Celebrating Israel’s 70th Anniversary with A Celebration of My Own!

Shabbat Shalom, I’m feeling truly blessed. I’m very excited—not only is this Israel’s 70th Anniversary, I just finished my manuscript for my book, “Peace in Israel, A Tale of Terror and Transformation!” That’s my working title and I have been having fun doing polls asking for people’s opinions about my title—feel free to offer yours.

My book will be out in time to celebrate both Israel’s 70th Anniversary and the Jewish New Year in the fall. Mazal Tov!

Not only do I talk about our amazing adventure in my book, but I also write about what I’ve learned since. Israel should be very proud…they have survived and thrived amidst incredible odds. They’re a youngster compared to other countries, but very mighty. They’re humanitarians and innovators—how often do you hear that on the news? Unfortunately, not often.

Our introduction to the real-world Israeli Palestinian conflict began when we were on a family vacation July 2014, when we found ourselves in the middle of war. The impact of the missiles on me was that they blasted me out of complacency to want to work on Peace. Continuing to kill each other will never bring back their loved ones. What’s most piteous and yet hopeful is they could just STOP! I pray every day that they will just STOP taking the lives of kids from their families.

Since our trip nearly four years ago, my life has changed in wondrous ways. No one would recognize my present, when compared to my past. As I said, I just finished my manuscript, I have a blog at www.PennySTee.com, and I have a writer’s support group, Writers4Writers, that I’m excited to report on May 14, I’m taking online.  I established it because along my journey, I fell in love with writers and wanted to learn and help other writers achieve their goals as well. It’s been a joy learning together and watching what happens…

Writers4Writers has speakers about every part of writing whether the business, craft, author’s journeys or doing readings. Now we are moving from my local library to online so we can help so many more people. The fact our meetings will be recorded will help with scheduling issues and using Zoom technology—we’ll be able to see each other from around the world!

It’s our intention to support all writers, no matter what their genre or experience level. Come check out our first speaker, Teri Rider. She’ll be talking about the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Industry Standards for Publishing a Professional Book.

I’m also beginning speaking about our experiences. I’ll be the keynote speaker in August at the Orange County Jewish Bar Association’s Annual Gala about how my life was transformed and what I learned…truly finding my life’s purpose!

Always the student, I treasure teachers such as Jean Houston — mother of the human potential movement. I had just taken my first class with Jean on “Finding Your Life’s Purpose,” and was in my second, when we went to Israel — and it actually happened. I discovered myself AND my life’s purpose. I believe there are no mistakes in life, but you have to be consciously open and listen.

Now our experience has followed us home to the United States. Years later, my son is getting ready to go off to college. Instead of concern merely about which college to choose and if he’ll like his roommate, we have to fear for his safety.

Jews have been an integral part of society for years and thrive on college campuses, don’t they? There are thousands in the administration, professors and students. What possibly could I mean?

In fact, in 2018 on college campuses across the world and most personally egregious in the U.S., the battle cry in demonstrations is: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A fine “How do you do,” as an introduction to college.

We’re touring college campuses trying to select the right one for my son. In Israel, we were surprised to be risking our lives when we found ourselves on vacation running to bomb shelters. But here at home…why as parents do we have to fear sending our Jewish kids into harm’s way?

My son got into top-notch colleges, he did his job. But besides paying for it, no small feat in today’s world, as parents, part of our evaluation, disturbingly has been to consider if Jewish kids had been attacked by Palestinian demonstrators, and looking at the incidences of anti-Semitism on the campuses he was considering. Should this have to be part of our evaluation in 2018? Hidden behind anti-Israel rhetoric is the new face of anti-Semitism…anti-Israel. If we were African-American would that be tolerated?

Martin Luther King said, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.” I am sorry to report, it’s not looking good. The Jewish community has begun to address these issues with programs like, “Knowledge for College,” and I’m grateful to them, but I find the need offensive.  Isn’t rampant anti-Semitism merely a concern of the past? Unfortunately, not.

Across college campuses in the United States and other countries, Jewish kids are being attacked by Palestinian demonstrators. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) and Students for Justice in Palestine are the student organizations that run these demonstrations. Jewish kids are sometimes physically attacked, spat on, verbally abused and confronted with viscious demonstrations and “die-ins.”1  The protests are filled with biased misrepresentations of Israel, tainting the minds of the next generation.

There are week-long programs of “Israeli Apartheid Week” and “Palestine Awareness Week” across United States college campuses and in Europe.

Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel resolutions are being presented each year since 2005, which must be challenged as they tout their rhetoric equating Israel with South African Apartheid, occupation and Palestinian rights abuse. Their intention is to follow their name’s intimidation—to isolate Israel socially and financially3

Each bill is voted on and some have passed. More than 100 votes have been taken between 2005-2018. Seventy-three (65%) were defeated, thirty-five have passed.4

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, in the last thirteen years between 2005-2018 thus far this year:

• 27 schools had two or more votes; nine schools had three or more (Ohio State, Berkeley, Davis, Riverside, UCSB, UCSD, UCSC, Michigan, Dearborn), and 4 schools had four (Michigan, Michigan Dearborn, UC Riverside and UCSD).5

• Five schools (Michigan Dearborn, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and UC Davis) have passed BDS more than once.6

Even more sad is that if we were Israeli, instead of worrying about what college my son (or daughter) would be going to, first he or she would be going into the Israeli Defense Forces–likely to war. It’s mandatory for their children to first defend their country before the luxury of college. Israeli life is harsh, but proud.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel suggests applying the 3D test for anti-Semitism:

  1. Demonization—comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
  2. DE legitimization—claiming the Jewish people have no right to establish a state.
  3. Double Standard—applying standards of behavior to the Jewish state not required by other states.

One of the most offensive places we see this demonstrated not only by the Palestinian’s on our college campuses but Israel’s also surprisingly attacked in places that we think of as Peace-supporting, like the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Zeev Ben-Shachar, world renowned Israel educator points out the unfairness of how Israel was treated compared with other countries by organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council.

To put the size of Israel into context, he says, “Israel is only 1/5 of 1% in the entire Middle East region and with Tunisia, is one of the only democratic countries surrounded by the other countries with significantly less freedoms in the region.” Israel has a population of merely 7.4 million, and sits on a tiny surface area of 22 thousands sq. km (approximately 8,000 sq. miles–2.5 times the size of Rhode Island. In Israel, Israeli Arabs can by law bring their grievances to be tried in court.

Ben-Shahar, points out that many horrible situations in the Middle East had occurred:

  • “Over 500,000 people were killed in Syria and chemical weapons were used by the regime. Half of the country are refugees either inside or outside the country.
  • Jordan in 1970, in one month killed over 10,000 Palestinians that rose up against the Jordanian Hashemite minority regime.
  • The Sunis, Shiites and Christians are at war.
  • ISIS–claimed responsibility for the Paris attack. ISIS captured and executed James Foley and Steven Sotloff, two American journalists.

“Yet in the U.N. Human Rights Council condemnations 2006-2015, Israel was condemned sixty-two times, while the entire rest of the world condemnations totaled fifty-nine. Many countries hadn’t received any condemnations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia and China—clearly a double standard—applying standards of behavior to the Jewish state not required by other states.”

But enough about the challenges, let’s get back to the celebration and talk about all of the amazing inventions, Israel, this “Little Country That Could,” has invented that we take for granted every day.

Did you know Israel has invented products that we use throughout the world including improvements in computer technologies, medical procedures, they’re energy efficiency experts, product inventors and of course we’re all familiar with their weapon expertise.7

I’ll always be grateful for my new B.F.F., Iron Dome who shot down the incoming Palestinian missiles on our trip, before they could land and do damage. It’s the key to why there were so few dead or injured Israelis compared to Palestinians—even though over four thousand Palestinian missiles were launched at Israel during the conflict.8

Being human targets got my attention! The comparison is also why Israel is so often portrayed as a maniacal bully. If you’re not there, and don’t take the time to understand the situation, what you know is what you hear, often biased reporting…another reason why I wrote my book.

Israel invented the first “brain of the pc the Intel 8088 processor and the USB flash drive. Medical innovations include the Pillcam, a capsule endoscopy swallowed that provides visualization to detect GI tract disorders, the optical heart beat monitor, continuous hospital patient tracking of vital signs, spine assist surgical robots, TA Count that counts harmful microbes in minutes, sleep apnea diagnostic device and Baby Sense to prevent crib death came from their nation.9

They are pioneers in energy and green industries including utility management technologies, operating geothermal plants throughout the world, solar industry providers and inventors of the first Solar Windows, floating solar panels on water, water management systems, internal pipe electric generators, wind turbine innovators and innovative plastic recyclers.10

