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Respecting Palestinians as a precursor to peace

I am prepared to get viciously attacked for this and am open to people telling me I am wrong, but please hear me through. I saw an article about a 'Peace' meeting between an Arab man and a Jewish woman. Without going into details, I feel that it s essential to point out that this is the case of a PA man and an Israeli woman. If it was a PA woman and a Jewish man, both would be dead. And that is fitting and proper. When building these relationships, you must absolutely respect the other side's values. When creating a Palestinian state, we absolutely must arm them because they want it and that is their culture. We must absolutely support them in their desire to live without pork and alcohol, to treat women like chattel and deprive them of rights. Female genital mutilation and child-brides are their heritage and their right. We have to support them in creating laws that make homosexuality punishable by death, otherwise we are not creating a Palestinian state, just a western state that they live in like we want them to so they will shut up and stop complaining, and that is disrespectful. And, yes, I am serious
I remember watching Donald Rumsfeld talk about the war in Iraq, saying the US was going to help them achieve democracy. Someone asked him, "what if they elect another despot like the last one?" It stumped him. The Palestinians chose Hamas. They chose to act as human shields. They make harsh choices, but you have to respect this as their choices. Even with the best of intentions, if you help them achieve a free society with equal rights for women and homosexuality, with plurality and separation of church and state, by helping them to achieve this, you have committed cultural genocide.  That is what the world has taken away from them; existence. If you shoot mortars into anther country's urban centers, they will attack you back. When the Palestinians do this, the world closes its eyes and says, 'nothing happened', turning the Palestinian's best efforts at national military expression into sound and fury signifying nothing. They are being treated with less recognition than little children. The world has turned them into non-existent, unempowered, unequal, non-entities. The Palestinians are fighting to get that back. When you do things like force Israel into unilateral ceasefires, unilateral peace moves like the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, make their murderers exempt from punishment, deny their place in Israeli history, and claim Israel never conquered  land in war by defeating them, you have denied them any shred of history or existence.

And, in fact, I have watched European anarchists come into Arab villages and goad the residents into rioting against armed IDF troops. They don't care about the Arab blood that is spilled. This is because they don't see the Palestinians, only their own self-righteousness. It isn't blood to them. It is only a statistic they can use against Israel. This disrespects the Arabs, and believe me, the Arabs know it.

The other Arab nations look down upon the Palestinians, and that must be rectified if the Palestinians are going to put down their weapons. They have no pride among their brethren because they have lived alongside the Jews. They must fight to have any self-respect. Any Peace Process must have in it a way to bring them respect.

When you make peace with them, it must be according to their definition of peace, which means living under sharia rule. Anything else is disrespectful and will not work. To a Moslem, peace does not mean a cessation of violence. Under most conditions, peace for them requires jihad. Many of the peace negotiations have left the Muslims with no choice but to wage war. It was very logical to the Muslims that Arafat showed up to receive the Nobel Peace Prize wearing a military uniform. For Westerners, it was either ironic or so absurd that it didn't register in their conscious. For a Muslim, it was a necessity. If you don't even respect them enough to understand their language, then please walk away from the table and shut your mouth.


God is a family affair

My mom is in Israel for a visit and we decided to meet in Jerusalem. The first stop, of course, was the kotel. On the way in, I pointed out where I asked my wife to marry me. We separated, she to the women's section, me to mine. As I passed the tefillin stand, the normal thought went through my mind; I am religious so I don't need that. Another voice in my head laughed scornfully, telling me that I am a fake and not as religious as I want people to think I am. Ouch! So I stopped and put on tefillin, so tired that I put on the head tefillin first, in my rush to get it over with. Then I remembered when I first brought my parents to the kotel. It was their first time in Israel and they were excited. At one point, I left my father, of blessed memory, alone adn went off to pray by myself. A little while later, he walked up to me, strangely excited. "Guess what I did!" He sounded like a teen who had just done....I dunno, whatever teens get excited about. That was the kind of breathless look he had when he said, "I just put on tefillin for the first time since my bar mitzva." 
So, now, here I am, with my mom, wondering while I wind up the tefillin if I am the same age as my dad was when I first brought him here. And I remember him excited and full of life , while I stand here feeling half-dead, weighed down with bills and broken expectations. It's not all that bad. Maybe I'm only one coffee away from redemption. I know that I still have that spark glowing, waiting for just a little traction, a reality with a tiny bit less disappointment. It is there, hidden in the memory of my father's smiling face.

