Monday, May 31, 2004
Regarding "French court says Jew-Nazi television skit is not anti-Semitic", Ha'Aretz, May 28, 2004 ( published in Ha'Aretz, May 31, 2004 ): One of the consequences of the indiscriminate use by so-called defenders of Israel of derivatives of the word "anti-Semitism" when criticism against the Jewish state is expressed, is that that word has lost most of its powerful historical content. That does not mean that anti-Semitism as such has disappeared. Au contraire, I would say, it appears to be more acceptable, alive, kicking, burning and molesting than ever since the end of World War II. The phenomenon has become a potently unifying factor, in particular between what appear to be extremes of the political spectrum in Europe. If the Paris court had used the excuse of freedom of expression to clear Mr M'Bala M'Bala of any wrongdoing, his acquittal would make sense. To say that his words and acts " do not address the Jewish community in general or target an individual or group of individuals because of their Jewish faith " is absurd, though. If his being dressed up with a skullcap, shouting "Isra-heil" and " urging young viewers to join an 'American-Zionist axis' " is not anti-Semitic, neither were Nazi-era pictures of hooked-nosed, big-bellied and bejeweled Jews stealing, corrupting the world and spreading diseases and destruction. Who knows, a French judge in those days might have ruled as well that such pictures did not " address the Jewish community in general ", nor did they " target an individual or group of individuals because of their Jewish faith ".
Posted by Bert at 6:37 AM
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Somebody who is very dear to me had an original idea this afternoon, while we were talking about the rejection of Yitzhak Rabin's murderer's request to have conjugal visits with his wife-to-be: as Yigal Amir is a security prisoner, maybe he should be included in a future prisoner-swap with Hezbollah or with one of our other enemies. Both of us agreed that his misdeed certainly served the interests of our most lethal opponents much more than it served those of the Jewish state. Hey, he might even receive honorary citizenship in Iran, Lybia, the Palestinian Authority or elsewhere. I was reminded of our conversation when I just read this story, about our respected Infrastructure Minister Avigdor "Rasputin" Lieberman, who would like to expel "Israeli Arabs deemed disloyal to the state", and to physically separate both Jewish territories and populations from Arab populations and territories. This is not the first time that (Jewish-)Israeli politicians proposed to punish Israeli Arabs who have been disloyal to the state of Israel, and each time such a plan comes up I ask myself "What about Jews who are disloyal?". There are several examples that I can think of: a local 'celebrity' in the town where I live, who sold weapons to Arabs ( I believe he is dead already ); a Jewish woman who helped her boyfriend-terrorist preparing or planting a bomb; a former IDF officer named Elbaz, who killed the security officer of kibbutz Manara in order to steal weapons and sell them to some Arabs. In the eyes of the likes of Lieberman these people must be much worthier than Israeli Arabs who chose to support and join 'the other side'.
Posted by Bert at 8:30 PM
Although Gideon Levy often writes about subjects that rouse emotions and that in my opinion deserve to be covered by at least one major medium, I am not very fond of his sometimes simplistic and overly dramatic ways of making his point. Neverheless, I agree with some of the things he says in today's Ha'Aretz about the role of Shinuy and Tommy Lapid in Ariel Sharon's government. Based on how things are today ( and on how the party voted in Knesset votes related to some of its pet subjects ), in the next elections it will be hard for the people who market Lapid's party to portray it as a centrist, secular party, aimed at clean and responsible government. As for over-dramatization, Gideon Levy and Tommy Lapid could teach each other a thing or two.
Posted by Bert at 10:31 AM
The following quote was taken from an article in this week's Week's End section of Ha'Aretz. The title of the article by Nadav Shragai, The Future's Orange, refers to the orange shirts worn by the settler activists during the campaign against Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan and in favor of a "No" vote in the Likud referendum on that plan. The quote was taken from issue nr. 54 of the publication of the Torah Hayim ( Torat Hayim? ) yeshiva, which describes, under the heading " The Orange Ones", " the meaning of the death of Tali Hatuel and her four young daughters ". Seldom did we receive a stronger indication that there is only a very thin line dividing our own religious fanatics from 'theirs' ( another indication is the settlers' use of children during confrontations with the army and at demonstrations, such as on the picture that accompanies the article in Ha'Aretz: obviously at least a third of these demonstrators have not had their bar mitzvah yet ). People who basically glorify death in such ways as expressed in the Torah/t Hayim publication should ask themselves if their Thorah is really one of Life. "It is well known [...] that there is a unique partition in the world of truth, the partition of holy martyrs [...] that part that no mortal can stand in or enter [...] that of those that were killed in the desert, up to those martyred in our generation, along with the Maccabees, those killed in the destruction of the Second Temple, Hannah and her seven sons and many, many more. "This week, an orange group entered this partition. [...] At the head marched Tali the mother holding a small, unborn baby in her hands [...] followed by four orange girls, Merav, Roni, Hadar and Hila [...] happily singing `You shall not fear them because God is with you.' "They handed out cherry tomatoes, chopped vegetables, information pamphlets and a computer CD to everyone they encountered along the way. [...] They went to them one by one, and tried pleasantly to explain why it was important to vote against. Those standing there had never seen a group just like this. They tried to tell them that cherry tomatoes are not eaten there, and that there is no computer to play the CD on there either, but they were unable to find the words. [...] One of the seraphim found the courage and quietly approached them saying, "Excuse me, we don't vote here. There is no ballot box here," but they kept on singing that God was with them, explaining pleasantly that there was no need to fear anyone, not even the ushers. [...] "Each of the groups of martyrs wondered and asked why they were singing, and Merav answered from the CD: I am Merav Hatuel and I am 11 years old. I live in Gush Katif - and everything came to a fearful halt, and no one knew, and they asked the righteous and innocent ones of each generation. [...] "And the mother calmly directed her daughters towards the group of martyrs of our generation, so familiar and so sorely missed, to those very same rabbis, young men and families and from there [...] to the special section reserved for the martyrs of Gush Katif.. There, Rabbi Shimon Biran was giving the entire holy group a lesson in Torah. [...] "And suddenly, the voice of God sweeps through the garden, thundering that today the fate of Gush Katif would be decided, and all freeze in fear. Only the orange group continues in song, and the little girls continue to hand out the pamphlets to all. [...] Don't you know? Haven't you heard? Our fate will be decided today. We live in Gush Katif. [...] We are going to the voting station to convince the voters. "abbi Biran looks at them warmly, Rabbi Arameh nods in agreement, a tear trickling down his cheek at the bitter news, and he immediately approaches the prayer podium wrapped in his prayer shawl and phylacteries. [...] "Behind him the Ten Martyrs executed by the Romans immediately stand up. And after them, all the righteous and pious of each generation line up. He begins with a Mi sheberakh prayer for the welfare of the people of Gush Katif and prays for them. And the prayer shakes and shocks all. Nothing can move up there in the heavens. "And the seraphim and other angels flee in terror, and the patriarchs and other leaders of the nation gather and come to the edge of the partition to hear the cry [...] and from His place [...] the prosecuting angels flee and run for their lives. And those praying simply come before and approach God. "Before the prayers, Tali appears with her unborn baby in her arms. [...] She is followed by her four daughters, Merav, Roni, Hadar and Hila, singing cheerfully before the Creator of the universe that God is with them, and no creature can withstand that singing. [...] Even the prayer is silent in the face of that singing. Suddenly, out of the silence, that singing rises from the expanse of the land from all the cities and all the voting stations [...] all directly to the Throne of God.. All contemplate the orange group and see that their eyes are red with weeping but their hearts are joyful in view of the coming vote. [...] "The angles of heaven seek to return to their place, to disperse the crowd, but everyone remains standing where they are. There is a traffic jam in the heaven. The angles want to make order but are unable. And the Lord of the universe thunders loudly that this cannot be. And still, no one moves from their place, and the Lord of the universe blesses and continues, I will add to them yet a thousandfold, and I will bless and safeguard and defend them, and they will never again abandon their land, as I have spoken, and you, the orange Hatuels, go and rest and await your rightful destiny at the end of days."
Posted by Bert at 9:56 AM
Interesting newsflash on the website of Ha'Aretz: Tel Aviv court turns down petition by Rabin Assassin Yigal Amir to marry, have conjugal visits with Larisa Trimbobler. This is surely not the last word spoken or written on the subject. ( Here are some more details about the decision ).
Friday, May 28, 2004
Three very interesting - and in more than one way worrisome - articles in today's Ha'Aretz. Aluf Benn explains why and how Ariel Sharon has alltogether stopped being this country's leader, and why it once more might have become time to ask the people to decide in elections. Yossi Verter tells those who did not notice it yet that Bibi Nethanyahu is calling the shots within the government. The third article was written by Yoel Marcus. He questions Tommy Lapid's integrity, asks who is in charge ( Sharon, the opponents - within and without his government - of his plans, the government, the army? ), and argues very well that there is no military solution for mess in which we find ourselves in the territories: In the wake of the storm unleashed by Operation Rainbow, Israel has relearned the lessons of the Americans in Vietnam and the French in Indochina and Algeria - the impossibility of putting down a popular uprising and a nation's aspirations for independence by force. Israel, with its non-conventional strength, has learned the hard way that strong-arm tactics cannot wipe out terror - especially since the Palestinians have begun to use that unconventional weapon called the suicide bomber. Even the latest model F-16 has proved to be no match for Ahmed the human bomb. And if the man who has fought in all Israel's wars says there is no solution apart from a political one, and cooks up a partner-less unilateral pullback, he obviously realizes that the military option has run its course.
