Israel’s ‘High Holy Days’

Dear Editor,

When growing up in Brooklyn, I recall the twice-a-year guests in our little shul. During the High Holy Days, even the public-school kids came with their white or black satin “bar mitzvah” yarmulkes perched awkwardly on their heads. I remember gazing at their shiny leather shoes on Yom Kippur and thinking, “Don’t they know anything?” But it was clear to me that as strange as they may have felt holding a Siddur, they wanted badly to be counted as one of their people. That was a long time ago.

I now live in Israel where I celebrate an additional set of High Holy Days–ones I never knew in Brooklyn. After Pesach begins a national emotional roller coaster.

Beginning with the sad, introspective Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Soldiers Memorial Day, to the celebrations of Independence Day and Yom Yerushalayim, in rapid pace the heart is torn in so many directions.

Is there an Israeli version of the bewildered boy with the satin skullcap? Perhaps. The country stands still together when the two-minute siren is heard. We bow our collective heads in memory and prayer. Well, most join. There are two groups, otherwise very different, who do not.

Some of our brothers have not been able to step out of Brooklyn–or Warsaw or Vilna. The Jewish state, its army, celebrations, and commemorations were not supposed to happen. Proper Jewish life was rudely disturbed when the Jewish people came home and reconnected to the land of our love. They seem to be struggling with an unexpected surprise for which they were just not ready. I am confident that this gap will narrow with time.

The others in Israel who do not stand when the siren wails are Israel’s Arabs. They used to be a bit discreet about just not being in a public area when the rest of the country stood in silence. However, lately our Independence Day is their loudly proclaimed “Nakba” (disaster) day of rage and protest. Waving PLO flags and marching against the Jewish state, these citizens bewail the failure of the Arabs to succeed in committing genocide against the Jews of Israel in 1948. Tough day for them.

It’s not easy living in the only democracy in the Mideast. Their “narrative” is supported by many of our very own “intelligentsia” like former Education Minister Yuli Tamir who included the Nakba “narrative” for all Jewish children to learn.

Celebrated Israeli writer Amos Oz (a founder of Peace Now) has recently compared the “price tag” graffiti scribblers to the Nazis. It is assumed that these “Nazis” are embittered teens who are striking back at murderous Arabs and an unresponsive, indifferent establishment, though none have been prosecuted yet.

The same Amos Oz falls over himself in his praise of PLO chief Marwan Barghouti, who is serving six life sentences for the brutal murder of dozens of Jewish men, women, and children. He rushed to his prison cell to give him a copy of his latest book. For whom does he stand when the siren wails?

Then there is late Prof. Yishayahu Leibowitz. He coined the phrase “Judo-Nazi” to describe Israelis who believe that it is indeed our right to live in all parts of our land. His grandson chose to represent Mr. Barghouti in court and described him as “great a leader of his people as Moses was for his.”

Why do our media refer to “price tags” as “hate crimes,” but when a young Jewish girl is murdered by terrorists it is a “nationalist motivated act”? Did they not murder the young girl because they hated the Jew in her? Or is it just a matter of “narrative”?

I imagine that the spring High Holy Days must be a confusing time for these guardians of morality. I thank G‑d that I have returned to the place where the only really important narrative is unfolding before my eyes. It is indeed a roller coaster at times and I hope all my fellow Jews will join. It is, after all, a great ride.

Shalom Pollack

A Peaceful, Hopeful Future?

Dear Editor,

A news item in the latest issue of the Five Towns Jewish Times reported that Susan Rice, the national security advisor to President Obama, remarked on May 12 that “the United States will continue to do our part to help bring about the peaceful, hopeful future that both Israeli and Palestinian children deserve.” Those are fine sentiments, but do they square with reality?

Just days earlier, on April 25, official Palestinian Authority Television featured a young girl reciting a poem in which she declared: “Saladin [the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem] calls to me from the depths of my heart / All my Arabness calls me to vengeance and liberation / Thousands of prisoners and thousands who are jailed call to this great nation and call to millions / They say: To Jerusalem, the direction of prayer / To war that will smash the oppression and destroy the Zionist’s soul / and raise the Palestinian banner in the world’s sky / And strengthen my word that goes on: Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian.” [Translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch]

This is the reality of how Arab children are raised in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. There will never be a “hopeful future for Israeli and Palestinian children” as long as the Palestinian Authority continues raising its children to dream of killing Israeli children.

Moshe Phillips

Benyamin Korn

Religious Zionists of America

An Israeli Double Standard

Dear Editor,

Your poignant cover-page photo, “IDF Razes Gush Settlement” (May 16 issue), about the destruction of ten homes in Ma’ale Rehavam in Gush Etzion near Jerusalem, brings back strong memories.

We were part of a delegation from Americans For a Safe Israel who visited Ma’ale Rehavam two days before the IDF demolition. This is a small, isolated community at the edge of the Judean Desert, east of Efrat, certainly not in the way of any other Palestinian or Jewish town.

Somehow the Israeli government saw fit to deploy in Ma’ale Rehavam a large force of army and police troops, along with bulldozers. Yet in our travels throughout Israel we saw literally thousands of illegally built Arab homes, often multistory, in many cases next to Jewish communities and roads. Israeli authorities don’t touch these buildings. What absurdity.

Glenn Richter and Henry Gerber


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