Sunday, December 18, 2011

History's Unfortunate Lessons

One of the most frustrating things about blogging for me is the inability to write when I have an idea to write about. When I am finally able to sit down and write, the idea has escaped me and I don't touch my site.

I don't feel it necessary, right now, to discuss how great Israel is. I think it does a pretty good job of doing that itself. I do feel, however, that it is important to see the bigger picture. What could potentially hurt and what could potentially help Israel.

As we could all see from a mile away, the "Arab Spring" was not going to bode well for peace in the Middle east. The civil war in Libya, Syria killing its citizens, Egypt being Egypt...it is really a heightened version of business as usual in these countries. This is why there will never be a last peace in the Middle east. The fundamentalist Islamic groups, which may or may not be the majority, we will never know, are the loudest and the most violent. This "lovely" bunch has less regard for people than I do the trash I throw out after Shabbat.

Then, the disgusting Liberal rag, TIME magazine, decides to lump the Occupy Wall Street protesters with the Arab Spring protesters and name the the "Person/People of the Year," as if this is something to strive to. Civil unrest is never something to strive towards, nor is a protest, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.

At the same time as these protests are happening worldwide, the European Union, a horrible experiment to say the least is crumbling, throwing all economies into a tailspin, inducing fear and MORE riots in its wake. Yet, as Haaretz has reported:

"The Parliament's decision to block the agreements with Israel stems from the lack of progress in the peace process and from our ambition to pressure the Israeli government to alter this situation. If Israel would seriously act to get out of the dead end, the European Parliament would respond accordingly. As president, I will work to find compromises. Right now, it is my impression that the desire to find these sorts of compromises is greater in the European Parliament than in the government of Israel."

 How does one in his position say these comments without retribution? If anyone but President Obama were in office, you better believe that Martin Schulz would be reprimanded by one of the truest allies Israel has ever known. Since, however, we live in a world where America and its fearless leader have, on numerous occasions, slighted Israel, tried to embarrass its Prime Minister, asked Israel to return to pre-1967 borders, something America promised it would never ask Israel to do and left Israel questioning is America really in their corner. In this same world, Nikolas Sarkozy can "unintentionlly" slight PM Netanyahu with President Obama agreeing.

This sounds like a bad dream. This tiny country is considered the root of everyone else's problems. It couldn't possibly be that the Muslim religion is not one of peace, or at least those practicing it are not peaceful people. Failed Socialist policies, such as Universal Health Care, Robin Hood economics, Entitlement states, should have died when Communism fell, yet Greece, Italy, Ireland, and coming soon, America, are all falling hard, blaming everyone but themselves. Obviously, it must be Israel's fault. I mean, how can it not??!

It is not just Israel that is coming up onto a world of hurt. The entire world is suffering. The signs have been there for years. As they say, however, hindsight is 20/20. When Islam attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, it was basically considered an isolated incident by a lone wolf fundamentalist group, no different than Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma. It would have been impossible to know the ramifications of those acts then.

It would also not be wise to continue to play the blame game of who and what caused the financial crises nationally and internationally. It does no good now.

We are in unprecedented times and looking into our collective history to assign blame is pointless. However, looking at the history to help the future is imperative. Seeing that Socialism does not work, we shouldn't try to implement it again.

With regards to Israel, however, looking back at the history, a proper history, not one sullied and changed by the Liberal media, we can see who truly walked away from the peace talks, balked on peace treaties, went back on their words and continued campaigns of Terrorism against a country that would love nothing more than just to be left alone.

The sad truth is we will never learn. History proves this time and time again. I can only pray that we prove history wrong this time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are We Still Friends?

Regardless of the current President, who has done some pro-Israel things, but is not pro-Israel, the ties between the United States and Israel are strong...and important.

It is simple to understand why Israel needs the United States. Being a small, democratically inclined country in the middle of the Middle East, Israel could use all the bigger brothers and sisters it could get. They get thrown a few dollars to keep up a relationship and to keep strong and Israel is tied to America. It just makes sense.

Recently, however, I have been wondering why the United States needs Israel. For those of you who say that "the United States doesn't need anyone," you are just plain wrong. The United States needs allies. It needs places in foreign countries, especially in a pragmatic and often dangerous areas like the Middle East. Without fail, almost the entire Middle East wants Israel wiped off of the map (the little Satan) and more 9/11-type attacks on the United States (The Big Satan).

Iran

Not to pick on lil ol' Iran, but it is the largest threat to the way of life as we know it. With its unlimited funds from oil that we buy from them, they repeatedly fund terror in Israel and all over the world. Their nuclear capabilities are rapidly advancing and their eagerness to flex their muscles should make the entire world cringe.

Those are physical though and as frightening as that is, the reality is, buildings can be rebuilt. In the United States, in 2011, the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas is roughly $3.51. The average price per barrel of oil is roughly $82. These prices, which are arbitrarily set by OPEC, reflect the type of anti-Western society and anti-America sentiment within a majority of the members of OPEC. This reality is much harder to fix than a physical attack and it may even take longer. Being as dependent as we are on gas and oil, and without the ability to drill in our own lands (Thank you EPA and the ridiculous "Green" movements) we are at the whim of economic terrorists who continue to become filthy rich due to our consumption.

Saudi Arabia

Even though we have some ties in the Middle East, like in Saudi Arabia, they are really nothing but smoke and mirrors. When push comes to shove, a Middle Eastern, Muslim country will err on the side of other Middle Eastern, Muslim countries than with the falsely perceived "Great Satan." It is just common sense. Even if it is just "radicals" who are terrorizing these countries, I have rarely, if ever, seen the governments in these countries, or organizations tied with them, speak out against terrorism, the incitement from the Imams and Mullahs, the anti-US and Israel protests and other hate filled shows. Fair-weathered friends should not be shown preference.

Yet, in Israel, the Palestinian people, even those considered to be Palestinian-Israelis, have the right to protest Israel, and do so on a regular basis. Israel allows its detractors to work within the confines of their legally existing country. Israel will often times make comments stating their undying support for their ties with America when protests include America.

