Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Life is a Beach-house...

I don't only write about Judaism and Israel, I also have some fun (outside of the fun talking about Judaism and Israel) too. A couple of days ago we gained back our grandmother's beach house in Marina Del Rey. Now she, my parents, sibling (the one that's not in Israel, anyway), uncles, aunt(s), and cousins have been hanging out there. It's great having it back after so many years of renting it out.

Uncle Jonny and I did a major moving operation yesterday, disassembling, moving, and reassembling my cousin's bed, maneuvering a couch outside doors too small for it and even up two flights of stairs too narrow for it (along with Josh), driving a U-Haul, all that Jazz. I got to hold Future Aunt Jen's (fan club website) three Daytime Emmys when we got some furniture at her house. That was pretty cool. They were much much heavier than I expected.

I have spent hours in the Pacific ocean bodyboarding (or as I have always called it by its childish 80's-era name, boogie-boarding). I have also attempted to watch Crash while listening to the crash of the waves next to me. I have even started to practice my three aliyot for this Saturday above the beach. I brought my old telescope my cousin bought me over a decade ago and plan on using it soon once I clean the lenses and find the elbow attachment that allows me to peer down at it as opposed to crouching and looking through up through the eyepiece. I expect to find it never. Maybe I should invest in an Equatorial Tripod, which is a bit cheaper than a Sefer Torah, but guess what, they're both on sale! That's the main criterion for my mother buying anything.

I plan on getting my bike's tires repaired so I can bike on the great bike path that goes through the infamous Venice Beach. For now, I'm going to walk my dog on the Venice boardwalk.

Even in scary times, I want to acknowledge the great work of the Israeli police, not only the funniest police force in the world (many of the officers are hilarious), but the best at catching terrorists before they attack:
Monday, a Palestinian terrorist carrying a 5-kilo bomb-vest was intercepted in Jerusalem downtown’s Tzahal Circus primed for a suicide, 7/17/06

I also want to include a translated transcript of Prime Minister Olmert's address last night to the Israeli Knesset:
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

The Knesset, July 17, 2006

Madam Speaker,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Members of Knesset,

At the outset, I offer condolences, on my behalf and on

Behalf of the government, the Knesset and the entire nation,

To the families of the victims - both civilian and IDF. I

Also send best wishes for recovery to the wounded, and a

Huge embrace for the families of those kidnapped and the

Boys themselves.

Over the past few weeks, our enemies have challenged the

Sovereignty of the State of Israel and the safety of its

Residents - first in the southern sector, then on the

Northern border, and deeper into the home front.

Israel did not seek these confrontations. On the contrary.

We have done a lot to prevent them. We returned to the

Borders of the State of Israel, recognized by the entire

International community. There were those who misconstrued

Our desire for peace - for us and our neighbors - as a sign

Of frailty. Our enemies misinterpreted our willingness to

Exercise restraint as a sign of weakness.

They were wrong!

Madam Speaker, Members of Knesset,

The State of Israel has no territorial conflict, neither on

Our southern border nor on our northern one.

In these two areas, we are sitting on the recognized

International border - both vis-à-vis the Palestinian

Authority in the Gaza Strip, and in Lebanon.

We have no intention of interfering in their internal

Affairs. On the contrary, stability and tranquility in

Lebanon, free of the rule of foreign powers, and in the

Palestinian Authority, are in Israel's interest.

We yearn for the day when peace will prevail between us, for

The mutual benefit of our peoples from both sides of our

Common border.

The campaign we are engaged in these days is against the

Terror organizations operating from Lebanon and Gaza. These

Organizations are nothing but "sub-contractors" operating

Under the inspiration, permission, instigation and financing

Of the terror-sponsoring and peace-rejecting regimes, on the

Axis of Evil which stretches from Tehran to Damascus.

Lebanon has suffered heavily in the past, when it allowed

Foreign powers to gamble on its fate.

Iran and Syria still continue to meddle, from afar, in the

Affairs of Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, through

Hizballah and the Hamas.

Even if last Wednesday's criminal attack against an IDF

Patrol was carried out without the consent of the Lebanese

Government and without the assistance of its military, this

Does not absolve it of full responsibility for the attack

Which emanated from its sovereign territory. Just as the

Fact that the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority opposes

Terrorism against Israel does not relieve him and the

Palestinian Authority of their responsibility for the attack

Carried out from their territory against our soldiers in

Kerem Shalom. They are both fully responsible for the

Safety of our soldiers who were taken hostage.

Radical, terrorist and violent elements are sabotaging the

Life of the entire region and placing its stability at risk.

The region in which we live is threatened by these murderous

Terror groups.

It is a regional - as well as global - interest to take

Control and terminate their activity.

