Israel economy – worst state in 20 years and don't buy your June Bus Pass without a 50% discount and Shavuot Is Friday and The unlearned ‘nakba’ lesson about compromise by Jonathan S. Tobin and Remembering Herman Wouk, Zionist, on his first ‘Yahrzeit’ By Moshe Phillips and Non-Israeli Yeshiva students allowed to return to Israel and On the Road: Ohio boy pays it forward with found fortune
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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Israel economy – worst state in 20 years
Israel's economy contracted by 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sharpest decline in 20 years, according to an estimate based on partial data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
The CBS noted that the contraction of the economy was more severe than after the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 global financial crash.
The area of the economy that saw the most damage was in private consumption — according to the numbers, the only area of personal spending to see an increase was in food, beverage, and tobacco, which rose by 5.8% compared to the previous first quarter. All other areas — clothing, household goods, cars, small electrical goods, furniture, and jewelry — saw a decrease in consumer spending.
One statistic I saw, is that 50% of the people in Eliat are unemployed since they depend on Tourism. It was easy to say shut down the world, but we will be paying the price for a long time to come. Never in the history of the world have we quarantined the healthy! The idea is to quarantine the sick, and let the healthy work. Every action has a price.
Don't buy your June bus pass without a 50% discount, my search for my 100NIS
Don't buy your June bus pass without a 50% discount, my search for my 100NIS
This is a combination news story and tale of woe dealing with the new reality, after Corona!
In the morning as part of my job as a journalist and blogger looking out for you, I got an email from my friend Sam, informing us that the transportation and finance ministers had taken pity on us and were giving us a refund of bus and train services not able to be used.
To explain most people that use the bus and train regularly buy a monthly pass which gives you unlimited rides for the month of the pass. Israel shut down in March and April and most people couldn't go to work and the busses shut down as well.
In most cases it would be tough luck, you paid for a pass and it was used up. In Israel the transportation and finance ministers decided to have mercy on us and give us a partial refund since we couldn't use the service.
Travelers who purchased their monthly pass (called a "hofcee" or free ride--nothing is free you paid for it-but it called a free monthly), can get their refund in three different ways. Purchasing your June pass for a 50% discount, a two week free monthly (which doesn't make much sense for most people as you buy the pass at the beginning of the month and they don't see a two-week pass) or getting a credit on their accrued value which stays on your card and you can use for intercity rides or other cities.
Now comes the story, how do you get it. The logical place would be the city office at the Klall building (at the Divika train station). So I started my journey there. It used to be easy to get in and out of the office, but that was pre-Korona. Now to get in I had to have my temperature taken twice and talk my way through the locked door. They use to have numbers you would sit down and wait for your turn, but now they didn't want to let anybody into the office. I was fortunate and got in. I went to the clerk, showed him the news story and after three discussions with the office and his boss, he decided there was such a thing as the discount. However, he said he couldn't give it to me. Well then, how do I get, I inquired. You have to get it from the automated machine, was the reply. Not from the regular automated machines at the train stations. Pray then, I asked, where is the machine. I don't know was the reply. Well maybe you can find out, I asked meekly. With a little prodigy, he discovered a machine at 21 Ben Yehuda Street. But, he replied you have to put your credit card in before your "Rav card". That made little sense as to how would they know who you are from your credit card as it often not in the same name as the card, but hopefully I went in search of the machine.
Well low and behold!! No machine at 21 Ben Yehuda and no one of course knew where there was one. I racked my brain. I remembered I had seen the machines but where. Where they at the city hall train station? Back on the train again and I was right. They were at both the Ben Yehuda and City hall stops.
But of course, they didn't work for the refund only to buy the ticket. So back to the Davika train station office, but my luck had run out. There were 15 people in line and they weren't letting anyone in. The wait would have been an hour.
Going home, I read on the internet that maybe if I downloaded the app on my phone, maybe that would work so I tried it. Vola, the app confirmed that I was entitled to the refund, but I couldn't load on it my card, because you have to have a reader to swipe your card. Never fear said the app, there were several ATM's nearby that would work to get me my credit.
I live near four major closed hotels, still closed because there are no tourists and hence no need for hotels in Israel. The app told me where the machines were, and amazingly they were all near me, at the CLOSED HOTELS, so of course, the machines were closed as well.
