“The compass and map that help us navigate our way in a changing and unchanging reality is the Book of Books, the foundation of our existence, the Bible…Foresight and being prepared for the future are the most important things. Without them, we are like leaves blowing in the wind, unable to influence our national existence.” Stated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after awarding the prizes to at this year’s international teenage Bible Quiz on Israel’s 66th Independence Day. The winner was a young Canadian, who said he was planning to make Aliyah (i.e., immigrate to Israel).
National sorrow to national joy – an absolutely necessity.
On May 5th, we remembered those who fell in our wars and who were killed by terrorist acts. At sundown on that day (which is the beginning of the next day, May 6th – “and there was evening and there was morning, one day” – Genesis 1:5), we began to celebrate our 66th Year of Independence. Switching gears as a nation when evening descended on our national day of mourning to fireworks and celebrations all over the country is no small feat. Those who lost father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, or a friend in one of our many wars, or as a result of one or more of the multitude of terrorist acts perpetrated upon us during our short period of existence, do not put aside their remembrance of their loved ones just because the clock says it is time to celebrate. For some, the tragedy continues year to year, month to month, day to day and almost every waking hour. Eli Ben Shem, the Chairman of the Yad Labanim (Memorial to the Sons) organization, who lost his son 17 years ago in what has come to be known as “the helicopter disaster”, expressed it this way: “Like many other bereaved parents, I live under two clocks that measure time differently. One tracks the time of the living; the hands of the other one stand still at the point our son was killed…Bereaved parents, the ones who carry two clocks, fight constantly not to forget. The fear of, God forbid, waking up one morning and forgetting our child makes us alert and precise…Today, we give up the memorial clock we carry every day for a short while. We don’t need memorial days. As the cliché says – for us, every day is a memorial day. Today, the State of Israel takes the mourning upon itself. Everyone comforts. Everyone seeks comfort. Without a drop of cynicism. The show of solidarity comes from an honest place, not moralizing or self-righteous. The acknowledgment that we paid the price of living in an independent country with our children’s blood does not leave a single heart indifferent or eye dry.”
Hollywood can’t compare to real life. Every year, we see, hear or read stories about those who were killed. This year, the number has grown to 25,664. Maybe that doesn’t seem a lot to those who live in countries with tens of millions of people. But, in Israel, every loss is like losing a member of the family and every effort is made to go behind the numbers and show the victims as individuals. The tears that flow from these stories can fill the Sea of Galilee! They touch the lives of families in every strata of society. These are the true “reality” shows that make an impact on our hearts, our minds and our memories. We don’t need a history class to remind us of national tragedies, or of attempts to destroy us as a people throughout our Biblical, and more modern, history. We need a release from the tears of the past. So it is no major surprise that Memorial Day is followed immediately by Independence Day, a time to celebrate new life – as a people, as a nation, as families and as individuals.
Celebrating life is part of our national DNA. We lift a glass and toast “L’chaim” – “to life”. It is part and parcel of our national resiliency. It causes us to try to turn sorrow into joy and crying into laughter. It enables us to look with anticipation to the future and not to dwell on the problems of the past. It is engrained in the attitude that allows us to keep going forward and to see the good even in a bad situation. It appropriates the understanding that a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22) and so we try to cultivate a sense of humor even in the worst of circumstances. So, when we have an opportunity to celebrate, we take it seriously and have even been able to joke about the definition of a Jewish holiday: “They tried to kill us; they didn’t succeed and we’re still here; let’s eat!”
One of the highlights of the Independence Day official ceremony that was held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem was a song by Ester Rada, written by Norit Hirsch, called “Shirat Dvorah” (Deborah’s Song) taken from Judges 5:3-5. Truly, she sang “praise to the LORD God of Israel” (v. 3). Enjoy!
“Hatikva” – Israel’s National Anthem
The terrorist organization Hamas (that controls Gaza), which recently entered into a reunification agreement with the Fatah branch of the “Palestinian” Authority (which rules from Ramallah, with Mahmoud Abbas as its President), published its own version of Israel’s National Anthem, “Hatikva” (“The Hope”). The release, called “Sof Hatikva” (“The End of Hope”) was Hamas’ attempt at Hebrew, with a very heavy Arabic accent, and clearly was genocidal in nature, saying that either the Jews will be sent back to where they came from, or they will be buried. The video can be seen here. English sub-titles were added, thanks to Artuz Sheva (Channel Seven) Israel National News.