We can all see how the majority of the international

Community supports our battle against the terror

Organizations and our efforts to remove this threat of the

Middle East.

We intend to do this. We will continue to operate in full

Force until we achieve this. On the Palestinian front, we

Will conduct a tireless battle until terror ceases, Gilad

Shalit is returned home safely and the shooting of Qassam

Missiles stops.

And in Lebanon, we will insist on compliance with the terms

Stipulated long ago by the international community, as

Unequivocally expressed only yesterday in the resolution of

The 8 leading countries of the world:

- The return of the hostages, Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser

And Eldad


- A complete cease fire;

- Deployment of the Lebanese army in all of

Southern Lebanon;

- Expulsion of Hizballah from the area, and

Fulfillment of United

Nations Resolution 1559.

We will not suspend our actions.

On both fronts we are exercising self-defense in the most

Basic and essential sense. In both cases, it is a matter

Whose importance and significance go far beyond the size of

The military units involved.

We are at a national moment of truth. Will we consent to

Living under the threat of this Axis of Evil or will we

Mobilize our inner strength and show determination and


Our answer is clear to every Israeli, and it echoes today

Throughout the entire region.

We will search every compound, target every terrorist who

Assists in attacking the citizens of Israel, and destroy

Every terrorist infrastructure, everywhere. We will persist

Until Hizballah and Hamas comply with those basic and decent

things required of them by every civilized person. Israel

will not agree to live in the shadow of missiles or rockets

against its residents.

Citizens of Israel,

There are moments in the life of a nation, when it is

compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say:

no more!

And I say to everyone: no more!

Israel will not be held hostage - not by terror gangs or by

a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state.

In the life of a nation there are moments of transcendence,

of purification, when political and sectarian disputes which

separate us are replaced by a sense of mutual

responsibility. I highly value and appreciate the way the

Opposition has been conducting itself in the Knesset these

days. The human competition and personal rivalries are

dissolved and instead our feeling of mutual responsibility

arises, our sense of partnership, and primarily, our eternal

love for our people and our land.

This is such a moment!

All of us - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians

- now stand as one person, as one nation, subject together

to the same hatred and malice,

and fighting against it in consensus and partnership. When

missiles are

launched at our residents and cities, our answer will be war

with all the strength, determination, valor, sacrifice and

dedication which characterize this nation.

There is nothing we want more than peace and good neighborly

relations - in the east, north and south. We seek peace, we

pursue peace and we yearn for peace. At the same time,

there is nothing we reject more than an attempt to harm us

and make us give up our right to live here, in our land, in

security and peace.

On behalf of the people of Israel, on behalf of all the

residents of the country, I came here today, Madam Speaker,

to announce to the world: we seek neither war nor direct

confrontation, but we will not be deterred from them when

the need arises. Only a nation that can defend its freedom

truly deserves it. We are entitled to our freedom, and when

necessary, we know how to fight for it and defend it.

My fellow Members of Knesset,

The strength of the State of Israel relies on the strength

and capability of the IDF. This strength is the main

guarantee to preserving and defending our lives on this

land. The best economic and human resources of Israeli

society were invested in building this strength.

I want to extend from here my heartfelt gratitude - and that

of the Government and the people of Israel - to the IDF

soldiers and commanders, the security services, the Israel

Police, the rescue forces, the firefighters and the other

security forces.

I wish to read from the "Prayer for the Welfare of Soldiers

in the Israel Defense Forces". Millions of Jews - in Israel

and the world - pray for the safety and success of those who

defend our nation, from the Lebanese border to the desert,

and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Arava, on

the land, in the air and on the sea.

"May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us

to be struck down before them.

May the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve and rescue our

fighters from every trouble and distress and from every

plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in

their every endeavor.

May He lead our enemies under our soldiers' sway and may He

grant them salvation and crown them with victory".

The strength of a nation is measured not only by its

military capabilities.

The strength of a nation is measured by its welfare and

morality, its strong and solid economy, its modern and

developing market, its export of technologies and products

for the most advanced world markets and its ground-breaking

academic research. In all these, each and every one of us

has good reason to be proud.

But above all, the strength of a nation is measured in times

of trial, when the home front becomes the front, when the

citizens of the country show admirable fortitude, patience

and stamina and allow it to operate against its enemies.

I had the privilege of witnessing these inner strengths in

the years when I was Mayor of Jerusalem. For years, our

capital was subject to the most murderous terror attacks.

The resilience, patience and restraint of the residents of

Jerusalem and the entire citizens of Israel are exemplary.

I recall a conversation with Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of

New York during the terror attacks of September 2001. I

called to offer encouragement to him and the residents of

New York following the collapse of the Twin Towers, and he

replied: "Ehud, if the New Yorkers can withstand it like the

Jerusalemites do, then we will defeat terrorism".

