El delicioso equilibrio. ¿El secreto de este placer?

¿Has escuchado decir a la gente que la “religión” no tiene nada que ver con la realidad? Este argumento suele ubicar a la religión en un lugar fuera de la vida cotidiana, en el tiempo extra, cuando sobra tiempo para hacer esas “cosas espirituales”.

Se piensa que lo “religioso” es para lo espiritual, Shabat o festividades; mientras que todo el resto de los elementos de este mundo (la gran mayoría) son la vida “real”. Sin embargo no es así.

El precepto de nazir (nazareno) nos iluminará este concepto. El nazir es una persona que se auto-impone más restricciones de lo que la Torá nos ordena para así sentirse más cerca de D-os. Es una actitud elogiable. Se deja crecer el cabello (evitando lo estético) y se abstiene de tomar vino (evitando el placer físico). Al final de su proceso debe llevar unas ofrendas al templo, entre ellas una ofrenda pidiendo perdón. ¿Perdón por qué? Porque se abstuvo de tomar vino.

¿Cómo puede ser? Porque por más encomendable que sea la actitud del Nazir, debe darse cuenta que ese no es el camino del judaísmo. ¡D-os quiere que tengas el máximo placer! En todas las áreas de la vida, incluso la física. ¡Incluso saboreando un vino rico!

¿El secreto de este placer? El equilibrio. Las pautas que la Ley-Torá establece permiten el equilibrio perfecto, para que no te hundas en lo espiritual ni te hundas en lo material. Para lograr equilibrio entre tu trabajo y ser trabajólico; entre estética excesiva y abandono físico; entre glotonería y dieta; entre ejercicio físico extremo y pesadez corporal; entre la plegaria y el trabajo.

¿Qué tanto con el equilibrio? Por un lado, sin equilibrio, el placer hedonista se convierte en hastío y degradación. Por el otro, sin equilibrio, el solitario y controlador se convierte en ermitaño y asceta.

El equilibrio es la prueba de que no existe “religión”. Porque todos tenemos actividades mundanas en este mundo, y el equilibrio es y debería ser en todas las esferas de la vida, no solo en una parte de ella. Saca la palabra “Religión”, y sustitúyela por “Forma de vida equilibrada y con sentido” en toda tu vida cotidiana. Allí podrás comenzar el cambio.

Lejaim! y Shabat Shalom!!

Según tomado de, https://es.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3359556/jewish/El-delicioso-equilibrio.htm

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¿Cómo es posible que el mundo crea las mentiras de Hamas?

¿Cómo es posible que el mundo crea las mentiras de Hamas?

En un verdadero estilo orwelliano, la verdad se presenta completamente invertida.

por David A. Harris

Por más que lo intento, hay ciertas cosas que no logro entender.

Una de ellas es que muchos (en los círculos políticos, los medios de comunicación e incluso en algunos segmentos de la comunidad judía) no logren entender la poco envidiable situación de seguridad de Israel en su frontera con Gaza.

Nunca se lo puede repetir demasiado. Israel salió de Gaza en el 2005 y le dio a la Franja la primera oportunidad en su historia de gobernarse a sí misma, algo que nunca nadie más hizo (ni siquiera Egipto, que ocupó la franja costera hasta 1967).

De hecho, los israelíes fueron incluso más allá. Como una señal de buena voluntad, Israel dejó intactos sus invernaderos, con la esperanza de que eso ayudara a dar un impulso a la economía de Gaza.

¿Pero qué ocurrió?

En pocos días los invernaderos habían desaparecido, saqueados por los residentes locales.

Y en dos años, Hamas ya se había apoderado del control, eliminando a la Autoridad Palestina (en algunos casos, incluso arrojaron a sus miembros desde los techos de los edificios) y estableciendo un enclave jihadista, basado en la sharia (la ley islámica).

¿Qué es Hamas?

A esta altura, la respuesta debería ser obvia.

Pero queda claro que no lo es, por lo menos si juzgamos la manera en que algunos reaccionan ante los hechos actuales.

Para ellos, Hamas no es nada más que un símbolo de la “resistencia”, de los “oprimidos”, los “ocupados” y los “indefensos”.

Esto, por supuesto, es un argumento sumamente conveniente y reconfortante: si Hamas representa a la “víctima” de la historia, entonces, por definición, Israel representa al “villano”.

Al fin de cuentas, dicen estas personas, miren la cantidad de muertos. ¿Cómo es posible que la razón la tenga el lado que sufre menos muertes? ¿Cómo se atreven los israelíes a tener la audacia de defenderse a sí mismos de una forma tan “injusta”?

Entonces, las personas de las que estamos hablando, se envuelven de pies a cabeza con un manto de virtud y empatía hacia los “débiles” y se apresuran a criticar sin misericordia a Israel.

Bueno, puede que sea conveniente, pero en un verdadero estilo orwelliano, la verdad se presenta invertida.

Para comenzar, Hamas no es exactamente una empresa de “paz y amor”. Para saber esto, no es necesario que crean mis palabras. Es suficiente con leer las afirmaciones de los líderes de Hamas y leer la declaración de principios del grupo.

Las palabras son claras y estremecedoras. Allí no hay ambigüedad ni dudas.

Hamas busca eliminar a Israel, pura y simplemente. No les interesa en absoluto qué partido político gobierna en Israel. Para Hamas el problema no es la política israelí sino la sociedad israelí.

Hamas es una extensión de la Hermandad Musulmana. Ellos aspiran a un gobierno de califato acorde con su interpretación de la ley islámica. Su enemigo mortal es Egipto, con quien comparten una frontera (aunque no escucharán mucho al respecto) y otros países árabes sunitas que se interponen en su camino.

Hamas no ve de buen grado la igualdad de las mujeres, los derechos de LGBT, el pluralismo religioso, el gobierno de la ley y la posibilidad de disentir, y eso crea una ironía inconfundible cuando vemos quiénes son muchos de los que los alientan en el Occidente.

Hamas es una organización terrorista, designada oficialmente como tal tanto por los Estados Unidos como por la Unión Europea.

Hamas ha desperdiciado el futuro de Gaza desviando la ayuda internacional que reciben con el objetivo de destruir a Israel.

Hamas no duda en enviar a sus mujeres y niños a la frontera con Israel con la esperanza de crear incidentes sangrientos que los medios de comunicación difundirán a todo el mundo.

En vez de construir escuelas, cloacas, plantas para el tratamiento del agua y viviendas, los valiosos fondos son dedicados a fábricas de armas y a la construcción de un túnel tras otro, para llegar a Israel con la meta de matar, mutilar y secuestrar.

Hamas no duda en utilizar como instrumentos a sus mujeres y niños, enviarlos a la frontera con Israel con la esperanza de crear incidentes sangrientos que los medios de comunicación difundirán a todo el mundo. Por cierto los medios lo han hecho a menudo. Sin ofrecer ninguna explicación ni contexto, sólo imágenes de los “poderosos” enfrentando a los “indefensos”.

¿Cómo se supone que debe reaccionar Israel cuando ese grupo celebra la muerte, al saber que eso despertará una respuesta empática en ciertos corredores de Occidente?

¿Qué haría cualquier otro país si se encontrara en el lugar de Israel? Sin duda es muy fácil emitir a la distancia declaraciones santurronas, llamar a la calma, instar al control y la abstinencia y votar en la ONU resoluciones unilaterales que condenan ciegamente a Israel. Eso no cuesta nada.

