It’s just not happening
I was in the supermarket about an hour ago. There was no mad rush on the mineral water bottles or on the canned food. Sorry. Obviously just the media trying to heat things up, as usual.
why not a fish
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
It’s just not happening
A bomb blew up in a school in Yata, South of Hebron today, lightly injuring five eight year-old Palestinian children. This outcome was apparently very lucky because the kids had just gone back into their classrooms after the recess had ended. It’s looking like it could very well have been perpetrated by Jewish terrorists. If this is the case, the police should do everything possible to apprehend these monsters and they should be treated EXACTLY as Palestinian terrorists would be treated. Tal discusses this too.
Who to believe?
The Guardian says oil prices will go up and the Wall Street Journal says oil prices will go down.
I know nothing of such things, but isn’t it amusing to see how conspicuously political views affect economic prophecies?
The Guardian article contradicts itself though. First they say that the last decade was one of miracle growth for the US, and then they say the Gulf War punctured global growth (Wasn’t the Gulf War just eleven years ago? Mustn’t have punctured anything very badly if a year later growth miraculously happened for the US, economic world leader).
The Wall Street Journal puts it best: “Economic forecasting is always a mug's game”.
Captured terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh has been identified as one of the killers of Daniel Pearl.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele may not have time to talk to wounded Israeli children, but he has plenty of time to be sarcastic about Israeli preparations for the threat of Iraqi scud missiles. “While Iraq's known missile arsenal of a few ageing Scuds poses little danger to Israel, newspapers here have reported western intelligence officials as raising other wild scenarios”. I dearly hope he’s right, but maybe he’d like to contemplate what would be the consequences of just one aging scud missile with one primitive chemical warhead landing in the middle of a highly populated area. Not that he, or anyone else in the Guardian, could give a damn.
Some German kids don’t know how good they’ve got it.
How about we ship them off to Iraq or the PA to see if they like it better?
The UK Guardian at the cutting edge of differentiating between blood and blood, pain and pain.
Jonathan Steele tells the sorry plight of a 15 year-old Palestinian boy who lost his hand, in yesterday’s UK Guardian. When he tried to throw a grenade at Israeli tanks, Israeli soldiers shot him in the hand. Or so he says. It seems more likely to me that the grenade blew up in his hand. Since when are Israelis such fantastic shots that they just slice of a kid’s hands with bullets, and miss the rest of him completely? He’s actually lucky to be alive, but Mr. Steele doesn’t mention that. Neither does he mention that the Rafah houses demolished on the Egyptian border were used for smuggling weapons through underground tunnels.
I’m sorry the kid lost his home and his hand, but you know, we’ve also got our share of juvenile amputees, and not because they were throwing grenades. No. They were brutally enforcing a wicked occupation by riding buses and eating pizzas. They also have to spend months and years of recuperation. Their lives will also never be the same, and their story is no less the story of this war. But you won’t find them on the front news pages of the Guardian.
My heart bleeds
Queen Fadila of Egypt (from reading her bio it seems to me the woman has never set foot in Egypt) is being thrown out of her 2 million pound sterling (what’s that? About $3 million?) apartment on the exclusive Avenue Foch in Paris.
The UK Guardian quotes her as saying "My only income is handouts from Saudi and Moroccan princes and kings. I think there's something very odd about the sale, a sort of plot, if you like. After all, this is really the official residence of Egypt's royal family."
Royal family, my $#%. GET A JOB, you lazy good for nothing!
No pit of snakes for this robot
I say: Call in Harrison Ford!
Here's the same report I gave yesterday about Israeli security officials believing US-Iraq offensive will be before November. This time in English.
Palestinians stoned Jewish worshippers on Yom Kippur. A child was wounded.
CIA started another course to teach Palestinian Authority security officers to fight terrorism.
Saddam buying time.
Allows the inspectors back.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Take a look at Natalie Solent's rape analogy.
I Caused 9/11
A particularly hilarious insignificant thought.
Of course, being Israeli, I have no right to find that post amusing, because I really did cause 9/11.
Ready to roll?
Israeli Reshet Bet radio station announced on Sunday morning, top Israeli security sources evaluation about the timing of the American Iraq offensive. They reportedly say that it is believed by the Israeli security forces that the Iraqi offensive has been moved forward and will begin before November. This was reported by Carmela Menashe, the station’s military reporter. The same reporter interviewed Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, on Sunday morning, as well. The Chief of Staff traditionally gives interviews on the eve of Yom Kippur. Could Yaalon be the “top Israeli security sources”?
So what about this talk of not being ready before December? Bish says disinformation.
All this speculation about when probably seems a bit superfluous to people outside of Israel (who aren’t in the US or British military), but it makes a big difference to us over here for obvious reasons. Like everything else, a lot of Israelis would rather it started “after the hagim” (the religious holidays - meaning after Succot, which ends on the 28th September, this year). Bish speculates that if they want it to be well under way before the month of Ramadan, which starts at the beginning of November, it could be any minute. We must remember he’s been saying this for a while. I think he expected it to start in August. We still have to take the weather into account.
Ehud Yaari update
Ehud Yaari tells of an ongoing debate being held by Islamic scholars about the “advisability, purpose and "rules of engagement" for acquiring atomic, chemical or biological weapons”.
With regard to an unwritten agreement between Israeli Defense Minister Ben Eliezer and top Palestinian security officials calling for “an effort by PA Security Services to stop terrorist activity emanating from the district of Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip as a prelude to Israeli military redeployment and withdrawal from other towns seized in the West Bank” there are limited results. Bethlehem is quiet because the IDF has dismantled terrorist networks but the PA isn’t doing anything serious to facilitate this. In Gaza, not only are the PA not doing anything agreed on but “Fatah's military wing, Arafat's loyalists controlled in Gaza by Dahlan and his lieutenants, has taken the lead in terrorist attacks” and Dahlan’s “deputies publicly commended operations by the Popular Resistence Committees as acts of self defence”. Yaari summarizes that “the Intifada may be beginning to die out but it certainly is going to take its time getting there”.
What can we do when trying to be fair and indiscriminate can prove to be deadly?
In the the Jerusalem Report, Hirsch Goodman discusses the dilemma of open-minded Israeli Jews who don’t want Israeli Arabs to be discriminated against, but are afraid to let their kids ride a school bus driven by an Arab.
Arafat influencing Israeli elections?
Yusuf Tarifi, son of top PA official Jamil Tarifi, was released from prison a few days ago after spending the last two months in an Israeli prison. Maariv says he was released because of international pressure. Maariv says they have come by transcripts of his investigation. The transcripts include his confession of weapon deals. Others involved in these deals, from 1995 onwards, were, among others, Muhammad Dahlan and Husam Safi, close to Jibril Rajoub. Israel channel 1 news has already pointed out that these connections were what brought about his release, Israel not wanting them implicated. The Shin bet was opposed to his release, by the way.
According to the transcripts, in 1996 Abu Mazen stored a suitcase with one and a half million dollars in cash, that had come from Arafat, in Tarifi’s house. The suitcase stayed locked in Tarifi’s house and three times 55 year-old Abu Marwan, ambassador to Morrocco, took out a certain amount of money, for which he wrote a receipt. Tarifi told his investigators that he heard that the money was designated for the elections that were being held at that time in Israel. I wonder whom Arafat was backing, because if he was backing Peres he just threw all that money down the drain. What a waste!
I have rejoined the land of the living!
My mother said that her brother (my uncle) heard from a Muslim friend that many Muslims break their Ramadan fast with yoghurt, which lines the stomach and makes eating again easier. So I tried it and it seems to have worked. So now my stomach is lined with yoghurt and full of other yummy stuff, and I don't feel bad at all. You often feel bad after breaking the fast. The fast itself wasn't too bad for me, but Bish had it rough. He spent most of Yom Kippur racing on a scooter after our youngest who was riding her bike (a favorite pastime for secular kids is roaming the empty streets on their bikes). It was a really hot day. He come back looking like he'd just stepped out of the shower!
Sunday, September 15, 2002
Just one more thing
Our Anna Smashnova beat Anna Kournikova in the final of the Shanghai Open!
