How the Liberals Elected Donald Trump

donald-trumpLike many Americans, I sat last week after voting closed, watching the numbers come in, and witnessing Donald Trump get elected as president. And like many Americans I was left with a very simple question, “How?”

As a Republican and fairly Conservative voter, this question is not a new one for me. When Donald Trump first declared his intentions to enter the political race, I was thrilled. I thought, ‘this is amazing! He’s not going to get anywhere, but it will be entertaining as hell to watch!’ And then he started to win the Republican primaries, and it was no longer entertaining, and I was faced with that simple question – “How?”

I found my answer in a Communication class. We were studying Group Deliberation, and learned a very interesting theory in Social Psychology called Group Polarization. This theory argues that groups tend to adopt more radical positions than those of any individual in the group. In deliberation, this theory comes to play in a mutual polarization; the more one side becomes radical, the more the other side responds with radicalization.

So what does all this have to do with Donald Trump? If you ask me, Trump owes his victory not to the bigots in America, but to Barak Obamas and Bernie Sanders of America.

For the last 8 years, Americans have been subject to a radical left wing, dovish, almost socialist government. From Obamacare to “Leading from Behind” foreign policies, the current administrations have been pulling farther and farther to the left. And the results of such policies? Growing national debt, and the destruction of America’s image as a superpower.

Enter the election race of 2016. The Democrat Party puts forth new candidates, each more radical than the next. From Hillary who promised more liberal economy and even less active foreign policy, too Bernie Sanders whose policies were arguably un-American, so far from the free market ideals our country was built on. The Democrats and liberals of the US continued to radicalize.

And the response on the right? A mutual polarization. The Republicans dismissed moderate and relatable Conservatives like Marco Rubio, and turned to search for the candidate with the most extreme views, to match the alternatives on the left. And that’s where Trump starts to gain support. With his extreme rhetoric, his hawkish or unreasonably capitalist policies, and his fight against the “political correctness” of the left, Trump is the perfect radical option to counter the polarization of Hillary and Sanders.

And that leaves America. A country of radicals, torn apart, with a growing gap where the moderates once lived.

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68 (Even More) Reasons for the World to Love Israel

By Batsheva Haber

Another year later and the world STILL doesn’t seem to be too fond of Israel. Leaving me no choice but to point out yet another 68 reasons why they should:

