Tag Archives: terrorism

Life is like a box of dynamite

26 Mar

Last week a group of Israelis toured the streets and promenades of Istanbul.  It was part of a culinary trip to explore the flavors of the wonderful Turkish cuisine.

Israeli tourists in Istanbul before the terrorists' attack

Israeli tourists in Istanbul before the terrorists’ attack

While they dined at a restaurant, an ISIS (Daesh) suicide-bomber detonated his explosives belt killing three and wounding scores more. The festive outing had turned into a disaster.  Within hours Israel sent its own doctors and transport airplanes to bring everyone home.  This is one more story of Islamist terrorism against Jews.  What’s absurd is that one of the killed, Avi Goldman, was a tour guide in Jerusalem.  He survived the daily attacks of Arabs against Jews in his own city, yet had to travel to Turkey to meet his death.

Forrest Gump had it all wrong.  Life is not like a box of chocolate.

Islamist suicide-bombers in Brussels

Islamist suicide-bombers in Brussels

It used to be that if you kept out of trouble, trouble would not find you.  Islamists terrorists changed all that after 9/11.  We’re sitting ducks.  Anywhere we go, San Bernardino in California, Paris, Istanbul, Tel-Aviv, we can have our heads blown off or be stabbed to death.  There are no Swedes, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Italians pulling anchor from their homelands and going on a killing spree in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria.  It’s an Islamist thing.  Even those Muslims who’d lived in Europe for two or three generations produce sleeper-cell terrorists.  It’s assimilation gone wild.  I feel sorry for all the law-abiding peaceful Muslims who just want to get by in life, find a decent job, raise a decent family, build a decent home.  Yet many indecent, violent, hell-bent Islamist fundamentalists are ruining it for their own people and their own religion.  But you can’t talk sense into them.  They’re sick in the head.

Victims of the suicide-bombing in Brussels

Victims of the suicide-bombing in Brussels

What’s most terrifying is that these Islamists terrorists can strike at any moment, anywhere, in capital cities and sleepy villages.  Ten days ago my twin teenage daughters flew to Bergen-Belsen, Germany as part of a worldwide delegation to explore and learn about the Nazi atrocities in the concentration camp (more on the subject on a future post).  They flew from Israel to Frankfurt, and from there to Hanover, and from there to Bergen-Belsen.

Then the ISIS terrorists struck Brussels, Belgium.  Thirty-four innocent people were killed at the airport and subway.  My wife and I panicked.  That same week they were to return to Israel with a connecting flight through…Brussels.  While in Germany the local media had learned of my daughters’ involvement in the Bergen-Belsen project.  They wanted to interview them for TV and radio and take their account of their Germany visit.  The reporters asked their Israeli adult escort for permission to interview.  Their woman escort and former teacher called Jerusalem for instructions.  Jerusalem called back.  “Do not let them talk to anyone!”  Why expose them to would-be attackers, they said.  Toward the end, the reporters and Israeli security reached a compromise.  My daughters spoke of their experiences in Germany and the story could be told only after they’d left the country.

My daughters in Bergen-Belsen this week

My daughters in Bergen-Belsen this week

They traveled to Germany to learn of the horrors committed in the camp more than 70 years ago, only to learn that the horrors continue to haunt us today. Luckily they took a flight back through Munich instead, and arrived safely early this morning.

The families from the Istanbul attack are grieving. Brussels, known for its Belgian chocolate, is now known for dynamite and bombs.

Forrest Gump, your mama was wrong.  We know exactly what we’re going to get.

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Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Maurice-Labi/e/B00A9H4XEI

or at BN.com

http://www.barnesandn

 

 

 

 

 

God is watching… PART 2

9 Aug

I’m no prophet in this land of the bible.  But 15 months ago I predicted of what was to come.  I saw the writings on the wall, literally.  I wrote of “price tag,” the act of Jewish orthodox men terrorizing Arab villages in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).  Numerous acts of violence were committed: desecrating, inscribing hate messages on the walls of Muslim mosques, the burning of cars and property. Not one perpetrator was apprehended.  Emboldened with their success, they become more violent after each act.

