Israel Under Fire: From Green to Black, Turning Israel to Ash

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Israel under fire

Amy Rosenthal shares her memories and pictures of a beautiful Israel landscape with our readers. 

"With 678 fires so far, crops burning and animals burned alive, where is the outrage?"

Amy Rosenthal

Israel Burns from Hamas Attacks

As Israel burns from Hamas attacks, day after day for more than 100 days, why is the world silent? With more than 678 fires so far, crops burning and animals burned alive, where is the outrage?

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Josh and I visited Israel near the Gaza border and the town of Sderot when we were on our StandWithUs mission trip, right before the fires started in April. We met families who were working hard to grow precious crops. We saw beautiful greenery in the countryside. We visited greenhouses where delicious tomatoes were grown with great care. The members of the moshav we visited near Sderot took a lot of pride in their hard work, and for good reason. It’s hard hard living to make such land produce for the people as they do. I have included a photo from the roadside, one from a home in Sderot and another of the amazing greenhouse.

Now, these fields are black and dust. All the labor for nothing. It’s time for the world to stand up and say NO to Hamas!

Amy Rosenthal is a Voice4Israel board member and part of our outstanding Farmer Market’s team

Video courtesy of the Israeli Defense Forces 

An American Volunteering In Israel During the Attack

Israel, Gaza, Israel under attack
Photo Credit: Israeli Defense Forces

Mark Werner, an American volunteer on an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) base from Raleigh, North Carolina, reports his experience near Gaza. Writing in The Times of Israel, Werner states:

“Most Americans have never had the experience of being wakened in the middle of the night by a Tzeva Adom (‘Code Red’) siren, rushing to the closest bomb shelter, and hiding in the shelter while listening for the explosion of a Palestinian missile. I recently had this experience and am writing to share it with non-Israelis…At 10:30, the Tzeva Adom sirens jolted us awake. Danielle ran down our corridor, banging on our doors: ‘Code Red Alert! Missile attack! Get to the bomb shelter fast!’”

The IDF Responds By Striking 12 Terror Targets

I Love Israel with Natalie Ecanow

Natalie Ecanow, Tel Aviv, Israel, Voice4Israel, V4I
Natalie Ecanow

This is the sixth post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Thank you Natalie Ecanow!

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

On my eighth-grade trip to Israel, my class davened the Kabbalat Shabbat service at the Kotel during our time in Jerusalem. Welcoming Shabbat through raucous song and dance with seventy of my peers against the backdrop of the setting Jerusalem sun is something that I will never forget.

Best food you had in Israel?

The best food I had in Israel would, hands down, be frozen yogurt in Tel Aviv. Piled high with fresh fruit and Israeli delicacies, I once drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv just for froyo.

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

Nachalat Binyamin Market in Tel Aviv. I could spend hours strolling up and down the street browsing the work of Israeli artists and craftsmen.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red Sea.

The Dead Sea. Floating in the Dead Sea is an experience like no other!

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Tel Aviv. The vibrancy and innovative energy of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv is a testament to the strength and influence of the modern State of Israel.

Natalie Ecanow is from Chicago and is a sophomore at Duke intending to major in political science and minor in Middle Eastern studies. She attended Jewish day school and high school and became actively involved with AIPAC during high school. On campus, she continues to be involved with pro-Israel activity through DIPAC—Duke’s student AIPAC group.

I Love Israel with Leora Fields

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Leora Fields

This is the fifth post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Thank you Leora Fields!

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

There are so many memorable moments in Israel! I am who I am because of the time I’ve spent in Israel. I can honestly say that I will never forget the first time I saw the Kotel. It literally took my breath away and thirty years later, it still does. I went to a Jewish day school and am the daughter of an Israeli. But seeing the Kotel in person brought to life every lesson and every story, making them a part of me and even more importantly, me a part of them.

Best food you had in Israel?

In eleventh grade I studied in Israel with Alexander Muss High School in Israel. On our little campus in Hod Ha’Sharon, there was a snack bar named Shlomo’s where all the students would hang out and buy food. In my mind, nothing ever tasted better than a Saturday night spent with friends eating Shlomo’s pita stuffed with schnitzel, overflowing with hummus and Israeli salad.

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

The most recent time I was in Israel was two years ago for my oldest son’s bar mitzvah. Our entire family, including all of the grandparents and some uncles and cousins, visited the Ayalon Institute. Every single one of us, age 4 through 78, was mesmerized by this secret, underground ammunition factory disguised as a kibbutz and laundry service. It was run by the Haganah right under the close watch of the British. The incredible planning and detail required to succeed in this mission are examples of the ongoing heroism, bravery, selflessness, and brilliance required to ensure Israel’s statehood.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red sea.