And immediately I think of my children.


Rambling writer

My job as a writer of fiction is to look at reality and say, "Maybe it isn't exactly that way. Maybe it's different. In order to be a good writer, I can't lie. I have to be telling the truth when I write fiction. For me, that comes particularly easy since I have an awful memory. I can't remember facts, and like Gimpel the Fool in the story by Yitzchak Bashevis Singer, I believe everything I am told because, if you hang around long enough, it will probably happen somewhere sometime. And I have recently found scientific proof to support that.
I have become fascinated by the studies of memory. What is memory? There is surprisingly little proof that it is a biological process that writes onto your brain cells. Science has yet to directly confront the question of what is consciousness. Elizabeth Loftus has studied memory in the context of the legal system and has discovered that memory is an incredibly malleable phenomenon. People will swear to things, be absolutely sure something occurred, list details, and the statistics show that the majority of instances, people are mistaken.  It would seem that memory is fallible in the extreme.
I have a gift. I collect facts and theories from vastly separated sources and like Magister Ludi in Herman Hesse's Glass bead Game, I bring them all together. But Herman Hesses was not a Deadhead from New Jersey with a history of chemical abuse. The facts stayed straight. With me, it becomes this massive mixed up Sunday morning stew made up of crazy left-overs that should never have been put in the pot together. When I discovered how fallible our memories are, I thought immediately of the Dancing Wu-li masters and what it taught me about the multiple-universe theory. I think that our memories are one-hundred percent accurate. Let me explain.
If time is a line, then what is the study of history? When many lines come together, the result is not a line. The result is a net. But my line is separate from yours. It could be that I remember something differently than you, not because one of us is wrong, but because both of us are right, but we exist on separate lines. I am standing on a different time line than you. My facts are right for my line, and your facts are right for yours. Both histories, both lines of the past, actually existed. And at one point we came together.
That all being said, and maybe it would have been better that it hadn't, but it was, so here we are. I am going to make a premise, and my facts could all be wrong, but I believe my theory is correct nonetheless.
I am wondering what it means to be an American Jew. I don't care to discuss our psychology or values. I even feel that the history of the Jews in America would not answer my questions. If history was a story, and our nation was a single character, what would he be? Even stranger, given the character's wandering in foreign lands, his short but productive stay in America, now that our character lives in Israel, what part does he play in the story of mankind?
It has been said that when Tolkein wrote the Hobbit, the dwarves were his interpretation of the Jews, longing for the kingdom under the mountain, overly fond of gold, greedy yet honorable in their mission, hunted by the evil dragon.

If we were to write the story of American Jews coming back to Israel, what would it be? If we were writing a fiction based on history, not on facts, but on the essence of what we learned from history, what would our story be?  

