Category Archives: Uncategorized

More Thoughts on Gaza

The ground offensive in Gaza commenced this past weekend.

I feel pretty torn. Sometimes I feel supportive, and sometimes I am reserved and concerned about the operation.

At this moment in time I am worried about the long-term effects of the incursion. The humanitarian problems plaguing Gaza are disturbing to me. And the inevitable civilian casualty loss is rising.

Moreover, I am worried these attacks will only weaken any peace process (if there were even a chance of having one before this started). I don’t think the attacks will ‘teach Hamas a lesson’ or obliterate this terror organization. If nothing else, they will use the attacks to justify more attacks against Israelis. Palestinians in general will use the attacks to justify resistance–as opposed to nonviolent protests. I fear, moreover, that the more Israel attacks Hamas, the more sympathy they will get from Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank–which is a problem for Fatah. Its as if Hamas wanted these attacks to take place so they could justify continued armed struggle and strengthen their political base. Israeli actions will only entrench Palestinian tendency toward self-destructive ideology and actions. Cycle of violence anyone?

But what are the alternatives? If we live and let live would Hamas continue arming itself with rockets that reached farther and farther distances? I am all for opening the passages, but I fear Hamas will only take advantage of any literal and figurative openings that Israel offers to smuggle in more weapons and strengthen their base. We’re not fighting the Palestinian civilians. We’re fighting a terror organization that wants to destroy the state of Israel and doesn’t care how much violence it takes to achieve its goal. Perhaps that is just simplistic and painting things in black and white–feel free to offer more nuanced ideas.

So as far as I can see Israelis find themselves in the unenviable position of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’ I don’t see any endgame in sight.

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I’m Growing a Sabra

Hullo readers,

I’ve been holding back some very crucial, personal information for the last four months. Well first it was because I wanted to wait until I had passed the ‘danger zone.’ Then it was because I just didn’t feel ready to publicize it to the world and everytime I did end up writing a blog entry, I found myself writing about something else that wasn’t as important like my statistics class. Perhaps I was just trying to find the right moment to announce the news.

Anyway, enough of the hinting. I’m pregnant!

And yes, as the title hints, it will be the first Sabra in our immediate family, which is amusing and slightly intimidating because it means I am flinging my children into the throes of Israeli culture for better or worse. I don’t know how they will turn out, but with some good parenting, we’ll be able to steer them in the right direction so they can have the best of both worlds. They will probably make fun of our Hebrew when they get old enough, but if that’s the price of bilingualism, I am okay with that. Continue reading

Fury over Madoff

I cannot tell you how angry I am at Madoff. In my book what he did is one of the most despicable acts that any human being could do. To basically raid philanthropic organizations for his own personal gain, rob the poor to feed himself, to make a mockery of Jewish morality and values–there is not enough that can be said to condemn this man. The fact that he was a Jew and betrayed his own people, and that he used his personal connections to deceive everybody adds more bitterness to the episode.

Many organizations I know were affected by the scandal including the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Yad Sarah. Several of them have to close doors because of what this man did. As if it wasn’t enough that these organizations were metaphorically robbed by an economic crisis that was also spurred by greed and short-term, self-interest.

The best thing the Jewish community can do now is to come together and stand for everything that this low life scorned. To give and give again to those in need and to uphold the values that make us better Jews and better people–which is what my rabbi from D.C. suggests in a sermon he is giving this Shabbat about the Madoff crisis.

I think that both the economic crisis and the Madoff case should be a wake up call to our community to see how our values have been corrupted, and how we have sacrificed ethics for success at all costs. The Gilded Age is over. It’s time to refocus our priorities.

Still, I wish there was a way for Madoff to be punished severely for what he did. What do I see as the best punishment for him? Getting him to pay back every single cent that he stole from us. With interest.

Graduate School

Ever since graduate school started my free time has shrunk considerably. Even when I do have free time, I’m either reading my coursework, doing errands, panicking about my courses or resting my brain.My brain is very, very tired. Especially after sitting through several lectures a day–in Hebrew.

Did you ever have nightmares about school? Like those nightmares about suddenly finding out that you were in a certain class and that the final just happened to be in another week and you hadn’t done any of the reading for it? That’s the feeling that I get when I’m in school sometimes. Especially when I’m sitting in a lecture where the professor’s Hebrew is especially hard to follow. The feeling of not knowing what is going on and of feeling left out is an anxiety inducing sensation. It stinks. Continue reading

Terror in Mumbai

The terror attacks in India have been on my mind today. Despite all of the violence that continues in Iraq, Afghanistan and here, despite having experienced 9-11, the extent of the terror in Mumbai is mind boggling to me. No organization who indiscriminately kills civilians, and also targets my people, will get any sympathy from me. Violence on this level does not justify any cause.

I feel very worried about the Israelis in India. These guys go to India to let off steam after their army stint, but the trouble just seems to follow them to a far away place. I get disheartened when I sometimes think that there are a number of people on this planet that want to kill us. It’s as if we have an “X” or the words “terror target” pasted on our backs. I try not to think about this too often.

Elections

Apparently I’ll have my first opportunity to vote. Tzippi Livni, who was granted the authority by President Shimon Peres to form a new coalition government after Olmert resigned, did not succeed in bringing enough coalition partners on board. The major sticking point was that she would not agree to the Kitzbah—or allowance—amount that the party Shas wanted to allocate for families with children or to the amount the Pensioners party wanted.

UPDATE: I think there was another point of contention, which  was the issue of negotiations with Palestinians over Jerusalem.

UPDATE2: After Livni accused Shas of extortion, the party shot back and accused Livni of Sephardi racism. Continue reading

McCartney and Furniture

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Hey! Paul McCartney was here in Israel last week. Everybody went crazy. The radio played Beatles and McCartney stuff all day long. They love the Beatles here, so having Sir McCartney visit for his first concert ever really meant something. Probably gave everyone a boost of self-esteem! I didn’t go to the concert (not willing to pay 500 nis) but I followed the media buildup to the big event.

In other news, The Prime Minister actually resigned (who would have thought), and Tzippi Livni from the Kadima party is making rounds with the political parties to try and form a coalition government.

I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Israeli politics, and I find the system confusing and odd. From what I understand, because there are eight zillion parties in Israel, the dominant party has to go around bargaining with other parties in order to bring them into a coalition. It’s like a political shuk. Continue reading