Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ehud Barak Unhinged

First, Ehud Barak, Number One Son of the Israeli Labour party, posts these confusing ads all over the country to convince us voters that he deserves to be our next Prime Minister. The ads have a solemn expressioned Barak (mole and all) with the catch-phrase: "Not Nice. A Leader."


Let us not forget that the last time Ehud Barak was PM, he was willing to give in to 98% of Yassir Arafat's demands, and only Arafat's stupidity saved us from that colossal mistake.

This week Barak appeared as himself on the top-rated satire show Eretz Nehederet (It's a Wonderful Country), based upon the modern political stylings of the Americans who judged their Presidential candidates not on their qualifications, but on their entertainment value as a guest on Letterman. All this while neglecting his duties to the Israeli civilians being bombed daily by Hamas.

Seems to me that Barak is running for a spot on Saturday Night Live, rather than the chief office of a country that badly needs positive leadership.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joshua (Jesh) Leeder, Z"L

After a year of neurological symptoms, my uncle was misdiagnosed by several doctors, who told him he had a "bad case of Lyme Disease." When it was too late, they realized (what I and my father, 'mere Chiropractors,' had realized long ago) that Jesh had ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, a severe attack on the neurological pathways which mostly affects men in their 40's through early 60's, and has no cure.

One year ago, Jesh fell into a coma, and the doctors, ignoring his DNR request, put him on life support. Of course, upon consultation with the Rabbi, it was decided that even though my uncle had vehemently refused extreme measures, NOW that he was on life support, he could not be taken off, according to the halacha as they see it.

In denial, his wife (and their 13 children) decided that it was still a simple case of Tick Fever, and that if they took him home to be surrounded by his family and friends, he would wake up one morning as if this all never happened.

Two days ago, my uncle Jesh Leeder, died. And the Rabbis, who before were willing to ignore his pain and suffering and personal wishes, felt that now that the body was just a shell, he should be buried immediately, without even waiting for some members of the family to arrive for the funeral.

Jesh was a man who lived by his convictions, a modest, talented and spiritual man, and his loss will be felt by many.

The implications of his death scare me more, in a selfish human way. In the last year, my father has lost both his older sister (one year older) and now his older brother (older by two years). I am not ready to G-d Forbid sit shiva.

I am hoping that my father has inherited his father's genes, a man who lived a somewhat active life for 25 years after a severe stroke. My grandfather was a stubborn genius: a surgeon, a Rabbi and Scholar, a Sofer (ritual Jewish ancient Hebrew script), and a Shochet (ritual Jewish slaughter expert for Kosher meat). He saved Uncle Jesh's hand from amputation as a child, by essentially inventing micro-surgery and personally supervising the rehabilitation process. My grandfather also disciplined his children in ways that today would alarm social services and would be considered child abuse.

My grandfather died when he was ready, and not a minute sooner, at the age of 84.

I wish my father a long life of health, happiness and success, may he, as his father before him, live to see his great-grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ignorance is Not Bliss, It's Psycosis (Chiropractic)

In the past three days, I have been getting hate emails from a gentleman (using the term loosely) who feels that my profession of Chiropractic is, and I quote:
"There is proof on the world wide web for anything, including Chiropractic, Holocaust deniers, alien invasions and government conspiracies."
"You have no right to treat children."
"What crap, that Chiropractic strengthens the function of the body and the immunity system."

And my personal favorite;
"BTW, you are not a real doctor."

I am thinking that in a previous life, a Chiropractor ran over this man's dog. He doesn't need me, he needs a shrink, and fast, and he had better stay on his meds.

This kind of talk, especially given the vast amount of information available on the net, went out of style in the 1950's and 60's, when Chiropractic was against the law in many states in America. Today, by contrast, national and international legislation puts a Chiropractor on the same level as an MD, a Psychiatrist, and a Dentist.

Here are the facts: A Doctor of Chiropractic is a specialist in the spine and nervous system, a Doctor, if you will, of Human Performance. The spinal cord and its nerves act as the central computer for the body; when something (discs, muscles, stress, nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and many other factors) causes interference on the flow of information from the brain to the body, your body will experience dysfunction, both emotional and physical. My job is to clear the traffic jam, so the body can behave at its highest level, and self-correct when needed.

In the case of children, in the first 7-8 years, their neurological pathways grow and change monumentally, every day. Chiropractic treatment in the early years will help avoid common problems later on, experienced now by the Couch Potato Generation, including ADD/ADHD, scoliosis, headaches and disc problem, among others.

Chiropractic, like any other profession, has its limits as well, and that is why I enjoy an excellent relationship with various medical practitioners; we inter-refer on a regular basis.

That being said, you want to avoid colds this Winter? Get your family, young and old, to a local Chiropractor. (Contact me for referrals in your area.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Direct Elections, Jerusalem

Today I get to vote in an election that has not been pre-determined by blue states and red states, the Electoral College or a rigged computer system.

Today I get to vote in direct elections for Mayor of Jerusalem, one of the poorest, dirtiest and unemployed cities in the Middle East, despite its high standing in every major religion.

Today I take my stand against Meir "G-d Likes me Best" Porush and the Ultra-Orthodox infiltration that has ruined the place in which I have lived for over eleven years.

Take advantage of democracy and your rights as a citizen; get off the couch and get to the voting booth.

Allow Nir Barakat to have a chance to improve our lives and safeguard Jerusalem.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Showing Their Cards

Every once in a while, politicians forget to bluff and say what they actually mean, for better or for worse.

For better: three cheers to Benny Begin, who has chosen to rejoin Likud in lieu of the elections coming up in February of 2009. He is a good man with integrity - kind of the reason he did not succeed last time - but maybe his presence will inspire and help turn others around.

For worse: Meir Porush, one of the candidates for Mayor of Jerusalem, made a speech in Yiddish last night, so the rest of us goyim would not understand him. He said that his great hope " another decade, no secular person will be mayor of any city [in Israel], except perhaps some miserable villiage." His plan also includes making Jerusalem inhospitable to anyone but the Charedim, part of his global Ultra-Orthodox conspiracy.

Meir Porush indeed looks down upon us pagans, but as a politician running in elections less than a week away, how stupid to say it, in Yiddish or Hebrew or English or Swahili. A candidate will have reporters following him around, and many citizens of this country can translate.

When confronted by the press today, Porush did not deny his statement, but rather took up the Scooby Doo approach, "Darn, I said it in Yiddish so most of you would not understand it! If not for those pesky kids..." This is NOT a man who should win the election next week.

Porush's response begs a comparison to another unfit candidate, Barack Hussein "Non-American Citizen" Obama, who did not deny attending the dinner in honor of the Palestinian terrorist; espressing regret only because he got caught on tape doing so.