My thoughts on writing

Question: Could you describe the writing process?
Response: Writing is a very passive; things come through me, not from me.
Question: But you do come through in your writing. It is uniquely yours. How is that?
Response: Well, for example, in The Hope Merchant I wrote a section that is anti-GMO. I am not militantly anti-GMO but I am certainly not a pro-GMO kind of person. I am not republican. So one of the reasons I am against the whole university process and learning to be a writer is that a major part of the writing process is turning yourself into a proper vessel for the story to fill. If you live in a closet in the suburbs and never go out, then I think, I mean I could be wrong, but the only thing you can truly write about is closets in suburbs. If you only prepare yourself to be a vessel for stories about closets in suburbs then those are the stories that are going to come to you. You have to live it. You have to be willing to put your life on the line in order to open your soul for new realities to come into existence. That is why the stories that come to you will be uniquely yours.
Question: So, Eliyahu, how do you prepare your vessel?
Response: A lot of it is a life process, definitely. I still remember speaking to Donna Insilaco twenty-five years ago when I was a cook in Manhattan. I said that I wanted to be a writer so I could go and living an interesting life. She said, “No, it works the other way around. First you live an interesting life and then you write about it.” I’ve definitely been lost in the forest a lot of years, failing at a lot of things. But through those failures, I’ve lived it, experiencing. Failure is still contact. It’s real and valid. It’s not a closed door. It’s an open door to a different reality, a different reality from people who are successful, in some ways more valid. Not all stories are about heroes that conquer. How boring would that be if those were the only stories we had? I’ve lived it and that is already a preparation. On a daily basis, I have my writing rituals. I think artists are very religious, or superstitious might be a different way to put it. First I play one game of solitaire. Losing is a sign from the gods that I need to get writing right away because winning takes more time. Then I check my email. Then I yell at myself for wasting time. Then I stare at the page, feeling awful because nothing is coming, and I’m not really a writer so who am I trying to kid. Next thing I do is realize that three hours have gone and I cry because what came out onto the page is so wonderful.
Question:  So when you come up with a story idea, is it something from your past or does it suddenly hit you? How does that process work?
Response: Well, it’s an actual process. Usually I get an image, a picture, a quick burst of a scene. And for that picture to exist, there has to be a certain reality; a past that is a believable and logical sequence of events that bring that picture into existence, then the picture itself, the fulcrum point in time, and then the future that is derived out from that picture point in time. So, for example, in Riding the Backroads Home, for some reason I suddenly saw this image of a girl sitting at a booth in a diner, talking to an old Charedi man, who I knew was her father, and it was clear that they weren’t in the same reality anymore. I mean, Charedi men don’t do the bacon and eggs scene very well.  And, in the picture, I was sitting in the next booth over, back to back with the girl, listening in on her conversation. I don’t know where that image came from but it was the same time I was writing Sihara. I guess I’m fascinated by religion. God is everywhere but with religion you have an inside and an outside, and even when you are inside there is a dynamic, circles within circles. In theory, there is no inside and outside; we are all god’s little children. Free choice makes all this possible and it is essential to religion. I choose to do good. But it is problematic to the concept of God. How can we have free choice and coexist with an infinite, all-encompassing, all-knowing god? Philosophers think they are so clever by asking can god create a stone that he can’t lift. Well, can god lift a stone of any size if he is part of the stone as well as the one lifting? Can I lift a stone that contains an infinite god? My p;roblem is that once I start believing in God, I stop believing in me. And once I stop believing in god, I feel like crap.
Question: I’m getting the sense there are a lot of contradictions you are trying to deal with. In the writing process, how do you pull it all together? You have your own life experiences, you’ve got your philosophies, you’ve got the message that you want to set forth, and you’ve got that inspiration that comes through you. How do you pull them all together?
Response: First and foremost I think it is being true to the reality of the image, the story. That comes first. The story is not an extension of me. It has its own life. I have to be true to that. A biker has a bike. A biker talks a certain way. As soon as the story is twisted to fit some outside purpose, it rings false and dies a little bit. Sometimes I blow it, I’m not one hundred percent, but that is what I’m shooting for. Sometimes the miss comes from something inside of me. I’m not the perfect vessel. I’m too different than my characters. I’m an outsider to the reality of the story. I don’t use foul language anymore but the character does. I end up wioth fake sounding dialog because of that. The story has a life of its own, an integrity and solidity that I have to be true to. How much of me is in the process? There certainly is a certain level but this is exactly where I have to do an awful lot of screening. I have to take away any expectations about where I want the story to go or think the story should go. Like when you raise kids. Do your best but mostly you do your best to let it be free. Sometimes it’s easier. With Hope Merchant, I was a dairy farmer. I know about dairy farming. So I had a certain reality that coincides with the story’s reality, especially when it came to the relationship with the cows.
Question: There was something in The Hope Merchant where you probably had to do some research, about the indigenous character, the Inuit character. How did you prepare yourself to relate to that?