From the erev Yom Kippur evening service*
“Hear us, O lord, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved; for thou are our praise. And bring perfect healing to all our wounds, for thou, Almighty King, art a faithful and merciful healer. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who healest the sick of thy people Israel.”
*From the Yom Kippur prayer book, Hebrew Publishing Co., New York, USA, 1931.
This Yom Kippur is the 29th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Newspapers always have stories and memories. I find it hard to read them. I always think of the Yom Kippur War as “that horrible war” and I steer clear. I must have internalized the collective trauma of that war pretty well. Last year I forced myself to read some of the stories in the papers, and I’ve been trying this year too. On Friday, I heard a soldier, wounded in that war in a terrible battle on the Golan Heights, telling his story on the radio.
As child, I think I sensed what a heavy shadow the Yom Kippur war cast on Israeli society. There were the visible effects, of course. A boy in my class had lost his father and occasionally let loose in the classroom; one of our sports teachers had no arm; a distant cousin behaved strangely. But it wasn’t just. Was it the shock of the surprise attack? Or the stories of terrible bloody battles? I guess it was all that at first, but later on, when the truth of the foul-up started to come out, it was mainly the insecurity in knowing that the powers that be could make such a colossal miscalculation, with such horrible consequences.
You have to spend at least one Yom Kippur in Israel to even begin to understand what it was like. I live in a central part of Tel Aviv on a main street. There are always cars and people and bustle and noise. I couldn’t sleep the first night we moved in, for the noise. But even here, Yom Kippur is completely silent. Everything shuts down. No one drives on Yom Kippur. The only cars are ambulances and police cars, and even they are few and far between.
Can you imagine the shock of an air-raid siren piercing that silence? I wasn’t in Israel that Yom Kippur, so I can only imagine that experience. Bish said they realized something bad was happening even before the siren, because suddenly fighter airplanes were flying over-head. And then the phone rang. They were a religious family. Normally no one would have dreamt of calling them on Yom Kippur. Nor would they have dreamt of picking up.
That war inspired a lot of popular songs, at the time. In one of them a father promises his little girl that this will be the last war. That song always brings tears to my eyes.
I’m told that “HaYamim HaNora’im” (“The Terrible Days”: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the days in between) are the time to ask forgiveness of those I have wronged.
The other day while I was dealing, unskillfully as usual, with a very angry you-know-who, I suddenly realized that what I was seeing before me was a mirror of myself as a child. Only I was much worse.
I was a real horror, wasn’t I?
I was angry, bad tempered and rebellious; I was selfish and inconsiderate; I was lazy, messy * (how’s that for starters?). You didn’t see much “nakhus” from me at all. And through it all you were tireless, stable, patient, sensitive, warm and caring. And you made the best sandwiches ever.
And I didn’t appreciate your efforts at all.
I ask myself how you could have suffered such a disagreeable child.
Now I’m a mother myself. I know we mothers can take quite a lot from our offspring, and still feel oceans of tenderness for them.
Luckily for me, you are still all the above and more, and now I can appreciate it.
I love you, Mummy. I’m sorry I was such a brat and gave you such a hard time. I hope I’m managing to make up for it a bit.
* If you ask Bish he’ll probably say I still am most of those things listed above.
For Yom Kippur: Food!
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is all for family meals.
He points to the unhealthy aspect of the untimely demise of such meals in modern life, in the face of microwave snacks and fast food ate alone and while doing other things. But he’s optimistic (I like optimists. People are forever dwelling on prophecies of doom are so off-putting). He sees meals as a popular social activity and thinks they’ll be back (Well, they haven’t completely gone have they? I just ate one with my family). He realistically points out that we don’t have to go to the extremes of eating raw foods. He says we can make fast preparation foods work for us by using them to make family meals easier to orchestrate (Great! I don’t have to feel guilty anymore about feeding my daughters food out of packages). I must get this guy’s book. I wrote about it, remember? Yes, so do I, but I can’t find it.
A Dutch plane heading for Tel Aviv from Amsterdam had to land an emergency landing in Bucharest this morning after a letter was found on the plane warning that a bomb had been planted on the plane. The plane was checked but nothing was found. All the passengers continued to Israel on the regular El Al flight from Bucharest to Tel Aviv.
Saturday, September 14, 2002
I’ve hit the big time
Josh Kraushaar has put me on his list of “big time blogs”. Oysh, now I feel like a fraud. I’d be much more comfortable on a list of “small fry blogs”.
Stocking up for the war
According to Maariv, mineral water sales are up thirty percent in Israel and sales of canned foods are up twenty percent. A friend went to our local gas mask distribution center last week and had to queue up for quite a while. She asked the soldiers there when was the best time to come and they said between two and four in the afternoon (in case you need to go).
But maybe there’s no hurry. The London Telegraph (registration required) said yesterday that the 30,000 British troops planned to take part in the attack on Iraq will only begin deployment after the debate in the British Parliament on the 24th September, and it will take at least three months for their tanks to get there. Today British officials told the Telegraph that December would be the most likely time for military operations to begin, because of the weather.
I got an e-mail from an American seventh-grader, who asked me if I could help her with her school project which entailed describing a typical day-in-the-life of an Israeli teenager. My daughters are pre-teen so I asked someone I know to help out. This is his letter:
(Names have been changed for the sake of privacy)
My name is Gal. I am a 14 year old Israeli boy. I live in Tel Aviv in an apartment with my mom, dad, 16 year old brother Alon, Moggy the dog and Suzy the cat.
My day starts at 7.30 when my mom wakes me for school, school is usually from 8.15- 13.40 -6 days a week - thats right poor me we have to go to school from Sunday to Friday.
My school is a big public school, there are no private schools in Israel. There are about 2000 pupils and it is 5 minutes walking distance from my home.
We are 40 kids in the class and I suffer least in English and sciences lessons.
After school finishes I come home for lunch. Do some homework if absolutely necessary and then at about 4 pm I meet up with my friends.
We go skateboarding or hang out at each others houses playing computer games and making home made movies.
Twice a week on Saturday and Tuesday I go to the scouts. I have been going to the scouts since 4th grade and this year I will do a leader's course. So that next year I will become a leader.
Once a week usually Friday afternoon 6 of my friends play Dungeons & Dragons. I am the Dungeon Master and have to prepare the adventure for a 4 hour game.
Friday night is the only night I can stay out till late although I am always arguing with my parents because they only let me stay out till 1 am. Usually we go round to a friends house to watch a movie and order in a pizza. Other times we go to the local park and hang out.
My parents don't like me going to the malls or out of our neighborhood as there is a danger of terrorists blowing up these places. I used to be allowed to go to markets and downtown. There was never any problem of safety as Israel was always very safe to travel round even at night and even in the downtown areas. Although things are quieter now, I always go out with a cellular phone and my mother likes to know where I am all the time. So I have to call in whenever I move position - rather like living with a homing device on you. I suppose that I can understand her. If there was a danger of suicide bombers detonating in your town at any moment your mom would probably like to know where you are as well.
Terrorists are coming out of the woodwork all over the place.
I made the pita for lunch with a bit of oil, this time. It's much better like that. Oh, and I made the famous lentil soup. It turned out really good (even if I say so myself). I haven't forgotten that I owe you the recipe.
Wolfie’s comment about Netanyahu made me think of the tragedy of egotism. The perfect government for Israel right now would have Sharon as Prime Minister, Bibi (Netanyahu) as Foreign Minister and Ehud Barak as Defense Minister. But both Barak and Bibi would probably find it demeaning.
Please note that my parents are arriving for lunch in two and a half hours and I haven't even started cooking, yet. Oh, I put the rice in water to soak. That's a start.
Meryl Yourish takes on Nigerian Spam letters
She mustn't be getting enough mail if she's still reading these things. On the other hand, now I know she reads any old garbage she gets sent, maybe I'll send her a line, too.
Guess what? They stopped sending me those things (Nigerian spam...) maybe they saw I wasn't responding and they were offended? I stopped getting KLEZ twenty times a day, too. Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Wasn't that the day KLEZ should have been activated or something?
Update: Someone said something that made me realize Meryl might find what I've just said offensive. This was not my intention at all. I LOVED the post about the spam letter. Forgive me for being a bit crude. Please? With Yom Kippur coming up, I really need to be forgiven, ASAP.
So which was it?
Bernard Lewis or Gerald Durrell? The new and exciting, or the familiar and homey? Which book did I pick up and read last night before dropping off?
I’m practicing my battle tactics. I plan to tackle Saddam single handedly armed with the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction of all: Curiosity. Bibi did say on Thursday that Saddam’s a cat to our mouse. And we all know what killed the cat.
Or was it Arafat he said that about? I'll have to be careful with my new weapon. It could turn out to be a two-sided sword.
I never thought I’d be saying this
I might not be able to stand him, personally, but Bibi (Binyamin Netanyahu) was masterful in the US House Government Reform Committee on Thursday. Here’s a link to the whole thing, all three hours of it. Bish and I saw/heard it tonight. I admit I nodded off, during some of the questions and answers, and he seemed to be getting tired towards the end of the questions and answers, but this was a great performance, no doubt about it. Those Palestinian hooligans knew why they were taking extreme methods to shut him up in Montreal. The man talks sense and he sure can talk.
Nikita, on Gil's comments:
"Did you know that Syria, a country on the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terror, sits on the UN security council (actually had its rotating chairmanship too) and that while the US is excluded from the UN Commission on Human Rights, countries with the horrific human rights records of Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sierra Leone serve on it and Libya is to chair it? Gadaffi's one-year term begins next March.
Did you know that Israel is the only U.N. member state excluded from a regional group within the overall body of the UN, and as a result, Israel cannot sit on the Security Council or other key committees?
Did you know that of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel, and of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel? The UN has convened emergency session after session to condemn Israel. As Israeli Ambassador Pazner said, "No such session has ever been convened with respect to the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, the slaughters in Rwanda, the disappearances in Zaire or the horrors of Bosnia. Israel is a democracy. It is ludicrous to suggest, as the U.N. has, that Israel is a worse abuser of human rights than Iraq or Syria."
SHAME on the U.N. And shame on the European states, dependent on Gulf oil and afraid of their Muslim immigrant populations, for their eagerness to condemn Israel. It smells bad. It smells really bad, and brings back strong memories".
Jen’s brewing blog is so nice and comfy, it's like coming home at the end of a long cold day and sinking into a favorite chair.
A few days ago, there was a lovely post over at Jen’s about going back and reading books you read as a child. The post had a nice comment thread, too. I was reminded that a well-known Israeli editor of quality children’s books once said in an interview that he never reads books written for adults because children’s books are so much more optimistic.
Jen’s post and the comments made me nostalgic for books I haven’t read for a while, such as Gerald Durrell’s wonderful ”My Family and Other Animals”, although I actually read it first as an adult. The only thing is I think I’ve got it in English somewhere but I can’t find it. I’ve got our Hebrew copy handy, but I dislike reading books written originally in English in Hebrew translation and vice versa, because I’m forever trying to translate it back, in my mind.
I don’t have time to read books at all, any more. Not long ago, I cleared the pile of books that had amassed by my bed and put them all back on their shelves. Now there’s a new pile growing ever higher. I’ll probably tidy it back on the shelf unread, eventually. You understand these are all books I really want to read. I’m a slow reader, and blogging means I’m reading more news than is healthy, but no books. Books are relegated to the minutes before I drop off to sleep at night. So I never read more than a few sentences a day.
Optimistic books are so good for you, I think. I read anything of Jane Austin’s I can get my hands on, over and over again. Say what you like, beside them being a joy to read, the heroine always gets her guy, and they always live happily ever after. And I love murder mysteries. They are often just as optimistic as children’s books. They may be gory, sometimes, but the good guys always solve the case and catch the bad guys. I’m just hooked on that catharsis at the end, what can I say?
Oh, I get my share of “good” literature, and I usually make my way through quite a lot of non-fiction. But there’s nothing I love more than curling up with an old familiar favorite. So I think I’ll go to bed now, and read another two sentences on the first page of “My Family and Other Animals” in Hebrew, before I drop off.
Or should I read the first few sentences of “What Went Wrong?” by Bernard Lewis that my parents bought me as a Rosh Hashana gift? Decisions, decisions.
Maybe I should just go to sleep? I can never remember which two sentences I read the night before, anyway, so I end up reading them again and again.
Friday, September 13, 2002
It looks like it’s going to be very hot on Yom Kippur. So what’s new? It’s always hot on Yom Kippur, to give the fasters a hard time, and it always rains on Purim to ruin the kids’ fancy-dress costumes. Aren’t I the optimist? Anyway, here are some tips for suitable food before and after fasting.
A confession: I’m thinking of fasting this year. I haven’t fasted for 15 years. OK, now I’ve had it. I’m never going to be able to live this down. It’s not that I’m getting religion or anything. Just a bit of Jewishness, long denied, creeping in.
This is a nice story
A Jewish mother makes sure her soldier son and his colleagues have enough to eat, and is helped out by half the town. I didn’t really understand why they weren’t getting any food from the army, but that’s beside the point.
Maariv’s Gail Hareven (Hebrew link) says we shouldn’t get hysterical about being poisoned in restaurants by terrorist chefs. She reminds us that statistically, women have a far higher chance of being victims of violence in the home (she says its one in seven), than of being poisoned by a terrorist, but this doesn’t stop women from being in contact with men. This is a ridiculous analogy, of course, even if the point she’s trying to make is correct. Jewish women, even most ultra-religious women these days, from what I hear, have a chance to get to know the man they’re bringing into their lives. I’m sure if I could really get to know the chef in every restaurant and meet his or her parents, I’d feel much better about eating his or her food (even without the fear of terrorism).
There are still only 487 combatant refuseniks who have signed the “letter” anouncing their refusal to serve in the territories, only one or two additional signers a week.
Six weeks without a (successful) terrorist attack inside the green line, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the security forces.
A kassam rocket fell into someone's kitchen this evening
in a Western Negev town. That's inside the green line if you were wondering. Luckily, the inhabitants were out. So much for a lull in terrorist activities.
Let us not forget that force is not the answer to terrorism. Hey there's a lull, let's get talking.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Israel TV channel two news just announced that the pumping from the Snir (Hatzbani) River by Lebanon is not intended just for local use as was previously believed. The water pumped is to be sent further north, where the Lebanese have the large Litani River and have no need for extra water. If this is true, it can only be seen as a provocation, and certainly not an attempt to answer a local need. I didn't catch the source of this update, but it was backed up with a video of a tractor busy filling in the river with dirt (so as to divert it into the pipes).
Poor Saudi kids won't get to read Harry Potter. Not that it's so surprising.
Bush's model niece would rather not hit the catwalk wearing Arab-style fashion, thank you very much.
Yediot Aharonot (Hebrew link) says Ramat Gan mayor Tzvi Bar has organized an evacuation plan in the event of an Iraqi attack. Ramat Gan municipality has begun preparing an area in the south of the country that will be used as a tent city for evacuated inhabitants of Ramat Gan. Ramat Gan, which borders with Tel Aviv in the east, suffered most of the damage (and casualties as well, I think, although they were minimal) in the Gulf War. The mayor, who was mayor in 1991 as well, is not taking any chances this time.
The joke, at the time, was that Saddam was aiming for the large community of Iraqi Jews that reside in Ramat Gan. The more probable reason for so many scud missiles falling in Ramat Gan is that they were aimed at the army headquarters in Tel Aviv and were slightly short.
Long time Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat committed political suicide in 1991, when he ridiculed people who left the city during the Gulf War and called them deserters. The "deserters", a large percentage of Tel Avivi’s who didn't fancy playing the part of sitting ducks, Bish and me included, were not amused. He didn't run for mayor again.
I actually heard Ramat Gan mayor Tzvi Bar, on the radio months ago, talking about the need for people to just get clear out of the towns, in the event of an Iraqi attack. He went ahead and organized it for his city. Good for him.