If America stopped throwing money into Venezuela and Brazil to set up exploratory oil drill sites and put it into Israel, which is believed to sit on huge deposits of Oil and Natural Gas, this false dependency on Iran, Saudi Arabia and the like, might not be completely broken, but at least diminished enough that they could no longer wreak havoc with our economy.

This isn't an article on oil and our consumption. I believe if we need it, use it. This is an article on the the ways to bolster the friendship and the ties between two friends. Friendly countries should be lauded and funded. Even if the benefits aren't immediately seen, the long-term benefits are an extremely worthy investment in the future. With the United States' ever increasing debt, as of September 27, 2011 it sits at almost $15 trillion dollars, we should be looking at ways of tightening our belts. If we could drill in ANWAR, in the Gulf of Mexico and other places, it would do it even more, but until then, investments into foreign oil interests in countries like Israel are the right thing to do.

Oil and Gas are just one way we can strengthen the ties between Israel and the United States. Economically, the countries can benefit each other greatly. Militarily, these two countries could help each other our greatly as well.

Now...lets get someone else in office who can recognize this important connection. Not Ron Paul please. We do not need Isolationists in these extremely unnerving times.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Container Shipments


I would like to thank my new friend, Tikva Sasson of Aliyah Lift Shipping for lending a hand at SupportingOurIsrael.com. When the new site launches, look out for Aliyah Lift Shipping's own section.


What Size Do I Need?   Shipping containers come in three sizes: 20' (1000 cubic feet), 40' (2000 cubic feet) and 40' HC (2400 cubic feet).  

To determine which container fits your needs, you can download the Aliyah Lift Calculator (ALC), which is a spreadsheet filled with many commonly sized items. Simply enter the quantity of each item you are taking, and the volume will change accordingly.   It is important to know that your surveyed volume (in-house, ALC, or over the phone) has a discrepancy of 10%-20%.

If your surveyed volume is close to a full container's volume, you may want to make a list of lower priority items and have them loaded last, or consider a larger container.


Services.  We offer the following origin services when shipping a container:
  • Full Packing and Container Loading
  • Partial Packing and Container Loading
  • Container Loading
  • None of the above - you can elect to pack and load your own container if you choose
All container shipments include delivery to your residence in Israel.


Understanding Your Quote.   Quotes involving "live loading" are given 4 hours to complete the task, and after 4 hours there is an hourly charge. This is designed to be an incentive for the customer to be prepared for the evolution at hand.

Sometimes it is more cost effective to have the container dropped off and picked up later in the day or the next day. If this is the case you may want to check with the local authorities to see if there might be a problem leaving it overnight.   If the container is left overnight, it is imperative to park a vehicle in front of the container to inhibit theft of the containers.
   Additionally, the container's doors should be locked.


Loading Day.   Most container shipments are "live loaded", which means the truck driver stays with the container and waits until the loading is completed.   Assuming everything is prepared and the container is conveniently parked, it takes a three-man crew about 3-4 hours to load a 20' container and a four-man crew about 6-8 hours for a 40' container.

Containers are large and may be difficult to maneuver in a residential neighborhoods or storage facilities.  If you have any concerns that the container will not have easy access to your residence/storage facilities, please let me know ahead of time.  I am not responsible if, on loading day, the truck cannot access your residence/storage facilities.

It is also important to know that the truck bed is approximately 5' off of the ground.   If you are self loading you will need a ramp.

When the loading is complete, the driver will put a "seal" on the back of the container, making it impossible for the truck to be opened without removing the seal.   The seal will stay on the container until it is delivered to your residence, where you should endeavor to witness its removal.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Work of Fiction

Before I start, Ghaddafi is evil. Assad is evil. Ahmedinjead is evil. The protests, or Arab Springs, happening now, are correct. These people are sick and must be removed.

The problem is that the only symbol of governance is the Muslim Brotherhood. That is a huge problem.

But, I digress.

Being that I have been out for a few weeks, please don't think that I haven't been reading, watching, observing the insanity that is happening in the world. Arab populations protesting, and many being murdered, by sick despots, eager to regain control of their regimes that are spiraling into destruction. Just tonight, I saw the end of the 42 year dictatorship of Moammar Ghaddafi. This is truly history and it is ALL important to watch and to understand the ins and outs of the fighting. People want to live like human beings. Not caged rats. They want a say in how their country runs without fear of being kidnapped, tortured and murdered. I don't think that is too much to ask.

In Israel, however, we have seen protests and calls for protests. I have seen on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets, calling for an uprising in Israel and in America.

It is truly frightening. I will not say Israel or America are perfect. In fact, those who know me know I am outraged by many of the policies of both countries. Both are nanny states that are seriously unsustainable at their current rates.

In Israel, however, a group of people, who feel entitlements are G-d's gift and can never be taken away, have taken their protests to another level. Initially, it was about housing prices and their exorbitant prices. Thats all well and good. I wish there would be some serious protesting in America over the insane prices and cost of living in the United States, but that is for another time. When discussing real estate in Israel, there are few options that are reasonably affordable. The government, in response to the protests, have started discussing options for affordable housing. This is the type of protest, in Israel, that works. And good for them. They got the government to listen.

Then the left wing groups, many of whom are extremely anti-Israel, such as Greenpeace, Rabbis for Human Rights, HaShomer HaTzair, a Socialist Youth Group, joined in on the fun. Their demands?

