Sunday, October 31, 2004

Obviously it is way too early to eulogize Yasser Arafat. Nevertheless, many media already published analyses of his legacy, of his role in the conflict and of post-Arafat Palestine. I liked the article on Arafat's role in 'the conflict', his image among Palestinians and Israelis, and the way in which some media and the Israeli government are dealing with Mr A.'s illness, which was written by Ha'Aretz' Bradley Burston, and published on the newspaper's website today.
On channel 2 I watched parts of the rally in Tel Aviv in remembrance of the murder of PM Yitzhak Rabin nine years ago. The rally's organizers decided not to allow any political speeches, a ban which was of course ignored by more than one participant. Osnat Vishinsky, a very talented actress and the mother of Lior z"l who was killed in the Gaza Strip several months ago, spoke about choosing life, about the sanctity of the land where her son shed his last drops of blood, but she also said that that piece of land - which is holy to her personally - is not worth the deaths of more young men who will have to be mourned by their loved ones, and that leaving Gaza will strengthen our wonderful people and that people's state. David Broza sang his beautiful "Yihyeh Tov" ( It will be all right ) and at the end of the verse describing president Sadat's visit in 1977 he waited for the audience to shout the last line of that verse "Only get out of the territories".
It is hard to ban any political expressions from a rally in remembrance of one of the most political murders in modern history in general, and of Zionist history in particular, especially in these days, when allmost all that is said or done in public is linked somehow to the disengagement plan, be it a sermon by a former Sephardic chief-rabbi of Israel, the speech of the Knesset speaker at a ceremony on Remembrance and Independence Day, or the speech of a mother who lost her son in what she thinks is a useless, wrong war.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A shortened ( and less convincing ) version ( with a mistake ) of the following letter was published in today's International Herald Tribune. Readers in Israel will only tomorrow receive today's issue. Regarding "Healing what Bush has wrought" by Thomas L. Friedman, October 29, 2004:
Although much of the European criticism of US and Israeli policies is self-serving, hypocritical and one-sided, it is hard to deny that neither Bush nor Sharon have been making much of an effort to heed even well-founded, well-meant and constructive criticism as expressed by true friends and allies. Tom Friedman is right, if George W. Bush is to be re-elected his next government will have to change its course and tone drastically in order for the US to be taken seriously again as a major - or the main - player in international politics. While September 11th still can be largely blamed for the ways in which America acts ( and is seen ) in the world today, Americans will probably not be able to use that excuse again in another four years' time.

Friday, October 29, 2004

In a very well-written op-ed article in today's IHT Judea and Ruth Pearl, the parents of Daniel Pearl, stress the responsibility of the media, leaders of the international community, religious leaders in general and Muslim clerics in particular, when it comes to eradicating the ugly phenomenon of 'exhibition killings' such as those of their son in Pakistan and of scores of victims in Iraq.
Also, they tell us, "cross-cultural understanding, and respect for difference in all countries and at all levels of society" should be promoted in order to "tame the hatred that spawns these crimes". Mr and Mrs Pearl rightly point out the fundamental difference between men such as Zarqawi and Nazi criminals, who often tried to hide their atrocities, " thus unveiling an inkling of shame, doubt or fear".
Regarding the media's responsibility, they write ( and I totally agree with them, knowing that almost every time a video showing some poor victim being beheaded is released several people visit my blog to try and find and watch it, even though I will never search for such videos or put up a link to them ):
"[...] the media should exercise responsible judgment on whether and how they broadcast and publish terrorist messages and imagery. Giving them voice empowers terrorists with a sense of accomplishment and increases their appetite for more barbarity. The media should treat such material as responsibly as it treats bomb-construction manuals and rape scenes. "

