Monday, September 30, 2002

Five year-old Danielle Shefi.

Murdered on April 27th, by a Palestinian who shot her in the head as she huddled terrified in her bed at home .

In a new document, Amnesty International addresses the issue of the children on both sides who are victims of this conflict. Amnesty International can hardly be seen as an unprejudiced observer. They appear to be attempting impartiality in this new document, but you only have to skim through to catch them out. Why do they make a point of saying that “some 7000 Palestinian children were injured in attacks by the IDF and Israeli settlers”, for instance, but only that “hundreds of Israeli children were injured by armed Palestinians”. Are there no accurate numbers for Israeli children wounded? And why does the IDF attack but the Palestinians are just armed (it sounds like they hit the kids with the butts of their rifles by mistake, doesn't it?).

And take a look at this highly judgmental description: “The overwhelming majority of Palestinian children have been killed in the Occupied Territories when members of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) responded to demonstrations and stone-throwing incidents with excessive and disproportionate use of force, and as a result of the IDFs reckless shooting, shelling and aerial bombardments of residential areas. …”.

As opposed to this far more forgiving account: ”Israeli children have been killed in direct and indiscriminate attacks, including suicide bombings, and shootings by members of Palestinian armed groups and by Palestinian individuals who may not belong to armed groups…, both inside Israel and in settlements or on roads leading to settlements in the Occupied Territories”.

I could go on, but what’s the point?

Amnesty International accuses the IDF of failing to investigate Palestinian children’s deaths. How can this be? I know this is a war. I know the Palestinians are committing horrific atrocities and purposefully targeting and murdering civilians, preferably women and children. I know they are putting their own children in the line of fire. I know we must stand by our soldiers who are in impossible situations, bravely fighting to protect our lives. But if this accusation is true, it is wrong. The least we can do is check ourselves. How can we learn from our mistakes if we do not even bother to check ourselves?

While I agree with Tal G. who says that “The Amnesty report is itself disturbing because it implies a moral equivalence between Islamikaze bombings and cases where children have been killed by the IDF in the course of dealing with violence by Palestinians”, there have been, of late, far too many mistakes and mishaps, taking innocent Palestinian lives. How could the IDF have used Flechette shells again, for instance, given how unsuitable they seem to be for urban warfare and having specifically promised not to? I am disturbed by the possibility that no one is looking into these occurrences and learning from them.

Temple Mount May Collapse During Ramadan Prayers
At a secret meeting on Sunday, the prime minister heard reports of fears that the Temple Mount might collapse on hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers during Ramadan prayers. Due to unsupervised construction on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf (religious authorities), an increasingly dangerous buckling of the southern wall now extends a meter beyond the surface. "If Israel decides to repair the wall without a prior agreement with the Waqf, this could lead to riots and bloodshed. But if the Temple Mount collapses on a crowd of Muslim worshippers, this would be ten times worse. We'll be held responsible, whatever we do," said one Israeli source. (Maariv)

Jews are not a foreign presence in the Middle East.
While nearly half of Israeli Jews originate in Arab countries, even Ashkenazi (“European”) Jews appear to have a close genetic relationship to peoples living in this region.

Many people who see Israel as a “Western” colonization project (like South Africa) are probably not aware of the extensive genetic research into this apparent genetic relationship.

Palestinians, sadly, seem particularly eager to ignore the scientific evidence to this effect. Funnily enough, they could actually also be descendants of the ancient Judeans themselves! (Well, maybe not Arafat. I’m told he’s really Egyptian).

Sunday, September 29, 2002

General Arafat... (that's what he called himself, what can I say?)

...blowing his top at a reporter who asked him a perfectly reasonable question. I'd say he's not quite right in the head.

More on NJ state poet from Stefan Sharkansky on his blog AND on Arutz Sheva site. Nice to see a familiar face there :-)

I love this state poet thing.
Now I think on, I once had a neighbor who was awarded a state prize (I think it was named after the late Israeli PM Levi Eshkol), which entailed receiving a salary for a year, so she could just sit around and write poetry (which is what she did anyway).

Cool.

OK, all I have to do is learn how to write poetry. Then again, maybe I should work on understanding the poetry other people write first. Oy, Gevald! Who let this lowbrow into Blogistan?

In Israel the judge would probably have thrown it out of court and told them to stop wasting his time...
But, it's a good story even if it isn't true. Via Insignificant Thoughts, who, BTW, is very brave to announce his current reading online. I'm usually reading about five books at the same time, and I rarely finish any of them, unless they're fiction. Would you believe I've got two pages left of Bernard Lewis but I keep falling asleep before finishing them?

When I was bringing my youngest home from her dancing class at 17:30 three ambulances raced past. I can't see anything about this. It must be an *ordinary* fire.

Listen to me!

So what’s the plan?
I am a bit confused about government policy lately. It doesn’t look like decision makers are learning from experience.

The first siege on Arafat’s compound could hardly be called a success. To do it again seems foolish, even self-defeating. Now we’re crawling out again with our tail between our legs.

Targeted killings of terrorist kingpins may be justified, but what about bombing them in crowded urban areas? Even if direct and accurate, innocent bystanders get injured and sometimes killed. As I’ve said before, Palestinians probably exaggerated the numbers of wounded in the attempted killing of Muhammad Def, but we still have to be careful with human lives.

The army says they learnt from the killing of Sallah Shehade and this time used a less powerful bomb. But maybe the conclusion should have been to change the method altogether.

It’s difficult to accept that there are no miracle solutions. All we can do, it seems, is walk the tightrope of, on one hand, not losing our humanity, and on the other, not buckling in to exterior pressure which will be suicidal.

Seeing as I have little or no influence on policy, all that I can do, as a private citizen is be strong and live day by day. Life is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

It would be nice, though, to have the feeling that the government knew what it was doing.

Haaretz perpetuating false propaganda of the other side, as usual.
Haaretz says: “Disagreements over the future of Jerusalem were among the key points that stalled earlier peace negotiations with Israel before the outbreak of the uprising on Sept. 28, 2000”. I really can’t understand why they should say this. As far as I understood it, Barak more or less caved in to Arafat’s demands vis a vis Jerusalem (or at least offered a very generous and respectable compromise). The breaking point was the demand for right of return for all Palestinians and not Jerusalem.

Israel lets 33,000 Palestinians into Israel to work, although it could make it easier for a terrorist or two to slip through as well..

The Palestinians celebrated the colossal failure of their two-year terror campaign, yesterday, as if it were a great success. They really are pathetic.
Gil Shterzer puts it best.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

I am prepared to be the price
Gad Ezra writing to his girlfriend Galit:

My dear Galit,
If this letter reaches you, it means that something has happened to me. My love, on one hand there is nothing in the world that I want more than to be with you, to love you and to build a home and a family with you. But on the other hand, there is nothing I want more than to go out on this operation and hit these bastards, so they won’t think of doing another terrorist attack. So that they will know they are paying a price. I am prepared to be that price… I will always think of you, wherever I will be and I’ll make sure you meet a person who will make you happier than I have… Promise me you will carry on. That is how it should be, that is right.
Gadi

______________________
March 2002. 23 year-old reserve soldier Gad Ezra, wrote this letter to his girlfriend, whom he was about to marry. About a month later, on 4th April, he was killed in the IDF operation in Jenin.


“Ha’ir” local Tel-Aviv paper, 26th September, 2002.

New Jersey has a state poet? Wow! Is this normal in the US?

Jane's Foreign Report newsletter says Israeli "Sayeret Matkal" commando unit is operating inside western Iraq, pinpointing locations where Iraqi missile launchers might be positioned. Via Haaretz.

It's not a revolt or an uprising, numbskulls.
It's like talking to the wall.

