Monday, November 29, 2010

Double Standard Strikes Again

This is a letter to the editor I just sent in to the New York Times this morning Let's see if it is published.

Dear Sir,

Even though Israeli Prime Minister Netaniyahu has offered to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority without any preconditions ever since he took office, at every twist of the road the New York Times has placed all blame on him for any breakdown of the peace initiatives.  Last week the New York Times published an article wherein it reported that a Palestinian document, authored by senior Palestinian Information Ministry official Al-Mutawakei Taha, alleges that the Western Wall, located in Jerusalem's Old City, is not a surviving remnant of the Biblical Jewish Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., but is instead an integral part of the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque.  I waited in vain for over a week to see whether the editor would comment on such a blatant distortion of history. Aren’t position papers like these impediments to peace too?  Why the double standard? 

Minimally, I would expect the editor to proclaim the rewriting of history “unhelpful” to the goal of negotiating peace and a two state solution.  Trust is a two way street.  Just as Israel must take trust building steps so too must the P.A.  Jews have an unbroken bond to the Land of Israel from time immemorial.  There has always been a continuous settlement of Jews in Israel even when the vast majority was exiled by force, first by the Babylonians and latter by the Romans.  In fact Jews always comprised the majority of dwellers in holy cities like Jerusalem except when they were compulsorily banished by the occupying conquerors. Denying the Jewish connection to its holy sites like the Western Wall and Rachel’s tomb doesn’t further peace.  People who want to erase each other only increases enmity and an atmosphere of distrust.

Rabbi Gary Greene
Marathon Jewish Center
245-37 60 Ave
Douglaston, NY 11362

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So much for a Western style democracy in Palestine

As reported in the New York Times today, Nov. 16, 2010 a blogger, Waleed Hasayin, on the West Bank has been detained (not formally arrested) for promoting atheism, composing spoofs of Koraic verses, skewering the lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammud and chatting online suing the sarcastic Web name God Almighty.  So much for the freedom of expression for Palestinian Arabs.  "Majed Arouri, a major human rights expert in Ramallah he believed that the way Mr. Hasayin had been detained and his correspondence recorded 'contradicts human rights principles and existing Palestinian laws' regarding individual privacy." (from the article) While some show solidarity with Hasayin others are calling for his execution.  Of course, as a "blasphemer" he must be an agent of the Mossad working for Israel.  Can you imagine anything of this magnitude happening in Israel where every Jewish opinion is expressed without fear of prosecution?!

I am looking forward to the United Nations condemning the P.A. for violating this man's freedom of speech.  But I am not holding my breath.  The U.N. and its ngos would rather concentrate on Israel's "apartheid" rule even though all Israeli citizens, Jew and Arab, are equal before the law, Israel has no Population Registration Act, no Group Areas Act, no Mixed Marriages and Immorality Act, no Separate Representation of Voters Act, no Separate Amenities act, no pass laws or any of the myriad apartheid laws.  The U.N. and its minions would rather rewrite history by declaring Rachel's Tomb to be a Muslim mosque and part of the Palestinain heritage instead of what it truly is "proof of Jewish roots to the Land of Israel from the very beginning of our people some 4000 years ago.

Israel remains the only true Democracy with a vibrant free press and freedom of expression in the whole Middle East.  As the old Simon and Garfunkle song goes, the Israel delegitimizes hears what it wants to hear and disregards the rest.

On another topic-organ theft.  If Israel is a nexus for organ theft and/or Israelis are involved in this illegal activity taking advantage of the poor to harvest their organs, this operation must be terminated immediately.  All involved should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  This behavior is violates our vision of ourselves as a 'light unto the nations."  Those involved are desecrating God's name.  A real Hillul Hashem.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A 90 day freeze

If I were Netaniyahu, I would acquiesce to the United States request to freeze all settlement building for 90 more days.  Why go out of your way to anger your most important and sometime only ally in the world?  This would certainly create some good will with the United States and a little good will can go a long way. 