On our best behavior for the tourists
I have noticed that I usually don't discuss politics with friends whose politics I disagree with. What’s the point? And if I don't know how a friend stands politically, I'll probably steer clear of the subject, so as to avoid unpleasantness. Janice (see her page for buying Israeli stuff) sent me this letter written by a lady she defines as a “"lefty" and a reform rabbi” who visited Israel this summer and writes of her experience. She points out that her Israeli friends didn't really want to talk about politics with her.
“Most of our friends in Israel once had strong political passions. Throughout this visit, the Israelis we encountered had little interest in talking politics—again and again, we heard the observation, “Sharon has no plan, but who does?” The Israelis we spoke to had no vision of the future, no useful scheme that could help them understand the violence they are living with, or offer a glimpse of a way out. They were eager to talk with us about the crisis—what they call Hamatzav, or The Situation—but only in personal terms. They spoke of grief and fear. Among this group are some that years ago spoke passionately of Palestinian rights, who were active seeking an end to Israel’s occupation. This time, no Israeli Jew we talked to had an interest in discussing the Palestinians’ plight. It seemed that they couldn’t—that it would be an affront to mention it, engrossed as they were in their own desperation. They were aware and disappointed that most of the world’s sympathies are with the Palestinians, but didn’t seem to have the energy to care all that much”.
I wonder if some of them weren't just avoiding the subject, knowing her to be left wing. Maybe they didn’t want things to get awkward, when they had such a short time to spend with her.
25 wanted murderers are taking refuge with Arafat in his headquarters.
We are usually advised to fly back into Israel on El Al, even if we leave the country with other companies. It seems the government is taking steps to making other airlines flying to Israel safer.
I live in dread of the next terrorist attack.
At the height of the attacks, when there was one every day, a friend confided in me that she was actually relieved when the “daily” attack happened because then she felt she could stop waiting for it and worrying. Always the bigmouth, I couldn't help pointing out that there could be more than one.
I get this sinking feeling when I hear an ambulance go by (why does their siren always make it sound like there’s more than one?) and when airplanes fly over, when I get a phone call at an unusual time, when I get a phone call at a usual time, when my eldest daughter is two seconds late getting home.
The many 9/11 commemorative specials I’ve been watching on TV have left me very jittery. I’m sure a lot of Americans can appreciate what I’m talking about.
Now that school has started I'm finding it harder to keep up with blogging. I'm busy all day after work, organizing dancing classes and other extra-curricular stuff (+ driving kids to and fro), making sure homework is done and music is practiced, sandwiches and lunches are made, a sufficient supply of socks and sports clothes are readily available. If all that isn’t enough, I now find myself on two parent-teacher committees.
Hizbullah is threatening to "chop off the hands of the Israelis" if Israel tries to stop additional pumping of water from the Wazzani River, a source of the Snir (Hatzbani) River, which in turn flows into the Jordan river. They’re just trying to jump on the wagon and are probably delighted for another excuse to get at Israel. Sharon has called this planned diversion of the River waters a casus belli. The Lebanese Prime Minister has complained to the U.S. that Lebanon doesn’t appreciate being threatened. I wonder why they (the Lebanese) got into this (besides needing the water). They surely didn’t think it would go smoothly. I wonder where this is going.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Comments left by readers yesterday seem to have disappeared. I'm sorry. I think I'm going to have to change to another company.
Monday, September 09, 2002
I'm feeling increasingly uncomfortable about my post saying Arabs could be losing their jobs as a result of three Jerusalem Arabs being arrested for planning to poison Jews in a cafe. I'm sorry I wrote it. It was a horrible thing to say. It was my anger and fear speaking.
A sick world
I sometimes don’t tell you about places I’d just love to tell you about, because I don’t want to turn them into targets.
Stupid stupid stupid
Three Jerusalem Arabs have been arrested for planning to poison Israelis in a Jerusalem cafe.
OK, so they hate us and they want us dead. So they plot to poison us. Makes sense. But what about the harm they’re doing their own people? I think many Arabs in Israel will be able to thank these three for being responsible for their losing their jobs or not being able to find jobs. Just as people are demanding security guards they’ll now start demanding no Arabs in the kitchen. It’s not like people are falling over backwards to employ them as it is.
So where is the outrage of the Arab Israeli “street” at this terrible, irreparable damage to their already shaky position in Israeli society? Where is the outcry of the Israeli Arab leaders? Nothing. Deafening silence.
In case this wasn't clear: It's not racism. It's fear. I pray not a single Arab loses his or her job in a restaurant or cafe as a result of this, but what are restaurant owners to do if people start being afraid of being poisoned in their establishments? Business is not exactly flourishing.
Little Green Footballs has been posting photos of 9/11.
Those photos of people jumping. It’s still hard to grasp. I guess it always will be.
According to this Al-Ahram feature about housing in Egypt, there was an earthquake in Egypt last week. I don't remember hearing about this. Did anyone read about it and happen to notice how high it was on the Richter scale and where the center of it was? There mustn't have been any deaths or we surely would have heard about it.
Update: Fred Lapides has it: "4.4 on Richter for Egypt 2002/08/24". The center seems to be in Giza near Cairo. That must be why they were talking about it in an article on housing. Houses must have collapsed. I don't suppose it could damage the pyramids. They must have withstood one or two earthquakes in their day, don't you think? It's mind-boggling to think of them collapsing.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
An aquarium built into a Jaguar?
I’m so lucky I’m Not a Fish.
Thank you, Fred Lapides, for helping me reach that deep understanding. He actually sent me an even more convincing photo, but too harsh for this vegetarian to post.
Who murdered the Israeli peace camp and Palestinian hopes for a free society?
It’s a rhetorical question, silly.
Here is an article by Robert Fulford on the subject of the disappearance of nearly all of the Israeli left. It discusses the disillusionment of prominent Israeli lefties such as Jerusalem Report’s Hirsch Goodman, controversial “new historian” Benny Morris, writer A.B. Yehoshua, and others.
And here’s an article by Daniel Polisar that explains, in great detail, exactly how Arafat took control of the formerly pluralistic Palestinian society in the territories, stifled all diversity and opposition, and destroyed the judicial system. Polisar, who was a member of an Israeli organization that was accredited by the Palestinian Authority as an official elections observer during the Palestinian elections of January 1996, maintains that Arafat’s leadership is not the result of free and equal elections and is inimical to peace in the region and to Palestinians’ aspirations for freedom.
”The radicals were sent packing”
James K. Glassman thinks common sense won the day in Johannesburg (in WSJ). It seems the “Green Gestapo” was more loud than influential. As the Talmud says (in the G’mara, Baba Metziya p”h) “Istra balagina kish kish karya.” Translation from Aramaic: A little coin in an (empty) jug cries kish kish (makes a lot of noise).
But he complains that steps in the right direction (promoting development in poor countries and refraining from environmental decisions impracticable in poor countries) were too minor and watered down by corporate sucking up to the Greens.
A self-critical moral dialogue among Palestinians is required.
Yossi Klein Halevi in the NYTimes: “On this Rosh Hashana, a time of self-examination, I confess that my capacity as an Israeli for self-criticism has been exhausted.
Few Palestinians seem prepared even now to examine their own share of responsibility for the conflict. Instead, most remain barricaded in a self-righteous understanding of history, apportioning all innocence to themselves and all blame to us. Perhaps their inability to acknowledge the historical complexity of this conflict is understandable: The Palestinians, after all, were its losers. Yet that failure led them to commit their greatest blunder in a history of missed opportunities. By declaring war two years ago against an Israeli government that was as far left as any in history, they turned Israelis like me from supporters of Ehud Barak into supporters of Ariel Sharon.
What the first intifada was for Israelis, this intifada should be for Palestinians: a precious moment of self-examination. The Oslo process failed because of an asymmetry of self-criticism: Only one side came to the realization that this is a conflict between two legitimate national movements. The time has come for Palestinians to partition their sense of historical justice. They need to admit that much of their suffering, especially now, has been self-inflicted. And they need to confront the repeated moral failures of their leaders, from supporting Nazi Germany to backing Saddam Hussein.”
So true. Read more.
