In case you don’t know it, we are in “The Three Weeks”. This period started on th 17th of Tammuz, this year that would be 11 July. It is a fast day, and marks the date that the Romans breeched the walls of Jerusalem. It will conclude on the 9th of Av, 1st of August this year, the date that both of the Holy Temples were burned. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 423 BCE, the Second Temple by the Romans in 69 CE, but both on the 9th of Av. There are a lot of other tragedies on the 9th of Av, but for now I’m just going to stick with the three weeks, and, the Temple Mount.
The three weeks are a time of introspections, and reflection as well as mourning.
I won’t say much about recovering sovereignty of the Temple Mount only to give it away again in 1967, we all know. But I actually had someone say to me that maybe Moshe Dayan and Levi Eshkol gave control back to the Islamic Wafko Wakf? Waqf? WakaWaka? Whaqever, because if they didn’t there would be an Arab uprising. Seriously? An Arab uprising? What do you call being attacked by, oh never mind. Israel had just defeated a massive “Arab uprising” in SIX days. I kept my mouth shut and my eyes mostly in my head. But that wrong decision, in MY opinion, wrong, and has continued to haunt Israel ever since. This last week has more than proved it. The Temple mount is so holy (3rd holiest site in islam actually) that when Israel finally gained control in 67, the area was covered in weeds and almost no one ever went there. It’s only since Jews have had access that they flock there to pray. They pray with their butts toward Al-aqsa and facing Mecca. You know, the usual sign of respect by turning your butt to something. This web site has a collection of photos and a movie if you are curious what the site looked like before Israel when it was totally under Islamic control and neither Jew nor Christian could even go there.
One week ago, on Friday the 14th there was a terrorist attack on the Temple Mount. Two pieceful falestinians ran FROM the Al-aqsa mollusk and shot two DRUZE Police officers in the back, one of them a new father. An additional officer was wounded, but I think not fatally. Druze are a sect of Arabs, NOT Jews. These two are far from the only Druze killed by the falestinians. There was a Druze police officer attacked when he responded to the Har Nof massacre. But this video can explain it far better than I can as to what happened.
So, let’s just dwell on this a moment, shall we? The killers/cowards/terrorists came from the Alka-seltzer mollusk, yes, yes, I am getting more peeved, with guns. After they killed the Druze police officers guarding the mollusk, they ran back TO the mollusk. Apparently the Jordanian Wafq either helped them, or turned a blind eye. These are the people that follow Jews and Christians who are on the Temple Mount to make absolutely sure no one says a prayer, if someone sneezes don’t even say “bless you”. I understand 58 members of the Wakf were brought in for questioning by the Police on suspicion of having supplied the weapons or help hide them. And, we know from the past that they absolutely store weapons and rocks for throwing in the Alka-seltzer mollusk. That way they are handy to throw at non-muslims and the police should the occasion arise.
The Temple mount was closed, briefly and then of course the outpouring of world condemnation, and then it was re-opened. But it was re-opened with a new improved feature. They added magnetometers, metal detectors. For muslims. You see EVERYONE else has had to go through a metal detector since I don’t know when. I had to go through them when I went to the Kotel. Jews, Christians, tourists have always had to go through them. I had to go through them to get onto the campus at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, you have to go through them to get to shopping malls, to ride the bus and your purse may be searched. This is a part of everyday life.
But then an amazing thing happened. After the metal detectors were installed, the Wakf boycotted them. They refused to go through them. Inquiring minds would like to know why? Then they urged other muslims not to go through them to go pray at Alka-seltzer. Now SOME Muslims have gone ahead and gone through them and continued to pray. But the truly wonderful thing is Jews are able to go to the Temple Mount without the Waqf. If you prefer a slightly humorous take on it, I’d read this. Humorous yes, but still plenty of truth in it. But an outrage, and absolute outrage, muslims having to go through a metal detector? UN-heard of. Except, well, like maybe Mecca, and a couple other places, in muslim countries.
So, now, finally after all these thousands of years can Jews, Christians, tourists, anything other than muslim pray on the Temple Mount that is in Israel’s hands? OF COURSE not!
I listened to one of my favorite radio shows today, and they were talking about Avi Dichter, Knesset member and formerly head of general security who said that Israel is sovereign and the era of the Waqf calling the shots is over. And this security expert did not seem to think that allowing Jews to pray would create a security risk.
So, it will have been one week ago today that the attacks occurred, and I have some thoughts. It was a blessing it happened on a Friday. ONLY muslims are allowed on the Temple Mount, holiest site in Judaism on Friday. Had there been Jews, or anyone else up there I can only imagine the carnage. Once again, it has been shown, someone determined to get a gun to harm others will do so, and as the saying goes, the only thing to stop a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun. The police did, but sadly have lost two fine men. Side note, have any of the arab leaders expressed sympathy to the families of the Druze police officers? No. I would urge Israel not to give in to the threats. It’s like the kid pitching a hissy in Walmart, you give in and it will get worse each time because they’ve learned it will work. And, personally, I think that’s why it is so bad now. The Temple Mount can not, just can not become part of another “land for peace” deal. In my life I’ve had all kinds of people give me advice about all kinds of things. Some of it I felt was not right. Not right for the time, or not the right direction. They got miffed about it. But here’s the thing, if I was right and went ahead and did it anyway, who will pay the price? Me. It costs them nothing to give the advice, only their time, and I’m grateful I have people that wish to do so, but if I do it feeling it’s wrong, they pay no price, I do. Israel may have a lot of people tell her to get rid of the metal detectors, but they will not pay the price. Israelis will. We have people tell us we don’t need to carry everywhere we go, we are paranoid. But who pays the price? We do, or our family.
