Monkeys

Yesterday we went with two of our children and their families to the zoo in Jerusalem. The zoo is absolutely lovely — clean, landscaped, and full of animals. We particularly enjoyed the magnificently colored birds, the South Africa penguins, the bears, the lions, the elephants, the leopards and the flamingos. However, the high point for me was watching the monkeys.

Of course I wonder if the high point for the monkeys was watching the sweet little monkeys we had brought along to see them. You can see their pictures online at this location.

At loose ends

One of the things I learned as a young mother is that children need structure. Their world needs to be predictable. They need to know what to expect. That structure and predictability are part of what provides security.

Well, here I am, an adult, at least chronologically, and with the end of the active warfare, I am still at loose ends. The war, in a way, provided a structure. The bad guys are trying to kill my people. The good guys are putting on uniforms to go and defend us. We are going to fight until the bad guys give up and understand they can’t do this any more.

But that isn’t what happened. The bad guys (shorthand for the people who want to kill all of my relatives) still have their weapons, still have designs on killing us, and through some sick (and I really mean SICK) process, the sympathy of the world.

So yes, I am at loose ends.

But I am convinced it’s not just I who am not able to resume real life. Today at the supermarket I bumped into a friend. She said that she was looking forward to going to a musical evening because she’s been so out of sorts. She told me that this morning she had burst out crying.

I knew what she meant because there are times when after reading or listening to the news or even just thinking about the situation our country is in, I feel on the verge of tears.

Our Prime Minister is out of touch with reality, still thinking that concessions will win us love. Our Defense Minister didn’t know that Hezbollah was a real threat. Our Army Chief of Staff ran a campaign that was ill-equipped, ill-designed, and didn’t achieve any of the country’s objectives. Our President is being questioned about sexual harrassment allegations as is our formerJustice Minister (he resigned this past week)…

And Iran is still saying that it will destroy us and the UN whose charter such a statement violates, has said and done nothing. The Iranians continue to work on their uranium enrichment program and people think that we have plenty of time to do something to prevent them from attacking not just us, but the rest of the non-Islamic world.

It feels like events are just spinning out of control.

Get over it!

A while back I wrote about being a grownup. Recently, I have been thinking once more about grown-up behavior. Judith Viorst wrote the book that I might have written called “Grown-Up Marriage.” In it she talks in depth on the subject– in a very entertaining manner, by the way. I highly recommend it.

But being a grown-up is important in all of our relationships. All of us have values. There are behaviors that we dislike in others. Yet, sometimes when we see others “behaving badly,” particularly our family members, we forget what our values are and we violate them by getting hostile, sarcastic, and worse. We forget that we really like being loving accepting people. Worse, if the other person has acted in an unkind or thoughtless manner, he or she may have just been having an off day and perhaps wasn’t thinking. If we allow that behavior to fracture a relationship that we had valued, then we are violating our own values. Sure, the other person was thoughtless. Sure, he/she shouldn’t have said or done what he/she said or did, but if we are grownups and value the relationships we have with our family members, we realize that a fractured relationship reverberates throughout the family and forgiveness and reconciliation must occur for the family as a whole to heal.

Sure, we are hurt. Sure, we feel devalued. But we need to get over it. Pride in one’s self can come from being the grown-up and getting back to the business of creating harmony and warmth and security and love with those who we care about.

Back to normal?

I have been recovering from the war for the last few days. I didn’t realize how badly it had affected me until it was over and I found myself listening to music on the radio for the first time in weeks. Suddenly the tones I heard were melodic and not the cacaphonous voices of the talking heads.

I also discovered that it is possible to be awake and conscious without eating. It seems that I become orally fixated at the thought of imminent annihilation. I suppose subconsciously I believe that the more of me there is the harder it will be to make me disappear. But the other day, I began to realize that real people do not chain-eat.

I find myself feeling like I can go out again and not have to worry that something will happen and I won’t know about it. I am able to go for several hours without hearing the news. I was able to go out and buy dolls and gifts for some of the grandchildren.

I even took out the second of four photo albums I had bought for our pictures from China with the intention of adding to the several pages I had started. Having taken about 1150 pictures, there is still a lot of work to do and since we returned, we have been to Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary (you may recall my bout of scenery burnout) on one trip and to Moscow and St. Petersburg on another. So far, those pictures are still only pixels on their creator’s hard drive and CDs. And my good intentions seem to be no more inspired than they were before the war. The album and pictures are, however, cluttering my living room, waiting patiently for my attention.

But today I suggested to my husband that we take a drive to the beach one evening and eat sandwiches as the sun sets. I suppose that craving for normality is being fed by the tense and perhaps illusory halt in fighting.