A good leader takes responsibility, and neither Porush nor Obama fit the bill. Nir Barakat does.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Day Democracy Died

This morning, while standing in line at the post office, I reduced an American woman to tears, and destroyed her faith in the democratic option of Absentee voting.

She had come to the post office in a panic, afraid that if she mailed her Absentee ballot today, it would not arrive in time for the American Presidential elections on November 4th. She had just spoken to the teller and decided to mail her ballot Express, in the vain hope - and considering how the current set of Jewish holidays slows down all the mail - that it would reach its destination within a week.

I politely tapped her on the shoulder and gave her a brief but succinct lesson in political science (may major in college); I spoke about the blue states and the red states, about the fact that Absentee ballots can arrive within a week after the election takes place officially, about the fact that these votes are only counted when the results are too close to call. I didn't even get into a discussion of the Electoral Colllege. I further pointed out that the both of us being absentee voters in Massachusetts, we could vote for G-d himself on the ballot and Barack Obama would still take the state.

She stamped her feet, shook her head violently, and tears welled up in her eyes. She started shouting idealistic statements like, "but I filled out all the boxes," and "you don't know what you are talking about," and "my vote counts, I know it does!" She called me a liar and refused to accept that all I was trying to do was save her some postage, as I stood there holding in my incredulous laughter.

This woman did indeed mail her ballot first class, Express mail, and firmly believes that her vote will make the difference in the American Presidential elections.

She also firmly maintains that I am mean and stupid and am the Judas of Democracy and all that is good in the world. Whatever helps her get through the day, though I personally hope that the results of the elections for Mayor of Jerusalem on November 11 have a better result than the American elections, with Nir Barkat coming out on top.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Wall Street Progrom

(Thoughts for a Friday)

I am not sure why anyone is surprised at the huge outburst of anti-Semitic remarks across the world in the wake of the collapse of Wall Street, and its influence on world markets.

After all, anyone with half a brain who lives in the Midwest (or anywhere in Europe) and has married their first cousin knows that the Wall Street crisis has nothing to do with George Bush, or the natural cycle of the economy. Everyone knows that the Jews control the entire supply of money in the world - hell, in the Universe - in addition to controlling the government, Hollywood and the garbage pickup on every day except Thursday.

For sure, 9/11 is the Jews' fault, because we had the gall to work in some buildings in Manhattan, and the Arabs were just doing their job by trying to kill us.

And that Jewish man or woman with whom you had an affair, that person who supposedly ruined your marriage? It must be the Jews' fault, because we are so darned good looking. (Look at what Monica Lewinsky did to the Clinton administration, as an example.)

My final observation, as long as we are talking about the irrational and dangerous; the campaign posters for Meir Porush, in his Mayoral bid, show him as a smiley Santa-like cartoon character, with the tag line, "Jerusalem will love Meir Porush," like we don't have a choice in the matter. Well, Jerusalem voters, we do have a choice, in fact an imperative to end the Ultra-Orthodox stranglehold on our city. Porush is not a cartoon unfortunately, but a real person with extremist ideals and lacking the support of his own people. (It doesn't really mater, because the Chareidi community does the mitzva of allowing the dead to vote.)

Jerusalem has suffered for too long, and I believe that Nir Barakat is the candidate to return the honor of one of the most treasured cities on the planet and throughout history.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sarah Palin's "Secret" Pregnancy

Sarah Palin hid her pregnancy until the seventh month because she did not want it to interfere with the business of being Governor. She gave a speech about Alaska oil drilling as her amniotic fluid was leaking out. She gave birth one month early, to a Special Needs child, and returned to work three days later.

Now the ambitious career woman/supposed hockey-mom is toting around young Trig (Have you read the names of her children? There ought to be a law against that...) to show what a fabulous parent she is, and using his Downs Syndrome as proof to all those who may have doubted her sincere and religious conviction against abortion.

Her fans call her a "tough lady" and a "great mom."

I disagree and find it somewhat despicable that the woman who chose to have her husband raise their children - when he is not racing across Alaska in a dog sled -is now using her family as a political ploy. No wonder her supposedly abstaining teenage daugther Bristol (Did you catch that name? There ought to be a law...) got pregnant, there are no parents in the house to truly guide her.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

History in the Making, or Huge Blunder

With the announcement by the McCain campaign of his choice of Vice-Presidential candidate, there are a whole new set of considerations for someone like me, a blue-blooded Democrat who does not want to vote for Barack Obama.

I have analyzed several factors regarding the choice of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, interspersed with hilarious quotes from an op-ed piece by David Brooks.

1. She is woman: Very smart, given the 18 million disaffected female voters on the Democrat side, who did not get Hillary Clinton the nomination.

DB "Hillary Clinton's ringing endorsement of 'the weak-looking thin guy who's bound to lose.'"

2. She is extremely Pro-Life: This troubles me, in huge way. Just because she is a religious Soccer Mom, head of the PTA and mother of a child with Downs Syndrome whom she refused to abort, does that mean that I lose my right of choice? I treasure the division between Church and State, even if it is in name only.

3. She comes from of all places, Alaska, and both she and her husband are "real people": Excellent, given that Barack Obama has been critisized for not being in touch with the average American, black or white.

DB "We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich, beautiful people who don't prespire, but who nonetheless feel compassion for their squatter, and smellier fellow citizens."

4. She lacks experience: Actually fantastic, because if any Democrat dares to address this point, it bounces right back and them and hurts Obama in a big way. In fact the amount she has accomplished in such a short time, given the structure of her life, is quite impressive. If you want something done right, give it to a woman who is already busy.

DB "Barak Obama loves the future, because that's where all his accomplishments will be."
"We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life."

5. Her son will be serving in Iraq: Both positive and negative, given that she cannot be faulted for not contributing to the cause of a (lost) war, she might even work to end the war faster, to bring her son home. On the other hand, it means she supports the war which Bush blundered, and I just want our soldiers out of there; let the locals fight it out amongst themselves.

6. She actively supports using American oil resources (in Alaska): Not great for the environment, but a clever move given that Obama has spoken about the same idea. More cross-over from the Democrat faithful.

7. The perpetual question, is it good or bad for the Jews? The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director, Matt Brooks, says that Palin has "enjoyed a strong working relationship with Alaska's Jewish community."

It seems in this election that actually the VP will be the determining factor; if McCain dies in office, do you want Sarah Palin in there, after all, he is 72 years old. If Obama falters, he has a VP with slightly more experience, though not always for the benefit of his consituents and the American people.

DB "We heard from Joe Biden, whose 643 years in the Senate make him uniquely qualified to pander to the middle class... and who is himself a verbal train wreck waiting to happen."

Youth counts here, Barak and Palin's youth, McCain and Biden's age.

