Category Archives: defense of others

Gal’s Defensive Shield

You know, in some ways, I’m a pretty blessed girl. Parts of my life are pretty cool. I get to meet some amazing people, I really do. And some of them I get to interview, and some of them I just am fortunate enough to be able to sit in on a lecture. This column is about one of those times. I got to sit in on a lecture with a fascinating gentleman. You’re looking for more information than “fascinating”? Ok, how about details, he’s Israeli, he’s been in a few battles. More? He can speak Hebrew, read and write it. More? Ok, I admit that last bit was humor. He was part of the Shaldag שלדג or Kingfisher unit. In fact, at one time he commanded it. Shaldag is like Sayeret Matkal, think Yonatan Netanyahu. It’s a special forces unit of the IAF. A Kingfisher is a bird that flies up high, swoops down suddenly and snatches it’s prey and ascends back into the skies before you know what happened. Now you understand Shaldag. More? He’s a retired Brigadier General. Yeah, I get to meet very way cool people. He’s also a happily married father of three girls, two of whom are officers in the IDF now. More? His name is Gal Hirsch. He also has a B.A in Mid-Eastern Studies from Bar-Ilan University. I’m working on my B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies as well, sadly not in Israel. Gal also is the founder and chairman of Defensive Shield Holdings, which consults on security and defense, and is chairman of the Israeli Leadership Institute. Quite the pedigree isn’t it? And he had quite the lecture, and message for us.

Gal’s family were some of the first to settle in Arad when it was a new town in the Negev. It’s near my beloved Beer Sheva. On his 13th birthday with the other boys he climbed Masada before dawn for his Bar Mitzvah, they put on Tefillin for the first time, prayed and vowed שנית מצדה לא תיפול

Shaneet Masada lo tipol, Masada shall not fall again. This is the same vowed the armored division used to make when they were sworn in on Masada, after climbing up it. My thought? Yes, I’d like to have the chance to do that, climb it, but the view from the cable car was amazing. I’m just saying. After that portion, the boys all hike down and go their homes and there is a lovely large meal, family and presents. It’s a big family event. Normally. Gal’s wasn’t, when he got back everything was chaos. His uncle, Amnon Hager had been killed. Fifty-four paratroopers and the pilot had been killed when their helicopter went down. The next day Gal changed from planning to enter a science program to picking up the baton that had fallen from his Uncle’s hand. He went to the recruiting station in Beer Sheva.

Gal has been fighting since he was 18, a lot of it around the borders of Israel, and all of it under fire. He said you can plan whatever you want, but someone else is planning for you. Serving in the IDF is not a career, it’s a mission. Eventually Gal chose to go to officer training. This requires an additional commitment to serve in the IDF. There on the walls of the school in different places was the phrase “אחריי” Achriee, or “Follow me and do likewise” which is what Gideon told his troops. This is also why you see a fairly high casualty rate among Israeli officers, they LEAD into battle. In addition to seeing the sign “Achriee” he also saw a beautiful woman named Donna, who later became his wife, and the mother of his 3 beautiful daughters. Donna was in the IDF as well. So, folks, if you need, I’ll see if I can get you some IDF recruitment forms. Sounds like it worked better than match.com.

In the mid 80s Hizbollah was a political party, now Hizbollah is the Iranian army after going through a few morphs. Gal fought in the first intifada which was the pieceful falestinians* having their armed riots for “peace”. They knew that Israel would not use machine guns on civilians.

While he couldn’t talk about many of the missions he went on, he did tell us about one. There was an enemy installation someplace. The enemy would come out attack Israel and retreat back to their compound. After this had gone on for a bit, Gal decided they needed to get into the compound. He said the game changes when you wake up in the morning and the floor of your living room is covered with IEDs and you have no clue how they got there in the night. I bet that’s right, actually, I know that’s right, more on that later. But there were some pretty good mottoes contained in the story. This mission had many things go wrong, from a late start because they were waiting for approval to technical problems. At one point an ambush was waiting, a team member was injured and they had to figure out an alternative way to cross a road swarming with the enemy and invent a way to cover their tracks. Then they got to climb the cliff. Through all this Gal has to continually reassess the situation. Abort or continue? Finally he is getting messages from headquarters, it was a brilliant plan, but don’t you think you should abort now? It’s not the same situation. It’s morning now. Gal persisted and was emphatic, he would continue. Then headquarters made it an order, abort. And just then, as luck would have it, there was another technical problem and none of their headsets worked! None of them heard the order to abort the mission. WOW, who would have imagined such a thing? Gal did have to come up with some alternative ways to get the team extracted, but he had already figured that out. So once the mission was completed he was able to get the communication equipment to work and called in orders for what he needed to get the team extracted safely. The mission was a success. When they got back to base the General Chief of Staff wished to have a word with Gal. Apparently the General had several, at a great volume. Gal thought his time in the IDF was about to end, so he had some words in response, also at a increased volume. And about then the people who had been monitoring the compound began to see some of the teams handiwork playing out. They came and got the General who left to watch the fireworks, grab a cup of Cofix and some popcorn. Ok, I made up the last two. But Cofix coffee is always a good idea in my book. The debriefing was two weeks later and he was told many times, you were wrong, but this turned out well.

Many times in this story Gal talked about “values determine results”, meaning if it is your values to persevere and work hard, your results will be good, it’s about your work ethic. And “the mission must be accomplished”. But what happens when values collide? “The mission must be accomplished” collides with “discipline”. The military discipline that an army must have to function as a unit runs headlong into the mission must be accomplished and values determine results? That’s a tough one isn’t it? The unit ended up getting a citation for their work, and they didn’t can Gal.

Instead, they sent him to Judea and Samaria to prepare for war in the aftermath of the Oslo accords. Gal talked about how many times and how many different ways Israel has tried to make peace. And how many times the Arabs have promised to give up terrorism and attacking civilians in return for _______. And some how, no matter how much or how often they give, peace never comes. Attacks on civilians and the military continues.