  1. 110904200Everyone likes beaches! Well Israel has 273 KM of beaches! That’s 170 miles, also known as A LOT!
  2. And if you love the beach, Israelis also invented the world’s first jellyfish repellent cream.
  3. Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, is the first “Smart City”, with WiFi access all over the city.
  4. Last year I said Israel had the 2nd highest number of academic degrees per capita. This year we made it to number one. We also publish the most academic articles per capita!
  5. And our Academics also believe in family values. Just look what this professor did when a baby of one of his students was disturbing class:
    when-a-students-baby-started-crying-in-class-this-2-7121-1431571224-12_big
  6. If you are in the candy business, we are probably helping you out. Israel is 3rd in the world in sweets consumption. Pretty impressive for a small country.
  7. Don’t worry health nuts of the world, we are also third in vegetable consumption.
  8. And while we are on the topic of health nuts… Tel Aviv is one of the vegan capitals of the world.
  9. Not Vegan? Our Cows are first in the world in Milk production. Truly the “Land of Milk and Honey”.
  10. Speaking of which, when it comes to Honey, you heard production is declining? Well not in Israel.
  11. Talk about equality between the sexes? Israel had a woman prime minister… way back in the 60s!
    golda_meir.jpg
  12. Are you a dog person? There are nearly 400,000 dog owners in Israel, and some of the best facilities for dogs worldwide.
  13. And guess where the a 25,000 year old dog cemetery was found? Ashkelon, Israel.
  14. ShowImageMore of a cat person? The cat is basically the Israeli squirrel.
  15. Israel was the first country to outlaw underweight models.
  16. Israel was the 8th country to send a Satellite into space. Up to date only 12 countries have done that.
  17. Israel invented proximity sensor technology for your car. Technology that helps avoid accidents and saves lives.
  18. We also save lives using the Pillcam. A tiny, pill sized camera you can swallow.
    PillCamESO
  19. And by inventing the Hasake lifeboat for lifeguards.
  20. We also invent entertainment technology, like hand gesture controls.
  21. Did you enjoy Superman Vs. Batman? Well Wonder Woman is Israeli.
  22. More of a Marvel fan? Well Black Widow is a big fan of Israel, or at least of SodaStream, the company she is an ambassador for.
  23. Speaking of which, SodaStream, another Israelis invention.
  24. Despite war and terror, Israel has one of the highest life expectancy in the world!
  25. Do you live in Europe and need to make up for something with your girlfriend? Simply send her one of the over 30 million flowers we import to you.
  26. Israel is developing a cure for MS.
  27. We also developed a cure to bad breath.
  28. Our military technology is also geared at saving lives. Most famous is our Iron Dome that protects civilians from rocket attack.
  29. Speaking of our military, the Israeli Defense Force has a special program, “Equal in Uniform” – where people with special needs get to serve.
  30. In fact the IDF tries to include all soldiers, no matter what their needs may be. For example, many commanders are sent to a sign language course so that they can better communicate with their deaf soldiers.
  31. Israel invented the technology used for unmanned flight.
  32. Also, Lady Gaga’s crazy shoes… designed by an Israeli.
  33. The Jaffa Orange.
    IsraeliJaffaorangessirsa
  34. Sabich – A classic Israeli sandwich.
    download
  35. Sachlav – Not sure what this drink is, but it is a winter classic in Israel.
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  36. And although we Israelis love our wines, beers and arak, a recent OECD report found us to be the lowest in binge drinking.
  37. Israelis are beautiful – A Traveler Digest poll put us in the top 10 for both best looking men, and best looking women.
  38. Not just a pretty face, Be’er Sheva has the highest number of chess masters per capita.
  39. Maktesh Ramon – a beautiful and rare natural geological phenomenon.
    p4100076b1.jpg
  40. Do you like using Uber? Israeli technology…
  41. Israel has more than 45,000 registered Non Profit Organizations.
  42. These Non Profits help in various different fields, including education, health, the arts, advocacy, children and youth at risk, legal services, animal rescue, religion, and many, many more.
  43. And that is in addition to the government social welfare we have in Israel.
  44. Idan Reichel and his music project.
  45. If classical music is more your thing, Itzhak Pearlman, the world famous violinist, also Israeli.
  46. Israel fights for equality. A good example of this is the “Tav Chevrati” – a certificate given to restaurants based on the treatment of their workers, and their handicap accessibility.
  47. Colorful hills of Eilat.
    שמורת הרי אילת 2-L
  48. We serve our chocolate milk in a bag. Once you try it the “Shoko b’Sakit” way, there is no going back.
    42855_1115997002
  49. Chocolate balls. An Israeli delicacy… served both by top notch cafes and your 5 year old kindergartener.
    8850_1443891072_1443891073.jpg
  50. You heard we were anti-peace? Tell that to our 3 Nobel Peace Prize winners.
  51. Agam – one of the most famous Israeli artist.
    Fountain-by-Yaacov-Agam-by-night
  52. We celebrate not just conventional art, but also have some great graffiti art projects, like the Machaneh Yehuda Market.
  53. P’titim – the “Israeli Couscous”, invented by Israeli’s first prime minister, as a cheap mass produced food, for when food was scarce in Israel.
  54. 144062Sufganiyot – The Israeli doughnut. This is a seasonal food, found all around Israel for Chanukka.
  55. Israel believes in a free market. That is why, every year there is a nation wide Sufganiya competition, where bakeries battle to make the very best doughnut!
  56. Despite difficulties, year after year we rate higher and higher on the happiness index. (I know I used this in the past, but what can I say, we keep getting happier).
  57. This might be due to our great attitude, best described by one of Israel’s top songs of the year: “Ha’chayim Shelanu Tutim”. Literally, “Our Life is Strawberries”. Arguing that we can’t complain, because all in alתl our life is great… it’s “strawberries”.
  58. One of Israeli’s favorite pastimes is “Bira v’Nashira” – evenings where people from all walks of life gather together to drink beer and sing old Israeli songs.
  59. Are you an archaeology fan? Israel is a very historic countries, with archaeological sites everywhere.
  60. Save a Child’s Heart – an Israeli organization that brings children from all over the world to Israel, where they undergo lifesaving heart surgeries.
  61. And we provide that service to anyone who needs it… Even the granddaughter of our enemy, Haniyeh, the head of Hamas.
  62. iStock_chocolate_spreadcChocolate Spread – The Israeli Nutella. Served in all Israeli kindergartens.
  63. Unlike all of Europe, our demographics are growing, not shrinking.
  64. Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, is known in Israel as Batman. He acquired that nickname after personally stopping terrorist attacks in the streets of Jerusalem, performing first aid in the Jerusalem market, and saving Jerusalem drivers stuck in the snow.
  65. We had the hipster beard before it was a thing.
    Theodor_Herzl
  66. An Israeli invented a paper bike. Made from recycled cardboard. It can withstand rain and wind.
  67. Our Israeli Soldiers love to dance.
  68. Despite being just 68 years young, we have so many accomplishments… World, just wait to see what year 69 brings!

