23 June 2015

The Difference between Israel and Hamas...

What if they are wrong?

Read an article today that got me thinking. Sharing the first paragraph of the article here. Hope you'll head over to the Jewish Press to read the entire article. It's worth reading and the question the article asks is worth thinking about, no matter what you think about the Israel / Palestine situation.
With the BDS movement gaining momentum, many on the Israeli Left are increasing their calls for negotiations under the premise of a two-state solution. In their minds, the two-state solution is the only practical solution that could end the international isolation of Israel and lead to peace. But in the midst of the exhausted political ping-pong of whether or not the two-state solution is actually viable, the most important question often goes unasked – what if they are wrong?
Source: What if they are wrong? | The Jewish Press | 22 June 2015

Now, whether you went and read the article or not - and I hope you did, it's worth reading - do yourself a favour and use your imagination. Just for a moment, imagine you're living in Israel. Imagine you spent the summer of 2014 being bombarded by rockets, running to shelters, waiting for the siren to sound, hoping that just for a day, the rocket attacks against your country would stop. Imagine worrying about your friends, family members and loved ones. Imagine knowing that while you made it safely to a shelter, you worry about your son or daughter, your brother or sister, your mother or father, your cat or your dog, your new guitar, your home, your car. A rocket doesn't care about who you are, it doesn't decide not to hit you because you're waving a white flag. A rocket simply comes and strikes.

Do you live with neighbours who want to kill you, hurt you, even destroy you? Israelis do. Of course they also have many neighbours who simply want to live in peace, want their children to grow up, want to be safe and happy, want the fighting to end, want peace and safety and security for all people - Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims and Christians and Druze and people of all other nations, regions, countries and religions.

I hope that one day, Israelis and Palestinians will live in peace, side by side, as neighbours and friends, classmates and colleagues, brothers and sisters. I hope that one day, we will all live in a world where people do not want to kill other people, where we value life and love over death and destruction. If you want to help the people of Israel, if you want to help the people of Palestine, help make that world a reality. Help make peace a reality. Help by being part of the solution, by promoting peace, understanding and love over terror, distrust and hatred.

Wise Words - Gandhi

22 June 2015

Ramadan Kareem!

To all those who are fasting this Ramadan - May you have an easy fast.
I pray that God will hear and answer the prayers of those praying for peace, love and light.

21 June 2015

What Makes People Tick on Google Plus and Twitter

What Makes People Tick is not just a blog anymore!
Since the 8th of April 2015 we're also on Twitter. Yay!
And we've been on Google Plus for a while now, too!

Want to find us online? Follow the links...

29 May 2015

The Pope about anti-Semitism

The Times of Israel reports that Pope Francis spoke out about anti-Semitism:
In comments made to veteran Portuguese-Israeli journalist Henrique Cymerman Thursday, Francis was quoted as saying that “anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of anti-Semitism.”

Source: ‘Not recognizing Israel as Jewish is anti-Semitic, Pope says’ | The Times of Israel | 28 May 2015

Below, the Tweet from international journalist Henrique Cymerman:

Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, as the internet connects and unites the world and people are able to make up their own minds based on the information freely available to them online, isn't it about time that we all kick anti-Semitism to the curb? The Nazis and those who helped them and supported them, killed more than six million Jewish innocent men, women and children. The second World War itself cost many more people their lives. And yet there are those today who claim that the Nazis were right and that they want to follow in the footsteps of Hitler and the Nazis. That somehow it is right or just to kill innocent people who are simply defending themselves from terrorism and repeated attempts to annihilate them.

Will humanity ever realise that killing and hurting people because of who they are and what they believe is wrong? Will we ever learn to let those who harm none live in peace? Will we ever learn to treat others with respect, justice and dignity? The world has changed a great deal in the years since the second World War, yet it seems that even though millions died, we have not learned from history. Perhaps we never will?

As we go through World War Three and are confronted daily with the vile and evil deeds of groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda, the Nusra Front, Boko Haram and those who think and believe as they do, who kill people simply for being who they are, who rape and enslave innocent girls and women, who throw people off buildings, who burn them alive, isn't it time that we - the people of the world - see the difference between those who are truly evil and those who are simply defending themselves from being annihilated by fanatics and terrorists wanting to kill, hurt, silence and annihilate those who do not think and believe as they do?

19 May 2015

The Cost of Being Female

Dear male readers, you might want to skip this article.
Then again, you might not. After all, it's only an article about
something that happens to all women - including your mother, 
sister, wife, cousin, neighbour, colleague, daughter and oh,
just about every other woman the world over.

The Huffington Post writes a very interesting article about the Pink Tax - what it costs the world's women to menstruate for much of their life. According to the article:

"On average, a woman has her period from three to seven days and the average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51. That means the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days with her period -- 6.25 years of her life."