In 1998 it turns out Gal was quite good at trying to get things in order in Judea and Samaria. So good the Arabs absolutely hated him and he was a high priority target for them. The finally got him in an ambush as he drove under a bridge. They rolled a boulder on his car. He sustained multi-system trauma. Broken teeth, arm almost ripped off, face partly crushed, lungs filling with blood, teeth knocked out, pelvic damage and part of his nerves were torn away from his spine, he was pretty close to if not, paralyzed. The arabs were exceedingly proud of themselves for having gotten Gal. It was on the arabic news stations and in the papers. But Gal lived. The doctors asked him what his goals were for his therapy and rehab. He told them he wanted to be able to “shoot, hug, and write” meaning write orders. He wanted to go back into command. He wanted to be in charge of the Binyamin brigade which is in the area of Judea and Samaria. He wanted the arabs to know, they failed. He was sent to Paris for a while for some procedures. After he had been back from Paris for a while, he begin to have movement in a finger. The index finger of his right hand. He called his commander and said “I’m healthy now. I want to be the brigade commander” This, I’m sure, was met with a rather stunned reaction. He was still in the hospital in rehab. But, you see, it was his trigger finger that had moved. To Gal? He was ready for duty. So at 74% disabled he became the brigade commander of the Binyamin brigade. He is still 59% disabled today. He said “When you have a mission, you can work through the pain”. Another good creed to remember.

So now you have some background on Gal. Now I’ll tell you some of the things I learned that I think are worth sharing.

Gal is the man behind Operation Defensive Shield, March 29 – April 21, 2002. It was in response to the many, many terrorist attacks coming from the arabs in Judea and Samaria. In particular the Pesach massacre on March 27th in which 30 people were killed. A pieceful falestinian detonated himself in a hotel in Netanya during a 250 person Seder. Twenty-two were killed outright, eight died later and one hundred and fifty were injured. The arabic world was a tizzy in joy. But for Ariel Sharon it was the last straw. This was a very large scale operation. Despite the fact the Air force could have settled hash in a few minutes, the IDF chose to send in infantry to spare civilians who were told to flee.

Now, there are some things Israel does very poorly. One is “apartheid”. They are pathetic at apartheid. They have muslims in the Knesset, they have muslims in the military, in positions of command no less, they have muslims in the police force, they have muslims working in the emergency medical services. Israeli muslims can vote, shop, work, whatever. They do not have a firm grasp on how to do apartheid. Another word they can not seem to grasp the meaning of is “siege”. They really do quite poorly with siege. They need to refer back to Masada and the Roman 10th legion to understand how to do “siege”. Because when the tanks surrounded Mukata’a, Arafat’s palace and command post in Ramallah to keep him from leading an insurgency they supplied everything he needed, including electricity. I’m sure if you’ve seen the pictures of Arafat and his people huddled around a candle, that will be a shock, but Israel actually supplied them with necessities. They don’t get “siege”.

So let’s talk a bit about the arabs. In Bethlehem, somewhere between 100-180 pieceful* falestinians holed up in the Church of the Nativity. Much like how they now use the Al-Aqsa mollusk (yeah, I know) to hide weapons and attack the police out of their holy site. You know, I’ve yet to see any of the other worlds religions use their holy sites as a military compound and then howl to cnn when the military attacks it, and the people in it. But the arabs do it on a regular basis. Not only their own holy sites, but those of other religions. They also took more than 40 priests, nuns, and church personnel as well as around 200 other Palestinians hostage.

There were also raids in other falestinian villages as the IDF gained control of Judea and Samaria. This resulted in a large drop in terrorist activities.

According to:

Israeli Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, were an initial drop of 46 percent in the number of suicide bombings – from 22 in February and March to 12 in April and May – and a 70 percent drop in executed attacks between the first half of 2002 and the second half (43 January–June, 13 July–December).

While 2003 had a total of 25 executed suicide bombings in comparison to 56 in 2002, the main difference was the number of attacks which did not come to realization (184) either due to Israeli interception or problems in the execution. 2003 also saw a 35 percent drop in the number of fatalities from 220 deaths in 2002 to 142 deaths resulting from suicide bombings.

Predictably, the UN howled. And the FA (Falestinian Authority) had cnn on speed dial. They would send kids out in front of tanks and cnn, being sloppy journalists, and I’m using that term very loosely here, would snap photos of the “compelling” conflict. Did they do any investigation? Not so much.

Remember me saying we would come back to IEDs in the living room? Well, that’s how terrorism works. You’re going about your normal little life when a bomb goes off, or someone runs you down with a car and jumps out with a knife. How long before people are afraid to go out? So, wake up and find IEDs in the living room? Changes your notions about your plans. The next point, is while the UN howled about the poor falestinian civilians, the poor civilians don’t concern the pieceful falestinian terrorists. They use them as shields, or tell them they can’t leave a building knowing Israel will not attack it if there are civilians there. This point seems to escape the UN, well, and john kerry. The IDF targets terrorists. The terrorists target civilians. Big difference wouldn’t you say?

Which brings me to another point Gal made. Not only does Israel not do “apartheid” or “siege” well, they really don’t do well at public relations. The first two were my opinions, but Gal admitted, Israel is not good at PR. The FA on the other hand, has a willing lapdog media. And somehow, somewhere roles have switched. In the beginning everyone realized that tiny Israel was fighting to regain her home. She was attacked by the arab nations from the beginning. Now, it’s still tiny Israel fighting many arab nations to survive, but because they don’t lay down and die as many expect, they are now portrayed as a thuggish Goliath. Gal said that was something that they could use our help with. When we see misstatements in the media, address them. Send a letter to the editor, address it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever, but do not let it go unchallenged. Judea and Samaria are not occupied “territories” they are the land of Judea and Samaria in the land of Israel, and there are Jews living in Jewish villages there, just like there are Jews living in villages all over Israel. And when it comes to Gaza, it is not “occupied” by Israel, there are no Jews in Gaza. In fact, Gal calls it “Hamas-a-stan”. It’s not controlled by anything other than Hamas, or as I call it, Hamass. This little tidbit seems to escape many mainstream journalists.

At the same time as Operation Defensive Shield, Gal began to push for the wall, or defensive barrier. This of course has been met with howls by the “human rights” groups and the UN. Isn’t it interesting that many Israelis died from terrorist attacks coming from people within Judea and Samaria and the UN and human rights people emitted their collective yawn. They didn’t get upset about suicide bombings and knife, rock, boulder, Molotov cocktail against Israelis, nearly one thousand of them. A fence has been built around Gaza, and not a single suicide bomber has made it from Gaza into Israel. The rockets are another story. But the stats on the wall of Judea and Samaria are impressive.

Here’s why there is an actual wall in places where falestinian snipers used to attack.

I can see why that would be frustrating to them.

The results of “The Wall” which actually, in places is a fence.

During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003.

Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively, after erection of the fence.

And

The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2009, 8 Israelis were killed.

The wall and fence have worked very well in Israel.

