Unicornism – the Science of Possibility

By Batsheva Haber

celestial_female_unicorn_for_luna-1494361What would you say if I told you I believed in unicorns? At best you would think I was naive, more likely than not you would think I was crazy.

But let’s take a minute to reexamine this.

  • Fact: Most of the worlds’ animal species have yet to be discovered by science. By 2010, scientists have discovered less than one quarter of the estimated species in the world.
  • Fact: Stories of horses with horns can be found in many different cultures from all over the world.
  • Fact: Many animals, and particularly mammals have horns. They are part of the animal’s basic survival tools.

Based on the above, is it so unlikely that there is a horned horse somewhere in the world? Quite on the contrary, it is highly possible, and even probable that unicorns exist.

So why is it that we are so convinced that there is no such thing as a unicorn? The answer is simple – human ego based ignorance.

Let’s take another example – aliens. We are all convinced that there is no such thing, but why? The universe is endless, and yet we are so sure that we are the only living beings in all this vast space. Only because we don’t know otherwise.

But how much to we actually know about outer space? Close to nothing! And all that we do know is limited to our solar system, one out of billions. So what makes us think that life only exists on this single planet, in this one solar system? Statistically speaking there is higher probability of aliens existing than not!

Are they green with 3 eyes, probably not – but do life forms exist outside of this world, probably yes.

And even within our own solar system. We claim that Earth is the only planet capable of life. But based on what are we making that assumption? Based on our needs, and the needs of the limited life forms we know about. Think about it, if we didn’t know that fish existed we would assume that life underwater is impossible, simply because we cannot live under the ocean.

259801472224398353_G7iofSnG_fThe heart of these disbelief is not science, but rather ignorance. If we would be a little more more modest, and a little more aware of our limited knowledge, we would no longer be so sure.

So that leaves me with the following question. How much of what we believe is impossible is actually impossible. So much of human advancement is thanks to those who refused to accept things for how they are, and explored the possibilities instead.

There is so much in our lives that we dismiss as impossible. ‘I can’t do that!’ ‘That isn’t who I am!’ ‘It just wouldn’t work!’ But the essence of these thoughts is no more than human ignorance – based on the assumption that what I don’t see right in front of me, doesn’t exist.

Maybe the world would be a bit of a better place if we stopped disregarding everything we don’t know to be true, and started looking for unicorns!

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What Makes a 21 Year Old Run Over a Baby

By Batsheva Haber

I woke up this morning feeling queasy.
It took me a minute to remember why. What happened last night? Why am I so upset? And then I remembered. I remembered that another Israeli child was robbed of a future last night, that another Jewish family is in mourning, that another life was lost from our nation. And all of this, simply because she was Jewish, like many others before her. Indeed I had a good reason to feel sick this morning.

Immediately I turned on my computer and went to check the news. That’s when I saw something that shocked me. The man who did this, the terrorist, someone so ruthless that he would drive a car into a train station and run over a baby girl, as well as 9 other civilians – was no more than 21 years old. 21 years old. Younger than I am. 

What drives a man to do such a thing at such a young age? At 21 years old he should be full of life, full of hope, full of dreams, not full of hate and spite! How can someone that young, be that ruthless, that heartless, that murderous?

And then I saw the next news item. And there was my answer.

A Terrorist’s Statuses” – that was the title of the article, and its content was taken directly from the terrorist’s Facebook page. Guns. Explosions. Violence. Hate. That is not the Facebook page of a 21 year old, that is the Facebook of a terrorist.

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Images posted on terrorists Facebook page

The problem of terrorism in Israel starts way before the attacks. It starts way earlier than recruitment to terror organizations. The problem begins in Palestinian cradles, Palestinian playgrounds, Palestinian schools.

This may seem like a terrible, even racist libel – but unfortunately it is true. It is true because TV shows for children on official Palestinian TV tell children to “shoot all the Jews”. It is true because schoolbooks teach that “your enemies seek life, while you seek death”. It is true because summer camps and sports teams are named for terrorists who are glorified as heroes. It is true because time and again the Palestinian children are told that Israel has no right to exist, that the answer is violence, and that martyrdom is the highest of virtues. It is true because the Palestinian Authorities do not see their young as children, but as potential weapons.