The Emperor’s New(s) Bias

By Batsheva Haber

We have all heard the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes.  A story about a lie told over and over. A tale about what happens when no one has the guts to stand up for the truth. Why? Because someone told them that the “wise” thing to do is to believe the lie. Just a children’s story, right? That doesn’t actually happen in real life, with real intelligent people, does it?

cbs-635x357“3 Palestinians Killed as Daily Violence Grinds on” – This was the title of a CBS article that came out yesterday. The article is about a terrorist attack, where three terrorists tried to stab and shoot as many people as they could. These terrorists killed a 19 year old police officer, and injured a second. What? Is that not what is understood by the title? What can we say, “The emperor’s new clothes are so fine!”

This is not the first time we see such a ridiculous media bias. It’s been a clear motif in the International media throughout this recent wave of Palestinian violence.

times-of-london-headlne“Palestinian Shot Dead” – This time in the Times of London. Headline is pretty clear, doesn’t leave much room for confusion as to what happened. Except, that is, if you actually continue to read the short news item. Because this Palestinian wasn’t spontaneously shot by an IDF soldier, he first shot and injured 3 others. It happens to be that this attack happened right where my younger brother is stationed. I know firsthand from him – soldiers don’t just shoot Palestinians. In fact, even when Palestinians attack my brother and his friends with rocks, they only use rubber bullets to defend themselves. (In case you were wondering, rubber bullets are a lot less effective and do a lot less damage than rocks.) Only in a real case of threat to someone’s life can IDF soldiers open fire. But, “the emperor’s new clothes are so colorful!”

These headlines are nothing new. Even in times of war against an internationally recognized terrorist group, the media doesn’t seem to know how to write headlines.

10552481_10152144730011746_6699288240593663564_n“Israel Resumes Gaza Airstrikes” – CNN from the last Israel-Hamas war in 2014. This colorful title was accompanied by a tasteful picture of a beautiful Gaza sunset, being interrupted by smoke from an Israeli airstrike. We get the picture. Who needs to read the fine print? So what if it mentions that these airstrikes were in response to rockets being fired from Gaza, rockets that ended a ceasefire? Is that really relevant? After all, “the emperor’s new clothes are so sophisticated!”

And here I thought the media was meant to be objective, to bring the facts as they are so that people can come to their own conclusions.

Guess I was wrong. Again and again, the “credible” news sources tell the “intelligent” person what to think. Who cares what the reality is or who really is in the right? After all, this is what the enlightened man is supposed to see when he looks at the conflict, so that is what we shall see. Where is the voice of reason, the small but honest outlook, who will stand up and accuse: “The emperor has no clothes!”

Bring On The Light!

By Batsheva Haber

“I’m so excited for Chanukkah! I feel like Am Yisrael really needs a holiday right now!”

23112010100136_98511869My roommates laughed when I said that to them yesterday as we were getting ready for the first night of Chanukkah. And I get it, I am not typical so “fluffy”. However, I couldn’t help but turn up the fluffiness a little bit.

If I’m being honest, it’s been a hard few weeks. I’ve felt it, as I’m sure many of you have. I put on a brave face, smile, and go on with my daily life – but deep down, I know I’m faking it.

I know it every time I remember one of the attacks, and want to put everything on hold. I know it every time I see the memorials in my hometown for the beloved neighbor we lost a few weeks ago. I know it every time I get a news notification on my phone and my heart stops for a moment. I know it every time I go out, hand in my pocket holding my pepper spray, as I unwillingly jump at every sudden movement. I know it every time I travel home and see the soldiers with their guns ready to protect me, in a way that is both scary and comforting.

I seem like I’m ok, but I’m not, I am just pretending.

And I know all the correct answers and speeches. The “We Need to Move On” speech, and the “We Shouldn’t be Afraid” speech, and lets not forget the “Living is How We Fight Terror” speech. I know them all well, and I’ve pulled them out whenever necessary to convince others over the past few weeks. And yet, the person who needs to hear it most, is me.

So yes, I need this holiday. And so does the rest of Am Yisrael.

As I said that line, I realized that I was happy, giddy even. My roommates didn’t hesitate to call me out on it, and I quickly understood what it was. For the first time in far too long, I was hopeful. And it felt wonderful.

