Sunday, July 28, 2013

Looking Yehoshua's parents in the eye

Twenty years later, exactly, and I still cant look Yehoshua's parents in the eye.

Yehoshua Friedberg was my friend. He was a Zionist and a new immigrant from Canada to Israel. He was a soldier in the Israeli army. In fact, as a soldier he was on his way to special testing to become a commander in the Israel Defense Forces. It was early on a Sunday morning, we were all 24 years young, and Yehoshua was murdered, shot point blank by Arab terrorists just outside of Jerusalem, our capital and left on the side of the highway.

It took a few days to find Yehoshua. We young friends used any connections we could, to get political and media attention, to convince people that no, he had not gone to Eilat for a break, nor had he needed to get away from his beloved unit or friends. He was an idealist, a true believer in destiny and in tying out fate to our Jewish people. It was Purim, he wouldn't have missed the party we were all busy preparing. He had just eaten shabbat lunch together with the gang, one day before that fateful morning.

Why can't I face Yehoshua's parents? Because I took the call that came in from a payphone in Europe, during their stopover on the way to Israel, that journey begun when they planned to join in the search for their lost son. But we found Yehoshua while they were en route from Canada, and how can you tell that to a mother, a father, who'd come to help find their son and reunite with him. I pretended I couldnt hear them well, it was a bad connection I'd lied, and hung up remorsefully. I'm pretty sure his mom heard me, loud and clear, and knew that Yehoshua's fate had been sealed.

The rest of us went on to marry, raise families, have careers - the usual path - while Yehoshua remained forever young and his murderers, put away by my husband the army prosecutor at the time (Gd does work in mysterious ways), were locked up. It's been twenty years and Yehoshua will never join us to dance at the reunions and family occasions. His mom and dad dug deep down inside themselves to find the heroic strength to continue and to raise their two other wonderful children.

And those murderers live on.

Twenty years later and now they will go free. Our Israeli government is setting them loose. Yehoshua's terrorist murderers, palestinian Arabs who drove him just a short way out of Jerusalem before shooting him in the head and dumping his body on the side of the road, carefully piling up his religious books, his tefillin and identity cards - a chilling message of hate and murder.

How can I look his parents in the eye? How can any of us?

Yehoshua, may your memory be blessed. And may we gain the wisdom to stand strong, and to prevent this from ever happening again.

Ruthie Jaffe-Lieberman

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mourning.. and rebuilding with faith.

The Jewish people have a number of dates during the year that coincide with remembering events of the relatively distant past. These are often holidays listed in the Torah. But they are also the result of more recent destruction - say, the first and second temples, over 2000 years ago.

Who was it who said that a nation that mourns its past has a strong future? Its been credited to recent movie stars, but I have a hard time believing that the source isnt a more philosophical one. Anyhow - it must be true - and as we enter that time, we should keep this in mind as we emerge revived and strengthened.

Tonight, on the eve of the beginning of the month of Av, the month which saw the destruction of two Jewish temples in Jerusalem, keep this in mind: Our people are determined to remember, to mourn, and to pray that we reach a time that turns this despair into happiness with the rebuilding of our city. That has begun, and so we look forward.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Egyptian changes

So once a year Egypt will have a military coup in the name of democracy? 


Even the camels are going to start wondering what's going on.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

UN lies or just mistruths?

Friends of Israel, beware of UN hypocrisy - and take note of this important report by Palestinian Media Watch:


False claim by UNRWA in response to PMW report:
Map without Israel that official posed with does not represent today 
but "pre-1948" Palestine

UNRWA's name still appears in logo of youth center that currently glorifies suicide bomber on its Facebook page

Earlier this week, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, posed with a map that erases the State of Israel and presents all of it as "Palestine," at an UNRWA event in Lebanon.

These pictures were broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV and on the Palestinian news site, corroborating PMW's report. 

UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness, responding on UNRWA's website, rejected PMW's report. He claimed that the map in question was not intended to reflect the present, but reflected the period before Israel was established:

"UNRWA categorically rejects accusations in the media that the Agency is 'erasing Israel from the map' because its officials and stakeholders stood next to a map which does not show Israel.
The map in question is an embroidery depicting a pre-1948 map and therefore ante-dates the creation of the state of Israel. The allegations are therefore completely false."
[UNRWA's website, May 14, 2013, ]

UNRWA spokesperson Gunness' justification that the map "depict[s] a pre-1948 map" is baseless, as the map includes the PLO-PA flag and not a British flag. That exact map erasing Israel, especially when accompanied by the PA flag, is one of the many ways the PA expresses its rejection of Israel's existence and right to exist. 


Thanks to the talented, responsible reporting from the guys at !

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Freedoms and responsibilities

Freedom takes many forms. Some seek freedom on a national level - from a dictatorial ruler, as we've seen in the Arab 'spring', or rather 'fall', exchanging one totalitarian government for another in some cases. Others aspire to personal freedoms, education for their children and dreams of a better society.

The former is the Syrian rift that we're seeing now, with Assad's deadly responses to internal turmoil. The latter is the holiday of Passover, celebrated by a People who pray daily 'for the peace of Jerusalem'.
This dichotomy is typical of the contrasts here in the Middle East. While our neighbors call for Jihad against other religions, Israelis practice what they preach. Our school books do not incite to hatred. Our city squares are not named to glorify terrorists. Yet we remain the Goliath in so many eyes.

