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Those Who Bless You Shall Be blessed

CBS news reported that US-Israel relations have reached a “new low” after a senior government official called Prime Minister Netanyahu a “chicken**” on matters related to the comatose peace process and a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat, in an interview with The Atlantic.

A few weeks ago I visited Israel for my niece’s wedding. Driving to Ramat Gan, where the wedding was to take place, with my wife and daughter in the car, we had front row seats to the spectacle that is Israeli driving.

In fact, a joke is told of an American tourist riding in an Israeli tax. As the taxi approaches a red light, the tourist is shocked to see the driver drive right through without even slowing. Not wanting to make waves, he holds his tongue.

The trip continues without incident until they reach the next intersection. This time the light is green and to the American’s dismay the taxi comes to a grinding halt. Unable to contain himself, he asks the driver, “When you went through the red light, I didn’t say anything. But why on earth are you stopping at a green light?!”

The Israeli cab driver looks at the American as if he is deranged. “Are you crazy?!” he shouts.
The other guy has a red light. Do you want to get us killed?!”

But back in our car, we were not blazing through any red lights. Traffic had piled up and only motorcyclists were able to make any progress. Happy to be avoiding the traffic jam, many of them zig-zagged wildly through the standstill, crossing lanes without checking.

As traffic finally began to move again, I was changing lanes when a motorcycle went whizzing past. He was speeding and certainly not taking notice of the cars around him, and my car touched his motorcycle.

Furious, he cut me off, got out of his car and began yelling at me and cursing me out. For five minutes straight he shouted at me, told me I don’t know how to drive and I should take driving lessons! And on, and on… My wife and I exchanged a look and I said to her, “Welcome to Israel.”

Indeed, welcome to Israel!

Israel is not like other countries. It is at the forefront of fighting terrorism, and its citizens live with the constant threat of violence. Jews have endured thousands of years of persecution and suffering. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis put their lives on the line for their country. Thousands have died and thousands have been severely wounded.  

Israelis know what danger is and they know how to defend themselves. Just walking down the street can be dangerous. The entire country is a frontline. And on top of that, Israel is constantly scrutinized by the rest of the world. They cannot make a move to protect their own citizens without being ripped to shreds by the media and foreign officials. Perhaps this is what makes Israelis so edgy, trickling down to even the driving.

And one thing Israelis are not, is “chicken**”!

In this week’s Parshah we read about Avraham, who stood up for monotheism despite the ridicule of the entire world. Everyone was against him. In fact, the original name for Jew—Ivri—comes from this Parshah. Ivri means “other side,” because Abraham was on one side and everyone else on the other. He was the only person to believe in one G-d, and even after being thrown into a blazing fire because of his beliefs, he did not waver. He was no coward.

And G-d promises Avraham, “I will bless those who bless you [Israel], and the one who curses you I will curse.” This is a timeless lesson and the message is clear: if you want to be blessed, you need to bless Israel.

Crazy Survivalist Prepares for Year-Long Flood

Imagine if Noach were building his ark today. He brings his wood and equipment to the heart of Times Square and begins to build a massive sea-safe vessel in preparation for the flood that he claims will wipe out the entire world. Media headlines scream, “Crazy Man Builds Giant Ark,” and, “Delusional Man Claims G-d Will Destroy the World via Flood.” The newspapers would have a field day. 

Indeed, this is what Noach endured, albeit pre-Internet. It took 120 years to build the ark, and for all those years he faced constant mocking and ridicule. Had BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN and all the others existed, they would have hung Noach out to dry. 

A joke is told about a CNN reporter, BBC correspondent and Israeli commando captured by terrorists. The leader offered to grant each captive one wish before beheading them. 

The CNN reporter said, “Well, I'm an American, so I'd like one last hamburger with French fries.” The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the burger & fries.  The reporter ate it and said, "Now, I can die."

The BBC correspondent said, “I'm a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what's about to happen. Maybe someday someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end.”

The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and dictated some comments. The reporter then said, “Now I can die knowing I stayed true until the end.”

The leader turned and said, "And now, Mr. Israeli tough guy, what is your final wish?"

"Kick me in my face," said the soldier.

"What?” asked the leader, "Will you mock us in your last hour?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I want you to please kick me in my face."

So the leader shoved him into the open and kicked him in his face and his back.

The soldier went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled a 9mm pistol from under his jacket, and shot the leader dead. In the resulting confusion, he reached for his knapsack, pulled out his carbine and sprayed the terrorists with gunfire. In a flash, all the terrorists were either dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the soldier was untying the reporters, they asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them in the beginning? Why did you ask them to kick you first?"

"What?" replied the Israeli, "and have you report that I was the aggressor?"

Now this joke would actually be funny if only it weren’t all too true.

This week the Jewish world watched in horror as an Arab terrorist rammed his car into a group of people waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old baby girl—Chaya Zissel—and wounding nine others, some critically. 

"Her parents waited for a child for many years…" said grandfather Shimon Halperin. He told of her parents' joy after she was born, and described how he enjoyed playing with his granddaughter during her tragically short life. The family was returning from the Kotel (Western Wall) when the attack happened. "The parents are in trauma and are trying to digest the news,” he said. 

The terrorist, a resident of the Silwan neighborhood with previous terror convictions, was shot by a police officer as he attempted to flee the scene. He is now in police custody. And the media has either completely ignored the incident, or published it as, “Israeli Police Shoot Man in East Jerusalem.” If that’s not the most ridiculous journalistic account of an event, I don’t know what is.

Imagine what the AP headlines would have looked like for Noach. “Noach Saves Only His Own Family,” or, “Selfish Man Leaves Everyone to Die,” or even, “Evil Man Floods the World.” 

Despite the years of ridicule, his faith in G-d never wavered. He knew G-d would bring a flood if the people didn’t repent, and that’s exactly what happened. He did not let the mockers get to him. 

Likewise, we know the truth and will not deviate from it. G-d gave us the Land of Israel, it’s our land and we will live in it. We will not succumb to terrorism, or to warped reporting. We will continue to defend our land, our families and ourselves, just like Noach. 

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