You can look here for a current and comprehensive list of the victims of terror.

He also talked a little about the “Arab Spring”, six and a half years ago. He said it was such a nice sounding name, spring. But what it has been is horrible. The jihadists have always been in the middle east, but the dictators that had been in control had been able to contain them. After the arab spring, the bottle was shattered and all the evil little genies were set loose to visit havoc upon the middle east. The fundamentalist jihadis are running amuck and the middle east is not functioning the same. Sounds to me like some former politician was dangerously (to all of us) naïve and didn’t have a firm grasp on the situation, or how things work.

Some of this last bit was in response to questions asked by the audience at the end of the lecture. But there was one more interesting question that was put to Gal as he talked about the impact of the evil fundamentalist jihadis that have been set loose to run amuck in polite society. A lady (not me) ask Gal, “So what does the mean for us?” Now, remember Gal’s occupation now. Security and defense consultant. He said “You have to prepare”. I don’t think she understood what he meant. I think Gal thought she didn’t understand either. He elaborated. “You have to be ready. You have a Second Amendment in this country. That is something we don’t have. You need to arm yourselves and know how to use your gun to be able to defend yourselves and your family”. My jaw almost hit the floor. I can only sincerely hope that those in the audience believed him and took him seriously. When you consider what this man has seen, where he lives and what he has done with his life, and he tells you that you need to be prepared and to exercise your Second Amendment rights, I think it is well worth heeding.

After the lecture he was signing books, and of course I wanted one. I got my book and got in line. We chatted for a few moments before he signed my book. I gave him my card, and asked him if he knew there was a Jewish Second Amendment rights organization in America. He did not. I told him we are supportive of Israel, and that we have covered issues in Israel and the parallels to things happening in America. Mostly favorably. I think Elor Azariya might have slipped out. But he seemed impressed and how glad am I that I was wearing my Caribbean blue TZP sweater? He asked if he could keep the card, it has our web site on it, and I got my copy of the book signed, בעברית, in Hebrew. Yeah, I’m happy. I’ve only got to read a couple pages in the book, but it’s very readable and interesting. The original copy was done in Hebrew of course, and was called War Story, Love Story. We of course, will understand that. Because we don’t fight because we love to fight, we fight because of love. Love for our country and our families. It fits.

If you want a copy of the book you can find it here. Defensive Shield

Defensive Shield

*Pieceful. No, I do not mean peaceful. The falestinians love stabbing and cutting up people. Pieceful is the correct, if made-up word.

*Falestinian, Falestinian Authority. There is no “P” in arabic. Isn’t it interesting that their “ancestral homeland” is a word they can’t pronounce. Probably because it wasn’t called Palestine until Hadrian named it that after the disappeared Philistines as a poke at the Jews and to remove their connection from the land.

As Pesach is coming up, and in honor of Gal, here’s your little movie.

 

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The Path

Disclaimer: The following are my opinions and information. Any errors are mine alone, Joe had nothing to do with it, except for the graphics I stol borro appropri , um, asked nicely if I could use.

So why did I do this series? Because as I get older I realize I am not exactly as ten foot tall and bulletproof as I thought I was in my 20s. Honestly in my 20s and 30s people were different. I think there was more respect for life, liberty and property. When I was growing up the sight on hundreds of people pouring on to a highway with the purpose of shutting down traffic and terrorizing drivers was not called a “peaceful protest”. It was called what it was, a riot. People flooding through a town burning the shops of people who had worked hard all their lives to build their business, attacking police, firefighters and people of a different color was not called a “peaceful protest calling for justice”, it was called a riot. The Governor would not have sided with a criminal over the police without having a clue about the facts. And no one race was elevated over another, ALL lives were to matter, we were humans, part of mankind. Did all people subscribe to that philosophy? No, but that is what I think the majority of us wanted and worked towards. I remember the riots of the 60s, my Dad went down into the city to get his Mom out of downtown Riotsville. I was a little kid, and I was scared to death till he got home with Ma (my grandma). The media did not portray this as a peaceful protest, nor did they glorify the burning and looting.

I’m a lot older now, but I still have my Mom and an Aunt I like to do things with, I have sisters and we like to do things when we can get together. I like to go visit places where I know I will be disarmed and there are attacks on even people that are armed. That was how I got started in this, covered in The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 1. Actually, you don’t even have to leave your neighborhood. It’s not so much that I would choose a knife for my primary defensive weapon, but if someone came at me, or someone I love, I’d dearly like to know I’ve taken at least some steps to have some kind of operating options as what I can and should do.

These articles all refer to the U.S.

NEW TERROR TACTIC: ISIS orders Western jihadis to become SERIAL KILLERS to spread fear

ISIS Forum Urges ‘Lone Wolf’ Attacks in US

ISIS Calls for Random Knife Attacks in Alleys, Forests, Beaches, ‘Quiet Neighborhoods’

After the bladework class, and the weapons of opportunity class I realized the martial arts training I had done in the past might not possibly help me all that much. Sigh, and I really liked Katas.

Knife vs. Kata?

I was under no illusion that I was Chuck Norris, or that I would have a handy pair of Sai or Kamas right there. Not to mention that was so long ago, who knows if I’d be able to remember anything.

Attending the classes did spark how I think about things though. I need to train my mind to look at a can of peas differently, along with kitchen implements. Not for competition or points, for life, to live. For my life, and the lives of those I’m responsible for.

It’s part of the “Warrior mindset”. I do what I need to do to take care of those I’m responsible for, without emotion, as a professional. The skills I need should become a part of me, as automatic as making coffee and driving. Yes, I need to pay attention, I need to be aware of everything that is going on around me, I need to be aware of things that seem out of place. But if I am hyper-focused on these things it leaves little resources to allocate to other things. Do you have to give full attention to putting your foot on the brake or the clutch? If you do, will you see that car coming into your lane without signaling? That’s my point.

What about breathing? Yep, it’s a good idea for all of us, it definitely prolongs life. Trust me, I’m an expert, those that don’t will not be around for long. But remember seeing people on TV, or in real life,  how women breath when they are having a child? They change their breathing pattern. One of the things I learned in Systema is that if we change our breathing pattern it can help us cope with fear and pain. There is a certain way to do it. I observed that in the last class. I didn’t understand exactly why Joe’s son Joseph would breath the way he did during demonstrations. I mean I’m sure what Joe was doing didn’t feel good, but the way Joseph was breathing was very purposeful. There are instructions in the book about Systema breathing and now I have the DVD on breathing and fear. I also have one on knives. I know, I’m a strange girl, my idea of popcorn and a movie could be a little different from some folks. The DVDs are done by Vladimer Vasiliev and available from his online store. They also have downloads. This isn’t like trying to learn Karate from a book like in the Karate kid, Mr. Miyagi. This is actually from the DVD.

