Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Why we want to be here — a Tisha Be’av message for the Jewish People from Battalion 969
Tisha B'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar so it is sadly fitting to find Jews fighting for their people against a relentless enemy on its occasion this year. Ari Abramowitz has below an uplifting message from the warzone. He is a sharpshooter when called up and a media personality in civilian life. His message is for Jews but I think we can all learn from it. I will never apologize for it but while war rages in the Holy Land I cannot help posting rather a lot about Israel
Upon learning that we would be released next week – a month after our emergency call-up to fight this war – my reserve unit drafted a petition expressing our willingness and desire to continue in this war effort and defeat those who have been murdering and terrorizing our nation.
As a soldier in Battalion 969 allow me to share why we drafted this petition and why we want to be here.
We want to continue fighting not because we love war, but because we love you.
On a personal level, the paradox of the past month is that in the face of heartbreaking pain and the violence of war, my experience has been one of unparalleled love.
The Hebrew word for “love” is “ahava” – the root of which is “hav,” which means “to give.” When you love someone you desire to give to them – and when you give enough to someone you come to love them.
The love I have felt for my fellow soldiers during this war has transcended anything I have experienced before.
While the bond of “brothers in arms” is a universal phenomenon, I find the love I feel for my fellow soldiers overtaking me like a wave. It is hard to explain as I don’t fully understand it myself. All I know is that I would happily give my life for any one of my fellow soldiers and I don’t doubt for a moment that they would do the same for me. Together we would not hesitate to give our lives for you.
Throughout this war we have felt the love you have showered upon us – you have given us so much. I have never felt so much love from so many. Jews from both Israel and the Diaspora have flooded us with more care packages, clean underwear, dry socks, candy, potato chips and toothpaste then we can use. Jewish communities, federations, missions and individuals have not let the dangers of this war stop them from coming and volunteering. Hospitals have had to issue statements requesting that people refrain from visiting the wounded, for the lines to visit them were clogging the hallways and stairwells.
Tens of thousands comfort the families of the soldiers slain and communities around the world hold solidarity and memorial rallies.
We hang up your children’s letters next to our beds. I know a couple of them by heart. We read the articles, videos and Facebook posts with which you defend us and support us as we fight this just and moral war.
While there will always be exceptions, from here it seems that this wave of solidarity spans the entirety of the religious, ideological and political spectrum. From the Gaza border the unity behind us feels unprecedented.
But why? Why do we love each other so much? Today is Tisha Be’av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar. It is the day our Temple was destroyed.
Our sages explain that the Temple was destroyed not because we were weak but because there was “baseless hatred” among us. Yet in those times there was rampant corruption and existential ideological rifts within the nation. Nonetheless, our sages have made it clear that regardless of how compelling an argument one can make, hatred within our nation is fatally destructive and never justified.
We love each other because we love Israel. I am not referring merely to the state or the land. Israel was the name of Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes from which we are all descended. We are not a race or a religion – we are a family. We share a home, a father, a future and a fate.
The reason that I and my fellow soldiers want to continue putting our lives in jeopardy, sleeping night after night in the dirt under mortar fire, rocket attacks and the perpetual danger of terrorist attacks via tunnels is because this war is not yet over. Israel is in danger and when Israel is in danger every member of the Jewish family is in danger.
Today Jews around the world are experiencing the greatest fear and insecurity since the Holocaust.
The masks are coming off and it is increasingly clear that this is not a war against Israel, but a war against the Jewish People. This week’s cover of Newsweek was titled “Why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again.” Scarcely a day goes by when there is not another horrific act of anti-Semitism somewhere in the world. A poll this week indicates that a vast majority of Jews in France are considering leaving. A friend in the army told me that there is not a family in Holland that is not considering leaving. We have seen how quickly the winds can change and we are here fighting this war to protect your home for when you should want – or need – to return.
So to our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, we are grateful for your love, and we are grateful for the privilege of serving in the IDF and expressing our love for you.
To our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world – thank you for feeling our pain – for crying as we cry.
In the poetic words of King David “He who sows with tears reaps with joy.”
As we cry together this Tisha Be’av as one loving family, may we soon merit the opportunity to laugh together and celebrate with love and joy.
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG mocks the Left for their love of Muslims and their hatred of Israel
Wisconsin anti-union law: state Supreme Court ruling probably the final say
Act 10 essentially ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparking court challenges and protests. But a ruling Thursday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court leaves opponents with little choice but to move on.
Ever since it became law in 2011, Act 10 in Wisconsin – which essentially ended collective bargaining for most public workers – has sparked countless court challenges, generated angry protests at the State Capitol, and fueled a recall campaign of the governor.
A ruling Thursday by the state Supreme Court indicates the law will stand, leaving opponents with little choice but to move on.
“This is the end of the pending challenges and is unlikely to be replaced by some persuasive new challenge that hasn’t already been attempted,” says Charles Franklin, a law professor and polling director at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
The 5-to-2 decision found that Act 10 does not violate the First Amendment, because collective bargaining powers by labor organizations are a benefit, not an enshrined constitutional right at the federal or state level.
“No matter the limitations or ‘burdens’ a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation. The First Amendment cannot be used as a vehicle to expand the parameters of a benefit that it does not itself protect,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote in the ruling.
