How Important is Aliyah Anyway?

A recent article by Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, makes the case for Israel’s Diaspora having waned. He shows, with the help of immigration statistics, how the 90s reached the apex of aliyah, thanks to a large Russian Jewry exodus from the former Soviet Union. North American Jewry, perhaps dismayed by growing economic troubles in the United States, were opting for a new life in Israel. He notes that with the resurgence of USA’s economy in recent years, coupled with Israel’s seemingly unsolvable political hazards, American Jews have decided to stay put.

Read more: The end of aliya? | The Times of Israel
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Our Review:

A well-researched article chock-full-of-statistics showing why N. American aliya has already seen his high-point in the 90s and how it’s all downhill from here.
But how much is aliyah relevant to the survival of Israel? Likewise, the author focuses on the economic prosperity of USA and Canada, and the political juggernaut in Israel, as the main reasons why less and less Jews are coming back to their homeland. However, as we’ve seen in the past (ie. Collapse of Soviet Union), a political event in the Diaspora can just easily send hundreds of thousands of Jews packing and gunning for Israel. Take the current crisis in Ukraine, or the overall outlook for Western European Jewry, including the 500,000 French Jews. If the situation rapidly worsens there, it’s feasible that many would jump en masse to Israel.

Next point – Jewish births in Israel have nearly doubled in 20 years. In 1996, there were 83,710 Jews born, and in 2013 the number had risen to 128,507. In fact, Israel population boom has been happening for 2 decades, much of it thanks to the Russian aliyah. What’s more is that the Jewish birth rate has steadily risen, and the Arab Israeli birth rate has declined. Arabs have dropped to 3.5 and Jews have risen to almost 3 births avg. Chalk it up to “self-actualization”?

At this rate of natural Jewish population growth, and decline in Arab population growth, aliyah is a “nice to have”, “the brothers return home”, but certainly not a showstopper.

Howard Stern on Israel and Palestinian Conflict

A caller gets under Howard Stern’s skin and he lets off a unprecedented tirade for the next five minutes.

The caller wanted to talk with Howard’s previous guest, John Oliver from Comedy Central about Israel, and the Palestinians. He said Howard would “Change his tune” about supporting Israel. Stern says a few expletives, and then the caller says “Zionists run Israel”, and that’s when Howard Stern loses it.

Yes, his vocabulary includes many profane words, but he totally gets it.

Warning: Very strong language in this clip.

It’s good to see that there are still a few in the very liberal media industry who are willing to speak against the tide.

Children Are Crossing the Street & the Buses Keep Flying By

Near Misses & Tragedies

I’ve been noticing many near misses with young children, unattended or under-attended, who cross the street without having enough time to make


it to the other side.  Many children also cross the street diagonally, which adds to the danger, since they are in the street longer.

Tonight, I saw two mothers pushing their strollers with small children by their side.  Two of the younger children in the group ran ahead and one of them was actually in the dark street, at an intersection, with cars flying by.  The mother didn’t even shout out – since she didn’t notice.   I yelled for the child to go back on the sidewalk (from a distance of 100 meters away).  The mother was still oblivious, engrossed in conversation with her friend.

The other night, I saw a child, possibly 10 yrs old, playing ‘chicken’ with a bus.  He crossed the street slowly, and saw the bus was coming.  Instead of hurrying up to the other side, he slowly walked to require the bus to either slow down or swerve.  I know the kid was doing this on purpose, since I saw the smirk on his face as he crossed.  The bus drivers, for their part, are always in a rush to make their schedules.  Yes, they should be more careful.  But we cannot rely on them.  We must train our children to be defensive.

We also cannot rely on miracles.  Yes, Hashem (G-d) watches over us, even the foolish amongst us, but we cannot rely on His mercies to extricate our children from these constant dangers!  I don’t have to list here the statistics of children (and adult) pedestrians who have been killed in Israel in the past decade for us to know that this is a real issue.

Advice For Every Family
1. Review with your children the safety rules for  crossing the road.  Look both ways, look again, cross only at a crosswalk, cross with adults, etc…

2. Experts recommend for children 8 years old and younger to be crossed only by an adult.

3. Never, ever, cross diagonally.

4. If you see a bus or car coming, do not assume they will stop for you.  If you are already in the crosswalk and a bus is coming, run or walk very quickly to the other side of the street.

5. Tell your kids you love them and want them to come home safely.  Explain to them they’ve been given a big responsibility and should always be very careful.

Let’s hope for a safe future for us all.

New Travel Restrictions – Might as well stay home…

New Airline Security RulesI am no security expert, but I am a relatively experienced international flyer.  I can tell you this, the new travel restrictions on flights to and from the USA make me very uninterested in flying.  I suppose that’s what the Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are hoping for as much as their more dastardly plans.

New travel restrictions placed on flights to the USA include:

1. First and last hour of flight, you must remain in your seat, legs open, no blanket, no PDA/ipod, no going to washroom, no opening the overhead compartment.

2. No GPS in flight map system so you can’t see on a map where the plane is on your journey.  Especially miserable for a 12+ hour flight.

3. No internet

4. For systems (like JetBlue) where the GPS is intertwined with the entertainment system, there will be no TV the entire flight.  How about that?

On a flight from Tel Aviv to New York, you can expect to sit for 12 hours with your hands on your lap, (legs open), no blanket, no tv, no in flight maps, and holding it in, lest you dare make a dash for the toilets.  I’m wondering if this is any better than the sea voyages our grandparents endured in a bygone era?

Silly question…what if the flight is from Hong Kong to New Jersey, and the last four hours of the filght are over the United States, will passengers be required to remain in their seats the entire time?  Why is TSA security so reactionary?  There has to be a better way!