THEY WERE OFFERED THE REST OF THE WEST BANK AND THE GAZA STRIP ON A PLATTER (with an offer so generous it probably would have sparked civil war among Jews in Israel) JUST A SHORT WHILE BEFORE THEY ATTACKED. I REPEAT, ATTACKED. BUT THEY DECIDED THEY DIDN'T WANT IT. IT WASN'T ENOUGH.

But you're quite right. We're the rogue state.

Idiots.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Israel is apparently less corrupt than Japan, France and Italy and most other countries, for that matter. So there.
According to Miami's Jewish Star Times, Transparency International ranked Israel as the 18th least corrupt country out of 102 countries.

“Israel scored 7.3 out of a highest score of 10 for the least corrupt country. Israel was ranked at 16 in 2001. Finland led with a score of 9.8. The US ranked 16th with a score of 7.7. Israel lead Japan (20), France (25) and Italy (31)”.

Not bad, huh? I’d have expected corruption to jump, considering the recession here, but it hasn’t. Israel's score for 2001 was 7.6, so it's down just 0.3.

This is the report for 2001 (in PDF). Couldn’t find 2002.

Update: Harvey Fish has found the 2002 report for me.

Hag Same'ach and Shabbat Shalom. (A little later than usual, but we were out and then blogger was down).

Fireworks for Bish’s birthday, care of Silflay Hraka.

Happy birthday to Bish. Happy Birthday to Bish. Happy birthday to Bi-ish. Happy birthday to Bish.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

It says here (Hebrew) that 16 children were wounded in the attack on Mohammad Def (is he dead yet or what?).

I saw an interesting thing on the TV coverage of this (attempted?) killing. As they often do, they showed the footage again and again, so I’m quite sure I’m not mistaken. Abu Dhabi TV apparently got to the scene of the burning car of Mohammed Def first. They showed a wounded man being taken out of the car. It was not possible to see his face. There is some suspicion that this is Def, and this is why they’re not sure that he is dead.

The footage continues. A few scenes later, you can clearly see a young boy, in a bright yellow T-shirt, very actively keeping passers-by from coming near what looks like part of the car-wreckage. I got the impression someone had told him to do this, and he, proud of his mission, was fulfilling it most conscientiously, very cocky and full of himself. A few scenes later, I could see the same boy, wearing the same bright yellow T-shirt, being helped towards an ambulance, as if he were wounded. Now, if it weren’t for that bright yellow T-shirt I probably wouldn’t have made the connection, but I saw it about three or four times and it was definitely the same boy.

So 16 kids were injured, were they? I wonder.

99% dead?
Could Israel's most wanted terrorist, Muhammed Def, have been killed by missiles dispatched from Israeli helicopters today?

Def has been wanted for ten years and more and was responsible for many murderous terrorist attacks, including the particularly horrific wave of terror following the killing of Hamas master terrorist known as "the engineer", Yihya Ayash, in 1996. This wave of terror was one of the main reasons for Peres losing the 1996 election to Netanyahu.

Def became a Palestinian symbol, because of his remarkable ability to stay alive. Following the recent killing of Hamas head, Salah Shehada, he was made his heir. This forced him out of hiding.

I just saw Professor Shaul Mishal, who I was very taken with when he taught me in university during the first Intifada, discussing the killing or attempted killing, on Israeli TV, channel 1. Still a PhD in those days, Dr. Mishal was known as the most boring lecturer ever and notoriously nasty to 99% of his students. But once those 99% had fled in terror, he was thrilling. A year-long course I took with him, about Arab society and politics in the West bank, was the high point of my studies in the Political Science faculty of Tel Aviv University.

Mishal sees the killing of Hamas heads as a mistake, coming without a coherent plan and warns of a wave of terrorism like that followed the killing of Ayash in 1996, which will be necessary so the Hamas can rebuild its reputation. I didn't really understand what alternative action he suggests, but this was probably because I had to go make the girls an omelette and missed much of what he had to say. I could probably remedy this by reading his book about the Hamas, which is lying unread, on Bish's bedside table. I've nearly finished Bernard Lewis. Maybe this should be next.

If Mishal's writing abilities are any better than his remarkable lack of talent for public speaking, I may get back to you on this in a few weeks (I told you I was a slow reader).

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

A massacre in Lebanon
The following account is not suitable for children or for the faint of heart:
“An entire family had been killed, the Can'an family, four children all dead, and the mother, the father, and the grandfather. The mother was still hugging one of the children. And she was pregnant. The eyes of the children were gone and their limbs were cut off. No legs and no arms.

[…]

Many of the bodies had been dismembered, so they had to count the heads to number the dead. Three of the men they found had had their genitals cut off and stuffed into their mouths.

The horror did not end there, the old … cemetery was also destroyed, coffins were dug up, the dead robbed, vaults opened, and bodies and skeletons thrown across the grave yard”.


Sabra and Shatila, September 1982?

Not quite.

Actually it’s part of Father Mansour Labaky’s eyewitness account of the Damour Massacre, perpetrated by Yasser Arafat’s PLO in the January of 1976. Following the massacre the town was ruined, and was turned into a Fatah and PFLP terrorist stronghold, the local church serving as a repair garage for PLO vehicles and also as a range for shooting-practice. According to Father Labaky, who went back with the Red Cross to bury the dead, 582 were killed.

Some apologists for the Palestinians give the number of 200 dead. Noam Chomsky, an American linguist, who, strangely enough, seems to think his views on subjects unrelated to linguistics are of value, apparently believes that Damour was an example of Israeli propaganda. He is sceptical as to estimates of those killed, and claims, surprise surprise, that the massacre was taken out of context.

But a search via Yahoo reveals that Father Labaky is a highly respected Maronite priest and writer who went on to look after Lebanese war orphans, and has published a collection of hymns and other books.

At the beginning of the massacre Father Labaky tells of frantically phoning influential people to try and stop it: “Then he telephoned Kamal Jumblatt, in whose parliamentary constituency Damour lay. 'Father,' Jumblatt said, 'I can do nothing for you, because it depends on Yasser Arafat.' He gave Arafat's phone number to the priest.

An aide answered, and when he would not call Arafat himself, Father Labaky told him, ‘The Palestinians are shelling and shooting at my town. I can assure you as a religious leader, we do not want the war, we do not believe in violence.' He added that nearly half the people of Damour had voted for Kamal Jumblatt, 'who is backing you,' he reminded the PLO man. The reply was, 'Father, don't worry. We don't want to harm you. If we are destroying you it is for strategical reasons’.”


So Arafat had the power to stop the carnage, but chose not to.

This January was the 27th anniversary of the Damour massacre. I don’t remember reading any commemorative articles.

My Bish has done some research:
“A Google search for: Damour and massacre finds 525 results.
A Google search for: Shatila and massacre finds 9040 results.
A Google search for: Damour and massacre and Shatila finds 118 results.
That means that there are approximately 407 pages on the Damour Massacre, 8922 pages on the Sabra & Shatila Massacre, and 118 on both”.


He wonders why some massacres get more PR than others.

”It cannot be because in one massacre Muslims slaughtered Christians and in the other Christians slaughtered Muslims, can it? Most of the Internet users are Christians not Muslims.

I’ll have to guess then that only one of them can be pinned on the bloody Jews!

Genocide? Massacre of millions? The Belgians? Those well known champions of world justice? Could this be? Never!
Of course! Now I get it. That’s why they think they’ve got the moral right to judge the rest of the world! They know exactly what genocide and crimes against humanity are. All they have to do, if they’re not sure what these consist of, is read their own state records!

According to this New York Times article about a new exhibit in a Belgian museum, “In 1919, a Belgian commission estimated that Congo's population was half what it was in 1879”.

In “… Adam Hochschild's " King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa " (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), which appeared in translation in Belgium in 1999 …

… Mr. Hochschild describes how, along with the uncounted thousands who died of disease and famine, many Congolese were killed by Leopold's agents for failing to meet production quotas for ivory and rubber, the territory's principal sources of wealth before its diamonds, copper and zinc were discovered. Mr. Hochschild estimates the total death toll during the Leopold period at 10 million”
.

