Thursday, October 23, 2014

it hurts so good

1995 Ford Aspire. I am the original owner.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, a terrorist attack and tragedy in Jerusalem has emotions stirring in me. The people of Jerusalem try to cooexist with the Arabs in East Jerusalem but it doesn't work out that way. Yesterday a Hamas operative drove his vehicle into a crowded Israel Light Rail stop killing a three month old American citizen and injuring many more. A second day of violence perpetrated by Arabs in Jerusalem has now caused officials to step up security. 
I feel the silent call to arms... as I am sure all Israelis away from the Homeland feel; that urgency to return home immediately. What happened yesterday feels sickenly familiar to when the three boys were kidnapped and murdered. And the beginning of the Operation Protective Edge, or just plain Gaza War. 
What can I do to help? I don't know. But being there feels like the only option. Hopefully I will wrap up my business soon, and get back to where I belong. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beneath A Stormy Cloud: Moving On Without Her ~ #Free #Kindle Sept 25 - 29, 2014

The stinging reality of the effects of the Holocaust on the second generation is illustrated as Naomi Litvin attempts reorientation to the world at large after losing her mother, a Romanian Holocaust survivor. In her second book, Beneath A Stormy Cloud: Moving On Without Her, Naomi Litvin knits a jigsaw puzzle-like anthology of her mother’s poetry with her own juxtaposing responses. Within these pages Naomi’s thought provoking commentary is a deeply personal struggle with her grief. Edith was her mentor, heroine, and best friend. Mother and daughter share the stage in this creative, special slice of history. 

Naomi Litvin
San Francisco, CA

Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tough Love for Gaza

  • In the article below by Professor Inbar, he states a compelling case for withholding economic aid to Gaza. 
  • I agree: as long as Hamas stays in control, economic aid strengthens Hamas. 
  • He speaks of the Germans and Japanese after World War II because there's a correlation in their demilitarization and the need to do the same in Gaza. 
No to economic aid to Gaza 
via Jerusalem Post

08/03/2014 20:29

"Some aid will be directed to Hamas activists, and only what is left will go to the destitute. Those with the guns always get first."

"The developing international consensus to offer Gaza an economic package in order to convince Hamas to agree to a cease-fire is immoral and a strategic folly. It is also unlikely to be effective."

"One of the main reasons for Hamas harassing several million Israelis by launching thousands of rockets and sending terrorists into Israel, apart from the desire to kill Jews, was to rock the boat in order to get out of its dire economic straits. Getting paid for stopping its shooting at Israeli civilians looks like the “protection money” collected by the mafia."

"The morality of pouring money so that Gazans can live better is questionable as long as Hamas does not stop its terrorism against Israel. Unfortunately, establishing a clear connection between economic aid and political compliance is not on the agenda of the “peacemakers.”

"It is true that Gazans are suffering. Nevertheless, it is wrong to argue that the Gazans should not suffer the consequences of Hamas actions. Hamas was popular among the Gazans and continues to be so. Moreover, polls show support among Gazans for violence against Israelis. What moral justification exists for helping people that support an organization engaged in killing Israeli citizens and intent on destroying the Jewish state? Moreover, we should remember that the essence of war is a competition of inflicting pain in order to change patterns of behavior. Actually, pain may have a positive value in affecting the learning curve of the warring sides. Exacting a high cost from Hamas and the Gazans may lead them to more peaceful behavior. For example, it took a lot of suffering in World War I and World War II to transform German society into a less militaristic and less belligerent one. While not politically correct, such treatment might be the recipe for turning the Palestinians into peaceful neighbors in the long run."

"Moreover, economic aid to Gaza, as long as Hamas stays in control, strengthens its power and its grip over the poor Gazans. Allowing continued rule of Hamas, as the US plans, also undermines the rule of the more moderate Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Indeed the PA criticized the Kerry cease-fire proposal that favored Hamas."