As long as that is true we can not have peace with the Palestinian people. The problem can not be solved by peace treaties or political agreements alone. The problem goes much deeper – to the seeds of hate that are being planted in the Palestinian citizens’ minds.

This is the true problem we are facing. This has always been the problem. In the words of Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Dear United Nations – You Are Welcome!

– By Batsheva Haber

Dear United Nations,

On behalf of the Israeli people I would like to say – You are welcome!

united-nations-logoIt must be hard to be you! You are only well wishing people, who just want to make a difference in the world; to stand up for the weak, help the helpless, protect basic human rights, and all in all, make the world a better place.

But it is so hard! Because, believe it or not, people who go around committing genocides, raping woman, selling slaves, murdering children, or torturing and beheading people in the streets don’t really care about what some diplomat condemns.

Luckily for you, you have another option. You can choose to ignore all those monsters, and instead devote all your attention to Israel. Israel, a small country that has been fighting for survival from day one, under constant threat from the enemies that surround it. Israel, who despite all that, has flourished, developed, brought so much good to the world. Israel, the country that, more than anything, wants to do what is right. This makes Israel the perfect candidate for the world’s scapegoat.

You can now put all your efforts into investigating, condemning and reviewing Israel’s alleged war crimes. And Israel, as opposed to the real human rights violators will not only allow this, but take your words into heavy consideration, and do everything in its power to amend its faults and to appease you.

And you? You get to walk away after a long day at work and feel good about yourself. You are doing good, you are bettering the world. Yes, ISIS is growing stronger by the day – viciously murdering and torturing people. Yes, Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of young girls. Yes, human trafficking and slavery is happening all over the world. But it’s all good! Israel has agreed to yet another one sided ceasefire with Hamas (who, by the way, is a recognized terrorist organization shooting rockets from your schools), thanks to your good work.

United Nations! We are happy to be at your service, and glad we could help your conscious! Hope you can now sleep well at night, because we and our children can’t, thanks to the rockets being shot at us – rockets that you would like us not to counter.

Sincerely,

An Israeli Citizen.

 

Go Ahead, Call Us an Apartheid State

– By Batsheva Haber

“Israel = Apartheid”

This is the message that we hear time and again. The critics of Israel use the historic tragedy of hideous discrimination in South Africa, in order to convince the world of Israel’s heinous crimes. The security fence being built between Israel and the Palestinian Authorities is “racist”, the checkpoints are “discriminating”, and the Israeli military is “inhumane”. They attack, condemn and boycott.

And Israel? Israel bends over backwards, does everything they possibly can, to convince the world that they are not the monsters they are painted out to be. Israel points out that there are no laws discriminating or separating the Arab citizens from the Jewish ones. That they attend the same schools, use the same public transportation, are treated in the same hospitals. They add that Arabs work in all the same careers as the Jews in Israel, holding the same, or higher positions. They explain that there are members of the Israeli Knesset who are Arab, even ones who have publicly spoken or acted against Israel, all because Israel is a democratic, equal country.

But the world turns a deft ear to Israel’s reasoning, choosing to condemn them as human rights violators.

So while there is human trafficking, slavery, children being forced into marriage, and genocides all over the world, Israel is the one country the UN’s human rights council “condemned” as human rights violators (to put things in perspective, towards Sudan the council only expressed “deep concern”). Likewise, the review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel is a permanent feature of every meeting of the Human Rights Council.

I am writing today, to say enough! I no longer care! Go ahead! Condemn us, call us names, and boycott our products.

Why? Because as Israel is doing all in its power to prove that they want peace, the Palestinian Authority is in bed with terrorist organizations, and the result – the harming of innocent Israeli civilians.

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The 3 boys kidnapped by Hamas on their way home from school

Almost two weeks ago 3 boys, hardly more than children, were kidnapped on their way home from school by Hamas. And where did this happen? In one of those areas where the world points their finger at from afar, accusing the Israeli government and the IDF of mistreating Palestinians.