Now all we have to work out is why the New York Times saw fit to bury this in the Arts section and not on the front page? Oh, of course, they haven’t managed to pin it on Israel yet. How silly of me.

Janet Daley tells UK telegraph readers that the “moral case against war is at best naive, at worst idiotic”:

“When the obtuse camp pleads for concern about the innocent Iraqis who may suffer in an American attack, I wonder about the innocent Kurds who have suffered under Saddam's homicidal persecution. When the obtuse-niks plead for more time for hapless United Nations weapons inspectors to be fobbed off and obstructed, I wonder if they would be so blithely passive about racist mass murder in other countries? Would George Galloway have spoken so assiduously against military intervention if the old white regime in South Africa had gassed Soweto?”

“…the Palestinian leadership, and behind it the Arab political and media atmosphere, have not risen to the level required in order to make a [correct historic] choice.”
MEMRI has translated excerpts of an article by liberal Egyptian author Amin Al-Mahdi, that was published in London-based, Arabic language Al-Hayat. He discusses the mistake Arafat made in not accepting the deal offered him in Camp David in the summer of 2000:

"When Arafat returned from Camp David, his masses carried him on their shoulders as a symbol of respect for his achieving nothing. The Arab propaganda apparatuses and the statements by top officials in some Arab countries played a significant role in these strange festivities. It was the right moment to add conditions making the problem irresolvable, such as adherence to the refugees' right of return to Israel – meaning, simply, the establishment of two Palestinian states. Furthermore, a demagogic attack lacking any objective basis [was launched] against Clinton and the U.S. policy (there are many reasons to criticize American policy, but I do not think that Clinton's peace plan was one of them)."

Al-Mahdi ties Arafat’s failure in with the bigger picture:

"...In my personal opinion, no matter what peace proposal Clinton presented to the Arab side, it was sure to be rejected. This is because the Palestinian issue was always the main source of legitimacy for the revolutionary [Arab] regimes that established rural or tribal military republics. The Palestinian issue was always the subject of 'Announcement No. 1' of all these [Arab military coups]. More important, it was the prop for the war declared on democracy and modernization [by the Arab regimes], an eternal pretext for the bill of divorce from the free world and for imposing various laws, from emergency laws through military laws."

You are CHICKEN. The cowardly meat.
What Lunch Meat Are You?


Chicken????

I hope I'm free range.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Happy Birthday
Singer Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers) is 60 today.


Forgive me for this sacrilegious link, R.T.

It may not be as easy as some expect
Richard Cohen in the Washington Post suggests that Iraqis do not wish to be liberated from Saddam Hussein just as Germans did not wish to be liberated from Adolf Hitler (contrary to what Condoleeza Rice suggested recently).

China = Israel?
I used to see myself as a supporter of the Tibetan cause. I flew the flag of Free Tibet on my car bumper, joined IFTIP (Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People) and went to see the Dalai Lama speak when he last visited Israel.

Then, some time ago, I saw a program about China, on Israeli TV, in which an academic expert on China said a few words about the Chinese side of the Tibet issue. It was very eye opening. I suddenly realized that I knew far too little about the conflict and all my information came from one side.

I have noticed that many claims pro-Palestinians regularly make about what Israel does to the Palestinians are very similar to atrocities I’ve heard and read that are ascribed to China with regard to Tibet. I’m talking about claims such as using the territories as a toxic waste dump, ethnic cleansing, unrelenting racist discrimination, indiscriminate murder of innocents and so on. You know the score. It is all suspiciously similar to what they’re saying about China and Tibet. And it’s more or less the same sort of people who are saying these things in both cases.

I know China is a very different kind of country, which still propagates its ideologies forcefully, and puts people who think differently in prison. Therefore China cannot really be compared to Israel.

I think Tibet should have freedom, just as I believe the Palestinians should have a state, when they can prove themselves trustworthy. But I have begun to wonder if the Chinese are really as wicked as they are made out to be, with regard to Tibet.

Advertisement on half a page in the printed version of Haaretz, yesterday (made out to look like a mourning notice):
THE SAME FINGER ON THE SAME TRIGGER: THOSE WHO ELIMINATED YITSHAK RABIN ARE NOW ELIMINATING YASSER ARAFAT
(signed) GUSH SHALOM

I didn't get it, so I popped into the Gush Shalom website. There it is explained graphically so even stupids like me can understand:


Now all is clear.

Monday, September 23, 2002

But you can't beat terrorism by force
Ynet says that during the demonstrations in Beit Jalla on Saturday night, one of the demonstrators shot about 20 bullets towards the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. I remember reading, that night, that Gilo residents could hear gunfire. Israel apparently warned the Palestinians that if the shooting did not cease, Israel would re-enter Beit Jalla. This was not necessary. It seems dozens of the shooter's neighbors gave him a good beating!

I knew it!
Update on the John Pilger wishful-thinking-becomes-history documentary. Nelson Ascher from Paris was kind enough to enlighten me: "There's another Pilger article in today's Guardian. There he tells who is the Israeli historian he was talking about. Guess who else could he be: Illan Pappe". Why am I not surprised? Well, because that's exactly who I thought it must be, but was too timid to say. Distinguished historian indeed. Not in Israel, well maybe in Beer-Sheva University (Some of the political scientists there are real fruitcakes. Maybe the desert sun addled their brains). These days I mainly read Pappe's articles in Arab papers. Well, I don't actually read them. Waste of time. Reading Pappe is a bit like reading those newspapers you get in supermarkets that have headlines like: "I married an alien, our daughter flew off in a spaceship".

By the way, John Pilger has his very own website. He doesn't seem to have an e-mail. I wonder why.

Yasmin Abu Ramila
Last night, on TV, they showed Yasmin Abu Ramila, the Palestinian East Jerusalem little girl who got terrorist victim Yoni Jesner’s kidney. What a sweet little girl. They said she was born without kidneys. Can you imagine what life must be for such a child? She’s older than my youngest, but looks much younger. You should have seen her mother’s face. So happy.

Palestinians and Al-Qaeda trained by Iraqi intelligence, in Iraq
The Shin Bet has revealed that last month it apprehended three Palestinian terrorists that had been trained in Iraq, along with Al-Qaeda operatives, by the Iraqi intelligence service. (Ynet)

Brave kid
The caller who tipped off the police last week about the terrorist in the bus stop at Umm Al-Fakhm junction was an Israeli Arab. His call prevented the terrorist from getting on a bus and maybe killing tens of innocents. As it happened, policeman Moshe Hezkiya was killed and the 17 year-old caller, Rami Mahmid, was critically injured. He showed great courage by asking the terrorist for his cell phone in order to call a friend. He actually called the police with the terrorist’s own cell phone! I wish him a full recovery.

John Pilger rewrites Middle Eastern history to suit his politics, in a British ITV documentary, said to be not only violently biased against Israel and one-sided, but full of false facts and innuendoes. The documentary was sensitively aired a few hours after the end of Yom Kippur, so that British Jews, just having been hopefully forgiven for their sins, were provoked into beginning the new year by sinning before God "by profanation of thy name" and "by impurity of the lips". The network’s chairman, Michael Green, was not amused. Neither was the Israeli embassy.

Just so there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings of his imaginative version of events, Pilger also published an article in the UK Mirror saying, among other things that “Shortly after it was founded in 1948, Israel controlled, mostly as a result of a United Nations partition and partly by force, a total of 78 per cent of historic Palestine”. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the world: We are really really really sorry we fought back, when attacked by five regular armies. This was certainly inexcusable violence and we’re so sorry and ashamed we’ve all decided to leave, en masse, right now, all five and a half million of us. We’ve decided Golders Green is a much nicer place to live. See you soon!

