I am the man!

The Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

  08/05/14 09:18, by , Categories: Activism, Activism

The source of the “crisis“ in Gaza is finally becoming clearer to the West. This source - the jihadi mission to establish a world caliphate - is currently on view in Hamas' struggle to exterminate the Jew, this on the way to subjugating the rest of the world in the name of Islam.

But this is only a symptom of a larger crisis. Put simply, this crisis is the Western abandonment (if it ever really possessed them) of humanitarian values in favor of empty forms and farcical bodies, bodies which assume the mantle of humanitarian concern only when it fits a particular agenda.

Just a few days ago, the United States Senate passed Senate Resolution 526. In it, the Senate:

Laments all loss of innocent civilian life.

Condemns the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council's July 23, 2014 resolution calling for: (1) an investigation of Israel while not mentioning Hamas's continued assault against Israel, and (2) an investigation into potential human rights violations by Israel in the current Gaza conflict without mentioning Hamas's assault against innocent civilians and its use of civilian shields.

Supports Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas's rocket assault and destroy Hamas's tunnel system into Israel's territory.

Condemns Hamas's terrorist actions and use of civilians as human shields.

Supports U.S. mediation efforts for a durable cease fire agreement that ends Hamas's rocket assault and leads to Gaza's demilitarization.

Supports additional funding to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missiles and enhance Israel's defensive capabilities.

I wonder at the depth of this lamentation as the world has stood aside and watched the fires spread which brought 200 million to early graves in the last century. But more than this, I decry the perceived necessity to declare what should be patently obvious: “We, of the West, think a peace-loving country should be allowed to defend itself.“ To me, this is akin to “We affirm the right of a goalie to wear a cup.”

And where is the humanity in a durable cease-fire if the cease-fire is characterized by Hamas' continued persecution of the population in Gaza. Demilitarization itself will not stop any reign of terror.

What must be understood is that Israel stands at the front of a clash of ideas about civilization. This is difficult for the West to understand because most of us have been raised in a tradition that long ago rejected states based on religion. We have come to accept a live and let live attitude. We also tend to think that others think as we do. In this case, this mixture is the basis of much death and suffering.

We can not see the obvious, that a certain vicious stream of Islam is at war with our Western values. This is a stream that sees world submission to its view of Allah as the only way forward, and is willing to kill and even terrorize and manipulate its own people in order to move this agenda forward.

What we must realize is that we cannot fight this ideological war with conventional weapons alone. Complete military domination is only the backdrop against which a campaign of deprogramming and indoctrination can take place. And we loath such words as we like to think of ourselves as liberals the rightness of whose ideas is self-evident.

But if we want a humanitarian solution, we must replace the dominant Palestinian ideology with one which fosters “an ethic of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings.“ The program of hate must be eliminated and the Western value of respect and value for human life must be brought to the fore.

This is a tall order, perhaps impossible, but worth the effort. If it succeeds, it could bring with it an Arab spring that proceeds to summer. To accomplish this, Gaza must be occupied completely and for the immediate term, in both a military and civil sense. It must be placed in the hands of a strong, ethical governor. He and his staff must scrub Gaza of every hint of militarism and hate. Streets named after “martyrs“ must be renamed, textbooks fostering lies and hate must be destroyed, sermons demonizing the other disallowed, loudspeakers on mosques dismantled, and choice and freedom (except perhaps to spout and pursue evil) guaranteed.

Unfortunately, the United Nations is unequal to this task. It must be undertaken by the strong and the righteous. It is best done by a Jew, the display of whose strong hand just might influence Hamas. It is a difficult task, but possible. It is the path by which General MacArthur gave us modern day Japan. It is the path - perhaps the only path - that can give us a second liberal democratic state in the Middle East, and a true model for representative government throughout the region.

Filth and Loathing

  06/08/14 06:07, by , Categories: General

This comment has been brewing since we read Parashat Kedoshim, particularly the lines at Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and you shall not bear a sin because of him.” It was restated by William Blake thus:

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

So I asked a Rabbi, “What then if I did share it and the response was ‘Meh’?” It got me thinking. I'm a lawyer; I do that. Perhaps my problem here is the premise. Am I mistakenly thinking of the Jews with whom I share a community as my brother or my fellow, or is it just that I have not communicated effectively?

