Here is a letter Menachem wrote to his friends and family last week about “the situation” in Israel which he offered to share with us on Beyond BT.
I’ve been debating whether or not to write something about the current “situation” here in Israel, so if you actually receive this you’ll know which side won the debate.
As you’ve noticed, probably thankfully, these updates have become fewer and farther between. This was not because I don’t miss you, it’s just because life had gotten pretty routinized and there just wasn’t much to write about. One of the reasons I hesitate to write now is that on the whole I’ve attempted to keep things positive and a-political. Well I guess I could just write some fluffy stuff and ignore the fact that those moon bats North of the border are using us for target practice, but since you probably read the paper or listen to the news occasionally you’d realize I was trying to hide something.
Here in Beit Shemesh, as of this writing, things are pretty much normal. Aside from some increased aircraft activity one wouldn’t know anything unusual is happening. (Interesting side point. Edison, is in the flight path to Newark airport and planes would regularly fly overhead. Of course, just like the trains across the street, I became pretty desensitized to them. Here it’s the opposite. There is no regular aircraft activity around here so we’ve become pretty attuned to noticing when it does increase. OK, so maybe that little footnote was only interesting to a plane geek like me.)
Back to the war, er, I mean situation. Look, you guys are at war also and you don’t feel it day to day either. Obviously the big difference here is proximity. Iraq is just a tad further away from New Jersey than we are from Afula, but let’s not quibble over Kilometers. OK fine we’re at war, there I said it. I guess that’s the first step in my twelve-step program.
Just 2 weeks ago we toured up North for a few days with good friends from New Jersey. It’s so beautiful up there; the Kineret, the Golan, the Jordan River, Mount Tabor, Tzfat, Tiberias, the Naot factory, etc. It is heart wrenching to imagine these places being bombarded with these idiotic projectiles.
“What’s the mood of the country?” is a common question you hear. So far I’ve spoken to 5,000,000 of the 7,000,000 people living here. When I finish I’ll let you know. The best I can do is give you the mood of the 12 people I see on a daily basis. I would say their mood can be described as tense, fearful, proud, and hopeful. OK, maybe that’s just my mood and I’m projecting. The truth is I do try to talk to people about it. I’ve even been brave enough to ask some real Israelis in Hebrew. I foolishly think that I’m going to get some military insight because their cousin is a pilot or something. The handful of Israelis I’ve spoken to are tough. Sure they’re concerned, but they basically just shrug it off as just another war.
Well not me, I’m a freaking end-of-the-boom baby boomer. Remember that Wonder Year’s reference from last time? My biggest fear growing up was worrying who I was going to ask to the prom! Yes, I was around during the Vietnam War, but as a 7 year old it didn’t really have much of an impact on me. But this, this is real existential stuff man. So on the one hand I obsessively read all of the analysis I can get my hands on and yet on the other hand I try as hard as I can not to read the news too often. At some point, the analysis just cancels itself out as each pundit has something different to say and the news just makes me more uptight.
Speaking of news. Do not get your information about what is going on over here from CNN or the NY Times. CNN’s bias is legendary and my feelings about the ethical and moral wasteland that is the Times is well known. Try the Jerusalem Post (jpost.com) or Fox News. The NY Sun and Wall Street Journal are excellent antidotes to the plague of the Times. The Washington Times editorial staff has been outstanding lately. Arutz 7 has its purpose, but it’s very skewed and should be balanced with a mainstream Israeli source.
It would be quite abnormal of me, after only 2 years here, not to question the wisdom of our move in light of the current situation. We came at the tail end of the Intifada and have had a honeymoon of relative peacefulness. Clearly I’d have to be a moron to think that, given the history of the past 60 years, things would remain that way, but the mind goes to great lengths to create delusional states. So while at once I yearn for the mundane life of Edgemount Rd. I know that were I there now I’d yearn to be here, especially now, to cast my lot with my people. (Paradoxical ain’t it?) As Torah Jews we believe that G-d knows what He’s doing. As humans we can just hope that what He’s doing coincides with what we’d like Him to do!
Speaking of the UN. (Yes, in a sense we were. We just mentioned G-d and the UN is Satan.) I can’t let this missive pass without, once again, pointing out what an unmitigated disaster that organization is. It’s not just that they don’t fill their own mission and are inept (they don’t and they are), it’s that they are actively assisting much of the evil that currently exists in the world. Take UNRWA and UNIFIL. Please! UNRWA, operating in the “territories” and UNIFIL operating in Lebanon are actually assisting the terrorists in those areas. This makes the UN directly complicit in the murder of Israelis. And that’s just a small example.
Just one more jab, I can’t resist. The UN recently disbanded the grossly anti-Semetic, anti-Israel Commission on Human Rights and in a stroke of supreme idiocy replaced it with the even more grossly anti-Semetic, anti-Israel Human Rights Council! You can’t make this stuff up and you guys in the US are footing most of the bill. If you want to do something really constructive get your government to stop funding that cesspool of half-witted third world weasels and Islamic murderers and convert their building into a halfway house for recovering liberals. Remember, in Aramaic “Kofi Anan” means “we are monkeys”. A coincidence? I think not.
Many people in my circles were, shall we say, not thrilled with Olmert as Prime Minister and Peretz as defense minister. Olmert for his support of the disengagement and his new “consolidation” plan and Peretz just because he’s a looney lefty. I’m pleased to say that so far they are executing this war with strength and determination.
For those of you who aren’t Bush fans, get over it. You may not be pleased with his domestic policies or the way he’s handling the war in Iraq, but he, more than any other world leader, understands the gravity of the enemy we are ALL facing. And at this point in world history the spread of Islamic fundamentalism is the greatest threat we have ever faced. We can just thank G-d on a daily basis for those hanging chads in Dade county, without which we’d be well on our way to wearing Burkas and praying to Allah five times a day. You want to do something smart, get the 22nd amendment repealed and vote for him again!
Again, not having completed my survey of everyone here, I still feel there’s a sense of unity. You see it in the political arena, you feel it in the street. This crisis has gotten us to increase our acts of kindness, charity, prayer and learning. That is never a bad thing. We know a family planning to make Aliyah next month who’s container was being packed yesterday. I am told that they asked one of the great scholars in Israel, Rabbi Kanievsky, if they should go ahead with their plans to move here. He said yes and gave them a bracha for success. May we all share in that Bracha.