Is Jerusalem really holy to Muslims?
There is no doubt that Jerusalem is probably the most controversial place on planet earth at this time. Most Muslims will tell you that Jerusalem was never a Jewish city and that it was always an Islamic holy site. But, it is really true? A number of considerations would indicate that such is not the case and the Muslim claim to Jerusalem is nothing more than another lie in the “Palestinian” arsenal of lies, as part of its attempt to politicize the City of Jerusalem and to remove the Jewish presence from the Middle East entirely. A video was produced about 3 years ago that caused considerable outrage among Arabs, both in Israel and elsewhere and, according to what appears on “youtube”, it has had almost 7.5 million views. Take a look for yourself and form your own opinion.
The Middle East Conflict – A Basic Primer
Lots of people have tried to analyze the Middle East conflict. Some go far afield, others miss the point entirely. One video portrays a simple, easy to understand, basic, ground-level explanation, from a totally human point of view. While that video does not deal with the spiritual aspect of the Middle East conflict and, without it, the conflict may, indeed, be the hardest to solve. Nevertheless, it does contain a few facts worth considering. It has been labeled as “the most important video about Israel ever made”. I would not come anywhere close to describing it that way, but it is worth a look.
The One-State Solution – A Humorous Jewish Perspective
There are solutions and then again, there are solutions to create solutions. There are those who want a 2-state solution. Others even proposed a 3-state solution. A humorous 1-state solution video made it into cyberspace and suggested that the entire Middle East should become Jewish, thus making life better for everyone. But, if that were to happen, we would need to form a new, far and wide coalition government. In this part of the world, even a committee of three would end up with ten opinions. Then, there would be the question: what would we do with the opposition parties who now make up the political left here and want us to give up a slice of what little we have now? Also, we would need to train a multitude of multi-lingual teachers capable of teaching Hebrew in all the countries of the region. Maybe by then, the U.S. would agree to move its embassy to Jerusalem, instead of leaving it in Tel Aviv. But, we might end up having a problem determining which time zone to use to determine when sundown occurs, so that we would know when to celebrate the holidays. Oy, such problems. Maybe we should just let God work it out for us.
Negotiations and “peace talks” are meaningless, if the “Palestinians” continue to teach their children to hate Jews.
“The Pioneers of Tomorrow” is a children’s TV program, that is shown on Al-Aqsa TV, the official Hamas-run channel that broadcasts from Gaza.. It has somewhat of a “Sesame Street”-like format where live actors interact with puppets and humans in animal costumes. The show has come under fire many times for its attempts to brainwash young children to be both anti-West and anti-Semitic, even children as young as 3 or 4. One particular segment that was reported on extensively in Western and Hebrew media showed a militant, radical Islamic Mickey Mouse-like character, who was beaten to death by Israeli soldiers after he attempts to liberate Tel Aviv. Another program clip, which was broadcast earlier this month and uploaded by the Middle East Media Research Institute (“MEMRI”), shows the program host, a young girl dressed in a hijab (a veil that covers the head and chest, worn mostly by a Muslim female after the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family), as she interviewed two very young children. One of the children expressed the hope to become a police officer, like her uncle.
After it was established by a man, who spoke off camera, that policemen catch criminals, the interview continued like this:
Interviewer: “And they shoot Jews, right?”
Child guest: “Right”.
Interviewer: “And you want to be like him, Allah willing, when you grow up?”
Child guest: “I will shoot the Jews.”
Interviewer: “All of them?”
Child guest: “Yes.”
Some things just speak for themselves.
Former Prime Minister Convicted of Corruption – Fined 1M Shekels and Sentenced to Jail
The caption says it all. Ehud Olmert, who served as the Prime Minister of Israel after Ariel Sharon and before Benjamin Netanyahu, was convicted two months ago of receiving bribes to facilitate the construction of the Holyland housing project in Jerusalem. This past Tuesday, he was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay a 1 million shekel ($290,000) fine.