The app sends me to the First Station mall, which claimed to have a machine. After going there and finding the ATM (not easy it is unmarked), I still wasn't able to get my credit.
I haven't given up yet, I have until June 1, to buy my new pass. Paying and getting and trusting to get a refund takes more faith than I have in the Government (my faith in G-d is ok, but dealing with and trusting the government to get a refund is over my faith level).
So don't buy your pass for June yet. Maybe some of you will be more successful than me and let me know what works. If not I will be following up on May 31 (Sunday) after Shavuot and Shabbat. Let's hope for the best!
Non-Israeli yeshiva students to be permitted to return to Israel
Israel okays return of foreign yeshiva students seeking to resume their studies - provided specific precautions are taken.
Americans and other non-Israeli citizens studying in Israeli yeshivas and religious seminaries will be permitted to return to Israel to resume their studies, Israel's Interior Ministry has ruled.
In a letter penned by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) last week, the ministry announced that non-citizens carrying valid student visas will be permitted to return to Israel, ending the ban on their return which had been put in place during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Because of the importance of Torah learning and the return of regular studies" in yeshivas, wrote Deri, "I have decided, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry and the Health Ministry, to permit married yeshiva students learning in established institutions, along with their families, to return to Israel, if they're carrying valid visas."
"To make the process easier, I have decided to let all requests [for return] be put forward by yeshiva deans directly to the Population Authority, at the special email address: KERENNATHAN-ASHROT@PIBA.GOV.IL, rather than through consulates. Yeshivas must state that they know that the married student and his family members have lodgings where they can be in isolation [upon their return to Israel]."
Unmarried yeshiva students will also be able to return to Israel to resume their studies, Deri wrote, so long as the yeshiva declares that the student has a place in a separate dormitory to isolate returning students, in accordance with Health Ministry regulations.
In addition, Minister Deri laid out six requirements for returning yeshiva students.
First, returning students must make sure that they are picked up at the airport by a private driver, and that they will be taken directly from the airport to their place of self-quarantine.
Secondly, dorms for returning students must be totally separate from the dorms used for students not in isolation.
Thirdly, every returning student must have their own room and bathroom (with a shower) during their time in isolation).
Fourthly, the yeshiva must provide returning students with food while they are in isolation.
Fifth, each yeshiva must have a liaison to maintain contact between the quarantined students and the yeshiva management.
Sixth, any student who shows signs of illness must be reported immediately to health authorities.
Ideas, that help explain how the world works
A Modern Day Jonah
As the storm raged, the captain realized his ship was sinking fast. He called out, "Anyone here know how to pray?"
One man stepped forward. "Aye, Captain, I know how to pray."
"Good," said the captain, "you pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets - we're one short."
Remembering Herman Wouk, Zionist, on his first 'Yahrzeit' By Moshe Phillips
Herman Wouk, the famed novelist who first became a household name for his 1951 Pulitzer Prize winning The Caine Mutiny, died one year ago this month—on May 17, to be exact. In addition to his remarkable endurance as a professional writer, he was also a lifelong Zionist. But Wouk's love affair with Zionism and the State of Israel was mostly absent from the coverage of his passing. The Washington Post, The New York Times and every other major U.S. news outlet failed to mention it. Whether deliberate or not, this missing element in these portraits of his life surely matters, as one simply cannot understand Wouk without realizing the central place that Zionism occupied in his life, no less than his love of Torah and his deep faith.
In his "Historical Notes" epilogue to The Hope he told readers: "Like my father before me I have been a lifelong Zionist … " And he made sure that there could be no doubt: The author's photo on the novel's dust-jacket shows a widely grinning Wouk with several Israeli flags fluttering behind him.
Again and again—from his 1959 first nonfiction work This Is My God: The Jewish Way of Life through his pair of books about modern Israel The Hope (1993) and The Glory (1994) until his second and final nonfiction book, The Will to Live On: This Is Our Heritage (2001)—Wouk focused much of his literary talent on Israel.
Perhaps no line in any of his books demonstrates his love of Israel more than this one from This Is My God: "The first time I saw the lights of the (Israeli) airport in the dusk from the descending plane, I experienced a sense of awe that I do not expect to know again in this life." Wouk, an Orthodox Jew, synthesized his love of Torah with his love of the reborn Jewish state.