Response: I kind of fudged that. I did a little research for that but not really enough. And I think it’s okay to fudge it. I had a little message to bring, not a big message. If it offends anyone, I apologize. It wasn’t about them, per se, it was more about the story. I didn’t prepare myself for writing an informative piece. There are things I’ll do a little bit of research for but I’m not really into that. For so many people today, the word research is synonymous with Google. If I really wanted to do a research piece, I don’t feel it would be complete if I never actually speak with the subject or personally experience it in some way. But up until now, research hasn’t really been an essential part of my writing process. I feel it, though. My content editors will usually catch me and make me do a little Google work. I like that because it stops me from relying too much on clich├ęs and it can even pull the plot in new directions. It always helps. Like when my editor said that it wasn’t enough to say that Jack, the lawyer in The Hope Merchant, was a dirty lawyer. It kind of stymied me. But then I thought about him ending up on a dairy farm and I got the whole idea for Bo-plus and Creves corporation. By the way, Creves is the town where Monsanto’s headquarters are located. I think it added a new dimension to the story and even added a few sections of plot. But I feel my lack of research. Sometimes I’ll look at my own writing and say, “That’s a little shallow.” I can feel that there isn’t enough research. It lacks the 3d feel that having that reality inside of you gives it. I am in awe of writers who can do that, do research for fiction.
Question: That could be your next step, a new way of being true to the story.
Response: Maybe. I haven’t felt the need to do that yet. Maybe it’s an inherent laziness or fear of unfamiliar waters. Maybe it’s just that this is the kind of writing I do. At the risk of sounding snotty or obnoxious, maybe I haven’t felt the need to do that yet because I’ve led a very varied life. It gives me a pretty rich palette to work with without having to leave my chair. I own that. It’s different than a writer who sits in his apartment in the upper west side and does a lot of research to write about a different culture or location, in a way I have a problem with that. He hasn’t really put himself on the line. He’s done the mental homework but he hasn’t really put his butt in the saddle.
Question: You make fiction sound like journalism. Is the personal element really that important to the process?
Response: One hundred percent. It’s interesting you put it that way. I usually don’t like writers who come from the established community of writing professionals. Journalists are the exception.  I don’t really care for writers who learned in university. It’s this instant karma shortcut that universities are trying to make a buck off of. They say, “Come here, pay us, sit in a nice air-conditioned room, and in four years you will be a writer.” I don’t like that. The writers I love are not from the established writing community. Steinbeck and Hemingway, for example, were not at all like that. Just because you wrote a thesis paper on Hemingway doesn’t mean you are equipped to write about war or running with the bulls in Pamplona. I have a theory that I’d love to research. I think that almost anyone who gets an advanced degree in creative writing will get published, and since the publishing company has invested in them, they will get sold because the publisher will invest in marketing. But the books that are still being read years later are almost exclusively from writers who came from the outside. When I first came to Israel, I wrote a novel based on what I experienced in the after-hours surreality of Manhattan. I was there during the crack wars of the 1980’s. I have the manuscript but when I think about working on it, editing it and polishing it up, I get scared. It would be like going back and reliving it. It was a slice of hell and I am very reluctant to put myself through it again.
Question: That’s a very strong critique of the publishing industry.
Response: Yes, and I think they deserve it. The big publishers are responsible for their own demise. When I first started submitting my novels, I thought the publishers were interested in finding good material and selling it to the public. I now believe that what they have been doing is finding out what they can sell, finding material that fits their comfort zone, and making sure that their system is so overwhelming that something better that the public may want, can’t compete. The internet has destroyed that business model for them. Marketing used to be pushing something in people’s faces until they bought it. Advertising used to tell me what to want. Marketing is now a process of attracting. The public knows what they want and they have the tools to filter out the pushy marketing and find exactly what they are looking for. The same thing already happened years ago in the music industry. It is shocking that big publishers didn’t see it coming. I think it’s because the mechanisms got so enormous that they just couldn’t change. Now, anyone with a PC can home-record their music or publish their own book. The smaller publishers can change and adapt and since they don’t have to support an obese infrastructure, they can make a nice living as long as they can connect with their specific slice of the public. Also, the industry is populated by employees. Even CEO’s have become employees since their bonuses are given with no regard to their achievements. Employees don’t care as much about succeeding as they do about not being caught failing. It is much safer to have a big pile of rejections than to put your chips down on a manuscript and maybe have it fail. They are playing it safe; signing celebrities and grad students the profs have said could write. The problem is that few celebrities can write and few grad students have anything worthwhile to say that anyone except their professor wants to hear. I am disappointed that bookstores are closing down. I would like to see them return and I think they will. I think they became slaves to the publishers and too wrapped up in that system. That system stopped serving the public and at the first real threat, collapsed. People who read love bookstores. I hope that one day a new business  model for bookstores will emerge that is independent of the major publishers. Maybe Indie publishers can each open a bookstore. That would be cool.
Question: Who are some of your heroes writers?