Posted by Bert at 11:25 AM
Ariel Sharon seems desperate to somehow get us out of Gaza. One of the absurd proposals aimed at getting such a proposal through the cabinet was to change the non-plan's name, in order to remove any association with the plan that was nixed by 50.000 Likud members. All the time we hear about the lessons that ought to be learnt from Oslo. In my opinion, one of the most important lessons that we can learn from Oslo is that the implementation of any plan or agreement in stages is unworkable: during each stage of implementation the Palestinian and/or Israeli government and public are left totally vulnerable to blackmail, threats and attacks from both sides' extremists. This appears to be a lesson lost on Ariel Sharon. PS: According to Ha'Aretz newsflash on May 30th, at 11:41 hour, Chief of Staff Ya'alon agrees with at least half of what I wrote here: "Ya`alon to cabinet: Full, continuous pullout is preferable because it won`t allow Palestinian extremists to veto it". ;-)
Posted by Bert at 8:38 AM
Not for the first time there are more questions than answers regarding yet another episode in the saga around a nobody who became a famous somebody because of some very well directed media exposure. Either the Shin Beth has - once again? - been utterly incompetent, allowing Mordechai Vanunu to have contact more than once with people whom he was not allowed to meet according to the nonsensical restrictions imposed upon him after his release from prison, or - once again? - in a very clever way the world is reminded of something that it had almost forgotten after "Israel's nuclear whistleblower" had finished his prison sentence and had been left out of the spotlights in Israel and abroad. Well, at least a veteran journalist whom most of us never would have heard about if not for Vanunu and for those who pushed him into the spotlights received some more free publicity.
Posted by Bert at 8:27 AM
Thursday, May 27, 2004
We had a nice and quiet holiday, spent most of it with my in-laws. Here are just some links to articles that I enjoyed reading or in general found interesting this week. Thomas Friedman has become a bit predictable these days, but every now and then he still manages to publish some of the better articles dealing with MidEast events. This article makes clear how much the phenomenon of the suicide murderers is related in particular - but of course not exclusively - to certain developments in the Muslim-Arab world. As one of Friedman's expert sources says: "When young, angry, futureless, sexually repressed people are taught that death is a permanent vacation of guilt-free pleasure, and they see it glorified in countless videos, all you need is a willing truck driver to ferry them over the border from Syria, Jordan, Turkey or Saudi Arabia and presto - a human bomb." I smiled when reading Mr Friedman's use of the term "people of mass destruction ( PMDs )" and agree with his calling the terrorists who are active in Iraq "nihilists", as opposed to the men and women of Hamas and other Islamist terror groups. What happened or not happened in Rafah will hurt our interests and image for quite some time to come. It hardly matters whether or not houses were used by terrorists, whether or not the demonstration last week was organized by the PA and/or ( other ) terrorist organizations, and whether or not armed terrorists were part of the demonstration. This is the kind of situations that the IDF should seriously try not to get in to, because whatever the military outcome of such a situation, it will be a political and PR victory for our staunchest enemies ( see here ). In today's Ha'Aretz, Ze'ev Schiff provides us with a well-written cost-benefit analysis of Operation Rainbow. Most people had already forgotten about Mordechai Vanunu ( Mordechai who? ), and in Tuesday's newspaper his libel suit against Yedioth Aharonoth did not receive much attention. Maybe we should say "not...enough attention", because the powers-that-be again made sure that Vanunu's case received much publicity, by yesterday arresting one of the journalists who broke his story almost two decades ago, and who had stayed in touch with this embittered and frustrated man. Of course, now that he has been held up by the Shin Beth, the documentary that Peter Hounam is making will certainly have a large worldwide audience. An unintentional consequence of today's events? Yeah, probably. In today's IHT I read an article about how Nick Berg z"l came to Iraq, where he ended up being brutally murdered. There are many questions raised by his story, but one probable explanation for most of those questions might be that like many Americans Mr Berg was just a naive idealist who absolutely believed in the power of the free market and of bringing what he saw as the blessings of capitalism to those who are deprived of those blessings. He just could not believe that not all people see the American way as a blessing, and that some even see it as a curse. If naivete, idealism and the search for possible profit are what brought him to Iraq, he paid dealy for them. Two interesting articles on what many commentators think that Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and George W. Bush have in common: they all should be out of office a.s.a.p. In Ha'Aretz, Akiva Eldar explains how "the Bush-Sharon-Arafat trinity is a surefire formula for the perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict.". In the IHT/NYT, Nicholas D. Kristof writes about John Kerry's attempts to make himself acceptable to those American Jews who are likely to support George Bush, making clear that he ( Kristof ) believes - like so many of us - that American MO policy needs a serious overhaul. One last remark. Blogger gives its users the opportunity to open a free 1GB Gmail account, and each Gmail user can introduce two friends to Gmail as well. I opened an account for myself, and introduced two friends who wanted one as well. Already several people whom I do not know but who apparently visited my blog asked me if I had one account left to 'give away'. Sorry, folks! If my own account did not have such a personal username ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) I would be glad to give it to someone else to use, but unless your name is identical to mine, I am afraid you have to keep asking other Blogger-users for a favor.
Posted by Bert at 3:32 PM
Monday, May 24, 2004
The other day I received a notification that we have to pay the first part of our obligatory contribution to the Israel Broadcasting Authority, all together NIS 455 a year. There appears to be a possibility to pay the amount in two installments. Since we did not receive the original notification, now I am supposed to pay the first half + a NIS 22.50 fine. If you need any information or want to complain, you can call on Sundays and Mondays from 9 Am till 2 PM, or come to one of the Authority's regional offices from Tuesday till Thursday from 8.30 until 14.00 or on Friday from 8.30 until 11.00. People who read this blog might be aware that my political sympathies are mostly to be found somewhere on the Left, and I am very much in favor of public quality-television. Nevertheless, I would be among the first to applaud the closing ( I wrote first 'liquidation', but that might be interpreted as a call for violence, which is not exactly what I had in mind, although I am tempted ) of this dysfunctional relic from Stalinism called the IBA. When I first came to Israel, almost every night I went to one of my friends in the kibbutz to watch first the Hebrew news, and then the English bulletin to see if I had understood most of it. In my eyes people like Haim Yavin, Ehud Ya'ari and Gadi Sukenik represented a reliable and in a sense comfortable source of information. Today, I cannot think of one really good journalist who works for Channel One. Also, the Channel only starts broadcasting on special occasions ( i.e. national disasters and the like ) after the two commercial channels, 2 and 10, already brought us most of the relevant information. Ya'ari, Sukenik and Amnon Abrahamovitch all work for channel 2, and both channel 2 and 10 have some highly talented young journalists. Now one of the few journalists whose reports I still liked to see has also left the IBA. Orly Vilnai-Federbush, who reported on social issues, has talked about what she calls the 'reign of terror' at the IBA. That she did so in front of something named the State Control Committee seems ironic, to say the least. In most democracies "State-t.v." can and does fulfill a very important role, but for that first of all the state itself has to function properly. As that is not exactly the case in Israel - one of the many things for which both the Left and the Right are to blame - it is about time to close down the IBA. Through the cable and sattelite companies we have more than enough channels available today to keep ourselves informed and entertained. Since I opened my mailbox this afternoon at 2.05 PM, I will have to wait until next Sunday to call the Authority to receive a new form, so that I can pay the sum for the whole year, without any fines.
Posted by Bert at 9:19 PM
Regarding "PM to bring modified pullout plan to cabinet", Ha'Aretz, May 16, 2004 ( published in Ha'Aretz, May 24, 2004 ) The Yesha Council and the rightwing MKs who " criticized the Majority Coalition for organizing a political rally while newly bereaved parents were mourning the loss of their sons " have quite some nerve and hutzpah. Where were they with their objections when, right before the funeral of poor Tali, Hila, Hadar, Roni and Merav Hatuel z"l, people who were eligible to vote in the Likud referendum and had not voted yet were explicitly asked not to come to the funeral but to go and vote? Sorry, but this is a political struggle for the hearts and minds of the Israeli people, between two totally opposing world views within what is still a democratic society. If those who believe in one of these world views ( assume that they ) have the right to express themselves freely in every possible way and medium and on every given moment, then the people who would like to see a different future for our country have every right in the world to make their views known as well, even and maybe especially when our soldiers are under fire for what many of us view as a lost and fruitless cause.