Source: Here's How Much A Woman's Period Will Cost Her Over A Lifetime | The Huffington Post | 18 May 2015

The Huffington Post article focuses on the cost of periods with regards to money, however I would like to write about the way society thinks about periods and treats women who go through their periods. Women make up about half of the world's population. Women who menstruate, those roughly between 13 and 51 years old (as per the article), make up a large percentage of the world's women. Unless one is especially keen to have stains in one's underwear or blood leaking down one's legs, one needs something to catch the blood - tampons, pads and panty liners, menstrual cups, simple rags to put into one's underwear. Whether one chooses to use tampons or pads or other items to catch the blood, one can't get around the fact that once a month, those who are not pregnant or somehow unable to menstruate (extreme sports or dieting can interfere with one's period, for instance), we bleed.

While periods are different per person and grumpiness, cramps and cravings don't happen to all women, they do happen to many of us. Some joke about their periods, some refuse to talk about them, some dread that time of the month, while others cherish the monthly reminder that they are fertile women with bodies that function well. Yet something that is normal to most of the world's women is still often seen as icky or strange by the men of our world, sometimes even by fellow women. Which is exactly why I'm writing this article, because monthly periods are as normal as breathing and treating menstruating girls and women as outcasts or preferring women stay quiet about a simple biological function that is common to all women makes little sense to me. And yet - speaking about periods in general or being open about period-related issues is something many people have trouble with.

Personally I do not feel the need to share news of my 'monthly visitor' with strangers or colleagues or people I barely know, such as the readers of a public blog. "Hey, it's that time of the month again" is not something I intend to share with others as to me, when I have my period is a private affair. I don't share my every thought with others either! Yet making periods something normal to talk about, something not seen as weird or strange or icky because it happens to all women, that is something I see as essential. Let me explain why. As a child, I was quite a 'tomboy' and had many male friends. We played sports together, went exploring together, climbed trees together, had fun together. Gender was not an issue as we were all essentially the same - children. As we all got older and I neared the age my period was due to start, the boys I'd been friends with for years started treating me differently. From being a child like they were, a friend whose gender did not matter to any one of us, I turned into a girl almost overnight. Both the boys and the girls in our group of friends were growing into teenagers, our bodies changing and taking us for wild rides. Yet instead of shrugging off those differences as a normal part of growing up, our differences started to divide us. The boys started hanging out together doing 'boy things' while the girls formed groups and started doing 'girl things'. Growing up is a normal part of life, however honestly, I still miss the days of being 'one of the guys' (or rather, just one of the children) when my gender and the shape of my body were not important to anyone.

I was still in primary school when boys and men started treating me differently. Why? Because my body changed. Instead of being just a person, just a child like other children, I was now 'a girl'. Boys walking past started whistling at me, going swimming at the pool meant being hassled by strange boys and men who made kissing noises at me and walking in public places became a nightmare after being groped by a stranger while walking on a crowded street. I still remember the horror I felt when a stranger's unwanted and unwelcome hand touched me between my legs and for the very first time in my life, I experienced what it was like to be assaulted. I was twelve then. Buying supplies for my monthly period became a strange thing as well - when going shopping I would attempt to sneak into the isle that houses the tampons and pads so as not to be seen by the boys in the store, then hid whatever supplies I bought under other groceries until getting to the counter. Why? Because buying sanitary products became something that defined me as a teenager, as a girl instead of just a child, just a person. And yes, because (some) boys seemed to make it their mission to treat girls buying supplies as outcasts, snickering at them, ridiculing them, laughing at them. Even ringing up my sanitary supplies at the check-out counter seemed impossible for many of the teenage boys manning the counters. They would carefully pick up whatever box of supplies was put in front of them as if it was likely to break or contaminate them, then look relieved when they could put the box down again to pick up the next item. Some of the boys would go red in the face, some refused to make eye contact and some simply looked embarrassed by having to handle a simple sealed box, as if the act of touching it meant they were 'contaminated by girl cooties' or some such.

As I got older and grew to understand that another treating me as an outcast or an alien did not mean I had to think of myself that way or take any notice of their opinions or shortcomings, I became more comfortable with my own body and the changes I was going through. Instead of feeling embarrassed by my monthly periods I grew comfortable with them and learnt to see them as a normal part of life and a celebration of being female. Yet the memory of feeling like an outcast and being treated as different just because I was growing up and changing never quite left me. Even though periods are normal and happen to all girls and women, as a teenager I was angry at life and my body for some time, unhappy about being different, about monthly cramps, about having to spend money on period supplies and about being treated as an object instead of a person simply because of my gender and my looks. Being a teenager going through hormonal changes and suddenly being treated differently by members of the opposite sex is hard enough without also feeling embarrassed or shamed by something that is normal and happens to all women.