Response: Oh gosh! Barbara Kingsolver is definitely one. If I could use prose like she uses prose, I would be so pleased. 


Are you a new Jew?

                I believe it is time for a revolution in the Jewish arts. I do not mean specifically religious, though I feel that religious Jewish artists should be in the vanguard.  The Jews are intended as a "light unto the nations" and a light is meant to illuminate and guide the way. The world is at a cusp, staring down into abyss. Unspeakable evil is being encouraged to flourish. The Jewish nation, as the receivers of the torah, must take its place as the moral compass of the world. Dialectic is the way to influence the mind but artistic expression is the way to influence the heart and soul.
                Just before World War II, there was a revolution in Yiddish literature. I believe it came as a reaction to World War I, which was, in many ways, more shocking to humanity than World War II. It was the first time chemical warfare was used, airplanes flew into battle, and automatic weapons were seen. War was no longer a battle of brute force, man against man. A team of two men could kill dozens with the press of a single trigger. A plane could kill practically with immunity. A soldier could die just by walking into the field of battle without a gasmask. Trench warfare was horrific, killing a larger proportion of Europe's population than WWII. The world had gazed into the darkness of its own soul and seen horrors that had never even been dreamed of before.  It reacted strongly, creating the Geneva Conventions, a previously unheard of concept to limit mankind's ability to destroy itself. The League of Nations was created, and one of its first acts, The Mandate for Palestine in 1922, was moving towards returning the Jews to Israel. The Balfour declaration came, not as a reaction to the Holocaust, but as a reaction to the non-Jews nearly destroying civilization in WWI. Theodore Herzl wanted a Jewish homeland as a refuge for the Jews against non-Jewish aggression. The non-Jews wanted to return the Jews to Palestine as a prelude to the Messianic Age which, after the horrors of WWI, was a desperate, illogical attempt at self-preservation from the darkness in their own collective soul.
                The role of the Jews in the world had changed. The Jew had gone from being the nefarious stranger amongst them, the shylock, to being the biblical figure, the keeper of the holy flame that would bring redemption and save the world from its own evil and ability to self-destruct. Religious Jews had the traditional role f building walls and being insular as a means of protecting torah from foreign influences and the Jews from assimilation and destruction. A few enlightened Jews, with one foot inside the locked, hidden, world of torah Judaism, and the other foot in the secular world, understood the need for change in the Jews self-perception of their relationship with non-Jews. This changing role was epitomized when Napoleon offered Jews citizenship in France after the French revolution.  The French Revolution was, in essence, an attempt to create an idealized state. This drive towards social idealism brought into the French Christian mind the desire to emancipate the lowly and despised Jew and make him a brother. Religious Jews almost universally rejected the offer because it required lowering the walls that had protected Judaism form outside influence. After WWI, the world held out its hand again, and Judaism was again challenged to lower the walls and go out into the world as an equal and not as a stranger.
                This time, the challenge was met with a different response. Jews, at least some of them, seemed ready to leave the ghetto. I understand I. B. Singer's Gimpel the Fool and Peretz's Bontsha the Silent to be challenges to the Jewish role in European society as the perennial victim.  Non-Jews were seeing Jews in a different light, as a necessary guide to save them from self-destruction, and the Jews were intrigued by the offer. After WWII, the non-Jews saw themselves as having no choice. With fingers twitching on buttons that could make Hiroshima and Nagasaki look mild, with human bodies still smoking in ovens, the world was considering the possibility of instantaneous self-annihilation. It required a solution, a safeguard against its own desire for evil, so it naturally looked towards the children of Israel.