  1. A new taxation system would be implemented (which would include lower indirect taxes and higher direct taxes). Taxes are hard to discuss. I honestly would love to see the entire tax system of Israel revamped. I would love to see some of the "entitlements" that are granted done away with. For instance, Universal Health Care. If the Health Care system in Israel would switch to a similar system as in America, I believe the Health Care fields, and all fields that would relate to it, would shoot to the top five in the world. 
  2. Free School from an early age. Really? Not that paying for school is fun, because it isn't, but when is the government responsible for the education of its citizens? If I could, I would do away with the entire Board of Education in the United States too. When people stop having a say in their children's education, which is what happens, the quality lessens, lowering the bar to help the non-performing students pass, not the performing students succeed. It helps breed laziness and idiots and should not be on the government payroll.
  3. Privatization of State-Owned Enterprises would end. A government is not, and I repeat, NOT a business. The United States Government was wrong in investing and bailing out private companies. The idea of "Too Big To Fail" is ludicrous. It would have hurt, absolutely; it would have destabilized things, absolutely. Where is the money for the Ma and Pop stores getting run out of town from Wal-Mart and Home Depot? It is an unfortunate reality. Some people succeed, some don't. Life isn't fair and it is wrong and dangerous to assume that the government should be running businesses, especially since they can barely run themselves. The only income that should be allowed is from taxes, which is a necessary evil. Small business, entrepreneurs, business owners are what keep economies going, not governments. Governments put insane regulations that limit growth and prosperity, and often times, tax the businesses to death. The role of the government is to govern, not be CEO.
  4. More resources being invested in Public Housing and Transportation. I, for one, do not want the governing bodies of either America or Israel to be my landlords or taxi drivers. I am not talking about economically either. It is not alright to think it is normal that the government is our landlord, or our Food Stamp sugar daddy, or personal chauffeur service. This is not to say these programs aren't important. They are. They should be in place for the people who seriously need them, not those who expect them and can play the system. This hasn't worked in America. Public housing has turned into gang lands, hardly safe for family or person alike. Projects have turned into drug filled, violent places. Do we want this in Israel? I hardly think so. This social experiment has failed. 
There is an old addage "Bring a man a fish and he will eat for a day; Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."  There should be programs in Israel to accommodate the entire spectrum of people there. For those who need assistance, programs should be put in place to give it to them, as well as helping them get off of the assistance as soon as possible.

Schooling, because of the demands of the extremely varied demographic in Israel, must accommodate those demographics. Instead of calling Chareidim "lazy," why haven't the leaders of those communities establish schools to help the increasing poverty levels within their constituency? In the "Chilonim" camp, why are they not learning to take their "social justice and equality" and work with the "Chareidim," and vice versa?

Why aren't Olim, Immigrants, from different countries, integrated into Israeli society according to their knowledge and customs? Olim from India have different social mores and structures than those from Seattle. Those from New York have different from Morocco. It makes no sense. To throw them all together and expect "social equality" to reign supreme.

These leftist protesters are dreaming if they think they are correct in their demands. Yes, changes do need to be made, but by socializing the country is not the way to do it. The USSR didn't work, Cuba doesn't work, China is only Communist by name. These protests are merely functional works of fiction. They look nice, but are ridiculous and poorly thought out.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What A Break Can Do

As many of you have noticed, I took a little break from writing. I did this for mental health and to gather my wits about me.

Supporting Our Israel is about to have some new features. I have been working hard over the last few weeks, trying to piece together a clear(er) direction of where I think that Supporting Our Israel will go. It can be so much more than just an EXCELLENT website. Supporting Our Israel can actually be a service to the general public.

Please G-d, I will be switching Supporting Our Israel into a real website soon, with separate pages for videos, community highlights, business highlights and many other things.

You will all soon be reading articles written by several tour guides in Israel. To show the absolute beauty of Israel, pictures will accompany. I strongly urge you all to frequent these guides. They are such a vital component to the Israeli economy.

You'll also be reading articles from a company that helps move you from Shmutz L'Aretz a.k.a. Outside of Israel, to Israel. With tips, tricks, videos and other very helpful and insightful ideas, the articles written by them will surely help raise the dipping numbers of Olim.

Also, please G-d, Supporting Our Israel, is going to be working in conjunction with several politicians and diplomats on setting up businesses and housing for the American Chareidi sector. With the political and economic climate in shambles in the United States, England, France, Greece, Italy, etc.; it just makes sense to try and work on providing the tools to make Aliyah. This means jobs, housing, education, synagogues. This means working together, regardless of religious affiliations, to better the positions of all of our fellow Jews.

Please note: I specifically said the "Chareidi" sector for a reason. In the "Modern" Orthodox circles, the Dati Leumi circles and many others, programs are set up already to push and promote Aliyah. in the "Chareidi" sector, Zionism is still a bad word, and it doesn't have to be. You do not have to agree with the idea of a Jewish state to live in Israel. Israel, our Holy Land, happens to be known as the Jewish state, but many times, it tries hard to deny that. American "Charedim" can begin to acclimate in Israel, helping the country they live in prosper, at the same time, take advantage of the benefits of being in Israel.

This is no longer about being a Zionist. This is about the safeguarding of our home, people, religion and most importantly, our families. A Chareidi can be friends with a Chiloni. Nationalist and non-Nationalists can work together to stay safe and prosper. It happens in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, London, Australia....Supporting Our Israel is working to make Israel part of that list.

These may be pipe dreams, my dear readers. I hope not. I hope to be able to establish companies in Israel, to boost the potential of Aliyah from Chutz L'Aretz. I hope to show American "Chareidim" that Israel is not just a place for Yeshiva or to visit. It is a viable, lively option to make a parnassah and to raise a Yiddeshe family.

If you have ideas, would like to write, want to voice your opinion or just say hi, please comment on any post with your email address, email me at SimonIsraelBlog@gmail.com, Facebook me. Do whatever you can.



Sunday, July 31, 2011

Something About Tzipi



I've written about Tzipi Livni before and with performances like this...I will continue to do so.

Zoabi needs to go. Not because she is an Arab. There are Arabs in Israel and they need a voice, but the need a voice that doesn't hurt there opinions and their standing in Israel.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Glenn Beck: A Lone Voice



One of the most damning things about Glenn Beck is that he is a loud voice of reason. He has become a lightning rod of hate and smearing. Even on the Jewish front, those who support Israel, think he is a liar and a "closet" anti-Semite. His words, like so many others, are taken out of context, or if he says something for shock value, it is played ad nausea, until people believe he is actually all of those horrible names.

To be on the level with everyone, I have not read and heard everything Glenn Beck has written and said. For several reasons. Personally, I don't like all the Jesus preaching; if you want to be a religious Christian, be my guest, but in a public forum, I find it means more if you practice what you preach instead of preaching what you practice. That being said, he is what he is. His delivery is not for me.