"Yet, this clear strategic rationale seems to be taken over by sentimentalist responses to Hamas media manipulation. Instead of using the tough pictures coming out of Gaza to tell Gazans: “We told you all along that Hamas leadership would only make things worse” (just as has happened in other places where radical Islamists gain power), Western leaders seem to have foolishly decided that Gaza should speedily be rebuilt! The US efforts to bribe Hamas into behaving (while suspending aid to Egypt) are probably against American laws dealing with terrorist organizations."

"Promises of aid send the wrong signal. They tell Palestinians that their leadership can make grave, deadly mistakes, and nevertheless gullible Westerners and others will bail them out. It also signals to Hamas that it can continue shooting at the Jewish state; for if Israel repeats its military action, merciful donor states again will repair the damage."

"Diplomats are looking for formulas that will enable channeling aid to the Gaza Strip, bypassing Hamas."

"Realistically, there is no way to reconstruct Gaza without strengthening Hamas. The reconstruction of Hamastan in Gaza – an Iranian base that threatens Israel and many moderate Arab regimes – makes no strategic sense."

"America helped reconstruct Western Europe and Japan after World War II to make sure they would be ruled by friendly democratic regimes. Hamas is authoritarian and anti-Western. Moreover, its rule will doom the Gazans to continuous poverty and ignorance. It is simply silly to facilitate the continuation of Hamas rule."

"The history of humanitarian aid shows that outside economic aid is only as good as the ability of a recipient’s economy and government to use it prudently and productively. Like many Third World countries, Gaza lacks the legal and institutional infrastructure needed for effective dispersal of economic aid. Billions of euros transferred to the PA since the Oslo Accords have been squandered and misused by corruption and ineptitude."

"Very little aid filtered down to the people. Therefore, it is not at all clear that sending more money to the dysfunctional Gaza Strip will do any good."

"It is clear that a large proportion of the benefits of the external aid will be siphoned off to the corrupt Hamas leadership. Khaled Mashaal and Musa Abu Marzook are reported to be billionaires, while Ismail Haniyeh is only a millionaire."

"Some aid will be directed to Hamas activists, and only what is left will go to the destitute. Those with the guns always get the first and best cut of international aid sent to the suffering. This is what is happening everywhere international aid is dispensed. Gaza is not different."

"Humanitarian aid should be dispensed judiciously, while making sure that it does not preserve poverty and dependence. Even the friends of the Palestinian national movement should realize that it is time for tough love for Gaza."

"The author, a professor of political studies, is director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Code Red Israel

Trying to think of something to blog from Israel that has not already been addressed in the media or by other bloggers is difficult. As I ponder this, I keep being drawn back into the news of minute by minute updates from the IDF Spokesperson on twitter. I shudder to think what the next news will be. Today Hamas used the humanitarian ceasefire to kidnap an IDF soldier via a tunnel using a homicide bomber who blew himself to bits and took the lives of two other of our precious IDF soldiers.

And also heavy on my mind is the question of how I can help the effort here in Israel. I have been posting IDF updates and breaking Israeli news to Facebook from twitter to enable Americans to see what the world media is not showing or showing in slanted versions. It doesn't feel like it is enough. I am sure all Israeli civilians feel the same. It is a helpless feeling. Meanwhile many are trying to help by bringing food and personal items to the soldiers, but the IDF has strict rules on what can be accepted. It is possible that I may volunteer for Sar-El in the near future.

Some conversations that I have had, with Israelis and with Americans, seem to include "who is more affected and who is not affected" by the war. What is this, a contest? I don't think so. I think we are all profoundly affected by this war. Measuring these effects by mileage or Iron Dome success or body count undermines our struggle to defeat the evil entity Hamas. All that matters now is to back Israel's mission to demilitarize Gaza and destroy the tunnels.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

IDF soldiers singing their prayer as they prepare to go to war

Photo by Naomi Litvin
my friend Berdie Held shared ‎עידן חיים‎'s video.
"Makes me feel so proud to be here....and yes, teary eyed too because its going to take time to accomplish this operation and these beautiful young men's lives are at stake... But they sing..they SING! I love them all!
Please Hashem protect all of them."

