All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Birthday Message For The 61 Year Old

My beloved is celebrating her 61st birthday today. As she enters her 60's, one step closer to hitting three figures, she basks in the glory of the years that have passed her along the way.

It hasn't been an easy journey, reaching this 61st anniversary.

She has borne many tragedies on her rocky path, but she's still climbing up the mountain, braving the storms, thunder and lightning and overcoming all the obstacles that are hurtled at her on a daily basis.

Throughout her 61 years, she has been beaten, battered and bruised, but her friends - her real friends - have been there with her, every step of the way. We, her companions, admirers and devotees know that, despite the harm we may cause ourselves by allying ourselves so selflessly with her cause, it's worth it and always will be.

On this special day, the anniversary of your "modern" birth, we salute you and continue to thank G-d for the fact that you are still here and still breathing, emitting a heartbeat that is heard around the world.

We will never abandon you, through thick and thin because you are nothing less than the blood that flows through our veins.

Happy birthday dearest, dearest friend.

Yom Huledet sameach, my 61 year old - 5000 year old companion.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Yehi Zichram Baruch (May Their Memories Be Blessed)

"A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.

In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces - police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations - have been killed in the service of the state.
The last soldier to have died in the line of duty was Capt. Yehonatan Netanel, a deputy company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, who was killed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in January."

This quote can be found on the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

I find it upsetting for many different reasons, not least because it highlights the lie perpetrated by both the Arabs and the media that all the Jews and Arabs who have died defending the land, did so within the last 61 years of Israel's existence. In fact, a fair number had been killed by the time 1948 rolled in, 88 years after the very first returnee to the sacred land laid down his life, simply for being a Jew who wanted to live in the ancient homeland.

It makes a mockery of the claim that the establishment State of Israel is the reason for the Arabs sanguine lust of Jewish blood. In 1929, whilst the world was unaware of the impending Wall Street crash, these same Arabs massacred the ancient community of Hebron - 19 years before 1948.

Tonight is the commencement of Yom Hazikaron, the annual memorial day for the boys and girls who fell defending our land, before 1948, during 1948 and ever since.

Yet, 22,570 lost souls have not convinced us to leave our land. Six million Jews have not convinced us all to give up and assimilate, though tragically many have and still, after 149 years, the Arabs can't get the message. Ahmedinejad doesn't understand that he can talk the talk, ape Hitler's speeches and sway many a naive state (and Obama isn't scoring too high on my cards either) but he's dealing with a proud, stubborn and resolute nation, who doesn't believe in giving up - irrespective of the sacrifice we have to endure.

And we recite the names, remember the faces, shed the tears but know, in our inner hearts that, as Hannah Szenes wrote:

"My God, My God

May these things never end:
The sand and the sea

The rustle of the water
The lightning in the sky

Man's prayer"

Man's prayer never ends, just like the forces of nature that are marshaled by our G-d.

Our prayer for peace - Oseh Shalom - accompanied us through the millennial exile - and is still the beat that fires us to continue on our journey as Jews every single day.

22,570 men and women have passed, but millions live on. In Israel. In the Diaspora. 149 years later, two millenia after we left Jerusalem, we are back in our holy land because that's the way the good Lord wants it and one hundred Ahmedinejad's can't do a damn thing to budge us, nuclear weapons or not.

Yehi Zichram Baruch.
May their memories be (forever) blessed.

Let's hope the number stays the same next year.
Never again.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

A Refreshing Viewpoint

I have come to the conclusion that often, our Arab cousins have a much better understanding and appreciation of our position than our so called "friends" in the West.

This is no more powerfully demonstrated then when reading the following excerpt from MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) which you can also access here.

In an article posted April 21, 2009 on the liberal Arab website, reformist writer Basem Muhammad Habib condemns the Holocaust denial in the Arab world. He states that this trend, which is unreasonable and inhumane, is motivated by political agendas, and by a false belief that empathy for the victims of the Holocaust amounts to a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. He calls on the Arabs to separate these two issues, and to join the world in commemorating the Holocaust, for it was an attack on the very essence of humanity.