Posted by Bert at 8:30 AM
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Most of this morning I spent with my wife and our son. Yesterday he felt very bad, today at least he started eating more or less normally again, and he does not have a fever anymore. We had breakfast at a place called "Broadway Bagel", went to change some clothes that our daughter received for her birthday, and spent 260 shekel out of the 400 that my wife received several months ago as a gift for the holidays from the teachers' union. Since every year the choice of shops where you can spend the coupons is very limited, we again used most of the money to buy books. I bought the one-volume Harper Collins 1995 edition of Lord of the Rings, and put it aside for the next time that I will have to do my reserve duty in the army. When we returned I read about the collapse of the roof at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. That is where we arrived nine months ago for our half year's stay in the city. The collapse happened at a new part of the airport. This week's Week's End section of Ha'Aretz had two very good articles on the events in and the situation regarding the Gaza Strip. Uzi Benziman writes about the 'new' disengagement plan, Operation Rainbow, and Sharon's motives and the ways in which he keeps his ministers 'informed'. The bottom line: "Several ministers who met with Sharon this week said afterward that they were not convinced by the prime minister's explanations of what led him to push the disengagement plan. Rather than security or diplomatic considerations, they felt that a desire to influence the attorney general's decision on the bribery case involving the prime minister played a part. " Amir Oren provides us with some vital military background information about the mishap during the Palestinian demonstration. This information explains a lot, but still: " In the face of the outposts in the West Bank, the police of the Shai (acronym for Judea and Samaria, the West Bank) District and the Border Police have learned that they have to conduct evacuations without weapons, because weapons that aren't at hand don't go off, but the IDF refuses to learn that a tank that has deadly shells in its belly and a crew that is accustomed to firing off an entire series - four shells - and no fewer, is destined (through insensitivity even if not with evil intentions) to hit civilians in Rafah or to hit the home of Jibril Rajoub." Other articles this weekend that I thought to be interesting: An interview with/portrait of professor Jean-Robert Pitte, president of the University of Paris-Sorbonne, who was in Israel recently. Although it is hard to get used to an academic 'resorting' to "divine intervention" to explain certain historical developments or events or to point to ways which lead us forward, professor Pitte has some interesting things to say. An example: "As a geographer, I am a great believer in the usefulness of borders," he said. "The word `border' has a bad reputation. But in reality, a border can be good or bad, depending on the situation. When two populations do not want to speak to each other, or cannot speak because of disputes, it is good to have a border between them, and an army to defend the border." A short report - which I only found on Ha'Aretz' website, as far as I can see it did not appear in the printed edition of the newspaper - on raids by the immigration police on Saturday against illegal workers. According to the report, plainclothes policemen even entered a church to scare people hiding or worshipping there, only to have them arrested as soon as they came out of the place of worship. If this report is true, the police behave in a despicable way, which cannot but remind us of some very bad experiences that we as a people had in the course of history. Even though the Arab summit in Tunis is a bit of a mess, there is quite some importance, at least symbolic, in its acceptance of a general statement condemning violence against all civilians, both Palestinian and Israeli. We feel very much supported by the Salute to Israel parade in New York today, especially since at least three of the men who were among those who headed the parade were official representatives of the state of Israel: the country's Tourism minister, its UN ambassador and our Consul General in New York. It must have been very frustrating to participate in this year's film competition in Cannes, because it seems that the choice of a winner was meant first and foremost to be a political statement. Could it be that Michael Moore probably was already picked out long before the jury started to seriously consider how to vote? Anyway, all that does not mean that the movie does not deserve this or another prize. In today's IHT there is a review of Fahrenheit 9/11, and it looks like this is a very powerful, convincing film, made by someone who believes in his cause and who considers himself a true American patriot.
Posted by Bert at 3:01 PM
Friday, May 21, 2004
My wife and I just returned with our 1 1/2 year old son from a visit to a kibbutz nearby. He has a few aphthous ulcers in his mouth, and one of the best ways to take care of that is by rinsing the mouth with unpasteurized goat's milk. A few week's ago we celebrated our daughter's birthday in the kibbutz, and after we visited our family's pediatrician my wife called the woman who is responsible for the kibbutz' children's farm, and she happily agreed to give us some fresh goat's milk. One of the goats had given birth, and she did not seem too happy to give some of her milk, but in the end we left with a small Tupperware shaker full of goat's milk, as fresh as can be. You have to make sure, of course, that the goat has been vaccinated. Afterwards we went to "Iris' cakes", one of the many small and big enterprises of the kibbutz. Started by a kibbutz member who apparently was quite fond of and good at baking cakes and cookies, this is today a well-known supplier of cakes and cookies for birthdays, parties etc. in the region where we live. We bought one box of chocolate chips and one with ginger cookies, which remind me very much of speculaas ( a spiced kind of biscuit ), a Dutch delicacy of which I am very fond. The woman at the counter told us that Iris is half-Dutch. Shabbat shalom.
Posted by Bert at 12:12 PM
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Today I have been busy with things that are not really related to Rafah, disengagement, Israel's PR problems etc. I only posted one more comment on Jonathan Edelstein's Head Heeb blog. There is nothing that I would like to say about the conviction of Marwan Barghouti, except for the fact that I agree with commentators who believe that the chances of him serving the full amount of prison time to which he will be sentenced are very slim.
Posted by Bert at 9:10 PM
Just finished off this day with a good laugh. Via the provider of my free blog statistics I discovered that somebody reached my blog after conducting a Yahoo! search for nude pictures of Shari Arison. The only website that comes up as a result for such a search happens to be mine. Well, de gustibus non est disputandum. Seems like my Friday May 14th posting of 10:03 AM pays off. The number of daily visitors to Dutchblog Israel is still higher than before the death of poor Nick Berg z"l, but at least it is slowly returning more or less back to normal.
Posted by Bert at 12:09 AM
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Could it be that not only people on the Israeli Left are worried/angry/ashamed about what was done this afternoon in Rafah by our soldiers? "Temple Mount Faithful demonstrate in Jerusalem against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon`s policies" ( This evening, Ha'Aretz News Flash, 21:14 ).
Posted by Bert at 11:36 PM
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it was Jerusalem Day today, in remembrance and celebration of the city's reunification 37 years ago.
Posted by Bert at 10:16 PM
Sorry but I cannot think of any satisfactory justification for what happened today in Rafah. The only reasonable explanation - if we refuse to consider the possibility that somebody ( anybody, on either the political or military level ) aimed at achieving what was achieved - is very, very poor judgment by those who fired the shell(s) and the missile(s) and by those who ordered or permitted them to do so. I am sure not all demonstrators were innocent civilians, we all are aware of the cynical use of innocent men, women and children - especially children - by our most dangerous opponents. Still, nothing justifies aiming the sights of your gun/barrel/rocket launcher right into or even right next to a crowd of people. By the way, did Shaul Mofaz provide any proof for his ( highly believable, I know ) claims that Palestinian and Red Crescent/Cross ambulances were used to smuggle body parts of Israeli soldiers to Palestinian-controlled areas? If he can prove it, that is a wonderful PR weapon that should be used ( yes, I know that nobody listens or is even the least interested ), but if he can and will not provide any sustainable evidence, once again damage has been done to the already not very high credibility rate of Israeli officials, which means that all the men and women who try to improve our image abroad can just stop bothering.
Posted by Bert at 10:02 PM
Several times Ariel Sharon has received the benefit of the doubt from people on the Israeli Left, including during last Saturday's mass demonstration of support for his disengagement plan, because they think that he is the only one on the Right who somehow will be able to deliver some sort of end to the occupation. Each time again he shows what has all the appearances of being his true face, and it is far from pretty. The Left does not have a leader, but it also cannot let Sharon, Mofaz and Ya'alon continue with what they are doing right now in Rafah. It does not matter what the purpose of the current IDF actions in that city is: to fight terror, to prove to the world and to the Palestinians that Israel will not be trifled with, to satisfy the Israeli Right ahead of a possible withdrawal from Gaza, etc. etc. If you want to be considered a civilized country, you just do not fire missiles at a demonstration of civilians, many of who are children. Even if troops were fired upon by demonstrators ( something that I have not heard yet in any report ), that still does not justify the things that I heard in reports on Israeli radio. With such actions we deserve all the bad press that we get, and there is no point in whining that everybody hates us. Even if righteous people committed crimes like this they would be crucified by the international media, and rightly so. We can save investing millions of dollars in initiatives to counter anti-Israel coverage by foreign media as long as we do not show any intention of behaving according to more or less accepted international standards, and by that I do not mean what Thomas Friedman called the Hama-rules. It is clear, either Sharon still does not have a clue about what he wants or intends to do with the territories ( or with Israel itself ), or he insists on continuing the occupation as long as the world allows him to do so, letting his policies be dictated by the 50.000 Likud voters who voted against ( or in favor of ) him. Now it is said that in the case of a withdrawal - which might be carried out in stages, even though in my eyes the most important lesson from Oslo is that working in stages allows extremists to take both Israelis and Palestinians hostage at each and every stage with their actions - all the homes of the settlers could be razed. Scorched earth policy, tried so successfully by some of history's most noble world leaders in Russia and elsewhere. Hey, does anybody notice that Sharon's legal troubles haven't made any headlines for at least a week now? Obviously I am angry and shocked, but it is hard not to be when one watches the images from Rafah. I think it was Golda Meir ( at least I saw her saying something like it in The Sword of Gideon, a tv movie about the team that was sent to kill most of the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, with Steve Bauer and Michael York ) who said that she does not forgive the terrorists for turning our young men into killers. In this case we cannot blame the terrorists alone, there is only a very thin link to our justified fight against terror, which - as everybody knows and most people accept - causes innocent people on the 'other side' to die. The main reason for most of the 'colateral damage' of the last days in Rafah is that politicians and the military made a deliberate choice to do what is being done. Their motives only they know, the outcome is still very unclear, but we can guess that all this will not further the real interests of the average Israeli ( or Palestinian ).
Posted by Bert at 3:36 PM
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
In one of the saddest and most depressing periods of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict ( see here, plus several of my postings these last few weeks ) and with Arab-Israeli relations in a state that seems almost worse than ever, at least one positive thing can be noticed: Bney Sakhnin, the Israeli-Arab team coached by a Jewish Israeli, became the first Israeli-Arab football/soccer team to win the State Cup final, by beating Hapoel Haifa 4-1. Kol HaKavod and Mazal Tov. Yallah Bney Sakhnin! Next season they will also play in the European competion for State Cup holders, or whatever the name of that league is. Could it still be that coexistence is not an illusion?
Posted by Bert at 9:35 PM
In today's IHT there is a good article on Arab introspection, by Massoud A. Derhally. Some quotes: * "Yes, the repulsive prison pictures vindicate some Arab grievances. But if there is a lesson to be learned, it is that Arabs should be equally enraged by the deficiency of human rights in their own countries." * "...invoking the Israel card for most Arab governments has, by and large, meant giving the stamp of approval to crackdowns, the denial of civil liberties and the creation of systems that instill fear and paranoia." * "Arab anger at America is a culmination of the frustrations in their own lives: the inability of people to vent their anger openly at their own governments, the failure to rise up against injustices committed in their own backyards, and the absence of checks and balances that in democracies ensure that those in authority are held accountable."
