Sunday, August 14, 2011

Israeli Social Justice Rallies

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What's it all about? What suddenly happened in Israel that sparked thousands to come out and demonstrate in the streets against the economic situation?
I'll let Chaim the Barber from the development town of Bet Shemesh tell you his take.  I happened to be in Bet Shemesh on Friday, and downloaded bushels of hair at the local barber – a barber shop that I've never been to. Chaim the Barber is a Sephardic Jew, representative of the simple working class Israeli.
Chaim the Bet Shemesh Barber/Political Commentator
I asked Chaim what he makes of these demonstrations. Here's what he said:
"It's a known thing that it is the extremist left that started these demonstrations. They have some guy from America who is paying for all the food and tents. Did you see the pictures? All the tents are the same, because they are mostly being provided.
"They started these demonstrations because they hate Bibi [Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister who has widespread support of the Sephardic working class] and seek to bring him down. Since the security situation under Bibi is relatively quiet, they looked for other problems to focus on to bring down Bibi.
"I can't understand the left, how they go with the Arabs on some key votes and decisions. If and when the Arabs come to kill Jews, they won't ask what party the Jew voted for? They won't say, 'Oh you voted for the Labor party, so we will leave you alone.' No, the Arabs will massacre every Israeli they can. So why doesn't the left stand up for Israeli interests, against the Arabs?
I asked Chaim if he thinks the outcries over the financial situation are justified.
"Yes, the demonstrations are justified. It's simple.  A few years ago, I would go to the supermarket and buy a basket of groceries for 300 NIS. Today, that same basket costs 500 NIS. So, people work, make money and barely get by. How can anyone save up money for anything outside of the regular monthly expenses? People used to be able to save a bit, but now you work and you spend and you finish the month back at zero.
"Prices are high, and the feeling is that it is not justified. Thank G-d the economy is strong and people have work, but prices here are so much higher than elsewhere, that you can't channel your money towards other desired goals. The prices have to come down. Something has to change. The people demonstrating are right. We pay something like 100% tax on cars. Why? And we pay heavy taxes on gas. Why?
"So while their initial motive was to bring down the government, I don't think we need a new government. I think we need to send a message to this government that we are not satisfied with the way things are. They must find solutions to bring down housing prices – both rental and purchase. And they must find ways to make the basic staples cheaper. As long as the organizers of these demonstrations will not speak their political opinions, then we can join them.
So there you have it. A real working class Israeli from a development town telling you what the demonstrations for social justice in Israel are all about.

As a new fundraising campaign for the Bet El Yeshiva Center, I am, by popular demand, selling my hair from the above haircut for $36 per strand. Contact me for more details.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Arabs Perpetrate Hate Crime Against Gordon

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It is my custom to go the Kotel some Saturday nights to recite tehillim (Psalms) and attend a Torah lecture.

Like always, I took a shortcut this past Saturday night to the Kotel via Jehosephat Valley (Wadi E-Joze), an Arab-populated Jerusalem neighborhood. Minutes beforehand, at the entrance to Jerusalem from Bet El, I picked up two "yeshivish" yeshiva students hitchhiking their way to the Old City.

Boom! It sounded like an explosion...

