Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I’m sorry I don’t have anything moving to write about today’s murders. I just don’t. I used to take writing about these events on this blog very seriously, because I knew a lot of people would pop in to see if I were still alive. But writing about a pigua means feeling it, living it, in a much deeper way than otherwise, and I don’t really want to do that.

You get this heavy feeling after a pigua and I don’t want that feeling to linger. There are those whose lives were taken; I hear there were children among them. There were those who survived but whose lives will never be the same. There are the families of both kinds. Life for them now becomes a desperate struggle to cope.

I don’t want to wallow. What I really want to do is go out on my bike. Today I bought a little light for riding at night, in the bike shop on the corner by work. I already have a flickering red light that goes at the back. Today I got a yellow light for the front.

It’s late. The girls are starting school tomorrow. What do I do with all this energy? I don’t want to wallow. And they’re in bed, bags ready, favorite clothes neatly folded, waiting for tomorrow morning.

It’s decided. I’ll go.

Update: Hey R.T., I mended my first flat! You'd have been proud. Your words of wisdom, 'It's just a bike', were a great source of comfort!
16 Murdered in Beer Sheva; at least 91 wounded (figures updated)
Two buses drove out of the central bus station in Be’er Sheva this afternoon, and blew up at nearly the same time, as they entered the center of town. 16 people were murdered; over ninety were wounded, many severely.

If you’ve been reading some of the other bloggers on a regular basis, Meryl for instance, you will know that this is no surprise. Security forces have been preventing such attacks all the time, every day. It is inevitable that sometimes they should slip through. Nothing has changed besides Israel putting up a fight to put an end to it all. The Palestinian Authority is quite happy for the bloodshed to continue.

This is the first time buses have blown up in the southern town of Be’er Sheva, though not the first terrorist attack in that town.

Why Be’er Sheva you may ask? Easy, NO APARTHEID WALL there! They haven’t got around to building the Peace Fence in that part of the country yet, so it is relatively easy to infiltrate from the Mount Hebron area.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Olympics – one last word.
There was something about the way those American track athletes were built that left all of us ladies breathless.

I hear the Americans weren’t all that popular in Athens.

They were eating their hearts out, those Greeks, that’s why. Iraq-shmiraq – forget it. They couldn’t help but see their lady folks drooling.

That old green-eyed monster is very bad for ones mental health.

Afterthought: Some lady bloggers don't like beach volley ball. I am led to understand that this is because they suspect men's motives for watching the women's games. What? They sincerely think women who watch the Olympics are watching the men just to see who wins? Hah.
Little House In Bakah
The girls and I said our goodbyes to the summer vacation on a little overnight excursion to Jerusalem. What vacation? I ask. I worked all summer! But the girls start school again on Wednesday.

We stayed here, a friendly little B & B hotel. The girls loved it, because they said it felt ‘beitee’ (homelike). I liked it too. It had this lovely smell, for one thing, and I suppose because it really was beitee. I know the guy there, which is always nice. I’ve been meaning to go and stay there for a long time, but never seemed to get round to it.

The location proved very convenient for us, and there was no problem with parking. Next time we’ll take Bish, but that means Shabbat, which is less fun in Jerusalem, I think, when you’re secular.

One thing that struck me was that, because all the restaurants are kosher in Jerusalem, there are plenty of dairy places, which meant lots of choice for me, being a vegetarian. The restaurants all seemed to be full, by the way, and people sitting next to the windows. Nice.

Actually, talking about location, I managed to get lost with every turn. I do have a good sense of smell in Jerusalem, as I was there during my army service. What this meant was that every time I took a wrong turning I knew it immediately, but it was too late. We began the holiday with an unplanned tour (okay okay, we were lost) of Mea She’arim, no less.

To say we were not suitably dressed would be the understatement of the year, so it’s lucky we were in the car. I'm told that the residents can get rather unpleasant, when presented with the challenge of a bare female shoulder, or thigh. In our case it was mainly Eldest's unabashed Tel Aviv-style display of her midriff that worried me.

It was worth it though. The girls were fascinated. We do have quite a lot of religious people living in our area, even ultra-religious - it is possible to see bearded men sporting fur hats, shiny kaftans and knickerbockers passing our building on their way to shul on a Shabbat... er... Shabbus - but the girls had never seen anything like Mea She'arim.