Posted by Bert at 10:44 AM
Regarding "Settlers, IDF clash during removal of illegal outpost", Ha'Aretz, May 18, 2004: How can one translate uncompromising love for the Land of Israel into setting fields alight and polluting the air by burning tires? How can love and appreciation - professed so well in the weeks before and days after the Likud referendum - for the members of our security forces be reconciled with endangering the drivers and passengers of military vehicles by getting them stuck in ditches and by means of spikes, right in the middle of hostile territory? Just as we continuously urge moderate Muslims to denounce and act against the misdeeds of their fanatic co-religionists, it is up to the reasonable and responsible members of the settler community ( I would like to believe that they make up the majority of the settlers ) to condemn the despicable behavior of the fanatics within that community, and to ostracize those zealots. If not, many of us will have a hard time telling the difference between a settler and an enemy of the Jewish state.
Posted by Bert at 9:31 AM
Monday, May 17, 2004
Among the newsflashes on the website of Ha'Aretz I found this one: "U.S. State Department report: Israeli troops frequently use excessive force leading to many Palestinian deaths (Army Radio)" (*). Funny, that same expression is used almost every time by the settlers to describe the behavior of our security forces towards them during yet another circus act aimed at dismantling some illegal outpost. Still, that excessive force never lead to even one Israeli death ( thank G'd for that ). Does this mean that excessive force against Palestinians/Arabs is more lethal than that used against Israelis/Jews? Or are either the State Department or the settlers lying or exaggerating? Anyway, I saw reports on Israeli television about both the Israeli preparations of what is supposed to be a big operation in Rafah, and the dismantlement of Mitzpeh Yizhar. Don't expect me to have any sympathy for murderers and terrorists, but also do not expect me to believe that all the people whom I saw leaving their houses with fear in their eyes are terrorists or their little helpers. If in the near or far future some of these innocent civilians develop certain feelings of antipathy towards Israel ( or against Al-Yahud in general ) I can hardly blame them. On Channel one I heard a reserve colonel ( aluf-mishneh ), member of an organization of former army officers who pursue some sort of peaceful end to the conflict and former IDF commander for the Gaza Strip, explain that there is no reason for Israel to hold on to the Philadelphi road if it intends to pull out of the Strip, and that every military action within the Strip only serves to protect the settlers there ( who of course deserve to be protected as long as there is no political decision to withdraw from Gaza, there is no discussion about that ) and does not contribute anything to the security of the state of Israel. At Mitzpeh Yizhar we saw little boys and girls pushing and confronting big soldiers. This looks terrible on television, funny how terrorists and settlers learn from each other. We were told that a whole squadron/company of Border Policemen would guard the now empty outpost, but that settlers were already waiting with building materials near the entrance to the area, in order to build again some provisonal buildings the moment the army leaves. Right after that there was a report on more than 20.000 municipal workers all over the country who had not received their salaries for months ( some of them for 20 months!!! ) because their employers - municipalities, local or religious councils that are in financial trouble and are negotiating with several ministries about a way out - can not pay them. Many of them depend on the help of friends and family, or have to turn to soup kitchens to feed themselves and their children. As bad as I am at math or as little as I know about bookkeeping, even I know that every shekel can be spent only once, which means that every million spent on keeping the settlers happy - and on providing them with legal or semi-legal funds to buy building materials - and the army unncecessarily busy cannot be spent on health care, education, or the salaries of these poor people. It is time that this ( or the next ) government decides what its priorities are. The choice becomes clearer every day: a healthy, more or less happy, defendable, proud and respected Jewish state where occupation is only a part of history, or a sick, depressed and depressive, undefendable, shameful and despised state where to be considered a true Zionist you have to take part in the oppression of another people, no matter who pays the price. (*) Later according to the newspaper's website the report used the words "the excessive use of force", which is not exactly the same as "the use of excessive force". Still, my point basically remains the same.
Posted by Bert at 9:25 PM
Settlers ( I will not write here "The settlers", even though one of the leading rabbis within the settler movement participates in the protests ) have shown once again that they only have respect for the Land and love for our soldiers when it suits them. During protests at the site of an illegal outpost that is being dismantled by IDF forces and Israeli police a senior police officer was attacked and wounded by protesting settlers. Surrounding fields were set on fire ( cf. the arson attacks by Arab nationalists against pieces of land within the Green Line ) and trenches were dug to prevent military vehicles from reaching the outpost. These caused some vehicles to get stuck, something which - as anybody knows who has even the slightest knowledge of what it is like to spend time within the territories - makes the vehicles' drivers and passengers vulnerable! Did their concern for our soldiers' safety - expressed so well in the weeks before the Likud referendum - suddenly evaporate? A Yesha spokesman said that security forces use excessive force. If the reports about the violent and dangerous acts committed by settlers are true, I would say that not enough force is being used. If the authorities let them get away with it every time they use force against our forces, they - not unlike their extremist counterparts on the other side of the conflict - will believe that their goals can be reached by force, and by force alone. It should be made clear once and for all - in particular on the day that the one and only murderer of an Israeli Prime Minister once again said he does not regret what he did - that only the force of law determines the fate of this country, not the force of a few thousand fanatics who are willing to sacrifice everything - including our state and our soldiers - to realize their apocalyptic dreams.
Posted by Bert at 4:42 PM
My knowledge of the juridical system in Israel ( or that in any other country ) is very limited, but I am sure that those who want to prevent the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin z"l from making his genes live on via his wife-to-be will have a hard time finding a legal basis for their efforts. Probably one of his inalienable human rights is the right to procreate, and otherwise the rights of Larissa Trembovler/Trimbobler - a mother-of-four, about five years his senior, who supposedly left her husband in order to be able to marry Israel's prisoner nr. 1, at least partially for ideological reasons - might be violated: why shouldn't she have the right to marry whom she wants and to have one or more babies with her husband? Although I do not see how/why these two could/should be stopped from marrying and having lots of babies, I already feel sorry for their future offspring. Sure, Amir has some loyal admirers and a family that loves and adores him, but most of the Israeli public does not really like him, to say the least, and many Israelis despise him. Never mind the question whether that is fair or not, his children will bear a mark of Cain. Also, their father will be in prison for many more years to come, which denies them their right to really get to know and be with him in their most formative years. Of course, they won't be the first children who grow up without a father or with a father in prison, but the choice to knowingly force such a burden upon a child seems a bit selfish to me. Besides, who promises them that their mother will in the end not try to leave their father for a more ideologically pure terrorist and murderer? The weirdest reaction to all this came from Yigal's mother, Geula. She was quoted as saying ( I write here what I remember from what I read this morning in Yedioth Aharonoth ):"Should the fact that my son committed a murder mean that his son will be murdered too? Who knows who will be Prime Minister by then?". What does she mean by that? She certainly will be a wonderful grandmother. Sheyihyeh bemazal tov.
Posted by Bert at 11:17 AM
Sunday, May 16, 2004
We have another European champion! Judoka Arik Ze'evi renewed his European title in the -100 kilo category.
Posted by Bert at 6:32 PM
Just made soms changes among the links in the lefthand margin of my blog. Links to most photoblogs were removed, and links to five Israel-related weblogs were added: Lights in the Distance, Protocols, Anglosaxy, Just Jennifer, and Gil Ben Mori's If I forget thee.... It goes without saying that everything that is written on each of these blogs is the responsibility of that blog's author(s). Often I agree with what they have to say, sometimes I strongly disagree with it. As far as I am aware, what all these blogs have to offer when it comes to the events that take place around us here is a more or less balanced, not fanatic or all too one-sided view that respects and supports Israel's right to exist and the country's duty to defend itself (*), while none of their authors seem to explicitly deny the fact that Israel cannot and should not hold on forever to ( all of ) the occupied territories, and that a political, just, accomplishable solution has to be found to make life liveable for most Palestinians by offering them a way out of their misery, preferably within a state of their own. You will not find here any blogs the authors of which are categorically unable or unwilling to accept the existence and legitimacy of either a Jewish state in Israel or a Palestinian people and its claims to independence, and/or who describe their opponents in abusive or disdainful terms ( in other words, I tend not to read blogs by people who are either too obviously right- or leftwing in my eyes, even though Left and Right have become fairly useless terms in today's Israel ). I am sure that still many good and balanced Israel-related blogs are missing on my list. If you know any weblog that suits my 'criteria' please let me know about it, and I will have a look to see if it might be worthwhile to put a link to it here. (*) I am not totally sure what Aron Trauring's opinion on this subject is, but although I disagree with a lot of what he writes he regularly has something interesting and worth reading to say, and he gave me some very good advice when I started my blog. That is why his site is and remains featured among the blogs that I read once in a while.
Posted by Bert at 11:35 AM
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Hier zijn twee ontroerende bijdragen aan de rubriek email@example.com die ik zojuist las. Integratie ( door Margreet de Groot, 7 mei j.l. ) Ik fiets er graag een stukje voor om: de Turkse supermarkt waar groenten en fruit er altijd heerlijk uitzien en waar ook in de winter van alles te koop is. Eigenlijk is het een klein kwartiertje vakantie. ,,Lekker'', glundert de Turkse eigenaar als hij de prachtige trostomaten voor me inpakt. ,,Komt uit ons land'', zegt hij trots. ,,Natuurlijk, dat kun je wel zien'', zeg ik, ,,die hebben de zon gezien.'' Even is het stil, dan voegt hij er bescheiden aan toe: ,,...Holland!'' Broodroof ( door Monica Metz, 4 mei j.l. ) ''Het was hongerwinter'', zegt hij. ,,In Rotterdam was geen eten meer. Ik was zeventien, maar ik schaam mij er nog voor. Op een morgen moest ik bij een bakkerij een machineonderdeel afleveren. Er kwam een klant de winkel binnen met een pond meel. Die vroeg of de bakker daarvan een brood wilde bakken. Als betaling mocht de bakker een deel van het meel zelf houden. De klant zei: 'Het brood wordt om half zes afgehaald. Op naam van Visser.' ,,Tegen vijven ging ik in andere kleren terug naar die bakkerij. Dit keer stond er een vrouw achter de toonbank. Ik vroeg om het brood van Visser en kreeg het mee.''
Posted by Bert at 7:04 PM
Als ik al naar Nederland verlang heeft dat meestal te maken met mijn naaste familie, eten of het landschap en het weer. Echte heimwee heb ik zelden. Toch voel ik me hier - en ik heb dat gemeen met veel mensen die buiten hun geboorteland wonen, heb ik begrepen - meer Nederlander dan ooit, terwijl ik me in het buitenland veel bewuster en nadrukkelijker joods voel dan hier(*). Ik moest hier aan denken toen ik toevallig een heuse website vond die in zijn geheel aan het Wilhelmus is gewijd. Er zijn altijd mensen die hun volkslied aan de moderne tijd willen aanpassen. Zo vindt mijn schoonvader de regels "Od lo avda tikvatenu...lihyot am hofshi be artzenu.." ( Nog is onze hoop niet verloren...om een vrij volk in ons land...te zijn ) niet meer toepasselijk, omdat we al een vrij volk in het land Zion zijn. Afgezien van de vraag of we inderdaad wel helemaal vrij zijn ( een vraag waarmee ik hem steeds weer op de kast gejaagd krijg ) geloof ik dat een volkslied een onlosmakelijk deel van de nationale geschiedenis van een volk is, en die geschiedenis moet je niet steeds weer veranderen, je kunt haar hooguit om de zoveel jaar verschillend interpreteren. Hetzelfde geldt voor het Wilhelmus. Natuurlijk klinkt een groot deel ervan ons als volkomen kolder in de oren en zal nog maar een minderheid van de Neder- en medelanders zich volledig kunnen vinden in de tekst van dit "nieuwe Gristelijke lied", maar met wat uitleg erbij kan iedereen - autochtoon en allochtoon - juist door de tekst van een of meerdere coupletten van dat mooie lied een belangrijk deel van de ontstaansgeschiedenis van ons land beter waarderen en begrijpen. Ik moest zelf erg lachen om en kon mijn eigen gevoelens tegelijkertijd ook deels herkennen in het gedicht dat een van de lezers op de website heeft geplaatst: Emotie Het gevoel als ik je kus omschrijf ik nog het best aldus: 'als die trilling in je borstkas tijdens het Wilhellemus...' Peter van der Graaf (*) Jacob Israel de Haan ( zie hier een website met heel wat prachtige kwatrijnen van zijn hand ) heeft dit uitstekend verwoord in zijn gedicht Onrust: Die te Amsterdam vaak zei: "Jeruzalem" En naar Jeruzalem gedreven kwam, Hij zegt met een mijmrende stem: "Amsterdam. Amsterdam."
Posted by Bert at 11:53 AM
Friday, May 14, 2004
Ik neem aan dat Amalia nog niet echt reageert als haar moeder "Klap eens in je handjes" zingt. Onze zoon van anderhalf daarentegen is gek op het liedje. Als ik het zing klapt hij in zijn handjes, doet hen op zijn boze bolletje, en laat de scheepjes voorbijvaren. Daarna mogen de handjes niet stille staan, hij laat hen maar in de rondte gaan, doet zijn handjes omhoog en in de zij, en klapt om te laten zien dat de juffrouw blij is. Ik zal het eerdaags ook met onze digitale camera opnemen. Nou maar hopen dat niemand onze camera zal jatten.
Posted by Bert at 8:28 PM
* The IDF reports casualties among our forces after ( or during ) heavy fighting in Rafah, where houses are being demolished in an operation to enlarge/widen the Philadelphi road. ( Now it has been made known that two soldiers were killed, and to wounded ). * The Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz, said that the Palestinians used UN ambulances to smuggle slain soldiers` body parts into their territory. This would be very interesting, not that many outside Israel care. * While I was feeding our son one of his favorites, Karlo Vanil ( some kind of vanilla custard ), I literally got tears in my eyes when on my tv screen I watched two parents bury their son. Lior Vishinski, the son of actor Shlomo Vishinski and actress-singer Osnat Vishinski-Giladi, seems to have been a remarkable, beautiful young man. The funeral procession started at the Likud headquarters and on its way to the Qiryat Shaul cemetery passed Rabin square, where tomorrow a pro-pullout demonstration will be held. Thousands of family friends attended the funeral, among whom many of the best artists this country has to offer. I forced myself to watch when Shlomo Vishinski said Kaddish for his son. As a gesture of appreciation the poor father laid his hand on the arm of one of the soldiers who accompanied the coffin, and - as many fathers before him must have said - cried that a son should say Kaddish over his father's grave, not the other way around. While I write this our 1 1/2 year old son is playing right next to me with "Mijn eerste boekjes" ( My first little books ), a box with five or six little books in Dutch, with pictures of animals, numbers etc.
Posted by Bert at 5:11 PM
On the cover of today's Ha'Aretz we see IDF soldiers crawling on all four in search of human remains of the five soldiers who were killed last Wednesday on the so-called Philadelphi road. When I saw the picture it seemed to me that - never mind the high moral values and worthy reasons that cause us to collect even the smallest body parts of our fallen sons and daughters for a proper burial in Israel - this is a bit too much. I was reminded of the words of the mother of Sgt Eitan Neuman z"l, who on Wednesday evening said on Israeli television that although she respects the decision of the IDF commanders to search for the remains of the soldiers, she thinks no additional lives should be endangered to do that job. Then I read the editorial in yesterday's Ha'Aretz, and agreed with every word of it. Because on the newspaper's website articles remain accessible only for a very limited time and in this editorial some very important things are said, I decided to post it in its entirity here. A value that has been distorted As if Israel needed any more open fronts, it has over the past few years developed a strange weak point, vulnerable and debilitating, which in some respects even appears distorted: It has raised the price and value of what is routinely referred to as "bodies and body parts" of fighters who have fallen into the enemy's hands. The phenomenon began as a side issue in prisoner exchanges - in themselves controversial - that involved bringing home bodies of Israeli prisoners and fallen for burial in Israel. In later prisoner deals, the proportions began changing. As the authorities voluntarily gave in to "pressure from the families" and supported the warped pseudo-religious terms that became secularized and militarized, the price that Israel was ready to pay for bringing its dead "for burial in Israel" became higher and higher until it crossed the borders of rationality. It gradually transpired that Israel was willing to pay an extremely high price even for body parts - a fact that was exploited to the hilt by Hezbollah in the last prisoner exchange. Indeed, the enemy learned the lesson swiftly: from Israel's point of view, there is no difference between prisoners who are alive or dead, and even not between bodies and body parts. They almost all have equal weight - they must be "brought home," and "at any price." Thus the terrorist organizations can conclude that they are better off killing soldiers than taking them prisoner, and that they can mutilate corpses in order to double and treble the "price." It would seem that even the language has been distorted in an attempt to catch up with the warped values. Has the difference between respect for the dead and the sanctity of life become blurred to such an extent? Is the phrase "to bring the fighters home at any cost" an expression of "the sanctity of life" - or is it perhaps an expression of contempt for life? Millions of the Jewish people were lost and have no grave or tombstone, but this in no way detracts from their memory or dignity; this same nation has turned the concern with the burial of bodies and body parts into some strange fetish that overshadows common sense as well as simple security considerations. The state of Israel was established for the living. Bringing Jews to burial in Israel is not its supreme value. Even the Talmudic sages ruled, with regard to redemption of living captives - which in the eyes of Jewish tradition is the supreme religious precept - that they should not be redeemed "for more than their worth" out of societal considerations (tikkun olam). In other words, not to pay exorbitant ransoms that would provide incentives for the enemy, even though this is so hard on individuals, because it is dangerous to a society that must ensure its survival. The late Batya Arad, mother of missing navigator Ron Arad, displayed the required spiritual fortitude, despite her grief, when she announced that she was opposed to any deal for her son's body if he were no longer alive. Following Tuesday's attack on the armored personnel carrier in the Gaza Strip, the IDF troops in the area made the utmost efforts to recover remains of the bodies of the six soldiers killed by a roadside bomb. Now, despite our deep outrage at the atrocious spectacle of the body snatchers, the government must announce that it will not agree to give anything in return for the remains - and abide by this unconditionally.
Posted by Bert at 2:18 PM
In today's IHT, Amos Oz has something to say about the dividing lines within Israeli society as a result not only of an almost blind, religiously inspired ultra-nationalist ideology, but also of faulty politics by consecutive Israeli governments that supported that ideology or did not do anything to curb it.