But for now, I will leave you with this, this miraculous video. I got if from Aryeh of the Israeli political party Zehut, which means “Identity”.
This man is openly crying on the Temple Mount over the destruction of the two Temples. And he is NOT thrown off the Temple Mount because the Waqf are busy pitching a hissy that they can’t help more people smuggle in guns.
And this beautiful picture, no Waqf present to harass people. G-d bless Aryeh for sharing these. If prayer could be open, everyday with no worry or fear? Personally, I believe when that day comes? MANY things will begin to come right. I don’t believe G-d was pleased when Esav traded his birthright for a bowl of soup, I don’t believe he was pleased when the spies came back and gave a false bad report about the land G-d had given his children, and I don’t think he’s any happier about his children not being allowed to come and talk to him in the place that he chose. Embrace it, embrace the gift, in this three weeks of mourning, there is this tiny window of good. May it fly open and all good rush in.
Yes, this is going to be another “Dang Sheila gets to meet cool people and hear interesting speakers!” kind of column. Because I do.
I recently attended a Friends of the IDF event, with the IDF being Israeli Defense Forces if you hadn’t guessed that.
The evening started out with a lovely welcome from the organizer and the master of ceremonies. I believe I heard this was the first event like this that the organizer had set up, and she did an amazing job, so I’m hoping it won’t be the last. We then sang The Star Spangled Banner and HaTikvah, the national anthems for both America and Israel, of course!
Then it was movie time. As we just commemorated the 50 years of the reunification of Jerusalem they had a wonderful video to show us, and the three soldiers in the iconic photo have been touring the U.S. and talking to audiences.
Sadly, we did not get to hear their talk, but we did get to hear two other real life heroes that night.
We next saw a video on Friends of the IDF and it talked about all the different programs they offer. They are certainly a lot more involved than I would have realized. The little movie did a segment on each program. Wikipedia has info on the programs as well as the FIDF website. I admit to only knowing about a couple of the programs, the Lone Soldier of course, and the wounded veterans. They do a lot more than that, and impact lives of the soldiers and their families in a multitude of ways. For each segment they showed there would be an IDF soldier to tell how that program had affected their life. It certainly did a good job of putting a face and a human to the programs.
We then heard our first hero of the night, First Sergeant Keren Shlomi. Keren said she did not have a typical childhood, and I would imagine she’s right. She was born in Israel as I recall, but her family fractured and she ended up living in Canada with her her Mom. She said that she missed Israel, and felt like there was a hole in her heart. She got to go back to Israel on a trip and then she knew what was making the hole in her heart and what would fill it. Keren went back as often as she could, and when she was of age she decided to move back and serve in the IDF. Up on the projection screen flashed a picture of Keren wearing sunglasses and holding an Israeli flag. Her smile said it all, in Hebrew and in English, she was home and whole. She served in the first co-ed combat unit which was on the Egyptian -Israeli border at the time. She became a sharpshooter and eventually moved into Intelligence. Over time she became completely disconnected from her family, but she says she never felt alone. She had her IDF family, and the Friends of the IDF also were supportive. After her army career she worked three jobs, baby sitter, and courthouse security were among them. To be honest, if it were me? I could actually only do one of those, and it wouldn’t be babysitting. I’ve done it, I know. Keren wanted to go to college, she had a dream and if she had to work three jobs, she was willing to do it. She figured within a few years she’d have saved up enough money to go to college. But then someone told her about the FIDF impact scholarship and she applied. She won one of the scholarships. She gives 130 hours of community service during every year of schooling so not only does the scholarship impact her life, she impacts the lives of others, 130 hours a year worth! It seems like a great program and Keren certainly is a good ambassador for it.
Our next speaker was First Sergeant Izzy Ezagui, and his dog. Nope, not kidding. Though Izzy did all the talking. Why you ask did First Sergeant Izzy need a dog on the platform with him? Well, I’m so glad you asked, let me tell you!
American born Izzy began his talk in moderately thickly accented English. As I sat there listening I kind of marveled to myself that I had never noticed how much an Israeli accent sounds like a French accent, and how had I never noticed it before when I talked to people? Sorry Izzy. After a few lines he asked us how he did with his fake Israeli accent, that he had practiced it for a long time for us. He got applause for that. Then he told us about his friend on the stage with him, his service dog. He says people ask him why he has a service dog. He says he tells them that women are heavy, the dog helps him pick them up. I can believe it, the dog was adorable, and better behaved than many children. So why does First Sergeant Izzy need a service dog?
Izzy said he had originally planned to make Aliyah to Israel as a Lone Soldier, but his family messed that up for him by making Aliyah as well. So once in Israel, his family lived in Jerusalem and Izzy began his IDF service.