Either way, history will be made with a black President, or the first woman Vice-President.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Winners and Losers, the Israeli Perspective

The outgoing oft-investigated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has come up with a land return and exchange deal, which would involve 93% of the West bank, among other discussions of borders and prisoner exchanges. According to the delusional Olmert, he feels "there is time to reach an agreement during his remaining time in office."

Hmm...the most corrupt Prime Minister in modern Israeli history, who does not even have the support of his own party infra-structure, thinks that he can negotiate a major land deal. Right now, I don't think he can even negotiate himself out of "early retirement" into a comfortable prison cell.

And yet the Israeli optimism persists, in the form of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When an Israeli athlete fails to make the semi-finals, the news proclaims, "Israeli swimmers set new personal records." Not to belittle the accomplishments of the delegation thus far, but it is awfully convenient to ignore the real lack of progress if it does not suit your mood, and damn the consequences in the long run.

Not to be outdone, the sports pages in Haaretz happily reported today that "Two Jews and a Black Man help Phelps Fulfill Dream." If we cannot claim our own victories, we will latch onto the American team, a tactic which has not served us well in politics, in the last seven or so years that Bush has been President.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Eye for an Eye

One year ago, PM Ehud Olmert told a group of high school kids that the kidnapped soldiers, Regev and Goldwasser, were "probably dead." A posting on an Arab website described the poor condition of the two soldiers at the time of the kidnapping, the Arab witness claimed that at the time - two years ago - neither could walk without assistance, that they were bloody and beaten and would probably not survive the night.

Don't tell me that the government was surprised when they traded a very much alive Samir Kuntar, along with four other terrorists with blood on their hands, and 199 dead bodies, that they expected to get back two live Israeli captive soldiers.

I am relieved for these two heroes that they can be given a proper burial by their family, in their homeland.

I am afraid and sad that Gilad Shalit will become the next Ron Arad.

I anticipate that every terrorist group now knows that we will Israelis will sacrifice beyond the normal and rational, and that the kidnapping of Israelis and Jews will start all over the world, with no consideration on their part for the value of human life. All you need to do is observe the Prince's homecoming Kuntar and the other's received, to understand that our Arab neighbors are active and complicit in the goal of the destruction of Israel.

I think that we should have done an even trade, two dead bodies for two dead bodies. I would not have cried if one of those bodies had been Samir Kuntar.

Here's another scenario: Samir Kuntar get released as part of the original deal, and then gets re-arrested and thrown into a scorpion pit for the rest of life for announcing that as soon as he gets out of Israeli borders, he will be gearing up for the next set of Nassrallah-approved terrorist attacks against Israel, within Israeli territory.

When a vile terrorist, who has already killed women and children, makes that kind of statement on international television, he is asking for it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Human Whack-A-Mole

This morning, in the women's dressing room at the pool, I overheard a conversation between two Anglo-Saxon women, both teachers. One woman said to the other, that she was disconcerted because her students always did their homework, and that some even asked for extra work during the summer vacation. These teenagers apparently did not talk back, and did not attack her physically. This woman closed the thought by saying that maybe she ought to return to her former school, where she felt uncomfortable and threatened, so she would feel more "challenged" and less "bored."

It is an accepted expectation that Israeli school children of all ages will be at the very least unmotivated and at the worst, violent.

After my swim, and before starting my Chiropractic day, I sat outside in a lounge chair, trying to soak up some Vitamin D. During the summer the pool is packed with day camps, and as far as I am concerned, they accept too many children and have too little supervision.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a five-year old boy was raising and lowering a rod-shaped swimming flotation device, whipping the area below him. It took me a second look to realize that he was not hitting the sidewalk, but rather two other boys, who lay on the ground cowering as they got hit in the head, over and over again.

I waited for the counsellor to break up the fight, I waited for the life guards to intervene, and no adult who witnessed the event stepped in. Finally, after three minutes - and violating my own rules -I walked over and grabbed the float away from the boy, and said in a firm voice (in Hebrew), "No. This is not acceptable play."

It disturbs me that the other responsible adults left it to a stranger to protect these young children from one of their peers. It disturbs me that a five-year old boy wore a sadistic smile on his face as he abused his friends, even as I took his weapon away. It disturbs me that the other children seemed to enjoy the bullying.

There is a fine line between the attitude of "boys will be boys" and "enough is enough." I believe that bullies become abusive teenagers and adults simply because the adults in their life do not set proper limits.

This can be applied equally to children in Israeli society, as well as to our Arab neighbors and enemies. The reason they continue to blow us up, kidnap us and bomb us, is because we Israelis and particularly our criminal PM Ehud Olmert does not reasonably strike back when attacked. We do not set limits and assert the right to defend ourselves. The more they terrorize us, the more we try to placate them, showing them that there are no consequences to their bad behaviour.

We had better learn this Zero-Tolerance lesson soon, before our children - no matter how well behaved - do not have a place to call home.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Learn from the Animals

YouTube- Dog, Cat and Rat

Perhaps peace is possible...happy Yom Yerushalaim!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hopalong Harry

Some time when I was at Pessach seder (19/4/08), Harry managed to fracture his shoulder. The doctors cannot figure out why almost a month later, Harry is still limping around, refusing to use his right front arm/leg.

I know why. My eldest feline Harry has become what is known in medical terms as a "Malingerer", a faker vying for sympathy and attention. I have observed the following behaviours: when I am with him and clearly watching him, he gets a sad expression in his eyes and limps along, hoppity hop. When he does not know that I am watching him, he uses all four legs, and has only a mild limp, which I notice because I am a Chiropractor.

The fracture was small, and I believe that by next week I will feel confident enough to allow him to go outside again, which thankfully will relieve me of litter box duty.

My brother laughs at this story, saying that it has nothing to do with feline or human, except for the fact that Harry is a man, and knows how to work the woman in his life.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Olmert's Arrogance

"I will resign from the post of Prime Minister if they manage to indict me on THIS [emphasis added] charge of accepting bribes and violating campaign law."

Which somehow implies that Olmert would never consider resigning with five other previous criminal investigations open against him.

Which somehow implies that he has no thought or consideration for the good name and honor of the country he represents, nor for his own reputation.

Which somehow implies that he has no itention of getting indicted on this or any of the other charges pending against him.

Olmert is already pointing the finger at two of his aides, saying that they were the ones who handled the money, and that if the money somehow ended up in his personal pocket, he was not an active conspirator. Once again, Olmert's staff will fall on his ever bloody sword, with the bizarre sense of loyalty that I would prefer to call political S and M.

He also had no problem speaking on Yom HaZikaron, comforting the families who have lost sons and daughters in battle, when his own children fled the country rather than serve in the army. With three of our most recent MIAs still not returned home, dead or alive, Olmert could look these families in the face with no shame, and play at being popular.