I don't understand why the onus of the break down of the peace talks is always Israel's fault.  There is enough blame to go around to both sides.  For example, the last settlement building freeze lasted 10 whole months and even though Jerusalem was excluded from the freeze building didn't go on there either.  The Palestinians didn't come to the table until the 9th month and then time ran out.  What did they expect after 10 months of restraint expired?

I would agree to halt all construction, but I would jump up and down and exclaim every day the Palestinians are procrastinating: "I am ready to negotiate.  Unfortunately, the Palestinians have yet come to the negotiating table and there is only "x" amount of days left before building resumes.  Why won't they meet with me now, when there is still time?"  Wouldn't it be grand if the President echoed those sentiments? 

Let's put the Palestinians on the defensive and if the negotiations come to naught let the world see who truly is at fault.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?  For the New York Times the answer is easy, when the target is Israel.  I read a disturbing headline in this morning's New York Times.  The article's headline reads "Israel Attacks kills a top Militant in Gaza."  Mohammed al-Nemnem is described in the first sentence as "A Palestinian leader of an extremist group inspired by Al Qaeda was killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Wednesday..."  The article continues "...(Al-Nemnem) had been personally involved in directing several terrorist attacks agains Israeli targets in recent years...and he was involved in directing a terror attack against American and Israeli targets in the Sinai Peninusla, in cooperation with Hamas elements in the Gaza Strip (according the IDF)."

This unidentified splinter group must be even more extreme than Hamas itself and the United States along with the European Union has already classified Hamas as a  terrorist organization.  If this is the case, my Talmudic reasoning would lead me to believe "how much more so is al-Nemnem's organizaion a terrorist one!" (ie kol vechomer)

The NY Times has no problem calling attackers who plot against America and Americans terrorists.  Just check out the Time Square bomber or the most recent intercepted bombs on route to Chicago and see what I mean.

Only when the target is Israel are these terrorists sanitized as militants.  In this case a rose by any other name just doesn't smell as sweet.  Let's call a spade a spade.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some final thoughts about my bike ride

First of all, I feel really great about myself upon reaching this goal of riding my bike from Jerusalem to Eilat.  When I was younger and jogged with the JCC early birds, I wanted to run at least one marathon. My knees gave out before I could realize that goal.  I always felt bad about that.  I have the best wife in the entire world.  It was Judy who got me to do this trip.  She wanted me to exercise for all the right health reasons.  I hadn't found one that really motivated me since I gave up jogging.  She told me that I couldn't go back to Israel until I rode in the Hazon bike ride.  That threat was enough to get me training. She continued to encourage me or at least put up with my training when it interfered with our lives together.  When we visited San Francisco this past summer, she insisted that I rent a bike and go riding across the Golden Gate Bridge.  The best part of the deal was I still continued to go to Israel every year since 2005!

I have to admit that the ride in Israel was the draw and not raising money for the Arava Institute and Hazon, no matter how much good they do in the world (although I didn't know too much about the A.I.)  But now that I see what wonderful works they do, somewhere in the trip they became the focus and purpose of the ride instead of biking.  I am glad that I have raised $5600.00.  I am hoping that I can fund raise another $400.00 to make it an even $6000.00 before the books close on Dec. 31.

Would I do the ride again.  Absolutely!  A couple of Hebrew College Students went on the ride and if Hillel goes on it next year when he is already in Israel, I would certainly ride join Kenny and Lily (if he can convince her to ride) and become part of team Rabinoff-Goldman-Greene.  Otherwise, in a couple of years I can see putting together a team Marathon.  /We could field a pretty good team.  One of the things I learned was people who rode with me, came in all different sizes, shapes, ages, and condition.  Take my word they weren't all sleek greyhounds.  Some of whom, I couldn't believe actually could ride in the shape they were, but they found their comfort level and completed the course.  People just have to remember that it is a ride and not a race.  There were 3 different levels of rides from short to crazy long and we were completely supported with SAG buses.  The organizers of the tour went out of the way to accommodate each riders needs. The food was excellent and plenty. Pit stops every 5-6 miles and rest stops every 14-16 miles.

Finally what a way to see Israel.