Saturday, August 31, 2002

School starts tomorrow
No problem getting the girls to go to bed tonight!
Excerpts from Nahum Barne’a, Yediot Aharonot, Shabbat Supplement, 8/30/02:
“Haled put the plate of knafeh on the table, to put something sweet into the bitter, and said simply: Our little brother, Issa, did the terrorist attack in Rishon Letzion, in the pedestrian mall.

Two new immigrants were killed in the terrorist attack in the pedestrian mall on 23rd May this year.
(it was actually on the 22nd, Barne’a doesn’t mention that one of those killed was a 16 year-old) The Tanzim, the military wing of Fatah took responsibility. Issa, the murderer, was 17 when he died, a high school student.

“Ahmad El-Mugrabi from the Tanzim enlisted my brother,” said Haled. “El-Mugrabi has a brother, Ali, who studied at the same school as our brother. He filled his head. That’s how he enlisted the girl who committed suicide in Kiryat Yovel (the supermarket in Jerusalem), as well.

“At the beginning of the Intifada our father called us, the three boys, for a talk. You’re not part of this story, he said”.

“I was closest to Issa”, says Haleed (Haled’s brother). “He used to tell me everything. He even told me that he had begun to smoke, a big secret at his age. But he didn’t tell me about the enlistment.

"On the day of the terrorist attack he threw a party at a friend’s house. With music. Then he told Mom, I’m going to play football. At 11 that night we started to look for him. Three days later I turn on the television, here, at work and I see a photo of my brother and message of the Al-Aqsa Brigades. My brother had suddenly become a Shaheed.

“He’s not a human being, this El-Mugrabi. Why did he send my brother to commit suicide and not his own? If I had seen him in the street I would have done something bad to him. The brothers of the girl from Kiryat Yovel looked for him for a long time. They wanted to kill him”.

But El-Mugrabi is not to be found. He’s in an Israeli prison.

“Last week,” Haleed said, “They came to us from the army. They said if you work with us we won’t do anything to you. I said I’m not working with anyone. Then you’ll sleep in the street like a dog, the soldier said”.

“Then the army came a second time,” Haled said. “You’ve got half an hour to take out your things, they said. My father is a lawyer. He asked if they had a warrant. They said, you’ve already wasted five minutes of your time. Yallah, terrorists. Get out.

“After the soldiers had laid the explosives, they all stood for a souvenir photograph, like a soccer team. Then came the explosion. We had a palace, a 375 square meter house and every thing is gone. We didn’t have time to take out half of the things”.

“The Palestinian Authority came”, Said Haleed, the younger brother. “They said we’ll give you a monthly allowance of a thousand shekels. My Mom said I don’t want it. Is that the price of my son’s life? They took him to die at an age they don’t take boys to war”.

“If I had known what he was going to do, I would have cut off both his feet”, says Haled, the older one.

“I watch Arafat on TV”, says Haleed, ”And he’s shouting Shaheed, Shaheed, Shaheed. And I say to him collaborator, collaborator, collaborator. Ahmed Yassin is better than him. At least, Yassin doesn’t lie. Doesn’t talk of peace and make war”.


Abu Zooz says, “When the IDF entered Bethlehem a lot of people were pleased. Beforehand, every five people here, every ten people, would take weapons and become their own government. They would come into the restaurant and say: Give us all the money. Or they would phone me up and say: Give us 40 thousand dollars, or else we will kill you.

"But now you’re coming in, going out, and coming in, and going out. 90% of people in Bethlehem say it’s better that Israel stay”.

“It’s true”, says Haleed.

“When Arafat first came I said he’s bringing bad luck with him,” said Abu Zooz. “No good will come of him”.

“And now my father cries”, says Haled, “he cries all the time. They won’t give us back the body. They say they’ve buried him in Beer Sheva, but they won’t tell us anything”.

“We have a question,” Haleed says. “Are we allowed to rebuild our house? And if we do, will they destroy it again?”

Why is the house important? I ask.

“We can’t bring back my brother to life. At least we can get the house back. I am just thinking about the house all the time. I have decided to save enough every day for one brick, till we have enough for a whole house.”


The next morning I told their story to Muhammad Dahlan, Arafat’s close aide. …
“…I know the Palestinian people. You’re right, they are angry with Arafat. They say to me that he %!$#ed everything up. I tell them not to be heroes with me. We’ll come to him. I will attack him and you will just say Dahlan is right.

"And then they come to Arafat, and Arafat kisses them, and they start to tell him how great he is””.

My translation.
Comment about comments.
I’ve found that answering comments can be time consuming so I’ve decided to keep my reactions to them to a minimum. After all, I get my day in court all day and every day in my regular postings.

Comment about e-mails.
Most of my free time, today, was spent answering an e-mail, and now I’m too tired to blog, which isn’t very fair at all, is it?
So I think what I will have to do in future is publicly answer e-mails that I find interesting enough to spend whole days answering. By that I mean here on the blog. Don't worry, I won't divulge any private info.

I have tried to adapt today's e-mail for posting but it just isn't working so I've dropped it.

Update: This is not intended to discourage commenters or e-mailers.
The end is not nigh.
Fred says GedankenPundit has a posting that leads to this poll of Palestinian public opinion. My verdict: Don’t expect it to be “all over by Hannuka”, to rephrase a popular British saying from WWI (I think).

I know you weren’t expecting that, it’s a joke, haha.

Friday, August 30, 2002

From my mail box (I’ve seen this before. I think Our Sis sent it to me last time, but I can’t ask her because she’s abroad. Anyway, it’s just as good the second time):

Story With A MORAL

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway. It just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.

He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Now, the Moral of the Story:

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

P.S. - The donkey later came back and kicked the #%!$ out of the man that tried to bury him.
This time, a teenage girl.
The Palestinians have executed Rajah Ibrahim, the 18 year-old niece of 35 year-old Ikhlas Khouli, that poor mother of seven they killed last week.
An example of a country that managed to beat terrorism, with international help.
This evening, on Israeli TV channel two news, Ehud Yaari brought the Sri Lankan example of beating suicide terrorism. He explained why the Tamil Tigers gave up their twenty year struggle that had claimed 80,000 lives. When they lost international support, and had funding from abroad blocked, they realized that they had no chance of reaching their political goals. When they saw they had no choice, they signed a peace agreement with the Sri Lanka government.

So what does that mean for us? It means that European support for the Palestinians, both in spirit and in cash, is egging them on. They murder hundreds and the Europeans and the leftist lobbies in the US and in Israel say, “Oh, those poor Palestinians, it’s the Israelis pushing them to despair that forces them to do it, they’re not to blame”. This serves to strengthen them. If this uncritical international (and Israeli) support would cease, and they would be recognized internationally as the murderous menaces they are, they would be forced to accept a peace plan, and keep to it. We know this, this is nothing new. But the Sri Lanka example is proof that this is a feasible idea.
Now is not the time for dialogue
Now is the time for fighting and winning.

But the time for dialogue will come, hopefully. Fred Lapides sent me this, which started made me thinking about the effectiveness of dialogue projects.

I used to think projects like this one could be effective in creating understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. The rationale is right. Just get both sides to meet, talk and listen, getting to know each other and things will look different. But what are they really worth?

I worry that, since the war started, my daughters don’t have the opportunity to meet Arabs. This and the fear of terrorist attacks, open the way for stereotyping and generalizing. Before the war, I could always remind them of M’hammad or Isma’il or someone else, whom we had met on our last trip to Sinai and who had carried them round on their back, helped them climb on to the camel or just laughed with them. Now the memory of these friends grows dim.

Nearly two years ago, my eldest daughter should have participated in a project of meeting school children from Arab Yaffo, first in our school and then in theirs. But the meetings were to take place just a few months after the Arabs of Israel had initiated violent protest demonstrations and during which thirteen were killed. The meetings were cancelled, and the children missed a rare opportunity to meet and get to know each other.