When George Bush visits this week, Olmert plans on plowing through public opinion and his low approval rating in order to give away more land to terrorists who will only use our weakness to their advantage.

How sad for Olmert that he does not have the balls to leave already, and how sad for us that Israelis have such a disheveled and dis-honorable state of leadership.

To end with a quote from Uzi Benziman, in his op-ed piece in Haaretz today entitled, He Cannot Continue:

"This judgment relates to his practical ability to continue as prime minister, ignoring for the purposes of this discussion the moral dimension of his behaviour...Olmert has the right to a fair trial. But the prime minister must realize that he has lost his ability to continue leading the State."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

When the Siren Went Off

This morning I woke up before my alarm clock, checked on Harry, my cat with the broken shoulder, and then checked my email. Went to the post office to pay some taxes, and then to the pool to swim.

When the two minute siren went off for Yom HaShoah, I was standing in the shower, dripping wet with shampoo still in my hair, after my swim. Two minutes is a long time, it gives you enough time to really get inside yourself and realize how lucky you are; lucky that your family did not have too many murdered relatives in World War II, lucky that there is a State of Israel, and extremely happy to be living in that State of the Jews in 2008, a country which de facto protects all Jews all over the globe.

I could barely hear the siren over the loud hum of the fan.

I remember several years ago, I was standing on line at the bank when the siren sounded. Most of us stood at solemn attention, and one woman continued to talk on her cellphone, oblivious and totally disrespectful to the time dedicated to the Jews who died in the Holocaust. At first, all of us gave her dirty looks, to no avail. Finally we all started yelling at her, "What, don't you have any respect for those who died? Can't this conversation wait two minutes?"

She took offense - though thankfully shut off her phone - and as soon as the two minutes of silence ended, she called her friend right back, and proceeded to tell her friend how rude we had been, cutting off her conversation.

Life goes on, but isn't that the point?

I spent two minutes remembering the victims of the Shoah, and then returned to the shower, and went to work. We are a normal people living in a normal State on the Planet Earth, and while we have suffered terribly throughout history, and continue to suffer under the constant threats of terrorism within our borders, we are here.

We are here to stay.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Get Naked Against Chametz

With only a sock to protect his private parts, a 27 year old seminary student stripped down in a supermarket in Bat Yam that was selling chametz (leavened bread) over Pessach. Protesting the government's decision to allow the sale of chametz in restaurants and supermarkets - areas deemed not public by the new law - this student reasoned if this particular market was private according to the law, he could romp around in his birthday suit.

Despite his failed methodology, I applaud this student for taking a stand on an issue much deeper than the availability of hamburger rolls: the very identity of the Jewish people in a Jewish state. In fact, the same argument can be applied to the sale of pork products. The Jewish State was founded by and for Jews by Ben Gurion and his cohorts, on the basis of Jewish history and halachic law, and so how can chametz be sold publicly on Pessach, or how can a law be passed to subsidize pig farmers?

Let's face it, if someone is desperate enough to have some toast this week with their morning coffee, they will find it; and if someone must have bacon with their scrambled eggs, they will find it as well, and they will pay premium price for it. Once the Torah becomes a bargaining chip or merely a symbolic cultural heritage, all is lost in terms of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.

Zionist history will note that Ben Gurion - a self-proclaimed secular Jew - always carried a Tanach in his pocket, attended a weekly Bible study group, and encouraged a small group of Ultra Orthodox Jews to be an integral part of the early settlement of the land of Israel. He and the other founders believed that it was the Torah, its observance and its faith, that kept the Jews alive since the beginning of their travails on this planet, and certainly through the Holocaust.

Has that appreciation and respect disappeared to such a degree, that we Jews must ourselves become anti-Semitic? How do we expect the international community to honor our needs for survival in this modern day of terrorism, when we are chipping away at our existence from the inside?

On that note, I propose a positive change in the halachic world of Pessach tradition, abolishing the concept of kitniot, an outdated food custom which continues to divide needlessly between Jewish ethnicities. When a Sephardic and an Ashkenazic Jews can sit at the table together over Pessach and eat sushi, we will be one step closer to unifying our own nation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Just a Drill

Ladies and Gentlemen: that siren you are hearing for a minute and a half this morning is a just a drill. If this were a real war, you would be in big trouble...

The Syrians are claiming that Israel is using the Home Front's test throughout the country to stage an attack on its Arab neighbors. Clever idea, too bad we didn't think of it. I don't know about every other Israeli in the country, but when the siren went off, I had just left the post office in Jerusalem, having mailed in my 2007 US taxes, and did not stop driving; nor did I seek out a man or woman in uniform and ask them what I should have done if this had been a real attack by one of our many enemies in our many unofficial wars.

Since I was almost killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2001, I have taken a realistic, fatalistic view toward death. While I will not wander in traffic on the highway, I will also not obsess about my remaining time on this planet, because only the Higher Power knows when it will be my time to check out of Hotel Earth. I have, however, shifted my way of thinking and planning, living more in the moment and worrying less about where I will be ten years from now.

I wonder what the former President of Israel, Moshe Katzav, was thinking when the siren sounded this morning, and when he canceled his plea bargain this afternoon, in order to defend his innocence. A shame that Katzav is getting prosecuted for something he didn't do, when PM Olmert and his cronies seem to get away with all the crooked deals and crimes they did in fact commit.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Give an Inch...

Israel's good friend, George Bush, has sent over various members of his administration to bully us to accept the agreements of Peace and co-existence with the Palestinians, taking no heed to the evidence, and to basic human rights.

This week, Israel agreed to shut down many of its security checkpoints, which the Palestinians claimed violated their freedom of movement. Yesterday, only hours after the army started removing one of those 'offensive' road blocks, a terrorist from Hebron tried to murder two Jews at the Shiloh Junction. The 30 year old Israeli defended the 15 year old teen and himself and shot the student from Bir Zeit University dead.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported today that international monitors have noted the exponential escalation of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli rhetoric in mosques all over the planet.

Peace, like any other human relationship, will only succeed if both sides are equally committed to the process and the decision to put aside old grudges. Instead, Ehud Olmert and the Israeli leadership continues to weaken the country politically, because the more we give into the Palestinian demands, the more they will take and the more they will feel free to attack us within our borders.

America would never cease their security regulations, because potential terrorists complained about the un-fairness, can you image the following scenario?

Terrorist: "It hurts our feelings when you profile dark-skinned males of Arab origin between the age of 18 and 40."
Bush: "Gosh golly, you're right. You can have free run of our country, and we will help you smuggle in explosives and weapons, so you can terrorize our citizens."

