Archive for April, 2009

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§341 Happy Birthday to Israel!

April 29, 2009

 

Happy Birthday to Israel! Today you are 61 years old. Exactly 61 years ago, this happened (proclamation of state at 01:55):

 

 

I don’t think there are many things that get me choked up (wife will correct me in comments if I’m wrong). But my beloved Homeland and my People is definitely one of them.

 

I grew up in Sweden. A country with no nationalistic mentality at all. People calling themselves nationalists were mostly racists, perverting the love of their country into hatred of others. This led to it being bad and almost taboo to like anything about Sweden. As if there was nothing to be proud of (and there is). This next to the fact that I learned that we are Jews, and we will one day return home to our homeland Israel where our grandfather already lives, is probably what sparked the Zionistic fire in my heart. That and God. Sweden became the cold every day boring life. Israel became the exciting warm future. I looked in a book of flags and spotted Israel’s flag with the Star of David. It was so beautiful. I just looked at it and thought “home – this is where I belong”. I grew up as a Swede, with Swedish language, culture etc – but I was Israeli in heart even before I had visited there.

 

Then, when I was 6 years old, I traveled with my family to Israel for the first time. I remember one specific moment outside of the hotel room when I saw three beautiful flags with the Star of David waving in the air freely. Waving proudly over a free people in their own country. There’s no way I could ever wave that flag over my house in Sweden or hang it out the window. We always had to be careful. Not that anything would happen, but just in case. But here – here is home. Here I can be myself. Here I can be the Israeli I always was, but was never raised to be. I was only 6 years old, but I bought myself my own little Israeli flag to hang on the wall in my room. I still have it.

 

 

As I grew older I learned more about the creation and establishment of Israel. How it was prophesized 5,000 years ago about the above very moment in 1948:

That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee. And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Deut. 30:3-6

 

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Psalm 126

 

My grandfather sent us tapes with Israeli folk songs. I learned many of them by heart without understanding the Hebrew language. There were many beautiful songs there. But the most beautiful one, that could really get me choked up, was the national hymn, written in the 1870’s:

 

 

 

כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה

 

 

 

 

Kol ‘od balleivav penimah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As long as in the heart, within,

נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,

 

 

 

 

Nefesh yehudi homiyah,

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Jewish soul still yearns,

וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,

 

 

 

 

Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah,

 

 

 

 

 

 

And onward, towards the ends of the east,

עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;

 

 

 

 

‘Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;

 

 

 

 

 

 

An eye still looks toward Zion;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,

 

 

 

 

‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hope is not yet lost,

הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,

 

 

 

 

Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hope of two thousand years,

לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,

 

 

 

 

Lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu,

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be a free nation in our land,

אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

 

 

 

 

Eretz-tziyon vy(e)rushalayim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

 

 

When I was 11 I visited Israel again. For the first time I saw a bit more of the reality and not the paradise that I had drawn in my head. But I was old enough to comprehend that no place is a paradise. I visited a school class with a friend, and the wish and urge to be a part of Israel, part of the school, learn the language, just grew more and more to me.

 

When I was 13 we moved. My first words as I stepped off the airplane were “A small step for human kind, but a huge leap for me”. I smelled the cold air. This was it. I was finally home again, after 2000 years of exile. No one will ever take me away from here again.

 

This came to the test five years later, when my parents decided to go back. I was 18 and I said “no way”. I didn’t come home from 2000 years of exile just to give up and go back to the old Europe. I would not go back. I stayed, and joined the army for my 3 years of serving my homeland. My parents went back. It was probably the toughest decision they ever made, knowing that I would stay no matter what, but they were in a situation that left them very few choices. My father later said that “If it turns out that we moved to Israel for those 5 years just for your sake, it was all worth it”. (Eventually, my sister also came back, so it wasn’t just me).

 

I decided to stay, after a very clear message from God that went straight into my heart. I have never heard him talk that clear before. And the Bible does say:

Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalm 37:3-5

 

and also:

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Matthew 19:29

 

This year I celebrate 14 years in Israel. That’s more than half my life. I now have a beautiful wife since 6½ years back. She moved from Sweden to Israel for me, and she is just as Zionistic as I am. We have 3 beautiful children that are growing up in Israel. They learn both Hebrew and Swedish, and they go to an Israeli kindergarten where they wave Israeli flags on Independence Day and sing the very same songs that I sang when I was young without understanding the words.

 

Are my land and my people perfect? Far from it. But this land is built on a dream. And it is our mission to build that dream together, not run away from it as soon as it gets a little difficult. Jews outside of Israel who reads this – come home! You don’t belong over there! Your home is here!

