Friday, January 29, 2010

Open Letter to Barack Hussein Obama

I received this recently and was so impressed, I decided to post it here. Full credit goes to the authoer cited below. These are her words, her concept...and the thoughts and messages many of us would like to send to President Obama as well. With thanks and full credit, I wish to share:

An Open Letter to President Obama

by Brigitte Gabriel

Dear Mr. President,

You face difficult challenges in matters such as achieving peace in the Middle East and protecting America from the threat of radical Islam and terrorism. These are challenges that have vexed past presidents, going as far back as our second president, John Adams. I have no doubt you appreciate both the gravity of these challenges and the enormous obstacles that exist to solving them.

I also have no doubt that you and your staff understood that, no matter what you said in your speech last Thursday in Cairo, there would be those who would take issue with you. That is always the case when attempting to solve problems that are as deep and emotionally-laden as these challenges are.

I am assuming it is your sincere hope that the approach you have chosen to take, as evidenced by what I’m sure was a carefully crafted speech, will ultimately prove successful. However, it pains me to say this sir, but, while you said in your speech that you are a “student of history,” it is abundantly clear that, in these matters, you do not know history and thus, as Santayana noted, you are doomed to repeat it. In doing so your efforts, however well-intentioned they may be, will not produce what you profess to hope they will produce.

A wise man once said that if you start with the wrong assumptions, no matter how logical your reasoning is, you will end up with the wrong conclusion. With all due respect Mr. President, you are starting with certain assumptions that are unsupported by history and an objective study of the ideology of political Islam.

You began in your speech by asserting that “tensions” exist between the United States and Muslims around the world, which, of course, is correct. Unfortunately, you then proceeded, incorrectly, to lay virtually all the blame for these tensions at the feet of America and the West. You blamed western colonialism, the Cold War, and even modernity and globalism.

A student of American history, who is not trying to reconstruct it to fit a modern politically correct narrative, would state that tensions between America and Muslims began with the unprovoked, four-decades long assault by the Muslim Barbary pirates against American shipping in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I find it telling that you mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli in your speech but ignored the circumstances that led to it. That treaty was but one of numerous attempts by the United States to achieve peace with the jihadists of the Barbary Coast who were attacking our shipping and killing and enslaving our citizens and our soldiers – and who by their own admission were doing so to fulfill the call to jihad.

These jihadists were not acting to protest American foreign policy, which was decidedly isolationist, and there was no state of Israel to scapegoat. They were doing what countless Islamic jihadists have done throughout history – acting upon the hundreds of passages in the Qur’an and the Hadith that call upon faithful Muslims to kill, conquer or subjugate the infidel.

A student of world history would know that, for all the acknowledged evils of Western colonialism, these evils pale in comparison to the nearly 14 centuries of Islamic colonialism that began in Arabia under the leadership of Mohammed. The student of history would know that Islamic forces eradicated all Jewish and Christian presence from Arabia after Mohammed’s death, and then succeeded in conquering all of North Africa, most of the Middle East, much of Asia Minor, and significant portions of Europe and India – eventually creating an empire larger than Rome’s was at its peak.

The number of dead and enslaved during these many centuries of Islamic imperial conquest and colonialism have been estimated to total more than 300 million. What’s more, the wealth of many of the conquered nations and cultures was plundered by the Islamic conquerors, and millions of millions of non-Muslims who did survive were forced to pay onerous taxes, such as the “jizya,” a humiliation tax to the Islamic caliphs. Indeed, in some areas Christians and Jews were made to wear a receipt for the jizya around their neck as a mark of their dishonor.

These facts have not been invented by Christian or Jewish historical revisionists, but were chronicled by Muslim eyewitnesses throughout the past 14 centuries and are available to be researched by any person seeking an objective understanding of how Islam spread throughout the world.

You say in your speech that we must squarely face the tensions that exist between America and the Muslim world. That is a laudable notion with which I agree, but by casting Islam as the historical victim and the West (and by implication, America) as the aggressor, you do not face these tensions squarely, but alleviate the Muslim world from coming to grips with the jihadist ideology embedded in its holy books and acted upon for 1,400 years.

Even worse, you empower and embolden militant Islamists who regard your gestures as signs of weakness and capitulation.

The issue is not that all Muslims are terrorists or radicals or extremists. We all know that the majority of Muslims are not. We also know that many peace-loving Muslims are victims of Islamist violence.

The issue is this: what drives hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide to call for the death of Jews?

What drives millions of Muslims to riot, destroy property, and take innocent lives in reaction to the Danish cartoons?

What drives tens of thousands of Muslims to demand the execution of a British teacher whose only “crime” was allowing her students to name their teddy bears “Mohammed”?

What drives countless Muslims worldwide to actively participate in, or fund, or provide nurture to, terrorist organizations?

