Remembering One Jewish Hero on Israel’s Memorial Day

On Tuesday, the Jewish state observed Yom ha-Zikaron, the solemn day of remembrance for those who lost their lives in its defense. Allan Arkush uses the occasion to recall a former student, whose letters and diary entries were collected and published in book form:

While Jews around the world all live in the shadow of the Holocaust and may commemorate Yom HaShoah in similar ways, it’s not the same with Yom ha-Zikaron. For Israelis, it is above all a day that rekindles memories of specific individuals who died in Israel’s wars and always evokes a sense of personal loss. For those American Jews who mark it, the day is more likely to bring with it a sense of collective loss. This is only natural, but it is not true without exception. Some of those who lost their lives were very much ours—they were raised among us. And of them, there are a few who have made lasting marks, like Alex Singer, who served as a paratrooper between 1985 and 1987 and died, on his twenty-fifth birthday, fighting terrorists in southern Lebanon.

Born in White Plains, New York, in 1962, Alex first encountered Israel as a youngster, when he spent four years there with his family, including a year at a kibbutz high school. . . . Alex’s love for Israel is present on every page of this book. You see it in the joy he feels when he stumbles across Israeli tourists in England or in Spain. A visit to Israel in the spring of 1983 reminds him how very tired he is of being outside of it and leads him to conclude that he can’t put off aliyah forever.

When he finished [IDF] officers’ training, Alex got a job behind the lines—training the defenders of air-force bases. He relished the perks on those bases, especially the outstanding food, but yearned to do “real work directly involved with defense rather than the difficult and almost purposeless labor” he had been doing. At a shiva in Jerusalem for a friend who had died in an accident, he met a battalion commander in the Givati Brigade who arranged for him to become a platoon commander in the infantry.

It was in this capacity that he arrived in the Golan Heights in June. Only a few months later, in September, he died in a firefight with terrorists.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Aliyah, Golan Heights, Yom Ha-Zikaron

 

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism