Right Out of a Soap Opera

I couldn’t believe this story when I read it in Ynetnews. It seems that Israeli parents of a child who had cancer have left him in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand on the advice of a Buddhist monk,  thinking that he is being protected from a relapse by being there. The boy, who is 12 years old, came up to some Israeli tourists dressed in a monk’s robe  and started to speak fluent Hebrew, and explained his situation to them.

The parents are Buddhists themselves and live in Israel,  and alternate visiting their son in Thailand. They claim that when he is 18 he can make a decision as to where to live permanently.

The doctors at the hospital in Israel where he was treated say he received a successful bone marrow transplant, and that follow-up treatments had been discontinued, but were needed.

This story touches a lot of nerves here in Israel, and I can see people getting passionate about whether the parents are doing the right thing for their son. I only wonder why they couldn’t have him stay in the monastery, but come back to Israel once in a while to get medical treatments (and see his family too?). It is also painful for people to see that the parents have abandoned Judaism.


Peace Now – Taking Charity From Those Who Need It

Last year Bank Leumi launched an interesting drive to help small charities in Isreal. Called “Millions of Reasons”, they invited small charities to make up a video explaining their group, and these were put on the Leumi Youtube channel. Bank Leumi pledged to give money to the top charities, and let the people decide who should qualify by voting by internet. Not only did the small charities earn money, they received a lot of good publicity and volunteers.

This year they decided to run the drive again. Unfortunately, the left wing group Peace Now has killed it. Im Tirzu, a group that promotes Zionism on Israeli campuses, was in the top five charities in the competition. Peace Now threatened Bank Leumi that they would have all of their members close their bank accounts with Bank Leumi if they didn’t disqualify them from the competition (claiming that the organization is political. It seems that to Peace Now, Zionism means right wing.)  Bank Leumi refused to do this, and when the left wingers continued their protests they decided to cancel the drive altogether.

You have no idea how awful this is. If you look at the charities represented, you will see a wide range of organizations that help both people and animals. Soup kitchens, battered women’s shelters, organizations that help children with disabilities, animal shelters, health organizations fighting diseases like ALS, and an umbrella organization helping gays and lesbians, are just some of the 139 charities that will now not receive needed funds and publicity.

It makes me want to cry. I was about to write a post asking my readers to vote for “Knefaim shel Krembo” -(they were number five on the list when the competition was halted) the only Israeli youth group for teenagers with disabilities, which doesn’t receive government funding. My son volunteers for this group once a week, and the teenager he helps is someone who can blink his eyes and smile, but he cannot move any other muscle in his body. This boy gets out and has a social activity once a week thanks to this organization, that is dependent on donations and volunteers. If Knefaim had made the top ten, they would have received 200,000 shekels.

I urge you to go see what this wonderful group does.



Another Sign of Impending War in Israel

President Obama’s speech last night, with his statement about Israel returning to the 1967 borders, is another sign of impending war here in Israel, but not in the way that the Arabs hope for.

The political experts will analyze both his speech and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech next week in Congress to death, spinning it one way or another, but the important thing in understanding what happens in the Middle East is not to concentrate on America or Israel’s words, but the Arab reaction to those words, and more importantly, their actions.

Hamas has already rejected Obama’s speech, saying that Obama  favors Israel. The Fatah faction has called for an emergency meeting to discuss it – not exactly a positive reaction. Even when he supposedly “gives” them what they “want” – it is not enough. This is typical, and is the core point to consider when looking at modern Israeli history.

The Arabs will never accept Israel’s right to exist, and they will go to war against us again and again. They cannot compromise – it is always all or nothing with them. Since we here in Israel will not give in and just commit suicide, there will always be ongoing conflict. They refused to compromise when the UN partitioned the region in 1947. After the unsuccesful attempt to drive all of the Jews out in May 1948 , (which they have the nerve to complain about, even now) instead of learning to live with the Jewish State, they decided to try again 19 years later. The Jews defended themselves again, and won. This paved the way for the Jews to be able to unite Jerusalem and visit the Kotel (Western Wall) for the first time in 19 years, and it enabled me and 300,000 other Jews to be able to live in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria).