Act 10 survived multiple legal challenges. One decision late last year overturned a contempt-of-court order by a Dane County circuit judge who had ruled that the law was unconstitutional. A federal court struck down parts of the bill in March 2012, but was overturned by a federal appeals court last year after the state sued.
The issue also catapulted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) into the national spotlight, making him a pariah to Democrats and a hero to Republicans. He survived a 2012 recall election, which emboldened his message that Act 10 will benefit the state economy.
Governor Walker released a statement Thursday saying Act 10 saved taxpayers “more than $3 billion,” calling it “a victory for those hard-working taxpayers.” The majority of savings cited by Walker are accurate, local media report, although they say that morale among state workers has been damaged and recruitment may be difficult.
Act 10 is not necessarily threatened by the upcoming gubernatorial election, either. Mary Burke, a former state secretary of Commerce and Walker’s Democratic opponent in November, has backed away from pledging to overturn the law, even though she says she supports the ability of public workers to collectively bargain. One reason for her position, according to Professor Franklin: Public opinion polls show that most voters agree with elements of the law requiring public workers to contribute more to their retirement and health-care benefits.
Another reason is practical: Ms. Burke would have no power to overturn the law with both legislative chambers expected to remain under Republican control.
“Without Democratic control of both houses, the governor’s prospect of repealing Act 10 is extremely limited,” Franklin says. “We’re looking at more years and more election cycles before it can be plausible to see a substantial change in the law.”
Act 10’s passage has emboldened Republican governors in nearby states like Indiana and Michigan to successfully push through similar bills, although Franklin says those efforts will be sustained only if Republicans have a lock on all branches of government.
“At this point, [collective bargaining] is not an area that lends itself to compromise between Republican governors and Democratic legislatures. Both sides are too influenced by interest groups and core supporters that would make it very unlikely for states to go halfway on this issue,” he says.
Raymond Blanc praises McDonald's and gives the organic movement a roasting
He has long been known as a fierce critic of factory farming and fast food, and a champion of “le correct” way of cooking – all delivered in a heavy French accent, of course.
But now Raymond Blanc has turned the tables and accused the organic movement of being “elitist”, while at the same time praising McDonald’s – so long regarded as the bête noire of the restaurant world – for its commitment to quality ingredients.
The restaurateur says that while organic is preferable, it is not always practical or realistic, and that the freshness of ingredients is more important to their nutritional value than whether chemicals have been used in their production.
“Organic should be best, but the reality of the world may be different,” he said.
“I used to hate compromise – compromise was evil because it’s the start of devaluing what you’re doing – but sometimes it is the only way. You can compromise without selling out.”
He added: “Freshness is more important. It is a mistake to say organic always tastes better. It depends on parentage. Some organics are simply terrible.”
Blanc, who runs Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, says that while the original aim of the organic movement was to make good food available to all, it has now become the preserve of the well-off. “It has shot itself in the foot by creating a movement that has become elitist by being so expensive,” he said.
Blanc now prefers the principles of Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf), a charity founded in a 1991 to promote “sustainable food and farming”.
Leaf gives its marque to growers and farmers who “maintain high standards of food production with minimum environmental impact”. A fifth of agricultural produce in Britain now carries its seal of approval, including fruit and vegetables sold in Waitrose. Leaf methods involve using minimal chemicals, and only when “absolutely necessary”.
Blanc told The Telegraph: “Normally my heart is organic. All of Le Manoir is totally organic. The moment I came in, there were no chemicals. “But it’s easier on vegetables than it is for fruit. Organic uses lots of copper and sulphates and I don’t like that. I will abandon my principles, and the orchard won’t be organic but Leaf.”
If that might be considered a dramatic turn-around in Blanc’s methods, then his new-found admiration for McDonald’s will come as an even bigger surprise. As he says in the interview, he once felt of their food that “I could break down the chemicals and colourings in my mouth. I felt they killed people by encouraging obesity.”
But he says he has come to recognise the fast-food chain has made huge strides.
Earlier this year, Blanc, president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, presented McDonald’s UK with a Sustainability Hero award, recognising the chain’s contribution to improving food. He said: “I was amazed. All their eggs are free-range; all their pork is free-range; all their beef is free-range.
“[They show that] the fast-food business could change for the better. They’re supporting thousands of British farms, and saving energy and waste by doing so. “I was as excited as if you had told me there were 20 new three-star Michelin restaurants in London or Manchester.”
But Blanc warns that Britain still has a long way to go, and that unless we get a grip on our dietary habits, we are heading for disaster. He said: “We’re still number one in Europe for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. We have a health service that is already so strained, under so much pressure that we cannot go on to create more ill health. It’s an epidemic.”
To help tackle the problem, Blanc’s eldest son, Olivier, 38, has launched a community garden in south-east London with Chris Collins, the former Blue Peter gardener. Local schools will have a plot each, and will use the gardens for science and cooking lessons.
He said: “Gardening will, I hope, be the next thing to go on to the curriculum.”
Blanc said: “We are the spoilt generation who grew up with everything put into our mouths … and didn’t ask a simple question, where our food came from. The biggest revolution is the revolution in the hands of our children.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc
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Posted by JR at 12:32 AM