Fear, fear can be deadly. And really it can have such an impact on our lives. Not just in life threatening situations either. From The Systema Warrior Guidebook,

3. Fear is always about loss; loss of life, loss of wealth, loss of security, loss of comfort, etc.  The fear of loss is directly proportionate to the intensity of the attachment you have.  Dissect your fear or worry down to what you fear will be lost and ask yourself, “If this fear came true, what is the worst thing that can happen?”  Often you will find that your worst-case scenario is a long shot and your fear can be easily overcome with the right plan of action.

4. Fear is present only when there is a desire.  Fear arises only when there is conflict between what we want and what we think “might” happen.  We build up expectations around life and come up with a concrete picture of how our lives “should” turn out.  This inflexibility forms a strong foundation for fear.  If we are open to new possibilities and a new vision of safety, comfort and success, we can be courageous.  When we flow with life, fears dissolve.  When you find yourself wracked with fear, ask yourself, “Why should I resist this?”  You may find the strength to let go and flow.

But is fear always wrong? No, for me it’s why I wear a helmet when I ride, buckle up in my car and stay out of places that I know probably aren’t safe. I’m not saying things can’t happen even in “safe” places, they can. But if Roosters bar & grill is known to be frequented by members of MS-13, I’m not a-goin’. I don’t need french fries that much.

Fear is like injury

Defeat the Fear, courage from G-d

The Philosophy of Violence, I haven’t been able to watch all of this one yet, but the part I saw is very good.

But the book and Systema are about life, with a instructions for dousing (brrrrrr) harmonizing your life, and fasting which does a lot more than I realized! Joe talks about Humility and becoming human and this is something I myself need to work on. Theres a recipe for meditsina, along with how and why, and a chapter on Russian penicillin, and if you’re so inclined, a bit on vodka.

Now you understand what I mean when I say there is way more to this than a book about how to block a punch?

I think most readers of The Zelman Partisans intrinsically have a martial mindset, we tend to be the warriors. But we are human, we age, we sustain injuries and things that used to work well for us may not work so well anymore. I recently read a column about The Psychology of Previous Investment it talked about how people buy guns that don’t really work that well for them and the things they go through trying to make it work for them. Rather than just admit that they made a mistake and that something will not work for them, they continue to throw money and try to force it to work. It will not work. So as warriors, rather than keep trying to force things that should work, could work, used to work, why not add some tools to our bag and perhaps get something better? Why not learn new practical ways of doing something, or doing something new and become even more effective because now we have more resources? We all want to be the best we can for ourselves and those we care about, be they human bipeds, or furry or feathered friends.

The Systema Warrior foundation is to me, chesed חסד kindness, or loving kindness, part of Tikun Olam, repairing the world. It is a good and noble thing, and I thought perhaps others would want to learn about it, as I did.

Whether we pick up a gun, a can of peas or a tactical pen (they do so come in hot pink) our mindset is going to be the same. And in our mindset and our breathing and our movements, we need to be the best we can. Because we are warriors, and we take every advantage.

I have an autographed copy of the book, it says “To Sheila, Always fight the good fight! G-d Bless, Joe Mayberry”. And we ARE warriors, all of us at TZP are warriors, we are all fighting the good fight, the righteous fight, in whatever way we are blessed with ability. My hope was to bring us all some insight and tools a bit off our usual path, because as warriors? We want to be our best.

I want to thank Joe for the generous gift of his time (and graphics), to thank the other students in class who knew a lot more about what we were doing and trained with me anyway. I want to thank Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk, for introducing me to Systema, Joe and my Systema “Happy Place”. Scott told me he was passing it on, and now, I am too.

May G-d bless us all as we fight our good fights.

Fight like a warrior, live like a warrior

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The Path of the Systema Warrior, Compassion

Mitzvahמִצְוָה A commandment, a commandment from G-d, there were originally 613 of them. There are 248 positive and 365 negative mitzvot מצות that would be the plural of mitzvah. The Jerusalem Talmud commonly refers to any charitable act as “the mitzvah.” They are actually eternal to be carried down through every generation. Interestingly, one of them on Page 20: Building a Sanctuary for G­-d from Sefer H’Mitzvot. Okay, I’ll quit. But the point of this is that some of the commands are acts of kindness, acts of goodness and charity. From Psalms תהילים, Tehillim 10:

10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,and fall by his might.

11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;forget not the afflicted.

13 Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?

14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,that you may take it into your hands;

to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16 The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.

17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

One rather gets the idea that abuse of the poor, helpless and vulnerable is frowned on wouldn’t they? By G-d, and he commands us to have the same standards, as we are to be a reflection of him. We are to have compassion on them, not abuse them.

And yet.

More than one out of every 5 students report being bullied, 64% of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36% reported the bullying and, more than half of bullying situations (57%) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.

While only 10 U.S. studies have been conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities, but all of these studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. The National Autistic Society reports that 40 percent of children with autism and 60 percent of children with Asperger’s syndrome have experienced bullying. When reporting bullying youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education. Students with disabilities or special education needs are twice as likely to be identified as bullied targets and as bullies when compared to peers without disabilities.1

The results of being bullied are diverse. The victims may be:

depressed, lonely, and anxious, have low self-esteem,experience headaches, stomachaches, tiredness, and poor eating. Be absent from school, dislike school, and have poorer school performance, and think about suicide or plan for suicide.

Some children with disabilities have low self-esteem or feel depressed, lonely or anxious because of their disability, and bullying may make this even worse. Bullying can cause serious, lasting problems not only for children who are bullied but also for children who bully and those who witness bullying.2

While doing research for this column I found several government web sites dealing with bullying. They contained facts, figures and government programs. The government has been trying to deal with it.3 They have sent no less that four “Dear Colleague” letters, in 2000, 2010, 2013 and 2014. Just in case you want to read it yourself. There are lots of acronyms, and lots talk about individual plans, and that sort of thing. But what it amounts to, to me, is they don’t really have any real world answers beyond saying if the parents yank their kid out of your public school, you lose tax dollars.