”Hag”log: More food II. This one’s for Lawrence
At the end of Yesterday’s “Hag” lunch at my sister’s we got a going home present. One of my sister’s neighbors bought them halla (plaited white bread for Shabbat) in Bnei Brak (ultra orthodox city near Tel Aviv) for the Hag. To remind you – they have a lot of children in Bnei Brak (usually double digit, but who’s counting?) and Shabbat is holier than Yom Kippur, so this was one very large, very delicious halla. We got a big chunk. I’ve just had some of it for breakfast. Mmmmmm. Heavenly.
My in-laws say that the halla is so popular that the neighbor regularly brings about 25 loafs every Shabbat to give to all the neighbors. He sounds like a nice guy.
The Wolf and the Sheep: Follow-up (my version)
Sometimes the wolf is in sheep's clothing and the sheep is mistaken for a wolf.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
The Wolf and The Sheep. A Fable
A WOLF, sorely wounded and bitten by dogs, lay sick and maimed in his lair. Being in want of food, he called to a Sheep who was passing, and asked him to fetch some water from a stream flowing close beside him. "For," he said, "if you will bring me drink, I will find means to provide myself with meat." "Yes," said the Sheep, "if I should bring you the draught, you would doubtless make me provide the meat also."
Aesop (Townsend version)
Moral (L'Estrange version):
It is a charitable and a Christian office to relieve the poor and the distressed; but this duty does not extend to sturdy beggars, that while they are receiving alms with one hand, are ready to beat out a man's brains with the other.
“Hag”log: More food.
My Dad’s contribution to today’s lunch at my sister’s (I get the feeling she’s not fussy about Our Sis so I’m dropping it until I can think of anything better) was a killer apple pie. No really, the best. And guess what? He bought it! This was the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted. I kid you not. My Dad is developing a considerable reputation as a vendee. This would be trivial anywhere else in the world but developing this talent of his requires my Dad to regularly risk his life in central Netanya.
My folks are tough cookies. They refuse to be intimidated by the threat of exploding people and continue to roam Netanya freely and enjoy its coffee shops and restaurants, guarded or not, regardless. You’d think the Hamas and the Fatah were fighting for an Island off New Zealand. You’d think the not yet constructed security fence was not only already upright but it was the Great Wall of China. Moreover, they have no intentions of letting Saddam change their daily itinerary, either, when he commences with his noxious party piece. No scuttling into security rooms for them. No fleeing the city for haven in rural hideaways. Their living room is good enough, thank you very much.
Good for them. Way to go.
Actually, this is quite ridiculous. It’s not as if I’ve changed anything in my life. Why should they, just because there have been more terrorist attacks in Netanya than in Tel Aviv of late? The last mass-event we went to was a very large peace rally on the 4th November 1995, known the world over as the night Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Actually I didn’t even go to that, just Bish and our eldest daughter, who was just four years old at the time. We make an exception once a year when we return to Rabin Square to see the fireworks on the eve of Independence Day. We even went this year, in the height of the terrorist attacks. Us and fourteen others.
“I am not saying that Muslims should give up on their religion, what I am saying is that we should learn all we can about other religions and cultures. This assimilation of foreign ideas and customs is what once made the Islamic civilization so great.”
Bargarz has a link to an amazingly moderate article in the Saudi ArabNews.
“Hag”log: New beginnings.
Some streams of Buddhism put a lot of emphasis on living life mindfully. They suggest that we can live life more fully if everything we do is done with our full attention, as if we were doing it for the first time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we really could do everything with a fresh mind? If everything was always as exciting as when we’d first experienced it?
One way to relive that excitement is through the experience of others. Hence our fascination with babies taking their first steps, uttering their first words. The most fascinating of all is watching grownups from other worlds experiencing our reality for the first time.
I can never get enough of the stories told by those extremely brave youngsters who choose to leave the protected lives of the ultra-religious Jews and venture into the unknown – the harsh world of secular Israel, with none of the necessary skills, no money and no family support (Quite the opposite – they are often persecuted by their communities).
This young man has just taken the plunge.
“He has never walked into a store and bought himself an article of clothing, or anything else. Now, he has fearlessly gone on a shopping spree at the new central bus station and bought himself a few shirts and pairs of pants.
The most exciting purchase of all was sandals. The air that flowed between his toes excited him, made him giddy. "It's like in biblical times," he smiles.
And at his hosts' home, he passed another mental hurdle when a large dog sniffed at him. "The first time, I was shaking, but the owner of the house told me that he doesn't bite, and after a while, I found the courage to call him over to me and I even pet him. Now I can say that even though they raised me to be afraid of dogs, I like animals."”
Breakfast: Leftovers from my mother-in-law’s “Hag” dinner. Artichoke hearts in lemon sauce and cold vegetarian leek cutlets (all the better to ward off the enemies - my brother-in-law quipped last night that maybe we should send the paratroopers out armed with them).
Rosh Hashana for secular Israelis is mainly about family gatherings and food. By the end of “The Hagim” (the High holidays) most people are fed up of both. And in need of a diet. Israelis traditionally postpone everything till “after The Hagim”, including diets. I know this is hard to believe, but some Israelis, not necessarily the secular ones, actually take loans to pay for lavish “Hag” meals. I doubt this is the case this year, though. Times are tough.
“Hag”log: The basics in context.
Lynn B. reflects on the High Holidays, while explaining them briefly to the uninitiated, in view of the first anniversary of 9/11.
"Hag"log: Talking about Iraqi Jews…
I’ve just come back from our Erev Rosh Hashana dinner. The brachot (blessings) for the New Year were made according to the Iraqi tradition. According to the Iraqis, apparently, you bless over the dates (for a sweet year?), the pomegranates (may our credit before God be as plentiful as their seeds), the leeks (something to do with something bad befalling our enemies), the spinach (enemies again) and the cow-peas (back to the plentiful credit) before you get to the apple and honey (also for a sweet year), and according to the Turkish Jews (or is it the Bukharans?) you start with the apple and honey and then have the dates etc. I don’t know anything about all that. We always just did apples and honey.
A taste of the richness and diversity of Israeli society.
Friday, September 06, 2002
And if we're on a nostalgic note
Diane of Gotham is looking into the once notable Iraqi Jewry. Correction: Still notable, but now most of them contribute their abilities to Israel. Iraq's loss is our gain.
Eli Amir and Sami Michael have written some wonderful books about Iraqi Jews, such as "Farewell, Baghdad" (by Eli Amir) and the sad "Victoria" (by Sami Michael). I can't link - I checked once and couldn't find them in English on the net, although I believe they have been translated. Here's an old posting of mine on the subject.
A special gift for Rosh Hashana
Ilana from Inner Balance, bless her, has found a gem on archive.org. It’s a 10-minute movie of Damascus and Jerusalem made in 1936.
It’s a little hard to find, because this is an archive with loads of movies. You have to scroll down the titles, organized in alphabetical order until you see “Screen Traveler: Damascus and Jerusalem 1936”. It’s well worth the effort.
Kol hakavod to Ilana for finding it. Someone commented on her blog (she posted it on the her Hebrew blog), that she must have the eyes of an eagle to have seen it.
Rosh Hashana – a Time for New Beginnings*
May we all be blessed with health and peace in the year to come.
This is the Sahne, my childhood idea of heaven.
*Header stolen from an e-card my parents sent me.
Update on Johannesburg
Andrew Kenny believes “The green Gestapo” is doing more harm to the environment than good. Read why in this week’s UK Spectator.
“It so happened that, before going to Ubuntu Village, I had attended a small meeting of a free-market group, the Sustainable Development Network, which has the heretical view that blacks ought to be as rich as whites, that capitalism and science will improve the wellbeing of people, plants and animals, and, most shocking of all, that this is a good thing. There I heard three small farmers, one from the Philippines, one from India and one from KwaZulu Natal (a Zulu called Buthelezi). They all told the same story. Their crops of cotton and corn had been devastated by the boll-worm and the cornborer. They used gallons of pesticide to try to contain them. This cost a lot of money, poisoned the soil, killed benevolent insects, damaged their health and killed one of their workers. Then they tried GM (genetically modified) seeds, designed to combat the pests. It changed their lives. The yields doubled or trebled. They did not have to use pesticides any more, so the soil improved, their health improved and the beneficial insects came back. For the first time, they began to make enough money to improve their standard of living. This was a revelation to me.
