Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Islamic Ramadan and the religion of peace

(Last update: June 11, 2019)

According to what you'll find on the Internet, the Islamic Ramadan is a Holy month. It's a 30-day opportunity for each practicing Muslim to strengthen his personal commitment to his religion. 

For the devout Muslim, this means fasting, prayer and religious reflection. Ramadan also means it's time to participate in something called, 'community'--turning to fellow Muslims to do charitable and 'good' deeds. 

No doubt, such a description of Ramadan helps to explain why so many call Islam, 'the religion of peace' (the word, 'Islam', is supposed to mean, 'peace').  Surely, such religious practices as listed above are decidedly peaceful, are they not?

Like Jewish holidays, the Islamic Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. That  calendar means that Ramadan 2018 was May 16-June 14. For 2019, the dates are May 5-June 4. Ramadan 2020 will be April 24-May 23. 

 Depending upon where a Muslim lives, Ramadan is often accompanied by specific cultural practices. These might include the stringing of lanterns in a city square, special Ramadan greetings and specialty food items.

But while such peaceful and friendly practices might be limited to one's specific location, there appears to be one Ramadan practice that doesn't appear geographically limited. This broader Ramadan 'practice' is called, terror attacks.

So far as I can see, Ramadan doesn't appear to have any official, religious 'it's time to kill!' label associated with it. But it's certainly gotten that concept attached to it. 

You can thank the Islamic extremist for that. These crazies love  blood, especially someone else's blood. They use murder to promote their violent ideology. They use murder and mayhem to make us all sit up and take notice. 

You've noticed that? Ever since the non-Ramadan 9/11 attacks in America, the West has gotten a painful schooling in Islamic terror in general, and in Ramadan massacres in particular. This year is no different. 

Yesterday, May 27, 2019, was the end of the 22nd day of Ramadan 2019. Today, thanks to a website called, thereligionofpeace, you can now keep track of Islam's Ramadan. The numbers you will now see are for just the first 22 days of Ramadan:

from here

It's probably a 'stretch' to equate 'Islam' with 'terror'. Indeed, I still tend to believe people when they say Islam itself is not a religion of terror violence (though I do have questions about the moral disconnect between the 'official' (peaceful) and the 'unofficial' (violent) natures of Islam). I tend to believe people who say that Islamic terror is committed only by a small fraction of the world's Muslims. 

That's reassuring. But then, what's a "small fraction"? Would one-one-hundredth of one percent be small enough to be a "small fraction"? I'd think so, wouldn't you?

But that's still a problem. You see, there are at least 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, probably more. So if that "small fraction" is indeed just one-one-hundredth of one percent, we're still looking at 180,000 terror-committed Muslims out there at any one moment looking for someone to murder. That is not so reassuring.

Okay, so maybe a "small fraction" refers only one-one-thousandth of one percent who are murderous. That's still 18,000 murderers on the prowl.

Feel reassured by that number? I don't.

This is why I believe that, with some 35,000 deadly terror attacks since 9-11-01 (here), and more than 120,000 victims (here), we do have to ask some questions about this 'religion of peace'. The questions only just begin with, if Islam is the peaceful religion (right now, it's the only religion so self-designated, which seems to make it the religion of peace, doesn't it?), why are any Muslims killing people in these numbers;  I mean, you don't see Christians or atheists or Buddhists killing so many people in the name of their beliefs, do you? 

If, as some argue, it's ISIS which is primarily responsible for this murderous Ramadan reality, where is the Islamic outrage? Where is the Islamic outcry? Where are calls of "enough!" from Islamic leaders?

If Islamic leaders won't speak out, perhaps we should speak out. Maybe, when it comes to Islam, these killings should prompt us to hit the pause button. Maybe we should tell Islam, prove you are peaceful. Show us how you stop the violence. 

While we're doing that, perhaps we should also ask Islam's leaders to explain the apparent contradiction between the claim of Islam (peaceful) and its reality (bloody terror).

If Islam won't defend its peacefulness or demand peacefulness from its followers, what is Islam?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The real Palestinian story you may have missed

Take a look at the video below. It tells a story of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.   