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Say cheese.... Posted by Hello
I am surprised by the indifference that I feel - or do not feel: it is indifference after all, or at least I think it is - regarding the condition of Yasser Arafat. The only thing that interests me is the question what will happen after he dies. What amazes me is the mysteriousness and lack of information surrounding that condition. What I find ironic and even in a way amusing is the fact that Mrs Suha Arafat lived in Paris for three or four years without ever visiting her husband. Now that she finally came over he is going to be flown to Paris for medical treatment. After such a long separation she could have waited for him there. In Israel people might ask for a parliamentary inquiry into such a waste of money, but I am sure that the Palestinian people and the European Union - which directly and indirectly finance her living in the city of lights - are more forgiving and understanding.
Look at the picture, I am sure that many Palestinians feel true love for this man. He is the only leader they have ever had. Poor people.
According to Aluf Benn, it might very well be that an interview with four former heads of Israel's General Security Service in Yedioth Aharonoth almost a year ago might have been what pushed Sharon into coming up with the disengagement plan. If that is true, our Prime Minister probably did not read the whole interview, or at least not its final lines, which I quoted in my posting on the interview ( they were spoken by Ami Ayalon ): "...if the captain doesn’t decide where he wants to go, there is no wind in the world that can take him. [...] The sea is always stormy. And you can’t take advantage of the wind if you don’t know where you want it to take you." One year later, still few Israelis have the feeling that their captain is knowing where he wants to take them.
An interesting article by Amira Hass on the common interest of Israel's government and Palestinian terrorists ( whom not surprisingly she and Ha'Aretz call militants ): portraying the events in Gaza as combat. Nota Bene: this does not mean that I personally think that we are not talking about combat at all. Still, this is not a conventional war, and the PR front is just as important as - if not far more important than - the actual front. In that area, Israel often seems to be losing on a daily basis, since it is impossible these days to 'sell' a war if that war is waged against a side where most of the opponents are civilians, who knowingly and mostly unwillingly are used by those terrorists for either combat or PR purposes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

All kinds of speculations and pseudo-explanations have been presented to explain away Yasser Arafat's delicate condition these last days: the flu, his gallbladder, the fast of the month of Ramadan, cancer. Fact is that he has lost consciousness, but of course we are told again that he is in good health. This and the coming weeks seem to become very interesting for whomever follows international news in general, and the news in the MidEast in particular.
In addition to my daily routine of working on my research I made one of the best chili con carne's that I ever ate, watched some of the television programs in remembrance of Rabin's murder ( and noticed that Bibi and our dear minister of Education were absent at the official ceremony on Mt Herzl ), went with my wife and our children to my parents in law, where we opened a package that my family sent to our son for his second birthday next week, and watched the first episodes of the new season ( in Israel ) of King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond with my wife. Now we are going to sleep. Sleep well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A major - some might say the most important - step has been taken on the road towards an end to Israel occupying the Gaza Strip ( some optimists hope that this road eventually will lead Israel to an end of the occupation alltogether; I think that that is a very rosy view, no matter how important tonight's vote was ). Still, as for now we are still far removed from even one settler being evacuated. Many, many scenarios are possible before we will witness such an evacuation. Such scenarios could involve political power games, sleazy tricks, civil disobedience, targeted assassinations, you name it. Nevertheless, tonight's Knesset vote was a victory for Sharon. The fact that most Arab MKs abstained will make it impossible for the Right to make its standard racist claim, that there was no 'Jewish majority'. 22 votes more in favor than against, that is an impressive gap. That this same night we remember ( according to the Hebrew calendar ) that nine years ago for the first time in history an Israeli Prime Minister was murdered - with Ariel Sharon being one of the leaders of the Right who either encouraged or ignored the verbal violence among demonstrators and other rightwing activists in the months preceding the murder - is ironic. The differences between Arik Sharon's roles, then and now, should not be stressed today, they will surely be analyzed by future historians. The Labor Party ought to offer joining a unity government without any ministerial posts being demanded, except for its leader becoming minister without portfolio. Thus the party will not threaten any current coalition partner, nor will its MKs be accused of only aiming at getting this or that ministerial position. The only condition for the party's support for Ariel Sharon should be the government's implementation of the disengagement plan.