As a resident of the area, I can tell you that the allegations are true. Palestinians are treated differently. They are pulled over more often by the soldiers on the road, put through more security at our supermarkets, and are regarded by the Jewish residents with caution. But this does not stem from hatred or racism. Sadly this is a practical necessity. Because, some of them (not all, but enough) want us dead, and given the opportunity they would arrange for it to be so.

This is a reality that goes back years in these territories. From the tragic story of the Lamed Hey in 1948 – the convoy of 35 Hagannah members, who were killed while attempting to bring rations to the Jews under a blockage in Kfar Etzion, all because they chose to trust that the 2 Arab woman they encountered didn’t want to hurt them – through countless attacks during the Intifada by Arabs who were considered trusted as acquaintances, co-workers and friends, and up until the recent kidnapping.

The way Arabs are treated in Israel is not racism, it’s realism. A sad, but necessary precaution. So go ahead, call us apartheid. Yell, stamp your feet, and point fingers. I no longer care. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather have your false accusations on our hands, than the blood of our children.

#BringBackOurLeaders

By Batsheva Haber

It’s been more than 2 months since over 200 girls were kidnapped and threatened to be sold into slavery, all because they had the audacity of thinking that in the 21st century it would be ok to assume that they can get an education.

bringbackThe response of the world was overwhelming. A massive internet campaign was launched under the title #BringBackOurGirls. This campaign spread far and wide, and made it all the way to the white house. The first lady Michelle Obama herself was recently photographed holding a sign promoting the cause. But I need to ask the obvious question, how is this really helping our girls?

I am the first to sing the praises of social media. I believe wholeheartedly that by using social media we can raise awareness, create a movement, and even change the world. And yet, I think it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the social media campaign is the means, not the end. Having the most trending hashtag will not directly help these girls. The online campaign is not the goal but simply a trigger – a springboard meant to launch action and social change. It is not an accomplishment that the people calling the shots are thinking of these girls, that is their job. It is an accomplishment when they do something in the matter.

So I have to ask: Where have our leaders been? The case of these girls is not an isolated event. The people of Nigeria have been under the threat of the Boko Haram terrorists for years. Likewise, many of the countries going through modernization are suffering a terrorist threat. This incident is just one more expression of this difficult reality. And yet, it is not clear what our leaders have done in the matter!

Leaders of the western world! Leave Facebook, Instragram and Twitter to us. Perhaps if you spent less time on selfies, and more on self-evaluation of how well you’re doing your job, 200 girls would be safe at home now.

66 Reasons Why the World Should Love Israel

By Batsheva Haber

yom haatzmautIt’s that time of year again! The time of year where we all put our differences aside and wave the Israeli flag from our homes, cars or (if you are a poor student who has no worldly belongings like I am) backpacks. That time of year where we remember that, complaining aside, we do actually love our country. That time where our facebook statuses, newspaper articles and blog posts are filled with lists of all our favorite things about Israel and being Israeli. This year I thought it was time to make a different type of list, because although it is clear to me why our state is amazing, for some reason the world hasn’t realized that yet. So here are 66 reasons why the entire world should love Israel:

  1. We have sun, lots of it!
  2. We brought you the wondrous game of Matkot! This alone should make you love us!
  3. Contrary to what you may have heard, we are NOT an apartheid state! Trust me, I have the misfortune of being a Political Science student writing a term paper on the apartheid in South Africa (where the term apartheid was coined), and calling Israel an apartheid is just an uneducated mistake.
  4. We won the Eurovision with a ridiculous song that actually doesn’t make sense, even if you do speak Hebrew.
  5. The Laptop (we invented it)
  6. Waze
  7. Instant messaging technology
  8. Cherry Tomatoes
  9. Rumicube
  10. I would continue with the Innovations, but I would fill the entire list with them alone. Although Israel is only 66 years old, it is known as the start up nation, thanks to the many start ups we have here.
  11. And those start ups include everything from medical wonders to Selfie technology.
  12. Krav Maga the Israeli self-defense system is recognized worldwide.
  13. 12 Nobel prizes in 66 years. ‘Nuff said!
  14. Bamba. Now really ‘nuff said!
  15. Israelis are always going on vacation and touring all over the world! Literally ALL OVER! No matter if it’s New York City, The Alps, Thailand or Safari Africa, we are financing your tourist industry!
  16. Every Israeli has an opinion on everything, and every Israeli loves to share their opinions. Therefore, diversity and tolerance are taught along with the Aleph Bet to preschoolers.
  17. The Dead Sea
    floating-in-the-dead-sea-reading-a-newspaper
  18. The Eilat Coral Reefcoral
  19. Makhteshim, a rare geological phenomenaHaMakhtesh-HaKatan-Photo-by-Erez-Herrnstadt
  20. It’s the holy land.
  21. Religious diversity. No matter what religion it belongs to, we will invest in preserving it and be responsible for its upkeep. This is despite, and perhaps because, Israel is a Jewish State.
  22. Our first prime minister is known for standing on his head.ben-guryon-al-harosh_C
  23. And our current prime minister brought you the nuclear duck and the atom bomb cartoon.
  24. Our water preserving techniques are saving lives worldwide.
  25. You may not know this, but Israel’s army has the most humanitarian and moral laws in the world.
  26. And that’s not because we don’t have the ability to fight, our military technology is among the most advanced in the world.
  27. Once we’re on the army – the Israeli army drafts men and woman alike. Likewise there are options for people with various disabilities to serve in the Israeli army.
  28. Israeli food, as well as Israelis’ obsession with food.
  29. Natalie Portman is Israeli
  30. So is Idan Raichal
  31. Even Wonder Woman is Israeli
  32. Pharrell thinks we are happy
  33. And guess what? We are. In 2013 Israel was found to be one of the happiest countries in the world.
  34. We respond to terror with humor. Time after Time after Time!
  35. But we can laugh at ourselves as well.
  36. We are really big on clean energy. More and more Israeli cities are going green every day.
  37. Salah Shabati! I dare you to watch this movie and not laugh!
  38. Our research is helping the blind see and the paralyzed walk!
  39. Google Israel turns Israeli moms into entrepreneurs.
  40. Peres – Whether or not you like his policies, who doesn’t respect a 90 year old president?
  41. Because Jews from all over the world move to Israel, our culture is by definition multi-cultural!
  42. Gummies – if you’ve never tried these, that alone is a reason to book a flight to Israel tomorrow.{45D51D82-F428-472F-BD81-EE13A68384F5}
  43. We make the desert bloom. 60% of Israel’s land is a desert, and yet we have turned it into flourishing cities as well as agricultural fields.
  44. This photo of a modern formula 1 racecar, racing past the 500 year old walls of the old city of Jerusalem.formula 1
  45. We speak the language of the bible, so even our kindergartners can read the ancient texts.
  46. Oh and that language, we revived it, modernized it, and essentially brought it back from the dead.
  47. Our prime minister changed his cover photo to his comedian impressionist for doppelganger week on Facebook.doppleganger
  48. If you come to visit, you can literally ski in the mountains, tan on the beach and hike the desert in one day.
  49. And you would be able to get directions, because we all speak English, and love showing off our English.
  50. We are the only democracy in the middle east.
  51. We will accept you as you are. No matter what race, sex, political belief, sexual orientation or religion you are, we will accept you. None of our neighbors can say that!
  52. Even though we will accept you we will argue with you, quite loudly. This is partially because we are passionate in our beliefs and partially because we love arguing.
  53. But no matter what, we will help you if you need anything.
  54. Don’t believe me? Check it out! We are always first on the line when a country suffers a natural disaster. Even if said country is not our best friend!
  55. Equality between the sexes is not just a slogan to us!
  56. We believe in hope. Our national anthem is actually called “The Hope”
  57. Metuselah, the Israeli palm tree grew from a 2,000 year old seed found in archaeological excavations in Mesada, bringing the Judean date Palm back from extinction.
  58. We believe in education, health and basic human rights. That’s why all citizens of Israel without discrimination receive free education, free health care and the freedom to live their lives as they wish. These rights are enforced by law.
  59. We are a tiny country, about the size of New Jersey.
  60. Elite Popping chocolate! Give it a try! I promise you won’t be sorry.chocolate
  61. We have a really rich history. Anywhere you dig in Israel you are likely to find ancient artifacts from multiple historical periods.
  62. These artifacts are preserved by the Israeli state. Also, some ancient religious structures that were found were restored and are used again today for their original purpose.
  63. We want peace! If you don’t believe our words, believe our actions. We have withdrawn from territories, froze building processes and released numerous prisoners to advance this goal.
  64. We also want to develop. We love to grow and build communities.
  65. We are a loving and warm society.
  66. It’s only our 66th birthday this week – and I had absolutely no trouble coming up with 66 things that make us awesome!