Post by ‎עידן חיים‎.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

in Israel, a people resolved to survive

Dear Friends and Family,
Here in Israel we are doing our best to keep on living our lives. There is no need to link to events as everyone is on top of the news. I just want to contribute my take on what is happening. In a few days I will have been here for four months, inside of a time warp actually, as the nights and days have melted together in checking Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo news, Hebrew language TV stations (of which I understand little of), and going about daily tasks in searing heat and humidity without knowing where and when a Code Red siren will shriek a warning. Whether to lie down flat in the road, or run into the nearest shelter is the question on my mind as I walk with my eyes glancing upward to the sky. I left Tel Aviv a day before the war, not because of rockets but because of personal matters. I can't help but feeling like G-d was guiding me to get out of there, as my new location is quite calm and quiet with a minimum of Code Reds so far. Tel Aviv, among most other sites in Israel, is under a barrage of Gazan rockets, leading to much fear and disruption.

The numbers of Gazans who have died and been injured is more than Israelis. Is it our fault that we have developed self-defense tools? If each rocket that is launched by Hamas hit the target intended, then we would have more casualties than them. When we say #NeverAgain we mean it. They raise their children to hate; we raise Israeli children to value life and to defend. So when we lose one person, each one of us aches inside, and I am sure we all hear the same wailing noise inside the mind. I won't mention what they are threatening to do to us in more personal ways, there is no need to illustrate their evil and scare tactics.

Currently I am reading Golda Meir's autobiography (no longer in print) My Life. My copy of this paperback is falling apart. The pages are torn and yellowed, rubber bands and paper clips holding it together. Every word she wrote is gold, and I am reading it ever so slowly. A copy on costs a small fortune. Since the book is not widely available, I don't think Golda would mind if I quote a bit from it.
"...I don't know what forms the practice of Judaism will assume in the future or how Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, will express their Jewishness 1,000 years hence. But I do know that Israel is not just some small beleaguered country to which 3,000,000 people are trying hard to survive; Israel is a Jewish state that has come into existence as the result of the longing, the faith and the determination of an ancient people. We in Israel are only one part of the Jewish nations, and not even its largest part; but because Israel exists Jewish history has been changed forever and it is my deepest conviction that there are few Israelis today who do not understand and fully accept the responsibility that history has placed on their shoulders as Jews..." 
"...I wish to say that from the time I came to Palestine as a young woman, we have been forced to choose between what is more dangerous and what is less dangerous for us. At times we have all been tempted to give in to various pressures and to accept proposals that might guarantee us a little quiet for a few months, or maybe even for a few years, but that could only lead us eventually into even greater peril. We have always been faced by the question "Which is the greater danger?" And we are still in that situation or perhaps in an even greater one. The world is harsh, selfish and materialistic. It is insensitive to the sufferings of small nations. Even the most enlightened of governments, democracies that are led by decent leaders who represent fine, decent people. are not much inclined today to concern themselves with problems of justice in international relations. At a time when great nations are capable of knuckling under to blackmail and decisions are being made on the basis of big-power politics, we cannot always be expected to take their advice, and therefore, we must have the capacity and the courage to go on seeing things as they really are and to act on our own most fundamental instincts for self-preservation. So to those who ask, "What of the future?" I still have only one answer: I believe that we will have peace with our neighbors, but I am sure that no one will make peace with a weak Israel. If Israel is not strong, there will be no peace."

