FREE PALESTINE

It’s been over a quarter of a century since “Mr. Sam” (Walton, founder of Walmart) departed this world. From what I have read about him, Mr. Sam was a simple, down to earth, no-nonsense guy, whose greatest joy in life was hunting quail. Admittedly, I know absolutely nothing about his political views, particular with regard to the Middle East. I would however be stunned beyond words if “Mr. Sam” mixed politics and merchandise. Whether he ardently supported or adamantly opposed Israel or the Palestinians, I cannot help but feel that “Mr. Sam” would shelve his views when it came to what was being stocked at Walmart stores; I cannot help but feel that when it came to Walmart, Mr. Sam’s sole interest was product, not politics.

Accordingly, it was more than with a modicum of revulsion that I recently learned that Walmart was selling over two dozen styles of T-shirts, supporting the plight of the “poor Palestinians” with slogans such as “Free Palestine” brazenly emboldened on them. For the record, I would be equally revulsed if Walmart were to sell T-shirts with messages printed on them along the lines of “Free Israel from Palestinians.” Does Walmart really want to go that route and enter an imbroglio about which it apparently knows nothing?
The buyers for Walmart must be supplementing their diets with daily doses of stupidity pills. Less than two years ago, Walmart offered an Israeli toy soldier dressed in uniform for sale. Predictably, no different from the T-Shirts, the reactions to the Israeli toy soldier were split: evangelical Christians and politically conservative Jews loved the soldier; those opposing the “occupation” were incensed. “The fact that you have chosen to carry ‘Israeli soldier costumes’ for kids on your website and in your stores is highly offensive, not only to millions of Palestinian-Americans that shop in your stores, but to anyone who has an ounce of humanity in their bodies (sic). I urge you, as an American-Jew, a wife of a Palestinian, a shopper and most importantly as a human being, that you reconsider your decision to sell these costumes and pull them from your shelves,” wrote Sarah Amor Itayem.

Like so many others, Walmart still cannot absorb the fact that that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, facts and logic mean bupkiss. Supporters of Israel will tell you that Palestinians brought all of the “suffering” on themselves. That’s patently false. Their corrupt leadership is to blame. The sooner Palestinians are freed from Hamas, Fatah and other murderous, thuggish leadership who poison innocent minds with hatred and brainwash those same innocent minds with victimhood, the healthier Palestinians will be in mind and spirit and the more prepared they will be to govern themselves. That’s when “Palestine” will be free. The sooner Palestinians are freed from Europeans, Americans and others whose hearts bleed for them, (have you ever wondered why any of these bleeding hearts have not traveled to so called Palestinian territories and volunteered their time to help these “poor humiliated people deprived of their future”), the sooner Palestinians will realize that they are responsible for their own future. That’s when “Palestine” will be free. The sooner the Palestinians are freed from drowning in self-pity that no one cares about them (there is much truth to that, Arabs from other countries don’t give a damn about the Palestinians. What does that tell you?), the sooner Palestinians will realize that they ought to take a stab at building homes, setting up businesses and begin acting like other normal societies in this world. That’s when “Palestine” will be free. Personally, I can’t help but feel that Israel will be the first country to lend its Arab neighbor guidance, support and anything else it will need.

As for Walmart? Strange isn’t it, that it stocks no T-shirts depicting a North American Indian with the following logo: “This land is my land”. It would be perfect for the fourth of July.
* since writing this article, I have learned that Sears joined the fray and stocked the same incendiary T-shirts but quickly removed them.

HAVING YOUR SAY AT THE SEDER

Statistics have it that more Jews participate in a Passover Seder than light Chanukah candles. Before you delude yourself into imagining how proud HaShem and Moshe are knowing that the revolutionary event of the Exodus from Egypt lives on millennia later, consider the fact that there are a good many contemporary Jews who conduct a Seder for purely selfish reasons. The Seder provides them with a forum to further a point of view that they hold as sacred. Put differently, in many instances, the Passover Seder has evolved into the most politicized tradition known to our people.

Politicizing Passover is nothing new. Close to a century ago, following the overthrow of the Czar, Communist leadership used the Passover Seder to advance its cause. Nicholas II was seen as Pharaoh, Vladamir Lenin was portrayed as Moses, life in Czarist Russia was indistinguishable from Egypt where cruel enslavement of the masses ran rampant, and the Soviet Union under Communism, where everyone enjoyed “equal rights,” was a panacea perhaps even superior to the Promised Land.