In writing this blog post, I hope to share some of what I went through and how I felt as a teenager. Even if only one person reads this and thinks 'hey, maybe I shouldn't treat a young girl as an outcast because her body is changing' then this post has been worth writing. Despite what some religions may teach us about periods or how some societies (including the one I grew up in) may view menstruating women, the simple truth is that without menstruation and the monthly cycle, women would not be able to have children and our species would soon cease to exist all together. Which leads me to wonder - would it not benefit our world immensely to treat periods as normal and teach all people to cherish the female body and its amazing cycles instead of treating a little bit of blood once a month as something strange and alien to be feared or ridiculed?

18 April 2015

The European Union wants to label products from Judea and Samaria

As if all in Europe is well and all European countries are flourishing, the European Union seems to feel the need to meddle in affairs that - as far as I am concerned - are none of their (or should I say 'our'?) business. On the 16th April 2015, Israel National News writes that
Sixteen out of the 28 EU countries want the bloc to label products from Judea and Samaria in an economic attack on the Jewish state, diplomatic sources told AFP Thursday, confirming a Haaretz report.

The plan was first mooted in 2012, but the 16 member states told EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini it was now time to press ahead as part of efforts to force Israel to divide in a "two state solution."
Source: EU Label on Israeli 'Settlement' Goods: A Yellow 'Jude' Badge | Israel National News / Arutz Sheva

The sixteen countries whose foreign ministers (seem to) want to force Israel to give up parts of historical Israel to a second Palestinian-Arab state (the first being Jordan) are Britain, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Malta, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands and Luxembourg (Source: 'EU Boycotts Israel, Not Murderers in Syria or Gaza' | Israel National News).

As a citizen of one of the countries whose foreign ministers decided they want to label products from Judea and Samaria, I say: Not on my behalf, not in my name and certainly not because I asked it - I did not. My message to the EU is this: If you want to block or label products from non-EU countries, let's leave Israel alone for a change and look at labelling or blocking products from countries that support terrorism and the killing and subjugating of innocents; that want to destroy other countries, lifestyles or people; that discriminate against women or minorities being equal members of society; that threaten the existence of other countries, religions and peoples; and countries (or regions) that support - financially or otherwise - terror against innocent non-combatants.

However if the European Union does insist on labelling products from the Holy Land, I know that I and many others with me will be happy to buy those products - whether something is made in Haifa or Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or Maale Adumim - I support Israel and Israeli products, not those who are represented by terrorists and murderers wanting to kill as many Jews as possible and wipe Israel off the map.

16 April 2015

Elie Wiesel Quote

"For the dead and the living, 

we must bear witness."

 --  Elie Wiesel

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.
May we never forget; may Never Again be tattooed on our hearts.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaShoah

How do you remember a tragedy some seventy years ago when you see it happening all over again, all around you and all around the world? How do you tell your children that those bad and evil people who murdered so many last century are not dead and gone as we once thought but still here, just wearing different faces, shouting different slogans?

How do you honour your family members, the ones still here who lived through it and the ones long gone, murdered or gassed or shot or simply left to rot, how do you remember them without the promise, always, of Never Again? How do you tell your children, your neighbours, your ancestors and future generations? How do you explain to them that despite the horror and the knowledge and the pain, it is happening again?

In Brussels (Belgium) where three innocents were murdered at a museum.
In Paris (France) were four were murdered at a kosher store.
In Copenhagen (Denmark) where a man was killed outside a party.
In Amsterdam (Netherlands) where "Jews to the gas" is heard on the streets.
In Jerusalem (Israel) where five died after an attack at a synagogue.
In Wuppertal (Germany) where a synagogue was attacked with fire bombs.
All around the world where swastikas are drawn or Jews are painted as evil.

The Holocaust in most languages, known as the Shoah in Hebrew. It ended some seventy years ago, officially, yet anti-Semitism is still going on, still happening, still waiting to kill more innocents simply for being who they are, for being born as they are. Today on the Jewish calendar is the 27th day of the month of Nisan - Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day and public holiday. (Wikipedia)
How do we honour those who were killed, who were gassed, who were starved, those who died in the streets, who were tricked or betrayed or left to rot as if their lives meant nothing? How do we teach our children about the horrors of the Shoah, how do we ensure they understand the tragedy, the pain, the absolute wrongness of what happened decades ago? How do we instil in future generations the knowledge that such horrors must Never, Ever happen Again?

I have no answers, yet I have so many questions.
I have no solutions, yet I see so many problems.
I have no wise words, only words of grief and sorrow.

What is wrong with the human race that we are unable to be compassionate?
What is wrong with us, that we believe it normal to kill those we dislike?
What is wrong with us, that we believe it is our right or our duty to murder those we disagree with?
What is wrong with us, that we are unable to learn from the past?
What is wrong with us, that we continue hating people simply for who they are and for how they were born?
What is wrong with us that we allow the slaughter of innocents to go on and on and on, despite knowing what the consequences are, despite knowing what they go through, despite being aware of the horror and the pain and the senseless hatred?