I find it interesting that 57% of bullying stops when a peer intervenes on behalf of the victim. But what if the victim were empowered? No, I’m not talking about shearing more of the poor pink sheep to knit a bunch of hats to plop down on kids heads. I’m talking about an amazing program. I told you to hang on to the horn for this final part of my interview with Joe Mayberry, author of The Systema Warrior Guidebook.

Joe had been training in the martial arts since 1974, but he hadn’t really been teaching. But he started hearing from people he knew who had children that wanted to take lessons, of some rather despicable business practices in some of the area martial arts schools. And it was happening far more often than he would have thought. Joe decided that he would open a school and quit saying “NO” to those who had wanted him to teach. After the school had been going for a while, he got a email one night that became a turning point. He said it was on a Thursday night, and he had to wait about four days before he could respond to it, because he wanted to think it through, he was both mad and sad. The email was from the mother of a little six year old boy who wanted to learn martial arts. The little six year old boy was blind, he wanted to learn to defend himself. The mother had contacted other martial arts schools, some had flat out refused to teach him, others told her they would have to pay for private lessons as he would be unable to learn in a group. I believe Joe said they also told her his guide dog wouldn’t be allowed on the mat at the dojo. I opined that the dog was possibly better behaved than some kids, he would be the least of my worries. Joe kindly overlooked that remark.

The little boy came to Systema St. Louis and started classes, in a group. In his group classes Joe has trained not only blind students, but students with autism, deafness and one who has an eye missing. Students that other schools were unwilling or unable to train have learned and flourished. From this the Systema Warrior Foundation was born.

Because Systema looks at each child’s strength, they are able to help them develop actions and defenses that they are realistically able to use. Shamelessly swiped from the web site:

In Systema, the synergy of three components creates a TRUE WARRIOR – Combat Skill, Strong Spirit and Healthy Body.

Our goal is to strengthen those abilities that are already present in each child, no matter what disability they may have. We show them that everyone can be strong, confident and empowered.

​When Systema Founder Mikhail Ryabko created the foundations of Systema, he noted that everything that happens to us in life; good or bad, has one ultimate purpose, that is to create the best possible conditions for a person to understand him or herself. Our goal is to grow on that philosophy and to share it with others.

Since the Systema Warrior Foundation started at Systema St. Louis, Joe has trained around 2,000 children with disabilities. TWO THOUSAND, in the United States and Canada. Did I mention, he does this free of charge to them? Yes, he does. The cost of teaching them is covered by donations (just in case you wanted to) to the Systema Warrior foundation, and some of the things that Joe does, he donates the proceeds to the Systema Warrior foundation.

As Joe said, no matter your age, shape or abilities, you have a G-d given right to life and defend yourself. And his actions back up his words.

It seems so perfectly fitting that a Systema school would have a Systema Warrior Foundation when you consider that the original Systema warrior was Ilya Muromets. And Ilya has quite an amazing story. I really prefer the version in the Systema book as it gives you more of a spiritual side. That’s Ilya in the first picture with the little girl.

I just can’t help but love the school motto: “Doing bad things to bad people since 2010”. Just kind of fits with my world view.

So, if I were a kid, and I had a choice of having a knitted pink hat plopped down on my head, or a government program that says it’s illegal to bully children or learning skills that have been taught to me, for my level of ability? I know which one I would go for. I think the Systema Warrior Foundation is a great example of a mitzvah, don’t you?

The Systema Warrior Foundation
http://stlsystema.com/systema-warrior-foundation.html

 

1Bullying Statistics http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/stats.asp

2Bullying https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandsafety/bullying.html

3Bullying of Students with Disabilities Addressed in Guidance to America’s Schools https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/bullying-students-disabilities-addressed-guidance-america%E2%80%99s-schools

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Cutting Calves

So in this weeks Torah teaching Mishpatim, I learned a lot of things when I listened to this weeks Temple Talk radio show. This is probably no news to those more learned than I, and that probably doesn’t take much. But here’s what really struck me.

After the Ten Commandments are given, G-d asks one thing. That an alter be built for him out of earth. Because Adam rishon, Adam the first man, was made out of earth. The alter represents man, made of earth, because man was made of earth. And then it talks about the sacrifices of animals. Now here is where my thinking got a big wake up call. I’m human, human foibles, and faults there is no denying. I’ve never easily understood why innocent animals had to die because I made a mess of things. So the next part really was a light bulb for me.

Man had been making alters to G-d since Adam. Cain and Abel הֶבֶל ,קַיִןQayin, Heḇel. Noach נח also made an alter. All these people, and this is not the whole list, made alters to G-d before Mt. Sinai, הר סיני, Har Sinai. What G-d was saying after he gave them the commandments, and the instructions on how to live good lives in a community was not some new thing. The people had already been building alters and sacrificing animals. Not because G-d had told them to, but because it was their attempt to reach up to G-d, their attempts to reach out to him. And it pleased him and basically he was saying “That thing ya’ll do? Yeah, I like that, you’re reaching up to me. Keep on doin’ that”. WOW. I’ve read that so many times, so many times and I’ve never put that together! I need to hear someone kind of put the pieces in place for me. It was there all along, and I just never thought of it like that.

Now, hang on to the saddle horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the right.

Not only in the movie, but in the topic. But it all fits together like the horse and rider.

How did the horse know the calf was going to cut to the right? It is part training and part instinct. The horse is reading the calf. You thought the rider was simply using the reins? Look how loose they are. Now I will be honest, I like cutting, it is as much fun as it looks to be. But it’s not my first choice of sport. But oh yes, it is a LOT of fun. You use your legs, but your horse is your partner, and they certainly do read the calf. As well as using their G-d given, man honed instincts. What can interfere with that? A rider holding too tightly too the reins, not a loose enough relaxed body, a rider who wants to micro-manage. A situation of not using the things already there, just waiting to be utilized. Horse, rider, calf and instinct. The calf’s to go back to the herd, and the horse and riders to cut it away from the herd.

Now, hang on to the horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the left.

It is the same with us. IF we have the chance to have someone lay out things we knew, but in a different way.

I was blessed recently by being able to attend a class. A class on weapons of opportunity. Let’s say you are in a situation where you are disarmed by law, or a bad person. You have to go to the hospital, or a doctor’s office. Yes, you can carry concealed. But if you have to don a gown and go for an x-ray, you have a problem. Or any other situation you care to come up with where you are attacked. What do you have on hand you could use to defend yourself? Can you think of anything? You probably have your car keys, a credit card? A comb? You probably wish you had a Mayberry key, if you know what that is. Could you defend yourself with a can of peas? Do you have the instinct to see a potential threat? Are they honed, have you trained yourself what to look for? Do you know the things that can interfere with your instincts? What part does fear play in dealing with these situations? Fear is always bad, right? No.