In the Arab neighborhood, a road construction project sent me on a detour via side streets. Driving down a particularly narrow road, an Arab car came in the opposite direction bringing us both to a halt as there was no room for passage. I pulled over as far right as possible up against parked cars and signaled him to go up on the sidewalk. Speaking with our hands through the windshields, we communicated our respective requests: "Go up on the sidewalk," I requested. "No, you back up," he responded - until Arab cars started piling up behind me.
I was stuck in a traffic bind in an Arab neighborhood at 11:15 at night.
Boom! It sounded like an explosion, but glancing back I saw that it was just the loud shattering sound of the back windshield, which sent shards of holy Bet El car glass into the stylish hairdo of the yeshiva student in the back seat.
Shards of glass on back seat of car
Having spent most of my life in Bet El which is surrounded by our Jew-hating cousins, I have gained extensive experience over the years at getting hit by rocks. The main thing is to stay cool and start functioning on multiple levels simultaneously.
  1. I made a quick decision not to pursue the perpetrator of the hate crime, as the circumstances of being stuck in a traffic jam on a narrow Arab street late at night advised me to stay in the car and await further developments.
  2. I dialed the police and began reporting.
  3. I looked at the two hitchhikers who besides going into shock didn't seem to be suffering from any wounds.
  4. I monitored the events on all sides of the car.
  5. I locked the car doors.
That last move was just in time, because moments later several Arabs approached and tried to open my car doors while screaming like Indians dancing around a white man about to be burned at the stake. As the flames of Jew hatred were being fanned, I realized that the two yeshiva students and myself were the intended halal meat for the BBQ.
When the rock hit the back windshield, my instincts reacted by inching forward to try and get the guy in front of me moving. I apparently tapped his bumper, and now this academic-looking Arab driver was at my right window asking me why I hit him.
My report to the police continued all this time and over the speaker of my car telephone, the dispatcher said, "Wait, I don't understand. Start from the beginning. From where did you start driving tonight?"
At that very moment, the yeshiva dude in the back seat came back to his senses and asked me in these words, "What happened?"
I was now engaged in three conversations: the police, the student, and the Arab driver, while other Arabs were banging on my windows (the side windows are protected hard plastic) and trying to open the doors.
I began to tell the police officer my life's story - that I had departed Bet El this evening and was heading for the Kotel. Occasionally, I inserted my concern that my life was in danger. I leaned back to the student and said, "You were here. We were hit by a rock. You're not injured are you? It's gonna be OK." While the idiot police dispatcher was asking questions in between my narrative, I utilized the moment to tell the Arab driver that I was sorry for hitting him, but that a rock was thrown at my car and had startled me. I relayed to him that I am currently interested in proceeding forward and asked if he would be so kind as to back up.
"Yes, officer, I don't know the name of the street that I am on, but I have described to you my precise turns from the main Jehosephat Valley Road. Did you follow?" He responded, "Yes, I think so." Blessed art Thou who gives the rooster intelligence, I thought to myself.
Just when the BBQ coals were simmering and the Arabs were yelping and banging, the Arab academic driver and his secular lady friend backed out to the intersection opening the way for yours truly, the halal meat, to exit the scene.
I was out of danger, and so told the police officer, who advised that I go to a police station the next day to register a complaint.
My feelings: On the one hand, I felt outrage, disgust, and national disgrace that Arabs can nearly lynch a Jew in our ancient capital Jerusalem. It's simply degrading. If there were more people in my car, and we weren't stuck in a traffic jam, it wouldn't have bothered me if the car occupants got out and taught the Arab perpetrator a lesson in orthopedics and the human skeletal system.
On the other hand, the shattering of my windshield gave me a good feeling. Huh? Yes indeed. Because when Israel prospers and develops, this drives the Arabs to despair and they resort to hate crimes and violence. They despair at the return of the Jewish people to reclaim the ancient Jewish homeland.  
While we are busily engaged in construction, education, farming, and having more babies, their numbers are dwindling. The demographic tailwind has shifted in favor of the Jews. In addition, their corrupt leaders like the late Yasser Arafat, Dahlan, and Abbas have pocketed literally hundreds of millions of dollars of international donor funds that were supposed to improve their lot. They are going nowhere.
For Israelis, Jewish unemployment is down, the hi-tech revolution is raging ahead, the Israeli economy is strong, and the IDF is warning that it will smash the Arabs with greater force if the Arabs perpetrate further aggressions.
In other words, the rock delivered into the back seat of my car is a sign of the times: the Arabs are losing hope, while Israelis are gaining.
So I decided that the next time I see foundations being laid for a new structure, I will toss the hate-crime rock into the cement and symbolically fire back at our enemies with the creative endeavor of building Jewish homes.
Cost of fixed back windshield to Israeli taxpayer: $515

So, yes Ahmed, you won the little confrontation with me on the detour route in Jehosephat Valley. But know that you are losing the war, as no force in the world can stop the Jewish People from returning to the entirety of our forefathers' inheritance.

[Think Jews should respond differently? Leave a comment...]

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