American, European and Israeli leadership must accept the reality that any agreement made by Israel will be one-sided at best; with the low level of approval for the current Knesset it is doubtful if even half of the Israeli population agrees in theory with the choices being made for us.

And American and European politicians must stop thinking of Israel as a step-child who needs supervision and direction. No one can possibly understand the day-to-day reality of this country until they have lived it, and feared daily for their physical existence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Orthodox Organ Donor Debate

Years ago, in my senior year in college (1991), I attended a lecture by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's son-in-law, Rabbi Moshe Tendler, on the topic of living wills, and the philosophical discussion of quality versus quantity of life. An advisor to the American President and Dean of Yeshiva University, Tendler argued that an Orthodox Jewish human being could in fact participate in the decision to disconnect from life support, that each individual could judge for him or herself regarding the potential end of their life in this incarnation. Even in making this choice, the final decision remains in G-d's hands, whether or not you continue to breathe and function once the machines are turned off.

In fact, the RCA has accepted a halachically accepted version of a living will, based upon a previous text devised by the Conservative Jewish movement.

In traditional Jewish literature, the human body as vessel to a holy Jewish soul is not meant to be desecrated in any way, which includes tattoos, smoking, self-mutilation, autopsy or organ donation. This week, Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis in Israel have adopted the policy that not only does organ donation save lives - one donor can save between four and five people - but that it is halachically permissible, and should be encouraged among the Orthodox, who currently rank very low in the organ donation registration.

This decision has in turn generated furious debate this week among the various sects of the Ultra Orthodox Israeli leadership, claiming that brain death cannot be used as a primary criteria; and that this is simply a political move to give the religious stamp of approval for a failing government policy.

Once again, the Ultra Orthodox community chooses separation and closure over integration and cooperation, choosing to see anyone outside their community as an "other." Thus allowing them to continue their disrespect of their fellow man - Jewish or Gentile - under the illusion that in order from them to be right, everyone else must be wrong, because G-d must like them better.

Perhaps we should gain more insight and inspiration from the parents living in Tekoa, a mixed community in Gush Etzion (yes, over the Green Line), whose recent choice of organ donation from their comatose baby daughter saved four lives, two of them Arab.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Funeral Groupies

Every time a soldier dies in this country, the news will announce the time and location of his funeral, and thousands of people will attend, most of whom do not even know the family or the one who was killed. It is part of the "One Big Family" syndrome in Israel, and it is the anonymous person's chance to try to help, just by being there.

Last night I paid a shiva call to the Moses family in Efrat, whose 16 year old son Avraham Dovid was murdered last Thursday night in his school, along with seven other innocent boys. Not that one expects a shiva to be fun or entertaining, but there was a wierd energy in the room. Naftali Moses (the father of the boy) balanced his attention between those who had come to keep him company and offer comfort, and his children. His 11 year old son sat next to him, and I believe that he will suffer the most when he fully registers the impact of the death of his brother, who was closest to him in age. As Leah Moses, the stepmother of Avraham Dovid said, "they were each other's rocks."

Another daughter, desperate for her father's attention, started pulling her shirt up and crawling onto Naftali's lap; some woman had the gaul to try to pull the child away, thinking it was the "right thing" to do. The youngest daughter, a social talkative four year old, was very busy planning a sleep over, and canvassed the room to see if she had chosen the appropriate pajamas.

For the most part, the room was quiet, and then an older Israeli woman started chatting away, saying that she did not know the Moses family at all, but that she had an uncle who died recently at the age of 92, and was buried nearby on Kibbutz Lavi. She further explained that she was at this shiva house to show her support for those who live in the Gush and suffer from terrorist attacks.

Later that evening, I saw this same woman gazing adoringly at the photo of Avraham Dovid Moses, and stroking the image, as if it were her own child.

Who is to say what is and is not apporpriate at times like these? I give this woman the benefit of the doubt, and bless her for the kindness she showed this family.

I was at the pool the Friday right after the terror attack, and standing practically naked in the locker room, a Russian woman (also in a towel and not much else) just started shouting. In anger, in grief, to anyone who would listen and respond. She expressed her sadness at the death of these eight boys, her rage at the governement that cannot seem to protect its citizens, and continues to push through the idea of peace and cooperation with those who would murder us, citizen by citizen. This particular Russian woman felt that the best and only solution was for the Israeli government to give out free guns to any Israeli citizen - as opposed to the Israeli Arab citizen who walked into the yeshiva and shot more than 600 rounds of bullets - so that we may protect ourselves in the future.

Who is to say what is and is not appropriate at times like these? But thank G-d for the solider who killed the terrorist, before he could do even more harm.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shopping for Sderot

In the past few days, heavy bombing has increased not only over Sderot but also over Ashkelon. The army and the government say that this time they will "really" react, but so far nothing, except that public bomb shelters have been reopened.

Meanwhile, a new tradition has begun to support the stores and business owners in the area. People from all over the country are driving to Sderot to do their weekly grocery shopping, or to buy other items which apparently are cheaper than can be found in larger cities like Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

I applaud the people of this country for supporting their brothers and sisters in business, but insist that we must take it at least several steps further. We must hold our leadership accountable and if they cannot find a solution to at least have quiet, if not a true peace, then someone else must be given the chance to succeed where they have obviously failed.

Maybe the next time George Bush or Dick Cheney visit our little country, they will actually visit Sderot, instead of taking a vacation at the taxpayers' expense, and ruining our economy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chiropractic is Not for Everyone

This morning I bumped into an old college friend, who told me that she had tried a Chiropractor in Tel Aviv, and that he had "ruined" her back and made her weak, and that the only solution has been dancing. Dance and self-care have brought her back to health, and she has nothing but contempt for my profession.

I explained to her that every Chiropractor, even those who studied in the same class and in the same school, brings their personality to the treatment and the approach to care. A particular method of a particular professional may not have worked for her, and I am sorry for her negative experience, but she cannot use this one incident to judge all of us.

Consider this:

Over 200,000 people die in hospitals each year, because of medical negligence and error.
Drug side-effects often make a condition worse, in an average of 1 in 500 cases.

Chiropractic can cause "damage" (muscle tension, pain) in 1 in 8,000,000 cases.
Those are pretty good odds, and it's all natural.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Monopoly Conspiracy, Update

The removal of Israel as a country from the Monopoly site must have aroused an uproar, because one day later, none of the 68 cities on the finalist list are identified with their respective entities.

For now, the political field has been evened, at least in the world of board games.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Monopoly Conspiracy

Most of the civilized world has heard that Monopoly is constructing a Global game board, and their site ( features a voting poll for various prominent and not-so-major cities around the world.

Happily, Jerusalem is one of the contenders and currently sits in fourth place, almost bringing it to Boardwalk status.

