“That’s because no one ever asks me and no one is interested,” she replies, giving me my first glimpse into her fraught relationship with the Israeli press, which has hounded her for years, creating a narrative in which she is usually pictured as a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West, Marie Antoinette and Imelda Marcos. “She is the most hated woman in Israel,” someone wrote me recently in a talkback.
It is 3:59 P.M. on February 18. I am sitting in the office of former house manager Menny Naftali, who is suing the Netanyahus for $290,000 claiming he was insulted, treated unfairly, yadda, yadda, yadda. There are piles of plastic bags stuffed with unidentifiable material, a randomly placed iron, an unhappy plant, a round top to something or other, and a half-eaten bar of Elite chocolate. I’m thinking: …
…continue reading A Working Woman
Each new wave of violence and hatred also evokes memories of past atrocities, so that even when the woman in the hijab with the knife is captured by the soldier before she can do any harm, the act sends shivers down our spines as it is added to the collection we keep in a large box close to our hearts, a box that we try to open and close quickly, before the demons can escape.
You’d think we’d be used to it by now, wouldn’t you? The unprovoked stabbings, cars running over people waiting for the train, shootings of would-be jihadis in the supermarket and the center of town. Especially for us in Jerusalem, who always live on the cusp of disaster, of the sudden outbreak of barely contained fanaticism. But as one Jerusalemite who has lived this way since …
…continue reading Living Under the “Terrorism Tree”
With the head of the free world AWOL for the last six and a half years bowing to the Saudis, making an ass of himself in Cairo, and destroying America’s economy while he plays golf, Benjamin Netanyahu has been heroically cast as the world leader standing up to the world-shattering dangers of a nuclear Iran.
When I was invited to join the Prime Minister at his home in Jerusalem, along with other members of the English-speaking community in Israel, I expected to find myself in a large auditorium in which I would need binoculars to see Benjamin Netanyahu. To my surprise, the room was an outdoor space that could accommodate no more than fifty, with chairs arranged in an intimate circle, with a small table in the front.
The Prime Minister entered and to everyone’s complete astonishment, he went …
…continue reading My Evening with Sarah and Bibi
A shudder went down my spine when I read that Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist responsible for the cold-blooded murder of five Jews in the Porte de Vincennes’s Hyper Cacher supermarket, as well as the shooting of police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe in Montrouge, had a map in his pocket pointing to all the Jewish schools in Paris.
When my daughter applied to work abroad in Toulouse during her second year of National Service, we were excited for her, thinking it would be a brief foray into another culture. When the time came to visit her midyear, we were delighted to find her having fun, but also longing to come home.
Moreover, we were thrilled that the men’s section of the local synagogue was filled with males over 40 and under 10.
Around May, however, to our astonishment, she started hinting about …
…continue reading My Parisian Family
The Cold War, that dinosaur, has again been cloned into life, rearing its ugly head with the help of the thuggish Vladimir Putin as he moves his tanks into Ukraine, contemptuous of America finger-wagging. And why not? America has drawn so many red lines trampled over by so many puny powers that no one takes it seriously anymore.
I was watching this old movie the other day called “The Omen.”
Released in 1976, starring Gregory Peck as the American ambassador in Rome and Lee Remick as his unsuspecting wife, the two await the birth of their first child in a rather creepy Italian hospital. It is inexplicably filled with priests, one of whom tells Peck his baby has died and offers him a newborn orphan to replace it.
Well, as in all good horror flicks, the audience knows a little …
…continue reading The Devil Takes Over
My blood froze in horror. What if the attack wasn’t over? What if we were just at the beginning?
A few years ago (could it actually be more than a decade?), in 2002, I was in a terror attack at the Park Hotel. At that time, terror attacks were happening almost every day. Someone even calculated that there was one every hour or every day, 24,000 in all.
Before I was in an attack myself, I had been sitting back in horror watching them on television, or reading about them in the newspapers. But as bad as the scenes were, they were never as bad as they were in the flesh. I remember passing by the Sbarro Pizza Parlor on the corner of King George and Yaffo in downtown Jerusalem a day after it was blown up by terrorists. Its …
…continue reading Living in Terror’s Long Shadow
Unlike our long-held assumption that it was the U.N. vote on the partition that created Israel, it was the League of Nations mandate. The U.N. partition plan merely gave 77% of the Mandate land meant for the Jewish State to Palestinians, creating Jordan. So why was there dancing in the streets of Israel? Kontorovich calls it “Jewish joy,” at being left anything at all.
There was a time during one of the so-called intifadas (forgive me for not remembering if it was the first, second, or in-between; all that savagery and murder runs together seamlessly in my head these days) that the Palestinians claimed that the Jews had no connection at all to Jerusalem, or the land of Israel. A statement like that, similar to denying the Holocaust, is so insane it leaves one sputtering in wordless confusion. It’s like …
…continue reading Countering the Big Lie
My latest book, The Sisters Weiss, has just been published in paperback. It’s the story of two sisters from an ultra-Orthodox family in 1950s Brooklyn who take very different paths, and then find their lives unexpectedly intersecting again forty years later. To order the book from Amazon, click here.
This November, I’ll be giving a few lectures in various Canadian cities and in Detroit. You can view details here.
I hope I’ll be seeing some of you at my lectures.
The 19-year-old who joined the IDF after Birthright represents the best of American Jewry.