The human spirit is powerful. We strive for normality no matter what the situation. The people in shelters became a community. The ceasefire brought them back to their homes, full of hope that they might resume a normal life. Through illness and pain, we imagine that a better time is coming. The good and brave among us help bring the good times through their labors and sacrifice. We dream, we strive, we hope, we go on.

And so, the next time I write, I will be back to writing about normal things.

Peace in our time

Our citizens are returning to the North. They are finding their homes, some intact, others damaged, others destroyed.

Families all over the country mourn the deaths of their dear ones—civilians and soldiers.

We stopped the fighting for a ceasefire. And what were the terms?

1. The unconditional release of our kidnapped soldiers.

WHERE ARE THEY?

2. The disarming of Hezbollah

HEZBOLLAH HAS REFUSED AND THE UN SAYS IT’S NOT THEIR JOB

3. The withdrawal of Hezbollah to north of the Litani

THEY HAVE REFUSED

And our people, the eternal optimists, are visiting the North, planning vacations there, rebuilding and fixing.

And meanwhile, Nasrallah resupplies, accumulates cash from Iran, and prepares for the next round.

Peace in our time

Thanks to my daughter for the picture

A tangle of emotions

It’s been hard to write this week. I am a tangle of feelings.

I am still reeling from the loss of life inflicted on us by the terrorists on our border. I hear about these young men- and now also a young woman- who served their country with pride and who were literally protecting their homes and families—not thousands or even hundreds of miles away, but on our own borders that were being bombarded by hundreds of missiles a day. The pain of their loss belongs to their families, but also to their larger family, the people of Israel.

I am still astounded by the willingness of people throughout the world to focus on the pain of the Lebanese people. Yes, I acknowledge that there are innocent victims among the Lebanese—often hard to spot amid the civilian- clad Hezbollah fighters, the bodies dug up from graves for photo-ops, and the live people posing as dead–. We know that Hezbollah’s weapons were purposely placed among civilians and we know too that under the Geneva Conventions, their fate is Hezbollah’s responsibility. And I am sorry for those who are innocent and who suffer from what their home-grown terrorists have done to them. But I am angry that no one acknowledges the death and destruction brought upon the Israeli people by this band of bloodthirsty fascists. Why does not one media report talk about the Israelis now returning to their destroyed homes? With the per capita largest foreign media presence in the world, how could Israel’s tens of thousands of war refugees from the north returning to their homes have been missed unless there was a decision made that Israeli suffering does not count. This is all the more tragic because this war consisted exclusively of Hezbollah targeting civilians.

I am overwhelmed by the goodness and kindness of the Israeli people who worked throughout this war to meet the needs of the people from the North—buying and delivering food packages to people who spent weeks in shelters, providing games and toys for the children, diapers and formula for the babies. Massage therapists went up to render their services, mobile banks and post offices served the people. The tens of thousands who evacuated were housed in people’s homes, schools, community centers, and in a huge tent city provided by Arcadi Gaydamak who provided not only food and shelter, but activities for adults and children and live entertainment in the evenings for a total out of pocket cost during this war in excess of fifty million dollars.

I am worried. I know that we have dealt Hezbollah a blow, but I am certain it was not enough to dissuade them from further adventurism. We absorbed (by being hit by them) about 4,000 missiles (don’t quote me on this…. Numbers aren’t my strong suit) and they had in excess of 10,000 before the war. You do the math. They already are armed for the next round and they are still are talking about wiping us off the map. They still are being given financial, military, and training support by Iran and Syria. Why would anyone think that a halt now is a good idea? They will just train to be more effective, arm themselves with chemical or biological weapons, and hit us again.

I am outraged that my government has agreed to any arrangement that does not begin with the release of our kidnapped soldiers. Wasn’t that the point? To show them that they could not come across the border and snatch people? How did our government agree to this? Don’t we look both weak and foolish?

I am happy that our men are coming home to their families. I pray that not one more will have to be harmed. They are precious and loved by this big family we call the people of Israel.

Letter to the West

War. It is terrible. People who are good and kind—sons and husbands and fathers– are killed defending our country from the threat of extinction—that had anyone doubted was real until now, is no longer in doubt. Our enemies mean to destroy us. Not just our soldiers. Not just our buildings. They mean to destroy all of us. You can see it in where they fire their missiles. They mean to kill me and my husband and my children and my grandchildren and all of my neighbors and all of the people we see at concerts and on the beach and at the health club and in the supermarket. They want to kill the old people in nursing homes and the preemies in the nurseries. They want us gone. Eradicated.