Pero si ellos tuvieran que enfrentar a Hamas en sus propias fronteras, ¿alguien duda que correrían a pedir ayuda a Israel para aprender cómo minimizar las víctimas pero mantenerse firmes, y cómo asegurar la resiliencia de la población local que se ve afectada de forma directa?

Yo no lo dudo, porque eso es exactamente lo que los europeos y otros países han hecho en los últimos años. Al enfrentar una creciente amenaza jihadista, ellos acudieron a pedir el consejo y el entrenamiento de Israel, el mismo Israel que a menudo y sin dudarlo atacan cuando allí enfrentan peligros similares.

En nuestro mundo, oímos interminables mantras respecto a la necesidad de “aprender las lecciones de la historia” y “no repetir los errores del pasado”. ¿Acaso estas son sólo palabras vacías, sin ningún significado real?

Cuando veo consternado cómo responden algunos a la situación actual, incluyendo a ciertos legisladores de los Estados Unidos, a personalidades de Hollywood, comentadores mediáticos y líderes europeos, no puedo evitar recordar la impresionante miopía de Walter Lippman, el legendario periodista norteamericano.

En 1933, varios meses después de que Adolf Hitler subiera al poder, él escribió en el New York Herald Tribune:

“Negar hoy que Alemania pueda hablar como un poder civilizado, porque en Alemania se dicen y se hacen cosas no civilizadas, es en sí mismo una profunda forma de intolerancia. Como toda intolerancia esto revela una falta de sabiduría moral, en este caso la sabiduría moral del entendimiento religioso de la naturaleza dual del hombre… Por lo tanto el mundo exterior haría bien en aceptar la evidencia de la buena voluntad de Alemania y buscar de todas las formas posibles la manera de encontrarla y justificarla”.

Lippman era judío. Su error fundamental en la lectura de la “naturaleza humana” en la Alemania totalitaria no fue única, pero resultó ser muy costosa.

Si en estos días queremos aprender las lecciones de la historia, entonces un buen lugar para comenzar sería entender la naturaleza de Hamas.

Este artículo fue publicado originalmente en el “Times of Israel”.

Según tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/iymj/mo/Como-es-posible-que-el-mundo-crea-las-mentiras-de-Hamas.html?s=mm

Estudio de la Universidad de Haifa: Exposición de madres en ataques terroristas durante el embarazo aumenta el riesgo de esquizofrenia en hijos

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Los hijos de madres expuestas a ataques terroristas durante el embarazo tienen 2.5 veces más probabilidades de desarrollar esquizofrenia que las madres que no están expuestas al terror durante el embarazo.

Este fue el hallazgo de un estudio exhaustivo llevado a cabo en la Universidad de Haifa. “Es posible que el estrés psicosocial de los ataques terroristas en las madres ocurra durante un período crítico de desarrollo del cerebro fetal. Las amenazas durante un período tan crítico de neurodesarrollo fueron tan potentes que años después aumentó el riesgo de esquizofrenia “, explicó el profesor Stephen Levine, uno de los autores del estudio.

Los investigadores trataron de examinar si los bebés nacidos de madres expuestas a ataques terroristas, pero no involucrados en ellas, enfrentaban un riesgo elevado de esquizofrenia.

El estudio fue realizado por el estudiante de doctorado Yael Weinstein, el profesor Stephen Levine, el profesor Itzhak Levav, el profesor Marc Gelkopf, el profesor David Roe del Departamento de Salud Comunitaria de la Universidad de Haifa y las profesionales del Departamento de Información y Evaluación del Ministerio de Salud, Inna Pugachova y Rinat Yoffe.

El estudio se basó en información relacionada con 201,048 niños nacidos entre 1975 y 1995, 97,711 niñas y 103,337 niños. Los niños fueron monitoreados durante un período promedio de 27 años para determinar si desarrollaron esquizofrenia o no. El estudio se llevó a cabo en cooperación con el Ministerio del Interior y el Ministerio de Salud, y fue financiado por la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias y la Fundación Tauber. Forma parte de una serie de estudios realizados por los profesores Levav y Levine sobre la conexión entre la exposición de las madres al estrés y el riesgo de trastornos psiquiátricos en sus hijos.

Durante el período de investigación – 1975-1995 – hubo 782 ataques terroristas en Israel que ocurrieron en 622 días diferentes. Según el modelo de investigación, si se produjo un ataque terrorista durante el embarazo, la madre del niño se define como que estuvo expuesta al ataque. El Prof. Levine enfatiza que los investigadores sabían que su decisión de definir la exposición al terror de esta manera podría incluir en su grupo a una mujer que tal vez ni siquiera había oído hablar de un ataque terrorista que tuvo lugar lejos de ella o cuando no estaba en el país, junto con otra mujer que estuvo expuesta a un ataque terrorista más cercano, o incluso a varios ataques. Esto podría distorsionar los hallazgos. En consecuencia, los investigadores aplicaron varias herramientas analíticas y encontraron que estos factores no parecían alterar la conclusión del estudio. Además, el gran tamaño de la muestra, que incluía cientos de miles de datos, redujo el riesgo de error estadístico.

Los resultados de la investigación muestran que los niños nacidos de madres expuestas a ataques terroristas tienen 2.5 veces más probabilidades de desarrollar esquizofrenia que aquellos cuyas madres no estuvieron expuestas. Un total de 3,257 niños nacieron de madres expuestas al terror, de los cuales el 0.64 por ciento fueron diagnosticados con esquizofrenia. En el grupo de control, compuesto por mujeres no expuestas al terror, nacieron un total de 197,791 niños, de los cuales el 0.25 por ciento fueron diagnosticados con esquizofrenia. “El embarazo es un período crítico para el desarrollo del cerebro y está influenciado por el estrés resultante de la exposición al terror. La exposición materna al terror en el embarazo puede dañar el sistema inmune del feto, lo que lleva a un aumento en el nivel de las hormonas glucocorticoides y altera el desarrollo del cerebro”, señaló el Prof. Levine.

Según tomado de, http://diariojudio.com/noticias/estudio-de-la-universidad-de-haifa-exposicion-de-madres-en-ataques-terroristas-durante-el-embarazo-aumenta-el-riesgo-de-esquizofrenia-en-hijos/270838/

Aprender a recibir

Aprender a recibir

A veces hace falta más valentía para recibir que para dar.

por Sara Debbie Gutfreund

Cuando me pierdo no pido indicaciones. No me gusta pedir ayuda, consejo o favores. Me desagradan los regalos y siempre preferí ser la que da en vez de recibir. Solía pensar que esto era algo positivo, hasta el día en que descubrí que recibir en sí mismo es un regalo valioso y que a veces hace falta más valentía (y vulnerabilidad) para recibir que para dar.
Nunca olvidaré esa tarde. Estaba en medio de una conversación telefónica de trabajo cuando mis hijos volvieron de la escuela y yo les indiqué que estuvieran en silencio. En vez de dejar su mochila y correr al cuarto de juegos con los otros niños, mi hija se quedó parada junto a la puerta, sonriéndome y sosteniendo en sus manos una bolsa marrón arrugada. Su cabello rubio se había escapado de las trenzas que le hice a la mañana y su rostro brillaba de orgullo. Me di vuelta para terminar mi llamada pero un minuto después, cuando corté el teléfono, mi hija seguía parada con su mochila al hombro y la bolsa en sus manos.

— Ima, te traje un regalo. Lo compré con el dinero de mi mensualidad—dijo mi hija sonriendo.

Esa semana mi hija recibió por primera vez su mensualidad. ¿Y qué hizo? Utilizó todo su dinero para comprarme un regalo.