Posted by Bert at 12:55 PM
Until yesterday the highest number of readers to visit my weblog on one day was 75. The day before yesterday I put up one posting about the brutal videotaped murder of Nick Berg z"l, and yesterday morning I saw that the number of visitors suddenly had skyrocketed, literally ( see the diagram on my blog's statistics' site ) dwarfing the numbers of visitors during the previous weeks. As much as I would like to welcome as many visitors as possible to this weblog, I think it is a bit sickening to see that the 25 most frequent keywords that were used on the different websearch engines to reach this blog were: 1. burg 62 2. beheading 54 3. nick 51 4. video 46 5. of 30 6. beheaded 17 7. Nick 12 8. Burg 10 9. iraq 5 10. nicholas 5 11. watch 4 12. the 4 13. Beheading 3 14. by 3 15. BURG 3 16. American 3 17. terrorists 3 18. being 3 19. in 3 20. pictures 3 21. berg 3 22. burg/execution/beheaded 2 23. NICK 2 24. islamic 2 25. assasination 2 All these new pseudo-readers were disappointed, as I did not see and will never search for or publish any moving images of this poor man's death. At least now I know what to do if I want to boost my statistics. You will not find here any NUDE pictures or videos of Pamela Anderson or Britney Spears. Neither will I publish on my blog any pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners being abused by those bloody Americans. Finally, none of the pictures ( foto's ) or video images will be posted here that were taken with the digital camera of princess ( prinses ) Máxima, wife of the Dutch crown-prince Willem-Alexander. That camera was stolen and their family pictures - among others of their daughter Amalia - now circulate on the internet. Now let's see if with these new keywords today's and tomorrow's results will beat yesterday's.
Posted by Bert at 10:03 AM
This and last week two very good letters, both written by readers living in Jerusalem, were published in the Friday Magazine of Ha'Aretz following an interview with Hagi Ben Artzi that appeared in the magazine two weeks ago ( see my posting on April 29th ). In Friday Magazine, May 6, 2004: Hagi Ben Artzi declares that the dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip will spell the end of his spiritual world. It would be interesting to check just what spiritual world he is talking about. According to the Torah, the return of the people to its God is a condition for its return to its land, and the borders of the state are not included in the three things about which it is said that one should be killed rather than let pass. Thus, Ben Artzi's spiritual world obviously has no basis in Judaism. In comparison, history is full of examples of ideology in which territory is more important than life itself, in which withdrawal is worse than suicide, and those who object to such ideology are dubbed "opportunists," "lunatics," "bleeding-heart leftists," "dirty," "criminals" and other similar terms that Ben Artzi does not omit. Zvi Lifschitz In this weeks's magazine: Whoever wishes to understand Hagi Ben-Artzi's thinking will find the answer in the following words: "If, God forbid, this enterprise (Gush Katif) were to collapse, then I would ask: How is it possible ... What kind of God is this? It [would] cause me a crisis of faith, leading to the collapse of my personal faith." Ben-Artzi is holding his God hostage: If this God sustains Gush Katif, he will continue to believe in him, but if God (via his emissary Ariel Sharon) uproots Gush Katif, then there is a crisis of faith. It is the duty of the believing Jew to worship God under any conditions, in any situation. In every generation, there were Jews who suffered great harm and troubles, and they accepted the heavenly decree with love. Ben-Artzi puts God to the test: Save Gush Katif - swell; don't save it - be fired. He thus follows the path of Gush Emunim: This is idol worship, worship of the land, the sanctification of stones and fields, and the enlisting of God to satisfy man's earthly desires and appetites. Motti Kaplan
Posted by Bert at 9:51 AM
Those settlers and their supporters have quite some hutzpah, I would say. Peace Now and other leftwing organizations are asked to cancel a pro-pullout demonstration in Tel Aviv tomorrow night ( see here and here ). People such as NRP minister Zevulun Orlev said that "it [is] not appropriate to hold a political demonstration while fallen soldiers were being buried" and the Yesha Council told us that "it is inappropriate to hold a rally at this time, while our slain soldiers have not even received their proper burials... The deaths of the soldiers should not be exploited for political gains. We need to be sensitive towards the grieving families who are wallowing in pain and sorrow." For heaven's sake! Does anyone remember what happened right before Tali, Hila, Hadar, Roni and Merav Hatuel z"l were buried? People who were eligible to vote in the Likud referendum and had not voted yet were explicitly asked not to come to the funeral but to go and vote. Isn't that some sort of exploitation of someone's death for political purposes, isn't that proof of a lack of sensitivity for a grieving family? Sorry, but this is a political struggle for the hearts and minds of the Israeli people, between two totally opposing world views within what is still a democratic society. If those who believe in one of these world views ( assume that they ) have the right to express themselves freely in every possible way and medium, then the people who would like to see a different future for our country have every right in the world to make thair views known as well.
Posted by Bert at 9:41 AM
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Actor Shlomo Vishinski, the father of Lior z"l, one of the five soldiers who were killed yesterday, blames the Likud party - and in particular its 50.000 members who voted against Sharon's disengagement plan - for his son's death. Israel Harel, one of the spokesmen of the Yesha settlers, "took Israeli news media to task for re-broadcasting Vishinski's remarks. According to Harel, by repeatedly broadcasting the statement, the media exerted its power to sway public opinion, and in the direction of its choice, which Harel indicated was clearly leftist in orientation. When the other side of the political spectrum voices its opinions, the views are broadcast just once, Harel argued. "It's the media that creates the impact," he said." Mr Harel seems to have forgotten the numerous times that these same media broadcast or published the words of each and every spokesperson of the Right who felt an urgent need to express his or her opposition to any Israeli withdrawal from any occupied territory, while support for Sharon's plan was hardly heard or written about in the months that preceded the Likud referendum. It might be that each of the individual anti-disengament opinions was broadcast less than the words of Mr Vishinski, but as most of them contained the same message I do not think that one can accuse the media of having underexposed the pro-settler side of the story. Although I consider Shlomo Vishinski's judgment a little harsh ( but then, one should not judge a man when he is grieving ( Babba Batra, 16: 72 ) ), I think that the public has the right to hear and read his words as much as it is entitled to learn what those who follow Mr Harel's ideological lines have to say. The media are allowed and in a way obliged to let both Mr Vishinski and Mr Harel voice their opinions.
Posted by Bert at 11:14 AM
Whereas normally at this time of the day about 10, 15 or maybe 20 readers would have visited my blog, today the number of visitors stands already at 69. According to the website statistics provider that I use many of those visitors arrived at my weblog by searching for the keywords "beheading" and "Nick Burg" ( sic ). Hopefully they are not sickos looking for the video that depicts the brutal murder of Nick Berg z"l. If they are, they must have been seriously disappointed. To all new readers who are interested in the stuff that I write about, welcome, and do come and visit this blog again!
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Because of the events in the last 48 hours, the festive program around the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Istanbul at Channel 1 were canceled. Instead a very sober introduction was given. By international agreement the channel is obliged to broadcast the event, otherwise it might not have been broadcast at all. Among the mostly very crappy songs that I have heard until now David De'or's Leha'amin ( "to believe" ) almost sounded like a good song. If you can, vote for him ( Nr 5 ), I am afraid we need sympathy votes these days. David De'or is a nice guy and a good singer. His live album with The Natural Choice contains some of the best performances of some of the most beautiful songs ever sung in Hebrew, in my opinion that is.
Posted by Bert at 10:39 PM
Another APC has been attacked, this time at the so-called Philadelphi Road, on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Although Israeli media only mentioned five wounded, I just read on Dutch Teletext that again six of our soldiers have been killed. As much as I would support an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and as much as I believe that we should not be in that damned piece of land at all, I think it is disgusting to see members of the Courage to Refuse movement standing at one of the entrances to the Strip, holding banners calling for a withdrawal, comparing the Gaza Strip to Lebanon ( a totally false comparison; the settlers make a similar - wrong - comparison between a withdrawal from Gaza and the retreat from Lebanon ), and mentioning the names of some soldiers who were killed while serving in the Gaza Strip. If - heaven forbid - something terror-related ever would happen to me, I would not want anybody - on the Left or on the Right - to abuse my death for his or her narrow political cause. Also the calls today by Labor MKs for the resignation of Ariel Sharon, and Yossi Sarid's statement yesterday that every soldier who is killed in Gaza dies in vain are a macaber form of cheap demagogy. Most of us agree that we should get out of the Gaza Strip ASAP, but please, let us do it with as much consensus and dignity as possible, and without involving party-politics. Let us not forget who our enemy is, and let us not give him everything that he wants and seeks. Political differences between us can and should be fought out without the context of our existential struggle against those who are out to annihilate us. PS: This morning ( it is Thursday now ) I read that five, not six, soldiers were killed in the latest APC disaster. May their memory, and that of their six comrades who were killed on Tuesday, be a blessing.
Posted by Bert at 8:39 PM
Regarding "American beheaded in revenge" and "Israeli troops search for remains of 6 comrades", IHT, May 12, 2004: It is hard to believe the claims by Dick Berg's murderers that his killing was a revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers. It is even harder to take seriously the sincerity of the indignation of all those who protest that abuse, or of those who want us to believe that they care about the poor Iraqis and the miserable Palestinians. Where are all these demonstrators and their outcries of anger and grief when the remains of Jewish soldiers are abused, or when innocent civilians ( who not infrequently or by chance happen to be Jewish ) are brutally murdered by Islamists, sometimes in front of a camera? Muslim fanatics and Arab nationalists have been indulging in repulsive violence and cruelty for the sake of cruelty for quite a long time. The coldblooded murder of the disabled Leon Klinghoffer ( October 1985 ), the videotaped murder of David Pearl ( February 2002 ) and the lynch of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah ( October 2000 ) are proof of the fact that things like these happened long before the American army invaded Iraq or before Israel killed this or that Hamas leader. As long as the indignation and concerns of the supporters of our opponents make up only a one-way street, I see no reason why one should consider their anger and arguments as genuine and sincere.