Chanukkah is the Holiday that symbolizes most the victory of light over darkness. It teaches us a powerful lesson, one that I seem to have forgotten recently. In the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” True, it is dark. But as long as we are still fighting to bring light to the world, not all is lost.

10445580_10152449823211746_8222138637028626567_nI was reminded of something I saw last Chanukkah. It was shortly after a horrific attack at the light rail in Jerusalem, where a terrorist drove into the train stop, killing a young woman and a new born baby. After the attack, security blocks made of concrete were put up to protect the people waiting at the stops, an ugly reminder of the terror that can strike at any point. However on that night of Chanukkah, someone took out their Menorah and lit it on the concrete block. By doing this they reminded me that we can control the situation, can transform it, and can win, if we only remember to bring some light.

I was hit by this message again as I sang the verses of Maoz Tzur last night after lighting the candles. Things were bad. Not just now, but at many different points in Jewish History. In fact, so many times it seemed that the darkness had won. However, Am Yisrael never gave up. And in fighting with even a little bit of light, and a lot of God’s help, we always, always, shone through the darkness and lit up the world.

So with that new found hope I turned to the last stanza, my longtime favorite, and with all the strength I had left, I tried to light a spark – in me, amongst my people and my country, and throughout the entire world:

“חשוף זרוע קודשך, וקרב קץ הישוע, נקום נקמת דם עבדך מאומה הרשעה! כי ארכה לנו הישועה, ואין קץ לימי הרעה, דחה אדמון בצל צלמון, הקם לנו רועים שבעה!”

“Bare Your holy arm and hasten the End for salvation. Avenge the vengeance of your servants’ blood from the wicked nation. For the triumph is too long delayed for us, and there is no end to days of evil! Repel the Red One in the nethermost shadow and establish for us the seven shepherds!”

5 Things you should do Instead of Changing your Profile Picture

By Batsheva Haber

1c1984ce_12227632_10154189824321729_605260757681431226_n.xxxlargeOver the last few days, you may have noticed that many of your Facebook friends have been replaced with French flags. Perhaps you yourself have donned the flag over your everyday selfie. The purpose of this is of course to show solidarity with the French people after the horrific terrorist attacks from last week. I for one have found myself more and more frustrated by this phenomenon, and I have to ask myself why.

Is it because my country has been under a rising wave of terror and no one seems to care? Partially, but while it frustrates me that Israel’s nightmares are being ignored, my mother always taught me that two wrongs do not make a right.

So maybe I’m annoyed because when massacres are happening in Kenya no one reacts, as apparently only Western life matters? That definitely doesn’t help, but it also does not make the gesture wrong in of itself.

So perhaps it’s because while we are showing solidarity, Europe is condemning Israel and boycotting my hometown? Maybe, but I’d like to think I’m not that petty.

And then while scrolling through Facebook via the French colored glasses, it suddenly hit me. The real reason I’m upset is that THIS is how people are responding to the attack. This, and this alone. They make a slight change to their Facebook picture for a week, and then go on with their lives, feeling like they have made a difference.

I’d be the first person to speak for social media and the power and influence it has. However, I must express now what I have said in the past: Social Media is only influential if it triggers change, not if it replaces it!! Symbolic gestures are not enough to help the people of France, so they should not be enough to wipe our conscious.

So here are 5 things you can do instead of changing your profile picture:

  • Educate yourself!! One of the most upsetting videos I’ve seen recently is this one, where Buzzfeed asked their employees questions about ISIS. These people, who are not only public figures but the preferred news source of many young people, could not answer ANY of these very basic questions. ISIS is growing all over the world, torturing and murdering people on a daily basis, THE LEAST we can do is stay updated on what is happening. We owe that to the people who are suffering while we do nothing. So spend about 5 min of your daily internet time on this. (And no, watching that Buzzfeed video does not count)
  • Donate some money to help the terrorist victims in France. Trust me, any small aid you can give will be a mile more helpful than dressing up your profile picture.
  • Contact your leaders. Let them know that you think combating ISIS and radical Islam needs to be a priority. If you are American, consider signing this petition.
  • Raise awareness – No, changing your picture is not enough to “raise awareness” to the French plight or to those suffering under ISIS rule. So use what you’ve learned to make an infographic, write a blog post, or host an event in your community to raise awareness. Anything works as long as you are doing it your way
  • And last, but definitely not least, pray. Often with things this tragic, there is only so much we can do. So I turn above. I ask God to provide the victims’ families with the strength and relief that none of us can grant them, to heal the injured, to protect the people of France and the rest of the world, and to help all our other actions above make a real difference.

An Open Letter from a Halachic Feminist to the RCA

By Batsheva Haber

d790d79ed7a0d795d79f-d791d796d7a7-2Hi,

It’s me, the Halachic feminist.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed me.

I’m the girl sitting in the front row of the women’s section, not just on Shabbat but for an everyday mincha as well.
I’m the girl who took a year off to study Torah before starting her life, and the girl who still wonders if maybe that wasn’t a year off, but rather should be her life.
I’m the girl who puts time aside every day to study Halacha, not because she needs to, but because she loves Halacha.
I’m the girl whose friends come to her with Halachic questions, not just because my dad is a rabbi, but because often enough I know the answer or know where to find it.
I’m the girl who grew up in the Torah world, but always felt like the boys got more.
And I am the girl who stands up to my angry feminist friends and says to be patient, that change must be done in the right way in Judaism – not by individuals but by a strong rabbinic leadership.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed me, but your last resolution makes me think that you haven’t.

I, like many religious girls today, find myself caught between two worlds. I’m a religious feminist – something that is not necessarily an oxymoron but a hybrid, and one that has issues that need to be resolved. Many of my friends have chosen to step outside the Halachic orthodox world, to take the law into their own hands and to create a new Halachic reality. But that is not who I am writing this letter on behalf.

I’m speaking in the name of women like myself, who find themselves caught between both worlds and yet know that no matter what Halacha comes first. The women who sit time and again, patiently and frustratingly, at the sidelines of our religious community because they understand that some things can’t be done Halachicly, and that others can only be done after a long and particular Halachic process.

We have committed ourselves to the orthodox Halachic world, despite the price we pay. Because we believe in Halacha and we believe in you, we left our fate in your hands. However, this must be a two way street. If we trusted you to fight our battles, you must do everything in your power to find Halachic solutions for our issues. I am not asking you to break Halacha, just to reexamine and see what can, and what can’t be allowed within the framework of Halacha. The Halachic world is dynamic, and you know how to navigate it better than anyone, so you must do what you can. Your decisions should try to include us in the religious community we belong to, not exclude us.

So when you make such decisions, remember me and my friends and your obligation to us. Your decision affects us first and foremost, and our place in the religious community. We want to belong in your world – please don’t kick us out.

Sincerely,
That girl

Blurred Lines: The Double Standard of the Liberal Left.

– By Batsheva Haber

“We are concerned about mounting tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem… and call on all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and avoid escalating the situation.”

This was the official statement of the US State Department after last night’s horrific attack. The UN representative to the Middle East had a similar message to share:

“The continued suffering of Israelis and Palestinians is a constant reminder that a just and lasting solution to the conflict can be achieved only through pursuing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The victims of last night's terrorist attack.
The victims of last night’s terrorist attack.

Although I appreciate the condemnation of the attack and the message of solidarity, these statements leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The reason for this bitterness is the underlying message in these statements: ‘although the attacks were carried out by Palestinians, both sides are to blame.’

The liberal assumption is that, in a way, Israel is bringing these attacks on itself. That Israel and the Israelis are not doing enough to bring peace, and that they are deliberately provoking the Palestinians who respond by carrying out these attacks.

And here is where the double standard comes in. Because these very same liberals are the ones who argue (and rightfully so, in my opinion) that rape is never the victims fault and that no provocation justifies rape. So rape is not the victims fault, but murder is? Or is that just when the victim is Israeli?

And what about the liberal claim that no matter what, violence is never justified?  Are the Palestinians exempt from this ideal? When the violence is carried out by so called “freedom fighters” against the supposed “occupation” it is suddenly ok?

I think it’s time for the liberal movement to do some reevaluation of their morals. Yes, I know that you are not supposed to support Israel and shouldn’t stand against the Palestinians, no matter what. Yes, I know that you think that this is a David and Goliath situation, and that as a liberal and an advanced, classy human you need to support the Palestinian plight. However, in a case where there is a very clear “bad guy”, I do not understand how anyone with a moral conscious can try and “spilt the blame”.

Isiah calls out on such people: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (Isiah 5, 20). When one cannot call evil out on what it is, it is only a matter of time before they can no longer see the difference between good and evil, and then there is a real danger of them turning evil. In the words of Harlan Coben:  “I like to see the difference between good and evil as kind of like the foul line at a baseball game. It’s very thin, it’s made of something very flimsy like lime, and if you cross it, it really starts to blur where fair becomes foul and foul becomes fair.”