I grew up in Haifa, a mixed city. I had two Arab boys in my class at school. One was my friend. We sat together for two years. I helped him with his English and he helped me with my Arabic. He used to joke that my Arabic writing looked like a six-year-old wrote it. The Arabs from the nearby village waited with me at the same bus stop. At night the two buses going to the village and to my neighborhood were unified and I got to ride through the village on the way home. We often visited Arab villages on scouts trips and school trips, in Israel proper and in the territories, regardless (I wasn’t even aware of the difference, in those days). There was no danger. I remember one trip in the mountains of Judea, walking in the Wadi, and looking up to see tens of school children, in an Arab village schoolyard, looking down at us, waving and smiling. It’s hard to believe it ever happened. We used to hike freely in Judea and Samaria. I well remember trips to Herodion and the Haritun cave, where two Jewish schoolboys, Koby Mandell and Yossi Ishran, who lived in a nearby settlement, were slaughtered, in May 2001. A school trip to these places has been unthinkable for years.

In those days, before the first Intifada, Arabs from the territories worked freely in Israeli cities. When I first moved to Tel Aviv, in my twenties, I got to know quite a lot of them. Bish had worked his way through university as a waiter and knew Arabs from the territories who had worked with him in the restaurant. Arabs from the territories renovated the building we were living in, taught me how to make them the Turkish coffee they liked and had free use of our bathroom. We gave them a kitten when our cat had a litter. Arabs from the territories were very much part of every day life in the city.

The forced separation between Palestinians from the territories and Jews has nothing to do with any racist sentiments or apartheid, which is what they’re trying to pin on us. It’s a direct result of the Palestinians’ violence and nothing else. The principle being that if we can’t trust them not to stab us (that’s how it was during the first Intifada -stabbings in the street) or shoot us or blow us up, then they can’t be in our streets. At first, the younger, single men were prevented from coming, but then older men with families started doing pigu’im (terrorist attacks) and the profile system proved useless.

On one of his trips to Sinai, Bish made friends with the cook at the camp place he was staying at. He was a young student of Islam from near Isma’iliya in Egypt, and the work in Sinai was a summer job. Being the cook, and purposefully sticking to the kitchen, he never actually got to meet any of the many Israelis he fed. This was his choice. But Bish was there on his own and sat with the workers and talked to them for hours. Bish found common grounds especially with the intelligent young cook, the student from Isma’iliya, who had only ever been fed with stereotypes about Jews and Israelis and was amazed by this Israeli who was the complete opposite of everything he had expected an Israeli and a Jew to be, and to top it all, impressively knowledgeable about Arab and Egyptian politics. A few weeks later, Bish returned there with the girls and me, and I was able to witness the relationship that had developed between them. It was obvious to me that the young man felt a deep bond with Bish, and he promised to take his revelations about Jews and Israelis back with him to his university. I often wonder how today’s situation has affected him.

Dialogue projects, such as are suggested in this article have been quite commonplace in Israel for years. Their main disadvantage, the thing that makes them completely ineffective, to my mind, is the fact that they usually bring together people who already believe in compromise, in dialogue, in peace. In short, these projects go to great lengths and spend a lot of money, trying to persuade the already persuaded, to convince the convinced. They don’t seem to reach the people who really need them. The people filled with hate, the people set on killing and destroying.

I don’t know how we can go about educating for dialogue. It’s obvious that the PA has been going to great lengths to educate for hate. The generation that worked in Israel, and knew Israelis, is growing old. The younger generation is made up of people many of whom have never met Israelis besides soldiers in full combat gear, pointing guns at them, and settlers, some of whom are full of hate themselves, and just as incapable of dialogue.

But talking about dialogue,
Fred also pointed out this article by David Newman, chairman of the department of politics and government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in today’s NYTimes. Some people are completely deaf to what’s being shouted loud and clear. This person completely misses the point in his blindness and futile and ridiculous attempt at fair-handedness. In trying to explain why most of Israel’s left moved to the center and to the right he says, “When Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat failed to reach an agreement at Camp David in 2000, any remaining trust between the two sides fell away, terrorism returned to the streets of Israel and outright war to the alleyways and refugee camps of the West Bank.” Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat FAILED TO REACH AN AGREEMENT??? How about “Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak offered Yassir Arafat the best offer he’ll ever get if he lives to be a thousand, and he turned it down”?

“…terrorism returned to the streets of Israel and outright war to the alleyways and refugee camps of the West Bank”???? How about “Arafat and the PA declared war on Israel and proceeded with the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of innocent citizens, until Israel was left no choice but to reoccupy most of the areas of Palestinian self-rule”?

From his office in Ben Gurion University he knows for sure that, “Most Israelis were skeptical of the (Oslo) process and needed to be convinced that it was possible to reach an agreement with the people who, until yesterday, hated them and refused even to recognize their existential legitimacy”. Is that so? Well how do you explain, Mr. Bigshot-Article-in-the-New-York-Times, how come many extremely right wing friends of mine where convinced to vote for Ehud Barak in 1999, following Netanyahu’s unsuccessful premiership and were very hopeful about peace? Was I dreaming? Did it never happen? Were only intelligent, educated, university professors swept up in the optimism? Were intelligent, educated, university professors magically turned into a majority in Israeli society so as to elect Barak into office?

He goes on to blabber that “Few resources were invested in peace education or the creation of a language of peace that would have been meaningful to large sectors of both populations”. Both populations??? How dare he say such a thing? That the Israeli Media spoke of nothing else but the merits of Oslo, completely ignoring the problems - not a mention; that children in Israeli schools sang songs of peace and drew doves and olive branches and pictures of Arabs and Jews holding hands (and still do) – obviously irrelevant; that half the country broke down and cried openly when Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by an opposer of peace and that every year no expense was saved to commemorate his way – what’s that got to do with peace education? Oh, yes, it’s definitely both sides that were lax with regard to peace education.

So now we have the real reason for the mass flight from the leftist peace organizations. They, like Arafat, have become irrelevant. They’ve lost their grasp on reality. If they ever had it in the first place.
Saudi aches and pains
The Saudis just can’t keep Israeli goods out. They’re in a particular predicament about a certain Israeli “medicament” finding its way in, incognito, specifically, Pyroxicam, a drug used to soothe joint and muscle pains. I say, let them ache. I bet you the royal family will get some if they’re aching and paining.

Care of Fred Lapides.
Another good one
Yahoo this time: "dance depicted from fish movement". I'm #3.

Thank you, thank you. I owe it all to my Dad, who taught me to waltz to Johann Strauss' "Viennese Blood", a very fishy piece.

What am I talking about? Must be time for bed.
Hizbullah attacks IDF on Mount Dov on Lebanese border
with anti-tank missiles and mortars, wounding three soldiers.
The land is a national resource and is not the private property of the kibbutzim and the moshavim.
In July I wrote quite extensively about Hakeshet Hademokratit Hamizrahit, which
is a far left movement established by Jews originating from Arab countries. Among other things, I mentioned their involvement in opposing the kibbutzim and moshavim making money by realizing the lands they received from the state for agricultural purposes. Well, yesterday, they won their case.

“The High Court ruled … that the decision by the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) to rezone kibbutz and moshav agricultural land for real estate development was null and void on the grounds that it contradicted the principle of equality.

The court ruled that the share of the revenues, in the form of compensation, that would accrue to the kibbutzim and moshavim as a result of the building - on what is state-owned land - was excessive.

The expanded seven-judge panel, which ruled unanimously, ordered the ILA to review its decision as soon as possible. In the meantime, the court determined, all deals linked to the freeing up of agricultural land for real estate development are to be frozen.”

If you read my posting about Hakeshet Hademokratit Hamizrahit, the movement responsible for submitting the petition to the high court, you know I’m not crazy about them. But I think this High Court ruling is just and I’m happy about it.

Thank you R.T.
R.T. came over today to help us move my computer from what was up till now the study, but is soon to become my younger daughter’s bedroom, into the living room. Our computers are wired in a network so we needed help to move things round. It’s a relief to get to spend my evenings with Bish again. He sits in the living room with his laptop, alternating between the net and the TV, and I have been busy of late, blogging in the study, so we were getting quite lonely. Now that’s fixed. The computer even looks quite nice in the living room. I didn’t think it would, but it does.

Separating the girls rooms has become necessary, because my eldest is beginning to need her space. The only thing is we’re going through all this trouble, rewiring, rearranging furniture, and so on, and our lease on the apartment is up in March. We will probably renew the lease, though, if the landlords don’t get too greedy.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

I'm seventh on google for "horrible fish dead picture".
And me a vegetarian! I tell you, there are some very weird people out there.
Oh, look. Arabic have Francofied British foreign office minister, "Jacque" Straw.
The French will love that. They should have gone all the way and called him Jacques Streaux.

