so very young and all alone
While visions of his shtetl, so vivid and clear
Began to fade, and all but disappeared

Shema, Shema Yisrael
Know that there is but one G-d above
When you fel pain, when you rejoice
Know how He longs to hear you voice
Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad

The winds of war had finally passed
One man took on a sacred task
To bring the scattered Jewish children home
He travelled far, from place to place
A quest to reignite the faith
Of those sent into hiding long ago
He entered the fortress grey and cold
Your kind is not among us, he was told
Hashem above, he whispered, please don't let me fail
As he began to sing Shema Yisrael

Shema, Shema Yisrael
Know that there is but one G-d above
When you feel pain, when you rejoice
Know how He longs to hear your voice
Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad
Shema, Shema Yisrael
Know that there is but one G-d above
When you feel pain, when you rejoice
Know how He longs to hear your voice
Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad