Friday, May 13, 2016

If this doesn't make your day...

This short (less than 4 minutes) animated film called 'The Present' is more important than whatever you are doing right now. Seriously.

 

Don't thank me... I'm a giver. ;-)

 

Posted by David Bogner on May 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Connected

[a guest post by Ariella who is alone on a crowded bus somewhere between Delhi and Rishikesh]

Everyone I know who had ever been abroad for the Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) sirens told me it would be hard. But nothing could have prepared me for the sudden title wave of emotion that crashed over me.

My abba called my cell phone so I would be able to hear the siren itself and not just imagine it. And the second I heard it my heart shattered. Tears started running down my face that were beyond my control.

It was much more than the contrasting places that were suddenly connected by a phone call.

On the one side an entire nation, standing in unity, silently remembering friends and loved ones. On the other side I was the only Israeli on a bus driving down a crowded road with people chattering away all around me.

But the pain ran deeper than that. It was the feeling of solitude and loneliness, of being so far from anyone who could understand. It was the unfortunate understanding of what loss really feels like and having specific people to remember.

Nothing can prepare you for that.

Posted by David Bogner on May 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, May 06, 2016

Dear Netanel...

[a letter to a special 11 year old boy who lost his father, which his mother may show him - in its entirety or in parts - whenever she feels the time is correct]

My dearest Netanel, you know me as one of the many grown-ups populating your parent's world. But because I have known your parents for many years - well before you were even born - I know you as a special young man whose very presence in the world is as wonderful as it is miraculous.

As I write this, it has been a month since your father was taken from us. His death left a gaping hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him. But I'm sorry to tell you that you and your Ima are the ones who will feel the pain of his absence the most strongly, and for the longest time.

At the funeral, and during the shiva, you heard many people speak about what a wonderful and appreciated man your father was... how he was a good and honest person, and how he always, ALWAYS, tried to do the right thing.

I won't repeat what you've heard and must already know, but I do want to share a few personal observations from the many years I was privileged to know him.

Your father grew up in a working class city that was suffering through a difficult economic time. I know this because for a time, my family lived a few blocks from his (although he was a few years behind me).

Ours was one of the nicer areas of the city, but the neighborhood and its schools were full of challenges, temptations and dangers. I tell you this because from the many hours of sharing stories with your father about 'the old neighborhood', it has always been clear to me that, even back then, your father was already making good choices and carefully charting a moderate and sensible path that would define the rest of his life.

Your father was a respected accountant in his earlier years, and worked as a bank examiner. But even as he was laying the groundwork for this prominent career, he made sure to have a back-up plan... a 'plan B', just in case things didn't go as planned (or as a way to make extra money). Since he was always gifted in understanding how mechanical and electrical things worked, he decided to get a degree in electrical engineering. Just in case.

'Just in case' is what responsible people plan for, to protect themselves and the ones they love from the pitfalls and unexpected setbacks that life tends to throw at us. It is because of your father's 'plan B' that your parents were able to make Aliyah, knowing that even if a banking career was not possible for your dad in Israel, that he would always have a way to make a living doing something that would always be in demand.

This was just one example of the careful, methodical way your father approached everything in his life. If you ever watched him work, you could see by the organized and practiced way he put out his tools and arranged his parts, that nothing was left to chance.

Unfortunately, the one thing that nobody can fully plan for or control is death. And although I'm sure your father planned ahead for even this sad eventuality, the one thing he couldn't put aside for you or place in trust... was himself.

And that is really why I am writing you this letter.

As you get older, the lessons you learned at your father's side will always be with you. But each new day, week, month and year of your life will present you with questions and decisions that you may not be equipped to make on your own.

You probably already know that your mother is the single best source of information you will ever have, and you can go to her for help and advice with any decision you will ever have to make. Seriously... she is one of the smartest, wisest people I know!

But it is natural that as you get older and begin testing your independence, there will be some things about which you may want the advice of someone other than your mother (or maybe in addition to her).

Be warned, your friends and the kids in your school, youth groups and sports teams will be full of advice. In fact they will offer it to you even when you don't ask.

When they do, listen carefully, nod your head, and store away anything you may hear from these schoolyard sages. And remember, just because something is 100% wrong doesn't mean it isn't useful. Just remember that the kids you know - even those who are a few years older than you - probably know just as little as you do about just about any subject you can imagine.

A good rule of thumb is that the louder and more confidant a person sounds when sharing information and advice, the more likely they are to be wrong. That's why I recommend listening to everyone and storing away the information. Over time you will figure out who is a reliable source of information... and who just talks loud to hide the fact that they know just as little as you.

So, to review... your friends may be so loyal that they would lay down in traffic for you. But when it comes to learning new and important lessons, they are an unparalleled source of myths, legends, misinformation, half-truths and dangerous misconceptions. They will exaggerate (or downright lie) to cover up their inexperience, insecurity and fears (as you will too, I'm sure). And most of them won't even realize they are doing it!

That is part of growing up. Just remember the golden rule: Trust but verify.

That's where a son might seek out his father... to test the theories and suggestions to see if they are even a little bit true.

And this is what tore my heart as I watched you saying Kaddish for your father at the funeral, and afterwards in synagogue. Your father would have been a fantastic source of information and advice for you. He was wise in a quiet, modest way. And he was never afraid to say "I don't know" when he didn't. And 'I don't know' is one of the most powerful and precious truths you can ever hear from anyone. Remember that.

Netanel, I have been humbled at how bravely you have comported yourself throughout this difficult month. I see the confusion and pain in your eyes, but I also see you acting just like your father; trying always to figure out what the right thing is, and then doing it with quiet, confident conviction.

But as you get older, figuring out right from wrong will become more and more difficult. Many times you will find that there is no single right answer.

Nobody can ever replace your father. And as I said before, your mother will always be the single best person from whom to seek advice.

But I want you to know that I am one of many friends your father had who will always be here for you.

If you ever want to talk about something, bounce an idea off of someone older, or just hear or share a story about your dad... please know that you can reach out to me day or night.

As I always tell my own kids, 'You don't have to make all the mistakes yourself... please learn from some of mine (and I've made plenty)'. Think of it as having a 'cheat sheet' for life. Just about any challenge you may face in your life, I've already faced. Some I may have beaten... and others will provide you with some entertaining stories from which to learn.

I don't pretend to know everything, but like your father I promise that if I don't know... I'll say so. And then, together, maybe we can figure out the answer.

 

Posted by David Bogner on May 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Travel Diary of a Germaphobe

I totally get the idea behind placing a phone in the hotel bathroom within easy reach of the toilet. I mean, Murphy's Law dictates that no matter how long one has waited for that important call from the concierge confirming the arrival of a business associate, the phone in the hotel room will only ring once the plane is well on its way down the runway and aborting take-off is no longer an option (like the way I've kept the metaphor within the travel genre?).

With that said, I can't possibly be the only one who has considered the logistic difficulties of cleaning this convenient commode-side handset (that is, if they even try!), right? Right?!

Make no mistake, my company usually books me into the most posh (and secure) properties in whatever city I am visiting. But yesterday (Shabbat), I was stuck in the room with nothing to do but read and snack on complimentary hotel fruit and blueberry muffins that Zahave packed for me.

So when housekeeping showed up and asked if they could tidy up the room, I asked them if they minded if I stayed put on the comfy sofa in front of the window while they did the room.

They were very accommodating and even asked if they could order up an assortment of local newspapers for me (I accepted gratefully).

It was only once the two women began cleaning the bathroom that I decided to check if my suspicions were correct. This was accomplished via the full wall glass window that divided the bathroom from the sleeping and work areas (for the curious, there is a mechanized privacy shade that can be lowered in case more than one person is in residence and either of them possesses even a shred of shame).

Sure enough, the two women went about scrubbing, bleaching, disinfecting and polishing every last surface in the bathroom... except the telephone.

In fact, not only did they not make even a token effort to clean the phone, one of them noticed that a previous guest had left the cord a bit tangled, so she picked up the handset with the rubber glove she was wearing to protect her skin from whatever chemicals (and pathogens), were in the toilet bowl she had just been scrubbing, and carefully untwisted it and replaced the handset in the cradle so that the now-tangle-free cord was wrapped neatly around the rest of the phone body and well above the floor.

After the last of their chores was completed and fresh flowers and fruit had been placed in the vase and bowls (this time, thankfully without the rubber gloves), one of the women handed me the bundle of Indian newspapers that had been delivered at their request and asked if there was anything else they could help with.

I was tempted to ask about the phone, but I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get the question out past the spasm of dry-heaves that was now convulsing my body. I just smiled and shook my head.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is skieved out by this.

As an afterthought, I'd also be curious to know if anyone else out there travels with a bottle of Purell alcohol hand sanitizer in their carry-on?

Posted by David Bogner on March 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, March 07, 2016

Finally Finding (And Crossing) The Left's Red Line

I've often wondered what, if any, red lines exist for the extreme left of Israel's political spectrum.

So far they have found a way to condone, and even embrace, such acts as:

  • Draft Dodging (or encouraging widespread disobedience of orders after enlisting)
  • Stealing and passing nuclear secrets to journalists (and by extension, the world)
  • Stealing and passing military secrets to journalists (and by extension, the world) 
  • Denunciation of Israel as a racist, fascist apartheid state at academic and governmental forums abroad
  • Supporting and encouraging the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in their efforts to isolate Israel

All of the above have not only been excused and explained away by Israel's extreme left and their flagship mouthpiece Haaretz, but in many cases have been openly sanctioned and encouraged.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise that this week something happened that finally reached a level of post-Zionist / self-hatred that those gathered at a 'Cultural Conference' sponsored by Haaretz were forced to declare a red line, beyond which, apparently, lies that terrible thing called 'disloyalty to the State':

It seems that the entertainment hired by Haaretz for the event - Israeli actor Ariel Bronz - was concluding his performance of a provocative one-man play entitled "Love the Juice: The Art of Squeezing the National Dream Into an Orange", when he suddenly produced an Israeli flag and proceeded to stuff it up his, er, posterior region.  On stage.  In full view of everyone.

Immediately the audience began booing, screaming 'enough' and 'stop', and even throwing squeezed oranges at the stage (which had previously been thrown at the audience as part of the play).  But as the saying goes, 'the show must go on'.

It wasn't until Haaretz's senior management instructed the venue's security staff to forcibly remove the actor from the stage that it was clear to all “La commedia è finita” (“The comedy is over”)*.

Although I'm relieved to know that the left does, in fact, have at least one uncross-able 'red line', I find it sad that it is such a trivial, and entirely symbolic gesture they refuse to condone.

It seems that, for the extreme left, it has never really been about democracy or democratic values... it has been about appearances.  You can actively work to destroy the State of Israel, but don't you dare besmirch its symbols.

I, for one, have no problem with the act for which Mr. Bronz was given the hook.  In a democracy, what he did (no matter how distasteful), is called 'protected free speech'.  And far from endangering the state, the fact that a citizen can get up on a stage and do such a thing here in Israel is actually an encouraging sign of our democracy's strength and health (albeit not its taste in entertainment).

Now you can congratulate me for the self-control required in not allowing myself a single butt joke.

[* dorky opera reference]

Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Ax Grinding Masquerading As Balanced Reporting

One of the better kept secrets here in the Middle East is that Israel has long been the sanctuary of choice for gays and lesbians who are forced to flee for their lives from pretty much all of the surrounding Muslim countries.  

By all rights this should be an open secret (or no secret at all!), except for a convenient alignment of the interests of the western media (which would rather close their doors than publish anything positive about Israel) and the countless future and current LGBT refugees who have not yet escaped the intolerant Muslim societies where they live in mortal fear (since a nearly certain formal or extra-judicial death penalties awaits any non-heterosexual who is discovered living in Muslim lands) or who still have vulnerable family living in peril back home.

So it was with considerable surprise that I saw that the New York Times was running a front page story this morning about a gay Iranian poet who had escaped from Iran and was seeking formal asylum while living comfortably in Tel Aviv.

I shouldn't have been surprised.

The New York Times does not publish anything about Israel that can be construed as even marginally positive, without also offering equal or greater negative commentary in the name of 'even-handedness'.  

So as I read the article, the other shoe wasn't terribly long in dropping.

Read for yourselves what the editors at the New York Times felt was an acceptable bit of background information to this otherwise heart-warming article that should have painted Israel (and Israeli society) in a very flattering light:

"Israel has sometimes been accused of “pinkwashing,” or portraying itself as a progressive hub of tolerance, particularly toward gays, to detract attention from the government’s policies toward Palestinians. At Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's annual meeting with the international press this year, there was a performance by the Israeli transgender pop singer Dana International, who appealed to reporters to go easy on Israel."

Impressive, no?

Not only does the Times fail to give any clue as to who, exactly, has accused Israel of "Pinkwashing" (and whether that accusation is accurate), but it shamelessly tries to use the performance of Dana International, a very popular, and openly transgender, Israeli singer (who took first place at the Eurovision Song Festival as Israel's representative as far back as 1998), at a Netanyahu press event to suggest that it was a nefarious plot by Israel... as if Bibi had trotted out a token drag queen in order to bolster Israel's progressive cred and distract the world from our cruel policies towards the Palestinians.

And then, as if they hadn't dispensed enough even-handedness to banish any memory of the positive subject of the article, they went on to mention the tragic fatal stabbing of a teenager at last year's Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, as if gays (and their supporters) being attacked in the US and Europe is a thing of the distant past.  Heck, the NY Times hasn't seen fit to give any coverage of the dozens of stabbings that the Palestinians have carried out in the past few moths, yet they were able to effortlessly summon a single stabbing that was carried out by a Jew last year in order to bolster their case against Israel.  

For comparison's sake, in a New York Times article two days ago about a senior Hamas terrorist (of course the Times referred to him as a 'commander' and 'militant', not a terrorist), who was executed by his own organization, allegedly for being gay, they felt no such compunction to introduce even-handedness.

Not only did the Times fail to mention the glaringly obvious irony of an allegedly gay terrorist spendng his entire career launching deadly terror attacks against the only country in the middle east that has a vibrant and inclusive policy towards the LGBT community, being executed for his sexual orientation by his own people... but they spent the entire article describing him and his background in exclusively positive terms. 

In the article, he is referred to as "Hamas royalty" from a "storied family"... who had tragically left behind not one, but two wives.  They even ran a photo of his mother and one of his sisters crying next to a poster of him!

And the Times took pains to portray him as a wronged Palestinian patriot for having been executed despite bravely sheltering Mohammed Deif at considerable personal risk.  At no time did the Times feel the need to offer contextual information, such as the fact that Deif was in hiding because he was/is being targeted by Israel for master-minding suicide attacks and bus bombings that have killed more than 50 innocent Israelis.  

It is absolutely infuriating to see the lengths to which the Times will go to ensure that Israel is continually vilified, facts be damned.

The New York Times makes no secret of its editorial line regarding Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.  I'm okay with that.

But the Times also has a huge number of writers, photographers, cameramen, technicians, stringers, fixers and visiting bureau chiefs stationed/living here in Israel who are perfectly aware of Israel's extremely progressive policies and welcoming stance towards the LGBT community.  

So it boggles the mind that one should be used to negate, or assign sinister motives, to the other!

Posted by David Bogner on March 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Everyone Just Take A Deep Breath!

Before everyone in the United States and Europe loses their collective minds over the report (correct, as it turns out) that Israel is appropriating 380 Acres of land in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, please take a deep breath.

I hate to be the bearer of bad (inconvenient) tidings, but the truth is, this move is 100% in keeping with the vision of Yitzhak Rabin (also known as the horse y'all backed).

In his last speech to the Knesset a month before he was assassinated, Rabin said the following (I have placed the stuff people conveniently like to forget/ignore in bold):

"...

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

..." [you can read the entire speech in English translation here]

Wow, with talk like that, he'd be called a right wing fascist today!

Let's review, shall we:

  1.  He not only categorically rejected the idea of dividing Jerusalem, but he explicitly endorsed a unified 'greater Jerusalem' that includes Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Zeev as Israel's capitol .
  2. He was against the establishment of a Palestinian state.  Instead, he wanted a non-state 'entity' for the Palestinians.
  3. He considered the Jordan Valley to be Israel's security border and emphasized the permanent Israeli presence there by using the phrase "...in the broadest meaning of that term" to define the Jordan valley. Therefore what Israel did today is entirely within Rabin's vision.
  4. He not only made it clear that the large settlements in Judea and Samaria would be annexed, but also that Israel would establish and annex large settlement blocks in these areas.

So again... for everyone who got the vapors today when the news was confirmed that Israel was formally taking control of a part of the Jordan Valley, please take a deep breath and remember that even according to Yitzhak Rabin, this area has always been considered part of our security border and was never up for discussion.

You can now go back to your regularly scheduled Israel bashing.

Posted by David Bogner on January 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You're Doing It Wrong

For quite some time now the western world has been wondering out loud why Arab armies aren't in the field alongside western coalition forces fighting international terror; particularly in the fight against ISIS.