Why I Didn’t Go to Gay Pride Parade

By Batsheva Haber

Warning.This following presentation was modified to make you mad.
Regardless of whether you are one of my liberal friends or one of my conservative ones – this will probably anger you, which is why I’m not really sure if I should be posting this. That being said, I think maybe this point of view needs to be heard, and maybe just maybe, some of you agree with me…

DSC_0834“So are you coming to the parade on Friday?”
It was after class on the week of the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, and I was confronted or “ambushed” by one of my friends (who also happens to be gay). He asked it jokingly, assuming the answer was a clear no, not knowing what an uncomfortable position that question put me in. It was the same question that I had been asking myself all week.

It is no secret that I am religious, I have the skirt and sleeves to prove it. And yet I also see myself as a libertarian – and try to accept others as they are and for what they believe in. Of course those things are both easier said than done, not to mention when they are together.

The issue of the LGBT community is probably one of the hardest ones, if not the hardest, to face as a religious libertarian. Over the last few years I have made quite a few gay friends, openly gay and in the closet, religious and secular, and some in between. My interactions with them forced me to reexamine the issues that they face on a day to day basis.

One thing is clear to me. I accept these friends as they are, and I think that as a community we must do that as well. To me these people are first and foremost people, and first and foremost my friends. I don’t see them as their actions or as their sexual orientation, but rather as the people they are – who all in all, I seem to like and get along with. As I’ve said to a few of them on different occasions – “what you do in your bedroom is between you and God, and trust me, I don’t want to know about it – regardless of your sexual orientation!!” Being gay is just part of who they are, and frankly quite irrelevant to our friendship. Of this I have no doubt. It is clear and pashut “ben adam lechavero”.

But when we put things in a religious prospective, these issues get a little more complicated. As I said earlier, I am a religious orthodox Jew. No matter how much I don’t understand a Halacha (religious commandment), or how much it even seems “wrong” to me – I accept it, and try to abide by it, as hard as it may be for me personally.

I honestly don’t understand why God put these restrictions on the gay community, and it pains me greatly to think of anyone faced with these challenges – let alone my friends. I also have not studied these laws in depth, and most definitely do not have answers for the questions that arise. That being said, as a religious observant person – I cannot give my “kosher stamp” on anything that is against Halacha, especially ones that I don’t know anything about. I don’t do it when my friends try to justify not being “shomer negia”, I don’t give my approval when asked for it from my friends who choose to no longer keep Shabbat, nor do I accept arguments for disregarding any Halacha. But I respect your choices, and think that you need to do what you think is right. I just ask that you do the same for me.

So again – any members of the gay community, particularly the religious ones, can weigh out the different factors, can study the Halachot, and can make their own decisions on how to act or not act. As I said before, I do not, and will not judge you on that. But please do not ask me to come out in support for something, that as a religious person, I cannot feel comfortable with.

Between “Slut Walking” and “Slut Shaming” – May the Real Feminist Stand

By Batsheva Haber

On Friday hundreds of young women and men took to the streets of Jerusalem, undressed to impress with a clear message – rape is to be blamed on the rapists in 100% of the cases, not the victim. Clad in their underwear (or not even that) they yelled out messages of feminism, and of human rights.

IMG_1036-635x357I can’t argue with the cause of the protest. No one in their right mind would blame a store owner for a robbery because he left his goods on display in the front window, so why would that be true in rape cases. That being said, I must question – when did nakedness become an expression of feminism or self worth?!

One of the foundations of the feminist movement was that a woman should not be assessed, judged or defined by her body or sexuality. That a woman is just as fit to wear a suit as she is to wear a bikini, because she is more than just a piece of meat and therefore she should be treated with respect and dignity and valued by her talents and skills. Let us remember that feminism was originally about equal rights and redefining what it means to be a woman.

So are those who define themselves as feminists today serving these causes. Woman who are on crusades to prove that they are “just as valuable as men” do that by stripping in the streets, arguing about the correct spelling of the word “womyn“, advocating against traditional family life and going on angry rants about how the world is out to get them.

And I am left to ask, what has this accomplished? Women are still limited by a glass ceiling, they are still underpaid and still seen and used as sex objects in almost all our industries. Is this really the way to fight this? When Miley Cyrus and her self-proclaimed feminist friends strip and twerk on stage – are they promoting feminist ideals of independence and self-worth in the minds of young fans, or are they lowering these girls’ self confidence and body image, while sending a message that they should value themselves by how good they look in underwear. Is this really the voice of modern feminism?!

