Showing posts from May, 2012

Israel's Yad Veshem - Holocaust Memorial

"The Unknown Righteous Among the Nations" Monument at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial & Museum in Israel

Although this was my second time to Israel's National Holocaust Memorial & Museum it had the same, if not more powerful effect on me. Once again, Elliott Chodoff provided incredible depth and insight to the tour. Moving through room after room of stories and artifacts that brought alive the tragedy that gripped the world not so long ago. I still can't help but feel the panic and helplessness for a population who were hunted down and exterminated by a major industrial world power of the time. The world stood by and watched as the Jews were systematically collected and killed. The Germans simply did not get rid of all of the Jews in Germany, they were set to find and eliminate all of the Jews throughout the entire world!  The individual stories that were depicted were difficult to hear. The movie footage and pictures were attempting to give a sense of how the ant…

A Personal Story at Israel's Mt. Herzel

Troops on parade at Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery
Mount Herzl has served as Israel's national cemetery since 1951, following a government decision to establish a cemetery for Israeli leaders and fallen soldiers. Mt. Herzl is the burial place of three of  Israel's prime ministers:  Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin (who is buried beside his wife Leah). Israeli presidents are also buried on Mt. Herzl, as are other prominent Jewish and Zionist leaders. Mt. Herzl is the venue for many commemorative events and national celebrations.

Although the cemetery is filled with countless hero's of Israel's past I want to talk about one very alive young man named Don (Name changed to protect his identity). I had the pleasure to meet and talk to Don, a young man Born in the United States who decided to become a Israeli citizen and join the Israeli army. He is currently completing his training in one of the toughest special forces /counter terrorist divisions in the world: Isr…

Krav Maga Training on Israel's Legendary Masada

Jennifer & Vanda learn how to escape from a rear choke using Israeli Krav Maga
We got an early start to drive to Israel's legendary Masada. Once there we prepared to hike up the side of the rock plateau to see the ancient structures and hear the legend of how a few hundred brave Jewish Rebels went head to head against the strongest empire of the day, Rome. The ancient palace and fortification on top of the natural rock plateau were originally built by King Herod in the Southern District of Israel on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. In the first century CE during the final push of the First Jewish–Roman War, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels. Until recently new IDF soldiers were sworn in on top of Masada by torch light. To put things into an American perspective, Masada is to the Israeli's, what the Alamo is to Texans. of the

The sun was hot, but not unbearable. Once in the shadow …

The Israeli / Palestinian Controversy: A Conference With Jerusalem Post's Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh

Khaled Abu Toameh

During a recent trip to Israel I had the unique opportunity to be part of an intimate conference with renowned journalist  Khaled Abu Toameh. Khaled is an Israeli Arab journalist, lecturer and documentary filmmaker. He is the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and U.S. News and World Report, and has been the Palestinian affairs producer for NBC News since 1988. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, World Tribune, and many other newspapers. Khaled spoke to us about his experience and opinions on the Palestinian / Israeli situation. Fascinating doesn't even begin to describe what the next couple of hours were.
The room was electric with both excitement and curiosity as each of us sat in our chairs, giving Khaled our undivided attention. He began by saying that there are currently 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel making up about 20% of Israels total population. These people are called Arab Israelis.  He went on to…

Israel: Rugged People, Warm Hearts

As you have been reading in my blog, Time Magazine, USA Today or watching CNN, you may get the impression that Israel is full of dangerous places and people. Well, I must admit, to a certain degree that is true, there are plenty of things that have happened, are happening or have the potential to happen that are of grave concern, however there is also a beautiful side of Israel. A side that is too often overlooked. Beneath the fighting and unrest lays a prosperous land and wonderful people who are living in an uncertain world, yet they face each day refusing to give up hope. The strength and perseverance that I see in the eyes of the people that I have met is humbling. It won't be much longer that I will be back in the good ol'e U.S.of A where we have things so good that we can let entitlement, pettiness and useless drama rule our lives. - Earlier today I was in Ashkelon, Sderot and (viewed) the Gaza Strip while Elliot Chordoff (an American born Israeli who is a government e…
IDF Soldier lets me take a look at his M4 while on Israeli Army Base near Lebanon boarder - - - - Quite the busy day yesterday. We began with Elliot Chodoff giving us the the rundown of the Lebanese / Israeli conflict(s), past present and (possible) future. We stood just off the deserted road listening to Elliot give us the intimate details of the things most people only see on CNN. We could see the Pale UN boarder marker on the Israeli/Lebanese border and felt the wind from the IDF armored patrols as they sped by us in their converted Hummers. Looking up on the hill above us was a Hezbollah outpost close enough to almost touch. It's one thing watching this on the news, it's another thing seeing it up close. The feeling was rather eerie. Once again I found myself in this strange sublime place between worlds; the West and the Middle East. Two very different places. After being properly briefed by Elliot, we were taken to two IDF Military Bases that were on the boarder between…

Northern Israel: Golan Heights and the Lebanon & Syrian Boarders

Tank Mines near the Syrian / Israeli Boarder

Here we are, day two of Israel. The group got kicked out of Capernaim... Shorts not allowed! St. Peter won't you let me in!? =) Since that planned Went FUBAR we decided to continue exploring the Golan Heights of Northern Israel by the Lebonan / border. Being careful to avoid the mine fields left behind by the Syrian army (With help from the Russians) we viewed some of the old and new dividing lines between these often warring countries. Major Elliot Chodoff explained some of the critical battles. He took us step by step through the strategy, tactics, and outcomes of these conflicts, which shaped the State of Israel. It was difficult to conceive all of the fighting, terror and death that was witnessed here while we toured with friends on such a beautiful day. The birds were chirping, the wind blowing, the sky was blue, the weather perfect and in spite of all of this, the tales of what unfolded in this place lead me to think and attempt t…

Israel 2012... Back in The Land of Krav

El Al Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel

Touched down in Tel Aviv this morning about 12:45 am (Israeli Time), up at 7am for a day of touring and talking with Israeli Defense Force Maj. Elliot Chodoff. What a great day! A Huge Thanks to The Conquerors for having me accompany them on their tour. The day began with a tour of Caesarea, built by King Herod of the Roman Period. The extensive seaside ruins include structures from the Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader time periods. We explored an amphitheater, Crusader harbor, 12th Century ramparts and Recently uncovered hippodrome. Amazing! After the tour we ate an incredible kosher lunch at an Italian restaurant at the site. Our next stop took us to a 2nd Century Jewish cave burial ground. This site was first discovered in the 1930's and continues to be excavated uncovering more sarcophagi. Another interesting thing I find with some of these site in countries as old as Israel, is that they are often found in the middle of everyday life like in t…