Afterthought explanation: Our visit to Mea She’arim was not just a quick whip-through. We were actually stuck in a traffic jam in a narrow winding alley for about twenty minutes, long enough to read most of the pashkevils (ultra-Orthodox-style street posters) along the way. The interesting ones were dire warnings to women about the wig thing.

After twenty minutes stuck behind that nasty truck, I was convinced. No Indian wigs for me!
Mental note: Be careful who you say hello to in restaurants.
So the real story seems to be this: It’s the US that has been spying on Israel:

Newsweek magazine reported on Sunday that the FBI began investigating suspected Pentagon mole Larry Franklin after tailing the Minister of Political Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Naor Gilon, who met an AIPAC representative for lunch. Franklin reportedly approached their table and engaged in a warm conversation with them.

(my emphasis)

Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t go to the Israeli-Anglophile BlogMeet on Thursday (in my Zoro mask), after all. I could very well finish the evening in the torture dungeons of the US Embassy on Hayarkon Street!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Well, that may be so, but my Shoosha is proving invaluable in the War Against Pigeons which is raging on my kitchen window ledge.

She’s not six months old yet. Imagine what she’ll be capable of when she’s fully grown.

Via Meryl.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Our Alex
The reason I haven’t said much about the Olympics is that Israel wasn’t participating in my favorites. I like the athletics, the running, of course.

And now there’s Averbuch. I’m very excited about Averbuch and I’m waiting to see it, all tense.

He’s gorgeous, for a start. And …er… well, he’s gorgeous, that more or less sums it up for me.

And it’s happening now. I wonder how long it will take, because we’ve still got to go running ourselves.

Update: Oh well. At least he's gorgeous.
Allison has been profiled this Friday on normblog. Nice.
You may notice something a bit different here. A few people had been complaining about my blog giving them problems, so Bish had a look at my template. He was up till 3:30 last night cleaning up the errors in my html, poor Bish. I hope things have improved a bit now. He also tidied up the fonts and some other things.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Some of us had to work :-(

I was so busy I didn't even have time to listen to it on the radio. Only heard when I got home :-((

But I did get to see him get the medal and hear HaTikva. F#@k the 'Guardian', it felt nice :-)))))
Here is a fence, built to keep apart two peoples of two different religions, two peoples who are not able to live together. What is it called, this fence? Is it called an Apartheid Wall? No it isn’t. It is called a PEACELINE.

John pointed it my direction. Thank you, John.

From now on, maybe I won’t call our fence a security fence, anymore; maybe I’ll call it a PEACE FENCE.
Laurence Simon is Full of Crap, but I’ll forgive him, because he has lots of advice on getting hugs out of cats.

This morning Shoosha ran passed me in the dark as I made my way to the bathroom and nearly knocked me over. I actually smashed into the corridor wall. Then when I got back to the bedroom, she was sitting in the doorway and I didn’t see her (she’s black, the lights were off). I trod on her, she squealed and scratched me, and then skulked away hissing, poor thing.

I’ll try the crawling-towards-her-and-smothering-her-with-my-favorite-sweater ploy when I get back from work. I’ll have to get the sweater down from winter storage.

More Yoav Biran (Foreign Office guy
Jonathan has been kind enough to let me know that Yoav Biran, director general of the Israeli Foreign Office, was interviewed by Haaretz as well. He doesn’t say exactly the same things, but some are similar. Any way, the point is that you can read for yourselves.

He fully accepts the assessment that Israel currently has no partner on the Palestinian side to negotiate with and is satisfied with growing realization around the world that is the reason for the freeze. "Recently, I haven't heard from any serious source, in quiet diplomatic conversations, any genuine thinking that Yasser Arafat is good and beneficial. Without much exaggeration, the whole world agrees he is an obstacle and if there is any argument, it is only on how to minimize the damage he causes." Biran thinks that the war in Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein were positive developments in the region.

