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Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Gilad Shalit, Welcome Home.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


I can’t believe I watched Gilad hugging his father, finally after so many years.  I’m sure we were all struck by his appearance and how emaciated he looked but right past that was his smile.

The controversy is whether the life of one soldier was worth freeing over 1000 terrorists, many of them murderers, back into the world.  There is no question that every life is valuable, even the life of 1 soldier.  There is certainly the Jewish concept of ‘pidyon shvuyim’, the ransoming out of captives which very much includes captive soldiers.  It is one of the highest of priorities in Judaism.  To hold one person captive is to hold us all captive.  But by releasing 1000 terrorists back into the world, would we view this is a set-back?  Are we now starting from square one again having to recapture these terrorists (who out there believes that now they will be good boys and girls and stay away from bombs…).  In all likelihood, unfortunately, each of the 1,027 terrorists will likely be responsible for the death of at least one person.

Is it worth all this just to bring Gilad home???


As the Torah says: 2 paths lie before you, one life and one death - CHOOSE LIFE

Welcome home Gilad, it’s been a long time coming.

Israeli Politics on Campus

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Throughout my undergrad experience at Queen’s University I was confronted on several occasions with aggressive anti-Israel rhetoric. I’m not a particularly religious person, but the climate on campus was enough to make me aware and self-conscious of my minority status as a Jew. In this blog post I’d like to relate one of the more uncomfortable situations I was presented with during my time as a student, and invite readers to commiserate with me about the new face of Antisemitism that has infiltrated left-wing politics.



I began university as a fresh-faced film major, eager to get involved with a faculty that initially seemed hip and open-minded. But unfortunately it didn’t take long for this arty department to rear its ugly head and make me feel alienated enough to switch from a double major in film and drama to the only slightly more conservative English literature.



In a first year lecture sized film course, taken by hundreds of freshmen, one particularly charismatic and radical professor thought it appropriate to subject the entire class to an interactive presentation regarding “Israeli Apartheid”. Not only is the very name of this concept disingenuous and hurtful, but the manner in which she raised the topic was distasteful, left no room for discussion and was entirely unrelated to film studies.



I arrived at the lecture hall one spring afternoon to find that all the students were being lined up outside, and a separate group of students who were not signed up for the course were checking ID cards. The students running the screening process singled some of us out at random to wait outside and enter the class late. As it turns out, the purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate how Israeli checkpoints ostracize and persecute Palestinians trying to enter the country. (I won’t even get in to the racial profiling that occurred when I was ‘randomly’ selected to wait outside by a girl in a hijab who read that my name was Jacob Abba Morgan).



Upon entering the class, those of us who were admitted with late entry were made to sit in a separated area at the back. At the front stood this film studies professor standing proudly with her small legion of militant looking students who were all dressed in black. On the screen there was a ridiculous bit of propaganda that showed an army helicopter marked IDF looming over a lone Palestinian boy sitting dejectedly in a fiery wasteland dotted with barbed wire. I couldn’t believe my eyes.



It’s difficult enough to raise your hand and make a comment in a lecture filled with hundreds of your peers, let alone when you are trying to argue a counterpoint. So perhaps because I was shy, or perhaps because I was just too offended to think straight, I didn’t say anything and simply got up and left the classroom. I studied hard for the exam but quickly made the decision to leave the film department and find a place where hate-filled and one-sided politics were left out of the picture. What is clear to me is that this professor abused her position of authority, and despite the fact that I complained to my teaching assistant and I know others did the same, this angry professor never saw any repercussions for her actions.



To condemn checkpoints with no mention of the terrorism that warranted these checkpoints is blatantly biased. This is just one instance of how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is distorted within the halls of Canadian universities and how many professors perpetuate the problem by abusing their positions to push their warped agendas.

“Bicycle Day” - Olameinu: Our World, Our Environment - September 2010

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I recently had a conversation with a group of young Israelis visiting Toronto for the first time. They will be staying in Canada for the High Holidays and we were having a discussion about how Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are celebrated in Canada.

One of the most important differences I felt I should share with them is the difference in the climate. They needed to know that in all likelihood it is rather chilly over the High Holidays and they should be prepared. They asked me how people spend their time after synagogue and I mentioned large lunches, family time, time with friends and relaxation.

It was at that point that I heard about ‘Yom Ha-ophanayim’, or ‘Bicycle Day’ in Israel. During the High Holidays and particularly on Yom Kippur, most Israeli youth, whether religiously observant or not, refrain from driving and ride their bikes. The roads are filled with these young bike riders who gather at public squares to update each other on the events of the year and what they plan for the coming year. In my mind I pictured a dozen or so cyclists but I was quickly corrected. Apparently hundreds of them could gather together in larger communities.