Burned CHurch of Loaves and FIshes in Galilee

Burned Church of Loaves and Fishes in Galilee

Next they turned their attention on churches.  Recently they burned large parts of the Loaves and Fishes Church on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is said to have performed miracles.  There’s no other word for it but terrorism.  6 in 10 tourists to Israel are not Jewish.  These christian pilgrims come in large numbers to support the State of Israel, to visit their holy sites.  And what do you in return?  We burn what’s dear to their heart.  These right-wing extremists, affectionately called the “hill boys” because they protect God-given hills in Judea and Smaria, are committing bolder and bolder crimes, and more frequently.  These “boys” look up to their Yeshiva (seminary) rabbis and to Daniella Weiss for guidance and inspiration.  Weiss is the hardcore founder of the Settlement Movement, an organization bent on building Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank at the expense of the Palestinian population.  She’s in the headlines again.  Last week Jewish terrorists torched two Arab houses and scrolled the words “revenge” and “Long live the Messiah King” on the walls along with a Star of David.  The fire consumed the structures.  An infant died.  Israel Defense Forces came on the scene and airlifted the mother and father to the hospital.  Later the father died of his burn wounds.  Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin, the media, and the majority of the Israeli public condemned the attack.  Weiss accused president Rivlin of being too soft with the Arabs and that he should watch his comments.  Rivlin stood his ground.  Weiss declared: “Rivlin can sleep well at night.  He’s not important enough to be killed.”  Does this not remind us of the escalation leading up to the killing of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995?

Burned Arab home by Jewish extremists

Burned Arab home by Jewish extremists

God must have watched the events that unfolded at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem two weeks ago.  A deranged orthodox Jewish man who’d just been released from a long prison sentence for violent crimes went on a killing spree during the Parade.  He stabbed people left and right.  One 16 year-old girl died at his hands.  For him and his supporters, gays are not God’s children.

Extremists do not follow one of God’s ten commandments: “Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in Vain.”  Yet these men, Jewish, Muslim, Christian continue to misconstrue God’s will.  They interpret His word as their word.  They’re righteous, worthy of God’s blessing while others are ignorant infidels worthy of damnation and death.  For those of you who’re thinking why don’t I mention the atrocities committed by the Islamic State (ISIS), by Hamas, by Hezbollah, I say this: Jews are expected to behave and act on a higher moral ground.  As Jews we should not stoop to their level but bring theirs to ours.

After all, God is watching our Parade.

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Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=maurice+labi&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Amaurice+labi

or at BN.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/maurice-labi?store=allproducts&keyword=maurice+labi

 

Why Live in Israel?

31 Jan

Several days ago an Israeli military helicopter fired missiles onto Syrian territory.  Six Hezbollah militants and an Iranian accomplice were killed.  Within hours of the strike, North Galilee and the Golan Heights were on lockdown.  The area near the border was off-limits in anticipation of a Hezbollah attack.  It didn’t take long.  Earlier this week, Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles into Galilee.  Two Israeli soldiers on patrol near the border were killed instantly.

Hezbollah leader killed by Israel

Hezbollah leader killed by Israel

The score?

Israel 1 – Hezbollah 1

Hezbollah retaliates - kills 2 Israeli soldiers

Hezbollah retaliates – kills 2 Israeli soldiers

Back to business as usual.  The Israeli army spokesman called for Israelis to return to “normal life.” The next day, schools re-opened, the ski summit at Mount Hermon was re-opened for business. Yet, tourists and vacationers, aware of the ongoing risk, chose to stay home.  Hotel cancellations were near 100%.  The snow pack on Mount Hermon was without skiers.  Except one family.

French Jews arriving in Israel

French Jews arriving in Israel

The television reporter caught up with the woman and her young children.  Immediately he noticed her accent.  “Where are you from?”

The woman behind sunglasses and a winter scarf said: “We’re originally from France.  We came to Israel three years ago.”  After being probed by the reporter, she continues: “You see what’s happening to Jews in France, no?  I’m here for three years.  I came to Hermon to show support.  In Israel, we have an army to protect us.  In France, we don’t.”  She’s speaking for other French Jews in France who are expected to come to Israel in greater numbers this year.

Sudanese Refugees seeking home in Israel

Sudanese Refugees seeking home in Israel

But what about non-Jews.  Why do they want to live here?  A Sudanese refugee was recently interviewed.  He’s one of 50,000 Africans who regard South Tel Aviv as their home.  The African man shows the reporter his scortched hands.  He trekked through Sudan, and Egypt. Then he crossed into the Sinai desert.  There he and others were captured by Bedouin bandits.  His only chance at freedom was if his family back home paid the ransom.  During his captivity, they tortured him, burned the paws of his hands.  He escaped, was picked up by soldiers on the Israeli side of the border and was put on a bus.  Days later, he walked aimlessly the streets of South Tel Aviv, eventually taken in by a homeless shelter.  In time, he recovered.  He now lives in Israel.  “Will you go home?” he’s asked. His reply:  “Israel is my home.”