One Shabbat Izzy’s Orthodox Commander called, so Izzy knew it wasn’t going to be good. They were being called up, and Operation Cast Lead began in response to about 80 rockets a day being fired into cities in Israel, with kindergartens and civilian areas being targeted. This time as far south as Beer Sheva, this was before the Iron Dome was in place. As far as I’m concerned, that could have prompted a massive bomb in the middle of Gaza, but then I adore Beer Sheva, and do not claim to be impartial. In two weeks Hamass had fired 500 rockets into Israel. Just part of our tax dollars at work. So the IDF ground forces entered Gaza during stage II of the operation. During that excursion a Captain in his brigade was killed. He had sustained a neck wound, but held it shut and continued to give orders to his men in an effort to save their lives, and he succeed in that, losing is own life in the process. Izzy’s company was going to be sent in to retrieve the Captain’s body. Izzy said he now face one of the most terrifying times to date of his IDF service. He didn’t know what to do. It seems Izzy had told his Mother that he was being sent to the Lebanon border (which was quiet at the time). When he talked to her he told her they had him in the kitchen doing dishes since they were rookies. So, now does he tell her where he really is before they go in? What if something happens and she had no warning? Should he tell her? Should he not? As he was sitting there pondering his dilemma, a mortar shell landed and ripped his arm off. The medics responded quickly and gave him some morphine for his pain. Then they loaded him up in the ambulance. The ambulance crew looked down sympathetically and asked if he had been given morphine for his pain. He earnestly replied no, he hadn’t. They have him some. They took him to the helicopter that was going to fly him to Saroka in Beer Sheva. He was loaded up into the helicopter for his flight to Beer Sheva, the air ambulance crew being a sympathetic lot gently inquired if he’d been given any morphine. No, no he hadn’t. They gave him some. He said he landed in Beer Sheva half loopy. Honestly, I’m surprised he even had a fourth to loop. But he had enough presence of mind to realize he stood a very real chance of dying. Because when they landed he realized there was a news crew there. A news crew with a camera, and his mother thought he was on the Lebanon border doing the dishes. A slow painful death awaited him, no doubt. Izzy then did what any combat wise veteran of the IDF would do who hoped to survive. Despite having massive quantities of morphine in his system, he more or less thought on his feet and threw a blanket over his head so when they took him into Saroka it would buy him enough time to talk to his mom before she saw him being wheeled into a hospital in Beer Sheva, no where near Lebanon.
Izzy says recovery was slow, and not at all simple. Recovery involved learning to ties shoes and open bottles, and dealing with phantom pain.
But as Comrade X commented on another column I did recently, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Izzy is a Tibetan Mastiff.
Izzy was determined to remain in the IDF. So his recovery also involved learning to jump 7 foot walls, load an unjam a rifle, all with one arm, Izzy remains a sharpshooter still. His last training exercise involved hiking from one live fire exercise to the next. For 30 hours. The training is a week and a half long. One year when they trained on Hanukkah, on the fourth night Izzy borrowed rifles. He removed their slings and stuck them in the ground, upright. He then placed a candle in the barrel and lit them creating a makeshift Hanukkah menorah. Then he had a friend take his picture with it,which went viral. He said he couldn’t really lie his way out of it, there aren’t any other one armed soldiers in the IDF. He said the higher ups were not happy, not happy at all, but he was not worried about being arrested. He said in fact, he doesn’t ever worry about being arrested. Because it’s impossible for anyone to handcuff him, so he is pretty much golden.
His final assignment was leading a squad of 13 men. Amazing, just amazing. It’s like Comrade X says, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…
Izzy is now a motivational speaker and has a book coming out next March. If he is as riveting to read as he is to listen to, this is going to be a wonderful book!
We all face battles in our lives, some health related, some personal, some financial, some spiritual, but face them we will. It’s harder when we face more than one kind at once, but perhaps when you think about people like Gal Hirsch and Izzy you can look and up ask for what you need be it courage, strength, stamina, or whatever, and with G-d’s help, continue to fight another day.
I’m sure this is what Izzy would tell us, Live Like A Warrior
50 years. It’s been 50 years since Yerushalayim, Jerusalem was reunited. This city so rich with history of the Jewish people is mentioned over 627 times in Torah (none in the koran) has been the center of Spiritual life for thousands of years. How can it not be? The place that G-d will choose?
Throughout it’s history various and sundry groups have tried to deny the Jews access to the Holy City and Har HaBayit, The Temple Mount. Romans, Greeks, Muslims, various and sundry Arab groups, the UN, some former U.S. Presidents. And, all have been successful for a time. For a time. But many of those that tried to prevent them from being in the place that G-d chose for them to worship have faded away. To take their place new enemies arise. It’s as though there is evil that absolutely fears that Jews will pray on the Temple Mount. What are they so afraid of? Most of them say Jews are sub-human, and/or they don’t believe in the G-d of Israel anyway. And yet the fear remains doesn’t it? Those that hold control over the Temple Mount now, claiming it as their “holy site” show their reverence for it by turning their asses towards it when they pray. To Mecca. They play soccer and have picnics on it. They store rocks and firework with which to attack the Israeli police and Jews and Christians that try to visit in the “holy” Al Aqsa. Not how one typically treats a holy site I would say. Countless artifacts have been discarded by them into a trash heap over the walls into E. Jerusalem where Arabs have used ancient timber for firewood. The list of abuses goes on and on.
Looking back at the Six Day War that reunited Yerushalayim, here are some quotes to give you an idea of the mindset Israel was facing. It also might be helpful to remember, the Falestinian Liberation Organization didn’t exist until 1963. It was created by the Arab league.