“The Palestinian suicide bombers and their mass murder of innocents have hardened Israeli public opinion, but what is seldom reported is that they are a relatively recent phenomenon”. Oh, right, my policeman friend who still has nightmares of the body parts he encountered strewn all over Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv back in 1994 just has an active imagination.

He says that "Nine-tenths of Palestinians killed by the Israelis are civilians; 45 per cent are teenagers and children". this si a particularly wicked distortion. By saying civilians, he obviously means people who do not recieve a salary from any Palestinian security forces, because according to this ICT analysis "Over 50 percent of the Palestinians killed were actively involved in fighting - and this does not include stone-throwers or "unknowns"". And according to the same ICT analysis, 37% of the Palestinian victims were under twenty years old (not 45%). It is reasonable to assume that many Palestinian combatants would be between the ages of 17 and 19, isn’t it? Throwing the statistics for the over-17’s in with the little kiddies is a rather obvious distortion. If you take into account that the percentage of Palestinian female victims, including female children is extremely low, you can see that this was no indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, as Pilger falsely claims.

I couldn’t read it all. Too aggravating.

Pilger , by the way, is adamant that the documentary is completely accurate: "Our historical adviser was one of Israel's most distinguished historians”. The article doesn’t elaborate. Hmmm, I wonder who it could be.

Gil Shterzer has found an excellent Israeli blog called "Mideast: On Target", which offers very interesting commentary about the situation.

From yesterday's posts: "The quiet of the past weeks is also in the ear of the listener. Reported, but not emphasized, have been almost daily mortar and rocket attacks in Gaza as well as frequent shootings in both the West Bank and Gaza. As long as few Israelis were dying, it was deemed peaceful.

The attacks of the past few days are the result of a number of factors, bad luck being the first. Second, the shock of the IDF successes of the past months is wearing off and the terrorists are adapting to the new reality of IDF presence in the territories. Simultaneously, for the soldiers of the IDF the action of the first weeks of the operation is slipping into the danger of routine, as it is impossible to remain "alert" in perpetuity.

Last but not least, the terrorist organizations are hard-pressed to show the Palestinian population that they have not been destroyed by the IDF activity, and as a result are stepping up their attempts, understanding that at this stage quantity is more important than quality: we are likely to see a surge of poorly prepared attempts, most of which (like 99+%) will fail, but an occasional one will get through. With tragic results".


One of Gil's readers, Haggai, comments that he "started checking that site earlier this year after seeing a great talk by Elliot Chodoff" one of the contributors to the blog "about terrorism. As a prime example of how terrorists have been hoodwinking the world for decades, he explained how only one country was accused of violating international law after the Entebbe raid. No accusations were made against the various states who sponsored the terrorists, and none were made against Libya and Uganda for having allowed the hijackers to land the plane on their soil--the only country which technically violated any existing law was Israel, which of course landed in Uganda without permission to rescue the hostages!"

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Where is Fred Lapides getting all these anti-Palestinian cartoons? Do you think he’s had them commissioned specially? Maybe he rubbed out Sharon and pasted in Arafat’s equally ugly mug.

Could there actually be people out there who dislike Arafat AND have a sense of humor?

Prices of flour and bread going up again.

It looks like Tawfiq Tirawi won’t win any popularity contests in the West Bank
This morning I heard someone (sorry, I was driving, I didn’t catch who it was), on Israel radio’s Reshet Bet, explaining why Palestinians won’t be very sorry if Israel gets its hands on West Bank general intelligence chief, Tawfiq Tirawi, currently holed up with Arafat. Besides his involvement in terrorist attacks against Israelis, he’s also known to be responsible for the murders without trial (following horrific torture) of many Palestinians suspected of being land merchants and collaborators. The guy on Reshet Bet radio said he also ran a particularly violent protection racket, and established a network of brothels in refugee camps, enticing local young women to work in them.

Not a very nice man.

More Israeli inhumanity: Palestinian terrorism victim's kidney was transplanted in a Palestinian child from East Jerusalem.
From Israeli Guy: "The family of 19 year old Scottish yeshiva student Yoni Jesner, who was murdered in Thursday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, donated his organs to be transplanted. Yoni’s kidney was transplanted by Israeli doctors in 7 year old Yasmin Abu Ramila, a Palestinian from the village Akeb in East Jerusalem. Story from Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, I wonder if it will be mentioned by any foreign media".

Life-prolonging machines are not necessarily enemies
In another follow-up of the Haaretz article about the Steinberg public commission on the treatment of terminally ill patients, that I linked to, an Israeli sufferer of Lou Gehrig’s disease describes how a respiratory device has enriched his life for the last three years. He says that prior to his being put on the respirator, he had hinted to his family that, when the time came, he would prefer not to be put on such a machine. He now says that his three years on the respirator have been the most beautiful and productive of his life.

Once again, Israel single-handedly prevents ever-lasting world peace from spontaneously coming into being
Suddenly, Abu Mazen was just about to be appointed Palestinian prime minister. Funny how we only ever hear about these initiatives after they have been rendered unfeasible by Israeli activities.

France appeals to Israel not to harm Arafat
I think we should look out for Arafat’s safety just as much as France looks out for Israel’s safety.

Stephen F. Hayes pours light on the Scott Ritter affair in the Wall Street Journal. It seems he sold out for less than half a million dollars. What a fool.

"Arafat: Sharon wants to kill me"
Right! Him and another few million Israelis!

OK, that’s it for me. Whatever happens, I’ll have to learn about it tomorrow morning.
According to Ynet (Hebrew link) there have been clashes this evening in Ramallah, Nablus and Tulkarm between Israeli soldiers and tens of Palestinian demonstrators who wished to show solidarity with Arafat. Palestinians claim that soldiers shot tear gas and bullets in the center of Ramallah to keep demonstrators from reaching Arafat’s compound.

Big excitements in the Arafat compound
Ten minutes ago loudspeakers told everyone to get out of the compound and surrounding buildings. It seems they mean to blast something. I really have to get to bed but I can't miss this.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

How’s this for gross distortion?
Someone called Mike Carlton in some Australian paper called The Sydney Morning Herald: “Last year, survivors of Sabra and Shatila charged Sharon with war crimes before a court in Belgium, where the law would allow him to be prosecuted for such things. Surprise, surprise, in January this year the chief witness against him, the former Christian militia intelligence chief Elie Hobeika, was killed by a car bomb. The Belgians then dumped the case on a technicality.”

Reading this passage, it looks like there is a direct connection between Hobeika’s death and the Belgians’ throwing out the Sharon case on a technicality. There is, of course, no connection, whatsoever.

Moreover, the uninitiated would think Hobeika was some holy man. Not a word to explain that Hobeika is the actual perpetrator of the massacres and not an innocent bystander.

Neither does this passage leave any doubt that Sharon killed Hobeika, although Hobeika, who, I understand, went on to be a Lebanese cabinet minister after the massacre, among other things, had more enemies who wanted him dead, than I’ve had hot dinners in the last 20 years.

It’s not clear how Sharon was meant to have gone about this alleged assassination. I’m not aware of Israeli commando forces or security forces being used for Israeli leaders’ personal vendettas in high-risk operations. This Australian Carlton person must be mistaking us with the Iraqis or something.

Well, Australia is quite a long way away. I suppose we could forgive this person for NOT KNOWING WHAT THE H#LL HE'S TALKING ABOUT.

Lawrence wonders why “they're worried about Arafat's building collapsing and yet are in complete denial that a wall at the "Al Aqsa Mosque" is getting ready to tumble down…”

Is it just me, or has his page become GREY???? And his nose has disappeared too. I can’t start my day without clicking on it. I hope he realizes the whole Israeli civil service is at risk of collapsing too, if he doesn’t get it back there.