Beware: this story could frighten you. It might force you to re-think what you believe. It might force you to change. 

Can you handle that?   

The point-of-view in this video is different. It isn't one most pundits on the Middle East want you to see. It's certainly nothing you'll find in what's commonly called, mainstreammedia

This video tells a story that doesn't conform to the Palestinian Narrative so many in the West report to you. You will not see in this video that Palestinians are victims and Israel is the oppressor. This video has no connection whatsoever to the conventional, anti-Israel 'wisdom' you see every day about the Arab-Israel conflict.

But then, this is exactly why you should watch this video. It tells a story you've probably missed.

This video was prepared under the direction of Pierre Rehov, who is known mostly for his work creating documentary films. This short film appeared on youtube May 5, 2019. It's relatively long--16 minutes. But it's worth your time (if you don't want to watch the full video, just watch the first 3:30 minutes. Can you afford three-and-a-half minutes?): 

The next time you listen to Mahmoud Abbas, Boycott advocates or other assorted anti-Israel louts slam Israel or promise that the Palestinian Authority is absolutely committed to 'staying the course' against Israel, think about this film. It could explain why Abbas and his cronies haven't given Palestinians a peace deal. 

Conflict with Israel has become simply too profitable to the Palestinian elite. What, you want these Palestinians to give up their Mercedes and their mansions?

The next time you hear about 'Israeli oppression', think about this short film.  Who's oppressing whom? 

You've heard repeatedly, ad nauseum, about 'Israel-the-oppressor'. But what about the Palestinians themselves? Are Palestinian leaders truly corrupt enough to oppress their own people for personal gain? Could they be that cynical, that corrupt?

Watch the video. Then answer those questions for yourself.

Go back to the video: who lives in the mansions and modern castles you've just seen? Who drives those expensive cars? Who, exactly, shops in those expensive malls, or frequents those expensive hotels?

More important, what has happened to the billions the Palestinian Authority receives from the world and the UN? Is it truly possible that the 'Palestinian elite' makes its living begging for international aid--so as to line their own pockets?

Go back to the film. Look at how the elite lives. Look at how the rest live. Where's the money for that lifestyle come from?

This video might suggest why Palestinian leaders have no interest in changing what they see as their private, golden goose--easily duped 'humanitarian-minded' Westerners who ship billions in aid to Palestinian leaders because, you know, the Palestinian people are so 'oppressed'.

 Really? Perhaps it's closer to the truth to suggest that if so many Palestinians stopped skimming so much from that aid, the rest of the Palestinian people would be less oppressed.

Actually, if you want to know who's driving the oppression of the Palestinian people, forget Israel. Go back to the video. Israel is not the number-one-only cause of Palestinian suffering in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza (watch at 13:36-14:33). 

Ask about the money that flows into Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Ask about how the office of the President creates its own  anti-Palestinian brutality. Ask about the elite families. Ask about the corruption.

Who's primarily responsible for Palestinian oppression, misery and suffering? Not Israel.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Israel, birds--and the F-35 warplane. Did Israel lie?

According to a Google-search, the F-35 fighter plane is possibly the most-advanced warplane in the sky. Certainly, it's one of the most expensive single-seat US fighter aircraft ever built. 

It's supposed to be almost impossible to detect. It could be the best stealth aircraft made.

Israel has committed to purchase some 50 F-35's (here). Currently, it's received more than a dozen. So far as we know, the Israel is the first nation in the world to utilize these aircraft for combat operations (here).

In October, 2017, after one such operation, something appeared to go wrong. If you recall, it was during that part of 2017 that Israel was sending aircraft into Syria to degrade military installations controlled by Iran. Israel's thoughts about these installations are simple: the religious imperative that drives Iran maintains that Israel must be destroyed (here). Iran's leadership has committed to this goal (ibid). Creating military assets in Syria is part of that commitment (ibid).

Israel's own leadership, meanwhile, entertains no delusions about Iran. Iran wasn't creating serious military sites in Syria for nothing. 

To protect itself, Israel wants to destroy these positions in Syria now, when no one else in the region is ready to declare open war against the Jewish state. That's why Israel has been attacking these Iranian sites in Syria.