What is wrong with us that we do not stand up for our fellow human beings, protect them as if they were our own parents, siblings, children, friends? We are all human beings - our differences make us unique and special, they never make us better or more or somehow more entitled. Whatever our shape and colour, size and race, country and nationality and ethnicity, whatever our language and religion, we are all members of the human race, all members of the same family. We are all one creation, one people who inhabit this one world together. Why do we, with all of history to learn from, continue hating others? Why do we, with survivors who have numbers tattooed on their arms to learn from, continue acting as if nothing happened? What is wrong with us? And will we ever be able to make it right again? Will we ever be able to stop hating others, simply because they are who they are?

12 April 2015

Game of Thrones' Kit Harington is sick of being objectified by women

Kit Harington plays Jon Snow on Game of Thrones and according to the media, the actor is sick and tired of being objectified. Welcome to our world, Kit! While looking for his exact quote today, I searched a few websites, looking for a site to link to that shares the actor's words without referring to him as a hunk, a heartthrob or eye-candy and without belittling his words. Honestly - a site like that was hard to find.

Why is it so hard to appreciate someone for his work, his commitment and for bringing a loved and appreciated character from a book to life through television? Do women have nothing better to do than objectifying a man simply because he appears on a hit television show? One wonders... The actor spoke to Page Six about being treated as nothing but a body:
“To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning,” “It really is and it’s in the same way as it is for women. When an actor is seen only for her physical beauty, it can be quite offensive.”

“Well, it’s not just men that can be inappropriate sexually; women can be as well. I’m in a successful TV show in a kind of leading man way and it can sometimes feel like your art is being put to one side for your sex appeal. And I don’t like that.”

“In this position you get asked a lot, ‘Do you like being a heartthrob? Do you like being a hunk?’ Well, my answer is, ‘That’s not what I got into it for.”
Perhaps if Mr. Harington was a model strutting around on a catwalk instead of an actor, I could sort of understand if people saw him as 'just a body'. However Kit is an actor in a very succesful television show, not a model on a catwalk or a mannequin in a store window. He's not made or wood or plastic either and is not a toy or an object, certainly. Why then is he treated as such? For those who think I'm making a big deal out of nothing, read on. The Page Six article quotes Harington (above) before continuing:
Be that as it may, his ripped abs, sky-high cheekbones and soulful eyes have no doubt helped him remain gainfully employed. He has been a regular in the wildly popular fantasy drama since it hit the screen in 2011. 

Fox News writes about Mr. Harington's looks as well. In fact, they use the same words as above, plus a space and a comma. I'm not sure if the next website is intentionally trying to hurtful, however according to the website itself, it's "an entertainment website with celebrity news and pictures," not a satirical website. The Daily Stab writes that:
The ‘Game of Thrones’ actor is clearly quite hot (most of the audience will agree he’s probably the best of the bunch when it comes to the guys on the show) and we all know he didn’t exactly land the role because he deserves an Oscar more than Leonardo DiCaprio ... Kit is frustrated that no one cares about his acting skills, when really he should be happy no one has noticed him as an actor (because even if he thinks it’s “art”, he isn’t exactly noteworthy). 

Thankfully People.com didn't feel the need to objectify the actor quite so much:
Here's hoping, however, Harington, 28 – who stars as Jon Snow on HBO's hit show – doesn't mind being called sexy – he was named one of PEOPLE's Sexiest Men Alive in 2014.

I understand there are enough people who appreciate the actor for his craft and his work, not just for his looks. Reading about the actor's exterior as opposed to his acting or his brilliant portrayal of a beloved character does make me wonder, however; what is the actor actually appreciated for, really? While I occasionally catch an episode of Game of Thrones and know most of the story lines, I'm not a regular viewer. Reading some of the blatantly sexist and - yes, I'm going to say it - demeaning comments about one of the show's leading men makes me think perhaps I should. In the past I've used this blog as a platform to speak out about the way some men treat women and the way some stronger people treat weaker people. Today I add the way some women treat men to that list. It almost makes me ashamed to be female. And no - I'm not going to end this post with a quick quip about anyone's abs, body or looks.

When Muslims Murder Palestinians...

In 2014, when Hamas attacked innocent Israelis with numerous rockets day in day out, the world was mostly silent. Or I should say: The world quietly applauded the so-called Palestinian 'freedom fighters' and their despicable terrorist acts, calling them heroes and courageous people.  What is courageous about terror and hatred? What is courageous about killing innocents? What is courageous about sending rocket after rocket at men, women and children simply trying to live their lives? What is courageous about terror tunnels meant to attack non-combatants? What is courageous about hating Jews because an old book tells you that you should?