Incluso antes de abrir la bolsa que me entregó, sentí que las lágrimas se juntaban en mis ojos. Adentro había una vela dorada y blanca y una pequeña nota escrita con letras grandes: “Te quiero, Ima”.

Abracé a mi hija e intenté esconder mis lágrimas. Puse la vela junto a nuestros vasos de cristal en la vitrina y permaneció allí por más de una década, porque cada vez que la veo lo recuerdo: recibir amor es igual de importante que dar amor. Ser suficientemente vulnerable como para necesitar a otra persona es una fortaleza en vez de una debilidad. Aprender a recibir es aprender a amar, a vivir y a crecer.

En Shavuot, el pueblo judío recibió de Dios el regalo de la Torá.

Aquí hay cuatro formas de aprender a recibir:

  1. Enfócate en la conexión. ¿Mantienes a los demás a distancia y pones murallas alrededor de tu corazón? Recibir crea conexión. Es más fácil aceptar un cumplido, un regalo o incluso un consejo cuando nos enfocamos en el valor de la conexión misma en vez de en nuestra vulnerabilidad.
  1. Abandona la mentalidad de: “una cosa por otra”. Estamos acostumbrados a pensar que todo tiene un precio y que siempre tendremos que devolver el favor que recibimos. Esto bloquea nuestra habilidad de apreciar completamente la generosidad de la otra persona y su anhelo de entregarnos algo. No todo en la vida puede o debe ser devuelto. Algunos regalos no tienen precio y algunas bondades no deben pagarse.
  1. Recuerda que no siempre tenemos que tener el control. Cuando damos sentimos que tenemos el control de la situación. Recibir requiere que renunciemos un poco a ese control y que expongamos la parte tierna y vulnerable de nuestro ser, que queda abierta a otras personas y a esa parte nuestra que sabe que no podemos controlar el mundo que nos rodea.
  1. Acepta que recibir es un acto de bondad. Muchos estamos acostumbrados a pensar que recibir es un acto egoísta, pero darles a otros la oportunidad de dar a veces es uno de los actos más generosos que podemos hacer. En vez de sentirte avergonzado al recibir de otros, siéntete orgulloso de darle a otra persona la valiosa oportunidad de dar.

Shavuot es una oportunidad para aprender a recibir del Dador Infinito que quiere regalarnos Su Torá. En Shavuot recuerdo ese momento en que mi hija estaba parada en la puerta y cómo yo casi me lo perdí. Estaba demasiado distraída y ocupada en mí misma como para recibir el valioso regalo del amor. La vela está siempre frente a mí para recordármelo.

Cuando me pierdo, debo pedir ayuda. Cuando tengo un problema, debo pedir un consejo. Y cuando quiero conectarme con la Fuente de toda la vida, debo aprender a abrirme para poder recibir Su amor infinito.

Segun tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/e/cp/Aprender-a-recibir.html?s=show

 

Shavuot: The Twins – Duality & Unity

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

In the Third Month [when the Children of Israel left Egypt and arrived at Sinai to receive the Torah] a supernal and recondite light shines forth… and that light is contained in two lights, which are one. The first light [Chesed] is white, too bright for the eye to behold. The second light [Gevurah] is one which gleams and sparkles in red. The two are united and become one… Because it is contained in two lights, it is called the “Twins” (Ti’umim). Therefore, in the month in which the Torah was given (Sivan), the constellation of the “Twins” (Gemini) rules, and from them issue lights of various grades below to illumine the world.

Among all the other signs of the Zodiac there is not one possessing mouth or tongue, but this one has both, and the two are one. Therefore it is written in regard to the Torah: “And thou shalt meditate therein day and night” (Joshua 1:8), “day” corresponding to the tongue, and “night” corresponding to the mouth. And both these are one.

Therefore the word ti’umim (twins), ‘there were twins [Jacob and Esau] in her womb” (Genesis 25:24), is written t’umim [without the letter alef], in order to indicate that Jacob alone is under the sign of this constellation. This is all one mystery. Jacob had two months, Nissan and Iyar, and is included in the mystery of Sivan, Twins. Esau’s months are Tammuz and Av [when the Holy Temple was destroyed by the descendants of Esau], but Elul is not his, and even in Av only nine days are his not more. He separated himself and turned toward impurity, in chaos and desolation, and he is not included in the Twins.

And because Jacob is the Twins the Torah was given to his children in the month of the Twins. The Torah itself is a “twin”, the written and oral Torah; it was given in the third month (Sivan), symbolizing the treble Torah, Law, Prophets, Writings. And it is all one.
– Zohar II 78b

A cryptic Zohar indeed. Jacob is Esau’s twin. Jacob cannot be considered a twin without Esau. How then can the Zohar tell us that Esau is not included in the ‘twins’ of Sivan?

The twin brothers Esau and Jacob represent dual forces in our lives. In microcosm and macrocosm – both in our psyches and the larger universe – two conflicting forces drive us at all times. In general terms: the battle – and tension – between matter and spirit is an inherent part of every aspect of existence. This dichotomy manifests itself in so many ways: The conflict between career and home, between our personal higher standards and the pressure to conform to marketplace standards. The battle between our yearning for transcendence and the need for material survival, between existential loneliness and the sense of connection to a greater whole – the war between the outer and the inner, form and function, packaging and substance – between the pull from above and the tug from below. The list goes on.

Many philosophies and schools of thought have been espoused about this battling duality and ways to remedy or at least minimize the inherent tension between matter and spirit.

The Torah was given in the month of the ‘twins’ (Gemini) to teach us that these two forces are truly two sides of one coin – a set of twins that can either be at each other’s throat or unite into a synergetic force.

“The entire Torah was given in order to create peace in the world.” (Maimonides end of Laws of Chanukah)

In the Midrash ‘twins’ refers to the human experience of light and dark (Pesikta Rabsi 20). Or to the human duality of two forces, the good and evil inclination, that comes with process of maturity (Tanchuma Haazinu).

The giving of the Torah is all about creating unity in a world of duality – not by annihilating the duality, but by transforming it into ‘twins,’ two that are really one.

Esau is the warrior. On his own he can go either way: Either he can be an aggressive force representing material belligerence. Or he can channel his warrior nature to conquer the elements of the world and transform the material universe into a Divine home. Because in this mundane world we need intense strength to stand up to the challenges of life and not conform; we need a forceful attitude to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the world and conquer it.” (see the article Esau’s Two Faces).

Jacob (the soul) is the one that directs and channels the aggressive Esau (the body) into a healthy partner and ‘twin’ that joins forces with the soul to transform the universe.

The Zohar, therefore, tells us that when Esau ‘separated himself’ and indulged in material conquest, he essentially disqualified himself from being a part of the ‘twins’ as a unit in Rebecca’s womb. Technically, he remains Jacob’s twin, but conceptually he has allowed the apparent duality of the universe to control his life, hence, no true twins, only two separate forces at war with each other.

In truth, Sivan, the month of Twins, is actually the Third month, which corresponds to the third emotional sphere of Tiferet. Tiferet – beauty – creates harmony within diversity. Chesed (love) reigns in month one (Nissan), when the Divine revelation from above freed the people from constraints (Mitzrayim). Gevurah (diversity, discipline) is the energy of month two (Iyar), when our human initiative from below works on refining our 49 (7×7) emotions as we count the days of the Omer leading up to month three (Sivan), tiferet, which integrates chesed and gevurah, into one greater harmony.

