ANALYSIS: The clear loser from Ahmadinejad's visit is Israel
By Shmuel Rosner
In his speech at Columbia University, the Iranian President used the podium to single out Israel and Zionism
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University in New York on Monday resulted in one clear loser: Israel.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad took aim at Israel. If he managed to convince one person of his views on Israel and Zionism, then he has already gained. If he managed to persuade 50, then he has gained even more.
Ahmadinejad aimed precisely for that. "It's the Israelis, stupid" was his primary message. Forget about the "Palestinian problem," Ahmadinejad was telling his listeners. "Instead, we need to solve the Israeli problem - and finally bring peace to the Middle East." While he did not explicitly reiterate his calls for Israel's destruction, in practice, the message could not have been clearer.
The pro-Israel camp consoled itself with the knowledge that those who are familiar with the regional complexities, and with Tehran's antics, will surely realize the absurdity of Ahmadinejad's proposal.....
But the average American is not familiar with the regional complexities. He is tired of the region's fighting. To him, Ahmadinejad's idea may sound tempting.
This is what the problem is with inviting a dictator like him to a university such as Columbia: you legitimize him, when he should be completely marginalized. Rabbi Avi Weiss said at the protest rally, (I'm paraphrasing) "Yes, Columbia had a right to invite Ahjmadinishouldbedead (my name for him, not the Rabbi's); but they didn't have an obligation..." There are so many people out there who have no clue and give credence to what this man says. Those intellectuals at Columbia U are pretty stupid, in my humble opinion, for giving this guy a platform.
Nope, not Ozzy. But it was the strangest thing. Orli said, as soon as we sat down, "aww, mommy, look at the dog". Liat and I looked at each other. Who would bring a dog to shul? And on Yom Kippur? Turns out the dog must have followed people inside, because it didn't belong to anyone. It walked around and looked terribly lost and afraid. It was an adorable cocker spaniel, with a collar, so obviously not a stray. Davening started and the dog was still walking around. People were muttering and one woman kicked the dog. I know, that was awful. So I picked the dog up intending to take it outside when I bumped into Orli, who had gone out to....I don't know what. (Of course now everyone thought the dog was mine...) I handed it over to her and told her to take the dog outside. Now why would this woman kick this defenseless little dog?? Isaac later said, maybe it was Eliyahu HaNavi or something like that, and the woman will some day be sorry. Ah, my husband is becoming so kabbalistic....
Yom Kippur is quite an event in Israel. Driving is illegal and there is no transportation (Ben Gurion shuts down for 33 hours). So Israeli kids everywhere are riding their bikes on the streets, highways and roads. Since the fast started at 5:20 P.M., we were finished Kol Nidre before 7. As we walked back home, there were kids on bikes everywhere, and people walking in the streets. The street we live on is a major one; it was a big biking party there. And the next day too. Its kind of funny that this is how many Israelis "celebrate" Yom Kippur. And in the newspapers and on the radio, journalists and D.J.'s ask for mechila. But we did see a number of "chilonim" making their way to the various shuls, so I guess plenty of people do take the day seriously.
Anyway, obviously we weren't biking any where. Walking to Shul was enough. Although shul was still noisy, the davening was pretty good. Inspiring. I shed a tear or two for many reasons...
And now we wait for our lift--still hasn't arrived. And our Sukkah is on it. Will it come in time? Stay tuned...
I had thought about writing a detailed post about our visit today to Hadassah-Ein Kerem Medical Center, but then decided against it because it might impinge on my daughter's privacy. Many of you will probably hear about it on the phone (love that American line), but since by definition this blog can be read by anyone, I feel uncomfortable putting to much detail here. Suffice it to say that Isaac and I were impressed, both by the doctor and the facility, and I feel much relieved to have been able to do this so quickly.
But I am struggling with the issue of how much to write on this blog. As I said, I need to honor my family's privacy. Is their a way I can do that, and still express what I need to express? When I was sending almost daily e-mails to everyone about L earlier this year, was I being unfair to her? (She has read those e-mails, by the way and was okay with it). What about pictures? I'd love to post them, but am hesitating. (Ozzy made me sign some kind of waiver before I put up his picture...) I read many other blogs. Some of them are completely anonymous--where even their friends don't know its them. Others are semi-anonymous, and yet others choose to identify themselves. On the one hand being anonymous affords one the ability of expressing opinions and saying things without any repurcussions. But this blog is not really anonymous; and if someone is reading this who doesn't know me,what difference does it make? What do you guys think I should do?