Streaux said "that Britain encourages the Syrian government to work for the sake of peace, and to use its influence with the Lebanese Hizbullah party in order to prevent the escalation of the situation on the Lebanese - Israeli borders". Hah! Good one.

My old pal Fred Lapides thinks Streaux should maybe mention to the Syrians that they "get out of occupied Lebanon".
It looks like the Yaalon interview is the token pro-Israeli article of the current Haaretz weekend magazine (printed version).
The rest of it is full of horrified letters protesting Israel Air Force commander, Dan Halutz' interview of last week; Gideon Levi's stories of dead and amputated Palestinian children; an article trying to figure out why Israel should refuse entry to a group of 52 French "Peace" activists, many of them Muslims, who just wanted to "get to know both sides better", and so on, and so forth. I feel sick.

The most annoying thing about it is what I think is the reason for this dive even further left. For a few weeks now, The radio has been full of happy, smug advertisements that Haaretz is "not what you thought", which gleefully inform listeners that according to the latest TGI survey, exposure to Haaretz has actually gone up! I could scream. (Neither Bish nor I have been able to find a link to this, for some reason, besides this from Maariv, which obviously isn't very objective). Of course, as a result, Haaretz must now feel free to swing right on back as far left as possible, having made an effort to be a wee bit more even handed for a month or two. I can't wait for the letters in response to Yaalon's interview, due next week.
And this time, the children
Another article in the Haaretz series about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among survivors of terrorist attacks. A Jerusalem family tells of life following the Sbarro pigua.
I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable among all these multi-lingual Israeli bloggers.
Fortunately I have Voltaire's Candide in Hebrew, and chapter 23 is very short. Here's the English, for people who, horror of horror's, know neither Hebrew nor French!
I think I’ll cut it out of the paper and have it framed
and go back and read it every time I have to listen to Dr. Yossi Beilin and other people, stuck in mistaken conceptions, for reassurance that not everyone in this country is a complete and utter idiot.

I’m talking, of course, about Israeli Chief of Staff, Moshe Yaalon’s interview in Haaretz weekend magazine.

Every word is a gem. I tried to choose a sample passage, but they’re all so good I couldn’t decide. Go read it all. I know it’s long, but it’s worth it. Yes, you too, Dad.

By the way, having said that, I notice that quite a lot of the original print version of the interview has been omitted in the translation. At least two whole arguments have disappeared. One points to the mistake many Israelis make in demanding “now” solutions instead of focusing on long term conflict management, and the other one is about some people’s refusal to be parted with “the conception”, the same conception he maintains the Israeli Media had a large part in creating. Now, why on Earth should they cut those particular arguments, I ask.
Judaism's universal identity
Yair Sheleg from Haaretz says that “settlement theology” (as he calls it) is adjusting itself to the seemingly insoluble crisis the settlement movement finds itself in, by promoting the interesting and unusual philosophical ideas of Elijah Benamozegh, a 19th century rabbi of Livorno, Italy.
Follow up on Terminal Patient bill.
Professor Mordechai Ravid, director of the internal medicine ward at Meir Hospital, Kfar Sava, claims, in today’s Haaretz, that the Steinberg committee, appointed by former health minister Shlomo Benizri to legislate guidelines on the medical approach to a dying patient, determined principles that do not add to existing laws, but just complicated matters. To base this claim he complains that the Steinberg committee was made up of dozens of members who were split into four sub-committees. He contrasts this with the committee that dealt with reforms in the health services and headed by Judge Shoshana Netanyahu that consisted of just four members. I’m glad he mentioned this, because now I know why the health services reform was such a mess! The reform was, and remains, extremely unpopular. While the new health system substantially improves the situation of the very poor and the very sick, it seems to me that the great majority of the population pay a great deal more for their health services and receive a great deal less. For instance, I had my first child before the new system was initiated and my second child after. The result was that many of the routine pregnancy checkups that I was entitled to during my first pregnancy through my sick fund, I had to pay for privately, during my second. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford this (just about), but this is surely not the case for most women. Does this not raise the likelihood of babies being born with avoidable deficiencies? What does this mean for the future health of our population?

But the article is not about that. Professor Ravid makes some interesting remarks about the difference, morally, (if any) between active euthanasia or assisted suicide and refraining from giving life support treatment, in accordance with a patient’s wishes. He maintains that the innovative idea of a timing machine that will periodically stop a respirator and allow a doctor to refrain from turning it on again (you may remember my writing about this, a few days ago) is an absurd attempt at forcing religious values on secular patients. This is all very well, but we’re not living in a perfect world and I view this idea as a realistic solution to a political difficulty.

“The main issue the committee should have dealt with” he goes on to say, ”is living wills. It is necessary to establish rules regulating on what terms such a will is valid and how it should be phrased, what restrictions must be taken into consideration in implementing it and most important, for how long it is valid. A healthy person writing a will like this is not equipped to know how he will feel when ill. If an agreed document of principles could be put together on this issue, that would suffice”.
Just pour some more money on them.
Israeli Guy, Gil, has some interesting comments on the Marshall style peace plan being suggested by Stef Wertheimer, Israeli industrialist millionaire. Gil correctly points out, among other things, that the Germans and the Japanese had the decency to surrender before the dough started raining from heaven. Wertheimer apparently doesn't think this is necessary in the Palestinians' case.

A few days ago Shoshana, from The News, Uncensored and I had a discussion about another proposed MidEast Marshall Plan (Or maybe the same one. Shlomo Meital, who did the proposing, in this case, could very well be in cahoots with Wertheimer who, I understand, is busy organizing a powerful following for his plan). Our discussion focussed mainly on the economic state the previous version of a MidEast Marshall Plan (Oslo) left the Palestinians in (and that's before they really plunged themselves into dire economic straits by initiating war with their peace partners).

Update: Some very interesting comments have been posted in reaction to this matter on Gil's page.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Something I missed before about the Temple Mount possible disaster.
Nadav Shragai says in Haaretz that Jerusalem District archaeologist Gon Zeligman, does not believe the renovations of the "Solomon Stables" are connected to the current problem, but thinks it is the result of faulty construction. The wall is part of shoddy building additions from the 19th century. In this respect his view differs from that of Dr. Eilat Mazar from the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities. Another possibility cited in Haaretz' printed edition but not in the online translation, suggests that the Waqf works changed the way the (rain?) water trickles into the mountain, causing the bulge.

This photo clearly shows the bulge:

Here is another really good photo and a sketch explaining exactly where the bulge is. Unfortunately the explanations are in Hebrew but it will help you get the picture. The bulge is on the lower right side, denoted by a little black frame with white writing and an arrow pointing at the wall. The nearby mosque with the silver dome is Al-Aqsa (The Golden Dome of the Rock, is not Al-Aqsa, contrary to popular Western belief, but a marking of the place where Muslims believe the prophet Muhammed landed when he flew to Jerusalem on his winged horse, one night). The Western Wall is on the lower left side.

Yet another Update: Tal G. has something better - a very clear aerial photo and a translation from Yediot Aharonot, which gives some different information about when the wall was built than Haaretz. Nice to see everyone agreeing about the facts.
Go read more Temple Mount disaster stuff
Ribbity Frog has been reading the official Palestinian stand on the Temple Mount south wall collapse danger in the Palestinian Authority's official newspaper Al-Ayyam. And he's summarized it specially for us in English. Isn't he a dear?
This could end in a terrible, terrible disaster
I’m very worried about the warnings that the southern wall of the Temple Mount is in very serious danger of collapsing, possibly as a result of renovations that have been going on in "Solomon's Stables" for a few years now, in order to turn the stables into a mosque. According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, it’s not a matter of if it will collapse, but of when. They say it just won’t hold. The renovations are actually illegal, and have been going on without the required archeological and engineering supervision, for political reasons.

I have this mental image of it all coming down and bringing tens of thousands of Ramadan prayers with it (like the walls of Jericho or the Philistines in the Samson story).