I have this notion stuck in my head that if we believe that the land we live on is holy, we should share a commitment to having it appear so. As the chosen people, we “should” do a lot of things - not steal, be nice to each other on the roads, basically just give a damn about each other - but the thing that gets my goat, and has since I landed here, is the filth. I have written blog post after post after post after post and even shared a web page on the topic, but I suppose a lot of that energy just vanished into the ether.

So I write again because a Rabbi suggested that if we do not reprove, we allow ourselves to hate, and that is a sin, because everything can supposedly be resolved through communication, and because I don't particularly harbor much love for my “brother” at the moment, and perhaps in sharing with him my sensitivity, I can allow my “wrath to end."

So here it is. It drives me to distraction when I see dozens of people walk over the same piece of garbage to enter the synagogue without taking the moment to pick it up, when the event has passed and the sign for it, and especially the tape used to hold it up, continue to stain the windows and walls, when the flowers and flags put up in celebration stay up until they are wilted and tattered, when the secretary of the Yishuv steps out waiting for a guest in front of the building and does nothing to pick up the garbage on the lawn, when parents sit in a playground and don't make it a nice place to play, when the place I have cleaned today has the wrappers of candies and ices and plastic bags and coffee cups and what not tomorrow, when someone's kid puts the household garbage on a pile of construction waste, the animals come to tear it up, and no resident of the community does anything to clean it up, when the wrappers from the candies thrown at the last happy occasion litter the ground outside the synagogue and I feel like I am the only one to pick up after, when a cleaned dining hall means that there is a stream of waste outside of it, or when the bonfire is over, but the fuel that was not burnt stays to litter the fire sites for months.

So I renew my request. Be my partner. Pick a spot to keep clean, or just make a commitment to picking up a few pieces of trash every time you are on your way. Train your kids to do the same. It's not somebody else's job, and even if it were, it would be the right thing to pitch in, here, and in school, and in life. Perhaps we should give it an even bigger context. If we go back to Leviticus 19:14, it is said that we should put no stumbling block before the blind. For those who might not be inclined to see the beauty that you see, any distraction is that stumbling block. If we really want people to see the beauty that we see in the world, we should make sure there is nothing that might take the eye away from that.

Calling in Drunk

  01/08/14 03:05, by , Categories: General, General

So I was talking to a coach of mine yesterday. I am really blessed to have so many of them. She works for a personal development company. We got to talking about our fathers, because that's what you do when you are assisting at a personal development company, and I asked her what is the inauthenticity for which she has not been taking responsibility in the relationship with her father — because that's the way we talk at personal development companies. She saw something for herself, and promised to be in communication with him on Friday.

I suggested that she should get together with him right away, tonight (which was last night), and share and have a beer with him. She mentioned that he lives two hours away. I told her I'd get her most of the way there, or they could meet at a midpoint, say Haifa. She mentioned work tomorrow (now today) and I suggested that she just be ready to call in drunk. Even better, she could talk to her boss and ask permission to go for a beer or a pitcher, or two, with her dad, and perhaps roll in a few hours later the next day.

Now while I wouldn't advocate this as a daily practice, it occurred to me that life occurs now; sometimes tomorrow is just too late. Sometimes we just want to share our love and a laugh with the people who are closest to us. Sometimes that occurs to us at the most wildly inappropriate times. But if we don't take a break from “life” to live our lives, then what the heck is life for?

In this case, I mean really, she works for a personal development company that promises people living transformed lives. If I were her boss, and she called in drunk saying she just had to transform her relationship with her dad, I think I'd have to give her a pass. Having relationships in her life work would certainly make her more powerful at her job. I mean that's what her job is about.

Now this isn't to say that we should not be responsible in our lives. Rather, when we find ourselves called to certain actions, we should not put them off as lightly as we are accustomed to do. Life happens now, not at some time in the future. Sometimes it's just appropriate to seize on that which presents itself.