What drives Muslims in mosques in America to proclaim and distribute materials that call for hatred of and the destruction of infidels?

What drives entire Islamic countries to prohibit the building of a Christian church or synagogue?

To assume, as you apparently do, that what drives these actions is not an ideology embedded in the holy books of Islam, but rather other “root causes,” most of which you lay at the feet of America and the West, is at best na├»ve and at worst dangerous.

Lastly, I must address your statement that “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Unfortunately, the examples you gave are the exception rather than the rule.

Historically speaking, I seriously doubt the Egyptian Copts, the Lebanese Maronites, the Christians in Bethlehem, the Assyrians, the Hindus, the Jews, and many others who have been persecuted by Islamic violence and supremacism, would agree with your assertion.

For instance, Christians and Jews became “Dhimmis,” a second class group under Islam. Dhimmis were forced to wear distinctive clothing; it was Baghdad’s Caliph Al-Mutawakkil, in the ninth century, who designated a yellow badge for Jews under Islam, which Hitler copied and duplicated in Nazi Germany nearly a thousand years later.

I witnessed first-hand the “tolerance” of Islam when Islamists ravaged my country of birth, Lebanon, in the 1970’s, leaving widespread death and destruction in their wake. I saw how they re-paid the tolerance that Lebanese Christians extended toward them. My experience is not an isolated one. When you make an unfounded assertion about the “proud tradition” of tolerance in Islam, you do a great disservice to the hundreds of millions of non-Muslims who have been killed, maimed, enslaved, conquered, subjugated or displaced – in the cause of Islamic jihad.

Mr. President, those of us like me who are ringing the alarm in America about the threat of radical Islam would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. Most Americans would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. The obstacle to achieving this does not lie with us in America and the West. It lies with the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, including many of their spiritual leaders, who take seriously the repeated calls to jihad in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Who regard “infidels” as inferior and worthy of conquering, subjugating and forcibly converting. Who support “cultural jihad” as a means to subvert non-Muslim societies from within. Who take seriously the admonitions throughout the Qur’an and the Hadith to convert the world to Islam – by force if necessary – and bring it under the rule of Allah.

Unless you are willing to courageously and honestly accept this, your aspirations for worldwide comity and peace in the Middle East are doomed to fail.

Sincerely,



Brigitte Gabriel


Brigitte Gabriel is the New York Times bestselling author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. She is the founder and president of ACT! for America, www.ActforAmerica.org .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Israel rescue teams return home

The video says so much; so much more than words. The medical equipment that saved lives returns with our doctors and nurses and rescue to teams. It leaves behind a land that must come to terms with one of the worst natural disasters in recent years. The words of the Israeli commanding officer explain all there is to say:

Today, Tuesday, the 26th day of January, the IDF hospital in Haiti is finishing its assignment. We came to #Haiti to assist, to save lives, to reach out, but above all - to give hope. We are here to show that even in the toughest of situations one can still be a symbol of hope, wherever he is. We cannot stand aside.

We represent the IDF, the people of Israel, the State of Israel. Few others have this strength, this willingness, this determination to help. You did this as human beings, in the spirit of the IDF and the values of the Medical Corp. I am proud of you. I salute you

The IDF leave behind leaving 1150 blankets, 30 tents, 500 mattresses, 200 sleeping bags, bandaging gear, surgery equipment, incubators and kitchen equipment. They take with them a 5-year-old boy in need of complex heart surgery.

They take with them the scenes and memories and leave behind the gratitude of many. Where they were, where they are, and where they go as they return home - in all places, they have our love.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haunted by a Phrase

Remember that in the final choice, a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains.
                 ~ Eisenhower
I read this line this morning and my first thought was of Gilad Shalit. It is so true - what a heavy burden Gilad and his family have borne for more than three years, more than 1,300 days. I am, as I think of Gilad, haunted by this simple phrase...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Baby Named Israel (A Haiti Story)

Perhaps this video speaks for itself. In the midst of the horror of a national tragedy in which tens of thousands of people (if not more) have lost their lives and a country is devastated beyond the human mind's ability to grasp, comes an amazing story of life and hope...with the help of one woman wounded, God who enabled her to survive...and a willing team of Israeli doctors.

A baby is born...and for all his life, will carry the name of those who cared, those who came half way across the world to help him - introducing...Israel.


Customer Service in Israel

It's almost a national joke. Everyone complains about customer service in Israel - mainly that all too often, it seems that there isn't any. I recently wrote about the Jerusalem Post (still unresolved) and others on an email group list joined in with their complaints about government agencies, health funds, telephone, etc.

And I wrote this response and decided I liked it enough to post it here:
Customer service - it differs from company to company, day to day, industry to industry. I walked into a small store years ago in the middle of Jerusalem to try clothes on with my daughter. We were there longer than we expected. She was in the dressing room...the meter was running out. I didn't know what to do...bombs were exploding, you see - in Jerusalem and elsewhere almost every day. What would I do if my daughter and I were separated...stupid, right? Should I leave her? Should I just get the darn ticket?