I am the last person who will claim that feminism is wrong, or that the feminist movement is over. I also want to live in a society where I have all the same choices and opportunities as my guy friends, one where I am treated equally and fairly, and one where being a woman is not a disadvantage. And I unfortunately, like every other girl, also know what it is like to be instantly shot down, and despite all your confidence and self-worth to feel so small and powerless, all because of one look, one comment, or one touch. The problem is real, however the solution is no more slut walking as it is slut shaming.

A few months ago Always did a commercial where they asked people to act “like a girl“, where the adults saw this as a disadvantage, the young girls, saw “like a girl” as a source of pride. Instead of fighting against those who define us as “women”, let’s redefine what it means to be a “woman”.

Why does someone need to dress like a slut to be a proud woman? Can’t I march in my elbow length sleeves, and skirt that covers my knees and represent the same ideas? Do I need to be a successful CEO to be a feminist? What if I decide to raise a family instead because this is MY CHOICE as a modern woman? Is my choice to disregard and ignore sexist comments any less feminist than screaming and yelling back? I think quite the opposite. I want to live my life the way I choose, and more than anything else I don’t want to do something because I am a “woman” or because “I can”, but rather because I am an independent, thinking human – who is capable of making choices based on what I want from life.

So woman to womyn, or feminist to “feminist”: if you want to dress in little to no clothing or shake your tush all over the place – go ahead, it’s a free world. But don’t claim that that is “how you fight for feminism”. You are only hurting the chances of those of us who are actually trying to make the world a better place to be a woman.

Hey world! Here are 67 (more) Reasons You Should Love Israel!

So last year for Yom Haatzmaut I wrote a list of 66 reasons why the world should love Israel as much as I do. But clearly the world hasn’t gotten the message, seeing the rise in anti-Israel action worldwide. So I’m gonna give it another go. Here are 67 more reasons ‘yall should love Israel!