As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.~~Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt
Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united….I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.~~Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad
Yeah, pretty much like the “peace partners” Israel has today. Israel never intended to retake Jerusalem during the war. They asked King Hussein of Jordan (who was illegally occupying Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) to stay out of it after the war started. But Hussein feared the PLO. He was afraid they would try to depose him.
King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:
The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel…to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.
President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq added his two cents to the rhetoric:
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear — to wipe Israel off the map.”
On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
This is what the tiny, new nation of Israel faced.
I like this video, it shows a lot of pictures of what Jerusalem was like before Israel was re-born.
Then, the battle for Jerusalem. I like this video. Alot. It has scenes and commentary from THAT day, as well as a lot of modern video towards the end showing many places in Jerusalem. I recognize many of them, and have walked the streets, shopped in the shops and gawked at all of it. And am quite sad I am not there at the moment.
And I will admit, my tears fill my eyes when I hear Mota Gur saying “Har Ha’Beit B’Yadeinu!” The Temple Mount is in our hands. Then to hear Shlomo Goren blow the shofar? Look at what Israel faced. Not only did she win her survival, she regained land, and Jerusalem. You will notice that people of all faiths are allowed to practice their faith in the areas Israel controls. But only in those areas. The areas muslims control? No. Not even safe. Sadly not everyone realizes the Holiness of The Temple Mount and control was given back to Jordan. I really think we would not being seeing a lot of the problems we see now if that hadn’t happened.
What does the future hold? I don’t have a crystal ball. There is much unrest in the world, and evil is everywhere. Do I have all the answers? No. In fact, I don’t even have all the answers I need. But I do think a good start would be returning Jewish prayer to the Temple Mount.
If you want someone who may well have a crystal ball, or at least a plan, you can watch a fascinating webinar I just saw with Moshe Feiglin of Zehut. Not only will he tell you some behind the scenes info going on now, he will tell you some interesting history.
For today, just for today, I will savor the miracle of G-d, the return of a reunited Jerusalem to Israel.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut, I think this year I’ll do a little media round-up for ya’ll for Yom Ha’Atzmautיום העצמאות. I spent the day making balls and frying falafel for an impending big party that night. As I fried I had a plenty of time to reflect on the miracle of the nation state that was born from the ashes in a day.
A day when an ancient people, the Israelites declared to the world “We’re Home”. Thanks to the work of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda the Hebrew language had been revived. Some words were borrowed, especially technical terms, but many are pretty much the same. Modern Hebrew really caught on during the Second Aliyah, from 1904-1914.
So what had gone on before the Nation State reappeared?
The Allied Powers were aware of the scale of the Jewish Holocaust two-and-a-half years earlier than is generally assumed, and had even prepared war crimes indictments against Adolf Hitler and his top Nazi commanders.
Newly accessed material from the United Nations – not seen for around 70 years – shows that as early as December 1942, the US, UK and Soviet governments were aware that at least two million Jews had been murdered and a further five million were at risk of being killed, and were preparing charges. Despite this, the Allied Powers did very little to try and rescue or provide sanctuary to those in mortal danger.
This is part of a cable he sent to George C. Marshall, the part in bold, I bolded.
… the most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’
He then made the townspeople come view the camp, and help assist in burying the bodies. The townspeople all claimed they had no idea what had been going on, despite the smell that had been noted in the town. He also ordered many photos be taken of the camp to prevent people from being able to try to deny what had taken place. Doesn’t seem to have stopped them though, does it?
I would say the hope of Israel was beating in prisoner’s hearts. This is a recording made IN Bergan-Belsen after it was liberated. The BBC was there, and the prisoners knew they were being recorded. They asked to be allowed to sing on the recording. They are singing Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel, it means “The Hope”.
And so Jews then began making their way to Israel, they were going home. They began to work the land which had been let go into desolation and turn it in to a vibrant living land again.
This is a song I learned in school, my teacher says they sang it in the Kibbutzim, it’s called Boker Boker http://www.zemereshet.co.il/song.asp?id=337 it’s an actual recording and they are singing about different times of the day, but it all involves going to work. And she explained that they were just so happy to have a home and land to work, that they woke up happy to work the land and have their own, new lives. Something I should remind myself a few times. But it’s a very happy song.
And then in 1948, Independence was declared after the United Nations voted to partition the land. A scheme known today as the “Two State Solution”. It was rejected by the arabs, and they were much more honest about their motives then. They said they would drench the land in blood, and no compromise.
The Declaration, and I’ve been in this very room when they played a recording of the speech. I could not help it as I felt my eyes fill with tears. I have a copy of the Declaration in Hebrew. I’m such a baby I can’t quite read it without the vowel points though.
Turning once again to Jack Engelhard, I see that the German ambassador was in Israel recently. To meet with Bibi? No, he chose to meet with Israel’s enemies. Jack has informed Mrs. Merkel that today Germany’s actions will not be buried on the back pages of the paper, they are front page.
These days Israel celebrates the 69th Anniversary of its Independence. The Jewish State is not to be trifled, as were the Jews in the good old days.
Back then when you kicked us around you managed to get the cooperation of The New York Times and others to hide your dirty work.
The papers – led by the Times – let you off the hook as you rounded up, shot and gassed millions of our people.