Meryl Yourish has something to say about Arafat's little machine-gun. The girl is wicked!

By the way, isn't it funny how Arafat always manages not to be a martyr at the last minute? Of course, he's had about forty years to perfect this ability. Practice makes perfect.

More Vacation
My girls have another week off school for Succot. This used to drive me crazy. I’d just got them settled in school and then I had to start finding “arrangements” for them again. Now that they’re bigger, it’s easier. Also, I only work, half days in “Hol Hamo’ed” myself which helps. “Hol Hamo’ed” is sort of a festival weekday.

The festival of Succot continues all week, but, if you are religious, you can work and cook and travel and everything on “Hol Hamo’ed”. The First day and the last day are full fledged "Hag", more or less like Shabbat, but not exactly. I think in the Diaspora it’s two “holy days” at the beginning and two at the end. I really can’t be bothered explaining that one.

When the Temple was standing in Jerusalem (you know, the one that used to stand on the Temple Mount that the Muslims say we have no historical or religious connection to, although they weren’t around till a long time afterwards, so how would they know, exactly?) this was pilgrimage time, one of three a year.

Comparing the incomparable.
Unlike the Palestinians, the great majority of Jews, in the latter years of British mandate Palestine, would not tolerate terrorism. Haaretz’ Hebrew version has an article, this weekend, giving an account of the controversy over the question of how, in February 1942, the British discovered the whereabouts of the Lehi organization’s mythical leader, Avraham “Yair” Stern. This discovery led to his being shot, apparently in cold blood. The article mentions that “Yair” had difficulty finding anyone prepared to hide him and, for a while, wandered around Tel Aviv with a suitcase containing a folded up mattress, sleeping rough.

Another critical difference between the two peoples was the early Israelis’ wall-to-wall acceptance of the necessity to disperse all independent Jewish militias, once the State of Israel was established. Even though it was in the middle of a terrible war, Ben Gurion wasted no time in dismantling the Palmach (the Haganna’s strike force) and the Etzel and incorporating them into the IDF. This sounds easy enough, but even the breaking up of the Palmach was problematic, although it was a part of the Haganna, the basis of the IDF. Things got really messy when a disagreement over an Etzel shipment of arms, resulted in violence, the IDF opening fire on the weapons ship, “Altalena”, off Israel’s shore, leaving 16 Etzel men and 3 IDF soldiers dead. Hanan Crystal, a top political analyst, once said in a lecture I attended, that this was the nearest Israel has ever been to civil war.

In demanding all military organizations immediately be dissolved into the IDF (The Etzel signed an agreement to this affect on the 1st June, just 15 days after the proclamation of the State), Ben Gurion was making a tough uncompromising stand, against any division of Israeli military force. He spoke of the dangers of the development of “an army within an army”. He obviously saw this as crucial for sovereignty. The development of militias appears to be quite natural in young countries that don’t have strong central governments or established governmental norms. The best example in this area is, of course, Lebanon.

It seems to me that the Palestinians would have been better off with some “Altalena”s of their own, right from the start. Was this not a basic premise of the Oslo accords? Only it didn’t happen, did it? Not only is Arafat no Ben Gurion. (Is that a crazy understatement, or what?), but, unlike the new Israelis of 1948, the Palestinian people themselves appear unable to grasp this idea.

Anticipating possible comments, although readers who disagree with me (Hi, Cynical Joe) are either few and far between, or thankfully take pity on me and refrain from attacking me on my comments: Whatever Israel-haters may say, Jewish terrorists are still NOT accepted among the great majority of Israelis.

Israeli Arabs miss the point.
How sad.

Women in Egypt
A woman who bravely stood up to Egyptian patriarchal society wrote this book, reviewed in this week’s Haaretz’ book supplement. In the book she tells the story of another such woman, who was executed in 1974 for murder.

The review, caught my eye because the translator from Arabic into Hebrew seems to be my very impressive and rather intimidating Arabic teacher during my last two years in high school. I have her alone to thank for my surprisingly good result in my Arabic matriculation exam. After what she put us through, the exam was child’s play!

In spite of her inspiration, I regrettably failed to continue with Arabic (too lazy), although some basic knowledge is still there. I had planned to start a course in spoken Arabic this year, but blogging and other things have diverted me.

"And I name this war:

______________________________". (Fill in the name of your choice, please use capital letters)

Why don’t we have a name for this war? Have we really accepted the Palestinian misnomer? The Jerusalem Post enlists some help in trying to find a more suitable name.

Ehud Yaari suggests The Sixth War, which he says is what the Hizbullah is calling it. While accurate and acceptable by all because it is non-political, it will be confused with the Six Day War. Not a good idea. Some twerps want it called “the War for a Palestinian Land”, which is tripe because they were offered their land and turned it down. A thought provoking name by writer A.B. Yehoshua is “War of the Borders”. Also inaccurate, but interesting. Other options are “The Oslo War”, “The Camp David War”, “The War Against Peace” (This is Sharansky’s effort. Quite amusing.) and so on. Of course the problem in naming the war is that not everyone sees this war in the same way.

The official name of the Lebanon war was “Operation Peace for Galilee” but most people just call it the Lebanon war. The official name was never very popular.

I find less and less people I talk to are calling it “The Intifada”. People are calling it “This War”. Seeing as this is the case, there probably won’t be an acceptable, popular name for this war until it becomes “That War”, and people will find a way to distinguish it from other wars. Maybe the end of the war will give it a name, when we see where it is leading us. In the long run, we may look back and call this “The War Against Terrorism”, but that depends on the outcome.

It would be great to have a nice catchy name that would unite us all, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I hope it doesn’t end up with a name like “The Thirty Year War”, although maybe “The Hundred Year War” wouldn’t be so inappropriate.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Hebrew link:
”About 50 thousand people at a conference of the Islamic movement in Umm El-Fakhm.
The main message: Israel’s policy endangers the existence of the El-Aksa mosque.

… The conference opened with a minute of silence in memory of the “victims of the Israeli occupation” …"


You will remember that Umm El-Fakhm is the Israeli Arab town where a suicide bombing took place the day before yesterday. Besides Moshe Hezkiya, the policeman that was killed, an Umm El-Fakhm townsman was severely injured. The article doesn't say if the Islamic movement saw fit to mention that occurrence.

Hag Same'ach (Happy Succot holiday) and Shabat Shalom!

The IDF is knocking down buildings in Arafat’s compound. He’s been calling up all his old pals asking for help (The French, of course, and … er… the Egyptians. I think the French are a better bet – Mubarak just loooooves Arafat).

For what it’s worth, someone called Ivgi, posting on an Israeli forum, has the report that they’ve knocked down all the gates and buildings in the compound and the bridge connecting between the building Arafat lives in and the building that houses his offices. Those are the two sole remaining buildings. I wonder which building he’s in. Does he get to sleep on the bed or on the table? Maybe he’s got a fold-up bed in his office? Drat.

But Israel is the wicked one
The Shin Bet foiled Islamic Jihad plans to poison the water in a Jerusalem hospital. The plan was to exploit Israeli humanitarian efforts. A young Gazan obtained a pass to enter Israel in order to go for treatment in the hospital.

Thus the brave Palestinian freedom fighters make use of the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of racist Israel that regularly implements Nazi tactics to ethnically cleanse Palestinian innocents.

Its compassion.

There are so many of these mega-attacks being foiled all the time. I wonder how long before one slips through.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Go read Ribbity about what Al-Jazeera has been saying.

They cry and cry how cruel the curfew is, how terrible their suffering is, how wicked the Israelis are for doing this to them. We hear how Palestinians have begun to understand that violence is not the way, how they dislike Arafat, how they want to change their leadership, how ripe they are for democracy.

So we take pity on them and lift the curfew. And hours later they’re at it again. Sending suicidal murderers to murder our old ladies and babies. Laughing at our pity for them, mocking our compassion.