Golda Meir Interview on Arab-Israeli Relations and Terrorism (1973)

Friday, June 27, 2014

As our world turns in Israel

I have been here in Israel for three months, had three moves including two cities,  two Ulpans (Hebrew schools), inconvenience, joy, fear, new friends, and a babel of people speaking more languages that even I thought possible, even after working in a multi-lingual call center in Oakland, CA. What is this all about? I admit that I have wanted to come home several times due to homesickness for the conveniences of America and missing my family and friends. Last night was White City in Tel Aviv, Laila Lavan, in Hebrew. I watched the USA/German Soccer game on a big screen TV at Royal Beach, and then headed to Gordon Beach to watch the Israeli dancing. To see these Israelis dancing can only be described as pure joy. In the crowd young people were passing out yellow #BringBackOurBoys bracelets and helping folks take photos standing behind the poster with that same hashtag. A rally is being planned to take place in a few days in Tel Aviv and I will be there to lend my support.  Three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped by terrorists in the Gush Etzion area, where I coincidentally was visiting new friends Hagith and Sam Ashen on the same evening. I stayed for Shabbat weekend and we didn't hear any news as to whether the kids were safe until Shabbat ended. And then all hell broke loose. My friends have two daughters that live in the same area. Everyone in Israel is affected by this. Every Jew in the world is affected. We are a family. A big one. I think that is why I came here. I felt like I was coming home to my family. We (I can say "we" now) do not ever give up on Jewish prisoners. That includes Jonathan Pollard, who has paid for his crime over and over and is still held in an American prison after 10,445 days (almost thirty years) by Barrack Hussein Obama. 

There is something about Israel that can only be felt after being here. The collective feeling of what we were born from, what we strive for, and the daily threat to existence is a magical glue that binds us together. We don't like everyone, we argue, and fight for our places in lines. But every day there are the tears and the smiles of our existential joy seen on the streets and everywhere you go. Young men and women (really boys and girls) in uniform carrying automatic weapons ride the buses and trains, causing me to sigh in relief every time I see them whether either on the local autobus or Egged to Jerusalem.

Stay tuned for more commentary of what I see and feel in Israel.

This is how we feel about the IDF:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

from Haifa to Tel Aviv with love

Haifa, Israel
I just don't know where to start not having blogged since 17 April. It wasn't because I didn't want to or had nothing to say. My computer just stopped working while I was living in Haifa and although it was brand new and under warranty I wasn't able to get it fixed. It's a long and ugly story which I won't bore you with. Suffice it to say that I bought a Lenovo Lemon and they told me not to worry, that it would be fixed at no charge. After almost two months of doing without it I stormed into the repair shop and took possession of it. I finally bought another new computer and so far so good (it's been one day). So here I am reporting from Israel again.

I have since moved to Tel Aviv. I need a bit of time to reorganize and transfer my hand written notes and photos into some cohesive information. Everything in Israel happens so fast and time feels like another dimension; one that I have not experienced before. Living in Israel is different than being a tourist here. I have had my ups and downs, especially living in the terrain of Haifa. No one told me how hard it is to walk up the hills and steps.

I tried to keep in touch on twitter and facebook during this time and wish to thank all of my online friends for hanging in there with me! A lot of people have reached out to help and befriend me both in Haifa and now in Tel Aviv. Thanks to all, and especially my family who have been cheering me on long distance!

Tel Aviv, Israel

The Rolling Stones are performing in Tel Aviv, Israel tomorrow night!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jerusalem: Potato bread and non-existent riots on Passover

Naomi Litvin - Kotel April 17, 2014
photo by Vicki Moliver Schwartz
I am in Jerusalem and I can't get over that everyone in the restaurants and cafes are eating bread and pastries on Passover, made out of POTATOES. Just doesn't seem right. If you want matzoh you have to ask for it.

By the way all the reports of continued riots at the Temple Mount are simply a LIE. Of course police limit visitors to Muslims and Christians as "No Jews are allowed." All I saw was mobs of tourists doing the Jerusalem Disneyland thing and the Cohenim doing their priestly blessings by making one of their three foot festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, Pesach). In honor of the foot festival, Vicki Moliver Schwartz, my first cousin once removed and I went shoe shopping....

Vicki and Naomi
dinner in Emek Refayim
photo by Andrew Schwartz