Biran does not despair over the chances of improving Israel's standing. Despite the harsh criticism directed at Israel, he feels the country's position is still strong. It is valued as an important diplomatic player and its close ties with the United States are respected. He supports the initiative of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to strengthen ties with Europe and also feels that in the Arab world all is not lost. In his many conversations with Arab figures, Biran says, he has learned that since the 1991 Gulf War, most moderate countries do not see Israel as an enemy or a threat.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Took day off. Got up early with Youngest (yawn)and headed for Yaffo port. Despite early hour, were still about three hours too late to catch the fishermen coming in. Oh well.

We did get to see one fishing boat, but all the fish coming out of it were in coolers (I want my money back).

Youngest was only really interested in the stray cats hanging around, apparently still licking their lips after the morning feast.

Came home. Now waiting around till Eldest awakes (this could take a while), before continuing the planned activities of the day.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Important news: Israellycool has moved.
The Shoosha Blues
I ache to give Shoosha a hug, but she won’t have any of it. She’s just not a huggy cat. I have to accept this.

She has this gorgeous sleek black coat. I really need to hold it and stroke it, but I have to remind myself to hold back. This is not what this cat wants. I must not force myself on her. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I am bitten, or scratched.

Ho hum.

Eldest adores her, with or without hugs, and gushes over her endlessly, coming up with about twelve cutesy names for her a day.

Me? I ache for a hug.

Afterthought: Before you say anything, I once had a huggy cat. I know they're out there.

I suppose I'll have to make do with humans for hugs. Luckily I have three very huggy humans living with me.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Isn’t the women’s marathon something? They’re amazing these women. How can they keep up such a pace for such a long time? Two hours into the race and they’re far faster than Bish and me even dream of, in our little thirty minute jog in the park of an evening. And it's even hotter there than along the Yarkon River.

I’ve been enjoying the route as well. The scenery looks familiar, somehow. And what about that Japanese runner? Small, short legs, and she’s leading - inspirational.

Update: She won! Wasn't it suspenseful? And they're saying that number three, the American, is Jewish, but you can never believe these commentators on channel one. An Israeli runner participated. She finished forty-something. I'm dead proud of her too.

Update update: Is too Jewish, according to Dr. Funk, who was even kind enough to point me to the evidence.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Pan-Arabism 2004
Yoav Biran, Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is retiring soon. He was interviewed by Yediot Aharonot this weekend and had a few surprising things to say. He pointed out that many in the international community, including Arab countries, expect Israel to do the dirty work with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat.

He also told of his many meetings with Arab leaders over the years, leaders of countries not necessarily openly friendly to Israel. Itamar Eichner elaborates (my translation):

In his meetings with Arab leaders Biran heard interesting things, different and opposite to what the same dignitaries say about Israel in the media. “There are Arab leaders who attack us in the media, but in closed conversations confess that they admire Israel. If you want to be a Zionist, all you have to do is visit an Arab country and hear what its leaders think about us: about the Israeli capability, about the technological development, financial and military, about our standing in the world and especially about our special relationship with the United States. Israel is known in the Arab world as a country that, when faced with a real problem, finds a real solution. Again and again, they bring up the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor”.

Biran reveals that in conversations he held with Arab leaders he heard hair-raising attacks on Arafat: ”The Israeli public expressions of animosity towards Arafat do not come near to the level of animosity and hatred you hear in private from Arab figures. You hear names like liar, swindler, and even expressions of street-profanity and curses. It even embarrassed me as an Israeli. An Arab leader of a country with which Israel does not have relations, told me that if he was in one room with the prime minister of Israel and with Arafat, and he had a pistol with one bullet in it, the Israeli prime minister would have nothing to be worried about…”

Update: More and a link here.
Affaire du lycee Montaigne

anti-Semitism in France : the courts say YES
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 9:07 AM

Dear friends,
You may have heard this year of the ugly anti-Semitic incident in which an 11 years old Jewish boy was molested by two older Arab boys in his school, the Lycee Montaigne, located in the center of Paris. This lasted for about 6 months before the affair was understood by the parents who then complained to the principal of the school. The two Arab boys beat the Jewish boy and bullied him, shouting "dirty Jew" at him and other anti-Semitic jeers. They stole from him, and there was no reaction neither from other pupils who saw what was happening, nor from any teacher.