Does spirituality enter into the equation?

I heard a story recently in this class. The teacher related going to the store with his kids, he was looking at kitchen implements, like for a spatula. He was standing there regarding the choices and his son commented, “Dad is figuring out how to kill someone with that spatula”. And he was. It’s not about killing, it’s about being aware. It’s about being aware that if you needed to, you would have things available you could use to defend yourself and others you care about, and how you would go about that. What would you do if a bad person was holding someone you cared about by the neck with a knife to their throat? Could you intervene? Would you?

Curious? GOOD! Stay tuned because I plan to shed some light on these questions and the person who teaches the class, along with a whole lot more about an amazing system of defense. If we can have a riot free weekend!

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Tzahal Ties a Crimson Cord on Elor Azariah

elor-azariah

No sooner do we get the Menorahs put up, the last of the chocolate coin tin foils in the garbage and the olive oil spatter, cleaned off the kitchen vent hood, a military tribunal representing the very worst of Hellenized/Socialist/Ghetto Jew mentality still afflicting modern Israel, brings us a belated Chanukah lesson.

The conviction of Elor Azariah for Manslaughter.

Anticipating an objection, about the only thing I wish to add to the reaction below, is that it has very little to do with the uniform.  It has everything to do with the healthy psychology of any human being, when faced with a dedicated murderer.

From Facebook, we read:

It is no surprise that Elor Azaryah, the IDF soldier accused of shooting and killing a wounded terrorist, was convicted today. Any other outcome would have been a stinging slap in the face of a much too broad elite and their erroneous assumptions.

Elor was the only uniformed man in the area who acted in a moral manner. The bullet that he shot and the publicity generated by the radical Left B’tzelem’s film of the terror attack and its aftermath – recalibrated the moral coordinates in the arena.

The concept of murdering Jews just because they are Jews is not justiciable! Putting Elor on trial is not moral! The standard bearers of destruction of the Jews and those who act upon those evil principles do not deserve a trial. They lose their right to exist, and anybody who eliminates them and ensures that they are dead is performing the most just and lofty moral act.

The bullet that Elor shot restored the dimension of justice to the arena. The question mark that the knifing terror had etched over the right of the Jews to live, was erased by the clear exclamation point drawn by Elor.

Elor’s moral act was the antidote to the poisonous de-legitimization of Jewish existence – the poison against which Israel’s entire security apparatus stood helpless. His moral act stopped the knifing terror (a fact that can be clearly proven). Elor’s conviction will likely reignite the stabbings.

A cogent answer to the gutlessness of the Tribunal.  here is another analysis, from last Spring.

 

 

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Some things are worth fighting for

Chapter 3 of Maccabees 1

1 Then his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, took his place.

2 All his brothers and all who had joined his father supported him, and they gladly carried on Israel’s war.

3 He spread abroad the glory of his people, and put on his breastplate like a giant. He armed himself with weapons of war; he fought battles and protected the camp with his sword.

4 In his deeds he was like a lion, like a young lion roaring for prey.

5 He pursued the lawless, hunting them out, and those who troubled his people he destroyed by fire.

6 The lawless were cowed by fear of him, and all evildoers were dismayed. By his hand deliverance was happily achieved,

7 and he afflicted many kings. He gave joy to Jacob by his deeds, and his memory is blessed forever.

8 He went about the cities of Judah destroying the renegades there. He turned away wrath from Israel,

9 was renowned to the ends of the earth; and gathered together those who were perishing.

10 Then Apollonius* gathered together the Gentiles, along with a large army from Samaria, to fight against Israel.

11 When Judas learned of it, he went out to meet him and struck and killed him. Many fell wounded, and the rest fled.

12 They took their spoils, and Judas took the sword of Apollonius and fought with it the rest of his life.

13 But Seron, commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had mustered an assembly of faithful men ready for war.

14 So he said, “I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will wage war against Judas and his followers, who have despised the king’s command.”

15 And again a large company of renegades advanced with him to help him take revenge on the Israelites.

16 When he reached the ascent of Beth-horon,* Judas went out to meet him with a few men.

17 But when they saw the army coming against them, they said to Judas: “How can we, few as we are, fight such a strong host as this? Besides, we are weak since we have not eaten today.”

18 But Judas said: “Many are easily hemmed in by a few; in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few;

19 for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven.

20 With great presumption and lawlessness they come against us to destroy us and our wives and children and to despoil us;

21 but we are fighting for our lives and our laws.

22 He* will crush them before us; so do not fear them.”

23 When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly upon Seron and his army, who were crushed before him.

24 He pursued Seron down the descent of Beth-horon into the plain. About eight hundred* of their men fell, and the rest fled to the land of the Philistines.

25 Then Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and dread fell upon the Gentiles about them.

26 His fame reached the king, and the Gentiles talked about the battles of Judas.

I’ll be honest, I love Hanukkah. I didn’t grow up loving it, but once I understood it, and what it meant, I fell in love with the Maccabees. The real ones, the real meaning of Hanukkah. The one Y.B. wrote about. The Hanukkah that makes me realize in every and all generations we must safeguard those things that we hold most dear. Judah knew what was at stake, he assumed command after his father Mattathias died, he and his brothers had been with Mattathias as he began the fight to save the Hebrews from the orders of Antiochus that were meant to eradicate the practice and knowledge of Judaism. To restore the land and the people to a way of live they were meant to live. But they had to survive the soldiers to do that. Judah didn’t just pray and hope for the best.

Verse 3, “He armed himself with weapons of war; he fought battles and protected the camp with his sword.”

Weapons of war was not a “bad” phrase, or a “hate speech” or used in a denigrating way. It was a fact of life. You want to live? Be prepared, because there are bad evil people out there, they do not care if you’re a pacifist or not. This phrase always makes me pause. A couple years ago I was in Tel Aviv and I was a woman with a mission. I wanted to find a model of a Centurion tank circa 1973 Yom Kippur war. I went in a toy store and looked around and a clerk, a young man, came up and asked if he could help me. They had a model battleship, and some airplanes, I couldn’t find the tanks. I explained as best as I could what I wanted. He finally got it and had a shocked and appalled look on his face. “You mean a weapon of WAR??” he exclaimed horrified. Yes, I want a tank. “We do not want weapons of war in this store!” he informed me self-righteously. I shot a sidelong glance at the battleship. Uh huh. I was pissed but it wasn’t worth the argument and I didn’t know enough good words then. I thought to myself, buddy, if it weren’t for those “weapons of war” and some of the people that knew how to wield them you’d have been in a world of hurt more than once. It was a couple weeks after that Hama$$ began firing rockets into Israel again from Gaza, the prototype of how the two state solution will work. Weapons of war can be an excellent thing you have to defend your camp.