With the most modicum of imagination, the Passover Seder serves as the venue for any number of causes you hold to be sacred. At present, I’m sure that there are those who use the Seder to advance the plight of the poor Palestinians living in bondage under the wicked Israelis who deny them dignity as a people.

Don’t hijack the Passover Seder for selfish reasons. For two nights a year, even disaffected Jews ought to be able to find it in their hearts to accord Moses his rightful place among our people. As for using the Seder to further one’s personal agenda, one might consider using the conclusion of Passover as an appropriate time.

It would bookend the festival. Rather than watch the dissipation of Passover encroach as the crumbs of the Seder are brushed aside, a post Passover Seder could provide symmetry. Should you wish to resort to maror and matzah to highlight the plight of those you maintain are being denied freedom, then by all means! A post Passover Seder affords you to introduce bread and all over symbols to represent a future filled with hope. A post Passover Seder guarantees that the festival not only begins with interest and participation but ends with interest and participation as well.

It would show that you are no usurper. Those with an agenda all their own feel that they deserve a platform. If so, don’t deny Moses the platform that is his. Show others that you have the courtesy and sensitivity to permit Moses eight days of fame each year. Once Moses has had his say, beginning with “And you shall tell your son on that day” (Exodus 13:8) and concluding (seven days later) with “HaShem shall do battle for you and you shall remain silent” (exodus 14:14), you will have ample time to have your say and customize the message of Passover to fit your needs.

It keeps it in the house. You have every right to champion whatever cause you feel to be important. Do so within the walls of your own home. Chances are that others really don’t care about the beliefs you hold to be so sacrosanct. On the other hand, it may very well be that others care a great deal and are repulsed by those beliefs. Why should you be the cause for acrimony in the community? Doesn’t the Seder begin by extending an all-inclusive invitation? Keep your politicized Seder with your beliefs inside your own home where you can rant and rave to your heart’s content.

THE PLAGUE OF DARKNESS

Palestinians living in Gaza taking to the streets is no longer newsworthy. Palestinians living in Gaza taking to the streets to demonstrate against their own corrupt leadership causes one to sit up and take notice. Such was the case a few days ago, when 10,000 Palestinians protested on the streets of Jabaliya for having being kept in the dark by Hamas. The protesters were speaking out against the three to four hours a day of electricity that they receive in their homes. “I cannot read or study in my home”, lamented a 19-year-old student. What the student neglected to mention is that in his house he also cannot take his coat or jacket off, because there is no electricity for the space heaters.
Electricity rationing aside, so many Palestinians living in Gaza have been kept in the dark for as long as the State of Israel has existed. Corrupt Palestinian governments – whether it is the current Hamas government or any other group of thugs that preceded Hamas have always kept so many Palestinians in the dark, as well as in abject poverty because it suits their purpose. Hamas, along with its various predecessors have consistently refused to appeal to their own Palestinian population to improve their lives. Hamas, along with its various predecessors has consistently refused to shed light on an attainable better lifestyle that is within reach of its own Palestinian population. Instead of encouraging its people, instead of providing its people with the necessary resources, instead of showing its people how they can improve their lot in life, Hamas as well as previous Palestinian leadership in Gaza has deliberately poisoned the minds of so many of its people against the Zionists and what the Zionists have done to ruin the lives of poor Palestinians.
To be sure, there are roughly 100,000 Gazans who have managed to see the light, despite the attempts of Palestinian leadership. On a daily basis they cross into Israel, where gainful employment awaits them. Working for Israelis, they earn over fifty dollars a day. Others, who for whatever reason do not or cannot make their way out of Gaza into Israel, end up earning a mere 45% of that amount. Added to these obvious economic benefits, those who do work in Israel for Israelis, tend to focus on building better lives for themselves and think about  things such as bigger and better homes, nicer furniture, a car or if they already own one, trading up to a newer model. They have plans of sending their children to college, so that the next generation of Palestinians will be a generation of professions and not be limited to entry level jobs. Rarely if ever, do these gainfully employed 100,000 Palestinians think about terrorism. Their minds are much too occupied with constructive thoughts.
The Hamas government, as well as the similarly corrupt governments that have ruled the Palestinians ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, must at all costs keep their people in darkness. To do otherwise, would shed light on the fact that the real enemy is not Benjamin Netanyahu nor any other Israeli Prime Minister, but Ismail Haniyeh along with all his predecessors. So many Palestinians in Gaza cannot see that no different than all previous Israeli Prime Ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu has everything to gain if Palestinians are gainfully employed, looking forward to receiving their paycheck and focusing on improving their standard of living. Without government brainwashing and incitement, Palestinians are no different than any other people. Similarly, so many Palestinians in Gaza cannot see that no different than all previous Palestinian leaders in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh has everything to gain if Palestinians are kept in darkness. The more Palestinians are deprived of hope for the future, the more Palestinians are taught to despise the Zionist enemy, the more Ismail Haniyeh along with his corrupt leadership can abuse the masses and abscond with funds earmarked for the people. Hatred directed towards the Zionist enemy displaces hatred directed towards  the Palestinian thug.
For Jews, the plague of darkness took place over 3,000 years ago in Egypt. For so many Palestinians living in Gaza, the plague of darkness remains a daily event.

