Thursday, January 31, 2013

Someone Hagglin' Hagle or it Just Him?

Great article on a guy Bami has hand-picked to be his next Secretary of Defense:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/an-off-kilter-chuck-hagel-fumbles-on-iran

Dissecting a Yahoo article on Israel


The following is a "news" piece by: Dominic Evans and Khaled Yacoub Oweis, both of whom are clearly heavily biased against Israel, and one of whom is clearly an Arab (Israeli media outlets such as the JPost employ Arab writers whereas a news source like Yahoo or the New York Times would never employ a pro-Israel journalist to cover the Middle East).
 
BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria warned on Thursday of a possible "surprise" response to Israel's attack on its territory and Russia condemned the air strike as an unprovoked violation of international law.
 
Damascus could take "a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes", Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said a day after Israel struck against Syria.
"Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land," Ali told a website of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria and Israel have fought several wars and in 2007 Israeli jets bombed a suspected Syrian nuclear site, without a military response from Damascus.
 
Eitan says:  Please notice how there's no mention of the almost year-long civil war in Syria and the thousands of civilian casualties murdered by the Syrian army and the rebels there. All the attention is focused squarely on Israeli "aggression." Also, there's no Israeli side. They're quoting Syrian sources, Hezbollah, and the terrorist state a.k.a. "Russia." Biased reporting? You tell me!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Primer of Tomorrow's Elections in Israel

Based on an email from Steven Toltz:
 
Tomorrow, about 5 million Israelis will go to the polls to vote for our next government. The way it works here, unlike the States, is that we vote for a party. Whatever percentage of the vote a party gets ends up being the percentage of the 120 seats in the Knesset that they get. To earn seats, a party must receive a minimum of 2% of the vote. There will be 34 parties to choose from, but realistically, only 12-15 will earn enough votes to be in the Knesset. Then, the fun begins…
 
After the elections, the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, will perform his only non-ceremonial duty—he'll meet with the head of each party and try to determine who has the best chance of forming a coalition (a minimum of 61 seats).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bullying in American Schools: A Testimony

I believe that bullying is the biggest reason for all the recent violence in America. Note that all the shootings were carried out by troubled youngsters who felt the need to take out their anger on their peers for having been brutally mistreated and put down for years. In no way am I justifying their acts, but they did what they did for a reason; a reason deeply rooted in the way public schools in America are run.

Bullying has been shown by studies to cause immense psychological damage lasting for entire lifetimes. I was the target of a lot of bullying growing up and attending Niles West high school in Skokie.

I remember how my dean, Mr. Erickson, a vulgar, violent man, who'd been placed in a role not fitting his personality and character values, bullied me so much that I often felt compelled to cry even though I'd been brought up in a home where crying wasn't really accepted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Parshiyot Shmot and Va'yera: Lessons in Determination


Parshat Shmot begins with the listing of the "70 souls" coming down to Egypt. It briefly mentions Joseph's passing, and continues to tell us about how the new Pharaoh, who "didn't know Joseph," and perhaps didn't care much to remember him (Rashi), was afraid that the Jewish people would join Egypt's enemies in case of an all-out war with her enemies.

We're told about Pharaoh's decree to kill Jewish baby boys with the hope that the girls would intermarry and assimilate into Egyptian society. We witness the selfless behavior of Shifra and Pua, the two righteous birth-maidens.

We witness the bitter reality the Jewish people are faced with: they're living in exile, far from their homeland, far from their "natural" habitat where they have the capacity to thrive on a national level. They're oppressed and forced to perform back-breaking manual labor of building the Egyptian cities Pitom and Ra'amses. With time, they sink lower and lower, but never do they hit "rock bottom." They always remain G-d's chosen people thanks to the covenant between Hashem and Avraham.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Onward



A strange, dreamless night passed,

I felt engulfed in a sea of memories,

That day I opened my eyes to seek out something,

I saw glass mountains and meadows, great meadows of stampeding, brightly colored elephants,

Wild excitement scribbled upon a child’s face.

 

At night, listening silently, motionlessly to the Voice of America,

The fall was gaining momentum,

Walls would crumble like fortune cookies,

We would eyewitness the currents of freedom whisking past us,

We sat, sat as the angel of death crushed the evil empire.

 

Moving rapidly, gaining speed,

Rolling over empty, lifeless terrain, then flight,

The Israelites flew, seated upon the Bald Eagle,

To America, a gathering of exiles,

Who were not present at Sinai.

 

“Look out the window, my son”-I hear my dad,

Rich-black coal covering his scull

Now it has lost its dark quality,

How many years have passed,

Washed away with visions of Zion?

 

 
As day progresses so does my symphony,

I sing praises to David, recite poetry of Solomon,

I wrap the holy parchment with my left hand,

Weaker helps stronger,

The American Dream reenacted?