Coughers in Shul, Put on a mask…Please.

Israel finds 17 more A/H1N1 flu cases

Consider this: You are sitting near someone who is coughing up a lung. You know that he often travels overseas for work. He just got an aliyah and benched gomel, returns to his seat cough and all. Do you worry that maybe he has the swine flu?

Stay Home
With the WHO (World Health Organization) now classifying the Swine Flu as a world pandemic, we really have to think twice about where we go and who can enter our ‘private’ space. Sneezing and coughing, aside from disturbing other prayer goers from hearing the chazan, also raise the possibility of you catching whatever they have. There’s got to be heter (permission) somewhere that says you should stay home and not get others sick in order to make a minyan.

Palestinians vs. Israel – We’re in the Third Phase

I read an interesting interview yesterday with a Rabbi from a program that specializes in keeping religious soldiers on the path of learning Torah _after_ they leave the army. I can’t remember the Rabbi’s name, but this was the gist of his argument on why Hamas and Palestinians seem to be gaining so much of the world opinion against us. Here’s his point in a nutshell:
The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, have locked horns with Israel since 1948 using three distinct methods. The first phase was conventional war – army to army. That tactic failed them miserably. The second phase was terror. It’s nascent steps of hijackings and international staged terror events began in the late 60’s and continued through two intifadas in the 80s and 90s. This phase failed as well, since despite all the terrible pain inflicted on us, we are a stiff-necked nation (?? ??? ????).
We’ve been in the third phase in the past couple years as Arab nations build mock trials and judicial hearings and use the soft tongue of Arab diplomacy to assure the world that everything would be better if there just wasn’t Israel. Putting it bluntly, they couldn’t beat us by force, so they are trying to gain in the world forums by persuading world leaders, including newly elected Obama, and European Nations (with their own Islamic population problems) to join together against Israel.
–End of the Rabbi’s hypothesis–and on to my analysis:
The early indications show that Phase three is potentially the deadliest.
When Ahmadinejad in Iran threatens, we listen, and we respond. When President Obama tells us to lighten up and accept the Fatah as our partners, we say “well at least we’re better off than with Hamas. Remember the so-called ‘moderate’ Fatah. In 1995 we gave Fatah assault weapons (as part of the Nobel Prize winning Rabin and Peres’ Oslo Accords). In 1996, they turned their weapons on the Israeli checkposts.
It was the Fatah who butchered the two Israeli reservists who ended up unfortunately in Ramalah and were dragged to a Fatah controlled Police Station to meet their untimely demise. By the way, this was during our ‘period of peace’. It was the Fatah who danced on their rooftops for joy when the twin-towers fell to Osama Bin-Laden’s deadly attack.
Today’s headline: ?????: ???? ???? ???? ???????? ???? The Russian Foreign Minister met with Khaled Mashal (Hamas Terrorist #1) in Syria, and then told the world that Hamas is “ready to share it’s responsibility in Gaza” and that we (e.g. the western world) should be speaking with Hamas and not shunning them.
As much as we’d like to think that world opinion couldn’t possibly make a difference, it does. Have a look a this article from the well-respected political affairs magazine Commentary – Israel Today, Tomorrow the West. Very depressing stuff…
I suppose the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we ready to fight the third phase?

In Sderot the Kids Know What to do

My cousin was visiting in Sderot last week. He is a Rabbi and sofer (Biblical scribe), and often travels to places in Israel to check religious articles to see if they need to be repaired.

He shared with me this absurd and truly ‘unreal’, but very real story:

Last week, he visited a few houses in Sderot to check their mezuzot (Jewish families are required to place mezuzot on the doorways of their home). During one of his inspections, a nine year old girl from the home was following him and watching his work. Suddenly, the sirens went off. He froze. What to do? Where to go?

The 9 year girl very calmly said, “quick, follow me to the corner of the sealed room and bend down like this.” Fifteen seconds later he heard a big BOOM outside the house. The girl then said, “wait a little longer, there’s usually another boom or two.” Again, seconds later, BOOM, BOOM.

Shaken and disturbed, my cousin completed his tasks in Sderot and hurried home to Jerusalem. He then realized that the other family members were busy doing other tasks around the house and had deliberately sent their girl to watch over him in case of an attack.

This is Israel, a modern first (or second) world country, with a strong economy, lauded hi-tech sector, and yet our border towns have been afflicted with this absurd ritual for as long as Gaza has been in the hands of the terrorist Iran-backed Hamas.

Imagine that you are visiting your friends in Florida. Miami Beach is nice this time of year. During your visit, sirens start whaling and your friend’s 9 year old child (that’s a 3rd grader) tells you that you now have 15 seconds to run to the corner of the sealed room, where the missiles are less ‘likely’ to penetrate.

What if this scenario was played out in France? Would Sarcozy listen to the world opinion that the French government should show restraint and not fire back against the aggressors? Yes, Israel has the capabilities to fight back, and usually only after many blows does Israel finally takes steps to end the aggression against it.

The world media has always run roughshod over the tiny State of Israel. AP and Reuters have Arab journalists managing and writing stories on Israel. They often make feign attempts to show both sides of the story, but usually the venomous words are directed at the Jewish State. Other media organizations, such as the BBC and The Guardian make no attempts to hide their disdain for Israel. Such tendentious reporting helps to skew the already tainted view of Israel.

When you read Yahoo News about Israel (the world’s number 1 website destination), you are often reading AP’s Ibrahim Barzak, a Palestinian Arab, giving you so-called unbiased accounts of Israel’s fight for freedom against daily terrorist attacks.

The next time you read a story about Israel’s aggression and attacks on Gaza, remember the fifteen seconds you will have to follow your nine year old guide to safety.