 

This people started out as a small nomad tribe that had been Egyptian slaves. Today this little people is still alive, has the most ancient national heritage in the world, has influenced the entire world with the biblical principles of equality and democracy, and still lives in the same homeland and speaks the same language, despite being thrown out of here twice. If that is not God’s hand, what is? We are a chosen people, whether we want it or not. One traditional story suggests that God chose the Jewish nation because they were the lowliest of nations, and their success would be attributed to God’s might rather than their own ability. So forget about the anti-Semitic idea that we think we are better than others. Far from it.

 

So today we celebrate:

 

 

We celebrate 61 years of independence. 61 years of freedom. 61 years of fighting for our right to exist. 61 years of dreaming about peace while fighting for survival. We are back home, and we are back speaking our ancient language. No one will ever move us from here. Many tried. Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Bysantines, Muslems, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, Brittish, Palestinians. No one will ever succeed. Israel is here to stay forever.

 

And one day, we will look upon Him who we pierced. Our Messiah and king, Yeshua, will put his feet on the mount of Olives and every knee shall bow. And he will rule the world for a thousand years from Jerusalem. At that time the world will know one language. That language will not be English, or Spanish, or Latin, or Arabic. It will be Hebrew. Start learning today.

 

 

On a more private note I’m off work until Monday, and we have a dear dear friend from Sweden visiting us. Actually she is the one who introduced me and my wife to each other, and she has been friends with my wife for over 20 years. Bear in mind that we are all 27. I have “only” known her for 10 years.

 

flagbearer

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§340 The Love that in battle is forged

April 27, 2009

It is the memorial day for the fallen soldiers of Israel. Today we remember the 22,570 ones that have sacrificed their lives for the creation and survival of the State of Israel. Soldiers, police, mossad agents, shin-bet agents, terrorism victims, pre-1948 underground fighters, etc. The ones who gave their lives for our right to live in our eternal homeland. 133 names were added this year. I am guessing most of them from the recent defence operation against the rocket attacks from Gaza. I wish I could say that I hope it’s over now, and we will see eternal peace from now on. However, I don’t see that. I only see things getting worse and worse. Hamas is further away than ever from accepting our right to exist, and Abbas recently said (excellent timing, by the way) that Israel is not a jewish state. Thankyou for trying to define us, but if you consider yourself living in a post-colonial era, it’s pretty much our own business how we define ourselves. Israel is, has always been, and will always be, the eternal homeland of the Jewish people with its undivided capital Jerusalem.

This is for the friendship of these young people who gave their lives for me, without knowing me.

They are gone from our midst,
All their laughter, their youth and their splendor.
But we know that a friendship like that,
We are bound all our lives to remember,
For a love that in battle is forged,
Will endure while we live, fierce and tender.

translation of lyrics:

In the Negev, the autumn night falls,
And it kindles the stars in the quiet,
As the breeze rustles outside the door
And the dust settles down on the highway.

Time goes on, do we notice at all
How the months have gone by one by one?
Time goes by, there are few of us left,
They will fight till the battle is won.
And so many we once knew are gone.
 
They are gone from our midst,
All their laughter, their youth and their splendor.
But we know that a friendship like that,
We are bound all our lives to remember,
For a love that in battle is forged,
Will endure while we live, fierce and tender.
 
Oh, the friendship we bore without words,
It was silent and grey, it was wordless.
From the pain and the blood of those days,
It remains with us, ardent and yearning.
 
In the name of that friendship we know,
In its name we’ll go on, every forward,
For those friends, when they fell on their swords,
Left us this precious gift to recall them.
 
They are gone from our midst,
All their laughter, their youth and their splendor.
But we know that a friendship like that,
We are bound all our lives to remember,
For a love that in battle is forged,
Will endure while we live, fierce and tender.

original:

Al hanegev yored leil hastav
Umatzit kochavim kheresh kheresh
Et haruakh over el hasaf
Ananim mehalkhim al haderech

Kvar shana, lo hirgashnu kim’at
Eich avru hazmanim besdoteynu
Kvar shana, vnotarnu meat
Ma rabim sheeynam kvar beynenu

Ach nizkor et kulam
Et yafe hablorit vehatohar
Ki reut shekazot leolam
Lo titen et libenu leshkoakh
Ahava mekudeshset bedam
At tashuvi beynenu lifroakh.

Hareut, nesanukh bli milim
Afora, akshanit veshoteket
Milelot haeyma hagdolim
At noteret adira vdoleket

Hareut, kinaraikh kulam
Shuv bishmekh nekhayekh venelekha
Ki reim shenaflu al harvam
Et khaikh hotiru lezekher

Akh nizkor et kulam
Et yafe hablorit vehatohar
Ki reut shekazot leolam
Lo titen et libenu lishkoakh
Ahava mekudeshset bedam
At tashuvi beynenu lifroakh.