But that is not the worst of it. Because we are the canary in the mine. We are the Western outpost in the Middle East. Once these sharks taste blood, they will attack again… Europe will probably be first. Regaining Spain has been in the plans for hundreds of years. Substantial populations of radicalized Muslims live in France, England, and Belgium. European countries, intoxicated with “peace and love” will be an easy target. But it won’t stop there. The next place for the spread of radical Islam will be the US.

“Foolish!” you call me. “It won’t happen here.”

9/11 was also unthinkable. The West must wake up. They need to know that there are people for whom the demise of the West is their reason for living.

If those panty-waisted liberals force us to give up the fight, we will not be the only losers—and when the inevitable conflagration happens, our enemies will be all the better equipped with sophisticated weapons including Iran’s “peaceful nuclear power” and all the more confident of victory.

This war is the war of the free world against hate and fanaticism. Please don’t force us to lose. Our fate is yours.

War is hell, but it is better than the alternative.

p.s. This web log shows the unreliability of the reporting. You actually will laugh at some of the pictures and comments. It relates to a New York Times photo essay with phony pictures.

A couple of questions

I had told myself that I would get back to writing about families and marriage and spirituality, but frequently the times dictate what I write.

Yesterday was a terrible day in Israel. We lost twelve soldiers and three civilians. In the last few days there have been a large number of tragic deaths. To deny that it is traumatic for the country would be a lie. All of us are affected. All of us cry.

Once again I found myself angry. I decided to ask a couple of questions. Has anyone seen the following headline, “World condemns the targeting of innocent Israeli civilians”? Hmmm I didn’t think so. How about this one, “Hezbollah orders investigation of hit on Israeli civilians”? No? Really?

Let’s look at disproportionality: Hezbollah targets Israeli civilians—homes, shops, school, hospitals—and no one in the very moral international community (save President Bush) objects. Hezbollah kills children and grandmothers, Jews and Arabs, and no one protests. But Lebanon claims that 60 people were killed by an Israeli strike and before the words are out of the spokesman’s mouth, people are jumping to condemn Israel. When later the people are all found alive and safe, who apologizes? Who would that be? No one?

When I was a little girl, my parents still had fresh in their mind what had been done to Jews in Europe. They said, perhaps too often, that this one or that one was Anti-Semitic. After a while, I thought it was a thought pattern that they had picked up that really didn’t mean anything.

Now I am beginning to understand that to the rest of the world, we really are not worth caring about. Vast amounts of money are being collected for the “poor Lebanese” whose government stands behind the targeting of Israeli civilians. Who is helping us pay for the damage inflicted on us? Who is sending us money to feed our refugees and provide summer camps for the children and who sent us an air shipment of eight ambulances today? Jews around the world and American Christians.

May G-d bless them and may G-d protect our soldiers and citizens from harm. May he grant us victory over those who would murder us and who seek to spread their hate throughout the world.

Tisha B’Av

Last night we drove to Jerusalem to hear the book of Lamentations on Safra Square, just outside the Jerusalem city hall. Women in Green had organized this reading this year as in previous years, and as in previous years, the reading was the first part of the evening, a prelude to the walk around the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

We had walked around Jerusalem’s walls three or four years ago when the intifada was still at its height. That night, terrorists forgetting it was Tisha b’Av, had killed several foreign workers, the only people present at the targeted location. Last night we felt moved to attend once again because of the terrible war that is going on at present and our need to both give and receive support. Obviously the other tens of thousands who joined us felt similarly and as we walked, old and young, some with flags recalling the expulsion from Gush Katif and some with Israeli flags, there was once again a sense of comforting Jerusalem. Her children have not abandoned her.

When we stopped outside of Lion’s Gate, the one our soldiers entered when they recaptured the old city, there were three speeches. All of them referred to this war as having come as a result of last year’s expulsion or ten thousand Jews from Gush Katif. It emboldened our enemies. They saw that we wanted peace and quiet more than our land. And the people of the country allowed it. Soldiers followed orders and with tears in their eyes they carried women and children from their homes—families that a year later are still living in trailers and tents.

And now our terrorist enemies have forced our people in the North into shelters for over three weeks. In many towns, more than half of the population has moved south to friends, relatives, and strangers. Today eight innocent Israeli civilians were killed—three of them Arabs—by terrorists who don’t value anyone’s life.

But last night, in the clear Jerusalem air, we walked with our people – arriving at midnight at the Kotel, the Western Wall. As we came through the gate, hundreds of people were leaving. When we passed through security and arrived inside, the plaza was so filled with people that it was difficult to find a place to stand. Radio reports put the number of people there at 100,000. As we left, hundreds more were arriving, and on our fifteen minute walk to the car, we saw a constant stream of groups of people walking toward the Kotel.

Our pain is profound, but our faith and our will are strong and we will prevail.