About Me

Friday, February 19, 2010

Floating

I approached the Dead Sea with much trepidation. I had waited for Chana to leave the beach and return to our room before I took my dip so that I could go in slowly alone, and there wouldn't be any credible witnesses as to my comical lack of fortitude.

I really don't know how to swim, I thought. And, though the salt content of this body of water was so high it would - it was "rumored" - allow even the most unskilled at the art of buoyancy to succeed, I guess there was part of me that wasn't completely buying it. I thought perhaps I'd be the one exception - a footnote that would find its way into a geology textbook someday.

As a child I nearly drowned in a pool, after being told - in response to my plea that I couldn't swim - that all I needed to do was kick my legs to stay afloat. It didn't work. I let go of the side, and I kicked and kicked and kicked, but promptly descended directly to the bottom. If not for my friend - who reached down, grabbed my hand, and pulled me up....


Until I met Chana, I was quite skeptical about ever finding that one true love (my beshert) - of falling in love and spending the rest of my life with her. I had indeed been in-love, but there was always something missing. I guess I thought that, when it came to marriage, maybe I just didn't have what it took. Though I've always had close friends, and would never be described as a ''loner", there was, to be certain, a certain side of me, like my dad - introspective, independent, with rich inner-life that just seemed, at times, incompatible with spending the rest of my life with another person.

Prior to making Aliyah, friends expressed a confidence that I would find ''her'' in Israel. That, there was where my destiny awaited. And, sure, part of me wanted to believe it, but, at the same time, I never truly accepted it. I didn't completely buy it.

But Chana was different than anyone I had ever known. Though she was more religious than I, considerably younger, and from another part of the world, after only a few weeks, and several incredible dates, I just ''knew'' her. A few weeks later we had fallen in love.

As a couple we simply "worked". She was warm, attractive, loving, and just plain decent. The fact is that Chana is perhaps the most genuine and sincere person I had ever known and when she smiles, well, its as if her soul is simply radiating joy. I had no doubts about who she was inside. There was no dark side artfully hidden from the surface. In Chana I had finally met my beshert.

And yet, there was still a tiny part of me which held on to old notions - held hostage by that irrational fear that it couldn't possibly be real, that my soul would somehow not abide by the stubborn and immutable laws of true love.

I slowly went into the water. First, I stood there, with the water covering only my feet, looking out towards the sea. I spent a few minutes enjoying the site of others around me effortlessly floating. They had no doubts.

It took another 20 minutes of just standing there before I finally summoned the courage to close my eyes and fall backwards. Miraculously, my body, indeed all of me, was gently resting on top of the water.

I had achieved buoyancy.

Though I was only in the Dead Sea for a few minutes, I'm still floating, and no longer have any doubts.

Chana and I are to marry next month.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Christian Aid's Reply to the substance of my essay

Following the publicity surrounding my Guardian piece, as well as a story in the JC (Jewish Chronicle), Christian Aid apologized in the comment section of the Guardian.

Christian Aid apologises unreservedly for the article that appeared. It was written by an outside contributor and was taken down immediately it was brought to the attention of senior staff. Christian Aid also apologises for the deep offence caused by the timing of the article ? Holocaust Memorial Day ? and the use of Holocaust images alongside the article.
The incident exposed shortcomings in the moderation procedures for the Ctrl Alt Shift website and an urgent review of these procedures is underway.
Christian Aid repudiates the suggestions made in the article about the Israeli President Shimon Peres. All sides to the conflict bear responsibility for atrocities that have taken place. Singling out one to the exclusion of others will not advance the cause of peace.
Christian Aid believes that only dialogue between all parties can achieve lasting peace and a viable solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Christian Aid has always been unequivocal in its support for the security of Israel and the rights of all Israeli people to live safely and securely. While deeply regretting this particular incident, Christian Aid will continue to press for Palestinians to be afforded the same rights as Israelis.
Ctrl Alt Shift is an innovative youth project launched by Christian Aid last year to give a voice to the many British young people who, according to research we commissioned, are keen to understand and get involved in global development issues. It is a forum for debate, and that debate is often impassioned. In this case, however, the material was clearly inappropriate.
Matthew Reed, director of marketing, Christian Aid

My essay in The Guardian


Christian Aid's anti-Israel blunders
By hosting vicious attacks on Israel, Christian Aid is destroying its reputation as a non-partisan charitable organisation

Adam Levick guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 February 2010 11.30 GMT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/05/christian-aid-israel-attacks

Christian Aid, one of the world's largest anti-poverty NGOs, chose 27 January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to issue a vicious attack on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. An article headed "Peres: War Criminal and Proud", written by the anti-Israel ideologue Jody McIntyre, appeared in Christian Aid's new UK-based online youth publication, Ctrl.alt.shift. McIntyre – the website's most frequent contributor on Israel – branded Peres (a former Nobel peace prize winner) a war criminal.

This vitriolic commentary was accompanied by photos juxtaposing images of what appear to be (presumably Jewish) victims of Nazi genocide with photos of dead Palestinians, to advance the abhorrent impression of a moral equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany. Such ugly charges are typically levelled only in explicitly antisemitic and extremist publications. That such an odious essay would appear at all on the pages of a mainstream "humanitarian" organisation's website is highly disturbing.

In the past, Christian Aid has assured critics that it is not anti-Israel, but simply "pro-justice, pro-peace, and pro-poverty eradication". This claim is undermined by the fact that the target of this recent attack, Shimon Peres, is the Israeli statesman perhaps most associated with peace, accommodation, and co-existence. While the article suddenly disappeared without explanation six days after it was published, the highly inflammatory rhetoric it contained – published on the memorial day for millions of Holocaust victims – is not an isolated incident on Christian Aid's new website. Many other posts on Ctrl.Alt.Shift by McIntyre, who also blogs for the Electronic Intifada website, contain similarly hateful commentary about Israel.

In one post, McIntyre refers to Zionism as a "racist ideology with the sole aim of stealing the land of Palestine and expelling Palestinians from their country". Christian Aid describe Ctrl.Alt.Shift as an "innovative youth project giving voice to the impassioned desire to change the world felt by… young people [16-25 years old] and to fight against global poverty and social injustice".

The publication may be new, but the organisation's attempt to reach out to the youth market by engaging in Israel-bashing is not. Christian Aid's promotion of a youth-oriented anti-Israel agenda was evident back in 2004 with the launch of a website called Pressureworks. The site drew attention to Christian Aid's highly politicised and misleading report, Facts on the ground: The end of the two-state solution? The recommendations section of the report is notable for its complete absence of any call for Palestinians to end terrorism, which, by that time, had already claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives, including scores of children.

While the anti-Israel venom advanced in Ctrl.Alt.Shift is especially egregious, the broader context should not be lost. As NGO Monitor has previously reported, Christian Aid has a well-documented history of promoting a distorted narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its reports myopically focus on alleged Israeli "violations" and seriously underplay the impact of Palestinian terrorism, as well as the threat posed by terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who openly call for Israel's destruction.

To salvage its reputation as a non-partisan, charitable endeavour offering constructive approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Christian Aid must attempt to develop greater accountability for such negative agendas within its organisation. Its leaders must act now to create a comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for all of its publications and initiatives. Without a meaningful re-examination of funding practices and activities such as Ctrl.Alt.Shift, Christian Aid's moral standing, and its ability to have a positive impact, will continue to be eroded.

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