The above picture, one I took on a recent trip to Israel, presents great difficulties to me as a Religious Zionist. I can recall the emotions I felt as I photographed the candid scene of four Israeli soldiers gazing down at the Kotel (Western Wall). The obvious beauty in the sharp contrast of golden stones and green uniforms. The way the light played tricks on my eyes, allowing me for a moment to forget the Mosque towering above the Wall on my left.
The words of Moshe Dayan after the Six Day War came to mind: “Har Habayit B’Yadenu!” (The Temple Mount is in our hands!) I was overcome by the sheer luck I have at being able to stand at the exact spot my ancestors cried over, with fellow Jews guarding my steps. But seeing soldiers overlooking what I believe to be the holiest spot in Israel brought tears to my eyes for a different reason: it reminded me of the transience and uncertainty of Israel’s situation. Yes, Har Habayit B’Yadenu – but who knows for how long? Realism and Zionism collided for me as I stood, rooted to the ground, deep in thought.
On Friday, Israeli director Elad Keidan’s was awarded First Prize “Cinéfondation”, the first place in the students competition for his film Anthem . He was the first Israeli to win the prize at Cannes!
The 36 minute movie is about a young boy who, while preparing for Shabbat, meets an “eccentric group of people along the way”.
For more info check out the articles at the Jerusalem Post and Israel21c
Filed under: arts/culture, politics | Tags: 1948, 1967, Bashir Khairi, compromise, Dalia Eshkenazi, hope, Lod, Open House, peace, posted by aklionsky, Ramle, Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree, בית פתוח
Looking for some summer reading? Try,The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, a story of a young Palestinian man (Bashir Khairi) and a Bulgarian-Israeli woman, Dalia Eshkenazi.
Before Tolan wrote the book, however, the story was recorded as a radio documentary, which you can listen to here: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/audio_library_2001.asp
Dalia’s family escapes from Bulgaria to Palestine when she is a toddler. After the war in 1948, they move to a house (with a lemon tree in the back yard) in Ramle, which had been an Arab neighborhood. In 1967, when Israel acquired the territories, the soldiers weren’t guarding the borders (they were fighting or guarding the new borders), giving Arab families who had left in 1948 the opportunity to see what their old homes were like. Bashir (a few years older than Dalia) had lived in Dalia’s house before Israel was established, and in 1967 he knocked on Dalia’s door. She was 19, and home alone, and made the decision to open the door for the young man; she had often thought about whose house she was living in, and although she was told they were the Arabs’ houses, wasn’t satisfied by that answer.
Filed under: arts/culture, movies/television, music | Tags: Belgrade, Boaz Mauda, Dana International, ESC, Eurovision Song Contest, Fire in Your Eyes, Israel, Keilu Kan, posted by madeinisrael, Serbia
Congratulations to Israel’s Boaz Mauda for placing an impressive 9th place (out of a total of 43 spots) in the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Belgrade, Serbia. The event, which took place from May 20-24, is an annual contest where countries that are members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)* send a singer/band to represent their country in a continental-wide singing competition. Viewers from all the countries then vote for their favorite performer, crowning one country the victor. Russia won 1st place with Dima Bilan’s performance of “Believe.”
The ESC, which once was credited and respected as an international contest of musical merit, has become over the past several years known to showcase ostentatious costumes and meaningless pop lyrics. However, to me, it still represents an incredible feat of international collaboration for a common cause. A “musical Olympics” of sorts.
On Wednesday May 21, the Prime Minister’s Office announced direct negotiations between Israel and Syria in Turkey.These negotiations frighten some people – is Syria’s drive for “peace” to deceive Israel and grant Iran easier access to our homeland? Do they want to talk to us just to get the Golan Heights, and then coordinate with their Palestinian and Arab neighbors to destroy Israel? In essence we ask: is it worth it for Israel to participate in this peace process, and does Syria truly have legitimate reasons to do so?The answer, in my opinion, is yes.
Talks actually began in February 2007; for all three parties involved to have kept this a secret for so long suggests that a well thought out focus on peace is shared among the powers.Wednesday’s statements, released simultaneously by Jerusalem and Damascus, read: “The two sides have declared their intention to hold the negotiations in good faith and openly, and hold a serious and continuous dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive peace deal.Fom a security standpoint, it is vital for us at this time to remain open to discussing peace with Syria.Iran’s strong grip and steady support of the Syrian nation intensifies the threat at our northern border.Some argue that our current status with Syria, a seemingly quiet one, is enough; they believe efforts for peace will ruin the tranquility. However, as long as Syria and Israel are not seriously invested in discussions, Iran will be using Syria to its advantage against Israel.And as long as Iran and Syria foster a tight alliance, violent bedlam can erupt in Israel at any moment.I think we should be thankful that we find ourselves in this opportunity to seek peace with a nation we have long been shaky about.
