Showing posts with label Independence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Independence. Show all posts

September 12, 2021

More Daring than a Prison Break

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "More Daring Than A Prison Break."

Unlike the Jews that came as refugees from the horrors of the concentration camps and expelled from a multitude of the Arab nations, the Palestinians have been supported all this time by the Arab League, the United Nations, and the West capitulating to Arab oil dependence and ongoing fight against an encroaching Russia in the Middle East. There is no question that the Palestinians have squandered billions of dollars in aid, spent decades engrossed in terror, maintained unrealistic goals to “have it all,” and passed over many chances for achieving their people’s autonomy. If only their efforts at building tunnels to escape from prison as well as to get into Israel and attack, murder, and kidnap innocents would be channeled instead toward building solid institutions to advance the governing of their people, educating and growing prosperity, and living in freedom and peace, side-by-side with their neighbor, Israel.

While I am sure that there are many good Palestinians who are deserving of autonomy and opportunity, unfortunately, their corrupt leaders and terrorists have been brainwashed by radical Islam and have used the Palestinian people as political pawns leaving many still languishing in refugee camps today. In stark contrast, the Jewish freedom fighters, who also endured incredible hardships, focused their efforts towards their independence, and even those taken prisoner managed to escape again and again until they made their way back to Israel to celebrate the achievement of the independence of their people. Like many things in life, setting the right goal is half the battle, and a goal of life and freedom is a much more compelling vision and driving force than ever hate and terror will be.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 3, 2021

You Got To Make It!

I liked this sticky note over this nice ladies desk:

You do not find the happy life.

You make it!

Too many people seem to wait for miracles, like manna from Heaven to give them what they need or want. 

They don't realize that G-d has gifts us what we need (including strength and determination) to work towards these things ourselves. 

We are not the Israelites stuck in the barren desert for 40 years that we need it to rain manna. 

Of course, it's nice every once in a while when a miracle shows up and we are given an extra hand (or maybe even a full arm). 

But day-to-day, we have to at least try to be self-reliant--as well as work with others--to work towards our goals and fulfill our missions in life. 

You got to make it happen if you want it bad enough.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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July 4, 2021

A Practical Approach to Peace in the Middle East

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "A Practical Approach to Peace in the Middle East."

The question then is why? What is so intractable about the Israel-Palestinian conflict that no one seems to be able to solve it and that it has become virtually the Holy Grail of world issues on which if only we could solve it then everything else would-be nirvana. The conflict has been blamed for everything from the endless Palestinian refugee situation to Soviet aggression and expansion during the Cold War, the oil embargo of 1973, the rise and proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and countless other of the world’s ills. Anyone who even contributes to Middle East Peace like Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat win the Noble Peace Prize, and that’s without there being a full and final solution!
I am certain that Israel’s willingness to negotiate and even to make painful compromises for peace has been far more prevalent, far-reaching, and consistent over time—whether in Oslo, Camp David, or Taba. In the meantime, Israel and the Palestinians continue to “take the risks” and remain in a perpetual state of sometimes active and more often passive war that is fought by Israel through military control and incremental settlement expansion and by the Palestinians through terrorism and their pursuit of the demographic population time bomb. When it comes to achieving peace, perhaps the wisdom of the ages applies here: “the short road is long”—there are no shortcuts to serious negotiation and compromise—and “the long road is short”—eventually, a solution for peace will be found even if for now it tragically and painfully evades us all.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 15, 2020

Humming The Hatikvah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Humming The Hatikvah."

But as I walk in the water, feeling both the softness and purity of the beautiful water as well as the buoyancy and resistance of it, I think to myself that no Jews should not be familiar and know The Israel national anthem. After 2,000 painful years in exile culminating in the concentration camps like Theresienstadt and The Six Million murdered Jews, we all must know that now G-d has kept his promise to our forefathers and returned us to The Holy Land.

Assuredly, we are living in the time of miracles, the redemption, and soon to be the coming of the Mashiach. Now is the time not just to hum The Hatikvah, but to bring every Jew back, including me and my family. It’s almost time to go home, where we will sing and dance, with hearts brimming over with Joy, before our L-rd, and once again go to worship at our holy Temple in Jerusalem. May it be His will! Amen.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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February 9, 2020

From Victims To Victors

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "From Victims To Victors."
The critical image of transformation of the Israelites going from the very depths of slavery to the lofty heights of redemption, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and going to the Promised Land is relived again in our very own times. This happened immediately after the Holocaust, when the Jews left the death camps of Europe (in fact, many coming by boat over the Mediterranean Sea instead of on foot over the Red Sea as in biblical times) to come to Israel. Here too, the Jews went on to fight as free men in the War of Independence for the founding of the State of Israel just like the Israelites fought the Amalekites in the desert and the Seven Nations to receive the Promised Land of Israel. Furthermore, just like we received the Torah after the redemption from Egypt, we are seeing an incredible resurgence of Torah learning in Israel today.