Following are excerpts:

There Is No Connection at All Between the Reality of the Holocaust and What Has Happened in Palestine

"These days, the world is commemorating the Holocaust, because it was one of the biggest massacres in history, which surpassed other massacres in its barbarity, even those committed by primitive civilizations. Abundant [evidence] indicates that more than six million Jews were killed during the 1930s and 1940s, having been accused by the Nazi authorities of conspiring with the Allies, of causing the Germany's defeat in World War I, and of cooperating with the efforts of its enemies in World War II. This racist thinking fed the feelings of hatred towards the Jews, and led to this horrible massacre, whose wounds are still tormenting the world even decades later.

"Though this horrible event has become part of history, and cannot possibly be denied, there are nevertheless some who insist on denying it and on questioning [the validity of] the numbers, out of motivations that are mostly political. [This is true] especially in our region, which is steeped in [psychological] complexes and feelings of resentment. Many [in our region] attempt to link the Holocaust and the issue of Palestine, believing that to recognize and commemorate the Holocaust is to betray the Palestinian cause. This approach raises questions about the soundness of the ideologies that dominate our attitudes and feelings – ideologies that are clearly not anchored in sound logic, and are not at all consistent with our human values. Thus, we unwittingly turn our backs on the proper human attitude, just because our feelings of hatred get the better of us.

"There is no connection at all between the reality of the Holocaust and what has happened in Palestine. These are two different matters that [occurred in different] times and places, and we can assess each of them independently of the other. [Only] then... will our judgment be free and grounded in correct values and sincere sentiments.

"Instead of doubting [the historicity of the Holocaust], we should admire the Jewish political leaders for the interest they show in the Jewish [Holocaust] victims and for their constant remembrance of those atrocities. They dedicate much effort to honoring their memory, documenting their trials, and fighting for [the survivors'] rights, wherever they are. This is something we hardly ever see in our region, where people are killed for the most trivial reasons, and their suffering and pain are quickly forgotten. In Iraq, for example, hundreds of thousands were killed [under Saddam Hussein's] reign of terror and tyranny, yet we have never heard of any attempt to commemorate these victims, nor have we seen any concern for their lost rights...

"Today, the world has become free of [fascist] ideologies, and the reign of reason is expanding. Even Germany, which witnessed this criminal massacre, has acknowledged this catastrophe, and has begun to atone for it in various ways, [for example] by providing annual economic support to Israel. The U.N., for its part, has issued a resolution designating January 27 as [International] Holocaust Remembrance Day... This date was chosen in honor of the few survivors who were discovered in Auschwitz by the Allies [when they liberated the camp on January 27,] 1945 – [survivors] who were among the few who experienced the horror [of the Holocaust] and lived to tell the tale."

Holocaust Denial Usually Stems Not from Scholarly Motivations, But from Political Ones

"Because of the doubts raised by many [people about the Holocaust], some countries have been forced to issue laws that criminalize any attempt to doubt or deny this event – for the casting of doubt does not usually stem from scholarly motivations but [comes to serve] political and ideological goals... Some regard such laws as undemocratic, and as indicating a pro-Israel bias. However, the truth is that [these laws] came in response to a wave of irrational doubt, promoted by certain parties under the guise of scientific inquiry.

"The Holocaust deserves to be [recognized as] a momentous world event, because it targeted [the very essence of] our humanity. At the time, there was no Jewish state and most of those who suffered this injustice lived in Europe in small diaspora communities.

"We [Arabs] should feel empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and commemorate them, as do others [throughout the world]. Certainly, our participation in commemorating this event will help our international position and change the way people regard us. Perhaps we will be able to improve our image in the eyes of the world and reverse some of the damage that the terrorists have done."