So at the main tent of Ubuntu Village, I approached a short man with a moustache at a stall advertising some kind of ‘biotechnology’. I asked him if he dealt at all in Bt crops (the name of the type of GM crop I had heard described earlier). His eyes flickered nervously around the tent, to check if any of the green Gestapo might be listening. I said that I had just heard from poor farmers that Bt crops were wonderful. He relaxed slightly and admitted softly that, yes, his company was promoting this technology that was saving lives, increasing biodiversity, improving the environment and giving the poor a chance to become rich. He looked terribly guilty.”
You can read on here.
Jonah Goldberg explains the merits of war
Jonah Goldberg wrote some things about war that I found hard to read. He cites the rich medical, material and social progress made over history as a result of wars. This may be true, I’m no historian, and I can certainly appreciate that much of Israel’s technological prowess is a result of our wars. But surely not all progress is a result of wars? Surely much progress was made in times of peace? And I fail to see the progress that war brought Afghanistan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, to name but a few.
Goldberg goes on to tell of how the experience of war often enriches the lives of those who take part in it (and survive). Now, I know and accept that little boys will always play at war, but whatever Jonah Goldberg says, and I agree with much of what he says in the article, war is a necessary evil.
This is 21 year-old sergeant Aviad Dotan, IDF tank driver, moshavnik, beloved son.
He fought for the right to be a combat soldier. He was a brave young man. He did what he had to do for his country and yesterday he paid with his life.
War may be justified. War may be unavoidable. But don’t you sit there, safe in your armchair, and try to sell me war as something good.
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Check out the Index of the Munich Massacre BlogBurst.
It's being updated all the time with fresh posts. There are some very interesting and informative articles and also moving personal recollections. BTW, If you didn't catch my BlogBurst post on the massacre, and are too lazy to scroll down, here it is again.
Oh, and guess what? In today's "Best of..." James Taranto has a link to the BlogBurst index.
I take my hat off to the wonderful Judith Weiss of Kesher who organized it all and has obviously been working hard all day (and night).
From a reader:
I´m one of the hidden readers of yours and other Israeli former lefties blogs.
Today I´m very happy cause I got my "OK Aliah", which means I´m going up to Israel in October.
I´ve heard a lot of "are you crazy?!" and "this is not the best time to go". But I don´t care. If not now, when? Should I wait until our nice neighbors give up terror?
Well, I know that Israelis get kinda proud and happy when they hear that Jews around like Israel -- and still make Aliah - even if sometimes you think and say the same "are you crazy?!"
So take this is like a Rosh Hashana message of hope and peace.
And know that Aliah may be not have big rankings these days, but I´m sure it is qualitative.
Definitely not crazy.
Akiva Eldar is as tedious as usual in today’s Haaretz, with one exception. He tells of Abu Mazen’s recent visited to a large Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. He went to explain the facts to the camp’s inhabitants.
“He went on to describe at length the fate awaiting refugees who seek to strike their roots in the state of Israel. "You won't be going back to your home, nor to the neighborhood or the village. The houses, neighborhoods, and villages are all gone. New cities have been built on your lands, and in your houses, Jewish babies have been born. You will join a Palestinian minority in a country where the language of the state is not their language, its culture is not theirs, its flag is not theirs, and the anthem is not theirs. No jobs await you, nor a welcome home."
Abu Mazen said that if that's not enough to to persuade the refugees to give up the honor of carrying a passport bearing a menorah, they should also know there will be no way back. He explained that the choice of one of the options means forgoing the others.
In other words, those who choose to go to Israel will block their own way to the West. Nor will the new state of Palestine be able to accept the tardy.”
Apparently this visit is not a one-off thing. Nabil Sha’ath (in charge of the negotiations on the refugee issue) made a similar visit to a large refugee camp in Jordan.
“I told them they won't find their homes in Sheikh Munes, and that nowadays it's called Ramat Aviv.” (A large part of Tel Aviv University is built on lands that formerly made up the village of Sheikh Munes. Ramat Aviv is an affluent North Tel Aviv neighborhood).
Way to go.
Israel is fully implementing a massive 4 billion shekel development plan in the Arab Israeli sector over a four year period. The Israeli Arabs are treating the plan with suspicion. Another plan is to invest 615 million shekels in Bedouin villages in the north over a five-year period.
Mega attack foiled near Hadera
A mega-terrorist attack was avoided today when police seized a carbomb following a car chase. “The booby-trapped vehicle reportedly contained 600 kilograms (1350 pounds) of explosives hidden in several gas canisters, connected to a battery and a cellular telephone-operated detonation mechanism. A container of metal shrapnel and bolts were also found”. This is reportedly one of the biggest bombs ever discovered.
The following article is part of a blogburst - a simultaneous and cross-linked posting of many blogs on the same theme. This blogburst
commemorates the Munich Olympics Massacre which began in the dawn hour of September 5th, 1972. Go to The Index of the Munich Massacre Blogburst to find links to all the other articles.
At 5:00 AM, exactly 30 years ago, a seminal event in the development of modern terrorism took place. Eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the athletes' housing at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. They killed and took hostage eleven Israeli athletes competing in the Games, demanding the release of 234 imprisoned Arabs and German terrorists. Over the next few tension-filled days, all the hostages and some of the terrorists were killed, mostly due to incompetence and perfidy of the German government. The Olympic Committee made a controversial decision to continue the Games, and has never participated in any memorial for the slain athletes. Eventually almost all the remaining terrorists were hunted down and killed by Israeli agents, directed by then Prime Minister Golda Meir.
Could it have been prevented?
On Monday night, Israeli TV channel one broadcast a documentary about the Munich Massacre. Yarin Kimor, who made the movie, studied the massacre from a few perspectives I wasn’t aware of. It was quite eye opening. The following is a summary of some of the more interesting points he brought up. I don’t know if what he says is as novel as he claims, but most of it was new for me.
I apologize if the Latin spelling of the names is incorrect. The movie only had the names in Hebrew, and not knowing German, it’s hard to determine the correct spelling of German names.
Important note: Yarin Kimor’s documentary is largely critical of the German handling of the massacre, before, during and after the event, although he doesn’t go into the details of the negotiations or the workings of the rescue operation. He also has criticism about the Israeli handling of their side of the affair. When reading this post it should be very clear that the only people who are responsible for the massacre are the perpetrators and those who sent them. This does not mean we shouldn’t look with a critical eye at how the affair was handled on the receiving end.
The main discussion point of the documentary was: Did the Germans receive information about a planned terrorist attack in advance? How about the Israelis, what did they know? Kimor claims that the Germans received information that the terrorist attack was going to happen. He brings as evidence excerpts from the German investigation report on the massacre. According to this report, on the 21st Aug 1972, the Bavarian secret police passed on to Munich Police a warning that a Palestinian commando unit had left Beirut on its way to Munich for a terrorist operation. Manfred Schreiber, Munich Police Chief, was notified but did nothing. On the 24th Aug 1972, Interpol Brussels sent a message to the Bavarian secret police stating the names of two of the terrorists – Badran and Darwis, who were to take part in the operation.
According to a Yediot Aharonot investigation (says Kimor in the movie, but supplies no information about when the story appeared) the East German Shtazi also knew about the attack in advance. Shlomo Levy, an Israeli cameraman was in the East German dormitory at the time of the attack. He says he clearly saw, looking out of the window, one of the terrorists communicating with someone whom he couldn’t see, who could only have been in the same building as Levy himself (the East German building). The terrorist seemed to be receiving information, and made signs with his fingers of six, five and four. Immediately after he saw this, the terrorists demanded that the (West) German snipers be removed from the area. Levy is very sure the terrorist was receiving information from the East German building. Richard Meyer, head of (West) German espionage is very adamant that no espionage service could have known in advance, including the Shtazi.