Well, as refreshing as it was to see the news this morning that Suadi Arabia is putting together a coalition with representatives from Arab militaries in order to fight terror, seeing 'Palestine' among the list of Arab militaries was a tad disquieting.

Memo to Riyadh:

a) 'Palestine' doesn't have a military. In fact it is illegal under international law (not to mention existing agreements with Israel) for them to have one.

b) Even if the Palestinian Authority did have a formal military, enlisting them in the war on terror would be as colossally bad an idea as Richard Nixon enlisting Elvis Presley in the war on drugs.

c) If you are using terrorists (and those who fund them) to fight terrorists, you're doing it wrong!

 

Posted by David Bogner on December 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Canary in the Coal Mine

For years we Israelis have been warning the world that what is happening here will soon happen elsewhere. We are simply experiencing it first.  And if they equivocate, excuse and justify such attacks against Israelis, they too will soon begin to feel the terrible effects of Islamic violence.

Yet the wise leaders of the world's governments and diplomatic institutions have rejected the idea that Israel is just a canary in the world's coal mine*.  We must have provoked the violence directed against us, as well as the groundswell of anger emanating from the Muslim world.  

After all, no reasonable people would behave with such violence and callous disregard for human life, unprovoked.

No reasonable people, indeed.

Now after months of silence from the Europeans regarding the current wave of stabbings and shootings we have been enduring here in Israel, somewhat apropos of the canary in the coal mine analogy, a stabbing attack has just been reported in the tunnels of the London Underground.

Interestingly, the New York Times is already reporting the attack in London as 'terrorism', while they have largely ignored the attacks happening here, or dismissed them as the random acts of 'militants'.  I guess the difference between Chateaubriand and Flanken depends on where you cut it.

I'll be interested to see if such attacks against Europeans will be greeted with the same indifference and apathy as those carried out against Israelis... or if the creeping danger in the tunnels will finally be recognized for what it is, and addressed with clear-eyed resolve by the civilized world.

 

*An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.

Posted by David Bogner on December 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Probably just a coincidence, right?

In a rare unguarded moment on the campaign trail back in 2008, Obama made the following statement about small town, Christian Americans:

"... "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them..."

Although he was referring to a sizable portion of his own [Christian] countrymen when he made that remark, it is puzzling that he has thus far failed to apply a similar criticism to Muslims when they demonstrate exactly the traits he described.  

My heart goes out to the victims and families of yesterday's attack in California.  I can empathize with them because I have been seeing - up close and personal - far too much of what they experienced yesterday.  

But my mind can't help but wonder why U.S. President lost no time using the shooting as an excuse to issue a reflexive call for gun reform... yet remains circumspect about making any mention of the inconvenient (and probably irrelevant!), religion and worldview of the shooters.

I wouldn't hold my breath...

Posted by David Bogner on December 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Consensus? What Consensus?

In light of the dozens of terror attacks that have taken place within walking distance of my home in Gush Etzion over the past few months, I decided to take a step back and take a look at how Gush Etzion fits into the 'consensus'  - a word that has assumed nearly religious stature among Israel's left - as to what Israel's borders will look like the day after a peace agreement is signed with the Palestinians.

The great thing about throwing around the word 'consensus', is that it sounds suspiciously canonical; as if the wise powers that be have met, discussed, and agreed upon the general principles of a contentious issue.  If a 'consensus' has been reached, it implies broad agreement, or at least an acceptable resolution; one that can be supported, even if not the "favorite" of each individual. [source]

When the Israeli left talks about 'consensus' in terms of what portion of the areas conquered in 1967 will remain part of Israel the day after an agreement, they usually mean all of Jerusalem (and its surrounding neighborhoods), the Jordan valley and the major settlement blocks (Ariel and Gush Etzion).

Yet most Israelis have no idea where this consensus came from or whose views that consensus represents.

It may surprise many to learn that it was none other than the sainted Yitzhak Rabin who laid out the basis for this broad consensus of Israel's ultimate borders in his last speech to the Israeli Knesset just one month before he was assassinated (you should read the whole thing, if you have the time).  If that doesn't lend broad credibility to the consensus, I don't know what does.

Let's have a look at Rabin's words (I have added emphasis in bold to words and phrases which some may find surprising):

"...

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

..."

So if a consensus already exists, why does the current wave of terrorism seem to be directed almost exclusively against targets within that consensus; within the green line (i.e. pre-1967 Israel), as well as within areas of the 'West Bank' that are, according to 'the consensus', slated to be included inside the borders of the State of Israel after any eventual agreement?

The inescapable conclusion is that despite the Oslo accords and all subsequent offers that have been made to the Palestinians by successive Israeli governments, and despite the strident claims of Israel's left to the contrary, the Palestinians do not feel party to, or bound by, any sort of consensus.

The only thing that can possibly explain the focus of this current wave of terror attacks in areas that are supposedly within 'the consensus' is that the Palestinians still envision establishing their state within those areas being attacked... meaning, in place of Israel, not alongside it.

Posted by David Bogner on December 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Opening Bell of Eggnog Season

Hear that?  That's the sound of me studiously ignoring the news (print, web, radio, TV, water-cooler, etc.), and imposing some semblance of normalcy in my day-to-day life.  Lalalalala I can't hear you... I'm drinking eggnog!

For those who are new here, from Thanksgiving to Hannukah we strictly observe "eggnog season" here at chez treppenwitz.

This past shabbat morning I whipped up the first yummy batch of the season, and we enjoyed it with our morning coffee, blueberry muffins and a nice apple crumble.

For those don't have access to store-bought 'nog (or if you just want to take it to the next level), here's a foolproof recipe from a certified fool:

INGREDIENTS:
6 eggs
1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups whipping cream (32% or 38%) 
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup brandy, rum or bourbon (optional but highly recommended)

PREPARATION:
All liquids should be very cold. Refrigerate in advance.

Beat the eggs for 2 or 3 minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed (or energetically with a hand whisk), until very frothy. Gradually beat in the sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Stir in the whipping cream and milk (and cold booze if you enjoy that sort of thing).

Chill some more before serving (if you can wait... I never can).

Sprinkle individual servings with more nutmeg.

Makes a little over 2 quarts (after taking several 'samples' for quality control purposes)

Note:  If for some strange reason you end up with leftover eggnog (something that almost never happens here), you can add a splash to your morning coffee and/or make french toast with it.

Kindly consider this the ceremonial ringing of the bell that officially ushers in eggnog season.

Don't thank me... I'm a giver!

Posted by David Bogner on November 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Silence

[a guest post by Ariella]

There are many different kinds of silence; A‪n awkward silence. A comfortable silence. A silence because there is nothing left to say. A silence of identification and solidarity. And a silence remembrance.

Here in Israel we observe a moment of silence every year on Memorial Day and on the Holocaust Remembrance Day. On these occasions, the entire country stands together while our shared silence is filled by the sound of a siren. We stop everything and stand together in silence no matter where we are or what we are doing. We even stop our cars in the middle of the highway in order to join the shared silence. We use this shared silence to remember loved ones as well as those who we never knew (and never will) for they are our family.

But the silence I hear now is none of the above. No one shares our silent pain with us. No one is silently identifying with what we are going through.

It is a silence of equivocation... a silence of indifference. And this silence is deafening!

Where is the button on Facebook with an Israeli flag profile picture?! Where are the world leaders condemning terror; ALL terror? Who is standing silently with us in solidarity?

I didn't know Yaakov Don personally. I had only been to a few classes he gave. But I still feel like I knew him. I had the privilege of getting to know him through the stories of my closest friends whom he taught in high school. He cared so deeply for each and every one of his students. He understood them and looked after them as if they where his own children. Countless stories I have heard over the years pop into my head just at the mention of his name. He was loved - no, adored - by his students, so I can only imagine how precious he was to his family. My heart goes out to them and to his students. אני משתתפת בצערכם. (I join you in your pain).

Now I ask you all to observe a moment of silence to remember him. You don't need to have known him. Just respect his memory with a moment of silence. And when you are done, please ask those around you break the deafening silence of indifference that is screaming in my ears and breaking my heart.

It does not matter where in the world the terror takes place! It will always be terror! Whether it's in Paris, Nigeria, Beirut or five minutes from my home... terror, wherever it occurs, should never be dismissed with silence.

 

Posted by David Bogner on November 20, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We Will Won't Always Have Paris

What can I say... I am a hopeless romantic, and that line from the film 'Casablanca' always chokes me up.  Well it used to, anyway.

You see, Zahava and I have a big anniversary coming up this year, and I've spent almost half of this past year trying to convince my lovely wife that Paris would be the perfect destination for a romantic anniversary get-away together.