The truth is, Israel can't afford to wait until there's a full-scale regional war against it to attack these positions because at that future moment, if these positions are allowed today to harden and indeed proliferate, Israel might not have the assets to attack them--and everyone else attacking it. 

For Israel, tolerance today could mean being overwhelmed tomorrow.

So far, this approach has worked. Iranian assets in Syria have been degraded by Israeli air attacks--and Iran appears to have begun to pull out of Syria (ibid). Moreover, no one in the region--or elsewhere--has chosen to attack Israel because of Iran's losses in Syria.

These Israeli attacks against Iranian assets in Syria began in earnest in 2017. Between 2017 and early May, 2019, Israel attacked more than 200 of these Iranian targets in Syria, using some 800 bombs and missiles in those attacks (here). As a result, the Iranian attempt to create a military network in Syria appears halted (here and here).

The F-35 comes into this story because after one particular October 2017 Israeli air attack against Iranian assets in Syria, an Israel announcement that all its planes returned safely to base was countered by a Syrian report that one of its anti-aircraft missiles had hit an Israel aircraft. Israel denied that report.

At that moment, no one gave the Syrian report much credence. But only a few hours later, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) made an additional announcement. It said that a bird had caused very serious damage to an F-35--two weeks earlier, during a training flight (here). 

This announcement, coming just hours after the Syrian declaration of a missile strike against an Israeli aircraft, lit up anti-Israel rumor mongers who jumped to the immediate conclusion that this 'bird-strike announcement' was actually a crude attempt by Israel to cover up the 'fact' that a Syrian missile had struck an Israeli aircraft; and, the rumor-mongers suggested, the aircraft struck wasn't just any aircraft. It was the supposedly 'stealth' F-35 (here).

This sounded incredible because the missile that was said to have hit the F-35 wasn't a high-tech missile. It wasn't modern--or particularly sophisticated. It was a Russian S200. 

The S200, while the most advanced such missile in Syria's arsenal, isn't state-of-the-art. It's 'old'--so old, there appears no way it could defeat the F-35's technology. 

What had happened here? Could a grossly outdated 1960's-era Russian-designed missile hit the greatest American stealth product? (here)

If true, the fallout from such a discovery would devastate Israel's belief it had in the F-35 the antidote it needed to defeat Syria's defenses and, potentially, Iran's defenses. This 'truth' would also devastate Israel's belief the F-35 was helping Israel to maintain its 'qualitative' advantage over its more numerous enemies, something it sorely needs to defend itself successfully against the far more numerous forces arrayed against it.

Such a failure against an unsophisticated, older Russian-designed weapon would mean that the great 'equalizer' Israel had purchased was no equalizer at all. It was more an unbelievably expensive piece of useless equipment.

That's how matters stood in October 2017. It's how the question of 'the bird vs the F-35' has remained. For many in the anti-Israel world, the Israeli idea of an F-35 being seriously damaged by a single bird (and not by an out-of-date missile) has remained just that, just another Israeli 'notion'--interesting, but untrue. You know, another Israeli lie.

But now, there's another, newer, F-35 bird story, this time not from Israel, but from Japan. As reported by the AFP news service, a US Marine Corps F-35 fighter plane, upon attempting recently to take off from a base in Japan, was struck by a bird. It wasn't flying at speed. It was still on--or near--the ground. Nevertheless, it suffered "millions of dollars" of damage (here).

The pilot of this F-35 was reported to have safely aborted the take-off. Upon inspection, the damage assessment for the aircraft was graded as 'A', meaning, the repairs would be expensive. 

This shocks us? Haven't we seen enough bird-plane stories to know that when birds and planes collide, bad things can happen? 

Why should the F-35 defy physics? The F-35 has never been advertised as 'tough as a tank' or 'built to take whatever gets thrown at it'. The F-35 selling points involve stealth, technology and on-board high-speed data processing.  It's not a flying tank. It's an electronic thoroughbred.

Thoroughbreds are delicate--always are. As is often the case with products that are both complex, electronic and expensive, one often sacrifices durability for performance.  Why should the F-35 be different?