And his view of Zionism is also clearly laid out in This Is My God: "Zionism is a single long action of lifesaving, of snatching great masses of people out of the path of sure extinction."
Herman Wouk penned the introduction to the 1980 English version of Self-Portrait of a Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu. Yoni's brothers, Benjamin and Iddo Netanyahu, put together the book. "My parents like his were Zionists," writes Wouk. Later in the introduction, he explains his connection to Israel. "Like most American Jews we believe in Israel and support it, buy Israel Bonds, make frequent trips there; I give speeches for Israeli causes and so forth," and then relates how the book allowed him to better understand his own son's desire to make his home in the modern Jewish state.
In The Will to Live On, Wouk weaved a survey of Jewish history together with personal stories of his interaction with David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and other leading Israeli politicians and generals in what was his second and final nonfiction book. This book showed that his love of Israel was clearly undiminished. "The resurgence of Jewry in the Holy Land is nothing but phenomenal," he wrote.
Wouk had been a U.S. naval officer during World War II, and his respect for the Israeli military and its accomplishments was a large part of his Israel-based novels The Hope and The Glory.
Those two books can be juxtaposed with his pair of widely acclaimed World War II novels The Winds of War (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978). In them, the heroine Natalie Jastrow undergoes a long and tortured journey from American Jewish girl to Holocaust victim to Zionist.
In a "Historical Notes" section at the end of The Glory, he wrote about a conversation he had with the legendary Menachem Begin. Wouk says Begin planned to spend his retirement writing a book he wanted to call The Generation of Destruction and Resurgence. The conversation had a profound effect on Wouk. He related to the idea of "a book about the Jewish epic of the twentieth century … both the Holocaust and the rise of Israel."
Wouk's passion for the well-being of his fellow Jews and for Israel should serve as a reminder to American Jews of how the Greatest Generation saw the horrors of the Holocaust and the miracle of Jewish statehood in the Land of Israel. Those who chose to reflect upon what happened were forever changed.
Wouk loved Israel and Zionism, and we should strive to emulate that in his memory. This what he wrote in the "Historical Notes" section at the end of The Glory about the two pairs of novels mentioned above: "I perceive them as a single task of bearing witness, my Generation of Destruction and Resurgence."
The unlearned 'nakba' lesson about compromise by Jonathan S. Tobin
The Palestinians aren't just reliving the "disaster" of their losing war to prevent Israel's birth. By refusing to negotiate, they've ensured that their losses will continue to grow
(May 15, 2020 / JNS) Palestinian Arabs continue to learn the wrong history lesson. On May 15, as they do every year, they relive the sorrow of 1948, when they remind themselves of all the terrible things that happened to them as a result of the creation of modern-day Israel. Their narrative of a martyred people who were driven from their homes and made stateless victims is more than a political statement; it's a faith that is integral to their identity. The yearly vow to "return" to all that they lost 72 years ago—to reverse the verdict of history—is so deeply embedded in their consciousness that it has made it impossible for any of their leaders to even consider formally giving it up.
This is an old story that has been retold so many times that even many of those who sympathize with the Palestinian cause have grown bored with it. Indeed, although talk of the nakba—the "disaster" or "catastrophe" of 1948—is still enough to fire up radical foes of the Jewish state in the West, much of the Arab world has changed the channel and is more interested in cooperation with Israel than in relitigating the events of the war in which it won its independence.
But it is of particular importance in 2020 because with the debate about Israel extending its law to some settlements in the West Bank, they are once repeating the mistakes that led to the nakba in the first place.
To point this out is generally considered insensitive. The suffering of the Palestinians—the one refugee population out of the hundreds of millions who were rendered homeless throughout the world since 1945 that has refused to be resettled—has always been the most powerful weapon in their possession. As such, they have nurtured their status as perpetual victims and jealously guarded it the way others defend their faith, literature or musical cultures. That means that under no circumstances will they ever concede that the fault for the catastrophe that befell them was largely their own.
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From the start of the modern Zionist project in the late 19th century to the moment when it reached its fruition with the creation of the State of Israel, the steadfast position of the Arab population was that they would never acquiesce to the creation of a "national home for the Jewish people" in the territory that was then known as Palestine. They opposed the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the subsequent British Mandate for Palestine tasked with the job of creating such a home, even if their right to stay and live in peace there was never threatened by the Jews.