In both cases of redemption, we had to transform from being victims of slavery and persecution to instead taking the reins in our hands, and with Hashem's help, determining our own destiny and becoming the victors! Incredibly, just as the Israelites were redeemed by Hashem from Egypt and brought to conquer the Promised land 3300 years ago, so too were we, Jews, brought from the ashes of Auschwitz to the shores of the Israel to fight and become "a free nation in our Land, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem" (Hatikvah). And just like the redemption from Egypt resulted in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) to worship Hashem in the desert, so too will we soon relive the redemption in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, in the right time, we will need to have faith and courage to rebuild it with our very hands, and this will happen speedily and truly in our days. May Hashem let it be!


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 14, 2018

Dreaming of Zion

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Dream of Zion."
To flourish in the land of milk and honey.
To celebrate the Shabbat and holidays as in the days of old.
To revere the bravery and heroism of the defenders of Israel.
To live and worship as a Jew without discrimination, racism, and hatred.
To fulfill the promise of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Hope you enjoy and we can all one day live the dream! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 12, 2018

Aliyah: To Go Up

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, The Aliyah Connection.
"As Jewish people yet around the globe plan for their futures, they need to consider carefully “the place that G-d has chosen” and where they and their families will be at the fateful conclusion of the Redemption and the arrival of Mashiach. Perhaps, while the road to Jerusalem requires our dedication and hard work, the choice is not that difficult as the Land of Israel flourishes and the people of Israel yet lives–Eretz and Am Israel Chai!"

Hope you enjoy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Ochayon) 
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October 12, 2017

Reconquest of the Soviet Union

Okay, when I saw this map of the Soviet Union pre-1991 breakup, I got it!

Russia lost 14 Former Soviet Union (FSU) states after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  1. Armenia
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Belarus
  4. Estonia
  5. Georgia
  6. Kazakhstan
  7. Kyrgystan
  8. Latvia
  9. Lithuania
  10. Moldovia
  11. Tajikistan
  12. Turkenistan
  13. Ukraine
  14. Uzbekistan

Could you imagine the United States or the European Union losing something like that?

Think of California and Texas and more seceding and making their own independent states. 

What would that do to the power and capability of this country?

Hence, when Russia goes into FSUs like Georgia and Ukraine (in red)--does a land grab like with Crimea and Abkhazia and South Ossetia--and threatens others, in their Soviet minds, they are just reclaiming what is/was theres.

Now listen, I am not justifying their aggression and hostile actions, but I am realizing/recognizing how explosive a situation this may end up being--especially since Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (in blue) changed sides and are now part of NATO!

Russia--even without the 14 FSUs--is the largest country in the world by territory with over 17 million square miles--that is almost the size of the United States and Canada or and China combined!

Russia may not have the economy of the United States but they are a formidable foe that we least not forget also has the largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. 

Russia has a history of creating a large world dominating union and their military forays into the FSUs, support of hostile regimes like Syria and in Iran, sizable war games in Belarus, continuing to militarize the Arctic, interfering in our election, stealing our secrets via Kaspersky Lab software is likely just a shadow of what is yet to come. 

So if you think North Korea and Iran are problems...  ;-)

(Source Map: here with attribution to Map Collection)
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December 15, 2016

Bonding and Independence

It's an interesting phenomenon between parents and children. 

Parents (with G-d as the third partner) birth and raise their beautiful children. 

It is in a way a thankless job that we all savor and do with love, joy, and even gratitude just to have the opportunity. 

From sleepless nights to dirty diapers, homework to honing on how to be a mensch, family outings to school trips, braces to bar/bat- mitzvahs, birthdays to sleepover parties, shopping trips to college choices, as parents there is nothing we won't do for our children. 

Yet, the role of children is to learn and grow to be independent. Children must spread their wings, so they can function as their own adults and parents one day (and hopefully before they are 33 and still living in mom and dad's house)!

Yet to a parent, a child is always their child, no matter how big, smart, or successful they are (and even when, G-d willing, they surpass their parents in height, good looks, and achievements).

My father used to say, "Blood is thicker than water," meaning that it's a harsh world out there and the family always needs to stick together.

As children of Holocaust survivors, I learned that we can't stray to far (or far at all) from either our religion or family, because otherwise, "We let Hitler win."

We grew up living next to my grandparents (1 block away) and later in life, we always lived right near my parents as well. 

I watched TV and ate salami sandwiches with my grandmother and doted over my grandfather who sat on the bimah in his big chair as the president of our then struggling synagogue in Manhattan. 