And if you are the “boss” reading this and wondering about the loss of control and order, I'd say those things were likely illusory anyway. People call in sick and we sometimes know damned well they are just strung out or hung over. If we give our employees the space to call in drunk — in other words, actually tell the truth — they might just find the truth serves them in other parts of their jobs as well.

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Doddering forward into the New Year

  01/02/14 18:12, by , Categories: General, Advice , Tags: 2014, new year

So I have actually had this post running in my mind for a few days already, but it seems to have taken second place to all sorts of silly time-suckers, facebook, Spider Solitaire, checking my e-mail, working on some documents for a Limited Partnership, looking at stocks to invest in, etc.

So, in the spirit of new beginnings, after blowing another hour and a half watching 200 Cigarettes (I thought it was great, by the way, but if you were interested, you'd have probably seen it 14 years ago), and wondering if this new beginning isn't starting out looking a lot like that which I am supposedly putting behind, I share with you this week's thoughts.

I have three of them. One, I can't help you if you don't want to help yourself, with the corollary “I suppose I should help myself.” Two, I've got plenty of ways to help you help yourself, and it's time to outline some of them in one place I can refer people to instead of writing a new e-mail every time I see that someone in my world is up to something new. Three, promises, promises. I don't know if I am going to make any new ones here (who am I kidding; it's a new year; of course I will), but I should probably get present to the impact that not keeping them has had in my life and take a look at what I can do to keep from kicking myself in the head.

help thyself

I've been doing business with a friend of mine for some years. He's got some things on his plate at the moment, including breakdowns around his business, his relationship with his daughter, and his health. But he also has a commitment to make a difference. Around his health, he's altered his diet, he's taken on walking every day, and he has me call him to keep him present to his commitment. Around his relationships, he sees that he doesn't have the most objective perspective. He shares with me, and lets me imagine for him what is going on on his daughter's side so that he can be responsible for how he leaves her. His business we're working on. What strikes me is that our conversations are about actions that can forward his objectives.

I have a coach through a program I am taking. A little while ago, she announced that she is looking to change her work. I have contacted her four or five times, via SMS, e-mail, and phone. She says she'll get back to me. Another great coach of mine said she wants to get in better shape, and mentioned her diet. I forwarded a bunch of material about diet — this is also an area in which I have some knowledge — via e-mail. Perhaps in time she'll also get back to me. These people, actually fairly powerful in their lives, talk about their wants rather than action.

It's occurring to me that a lot of the people who say they want to change things aren't too committed to change. Instead, they want to complain, or whine, or get some sympathy. I don't want to be one of those. The way not to be one of those is to be in action. So my first question of the year is what actions are you going to take?

work and the world of action

I start you with my friend James Altucher, and particularly his advice for people out of work, and then follow his link to the full daily practice.

As to your dream, start with Scott Dinsmore's http://liveyourlegend.net. You want to go straight to his 27 questions and give yourself a two hour window to complete them. His philosophy by the way is that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with. You want to make sure you are hanging with people who will empower you to win. More on that below.

When you've completed that, I also recommend Shawn Achor's Secret to Better Work. This is a twelve and a half minute video, but it provides great advice, particularly around eleven minutes in.

I also love Ramit Sethi. He's got some great courses to help you fulfil what you want in life, but his web site is also chock full of free stuff.

Other muses include Liz Seda who will share with you her Life Lover's Guide to the Galaxy, and Tim Ferriss, who provides a particularly effective set of tools to hack life.

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed watching and going through – or as I tend to do watching and avoiding actually doing – what these people recommend. Don’t do that. Pick one item, give it a set time a day, and do that. If you want a support group, hook up with a Live Your Legend meetup, or create one of your own.

If you want me to be a part of your structure to win in 2014, my services are available. Just drop me a line at coach@theherzes.com, and we'll make this a year you won't forget.

promises, grace, and forgiveness

If you want to win this year, which I am clear that you do, you'll want a powerful structure. There's nothing more likely to suck the power from a person than a commitment unfulfilled. The problem with so many New Year's resolutions is that they are just empty commitments. People — that includes you — will show up to meet a trainer or a friend at the gym. We'll go to amazing lengths to help out a friend. My most constant reminder when I stray from my diet is my children, and I am truest to my diet when I am out with others.