The H-Bomb

For some time now, the term “N bomb” has exploded with regard to black America. N bomb is a euphemism for the highly repugnant and totally unacceptable six letter racist slur beginning with the latter n, ending with the letter r and containing a double g in the middle.
It appears to me that while not entirely similar, there is also a bomb that has exploded with regard to the Jewish community. It is known as the “H bomb”. The “H” bomb is a euphemism for the highly repugnant and totally unacceptable referencing of the Holocaust. For example, saying that Hitler was a man with great ideas would be dropping the “H bomb”, resulting in an uproar on the part of American Jews and in all probability Jewish communities around the world as well. Other examples of dropping the “H bomb” would be: the Jews of Europe deserved what was in store for them or had the Holocaust been a greater success, there would be no Palestinian problem today.
Last week, the “H bomb” was dropped in London, England, when Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, suggested that Hitler at one time had supported Zionism.  Faster than you could say Petach Tikvah, Mr. Livingstone was suspended from Britain’s Labour Party. Yasher Koach, especially since this was not the first time Mr. Livingstone made an irresponsible as well as a reprehensible remark related to the Holocaust. In February 2005, Oliver Finegold, a reporter for the Evening Standard, attempted to ask Livingstone a question on the street. Aware that Mr. Finegold was Jewish, Mr. Livingstone accused him of acting “Just like a Concentration Camp guard”.
In addition to the “H bomb”, I cannot help but feel that an “I bomb” exists as well. The “I bomb” operates entirely differently from the “H bomb”. The “I bomb” can be dropped with abandon as well as with impunity. There is little or no recourse to one who drops the “I bomb”.  One may drop the “I bomb” with all the recklessness one can muster. Ironically, a good many will come to the defense of the “I bomber”. One drops the “I Bomb” by making irresponsible as well as preposterous remarks against Israel. Can you imagine if, instead of saying Hitler was a Zionist, Mr. Livingstone accused Israel of killing 10,000 innocent Palestinians living in Gaza as one presidential aspirant recently did? There would not be a scintilla of protest. Can you imagine if, instead of likening a reporter to a Concentration Camp guard, Mr. Livingstone had accused Mr. Finegold of acting just like an Israeli settler living in “occupied territory”? Not one eyebrow would have been raised; not a single word of protest would have been spoken.
This Thursday, we show both reverence to those who perished in the Holocaust as well our deepest respect to those who somehow managed to survive the Holocaust. Perhaps the most meaningful commemoration on our parts would be to remind the world that if we truly wish to pay homage to the six million, then one besmirches and sullies their memory when one besmirches and sullies their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other family members living in Israel. If the “H bomb” is met with indignity and furor, the “I bomb” ought to be treated in the exact same fashion.

EXERCISING RESTRAINT

Apparently, the word “restraint” means different things to different people.

To an American Secretary of State, usage of the word restraint is nothing more than a filler, like “you know” or “I mean”. Just as the current generation of Americans has illustrated its ineptitude when it comes to the English language with meaningless as well as unnecessary fillers, so too have various American Secretaries of State (as well as their superiors) shown their ineptitude at responding to a decades-long chain of events involving Palestinians murdering innocent Israelis, along with the response these murders elicit from Israeli bystanders and the Israeli army.

