We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Below is a dispatch from Israel, bold emphasis added, from -- who woulda believed it -- the frontline in Jerusalem. Yesterday, an Iranian supplied missile landed just miles from the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I haven't seen a mention in the press reports of this that fanatic Muslims are indiscriminately targeting not only civilians but the holy sites of billions of people.
Bill Berk is a transplanted American in Jerusalem, Israel. In his earlier career, Berk was rabbi of a large congregation in Phoenix, Ariz. Now he leads educational cultural tours within Israel. He will be the rabbi for my son's Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem on April 8.
Many of my friends have emailed and asked about my welfare and to share a few words about what is going on.Batya and I are safe.This has been a tense few days.You are watching television and suddenly you see the words at the bottom of the screen “Siren in Ashdod” and then you hear the siren on the television and a few seconds later you might hear a “boom.”For those of us who grew up in quiet suburban American communities it is jarring, to say the least.But, hey, Ashdod isn’t Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.You worry about the folks in Ashdod but it seems far away.After all it takes an hour to drive from Jerusalem to Ashdod.As the crow flies it is 34 miles away.And then suddenly we got the news—rocket heading to Tel Aviv.That certainly raised the blood pressure a bit.Then a few minutes after Shabbat came in we are luxuriating in the soft light of Shabbat candles and enjoying Jerusalem quiet when suddenly for the first time ever, we hear the dreaded siren.Its not on t.v.It is directed at us—a rocket is headed towards us.Quickly we made our way to the stairwell and went down a few floors where it is considered safer.After what happened in Kiriat Malachi (3 dead in a 4th floor apartment) we have learned it is not good to be in an apartment that is on the upper floors.We wait a few minutes and head back to our apartment.I have heard the sounds of war before—on the border with Lebanon and during the 2nd Intifada.But this is the first time somebody is aiming at me.Needless to say we were stunned, along with all the other Jerusalemites.
It is important to know that between January 1, 2012 and the day before Israel killed the Hamas military commander they shot 750 rockets into Israel.Over the past few days they have shot another five or six hundred rockets at us.These rockets are aimed at all of us—civilians—all over the country.What are we supposed to do?What would the United States do if UCLA was closed due to rocket fire from Mexico?What would America do if Canadian terrorists shot rockets into Minnesota and they had to close the University of Minnesota? My step-daughter was sent home from her college in Ashkelon.The whole school was evacuated.She said the scene on the buses and the cars fleeing Ashkelon reminded her of World War II movies where people grab a few belongings and run.
Of course this is not 1939.We have a very strong army, navy, and air force.We know how to defend ourselves and we will defend ourselves.I’ll add one overtly political comment. I think it is fair to criticize Israel for not being as creative as we might be in dealing with the Palestinians.But the whole world, especially the Islamic countries, has been totally unresponsive to the thousands of rockets fired at Israel since we left Gaza.The news is full now of reports of world leaders coming here—now.Where were they when hundreds of thousands of Israelis were huddling in stairwells and shelters?Now you come? It’s a bit late.It is uncomfortable for the world, apparently, when we defend ourselves.This, however, is now squarely on our agenda.Let us pray that soon we’ll have some Islamic creativity and some new thinking—it’s time to accept the fact that Israel is here to stay.
Rabbi Bill Berk Marketing Coordinator and Tour Educator Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israe www.keshetisrael.co.il