Ilana Romano, wife of one of the victims, Yossi Romano, tells of the meeting she and Anka Spitzer, another of the widows, had with a man who claimed to be from the Italian Red Brigades. This man, who was very afraid to be meeting them, told them that the Red Brigades had known something about the planned Black September attack a month and a half before it took place. The man said he belonged to a moderate faction in the Red Brigades that decided to leak the information. He was sent to Hamburg to tell the Germans. He told them that there was going to be a terrorist attack in the Olympic Games. From Hamburg the Germans sent him to Munich, where the security services weren’t interested.
Next he went to the Israeli embassy in Germany. The security officer told him to come back the next day, and when he did, the security officer told him he didn’t have to say anything because they already knew.
Victor Cohen, who was the Shin Bet negotiator during the attack, said he would have had to know if there was any such information. On the other hand, Aharon Yariv, head of the Mossad at the time, told a Dutch newspaper in 1976 that he remembered chairing a meeting in the Defense Ministry during which it was said that there were signs that Black September was preparing a big operation due to take place in a few days time at an international happening. This was five days before the attack. The Olympics Games were the main international event at the time. It would have been natural to make the connection. Yohanan Maroz, who was head of the Europe department of the Israeli Foreign Office, says he saw no early warning reports, although anything of the kind should have passed through him. Later, the Israel Kopel report, the result of the Israeli investigation of the massacre, recommended firing two top Shin Bet officials. The report is still confidential and restricted.
If these reports are true, we can point to several different sources that were saying the same thing. Why was nothing done? International terrorism was flourishing at the time, after all. It’s not as if no one had ever heard of such a thing. Never mind the Germans, let’s say they were blinded by their vision of the “Happy Olympics” and a desire to cancel out the shame left by the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But what is the Israeli excuse? Kimor wonders why the Israeli investigation report, the Kopel report, is still confidential if it’s full of modes of operation that failed thirty years ago. I notice he doesn’t wonder why the German investigation report has not been made public, although it’s obviously not perceived as such a closely guarded state secret as the Israeli report is, or else parts of it wouldn’t have been leaked to him.
Another point that came up: When preparing the security layout for the Olympics, Munich police chief, Manfred Schreiber, ordered a catalogue of possible disturbances and disruptions. One of the points in the report was Scenario 21 that predicted exactly what eventually happened. The scenario was thought unrealistic and disregarded. When Georg Zieber, the police psychologist who wrote the scenario, persisted, his employment contract was discontinued. He tells the story himself in the movie. Dr. Georg Wolf, who was Manfred Schreiber’s second in command in the Munich police force at the time, says he has never heard of Scenario 21, although it was reportedly Schreiber himself who decided that the scenario was unrealistic.
As I said before, with regard to the negotiations conducted with the terrorists, Kimor doesn’t go into details. He does however show a document written by Nahum Admoni, later to become head of the Mossad. He didn’t show it up close, but claims it says that Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan, had given an order that the negotiators pretend to be going along with the terrorists demands, as a negotiating ploy. This is the opposite of what Prime Minister Golda Meir stated in public about not giving in to terrorists. Nahum Admoni himself does not remember ever writing such a document. Israeli negotiator Victor Cohen doesn’t react to this directly. He tells about the tactics of a negotiator (I was very taken with him, a very forceful and impressive character) and says that it was not possible to make any headway negotiating with these terrorists.
Much has been said and written about the botched rescue attempt, and it is being covered elsewhere in the BlogBurst. Yarin Kimor tells the story of 17 or 18 German soldiers, who were disguised as air stewards and were on the plane waiting for the terrorists in Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield. These soldiers reportedly deserted their posts 15 minutes before the terrorists and their hostages were due to reach the airfield by helicopter. They failed to notify anyone of their desertion. Kimor says the rumours of the desertion were doing the rounds when he first made a documentary about the massacre, twenty years ago, but he could find no evidence of it at that time.
Now he brings excerpts of the statement given by the soldiers’ commander, Reich, during his interrogation. He gives the reason for the desertion:
1) The soldiers have nowhere to hide.
2) Fear of gunfire from outside of the plane.
3) The gasoline containers of the plane may catch fire.
4) The disguise is imperfect and could lead to their discovery.
The soldiers held a vote. It was unanimous. So 17 or 18 German soldiers were afraid of the two terrorists who were sent to pre-check the plane! German law allowed for them to refuse participating in an operation that could endanger their life. After everything was over, the soldiers were not disciplined in any way.
Thus the hostages were abandoned. According to Kimor, the gunfight that eventually took place was between just five German soldiers and eight armed terrorists. The German soldiers shot an impressive total of 29 bullets. There were 21,000 (unarmed) security officers “securing” the Olympic Games! Were five soldiers and 29 bullets the best the Germans could do?
It’s worth mentioning that the famous Israeli General Staff Commando Unit (“Sayeret Matkal”) had plans for staging a rescue operation of their own. A few months before, they had successfully freed the hostages of the hijacked Sabena plane in Israel. The unit’s commander at the time, Ehud Barak, explains in the movie that they were told to back down, because the Germans would never allow a foreign force to stage such an operation on German land.
The negligence goes on and on. According to the coroner’s report, one of the victims, American-born weightlifter David Berger, died between one hour and one and a half hours after the botched rescue operation was over. He died of smoke inhalation. Kimor says no one had thought to call the fire department.
Just 54 days after the massacre, terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane and demanded the release of the three terrorists that survived the rescue operation and were in jail in Germany. The Germans didn’t beat about the bush. All previous brave statements about not giving in to terrorism went out the window. The terrorists were hurriedly released. At the time, the persistent rumors that the Lufthansa hijacking was a sham were regarded as fantastic. But Colonel Wagner, commander of the German Terrorism Combat Unit (this is a direct translation from the Hebrew. I apologize if I’ve translated it incorrectly) says the rumors could very well be true. Commander and co-planner of the Munich Massacre, Abu Daoud, wrote in his book, years later, that the Germans offered them 9 million dollars up front, to stage the hijacking in order to free the terrorists (and rid the Germans of the headache).
It seems the Germans are quite satisfied with the way they conducted the whole affair. Unlike some of the Israelis involved, such as Aharon Yariv, who accepts that Israel was partly responsible for the foul-up. Isn’t that just a typical Jewish thing to do, never letting yourself off easily? Bavarian Interior minister at the time, Bruno Merk, doesn’t display the same disposition for soul-searching. He puts the blame squarely on the Israeli security people.
Dr. Georg Wolf, deputy chief of the Munich police, goes even further. He starts off by blaming the Israelis for refusing to cave in to the terrorists’ demands.
Then he says: “Those responsible were those conducting the wars between Israel and Palestine, the Palestinians, I mean the Arabs.”
The interviewer is then heard saying: “As a host you are responsible for your guests.”
Wolf: “Yes, but as a host I expect my guests not to start a war in my home.”
Interviewer: “The Israelis did not start the war.”
Wolf: “That does not matter.”
In order to give a complete picture, Kimor explains about the Black September organization and commanders Abu Daoud and Ali Hasan Salameh. I see someone else is dealing with this aspect in the BlogBurst, so I won’t get into it here.
Kimor also extensively interviews Professor Gabi Wyman, head of the Communications Faculty in Haifa University. He explains the great success of the massacre from the terrorists’ point of view and the effect it had on the face of terrorism the world over from that day on. Terrorists all over the world realized the strength of such an attack, perfect in timing and location, for getting their message through. Even though the media coverage was not sympathetic to the terrorists, the reporters had to explain the motives of the perpetrators, so that their viewers would understand what was going on. Thus their cause was widely advertised, even among people who regularly wouldn’t be interested. They had taken the whole Olympic games hostage after all, not just the Israeli sportsmen.
And it worked. A good example of this is the fact that in the 1980 Moscow Olympics opening ceremony, Arafat could clearly be seen sitting in the VIP box right next to Brezhniev. It was just eight years and one Olympic games after his subordinates had massacred innocent sportsmen at the very same sporting event.
We’ll never know if the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre of 11 Israeli sportsmen could have been prevented, and if it had been prevented, if they wouldn’t have found some other important world event to do something similar in. But what world event affects so many, and would have had such a powerful effect, worldwide?