When I first entered the site, Jerusalem was listed as "Jerusalem, Israel," and I (as well as others I know) rejoiced in the fact that Israel was acknowledged as a country, and as the sovereign nation with Jerusalem as its capitol. Then today, when I logged on to continue voting and push Jerusalem (and New York City) up the charts, lo and behold, Jerusalem is now the only listed city out of 68 without a country. Like we are the Vatican or something, a floating island blessed by G-d in a sea of legitimate countries.

NB: Vatican City is not under consideration by Hasbro at the moment.

I can imagine that Hasbro, in its cowardice, fell prey to the pressure of the Arab countries and the general anti-Israel lobby. Allow me to point out a seemingly forgotten fact of history in the Middle East: most of the wars that Israel has fought and won were initiated by our Arab neighbors, and ignored by our civilized Western counterparts. Except for the more recent wars (Lebanon One and Two, the Intifada), Israel has come back against extreme odds and won the day, giving us victor's rights. Since when do the losers get to call a "do-over"?

Moreover, in 1948, the so-called Palestinian refugees fled their towns and abandoned their houses at the order of their Arab brothers, and not because the Jews pushed them out.

All of a sudden, Jerusalem does not belong to Israel, and we Israelis apparently do not have the right to defend ourselves and our land, land that was acquired by the blood of our soldiers and innocent citizens since the early 1900's. We Jews are being pushed off our land by our own government, eager to please our civilized Western counterparts who do not understand, nor have a real stake in our success or failure, as long as the oil keeps flowing.

Once Israel goes, no Jew in any "civilized country" around the globe will be safe.

I have not once in this blog entry mentioned the Biblical claim to the Land of Israel, because I am trying to appeal to all who have a potentially rational brain sitting inside their cranium: shut off the television, stop listening for a moment to your spiritual leaders or your ignorant next door neighbor. Step away from the American flag in which you wrap yourselves, thinking that it will protect you from another 9/11.

Would you ever sit idly by while your own government, or a random lame-duck political leader from another country far away tells you to allow yourself to be bombed and terrorized on a regular basis, tells you to give up your home and put your family in jeopardy because they say so?

Would you not take a stand when multiple Muslim and Christian leaders around the world preach their version of jihad, the end of your existence as a modern nation and as a people?

Take a stand right now, and put an end to the ridiculous double and triple standard being applied to Israel. Because after they come after us, you are ripe for the picking. In the eyes of today's terrorists, a heathen is a heathen is a heathen, and you are next.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Writing on the Wall

Israel experienced two earthquakes last week, and luckily - despite the shoddy quality level of constuction in many cities - no one was hurt and no property was damaged.

Some may argue that this is the Higher Power's way of sending us a message, that all is not right with our actions and with the legacy we are creating. This is not a new invention, the Torah states that if we Jews deserve to be on the land of Israel, the land and its people will be blessed, and the rain will fall at the proper time. If, however, we have overstayed our welcome, the land will literally "evict" us.

The rain, in fact, has not come, and for the past several years running, Israel faces a drought situation.

No worries with the eviction notice, our Prime Minister has already pledged to give away land, and most notably Jerusalem, even while his authority teeters on the brink of getting his ass kicked out of office, and into jail.

So why would G-d be angry?

Could it be that bombings upon the residents of Sderot worsen exponentially, and the government has attempted nothing to protect them from our enemies? We grin like the Cheshire Cat, now that a major international terrorist has been removed, but we in Israel and Jews around the world have only begun to feel the reprocussions.

Could it be the fact that the number of families living in poverty has risen significantly in the last two years, with no viable economic solution to alieve the suffering of these children? The poorest of all cities in Israel, Jerusalem is currently led by the Ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Mayor, Uri Lupolianski. The Mayor claims that he was "forced" to get involved and grant special political and economic favors to his Ultra Orthodox community, and yet these families do not seem to benefit from his special treatment.

Could it be the blatant evidence of corruption that surrounds Olmert and his entire coaltion; and the inability for anyone to actually be a man (or a woman) and say " I screwed up, I am taking my marbles and my giant ego home and letting someone else try." Forget for a moment the cowardice of the Labour Party, or the vascilation of the Shas party, who are waiting for "real proof" that Olmert will act against their core values. Perhaps Rav Ovadia Yosef will wait until Jerusalem becomes the capital of Bush's Palestine, and we Jews are floating in our rafts in the sea.

AB Yehoshua, an outspoken Leftist Israeli author, stated this week that he does not believe in the Two-State solution, because quite simply, Jews and Arabs do not share the same culture, language or value system. Dividing up this small country and giving over chunks to the Palestinians only gives them more area from which to launch their attacks.

How many days have the kidnapped soldiers been taken, with no word of their health or whereabouts?! It's OK, by the time they come home ( if they ever come home) we will have destroyed the land so much through pollution, pesticides and neglect, that no one will be able to breathe the air, drink the water or eat the food.

We elected these politicians who care only about their own acquistion and maintenance of power, and in a way we deserve what we get. Until we citizens choose to rise up and demand a revolution, maybe we should start packing.

But pack wisely, the raft doesn't hold much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Spring Roll Strike

Israel's Asian restaurants refused to serve spring rolls yesterday, to protest the government's plans to sabotage the employment of foreign chefs. "Today there is no egg roll, and in two weeks there will be no sushi and noodles." Considered part of the "foreign worker" problem, Asian cooks will be purged from theme restaurants, unless of course you are willing to pay twice the average national salary to keep them on.

The Israeli argument states that non-Asians can be trained to achieve the same high quality results. This initiative comes at a time when speciality restaurants are opening fast and furious all over the country, and when the slide of the dollar allows people to splurge more often on luxuries, like a sushi dinner.

The argument falls apart when you consider the essential laziness and elitism of the modern Israel. The same time that Israelis complain about unemployment, they refuse to fill jobs such as elderly care-takers, a market dominated by men and women from the Philipines, brought over both legally and illegally. These foreign workers take better care of the Israeli aging generation, our parents and our grandparents, than any Israeli would choose to do for their own family member.

This is not the Israeli who came over to British Palestine by boat from Europe, who dug out swamps and built houses for Jews, brick by brick.

So please don't take away my expert sushi makers, and instead think about a reasonable, fair and effectively implemented policy that will benefit Israel in the long run.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Week After Winograd

Ehud Barak of the Labour Party will not be leaving the government and will not call for early elections. So pleased he is with his actions (NOT!), that when the Knesset members gathered to discuss the results of the report, Barak was conspicuously missing from his seat, stating that he did not want to give the impression that he was relieving Olmert of his responsibility and failure during the war.