In the subsequent decades, they manifested that opposition with riots, bloody pogroms and a consistent refusal to consider any plan that might give the Jews sovereignty over even a small part of the country.
That included the 1947 U.N. partition plan that, in addition to recommending the creation of a Jewish state, also called for an Arab state inside the borders of the former mandate with Jerusalem being governed by an international authority. The Arab leadership rejected the plan.
The war that would decide the fate of the country began the morning after the U.N.'s adoption of the partition resolution. Local Arabs, as well as others who came from surrounding countries, began a campaign of terrorism, attacking isolated Jewish communities and besieging Jewish Jerusalem. Their goal was to drive out the Jews, hoping that once the armies of five neighboring countries invaded the country on May 15, 1948, they would do just that.
Of course, that's not the way things worked out, and the embattled Jewish state won this fight for its life. And far from celebrating the demise of the Jews, approximately 700,000 Arabs fled their homes, either because they feared what would happen to them under Jewish rule or in a few cases because they were driven out.
Rather than being resettled in the surrounding Arab nations or elsewhere in the Muslim world, they were kept in place in refugee camps. The United Nations created a refugee agency to deal with them—UNRWA—distinct from the single agency that helped the many millions of other homeless peoples throughout the world so as to aid the effort to use them as a weapon against Israel's legitimacy. Meanwhile, approximately 800,000 Jews fled or were forced to flee their homes in the Arab world and found new lives in Israel or the West.
The Palestinian Arabs could have compromised and gotten a state. But they refused to accept anything less than their maximal demands, and as the years went by, their options in terms of territory and support from the rest of the Arab world, dwindled. Not even after Israel repeatedly offered the Palestinian Authority a state would they agree to end their century-old war.
At any point in this narrative, the Palestinians could have accepted one of the deals offered them. If so, there wouldn't be any Jewish communities in the territories for Israel to seek to annex.
But even now, with their cause largely abandoned by much of the Arab world, they refused to negotiate with the administration of President Donald Trump over its "Peace to Prosperity" proposal that would also give them a state, albeit not as large a one as they could have gotten in 2000 or 2008, let alone 1948. And the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority this week published a front-page article again vowing Israel's destruction as a religious imperative.
The lesson of the nakba is not one of the world's indifference, Israel's alleged sins or even the suffering of the Palestinians. It is, instead, the folly of maximalism, in which by seeking everything, they consistently wind up with nothing. What will happen this year with the settlements is just more proof of the fact that if all you care about is preserving a victim status, the price of intransigence will continue to rise.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.
On the Road: Ohio boy pays it forward with found fortune
As part of our continuing series "On the Road," Steve Hartman meets an 8-year-old boy who found $20 in a parking lot and was thinking of spending it on a new video game. That changed when he saw the man in uniform.
Don't Trust Joe Biden About Israel By Jeff Dunetz
Because he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Vice President, Joe Biden is supposedly an expert on foreign policy. But just like everything else he has done in his public career, Biden is prone to screwing up.
Regarding Israel though, it's not a screw-up, it's what is in the heart of the former SCHMOTUS. That's why I have a critical piece of advice for supporters of the Jewish State of Israel when evaluating Joe Biden: Don't trust Joe Biden about Israel.
Note: SCHMOTUS stands for Schmo of the United States.
When he was in the Senate making his own decisions, some of Biden's actions toward the Jewish state were negative and disturbing.
Even before he joined Barack Obama on the 2008 ticket, Biden seemed to agree with the future president that the Israeli "settlements" were the root of all evil. The problem with that stance was that it prevented peace talks. During the Bush administration, there were Israel/Palestinian talks despite that Israel was expanding those communities. When Obama/Biden made the settlements an issue, it gave the Palestinians an excuse to stop talking, so they stopped.
A great example of Biden's over-emphasis on the settlement issue was a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 1982. The committee was interviewing the Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin.
Biden tried to intimidate Menachem Begin by pounding his fist and raising his voice threatening to cut off US aid to Israel. If he did the slightest bit of research on the PM, he would have known that threatening is not the way to get what you want from Begin. The phrase "speaking truth to power" doesn't do him justice. Menachem Begin saw himself as a protector of the Jewish People. He lost much of his family in the Holocaust and spent a year in a Russian gulag. Begin saw much of the world do nothing about the Holocaust, and was determined not to allow it to happen again. That's one of the reasons he made peace with Egypt despite the objections of Jimmy Carter.