Or the timeless dream of a nation recreated?

 

My father’s whiteness every time I sin,

I see the pain in his still-black eyes,

Every muscle tenses,

Waiting for my childhood to withdraw,

“I’m a man”, I tell him,

But he’s far away, walking streets of gold,

While I steal his destiny, with one glance of Jerusalem.

Monday, January 7, 2013

From Darkness to Light

Very often in life, we face situations that make us question ourselves: Are we doing the right things? Are we behaving correctly? Are we treating others as we, ourselves, would want to be treated? What can we do better?

R' Nachman of Breslov equates the yetzer ha'ra or evil inclination, that inner devil within you who wants you to make all the wrong decisions even though the real "you" knows he's wrong, to one's imagination. Our imagination is capable of taking us to places we don't want to be. It can persuade us to make the wrong decisions, and focus our attention on the wrong things. It can be a very dangerous factor.

Some extreme cases of this phenomenon can be found in individuals suffering from paranoia and hallucinations. There are people who imagine that they're constantly being "watched" or "followed," or that there's a conspiracy against them. But these are the extreme cases. Everyone suffers from one sort of paranoia or another, however.

What helps?

For one, constantly being busy, working helps a lot. When one is focused on the imortant aspects of life, they forget about "finding the next date," or the latest sports or social media news.

Being focused on your goals goes hand in hand with working. When you're focused on what you want to accomplish either short--or long term, you forget about the meaningless chatter in your head.

And how do you go from being "down in the dumps," from constantly being depressed and laying around the house all day to being a productive member of society? It takes a lot of effort, a lot of perserverance, and a steady commitment. I've done it, you can too!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

For Mrs. Davis, My Lifelong Teacher, and Mentor


We met in a class for smart folks:

She, a teacher in her forties,

I, a kid in trouble, agile, inflexible,

She always looked out for the ones she cared for.

 

You could disagree, yell, fight,

Yet, if she saw the light,

That sparkling hint of brilliant movement,

She would draw it out,

Drag it out of your system.

Capture it and make it stand out for all to see,

For the whole world to eyewitness.

 

I know how she works,

The world is her stage, her one-time performance,

Its inhabitants-her audience,

She stands there in her checkered shirt and light-colored pants,

She teaches the world by example,

She is talented herself, but her students are smarter—

At least that’s what she thinks.

 

She really doesn’t give herself much credit,

I mean…to have taken care of a sick, old father till they parted, to have educated, Hundreds,

To have withstood life and the shocks that break us down, to have fought,

Fought to the last,

To have given it all and still retained her noble heart.

 

She’s my teacher, my mentor, my idol,

A woman in her prime,

A prime she’s been in for her entire life,

I remember the time she caught Adrian in his wise-guy attempt to make some trouble,

Her eyes flashing, her tongue like a whip,

 

Lashing out at every cruelty, every dishonesty, every pretence at false judgment,

The light from distant galaxies may wane, presidents may come and go, the world may disappear,

But some things will be remembered forever.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Settler Accused of Shooting at Rock-Thrower (I Would Have Done the Same Thing)!


On December 30th, the state prosecution submitted an accusatory statement against Yosef Ohana, a 43-year old resident of Nokdim (Judea). He’s accused of conscientiously causing great bodily harm to a young Arab, having shot him after the latter pelted his car with stones.

According to the accusatory statement, Ohana sharply put on his breaks after the boy began stoning his car. He stepped out of his car, and shot at the stone-thrower. The boy was hit in the head, which led to untreatable brain damage.

Thanks so much to Miriam Gurov of Nokdim who wrote the following on her Facebook status (translation mine):

Йоси и Эсти Охана - мои соседи. Йоси интеллигентный и милый человек. Отец большого семейства. Просто довели эти кидальщики камней. Вы понимаете, какое это блядское чувство - страха и бессилия, когда в тебя летит камень? У меня защищенная машина, и то страшно! На двери со стороны водителя у меня - три выбоины от камней. Я не стреляла ни разу, потому что вдовам погибших не выдают разрешение на оружие. В последнее время про камнеметания на нашей дороге даже не сообщают в новостях, если нету жертв. Это мерзко, что мы не можем защищаться.

Yossi and Esti Ohana are my neighbors. Yossi is an intelligent, nice young man. He’s the father of a large family. These stone throwers have exhausted our patience. Can you imagine the feeling of fear and helplessness when stones are flying at you? I have a protected car, and I’m still afraid! My driver’s side door has three holes as a result of stones being thrown at my car. I’ve never shot at them because widows of murdered Jews aren’t allowed to carry weapons. No one has been reporting stonings on our road lately—unless there have been casualties. The fact that we can’t defend ourselves is reprehensible.

 
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