Looked at through the prism of this new F-35 incident, that Israel 'bird-strike' announcement doesn't sound so suspicious. That announcement might not have been some attempt by Israel to cover-up an under-performing product sold to gullible Jews, as some would have us believe. 

Certainly, some want to believe that. It conforms to their anti-Israel narrative. But the bottom line for Israel still appears to be that this one aircraft is "clearly suited to the Israeli emphasis on deterrence...[the aircraft] is likely to provide a qualitative solution [my emphasis] to the many challenges expected to face Israel" (here).

There's been nothing in the news to suggest that this last statement--written before the October 2017 'bird-strike' story--is no longer true for Israel. Indeed, no one even knows for sure if any F-35 had even participated in that October 2017 attack. 

Yes, Israel-mockers tried to have a field day at Israel's expense (here)But then, with this new US 'bird vs F-35' story, the Israeli story about damage caused by a bird doesn't seem so outlandish. Perhaps that announcement back in October 2017 wasn't a cover-up at all. Maybe the problems it caused were just a case of bad timing. 

Actually, maybe the appearance of that announcement wasn't an accident. Maybe it was purposeful--to troll Israel-haters. 

Trolling happens all the time (here). Israel can't troll its enemies?

My guess is there was no Israeli cover-up back in October 2017. There was no lie. Birds and F-35's simply don't go together. Bird accidents happen.

Don't tell that to Israel-haters. They prefer the lie. They prefer the delusion that the Israelis are closer to fools than a world-class fighting entity.

Let them continue to believe their lies.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Israel's Memorial Day, 2019

Today, May 8, 2019, is Israel's national Memorial Day. It is the day each year we remember those--both soldier and civilian--who have been killed because they live in or come from the nation-state called Israel. It's a day of solemnity, a day of memories.

At 8 pm last night and again this  morning 11 am, sirens all over Israel sounded. Everywhere in Israel, Jews stopped what they were doing. They stood in silence during those moments of the siren's wail to honor the memory of those who gave their lives because they were 'Israelis'.

For many, it's a heavy silence. Yes, some in Israel may not fully realize the solemnity of this day. They may not understand how many Israeli families know someone who has been killed by an enemy who takes a real delight in killing us. 

Too many families here in Israel know about this delight. They suffer loss--or know another family that suffers--because of it. 

Is it fair to say our enemies take a delight in killing us? Well, we know our enemies take delight in killing us because we see the images of that delight. We often see them giving out candies to each other in celebration over a Jew's murder. What are we to think when we see that?

Did you hear? One of our kids killed a Jew this morning! Have a candy!!

I've only been in Israel a few years. But even I--and my family--feel a sense of loss on Memorial Day. While we haven't been here long, we nonetheless have a young friend--an IDF soldier--who has been buried in Israel's National Cemetery, Har Herzl, for almost 5 years now. 2019 would have been his 26th birthday. He is and will remain 21 forever.

We remember the shock of his death. We will never forget him. 

Two days ago, before a ceasefire for the recent flair-up with Hamas was announced, I saw a very young-looking IDF soldier, in uniform, davening (praying) with us at our 6 am morning service. At that moment, the IDF and Hamas were at war. 

I didn't recognize this soldier, with his weapon and his tefillin. I don't recall having seen him before. It didn't matter. I feared for his safety. 

As he left the synagogue, I hoped he'd be safe.

My granddaughter is in the IDF. She, too, wears that same uniform. Though her work doesn't by definition expose her to danger, I thought of her that day. I think of her now. I want her to be safe. 

This national Day of Remembrance is a time of solemnity. It's a day we remember the true existential threat we face. It's a time we understand how fragile life can be, especially for those who wear the uniform of our IDF.

On Memorial Day, we remember those who have fallen. We remember those who have been murdered by an implacable foe. 

We know what that remembrance means to us. It means that the cost of our Jewish Freedom in this land and our Jewish sovereignty on this, our G-d's, land haven't come cheaply. It means we pay for our Freedom and for this sovereignty with our blood. 

We remember.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

War--and the reminder of, never again!