They buried the news on the back pages.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite puppy pee pad, the New York Slimes, all the news that’s fit to lie about, they have changed so much! They recently ran a op-ed from Marwan Barghouti, a convicted terrorist guilty of murder, serving five life sentences. The Slimes didn’t find this information relevant as they ran his op-ed about why he was on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison. They listed him as a “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” You can make this stuff up, but in the case, I’m not. Remember, we’re talking about the Slimes. After the outcry, it was added why he was in the slammer. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked there was an outcry. I didn’t realize anyone actually read the Slimes, I thought they just bought it when they were teaching puppies to piddle in a certain spot. So no, the Slimes is still/always evil.
To put things in perspective, Israellycool did a similar column from Charles Manson, yes, that one. He is listed as a “Singer-Songwriter”. And it is well worth the read. Actually, if you’re only going to read one of the columns, make it this one. You’ll know what Barghouti wrote and Israellycool does a good job of showing both.
And today, do all American Jews stand up for their kin in Israel? Um, not so much. Alan Dershowitz supported hillary, who would have continued obama’s anti-Israel policies. He recently talked with Moshe Feiglin about the future of Israel, as a Jewish state. The two had very different ideas. To Alan, Jews living in the Biblical heartland is a problem, and it being a Jewish state is kind of a problem.
I look at Israel, her people, the land, and the miracles that have happened there and it really makes me think about something I heard on one of my favorite radio shows recently. On Temple Talk they were discussing Pharaoh’s army chasing the fleeing Hebrews across a large strip of land that only a few hours earlier had been a sea. There are a couple walls of water on either side, your country has had frogs, locust, hail, darkness, boils, wild animals and all ya’lls first born is dead. The G-d of Israel said “Let them go”, you didn’t so you got all that and more. Now you think it’s a good idea to chase them across the strip of land in between two walls of water? Good idea had nothing to do with it. It was a deep hatred of the Jews. And it drives the enemies of Israel to do very stupid things, that oft times leads to their own demise. Germany has replaced six million Jews with how many muslims? And how’s that working out for them?
But, we’ve had Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Am Ysrael Chai עם ישראל חי
The People of Israel LIVE!!!
Thank you G-d, for all your miracles and your love.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
פסח Pesach 2017 has concluded. I hope everyone’s was blessed. I learn things every year, and this year I did some deep reflecting and thinking, just sort of processing some of the things I read.
While I realize my life, and our lives in America today, have little if anything in common with the Israelites held captive in Egypt all those years ago, in the Haggadah, it says “In every generation each individual is bound to regard himself as if he personally had gone forth from Egypt”. Hmm, I’ve never been to Egypt, and I have no desire to go there now. But I have watched The Mummy movies several times. Even the old black and white one. But that’s not what it means. Turns out, we all have our own Egypt, Pharaoh and Moshe.
In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.
Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, “How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Aren’t you good enough just as you are? Don’t you know who you are?”
Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds.
I wonder, how many of us are in chains of one sort or another? Work situations, relationship situations, health situations, financial situations? There are no limits to the things that can bind us. I might take a minute to mention that former Congressman Bob McEwen points out that when you look at the effect of taxes, working and not being allowed to keep the fruit of your labor is slavery. For those fans of Hillary and Bernie.
How could I make such a statement in the middle of talking about Pesach? Well, because Rabbi Tsvi says
Tell it in first person, in the now. Don’t say, “Long ago, the ancient Hebrews…” Say, “When we were slaves in Egypt, the perverse socio-bureaucratic system thoroughly crushed every individual’s sense of self-worth!” Everything that happened there parallels something in each of our lives. We are truly living it now. We are simply examining our own lives in the dress of ancient Egypt.
See? It’s relevant!
There is a point during the Seder where the youngest child present asks four questions. Hmm, would this present a problem? Cowgirl kitty refused to ask the right questions. No problem, Rabbi had the answer.
No children? Let an adult ask. There’s just you? You be the child, and G‑d will be the father. While you’re at it, ask Him a few other difficult questions for us all.
Oh, I’m good with this! I’m so good with this! What’s more? We’re not limited to four!
Part of the Seder is eating Matzah. My Kosher for Pesach Matzah came from Israel. I’ve been eating Matzah since last Monday night, the 10th. This is a mitzvah, a commandment. Yep, until there is another Holy Temple, this is the only mitzvah we can eat. And according to Rabbi, this is an incredibly powerful thing. An amazing thing. Matzah has been called the bread of faith or Emunah.
Emunah is when you touch that place where your soul and the essence of the Infinite Light are one. It’s a point that nothing can describe. Where there are no words, no doubts, no uncertainty, no confusion—nothing else but a magnificent oneness before which all the challenges of life vanish like a puff of vapor.
I should have ordered like a gazillion cartons (5 boxes to a carton) of this!
We too began buried in Egypt, all but losing our identity. But that furnace of oppression became for us a firing kiln, a baker’s oven, the womb from whence we were born in the month of spring. In our liberation from there, we brought our fruits of freedom to the world.
Miracles happen when Divine energy from beyond the cosmos enters within. Why did miracles happen in Egypt? Because we believed they would. Those who didn’t believe in miracles saw only plagues. To see a miracle, you need an open heart and mind, open enough to receive the Infinite. That is the opening we make when we thank G‑d for the miracle of our food.