The Dead Sea. My grandparents emigrated from Poland to pre-Israel Palestine to try to help create the state of Israel. They were both teachers and they lived in the desert and made it their mission to spread Hebrew as a modern spoken language. I have photos of my grandpa reading a newspaper floating in the Dead Sea. It was incredible to replicate the photo with my dad and brothers fifty years later.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

How can I choose? Jerusalem is the heart of Israel and should never be taken for granted. Without Jerusalem, Israel is unrecognizable. Tel Aviv will always be dear to me because my Jewish and Zionist identities stem from my experiences studying abroad at Tel Aviv University and AMHSI. To me, Jerusalem is Israel’s heart and Tel Aviv is her soul. You can’t separate the two, as the former is a living reminder of our past and the latter a glimpse of our future.

Leora Fields was born and raised in Rockville, MD, and graduated from University of Maryland where she majored in Journalism and minored in Hebrew. Since first visiting Israel as a teen, Leora has dedicated herself to sharing her love of Israel with her community and her family.

UNC Required Student Reading Peddles Outrageous Holocaust and Cancer Claims

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Dr. Stanley Robboy

Update: Shortly after this post was published, UNC announced late today that the book’s offending passages have been removed from the coming 2018 Fall edition about to be released.

An online textbook on health and wellness, 21st Century Wellness, which is one choice among several in a course that UNC-Chapel Hill has mandated its students take, has ignited a major controversy both on the campus and with various groups across the country. Particularly disconcerting to the Jewish community is the proposition that many Jews might have saved themselves or their families from dying in the Holocaust had they called upon their “inner strengths.” The second absurdity to me as a physician is that cancer is a preventable disease.

The authors suggest that Holocaust victims are partially the ones to blame because they failed the self-discipline to use their inner strengths as if this were some form of a mental malaise. I wonder how my relatives who were put onto a train, not knowing where they were going and then prodded by armed guard to hurry and take a “shower,” might have looked to their inner strength to intuit and prevent what was to come. Endowment for Middle East Truth and an Israel education group, StandWithUs, with which Voice4Israel partners, both publicly condemned the book. Jennifer Dekel, EMET’s director of research and communications states: “The book …serves to brainwash our youth into believing a dangerous fallacy that glosses over the horrors of the Holocaust and invokes the twisted ideas of Holocaust deniers.” Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs co-founder, said: “Explain how ‘intrinsic worth’ is supposed to keep someone alive who has been tortured, shot, gassed, or starved.”

Both organizations have asked UNC to immediately drop the textbook from its curriculum and apologize to its Jewish students.

The textbook also claims that cancer is a “disease of choice.” Some of the ways we live today without question increase the chances we might develop cancer. Smoking of cigarettes greatly enhances the development of lung cancer. But the word “cancer” is generic for over a hundred type of neoplasms. Most, like pancreatic cancer, have no known nor suspected cause. Suggesting that cancer is a disease of choice might by analogy be applied equally to driving and dying in an accident. Driving recklessly certainly heightens the chance of accident and death. Driving sensibly lowers the chance, but not completely. Another driver may hit you. Personal responsibility is important for every person to think about, but the authors’ statements far exceed what is judicious and wise.

As others indicate, the University administration should take more responsibility about what it requires of its students. We can all think of many more books that would provide far more complete and accurate information. Hiding behind promoting “academic freedom” disrespects both students and the administration’s oversight role for its coursework.

Bio: Dr. Stanley Robboy is a board member of Voice4Israel and a professor of pathology and also obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center.


NC Hillel denounces offensive UNC textbook

NC Hill responded to blaming the holocaust, in part, on it victims, by stating, “This message defames the memory of those who died at the Nazis’ hands and should not be part of any curriculum on our campus. We are concerned about an academic review process that would allow for this narrative to be included in UNC’s educational materials and are actively working with UNC administrators to ensure this type of defamatory and inflammatory language is not taught at any programs at our university.”

Contact Voice4Israel if you are as student, professor, or someone else with information on this situation.

The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland―Then, Now, Tomorrow

Gil Troy, Voice4Israel, Zionist Ideas
The Zionist Ideas by Gil Troy

A Voice4Israel board member is reading The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland―Then, Now, Tomorrow by Gil Troy. She would like to share this quote from the introduction:

“Sadly, the most frequent question non-Israeli Jews have asked me about this book is ‘Will you include anti-Zionists, too?’ When feminist anthologies include sexists, LGBT anthologies include homophobes, and civil rights anthologies include racists, I will consider anti-Zionists. This Jewish need to include our enemies when telling our own story tells its own story.”