Similarly, my parents were like surrogate parents to my own children and regularly babysat, picked the kids up from school/camp, made Sabbath meals, and happily spent time with them doing whatever. 

My parents were always there to advise, guide, lend a hand and support...no matter the cost to them, as my father used to say, "I would go through fire for my family" and this--his devotion and integrity--I knew was the utter truth. 

In turn, I tried to be a good son and although I disagreed and fought with my parents (mostly my dad) on many issues (often religious and sometimes politics as remember them), I knew they loved me dearly and I them.

As my dear parents are now gone, and I have become (slightly) a helicopter parent myself with forever worries about how my kids are doing, I know that they need to be independent--and that (more than) sometimes means making mistakes or falling down, and hopefully getting right back up again on their feet.

It is hard to learn that as parents, in many cases, we are just spectators--not that we know everything, we don't, but the maternal and paternal instinct is to safeguard our children whom we love and adore. 

Kids need three things to individuate successfully: stability, consistency, and safety. Absent those, you run the risk of unhealthy knotted bonding and stunted separation anxiety. 

Everyone needs to lead their own lives--we really only have one life to live. Yet, as family, we are very much the foundation and part of their inner strength for everything that follows from their determination, hard work, and blessings from Above. 

For parents and children, it is critical to balance the need for healthy separation and independence with love and bonding that is timeless.

We have to "let go and let G-d" and let our Children. 

The parents are the past and the children are the future, but we mean everything to each other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2016

Why Can't The English Be More English

The people of the United Kingdom voted in referendum yesterday for Brexit (British exit) or independence from the European Union (EU). 

Unity is a wonderful thing when values and vision is widely shared and the burden and benefits are more or less evenly distributed. 

But in the case of the UK in the EU, the vote for independence was anchored in the unsettling issues of mass immigration from the Arab Spring, the debt crisis of many of the poorer Southern EU states (e.g. Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc.), the decision of the UK to maintain their own currency (not accepting the Euro), and culturally (and language-wise), even though they all interact with each other, the UK has more in common with the US and Australia, then they ever had with Germany, France, and the rest of Europe. 

It is really very understandable that the UK doesn't want to lose their identity and sovereignty and just be another EU state--rather than be a unique, independent, and dominant entity of it's own, charting their own course and driving their own fate. 

While it's great to a part of something bigger, sometimes being yourself is more important, and you can still interact with the rest. 

No people should be forced to become a shadow of themselves, and if the call is for independence, then that is noble call even if it is inconvenient for those who would rather call themselves the EU. 

Unity may best be by alliance rather than strict integration...one for all and all for each and every one. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 12, 2015

Helping Kids To Stand On Their Own

So my wife and I have a longstanding disagreement on the best way of teaching children. 

Her perspective:

TEACH TO CARE - Get the kids to do them for themselves, learn to be independent, by doing they learn to stand on their own two feet, don't baby them, by teaching them to do for themselves you are caring for the kids, if you jump every time they ask then there is no reason for them to try themselves.

His perspective:

CARE TO TEACH - Do for the kids when they are young, by showing them how then they start to learn how to do it for themselves later in life, children need to be shown love and caring so they can learn to one day care for themselves as well as for others, by loving and giving selflessly to children they learn that they are valuable human beings and grow to a healthy maturity. 

The reality:

CARE AND TEACH - We need to show care and love to children, but also need to teach them to do for themselves. We can't smother children nor can we send them out into the world unprepared. Care for them at an early age, show them how, and then give them opportunities to do it for themselves and become full adults. 

Like with most things in marriage, and relationships in general, the bringing together of two heads and hearts is better than just one alone. We balance each other, complement each other, and synergize each other--one is alone and deficient, two is together and with G-d making three, it is a whole. 

And always tell your wife she was right. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 3, 2014

Big Bike, Little Bell

This photo that I took stuck in my mind for Independence Day tomorrow. 

We are a great nation of 50 states founded in freedom, ruled by democracy, and driven by human rights for everyone. 


Yet in many ways, we have been squandering our national strengths:


- Spending it forward (living as a nation in debt) and creating yet another bubble economy driven by low interest rates (hence another Dow record today of over 17000) with still the lowest workforce participation in over 36 years and 92 million Americans not working!


- Stretching our military muscle in over 10 years of hapless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we are war weary and in proverbial retreat across the Middle East, in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and with Iran and North Korea).


- Partisan politics freezing our government with the Executive Branch saying they will go it alone on everything from immigration reform to fixing highways and Congress threatening to sue for various claims of abuse of power.


Like this Photo, this country is in danger of becoming a big bicycle with a lot of potential to move things forward, but with a very small bell barely audible with anything of significance to our citizens at home, let alone everyone else in the world. 