And so, rather than simply say “We deplore the loss of innocent lives”, American Secretaries of State must drive home the fact that they are mindless fools and resort to the above-mentioned meaningless filler: “We urge restraint on both sides”, they bleat. Gosh, even an “Um” or an “Uh” would be preferable. At east an “Um” or “Uh” would not show their ineptitude. Better yet, say nothing! Just don’t tell us to exercise restraint. It insults our mentschlechkeit!

Jews understand the word restraint totally differently. When it comes to restraint, Jews have shown that they come from a different planet than Secretaries of State. As I write this article, four days after arriving in Israel, I have come to the following conclusions when it comes restraint:

American Jews can be held responsible for showing too much restraint in their relationship to Israel because, by and large, they have abandoned Israel. American Jews are nowhere to be seen! Since arriving in Israel, I’ve spoken German to tourists on a number of occasions. (Angela Merkel, arguably Israel’s closest ally in Europe, does not bleat “restraint”.) I also had my picture taken with a Norwegian family on a street in Meah Shearim, of all places. As for American Jews? Except for a random group here and there, American Jews exercise far too much restraint!

Jews serving in the Israeli army exercise restraint. Had these same knife-brandishing Palestinians pulled off the same shtick in an Arab country, we would be witnessing a bloodbath that makes what’s going on in Syria look like play time in kindergarten. The hotel the Rebbetzin and I stayed at in Jerusalem employs Arabs. As we checked in, we were greeted by Mohammed. Yet, neither Mohammed nor I dared speak about the marauding murderers. Both he and I were exercising restraint. After all, isn’t it restraint that differentiates a human from a non-human?

The Israeli public exercises restraint. Few other democratic societies would tolerate a government and an army that show such restraint. But Israelis are much too busy living normal lives, boarding buses, frequenting restaurants and pushing into lines at supermarkets to hold demonstrations against a government that many feel is not doing nearly enough to answer the random stabbing from young Palestinians who should have been taken out back to the woodshed and horsewhipped. If you truly want to understand restraint, then compare the way Israeli youth are educated toward the Palestinians with the way Palestinian youth are educated toward the Israelis. As for the Israeli attitude toward its government, as well as the Israeli government’s attitude towards its people, it is no different than any “healthy” American-Jewish family. As much as they might drive each other crazy at times, when all is said and done they are still mishpocha.

Speaking of mishpocha,I look forward to seeing you upon my return. I can only hope that you miss me and the Rebbetzin as much as we miss you. For this, there can be no restraint.