After the complaint of the parents, the principal called for a disciplinary council, one of the bullies recognized the anti-Semitic insults, the other, who did the actual beatings, did not. The medical evidence which the parents brought to the school was sufficient and the two Arab boys were expelled. They are sons of diplomats working in an Arabic embassy in Paris.

Then, started an outcry by some of the teachers who considered this much too harsh a sanction. They called an organization fighting against racism, the League for Human Rights (Ligue des Droits de l'Homme, LDH), made a big issue of the matter in newspapers. The newspapers and the media in general spoke a lot about the "injustice" done to the expelled boys, while, for a long period, they had ignored the actual anti-Semitic incidents, as they are prone to do when the culprits are Arabs, and when they mentioned them, they called these either "usual school turbulence" or "conflict between communities".

The parents of the expelled boys then, with the support of the group of teachers and the LDH, complained and sued the school board and the ministry of education for an unjust measure. Such a complaint is treated by an administrative tribunal in France.

The administrative tribunal convened, and heard the lawyers for the parents and the teachers supporting them. They never heard the molested child, nor his parents, nor his lawyer. Based on the complaint it decided that the two expelled boys should return to the school, after the end of the present school year, and condemned the ministry of education to pay them damages of $1200 to each boy.

An administrative tribunal in France is entitled to judge procedures only, not to judge the actual matter. In this case it judged on the actual matter.

The ministry of education and the parents opposed this decision in an appeal court. Imagine what will happen to the Jewish boy if he sees his tormentors back in school. The execution of this judgment means in fact expelling the victim from the school. The judgment will be rendered in August, when all France is on vacation, and the lawyer of the parents is very pessimistic, based on many recent cases in France where complaints about anti-Semitism were minimized and usually dismissed by the French courts. In this case, the administrative court judged that, based on the accused boys declarations, the anti-Semitic acts, even though recognized by the authors, were not numerous enough to justify expelling the authors form school. So, for this French court, a certain level of anti-Semitism, even though illegal (it is against the law in France to proffer anti-Semitic or racist remarks in public), is acceptable.

The parents of the molested Jewish boy have asked me to publicize this as widely as possible in the media, in America and elsewhere, because it is only through publicity outside of France that we have a chance of avoiding the return of the bullies in this school. If the judgment of the administrative court is maintained it is a clear signal to all anti-Semitic children in all French schools that they have nothing to fear for attacking Jewish children in schools or in the streets. The lesson has been quickly learned: since the judgment, at least 5 Jewish youths have been attacked with knifes in France. In the latest incident children, coming out of a Jewish school in Paris, were attacked by an Arab young man throwing bottles onto them from his window, in front of the police. He was brought to the police precinct, and the mother of one boy who protected the children in her car came to lodge a complaint. The police officer receiving the complaint let the man go free, saying that he had been called "dirty Arab" by the children (primary school). Nobody was witness of any insult; the insult was most improbable as the man was at his window on the fourth floor of his building when he started throwing bottles on the kids. The police officer had learned the lesson. She preferred to let the man go rather than start a legal procedure which she knew the court would dismiss, thus losing her time.

If the present judgment is upheld, no street nor school will be safe for Jewish children in France next year.

I beg you to disseminate this information as widely as possible. If journalists want to know more, I'll put them in contact with the parents of the molested boy. This has to be published in America, French representatives have to be confronted by this, only such pressure can change the present tragic course of events.
Thank you in advance
Norbert Lipszyc

Read this excellent article by Mark Steyn, as posted by DFME, about Europe with regard to the welfare supplied by the USA.

I was astounded when, after the targeted killing of Sheikh Yassin in Gaza, someone wrote to me that Israel had no right to do such a thing, because it endangered American troops in Iraq. I think that was more or less the wording, I can’t check because I deleted the e-mail long ago.

Now I can think of plenty of reasons for not killing Sheikh Yassin, although I wholeheartedly support that action and others like it, this is war and he was one of the main enemies, but I really fail to see the connection to American soldiers stationed in Iraq.

Some Americans get very annoyed with Israel when it doesn’t function solely with the USA’s interests in mind, as they see them, before its own, even if this endangers Israel’s very existence. They think that, if such a dilemma should arise, Israel should always choose to act against its own interest, because the USA is footing the bill.

That is a hard one to argue, moreover I don’t like to argue it, because I don’t want to be seen as ungrateful, when I’m not.