Also scary is why the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that has defacto control of the Temple Mount, and has been conducting the renovations, is so adamant that everything is all right and refuses to let any experts in to make sure. If someone told me my house was about to fall down, I’d have someone in to check it double quick, even if I thought it was nonsense. The Waqf is insisting that there has been no change in the size of what’s being called a growing "bulge". But how can they know this, when they can only see one side? Not only are they refusing to let experts check their side of the bulge, they are even going so far as to blame Israel for endangering the Temple Mount by encircling it with the army, and with archeological excavations and contend that Israel is actually planning the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

I dislike conspiracy theories, and usually try to refrain from linking to articles about Islam’s inherent evil, and that sort of stuff, which make me feel very uncomfortable. But something very fishy is going on here, which demands attention. It seems very likely, given their extremely suspicious behavior, that the Waqf is busy purposefully doing serious damage to antiquities from biblical times, so as to disprove the Jews’ rights to the area. The claims to this effect are nothing new, but now it looks like it could very well cause a calamity. It's quite logical that the Waqf can’t allow anyone in to witness what they’ve been up too, under the circumstances, even if it will cost thousands of lives. In preparation, they are brainwashing the people, so if it does happen, Israel and the Jews will automatically be blamed. That must have been why they had that big rally there, a few days ago. Besides the cost in lives, in the event of a collapse, which could be horrific, the effect on the masses all over the Muslim world, will probably be unprecedented.

Update: Nadav Shragai says in Haaretz that Jerusalem District archaeologist Gon Zeligman, does not believe the renovations of the "Solomon Stables" are connected to the current problem, but thinks it is the result of faulty construction. The wall is part of shoddy building additions from the 19th century. In this respect his view differs from that of Dr. Eilat Mazar from the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities. Another possibility cited in Haaretz' printed edition but not in the online translation, suggests that the Waqf works changed the way the (rain?) water trickles into the mountain, causing the bulge.
This would be good for one of James Taranto's "You Don't Say" passages:
"Police believe couple found stabbed in Carmiel apartment were murdered". Haaretz updates, 10:56.
We went to Lilo and Stitch

Great fun! I thought it was hilarious. My youngest thought it was the saddest movie she’d ever seen and cried her eyes out.
I've been sweating over adding a "comments" option for HOURS. I've finally managed to get it right. All sorts of horrible things were happening on the way. The posts were going all skewy and that wasn't even the worst of it. My heart still hasn't completely recovered! But as they say, all's well that ends well. (Isn't that a silly saying? What about PTSD???)

Now I've got to rush to get the girls and me ready on time for the movie we're going to.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

“As you are aware, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

M to 007

The World Is Not Enough (1999).
Buy Israel Bonds
It's apparently a good deal. Read all about it in Haaretz.
All the truth about the myth of "The cease-fire that was missed because of Shehadeh’s elimination"
By my main man, Ehud Yaari.
It looks like the fun has begun
See, it even rhymes.

Fred Lapides is back!
OK, so maybe my previous posting
made me seem overly positive about equality between men and women in Israel. So things aren’t perfect. So maybe it is more difficult for women to “succeed” in Israel, than for men. But look how many wonderful new laws that help women, the relatively few women MK’s have managed to pass in the Knesset, in recent years. Maybe it’s not the quantity of representation that matters, but the quality.

Oh, and by the way, Justin, I hope you haven't taken my argument personally. We're on the same side, after all. Let's just agree to disagree in this matter.

I forgot to point out that those Likud MK’s I mentioned before, are also Government members.
Naomi Blumenthal is Deputy Minister of Infrastructure; Limor Livnat is Minister of Education; and Tzipi Livni is Minister Without Portfolio.
Disenfranchised? Maybe disenchanted.
Justin Weitz, the original American Keiser (yikes!), has made some rather strange comments on Israeli Politics. Lynn B., always In Context, threw down the gauntlet, which I will now proceed to take up.

I hadn’t even bothered to read the original Haaretz article on the subject of the lack of a reasonable percentage of women Knesset members. Quite frankly, I find the issue extremely tedious. One thing struck me as particularly ridiculous in the article and that is the argument that “even China has more female politicians than Israel”. Well, duuuh! Last time I checked, China was a communist entity with tough affirmative action. And would it not be an understatement to point out that China is not exactly the same sort of democracy as Israel? I once saw a TV program about a Chinese family (in China), with two career-orientated parents (the mother was a successful radio presenter). They happily pointed out that they had put their solitary daughter, who was about 4 years old, if I remember correctly, in a 24 hour, 7 day a week, state funded kindergarten, so they could get on with their careers! Give me 17 women MK’s any day, if that’s the alternative.

Furthermore, it was interesting to see that (in the printed version of the article - cut in the translation for some reason) MK Marina Solodkin (from Yisrael Ba’aliyah, Natan Sharansky’s party) explains her opposition to reserving seats for women in the Knesset by reminding us that in the communist party of the USSR there was a 30% quota for women.

Coming back to our American Keiser, he writes that the relatively few women in Israeli politics, “tells of a great problem in Israeli politics”. He fails to point out that the percentage of women parliamentarians in Israel is actually higher than in the USA, according to the article in Haaretz.

He goes on to point out that the secular-religious “divide (in Israel) prevents Israel from enacting any true feminist legislation.” And that, “Israeli women have been largely disenfranchised because, the ultra-Orthodox aside, they are socially liberal”. I have no idea what “socially liberal” means as a generalization about women, or what that has to do with the price of fish, for that matter. I haven’t noticed that Likud MK’s, Limor Livnat, Naomi Blumental or Tzippi Livni, are more inclined to being socially liberal than male Likud MK’s, besides being more likely to promote women’s issues, for obvious reasons. But as to feminist legislation, as far as I know, the laws in Israel in this respect are very advanced by any standard, as are laws with regard to homosexuals rights, for instance (rather surprising, considering that “the religious parties control over a quarter of the Knesset”, isn’t it?).

Here are some examples of so-called “feminist” laws passed in Israel in recent years:
(* Denotes a Hebrew link).

“The 1992 Single parents Law has ameliorated (Hmmm, that’s a good word) the situation of single parent families. The law strengthens the protection for single-parent families with low income by increasing the level of means-tested benefits and awarding day care and child-education grants and priority in vocational training. Thus, almost all single-parent families - both official and unofficial - are eligible for income-support benefit at the increased rate”.

“In 1996, the Equal Pay (Male and Female Employees) Law was passed. Although previous legislation had intended to provide equal pay, the many loopholes had allowed for significant gendered wage gaps to develop; the current legislation will eliminate these loopholes. At this time, on the average, women earn 30% less than men who are employed in comparable positions do”.

In 1998 a law specifically forbidding sexual harassment* in the work place was passed, denoting a suggestion or a reference as enough to be regarded as harassment.

In 2000 the Knesset passed a law granting equal rights to women* in the workplace, the military and in other spheres of society. The law also lays out the rights of women over their bodies and protects women from violence and sexual exploitation. This law is in addition to a general equal rights law already in effect since 1951, which wasn’t specifically about women’s equal rights.

Another law protects pregnant women from being fired as a result of their pregnancy, and from what I understand, women get a far better deal in Israel, with regard to childbirth leave, than in the US.

So much for the secular-religious divide preventing Israel from enacting any true feminist legislation, which, as you can see, is completely without factual basis. I think the real problem in Israel, in this regard, is actually enforcing these laws. The police are busy chasing after Palestinian mass murderers, as you well know.

So, once again, back to Mr. Weitz, this time to his claim that “Israeli women have been largely disenfranchised”. Whatever could he mean? Where did he get this idea? Could he really mean that Israeli women have largely lost the right to vote and be voted into office? That, after all, is the meaning of the word “disenfranchised”, according to all my dictionaries. I have checked and rechecked, just to make sure. Could this be some sociology term I am not aware of? A term equivalent to, say, the “glass ceiling”?

If I’m right to understand the word “disenfranchised” literally, well, as I said recently, I haven’t missed a national or municipal election since 1983 and for most of that time I think I was what Mr. Weitz would call moderately “socially liberal”. However, I don’t remember anyone stopping me at the door on the way in to vote. And if we’re just talking about the right to be voted into office, there are still 17 female MK’s out there. It might not be much, and they must have had to work really hard to get there, but no one’s stopping them at the door either, although many of them are at least “socially liberal” (I can think of one, off hand, if not more, that is much further left than that). I’d also say they are, nearly all, really loud and pushy. They’d be screaming to high heaven if anyone were blocking their entrance. I assure you, we’d have heard about it. So I’ll just assume “disenfranchised” is a sociology term that is beyond me and leave it at that. I confess having taken sociology for one year in university but I was really terrible. I just didn’t get it. I’m still traumatized from discovering “mentality” was a dirty word, and to this day I continue to scramble for suitably PC alternatives, when I wish to convey an idea that necessitates the use of that particular word.