  1. Israel is the one of the only 2 country that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with. So basically, we are providing all of you with oxygen – you’re welcome!
  2. This is even more impressive seeing how Israel is mostly desert.
  3. Israel has the most museums per capita.
  4. These museums range from historical, to science, to blind and deaf experiences, to doll museums.
  5. Also one of Israel’s top universities does this – Just to wish the world happy holidays.
  6. We’re curing cancer.
  7. Don’t have enough water? Israeli water can create water out of thin air091409_Israel_Dead_Sea_Happy_Camel-c-Deanna-Ting
  8. Camels – who doesn’t love riding camels?!
  9. Speaking of animals – Israel is on the migrating path of 500 species of birds, so if you like birds, Israel is a great place for sightseeing.
  10. When we say people of the book, we mean it. Israel is second in the world for publishing new books.
  11. Per population, Israel has the largest Immigration rate in the world.
  12. And all those immigrants love the country just as much as the natives do!
  13. Our Army sees itself as a defense force – nothing more. Don’t believe me? Check out the name IDF = Israel DEFENSE force.
  14. That army also defines itself as Tzva Ha’am, an army of the people. One of the ways it expresses that is through the many educational programs that are provided to the soldiers. Any soldier who needs it can through the army complete their high school education, build their cultural and national identity, establish their place in society, and much more.
  15. And while we are on the topic of soldiers, they are Israeli youth who believe in something so much, they are willing to put their lives on hold and spend years fighting to protect it.
  16. And many of the citizens who don’t serve in the army, for one reason or another, spend a year or two doing voluntary work in national service, because they see it as their personal responsibility to give back to the Israeli state and people.
  17. And all of this is possible because our youth care about the world around them and want to make it a better place.
  18. This is true even when talking about our enemies.
  19. We are funny. Ok, maybe we are not THAT funny – but we all have a sense of humor and love to laugh. And we are more than Ok with being laughed out.
  20. Even our 90 year old outgoing president.
  21. We bring a strong message to a difficult region. Be it democracy, human rights, equality or tolerance – we are the voice yelling it out to the Middle East.
  22. You may have heard otherwise, but here is proof, we are the only country in the area with complete equal rights to women – we even had a female prime minister, freedom of speech is protected by law, and Tel Aviv is the gay capital of the world – BAM – tolerance.
  23. Do you love your cellphone? Well, Israeli technology was behind the first mortorola phone.
  24. And if you hate viruses on your computer, you can thank us as well – we brought you the first antivirus.
  25. Israeli snacks – come on! Have you tried a krembo!
  26. And Israelis take their snacks very seriously! Just ask an Israeli what the right way to eat a Krembo is! I’m sure you will get a very opinionated answer on why there is only one right way! (Which btw is – chocolate > cream > cookie – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)
  27. We don’t celebrate our heroes’ deaths or glorify them – like most of our enemies do. Instead we mourn the tragedy that they were forced to go to war.
  28. That national day of mourning leads straight into our independence day celebration – sending a strong message that those who fell, fell for a reason, and to show gratitude – for we live in their honor.
  29. Goldstar. The best beer in the world.
  30. We also make quite a lot of good wines. Our small country has hundreds of wineries and produces over 10 million bottles of wine every year!
  31. Israeli music – I dare you to listen to this song and not dance.
  32. Waze
  33. Do you watch homeland? Well, that was originally an Israeli TV show.
  34. 75_LargeThese amazing shoes. I know they look like they walked straight out of the bible, but trust me on this one. They are so comfortable, once you try them you won’t be able to go back.
  35. Thanks to immigration from all over the world – when you come to visit you will most definitely be able to find some of your local culture, food and language.
  36. The mix of a rich and ancient history with a modern and developed culture makes Israel a really unique country and a great place to vacation – with something for everyone.
  37. Cloud computing – Israel is on the front lines of this technology as well.
  38. Do you like capitalism? Israel has one of the lowest unemployment rates it the world.
  39. Or maybe you’re a socialist – besides for free welfare, Israel has kibbutzim – socialist communities and the only place in the world where socialism worked for even a second.
  40. Our politicians have names of fairy tale characters – our last election was between Bibi and Buji. Oh, and our president is known as Rubi.ben_gurion_2_-e1423224133338
  41. And our first prime minister definitely wins the best political hair competition!
  42. Those elections had a 71% voter turnout – once again showing that Israel is an active democracy.
  43. Ice cafe – this is not an ice coffee and not a coolata, and it’s better than both of them. It can’t be explained in words, you’ll just have to try it.
  44. Israelis are straightforward – Israeli culture believes in “dugri” – which basically means I will say exactly what I think and I will say it to your face. So when an Israeli says something, you know we mean it.
  45. Our national bird is a Hoopoe.
    550px-Eurasian_Hoopoe
  46. Israelis are masterful complainers – you may say this is a bad thing, and in many ways it is, but it also means we don’t settle and constantly point out the flaws in our surroundings, resulting in a country that is constantly trying to better itself.2012-05-08-TheAvengersshawarma
  47. Shawarma! What is shawarma? It’s turkey or chicken, roasted on a spit with lamb fat dripping down it, and it is delicious. Just ask the avengers.
  48. Education – I know Israeli and educated are not typically associate with each other, but it happens to be that 46% of Israelis have a university degree, placing us second in the world when it comes to educated countries.
  49. Worried about world demographics? Worry no more. As opposed to all other western countries our numbers are going up, not down.
  50. Israelis think everyone is their family, they will most likely call you “achi” (my brother) before they even meet you.
  51. And once they meet you and decide they like you, you will be granted the strangest and yet really sweet nicknames: “neshama” (literally soul), “einayim sheli” (my eyes), “chayim sheli” (my life)…
  52. This guy
    Casspi_dunk_2013-10-05
  53. Oh, and this guy.
    220px-Gene_Simmons_-_Azkena_Rock_Festival_2010_6
  54. We named a garbage dump after our former prime minister.
  55. And that’s Ok, because that dump is now also a center for recycling waste, and a source of pride.
  56. We’re good at that, both the green thing, and the making something from nothing.
  57. If you like social media, well so do we. Israel is number one in spending time on facebook. Some might not see this as an accomplishment, but I think it shows that Israelis like to be connected.
  58. Israel is providing diplomats worldwide with a sense of satisfaction. Want to feel like you are making a difference, but know ISIS and Boko Haram don’t care what you think at all? Just condemn Israel for something instead.
  59. And this is because Israel takes all criticism to heart, and is constantly trying to better itself.download
  60. Shakshuka – I don’t know who thought to put eggs and tomato sauce together and then serve it for breakfast, but whoever it was, was a genius!!
  61. Despite being under constant threat – life expectancy in Israel is the highest in the area.
  62. MobileEye – for safer driving. Anyone who’s driven in Israel can understand why this is necessary here!
  63. If you like traveling, and like to be safe while you do it – well, we developed the best airline security.
  64. Hate your acne? Israel developed a treatment that makes the acne self destruct!o-ISRAELI-FLAG-facebook
  65. We are one of the few countries in the world whose flag isn’t red – the color of power. We opted for blue instead – the color of peace.
  66. And that peaceful theme – it’s in our national symbol as well – see, olive branches.
    Israel_emblem
  67. This list of amazing accomplishments – I wrote it in one day and it wasn’t even hard, because we are THAT AWESOME!!