(Last update: May 6, 2019)

If you live outside Israel, you will say that Israel is not at this moment at war (this moment is 5:40 pm local time, Israel, Sunday, May 5, 2019). After all, you will say, no one in Israel has declared war.

Yes, Hamas to the south of Israel is and has been firing rockets from Gaza into Israel steadily since yesterday, Shabbat morning, May 4, 2019--and yes, Israel has been responding. But, you will say, Israel is not 'at war'.

At this moment--5:40 pm Sunday, May  5, 2019 local time in Israel--no official has used the ''w" word. Officially, there is no war in Israel.  

But unofficially, well, that's a different story. Unofficially, life here looks, acts and sounds exactly like we are at war. 

We are engulfed  by war. We are surrounded by war.

Sirens go off.  Phone apps that give a siren-like rocket alert for any rocket fired into Israel have been sounding all day. More significant, life now beats to a very different tune. Life beats along to a war beat, not an it's-just-another-quiet-day beat.

People's thought-processes change.Take my youngest daughter, for example. She works for a man who believes he could be called up at any minute. Literally.

The dawning reality of his potential call-up would change everyone's schedule who works for him. It would cause my daughter to assume more responsibilities. Her hours would change. Her daily life activities would have to change to accommodate the new hours. The pressures she'd experience would change.

She's engaged to marry a man who has served in the IDF. He, too, could be called up. 

His call-up could change their lives. It would certainly disrupt their lives.

My daughter isn't the only person personally affected by the possibility of war. Everyone here knows someone who faces these same concerns. 

Because of these concerns, everyone in shul (synagogue) this morning began to say a special prayer. We seek protection. We need protection. Our neighbors need protection. Our friends need protection. Our children in our army need protection. 

Earlier today, a Jewish father of four in a Southern town near Gaza walked out of his house for a breath of fresh air. A rocket killed him. Just like that. 

His family has now been changed forever. 

Just minutes ago, a news item flashed onto the news: a Israeli civilian car-victim of a Hamas-fired anti-tank missile has succumbed to his wounds. 

We are at war.

We are a small country. Very small. That means we are all family. When a man in the South dies, we all mourn.

For Jewish civilians living in the southern tier of Israel, war is no abstract  concept. It is real. It is now. This very minute: 


Missile alert in Gaza envelope

Another missile alert. Jews living in Southern Israel are under constant rocket attack. More than 600 rockets have already been fired at them in app the last 24 hours (here). For many, the only safe place is their bomb shelter. 

Bomb shelters are small. They fill up quickly with people. 

But this is where Jews in our South must now live, eat and sleep on the floor; for many, this one-room window-less environment has become their entire living space.

Try doing that with young children while sirens sound through both day and night, explosions punctuating both the darkness at night and the unseen outside sunlight during the day. 

These Jews are at war with an enemy who swears to kill them. For these Jews, a siren's wail means maybe--maybe--ten seconds lead-time to get into a shelter. These ten seconds is all they have to gather up the little ones, grab the puppy and get back to protection. 

It's not a lot of time. It's only ten seconds. But for many, it spells the difference between life and death.

If you live outside Israel, you will say Israel is not at war, at least not at this hour. But this is what life is like here in Israel , right now:

Here's a news feed from the past two hours . It's a word picture of what an unfolding war against a civilian population looks like:

Yes, if you live outside Israel, you may note that Israel is not officially at war. But if you live here with us, your Jewish brothers and sisters, it's a completely different story: we are surrounded by war, engulfed by fire. 

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

PS. In case you've forgotten, we here in Israel are the authentic Jewish nation. We are the only Jewish nation. 

We are the Chosen of G-d. Many hate that Chosenness. They lust to murder us. 

But our response to this bloodthirsty hate is as simple as it's clear: First, Ahm Yisrel chai (The people of Israel live!); and second--NEVER AGAIN! 

Indeed, if we have any message at all for the world today, it's this: we will never again be so easily murdered as we were in the Holocaust. If you do attack us now, your attack will cause you to be cursed; and you will be cursed. We will live on because Ahm Yisroel Chai--the Jewish people live!