Yet when Israel fought back, when the Jewish people responded by protecting their own instead of waiting to be slaughtered the way the world seems to think they should, the world reacted. The world shouted about the 'evil Jews' and the supposedly horrible acts they committed. The world shouted about 'concentration camps' in Gaza as if they knew what they were talking about when in truth it was radical Muslims in Gaza attempting to kill innocents in Israel, not the other way around. The world shouted about innocents being killed in Gaza, as if the innocents being attacked in Israel didn't matter. The world shouted because the world's one Jewish nation refused to submit to those who believe today, as Hitler and his Nazis did all those years ago, that Jews are evil scum and must die.

Innocents died in Gaza, there is no denying that. Too many. Too many lives lost, too many families torn apart, too many children who will never grow up. Every innocent who died is one too many. Yet those who blame Israel for those deaths conveniently forget WHY Israel responded, conveniently forget the rockets that rained down from Hamas-controlled Gaza for months and even years, conveniently forget the terror tunnels and the countless terrorist attacks, conveniently forget the abduction and murder of Eyal, Gilad and Naphtali, conveniently forget that Hamas is an evil organisation intent on killing Jews and wiping Israel off the map, no matter what the cost. Some  managed the words "every country has the right to defend itself" however when it came to supporting Israel and condeming the evil and the hatred coming out of Gaza, even they became quiet.

Today, April 2015, it is almost a year since the events described above. Today, in April 2015, it is ISIS in Syria who are killing innocent Palestinians, in Yarmouk and not in Gaza. Today, it is Muslims who slaughter innocents, yet there are no marches in the street, there are no worldwide protests. There are some who cry out and speak up, however not enough - not nearly enough. Why is it that when Muslims murder Palestinians, the world is silent, yet when Israel defends itself and through the actions and hatred of Hamas many innocents die, the world cries out? Why is it, when there are no Jews or Israelis to blame for the deaths of Palestinians, the world sits by as if killing innocents is suddenly 'okay' or accepted or inevitable.    

There was no massacre of Palestinians at the hands of the IDF last Summer. But in Syria there is. Right now as you read this. But you would be forgiven for being unaware of it. For this time there aren't tens of thousands demonstrating on the streets. There are no demonstrations at all. There are no rallies. There are no screams of massacre. There are no demands on governments to take action.

There is simply a sad, deafening silence.
And I want to know how this is possible. How can it happen that when Israel defends herself thousands take to the streets, the activists with their megaphones go marching, the whole machinery of campaigning and letter writing and the demands for action from politicians swing into action but when a real massacre of Palestinians happening there is silence from the very organization [the Palestine Solidarity Campaign] which exists to campaign on behalf of Palestinians.

We’re constantly told that the Israel Palestine conflict is what radicalises young Muslims in the West. So what happens when those radicalised Muslims from the West start beheading Palestinians while wearing the uniform of the Islamic State?

Apparently nothing at all.

Read more: When Muslims murder Palestinians
Marc Goldberg | The Blogs | The Times of Israel

08 April 2015

Je Suis Kenyan 02

All lives matter.
African or American or Asian - We are all human beings.
The victims of the Garissa attack in Kenya are not just numbers.

Je Suis Kenyan 01

All lives matter.
African or American or Asian - We are all human beings.
The victims of the Garissa attack in Kenya are not just numbers.

The Power of the Israeli Knesset

Once upon a time, this blog started as a simple collection of ideas in one person's head. Those ideas were expanded to ever so slowly become a dream. The dream became reality through faith, hard work and dedication. While I usually write "I" in the blog posts for What Makes People Tick, I the writer / editor could not do my writing-work without a team of people to support me, sustain me, teach me, help me and guide me. This blog is a team effort as much as it is an individual effort.

Why start a post entitled "The Power of the Israeli Knesset" by talking about something that has very little to do with said Knesset; a blog run / written by a non-Israeli? Because the State of Israel inspires this humble writer greatly. As John Lennon said, "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality." How very true with regards to Israel, a country that was a dream in the hearts and minds of so many for thousands of years and became a reality in 1948. Am Yisrael Chai. On to the power of the Knesset! The Times of Israel reports today (08 April 2015):
On March 29, the Knesset unveiled a 4,560-square-meter (50,000 square feet) solar field on its roof and those of surrounding buildings. Although the 1,500 solar panels are the highlight and the most obvious aspect of the greening of the Knesset, they are by far not the only way in which the Knesset is conserving energy. The Green Knesset Project, launched in January 2014, involves 13 different ecologically conscious projects at a cost of NIS 7 million ($1.8 million).
Israel has done it again - I am inspired and awed. In a world that is slowly but surely using up its fossil fuels (well... not so slowly: one might better say 'at an alarming rate') and poisoning itself by spouting waste into the oceans and CO2 into the air, a world that is slowly but surely destroying itself, the world's one and only Jewish nation shows it is ready to change for the better, to improve, to learn and to evolve. The article explains that turning the Knesset green is not just about what one installs or how one changes a building, it is also about reeducating both Members of Knesset (MKs) and Knesset staff.
“It’s a matter of changing organizational culture,” said Ronen Plot, director general of the Knesset. “During the preelection recess [January through mid-March 2015], we offered an in-depth course on sustainability for 35 employees from different departments.”

