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."

Beneath A Stormy Cloud: Moving On Without Her ~ review by Walter W. Ko

cover photo ~ Beneath A Stormy Cloud ~ by Naomi Litvin

On my last job, I worked with a fascinatingly diverse group of people which afforded me the incredible opportunity to get to know people from all over the world. One of my favorite, and best friends is Walter W. Ko, an intellectual Chinese historian, researcher of Japanese war crimes, and avid book reviewer on Here is Walter's review of my new book. 
5.0 out of 5 stars From Edith with love February 1, 2014
This book is a continuation of the Litvin family first book, We Never Lost Hope: A Holocaust Memoir and Love Story. It features a selection from the collection of poems by Edith Litvin with feedback and comment from daughter Naomi Litvin as a commemoration.

The paragraph introducing Edith (p.vii) is compact, contrasting, and impressive. Even after Edith passed away, Naomi keeps her spirit alive in remembering her love by publishing her poems, reading her lines, seeing her pictures, and hearing her voice. As Edith was a Holocaust survivor, she has to struggle when her child asked why they did not fight back. It is very difficult for children in peace and not war to understand. “Such is life” is her answer (p.6). It was not unusual for Edith to share her experience of family history under the Nazis to her children for posterity and healing so that her children would honor and treasure the legacy and value the new life their parent’s best offered.

In response to her mother's poems, Naomi visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem (p.18) to trace her Jewish roots and to pray for peace. 
Life does not happen as in a fairy tale, as the Litvin family moved to Australia and returned to U.S. when it didn’t work out. The rough wave showed her emotion on the poems thereafter. The One Tear Escaped (p.25) was written from a heart of peace and expressed. The poem "The Jews Sing the Blues” was the sharing from the bottom of her heart. 
Why a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus, killed by Roman crucifixion, caused the blame for it on the whole Jewish people for forever? He did not intend to start a new religion with his life but died as a national martyr against the brutal imperial and colonial Roman Empire oppression.
Jews escaped from Nazi Germany persecution by ships to American soil but were only refused to come ashore. The lambs were returned to the tigers. Dr. Ho Fung-Shan, the Chinese diplomat in Austria issued thousands of emergency visas to Jews who fled to Shanghai China. The documentary “Shanghai Ghetto” was a vivid memory of their China years.

The Holocaust with six million Jews perished was in public consciences, but the holocaust in Asia was not known in the West until Iris Chang wrote the book The Rape of Nanking. However, the Nazi ally Japan whitewash, distort, and even deny it happened as not many Asian holocaust survivors were around to tell their horror.

Of all poems, I enjoyed, “Is Anyone Home?” (p.23), “Her Voice so Soft” (p.81) on days and nights, war and peace, sadness and happiness, human and creature, screams and silence.

This book is love between mother and daughter, a Jewish tapestry of life from war to peace, horror to love, Nazi brutality to land of the free. It is a Holocaust survival story affirming to live and flourish is victory over Nazis. And in comparison, the Asia holocaust victims and survivors still try hard to gain back their dignity and justice from their perpetrator with Japan PM Abe still echoing Tokyo Trial is “Victor Justice”.

Naomi shared in a meaningful way to honor her mother love. Edith must be smiling proudly down at Naomi from heaven for this family treasure.
The Shangai Ghetto documentary that Walter W. Ko refers to