 

El male rachamim, shochen bamromim, hamtse menucha nechona al knafei hashchina bemaalot kdoshim tehorim vegiborim, kezohar harakia mazhirim, lenishmot hakdoshim shenilchemu bechol ma’arachot Israel, bemachteret uviTsva Haganah LeIsrael veshenaflu bemilchamtam umasru nafsham al kdushat haShem, ha’am veha’aretz, ba’avur she’anu mitpalelim le’ilui nishmoteihem. Lachen, ba’al harachamim, yastirem beseter knafav le’olamim vayitsror bitsror hachayim et nishmoteihem, Adonai hu nachalatam, beGan Eden tehe menuchatam, veyanuchu veshalom al mishkevoteyhem veta’amod lechol Israel zchutam, veya’amdu legoralam lekets hayamin, venomar Amen.

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§339 Do I have ADHD?

April 24, 2009

I have strongly suspected for a while that I might have adult ADHD, with the exception that I don’t have the typical “acting out” temperament. Also, I was always successful in school because I’ve been interested in the studies and been able to hyper-focus. One of the ADHD features is difficulties concentrating on uninteresting things, but hyper-concentrating on interesting things. I have always had this hyper-concentrating thing when everything around me is “turned off”. Others have difficulties contacting me when I’m in the middle of things. Anyway, I decided to make an online check. The quizz had these below questions and I answered how correct they were for me. “Very little” or “a lot” etc. Result was that I probably have ADHD and recommendation was to go and get it diagnosed. My question is: why? What will a diagnosis give me except more appointments and headaches? What can a doctor give me that I can’t deal with myself and find online? Anyway these are the questions and my comments. What do you say? Do I have ADHD?

 

At home, work, or school, I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult

 

-Yes! It’s called procrastinating….

 

I find it difficult to read written material unless it is very interesting or very easy

 

-No, it’s not difficult. I just don’t read it. And if it’s study material I MAKE myself love it.

 

Especially in groups, I find it hard to stay focused on what is being said in conversations

 

-YES! I hear one thing said, thoughts wander off about that, and I miss the rest of the conversation. It happens in dialogues with my wife too… Now she has learned to clap my cheeks while talking to me and make sure computer monitor is always turned off when we talk. I can also start to think of something I want to say, and in order not to forget what I want to say I keep thinking it, and I forget to listen to the rest.

 

I have a quick temper… a short fuse.

 

-No, not really.

 

I am irritable, and get upset by minor annoyances.

-I don’t know, but my reactions are not always proportional. I can get mad over minor things and then almost no reaction at all over major things. That’s not easy for the kids. Luckily wife communicates it to me in time.

I say things without thinking, and later regret having said them.

-YES! But if my wife is around I usually try my ideas on her before making a fool out of myself…

I make quick decisions without thinking enough about their possible bad results.

-Yes indeed.

My relationships with people are made difficult by my tendency to talk first and think later.

-*asking wife* her answer: People close to you tend to learn to live with it, and it’s not that bad.

My moods have highs and lows.

 

-No, not much. And when it happens, people can talk me out of the lows quite easily.

 

I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities.

 

-YES!

 

I easily become upset.

 

-Not really

 

I seem to be thin skinned and many things upset me.

 

-Not really

 

I almost always am on the go.

 

-Yes… standing half naked for 40 minutes doing things on the computer being “on my way” into the shower for example…

 

I am more comfortable when moving than when sitting still.

 

-Actually, I AM comfortable sleeping…. but otherwise, yes.

 

In conversations, I start to answer questions before the questions have been fully asked.

 

-Big fat yes from wife!!! (she is starting to think that the test maker knows me…)

 

I usually work on more than one project at a time, and fail to finish many of them.

 

-Trying to learn to stop that, but yes. I have noticed that when doing one thing at a time I get it done, but when trying to do many things at once nothing gets done. Problem is that in that situation, whatever I do I get bad conscience for not getting the other thing done too.

 

There is a lot of “static” or “chatter” in my head.

 

-Sorry, couldn’t hear that question for all the chatter.

 

Even when sitting quietly, I am usually moving my hands or feet.

 

-Big fat yes, it drove my sister crazy when we were growing up. If there’s nothing else to do I keep touching my face all the time.

 

In group activities it is hard for me to wait my turn.

 

-No it’s not hard as long as I keep jumping up and down.

 

My mind gets so cluttered that it is hard for it to function.

 

-Yup

 

My thoughts bounce around as if my mind is a pinball machine.