This week-long advanced course — on subjects such as environmental ethics, environmental law, and environmental economics — followed sustainability workshops that were compulsory for all Knesset employees.

“We are entering an era of sustainability, but it’s not just about the building. It’s also about influencing the staff and the MKs. Everyone needs to be on board if we are to act as an example to other parliaments around the world,” said Dr. Samuel Chayen, sustainability coordinator for the Green Knesset Project.
Source for both quotes: MKs may turn the air blue, but Knesset is Earth’s greenest parliament | The Times of Israel  

01 April 2015

The 'State of Palestine' today joined the International Criminal Court

Today, April 1st 2015, the so-called State of Palestine has become a member of the ICC, the International Criminal Court. For the sake of innocent peace-loving civilian Palestinians who simply want to live in peace, security and safety, I welcome and applaud this move. However I also want to remind readers of this blog of what ICC membership for 'Palestine' actually means.

The 'State of Palestine' is made up of Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank - Judea and Samaria. WhileI am not a supporter of Hamas or of Fatah and personally believe that the Palestinian people would be better off without these so-called leaders, today I do not want to talk about my opinion, I simply want to share some facts:

The Hamas Covenant 1988, known as the "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement" is the founding document of Hamas. The document makes it very clear what Hamas' hopes and dreams are for the future. From that Covenant, here are three quotes, in italics.

Even before the introduction, one finds the following:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory)."

In the introduction to the document's Articles:
"This Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), clarifies its picture, reveals its identity, outlines its stand, explains its aims, speaks about its hopes, and calls for its support, adoption and joining its ranks. Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah's victory is realised."

In Artice Seven, a hadith is quoted:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem)."

We're Now On Twitter!

From an idea to a dream to a collection of topics to a set of stories to an actual blog to a blog with a Google Plus page - What Makes People Tick has come a long way. This year, we're hoping to go even further.

We're coming to Twitter!
Or rather: We've arrived and we hope you'll join us for the party!

31 March 2015

Demonizing Israel With False Moral Equivalence - Hamas Propaganda Seems To Be Working

In a 26 March 2015 article, The Jewish Press writes that

"Rhetoric plays a major role in the demonization of Israel. The dissemination of false arguments is prevalent among the major demonization techniques. It is thus important that those who publicly defend Israel be trained to see through such tactics.

One technique used against Israel is false moral equivalence. It is based on the deceitful claim that there is no difference between two greatly dissimilar actions. Examples abound and only some of the most frequent ones can be mentioned here.

A prominent one is the perverse claim that Israel’s behavior is equivalent to that of the Nazis. This example of false moral equivalence is widespread throughout Europe. Five studies covering nine European countries show that about 40 percent of Europeans think Israel is a Nazi state."

Source: Demonizing Israel With False Moral Equivalence | The Jewish Press

Let me repeat that:
"Five studies covering nine European countries show that about 40 percent of Europeans think Israel is a Nazi state." 

Seventy years after the end of World War Two; seventy years after the end of the Holocaust that killed over six million innocent Jewish men, women and children, some forty percent of Europeans believe that Israel is a Nazi state.

The author of this particular blog post lives in Europe and can confirm that many here see Israel as a country where apartheid reigns and where Arabs / Muslims are mistreated and discriminated against. That there are Arabs who are not Muslim is something many here are unaware of or simply ignore. That there are many Palestinians who are not Muslim and many Israelis who are not Jewish is often similarly 'forgotten'. As for reality on the ground - It is easier to yell and scream about the 'horrible Israelis' who 'should know better after the Holocaust' and thus, 'should stop occupying the poor, innocent Palestinians' than to actually investigate the facts as they stand. 

There are two main groups and lots of smaller ones who all want to claim the same piece of land as theirs, all want the same city to be the capital of their land. However there is only one side who wants to destroy the other, only one side who is willing (and I fear, eager) to claim the land by force. Only one side as bas as that other group that is so much like it, which we know as ISIS. When one asks people about the role armed terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah play, these fundamentalist murderers are written off as 'freedom fighters' who are battling oppression by 'the Zionist occupiers'. Hamas propaganda seems to be working over here - many people actually believe that violent, murderous terrorists - Hamas, the chosen government in Gaza - are freedom fighters working to liberate their country and their people instead of terrorists and murderers wanting to destroy Israel and kill as many innocent Jewish people as possible.
The Hamas Covenant 1988, known as the "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement" makes it very clear what Hamas' hopes and dreams are for Israel. Even before the introduction, one finds the following:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory)."