                I believe that situation has arisen once again. I prefer to state the evils that anyone can view at the touch of a button anywhere on the internet. A death cult is sweeping the planet. Righteous anger threatens to return the world to the dark ages and wipe away any advances that have been made in human rights and civil kindness. The world wants Israel to return to the borders of 1967. The date seems random, irrelevant to the plight of the Palestinian people it is intended to help. It would seem more fitting to demand a return to the UN instituted borders of 1948. I believe the world wants to return to 1967 when, for the first time in over two-thousand years, the Jews stood on the Temple Mount. In 1967, we had the opportunity to take our proper, God given role in the world as a priestly nation, creating a bridge between God and man. We would serve the nations, and not just perform a measly percentage of the commandments that pertained to dietary laws and the Sabbath. Prayer as practiced by Jews today is a pale compromise meant to remind us of the Temple service. It was never intended as a replacement. The Jews stood at a crux, a moment of great potential, and chose to walk away from their spiritual role and responsibility to the world. The non-Jews were disappointed and have not forgiven us. They want us to go back to the '67 borders and try again.
                I feel that the Jews must make a change in how they see their role in the world. Torah Judaism is designed to prevent change in order to preserve torah from being influenced by a world in which the majority is non-Jewish. That reality no longer exists. At least not in the state of Israel. Torah Judaism used to have a one-way door. Jews left but never came back. In most places in Europe, it was illegal and even suicidal to convert to Judaism. The present practice by the Rabbis of pushing the potential convert away does not have a halachic source.  Judaism used to actively proselytize. The present system for converting Jews is a mess because for two thousand years, the precedent has been set by a fear-based reaction to relating to non-Jews. It was an anomaly for a Jew to want to return to Torah and it was a threat to bring a non-Jew into the fold. Converting Ivan's daughter today meant a pogrom tomorrow. Rabbis are befuddled by the flood of baal tshuva and converts. They should be. They had nothing to do with it. The baal tshuva movement began right after Jews conquered the Temple mount. Being on The Temple Mount brings with it a spiritual power. We have partial ownership, so the baal tshuva/ger movement began. It certainly did nt begin due to a rabbinic structure based on Christianity and priests. For two thousand years the rabbis have turned torah learning and torah law into something it was explicitly never intended to be; a process of contraction and stringency based on "we don't know". The only basis for a surrogate in the Torah is the priestly class. The function of Rabbi has no precedent in Judaism until it went into the Diaspora. In the land of Israel, the Sanhedrin was a legal body that required dynamic innovation, based on meritocracy and scholarship (mostly).
                When I first went to yeshiva, I was fascinated by tchelet, the blue thread in tzitzit the fringes on our four cornered garment. I asked my teacher a question. It is a mitzvah that is mentioned in the shema, which we say twice a day and figures so prominently in our service to God. How could it be that for two thousand years, this twice daily reference was ignored by Jews who were passionate about their service to God? Men who worked at making the dye and garments suddenly and collectively stopped showing up to work? Are we, in our present day ignorance,  suddenly aware of something they were not aware of? My teacher answered me. He said, tchelet is the color of the ocean, which is the color of the sky, which is the color of God's throne of glory. The spiritual and the physical are so closely related that you cannot change one without changing the other. When the temple was destroyed, the color of the sky changed. Tchelet, that specific shade of blue, ceased to exist. Our desire to return tchelet to the world is a precursor to building the temple. It is the beginnings of desire that have no name or focus.  I began to wander around with my eyes gazing skyward. I was searching for a new shade of blue that I had never seen before.