Glenn Beck, however, is not an anti-Semite. He is a pro-Semite. He is a pro-Israel, pro-Jew Christian. Even if you don't like their ulterior motives, people like Glenn Beck are some of the fiercest supporters of the State of Israel. If not for the religious motive, than for the Democracy motive; and in these times of serious distress, we can use all hands on deck.

Glenn Beck is really a lone voice. He is a smart, passionate, vocal voice of reason and kindness, not just to Jews, but to Christians and Muslims as well. He has, on many occasions, stood up for Muslims whose conservative, non-extremist voices are seldom, if ever, heard. Yet, he is hated. Shame. People will try to bring "proofs" of him lying, stretching the truth and messing up. This constant malignment has raised the man to a polarizing figure. Leftists and Liberals say he is causing riffs in society, but they are the only ones who point out his supposed flaws.

As a general rule, when discussing Jewish-Christian relations, I am not the strongest proponent. Its with a guarded acceptance that I actually do accept it. This is not because I hate Christianity, but because of situations I have experienced that makes me question motives, but Christians United for Israel, Glenn Beck and similar organizations and people, must be accepted and held in high esteem for their work. Without them, it would be the Jews against everyone else. We have partners in peace and prosperity, we should embrace them, not shun them.

Start listening to reason people, we are in a time period where all voices count.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

West Bank NOT Occupied? Really?



These little short videos are really growing on me.

Response to +972 Magazine Absurdity

Original Article Found at +972

It is a very interesting thing, reading the anti-Israel websites. I find them to be...well...absurd. Without thinking about it, they see a situation and automatically it is Israel's fault. It is truly fascinating. Israel can never do anything right in these people's eyes.

For instance:

"Anybody who believes the platitude that the people want peace, it’s just the leaders who want war, should have been at Ben-Gurion Airport today. It’s a good thing those Free Palestine activists got arrested; otherwise, the little mob that formed spontaneously would have punched them up pretty good."

Its sad really. Why should Israeli citizens be angry at people just speaking their mind and practicing free speech? Do you not get it Mr. Derfner? Are you really so blind to the situation as a whole? Why do you think the Israelis are upset? I mean, I have known Israelis to be, for the most part, extremely warm, kind people. Very welcoming. So I guess it just doesn't make sense that they don't want the "Free Palestine" activists in Israel?

Honestly, thank G-d you live in Israel, because if you acted like you did in Iran or Syria, your head would be conveniently misplaced.

"I was there ostensibly as a journalist, and I was scribbling notes, but I felt cowardly not saying anything to these nationalist hooligans, so I started telling them in Hebrew, “What are these people doing?” The woman who wanted them thrown in the garbage said, “They’re hurting us!” I said, “They’re talking,” and the little mob turned on me, a couple of the men raised their fists. The woman told me, “Go back home, get out of here,” I said, “I live here.” The cops mistook me for a demonstrator, put me in the police van, but when I showed them my press card, they let me go."

As a journalist with a conscience, Mr. Derfner, do you not see screaming "Israel Apartheid" and "Free Palestine" is an act of provocation? Would you want to be called an anti-Semite or a biggot when you have actually done nothing wrong?  Maybe I'll sit here, with my head in the clouds, and call you a racist. Does it make sense? I've not even met you and have absolutely no proof to support this statement.

Is Israel an apartheid state? You say yes because Desmond Tutu says it is. He MUST know about it because he lived apartheid for so long. You say Desmond Tutu, I'll say Malcom Hedding, who says its not apartheid, but self-defense. How about former President of South Africa during the apartheid era, F.W. de Klerk, who said "I think comparisons are odious. I think it’s dangerous. It’s not a direct parallel, but there are some parallels to be drawn. Why did the old vision of so many separate states in South Africa fail? Because the whites wanted to keep too much land for themselves. Why will it fail, if it fails in Israel and Palestine? Because Palestine is maybe not offered an attractive enough geographical area to say 'this is the country of Palestine'"

My personal favorite is this one:


"In the Durban Review Conference of 2009, the Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh criticized Arab Knesset members for supporting extremism and calling Israel a "state of apartheid" rather than fighting for the rights of Arab citizens of Israel.
And then they come here to tell us that Israel is a state of apartheid? Excuse me. What kind of hypocrisy is this? What then are you doing in the Knesset? If you are living in an apartheid system, why were you allowed, as an Arab, to run in the election? What are you talking about? We do have problems as Arabs with the establishment here. But to come and say that Israel is an apartheid state is a big exaggeration. I am not here to defend Israel, but I think that Knesset members like this gentleman are doing huge damage to the cause of Israeli Arabs. I want to see the Knesset member sitting in the Knesset, in Jerusalem, and fighting for the rights of Arabs over there." Found on Wikipedia.

My point is this, Mr. Derfner. You are judged by the company you keep. Yes, there are crazy people on both sides. I will continue to delegitimize them because they do not speak for me. You, however, agree with these crazy people. They failed at the "Flotilla", which your friend Joseph Dana, was aboard. They blamed sabotage. Does Israel really care about the Flotilla? Not even slightly. Even if you brought building supplies through the right channels, it would be a fraction of what Israel already supplies the Palestinian Authority on a weekly basis. Israel doesn't want the Flotilla because it breaks a legal barrier, set up to keep its citizens safe from the terrorist groups in Gaza...or do you call them "Freedom Fighters?"

When you started yelling at the people protesting the protestors, you chose sides. You should have actually been arrested. You are lucky you actually weren't. And if you honestly think that you are bringing "oxygen to a suffocating nation," I would offer to pay for your plane ticket straight to Tehran, they LOVE free thinking "journalists" like you.

I can beg and plead for you to actually focus on an issue that is actually important, like Iran becoming nuclear, or Syria killings its citizens, but I think because you live in a nation that is being suffocated, the lack of oxygen has severely damaged your brain. I can only pray for you Mr. Derfner. Refuah Shleimah.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Unexplainable

The term "there are no words" doesn't describe what many people, including myself, are feeling today.

Supporting Our Israel isn't just about Israel, its about Jews too. We are one nation with one country, G-d given. We are G-d's children. When someone has a joyous event, we can all celebrate as family. When a tragedy happens, we do not shirk the responsibility, we gather around and try to make the best of a situation, or at least try to bring the pain down, no matter how minute.