Mattan Torah (the giving of the Torah) – which is called tiferet – united heaven and earth. As the Midrash explains that up to that point in history there was a schism that divided the ‘upper’ from the ‘lower;’ at Sinai we were given the power to marry the ‘upper’ and the ‘lower,’ spirit and matter. And the way we achieve this is through spiritualizing the material – fusing them both into a ‘twin-like’ relationship. It takes the special energy of the third dimension (tiferet) that transcends both body and soul, to ultimately integrate the two into one whole, without annihilating or compromising either one of them.

These twin forces have been consumed in raging battle from the beginning of time. Beginning in Rebecca’s womb “two nations” have been struggling, and:

“Two governments will separate from inside you. The upper hand will go from one to the other.” (Genesis 25:23)

As history unfolded these two forces – which began as two individuals in Esau and Jacob – magnified and multiplied into global confrontations. Before Sinai (the children of) Esau is offered the Torah, but he rejects it; he has separated himself and is not yet ready to be a true ‘twin.’ (see article Esau, Ishmael and Sinai)

As the centuries rolled on, Esau’s children (the Romans) would destroy the Temple, and years later they would begin to embrace in their own way some of the Torah’s message.

Two millennia later much has transpired. The world of Esau has evolved and continues to refine itself, aligning itself more and more with the teachings that the original Esau learned from his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.

The universe as well has evolved to a point where matter and spirit have become interchangeable (e=MC2), and they continue to evolve to the point where we can now see that they soon may be synonymous, or better put – ‘twins.’ In physics, technology, communications, medicine, we are witnessing the convergence of a duality that has always been the staple of the universe.

Yes, the twins Esau and Jacob are about to finally meet and join hands. Thousands of years ago Jacob told Esau (even after they reconciled):

“…that the children are weak and I have responsibility for the nursing sheep and cattle. If they are driven hard for even one day, they will die…Please go ahead of me… I will lead my group slowly, following the pace of the work ahead of me, and the pace of the children. I will eventually come to you, my lord, in Seir [Edom].” (Genesis 33:12-13)

The time had not yet come for the ‘twins’ to unite.

“And when will he [Jacob] go [to Seir]? In the days of Moshiach, as it says (Ovadiah 1:21) Redeemers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau, and the kingdom will be G-d’s.” (Rashi ad loc)

After over three millennia they are finally ready to unite.

The stage is set for the ‘twins’ to emerge – in science, medicine and politics. The final frontier is personal and psychological: to allow the ‘twins’ to emerge in our psyches.

We now have the power to finally bring some peace to our fragmented (if not tortured) spirits, and by extension, to our ailing world.

Two twins have been wandering for so long, isn’t it time to finally come home?

Atheism. Belief in the Unbelievable

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I have tried to be an atheist, but skepticism always got in the way.

Whenever I meet self-declared atheists, which happens on a regular basis, I am always dumbfounded by their capacity to believe the unbelievable—a true tour de force. It moves me deeply, and I stand in awe, feeling highly uncomfortable at not being able to sustain a similar level of belief.

By now, I have read many books by famous atheists: books such as The God Delusion (2006) by Richard Dawkins; God Is Not Great (2007) by Christopher Hitchens; Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes and Baby Universes (1993); and Dick Swaab’s We Are Our Brains (Dutch edition, 2010). While these books are well written, and their authors often display great erudition in many important fields, I am fascinated by their capacity for a level of belief that seems so boundless as to make me deeply jealous of them.

The trouble is that while I am intrigued by these books, they also strangle me, and I feel the urge to run outside in desperate need of air.

They are telling me that our universe, with all that it includes, is the result of some accident that took place millions and millions of years ago. That somehow, existence came into being by chance and left us with a mindboggling world that is totally mysterious and astonishing. It is a universe in which the most wondrous things exist and happen, but I am informed that there is really no purpose to it all and that it’s purely the result of some unfortunate coincidence.

I am asked to believe that the development of our universe is nothing but the result of evolutionary accidents and other cosmological incidents. I have a hard time believing this. My limited mind just can’t grasp it. I keep on asking: If it’s all an accident, then why does the universe bother to exist? And I feel terribly immature, compared to these great minds, when I ask that question.

Yes, I have studied the cosmological, teleological, ontological, and so many other arguments for the existence of God. And I agree that, philosophically and scientifically, they can be refuted, and that probably not even one of them is valid. But after all is said and done, I am still left with a strong inner notion of wonder: How can all this be accidental?

And how is it possible that my atheistic friends don’t seem to have a problem with this? It worries me, because it seems that I’m missing something very important…. But what? It keeps me awake at night and gives me no rest during the day. I want to be a rational human being, but I’m being told that as long as I don’t believe in this huge accident, my faculties are underdeveloped and I cannot lay claim to reason.

And yet: I keep asking myself where all these natural and cosmic laws come from, and when I’m told that they too are accidental, I again have a hard time grasping this. It just doesn’t sit well with me and I feel ashamed at my ignorance. It overwhelms me.

When I carry one my great-grandchildren—not more than a few hours old—in my arms, and I look at her or his face and small body, with tiny hands and feet, and I see that everything is there when only nine months earlier it was nothing more than a miraculous sperm that met an egg, I feel ashamed that I can’t believe all of this is accidental. I just cannot make this leap of faith. It’s too much, and I feel embarrassed that I can’t join my atheistic friends.

But what am I to do? I cannot get rid of this sense of wonder that permeates my life. Yes, I admit it’s terrible that I still live with this primitive and outdated notion of amazement, which I think was with me since the day I was born.

I must tell you that I’ve tried very hard. I have read countless books on the philosophy of science, on evolution, and God knows what else (pun intended!). But instead of helping me to see the truth, they have only increased my levels of wonder and amazement about this strange world in which I live. Accident? Really??

I am reminded of the great scientist Max Planck, who seems to have been as simplistic as I am when he wrote:

What, then, does the child think as he makes these discoveries? First of all, he wonders. This feeling of wonderment is the source and inexhaustible fountain-head of his desire for knowledge. It drives the child irresistibly on to solve the mystery, and if in his attempt he encounters a causal relationship, he will not tire of repeating the same experiment ten times, a hundred times, in order to taste the thrill of discovery over and over again…. The reason why the adult no longer wonders is not because he has solved the riddle of life, but because he has grown accustomed to the laws governing his world picture. But the problem of why these particular laws and no others hold remains for him just as amazing and inexplicable as for the child. He who does not comprehend this situation misconstrues its profound significance, and he who has reached the stage where he no longer wonders about anything, merely demonstrates that he has lost the art of reflective reasoning.[1]

You see, Max Planck and I are in the same boat. We just don’t get it: It’s all an accident. When will we be mature enough and stop standing in wonder and amazement when we see the sun rising; or that a small amount of soft tissue in our skull produces ideas and allows us to make strange sounds, which others seem to understand as words; or that—most incomprehensible of all—we are able to comprehend? When will we come to our senses and stop being awestruck at the fact that we can enjoy music because we’re able to bring all the different sounds together and make them into one, which deeply affects us, and elevates us to such a level of emotional upheaval that our hearts nearly burst from excitement?

After all, my atheistic friends tell me that everything has already been explained. And when they offer me books and essays that clarify why all of this is obvious, and then I very carefully read them all, I am left with more questions than answers.[2]

Yes, I know that the notion of a God is full of problems and contradictions. I fully agree that our thoughts about this God are far too simplistic and underdeveloped and that most religions, including different forms of one-dimensional Judaism, are guilty of creating this often naive image.