The day after the report was released, a poll revealed that if elections were held now, Netanyahu (Likud) would receive 30% of the vote; Olmert (Kadima), in his shame, would still garner approximately 18% of the vote; and Barak would come in a pitiful third, with approximately 14% of the vote. Had Barak left the coalition before Wednesday, January 30th, the results would have been significantly higher in Barak's favor, because his actions would have shown that he has a line he will not cross for the sake of holding onto power.

Olmert takes every opportunity the press gives him to laud the conclusions of the Winograd Committee Final Report, and sits pretty in the Prime Minister's office, ready to give away the country to those who would kill us. Since the issue of the report, more cities within Israeli territory have suffered from bombings, injuries and human fatalities.

At least one of the members of the committee has announced to the press that they were indeed more inclined to soften the blow on Olmert, because several members did not want to hand the country over to Netanyahu and the parties on the right. Now a State Commission must be chosen to investigate the impropriety of the acts and conclusions of the Winograd people, Olmert's cronies. If, however, more of Olmert's good friends land conveniently in this group of dedicated and supposedly objective citizens, we can expect more of the same.

In other words, more bombs and no political bombshells.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Day After Winograd

The headline in the newspaper screamed, "PM: I am vindicated". Because the final draft of the Winograd Report stated what everyone already knew, and removed the bits that placed personal responsibility onto Olmert.

OK, so the report said that the army screwed up, every division and footsoldier is to blame for the failure to reach the objectives of the war. OK, so the army was taking orders from their military superiors, who were consulting with the cabinet and senior staff of the government of Israel. OK, the cabinet was taking orders from...the Wizard of Oz?

What the headline should have read, was "Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain".

Once again, Olmert has refused to take the difficult responsibility that comes along with the position of Prime Minister of Israel. If read accurately, the report would tell him that he and his appointed cabinet, along with the army brass, do not know how to run a war and come out victorious. Olmert and his government do not know how to protect the citizens who elected him into power, citizens who coincidentally are under threat of war and terror on a regular basis.

It is time for Olmert to pack his bags and retire.

Though the calls for his resignation have gone down from 68% (pre-report) to 53% (post-report), our Arabs neighbors have lauded the results, saying that Olmert is now even weaker in their eyes. Which translates to more rocket attacks on Sderot, and more terror infiltrations in Israeli territory.

We Israelis deserve better leadership.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Divine Intervension

Oprah Winfrey endorses Barack Obama.
JFK endorses Obama, apparently from the Great Beyond.

The day before the Winograd Committee Report is meant to be published and distributed, comes the promise of snow, which will shut down all of Jerusalem.

Leaving Olmert one more day to hold onto his tenuous power position. One more day that Ehud Barak of the Labour Party can pretend that he has the balls to leave the coalition and force early Israeli elections. One more day that Shas (the Sephardic Religious party) can whore themselves for money, in return for empty and corrupt leadership. One more day that the terrorists surrounding Israel can take advantge of our weak position and threaten our citizens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Traditional Holidays

Since the founding of the State of Israel, there has been an effort on part of the "new" Israelis to re-define traditional Jewish holidays, more in keeping with a country trying to emulate the rest of the nations. And so I provide for you a chart of some of the major Biblical holidays, with their modern sensibilities.

Traditional Name: Chanukah
History: Macabees save nation from Toga party and jelly doughnuts
New Improved Name: Chag Urim (Festival of Lights)

(*This holiday sponsored by Toys R Us and all things oil.)

Traditional Name: Chag HaMolad (The Festival of the Birth)
History: Jesus, who was in fact Jewish, is born in a manger.
New Improved Name: Chag HaMishloach (Festival of the Take-Out Food, as modern Jews around the world celebrated by going to the movies and getting Chineese take-out)

(*This holiday sponsored by the GNP and Kung Pow Chicken)

Lag B'Omer
Traditional Name: Festival of the Trees
History: Agricultural New Year
New Improved Name: Chag HaYaar
(Festival of the Forest, have to think
Green and Global these days.)

(*This holiday sponsored by Al Gore: inventor of the internet, underrated American Vice President, Oscar winner and Nobel Prize recipient. What a guy! And by Keren Kayemet, the Israeli institution that plants trees, virtual trees in the Shmita year.)

Traditional Name: Festival of the Lot
History: Kidnapped Jewish Esther and Uncle Mordechai save nation and play dress up
New Improved Name: Chag HaShicorim (Festival of the Drunkards)

(*This holiday sponsored by AA and the junk food industry.)

Rosh HaShana
Traditional: Jewish New Year
History: All creation on their knees, begging for forgiveness, in between lots of festive meals
New Improved Name: Chag HaDieta (As in after the holiday, I will go on my diet)

Yom Kippur
Traditional Name: Day of Judgement
History: Holiest day of year where all creation assumes positive results of Rosh
Hashana, and celebrates by abstaining from all things fun. Except for the streets filled with children riding bikes, and roller blading, because they know they won't get run over by a car.
New Improved Name: Chag HaOfanaim (Festival of the Bike)
Alternative Name: Festival of the Massive Video Rentals because all TV and radio stations shut down for 25 hours.

(*This holiday sponsored by therapists, who are most concerned at the pattern of binge eating and fasting in Jewish culture and tradition.)

Traditional Name: Feast of the Tabernacle
History: To thank G-d for protecting us in the deser, though not asking directions for 40 years, Jews live in windy huts
New Improved Name: Chag HaDvorim (Festival of the Bees, who swarm looking for
warm Jewish food and honey)

(*This holiday sponsored by Christmas lights, bought on sale and used in the Succah.)

Traditional Name: The Time of the Giving of the Torah
History: Encounter with greatness at Mt. Sinai , celebrated by pulling an all nighter, like in college
New Improved Name: Chag Motzarei Chalav (The Dairy Holiday)

(*This holiday sponsored by the Israeli Dairy farmers, who are out to punish the Lactose Intolerant.)

Traditional Name: Festival of the Matzot
History: Starts with a four-cup wine feast, no bread for a week, and trust me, Matza is no substitute
New Improved Name: Chag Baayot HaIcool (Festival of Problematic Digestion)

(*This holiday is (a) Kosher for Passover (b) Kosher for Passover only for those who can eat Legumes (c) Kosher for Passover for those who cannot eat Legumes.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Olmert's Shrinking Coalition

With the loss of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, led by the Russian Lieberman, over "core issues," Ehud Olmert still has 67 seats in his coaltion, and claims not to be worried. He will continue to plow through his plans for Middle East Peace, giving away half the country at bargain prices to terrorists, and fulfilling the mandate of his Lame Duck poltical Daddy, George Bush.

Isn't it time (to rephrase a quote from American Presidential candidate, Ron Paul) that America stopped giving Israel billions of dollars per year, stopped treating this very capable 60 year old country like a teenager and providing us with a conditional allowance? How much longer does Israel have to abide by, "As long as you live in my house, young man, you will do what I tell you" ? When does Israel start to protect its citizens, without asking permission from the rest of the universe?