(c) MEMRI 2009

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Depressing Times

I've been digesting the news from around the world for a few weeks and deliberately held back from spewing out the anger that I feel about the injustice that is being purveyed against the State of Israel. I was busy teaching my students instead of doing the following:

I didn't get up there at anti-racism conference in Geneva and deliver a vile, racist and rancid rant, on the eve of Yom Hashoah, Israel and the Jewish world's annual remembrance of the Holocaust.

I didn't pretend to be a friend of Israel, whilst at the same time encouraging a boycott of good coming out of the country (the Labour Government obviously needs to occupy its mind with other things when its not busy sending out dodgy emails or charging us for porn movie rentals)

I didn't spend £20,000 sending a bunch of MP's to a conference where the keynote speaker was a member of the Hezbollah terrorist organisation.

I didn't set up a special line to advise anti-Israel boycotters of what products were produced in the West Bank by both Palestinians and Israelis (Every little bit helps whom, Tesco?)

I didn't act like a total hypocrite by conducting a highly suspect war in Iraq, whilst in the same rancid breath daring to brand Israeli generals "war criminals" for engaging in a battle to protect women and children from constant Kassam attacks.

I didn't do any of these.

I did however applaud when a few dozen individuals walked out on Ahmedinejad mid-rant. This fleeting moment of satisfaction reminded me that not everyone out there is hell-bent on scapegoating Israel and by extension, the Jews for every malady in this putrid planet that we call Earth.

I also prayed that the same people who are carrying out all of the above feel exactly the same way about the appalling Chinese behaviour towards the people of Tibet, the disgraceful forty five year old boycott of Cuba by America, the genocide that is going on in Darfur, the discrimination against the Bahai in Iran and so forth.

I'm writing about this, because I don't recall that shmock of an Iranian mentioning it at the anti-racist conference. Then, again, he was probably too busy denying the Holocaust to actually say anything of real worth.

I am also saving my last laugh for Gordon Brown and his cronies - because next year, indirectly, his antipathy towards Israel will cost him and them their jobs. My only hope is that this nasty and pernicious man gives Israel a fleeting thought as he steps out of his beloved No 10 for the very final time.

When you mess with the Jews, you always end up losing - just ask Ken Livingston, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Arafat and Nasser what happened to them after they started a fight with our people.

We never forget a friend.

We also never forget those who took us on - and lost.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Centraal Station Antwerpen

This is great!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Iran mulls death penalty for offensive blogs

As a blogger, I pride myself on the fact that I can write about anything that tickles my fancy. I guess it's lucky that I'm not living in Iran right now.

That said, I wonder whether this will go through.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Cool Facts about Israel

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Stay Calm Calm Calm

How do I start to describe what's happened since I last posted? What can I write to convey the emotions that have buried themselves inside my biological frame? Should I try?

I'm finding life quite difficult right now. I feel that I am at a crossroad, yet, at the same time unable to see the signpost.

In one direction,there is the glimmer of a new job on the horizon. I know it's there and I'm excited to jump right in and get cracking. The problem is that the post is across a very long and busy carriageway called the Summer Term.

In a week's time, I'm going back to school and frankly, I'm dreading it. The next month promises to be one long pressure pad, from the moment I walk into the school building, until the second my Year 11's walk out at the end of their GCSE's. The pressure I will be under will be almost unbearable and soul destroying - two months of it.

Life at home is going to suffer as I will come home tired, harried and irritable. I'll try not to take it out on the wife and kids, but things being what they are, I won't be able to stop myself from snapping. In turn, the tension at home will ratchet up as they berate me for my behaviour. I'll then turn into myself and go to work angry, frustrated and stressed.

Summer term.

And all the while, the sweet promise of September might be the only thing that keeps me going. I know that when it all got a little too much at the end of last term, I used knowledge that I'm leaving as an emotional crutch, on which to hang my hopes.

Pesach is still ongoing and I'm letting it lull me into a phantom sense of security. I've decided that until the festival is over, I won't be doing any school work, knowing that, from Friday, I will no longer have this excuse.

Maybe I should just enjoy these few days and see them as the calm before the storm. I suppose it's the only way I can really prepare myself for Monday morning.