And this happens again and again and again.

I see tanks have entered Arafat’s compound. I don’t think I should write what I would like them to do to him right now.

At one o'clock police cars and ambulances started racing past my workplace. There was no doubt what it was. Five dead, 60 injured (10 of them seriously, one fatally) in a suicide bombing of a no. 4 bus in the center of Tel Aviv on one of the busiest main streets.

Umm El-Fakhm
The 21 year-old policeman Moshe Hezkiya was answering a call about a suspicious person at the bus stop in Umm El-Fakhm. The terrorist was waiting for the bus. When the police car arrived he walked up to it, said a few words and blew himself up. So in effect, someone's vigilance, and the police's fast response prevented a suicide attack which would probably have killed tens. Moshe Hezkiya saved all those lives with his own.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Why does this sound familiar?
A former weapons inspector to Iraq remembers:

“Iraq, faced with incontrovertible evidence that it was lying, would amend its declarations to take into account any new evidence. We would analyse their new declarations, and find them to be new lies. We would gather information from other sources, such as Iraq's former suppliers, to prove that Iraq was still lying. Iraq would again admit that it had not told the whole truth, and make a new declaration. Each of these declarations turned out to be just a new lie. With each iteration, Iraq would promise a new chapter of full cooperation, similar to its current promise of unconditional access to inspectors”.

I can’t believe the Guardian ran this. They didn’t let the facts confuse them though. The rest of the edition is as misinformed as usual.

Fred Lapides found me this treasure of Israeli artists.

This is by Moshe Hoffman

A suicide attack
A man walked up to a police car at a bus stop in Umm El-Fakhem junction and blew himself up. One person was killed besides the killer and three others were injured.

Update: The man killed was a policeman, as is one of the wounded.

Another Israeli killed, this time by Palestinian gunmen in the north of the West bank.

The Miami Herald does have time for speaking to Israelis. They spoke to this man who lost his wife in the 1994 suicide mass murder on the #5 bus in Tel Aviv. I ride this bus line a lot and always think of that attack. In those days, Israel TV didn't edit the pictures shown of terrorist attacks and the pictures we saw of that particular attack were of the kind that you can never forget.

On one condition…
It turns out there is a condition for the unconditional access promised the UN inspectors by Iraq, after all.

Arab Israeli leaders continue to alienate themselves and the people they represent from mainstream Israeli society.

Blocking roads is not the way into people’s hearts
There has been public uproar for the last year or so at the plight of ex-navy divers from an elite commando who until recently practiced diving in the polluted Kishon River near Haifa. Their commanders believed the murky waters were a good simulation of seawater in busy ports. At least 20 of these unfortunate men have contracted cancer and some have died of the illness. The sick veterans and about 35 fishermen who used to fish in the river and also contracted cancer are conducting legal battles: The commando veterans want their illness recognized as resulting from their army service and the fisherman on their part are sueing the surrounding factories for illegally pouring cancerous chemicals into the river.

Yesterday Greenpeace nitwits chained themselves to an enormous pipe in the middle of one of the busiest roads in Israel as a plea to discontinue pouring the chemicals into the river, according to Haaretz. According to this Maariv article from the Haifa edition of the paper, there is a plan to pour industrial salts straight into the sea to avoid polluting the river. A Greenpeace report says these salts are really dangerous chemicals that should not be poured into the sea at all.

I ask myself if there wasn’t a less anti-social way of raising public awareness. People already know of the dangers of the pollution, and people care and want it stopped. Why alienate them by behaving like public menaces and blocking a main road? I can think of many ways to bring this back into public attention without disturbing the peace, such as writing letters to newspapers, lobbying local politicians, distributing fliers and stickers, putting up publicity booths in public places, organizing legal demonstrations and taking legal action, to name but a few.

There are some very effective organizations in Israel that lobby about ecological issues, and have launched campaigns on such issues as: The excessive building up of our few beaches and limited open spaces; the construction of a new large highway from the north to the south of the country and other issues that should be debated in any free society.

These Greenpeace attention grabbing tactics may seem cool to activists, but they are hardly the way to make a difference in such an important matter.

According to Israeli radio station Reshet Bet (Hebrew link), Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, instructed the Shin Bet to increase the efforts to apprehend those responsible for recent terrorist attacks believed to have been perpetrated by Jews. In the government meeting today, he is reported to have emphasized the moral severity of such acts and that there is no “good terrorism and bad terrorism”.

The charred body of 67 year-old David Buhbout from Ma’ale Edomim, east of Jerusalem was found this morning in a rubbish dump outside the West Bank village of Al Azaria. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered by Palestinians, when he came to the village to shop for construction materials yesterday. According to Ynet (Hebrew link) his body had signs of severe violence. The police believe he was badly abused for several hours.

Allies
Yossi Klein Halevi, as always, manages to portray Israeli popular sentiment.

“This time, though, Israelis suspect that we may not be nearly as lucky as we were in 1991. This time there may be no dress rehearsal for apocalypse.

Yet ask almost any Israeli Jew--left, right or center--whether the U.S. should attack Hussein, and the answer is unequivocal: The evil must be uprooted

[…]

Those of us who sit on the front line of this imminent war have little patience with the appeasers who urge caution even as Hussein approaches nuclear capability”.

From what I understand, Marwan Barghouti was never exactly as powerful in Palestinian circles as this commentary suggests.

Am I right in assuming that Muslim fundamentalists probably despise Western doves much more than they do the hawks? The hawks at least see them as worthy rivals, whereas the doves perceive them as no more than pathetic, uncivilized paupers, in need of Western protection and charity. How degrading for the heirs of the magnificent Muslim empire of old.

Be'Hatzlacha, R.T., in your new job today.

The Shin Bet has apprehended Muhammad Daoud, 20, a Tanzim operative (affiliated with Arafat's Fatah) who planted 2 bombs a fortnight ago near former prime minister Ehud Barak's home in Kochav Yair. Ehud Barak no longer lives there. This person and his associates would have known this if they read Israeli newspapers, which are obsessed with where Barak and Bibi (Netanyahu) live. The papers aren't interested in where Yitshak Shamir lives, though, which is quite near my home in a very modest apartment.

Ehud Barak is a natural target for tanzim. We are reminded that he is the person who made the Palestinians a more generous offer, than any other Israeli leader in history!

For some reason, the Shin Bet seems to find it harder to apprehend Jewish terrorists, although there probably aren't very many of them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

It’s just not happening
I was in the supermarket about an hour ago. There was no mad rush on the mineral water bottles or on the canned food. Sorry. Obviously just the media trying to heat things up, as usual.

????
A bomb blew up in a school in Yata, South of Hebron today, lightly injuring five eight year-old Palestinian children. This outcome was apparently very lucky because the kids had just gone back into their classrooms after the recess had ended. It’s looking like it could very well have been perpetrated by Jewish terrorists. If this is the case, the police should do everything possible to apprehend these monsters and they should be treated EXACTLY as Palestinian terrorists would be treated. Tal discusses this too.

Who to believe?
The Guardian says oil prices will go up and the Wall Street Journal says oil prices will go down.

I know nothing of such things, but isn’t it amusing to see how conspicuously political views affect economic prophecies?

The Guardian article contradicts itself though. First they say that the last decade was one of miracle growth for the US, and then they say the Gulf War punctured global growth (Wasn’t the Gulf War just eleven years ago? Mustn’t have punctured anything very badly if a year later growth miraculously happened for the US, economic world leader).

The Wall Street Journal puts it best: “Economic forecasting is always a mug's game”.

Captured terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh has been identified as one of the killers of Daniel Pearl.