But the greatest of barriers turned into the greatest of miracles. Not only did the sea become an ambush for the enemy, but also a path that led the children of Israel to their ultimate freedom.
So it is with every obstacle. When you’re out to do the right thing, the entire world is there to assist you—including the most formidable threats, the most impossible challenges. The bigger they are, the more impossible to traverse, the greater the miracle they will provide.
That is the true reality of everything in this world: to serve you on your mission. What is your mission? To make this world miraculous.
And obstacles are miracles waiting to happen.
So, I think we all struggle with slavery of some sort, perhaps this will give you some hope, and maybe a different perspective. The children of Israel went into Egypt as 12 different tribes, and came out a nation. These are just some of the things that really struck me this year, and I’m still chewing on some of them. Unlike the matzah which I am now loading with my leftover yummy charoset which I munch right down.
I’ll leave you with one final Pesach thought, because A) it’s a really good one, and B) it has a picture of a camel.
Got the popcorn?
Here’s a song I learned in school, I love this version. I know it’s by a group called Tractor’s Revenge, but the words are wonderful. I have it on my phone, so I sang it at the end of my Seder.
Echad Mi Yodea אחד מי יודע
It has the meanings in English, it’s wonderful!
Then there is this one, wonderful thoughts, Passover: I’m in Love with the Taste of You, this year’s Aish Pesach video.
And lastly, just for fun. Pesach Funk. “Freedom! Oh man! Gonna live my life the best way I can!” Boy can they dance!
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 Shaldagשלדגor 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
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 stolborroappropri , 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.
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.
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
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, chesedחסד 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.
Mitzvah–מִצְוָה 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, Tehillim10:
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.
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?
When we left off in Part 2, we were talking about what holds people back from having a “Warrior Mindset”, and Joe was telling me about fears, and people not seeing their own possibilities. We continue from there.
Joe: Most people don’t want to get hurt.
S: Where is the switch between the head and the heart that prevents knowledge from the head from getting to the heart?
Joe: The challenge is in getting them to get their mind out of the dojo and in a dark house at 0200 where there are no rules. That is normalcy, that is how real life works. They have to let their minds go into those dark places and most people don’t want to do that.
I switched gears for a second and asked Joe how he came to work with Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk who taught me about my “Systema happy place” which is where a person would need to be in that dark house at 0200.
Joe: Scott had heard about me through the grapevine. He showed up for a basic seminar about 6-7 years ago and we became good friends and now work on these projects together.
S: So, the warrior mindset, born with it or can you develop it?
Joe: It’s very individual. It depends on where a person comes from. It’s not just about picking up arms. It’s a whole mindset. It’s being able to fight for and defend things of value when it comes down to it. This can also be manifested by working extra to pay the utility bill, to buy good shoes or even to put food on the table. It’s not just physical. It’s about fighting the good fight, it’s bigger than any fight with your two fists. You pull into that, the warrior fights to protect everything they hold dear. It’s about being willing and able to do whatever is necessary to take care and protect those people and things of value.
S: So how prevalent is that mindset now?
Joe: It’s very diminished. People expect someone else to pick up the blade. You have parents that call 9-1-1 and say “My kid doesn’t want to go to school”. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually no one wants to fight their own battles.
I admitted I was shocked about the parents part. If I had refused to go to school my parents wouldn’t have called the Police, they might have wound up calling an ambulance, but not the Police. Well, ok, they weren’t that strict, but I might have had trouble sitting for a spell.
S. In the book it talks about “Ten wounded is better than one dead”. That sounds very much in line with the Israeli code of “Purity of Arms”.
Except Joe was talking about our side, and I took it as the opposition side.
Joe: Well, if I’m wounded, I can still recover. I can still go on and have a life. For the opposition, you wound as much as you can without taking a life. But just because you are wounded doesn’t mean you are out of the fight.
“An aggressor can only be overcome by one who is strong spiritually.”
I said that the spiritual component of Systema resonated strongly with me, it’s part of why Systema feels like it fits. What percentage of Systema would you say is made up of the spiritual component?
Joe: It comes down to this one thing. We don’t fear death because we are spiritually sound. When you’re good spiritually, you know whatever comes after is going to be good. You have to be one with your maker. You can be dangerous, but still be good, not evil.
S: So let’s talk about acting vs. reacting. In the book it talks about different situations, from a fight to losing a job, these came from different sections in the book:
“Acting is what makes you happy. Reacting is what makes you miserable.”
“Acting is independent of the context; reacting is totally dependent on the context.”
Acting vs. reacting. This applies to many things in life, But to me, it seems if you add in the spiritual component that they sometimes merge. The job example, let’s say you are due for a promotion or raise. In your mind you’ve thought it through. You like the job, but unless you advance you’ve hit the ceiling. So you decide based on the next review, if you are not promoted or given a raise, or whatever, you will leave to gain a better opportunity. If you are promoted, you have the opportunity where you are. Or it could be some decision you are unsure of, so you wait and be quiet until you feel G-d guides your step. Rabbi Lazer Brody in The Garden of Emuna says if you’ve prayed, and nothing in your circumstances has changed, it is time to be quiet and listen, guidance will come. Is that still reacting or is it choosing your path and acting?
The chapters on fear, pain control, and trusting our intuition, to me, make this book a good guide book for life, not only in Systema, but in all parts of our life. Was it written with that intent?
