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Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti

My thoughts these days are rarely far from what's going on in Haiti. The people have gone through the hell of a catastrophic earthquake and are in the midst of a second disaster, this one won't end with in a few moments.

What I also can't stop thinking about is why, a week after the disaster, the world rescue effort is so completely unorganized and inefficient. If the word "bumbling" didn't conotate something so benign, I'd use that word. Criminal is more like it.

Obama stood together with the previous two presidents, Bush and Clinton, looking presidential in their concern and caring....but America, the richest country on earth, and located practically next door to Haiti, is as clueless about how to help the people of Haiti as they were three years ago when Katrina hit New Orleans. How can this rich country, full of resources, not know what to do here?

You'd think that they would have learned how to act in a disaster. How to rescue people and treat the survivors. Yet seven days after the earthquake, in an age that allows the American military to pinpoint a bombing strike onto the exact meter that they want to hit from a distance of miles away.....the only country that is efficiently operating to rescue survivors and treat the wounded properly is Israel.



Proud? Of course. But it's basically what we Israelis (and Jews) expect of ourselves. It's not exactly brain surgery to realize that Haitian survivors will need antibiotics, triage care, an operating theater, and other BASICS of medical care. So why are patients at the American hospital dying of infections and gangrene because their country can't figure out how to get the right kind of medical care to Haiti? We're talking about the lack of cheap antibiotics.

And why, as one American doctor said, have the Israelis been able to fly in an entire field hospital from the other side of the world, complete with the latest state-of-the-art equipment. They've set it up within EIGHT HOURS and are treating the patients that none of the other governments hospitals are equipped to treat?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdplDDY9MGA


It's time for the Americans to call their government to account for this. All Obama's supporters -- all the people who were sure that he'd be more capable, more caring, more humane than Bush -- it's time to admit that he washed out completely on this one. Maybe it's not politically correct to criticize him, but I don't see a single bit of proof of a social conscience here on his part, much less on the part of his advisors, underlings, appointees, or anyone else who could get his wealthy country to do what a nation 1/200th of America's size and with a GNP that's much less than his country, has done.

I live in Israel, and even with the constant threats and uncertainties that go with living here (Iran's atom bomb threat, for just one little example) I know that I can count on my government to do everything that is needed to protect me. Americans, I don't think that you can say that any more.

Don't know why these links won't embed into the blog, but here are some videos to see.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSsCBuBVzQw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbcUAFbXGBI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3yTptugzPI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWJtLEqY9Mw&feature=related

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chatting

Every once in awhile some of the birthright people who pass by the street where I work come in to look around. Yesterday I got into a conversation with a couple of them, twentysomethings from South Florida. Both are grad students, bright and articulate. They were having a great time on their trip but expressed the view that, if I'm repeating this correctly, Judaism is something that it's nice if it's passed down from generation to generation, but if it doesn't happen, that's life. One of the guys said that his family kept kosher, nominally, and his parents were interested in maintaining traditions. The other guy had some connections with Chabad on campus.

For his college thesis, one of these kids wrote a piece called something like "Why Religion Will Destroy Humanity". He said that the rabbi that he consults told him that Judaism's creed is "do what you have to do".

I am -- stunned. If someone told me that the essence of Judaism was "do what you have to do" I'd head out too!This was a rabbi who told him that? A Jewish leader?

This morning I read an article about a new Israel 20somethings tour where the participants are exhorted to "marry Jewish, have Jewish babies, raise Jewish kids". It's better than the generally parve "don't-open-the-whole-issue-of-Jewish-assimilation" attitude of most of these programs. But....why? Why marry Jewish? Why have Jewish children if Judaism is just a kind of "do what feels good" religion? That wouldn't hold me for long either.

Judaism teaches that Jews should search to find what God wants them to do. Yes, God -- the only four-letter-word in existence that's really just three letters. The word God isn't supposed to be uttered by modern free-thinking progressive Jews, but it's time that it is. Jews are God's Chosen People, not because Jews are better than anyone else, but because Jews are chosen to seek out God's will and try to fulfill it.

Maybe God wants us to "do what we have to do", but if we go forward with the knowledge that it's a Higher Power that wants us to behave and act in a certain way, it will put our spirituality in a new and stronger perspective and hopefully give an understanding of why it's important to adhere to our heritage by each and every one of our actions.

I'm afraid that I wasn't very politically correct when I was talking to the guys -- when the one guy told me that that's what his rabbi said, I just burst out "that's b.....t". Sorry, rabbi.

Monday, January 04, 2010



This is Mica, a lovable mutt that was brought to us by my son and his then-girlfriend (now his wife) last year when they found her huddling in a bomb shelter doorway. They asked if we'd keep her until the wedding when they'd be able to take her. That didn't work well -- a young couple that's never at home can't do much with a young active dog, their landlord wasn't interested in having a dog there, and besides...by the time they were ready to move into their own digs the rest of the family would have had a fit if Mica would have left. (Me included)

So, when she disappeared on Saturday it was distressing to everyone. Mica has a friend down the street, Buddy, who was found at about the same time. They look alike (Buddy is black) and we suspect that they are siblings. Anyway, when the two of them see each other they immediately head off to the wadi below the city, but always return by the evening. This time, Buddy came back but by Saturday night Mica was nowhere to be seen.

What can I say? You get attached to these critters. By Sunday night the atmosphere in the house was one of mourning.

Then I remembered that there's a segula, a kind of good luck charm, that you can say when you loose something. You give tzdekka, charity and say "Aloka Meir Anenni", a reference to Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNes who is kind of the patron Rabbi of lost items. Both Margalit and I did it, and Monday morning, guess who was sitting outside our gate!

As I age, my skepticism about some things kind of cools. I'm a sucker at heart.