Posted by Bert at 11:10 AM
M., one of my most loyal readers disagreed with my words "The inexcusable and revolting behavior of some or many American, British or other soldiers might fuel some of the anger in the Arab world, but it is not the root cause of Arab terror." M. wrote that she thinks that Arabs and Muslims do hate the West for everything it does, and that they prefer to ignore the injustices done to them by their own people and leaders. M. is right in a way. What I meant, though, is that the main cause of that anger, and even more of the hatred against the West ( and against us Jews, the people that personificates the West in many Arabs' eyes ), is not what we do but what we are and represent. It is not only jealousy, but mainly the Arabs' ( most Arabs' ) inability to cope with the kind of freedom which our societies offer us, their citizens. That freedom ( which is far from perfect and has its downsides, I admit ) endangers the ways in which MidEastern societies are run, it threatens the enormous wealth of the lucky few, and it questions the fundamentalist-Muslim world view and the virtual security and absolute certainties offered by that world view to millions of hardly literate men and women. Hatred provides one with certainty, it is a very convenient means of crowd control for absolute and other rulers, and it makes sure that no one disputes the authority of those in power. Blind hatred - disguised as some distorted variety of religion - also makes our enemies forget that their opponents and victims are human beings. This became clear yesterday. M. told me about the beheading of Nick Berg, which was videotaped by his murderers. This video circulates on the internet, but I will not try to find and watch it. Also the way in which Hamas and other terrorists proudly displayed the remains of our soldiers and try to use them as something to negotiate about show that however great our shortcomings and those of the Americans, the British and other Western powers are, we still have moral superiority on our side. Now, where are the demonstrations by those who are ( rightly ) concerned with the fate of the Palestinians and the Iraqis, the protests by supporters of a just and true peace, the politicians who ( often with a good reason )condemn Israeli and American policies? As long as their indignation, anger and grief is a matter of one-way traffic and they do not call upon the terrorists ( whom they directly or indirectly appear to support ) to try and start behaving as human beings, I do not see any reason why I should take their actions seriously.
Posted by Bert at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Normally I do not have the patience or the time to watch entire television shows, and I zap from news program to news program to talk show to sitcom. Tonight I watched almost two entire shows. I watched and enjoyed "Personal conversation" from the beginning till the end. In that show, veteran radio broadcaster-journalist Rafi Reshef interviews well-known Israelis. This time it was the turn of Hanna Azulay-Hasfari, whose life-story - or at least that part which was covered in the interview - turned out to be fascinating. Just before that I saw most of "Politika", a political forum on Channel 1. Labor MK Yuli Tamir, who has been active in several dialogues between her and other Israelis and Palestinian representatives and individuals ( and whom I do not admire very much as a politician, but that is beside the point here ), said something very important. She called upon those who until now have been her Palestinian partners in any form of dialogue to call and work - publicly and behind the scenes, without any blackmail or negotiations from the side of the terrorists - for the return of the bodies and body parts of the six soldiers who were killed this morning in Gaza City. The scenes we saw on television today, she said ( and I agree with her ), stain all Palestinians and hurt their cause, and making such a humanitarian gesture would help to prove that not all Palestinians are monsters, and that there is a partner for ( at least a partial ) peace.
Posted by Bert at 11:51 PM
Not for the first time it has been made clear that Palestinians and Israelis value life and the dead differently. Whereas after the APC disaster in which 6 soldiers were killed the IDF endangered its men in order to retrieve as many of their comrades' remains as possible, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah terrorists - together with apparently 'ordinary' civilians - were filmed indulging in what Ehud Ya'ari called a 'canibalistic feast' with some of their enemies' body parts. Many of the Israelis whom I heard commenting on today's events had at least one creative idea about how to punish these monsters, but at a news conference I heard the Head of the Southern Command, major-general ( Aluf ) Dan Harel, explain why he and the other IDF commanders had chosen to send in troops rather than to use helicopters or fighter jets in order to destroy the workshops that produce the Qassam rockets which are fired regularly across the border into Israel. So as not to hurt innocent civilians it was decided to use ground troops, even though the use of air-to-fround rockets would have prevented the exposure of our soldiers to enemy fire. Now Israel is dependent on the favors of the Red Cross - which, to say the least, has hardly ever done us Jews any real favors - to retrieve and return the bodies and body parts of our soldiers for a proper burial here in Israel. Of course, little more than a week after the Likud referendum several commentators talked about the effect of this disaster upon Israeli plans regaring our future in the Gaza Strip. Yossi Sarid of Yahad-Meretz said ( and I agree with him, though he should not have said it, at least not today ) that every soldier who dies in Gaza dies in vain. Rightwing politicians suggested to wage an all-out war agains the Palestinians and their leadership, which makes me wonder what we are doing or waging right now. Amor Harel of Ha'Aretz wrote a clear commentary. One of the most painful questions asked today in more than one Israeli medium is why so much attention is being paid to the death of these six soldiers, whereas after the murder of of Tali, Hila, Hadar, Roni and Merav Hatuel z"l on the day of the Likud referendum the country felt less of a shock than today. Maybe it is because of the referendum, which received so much attention ( some Against-supporters were even seen celebrating their 'victory' that same evening on live television ), maybe it is because this has been a major blow by Hamas & co. against our feeling of security and military superiority, or maybe because it is easier for some of us to identify with the soldiers and their parents than with a part of our own people from which in many ways we feel ourselves disengaged already. Although I personally do not feel much sympathy for the cause and the motives of the settlers, none of them should be considered or called a legitimate target by anybody. In the case of the Hatuel family I felt even more sadness and anger than after other terrorist attacks against settlers, because I identified so much with the poor father and husband, who suddenly was left without his pregnant wife and their four children. Still, the fanaticism of many settlers and the hopelesness of their cause - at least in the Gaza Strip - makes more and more Israelis wonder if their ideology is worth endangering our very best men and women, and if their and the IDF's presence in Gaza, Netzarim, Hebron and other places in the territories serves our security and other vital interests of the Jewish state. Ironically, even though I oppose an immediate Allied withdrawal from Iraq, I would applaud an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and from parts of the West Bank. Unlike the American-British invasion which may have been started for the wrong reasons but which in any case led to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, Israel's settlement of the Gaza Strip - and of most of the West Bank, I believe, although Shaul Mofaz has not said that ( yet ) - was without much doubt a historical mistake that was made decades ago. I think that correcting that mistake now will save many Israeli lives and serve our most existential interests, while it will hurt the interests of both Hamas/Islamic Jihad and of the current Palestinian leadership. In Iraq the situation is different: first of all one major goal of the war - the removal of SH and his regime from power - has been achieved; also, different Allies are being played off against each other, and one of these Allies giving in to terrorist threats or attacks increases the pressure on all the others; finally, whereas it will be relatively easy for Israel to deal with Palestinian post-occupation instability and possible cross-border violence, it will be much harder for Iraq's neighbors to control their borders with what will be left of the country after a retreat by Allied troops, and the many internal conflicts that plague Iraq will spread all over the region. The occupation of Iraq and that of the Gaza Strip and the West Bamk ( as well as, years ago, that of Southern Lebanon ) cannot really be compared, except for the fact that all of them will in the end turn out to have been temporary, and the effects of all of them will be felt for many years to come, not only in the Arab world and Israel but also in the West.
Posted by Bert at 8:00 PM
I was very sorry to read this morning that for the first time a Dutch soldier was killed in Iraq. Although I understand why now a campaign to bring back home the soldiers of another European ally will gain more momentum, I am convinced that that would be wrong. The claims by a spokesman of the D66 party - a member of the governing coalition in Holland - that more attacks are to be expected as a result of the harsh actions of the American troops are not to be taken very seriously. Attacks against foreign troops have been taking place ever since the 'end' of the war. If anything encourages such attacks and makes future attacks more worthwhile for the terrorists, it is the fact that at least one former ally gave in almost immediately when these terrorists attacked its capital. More and more, terror appears to pay off. The inexcusable and revolting behavior of some or many American, British or other soldiers might fuel some of the anger in the Arab world, but it is not the root cause of Arab terror.
Posted by Bert at 9:23 AM
Monday, May 10, 2004
It is sad that it took them so long to reach such a high level of awareness, but nevertheless I am glad that Shaul Mofaz and his political puppetmasters ( Sharon, Ehud Olmert ) finally understand that settling the Gaza Strip was a historical mistake. That mistake was first made by Labor governments, but any government that decides to correct mistakes like that deserves our gratitude and support. Still, actions - any real actions - will speak louder than the many words wasted on this issue.