Monday, October 25, 2004

While some of the most dramatic and fateful decisions in Zionist history are being discussed and made I had quite an uneventful day. The electricity-related work regarding our house's rebuilding was finished ( while typing a previous version of this posting the power went down once or twice, and it took some hours before I was able to sit down and type it all over ), and I finalized the reservation of an apartment in Paris for another six weeks some time the coming winter. Yesterday I sent the contract to the apartment's owner, today I transfered 25% of the rent to him in order to reserve the place. I will return to France to collect some missing sources for my PhD thesis. At lunch me and my wife ate a true gourmet meal, which my father-in-law brought yesterday evening from one of the best restaurants in Haifa ( in my opinion ), the owner of which is a friend of his. Even heated-up it was delicious. Later this week I will post links to some of the 'disengagement-articles' that I liked these last days. Layla tov to you all.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Dat zelfs ik snap hoe je de boel kunt flessen bij de online verkiezingen van "de grootste Nederlander aller tijden" betekent dat het wel heel eenvoudig is. Maar ja, zo zou Pim het gewild hebben, toch? Die hele verkiezingen zijn natuurlijk flauwekul ( ik geef toe, ook ik heb in het begin gestemd, de biografietjes lezen lekker weg, en we zijn nu eenmaal allemaal gek op rangschikken, ik zie het bij onze kinderen ), maar als Pim F. inderdaad gekozen wordt bij deze absurde competitie zegt dat veel, heel veel, misschien wel te veel over Nederland vandaag de dag.
Now finally Peace Now opened my eyes and made me realize something that I was sure nobody ever knew before about Israeli ( or any other ) politicians:
( Ha'Aretz News Flash ): 23:07 Peace Now: By instructing MKs to vote against pullout plan, Rabbi Yosef chose political interests over country`s good.
I mean, helloo-ooo!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Our extra room and our living room's new ceiling have almost been completed ( except for my study's desk + bookshelves and some of the electricity ) and we started cleaning things up. When all is ready I will probably post some pictures. Now that I do not have time to write something 'highly original' every day I sometimes save URLs of interesting articles that will probably remain relevant for some time, or I copy them to my parallel blog ( YonathanBert Articles ), to refer to them later.
When you start reading this article you think that its author only has serious issues with the leftwing establishment personified by Golda Meir, largely responsible for the failure to prepare the country for the war of 1973. Then you continue to read it and you see that he attacks not only the 'Kontseptsia" ( conception ) that put us to sleep more than thirty years ago, but also a similar conception that keeps us asleep, overconfident and dangerously arrogant these days as well. A very convincing piece by Yoel Esteron.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The fact that the letter that I sent to the editor of the IHT on Tuesday was published today proves once more that it is hard to predict which letters are published: I think it was one of the worst letters that I ever wrote, whereas letters that I am very proud of were often ignored. It is mostly a matter of coincidence and luck. Right next to my letter today there was one that I liked, from a reader living in Switzerland:
Washington's Mideast role
The editorial "The Middle East awaits" (Oct. 19) makes good sense. But short of compelling action by Washington, there will be a long wait before the bloody conflict ends. The Middle East stalemate is caused by the deep mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians, along with the Palestinians' perception that Israel and Washington are colluding against them. None of the parties speaks the same language of peace. As for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, his administration has made it clear that the withdrawal is intended to shelve any peace process and to defer indefinitely the establishment of a Palestinian state. The absence of a competent Palestinian leadership and the reckless acts of militants are not helping things either. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be imposed by Washington. But given the rancorous relationships in the region, I don't see how peace can be homegrown. Washington must lead a concerted effort with the European Union, the United Nations and Russia to prevail upon the Middle East rivals to reach an equitable accord based on President George W. Bush's vision of establishing a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent, living alongside Israel in peace and security. The next American president must act.