Leiby Kletzky, HY"D, was only eight years old. Just typing those words choke me up and bring tears to my eyes. This beautiful child was murdered and the killer, whose name I will never write on this blog, is playing games, telling the judge today he hears voices and other nonsense.

Two nights ago, I was called by a friend of mine to go a half hour away and go help look for Leiby. I got dressed, had a quick dinner, told my wife I'll be back soon and left. We arrived in Borough Park and saw hundred of people active. It was such a Kiddush Hashem. Not only Jews, but I saw Muslims, Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Russians, we all came together, unfortunately for naught, to look for this holy neshama. I felt proud to be part of the search effort, and in retrospect, I was only three of four blocks away from where his body was found.

People are right. There are no words. Many of my friends are like me, new parents. It doesn't compute, as a parent, to hear of someone losing their child, let alone in such a horrifying and disturbing manner. There are no words. It is frightening and nauseating.

Supporting Our Israel, meaning myself, Simon, stands for helping the Jewish Ideal. It doesn't just mean to help Israel. Without the Jews, Israel would just be another country, and without Israel, Jews would just be another religious group. We stand apart though, because in times of trouble and times of sorrow, such as now, we stand together, whether its bombs dropping in Sderot, a Jew in need of financial assistance, or coming together in memory of a murdered little boy, who only wanted to walk by himself from camp to his mother, roughly seven blocks away.

How can one explain this? How can one try to digest that one of our own perpetrated this heinous, disgusting, horrifying crime? It is unexplainable. Its incomprehensible. Truth is, however, I don't know if I want to comprehend it. This epitome of evil, disgusting entity, not even a human being, is so far off of many people's radars because it is just that, unexplainable.

There is no way to swallow this, but we can only learn a lesson. One I have always preached, in Yeshiva, in NCSY, on campus...We are all Jews. As Jews, we take the bad and we change ourselves. We make ourselves a little better. That is the greatest tribute we can give this little boy. Be nicer to your parents, or spouse, or children. Tell your kids, if you have, that you love them and let them never forget it either.

Ask anyone who may know me. I am not the type of guy who cries. I never have been. I have known Death, however, too much since I have been in New York, or for that matter, since I was young. I have had a family friend murdered, a friend hit by a dump truck, a friend drop dead of a serious heart problem and, more recently, a failed pregnancy that almost took my wife. Yet, this boy, whom I have never met, from a family I do not know, has completely floored me.

There are no words.

Believe me Leiby, you will be remembered. If for nothing else, then you have changed this single Jew. I can only sit here and try to change myself and hopefully, by proxy, my family, friends, and community.

We should never know of such tragedies again. We should only live to see Mashiach, to see the Geulah/Redemption and to once again, see those taken from us, including Leiby, in that time, playing with his siblings again, hugging his parents, and bringing nachas to Klal Yisrael.

To say there are no words would be a lie. There are words, but they can't come out and be heard over the crying and the sobbing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Game Plans

Recently on Israel National News, there was an article discussing the new Aliyah policy of Israel and the Israel Agency. Are they right or wrong? Who cares? Its an agency that should be doing more and is not focused. Which is a lot like the rest of the government these days.

For Israel to continue having high numbers of Olim yearly, which from the year 2000 has dropped dramatically, the entire country has to focus. The entire government is at fault, not just the Israel Agency. High taxes, lack of employment, lack of security in many areas that should be secured and low amounts of reasonable areas for families to live and grow, on top of many other, deeper issues, make the job of the Israel Agency more difficult, many times over.

So how should proceed? Where should they center their focus?

Think Like an Oleh

Religious Ideology is the main factor of a Jew from the Diaspora moving to Israel. Regardless of their affiliation within Judaism, a Jew moving to Israel is a deeply religious experience, but in an era where religion is being put on the back burner for reasonable places to live, earn a living and raising a family, Israel must bring themselves to be the forerunner. A place where religion and reasonable living can coexist.

Jobs

How does Israel expect to attract new immigrants if there is no way to make a living? Israel is on the forefront of Research and Development, Information Technology, Medical Research and many other things. As great as this is, however, not everyone hoping to move to Israel is a Doctor or an Engineer. There are many contractors, plumbers, electricians, store owners and office workers, who would become great citizens of Israel. They would move, go to work, pay their taxes and keep the economy flowing in the local environment and the national environment.

Why are they not being sought after? After all, isn't there a "residential crunch" in many of the major Metropolitan areas? Wouldn't building outwards, filling Israel in the South, North, East and West with families of good, tax paying citizens help Israel, via money and security? I can guarantee that money speaks when security is being discussed. In fact, if Yehuda and Shomron had more tax income producing businesses and business parks in their borders, do you think the government would be so quick to dismantle outposts and relocate their own citizens? Not that there isn't an economy in Yesha, but it is not enough to make the government's ears perk up.

Security

Jew or Non-Jew, in or out of America, every time I speak to someone about Israel and making Aliyah, the most often asked question I get is "Aren't you scared?"

Short answer, yes. Yes I am. Who wouldn't be? All we hear today is the horrible atrocities perpetrated by the PA against Israel and its citizens, which include Muslim Palestinians as well. Who in their right mind would want to have neighbors like that?

Long answer, no. The last few years, Israel's security infrastructure, including the IDF, has earned a bad reputation for lack of training, lack of proper equipment and lack of a true understanding of their enemies. When I read "34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah and the War in Lebanon" by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, it was almost embarrassing to read the mishaps of the military on such a level.

However, law enforcement agencies worldwide come to train in Israel in anti-terror tactics, the Israeli Air Force is deadly accurate and the IDF, as flawed as many people may make it seem to be, are true warriors fighting for their country. There are mishaps and other very stupid and wrong things done in the Israeli Military (i.e.; Gaza Withdrawal, Second Lebanese War,) but as it is in any country, its not the soldiers, its the leaders.

This subject was brought up because it ties into the first subject, Jobs. A growing economy, citizens producing for the state, so to speak, will bring the security that the country so desperately needs. Money is what makes Israel a viable companion to the USA, Canada, South America, Europe and Asia. The idea that its Democratic leanings is why America backs it is ludicrous. America does business with China, enough said. Israel is a solid partner in economic dealings, its political stances merely sweeten the deal.