 

-YES!

 

My brain feels as if it is a television set with all the channels going at once.

 

-Isn’t that the same as previous question…? But yes. Lots of thoughts at once and never possible to organize them unless I sit down and write them down in a list.

 

I am unable to stop daydreaming.

 

-Yes. I can be totally consumed in my own world, caught up in Donald Duck jokes…

 

I am distressed by the disorganized way my brain works.

 

-Yes, of course…

 

So what do you say? Do I have ADHD or am I just trying to find a justification for my behavior?

 

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§338 Holocaust memorial day

April 20, 2009

 
Berlin -38 (Next Year In Jerusalem)
(Wish we never had to sing this song
but we have to, ’cause we must never forget)

I Was Twenty-Five In Berlin ’38
I Had Just Bought A Little Store
And The War Was Close
Then I Met Her, Rebekah
With Her Wonderful Smile
And I Was In Love, And She Was In Love
The Future Was Ours.

We Married Soon, And Joseph And Sarah Came
And We Loved Them So, Our Dream Came True

Clouds Gathered Dark, I Couldn’t Understand It
I Simply Didn’t See It, I Should Have
But I Didn’t

Under The Star, My Heart Beats There
It Was Just Because Of The Star
Next Year In Jerusalem
Next Year In Jerusalem

And Late One Night, I Woke Up From The
Noise In The Street
People Were Shouting
People Were Running In The Stairs
They Knocked On the Door
And Then They Came Rushing In
With Guns And No Compassion
They Said, You Have To Come
One Suitcase And That’s All
You Must Go Now

We Ran Down The Stairs
Joseph Wasn’t Fast Enough
They Kicked Him And He Fell
And He Was Only Three
I Picked Him Up, And Took Him In My Arms

They Took Us To The Train
They Packed Us Like Cattle
Rebekah Squeezed My Hand She Said:
We Must Stay Together
No Matter What Happens

How Can I Describe
Cause When We Arrived, They Took
Rebekah And The Children Aside
And We All Cried
She Looked At Me
I’ll Never Forget Her Eyes
She Said, I’ll Take Care Of The Children
And Then They Were Gone, Gone
Next Year In Jerusalem
Next Year In Jerusalem

We Must Not Forget, We Can Never Forget
Because Of the Star
We Must Not Forget
It Did Really Happen

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§337 Google ads (Swedish)

April 20, 2009

Google ads are automatic and have no sense of tactfullness. This must be the weirdest combination of ads I’ve ever seen. In Swedish – one ad for lingerie and one that says “God Loves You – here’s a prayer that can change your life”

googleads

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§336 Gunnar Hökmark

April 17, 2009

Recently received mail from Swedish authorities with information and material to vote through mail for the European Parliament. There are elections in June and I didn’t even know. How come this huge parliament of the EU has elections that go almost unnoticed? Anyway, Gunnar Hökmark is the guy I’m voting for as my representant. He also happens to be the chairman of European Friends of Israel.

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§335 World War I

April 17, 2009

If you were wondering about my twitter the other day when I wrote that I hade received a direct personal email from Peter Englund, allow me to give you some background about who Peter Englund is. This would not be the first time I’ve mentioned him. He is a popular historian. That is a professional historian who has good writing skills and writes popular non-fiction books for regular people that are interested in history. Other historians (according to my wife who studies history) often see him as too narrative, and it becomes difficult to see what in his book is added for the sake of the narrative flow and what actually has backup from reliable sources. For people like me, who love history but has another profession because the need to make a living, authors like him are perfect. Englund makes the history I love come to life in a way that 800 heavy volumes of professional history studies could never do.

I have followed his blog since I found it, and throughout 2008 (actually, since December 1st 2007) I have followed his descriptions of his work writing the book “The Beauty and Sorrow of the Combat” which is a biography-based book about 19 people who lived during World War I. All far down in the hierarchy, all deeply affected by the war, from different countries and sides, infantery, cavallery, air force, nurse, etc, etc. The cover of the book:


(Photo by the author, moments after it came from the presses, picture from his blog)

By the way, if you’re wondering how come the head has rottened but the legs not, the reason for the skull is not rottening, but rather animals.

Where was I?

Right, so I received this book from my parents around the year shift but didn’t have time to read it until I got sick. One of the first things I notice is that according to the chronology, Japan declared wara against Germany on September 2nd 1914, but in the book one of the main characters is pondering on the Japanese war declaration in August. I sent him an email and he answered me that he would add this to the correction page on his homepage. The reason is that in August Japan had already moved troops and given Germany ultimatums which were impossible to fullfill, so everyone knew it would end in a declaration of war.

How come no one noticed this before me??