We are now one year after terrorists crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center buildings in New York and into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., killing thousands of innocent people. I put on the radio just now, a day and a half before the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The radio news announcer said that once again the terrorists are making a great effort to perpetrate monumental terrorist attacks on civilians in Israel during the Jewish High Holidays, as they did last Passover.
I’m wondering, rather wistfully, what the world would look like today had the Munich Massacre been prevented and not changed the face of terrorism from that day on. I know it is futile to think about it, what’s done is done, but this seductive thought, instinctively makes my heart jump with false hope and excitement, and simultaneously brings on a dull ache of despair.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Look who's back!
Rosh Hashana is early this year. It took me a while to realize that the old friends calling me up out of the blue, were calling to wish me Shana Tova – a good year. In the old days we used to send cards. It was a whole industry. Tables used to spring up on the sidewalk in shopping areas offering hundreds of cards of different sizes (although the even largest ones were quite small, and they were all oblong), tidily organized in little piles. The cards had pictures of happy children, of honey and apples, of flowers, of Moshe Dayan, of the Western wall, you name it, all with a generous sprinkling of glitter.
This quaint tradition has more or less disappeared. Stationery shops still sell “Shanot Tovot” as the cards are called, but the tables are gone, as are the naive pictures on the cards. These days most of the “Shanot Tovot” you get by snail mail are sent by commercial enterprises. E-card “Shanot Tovot” are very popular though. The problem is there’s always a few good ones going round, and then you get them again and again about twenty times, until you’re sick of it.
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Purity of arms
Although I disagree with the assertion that we are "a nation torn by ever-intensifying differences", Haim Gouri says some things about the Israeli Air Force's inherent humanity, that show how wickedly distorted are the claims that Israel is no better than the Nazis.
Monday, September 02, 2002
Yesterday's google queen.
The Palestinian police force has been using stolen Israeli cars,
confiscated from car thieves.
Two Israeli Arabs from East Jerusalem tried to recruit four Israeli girls, two of them soldiers and two before army service, to spy for the Palestinian Preventative Security in 1999. According to Israeli radio, the girls were apparently unaware that they were being recruited and no information was passed on by them. But according to the Jerusalem Post, a 1999 document addressed to Jibril Rajoub seized by the IDF indicates that they found one female Israeli soldier “willing to be recruited to work for the apparatus.” And went on to say that “She is a promising subject, given that she uses drugs and needs substances and drugs”. Ynet has more information (in Hebrew).
Fred Lapides says Arabia.com has already picked up the story.
Sunday, September 01, 2002
They put on last week’s episode of The Gilmore Girls again this week! Why would they do such a thing? Don’t they realize some people wait all week long to see the next episode, not the same one again? They even had the gall to write “rerun” on the top left corner, so we wouldn’t think it was a mistake or anything. Cruel. There’s no other explanation. They’re torturing me. Hey, maybe it’s a new ploy by the Hamas?
Oh, dear. According to this I deduce that this is the last episode of the season. Maybe they intend to show this episode again and again till the new season starts? I'm OK with that. Better than nothing.
Unbiased academic research?
I was meaning to comment on this, but Tal beat me to it. An Israeli by the name of Teddy Katz was sued for libel by veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade. He had published a controversial M.A. thesis that claimed that the Alexandroni Brigade committed a massacre in the village of Tantura in the1948 War of Independence. Yediot Aharonot discovered that his defence, in the libel suit, was paid for by none other than the Orient House, by way of his good friend, the late Faisal Husseini, who was P.L.O representative in Jerusalem at the time.
Israeli radio station, Reshet Bet, sought Katz’ reaction this morning, but he said he was too busy correcting (the many discrepancies in) his thesis (by demand of Haifa University). Ilan Pappe, his friend and mentor, was only too happy to oblige, though. Always a pleasure to hear his poison.
They also interviewed Yossi Ben Artzi, dean of the Humanities faculty in Haifa University, who sounded like he didn’t care much for Katz or his theory (Aren’t I the mistress of understatement?).
In the eighties, before and during the first Intifada, I felt ashamed and embarrassed by the occupation.
I did reserve duty in the Gaza Strip (pretty unusual for women at the time) and got a good look at Rafah, Han Younes and Gaza City. The result was that I suddenly understood the demographic problem. Round about the same time, I was shocked to see a 12 year-old Palestinian boy washing the floor of a Tel Aviv restaurant at one o’clock at night, and it wasn’t even summer. A young Palestinian construction worker confided in me that his deep ambition was to be a policeman, but that they didn’t have a police force.
My feeling that something had to change intensified during the first Intifada. When the opportunity arose for Palestinian self-rule which was to gradually become (as I saw it) Palestinian sovereignty in the territories, I was all for it.
The feeling was euphoric. No more shame. We were finally doing the right thing. At last we would be able to be on equal footing with the people we share this country with. It felt like the Messiah had come.
* * * * * *
This time around I have no feelings of shame or embarrassment. I have compassion for the Palestinians’ suffering. I’m sorry about innocent Palestinians being killed. I feel for their families. I wish it could be different, but I feel no guilt.
They had their chance and messed up big-time. The blame is theirs, not ours.
Peace Education II
Fred has sent me another article about dialogue.
Dr. Gershon Baskin writes about “IPCRI - the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information - a joint Israeli-Palestinian research center founded 14 years ago, established six years ago a new department for Peace Education. This department has developed programs that are now taught in secondary schools throughout Israel and Palestine. In this new school year these programs will be taught in more than 60 schools on both sides. There will be more than 400 Israeli and Palestinian teachers participating in the programs with more than 4,500 students involved””.
Dr. Baskin doesn’t give us any information about the percentage of Jews versus Palestinians involved in these programs. Neither does he tell us what percentage of the Palestinians involved are Israeli citizens and what percentage are Palestinians from the territories. I think these are pertinent questions, don’t you?
In the buildup at the beginning of the article, before he reaches the education programs, he makes a common mistake.
“The Israeli public,” He says, “is continuing to show willingness to arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians on the key issues of the conflict. Even today, the majority of Israelis support the establishment of a Palestinian State next to Israel. The majority of Israelis even support dividing Jerusalem and sharing it as a capital of two states. A majority of Israelis are in favor of removing most of the settlements. Almost a majority of Israelis support the June 4, 1967 as the basis for the borders dividing Israel and Palestine”. Very true. He goes on to say that “It seems that the Israeli public understands and supports what is and what will be the "price of peace"”. Yes, most of us do.
So what seems peculiar to him is the fact that, “At the same time, the Israeli public continues to support the devastating policies of the Israeli Government as it continues to destroy the Palestinian Authority. … the belief in Israel … no one to make peace with … believe that the Palestinians are committed to destroying Israel … These slogans of the past have returned and are voiced by politicians and public officials from all streams of political life in Israel. They are widely accepted by the Israeli public without any real scrutiny or questioning…” OK. That’s enough. I’m so fed up of this patronizing attitude. Of course, Dr. Baskin is an educator. Educators are often patronizing, aren’t they?
No real scrutiny or questioning? Is that a fact?
As I see it, we are continually bombarded with scrutiny and questioning by the media. Why just today, on Israeli Reshet Bet radio station, I heard a scathing critique of the Israeli Channel 2 special report, broadcast Friday, that Gil wrote about, which actually brought the leftist point of view via Ilana Dayan. Experts Ehud Yaari and Ronny Daniel, were amazingly patient with her, and didn’t say a word in reaction to the utter tripe she was spurting. Yediot Aharonot, the most popular and widely read Israeli newspaper tends to give more space to leftist views. Most of their permanent weekend columnists are left wing. Maariv also offers a serious podium for left-wing views. I need not mention Haaretz. Only a negligible amount of Israelis read it. It doesn’t have much influence on ordinary people’s opinions.
As I see it, Israelis are force-fed with quite a lethal daily dose of scrutiny and questioning. If we still persist in our views it is because they are consistent with our comprehension of reality, and not because we’re being brainwashed by the establishment.
New pro-Israel blog. Contributions by the best. Go see.