I believe Israel and all its citizens are very aware, on a very daily basis, of how much it owes the USA. The need to balance our security needs with USA interests is something that I am sure our leaders take very seriously. This claim by some Americans is therefore certainly worthy of our attention, even though on occasion it may seem to us a bit loopy.

I am continually amazed therefore, that these very same Americans seem to make no such accusations where Europe is concerned. In fact they utterly support Europe when it repeatedly damages the interests of the USA, that most generous of benefactors.

But how can this be? Defending Europe costs them a far greater percentage of their tax money than the defense of Israel. But these Americans seem to have no problem with the Europeans, who, unlike Israel and the Israelis, are quite convinced that they live their lives of quiet affluence and peace because they are better people, definitely far better than the Americans, and that their happy, relatively carefree existence has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they are enjoying the military protection of the USA, paid for by the very American taxpayers they so despise.

Could it be that these particular Americans actually buy into the Europeans’ pompous and ridiculous belief of their inherent superiority over the Americans? Could it be that they too have forgotten that twice during the last century Europe plunged itself, and the whole world with it, into a nightmare of death and destruction, which only came to an end when the USA intervened?

Naaaah, these are educated people, they couldn’t be that idiotic.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I first read about this John the Baptist Cave thing in Yediot Aharonot. I said to myself, ‘Well, if it’s in Yediot Aharonot it must be a hoax’. Another reason it seems dubious to me, even though I know little about archeology and even less about John the Baptist, is that I would imagine that if there was anything in it, the Israeli archeologists would have elbowed their way in, and muscled the foreign archeologists out long ago. Stands to reason, doesn’t it? But I could be wrong.

Afterthought: On the other hand, it could be the policy of Israel, and its Jewish archeologists, to butt out of Christian archeological digs so as to avoid religious tension.
Hmmm (2)
Now I wonder why Our Sis sent me this...

Rules of English

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat).
6. Always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments. No comma splices, run-ons are bad too.
11. Contractions aren't helpful and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's
highly superfluous.
14. One should never generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words
however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. Kill all exclamation points!!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is probably not the best way to propose earth
shattering ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.
34. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Actually, I know exactly why Our Sis sent me this :-p

Oh well, at least I have a good excuse - I'm a bloody foreigner.

Update: John writes

On the subject of ending sentences with prepositions, people often recount a story involving Winston Churchill. When an editor dared to change a sentence of Churchill's that appeared to end inappropriately with a preposition, Churchill responded by writing to the editor, "This is the kind of impertinence up with which I shall not put." His purpose, of course, was to illustrate the awkwardness that can result from rigid adherence to the notion that prepositions at the end of sentences are always incorrect.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Rear guard. Childbirth at fourteen.

This is what blogs are for, so people can read things like this.

Via Truegrit.
Done it!
At long last we’ve done the shopping for the new school year. Every year I get the school books ready at the beginning of July, but somehow this year I didn’t get round to it, and suddenly it was August.

It’s not really so bad. I fax the list to the book store and the next day they call to tell me it’s ready. This morning I was there at seven o’clock sharp, so as not to have to queue. Then we went to Office Depot to get supplies.

We used to go to Dyonon, the university store, at the end of August, which was always awful. I get very uptight in small crowded places and Dyonon is certainly that at this time of year. Office Depot on Yigal Alon Road was very pleasant. There is a multi-story car park there, very civilized, and the choice of exercise books was much to my daughters’ approval. Youngest got everything with something called Pucca, whatever that is.
I am intrigued, as I believe a lot of Israelis are, by Tali Fahima, a young Israeli woman who was arrested last week on suspicion of aiding Palestinian terrorists. She had apparently been getting a bit too pally with Jenin’s most wanted Palestinian, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander Zakariya Zubeidi, for the Shabak’s (General Security Service) liking.