Filipina Caregiver wins Israel's X-Factor Music Competition

Filipina Caregiver wins Israel’s X-Factor Music Competition

The Israeli elderly are looked after by caregivers from the Philippines.  The word got out that the pay in Israel is about $1200/month.  In the Philippines, young, unskilled men and women earn $100/month.  It’s no wonder that Filipinos and Filipinas are coming to Israel by the thousands.  Here, they have their own food markets, online presence, local newspaper, and even the annual Ms. Filipina Beauty Pageant.  Employment contractors in Manilla and in Israel exploit this labor market.  They charge them $8000 for the privilege of working in Israel, all paid in advance, in cash.  Once in Israel, it takes them years to repay their debt.  They visit their children back home once every two or three years, and keep in touch by Skype.  They endure long hours, take their old clients to the clinic, push their wheelchairs to the park; they learn Hebrew; they watch Israeli forces and terrorist groups clash on TV; they dig their chopsticks into their rice.  They continue to live in Israel until their clients no longer live.

What’s the fascination with this war-torn narrow strip of Land of Israel that attracts from the world over?

My two adult daughters remained in America.  My wife and younger twin daughters returned to Israel 3 1/2 years ago after having lived in California for over 30 years.  Is it really the Promised Land?

I doubt it.  Look up any “Best Places to Live” surveys and Israel is nowhere on the list.  War looms ever more frequently.  Corruption is rampant.  Politicians are guilty of taking bribes, police chiefs are accused of rape.  Arabs and Jews are at each other’s throats.  The cost-of-living has gone mad.  Etiquette, manners, empathy, respect are out the window.  Cynicism is at an all-time high.

So why am I here, still?  Why am I living in Galilee Hills and not returning to Hollywood Hills?

I wish the answer were than simple.  Call it habit, call it unwilling to pack up all over again, call it watching my daughters becoming “happy” Israelis despite their complaints, call it caring about what happens to this country despite feeling powerless, call it feeling the pulse of life here, call it seeing it all from the inside, call it what many Sudanese, Russian, French, Filipinos are feeling – it’s home.

For now.

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Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=maurice+labi&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Amaurice+labi

or at BN.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/maurice-labi?store=allproducts&keyword=maurice+labi

 

 

 

 

 

Guns N’ Roses (and Pencils)

10 Jan

At what price freedom?  Is the sword mightier than the pen?

This week 10 journalists and cartoonists at a French satirical magazine were gunned downed by Islamist terrorists.  A second terror attack at a Paris Jewish market left more dead.  People around the world are rallying in solidarity with the victims and their families.  Soon, the all-too-familiar sight of lighting candles and laying roses on fresh graves will be with us.

France's September 11

France’s September 11

Could it be that we’re weak and afraid to speak out?  We’d rather have cartoonists and controversial writers do the fighting (and the thinking) for us.  We cheer them on from the sidelines.  We hide behind our national flag.  When attacked, we show our disgust, we support our president, primed minister, and the armed forces.

Soldiers, police, we plead.  Restore our calm.  Go out there and kick butt.

The rift between the West and Islam cannot be over exaggerated. We don’t understand Islam. Islam hates the West.  Let’s face it, assemble ten terrorists in a room, nine will be Muslim.

Could it be that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor?

In Galilee, I come across Muslims daily.  I see them where I teach English in college, and I see them as a student at Haifa University. Muslims laugh, just like the rest of us.  But they don’t laugh at Muhammad.terror

And here lies the difference.  In the West, we make fun of anyone alive, maybe risk being sued.  In the West, we can ridicule the dead (Elvis, Nixon) with impunity. Why? Because they’re dead.  They can’t come after us.

Christians make fun of Jesus, Jews make fun of Moses and get to see the light of day. But not in Islam.  Muhammad lives forever.  They don’t get the joke.

Satirists the world over are very clever.  They poke fun at government, at the Establishment. They make us think.  They hope to bring change with pens and pencils.  They criticize the government, and yet, when these French cartoonists and satirists were threatened months before, it was the government and police that stepped in to protect them.  It’s democracy and liberty at its best.

So, what’s next?  Lock up 6 million Muslims in France?  Put up barricades, fences, and armored cars around their neighborhoods?

I think not.

Yes, the majority of terrorists are Muslim.  But Europe had its own crop of terrorists who were not Muslim:  The German Baader Meinhof, the Italian Red Brigades.  They too killed and bombed. Most Muslims in France and the rest of Europe want to go about their lives, earn a decent paycheck, send their kids to school.  But they can’t shake off the stigma and the label that haunts them: Muslim = terrorist.