And yes, he stayed on the phone for the three minutes it took me to ask this one question.
Joe: It’s about the space between action and reaction, the longer you take for the action to start, if it is a violent encounter it will become more violent. We are either going to act or react. Acting is you digest the action of the other person and then act upon it. Action is always seeing the writing on the wall and being preemptive. The longer we sit there it is going to be a reaction. In situational awareness reaction takes time and thought, whereas action is instinctual. We react too much, acting is opening up to the environment. When you only react to situations you lose some of the options you would have had if you had chosen to act instead.
S: The part about “preemptive striking”, that’s tough for someone my age. I was always told by my Dad as a kid “Don’t you start anything, but if someone starts it, you finish it.” I can’t be the only one in my age group that grew up like that, do you find that mindset common?
Joe: Reacting is more common. Sometimes we must act on preemption, it’s better to apologize later than tell my family I messed up and I’m hurt and can’t work, or they get hurt. We struggle inside with denial and it prevents preemptive action, those are things that hold us back from making a correct decision in time.
S: I saw a video on Missouri’s concealed carry laws where an attorney named Kevin Jamison was talking about when you were justified to use deadly force and it stuck with me because he used the acronym J.A.M. Is your life in jeopardy, do they have the ability and the means? He said those elements needed to be present for justification, will the same apply?
Joe: It still applies if you are using preemptive strike. In some situations if you do not utilize a preemptive strike you are not going to get another chance. It’s about how you are before and after the event. How you are before, during and after the event is key. It can’t become emotional. It’s all over and done with if we become emotional. Remember, professional, we just do the job, breathing smoothly is key.
S: If people haven’t added something like martial arts or blade work to their bag of tricks, how would you advise them to get started?
Joe: If they are not doing anything martial arts related they should know that awareness is paramount, 95% of crimes could be prevented if people were more aware. People put their awareness down, they lower the standards of awareness. When you walk to your car do you carry your bags in your dominant or non-dominant hand? If you stop at Wal-Mart late at night, when you leave the store to go to your car you see that the parking lot is mostly empty, but parked right next to your car is a van, what do you do?
I wanted to say “Shoot the hostage in the knee” but thought I might be pushing my luck, since I hope to attend another seminar some day.
S: Your book, how did that happen? What was the impetus?
Joe: It started as a manual for the students. I started it 7 years ago and I just kept adding things to it. I kept adding things as people kept asking questions. The more questions they asked, the more information it stimulated. A lot of the same questions kept coming up, so I wrote out the answers to the most common questions. Then 2-3 years ago people started asking me to publish it. It was something I wanted to tell people and what I wanted to do, was tell people it’s about living life as a person of dignity, honor and courage.
S: You have a new book coming out in May of 17, what the title and what will it cover?
Joe: The Bodyguard Enchiridion It goes deeper into the aspects of bodyguarding, a bit like what we did at the end of your last class.
S: There is a whole chapter on “Fear” in the book, and it covers a lot more of life than physical fights. It is absolutely excellent.
Tidbits from the book:
Fear is a very powerful emotion. It has a very strong effect on the mind and body because it is one of our natural survival responses. It tells you what to do in an emergency, like a fire or if you are being attacked.
We can also feel fears when faced with less dangerous situations, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a social situation. It is a natural response to something that a person feels are a threat.
In this chapter he goes through things that can help you deal with your fears, such as the segment on knowing yourself, and that faith and spirituality can help you cope. But there’s more in it than these two things, though these stuck with me. He talks a lot more about fears, their genesis, their impact and practical ways to deal with them and choose empowering beliefs instead. Now you see why I said it is much more a book for living life?
And this ladies and gentlemen is where we will end up for this section. I have one more section to come and I can about 99.9% guarantee you that you that it will be coming from a completely different direction than you expect, and it is absolutely heart-warming. So hang on to the horn.
So for your movie clip this portion, I took one of those name quizzes on Facebook. Turns out I’m Eowyn of Rohan. Huh. Well, the name does mean “horse lover or horse friend”. According to the youtube clip, I think I should probably ask for a class in defense against the mace and other medieval weapons of war. Maybe he could do one this summer?
First, a little bit about Systema, from the ever popular Wikipedia.
Systema (Система, literally meaning The System) is a Russian martial art. Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training. Training involves drills and sparring without set kata. In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential; the “spirit” or psychological state has to be calm, free of anger, irritation, fear, self-pity, delusion, and pride.
Systema focuses on breathing, relaxation, and fluidity of movement, as well as utilizing an attacker’s momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications.
Our training philosophy is not to be confused with any traditional fighting arts and/or combat sports fighting systems. We are not in the business of taking years to teach a client how to incapacitate or eliminate even the most basic fighter, but rather months, comparable to the time a special ops soldier has to prepare for an operation.
There are just too many aspects of traditional fighting arts and sports-based fighting systems that are life-threateningly impractical and inefficient for the street and actual brutal violence.
