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.