L’hit’ra’ot, Rabbi

IT’S THE JEWS, STUPID

Every so often and lately it’s quite often, Palestinian sub-humans attack, maim and kill Israelis. Sorry, you “post Six Day War breast beaters”, this has nothing to do with occupied territories. It has to do with Jews living in that part of the world. When the great grand-parents of today’s “poor Palestinians” hacked away at Jews in Hevron in 1929, killing 67 of them, there was no Jewish State. The latest spate of attacks is little more than a link in a chain of Jew murder that goes back decades and decades. My  heart goes out to the victims and their families. As far as the Palestinian sub-humans, to me they are they little different than a cancer, where every so often innocent lives are snuffed out for no rhyme or reason. Does this frustrate as well as infuriate me? Absolutely!
What truly causes my blood to boil however, are not sub-human Palestinians. My expectations for sub-human Palestinians to show the slightest spark of humanity are at best, nil. What causes my blood to boil are Jews! They come in three varieties:
Bleeding heart Jews: “The Palestinians have endured Israeli military occupation, arrests without charge, arrests of children, home demolitions and uprooting of olive groves.” So wrote the co-chairman of Jewish Voice for Peace, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times last Thursday. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t help but feel that no letters were written by the author of this letter to the editor to any of the innocent victims of any of these attacks or to any of the bereaved families.
Moral equivalence Jews: “There are two sides to every story”, they bleat. With such perverse thinking, it could be logically argued that Jews of the Holocaust owed it to themselves to learn all about Nazi grievances. How come moral equivalence Jews don’t decry the Nazi blood shed by Mordechai Anielewicz and the others of Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Combat Organization) when they orchestrated the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? Better yet, where is the moral equivalence of these Jews with regard to the carnage being carried out daily in Syria? Why is it, that when it comes to carnage in Syria, moral equivalency Jews are ominously silent?
Run for the hills Jews: the same Jews who are so proud to tell you how many times they have traveled to Israel, all of a sudden put their travel plans to Israel on hold, whenever the above cited Palestinian cancer refuses to remain in remission and once again rears its ugly head. By the time you read these lines, the Rebbetzin and I will be in Jerusalem. If bus bombings didn’t prevent us from being in Israel in the summer of 2002 (have you ever been to a 6 story hotel which is being occupied by less than a dozen guests?), the current spate of stabbings will not get in the way of our travel plans for the latter part of this month either. My motto has always been: I refuse to have sub-human Palestinians serve as my travel agent.
And so my fellow Jews who are an embarrassment to our people:
If your hearts go out to the poor Palestinians who suffer at the hands of the Israelis, why not consider visiting, Ahmed and Fatima first hand? I’m sure there are accommodations for you in Ramallah? Better yet, try for some home hospitality.
If you continue to insist on invoking moral equivalency, where were you when fellow Jews were being denied basic freedoms in the former Soviet Union? Or does your limited understanding of moral equivalency operate, when in your moral blindness, you see only Palestinians as victims? As for you run for the hills Jews: True support and strong friendship is to be there when you are needed most. Remember, while you are running for the hills, Evangelist Christians are boarding aircraft to Tel Aviv. By the way, thanks for the Shanda.

IS IT POSSIBLE?

As one who is generally unimpressed with the Press (and that’s putting it mildly), I was delighted to read a story last week, in which journalists actually covered the Palestinian – Israeli conflict from a human interest point of view! Rather than fanning the flames of animosity, journalists were actually able to get their story, even though it was based on … mentschlechkeit! Imagine that!
It seems that five American Yeshiva students set out in a car for Hevron, in the hopes of praying at Kever HaMachpelah or Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are buried. Nothing wrong with that! I’ve been to Hevron a number of times and I highly recommend the experience. Unfortunately, the Yeshiva students made a wrong turn and ended up in the Jabal Johar neighborhood, which is both Judenrein and under complete and total Palestinian control.
The “welcoming committee” began throwing rocks, bricks and stones at the car. After all, Palestinians will be Palestinians, especially when there is a CNN or Fox or Ynet camera crew or reporters from leading American newspapers within sight, to encourage these and other overgrown teenagers to carry on with their sub-human behavior. As the Yeshiva students managed to extricate themselves from the vehicle, the “cousins club” surrounded them and began to shout Jew! Jew!
Here’s where the story takes a turn:
Fayez Abu Hamadia, a resident of Jabal Johar led the Yeshiva students away from the group of good ol’ boys, “just havin’ a little fun” and brought them to the safety of his home. Speaking to them in Hebrew, Fayez Abu Hamadia reassured them that they would be okay, and helped dress the wounds of one of the students who was bleeding from his face and leg. He then had the Yeshiva students call the Israeli army to arrange safe escort back to the military checkpoint.
Is it possible that there would be less throwing of rocks and bricks and stones if the media simply ignored these miscreants? I am fully aware that my thinking is off the charts, but humor me anyway.
Is it possible that there are others like Fayez Abu Hamadia who see Palestinian rock, brick and stone throwing youth for what they are and are either afraid to speak out against them or have become inured to such criminal behavior?
Is it possible that the average Chaim Yankel (John Doe) here in the United States and elsewhere, fails to draw either of the above conclusions (which I admittedly couched in question form, given my sardonicism) and wistfully asks: when will this cycle of violence end? That is, if they bother to ask at all.
Most appalling of all, I cannot help but feel that any number of rabbis will devote at least part of their High Holy Day sermons to the “plight” of the “poor Palestinians”.
If this is the most burning issue when it comes to teshuvah and becoming better Jews, then indulge me one more question, if you will.
Is it possible that that among the many requests we place before HaShem, there will be one where we ask for greater understanding and discernment, so that we realize that on a typical day, what actually takes place between Palestinian and Jew is anything but newsworthy.