Okay, so we’re good on what Systema’s purpose is? It is not about fighting for sport, it is not about scoring points. It’s about surviving, it’s about respect for life, even that of your attacker. This is something you might not be aware of, in the 1960s and 1970s if you were attacked and handed over your wallet or car keys, there was a 65-70% chance they would take the money and go away. Now, the odds are flipped in that if you hand over your wallet or your car keys there is a 65-70% chance they will assault you anyway. There is a huge lack of consideration for life these days. And that nugget my friends, came straight from a St. Louis police detective I know. A good guy, a warrior, you should get to know him. Let me see what I can do about that. He’s a United States Marine, State Department Diplomatic Security, St. Louis Police Department, and also owner of Systema St. Louis, who travels to teach and lecture. I think he has a pretty cool dog too.
I didn’t ask him, but I’m guessing he once in a while sleeps and eats. He will tell you that you don’t let fear dictate the outcome. What? You had in mind more detail than that? Well, I’m your girl, pick me, let me see what I can find out.
S: How did you come to be in the Marines? Was this a goal growing up, did you always feel the need to protect people?
Joe: I come from a family of proudly serving in the military. My Grandfather was in WWII, in the first wave to storm the beaches that had to clear the mess, and my father proudly served his country in the Marines in Viet Nam in the early 1960s. After his time in Viet Nam he continued to serve his country by training the young men going over, teaching them the valuable skills they would need to come home, alive.
It seems preserving life runs in the Mayberry family genes.
After the military, my Dad became a welder. I was blessed when I was still young by being able to spend a lot of time with Dad.
It sounds like a Dad he admired, was proud of and was close to. I can relate to that, I felt the same about mine.
S: So, you were that kid on the playground always protecting the kid that was getting picked on?
S: You were stationed in Israel at the Embassy for three years. You really don’t speak ANY Hebrew? You just forgot? I admitted my astonishment, I’m always trying to learn more Hebrew and get better at it. LIVING there for three years? I’d have been eating that up with my falafel and Israeli salad.
Joe: Well, I might remember a few words, I knew a little back then.
S: Did you ever feel you were in danger while you were there?
Joe: Yes, I did. But I learned to deal with it in a way so that it didn’t affect me negatively. I was there in the late 1980s and it was about protecting good from evil. I saw first hand that if nothing opposes evil it will absolutely succeed. I saw it, up close and personal. While I was in Israel I got to know some Israelis and I had the opportunity to train with the IDF who use Krav Maga. I trained 6 days a week with them, including in the desert. That was real Krav Maga, not Krav Maga for sport or fitness.
S: So after you were out of the Marine Corp and back in the states, what did you do?
Joe: The State Department, in Diplomat Security. You got to see more of the world while protecting people and their secrets. You might be standing in the hall by a doorway for 8-12 hours at a time. And while you were standing at that doorway, you are protecting whomever is behind that door. It was after the wall came down, and we began to see people down the hall who had been behind the wall. The Russians began showing up in front of doors in the hall as well. When you’re in those hallways for 8-12 hours you begin to talk to each other. You talk about common interests, things you both know.
(I figured this meant horses of course, apparently, to my shock, no).
Joe: We began talking about martial arts, I had been involved in the martial arts since 1974, long before my Krav Maga education. We discussed each others forms of martial arts and that’s when I began hearing about Vladimir Vasiliev. That would have been around 1994, 1995. Shortly after that I got out of the service. I was very interested in what I had heard about Vladimir, but I couldn’t find anything about him really. Then I picked up a copy of Black Belt magazine and in the back there was an ad for his school in Toronto. I called and talked to Valerie, his wife, and made an appointment to go. The first class with him was very humbling. He just mopped the floor with me. I have been in martial arts since 1974, trained with the IDF and he mopped the floor with me. It was a turning point. And I learned don’t forget the past, utilize it. Begin to think conceptual. There will always be chaos, and your best advantage is to be prepared. My role as an instructor is to help someone develop a useful, workable response to the chaos.
S: How good of shape do people have to be in to learn and do Systema? This had been one of my fears when I went to the first class, that I wouldn’t be in good enough shape.
Joe: Nobody has to be “fit” to be able to defend themselves. When I came back to the US after several years I saw Krav Maga really take off. It had turned into a fitness ploy. It had gone from being military training into martial arts fitness. It was attractive to those not in shape that wanted to learn to be safe. I really didn’t like that fad. They were telling people that if they weren’t in shape they couldn’t defend themselves. They made levels and added a fitness routine giving an illusion. It’s a sport now and not practical. I’m telling you no matter your age and shape you have a G-d given right to live, and to defend yourself.
S: When Scott (Van Kirk) worked with me he taught me about my “Systema happy place”. This involved keeping my energy low and a very neutral demeanor. It’s kind of what you use when working with horses, but does this just come with time and effort?
Joe: Energy, that happy place, has got to be professional to work. It’s about it becoming an ingrained, routine. Like when you get up of a morning, you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have some coffee. You can do these things calmly, without great thought and a minimum of effort, it just flows. When you are working Systema it needs to be 100% professional for it to become a smooth pattern with an economy of motion and thought, so much that it almost happens without awareness. Our subconscious takes over with the awareness of patterns. Systema strives to become the smooth pattern of economy of thought and a large part of instincts. The concepts of usage are universal.
S: What do you think is the biggest impediment to that is?
Joe: Internally people have fear. They don’t see their own possibilities. They allow their limitations to stop them. With conceptual martial arts it’s all within the person. If they realize what fears hold them back, they are free to do what they want.
Part 3 will pick up with more on the warrior mindset. Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.
Early weapons of opportunity training, but no cape required.
Jews. Guns. No compromise. No surrender.
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