I looked at the storekeeper; I need to put money in the meter, I explained. This is a man who had seen it all...so many times...he understood immediately. Go, he told me. I'll keep her inside here. Don't worry.

I ran to the car listening for an explosion; threw in my change listening for an explosion and ran almost the whole way back - listening for an explosion. Is that customer service? I don't know...but that is so much Israel.

I made an appointment with an event planner at the Kotel last January to guide us through my youngest son's bar mitzvah. We finalized the time in the morning - a busy morning when there would be dozens of bar mitzvahs because it was a Thursday...the week when many American yeshivot have off and their parents come here with their bar mitzvah-age children. But then Israel went to war...my oldest son was called down to Gaza and everything started going crazy. I had to deal with a bar mitzvah...who could think about that in the midst of everything else?

The organization called me up wanting to confirm 8:15 a.m on Thursday morning. I started to cry. My son is near Gaza, I explained. He might be able to come home. The war should end...maybe...but if they don't let him come home before, maybe they'll give him a few hours, but there's no way he could get to the Kotel by bus in time...I might be able to drive down there and bring him back for a few hours...but I don't know if I can get there and back before 8:15 a.m. Traffic...I don't know. And the woman said - go...and don't worry. And when you get there - whatever time, we'll do this. Is that customer service? I don't know...but that is so Israel.

I would put these two events above all the Bezeks and Jerusalem Posts and Kupat Holim stories.

To me, it all boils down to one issue - I'd take the worst customer service in Israel...just to have the joy of living here. I'll fight Jerusalem Post (who has now confirmed that we canceled in February but hasn't confirmed they are returning our money). I'll fight kupat holim or Bezeq. Sometimes, I'll win...sometimes I'll lose.

And when I lose - I'll think of the storekeeper and the event planner because really, what they gave me is worth more than whatever money other companies may succeed in cheating me out of along the way.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti and Israel

In 1947, the fate of the future state of Israel teetered precariously. It was thought to come down to three votes...one was Haiti. The nation of Haiti voted for the Partition Plan - a call for the establishment of a nation for the Arab population...and the re-establishment of a nation for the Jewish population that had been sent into exile and had, in recent years, rejoined the remnants of the small Jewish community that had never left.

Israel was created in May, 1948 to the joy of Jews around the world, and the seemingly ever-lasting hatred of the Arabs. Israel and Haiti established full diplomatic relations, but beyond that, we are worlds apart in many ways.

A devastating earthquake shattered heavily populated areas of Haiti just days ago. Israel immediately began preparations to do what it has done repeatedly - in Kenya, Turkey, Indonesia and elsewhere. Teams of doctors have left Israel to set up a field hospital and care for the wounded; our Homefront Command has already sent a delegation to help in the search and rescue.


And on the side, another effort, quiet and modest, is taking place. We are searching for our own. How many Israelis are missing; how many Jews. Immediately but quietly - aware of the massive devastation, we learn there are were 8 Israelis missing - all have now been located safely. This hasn't stopped the amazing effort to help others...it just quiets a small place in our hearts as we once again turn to help others.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Other Readers Join in Reporting on Jerusalem Post Subscriber Abuses

The names have been hidden, but following are emails and comments we are receiving regarding other such customer abuses:
They are truly awful at the J. Post. I had a similar incident where they tried to force me to continue daily delivery - "we can't cancel your subscription, it's a special price.." nonsense. Calling, of course, only gets you put on hold for 15 minutes and the person you want is never available. It was only after I sent a fax that someone called, and sort of apologized. I would tell them in writing that you intend to contact the Israeli Consumers or one of the TV shows. It might help. BTW, I'm told that they treat their employees badly as well.  -- writes M


This is nothing new.  -- writes R
The International Herald Tribune did the same thing to me and when I discovered it I called them that practically called me a liar so I told them that I thought they were thieves. It seems to me this is common practice in Israel as far as the English speaking papers. --  writes L

Twitter Comments:

The Jerusalem Post is notorious & horrible. I'm sure you've heard the horror stories.
Take 'em to small claims court!

If you had a similar experience with the Jerusalem Post, please post a comment here.