In agriculture they invented the smart drip irrigation and cherry tomatoes. Remember that the next time you’re enjoying a squishy, bursting tomato from your next salad!11

In the automotive industry they invented the electric car grid, mobile traffic devices and the MobileEye that combines a tiny digital camera with sophisticated algorithms to help drivers navigate more safely.11

For personal products one of my favorites is the ladies’ friend EpiLady, the first electric hair remover (epilator). I say thank you as a woman over sixty, and if you don’t know why and are female—enjoy your hairless face now, you’ll be wanting a discount coupon to purchase one soon enough. Since 1986 they’ve sold almost 30 million units.12

How come there are so many Israeli inventions? Some hints to this mystery might come from the fact that its population seems to be extremely creative and entrepreneurial. Perhaps the immediacy of never knowing how long you have to live, puts extra pressure on getting the job done, NOW!

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world, the third highest rate of entrepreneurship-and the highest rate worldwide among women and among people over 55.

What about Israel the humanitarian? Israel’s hospitals are filled saving Palestinian patients and training Palestinian doctors? There are so many Palestinians in Israeli hospitals that Israelis accuse them of favoritism toward treating Palestinians. Even while being targeted by Palestinian bombs during Operation Protective Edge, Hadassah Hospital was continuing their program of training 60 Palestinian physicians alongside Israelis, doing their residency at Hadassah or training in variety of medical subspecialties, including cardiology, dermatology, nephrology, hemato-oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pediatrics, surgery, pathology and urology.13

Israel also provides their Syrian neighbor with humanitarian aid, supplying their enemy with medical aid in Israeli hospitals, sending tons of food, baby formula and diapers, shoes and cold weather clothing, water generators and pipeline to rebuild Syrian infrastructure and equipment for a temporary school in the region.14

Why? A spokesperson for the IDF said, “The IDF provides aid to Syrians on the other side of the border for two primary reasons. We have a moral imperative. We can’t stand by watching a severe humanitarian crisis without helping the innocent people stuck in the middle of the conflict,” an IDF spokesman said. “We also believe that the aid will ultimately create a less hostile environment across the border–and that will lead to improved Israeli security,” he added.15

All the while, animosity between the two countries continues. October 16, 2017, Israeli planes were fired on by Syria, so the Israel Air Force destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery.16  Everything in Israel is complicated.

Ah yes, the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World. But do we see this reported on the news? No. I ask, why not? All of these facts are true and discussed in detail in my book : )

They’re a tiny nation nestled on Earth not in a warm, fuzzy blanket, but amidst enemies that would love to see them disappear off the face of the earth.

So you can see, Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, has lots to be proud of for its 70 years! Struggling against difficult odds, yet thriving. Israel, may you live in Peace in 2018. L’Chaim (to Life!).

As always, I invite you to Join Me on My Journey…

Footnotes:
1 “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott,_Divestment_and_Sanctions.
2  “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott,_Divestment_and_Sanctions.
3 “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott,_Divestment_and_Sanctions.
4 Anti-Semitism.” Campus Divestment Resolutions in the USA, AICE, 18 Apr. 2018, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/campus-divestment-resolutions.
5 Anti-Semitism.” Campus Divestment Resolutions in the USA, AICE, 18 Apr. 2018, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/campus-divestment-resolutions.
6 Anti-Semitism.” Campus Divestment Resolutions in the USA, AICE, 18 Apr. 2018, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/campus-divestment-resolutions.

7Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

8Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

9Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

10Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

11Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

12Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

13Leichman, Abigail Klein, et al. “Israel’s Top 45 Greatest Inventions of All Time.” Israel21c, 26 Sept. 2011, www.israel21c.org/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-of-all-time-2/.

14 Haddassah Hospital “Hadassah’s Hospitals: Employing, Treating, Training Palestinians and Israelis Side by Side.” Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Org of America, 19 Aug. 2014, www.hadassah.org/news-stories/hadassahs-hospitals.html.

15 “Israel Defense Forces: Operation Good Neighbor.” Israel Defense Forces: Operation Good Neighbor, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/operation-good-neighbor.

16 “Israel Defense Forces: Operation Good Neighbor.” Israel Defense Forces: Operation Good Neighbor, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/operation-good-neighbor.

17 Reuters. “Israel Carries Out Airstrike on Syrian Anti-Aircraft Battery.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/world/israel-carries-out-air-strike-on-syrian-anti-aircraft-battery.html.