Having said all that, there are still only 17 female MK’s out of 120. Why is that? We mustn’t forget to take into account the ultra-orthodox, whose women are far too busy bringing up, not to mention working to support, double-digit sized families, and doing their portion of good deeds for their communities, to have time to be active in politics. That is, even if their rabbis and husbands allowed them to.

That aside, Lynn says her “feeling was always that there just weren't that many women who wanted to lower themselves into the slime pit that is Israeli politics”. I whole-heartily agree with this assessment. This goes for men too. In my view, that’s the root of the “lack of leadership” in Israel everyone whines about all the time. The most talented won’t go anywhere near politics. I actually see it as a sign of Israeli women’s wisdom and common sense.

I could suggest another reason. Politics demand much more personal sacrifice of women than of men, as do all demanding, powerful jobs. In Israel, family values are very highly regarded. This is probably why I was so horrified with that Chinese couple sticking their infant child into what ultimately is an orphanage type institute with a polite name. By the way, when I say “family” I don’t necessarily mean traditional families. What I mean is putting family before self. A lot of Israeli women wouldn’t dream of compromising their families for what is ultimately (in my view, anyway) a greed for power.

But this doesn’t explain women’s impressive representation in other areas, such as the judicial system. Compared to their under-representation in the Knesset, women fulfill a prominent role in the State Attorney and the District Attorney offices and in the Justice Ministry, and there are a quite impressive amount of female judges (including three high court judges).

So I’d definitely go for the slime pit theory.
This lovely letter came on Naomi Ragen's mailing list just now:
“Cathy and I just returned from a 2-week vacation in Israel. It was great. Yes there was terrorism. Yes, many of our family and friends thought we should not go at this time. However, it had been 20 years since either of us had been. We talked about going this year a long time ago and we decided not to change our plan. We wanted a special vacation, to spend time with family and friends, to revisit the country from the perspective of adult parents, and to enjoy the Mediterranean.

Although "The Situation", as viewed in the media, was scary- we realized that the chances of us being in the wrong place during an attack were extremely remote. (WE did stay off buses and stayed away from some areas.) We could be the victims of a random tragedy anywhere on this earth. We could not let the hatred of Jews and the State of Israel influence our decision to go anymore than choosing to go to our synagogue or JCC. Given our history how can any Jew be afraid to go to Israel?

The whole trip was awesome. I'm glad we insisted on flying El Al. That way we were in Israel as soon as we boarded the plane. We loved staying with and being with family and friends. We enjoyed revisiting many of the tourist attractions and historical sites. It was special just being in Jerusalem, around the Sea of Galilee, and in biblical mountain ranges. The bond that we had with the land years ago was still there. It felt so good driving through the kibbutz farmlands of the Hula valley and swimming in the Sea of Galilee. We were proud to stand in flourishing settlements created by Jewish immigrants of the 1st and 2nd aliot. We marveled at advanced Israeli technology with the launch of an Ofek satellite. It was amazing to see the development of infrastructure and business despite the constant need to invest in a strong defense. We loved being with and talking with Israelis.

We never felt in danger despite two terrorist attacks while we were there.
Security was extraordinary. Guards were stationed at all the banks, in front of grocery stores, post offices, and restaurants. Cars were searched before entering parking lots to the malls. Soldiers were patrolling the Old City of Jerusalem. All of this simply made us feel safe, even good that we were being watched over by Jewish security. It did sadden us that these measures were necessary, but we never felt threatened by it.

Israelis are sad, frustrated and somewhat depressed. They are not sure that everything is going to be ok. The world is boycotting them; people and business are staying away. Only President Bush (Thank G-d) and the Americans are with them. They understand that their control of the Palestinian population is demeaning but they feel there is no alternative. They do not see anyone on the other side who is willing, capable or has the power to implement an enforceable peace. The other side is not preparing for a harmonious relationship. There is no Palestinian who is willing to stand up and take any responsibility for their people's predicament. No infrastructure has been built or planned to improve the lives of the Palestinian. They are not transforming their refugee camps into modern cities. They are not building education facilities or curriculum designed to promote peaceful coexistence with Israelis as neighbors. They are not creating jobs by supporting business growth. Instead, they promote hatred and war. Their resources are used to buy weapons and teach suicide
Bombers how to build bombs. Leaders have become rich while the people suffer.
Israelis will have to live with the consequences for a long time.

Our trip was everything anyone would want to get out of a vacation. We did not start out on a mission of solidarity. We just wanted to go to Israel. Many American Jews thought we were nuts, Israelis thought we were special and told us so. They were delighted to see us. People would approach us to see if we were tourists (the lack of tourists was so obvious by deserted tourist sites and near empty restaurants and shops), asked if we were afraid to be here - obviously not- and then thanked us for coming. Sometimes they chatted with us, other times they just wanted to say we are glad you are here. In nearly every restaurant we were treated like royalty. Management gave us free drinks and desserts. One manager insisted we take several desserts home with us. Can you imagine how we felt? We were in Israel for our benefit but everywhere we visited we made others feel good that we were there. We thought we were going to have a nice vacation and we did. We never imagined that our mere presence would make some Israelis feel better simply because we came. That is the memory that we will cherish from this trip. We will return soon.

To our friends and family. Thank you for your concern and prayers while we were there. We appreciate your heightened awareness during our two weeks in Israel.

Lanny and Cathy Plotkin”

Monday, August 26, 2002

The situation is not good, but let’s not make generalizations about Israeli Arabs.
The Israeli Air Force magazine (via Ynet) has the story of two Israeli Arab brothers who both serve as adjutancy N.C.O.’s in the Air Force, one in an F-16 squadron and the other in a Sikorsky CH 53 (“Yas’oor”) helicopter squadron. One of them has even tattooed his squadron emblem on his shoulder. They have seen operational action in the Gaza strip (one of them was an infantryman before changing to Air Force) and in South Lebanon. The one who works in the F-16 squadron waited for four months for his security clearance. He never believed an Arab would be accepted to a combat squadron and he was delighted to find he had been wrong. The brothers, who are Christian Arabs, say there are other young boys from their village who plan to enlist.
Seven more Arab Israeli citizens arrested for terrorism.
This time for taking part in the murderous attack on the bus at the Meiron Junction in the north of Israel.

In case you don't recognise him, the poodle on the right ... er, I mean on the left, at the bottom is none other than our very own Dr. Yossi Beilin.

This is courtesy of an Israeli blog (Hebrew) I've been reading for quite a while now, written by a thirteen year-old. This blog kind of takes me back to a time in life I do not miss.

And since you ask, the Beilin poodle thing is part of Israeli folklore, by now. Once, in ancient times, Rabin called Beilin Shimon Peres' poodle.
Ribbity Frog Blog
New Israeli blog by Arabic-reading blogger. Definitely a welcome addition and worth keeping an eye on. What is it with those frogs that makes them so irresistable?

Ah, Bjorn Lomborg!
The original reformed environmentalist strikes again! This time in the NYtimes.

His main claim to fame is having the audacity to say that the dire warnings by environmentalists of an approaching environmental calamity on Planet Earth are greatly exaggerated. (I'm actually surprised Denmark hasn't revoked his citizenship).

Here's the article about him published in the UK Spectator in February 2002.
So here we have it: "Follow the Money: Where Do International Contributions to the Palestinian Authority Really Go?"
This is the full 40 page IDF report, including “an explanation of captured original Arabic documents (with their English translations)” detailing “the mechanism of this multi-million dollar money-laundering operation that has turned international humanitarian aid into support for terror and suicide bombing.”

According to the report, “by keeping a double set of books, the Palestinian Authority has systemically channeled at least 14% of its public budget, as stated to the IMF and donor states, to Fatah, other terrorist organizations, and various covert destinations”.