Jewish Journal Review

In the Jewish Journal, Jonathan Kirsch writes:

“Today, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, it is all too easy to forget how long the Jewish people longed for a homeland and how unattainable it seemed, even on the eve of statehood in 1948. To put it another way, the history of modern Israel is measured in decades, but the idea of Zionism is measured in millennia.” Read Kirsch’s full review here.

‘The Zionist Ideas’ Reclaims Women’s Voices

Writing in Hadassah Magazine, Troy shares:

“When the scholar-activist Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg published The Zionist Idea in 1959, it quickly became the Zionist Bible for English speakers. For generations now, that anthology of great Zionist writings has introduced Jews and non-Jews to one of the most extraordinary mass conversations in world history. Starting in the 1880s, marginalized Jewish intellectuals in Eastern Europe, simultaneously entranced by nationalism and traumatized by anti-Semitism, debated their future. By 1948, their words, ideas and debates had produced the State of Israel, which today is home to the world’s largest Jewish community.” Read Troy’s full article here.

The Zionist Ideas’: A Zionist Revival to Reclaim Zionism

In the Jerusalem Post, Troy shares:

“At the JCC Association of North America’s biennial in Memphis, after I pitched the sundaes as sweet launching pads to more substantive Zionist conversations throughout this 70th-anniversary year, one JCC director confessed: ‘I had dreaded this session on Israel.’ She thanked me for reminding her that there’s more to Israel than Netanyahu and Trump, the Western Wall and Palestinians – while showing how to frame the conversation about the deeper meaning of Israel, Jewish peoplehood and Identity Zionism – with texts and without.” Read the full article here.

Have you read Gil Troy’s book The Zionist Ideas?  Contact us to let us know what you think.

I Love Israel with Susan Goldhaber

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Susan Goldhaber

This is the fourth post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Thank you Susan Goldhaber!

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

Going to Masada and Ein Gedi Nature Preserve with my family. We had the most amazing time and walking through the preserve to the waterfall at Ein Gedi was truly a high point of my life.

Best food you had in Israel?

Israeli breakfasts at the hotels. I particularly love the fruits, cheeses, chocolate pastries, and the halavah!

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

My sister’s kibbutz, Kibbutz Samar, in the Arava valley, in southern Israel. It is so peaceful and beautiful there and the people are so amazing!

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea.

The Red Sea. I love Eilat and at our last visit we had the most beautiful view of the Red Sea from our hotel room. I also love the Underwater Observatory at the Red Sea in Eilat and could visit there every time I am in Israel.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

They are both amazing, but Jerusalem is so unique that no other city equals it. I love the fact that each time you go to Jerusalem there are new archeological treasures to explore, at our last visit we toured the City of David with an archeologist and learned so much biblical history in one afternoon.

Susan Goldhaber grew up in Detroit, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan where she has a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science and a Masters Degree in Environmental Health. She then moved to Washington DC where she worked for the US EPA and moved with her family to North Carolina in 1988. Susan has spent over 30 years working on environmental issues for the government, both at the state and federal levels, and for environmental consulting firms. As a volunteer, she is active in a variety of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, including delivering Mitzvah Meals for the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary.

I Love Israel with Orna Drawas

Orna Drawas

This is the third post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Thank you Orna Drawas for participating!

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

In Jerusalem one evening after dark, we happened to arrive at the Kotel as the IDF was holding their swearing-in ceremony. Hundreds of young men and women marched in with their battalion, and the plaza was packed with thousands of spectators – family, friends and visitors – to see the newest graduating soldiers of the IDF. The Israeli flag blew in the night and the eternal flames burned brightly as thousands sang a most beautiful and meaningful rendition of Hatikvah. Many of us were brought to tears by the emotions and significance of the moment.

Best food you had in Israel?

Believe it or not, when I think of mouthwatering foods in Israel, I crave the classic Israeli salad. Let’s face it, you can’t get real Israeli salad anywhere else in the world, because no place has tomatoes and cucumbers as fresh, juicy, sweet and delicious as they are locally grown in Israel. I savor every bite!

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

A hidden Gem known mostly by locals, hiking in the Negev is a great adventure with hidden canyons, cool springs and breathtaking scenery. The weather is great all year long and the night skies are absolutely mind-blowing. I like to hike the Negev, stay in an amazing bed and breakfast and try to capture a glimpse of the Bedouin life.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red sea.