We have the ability to continue our path of greatness in building our country's economy, military, and social systems, as well as steering the world toward peace, prosperity, and freedom. However, to do this, we must be able to ring the bell of Independence loudly, with leadership, confidence, and a determination for genuine progress for a union greater than ever before. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 7, 2014

From Holocaust To Homeland


From the searing ashes of six million murdered in the Holocaust, 

G-d remembered the Jewish people, 

and restored them to the promised land. 

The fulfillment of hope and yearnings for freedom and independence, 

and never to be slaughtered like sheep again. 

Some say that we are waiting for the Messiah, 

But to me, the miracle of Israel is the beginning of the redemption. 

While it is difficult to see Israel maligned in their continued fight for survival, 

surely there will come a time when we can see clear the wisdom for all to live and let live.

May G-d bless Israel to live in peace and security.
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May 24, 2014

Driving Identity Theft

It's been only about 4 months since my mom passed, and now my dad becomes very sick from chemotherapy and ends up in the hospital for a week.

His red and white blood count were extremely low, but thank G-d, the doctors were able to save him.


However, he is in a drastically weakened state and now looks like he will need regular assisted living just to get by every day. 


This has been horrible to see someone who has always been so strong, smart, and there selflessly for all of us, to be in this condition. 


We found a nice place for him, but even the nicest place isn't his place and doesn't allow the independence he (and we all) always cherish. 


On top of it, I get a letter in the mail with more than half a dozen tickets on his car.


It's impossible, because he hasn't been driving due to his illness.


We run down to check his car, and sure enough someone stole his plates (and replaced them with another set). 


They did this to his car that has handicapped tags.


In the meantime, they are driving around through tolls and doing G-d knows what.


The police were helpful--they came as soon as they could--took a report, the plates that were switched onto his car, and dusted for fingerprints.


I will never forget standing there just after my joint surgery--when not three hours before, I thought to myself, maybe things are finally calming down. 


Hopefully, the police will catch whoever did this. 


In the meantime, I take comfort knowing that G-d is the ultimate police force. ;-)


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

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July 4, 2013

Even The Buses Celebrate

A great Independence Day it is.

Even the buses celebrate with the flag proudly mounted and displayed. 

What does Independence Day mean to you?

- Freedom 

- Human rights

- Democracy

Important ideals to appreciate. 

We are so fortunate to be independent. 

All values worth fighting for. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 8, 2013

From Wheelchair to Walking


Berkeley Bionics (now Ekso Bionics) has done miracles here in helping the disabled to walk again. 

Based on the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) from Lockheed Martin that was developed for the warfighter to carry 200 pounds of weight at 10 mph, Berkeley has adapted this technology for medical rehabilitation. 

I first watched this eLEGS technology on a National Geographic special called "Make Me Superhuman."

This woman literally walks for the first time in18 years after a skiing accident, and I was literally crying for her. 

She wobbled and would've fallen if not for the safety harness, but after a few times retraining her muscles to walk again, she was able to take steps and turn using the eLEGS exoskeleton technology.

Over and over again, she says how grateful she is to be able to stand, be normal height, walk again, and get out of her wheelchair.

This technology can really bring hope to the disabled, especially as it gets refined, more compact, and cheaper.

The vision is that paralyzed people will one day get up in the morning, put on the eLEGS, get in the car, and then walk around all day just like you and I.

Oh, what a great day that will be. ;-)

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March 4, 2013

Seasaw, Yeah It's For Kids


There is an interesting new crowdsourcing application called Seesaw.

And like a seesaw goes up and down, you can take a picture and crowdsource decisions--thumbs up or down for what you should do.

Food, clothes, movies, more--I could imagine people even going so far as to use this for dating--Go out with them or not? Keep 'em or dump 'em?

While the possibility of having others chime in on your everyday life decisions is somewhat intriguing, social and fun...it also seems a little shallow and superficial.

Do you really need to ask your friends about everything you do or can you make simple day-to-day decisions yourself?

And when it comes to big decisions, perhaps you need more than a picture with a thumbs up or down to give the decision context, evaluate pros and cons, think through complex issues, and make a truly thoughtful decision--perhaps some genuine dialogue would be helpful here? 

Finally, many decisions in life come at the spur of a moment--should I or shouldn't I--and you don't have the benefit of saying hold on "let me take a picture and get some of my friends opinions on this"--life waits for no one and timing is often everything!

It is good to get other people's opinions (i.e. the proverbial "second opinion") as well as to do what my father used to tell me which is to "sleep on it," because things look different over night and in the morning.

But while you should consider what others think--in a meaningful way--in the end, you need to trust your inner self and take responsibility for your own decisions. ;-)

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