S.A. Sherif, Clarens-Montreux, Switzerland

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Two weeks ago Ha'Aretz published an interesting article on Italian diplomacy, the two Simonas and their release, Berlusconi, Iraq and terror, written by Vincenzo Nigro, the diplomatic correspondent of an Italian newspaper called La Repubblica.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Last week I forgot to put a link to this editorial in Ha'Aretz on the clumsy, unprofessional and damaging ways in which Israel handled the infamous stretcher-Qassam case.
Het volgende artikel stond gisteren in het Reformatorisch Dagblad:

Gevraagd: Meesterkok, willende koken

In Israël wordt de soep zelden zo heet gegeten als ze wordt opgediend. Soms is ze iets minder heet, meestal veel heter wanneer er eindelijk gegeten kan worden. Dit is een gevolg van het dynamische karakter van 'het conflict'. Er gebeurt bijna iedere dag wel iets wat 'de situatie' drastisch verandert. Toch verandert er op de lange duur niet echt veel. Zo ook met het Gaza-terugtrekkingsplan van Ariel Sharon.
Het is maar de vraag of hier sprake is van een echt plan. Niemand weet precies waarom 'Arik' er mee op de proppen kwam. Was het omdat hij heus dacht dat de bezetting slecht is voor Israël, zoals hij verklaarde in een vergadering van zijn eigen Likud-fractie anderhalf jaar geleden? Omdat hij meende dat de nederzettingen in de Gaza-strook onhoudbaar zijn en samen met een stuk of wat kleine nederzettingen op de Westoever moeten worden opgeofferd om alle andere definitief in Israëlische handen te laten blijven? Of was het om het Israëlische publiek voor zich te winnen toen hij de hete adem van justitie in zijn nek voelde vanwege niet helemaal koshere zaken van hemzelf en van zijn jongste zoon? Of om minimale internationale steun te krijgen, wat hem de mogelijkheid verschafte om ongestoord Hamas, de Islamitische Jihad en de verschillende organizaties onder leiding van Yasser Arafat te bestrijden? Het is moeilijk om op deze vragen zekere antwoorden te krijgen, omdat Ariel Sharon aan vrijwel niemand het achterste van zijn tong laat zien. Slechts een heel kleine groep van vertrouwelingen is deelgenoot van zijn overpeinzingen en -wegingen.
Vanwege de ingewikkelde verhoudingen en een constante machtsstrijd binnen Sharon's regering en zijn partij is het niet altijd duidelijk of dingen die in het openbaar gezegd worden door zulke vertrouwelingen proefbalonnen zijn, bedoeld om te kijken of het Israëlische publiek ergens klaar voor is, of dat het gaat om reeds genomen besluiten of simpelweg (on)bewuste versprekingen. Vorige week zei Dov Weisglass, Sharon's adviseur en zijn belangrijkste contactpersoon met de Amerikaanse regering, in een interview met de Israëlische krant Ha'Aretz ronduit dat het terugtrekkingsplan ( de Hebreeuwse wortel n-t-k betekent "losmaken") bedoeld is om het vredesproces te bevriezen, de stichting van een Palestijnse staat te voorkomen en in feite de status quo ( minus Gaza ) te bewaren. Als we terugkijken op de laatste anderhalf jaar lijkt het er sterk op dat deze uitspraken niet zomaar een verspreking zijn. Het heeft er alle schijn van dat de cynici die al die tijd hebben gezegd "Geen woorden maar daden" en "Een vos verliest wel zijn haren, maar niet zijn streken" dichter bij de waarheid zaten dan de optimisten die geloofden dat Sharon 'bekeerd' was en de bezetting zo niet geheel dan toch zeker (groten)deels zou willen beëindigen.
De hamvraag – in deze context misschien een ongelukkige woordkeuze – is en blijft of Sharon's gebrek aan heuse daadkracht tot nu toe een gevolg is van zijn eigen twijfels of onwil, of is ingegeven door de luide protesten aan zijn politieke rechterzijde. Als er al besluiten zijn genomen over de terugtrekking, dan zijn die in de meeste gevallen erg terughoudend en vaag, ook al schijnt het leger reeds verregaande voorbereidingen te treffen voor een toekomstige ontruiming van de nederzettingen. Aan de ene kant is daar Sharon's vastberadenheid om door te gaan met het plan – ondanks de nederlagen die hij leed bij twee referenda, één over het plan onder Likud-kiezers en één onder leden van het centraal comité van de Likud over een mogelijke toetreding van de Arbeidspartij tot de regeringscoalitie -, aan de andere kant is daar zijn besluiteloosheid als het gaat om de ontruiming van zelfs ook maar de kleinste illegale, onbewoonde 'buitenpost' in bezet gebied, iets wat niet veel goeds belooft als het om grotere, bevolkte nederzettingen zal gaan.
Israëlische peilingen geven Sharon steun van een constante tweederde meerderheid voor het ontruimen van de Gaza-strook. Zelfs onder Likud-kiezers steunt 51.3 % zijn plan, terwijl 34.3 % ertegen is ( Bron: Vredesindex september 2004, Ha'Aretz ). Slechts een heel kleine minderheid van de bevolking zegt fysiek geweld bij een eventuele ontruiming van nederzettingen goed te keuren. De kans op een burgeroorlog is niet echt groot, al moet er natuurlijk serieus rekening worden gehouden met geweld als het tot ontruimen komt. Zeker is dat de ontruimingen politieke schade zullen opleveren, het wegslepen van vrouwen en kinderen door soldaten en politieagenten valt nu eenmaal moeilijk te verkopen. Desondanks, als Sharon politiek ( en historisch ) wil overleven zal hij moeten kiezen tussen enerzijds de belangen van een deel van zijn traditionele achterban en anderzijds de belangen en wensen van een schijnbare meerderheid van de Israëlische bevolking plus de steun van een belangrijk deel van de internationale gemeenschap.
Als er al verdeeldheid is onder de Israëlische bevolking, dan is het over de vraag hoe we verder moeten na Gaza. Van het antwoord op die vraag hangt ook het oordeel van veel deskundigen over het plan af. Blijft een groot deel van de Westoever bezet, dan zal die bezetting Israël blijven corrumperen en kan Israël wat voor buitenlandse goedkeuring of steun dan ook wel vergeten. In dat geval zou je je kunnen afvragen waar alle moeite, demonstraties en confrontaties voor nodig zijn geweest. Blijkt het plan een eerste stap te zijn op weg naar een uiteindelijk einde van de bezetting – en naar een Palestijnse staat en, wie weet, normale betrekkingen tussen die staat en de rest van de Arabische wereld aan de ene en Israël aan de andere kant – dan zal Ariel Sharon alle waardering en hulp krijgen die hij nodig heeft. Zolang hij nog niet met overtuigende feiten kan aantonen dat het hem ernst was toen hij anderhalf jaar zei dat de bezetting slecht is voor Israël als joodse, democratische, moderne staat, blijven we wachten op een meesterkok die deze soep – waar de meeste Israëliërs al reikhalzend naar uitkijken – niet alleen maar kan beloven, maar haar ook kan klaarmaken en opdienen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