As proof of this argument, since Bush's visit last week, and Olmert's repeated press conferences in which he has promised to help build a Palestinian state within Israeli territory, the missile attacks on Sderot have increased exponentially.

The next in line to leave Olmert's coalition could be either the Shas party, who may have to look past the whoredom for seminary funds that is their modus operndi. Or the Labour party will be forced to leave the goverment once the Winograd Committee Report is published on January 30th. Either way, Israel will G-d willing be calling early elections, and will finally unseat the slick, power-addicted Prime Minister.

Which begs the question, which person of quality and commitment could step in and do a better job?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Countdown to Winograd

The Ehud Olmert-George Bush lovefest ends tomorrow, and thank G-d for that; as a resident of Jerusalem I am tired of the city wide "house arrest" that has been imposed for the duration of the American President's visit. This visit to the Middle East cost the American taxpayers $40 million dollars, and has cost Israel over 25 million shequel as well, because of the increased police presence and the closure of public transportation and businesses for three days.

It should be noted that Bush and Olmert did not visit Sderot, where citizens are bombed and under serious threat on a daily basis. Nor did Bush speak with Hamas in Aza, towards the goal of limiting terrorist activity or returning the three Israeli MIAs, kidnapped close to two years ago.
This trip involved sight-seeing and glad-handling, so that Bush's presidency would record one visit to this area - meeting with a weak Olmert and an equally lame Abbas -before his second term ends on the note of general miserable failure.

Once Bush leaves on Friday, Ehud Olmert will not be able to escape the impending publication of the Winograd Committee's report, a document that by all accounts and rumors will demand the immediate resignation of Olmert and many of his senior staff and ministers. Olmert, however, should not shoulder the consequences on his own.

At the very least his Foreign Minister and fellow member of the Kadima party, Tzippi Livini, should resign as well. Recent reports revealed that Livni had the opportunity, only one week after the kidnapping of the MIAs, to return two of the three men safely into Israeli hands, and she botched the negotiations. Now we don't have access to any information about these soldiers, the government cannot even state with certainty that they are still alive.

Ehud Barak of the Labour party has indicated that he may leave the coalition and force early elections. Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu of the Likud party has called for Olmert's resignation even before the final report becomes the main event, as the Prime Minister is already under suspicion in several criminal investigations. Olmert has responded by saying that he will "never" leave his office, and that as the person who made the mistakes cited in the report, he is in the best position to resolve them.

A leader in a democracy must take full responsibility for his errors, and cannot hold himself outside the law he claims to represent. Olmert must leave now, before he perpetrates any more damage on Israel and its citizens.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Saving the Planet...One Plastic Bag at a Time

(Another installment of Life in Israel)

A Chiropractic colleague of mine recently explained to me that his yardstick for choosing friends is the following: "I don't like people who litter." I exclaimed that surely there must be a higher moral or social characteristic that defines a worthwhile person, and he had me think about his definition. In fact, the people I choose to call friends, those I respect and admire and enjoy their company, do not randomly distribute garbage on the streets; and those whom I dislike are generally disrespectful to others, and to the Earth.

Israel began implementing two policies this week, plans that are meant to assist in the fight for Gaea's survival. The first incorporates a penalty against older less maintained vehicles whose fuel emissions don't meet modern standards, and add to the pollution in larger cities. But they haven't decided how they will enforce the new law, and so it becomes part of a running list of "laws without teeth."

The second initiative addresses the issue of plastic versus paper, and paradoxically, supermarkets are now charging clients extra if they choose to use recycled paper bags, rather than for the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. Most clients will not want to pay for the privilege of being eco-conscious, and so the planet will suffer.

Bravo for the backwards politics of a nation that could do so much better for itself and the environment, and falls vastly short.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Lame Duck Visits Israel

I gave the Israeli version of Survivor one more chance last night, and watched the agonizing episode. Luckily I had taped it, and was able to flip through the more tedious moments. I don't think I care who wins, in fact I hope they all get stuck in the Caribbean and don't return to Israel.

What I did notice while watching is that the behaviour of the Israeli contestants illustrate the basic flaws in our approach to a negotiation and settlement with the Arabs in our region.

Firstly, the players [in Survivor] seem to forget that this is a winner take all event, and instead, fought to keep the weakest player on board, while voting out another member of the tribe who could lead them successfully through physical challenges. Likewise, we Israelis try to apply Western values to a Muslim society which takes advantage of weakness. The more we try to give them, the more we say "they don't really mean to drive us into the sea," the more they will assail our land with bombs from the sky and terrorists from within.

Second, the Israeli Survivors talk too much, to the camera and to each other. They reveal too much of their plan to others, and the editors of the program do not have the common sense to leave out parts of the show that are noise and filler. The reason the American version of the television program works so well is because each episode has a formula, and it all fits into one hour, including commercials. On the local and international political negotiation front, we Israelis make the mistake of showing all our cards before anyone asks, we publish our secret plans on the front page of every newspaper, for all to read. It would not hurt us to selectively speak, and do more listening.

The long war that Israel and Jews have been fighting against the Arabs, and all those who would try to wipe us and our country off the map, boils down to one fact: in a winner-takes-all conflict, you lose by playing nicely with others. We must be proactive and offensive in our actions, we must protect our citizens first and foremost from those who have proven to be immediate and real threats. An idea that Prime Minister Olmert has failed to grasp, because he is too busy keeping himself out of jail.

Every other country on the planet would put their very existence and safety before others, that is a basic human right that Israel inexplicably denies itself.

Here's hoping that President Bush, when he visits Israel this week, can start to comprehend that Survivor reality.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mister Rogers on Relationships

Fred McFeely Rogers, known as Mister Rogers to the civilized world, was a calming and assuring presence in my life when I was a child. Even today, I find his simple approach to life comforting and totally on target. Reading his books as an adult, I feel like he still values me as a person, that he is speaking directly to me and my struggles.

That is the power of the man, and his words.

Given my frustration with the dating and marriage scene, I found this advice of his most helpful, and wish to pass it on to those readers who could use it:

"Love" is a word to use with care. It means many different things and can be expressed in many different ways. But I think it means that a person can grow to his or her fullest potential only in mutually caring relationships with other human beings.

Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in others' achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. We need to accept the fact that it is not in the power of any human being to provide all these things all the time. For any of us, mutually caring relationships will also always include some measure of unkindness and impatience, intolerance, pessimism, envy, self-doubt, and disappointment.

Love doesn't mean a state of perfect caring. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now - and to go on caring through joyful times and through times that may bring us pain.

May the new year bring us all joy, and the love that we need in our lives.