She seems to have taken the move from the periphery to the center (from Kiryat Gat to Tel Aviv), and the consequential value and belief switch it can often instigate, way too far. But I really don’t want to get into dime psychology here, or discuss the ‘It must be love, love, love’ angle. This is a hard one to avoid because, based on Fahima’s severe, dry image, hair pulled back, schoolmarm-ish specs, sharp business-like dress code, it is amusing to see the attraction to a man with a definitely thuggish charm. You get the strong impression that Fahima would definitely steer well clear of any man who looked like Zubeidi if he were a Jew, if he were a native of her home Kiryat Gat, a southern-ish development town (she cites his hard-luck story as what differentiates him from the gangster she originally took him for, but I have yet to meet the gangster who doesn’t have a heartbreaking hard-luck story, all true mind you, to help him gain entry into the beds of well-meaning, gullible young ladies).

I am also a bit perplexed by her paradoxical complaint that the unfriendly reaction she has received from the Israeli ‘street’ is proof of the lack of freedom of speech in Israel. I ask myself why she thinks she is the only one who deserves freedom of speech. What about the freedom of speech of people who wish to tell her that they think she is a traitor? (Although they really should have the sense to leave her mother alone. Sadly a lot of people have little or no sense).

Friends point out, on her behalf, that if she had grown up among lefties she would have a strong emotional support system protecting her. This is probably true, but I really do fail to see the relevance.

You see the thing that differentiates Tali Fahima from all the other lefties, going out on a limb for their views, is her background. She comes from a very poor family, even by Kiryat Gat standards. Her mother brought her and her two sisters up on her own, scraping a living as a cleaner, but mainly unemployed. She says she grew up in a very right wing environment and friends from home say she took great pride in her army service. Then two years ago a change came about her.

In Yediot Aharonot this weekend, one of her former bosses explained that they had no choice but to fire her because she was surfing to hostile Palestinian websites from the office computer, and posting comments on them, and refused to cease when asked to (and very rudely, if the account is accurate). Since then she hasn’t been able to get a job. This is unfortunate, she looks like an intelligent girl, if a bit of nutcase, but under the circumstances, I can understand potential bosses seeing her as a liability.

Update: Wise words on this subject, as usual, by Shai, here too.
A rare treat!
I’m all out of chocolate, so here’s a photo of me ascending a rather steep path in Rosh Pina.

Photo taken by Youngest.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Pride and Prejudice (Updated)
Today, on an Israeli satellite channel, I saw ‘Fictitious Marriage’, an Israeli film that was made in the eighties. We’re a racist society, here in Israel, that’s why we regularly get to see Israeli-made movies on TV telling the story of Palestinian suffering, actually mainly on the state funded channels. The film took me back to a period in which it was clear to me, at least, that we really were in the wrong; when the Palestinians were an integral part of our daily lives and we mistreated them.

This situation, as described in this film, and the bad feelings of many Jewish Israelis, including myself, brought us out into the streets, en masse, demanding a change. The public pressure, coupled with the second Intifada (the first Intifada, in my view, was between 1936 and 1939, against the British, while the current conflict is no intifada, it’s a war) resulted in the Oslo Accords, and the conceding of power over a sizable portion of the territories, and a large part of the Palestinian population in the territories, to self-rule under Arafat, on the way to independence and statehood (racist society, remember?).

Watching the film I could well remember the sentiment and identify with the message. I also could understand how completely different the situation of the Palestinians is today. They had a wonderful opportunity to build themselves a better life and they squandered it. What a terrible waste. And they took most of our goodwill and threw it back in our faces, ‘You suckers’.

Today they are no longer a part of our lives like they were before. Murderous terrorism, the likes of which we had never seen, never imagined possible, the horrible, distorted child of those very Oslo Accords that were meant to solve the problem, forced us to shut many of the Palestinians out. Other people are doing the work that once was theirs. They can no longer get into their Peugeot 404’s (the last car made to last for ever) and drive from Han Younis to Rishon Letzion. The sons of the real live versions of the laborers from Gaza in ‘Fictitious Marriage’, have probably never seen the new skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, besides on TV, and they certainly weren’t the ones to build them.

Even the affluence the Palestinians enjoyed during the Oslo years, when Israelis flocked to the West Bank to buy everything from furniture to dental treatments, is long gone and forgotten. It disappeared overnight, when they decided to go back on their promise to give up the road of violence, and attacked Israel in the autumn of 2000, hoping to extort a more favorable deal that way.