During that committee hearing, at the height of the Lebanon War, Sen. John Biden (Delaware) had attacked Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and threatened that if Israel did not immediately cease this activity, the US would have to cut economic aid to Israel. "Don't threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid."
Note: When Begin said, "Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens." He wasn't talking about the American heroes and those of our allies who put their lives on the line or lost their lives fighting Hitler. He was talking about the fact that FDR could have saved up to 200,000 of Hitler's victims but didn't want more Jews in the US. Churchill could have saved tens of thousands also but lacked the courage.
Not learning his lesson, Senator Biden Senator raised his voice at Begin and banged twice on the table. Begin responded.
"This desk is designed for writing, not for fists. Don't threaten us with slashing aid. Do you think that because the US lends us money it is entitled to impose on us what we must do? We are grateful for the assistance we have received, but we are not to be threatened. I am a proud Jew. Three thousand years of culture are behind me, and you will not frighten me with threats. Take note: we do not want a single soldier of yours to die for us."
After the meeting, Mr. Begin said: "I enjoyed the session very much. I believe in liberty, that free men should freely discuss problems and if they have differences of opinion they should voice them in sincerity.""I said it was a lively discussion," he said. "If you want to use other adjectives. …" He paused, then said, "Lively is enough."
After the meeting, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) approached Begin and praised him for his cutting reply. To which Begin answered with thanks, defining his stand against threats.
Within two months in 2013, Vice President Biden spoke to AIPAC and then its bete noir, J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. The thrust of his AIPAC speech at the beginning of March? Israeli leaders, including Netanyahu, want peace, and the Arabs need to step up."Israel's own leaders currently understand the imperative of peace," he said. "Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, President Peres — they've all called for a two-state solution and an absolute secure, democratic and Jewish state of Israel to live side by side with an independent Palestinian state. But it takes two to tango, and the rest of the Arab world has to get in the game."The thrust of his J Street speech, mid-April? Netanyahu was taking the country in the "wrong direction.""I firmly believe that the actions that Israel's government has taken over the past several years — the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures — they're moving us and, more importantly, they're moving Israel in the wrong direction," he said.
At times during his Senate years, Biden screwed up some easy ways to look pro-Israel. He didn't sign his name to non-binding pro-Israel letters that were supported by the overwhelming majority of his senate colleagues. Here are some examples:
May 1993, Kennedy/Grassley Letter urged President Bubba Clinton to press Syria to allow Syrian Jews to leave the country. 73 Senators signed the letter.
March 1998,Mack/Lieberman Letter urging the Clinton Administration not to pressure Israel, 82 Senators signed. Sen. Biden didn't.
March 2004, Schumer-Hatch-Clinton-Smith sent a Letter Urging Kofi Annan to reverse support for the International Court of Justice Hearings on Israel's Security Fence, 79 Senators signed, Biden wasn't one of them. Maybe he couldn't find a pen or something/
December 2005, Talent/Nelson Letter Urging Pres. Bush #43 to press Palestinian leadership to bar terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian Legislative Elections 73 co-signers: Sen. Biden did not sign this letter, he had to have found a pen by then.
Two months before he was elected Vice President, the Jerusalem Post reported that in 2005 Biden told Israeli officials that they should have to get used to a nuclear Iran:
Army Radio reported that the Delaware senator was heard saying in closed conversations with Jerusalem officials three years ago that he was firmly opposed to an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly claimed that Israel would likely have to come to terms with a nuclear Iran
Biden showed what was really in his heart during the December 2019 Democratic Debate. He said, "What we do is, we have to put pressure constantly on the Israelis to move to a two-state solution, not withdraw physical aid from them in terms of their security."
Notice he only said to pressure one side…Israel? The Palestinian leadership has never recognized the need for two states. They have never accepted that the Jewish State of Israel should exist. But Joe Biden wants to pressure Israel only. That sounds an awful lot like his former boss, Barack Obama.
Robert Gates was correct when he said Biden was a Foreign-policy screw-up. Regarding Israel, Joe Biden cannot be trusted! In the end, it may not matter because there is no way he beats President Trump. That is if the Tara Reade scandal and/or what seems to be his growing dementia allow him to actually get the nomination.