Do I agree with every decision the Israeli government makes or every move the IDF makes? Certainly not. Do I agree with Israeli policy 100%? Again - certainly not. However I do very much support Israel's right to defend itself from terrorist attacks against all its citizens. Supporting Israel's right to self-defence does not mean that I do not support the Palestinian people and their struggle to live in freedom and safety in their own ancestral homeland. It does mean that I stand with Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths and creeds against terrorists who wish to destroy all of Israel and Palestine, by whatever name one may want to call the region. It is my belief that the only way forward for all the people of the Promised Land is peace and for peace to have a chance, groups such as Hamas need to stop terrorising innocents. Only when the pen and the word are mightier than the sword will true and lasting peace be possible.

19 March 2015

"Freedom Under Attack" by Ron Prosor - Quotes and Thoughts

Recently read an article entitled "Freedom Under Attack" in the Op-Ed section of The Jewish Press. The writer, Ron Prosor, is Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. Read the article at:

A lot of what Ambassador Prosor says has me nodding, not just today but in the past as well and from what I read, I find that he makes a lot of sense to me. Which is why I'm sharing some quotes from the article. The quotes are in bold text, my own words are in plain text.

Ambassador Prosor starts by looking at 1945, the year World War Two ended in Europe. The year 2015 marks seventy years since the closing of Auschwitz - Birkenau and other Nazi camps, the death of Anne Frank, the liberation of Europe from the claws of Nazi Germany and the eventual end of World War Two.

My grandparents lived through that War and growing up, it was not uncommon that they and other grown-ups, those old enough to remember the War (which then meant everyone older than my own parents), taught us about the Holocaust and talked about the old days when things were different. We grew up learning about ration booklets, food stamps, curfews and black-outs. We grew up learning about strangers in the streets there to order you around, there to use and abuse you as they saw fit, there to take your friends and neighbours away - some to work in labour camps or factories and others to die horrible deaths.

I grew up learning about the War, not only through movies (films), television and history books but from people who remembered it, people who lived through it, people who lost friends, family members, neighbours and loved ones to the Nazis. I learnt from people who chose to share their pain, their misery, their horrible experiences and their tears with strangers. I learnt from people who knew that the children and youngsters they taught might not understand them or appreciate their sacrifice in being there but who spoke up nonetheless. The courageous men and women who spoke at family gatherings, schools and public events did so because they understood that the only way to ensure Never Again actually meant and continues to mean Never Ever Again is to educate the next generation about the true cost and the true horrors of war, hatred, prejudice, death and discrimination - about the true cost of the Holocaust. My words are nothing compared to their memories.

"More than 60 million people – three percent of the world’s population – were killed or murdered in the Second World War. Half of the victims were civilians. Countless young girls and boys were denied the most basic right – the right to grow up and grow old. The scope of the human tragedy is simply unfathomable.

The sacrifices were immense – Russia alone lost over 25 million people. The Russians pushed forward to conquer Berlin and halted the Nazi advancement. They fought so that peoples and nations could live in freedom."

How many in the world today realise that Russia lost that many people to the War? I knew they fought, I knew they suffered, I knew that, however twenty-five million dead - that I did not realise. Six million, that is a number I remember, a number that feels ridiculously huge already. Six million is roughly a third of the population of The Netherlands - probably more people than I will ever meet in my entire life. Numbers like twenty-five million and sixty million - they are so huge that they almost lose meaning because truly fathoming how many people that is... That simply feels impossible, quite honestly.

The Ambassador continues:
"Seventy years ago, with the ashes of World War II still smoldering, the victors of the war came together to establish the United Nations and ensure that “Never Again” would not be a hollow promise

Today the values at the very heart of the UN are being threatened by extremist ideologies that target our way of life. From West Africa to the Middle East, extremists group have unleashed a plague of persecution believing that by silencing individuals, they can silence civilization.

The terrorists who stormed the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris attacked liberty – the right of every person to express him or herself. The terrorist who targeted Jews in Paris and Copenhagen attacked equality – the idea that every person, no matter his faith, is equal. By aiming their attacks at innocent civilians, the terrorists also attacked brotherhood – the bonds of our shared humanity.

A war is being waged against human dignity and human rights, and we must fight back. Standing united with courage and conviction we can turn back the tide of violent extremism and safeguard the values that we cherish."

How very true. A war is indeed being waged against human dignity and against basic human rights. A war is being waged by those wanting to silence free speech, who want to stop people from thinking for themselves, deciding for themselves and choosing for themselves. It is up to us to stand up to those who wish to bully us into submission, who wish to silence us with their knives and their bombs and their guns and their horrible acts of violence. Because if we don't, who will?

It is the closing statements of Ambassador Prosor's Op-Ed that move me the most:

"We must overcome indifference. We must know what we stand for and then stand up for something we believe in – never indulge racism; never ignore incitement; never be silent when confronted with the warning signs or war.

I issue a warning to the world – do not close your eyes to the atrocities around you; do not turn away from the animosity that ensues. It is your responsibility to speak out against hatred clearly and unequivocally.