13 But Seron, commander of the Syrian army, heard that Judas had mustered an assembly of faithful men ready for war.

14 So he said, “I will make a name for myself and win honor in the kingdom. I will wage war against Judas and his followers, who have despised the king’s command.”

15 And again a large company of renegades advanced with him to help him take revenge on the Israelites.

16 When he reached the ascent of Beth-horon,* Judas went out to meet him with a few men.

17 But when they saw the army coming against them, they said to Judas: “How can we, few as we are, fight such a strong host as this? Besides, we are weak since we have not eaten today.”

18 But Judas said: “Many are easily hemmed in by a few; in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few;

19 for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven.

The Maccabees, my partisan heroes. The Warsaw ghetto partisans, the partisans of the forests, the hills, the caves. Small but determined groups that were willing to fight and risk all for freedom. Because what they fought for was what they treasured. Just as Judah knew and told us, deliverance comes from Heaven. To G-d deliverance from a few or from many is all the same. 1967, 1973 and for the Maccabees G-d does not respect political correctness or numbers and no task is too much for G-d. He’s in the miracle business and he’s very good at it. Do I know why he hasn’t granted miracles every time I think there should have been one? No. But maybe someday I will understand, or ask him. Zelmans Partisans may be a small group, but we are a small group of determined people who know what we are about and are tenacious as wolverines. We understand what we fight for.

The Maccabees were having none of this compromise our rights, compromise our Torah, our feasts our way of life, our Shabbat. No. Compromising on “evil black rifles” “high capacity (adequate capacity) magazines is the same folly. We can follow “man’s” “king’s” laws to the death, or we can live by G-d’s commands.

I was talking with a friend about wars, Israel and history. I was told that today Israel doesn’t fight to win. Not really. They fight a little. Enough to keep things at bay, enough to keep the status quo. Yes, yes, I suppose that is right. Fight that battle and get it done. Fight it fast and hard and keep the knowledge of what you are fighting for in the front of your mind. Fight to win. If you have to fight, no halfway measures.

The Maccabees didn’t fight for sufganyot or latkas, not even the yummy jalapeno cheddar ones. They fought to live as G-d commanded them. And the things that we hold most precious, most dear are the things we must be willing to fight for. I suppose one could evaluate what really is most dear to them by looking at the things they really are willing to fight for.

I have seen miracles, this time of year. I don’t believe they are limited to this time of year at all, but I have seen some rather amazing things happen this time of year. I believe G-d is still in the miracle business. And so I pray for my much loved teammates and for our members and readers a season blessed with miracles.

Happy Hanukkah.

Judah Maccabee Meme
Judah Maccabee Meme
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Peshmerga

The things we learn from our friends at TZP. I sent a screen shot not long ago to my teammates of some of the followers we have picked up. To my great shock they are from….wait for it, no not the DNC, but rather, Iraq. Well color me baffled. As he does from time to time, and it’s always gratefully appreciated, Y.B. helped clear things up for me. He sent me a link to the following documentary. It’s excellent. Not only is it in Hebrew, which is good practice for me, but it has English subtitles, because I’m just not that good. Yet. I’d urge you to watch it. It’s about 45 minutes long and contains a wealth of information, and to me inspiration.

A small bit of background. Peshmerga means “those who stand in front of death.” The head of the Peshmerga is the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Region is located in the north of Iraq and constitutes the country’s only autonomous region. Often referred to as Southern Kurdistan, since the Kurds consider it to be one of the four parts of a Greater Kurdistan. Southeastern Turkey is Northern Kurdistan, northern Syria is Rojava (as it is called in the video) or Western Kurdistan, and northwestern Iran is Eastern Kurdistan. The Peshmerga were said to have been instrumental in the capture of Saddam Hussein. I’m guessing the Kurds are still miffed about the 3,200 to 5,000 Kurds killed and 7,000 to 10,000 more injured, most of which were civilians, in the Halabja chemical attack on March 16, 1988 by Saddam. Stuff like that tends to make one hold a grudge. In Syria under Assad, the clothes, language, dances, songs, basically the culture of Kurdistan was forbidden to them. If you can erase a culture, it’s easier to dominate or erase a people.

There are different branches of Kurdish fighters. There is a handy cut out and save guide to the who’s who of the different units at Who are the Kurds? A user’s guide to Kurdish politics. Some are Pro-Western and capitalist, some more communist. What they are all doing though is fighting ISIS. Or as barry calls it, the JV team. And barry has once again demonstrated what happens when people are incapable of seeing evil for what it is. Or seeing the wrong thing as evil, for example, law-abiding gun owners, police, Christmas Trees and Bakeries. But I digress.

Back to Iraq. The “JV” team has decimated several Yazidi villages. Some Yazidis have managed to flee through routes the Kurds who crossed the border from Syria managed to make for them. The Yazidis are told they will convert to Sunni Islam or die. Then they are given a “deadline”. If they do convert, the men are forced to fight with isis and the women are taken. Another small digression here, isis has said they are infiltrating fighters with the “refugees” to America, and if a people needed refuge, it would be the Yazidi or Christians fleeing. Yet, the door to refuge in America is shut to them.

The Kurds have a rough row to hoe. Turkey threatens them if they perform operations near the Turkish border and the PKK is involved because Turkey blames the PKK for the “attempted Coup”. Their weapons are outdated and in short supply and help from the rest of the world has been in quite short supply. The Christian militia in Syria does fight with them though in some places. Despite all this, the Kurdish fighters have been amazingly effective against isis.

In case you didn’t watch the video, here’s a interesting “Cliff Notes” part for you. Some of the units are made up of women. Much like the IDF, these women are fighters, and fight alongside their male brothers-in-arms. Some of the unit leaders are women. In the video one of the male PKK fighters says the women are excellent leaders, better than some of the men, they are good teachers. And some of these leaders have been at it for a long time.

Media-Leader of a PKK group
Media-Leader of a PKK group

Therefore isis has put large bounties on them. Like Media, shown above.