What a wonderful way to commemorate the time of the Jewish year that commemorates the anniversary of the creation of nature!
Bicycle Day

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut - Rachael’s Reflection VLOG - April 16

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Israel’s Aid in Haiti

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I have been thoroughly impressed with the global efforts to aid Haiti.  Celebrities, radio and television personalities, various institutions and children have banded together towards one common goal.  On television, billboards, through social networking sites and in subway stations I am seeing exceptions relief efforts.

As a supporter of Israel, I was very proud to learn that Israel’s humanitarian efforts in Haiti are sophisticated and critical.  The following is a glimpse of the Israeli field hospital in Port Au Prince:

Israel in Haiti

What frustrates me is the response from anti-Zionists claiming that the Israeli intention for this work is an attempt to ‘distract the world from their daily ethnic cleansing of Palestinians’ as Stephanie Guttman writes in this article. While some comments to her article imply that this was written as a parody, that Israel can never do anything with the proper intention, there are many points in her writing that portray the Israeli army in a negative light that the average reader may not understand her angle.  In any event, I am proud of the Israeli mission to Haiti and I am hopeful that the positive publicity will outweigh the negative.

Reflections on my summer trip to Israel

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Without doubt the highlight of the summer, if not the whole year, was our family trip to Israel. I have to admit, while I was looking forward to the trip the whole year leading up to it, I was also anxious about the logistics of traveling with three small children on an 11 hour plane trip, schlepping in and out of cabs, hotels, and restaurants, figuring the whens and wheres of ‘naps’, and contending with the heat on top of everything else. After having been there and back, I can confidently say that the heat, the schlep, the exhaustion and everything else was overwhelmingly worth it.

What brought us to Israel were the 18th Maccabiah games - essentially the Jewish olympics. My husband coached and played on the over 35 soccer team. Based on the literature that we were given, the Maccabiah games, which take place every four years in Israel, is the third largest sporting event in the world, exceeding even the winter olympics. The 2009 games boasted over seven thousand athletes with delegations from all over the world. The sheer size of the event powerfully hit home at the opening ceremonies at the Ramat Gan stadium just outside of Tel Aviv.
Yes, contrary to all of the well meaning advice of concerned others, I braved the trek at night to the opening ceremonies with my three kids (ages 7, 4, and 1) accompanied by my in-laws. No matter what the deterrents (like potentially hot, cranky, jet lagged, tired kids) there was simply no way that I was going to miss the sight of my husband marching into the stadium, proudly donning his Canadian apparel, with seven thousand other athletes - Jews uniting from all over the world with the single goal of excellence in sport and good will. I have to say, it was truly amazing. To see the look on my children’s faces when they saw their Dad marching with the Canadian flag made everything worth it. Just remembering the charge of being in that stadium with upwards of forty thousand Jews, knowing that without the state of Israel this might not at all be possible, was an incredible feeling. The singing of Hatikvah was more moving than ever.
And that essentially captured for our family what the trip to Israel was all about this summer. It wasn’t about traveling the country and taking in its beauty, sightseeing, or appreciating the history of the place. The children were too young for that kind of experience. What I quickly realized soon into the trip, was that it was ok to ‘hang out’ for hours in the hotel lobby or at the hotel pool (as opposed to schlepping to museums or archeological sites). For the kids, the hotel lobby, hub to hundreds of Jewish athletes spanning the globe, was at the heart of their Israel experience because it represented for them the idea that Israel is the home for all Jews. While we might all come from different places, with different food, and different languages, Israel is our common denominator. It is special to all of us, it is a place where we can all come together from different backgrounds, and feel comfortable and at home. This is exactly the feeling that my children walked away with. What more could I ask?

Prayers that transcend time and space

Friday, July 24th, 2009

While driving yesterday, I heard a quick news report on an organization that supplies proxies to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall for individuals who have requests.   Upon further investigation, it appears that there are numerous ‘price plans’ and prayer options available.  Essentially, a mitzvah (commandment) observer is sent to the kotel (Western Wall) for 40 days to pray for one’s request. There are all sorts of testimonials, success stories and custom prayer options.    Prayer agents are sent in exchange for a donation to the Western Wall Prayers organization and apparently, there is one success story reported EACH day.  IF indeed there is success to all of these participants, perhaps I should send my $90 to the organization instead of paying my online dating site memberships…