Remembering is not enough

By Batsheva Haber

A man walksImage into a room full of Jews and shoots – killing three, days later eviction notices are taped to Jews’ doors. Sound familiar? Of course, it’s Nazi Germany in the 1930’s.

Except it’s not. It’s the United States of America, it’s the year 2014.

April 13th 2014, a man walks into a crowded Jewish center and shoots three people in cold blood. April 24th 2014, Jewish students in NYU are targeted by a group of pro-Palestinians, who post eviction notices on their dorm rooms.

And outside the US? In the last month alone: Ukrainian Jews received leaflets claiming to be from the government (they were not) requiring them to register as Jews, and a Synagogue in Ukraine was targeted and burnt. A group of Muslims in France come out with a statement that, “all the evil in the world originates from the Jews.” And a Spanish town decides to hold a vote in order to decide whether it is justified to change the name of their village – “Kill Jews” (a phrase they also use as a toast, while drinking on Easter).

And that’s without even starting on the attacks and threats made on the Jewish state Israel, both verbally and physically.

A report released recently shows that Anti-Semitic attacks have increased worldwide in 2013.  It’s the 21st century, and yet the Jews are still being targeted for no reason, other than them being born Jewish.

Today is the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day where Israel commemorates the brutal murder of 6,000,000 Jews, 1,500,000 of which were children. On this day I turn to the world leaders. Only 69 years ago you made us a promise – “Never Again!” Are you living up to it?

The Politically Correct Ma Nishtana

By Batsheva Haber

download (1)Every year at my family seder each and every one of us children is forced to get up on a chair and recite the traditional “Ma Nishtana”, from youngest to oldest. Being the second out of 5, by the time we’ve reached me it gets kind of repetitive. Therefore, each year I try to change it up a bit.

This year, in honor of my entering the academic world, I thought it would be appropriate to recite an intellectual and academic reading of the four questions. That of course would be the politically correct version, since the traditional text has no place in out postmodern world.

So without further ado, I give you the “Ma Nishtana” for the politically correct:

Father, and or Mother, I wish to ask you these four questions.

But before I start I must add that, like with all questions, there is no right or wrong, there is only perspective.

What makes this night unique from all other nights?

That is not to say, of course, that all other nights are not unique, for all nights were created equal, and equally unique –but rather, in what way does this night express its individuality?

On all other nights we do not discriminate between rich bread and poor, for neither is better or worse. But tonight we shut our tables to the rich bread and only accept the “lechem oni” – the poor bread! How can this be??

On all other nights we have an inclusive and diverse salad, but tonight we eat only bitter herbs. I do not of course mean that the herbs themselves are bitter, but rather that they are perceived as bitter by those who do not understand them.

On all other nights we would not dare to dip one food in another, for that would imply that the dip had no individual worth, and that its only value is to be a secondary addition to another food. And yet tonight we commit this injustice, not once but twice!

On all other nights we are given a choice: do we stand straight in our actions or beliefs, or do we sway and lean with them? But tonight, we are all forced to lean (to the left of course! One must never lean to the right!) Where is our freedom of choice?