Now Obama has stupidly raised the Arab expectations again. They will wait in growing frustration for him to “do something” to make Israel go back to the 1967 borders. (Common sense says that if Obama sits and watches Assad kill thousands of his own people without doing anything, it is crazy to think he will go against Israel for building houses. Then again, if we were dealing with common sense the whole region would be at peace) When he doesn’t, they will explode and attack us, again.

The real question is how widespread the next war will be. It might be “just” an operation in Gaza to stop the inevitable rocket fire from there. It might include riots and terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria – what the Arabs are calling the third intifada. It might include rocket fire from Hizballah in Lebanon. Or, it could be an even wider conflict which includes the Arabs from Syria and Egypt to pile on. The worst case scenario is all of these things together – which will represent a re-enaction of our War of Independence – with one major difference. Instead of attacking a state with 600,000 citizens, including many refugees from the Holocaust, poorly trained and without its own weapons industry – the Arabs will be attacking a country with 7 million people with the best trained army in the world (and yes, better than America’s for the one main reason that we are always fighting for our lives. Fighting thousands of miles from home is not the same kind of thing as fighting in your own backyard to protect your family).

The most ironic thing, of course is the fact that Obama said what he did to try to further the “peace process”.  Not only will this not bring peace, but Obama will lose support of many Jews and pro-Israel Americans. For a short time he may gain support of the Arabs, but when they see his inaction they will start to complain, and their support will dwindle too.

Heroism Comes In Many Forms

This article in Pajamas Media is deeply disturbing to me, but I think it is important to read. It is written by someone who is called on unexpectadly to oversee the care in hospital of an uncle who had previously signed a “do not resucitate” form. The doctors in the hospital recommend that he be put into a hospice, where he will be given morphine to control his pain, but will have no food given to him so that he can die.

The author describes her dillema, and describes the hospice workers, who, despite their orders, secretly give their patients food, and are wary of giving too much morphine as this hastens death. They do this because they are mostly religious (presumed Catholics), and follow what they believe rather than the strict orders of the doctors and nurses. Heroism comes in many forms – this is surely one of them.

The author also depicts someone she dubs Nurse Kevorkian, and her (in my opinion, blood-curdling) zeal to make sure that the hospice patients die as they supposedly have wished.

The author also points out the thought provoking idea that in this case at least, there was the possibility that her uncle had signed the form while clinically depressed.  I have wondered why noone has challenged these “end of life forms”  (for want of a better term) on the ground that the person signing them really does not know what it means. How can someone healthy agree to a specific treatment (or non-treatment in this case) for a future instance of fatal illness, when they don’t really understand the ramifications?

Parents From Hell

My middle son came home from his dormitory for a quick visit yesterday. (In Israel the boys who learn in Yeshiva get out of class early on Tuesday afternoons. Sometimes they stay in the dorm and sometimes they come home overnight.) We enjoyed our visit and he shared some stories about his classes and some of his friends.

One story was completely appalling. His particular yeshiva gives out report cards three times a year instead of twice, so most of the boys received them by mail during the Chanukah break. One friend received some grades that his parents weren’t happy with, so they decided some disciplinary action was warranted. Ok, so far everything seems normal, right?

Here is where it gets creepy. Number one, instead of discussing the problem with their son, they sent him off to school after the break with all kinds of treats. In the bag with these treats they included a letter, in which they told him that they would be taking away computer priviledges, and suggesting that it would be better for him to stay at school on Tuesday afternoons  to study instead of coming home.

Understandably, the kid was furious at his parents for writing this in a letter instead of discussing it face to face. He was probably really hurt, too, at the rejection. He even said that he wants to go live with his grandparents instead of going back home.

What the hell is wrong with these people? How could they be so cruel to their kid? How could they possibly think that rejecting him would be a way to motivate him to study harder? How could they be so cowardly as to write this in a letter instead of talking to him face to face?

Whenever I find myself getting very angry and exasperated with my kids, especially as they go through their teenage years, I make myself stop and think, What kind of a relationship do I want with my sons when they are adults?(which, when you think about it, isn’t very far in the future….) I then tell myself that what I say and do NOW will affect that relationship, and I should try my best to get a grip, even if it means biting my tongue and ignoring something for a little while.

Sometimes this trick works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I am aware that how I relate to my kids now is important. I am afraid that this other family is headed for trouble – over nothing.