But left to my own devices, I am much more prone to hit a snooze button, to put the exercise off for later, and to simply conclude that I'm not cut out for what I said I want. With a little push, the right friends, or the right context, we can do pretty much anything. I've had this blog for more than a year. It's only when I took on Scott Dinsmore's Creator's Guild that a post started showing up here every week.

To keep our promises, we should also treat ourselves with good favor, grace. When we fail to keep our word (you'll notice this post is two days late), we needn't make ourselves wrong. Instead, we can just look at our circumstances, acknowledge where we strayed from our path (200 Cigarettes, for instance), notice the impact (the first thing I said to myself was “great way to screw up a new year”), forgive ourselves (I've done this twice already just with this post), make a new promise, and actually keep it.

So my first promise — and I realize this doesn't really follows from the above — is to be a partner to my wife and to let her into the places that I haven't until now. Since she is going to read this, I'm sure she'll take it upon herself to remind me when I'm not.

Happy New Year

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Running the Race

  12/25/13 05:31, by , Categories: General, Advice

This post is about being ready. About two years ago, I heard that one of my neighbors was planning to run the marathon in Tiberias. I figured if he could do it, so could I. I am in pretty decent shape. I've got a rowing machine. I use it. I can sit down and row a marathon; so I figured I should be able to run one without too much difficulty. My first run was three kilometers, my next one six, a longer distance than I'd ever run to that point in my life. I got to nine, twelve, took a two week break to paint and do some work at my parents house and play cards and smoke cigarettes with my mom, came back and worked my way up to 24 kilometers a week or so before the race.

I ran the Marathon in 5 hours and 12 minutes. I figured if I was going to run that one, I might as well run Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well. I finished those too. I couldn't help signing up for Tiberias again this year. I just wanted to see if I could beat my time (I didn't). Not that any of these results are really relevant to this post, but I'm proud of them.

In the run up to the Tiberias marathon, I learned about a half-marathon that's run in the Bet Shean area. It stuck in my head as one I had to do. Now there is no way I could have done a half in Tiberias. In my mind it's just weenie to run a half when there's a whole available. But that's why Bet Shean appealed to me. I wouldn't be wanking out if I ran just a half when that's all there is.

I signed up seventy something days out. I knew it was on the schedule. I really really planned to practice for it. I got out and ran five kilometers. It hurt. I ran three. It wasn't great either. I ran three, rowed two, ran five, rowed two. I survived. I kept planning when I'd run, what intervals, what days. None of that happened. Somehow I knew I could run the race. I wasn't interested in being the fastest, just finishing. And that's what I did. After five kilometers of pain and doubt, I just kept putting one foot before the other and made it to the finish line in 2:28:43.

So in the realm of turning this experience into an inspiring blog post, I invite you - and myself of course - to turn the race into a metaphor for life. People appear to be impressed when I say I've run a marathon. But I don't think it's the marathon that impresses them. I think it's that I did what I said I would.

People say I'd love to (put your special thing in here), but then we don't make it happen. The truth is anyone of us could run our race. We just don't. We don't even start. Think of it this way:

Your boss says “People having breakthrough results in their personal lives is good for our business.” You say “I want to lose some weight, maybe run a 5k.” She says “Great, we'll only offer healthy fare at the company cafeteria. You'll have sausage and eggs for breakfast, a chunk of some fatty animal product for lunch, then you go up to the gym for a forty five minute workout with our personal trainer. After work, we'll send you home with a prime rib steak for dinner."

I can't imagine too many people who wouldn't see some results in this scenario. But most bosses don't say this. So it's up to us to make it happen for ourselves. I think it's worth our while to notice what conversations we have with ourselves that keep us from having what we want. It's usually something about circumstances over which we claim we have no control, often starting with “when,” things like when I have more time, or save up some money, when the busy season ends, and so on.

The truth is it's only the right time when you say it is. And usually, when you say it is, the universe lines up to help you along. No matter how much you prepare, you could always have prepared more or started sooner. But if you put yourself in the race, and show up at the starting line, you might just find that you've already got what it takes to finish. You might have some cramps and pains along the way, but it's only a handful of people that get taken away in an ambulance, and you are not going to be one of them.

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