It’s My (Hebrew) Birthday!

Roberts_Siege_and_Destruction_of_JerusalemHappy Tisha B’av! Come on, I know you’re all bummed out because of the Temple lying in ruins, but hey, at least you got Half & Half these days, right? Right? So go on, tear your shirt, get dusty, sit on the floor, don’t eat anything, and when someone asks you “Hey, what’s with the Tisha B’av face?”, just smile and think of me…

But on a serious note, if you really are fasting – hope it’s an easy one. Especially in this weather. And, just a few things I’d like you to read:

First, an op-ed piece by Nadav Shragai, about Tisha B’av. As you can imagine, me and Nadav don’t really agree on anything, but here’s an example of a right-winger who can write an op-ed in a calm fashion, and state his legitimate view about going up to Temple Mount.

Several years ago I went on a fascinating trip of this kind with archaeologist Dan Bahat, and I have returned many times since. Even today, Tisha B’Av, after some 30 years of writing for Haaretz, I will go there. Like many others I will look back knowing that the memory of the past and heritage is in many ways also the history of our present and future, and that only thus will we improve the chance that others, including our enemies, will recognize this continuity and affinity.

And just three more reads concerning my post about “Breaking the Silence”. The first is a news item on Ha’aretz about a sharp rise in requests from IDF combat units for material on military ethics during warfare.

There has been a sharp rise in requests from Israel Defence Forces combat units to the Education Corps for material on military ethics and “values during wartime,” says Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, the army’s chief education officer. Speaking at a seminar yesterday in Jerusalem on “War and Peace in Jewish Heritage,” Shermeister acknowledged an inherent tension between protecting soldiers and avoiding harm to innocent civilians.

Another piece is by Jeffery Goldberg that I just saw, even though it’s already a few weeks old. BTS came under criticism for Israel-bashing, and in response to my post journalist Adi Schwartz pointed out that not all human rights organizations are neutral, and are funded by parties with conflicting interests. Adi’s point is reinforced when Goldberg tells us of one of the most important groups worldwide, Human Rights Watch, who sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia (of all places) – and came back with some funding.

I’m not one of the people who believes that Human Rights Watch is reflexively anti-Israel, and I think the group has done admirable work exposing Israel’s human rights violations (and admirable work, of course, exposing human rights violations across the Middle East). But this allegation, if proven true, would cast serious doubt on whether Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division could ever fairly judge Israel again.

 And lastly, Amir Mizroch of the Jerusalem Post writes about the IDF’s attempts to investigate its actions during warfare:

Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit is not always a popular figure in the military, especially when he punishes soldiers who break the law while fighting Israel’s enemies in Gaza, Lebanon or the West Bank. For Mandelblit, there is no difference between routine security operations and full-fledged war, and no difference between Arabs and Jews. There is only the law.

From his third-floor office at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Mandelblit represents the core of Israel’s defense against the legal onslaught by unfriendly countries and organizations across the world. While the shooting has stopped, Operation Cast Lead is not over yet – it has just moved to another front. 

 Good reading!

6 Responses to “It’s My (Hebrew) Birthday!”

  1. 1 Shelly
    July 30, 2009 at 11:17


    The Midrash1 relates that on the same day the Holy Temple was destroyed, Moshiach was born. The Midrash goes so far to tell us his name: Menachem.

    Traditionally this is understood to mean that indeed Moshiach was born on that day, and had the Jews of that generation merited redemption, Menachem would have been revealed as Moshiach and immediately redeemed the Jews from exile.2

    On a deeper level the Midrash is relating that the concepts of Moshiach and Redemption were “born” on Tishah b’Av; as soon as the Holy Temple was destroyed, redemption became a possibility. For if the Jews would have properly repented immediately, Moshiach would have been revealed at that moment.

    In the teachings of Chassidut it is explained that the inner purpose of the destruction was so that we should be able to reach much higher spiritual levels with the coming of Moshiach – and this only became possible on Tishah b’Av.

    So while today we view Tishah b’Av as a sad and tragic day, in the Messianic Era we will celebrate this day as the “birthday” of the ultimate salvation.

    P.S. If only we had named you MENACHEM…

    • 2 shmookty
      July 30, 2009 at 11:32

      Thank God you didn’t call me Menachem! Not too fond of the name in the first place. Second, if I turned out to be the Messiah I don’t think I could stand the pressure (not to mention the paparazzi)…

      • 3 Karen
        July 30, 2009 at 13:26


        I’d just like to remind you that we were lucky enough to once meet a very special guy called Menachem. Perhaps he wasn’t the Messiah, but he certainly was an angel.

        And happy birthday.


  2. 4 shmookty
    July 30, 2009 at 13:38

    True, Meni was an angel on earth. May he rest in peace.

  3. 5 Fairandbalanced
    July 31, 2009 at 05:39

    What is your evidence that Human Rights Watch accepted money in Saudi Arabia? I have seen references of a meeting, but I have yet to see anyone back this up with information about money raised or actual donors.

    • 6 shmookty
      July 31, 2009 at 08:15

      you’re right. still no proof. just allegations. but the fact that they went there in the first place hunting for money is problematic.

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July 2009

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