“Analysis of the documents captured shows that double-accounting practices enable the PA to redirect funding to PLO and Fatah apparatuses that were supposed to have been disbanded after the PA was established. Some of the documents described in this report prove the connection between PA financing of the Fatah/Tanzim, and suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks carried out against Israeli civilians”.

Care of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (which was originally pointed out to me by Nikita).
“The brutal truth is that this will be Israel's war as much as America's.”
Neill Lochery, director of the Center for Israeli Studies at University College, London, suggests, in this United Press commentary, that the US should involve Israel in the war against Iraq.
Proposed Israeli law - The Terminal Patient 2002, based on five principles:
“* Absolute ban on active termination of a patient's life

* Conferral of permission to refrain from providing life-prolonging treatment, when three basic conditions are met: the patient has a terminal condition; the patient suffers greatly; the patient doesn't not want to defer his or her death. This permission authorizes a decision not to put a patient on a respirator, should the three conditions apply

* For the first time, doctors in Israel will have a legal duty to provide medication to relieve suffering of terminally ill patients

* There is an obligation to conduct a clear, candid discussion with the patient, or his or her delegates

* Authorities can comply to written instructions provided by a patient, so long as the conditions noted above are in force.”

This is a tough issue in Israel because of Jewish beliefs about the sanctity of life and the unbending religious stand on suicide. They seem to have found an innovative solution to the problem of taking someone off a respirator: The respirator will stop after a set period, and it will be possible not to turn it on again.

This is a link to "Lilach - The Israeli Society to Live and Die with Dignity", a non-profit organization that helps Israelis who wish to sign a living will. It’s a Hebrew site, but it does offer some English articles here.
More about Israeli Chief of Staff Yaalon’s speech to the Rabbis from Haaretz:
“The chief of staff claimed that the Palestinians launched a war against Israel in 2000 when they grasped that the dispute was headed toward a diplomatic resolution – and rather than choosing compromise, they initiated terror and violence. The intifada is not a popular uprising, as some would have Israel and the world believe, Ya'alon stressed. Rather, it is a war controlled by the PA leadership, with PA officials determining the tactics and norms in the war”.

The Jerusalem Post has more:
“In an attempt to maintain terrorism as a tool with which to pressure the State of Israel, this leadership thought that the State of Israel would break much sooner.

It did not believe that the State of Israel could absorb [611] dead, could absorb the kind of economic damage we have been absorbing over the past two years, and they thought that there would be demonstrations much sooner which would direct the political echelon to reach decisions, whether it be a unilateral withdrawal or anything else that is essentially surrendering to terror."

Underscoring this point, Ya'alon said that "All the Arab circles chose what they saw as Israel's weak spot: Israeli society's inability to stand up [to terrorism], and it was no accident that they chose terrorism, which strikes at civilians, and the use of missiles which overcome all of Israel's abilities [to defend itself] and strike at the home front.

"They do this out of the belief that striking at Israeli society and its civilians will set off internal processes similar to the withdrawal from Lebanon. A society which projects an inability to stand up to losses puts pressure from the lower echelons to the higher ones, and this leads to demonstrations, etc., which ultimately leads to the political echelon making decisions based on the Arab side's interests," he said.

"The Arabs look at the past 20 years, from our first pullbacks in Lebanon made while counting those killed and the Jibril agreement, and I say these two things brought about the 1987 intifada. The Palestinians' understanding that Israel cannot stand up to losses the intifada brought upon us, and when we look upon what has happened since the intifada the current conflict is not an intifada and the processes that have taken place since, their belief that the State of Israel is not prepared to fight any more, to sacrifice for its defense, was strengthened, and therefore they believed it was right to press it at its weakest link with steadfastness."

There is no way of coming to an understanding with the present Palestinian leadership, Ya'alon said, adding that to show any weakness in this regard would put Israel into a tailspin.”

The JP also details some of Yaalon’s views on the threats Israel faces from her neighbors.

Ilana of Inner Balance says, “I'm sure a lot of Israelis were shaken by his (Chief of Staff Yaalon’s) words, reading the speech felt like a bomb dropping on your head. As much as it's difficult to face the reality of the situation, Ya'alon's speech is something we needed to hear, trust its truthfulness and extend our support”.

What Yaalon says is more or less what Ehud Yaari says. I’m glad someone with authority has said it out loud, in public (sort of – the speech was meant to be closed to the press but someone sneaked a tape machine in. Very naughty. Or maybe a sneaky way of making his views known without getting into trouble with his bosses).
The Spoons Experience tells his story.
A must if you’re a sucker for stories with happy endings.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Israeli Chief of Staff reveals his outlook on issues of security in a conference of Rabbis today .
"Chief of Staff Major General Moshe Ya'alon said today that Israel must emerge victorious in the current armed conflict, so the Palestinians understand that they may gain nothing through terror". According to Ynet (the (Hebrew) online version of Yediot Aharonot) he also said that the present Palestinian leadership does not recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and is trying to implement the "Stages Plan". He also said that the withdrawal from Lebanon was a mistake, and that we must not withdraw unilaterally from the territories. There's more, Syria, Iran, Iraq, the works. I'm too lazy to translate it all, knowing it'll probably be all over the place in English tomorrow.
And good riddance.
About the Muslim rally in Jerusalem - info on Tal G.
Judith Weiss also has some interesting things to say about this on Kesher. I can only say that the pictures of this rally on Israeli TV were not pleasant. They made me very angry.

I was always one of those prepared for compromise with regard to Jerusalem. I still am I suppose. But those guys have to recognize and accept our stake in the Temple Mount, or it's no go. No way.

I would like to say some stronger things, but I'm afraid of getting swept away. Rebecca Blood in her Weblog Handbook advises against writing when angry. I'll take her advice, in this case, for fear of saying things I will later regret.
Fire near the northern border.
From Ha'aretz updates:
“13:28: Hezbollah anti-aircraft shells fired near Lebanese border cause fire to break out near Kfar Yovel, no injuries.” (I can't find a Kfar Yovel in my atlas, but there's a place called Yuval, right on the border, a little west of Maayan Baruch and the Snir (Hatzbani) River).

From the updates in the Hebrew Haaretz website: “15:53 a fire is raging in the Hatzbani (Snir) River Nature Reserve. Fire fighters and Nature Authority rangers are trying to overcome the blaze”.

The two fires may be connected. I was in that very Reserve just four days ago. Remember those booms I heard?

It's so beautiful there, I hope the fire isn't doing too much damage.

I see the Jerusalem Post has something about it, too.
Hey, look!
It got hotter than 31 centigrade and my weather pixie (on the left) got short clothes! Wonders never cease! (Don't be too upset if this is gone before you saw it, I know most of you read me when it's night in Israel. Just come back over on the next heat wave.)
Aha! A newish Ehud Yaari article!
Finding one of these always makes my day.

This time he informs us that the two new anti-Semitic books in Arabic, we’ve all been waiting for, are out. He also helps us find information* about Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement’s online campaign to boycott U.S. companies connected to Israel (while simultaneously “complaining daily about Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade with Israel”). The Fatah's popular website also refers the mindful Arab consumer to a nice site that helps us see which goods carry the kosher sign, thus helping us avoid them. (A reminder: Yaffa is the Arabic for Jaffa or Yaffo, the city adjacent to, and nowadays part of, Tel Aviv). Last but not least, he tells us where* we can find a rare interview with one of Bin Ladens’ lieutenants.

*Arabic links. Oops! seems to have disappeared (I swear I had nothing to do with that – I wish I knew how).
I really love reading Judith Weiss over on Kesher.
The joy of an Israeli elementary education
The girls should be starting school again on Sunday. I can’t believe the summer vacation is nearly over. It just flew by.

Of course, Israeli parents are used to expecting a teachers’ strike at the beginning of each year. Israeli teachers are notoriously underworked. They work eight months a year, what with all the religious holidays, which reach their peek with three weeks (!) at Passover . Why three weeks? Well, I’ve yet to understand it. The best I can do is to assume that the predominantly female teacher community needs more time than the rest of us for the traditional pre-Passover cleaning). Of course, on the top of all the religious holidays we mustn’t forget the full two months of the Summer vacation (two months and ten days for junior high and high schools). When they do work, they have a twenty-four hour week, nearly half of the working week of most Israelis. (You'll notice I'm not even mentioning the sabbaticals).