The court’s judgment evoked comments from both sides of the political isle. Most agreed that it was a sad day for the State of Israel, when such a sentence was imposed upon a former prime minister. Nevertheless, there was widespread agreement of the need to take stern measures to remove corruption from our midst, irrespective of where it may be found.
Six other defendants in the case, who were businessmen, developers and municipal officials of Jerusalem, also received jail sentences and fines, some more severe than Olmert, some less. Three other defendants, including a former Jerusalem mayor, as well as Olmert’s former top aide, will face sentencing next month.
Judge David Rozen, of the Tel Aviv District Court, in imposing the sentence, said: “Ehud Olmert has gone from holding the highest and most respected position in Israel to that of a felon, one who has been convicted of severe and contemptible offences. . . . bribery and corruption offenses disgrace public service and undermine the framework of governance. He who offers a bribe is corrupt and he who accepts a bribe is no better than a traitor.” In the words of King Solomon: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous, but terror to evildoers.” (Proverbs 21:15)
Israeli law prohibits any public official, who is convicted of a criminal offense involving moral turpitude (as in this case), from civil service for seven years, irrespective of the length of his sentence. Well, I suppose that this puts him out of the running to return to be Prime Minister.
Olmert has a “media adviser”, who informed reporters after the sentencing that “unfortunately, but as expected, the court chose to impose an unfair sentence, which is radically more severe than any other [sentence] ever imposed for similar offences under similar circumstances”, adding that the court “has committed a grave error by convicting a man who never received any bribes and who has done nothing but contribute to the State of Israel.” It is difficult to agree with this last statement. Mr. Olmert, while serving as Prime Minister, was willing to give the “Palestinians” a state, with sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, divide Jerusalem and give the “Palestinians” 100% of Judea and Samaria (referred to by the media as “the West Bank” [of the Jordan River]). He would have also been willing to absorb between 10,000-15,000 “Palestinian” refugees (more correctly, descendants of those who voluntarily left Israel prior to the outbreak of the War of Independence) and leave no Jewish presence in the Jordan Valley. Three months ago, Olmert said that if his proposed deal to Mahmoud Abbas had been accepted, he had no doubt that Israel would be able to evacuate 80,000 settlers from their homes. Reason fails to reveal how such a move would “contribute to the State of Israel”. If anything, it would assist the “Palestinians” in their goal of dismantling Israel piece by piece, without peace.
Regarding the sentence imposed on Olmert, his lawyers say they intend to appeal. Was there ever any doubt about that?
The Dead “Peace Talks” – Attempts at Resuscitation?
U.S. envoy, Martin Indyk, insists that the so-called “peace process” is not dead, while criticising both sides for the failed talks. Israel’s Minister of Justice and chief negotiator in the talks, Tzipi Livni, agreed with Indyk’s accusation of Israeli intransigence regarding settlement construction, saying that the settlement activity hurt the negotiations. It was reported that a senior Israeli official got on Indyk’s case, accused him of hypocrisy and claimed that Indyk knew of all of the plans for settlement construction, even the number of homes that were to be built. The same official reportedly added that Indyk’s presence at some of the meetings between the parties was counterproductive.
And, as we close out the week, it was disclosed that this past Thursday evening, Tzipi Livni met with “Palestinian” Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in London. This was the first meeting between Abbas and a senior Israeli official since the collapse of the talks and followed separate meetings by each of the parties with U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. It is interesting how they all managed to be in London at the same time. Livni’s office claims that P.M. Netanyahu’s office knew about the meeting in advance. But, according to a news commentator on one of Israel’s major TV channels, some unidentified sources in Jerusalem reported that Netanyahu was “furious” with Livni’s initiative to meet with Abbas. This meeting took place after Israel’s security cabinet voted unanimously to suspend negotiations with the “Palestinian” Authority, after the “P.A.” established a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist organization that is sworn to the destruction of Israel. Livni is a member of the security cabinet and was part of the unanimous cabinet vote, which she then chose to ignore. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? And so, “the thick plottens”. We’ll need to keep an eye on what will follow from this meeting.
And That was The Week That Was.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.” (Isaiah 62:1)
“And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the Name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” (Micah 4:1-5)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.
Have a simply great week.