On Thursday, President Bush made some interesting remarks in Israel attacking the policy of creating on open conversation with out enemies or “sitting down” and discussing our problems, a policy that Barack Obama has declared one of his top priorities with dangerous leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This comment spurred much controversy among current Presidential Candidates.
Today, Thomas Friedman actually wrote a very interesting article about Obama and his policies on Israel and its enemies, discussing whether he would be good or bad for israel. Check it out here.
Many refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan have trekked across the African continent, through the Sinai Peninsula, and finally into Israel. These refugees are dying because of the violence that is occurring in Darfur and the disease, hunger, and drought in the refugee camps. Once these refugees reach Israel they have technically illegally crossed the border, but can Israel just turn them away?
This is a very divisive issue in Israel for many reasons. The Jews were once turned away from lands, like the United States, when seeking refuge from persecution. Since the Jews went through a similar situation of being turned away can Israel now turn away Sudanese refugees? But, many people argue that Israel still has many internal issues, still has to protect themselves from the Arab nations around them, and that these people have illegally come into Israel. One problem many people see is the massive influx of refugees because there will be a shortage of money, housing, jobs, and other necessary items. The Israeli government and its citizens may not be able to support such a large number of refugees. But, as a start to solving this problem the Israeli government has started to work with the United Nations by setting a quota. Also, the refugees that are already in Israel are being given jobs and places to live, especially in Eilat.
Personally, I feel that Israel is a country based on great morals; that is something Israel prides itself on. I feel that the right thing to do is to provide these refugees with a safe haven, food, water, and shelter, all of which they were lacking back in Darfur. Even though this is a somewhat lofty expectation of Israel, she always rises to the challenge. I don’t see why this challenge should be any different than all of the others Israel has faced throughout its 60 years of existence.
This fall, I plan to attend Yeshivat Har Etzion, which is located in Alon Shevut, a settlement in the West Bank. Although the Gush (or Etzion Bloc) is considered relatively safe, there have been some recent incidents. Many people believe that much of the relative safety in Israel and the West bank is due in part to strategically placed checkpoints and road-blocks.
When I was in Israel this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit a checkpoint in the West Bank. What I saw looked somewhat familiar. On the surface, it simply looked like a modified toll plaza with soldiers. The drivers would show identification, pass through between booths, and continue on their way. However, as I got closer, I noticed that the soldiers would pull cars aside, and frustrated Palestinians would reluctantly open their trunks. The soldiers would then search the cars, and soon the driver would be on his/her way.
Filed under: opinion, religion | Tags: Hallel, Israel, posted by sjw141, Praise, Rabbi Alex Israel, Yom Haatzmaut
This evening marks the change from Yom Hazikaron (The Day of Rememberance for all who have fallen for the protection of Israel) to Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). In celebration of this tremendous occasion, I urge everyone to attend a celebration, a concert, a street fair, or any event to commemorate this wonderful day.
In light of this special day, the deabte often ensues about whether or not Jews should say Hallel (the special additional verses of praise to God that is added to the morning prayers). There is further debate about whether to say it with a blessing or sans blessing, and there are even issues with whether or not to say a complete Hallel.
In Rabbi Alex Israel’s article entitled “Yom Ha’aztmaut and the Obligation of Praise,” he comes to following conclusion:
So say Hallel. With a bracha, without a bracha. You don’t want to recite those perakim? – choose other perakim. But stand before God, and feel the emotion of gratitude, and express it in the classic religious manner – recite Hallel, dance and sing, praise God with a seudat Mitzva.
On this occasion of Israel’s sixtieth…
“Hodu Lashem ki Tov, Ki Leolam Chasdo!”
“Give thanks to Lord, for He is good, for His loving-kindness endures forever.”
Filed under: arts/culture
Today we remember the 22,437 Israelis killed in wars, terror attacks and in service to the State of Israel.
Reshet.tv has put up some moving video memorials providing a personal understanding to this day of mourning.