The Mediterranean Sea represents Israel to me. When I grew up in Tel Aviv in the 1960’s, my family went to the (Mediterranean) beach nearly every Shabbat. We walked from our apartment, just a few blocks away, and spent countless hours with local family and friends eating, kibitzing, playing Matkot and swimming. That was our life.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Jerusalem. There is nothing like the Machane Yehuda Market (shuk) on a Friday afternoon. The amazing smells of fresh baked Challah, sweet cakes and a great variety of spices is nearly overwhelming. The hustle and bustle of orthodox men and women, combined with locals and tourists, adds to the intensity and excitement of the upcoming Shabbat celebration.

Orna Drawas was born in Israel to parents who emigrated to Palestine in the 1920’s and were part of the early Zionist movement. Growing up in the US, her home was Israeli in culture, food and spirit. Author of the book: PERFORM LIKE A ROCK STAR AND STILL HAVE TIME FOR LUNCH, Orna is currently an expert in the field of corporate leadership.

I Love Israel with Jill Madsen

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Jill Madsen

This is the second post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel.

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

Hands down this would be my first Shabbat in Jerusalem. Truly having a day of rest and then watching the city come alive after Havdallah was amazing. Walking down the street as the sun was setting and slowly watching lights of the local restaurants turn on and people coming out into the street.

Best food you had in Israel?

Breakfast and for someone that doesn’t care for breakfast food that says a lot! All the fresh fruit and cheese and breads, just make it a great start the day!

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon. The most beautiful place in the world. I went segwaying there and I felt like the world could just go on forever.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red sea.

Dead Sea! I love playing in mud, so being at a place where as an adult it is encouraged to cover yourself in it, is up my alley.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Both! Jerusalem provide a snapshot into history and a pathway to explore and experience Judaism in a way you can’t do anywhere else. Tel Aviv provides a space where you can experience food, nightlife, technology, like no other.

Jill Madsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lived there until she moved to North Carolina three years ago to serve as the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Durham Chapel Hill. She has her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees in Education. She spent over twenty years working in education – both as a classroom teacher and in leadership roles. Prior to moving to NC, she served as the Director of Education and then the Chief Operating Officer at the Sabes Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis.

I Love Israel with Orit Ramler Szulik

I love Israel, Orit Ramler Szulik, Voice4Israel, V4I
Orit Ramler Szulik

This is the first post in a series featuring North Carolinians discussing their love of Israel. Special thanks to Orit Ramler Szulik for launching the I Love Israel series. 

What is your most memorable moment in Israel?

Every moment in Israel is memorable! I always remember when I was 9 years old and the Entebbe Operation took place. Everything in Israel stopped, and I told my dad not to worry because we have “Tzhal” and they will rescue the people. I remember my dad getting frustrated with my comment and telling my mom “only kids and crazy people can think that a rescue is possible”. Then, he sat me next to him holding a map and explained how impossible of a mission that would be. The day the rescue happened, my dad hugged me with teary eyes, and told me to keep believing and always feel safe because we have Eretz Israel. We all left our homes to go dance in the streets. That spirit is the one I carry with me every single day. I can’t think of another nation that would risk that much to save it’s own people.

Best food you had in Israel?

Watermelon with cheese at the beach and every single local chef that is opening up a small restaurant all over the country, they are incredible.

Favorite place to visit in Israel?

The grocery store and the “shuk”- market. The smells, sounds and tastes invades me with so much nostalgia of my childhood years and my global and diverse Jewish community.

Which one is your favorite and why? Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, The Red sea.

All of them! But if I need to pick one, I would say the Mediterranean. Every Friday when my dad was back from work we will take a picnic to the beach… so many memories.

Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and why?

Can’t choose, they are both unique and special. Tel Aviv doesn’t stops to amaze me, the development and growth taking over are spectacular. The beach, the way life goes on after the times we had to run to the shelters, the night life, the food, the people… just fabulous. Jerusalem is sacred, it represents our vulnerabilities, victories and our struggles. Jerusalem touches my heart in so many ways.

Orit Ramler Szulik was born in Israel to Argentinean parents and has lived in seven different countries. Ms. Ramler Szulik moved to North Carolina with her family 20 years ago. Orit is a former Executive Director of the Durham Chapel Hill Jewish Federation and one of the co-founders of the Voice4Israel. She is a Learning Specialist and Certified Coach who founded and leads a Career, Executive and Leadership Coaching and Consulting Company.