But they have something their parents never had, these children of Oslo and the Terror War. They are no longer invisible. They may be seen as the enemy, but that in itself is a sign of some respect, is it not? Love is best, of course, admiration - even better. But where that is lacking, for obvious reasons, hatred is far better than derision, or worse, indifference.

And thinking about this, I can understand why Palestinians should prefer the Israeli Right to the Israeli Left, whatever they may say to the cameras or to the idiotic, pasty-faced Europeans in Birkenstock sandals who frequent Jenin and Ramallah. Because the Israeli Right sees them as adversaries, while the Israeli Left sees them as miskenim (I’m not sure how to translate that, maybe ‘unfortunate wretches’).

The Israeli Left is motivated by pity and guilt, and there is nothing more degrading than being pitied. I’d rather be hated and feared any day, than be pitied.

Update: For 'misken' - one suggestion is 'pitiful wretch'.

And a reader comments: "more and more I see articles exclaiming "Why can't the Israelis see that the occupation is destroying their country and just end it!" - completely oblivious to the fact that millions of Israelis (and Jews in the Diaspora) DID reach this conclusion at the end of the 1980's, the result being Oslo, and the elections of Rabin and Barak with mandates to seek peace through an end to occupation.

Today it is as if Oslo never happened, Camp David never happened, Taba never happened.

I have gotten to the point where I don't even read articles that might be critical of Israel unless I can see that they at least mention Camp David in 2000."

And maybe this is a good time to say that the new policy is NOT to give reader's names. I always worry about this, so I've decided to just not put people's names and finished, unless they specify that I can.

Update update: Yael has the links.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

And the reason I hate nightshifts is that I am a zombie for the rest of the week. So I am now a zombie. Hulllllllo there. Zombie is a bit like drunk. I slept a few hours this morning. Now I have to stay awake till evening if I want to recover by tomorrow.

Now you know why I don’t like flying through time zones (and why you are unlikely to see me face to face unless you schlep yourselves over here, ‘cos I won’t be going over there). It’s the zombieness.

Actually the night was quite good. I got a lot done.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Why I haven’t been blogging
What happened was that one day I discovered that I could invest very little of myself in my job and get exactly the same salary. Civil servants, nu. There was, is, I believe, in my department, an atmosphere of nonchalance, of irreverence, of things-will-work-out-by-themselves-even-if-we-don’t-work-very-hard-or-worry-ourselves-or-stay-late-or-take-things-very-seriously. Easy street. This was the preferred attitude of a young boss who came. And everyone loved it (Even though things didn’t work out by themselves. Things went rapidly down hill and stayed there).

I hate to admit it, but for a long time this situation suited me down to the ground. I was burnt out from the pressure of the former, more dedicated, more work-yourself-to-death-and-get-shouted-at-for-you-efforts attitude to the work that was strictly enforced by the tough previous boss.

And then Mum was ill and that demanded much mental energy, even before the period that she was lying on her deathbed. And I had started blogging, also a time consuming occupation, and much more rewarding than work. My job, my livelihood, could not have interested me less. So after my initial shock and disapproval of the new situation, I just settled into it, too timid to do anything about it, on one hand, and too distracted to really care, on the other.

Then one day I woke up and was horrified by what I saw. My department was a shambles, an unrecognizable shell of the fearsome, efficient, person and time consuming machine that it was before, the famous machine that had got the job done better than any other, that had held the admiration of the whole organization.

And then I spent a long, long time being angry and disappointed at the powers that be that had let it reach this point, while denying it was their fault and pointing the finger everywhere else. I was angry and disappointed and offended.

This led me nowhere good.

And now I have had a change of heart. I have looked at myself and seen that I have contributed to this situation, to this negligence. I enjoyed the situation and took advantage of it to my own ends.

Just because I could get away with not doing my best, not doing even near to my best, just because I could, just because that was what everyone else was doing, was inexcusable.

Maybe they were doing their best after all, it was just that their best was less than what I thought it should have been, or what I knew I could do.

It feels uncomfortable to be even thinking such thoughts, never mind writing them down (pompous twit). But I fear that modesty (coupled with unrealistic perfectionism) created the problem in the first place. I have been too modest, too shy, too insecure, and, yes, too lazy, to formulate my ideas clearly and convey them forcefully.