Posted by Bert at 10:28 AM
Congratulations and Kol HaKavod to Daniel Barenboim! First of all, yesterday he received the Wolf Foundation prize at the Chagall hall in the Knesset. In his acceptance speech he seriously, explicitly but in my eyes also very gently and correctly criticized Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. His criticism - which should not have come as a surprise to those attending the award ceremony - angered Education Minister Limor Livnat and also elicited a critical response from President Katsav. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin - who very recently used official ceremonies on Remembrance and Independence Day to express very political personal opinions and to attack our beloved Prime Minister - boycotted the event because he claims that Mr Barenboim " desecrated the memory of Holocaust victims when he conducted Wagner's work " three years ago ( see here ). The July 2001 incident caused some emlightened Kulturkammer MKs to declare Daniel Barenboim - who in my eyes is one of the most brilliant and helpful ambassadors of Israel and of the Jewish people - persona non grata. So what did Mr Barenboim say yesterday? I did not find the full text of his speech, but here are some quotes, taken from the Ha'Aretz article on ths subject: "With pain in my heart, I ask today whether a situation of conquest and control can be reconciled with Israel's Declaration of Independence? "Is there logic to the independence of one people if the cost is a blow to the fundamental rights of another people? Can the Jewish people, whose history is full of suffering and persecution, allow itself to be apathetic about the rights and suffering of a neighboring people? "Can the State of Israel allow itself to indulge an unrealistic dream whose meaning is an ambition to bring an ideological resolution to the dispute, rather than the aim of attaining a pragmatic, humanitarian solution, based on social justice?" Especially the second quote hits the point, "apathetic" being the keyword. Knowing that the suffering of ordinary Palestinians can in no way be compared to the Holocaust ( something which many critics and/or enemies of Israel and the Jewish people fail to understand ), Mr Barenboim does not make any comparison. Instead he wonders how we can remain indifferent to the suffering of people who live right next door to us, and whom we force to pay the price, not for our independence but for the megalomaniacal, unrealistic, unjust and dangerous dreams of only some of our so-called leaders and their supporters. Here are some more quotes from another article in today's Ha'Aretz, about Daniel Barenboim's efforts to get Palestinian youth acquainted with classical music, and to promote peace, cooperation and coexistence via music. This he does through the Barenboim-Said Cultural Foundation. The late Edward Said was a good friend of Mr Barenboim. Although Mr Said said and did many things which I did not agree with at all and which sometimes even angered me, and although his ideas of peace and coexistence were not exactly the same as mine, in the end we will have to recognize the fact that it is people like him whom we need to create a real dialogue and a workable, livable, just and reasonable two-state solution. "A person who is determined to do something constructive with his life needs to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to love him [...] In Israel, there are a lot of people who are very grateful for my activities, but apparently there are also a lot of people who are hostile toward me because of this; and I have no problem with that.[...] Are people so shortsighted that they can't see the importance of the connection with our neighbors and the obligation that we have toward them? We ( Jews ) won independence, and some of the responsibility for finding a solution lies on our shoulders. [...] We haven't developed the ability to grasp that there are people who have a historical story that is different from ours. People who also live here and do not understand what the justification is for a state exclusively for Jews. I'm arguing that the time has come - but this time in reverse: In the past we said that `the time has come' to stand on our own two feet and achieve our independence. Now `the time has come' here too: to recognize our neighbors as equals and to end the conflict with them, in the realization that there is no military way of doing this.[...] You don't need to travel far in order to oppose the occupation and the control over another people," he says. "There are a lot of people who are living here in Israel who see this no less than I do. Israel was not intended to be a colonialist nation, and the Jewish settlements in the territories are like a cancer in the body of the process. And acts like the separation wall testify to a profound lack of understanding of the essence of the conflict. We already have one Wailing Wall here, and now a double wailing wall is being created, over which they will weep on both sides. I can't make this wall tumble down, even if I were to enlist 300 musicians, but I shall do everything I can so that culture and music seep through every crack in it.[...] Everyone has to act in his own field according to his ability, and in my field I can do projects in music and music education. My way is music, and as a musician, I fight against two things; against loud noise, but also against silence." One more quote from a short speech that Mr Barenboim gave during a concert in Ramallah: "With music, a person cannot shut himself in - not inside himself and not inside his country. [...] I am not prepared to express criticism of the Israeli government here...even though I certainly could have won applause if I were to do this. No, here I want to express my commitment to social justice, to the war on ignorance and to the aspiration to recognize the existence of the other." As could have been expected, Mrs Livnat sharply rejected Mrs Barenboim criticism. Unfortunately I do not have her speech available, what I heard on last night's midnight news edition would have provided me with some more quoting material. When she said that Israel "respects the minorities who dwell in it", she probably thought about the Ka'adan family. This Arab-Israeli family of six had to fight for nine years against the Israel Lands Administration, the Katzir cooperative association, the Jewish agency, and the state of Israel to finally receive permission to purchase a plot and buy a house in Katzir, a community settlement in northern Israel.
Posted by Bert at 9:12 AM
Saturday, May 08, 2004
Half an hour ago I returned home with our son from a Lag BaOmer get-together of our daughter's kindergarten. She and my wife stayed for an other while. For most Israelis Lag BaOmer ( for some background information about the holiday click here and here ) means bonfires and barbeques. Since the neighborhood where we live borders on the Carmel forest, all the way home we saw bonfires lighting the sky, a beautiful sight. Chag Sameah!
Posted by Bert at 9:05 PM
Friday, May 07, 2004
This would be a perfect moment for our Prime Minister to prove that after Israel withdraws from territory that it used to occupy, the country has every right in the world and will not shun any possible force or means to defend its borders. Within Israel's political spectrum I consider myself a dove. Exactly for that reason ( i.e. in order to make a future Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and most of the Westbank possible ) I think that Ariel Sharon has to make clear to the world and to those who oppose any form of disengagement or withdrawal that Israel will attack and pursue anyone who threatens and/or hurts Israel's soldiers or citizens from outside our borders. The disputed status of Har Dov is irrelevant here, I believe. Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon must be held accountable for the attacks this week on the IDF outposts.
Posted by Bert at 1:44 PM
Regarding "No letup in anger worldwide", IHT, May 7, 2004: Of course the treatment by some American and British servicemen of prisoners at prisons in Iraq should be condemned, and everything has to be done to prevent such disgusting behavior in the future. Still, two questions keep popping up in my mind. Am I the only one to whom some of the pictures published bring back memories of his first experiments with Photoshop? And doesn't anybody of all those who are spending a lot of time and energy protesting what is clearly not an overall policy think that if they had spent only half of that time and energy protesting and exposing structural abuse, wholesale human rights violations and injustices committed constantly under Saddam Hussein's rule, it probably would never have come to this superfluous war? When it comes to phoneyness and hypocrisy, Bush & co. can find worthy equals among their worldwide opponents.
Posted by Bert at 8:26 AM
Thursday, May 06, 2004
The State Cup basketball game between two European champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem, just started in Tel Aviv. My brother-in-law happens to be one of the two referees of the game. May he succeed in his efforts to keep the game fair and orderly, and may the best team win.
Posted by Bert at 9:01 PM
Because very recently I read about the persecution, deportation and murder of most of Greece's Jews in a chapter of Mark Mazower's Inside Hitler's Greece, I found an article by Ari L. Goldman in today's IHT even more interesting. It contains at least one mistake: "Nazi Germany rolled into Salonika" already at the beginning of its occupation of parts of Greece in the spring and summer of 1941, not in 1943 as Ari Goldman writes; the first "public action against the Jews en masse" took place in July 1941, when in the Eleftheria ( freedom ) Square 10.000 of the city's male Jews were publicly humiliated and physically abused by Wehrmacht soldiers, with Greek civilians watching the spectacle from their balconies and members of a German entertainment group applauding "the entertainment the army had laid on"; from 15 March 1943 until early August of the same year, the majority of Salonika's ancient Jewish community had been deported. Still, professor Goldman presents us with a frightening but important impression of some of today's Greeks' attitudes towards the Jewish people. The last sentence of his article is a bit demagogic but nevertheless quite powerful: "After all the hatred I've heard from European academics, I would love to bring a few here to Salonika to show them what Jews without political power look like." In September Mazower's new book, about relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims in Salonika, will come out.
Posted by Bert at 9:50 AM
Regarding "Arison's pearl of wisdom" and "Shari Arison's tax deal crashes", Ha'Aretz, May 5-6, 2004: Apparently Shari Arison believes that most of the lessons which she wants to convey to Israeli children ( and their educators ) through her "Pearl of Light" theatre project ( "to be happy with what they have", "to find their happiness inside", "not to get angry", "to complain or attempt to change things is wrong", "satisfaction is the ideal", etc. ) should be learnt as well by Israel's tax authorities. She herself can forget about all that, for her the only relevant lesson of the show seems to be "everyone can get whatever (s)he wants if (s)he only tries" ( and if (s)he has the proper means to keep trying ).
Posted by Bert at 8:49 AM
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
De volgende ingezonden brief heb ik naar het Reformatorisch Dagblad gestuurd naar aanleiding van het artikel van rabbijn Evers van afgelopen maandag. Mij is toegezegd dat de brief geplaatst zal worden. Reactie op "Alleen in Israel kan bijbelvolk bloeien", door rabbijn Evers ( RefDag 3 mei ) Al lijkt het er op dat het artikel van rabbijn Evers een reactie op een door mij geschreven artikel ( Israel moet weer volk van het boek worden, 27 april j.l. ) is, schijnt het me toe dat hij wat ik schreef eerder aanvult dan aanvalt. Ik kan niet anders dan instemmen met wat rabbijn Evers schrijft over de verharding van de Israelische maatschappij ( mede ) als gevolg van de belabberde veiligheidssituatie, en over de noodzaak van soms preventieve defensie. Als ik hem goed begrijp zijn we het eens over de zinloosheid van het stellen van de eeuwige schuldvraag aangaande 'het conflict'. Doordat rabbijn Evers zijn artikel als reactie op mijn stuk lijkt te hebben geschreven wordt echter de indruk gewekt dat ik onze nationale rechten op het land Israel in twijfel zou trekken, "een ongebreidelde verdraagzaamheid" jegens onze vijandige buren zou "propageren", en dus blijk geef van "weinig gevoeligheid voor de bezorgdheid om national en religious zelfbehoud van het Joodse volk". Niets is minder waar: niet zomaar heb ik ervoor gekozen aliyah te meken en hier mijn kinderen groot te brengen, en niet voor niets vervul ik jaarlijks mijn reservedienst in het leger. Ik zal de laatste zijn om de Israelische maatschappij de les te lezen, of om pacifistische ideeen te verkondigen. Wel maak ik me grote zorgen over het feit dat in de ogen van veel Israeliers het Land een doel op zich is geworden. Dat veel juridische en socio-economische misstanden ( en dus heel wat politieke, militaire en andere problemen die ons teisteren ) daar een gevolg van zijn zullen weinigen ontkennen.
Posted by Bert at 4:09 PM