Now I don’t want to sound jealous. I do not envy the teachers for having to spend their mornings in classes overflowing with 37 to 41 nasty, noisy, undisciplined brats (My daughters, of course, are perfectly behaved, and are no trouble at all for their teachers, besides asking intelligent and thought-provoking questions, and thus enriching the studious atmosphere in their respective classrooms). But after all they only have to do it for four or five hours a day, five days a week (luckily for our kids).

Anyway, back to the annual first of September teachers’strike. Now that my girls are old enough to stay at home without me, I couldn’t care less. Let them strike! I’ve paid my debt to society. All those stressful years, having hysterics all summer trying to arrange solutions for my kids, while I worked, and then being hit with a strike just when I thought the summer vacation nightmare was over. So strike away! See if I care! They probably learn more at home, anyway.

Last year, the biggest teachers' organization suffered a severe blow. The militant head of the organization, a professional unionist and the bane of all parents, was arrested for fraudulently purchasing a university degree, assignments, examinations and all, from the Israeli branch of Latvia University. I’m afraid I stooped to a particularly malicious joy at this unpleasant creature’s downfall.

Hopefully, until they find a villainous enough replacement for the infamous Ben-Shabbat, they’ll be less audacious and unscrupulous with their strikes.

Update: Janice, who knows all about where to buy Israeli goods, says, "We can relate to teacher's unions. They are lefty, hell-holes in the USA, too. It sounds even worse in Israel, but you were once and maybe still are a quasi-socialist state".
Article in Haaretz about a P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) victim of the Passover Park Hotel terrorist attack.

Letter to the editor in Haaretz
“You advertise “Haaretz” newspaper as a newspaper “for people who think”. It’s very nice that the newspaper publishes such serious articles that we children don’t always understand, but we think children should also understand what is happening in the State of Israel. Just as there are supplements for literature, sport, economy and arts and entertainment, you should also publish a supplement for children and young people.

Talia Tentzer, Orr Ariel, ten-and-half-years-old, Jerusalem.”

Here! Here!

Although my daughters will probably still prefer Yediot Aharonot.
Ha'aretz’ Doron Rosenblum doesn’t think the polls are anything to go by.
According to him, the real reason people aren’t out demonstrating against the government is “a kind of spiritual curfew”. He maintains that, “As in a time of plague, the majority cloisters itself behind closed curtains”. He sums up that “this is how life looks after the total, sweeping victory of the pessimists, brutes, low-brows, and thoughtless louts from the two sides”. It’s always very effective to insult those you mean to persuade. This pessimistic, low-brow brute is full of gratitude to Mr. Rosenblum. My eyes are opened! I will cease from being a thoughtless lout, from this moment on, and will immediately go join those seven brave demonstrators in front of the Defense Ministry!
The UK Sunday Telegraph claims to have the real reason for Abu Nidal’s death.
“Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist, was murdered on the orders of Saddam Hussein after refusing to train al-Qa'eda fighters based in Iraq”. The source? Reports by Iraqi opposition groups and “a US official who has studied the reports”. The article goes on to inform us, “American intelligence officials revealed that several high-ranking al-Qa'eda members had moved to northern Iraq where they had linked up with Iraqi intelligence officials”.
I woke up to the sound of an ambulance siren this morning. What happens is you hear one ambulance and you wait to see if there are more. If there are, you go and put on the radio. That is if you haven’t heard a big boom beforehand. In that case, you go and put on the radio with the first ambulance.

Latest funny Google hit: gay + male + photos. Oh, you’ve definitely come to the right place! (Forget it, I’m not posting the link).

Another interesting search engine hit - from someone looking for israeli + soldier + blogs. Amusing. If an Israeli soldier has time to blog then he’s not a combat soldier, and not what you’re looking for. What do you think this is the Danish army, for goodness sake?

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Jen’s new blog What's Brewing is looking good.
Great blog.
This is good:
Ilana of Inner Balance links to “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web” on her Hebrew blog. I love reading tips about writing. (Probably because I'm a struggling amateur and a new one at that).

Seen on Facts Of Israel. I know it's nothing new, but I couldn't resist that little choochy face on the right.

(I've no idea what choochy is, it just came out. Obviously some ancient baby talk memory. All mothers know what utter drivel comes out when we talk to our babies. Who knows where it comes from?).

Update: "Just to remind you that when you were a baby your Mum used to call you Choochy face (and your brother and sister) so that's where you remember it from.
Luv Mum"

It's always helpful when your parents are the first to read your blog.
If only this were true!
An Irish peace activist with the unlikely name of Sallah Afifi says, in a letter he writes from Ramle prison (awaiting deportation): “Despite the exclusive media coverage of aggressive Palestinian actions, the majority of people I have met in the West Bank are crying out for a peaceful solution to the occupation”.

Why do I only ever read this in sites written by Western or Israeli pro-Palestinian activists, many of whom speak no Arabic and therefore don’t know what’s really being said around them in Palestinian circles? Why is there no sign of this yearning for a peaceful solution on Palestinian television? Why is it not reflected in Palestinian newspapers? (Besides a solitary petition that was apparently widely mocked?) Or in Palestinian opinion polls?

Gaza and Jericho are still under self rule, why are there no demonstrations in those cities calling for a cessation of Palestinian hostilities and a demand for a return to negotiations?

He also says “Many soldiers I have encountered have the shame of their actions etched on their faces. They go as far as to motion me to one side, away from superiors and admit they realise they are committing senseless acts of harassment and worse. […] Soldiers claim they have no choice. One whispered, “I just want to go home.” It is not the short prison sentence they seem to fear for refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories but being ostracized from family and friends. At times I felt they demanded forgiveness from me to help them absolve themselves from the crimes they commit. I found it impossible to respond as they carry out their orders with deadly accuracy”.

Sorry, don’t believe it. He’s wishful thinking here, trying to read into it things that aren’t there. Of course, the soldier would rather go home. What the soldier meant was I’m just doing my job quit bugging me. He felt they were “demanding forgiveness”, they were probably just treating him politely. “Deadly accuracy”? Like the terrorists? That “deadly”?

A few months ago, in the middle of “Defensive Shield”, which was a very stressful period for Israelis, you’ll remember, I happened to watch some young combat soldiers who were guarding an army facility for a special event. I was tremendously impressed by their dedication, responsibility and discipline. They knew why they were there and they believed in what they were doing.

I’d say the great majority of soldiers and policemen in roadblocks know that they are protecting their loved ones from indiscriminate mass murderers. They know their being there gives the terrorists a hard time by making it much more difficult to get perpetrators and explosives through to Jewish areas. They know the inconvenience they are causing civilians will probably save Israeli lives.

"Peace" activists will just have to keep on fantasizing that they see widespread dissent where it just isn't to be found.
Nazism from a young German’s 1939 point of view.
Sebastian Haffner’s bestseller “Defying Hitler”, written in 1939 and published posthumously in 1999 has been translated into English. Gabriel Schonfeld reviews it for the New York Times Book Review.

Haffner tells of the rise of Nazism in Germany from the viewpoint of a young German coming of age in Berlin. The book, which was never meant to be published, appears to challenge present-day historians’ claims regarding what the Nazis had in store for the Jews. “Nazi anti-Semitism was something else; if anything, it tended to alarm rather than attract the masses. This is hardly to say that it was not central to the Nazi program. It was. And it came complete with a determination, fully visible to Haffner already in the late 1930's, to ''exterminate'' the Jews, ''an intention they made no secret of.'' These words are all the more remarkable when one considers how many historians continue to insist today that the Nazi genocide was conceived only after the experience of total war had ''radicalized'' Hitler and his henchmen”.
Is the U.S. in on this?
Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram suggests that Saddam Hussein plans to flee to Russia in the event of the U.S. toppling his regime. Gala Nasser also has the latest on Iraqi preparation for the war.
As with executed Nazis.
This letter in the Washington Post suggests how to deal with the 9/11 perpetrators’ remains.
Arab terrorism – any excuse will do.
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz on National Review Online reminds us that Arab terrorism against the Jews really started in 1921, 27 years before 1948, 46 years before the 1967 six-day-war. Yesterday was the anniversary of the commencement of the 1929 massacres that claimed 133 Jewish lives and injured over 333.
Hee hee.
“Someone has estimated that half a million tons of carbon dioxide will be produced by the 60,000 delegates flying into Johannesburg for the great summit on our environment and kindred matters which opens on Monday,” according to this London Telegraph editorial

South Africa does not have a good record on world summits. Maybe they should stop having them.
Israel Air force commander – 1; Nitpicking journalist – 0
Haaretz journalist, Vered Halevi-Barzilai, tries to pick on Israel Air Force chief, Major General Dan Halutz. He puts things straight, decisively, with regard to killing Shehadeh, leftist activists, nitpicking journalists and more. In short, one hell of a guy.