Not so long ago, American Jewish children learned from their parents to love the State of Israel. Even secular, assimilated American Jews gave their kids charity boxes to collect nickels and dimes to plant trees there, as the parents do in Woody Allen’s 1987 film Radio Days. But that was a time when Jews remembered the tragedy of the ship St. Louis, with its hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazis and not a single country willing to take them in.
Only a generation or two later, so low is the interest in the miracle of Israel that warm-hearted Jewish philanthropists have had to create Birthright, a program that actually pays for young Jews to visit their homeland.
For us in Israel, this fact has …
…continue reading Max Steinberg: A Real American Hero
“It’s like waking up from a bad dream. You have to face yourself. How did I let this happen to me? It is devastating, and takes years to rebuild your ego.”
Perhaps because we live in the Holy Land, the idea of closeness to our Maker, and adherence to His will, is commonplace even among the most secular Israeli, particularly around Rosh Hashana, when Israelis from all backgrounds and religious levels turn their hearts and minds toward the idea of spiritual growth and healing, trying to find their way to a more intimate relationship with their God.
This longing for a purer life, has, unfortunately, given rise to a vast number of psychopathic and criminal gurus, ranging from completely secular to ultra-Orthodox, who prey on the most intelligent and innocent of victims.
The recent court case against Goel Ratzon is …
…continue reading Religious Experience or Cult?
I think Israelis are the bravest, most resourceful and intelligent people on earth. I think that they are a generous, inventive, creative, kind, humane, life-loving people who are the least deserving of hatred of any nation on earth. But I can actually can think of many others on our small planet who deserve to be defamed, libeled, marched against, boycotted, hated and shunned.
Back in the 1970’s, I remember watching a television report about the civil war in Lebanon. Etched in my memory was an interview with a nameless woman who described how she lived when her street was targeted by snipers picking off ordinary civilians at whim. Her words went something like this: We go out in the early morning, because at that time the snipers are still sleeping. And then in the heat of the day, because they are …
…continue reading The New “Normal”
By supporting Hamas, you are supporting the use of Palestinians as human shields, the use of Palestinian children to dig terror tunnels in which 160 have died, and the summary execution of Palestinians by Hamas thugs whenever they open their mouths to protest the use of their homes, school, mosques, or hospitals as weapons caches and missile launching sites.
I’m not sure the people who need to hear this will ever hear it, but I want my conscience to be clear that I said it to them.
Dear Human Rights Activist, Leftist Liberal, Crying-for-the-poor-children, Israel-hating, Hamas-forgiving, marcher, celebrity, news anchor, journalist, writer, media star, politician, head of state. We have seen you marching along the streets of Europe, America, and the Middle East with your signs and kafias and Palestinian flags. We have heard you screaming to whoever will listen that Jews and Israelis are murderers, war criminals, and baby …
…continue reading This Is What You Are Really Telling Us
No place is safe, not Jerusalem, or the coffee houses of Tel Aviv or the port city of Haifa. Distance is no longer a factor. The rockets go everywhere, undirected, carelessly, to fall on hospitals, nursery schools, summer camps. Miraculously, they are diverted and destroyed, again and again and again.
Three faces. They could be my sons, or yours. They peer out at us wherever we go. There are special prayer sessions at the synagogue, reminding me of those days when we prayed for the safe return of Nachshon Wachsman, my friend and neighbor’s boy.
We wake up each morning, and nothing is new, nothing is known, until, at a wedding by the sea for the son of good friends, caressed by warm sea breezes, beside a flower-bedecked table, Esther Wachsman leans over and whispers in my ear: “They found …
…continue reading We Are Not Like Them
I prefer that you – writers of these lies and libels – hate me and my country, if it means that you can save your tears for other peoples’ dead. We aren’t greedy for sympathy. After all, we got so much after the Holocaust, we prefer other people to have their share now. These days, we prefer to live, rather than have people cry over us and the injustices done to us.
I’m sitting here in Jerusalem after a week of heartbreak over three murdered teens, followed by almost three weeks of sirens, bomb blasts, and finally, the funerals of young IDF soldiers, of whom one-third are students who should be taking their final exams instead of risking their lives. I’m reading on the internet about what a horrible person I am as an Israeli and as a Jew, and what a terrible, …
…continue reading Don’t Cry for Us Israelis
There is a well-known French saying: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” meaning “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” This is certainly true in regard to the so-called “peace process.” In April of 2001 – before the terrible events of September 11 – I wrote an article titled “Do the Palestinians Deserve a State?”
Except for changing “Yasir Arafat” to “Hamas,” every single word in the article is as true today as it was thirteen years ago, despite all the well-meaning efforts of countless clueless diplomats and naïve do-gooders.
You can read the article here and judge for yourself.
We don’t need their permission, and we aren’t going to ask for it. We aren’t going to let these moral midgets claim the role of moral yardstick against which we must measure our behavior. We, who gave the Bible to the world, spit on them and their pretensions.
I was at a wedding last night, a beautiful affair by the sea celebrating the longed-for marriage of our dear friends’ eldest son with his lovely bride. The vows were said under a chuppah, just as the sun set over the blue ocean’s gentle waves behind them.
Another Jewish family beginning, I thought in joy as I watched the beaming bride and groom and their happy families.
We sat down by tables set with fresh, delicious food, my dear friend Esther Wachsman sitting down next to me, leaving …
…continue reading A Wedding and Three Funerals