After the Storm: Let the Israelites Go?

After the Storm: Let the Israelites Go?

How many plagues will it take to get the message? Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe of Our Land of Israel said G-d is warning the Obama administration to stop pressuring Israel, but even Charles Krauthammer sees a connection. Prof. Phyllis Chesler – Israel National News

Prof. Phyllis Chesler
Thoughts After the Storm: Sunday night, Manhattan was eerily, spookily silent and deserted. Broadway remained dark, many restaurants shut down, there was absolutely no public transportation. There still isn’t—although our Mayor has estimated that some buses might be back in service by nightfall. Friends and relatives are without power in many of New York state’s suburbs and boroughs. Some have wet, others have flooded basements. In Riverdale, the Bronx, many huge and ancient trees crashed to earth, blocking streets, highways, destroying private homes, leading to fires and smoke when they fell on power lines. The boroughs, Long Island, Westchester county, New Jersey are really suffering. People who refused to be evacuated are now surrounding by rising waters which will continue to rise; now, they are requesting emergency evacuation.. No one knows when the power will be returned to those who have lost power nor when public transportation will be back up and running. The sea water and the rain water broke all sea walls and barriers and are now flooding streets. The pictures are devastating. 4.5 million people are now without power on the East coast. Eighteen people have died. It is estimated that rivers and creeks could still dangerously rise in the wake of Tropical Storm. Fire fighters, police officers, electrical workers are out in full force today. Most television programs have been cancelled and are focusing on the aftermath of hurricane Irene. Every screen  shows us flooded and tree-damaged boardwalks, streets, and homes in New Jersey, on Long Island, and up the New England coast. Here, closer to home, the downtown promenade at Battery City Park is flooded—but those who live there were, wisely, evacuated yesterday. My neighborhood, my apartment building were “passed over” in the Biblical sense. The tree right outside my kitchen and living room windows did not fall. There it remains, leafy and green, upright, constant. I was lucky; many others were less lucky. We are told that about ten people died during this natural disaster. The cost in terms of property damage and economic loss is not yet known. No looting has occurred to the best of my knowledge, and the spirit of the people is admirable, hardy, philosophical, uncomplaining. They are predicting a sunny, happy little week Finally, to paraphrase a rather wonderful tweet of Charles Krauthammer: First an earthquake, now a hurricane, eight more plagues and we ought to let the Israelites go! Before the storm: The shadow of 9/11 still hovers over New York City; it has never really left. From that moment on, everyone—now even those who have just been evacuated—are relieved that all these emergency preparations are in response to an act of Nature, a hurricane, not to an act of terrorism. For a long while now, no matter what happened, once it was clear that terrorism was not involved, the very people who would ordinarily complain piteously would, instead, say, “Ah, it’s not so bad.” We were all relieved that the power failure, stopped train, calamities of every sort –Inconvenient, economically costly, unpleasant, sometimes even dangerous—are still okay. If it’s not another 9/11 or a new American version of Madrid’s 3/11, or London’s 7/7, or Mumbai’s prolonged and terrible siege, we’re okay, we’re alright, it could always be worse, it could be Al Qaeda or any one of the Islamic jihadic groups that ply their diabolical arts of death all over the world, preying on their own people as well as on infidels. Here I sit in Manhattan, a little excited, a little afraid. A brief and sudden downpour came and left earlier today, mid-morning. The fierce rains have not yet hit us. But I am watching the “weather,” as it begins to hit North Carolina with offshore winds of 90 mph, wind gusts of 104 mph and 19 foot offshore waves. The Carolinas were supposed to be lucky because the hurricane is expected to hit at low tide, but there are fatalities there. They forecast a high tide “hit” in New York City but not until later tonight or tomorrow. The Virginia coast is being hard hit right now, at high tide. This minute, Mayor Bloomberg is addressing the city again. He is explaining that hurricanes “work” by having bands of rain and then no rain before they hit you with full gale force. He is telling New Yorkers to expect heavy winds by 9pm tonight and major winds by 8am Sunday morning. He is warning us about possible flying glass on high floors and of electrical failures. He said that buildings are being asked to shut down their elevators so that people will not find themselves stuck and unreachable for a long period of time. The man means to protect us but he is scaring me. Everyone I know, myself included, have stocked up on water, candles, flashlights, batteries, a radio, and food.  Some benighted souls still believe that they will be able to fly out tonight or tomorrow or even on Monday to Paris, Rome, London, Tel Aviv. I am afraid this is wishful non-thinking. And here is what troubles me. A terrorist could take real advantage of such natural chaos. So could any number of London-style looters, those Clockwork Orange kids run amuck. But what is really on my mind right now is yet another New York Times article about Israel titled “Israel Faces Painful Challenges as Ties Shift With Arab Neighbors in Upheaval.” I am not even commenting on the piece. I am only interested in the photos. Of course, the large four-column wide photo was taken by Rina Castelnuovo who shows us a blonde “Aryan”-looking female Israeli soldier “checking” a sea of more Semitic-looking “Palestinian” women (all in hijab) at the Kalandia crossing. Peace Rina: I once wrote about the way in which Castelnuovo’s photos are invariably used by this Israel-bashing newspaper and she wrote to me privately, offended, puzzled, hurt. My point is not about whether her photos are excellent or depict reality or not, but rather the use to which they are put. Right under Castelnuovo’s photo of the armed Israeli soldier are two other small photos: One is presumably a photo of the “rubble” in Gaza caused by an “Israeli airstrike”; the other shows us “a demonstrator chanting anti-Israeli slogans in Cairo on Friday.” By the way, the single “demonstrator” is surrounded by a sea of uncaptioned supporters. Why is the incitement against Israel never the headline in the Paper of Record? Why is it presented in miniature here, and dwarfed by two other photos, one very large, both meant to demonize Israel? Meant to brainwash people into viewing Israel falsely as a colonialist, apartheid, aggressive nation state? Yes, this is what preoccupies me even as the storm is about to hit my beloved New York City. May we all be safe, may no more lives be lost, may God watch over us. Prof. Phyllis Chesler Prof. Phyllis Chesler is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness (Doubleday, 1972), The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and most recently, The New Anti-Semitism. She is the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network.  

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