Madam Speaker,

Ladies and gentlemen Members of Knesset, Citizens of Israel,

Even in these days, hundreds of thousands of Israelis stand

at the front line of fire, like soldiers in the battlefield,

fighting for our life and honor.

It is clear to us that the circumstances imposed upon the

residents compel us to address their special needs, in all

aspects. The government will lend immediate assistance,


The government of Israel, under my leadership, derives

strength from the stamina of the Israeli public. We are a

brave and determined nation. I am proud today - perhaps

more than ever before - to be an Israeli citizen.

Thanks to you, our enemies come up against a united nation,

which fights together, shoulder to shoulder. We do not

surrender and we do not panic.

We believe in the justice of our cause, because there is no

battle more just or moral than ours - a battle for the right

to a peaceful and normal life, like any other human being,

any other nation and any other state.

We fight for the right of children like Omer Pisachov, may

his memory be blessed, a 7 year old from Nahariya, who

wanted to visit his grandmother Yehudit Itzkovich, may her

memory be blessed, and enjoy the Sabbath dinner she


We fight for the right of citizens like Shmuel Ben-Shimon,

may his memory be blessed, a 41 year old from Yokne'am who

left every morning for work in the railway garage in Haifa

to support his wife Natalie and their small children;

We fight for the right of citizens like Monica Lerer, may

her memory be blessed, a 50 year old from Nahariya, to drink

coffee on the terrace in the country to which she immigrated

from Argentina;

We fight for the right of girls like Ella Abukasis, may her

memory be blessed, a 13 year old from Sderot, to play the

flute and read books, as Ella enjoyed doing.

We fight for everything that everyone in the enlightened

world takes for granted and never imagined that they would

have to fight for - the right to a normal life.

It is a difficult battle! It may become even more difficult.

It is a painful test, and we may have to bear more

suffering. Such a battle is never easy. It is strewn with

pain and suffering, sacrifice, and casualties.

But, we have no intention of giving up our desire to live a

normal life. We will not apologize for this desire, and we

do not need anyone's approval to defend ourselves.

Citizens of Israel,

This is a difficult time of trial for all of us.

The State of Israel has withstood much more complex trials -

and triumphed.

We have always known how to mobilize our inner strength,

equanimity, wisdom and patience, in order to overcome our


Finally, I wish to speak on a more personal note to the

families of Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev, the families of

the soldiers who are held hostage by the Hamas and


You, and mainly your children - our children - are always on

my mind.

Last Wednesday, only five days ago, at 10:00 am, Aviva and

Noam Shalit sat in my office. They, and I, want Gilad home

more than anything. While we were discussing the situation,

I - and Aviva and Noam - received the painful news that Ehud

(Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev had been kidnapped.

On their departure, Noam and Aviva left a picture of Gilad,

taken close to the date of his kidnapping.

Unfortunately, pictures of three boys now stand in my room.

Many times during the day I look in their faces, into their

eyes, and embrace them in my heart. I do not forget them

for one minute. They were there on our behalf and for our

sake. We will do everything and make every effort to bring

them home. We will do this, but not in a pattern that will

encourage more kidnappings.

There is almost no one who can understand the place you are

in. Even when we do not talk directly, I feel and hear what

you want to say to me, and I embrace you with love,

understanding and agreement.

The place I am in compels me, ultimately, to make fateful

decisions, for life, and sometimes even for death.

I have no strength other than that which you have bestowed

upon me.

I have no courage other than that which G-d, my faith in the

justice of our cause and my sense of supreme responsibility,

have instilled in me and have prepared me for these fateful


Madam Speaker,

I see before me the kidnapped boys, those standing in the

front line and in the line of fire, those brave and

determined ones who are fighting today and who could - G-d

forbid - be the target of tomorrow's kidnapping.

We will defend all of them, on behalf of all of them we will

fight, and with all of them before our eyes - the civilians

in the line of fire, the kidnapped fighters and their

families - we will continue, without hesitating, without

capitulating and without fretting, until our goals are


I wish to conclude by reading an extract from Prophet


"Thus said Hashem: a voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter

weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be

consoled for her children, for they are gone.

Thus said Hashem: restrain your voice from weeping and your

eyes from tears; for there is reward for your accomplishment

- the word of Hashem - and they will return from the enemy's


There is hope for your future - the word of Hashem;

And your children will return to their land".

We will triumph!

I love with that closing reference to "Kol B'Ramah Nishma" that PM Olmert dons a yarmulke that was in his pocket and takes it off afterwards. Cute.

Peace (and I mean that literally)!

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