But does that mean that I have to start believing the unbelievable and convince myself that everything is a coincidence and all is explained, or can be explained, by the human brain, which itself is the greatest mystery? Should I actually start believing that my notion of wonder must be reduced to some physical brain activity, which no brain has ever sufficiently explained to me?

So who is more of a believer, the atheist or I? Surely the atheist is. And I am jealous of atheists because they are able to believe the unbelievable. And I, in my simplicity, cannot reach that state of belief. I’m just too skeptical. And of course I’m terribly embarrassed! After all, it is a huge personal fiasco! Shame on me.

Anyway, I still can’t sleep.


Notes:

[1] Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography (NY: Philosophical Library, 1949) pp. 91-93.

[2] For some more reading to explain my questions, see: E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed, Harper Colophon Books vol. 611 (NY/Hagerstown/San Francisco/London: Harper and Row Publishers, 1977); A. van den Beukel, More Things in Heaven and Earth: God and the Scientists (London: SCM Press, 1991); and Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2011).

As taken from, https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/atheism-belief-in-the-unbelievable/?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=79645266f8-Weekly_Thoughts_to_Ponder_campaign_TTP_548&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dd05790c6d-79645266f8-242341409

The Ten Utterances

By Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

What the Israelites heard at Sinai has become known as the “Ten Commandments.”  But this description raises obvious problems. First, neither the Torah nor Jewish tradition calls them the Ten Commandments. The Torah calls them aseret hadevarim (Ex. 34:28), and tradition terms them aseret hadibrot, meaning “the ten utterances.” Second, there was much debate, especially between Maimonides and Halakkhot Gedolot as understood by Nahmanides, as to whether the first verse, “I am the Lord your God …,” is a command or a preface to the commands. Third, there are not ten commandments in Judaism but 613. Why, then, these but not those?

Light has been shed on all these issues by the discovery, already mentioned, of ancient Near Eastern suzerainty treaties, most of which share certain features and forms. They begin with a preamble stating who is initiating the covenant. That is why the revelation opened with the words, “I am the Lord your God.” Then comes a historical review stating the background and context of the covenant, in this case, “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the slave-house.”

Next come the stipulations, first in general outline, then in specific detail. That is precisely the relationship between the “ten utterances” and the detailed commands set out in later chapters and books of the Torah. The former are the general outline, the latter, the details. So the “ten utterances” are not commandments as such but an articulation of basic principles. What makes them special is that they are simple and easy to memorise. That is because in Judaism, law is not intended for judges alone. The covenant at Sinai was made by God with an entire people. Hence the need for a brief statement of basic principles that everyone could remember and recite.

Usually they are portrayed as two sets of five, the first dealing with relationships between us and God (including honouring our parents since they like God brought us into being), the second with the relations between us and our fellow humans. However, it also makes sense to see them as three groups of three.

The first three – No other gods besides Me, no graven images, and no taking of God’s name in vain – are about God, the author and authority of the laws. The first states that Divine sovereignty transcends all other loyalties (No other gods besides Me). The second tells us that God is a living force, not an abstract power (No graven images). The third states that sovereignty presupposes reverence (Do not take My name in vain).

The second three – the Sabbath, honouring parents, and the prohibition of murder – are all about the principle of the createdness of life. Shabbat is the day dedicated to seeing God as creator, and the universe as His creation. Honouring parents acknowledges our human createdness. “Thou shall not murder” restates the central principle of the Noahide covenant that murder is not just a crime against man but a sin against God in whose image we are created. So the fourth, fifth and sixth commands form the basic jurisprudential principles of Jewish life. They tell us to remember where we came from if we seek to know how to live.

The third three – against adultery, theft and bearing false witness – establish the basic institutions on which society depends. Marriage is sacred because it is the human bond closest in approximation to the covenant between us and God. The prohibition against theft establishes the integrity of property, which John Locke saw as one of the bases of a free society. Tyrants abuse property rights. The prohibition of false testimony is the precondition of justice. A just society needs more than a structure of laws, courts and enforcement agencies. It also needs basic honesty on the part of us all. There is no freedom without justice, and no justice without each of us accepting individual and collective responsibility for truth-telling

Finally comes the stand-alone prohibition against envying your neighbour’s house, wife, slave, maid, ox, donkey, or anything else belonging to him or her. This seems odd if we think of the “ten words” as commands, but not if we think of them as the basic principles of a free society.

The greatest challenge of any society is how to contain the universal  phenomenon of envy: the desire to have what belongs to someone else. Rene Girard, in Violence and the Sacred, argued that the primary driver of human violence is mimetic desire, that is, the desire to have what someone else has, which is ultimately the desire to be what someone else is. Envy can lead to breaking many of the other commands: it can move people to adultery, theft, false testimony and even murder. It led Cain to murder Abel, made Abraham and Isaac fear for their life because they were married to beautiful women, and led Joseph’s brothers to hate him and sell him into slavery. It was envy of their neighbours that led the Israelites often to imitate their religious practices and worship their gods.

So the prohibition of envy is not odd at all. It is the most basic force undermining the social harmony and order that are the aim of the Ten Commandments as a whole. Not only though do they forbid it; they also help us rise above it. It is precisely the first three commands, reminding us of God’s presence in history and our lives, and the second three, reminding us of our createdness, that help us rise above envy.

We are here because God wanted us to be. We have what God wanted us to have. Why then should we seek what others have? If what matters most in our lives is how we appear in the eyes of God, why should we seek anything else merely because someone else has it? It is when we stop defining ourselves in relation to God and start defining ourselves in relation to other people that competition, strife, covetousness and envy enter our minds, and they lead only to unhappiness.

Thirty-three centuries after they were first given, the Ten Commandments remain the simplest, shortest guide to the creation of a good society.

As taken from, http://rabbisacks.org/ten-utterances-extract-koren-sacks-shavuot-machzor/

5 ideas erróneas respecto a la violencia en Gaza

5 ideas erróneas respecto a la violencia en Gaza

Un poco de claridad en un mundo repleto de distorsión mediática.

por Yvette Alt Miller

Miles de habitantes de Gaza siguen enfrentando a las fuerzas israelíes a lo largo de la frontera entre Israel y Gaza. El número de víctimas sigue creciendo, así como la condena pública contra Israel. Aquí hay cinco ideas erróneas alimentadas por los medios de comunicación respecto a la actual violencia en Gaza y qué es realmente lo que está pasando.

1. Los habitantes de Gaza protestan por la nueva embajada de los Estados Unidos en Jerusalem.

“Decenas de miles de personas protestan a lo largo de la frontera en contra de la apertura de la embajada de los Estados Unidos en Jerusalem”, declaró el periódico británico Guardian. Muchos otros medios de comunicación siguieron sus pasos, reportando erróneamente los tumultos que sacuden partes de Gaza como una erupción espontánea provocada por la decisión de los Estados Unidos de mudar su embajada de Tel Aviv a la capital de Israel: Jerusalem.

Esto ignora el hecho de que los constantes tumultos fueron planeados hace muchos meses: en febrero del 2018 el grupo terrorista Hamas que gobierna Gaza anunció que habría seis semanas de amotinamientos a lo largo de la frontera, planificados para culminar el 15 de mayo del 2018. Esto es un día después del 70 aniversario de la fundación del estado moderno de Israel. El 15 de mayo es un día que muchos palestinos y otros árabes conmemoran como un día de duelo, el “Nakba” o desastre. Durante semanas, cantidades de militantes de Hamas se reunieron en diversos puntos a lo largo de la frontera de Israel con Gaza, quemaron cubiertas e intentaron derribar la cerca y entrar violentamente a Israel. La han denominado “la marcha del retorno”, para permitirles a los habitantes de Gaza reinstalarse y vivir en lo que ellos proclaman es su tierra ancestral dentro de Israel.