Less Israelis.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele may not have time to talk to wounded Israeli children, but he has plenty of time to be sarcastic about Israeli preparations for the threat of Iraqi scud missiles. “While Iraq's known missile arsenal of a few ageing Scuds poses little danger to Israel, newspapers here have reported western intelligence officials as raising other wild scenarios”. I dearly hope he’s right, but maybe he’d like to contemplate what would be the consequences of just one aging scud missile with one primitive chemical warhead landing in the middle of a highly populated area. Not that he, or anyone else in the Guardian, could give a damn.

Some German kids don’t know how good they’ve got it.
How about we ship them off to Iraq or the PA to see if they like it better?

The UK Guardian at the cutting edge of differentiating between blood and blood, pain and pain.
Jonathan Steele tells the sorry plight of a 15 year-old Palestinian boy who lost his hand, in yesterday’s UK Guardian. When he tried to throw a grenade at Israeli tanks, Israeli soldiers shot him in the hand. Or so he says. It seems more likely to me that the grenade blew up in his hand. Since when are Israelis such fantastic shots that they just slice of a kid’s hands with bullets, and miss the rest of him completely? He’s actually lucky to be alive, but Mr. Steele doesn’t mention that. Neither does he mention that the Rafah houses demolished on the Egyptian border were used for smuggling weapons through underground tunnels.

I’m sorry the kid lost his home and his hand, but you know, we’ve also got our share of juvenile amputees, and not because they were throwing grenades. No. They were brutally enforcing a wicked occupation by riding buses and eating pizzas. They also have to spend months and years of recuperation. Their lives will also never be the same, and their story is no less the story of this war. But you won’t find them on the front news pages of the Guardian.

My heart bleeds
Queen Fadila of Egypt (from reading her bio it seems to me the woman has never set foot in Egypt) is being thrown out of her 2 million pound sterling (what’s that? About $3 million?) apartment on the exclusive Avenue Foch in Paris.

The UK Guardian quotes her as saying "My only income is handouts from Saudi and Moroccan princes and kings. I think there's something very odd about the sale, a sort of plot, if you like. After all, this is really the official residence of Egypt's royal family."

Royal family, my $#%. GET A JOB, you lazy good for nothing!

No pit of snakes for this robot
I say: Call in Harrison Ford!

Here's the same report I gave yesterday about Israeli security officials believing US-Iraq offensive will be before November. This time in English.

Palestinians stoned Jewish worshippers on Yom Kippur. A child was wounded.

CIA started another course to teach Palestinian Authority security officers to fight terrorism.
Yawn.

Saddam buying time.
Allows the inspectors back.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Take a look at Natalie Solent's rape analogy.

I Caused 9/11
A particularly hilarious insignificant thought.

Of course, being Israeli, I have no right to find that post amusing, because I really did cause 9/11.

Ready to roll?
Israeli Reshet Bet radio station announced on Sunday morning, top Israeli security sources evaluation about the timing of the American Iraq offensive. They reportedly say that it is believed by the Israeli security forces that the Iraqi offensive has been moved forward and will begin before November. This was reported by Carmela Menashe, the station’s military reporter. The same reporter interviewed Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, on Sunday morning, as well. The Chief of Staff traditionally gives interviews on the eve of Yom Kippur. Could Yaalon be the “top Israeli security sources”?

So what about this talk of not being ready before December? Bish says disinformation.

All this speculation about when probably seems a bit superfluous to people outside of Israel (who aren’t in the US or British military), but it makes a big difference to us over here for obvious reasons. Like everything else, a lot of Israelis would rather it started “after the hagim” (the religious holidays - meaning after Succot, which ends on the 28th September, this year). Bish speculates that if they want it to be well under way before the month of Ramadan, which starts at the beginning of November, it could be any minute. We must remember he’s been saying this for a while. I think he expected it to start in August. We still have to take the weather into account.

Ehud Yaari update
Ehud Yaari tells of an ongoing debate being held by Islamic scholars about the “advisability, purpose and "rules of engagement" for acquiring atomic, chemical or biological weapons”.

and

With regard to an unwritten agreement between Israeli Defense Minister Ben Eliezer and top Palestinian security officials calling for “an effort by PA Security Services to stop terrorist activity emanating from the district of Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip as a prelude to Israeli military redeployment and withdrawal from other towns seized in the West Bank” there are limited results. Bethlehem is quiet because the IDF has dismantled terrorist networks but the PA isn’t doing anything serious to facilitate this. In Gaza, not only are the PA not doing anything agreed on but “Fatah's military wing, Arafat's loyalists controlled in Gaza by Dahlan and his lieutenants, has taken the lead in terrorist attacks” and Dahlan’s “deputies publicly commended operations by the Popular Resistence Committees as acts of self defence”. Yaari summarizes that “the Intifada may be beginning to die out but it certainly is going to take its time getting there”.

What can we do when trying to be fair and indiscriminate can prove to be deadly?
In the the Jerusalem Report, Hirsch Goodman discusses the dilemma of open-minded Israeli Jews who don’t want Israeli Arabs to be discriminated against, but are afraid to let their kids ride a school bus driven by an Arab.

What, no deserters this time?
According to Haaretz “The director-general of the Defense Ministry, Amos Yaron, believes that there are many advantages to the proposal of Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar to evacuate the residents of the Dan region in the event of an Iraqi ballistic missile attack”.

Arafat influencing Israeli elections?
Yusuf Tarifi, son of top PA official Jamil Tarifi, was released from prison a few days ago after spending the last two months in an Israeli prison. Maariv says he was released because of international pressure. Maariv says they have come by transcripts of his investigation. The transcripts include his confession of weapon deals. Others involved in these deals, from 1995 onwards, were, among others, Muhammad Dahlan and Husam Safi, close to Jibril Rajoub. Israel channel 1 news has already pointed out that these connections were what brought about his release, Israel not wanting them implicated. The Shin bet was opposed to his release, by the way.

According to the transcripts, in 1996 Abu Mazen stored a suitcase with one and a half million dollars in cash, that had come from Arafat, in Tarifi’s house. The suitcase stayed locked in Tarifi’s house and three times 55 year-old Abu Marwan, ambassador to Morrocco, took out a certain amount of money, for which he wrote a receipt. Tarifi told his investigators that he heard that the money was designated for the elections that were being held at that time in Israel. I wonder whom Arafat was backing, because if he was backing Peres he just threw all that money down the drain. What a waste!

I have rejoined the land of the living!
My mother said that her brother (my uncle) heard from a Muslim friend that many Muslims break their Ramadan fast with yoghurt, which lines the stomach and makes eating again easier. So I tried it and it seems to have worked. So now my stomach is lined with yoghurt and full of other yummy stuff, and I don't feel bad at all. You often feel bad after breaking the fast. The fast itself wasn't too bad for me, but Bish had it rough. He spent most of Yom Kippur racing on a scooter after our youngest who was riding her bike (a favorite pastime for secular kids is roaming the empty streets on their bikes). It was a really hot day. He come back looking like he'd just stepped out of the shower!

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Just one more thing
Our Anna Smashnova beat Anna Kournikova in the final of the Shanghai Open!

Now I will go and prepare myself for self-inflicted starvation.
I must be out of my mind.

From the erev Yom Kippur evening service*
“Hear us, O lord, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved; for thou are our praise. And bring perfect healing to all our wounds, for thou, Almighty King, art a faithful and merciful healer. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who healest the sick of thy people Israel.”

*From the Yom Kippur prayer book, Hebrew Publishing Co., New York, USA, 1931.

Another war.
This Yom Kippur is the 29th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Newspapers always have stories and memories. I find it hard to read them. I always think of the Yom Kippur War as “that horrible war” and I steer clear. I must have internalized the collective trauma of that war pretty well. Last year I forced myself to read some of the stories in the papers, and I’ve been trying this year too. On Friday, I heard a soldier, wounded in that war in a terrible battle on the Golan Heights, telling his story on the radio.