And now I have decided that this must change. It’s time to stop grumbling about what’s wrong and to start trying to do something about it, quietly, starting with my own little corner.

So instead of my head being full of ideas for the blog, my head is full of ideas for work. And this is as it should be, as Mary Poppins says.

I don’t want to stop blogging. John Williams suggests I should “declare that you are only going to write when you feel it is absolutely necessary to speak out against something?” That sounds about right. I do so declare. Although I will still be writing about the silly, little things as well. This said, I will probably start writing with a vengeance, now. Isn't that always the way? (I see Allison is thinking the same thing). So don't give up on me just yet.

There. Now I feel so much better, to have got that out.

To start I have volunteered for an irregular night shift tonight (Friday night, missing the opening ceremony) and have made a mental note that I will not grumble, complain or think any bad thoughts about it, even though I hate night shifts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

If you can bear or Rich people’s problems

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

Rudyard Kipling, summing up my feelings about my situation at work.

Note: This post has been severely edited. I'm sorry to have edited it, but I said a few harsh things about my workplace and decided that it was better to edit it. So I did. Edit it.

That's meant to be a dancing bear up there but it doesn't always work.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Back from Rosh Pina.

Lovely cool weather, nice B&B, good food, pleasant company, lots of rest.

Can’t tell any more about it just now because I’ve got to recuperate. Motion sickness. I get very bad motion sickness, especially when I sit in the back of the car.

Besides, my hair is in a terrible state. Motion sickness or no motion sickness, got to go have those shocking silver roots seen to.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Going away for the weekend. Back sunday evening.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I’m reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, first lovely book in a series about a lady detective in Botswana. It is so very African, naive, yet down to earth, and it is full of surprising little gems like this one:

Mma Ramotswe read the remainder of the letter, which as far as she could make out was meaningless jargon which the attorney had been taught at law school. They were impossible, these people; they had a few years of lectures at the University of Botswana and they set themselves up as experts on everything. What did they know of life? All they knew was how to parrot the stock phrases of their profession and to continue to be obstinate until somebody, somewhere, paid up. They won by attrition in most cases, but they themselves concluded it was skill. Few of them would survive in her profession, which required tact and perspicacity.

Tee hee.

Needless to say, the author, Alexander McCall Smith, besides being extremely skillful in his portrayal of his most captivating heroine, is also a law professor.
What a sweet idea! My girls will love this. Thank you Jennifer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A funny thing
The first of August 2004 was the thirtieth anniversary of my family coming to live in Israel. I had been planning a grand celebratory post, full of depth and meaning (ugh).

But on the day I forgot all about it.
Last night we were in Netanya.
‘Look what the fence has done for Netanya,’ Bish commented as we drove past Independence Square in the center of town.

Remember Netanya? Netanya of the Park Hotel Passover Massacre, when thirty people, many of them elderly, were slaughtered as they sat down for the ritual Passover Seder meal in the dining room of a hotel; Netanya of numerous other terrorist attacks in recent years; Netanya that had become a ghost town because people were too scared to leave their homes, not to mention stay at the beachfront hotels.

Last night the center of Netanya was alive and buzzing with activity. People everywhere, hundreds of them, happy, carefree. Just a mid-week summer night in a vibrant holiday resort. Municipal banners promised Tu b’Av festivities (the Jewish festival of love) somewhere, but we could see no sign of them, just people having a good time out on the town. We could hardly get past with the car.

Netanya is not an affluent place, it never has been, even though the meaning of the name is ‘God gave’. It is laughable to talk about those wealthy Israelis eating off the carcasses of the poor Palestinians when discussing Netanya.

The fence has allowed the ordinary people living there to once again go about their lives in safety; it has brought back the tourists, enabling the locals to make a living. I am sure people in Netanya are extremely grateful for the fence. The fence has been a blessing for Netanya.

* * * *

While we’re on the subject of blessings, Mazal Tov to the young couple whose marriage (the night before on Tu b’Av, how romantic) and the subsequent Sheva Brachot celebration in one of those beachfront hotels, gave us the opportunity to witness Netanya’s amazing transformation for ourselves.

And I haven’t forgotten the wedding anniversary of Our Sis and Mr. Our Sis today. Mazal Tov to you too!