Nitpicking journalist: "If you had known in advance that there were 15 or 17 people in the building (Shehadeh was in), including children, would you still have ordered the bombing to go ahead?"

Major General Dan Halutz: "I am not willing to answer a question like that, and certainly not to cite numbers. I am ready to discuss the question of principle: Is there a situation in which it is legitimate to strike at a terrorist when you know that the operation will exact a price in the form of casualties among civilians and uninvolved people?"

Nitpicking journalist: "And what is your reply?"

Major General Dan Halutz: "I have no doubt about it. The reply is positive. Against a person who has perpetrated, or who is known for certain to have a plan for what is called mega-terrorism, my reply is categorical: yes. How many people? I don't know. I will be able to give that answer at the moment of truth. Let's go back, to the suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in Netanya on the eve of Passover. Let's say we would have known about this terrorist in advance and would have trapped him in his house - would it have been legitimate to strike at him even if there were other people there? My answer is yes. How many people? I don't know and I am not ready to state a number. I repeat again that I am very sorry about innocent children who are killed. But anyone who sets out to murder children in Israel has to take into account that children are liable to be killed in his surroundings.

"And to those who jump up and judge us, I say: I feel that I am the moral compass and conscience of the nation of Israel no less and perhaps even more than those who purport to be that. Because on the basis of what criteria, exactly, do they have the temerity to point an accusing finger at me? The criteria of which army? The French? The German? The Russian? The Syrian? The Chinese? The American? OK, let's examine them one by one and place ourselves in a test of moral armies. I can give you hundreds and thousands of examples. There is no more moral army than the IDF."

(My emphasis).

Friday, August 23, 2002

This British embargo is a laugh.
R.T., who commanded a centurion tank for a while in the early 80's, says it was a standing joke that the centurions were so completely modified by the IDF that it would be very difficult to find any British parts in them, besides maybe a bolt or two.

If the British don't sell us ejection seats for airplanes, I guess we'll just have to do what we often had to do in the past in similar situations -- make our own. We might even end up making them better, and take over the market!
Here's some of the info about the Dahaf Institute (Mina Tzemach) poll I couldn't be bothered to translate from Yediot Aharonot.
More about not knowing squat about Israeli politics.
I live in Israel and I have the vote. I have never missed a national or municipal election since 1983. In my daily life, I am surrounded by people who also live in Israel, and also have the vote. I even sometimes talk to them, on the rare occasions I leave my computer. Oh, and I regularly read Israeli newspapers. I even understand them quite well, up to a point. I admit I get stuck when it gets too technical on the business pages. That’s it. I don’t claim to know squat about Israeli politics. What I write are my personal views and feelings, and sometimes views and feelings of people I know. I am in no way a political commentator. If you want quality political commentary go read Haaretz.

Just don’t be surprised when the results of the elections aren’t quite what reading Haaretz led you to expect.
Shabbat Shalom.
It has been suggested that I might not know squat about Israeli politics. This is very true. Beware what you read on the net! Make sure to warn your children about me!

So, especially for all the clever clogs that think they see a leftward swing among Israeli electorate (or that such a swing is just waiting for the right candidate):
Today’s Yediot Aharonot has the latest poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute and Dr. Mina Tzemach. Sever Plotzker writes that “even under a powerful electronic microscope you won’t find signs of a dovish swing in Israeli public opinion. Quite the contrary. The hawkishness is hardening, the distrust of Palestinians is sweeping. According to the poll, about two thirds of Israelis today negate the “Clinton Outline” laid on Barak and Arafat’s tables in Camp David as a basis for political talks with the Palestinians. With hindsight, 67% think the Oslo Accords have harmed the State of Israel; 54% are willing for fewer concessions than in the past.

The move towards hawkish views is strategic, not tactic. The Israeli public’s trust in the Palestinian side’s willingness to live with us in peace has collapsed, with any agreement, in any border. The causes of this were the failure of the Camp David and Taba talks and two years of terrorism. Before Camp David at least 66% of Israeli Jews believed that it was possible to end the conflict by negotiation and an agreement. Today, it’s doubtful that a fifth of the Jewish public would put its trust in agreements.

From here stems the fatalistic approach to the continuation of the conflict. Although the majority feels positively about the “Gaza and Bethlehem” understandings, the majority doesn’t see them as very important. 63% of Israelis don’t see them as a meaningful step towards the end of the Intifada. Only 27% of Israelis expect to see a dwindling of the terror and any binding agreement in the coming six months; all the others expect the “situation” to stay as it is or worsen. Only a third care which Palestinians the Israelis engage in talks with, two thirds of Israelis are just as inclined not to believe Arafat, his heirs and any alternative Palestinian leadership, whoever they may be. Therefore, the great majority says to the government: Please, leave Arafat where he is and don’t exile him to faraway Sudan. With Arafat in his Ramallah offices or in a tent in an African desert, nothing will change for the better, anyway.


Based on the findings, a new definition of political “left” and “right” is necessary. The division between the camps is no longer about the future of the territories. The division is about the future of the relations. Few Israelis still believe in the vision of “the entire Land of Israel”, or even of the land of Israel including most of the settlements. But even less Israelis believe in the possibility of good neighborly relations, or at least reasonable “live and let live” relations, with the Palestinians.


The Israeli disappointment in the Palestinians will not pass without an immense Palestinian effort. The ball is in their pitch: Israeli public opinion is waiting for a ruling of Palestinian civilian society against terrorism and for peaceful coexistence. The great majority of Israelis feel that the Palestinians are just holding steadfastly to negating Israel and supporting terrorism. Therefore, there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about. We will do just what is good for us; if we decide to withdraw and separate, we will do it because of us, and not because of them.

What will cause the Israelis to change their views towards the Palestinians? The answer exists, and it is given. We want to see the Palestinian “Kikar Malkhei Yisrael” (now renamed Kikar Rabin, Kikar Malkhei Yisrael is the main square in Tel Aviv, where large demonstrations are held. This is where many demonstrations opposing government policy have been held over the years, such as the famous demonstration calling for a commission of inquiry into the Sabra and Shatila massacres, committed by Christian Falangists in 1982, during the Lebanon war): Following a bloody terrorist attack in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem, we expect tens of thousands of Palestinians to demonstrate against the Hamas and the (Islamic) Jihad. We expect the Palestinian Authority to arrest the terror activists, even if it means civil war, because there is no other way to destroy this affliction and extend an arm towards us (in peace). We are waiting to find any expression of a dovish-compromising stand in the Palestinian Media: Fiery articles against the policy of terrorism, against the Intifada in its present incarnation, against the murder of Jews and for compromise, peace and relinquishing the aspiration of “return”.

Without all these things, and given the terrorism, the Israeli public will remain hostile to any agreement and any movement towards the Palestinians that will be perceived as weakness.”

My translation.
At last it's official!

What is your Alter-Ego

Miki B suggests "Maybe the reason your hits didn't drop much ... is we were all checking you out *just in case* you wrote something new." Isn't that nice? She suggests I add a "comments" capacity. I'll probably get round to it sometime. I have it in mind.
Haaretz says Lebanon is planning to increase pumping from Hatzbani River source springs.
Hatzbani is the Arabic name of the Snir River, which we visited on Wednesday. It apparently supplies about one-quarter of the water that flows into the Jordan River.

This shows me up for saying yesterday that the Snir was one of the rivers the Syrians attempted to divert. It seems I was mistaken. Sorry.

Actually, now I think about it, it was rather a silly thing to write. I was tired. Never blog when you're tired.

Never blog when you're tired??? I might as well write: Never blog! We-ell, I'm exaggerating. Maybe: Hardly ever blog or Occasionally blog. OK, you get the gist. I'm only joking Mum, I always sleep at least eight hours a night.