I do think I can comment on the ride to the medical center. Rather than going through Jerusalem, we went around Jerusalem on this beautiful mountain road that just took my breath away. And guess what??? We gave a chayal a tremp! Isaac and I were like two kids we were so happy to do this. L just rolled her eyes, but she thought it was fun too. And of course he wished us a "Chatima Tova" when he left the car. (I wanted to photograph him [for the blog!!!!] but was to embarrassed to ask, much to L's relief. And its probably not smart to post a chayal's picture on the internet). The picture is a view from Hadassah of the road we took to get there.
Anyway in order to get into the medical center, you have to walk through a MALL! I'm not talking about a couple of little shops, I'm talking a big mall, with lots of great SHOPPING. There were actually patients walking around. There is a food court and everything. So if you don't like the hospital food, you just go down and get a bite to eat at any of the restaurants, cafes, bakeries, all of which seemed to be KOSHER. Now who's the genius who thought of that?
The other night we finally made it to the kotel. It was a beautiful, cool evening and we stayed for a long time davening for the year to come. May Hashem hear our tefilot! Then we walked up through Shaar Yafo to the new Mamila Mall--how nice was that. We bumped into several people we knew. And when people asked, "how long are you staying?" , we answered, "Forever!" [with G-d's Help]
Okay, the Israeli's are truly brilliant. They change the clock here before Yom Kippur so the fast is over at 6 P.M. On the other hand that means we start at 5, so I have to go shower so we can sit down to eat before the fast. And someone told me its illegal to drive a car on Yom Kippur so Israeli's bike ride everywhere (to shul?). Not sure if that's true or not though...
I hope tomorrow is truly meaningful for all of you and that all of your requests are granted....
LAS VEGAS (Sept. 17) - News conferences, a slew of felony charges, a perp walk in handcuffs and detention in a holding cell without bail - it's clear authorities aren't giving O.J. Simpson any celebrity breaks.
Police insist such treatment is prudent for a man whose name is synonymous with a slow-speed chase from officers in a white Ford Bronco. But legal experts are questioning whether Simpson is being singled out for extra-tough prosecution in his casino-hotel robbery case as payback for his murder acquittal more than a decade ago.
The big joke is that now he's going to write a sequel to his book and call it: "If I had stolen it..."
PS You know what this means...? I learned how to move things from other websites to the blog! You guys are all in for lots of fun tidbits now....
I'm trying to figure out how to upload photos to the blog. Isaac is busy sleeping on the sofa, so my personal helpdesk is a no show. Let's see what happens....
Okay that was about an hour ago. Isaac woke up and I pounced, but there was some kind of fancy computer glitch...which he sort of figured out, so I'm really ready to try this...Here goes:
Wow! There it is!! And that part (uploading the picture) I did all by myself!!! This picture is a view from our mirpeset. The yellow building you see to the left is Masuot Neriya, the school that Tali and Orli attend. Liat's school is behind it; you don't see it in the picture.
Here's another one:
This is also from our porch. It is a park they built as a welcome just for us--well maybe not for us, but it was finished a few weeks before we came. Isaac takes Ozzy there every night to run. And the girls go downstairs to the park with Ozzy all the time. I told them they would meet people more easily if they had the dog with them, and that's proven to be true; they've met several neighborhood kids who have wanted to hold Ozzy. That Ozzy--a chick--I mean kid--magnet!
That's Ozzy, who just LOVES livin' in the Holy Land!
Okay, so now that I sort of know how to do this, you can look forward to more pictures real soon....
PS It's midnight here in Israel, and can you guess where my eldest child is? She had a night trip with her school to Jerusalem: the old city, dinner, followed by midnight selichot at the Kotel. How's that for school trip?
What can I say? It just wasn't the same. Unfamiliar and strange as I knew it would be. No Spanish people baby sitting the kids (I volunteered Isaac, but he wasn't interested), so the women's section was a balagan, with babies, toddlers and strollers everywhere. My little daven dog next to me petulantly announced that if she didn't have to hear shofar, she would just daven at home. The third time she said this, I snapped at her, that I had heard her the first two times. When we changed our seats things were a bit improved. And the second day was much better. Maybe all those women and babies thought the chag was only one day.
You know me--I like to be occupied on Shabbat or Yom Tov afternoons. And I was. The people here are really nice. But it just wasn't the same. Ah well.
But we were offered (many times!) apples and honey in the malls in the days prior to Rosh Hashannah. And everyone wishes you a chag sameach and shana tova over here. The whole land celebrating a new beginning together and hoping and praying--this will be the year--the year we have peace, the year our soldiers will come home, the year G-d's presence will be known to all...
I just couldn't let this day go by without acknowledging it. Over here in Israel its a casual mention in the news. Unfortunately they have had so many 9/11s in this country that they relate to it only to well...but for Americans the day has become a true day of reckoning for many. September 11 is the day America learned to be afraid. And though I specifically might be known as "Doomsday Brecher", I believe that on 9/11 all of our frames of mind changed. We lost our innocence as a nation, and the fear is still lurking, somewhere, out there.
I will always remember that day of violence. And then the silence of our town, as the planes stopped flying. The skies were clear blue and the weather was crisp. Three days later the skies opened up and the world teemed as rescuers and searchers continued their work. G-d Himself was crying.
The fear recedes, and that's a good thing. We can't let it rule our lives. We must separate from that fear and put it in a place from which it can't escape to often, because if we didn't the joy of life, of living wouldn't be there. I think that is how the Israelis are able to go on in the face of everything they have been through.
Still, I know we will always carry a place in our hearts for September 11, and remember the innocent lives lost on that day. May their memory be a blessing for us all.
Check out this website for up-to-date news from Israel:
Today's headlines talk about the 65 soldiers wounded in a kassam attack (bombs were launched from Gaza). It was a direct hit on an army base south of Ashkelon. That's like Baltimore being bombed (its even much closer than Baltimore, maybe the Jersey shore). Mull that over!
Even though I am the only person in this country not cooking tomorrow, I probably will not have a chance to write again. I wish all of you a shana tova, a year of peace, for the world and for our souls, a year of joy, and a year of continued blessings from G-d...
Finally!! We have connectivity!! First our Israeli landline, then the cell phones and after that (yesterday) internet and voip!! I hated feeling so disconnected from all of you....
Today, it's a week since we've arrived. There is so much I want to say. I actually hand wrote an entry on the plane, so I'll pull it out and see if its relevant....it's funny, because now, when people ask me how the flight was, I usually say, well it was long, and I didn't sleep at all, and Tali was kind of upset for the first couple of hours....but this is what I wrote at the time:
"Seeing the NBN Aliyah 2007 on the side of the plane made feel proud--of who I am, of what I am doing; of my heritage and my people and my homeland; of my daughters, who in spite of their misgivings will rise to the occasion...."
And I still feel proud. This is something I've always wanted to do, but never thought I'd actually have the courage to go through with it. And to watch the girls try so hard to integrate...amazing...
I wrote much more about the flight--but most of it benign. I did meet some interesting people: a 65-year-old South African man married to an Israeli woman with a 21 year old daughter making aliya to a neighborhood near us--his wife very reluctant, but his enthusiasm was carrying them both. The guy didn't speak a word of hebrew...I also met a gay couple flying with two cats on the plane, and two dogs beneath. They were fun to talk to but I would have liked to find out what motivated them to make aliyah. Oh well.
The ceremony was nice, if a bit anti-climactic. It was surreal stepping off the bus and being grabbed by strangers shouting that I did the right thing. There was lots of flag waving and some very young chayalim. It was all a blur to someone who hasn't slept in months. My friends Tova, Marta and Marian were there to greet me. I bet they thought this day would never come!
