Wednesday, November 30, 2011


It was a great Thanksgiving.  My wife ordered a whole turkey from a butcher on Rechov Emeq Refaim, one of Jerusalem's nicer shopping and restaurant streets, several weeks ago.  Turkey is common in Israel; whole turkeys are not. She bought cranberry sauce and all the other traditional accompaniments. 

We also bought some challahs that formed the basis of a very tasty stuffing after they became stale. (I have no clue how that works.)  My wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law spent a good amount of time cooking and talking about cooking some great food.

The ulpan (intensive Hebrew course) my wife and I are in is attended by olim (new immigrants) from Russia, Iran, Venezuela, the U.S., France, and Switzerland. They are all aware of Thanksgiving and all of the countries have a similar holiday. So, it was fun telling them we were preparing for Thanksgiving and having all of them wish us Hag Sameach--happy holiday.  

It was also interesting and somewhat embarrassing to explain the Thanksgiving we all learned in elementary school--pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down to a nice meal together--with the reality of the treatment of the original Americans by the European invaders.  In the end, we focused on the real core of Thanksgiving:  eating and watching football.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


My name is Aron Adler.
I am 25 years old, was born in Brooklyn NY, and raised in Efrat Israel. Though very busy, I don’t view my life as unusual. Most of the time, I am just another Israeli citizen. During the day I work as a paramedic in Magen David Adom, Israel’s national EMS service. At night, I’m in my first year of law school. I got married this October and am starting a new chapter of life together with my wonderful wife Shulamit.

15-20 days out of every year, I'm called up to the Israeli army to do my reserve duty. I serve as a paramedic in an IDF paratrooper unit. My squad is made up of others like me; people living normal lives who step up to serve whenever responsibility calls. The oldest in my squad is 58, a father of four girls and grandfather of two; there are two bankers, one engineer, a holistic healer, and my 24 year old commander who is still trying to figure out what to do with his life. Most of the year we are just normal people living our lives, but for 15-20 days each year we are soldiers on the front lines preparing for a war that we hope we never have to fight.

This year, our reserve unit was stationed on the border between Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip in an area called “Kerem Shalom.” Above and beyond the “typical” things for which we train – war, terrorism, border infiltration, etc., - this year we were confronted by a new challenge. Several years ago, a trend started of African refugees crossing the Egyptian border from Sinai into Israel to seek asylum from the atrocities in Darfur.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Comments received on the November 12th  post, Settle This (in addition to those following the post itself):

1. Another amazing post.

2. While I'm not in favor of giving up any "settlements", I very much appreciate your defense of common sense.

3. Whatever issues are put forward, there can be no mistake that they want us to just go away... Dead or alive!

4. Well done and thank you for the patton quote which I love.

5. It is a great blog....

6. Love your random thoughts.

7. All you need to do is forward this 5-minute tutorial about the Middle East conflict and what it would take for lasting peace:

8. Once again, the emet!

9. Alan, bottom line is that they will not recognize the right of this state to exist at all. The rest is all window dressing or I'd use the eight letter word that starts with b and ends with t.
10. The only way peace "breaks out in the middle east" if the Israelis either move somewhere or become eliminated by the arab neighbors. Even then the arabs will still be fighting amongst themseleves. The real way peace breaks out is peace through strength, that is Israeli strength. It would not hurt if America had a president who supports the Israeli's.
11. Peace isn’t something that breaks out, Alan; it’s not fire or disease—even though many in Israel and here in America sometimes regard it as such. You work hard for it, if you sincerely want to achieve it. Since Israel abounded that road after Rabin’s assassination, and preferred to pave the road of settlements, occupation and ruling over other people--it faces the problems and isolation it faces today, including Iran.

12. Alan, These people want to kill you. And everyone in Israel, and Jews worldwide for that matter. That is the simple truth. Give them nothing as the “west bank” is in fact not a river bank, it is an area without which Israel cannot defend itself. Simple rule of armored warfare, you need maneuvering room and room for the enemy to lengthen its supply lines. Without the west bank buffer it is very difficult. The mountains separating the Capitol and the river Jordan can be outflanked.

Israel’s future is in fact bright if it stays the course, the fact is that the internet is bringing information to the young in Arab countries and in time enough of them will discard the medieval views of their present leaders. Israel needs a Churchill, “never give in, never, never, never”

Above is what I truly believe but it is not my family in the crosshairs. So maybe I should not pontificate.

13. Amen on your comments about the misplaced emphasis on the "settlements"--or as George calls them, "communities".

14. Unfortunately, your analysis is accurate. the solution is far from clear. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


A few random thoughts:

--What if Israel had relinquished the Golan Heights to Syria? Would Assad now be launching rockets from the Heights onto Israel, hoping for an Israeli response so as to distract his people from his tyranny and to unite the Arab world behind a war with Israel?                                                    
--What if Muammar Qadaffi had not been convinced by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons?  Would he have used them on his own people?  Would they be amongst the weapons that have disappeared in Libya and now are finding their way into the hands of Hamas and possibly other terrorists?

--What if the U.N were actually a moral, effective organization and its members were outraged at the slaughter of nearly 4,000 Syrians and the oppression of millions more?  What if China and Russia, not exactly democratic nations, did not have veto power over the Security Council?  Would there at least be a strong resolution condemning Syria?

--What if President Obama had strongly supported the Iranian revolt against the rigged elections in Iran?  Might there now be a new regime?  Is it conceivable that we would not now be facing the possibility of a regime that has declared its intentions to eliminate six million Jews developing nuclear weapons?

--TV commentators are increasingly using the phrases  "As It Were" and "If You Will."  What do these phrases mean?  Are they supposed to be sophisticated substitutes for "hmmm,"  "uhhhh," and "you-know?"  Do they really mean "I don't know what to say so I am throwing in a phrase that I hope sounds intelligent?"

--Early in the Obama Administration the President and his advisors on the Middle East asserted that progress on the Israel-Palestinian front was required in order to move effectively against Iranian nuclear build-up.  Yet, we now know from Wikileaks that the Arab world supports strong actions against Iran, and the President himself says that efforts are going well against the Iranian threat.  What changed?  Is there some movement on the peace front that we do not know about?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I support compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In exchange for true peace and security, I  support giving up much of the West Bank and finding a way to accommodate both people's claims to Jerusalem. 

The "settlements" are an important issue. However, they are one of many important issues. There are others of equal or more import, some existential for Israel.

Yet, it seems that some people are convinced that, if only Israel would uproot the "settlements" and leave the West Bank, there would be an end to the conflict. In about eighty to ninety percent of the conversations I have with Americans about the Middle East, "settlements" are the exclusive or primary focus. 

It seems that "settlements" have become the fashionable reason for why there is no end to the dispute. They are the conventional wisdom, the easy buzzword, the group-think. It reminds one of the quote from General George Patton: "When everyone is thinking the same, somebody is not thinking."