Housing
Whether people like to admit it or not, we in the US, have become accustomed to a certain standard of living. In New York, its a little more cramped, on the West Coast, it is a sprawling skyline. In Israel, roughly being the size of the state of New Jersey, has taken the initiative to build up, not out, in many places. Americans for sure, and I am assuming Europeans, are not as accustomed to the living situations in Israel. Maybe if you're from New York.

Although I am a Conservative, I will never call for the destruction of natural spaces for the need of Human beings, but ANWAR needs to be drilled and the Negev and much of the vast open lands of Israel must be populated. The security and the economic tidings of the State depend on it. The stacked living arrangements have gone on long enough, its time to start building single family houses, developments, including apartment buildings and commercial centers, in scarcely populated areas. Israel leads the field in desert living technology and would be able to turn the most desolate areas of the Negev into beautiful oases of communities of Israelis, living and growing, making Israel stronger with each new Oleh or each new birth.

The Israel Agency is not to blame. They are only a small appendage of a bigger problem.

Explaining the Middle East



One of the most fascinating aspects of the Middle East is the history. The Fertile Crescent as some may call it. The birthplace of civilization. We have so much to learn about the history of the Human race. That is exactly what this group is doing.

A conglomeration of Israel, Jordan and even the Palestinian Authority, are working together to help develop an idea of what Israel was like in the Dead Sea region. The findings could help with settlement, disaster relief and the understanding of human's settlement of the region.

You may be asking why this is important. It is important for many reasons:

(1) Its important to understand the settlement, developments and lifestyles of our ancestors in this region because it can further help the development of the third world countries. Arid and Desert communities in Africa, Asia and India can benefit from this research.

(2) The development of technologies and strategies, in Israel and Jordan, can help bring a new industry, and further economic development into the developing countries. Imagine Sudan being a center of agriculture, producing food, not just for their country, but worldwide, all because the information gathered at the Dead Sea. It may sound like a stretch, but this is how countries have developed into the technologically driven age we live in today.

(3) With the understanding of weather patterns, natural disasters and other acts of G-d, we can further develop strategies to decrease the death and destruction in our own societies.

History is to be learned from, not forgotten. The lessons we can learn from the Dead Sea are still a mystery, but it will be extremely exciting to see what information comes from this research.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

They Are Starting to Get It!

Article Found on YNetNews

I would just like to congratulate the Israeli Government.It only took 60+ years...but this is the way to get new olim!!! Keep it up!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

B'nei Menashe

Found on Arutz 7

Shavei Israel and Michael Freund have done some truly amazing work in the past. They continue it today with Israel's acceptance of approximately 7,000 "lost" Jews from India.

This is not a halachic discussion on their status of Jews. I will not posit if they are or are not. I do believe a few things regarding the Aliyah of these individuals.

1) Definitive Status: In today's environs, many Jews have questionable halachic statuses. Mixed marriage and assimilation have run rampant in countries like the US. This is with the yeshiva system, groups like the OU, Agudah Yisrael, NCYI and other Jewish organizations re-establishing Judaism in the diaspora. Many people, including myself, have been subject to accept Judaism and have a conversion process that is not as stringent as a true goy going through the process. Even more so, in a country like India, where organizations like those in the US and Europe, have not set their roots, it is impractical to think that a community, no matter how they view themselves, is fully Jewish. This is not to say that they aren't, but we have no way of knowing. There have been Jews in India for many hundreds of years, via the Spice Route, Silk Road and other trade routes. There was mention of them, I'm sure, but what could hurt for a group such as this to reaffirm the faith that they say they adhere to.

2) Slippery Slope: I think that without this definitive status, it can open up a flood gate of people that would play the system, as has been reported with a large number of the Russian Aliyah, looking for a better life, but refuse to play by the legal rules of the country.

3) Placement: There needs to be a system in place to help integrate this beautiful community with the general public. Mistakes were made with the aforementioned Russian Aliyah, as well as the Ethiopian and Yemenite Aliyah. Unfortunately, many of these beautiful communities struggle to gain footing in Israel. Often times, they live in extremely poor neighborhoods with no integration into the Israel public, and not for lack of trying. Israel was just not set up to handle these types of communities and the social mores that come along with them. If the Bnei Menashe community would like to stand a chance, it would behoove the Israeli government, Shavei Israel and other groups, to acclimate them before making Aliyah, including Ulpan, social classes and setting up community centers that provide help, both financially and socially. This is not to say that there haven't been cases where people have succeeded, because there has, but generally, an infrastructure would lessen the hardships of leaving a country and reestablishing their community in Israel.

4) Location: It is extremely important for Israel, specifically the Ministry of the Interior, to settle this community in areas that are well guarded, but lacking in a Jewish presence. It sounds like I am calling for the ghettoization of Bnei Menashe, and I guess in a sense, I am. It is not to say that they can't leave these areas, but establishing them in these communities, giving them a home base to grow and strengthen is not a terribly bad idea. After settled and acclimated to a new country and social structure, and when they feel comfortable enough to venture out, they could, and have something to fall back on. Support for such a large migration is so important.

It is so amazing to see the ingathering of the exiles like this. I am so lucky to merit seeing it and I welcome it whole-heartedly. I wish Shavei Israel could do this in so many other countries. In fact, I read an article about the Hidden Jews of the Island of Majorca. It would be beautiful to help them out of hiding and to bring them home with their family. It is, however, a situation that can backfire for both Israel and Bnei Menashe, and I hope that steps are taken to help this beautiful, history rich community thrive in Israel. I believe that with the right tools, they will be a shining example of what Olim and Jews can be and can do in Israel.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

GO NORTH!

Article on Arutz7

Nefesh b'Nefesh, probably one of my favorite organizations of all time, instituted a program called "Go North." that settles new Olim in the North of Israel. Their goal is 1,500 olim in 5 years. I do believe that is a tremendously low number. Realistically, I believe that they will meet this goal, but when it comes to programs like this, I like to see big numbers.

Lets say 5,000 to 7,500 new Olim in 5 years.