President Obama gave two speeches here last week, one in Ramallah supporting a movement based on hate and terror. The other in Jerusalem, turning his back on the only democratically elected government in the Middle East, snubbing our Knesset and choosing selected students as his dutiful audience, telling them to seek peace. And what message came out of Gaza in response? That of deadly rockets, inconveniently hitting the city of Sderot during his visit - but ignored and kept quiet.

Mr. President, friends, we do not have to be taught to seek peace. Our husbands, wives, and children serve in the Israeli army. We put our most cherished lives on the line every day. We fight the battle that your country faces as well, the hate of a Moslem population determined to destroy our Western values of peace and security.

As the Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Passover, we will sit tonight with strangers and loved ones, together at our seder table, recalling our liberation from Egypt. We taste the salt water, and are reminded of the tears of a people enslaved, and we surely recognize the not-long-ago suffering in Europe as well, simply because of race and religion. We, of all people, are aware of the desire for freedom, and we celebrate that quest. We also recognize dishonesty, and are wary of those who wave the flag of freedom without true intent, only to be replaced by more oppression and hatred.

In Bethlehem last week, the Palestinian Authority removed signs of their very real aspiration - the removal of the State of Israel. In an attempt to wipe us off the (proverbial, for now) map, this monument was erected in the city's central square. Realizing it was on Obama's visiting route, the PA removed it temporarily so as not to cause alarm. (

No worries, it's back up, safe and sound, and its message should resonate throughout the free world - our intentions are clear, so pay attention to what we say and do.

We western idealists have a job to do - eyes wide open, we must celebrate our values and work to ensure their application. When confronted with a nuclear Iran, our work is to create a vehemently defiant front, not allowing any cracks in the wall of defiance. Any other choice endangers our children's immediate futures.

As many in the US celebrate the holiday of Easter, and Israel rids itself of leavened bread and enters a spiritual realm of celebration and freedom, it is our duty to face reality - hear our neighbors, understand their intentions and protect our values by supporting Israel morally and militarily, spiritually and practically. By raising our collective voices, we say yes to a strong Israel and strengthen our resolve for true freedom.

Happy Passover!

LIKE us at:

In Jerusalem on this holiday we greet our guests with the ancient priestly blessing
Our friends, join us in a true quest for peace and freedom in the coming year, eyes wide open.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

POTUS, welcome. Obama, snubs and all.

President Obama is set to visit Israel.
We here are rolling out the red carpet to make the best impression possible.

I wonder if the President is doing the same. Are his advisors making sure that the people of Israel get the proper respect? Are they making sure to note the historic relevance of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel?

A visit to the Israel Museum. A speech before Israelis.
But without the Western Wall? This holy site is just one of Jerusalem's landmarks for Jewish heritage throughout the ages, one deemed important for a senatorial photo op for Obama just a few years ago, when he still hankered for the Jewish vote.
And no proper head of state Knesset speech? What, afraid of hecklers? That cant be it, since we Israelis know how to be proper when necessary. It's much deeper than that, a fear of making some sort of statement supporting Israeli sovereignty, and doing so in Jerusalem of all places!

When the NYTimes calls Senator Rubio's support of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol 'provocative', we know what the media thinks. We can repeat a mantra to make it seem more real - see official logo of the upcoming presidential visit: 'Unbreakable Alliance' for some wishful thinking. We can explain away our friends' actions to make it seem more in line with our own policies. But we cant fool ourselves forever.

We'd be hard pressed to explain how, in the same month as an international, annual boycott of all Israeli products (throw away those microchip processors in every laptop, please) - the White House chose to abide by apartheid-like policies of the US State Department in turning away one singular group of Israeli students in an Israeli-recognized university - those who study in the Ariel University. Science has no borders? Think again. Apartheid? Against Jews here.

The Kotel. The Knesset. Our university. Whose pressure will the US hear when it comes to matters of state? I for one wont be simply chanting a mantra of 'unbreakable alliance'. With eyes wide open, our new government must approach with caution and wisdom, as the only true protectors of Israel's interests.

Welcome, POTUS. We share our country with you as our guest.
But Obama, we remain wary of your intentions and cues.

p.s. oh, and beware: our goodwill, despite the snubs and ill-timed visit, Jerusalem's residents are in for crazy traffic while preparing for our Passover holiday:)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New Government for Israel - its about time.

You can stop holding your political breath: Israel's about to get a new Government. Yes, as predicted, Lapid and Bennett/Ariel are in; the ultraorthodox parties are out, for now. Many ministers wont be shifting their positions, which gives nice continuity and a chance to get things done within the professional format. 

Dont expect small,  though - an expected 25-ish Ministers; but they've vowed to legislate an 18-minister minimum 'next time' (when its not their turn). The newbies will have to adopt a very steep learning curve as they maneuver our very major posts.

Let's hope that Netanyahu has the wisdom to have Moshe Bogie Yaalon serve as Defense Minister, and to deny promotion to some of the younger, more political hacks with little to offer than maneuvers and face value.

And the 'regular' members of knesset? While new to politics, many of them will now have their chance to learn quickly, and shine. Wishing them best of luck, and the wisdom to pay attention to others more experienced as well. 

You heard it here.
A new government presented Monday, voted on Tuesday and sworn in by the next day.
May Israel merit success, if not redemption, soon!