                I would like to establish a publishing group that will focus on a new type of Jewish fiction that explores the changing role of Jews in the world and their relationship to non-Jews, through literature and fiction.


Politically Ambidextrous

There are always surefire ways to end an argument without a struggle. In yeshiva, you say, “There are conflicting opinions”. In marriage, the wife says, “Whatever you say, dear”, and the smart husband will shut up. In political discussions, the phrase, “There are several ways to look at it”, is shorthand for, “I don’t want to discuss it”. But in my case it is true. There are several ways to look at it, and I do want to discuss it.
                I arrived in Israel in 1991 at the age of thirty (Everyone is scribbling away to do the math. I am the oldest forty year old you will ever meet). In the United States, I was hard-core left-wing. Of course, like any twenty something year old, my political views were shaped by which side had the cuter women and hippie chicks were way hot. I was out in the streets protesting for my right to burn the American flag, I had a Mao tee-shirt bought second hand in the Village, and I never missed a meeting of the committee for I don’t-know what that was held in Barnard (the only semi-legitimate way to worm my way  into the women’s campus).
                Just to let you in on how crazy the trip has been. I was in Israel in 1978 for my senior year of high-school. I went to the Sinai and it was still Israeli territory. Menachem Begin was vilified by the left-wing for trading land for peace. How dare he? Apparently, returning land that used to belong to the Egyptians is evil, but giving land that never belonged to anyone and was included in the UN charter in ’48 to an entity that never existed was a moral necessity. But I am a simple country boy so it is reasonable that I don’t understand. The memory that makes me believe I grew up in an alternate universe was that I proudly marched with Peace Now. Like I said, I was eighteen years old and they had cute girls.
                When I arrived in Israel, the hot topic was “The Nation is With the Golan”. Back then, the Palestinians did not exist as a nationality (sorry, but that is a fact), and Syria seemed the most likely partner for peace. The only way to envision Yaaser Arafat receiving a Nobel Peace Prize or Rabin and Peres calling each other friends would have been injudicious use of controlled substances. But suddenly I found myself on the side of the line with the guys wearing white shirts and pocket protectors, and sandals with socks. All the rock-and-rollers and hippie chicks were way over there, on the other side of the political mason-dixon line. For the first time in my life, I actually had to inspect my political motivations under a microscope.
                One year I did reserve duty near Jericho. There were two young men who I ended up spending a lot of time talking with. There are no discussions like miluim discussions. You have one month in the middle of the desert with no distractions to do absolutely nothing and you do it with the same guys every year. This was before the advent of the cellular phone. Yes, we did patrol on dinosaurs. Someone whispered to me that I should be careful because if I spoke to them, I would argue with them. They were (GASP!) left-wing. I found out that we had a lot in common, and that bothered me. I was dangerously close to being left-wing. They were members of an inner-city kibbutz and I was a member of a religious kibbutz. They thought that the Torah was dogma that brought evil and suffering into the world. We left that point aside. The peace process was in full swing and we had bigger fish to fry. They started out strongly in favor of Oslo but very quickly began to hem and haw. They were left-wing but they didn’t like the agreement so much because it was implicitly, though in an unspoken way, meant to economically screw the Arabs. They wanted peace with the Arabs, but very clearly not THIS peace. They were old-school socialists and thought that capitalism was evil. They wanted the Arabs as brothers, not as distant neighbors on the other side of a fence. They wanted to care for the Arabs, help them build schools and hospitals and enter the twentieth century, not give them a magnetic card and tell them to wash their hallway for fifteen shekels and hour, and get out of the country at five p.m. when they finish. They wanted peace, but not this one, and since it was the only one being offered, they supported it. They were the silent left and I felt a strong kinship with them.
                I realized that all the hippies on the other side were wearing store-bought tie-dye and the rock-and-rollers were mostly old men with fat apartments in Tel-Aviv. They had the look and talked the talk, but they were the fat cats, the capitalistic elite. At the Communist Club, we used to joke that a Republican is a Democrat that finally has a solid stock portfolio. In America, Republicans are typically keep-your-hands-off-of my-stack capitalists. Democrats are willing to share the wealth.

                In Israel, it’s not so simple. There is a left-wing politically and a left wing-economically. The left-wing political wants a Peace agreement with the Arabs. The left wing economic wants a more socialist agenda. There are also corresponding delineations on the right. After much introspection, I realized that I am right-wing politically but left-wing economically. Oh, and my wife was right wing, and she's cute.