My logic is simple. Just like a raffle, people on the fence would like to help out and may buy another raffle ticket or two, so to with Aliyah. To be a part of a movement can often be the deciding factor on major life changes. Making Aliyah is an ideological move, so to do it with the incentive that you are part of a large group settling the land, its sweetens the deal.

With a goal of 5,000 to 7,500 new Olim, the government will pay attention a little more. Such a major influx in a relatively short amount of time, lofty, yet reachable goals, and a proven organization, if Israel didn't pay attention, they would just be stupid.

What the government should do to help facilitate this type of program is to promote the North. Start to build commercial centers, where businesses can open. Opportunity for a livelihood will be a major factor in the decision of future Olim as well. Along with the building of commercial centers, tax breaks, incentives for business owners and potential start-up businesses in that area of the country should also be instituted. Programs like this have a high track record of success and can help the country become a highly developed, profitable center.

On a side note: I would really like to see Nefesh b'Nefesh start pinpointing communities, both in Israel and Abroad. For example: Tiberias needs to expand, or gain ground in the great Arab land grab. There are roughly 1,500 Jews in Norway. There should be a major push from Nefesh b'Nefesh in Norway. Helping with moving costs, business replacement, etc. Focusing on bringing Jews home.

I know this sounds ridiculous and practically insane, emptying the Jews out of countries to bring them to Israel. First off, it is not so crazy. Operation Solomon, Operation Flying Carpet, etc. Secondly, I didn't say start in the United States. Countries like Norway, which have historically been pretty good with the Jews. Now, however, the climate of Anti-Semitism has reached a point where the echoes of WWII anti-Jewish sentiment. It is like this in many countries in Europe. So..why should they remain there? Make it easy for them to get out before it gets too bad. Make it completely worth their while. Short term, a lot of money may be spent, but long term, the more citizens, the more money. The government wins because it is another taxable income and the economy is boosted because it has another person or family to spend money.

Plus, 1,500 people moving to Israel? That would fill the Go North goals...think about it NBN.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Volunteers

Recently, a family member approached me, asking if I knew of any kibbutzim or programs that are looking for volunteers. Sadly, I didn't, but that got me thinking about some of the problems in Israel that I have been hearing about since I started writing Supporting Our Israel in March.

In the North, Ranchers are in the fields almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, protecting their land, herds, livelihood and families. I am not exaggerating either. It is more than a full time job. With the wildlife in the area, including Israeli-Arabs, the European cattle are often stolen, mutilated or slaughtered, left in the fields to rot and to be found by their rightful owners. Besides for the need for a more self-sufficient cattle (if you would like to help support this project, please follow this link: The Israel Longhorn Project), the need for an extra set of hands on the ranch could afford the ranchers an opportunity to rest, build fences and other security measures.

In Judea/Samaria, Yesha, a force of volunteers could help with the building of houses, fences and agriculture. Since the Shomron has many smaller towns that are dependent on agriculture, the building of a new barn, vineyard, orchard or even a chicken coop, would boost the monetary value of their yields, as well as provide the families with food, if need be.

Organizations, such as the Shomrim HaChadash, I'm sure, could use a few extra hands. One Israel Fund could also probably use a few extra hands, helping to install the new security systems, including fences and camera placement.

For as long as I can remember, I have heard of people volunteering their time in Israel. It always made me wonder why people would give up their time, and many times, their money, to fly to Israel, work very physical labor and then just...leave. Then, during my year in Israel, I heard someone speak about the mitzvah, or commandment, of tzedakah, or charity. It was explained that putting money in the pushka is nice, and should be done often, but to really give, your physical presence is required. It shows you connect with someone on the most personal of levels. It shows that you share in their pain, as well as their pleasure.

Working next to someone who lives Israel, not just lives in Israel, is life-altering. To try and understand, let alone explain, why someone lives in Israel, especially over the silly "Green Line," is impossible. Until you experience the beauty of the rolling hills of the Shomron, the hospitality of the "settlers," the locally grown food and drink, you cannot and will not understand.

This is why volunteers are needed. It is not just for the helping hands. It is to bring all of the Congregation of Israel into their world. To support them when the volunteers go back home, university or wherever their travels may take them. It produces soldiers in the hasbara army. They are armed with emotional connections to the Land of Milk and Honey. They are armed with information. They are armed with the images and faces of the people who risk their lives, in many cases, to live in their ancestral homeland. Its makes it personal when an Anti-Israel propagandist spews their lies and hatred about Israel and its citizens.

Over the next several weeks, unless someone beats me to the punch, I will be adding a column and website to SupportingOurIsrael.com. It will be of a new project I have decided to start. In many Jewish communities, there are systems where the high school seminary girls go out into the community, helping mothers cook for Shabbos/Shabbat/Sabbath, babysit for free or just generally help families that may need an extra set of hands every once in a while. This is the idea for my new project. The website will be a gathering place of information to help find and place volunteers and volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities to help fund projects, flights, food and lodging.

This was not the reason I started Supporting Our Israel, but life does take funny turns. One family member looking to give his time to Israel and now this.

How are you helping Israel?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Freelance Op-Ed: American Politics and Israel

I am going to try something new here Ladies and Gentlemen. Without an article to start myself off with, I am going to attempt to write and Op-Ed piece and not sound like a moron. Of course, this is a publicity stunt, as I am trying to get my foot in the door with some of the bigger names in Pro-Israel media. So shameless promotion… here I come!

With 2012 around the corner, the American Political landscape could have another massive change, as it did in 2010, with the Republican take-back of the House of Representatives. There are some fairly heavy Republican candidates throwing their hats into the Presidential ring. Some are well known, such as Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain; and others not, Fred Karger and Andy Martin. As a Pro-Israel blogger, Jew and as someone who has family living in Israel, obviously I will be focused on Israel, but what interests (can also be read as scares) me are the reactions to the Arab world.

The Republican Party, as well as many Democrats, are staunch supporters of Israel. Undoubtedly, all GOP candidates support Israel in some way.  However, how do the candidates feel about the growing unrest in the rest of the Middle East? Extremist threats? Terrorism?

This issue is much more important than their cookie-cutter, albeit welcomed, answers on Israel.