Unlike barry’s JV team isis, the Kurds do not kill the captured isis fighters. They go to prisons. The isis fighters? They enjoy killing the Kurds, or Jew, or Christians as it says in the video. Also Journalists. They enjoy killing them as well. They will tell you. The interviewer asked, he had personally known some of the journalists they killed.

And he's proud.
And he’s proud.

They also asked the captured isis fighters about their recruits that came from other countries. They explained the got in easily across the Turkish border. They just claim to be something they aren’t.

pretend2b
No, we aren’t jihadist. We’re refug, er um, free Army.

But back to the Kurdish women

An all-female Kurdish militia has launched a military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq with the aim of avenging and liberating the Yazidi women who’ve been raped, assaulted and killed by the terror group in Northern Iraq’s Sinjar region.

And the Yazidi women

An all-female Yazidi militia has vowed to be part of the operation to attack and drive out the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) from northern Iraq. The Sinjar Women’s Units (YJS) announced Saturday that they have “not forgotten those Yazidi women sold in [the slave] markets of Mosul or burned alive.”

If you aren’t aware of the issues I’m talking about this should get you up to speed pretty quick.

‘Yazidi women dragged by their hair, sold into sex slavery by ISIS for $25’

The isis fighters if given a choice, as you saw in the video, will usually choose to run from the Kurdish women. They hear their battle cry and choose to beat feet, and are often instructed to do so. Why? Because if they are killed by a “lowly woman”, it’s no 72 virgins and heaven for them. Is that sweet or what?

So, what brought all this on about the female fighters in Peshmerga? Well, it seems we recently had an election in the US. A woman labeled a “strong woman” a “fighter” by the media and the left was defeated. I, me, personally, believe many have confused “strong” with evil. As a result of these elections it seems countless people have been “triggered”. I’m not sure if they’ve been “triggered” by their winning trophies for “participating” most of their lives, if it’s indoctrination by the preponderance of left wing loons that indoctrinate in schools, their parents outrage that the appointed person didn’t win, or if their left wing coffee shop messed up their coffee. Or, they may have been “triggered” by $1500 a week pay. Non-profit? Interesting, would this fall under the auspices of the clintoon foundation or just another one of soros’s charity organizations? I dunno.

Pretty good pay, eh?
Pretty good pay, eh?

But when you have crowds blocking ambulances from getting through, idiots punching innocent police horses, and you have a pregnant woman trapped in her car as “peaceful protestors” hit the windows with bats, it’s too much. If they want to make a difference, if they want to work for a strong woman, and fight for womens rights? Then I think they need to turn in their diaper pins , say some prayers for the fighters that have been most effective against isis, perhaps speak to their legislative representatives about sending the Kurds some weaponry and supply help, and if they feel the need to be part of a group helping make the world a better place? I’m sure the Peshmerga would be glad to welcome them.

The amazing Media
The amazing Media

Ask for Media. They could use the help and these are strong women, fighting to free other women who have, and are living and dying in the hell of isis captivity. Who knows, maybe when the women of Peshmerga are done liberating the women in this war, they will go to Germany and help the women there.

One of these things is not like the other. That’s one of the female YPG fighters jumping over the fire.

Babies vs. Brass
Babies vs. Brass

Have at it. #RealFeminists

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Hannah

“One – two – three… eight feet long
Two strides across, the rest is dark…
Life is a fleeting question mark
One – two – three… maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel is very near.
I could have been 23 next July
I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.”

hannah-szenes-1

On November 7th 1944 a valiant young Jewsess stared down her Nazi executioners and returned to Heaven. Hannah Senesh was born in Hungary, and despite being raised in an assimilated household, felt compelled to ‘make aliya’ to the Land of Israel in 1939.  She worked in an agricultural settlement, rebuilding the dream of two-thousand years.

“My God, my God
May there be no end
To the sea, to the sand,
The splash of the water,
The glow of the sky,
The prayer of man”

When the extent of the Shoah of the Jews of Europe became evident, she volunteered to fight with the British Army, against the Axis. Soon, she volunteered again, to join other commandos and parachute back into Nazi-occupied Europe, in order to aid the underground in Hungary.

She fought for three months with Tito’s partisans, and then made her way to Hungary, only to be caught by the enemy.

Hannah was brutally, and repeatedly, tortured. Despite their best efforts, the Nazis failed to get any information from her.

“Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart that knows, for honors sake, to stop its beating.
Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.”

When they put her before a firing squad, she refused a blindfold. A gifted poet, diarist, and writer… a brave and determined warrior against evil, lived, and resisted them, to the end.

hannah-szenes-2

“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world even though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.”

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Single-Handed, but with Angels at his side

On the 30th & 31’s of October, 1950, Tibor “Ted” Rubin was having a particularly crappy couple of days at work.

Having recently become a “GI Joe” for his new country,  Tibor found out that Jew Hatred was not merely a European phenomenon.  Sent as a rifleman to Korea, his sergeant simply delighted in “volunteering” “that Jew” repeatedly for the most dangerous of missions.

Now, Tibor was tasked with single-handedly covering the other soldiers’ retreat in the face of a massive enemy advance.

tibor-rubin-1

But, armed with not a small helping internal strength, remarkable bravery, and the help of Heaven, Tibor prevailed again and again.  On those two days, and on many other occasions both before and since, he not only survived, but heroically aided his fellow soldiers, with resolve, ingenuity, and good humor.

Tibor Rubin was born to a middle-class family in Paszto, Hungary, in 1929.  When the Nazi’s came, his parents tried to smuggle him to the relative safety of Switzerland.  He was caught in Italy and sent to Mauthausen.  His sister and stepmother were murdered in Auschwicz, and his father in Buchenwald.

When American troops liberated the prisoners at Mauthausen, Tibor sought a new live in America. He was determined to repay this “debt”, by joining the U.S. Army.  Due to his difficulty with English, it took three tries to be accepted.

In 2005, he receive the Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit’s line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners. Corporal Rubin’s gallant actions in close contact with the enemy and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.”

FILE -In this Sept. 23, 2005 file photo, President Bush presents the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Tibor Rubin, in the East Room at the White House. Rubin, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who joined the U.S. Army after his liberation from the Nazis and earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in the Korean War, has died in California. He was 86. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)
 (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File)

A new book on his story; Single Handed, by Daniel M. Cohen, came out this past summer

Here, also, is a brief oral history from the late Mr. Rubin himself, who passed away this past December.  May his memory be a blessing.

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