No es la primera vez en los últimos años que Hamas ha intentado invadir Israel. El conflicto militar del 2014 con Gaza demostró que Hamas dedicó años a construir túneles de terror sumamente planificados hacia Israel, destinados a permitir la infiltración de los terroristas para cometer atentados. El ejército de Israel encontró municiones, mapas, uniformes del ejército israelí y planes para atacar un jardín de infantes israelí donde terminaba uno de los túneles. Desde ese conflicto, Hamas arrojó decenas de cohetes a Israel e incluso enviaron explosivos atados a cometas que cruzaban la frontera para atacar de esa forma al estado judío. Los esfuerzos por hacer túneles hacia Israel no disminuyeron. En abril del 2018 Israel descubrió el más largo y sofisticado túnel terrorista hasta la fecha.

Hamas no reconoce al estado de Israel sin importar las fronteras y la semana pasada Yahya Sinwar (quien desde el 2017 es el líder de Hamas en Gaza) reiteró la postura de su grupo, al declarar que su intención es acumular suficientes militantes para emprender una invasión general a Israel. “¿Qué problema hay en que cientos de miles irrumpan a través de una cerca que no es un límite?”, preguntó. Las palabras de Sinwar fueron ampliamente difundidas por la prensa israelí. Es imposible que los periodistas de los medios occidentales que tienen la tarea de cubrir este conflicto desconozcan los planes de Hamas. Pretender que esto es un amotinamiento espontáneo provocado por el establecimiento de la nueva embajada de los Estados Unidos es falso por decirlo suavemente y deliberadamente engañoso si lo decimos con todas las palabras.

2. Las fuerzas israelíes masacran a los manifestantes de Gaza

Turquía dijo que Israel y los Estados Unidos comparten la responsabilidad por una “vil masacre” en la que decenas de manifestantes palestinos fueron asesinados por los disparos israelíes el 14 de mayo. El presidente de la Autoridad Palestina, Mahmoud Abbas, que tiene un acuerdo político con Hamas, declaró: “Hoy una vez más continúan las masacres contra nuestro pueblo”. En el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU sólo un veto de los Estados Unidos evitó otra condena a Israel.

En las últimas seis semanas 40.000 habitantes de Gaza arremetieron contra la frontera con Israel en 13 lugares a lo largo de la cerca de seguridad de la Franja de Gaza. Luchar contra esas fuerzas militares, muchos de los cuales intercambiaron fuego directo con los soldados israelíes, no constituye una masacre. Como explicó el vocero de la Casa Blanca, Raj Shah: “La responsabilidad por estas trágicas muertes es directamente de Hamas… Hamas intencional y cínicamente está provocando esta respuesta”.

Con la escalada de estos enfrentamientos, el ejército israelí les avisó a los civiles que se mantengan alejados de las manifestaciones para minimizar las muertes. Por ejemplo, el 14 de mayo las fuerzas de Defensa Israelíes difundieron avisos en los medios de comunicación aconsejando a los civiles que se mantengan alejados de los tumultos y dejaron caer dos rondas de panfletos advirtiendo a la gente alejarse de los enfrentamientos.

3. Los manifestantes de Gaza son civiles pacíficos

En una columna del New York Times del 14 de mayo, un habitante de Gaza llamado Ahmed Abu Ratima afirmó que él fue uno de los primeros que soñó con el período de seis semanas de tumultos, y admitió que la situación salió de control, se volvió violenta y militarizada. Las manifestaciones “no pueden ser completamente controladas Nosotros no alentamos que se quemen banderas israelíes ni que se envíen cocteles Molotov con cometas”, aseguró. “También tratamos de desalentar que los manifestantes intenten cruzar hacia Israel. De todas maneras, no podemos detenerlos”. Después de seis semanas de tumultos, parece que Hamas y otros grupos terroristas como Jihad islámica tienen las riendas.

En un típico día de tumulto, el 6 d emayo del 2018, los soldados israelíes le dispararon a un grupo de terroristas que lograron cruzar la frontera hacia Israel. Cuando los encontraron llevaban un hacha, cortadores de alambre, una máscara de oxígeno, guantes, una cámara y bombas de gasolina. El 14 de mayo, el día de mayor violencia en este período de seis semanas, Hamas envió por lo menos una docena de células terroristas para romper la cerca de la frontera con Israel en diferentes puntos: se les ordenó enfrentar y raptar soldados israelíes. En dos lugares, grupos de luchadores de Hamas abrieron fuego contra los soldados israelíes y en otro lugar los terroristas pusieron una bomba en la frontera. El brigadier general israelí Ronen Manelis afirmó que las múltiples amenazas militares que Israel enfrentó ese día no tienen precedentes.

En el contexto de estos ataques al estilo militar, el hecho de que Hamas aliente a los civiles, incluso a las mujeres y a los niños, a proveer protección para duros combatientes es algo trágico. Estos civiles de Gaza no son nada menos que escudos humanos. Durante semanas, Hamas ha utilizado a su propio pueblo como carne de cañón, alentando a los civiles a ir a la zona de guerra que ellos mismos crearon.

4. Hamas busca la paz con Israel

En marzo del 2018, cuando apenas comenzaban las seis semanas de violencia en la frontera entre Israel y Gaza, el jefe del politburó de Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh asistió a una de las manifestaciones y declaró que las demostraciones marcaban el comienzo del retorno de Gaza “a todo Palestina”, es decir a todo Israel. Desde entonces, el líder de Hamas en Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, incrementó la retórica de Hamas, presentándose en los tumultos y declarando que los manifestantes de Gaza se “comerán los hígados” de los judíos y que no descansará hasta lograr personalmente cruzar la frontera y marchar hacia Jerusalem.

Hamas, que adoptó una nueva declaración en el 2017, continúa convocando a la destrucción de Israel. De hecho, ni siquiera nombran al estado judío, sino que lo llaman “la entidad sionista”. Al hablar con periodistas en el 2017 cuando se convirtió en el líder de Hamas en Gaza, Yahya Sinwar declaró que Hamas dejará las armas sólo cuando “el Satán entre al paraíso” y explicó que “No hay un minuto del día ni de la noche en el que no estemos reforzando nuestro poder militar”. Los amotinamientos actuales en la frontera entre Israel y Gaza son la primera oportunidad de Sinwar de demostrar su fuerza militar, y al parecer está disfrutando del odio y la violencia que está provocando.

5. No hay manera de luchar contra la desinformación y la parcialidad

Durante semanas, los medios internacionales adoptaron la versión de Hamas sobre los eventos, pintando a los habitantes de Gaza como manifestantes pacíficos y la reacción de Israel como algo desproporcionado e indefendible. Para los israelíes y para quienes apoyan a Israel, puede parecer casi imposible contrarrestar el odio. Pero es posible hacerlo. Aquí hay tres sugerencias para ayudar a inyectar más justicia y equilibrio en las discusiones.

Antes que nada, edúcate a ti mismo. Lee periódicos israelíes en línea. Suscríbete a boletines de organizaciones como las Fuerzas de Defensa de Israel https://www.facebook.com/idfonline/ y Honest Reporting (www.honestreporting.org). Habla con israelíes. A pesar de la naturaleza violenta de los tumultos actuales en Gaza, los israelíes remarcablemente se han unido en apoyo de la respuesta militar al terrorismo, la infiltración y el fuego directo con el que se enfrentan. Aprende cómo responden los israelíes a la violencia en sus fronteras y a los esfuerzos internacionales para culpar a Israel por el conflicto.