And by logic, Paris should be near the top of Zahava's short list of potential travel destinations, too, seeing as she is an artist... and last time I checked, Paris was chock full of art.

Add to that the beauty and history of the city, as well as Paris' romantic associations that are pretty much hard-wired into anyone who has read a book, listened to music, or seen a film in the past 100 years...

So I figured it would be a slam dunk and would go something like this:

Me:  "Hey honey, what do you say we spend a week in Paris to celebrate our anniversary?"

Her:  "Oh that sounds incredible!"

[cue swelling music as the husband of the year award is presented to...]

 

Yeah right... it didn't go anything like that.  It was actually more like:

Me:  "Hey honey, what do you say we spend a week in Paris to celebrate our anniversary?"

Her:  "Um... are you out of your mind?!  We're Jews, honey... Israeli Jews!  I'm pretty sure that the members of the North African Muslim gangs roaming the streets of Paris get 500 Euros and automatic French citizenship for killing us!"

Me:  "But think of the art museums... the Louvre... the Pompidou ...the candle-lit restaurants... the little cafes on the Left Bank... the romantic walks along the Champs-Élysées...."

Her: "... the fancy funeral after they fly our bodies back to Israel for burial..."

I spent months trying to change her mind.  I even had a neighbor's wife, who had spent much of last year studying at the Sorbonne, try to talk her down out of the tree.  

Bupkis!  Nada!  Merde!!!

I should know by now that once Zahava has made up her mind about something, any (obvious) effort to change it only further entrenches her and solidifies her resolve.

To her credit, there was no 'I told you so' moment following the news of last week's attacks.  Just that silent and all-too-familiar tectonic shift that takes place when a contentious topic of discussion comes suddenly into sharp focus... and moves over to her side of the big marital 'stuff that's been irrevocably decided and no longer needs to be mentioned again' board. 

So, on an unrelated topic, I'm open to suggestions for romantic anniversary get-away destinations...

Posted by David Bogner on November 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (12)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Completely Adrift

John Kerry has said so many imbecilic, misguided, delusional and plain offensive things during his tenure as U.S Secretary of State that it seams almost mean-spirited to continue pointing them out.

But since, as the U.S. government's top diplomat, Kerry's statements ostensibly represent the positions of the Obama administration (and by extension the United States of America), one can't really sit by and give his loony pronouncements a pass.

Speaking yesterday to staff at the U.S. Embassy in Paris about last week's terror attacks around that city, Kerry offered the following doozy:

“There’s something different about what happened [in last week's attack] from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that...There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, ‘Okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.... This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration.” 

I guess one should at least be thankful that Kerry is distancing himself from Obama's previous statement that the HyperCasher attack was a ‘random shooting’ of ‘some folks’ at a deli.

Okay, so if I understand him correctly (always a cognitive hail-Mary, at best), he's trying to say that the previous Paris terror attacks (the ones that targeted the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the HyperCasher Market), were understandable because the magazine's editorial staff and the kosher supermarket's predominantly Jewish clientele had angered the terrorists.  Whereas this past week's ISIS attack was just out of the blue!

With French military forces actively participating in attacks on ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, he has no idea whatsoever why ISIS might want to target the French capitol?  This was just another random, inexplicable terror attack?  

And he has no clue that looking for (and actually stating) your theory as to the motive behind terror attacks is a form of justification?!!!

Does this man alternate which foot he puts in his mouth on any given day... y'know, to allow the leather to dry out a bit?

When will Kerry and his boss realize that terror is terror.  It can never be justified or rationalized!!!  Because to give voice to the terrorist's perceived or stated justifications is to accept, if not condone them!

The failure to understand this simple concept is what has kept the US from seeing the idiocy of their expectations of Israel in the face of unrelenting terrorism.  

The U.S. and France would never consider opening negotiations with ISIS. That would legitimize terror as a tool of diplomacy.  

Yet each time Israel is attacked, instead unequivocally condemning Palestinian terror, the U.S. uses the occasion to call for Israel to re-open negotiations with the people financing and controlling the terrorists.

I'm guessing that, somewhere, Dan Quayle is doing a touchdown dance and thanking every deity he can think of (and spell), for offering up an imbecile who is even more clueless and intellectually adrift than he was.

Posted by David Bogner on November 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (5)