As child, I think I sensed what a heavy shadow the Yom Kippur war cast on Israeli society. There were the visible effects, of course. A boy in my class had lost his father and occasionally let loose in the classroom; one of our sports teachers had no arm; a distant cousin behaved strangely. But it wasn’t just. Was it the shock of the surprise attack? Or the stories of terrible bloody battles? I guess it was all that at first, but later on, when the truth of the foul-up started to come out, it was mainly the insecurity in knowing that the powers that be could make such a colossal miscalculation, with such horrible consequences.

You have to spend at least one Yom Kippur in Israel to even begin to understand what it was like. I live in a central part of Tel Aviv on a main street. There are always cars and people and bustle and noise. I couldn’t sleep the first night we moved in, for the noise. But even here, Yom Kippur is completely silent. Everything shuts down. No one drives on Yom Kippur. The only cars are ambulances and police cars, and even they are few and far between.

Can you imagine the shock of an air-raid siren piercing that silence? I wasn’t in Israel that Yom Kippur, so I can only imagine that experience. Bish said they realized something bad was happening even before the siren, because suddenly fighter airplanes were flying over-head. And then the phone rang. They were a religious family. Normally no one would have dreamt of calling them on Yom Kippur. Nor would they have dreamt of picking up.

That war inspired a lot of popular songs, at the time. In one of them a father promises his little girl that this will be the last war. That song always brings tears to my eyes.

Dear Mummy,
I’m told that “HaYamim HaNora’im” (“The Terrible Days”: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the days in between) are the time to ask forgiveness of those I have wronged.

The other day while I was dealing, unskillfully as usual, with a very angry you-know-who, I suddenly realized that what I was seeing before me was a mirror of myself as a child. Only I was much worse.

I was a real horror, wasn’t I?
I was angry, bad tempered and rebellious; I was selfish and inconsiderate; I was lazy, messy * (how’s that for starters?). You didn’t see much “nakhus” from me at all. And through it all you were tireless, stable, patient, sensitive, warm and caring. And you made the best sandwiches ever.

And I didn’t appreciate your efforts at all.

I ask myself how you could have suffered such a disagreeable child.

Now I’m a mother myself. I know we mothers can take quite a lot from our offspring, and still feel oceans of tenderness for them.

Luckily for me, you are still all the above and more, and now I can appreciate it.

I love you, Mummy. I’m sorry I was such a brat and gave you such a hard time. I hope I’m managing to make up for it a bit.

--------------------------------
* If you ask Bish he’ll probably say I still am most of those things listed above.

For Yom Kippur: Food!
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is all for family meals.
He points to the unhealthy aspect of the untimely demise of such meals in modern life, in the face of microwave snacks and fast food ate alone and while doing other things. But he’s optimistic (I like optimists. People are forever dwelling on prophecies of doom are so off-putting). He sees meals as a popular social activity and thinks they’ll be back (Well, they haven’t completely gone have they? I just ate one with my family). He realistically points out that we don’t have to go to the extremes of eating raw foods. He says we can make fast preparation foods work for us by using them to make family meals easier to orchestrate (Great! I don’t have to feel guilty anymore about feeding my daughters food out of packages). I must get this guy’s book. I wrote about it, remember? Yes, so do I, but I can’t find it.

A Dutch plane heading for Tel Aviv from Amsterdam had to land an emergency landing in Bucharest this morning after a letter was found on the plane warning that a bomb had been planted on the plane. The plane was checked but nothing was found. All the passengers continued to Israel on the regular El Al flight from Bucharest to Tel Aviv.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

I’ve hit the big time
Josh Kraushaar has put me on his list of “big time blogs”. Oysh, now I feel like a fraud. I’d be much more comfortable on a list of “small fry blogs”.

Thanks, Josh.

The municipal cultural center building in Gaza City is hosting a pro-Saddam Hussein rally. Attendees have the pleasure of walking all over the US flag.

Via Inner Space (Hebrew blog).

Stocking up for the war
According to Maariv, mineral water sales are up thirty percent in Israel and sales of canned foods are up twenty percent. A friend went to our local gas mask distribution center last week and had to queue up for quite a while. She asked the soldiers there when was the best time to come and they said between two and four in the afternoon (in case you need to go).

But maybe there’s no hurry. The London Telegraph (registration required) said yesterday that the 30,000 British troops planned to take part in the attack on Iraq will only begin deployment after the debate in the British Parliament on the 24th September, and it will take at least three months for their tanks to get there. Today British officials told the Telegraph that December would be the most likely time for military operations to begin, because of the weather.

I got an e-mail from an American seventh-grader, who asked me if I could help her with her school project which entailed describing a typical day-in-the-life of an Israeli teenager. My daughters are pre-teen so I asked someone I know to help out. This is his letter:
(Names have been changed for the sake of privacy)

Dear ------,
My name is Gal. I am a 14 year old Israeli boy. I live in Tel Aviv in an apartment with my mom, dad, 16 year old brother Alon, Moggy the dog and Suzy the cat.

My day starts at 7.30 when my mom wakes me for school, school is usually from 8.15- 13.40 -6 days a week - thats right poor me we have to go to school from Sunday to Friday.

My school is a big public school, there are no private schools in Israel. There are about 2000 pupils and it is 5 minutes walking distance from my home.

We are 40 kids in the class and I suffer least in English and sciences lessons.

After school finishes I come home for lunch. Do some homework if absolutely necessary and then at about 4 pm I meet up with my friends.

We go skateboarding or hang out at each others houses playing computer games and making home made movies.

Twice a week on Saturday and Tuesday I go to the scouts. I have been going to the scouts since 4th grade and this year I will do a leader's course. So that next year I will become a leader.

Once a week usually Friday afternoon 6 of my friends play Dungeons & Dragons. I am the Dungeon Master and have to prepare the adventure for a 4 hour game.

Friday night is the only night I can stay out till late although I am always arguing with my parents because they only let me stay out till 1 am. Usually we go round to a friends house to watch a movie and order in a pizza. Other times we go to the local park and hang out.

My parents don't like me going to the malls or out of our neighborhood as there is a danger of terrorists blowing up these places. I used to be allowed to go to markets and downtown. There was never any problem of safety as Israel was always very safe to travel round even at night and even in the downtown areas. Although things are quieter now, I always go out with a cellular phone and my mother likes to know where I am all the time. So I have to call in whenever I move position - rather like living with a homing device on you. I suppose that I can understand her. If there was a danger of suicide bombers detonating in your town at any moment your mom would probably like to know where you are as well.

Gal

Terrorists are coming out of the woodwork all over the place.

I made the pita for lunch with a bit of oil, this time. It's much better like that. Oh, and I made the famous lentil soup. It turned out really good (even if I say so myself). I haven't forgotten that I owe you the recipe.

Wolfie’s comment about Netanyahu made me think of the tragedy of egotism. The perfect government for Israel right now would have Sharon as Prime Minister, Bibi (Netanyahu) as Foreign Minister and Ehud Barak as Defense Minister. But both Barak and Bibi would probably find it demeaning.

Please note that my parents are arriving for lunch in two and a half hours and I haven't even started cooking, yet. Oh, I put the rice in water to soak. That's a start.

Meryl Yourish takes on Nigerian Spam letters
She mustn't be getting enough mail if she's still reading these things. On the other hand, now I know she reads any old garbage she gets sent, maybe I'll send her a line, too.

Guess what? They stopped sending me those things (Nigerian spam...) maybe they saw I wasn't responding and they were offended? I stopped getting KLEZ twenty times a day, too. Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Wasn't that the day KLEZ should have been activated or something?

Update: Someone said something that made me realize Meryl might find what I've just said offensive. This was not my intention at all. I LOVED the post about the spam letter. Forgive me for being a bit crude. Please? With Yom Kippur coming up, I really need to be forgiven, ASAP.