En segundo lugar, no temas hablar. Cuando veas un reporte injusto o escuches que se difama a Israel en los medios o en otra parte, di algo. Escribe una carta al editor, Escribe un blog sobre Israel. Habla cuando la gente comente las noticias relativas a Israel. Es crucial que las mentiras y las distorsiones sobre Israel no pasen desapercibidas y sin corregirse.

Finalmente, haz todo lo que esté a tu alcance para educar a quienes te rodean. Puede ser difícil creer que Hamas envía a Israel bombas atadas a cometas. Puede sonar increíble que con absoluto cinismo utilicen escudos humanos en su campaña para invadir y desestabilizar a Israel. Parece mucho más sencillo culpar al ejército de Israel por la violencia. De cada uno de nosotros depende difundir la información correcta, mostrar que lejos de conducir protestas pacíficas y controladas, Hamas cínicamente orquesta violentas protestas para dañar a su propio pueblo. Cuando Israel lucha en sus fronteras, todos tenemos la responsabilidad de luchar contra la información errónea y distorsionada que calumnia al estado judío.

Según tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/iymj/mo/5-ideas-erroneas-respecto-a-la-violencia-en-Gaza.html?s=show

Gaza’s Deadliest Day Since 2014

Gaza’s Deadliest Day Since 2014

May 15, 2018

Israeli forces yesterday fired on protesters trying to breach the Gaza border fence, killing more than 60 and injuring 2,400. It was the deadliest day in Gaza since 2014. The violence came as Israeli and American officials celebrated the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump both attended, and President Donald Trump gave a televised address.

Watching these events unfold together on the news, the contrast is striking. We spoke with Michael Koplow, policy director at Israel Policy Forum, about what yesterday’s events will mean—for Gaza, for the two-state solution, and for how Israel and the United States’ actions are viewed on the world stage.

 

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner celebrating the embassy move on May 13. (Flickr/Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

How did we get to such a boiling point yesterday?

There were the protests today, and more obviously there was the week-long Great March of Return that has been planned to culminate with these events, including the embassy move yesterday and then Nakba Day on Tuesday. And while the embassy opening was the cause of the protests and the riots and the marches, it also exacerbated the feeling of the Palestinians that they are getting shafted on all sides by Israel and by the United States. Part of it is the Trump administration policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which certainly has not made the Palestinians feel that there is any real end to the situation in sight. And finally, it’s no coincidence that this is called the Great March of Return; the notion of return is very strong. There have not been Palestinian leaders who have ever been willing to stand up and give ordinary Palestinians a sense of what is and is not possible.

So when you have all these factors together, it creates a toxic brew. And it contributes to a horrific situation on the border, where obviously the Israel Defense Forces cannot allow Palestinians—whether armed or not—to breach the fence, and it certainly cannot tolerate gunmen shooting toward the Israeli side, but you very clearly also have Palestinians who are there to protest peacefully and are caught in the crossfire. So it’s not an ideal situation on any side, to vastly understate.

In the news, the world is watching Palestinians being killed while American and Israeli officials celebrate the embassy opening. What will be the effect of this contrast?

There’s a huge contrast, and the optics are terrible. Even though there are very good reasons for Israeli and U.S. officials to celebrate the embassy move today—we should understand the legitimate joy that Israelis feel over recognition of Jerusalem as the capital—the optics of these celebrations going on while the Palestinians are being injured at the border is only going to convince Palestinians that the U.S. is not a fair broker, and it is only going to push more Palestinians toward violence.

How will these events affect the perception of the U.S. and Israel on the world stage?

Turkey already withdrew its ambassador to Israel and to the U.S., so that’s reaction number one. In general it’s going to make things more difficult on the Israeli policy front, and it’s going to make it more difficult for the states that have shown a willingness to engage with Israel more than they have in the past. It’s going to make it difficult for them politically to keep on doing so to the same extent, because even though this is obviously a U.S. move and not an Israeli move, most countries look at this as something coordinated between the U.S. and Israel knowingly. And while moving the embassy to West Jerusalem on its own could have been productive had it been accompanied with some sort of acknowledgment of the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, it wasn’t done that way. So it’s going to make it more difficult for some states to justify engagement with Israel until there is some sort of real progress or real momentum on the policy front. And obviously the embassy move is not going to be seen as progress in regard to the Palestinians.

What will this mean for the peace process—and for the two-state solution?

The peace process has essentially been dead ever since the December 6 announcement. Once the Jerusalem announcement was made, the Palestinians have been unwilling to engage with the current administration, not just over the peace process or the talks themselves, but also by boycotting all Trump administration officials. They seized upon the Jerusalem issue as a new red line. I think it’s going to be impossible—certainly for the current Palestinian position—to walk that back until and unless there is some sort of decision made for them on Jerusalem, as well.

So whatever the Trump administration’s intentions were—and they’ve talked about this as a way to further the peace process—I think that in reality it does the opposite. And while there are many different reasons to move the embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital, we should all be clear headed that it’s not going to advance the cause of a two-state solution, and it’s certainly not going to make it easier for the Palestinians to engage with Israel (or with the U.S. as a mediator) going forward.

South Africa also pulled its ambassador out of Israel yesterday because of the violence in Gaza. What does this mean, and will we see similar reactions from other countries?

South Africa is a bit of a special case, and Turkey was another. I’ll be surprised if we see many more countries that have relations with Israel pull their ambassadors from Israel over this—or pull their ambassadors from the U.S. over this—simply because the countries that would be likely to do it don’t have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. The Egyptians and Jordanians I suppose would be candidates, but I don’t think they’re going to want to offend the Trump administration. So I’d be surprised if too many more countries pull ambassadors, but it’s going to make it really difficult for countries that have been trying to have better relations under the table to keep it up.

What are your thoughts on pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress, who participated in the embassy’s opening ceremony?

I understand that many people view them as friends of Israel because of the enormous amounts of public and rhetorical support they give to the state, but I think that their true intentions are certainly in question, and their past remarks about Jews and Judaism make them inappropriate choices to be speaking at the official embassy ceremony in Jerusalem.

Looking ahead, do you think this level of violence is an isolated incident, or will we see more violence at this level in the future?

The Palestinians have really been building up to today now for months; today might end up being the climax. On the other hand there were so many casualties yesterday, and I expect just as many if not more today. One can easily see how this might be part of a larger reaction that leads to another war in Gaza, which happened in 2008 and 2012 and 2014. There’s certainly a good chance that the violence yesterday and today might be a spark for something much bigger.

How should liberal Zionists react?  

It’s very tough. On one hand, I think liberal Zionists should be just as outspoken and strong in their defense of Israeli security as their counterparts on the right—and certainly no country can abide breaches at their border, such as the attempts taking place in Gaza—but it’s also difficult when it is not coupled with an Israeli and U.S. government push to have a fair resolution to the conflict and a two-state solution. The issues of Israeli security and a diplomatic horizon for the Palestinians shouldn’t and can’t be separated. And so liberal Zionists should defend Israeli security with every fiber of their being; they should also be advocating for a two-state solution with every fiber of their being, and they shouldn’t let one affect the other.

Will we look back on this as a turning point?

I don’t know if it will be a turning point, but I do think that the violence in Gaza yesterday will certainly be seen as one of the lower points in the long history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And while there certainly is reason to celebrate the Jerusalem embassy opening, there would be more reason to celebrate had it been done in a different—and wiser—fashion.