Jerusalem Post Subscriber Abuse Story

This was sent to us recently:

WARNING TO CURRENT AND FORMER JERUSALEM POST SUBSCRIBERS:

If you canceled daily delivery of the Jerusalem Post (or for that matter, any delivery related to this organization)...check your bank and credit card statements. Last February, we suddenly realized we hadn't been getting the Jerusalem Post for a long time...during the entire Gaza War and even before. We waited a day - and sure enough...no paper. We called them up and told them. We explained that while our son was in Gaza, we were preoccupied and getting minute by minute news on the Internet. Who noticed we weren't getting their paper? I had other things on my mind! Their initial response was that they offered to send us the day's paper. Bully for them...we demanded a refund. They offered a week's refund. We told them we could confirm, without question, not having received it from before the war, through the current date - minimum of 6 weeks.
I told them I wanted them to check with the delivery person. A day later, they called back and said they did and he was telling them he delivered it every day. Lies...We said - we've been customers for 6 years; we want to speak to that delivery person and hear where he thinks he's delivering the paper...no response; they refused. We said, if you won't credit us...cancel the subscription - that was back in March after we spent many days trying to get them to fix the problem. They refused to credit more than a week. We told them to cancel EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.

Well, today, 8+ months later, they called their "active customers" to make another offer. I said, "we aren't active customers."

Turns out - they have been charging our credit card for the last EIGHT+ months...SIX of which, we haven't even been living in the same house where we used to get delivery. The house we rented then is still empty...no one lives there - and amazingly enough, there is no stack of delivered newspapers - not a single copy, never mind an eight-month build up.
I told this to the Jerusalem Post representative...he said they can cancel the paper, if I want. I said, "CANCEL WHAT???"
Yes, that's right - we are entitled to sue them, if we want, says the customer representative, but they can't give us credit for the money they stole from us.
I wanted credit for six-eight week during which time they did NOT deliver a paper back in Dec/Jan of last year. That would have amounted to a credit of less than 300 NIS. Instead, their stubborness cost them 1,760 NIS and counting...or should have if they did as we told them to do. So, for the last 10 months or so, they have been taking our money despite our having cancelled...and supposedly have no record of all the mess back in Dec/Jan - several calls with many people about our complaint, our follow-up and the final decision to cancel in March, 2009.

I can tell you that I will not be buying the Jerusalem Post this week. I am furious at such a blatant attempt to steal money from clients. The fact that all our complaints and conversations were not recorded in the record, including our demand to cancel back in March is a major indication of how bad the situation must be there.

If you cancelled the Jerusalem Post any time recently, I strongly suggest you follow up in writing to them - and even then, don't trust them to follow up. Cancel with your bank. Apparently non-delivery of services means nothing to the Jerusalem Post and pointing out that we moved from the house they were supposedly delivering it to over 6 months ago delivers nothing. Our former neighbors certainly would have told us if the paper was there; our former landlord would have come screaming. I have been past the old house...nothing.
I am completely disgusted with the attitude of the Jerusalem Post. So, if you cancel - do it in writing- even a registered letter and follow up by canceling your credit card or bank order. Do NOT trust them to honestly stop pulling money from you if they can.

I'll let you all know if the situation changes, but in the meantime, I'm still waiting for some manager to get back to me. Yeah, apparently, I can hold my breath.

A VERY Former Jerusalem Post Subscriber

Bloggers to Watch in 2010

In the world of Jewish and Israeli bloggers, there are so many amazing blogs to watch in the coming year. There are those who are on the cutting edge of reporting what is happening, those who present challenging and interesting stories in a way that touches and explains, and those who simply defy all supposed rules of journalism to simply show Israel as it really is - through humor, through love, through the lens of a normal day.

Bloggers to watch...who report fast and accurately:

The Muqata (http://www.muqata.blogspot.com/)
Israel Matzav (http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/)
IsraellyCool    (http://www.israellycool.com/)
Life in Israel (http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/)


Bloggers to watch...who simply write about Israel:

A Soldier's Mother (http://www.israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/)
A Mother in Israel (http://www.amotherinisrael.com/)
This Ongoing War (http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/)
Treppenwitz  (http://bogieworks.blogs.com/treppenwitz/)
What War Zone (http://www.whatwarzone.com/)

Monday, January 11, 2010

How Small is Israel?

Our adopted son #2 told us about an adorable site filled by people posting some pretty funny stuff. Most are just cute...some cross the line. It's a cute site. It has thousands of such posts...where people do something and it backfires or someone says something that they meant as a compliment, but was an incredible insult, if they would have just taken the time to actually think.

The site is www.fmylife.com (read it at your own risk).

The posts are sorted by many factors...one is by country. I clicked on Israel to see what sort of things were posted by my fellow countrymen (and women). I expected to see a drop-down list of countries, instead I was presented with a world map. I slid the cursor across the face of the world...Turkey...Jordan...Egypt.

I'd missed Israel...I tried again - Saudi Arabia...Egypt...Jordan. No matter how I tried, I couldn't see Israel. I've been on sites before that intentionally left out Israel...and I began to think this was the same.

And then, somehow, I managed to place the cursor just so...a fraction of a millimeter on the scale of that map was enough to render Israel all but invisible.

That, I realized, is how small Israel really is.