There! Now if only we can deal with that whole killing all the Egyptians business (after all, they only wanted to peacefully coexist), we may be able to celebrate with a clear conscious.

Happy Holiday of Liberal(ty)!!

A Prime Minister, a President and an Interior Minister Walk into a Jail Cell

– By Batsheva Haber

It sounds like a joke. And that’s exactly how our country is beginning to seem, like a joke.

AImaget least that’s what I first thought when I read this morning’s news about how Ehud Olmert was convicted of taking bribes. Another Israeli official fallen to corruption, and this time a former prime minister, no less. The Israeli government, our elected officials, the people representing us to both our people and the entire world, keep shaming us with their crimes.

In despair, I read through article after article. What an embarrassment?! What a shame?! How can our prime-minister be convicted like your average criminal?!

That’s when it hit me. Our prime-minister was convicted like your average criminal.

I think of many of the other countries in the world today. Countries where government officials taking bribes is part of the regulations, and where it is expected from the leaders to abuse their power to get what they desire. Countries where anyone who speaks against the leader is writing his own death sentence, and where being in power means that you are immune. Countries where the leaders would never be questioned or indicted, let alone convicted!

Suddenly despite the shame in what my former leader did, I was filled with pride. How easy would it have been for Israel to clear Olmert’s name, or even to just dismiss the case for lack of evidence. It sure would have saved our country a lot of embarrassment.

But instead, our justice system decided to continue to fight for the truth, to fight for righteousness, to fight for my rights as an Israeli citizen. Although I am hurt and horrified at our leaders who abused their power and took advantage of their positions, I am proud of our system that will not stand for it.

In a world where too often power = righteousness, let us not fail to recognize the incredible meaning of today’s event’s.

How the US Does Business

-By Batsheva Haber

“Hi! So you want to do business with me? No, you don’t? Well, let’s do business anyways! No, really, I want to do business with you!! Please??? Here, I’ll give you all this free stuff! Plus, I’ll halt my companies’ progress for you! Still not enough? Here’s some more free stuff! Don’t worry, there is no obligation on your part! You don’t have to do anything!! You will not have to meet any demands! Just except my gifts, no strings attached, I swear! Really, I just want to do business with you!! Here, take some more free stuff! And you know what, you don’t even have to recognize my company!”

american-business-meeting-12725197

This is what it would look like if the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was a business transaction run by the United States. Shall we take a look back? So far Israel has released tens of Palestinian prisoners – some of which were cold blooded murderers, froze the development in Israeli settlements multiple times, and agreed to major concessions in future negotiations. In return the Palestinians have- oh wait, they have done nothing but refuse to negotiate.

But all this red carpet treatment is not enough for our friends in The West. Two days ago Official Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Jen Psaki, said that it was not necessary for the PA to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. Her claim was that there is no need for recognition of Israel, because a negotiation is about settling the issues on which the sides differ. Therefore “It’s not about demands,” and although the US sees Israel as a Jewish state, “that doesn’t reflect, of course, what the parties are going to agree to.”

Despite the fact that the negotiations are “not about demands,” Israel is under constant pressure from the US to concede to the Palestinian ones. On the other hand, when it comes to the one demand Israel put on the table – recognition of their right to exist – the Palestinians have no obligations whatsoever.

This is not a case to instate the American policy “the customer is always right”! Not when we are gambling with peoples’ lives!

Let me tell you how we do business in Israel. In Israel we acknowledge that in a good business transaction both sides need something from the other, and both are mutually benefited from the agreement. “Demands” are the foundation of any good business or negotiations. It’s all about what I have that you want, and what you have that I want.

Apparently what every kindergartener knows has somewhat been lost on the leaders of the free world. Business is a back and forth process, where each side decides what they are willing to give up on and what they are not. Negotiations require sacrifices on both sides, under the mutual understanding of benefits for all parties.

If one side is always the one making the concessions, and the other always benefiting without any obligations, it is not a business transaction, it is extortion.