As taken from, https://www.momentmag.com/gaza-deadliest-day-since-2014/

5 Misconceptions about the Violence in Gaza

5 Misconceptions about the Violence in Gaza

Some clarity in a world filled with media distortion.

by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

As thousands of Gazans clash with Israeli forces along Israel’s border with Gaza, the number of casualties continues to grow – and so has public condemnation of Israel. Here are five misconceptions fueled by the media about the current violence in Gaza – and what really is going on.

1. Gazans are protesting the new American Embassy in Jerusalem

“Tens of thousands protested along the frontier against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem” declared Britain’s Guardian newspaper. Many media outlets followed suit – misreporting the riots that rocked parts of Gaza as a spontaneous eruption sparked by the United States’ decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital Jerusalem.

That overlooks the fact that the ongoing riots were planned months ago: back in February 2018, the Hamas terror group that governs Gaza announced there would be six weeks of riots along the border, set to culminate on May 15, 2018. That’s the day after Israel’s 70th anniversary of its founding as a modern state: May 15 is day mourned as the “Nakba”, or disaster, by many Palestinians and other Arabs. For weeks, crowds of Hamas militants have been gathering at points along Israel’s border with Gaza, burning tires and attempting to break down the fence and storm Israel. They’ve billed it as the “March of Return”, allowing Gazans to relocate and live in what they claim are their ancestral homelands inside of Israel.

It’s not the first time in recent years that Hamas has attempted to invade Israel. The 2014 military conflict with Gaza showed that Hamas had spent years building highly engineered terror tunnels into Israel, designed to allow terrorists to infiltrate and carry out attacks. Israel’s army uncovered ammunition, maps, Israeli army uniforms, and plans to attack an Israeli kindergarten where one of the terror tunnels ended. Since that conflict, Hamas has lobbed scores of rockets into Israel, and has even sent explosives attached to kites over the border to attack the Jewish state. Efforts to tunnel into Israel continue unabated. In April 2018, Israel uncovered the longest and most sophisticated terror tunnel yet.

Hamas doesn’t recognize a state of Israel in any borders, and last week, Yahya Sinwar, since 2017 the leader of Hamas in Gaza, reiterated his group’s position, declaring that he intended to amass enough militants to launch a major invasion of Israel. “What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?” he asked. Sinwar’s remarks were widely reported in the Israeli press. It’s impossible that the reporters from Western media outlets tasked with covering this conflict don’t know of Hamas’ plans – to pretend this is a spontaneous uprising sparked by the US embassy’s move is disingenuous at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

2. Israeli forces massacred protesting Gazans

Turkey said that Israel and the US shared responsibility for a “vile massacre” as dozens of Palestinian rioters were killed by Israeli fire on May 14. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has a political sharing agreement with Hamas, declared “today once again, the massacres against our people continue.” In the US Security council, only a veto by the United States averted yet another condemnation of Israel.

In the past six weeks, 40,000 Gazans have stormed the border with Israel in 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence. Fighting these military forces, many of whom traded live fire with Israeli soldiers, doesn’t constitute a massacre. As White House spokesman Raj Shah explained, “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas…. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response.”

As the fighting has escalated, Israel’s army has taken steps to tell civilians to stay away from the riots and to minimize deaths. On May 14, for instance, the Israeli Defense Forces put out media statements telling civilians to stay away from the riots, and dropped two rounds of leaflets warning people to stay away from the fighting.

3. The Gaza rioters are peaceful civilians

In a column in the New York Times on May 14, 2018, a Gazan named Ahmed Abu Ratima claimed that he was one of the first people to dream up the current six-week period of rioting – and admits that it has become out of control, violent and militarized. The riots “cannot be completely controlled. We discouraged the burning of the Israeli flags and the attachment of Molotov cocktails to kites.” he claims; “We have also tried to discourage protesters from attempting to cross into Israel. However, we can’t stop them.” After six weeks of riots, it seems Hamas and other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad are now calling the shots.

In a typical day of rioting, on May 6, 2018, Israeli soldiers shot at a group of terrorists who succeeded in breaching the border and made it into Israel. They were found to be carrying an axe, wire cutters, an oxygen mask, gloves, a camera and petrol bombs. On May 14, the most violent day of riots in this bloody six-week period, Hamas deployed at least a dozen separate terror cells to breach the border with Israel in different spots; they were ordered to confront and kidnap Israeli soldiers. In two locations, teams of Hamas fighters opened fire on Israeli soldiers, and in one spot terrorists planted a bomb along the border. Israeli Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis called the multiple military threats Israel faced on that day “unprecedented”.

In the context of these military-style attacks, the fact that Hamas is encouraging civilians, including women and children, to provide cover for hardened fighters is tragic. These civilian Gazans are nothing less than human shields. For weeks, Hamas has been using its own people as cannon fodder, encouraging civilians into a war zone of its own creation.

4. Hamas is seeking peace with Israel

Back in March of 2018, when the six weeks of violence at the Israel-Gaza border were just getting started, Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh attended one of the gatherings and declared that the demonstrations marked the beginning of Gazans return to “all of Palestine” – meaning all of Israel. Since then, Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, has escalated Hamas’ rhetoric, appearing at the riots declaring that the Gaza rioters will “eat the livers” of the Jews, and that he won’t rest until he has personally broken into Israel and marched on Jerusalem.

Hamas, which adopted a new charter in 2017, continues to call for the destruction of Israel. In fact, it won’t even name the Jewish state, calling Israel the “Zionist entity” instead. Speaking with reporters in 2017 when he became leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar declared Hamas would disarm only “when Satan enters paradise” and explained “there’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.” The current riots at the Israel-Gaza border are Sinwar’s first chance to show his military might, and he seems to be reveling in the hatred and violence he’s causing.

5. There’s no way to fight misinformation and bias

For weeks, international media have adopted Hamas’ version of events, painting the Gaza riots as peaceful protests and Israel’s reactions as disproportionate and indefensible. For Israelis and Israel’s supporters, it can seem nearly impossible to counter the hate. But it is possible. Here are three suggestions to help inject more fairness and balance into discussions.

First, educate yourself. Read Israeli newspapers online. Subscribe to bulletins from organizations like the Israel Defense Forces https://www.facebook.com/idfonline/ and Honest Reporting (www.honestreporting.org). Speak with Israelis. Despite the violent nature of the current Gaza riots, Israelis have been remarkably unified in supporting their military’s response to the terror and infiltration and live fire they’ve come under. Learn how Israelis are responding to the violence on their border, and to international efforts to blame Israel for the riots.

Second, don’t be afraid to speak out. When you see unfair reporting or hear Israel slandered in the media or elsewhere, say something. Write letters to the editor. Blog about Israel. Speak up when people discuss the news as it relates to Israel. It’s crucial that lies and distortions about Israel don’t go unnoticed and uncorrected.

Finally, do all you can to educate those around you. It can be hard to believe that Hamas is sending bombs attached to kites sailing into Israel. It can sound incredible that they are cynically using human shields in their campaign to invade and destabilize Israel. It seems much easier to blame Israel’s military for the recent violence instead. It’s up to each of us to spread accurate information, showing that far from conducting peaceful, measured protests, Hamas is cynically orchestrating violent protests that harm their own people. As Israel fights at its border, we all have a responsibility to fight misinformation and distortion that slanders the Jewish state.

As taken from, http://www.aish.com/jw/me/5-Misconceptions-about-the-Violence-in-Gaza.html?s=mm