Equip the next generation with words and not weapons. Arm them with ideas and not radical ideologies. Teach them tolerance, not terrorism. War is not inevitable. It is not a force of nature nor is it part of human nature. It can be prevented. But only if we stand together to denounce indifference and defend peace.

The duty rests upon us. If we wish our children to live in a world built on freedom, tolerance, and justice, we must stand united to defend those values."

Looking at the world today as someone who's not a sociologist or an anthropologist or anything of the sort, I see a lot of different people, different countries, different religions, different cultures, different ideologies, different lifestyles and different truths. The world is divided by lots of things - natural borders, man-made borders, man-made laws and rules and regulations, linguistic, religious and cultural barriers, misunderstandings, prejudice, discrimination, racism...

Natural borders we can overcome - our knowledge of science, technology and engineering enables us to build aeroplanes and fly to our neighbours, to build roads and cars and drive to our neighbours, to build boats and use them to sail to our neighbours. We can use telephones or the internet to contact our neighbours, to get to know them, to learn from them and to understand them.

Man-made borders are much harder to overcome. When separate groups all believe that their truth is the only acceptable truth and others' truths are not true or valid, we get to the place we are at today - what the King of Jordan calls World War Three. He is not the only one.

Look at what happened when white Christian Europeans moved to other parts of the world - look at what happened in North America, South America, India, Indonesia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand... Apartheid is a word that comes from a Germanic language, not from an African language: It comes from Dutch. White people from Europe went to Africa where they forcibly removed people from their homes and their families, put them on boats and forced them to work, to be slaves, degraded them, whipped them, abused them, treated them as mere property. They took them to new countries where they forced them to live as slaves instead of as free people, as they had been. That is what European Christians did in centuries past and that is what fundamentalist Muslims are doing today.

How would you like it if someone came into your house right now, abducted you, took your spouse, your children and your neighbours away, perhaps shot a few people to ensure everyone understood that they were truly serious? What if strangers came to your house, took your possessions, enslaved you, treated you as less than human, as someone without rights? What if those strangers defended / explained their actions by stating that your values, beliefs and laws and the society that you hold dear were unimportant, worthless, barbaric even, perhaps? How would that make you feel?

26 February 2015

English, British or Yuukayeean...

The English language can be confusing... However so can those who speak the language! England, Britain or the United Kingdom? English, British or perhaps Yuukayeean? Here's an easy tool to help you remember!

Disclaimer: Yes, we did make up the word Yuukayeean. Call it attempted humour. Or just silly.  

23 February 2015

Yoko Ono Quotes

Some quotes by the amazing and inspiring Yoko Ono.

Dear Yoko, 
You make me want to be a better person. 
Thank you for being you.

“War is over if you want it.”

You change the world by being yourself.”

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. 
A dream you dream together is reality.”

“Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world. 
Just start thinking peace, and the message will spread quicker than you think.”

Video: "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman"

Why is it that some men seem to think it is necessary to treat women as nothing more than 'a piece of ass' or as 'eye-candy'? I understand that as human beings with eyes, we look around us and at others while walking around - most people don't like walking into other people, buildings or parked cars, after all - however does it really need to be accompanied by cat-calls, whistles, groping and lewd comments?

Will there ever be a time when women are appreciated as they are and for who they are as human beings? Women are not food, gadgets, mannequins or toys - we make up half the population of the world and are simply just as human as any male. Whatever your religious background or view on a woman's proper place or role - surely it is possible to treat all women as if they are your mothers, sisters and daughters?

Rudy Giuliani speaks out... And he's got my vote!

If you care about what happens in the world, in the United States, in Israel, in the Middle East, in Europe... If you care about the survival of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and free press... Watch this video of (former mayor of New York) Rudy Giuliani speaking out about world issues, the danger of power in the wrong hands and how to make the world a better place. 

I am - shock horror - quite a fan of (American president) Obama and very much appreciate that he is attempting to bring the entire world together or at least that he's trying to talk to the Arab / Muslim world, not just to white / European / western / Christian countries. What I think is ridiculous is that the American president does not seem to want to link terrorists motivated by (their particular version of) Islam to Islam as a global religion

I refuse to blame all of Islam (as a religion) or all Muslims for the horrible and despicable acts of a relatively small group who commit atrocities in the name of Islam. That would make me as bad as those who brutally murder journalists or aid workers for decisions made by the governments of the countries those people happen to have been born in. 

However I also believe that it is important to be clear about what motivates groups such as Daesh (IS / ISIS), the Taliban, al-Nusra front, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad and groups like them - they are motivated by their interpretation of Islam, by their particular Islamic world-view, by their reading of the Qur'an (Koran) and their interpretation of the hadith (words and actions of Islam's prophet Muhammad, written down and collected). 

Blaming an entire religion for the actions of a few is ridiculous, however pretending those few are not motivated by religion is, in my humble opinion, just as ridiculous. Honesty first, diplomacy second.