Iran

The most awe-inspiring, fear inducing site in the Middle East today is Iran. They have blatantly disregarded UN resolutions*, calls to disarm, cease assisting Terrorism in the Middle East, as well as providing funding to terrorist cells worldwide.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, has repeatedly lied to the US and its allies. He has called for the downfall of the governments of the US and Europe, as well as many other countries; called for the annihilation of Israel and Jews, as well as officially not recognizing Israel as a legitimate sovereign nation. A constant Holocaust denier and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, his insane rantings are still listened to by millions of Muslims and sympathizers worldwide.

The connection between Iran and Syria is also well known. Steady supplies of Iranian weapons have been found in Syrian hands, specifically in the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005. Iran has also had ties with terrorist groups in Yemen, Lebanon, the Philippines, Bosnia and many other countries, both monetarily and with weapons. Furthermore, the continued ties with North Korea and the shared interests and building of Nuclear Power plants, fitted to produce weapons grade Uranium, has deemed Iran the foundation of threat in the Middle East.

If candidates want to win my vote, Iran must be dealt with harshly. Sanctions do not work. Strongly worded resolutions are even less effective. To fight fire, you must have fire. As far as I could tell, Libya was a mistake. Ghaddaffi is actually relatively harmless to everyone outside of Libya. Starting their first day in the Oval Office, if there should be a new President, the focus should be moved from Libya to Iran. Troops in Iraq should be pushed towards the Iran/Iraq border. Alliances, such as with Israel, NATO and other such forces, should be consolidated into a joint force. If we are going to have a war on Terrorism, it should be with the masterminds, not the grunts. Iran is the true enemy. Once it falls, the other will tumble.

Egypt

Although the treaties between Israel and Egypt were shaky at best, they were still enforced. With the “Arab Spring” gaining serious momentum, the major Middle East upset was Egypt. Hosni Mubarak, former President of Egypt was overthrown, the opposition jailing him and arraigning him for crimes against the State.
Many times since the original sales agreement between Egypt and Israel of Natural Gas, members of the opposition parties have cried foul.

“We oppose any agreement with this rapacious entity Israel," Essam al-Arian, a leading member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, which controls a fifth of the seats in parliament.” (IPSNews.net) 2008.
This sentiment was again voiced after the fall of Mubarak and has been one of the rallying calls to all Egyptians from the “Moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. If Egypt falls into the extremist’s hands, it will be yet another border that Israel must defend. Considering earlier this month, Egypt opened the Rafah Crossing into Gaza, it seems the relationship between the two countries may be cooling further. Interesting side note, almost days after the initial opening, a restriction has been placed on the Rafah Crossing because of the inability to secure the border and because the Palestinians are seen as a nuisance and unreliable.

If Mubarak is still alive in 2012, the candidates should do everything possible to save him and his family. I may not agree with him or his stances on Israel, but the devil you know is often better than the devil you don’t. His more moderate leanings could spell calm for at least one border for Israel, making it that much safer.


Lebanon and Syria

Although I am aware that Lebanon and Syria are two separate entities, because of their shared history together, as well as with Israel, they must be grouped together.

Syria, Iran’s little brother, has been a regional bully for years. Only recently, in 2005, did they un-occupy Lebanon. Earlier this month, to take focus off of the protests happening in Damascus and his killing of innocent civilians, Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, paid people to rush the borders of Israel on Nakba and Naksa days, days of protest towards Israel. There are even reports that Assad paid protestors to be shot, to make it look like Israel was aggressive towards “peaceful, civilian protestors.”

Lebanon, whose government is in the process of completely crumbling, has Hezbollah. Placed on the US Terrorist entity list in 1999, Hezbollah has continued to perpetrate terrorist attacks, including the murders of Eyal Banin, Shani Turgeman and Wissam Nizal, as well as the kidnappings and eventual murders of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, which was the ignition of the Second Lebanese War in 2006. Hezbollah’s mouthpiece, Hassan Nasrallah, is a self-styled leader, who in look and in actions, copy the vicious Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khameni. This is no coincidence.

Candidates would only have to have harsh words towards Syria and Lebanon, as well as a strong vocal support of Israel in dealings with these two countries. Words will be strong enough, because if Iran were to fall, the despotic government of Syria and Hezbollah would be rendered ineffectual. There would be no support, money or weapons.


Jordan

With the hopeful fall of Iran, including its puppet governments in other Muslim countries, Jordan, which has the most stable peace treaty of Israel, will quiet down. At the moment, the “Arab Spring” is running rampant through the streets of Amman. Without the extremists supporting these uprisings and fanning the flames, Jordan can remain on friendly-ish terms with Israel.

Like Dominoes, everything will fall in order. With the major players quieted, a new status quo can replace the hatred in the Middle East. Moderate governments, who can be coerced to recognize Israel, should recognize the benefits of being moderate. A higher quality of life, economic security and a noticeable lack of bodily harm from extremists, these countries would have a chance.


Palestinian Authority

This is a touchy subject for many. Are you a Single State believer? Two State Solution? Kahana Chai? Peace Now? Neturei Karta? Whatever your personal beliefs are, for the sake of argument, let’s say Israel decides that a Two State solution is too dangerous, the “West Bank” is becomes “officially” part of Israel, and Gaza is reunited with the rest of Israel. Where will the Palestinian Authority turn to? The funding from the Terrorist states will have dried up. The weapons pipelines will have stopped. The vocal and fraternal support, which is a joke to begin with considering Palestinians in other countries are treated as Second-class citizens, unlike in Israel, where they have access to full rights and citizenship, will have quieted.

My fervent hope is that someone is already planning this, or at least parts of it. Evil begets evil. When the keystone is taken out, the entire network will crumble because chaos, which Terrorism is, is unsustainable without millions of dollars and access to weapons.

We all, hopefully, pray for the peace and safety of Israel. Its mere existence is the Western world’s hope. If the GOP were to take back the White House and/or Senate, as well as keep the House of Representatives, or a mixture of the three, its foreign policy must revolve around Israel. Their support, vocally, monetarily, and physically, is not just a vote of confidence for Israel, but a vote of confidence in the ideals that the United States was based off of; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.