What are they to do?

First, they should walk out into the streets, by the thousands, by the millions and declare:

“We are French.  We are with France.”

Anything less is cowardly.  To keep silent in their homes is equal to being partners in crime.  They should demand of their mosque leaders to quit fanning the flames of hatred.  Now, the proof is in the doing, not talking.

France should do its share, too.  France can borrow a page from America’s imperfect past regarding blacks.  America in its violent past did finally relent, it did include blacks in public restrooms, in restaurants, in schools, in churches, in jobs, in government.french bread

France, it’s your turn.  Bring Muslims into the fold. Make Muslims feel proud to be French.  In time, ten, twenty, fifty years from now, France could look back on this bloody week and say it was a turning point in its history.

In a brighter future, Muslim men will be seen wearing a French beret.  Muslim women will model French perfume. They will ride their bicycles not with a Kalashnikov, but with a French baguette in hand.

Now, that would be funny.

 

 

Blood Stronger than Friendship

29 Sep

I’m at the Sacramento Hyatt as part of my recent trip to the U.S. to visit my oldest daughters, Michelle and Vanessa.  It’s morning.  Outside my hotel room there’s a complimentary copy of the Sacramento Bee.  I bring the newspaper to bed, skim over the headlines.  I stop on page 2.  “Israeli soldier abducted, killed by Palestinian.”  But what draws me most into this horrific story is the mention of my childhood’s hometown – Bat-Yam, a coastal city south of Tel Aviv.

Slain Israeli Soldier - Tomer Hazan

Slain Israeli Soldier – Tomer Hazan

Tomer Hazan, age 20, a Bat-Yam native, was an Israeli sergeant in the airforce.  The military allowed him to work off-base.  He supplemented his income by working at a popular Bat-Yam restaurant.  There he befriended Nidal Amar, a 42 year-old Arab from the West Bank who’d worked illegally in the restaurant for years.  The chain of events are not yet clear, but the Arab was able to convince Tomer to cross into the Palestinian Territory, near the town of Qalqiliya.  The Arab strangled Tomer and dumped him in a well.  Once the military had learned of Tomer’s vanishing, a massive manhunt was conducted, and finally, his body was found.  The Arab was arrested.

The motive for the killing?

The Arab’s brother is jailed in Israel for terrorist acts.  Amar wanted to negotiate his brother’s release in exchange for Tomer’s dead body.  In the end, blood ties and tribal obligations were stronger than friendship.

Who can you trust?

Tragic.

I fold away the newspaper, get out of bed, and an hour later I meet up with my daughters.  I make no mention of the killing.

Protesters outside restaurant

Protesters outside restaurant

Three months earlier, Michelle and her husband Jonathan, and my daughter Vanessa came to visit me in Israel.  I showed them around Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and ultimately we spent time strolling Bat-Yam’s seashore, kicking our toes in the water.

On their last night before returning to California, we dined at Tzachi Grill and Hummus Bar in Bat-Yam.  We feasted on shawarma, smooth-tasting hummus, falafel balls, salads.

Little did we know then that Tomer and Amar, his Arab “friend,” were working in that SAME restaurant.  Little did we know that three months later tragedy will strike this community.

How was Amar able to mask his “friendship” for so long?

How and why did the owner of Tzachi Grill employ an illegal Arab from the West Bank?

"Blood on your hands" the protesters chant, angry at the restaurant owner

“Blood on your hands” the protesters chant, angry at the restaurant owner

How did the Arab lure the unsuspecting soldier to enter “forbidden territory?”

The people of Bat-Yam are mad.  They wish to boycott the restaurant.  They accuse the owner of wanting to save a few shekels by employing an illegal. To his defense, the owner said Amar showed no signs of being a “Jew Hater.”

Tensions are running high.

The Israeli military routinely warns its personnel not to trust Arabs, not to get into vehicles with unknown drivers, and yet – it happened.

My nephew, Daniel, is devastated.  He’d known Tomer for years, shared beers and Karaoke songs with him.  Now the restaurant is closed pending an investigation by the secret service.  All in the hope of preventing the next tragedy.  

In Sacramento I join my daughters and we settle for Mexican food at Chipotle.  The cook behind the grill is not killing his co-worker. No one’s kidnapping anyone.

Do they know how lucky they are?

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Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.

He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=maurice+labi&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Amaurice+labi

or at BN.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/maurice-labi?store=allproducts&keyword=maurice+labi