The left-wing phobia

                I would like to clear up a very important misunderstanding about a fairy tale. In the tale of the emperor’s new clothes, a little boy calls out that the emperor is naked and has no clothes on. In the classic fairy tale, the townspeople are abashed, ashamed at their fear of the obvious truth that led them to their error. They kicked the  lying tailors out of town and everyone was happy.
                Let me tell you the Israeli version of that story. The little boy says, “Hey, the emperor has no clothes on”. Everyone sees that it is true, but fears the repercussions. The boy is thrown in jail without a trial, and the media goes to work, declaring that there is an extremist element bent on tearing the clothes off the emperor.
I recently posted on Facebook several posts. One was about soldiers in the IDF going to jail for saying they wanted to kill terrorists. I was confused as to why they would be punished for that. I thought it was their sworn duty to kill terrorists. I also posted something saying that I wanted the killers of the three Israeli youths to be brought to justice. I was chastised harshly, albeit by only a few people. I was accused of promoting vigilantes and senseless violence. I was accused of calling for a Jewish Jihad when all I wanted was a normal legal process, an army that dealt with national existential threat and a police that reacted strongly to crime. I was accused of promoting genocide. I tried to explain myself several times but was astounded at how unheard I was. 
                The facts are that there may have been a murder of an Arab youth by Jews. There were definitely three Jews murdered and their murderers have not been turned over by the PA> The vast majority of the rioting has been by Arabs. For some reason, the left-wing reacts far more strongly to the almost non-existent right-wing Jewish violence than it does to the prevalent, even accepted, Arab violence. The Jewish left is terrified of any reaction by the Jewish right.
                                I am fascinated by this. Not reacting to the murder of three young boys is s clear sign of mental sickness. Being more afraid of a potential danger than you are of an actual threat that has struck countless times and has recently shed blood is, by definition, delusional. As delusional and imbalanced as it is, it is consistent with left wing mindset. Despite several wars against the Arab nations, the left-wing preferred a peace pact with Yaaser Arafat as a solution to battle an imaginary demographic threat that was imminent at some moment in the future. Shimon Peres, the mastermind of Israel’s nuclear program, felt that the atomic bomb changed the strategic reality to where we no longer need land to ensure a military solution. For this approach, Shimon Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
                But back to my original; dilemma. The left and the media are screaming about the right wing “fanatics” the “extremists” who are irrationally and irresponsibly incensed of three murders.
                So let me try to explain the two positions, as I understand them, in one sentence each.

                Left-wing: Potential threat is much greater than any threat we have already lived through.
                Right-wing: The left-wing has traded the rule of law for a packet of worthless promises.
Lawlessnes is the methodology of the peace process. It means the government does not react in the manner of normal governments. It allows the citizens to be killed and the murderers to be set free. It means that a teen can call the police emergency number, announce that he has been kidnapped, and gunshots are heard in the background, and the police do not react. The prime minister declares a search for kidnapping victims, knowing full well that the teens are already dead. It means that 13,000 people can be made homeless for a political agenda that, a peace agreement that was never intended to be signed by the absent partner. The rights of the homeowners are pushed aside for a political agenda. Rockets fall on cities and there is not even any lip service paid to finding a solution.
There is a reason for this. The peace process began with Shimon Peres going to Cypress to meet with Yaaser Arafat and getting him to sign a peace agreement. Interestingly enough, it was entirely illegal for Shimon Peres to do that. For any person to meet with a declared enemy of the state and to make agreements and work with them was illegal, an offense for which many men have been executed or been sent to jail. It is the dictionary definition of treason. When he returned to Israel with said agreement, Yitzchak Rabin, Peres’ longstanding political enemy, was required by law to put Shimon Peres in jail. Instead, he had the law changed and made Shim Peres foreign minister. The peace process began with a perversion of justice and has been characterized by such.
I am going to the trouble of explaining this so that my left-wing friends can understand what the right wing Jews are screaming for. We want a return to law. We want criminals with blood on their hands to stay in jail. We want murderers to be hunted down and punished. We want to buy a piece of land from the proper authorities and have that sale honored. Throwing stones at a moving car, or at a person, should be illegal, and not treated as inevitable. Israel has the highest rate of car thefts in the world with over45,000  car thefts each year and less than 5,000 of those cars being recovered.  Rockets are fired into cities. That should be treated as a crime. Tolerance is not a positive trait when displayed by the authorities towards evil. The peace process has brought many bad things to Israel. One of the worst is the perversion of law. I realize that this is only my opinion. If you disagree then you are clearly wrong and in need of serious psychiatric care. But like I said, that is only my opinion..