This is what I was afraid of: I thought I would get off the plane and I would feel nothing. Because really, coming here was based on that feeling that many of us get when we're here. You can't really describe it, and not everyone feels it, but many Jews do. I guess its a feeling of your past, of where your soul started and how it has come home. And I was afraid that feeling wouldn't be there and that I had shlepped my kids half way across the world just to live in a strange place...and I wouldn't say that feeling was there the minute I stepped off the plane. But it has been coming back as I travel the roads of the land and breathe the air. As I try to speak the language and feel the heat of the afternoon sun beating down on me. There is nothing like this place. Nothing. And I hope and pray my children come to feel this way someday soon.
Olga and my mother-in-law also came to greet us at the airport. They had stocked and cleaned the apartment (Abuelita actually made us a dinner of schnitzel and rice!)They took Tali and Liat home, while Orli stayed with Isaac and myself to collect Ozzy and our 13 pieces of luggage. That took a while. We arrived in Modiin at about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. I was nervous about the apartment--hoping it wasn't a total dump. But I have to say, they did a good job picking it. It's small, but its really nice--modern and clean, and we've been busy turning it into home. I really love it. It has a beautiful backyard/patio that extends to a side yard that leads to the mirpeset in the front. The mirpeset is also big. Ozzy loves it--we let him out and he runs free. I think his klita is going the best. The day we arrived people from my hachshara days came to visit--they live in chashmonaim. I havn't seen them in years! And they brought borecas, the national food over in this country. Wherever you go there are borecas, and I can see that my plan to lose weight is not really going to happen here in Israel.
I'm going to try to post pictures of the apartment, and of us here...but we'll see; that may be to technologically advanced for me.
It took me a few days to work up my courage, but on Thursday I finally tackled the TINY Israeli washing machine. The first load I did took 2 1/2 hours because I pressed "intensive wash". I decided that my laundry is intense enough, so now I press "easy wash" and it only takes an hour. I have yet to buy a dryer, so there is this weird dryer thing that everyone here has that you put everything out to dry in the sun--these days it takes less time to dry than to wash. In an odd way I've been enjoying this ritual (I can't imagine going to work having to do this). I feel very Israeli doing this, and I have to say, the clothing smells great.
The kids have started school. Tali and Orli are making friends and seem for the most part happy. Liat is also befriending some kids, but its more difficult for her. But she is a trouper as you all know, and I know she will find her place at some point in time. We got all of them cellphones and Tali and Orli are all excited. They had them for the first time today, and sure enough at 8:45 a.m. Tali calls me to tell me there is a huge flood in the school and that they were going to be sent home. Isaac and I were getting ready to leave for Jerusalem, so we figured we'd swing by the school and take them with us. When we got to the school and went into the office to ask, the secretary said, "mah pitom? zeh rak mayim!" (That was a hell of alot of water!). So the girls were dissappointed when we told them they were staying school. Say what you will about Israeli education, but they close school for [almost] NOTHING!
Since it is really late here I'm going to sign off. There is so much more I have to say, but I'll save it. I am happy. But I do get pangs of missing you, of lonliness and of self-doubt. This is a hard thing we chose to do, and I don't want to sugarcoat it and make it sound like its always amazing. So stay tuned for the real story of our aliyah--the ups and downs. With G-d's Help it will be more ups than downs--but remember my pledge not to speak ill of this great country of ours. Just remind me not to speak ill of her...
I know I said I wouldn't be posting again before I left, but I just had to comment on this very special day I had, the day before our aliyah. It was, in many ways a really tough day, but also beautiful and inspiring. Saying good-bye to my parents tore me to shreds. My parents understand how important this is to us, and never once told us not to go, or made us feel guilty for taking their grandchildren away from them. They have always been totally supportive of any decisions we have made and if they disapprove in any way, never ever say so. I'm lucky to have them.
The rest of the day was filled with more good-byes at our annual shul barb-b-q, and then in our home. Many tears were shed--by me. The kids seem to have inherited Isaac's ability to remain dry and are somewhat amused by me. But even though it was so difficult to say good-bye, I felt so much love surrounding me. I know that love will continue to surround me from near and far.
It was a day I will always remember, with joy, in spite of the tears that still threaten to fall.
In a few hours the adventure begins. I can't wait to let you all know how it unfolds.
Breaking a basic blogging rule by not knowing exactly what the focus of these musings will be. All I know is that I miss writing and am looking forward to finding my blogging voice again. Bear with me as I muddle through.