O.k., je moet niet alles geloven wat er in de Telegraaf staat. Maar als ook maar een klein deel van dit verhaal waar is, is Nederland er echt beroerd aan toe.
Regarding "Vatican sees cultural 'Inquisition' in Europe", IHT, October 19, 2004:
To me Vatican officials complaining about a form of inquisition seems to be like representatives of countries such as China, Syria or France complaining about the Israeli occupation of the Westbank and Gaza, or about the Americans using torture in Iraq. Such complaints might contain much truth, but they smell of hypocricy, are proof of a very one-sided and opportunist way of viewing today's and yesterday's reality, and - when viewed in a historical perspective - can easily be labeled ironic.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Last Thursday the turnout for the 100-cities-anti-disengagement-demonstration was much lower than expected. Where I live I only saw a dozen or so demonstrators. Just like the demonstrators whom I saw on the television, few if any of them did not appear to belong to the national religious current in Israeli society. If Sharon is tearing/dividing the people - as big posters paid for by pro-settler organizations want us to believe - then that division would seem to be one between knitted yarmulkes and the rest of Israeli society. Still, I suppose not all of those who did not come to demonstrate against an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza support Sharon's plan, let alone evacuation of settlements in the Westbank. It will be interesting to see what will happen if a national referendum is held. Would people feel strong enough about ending at least part of the occupation ( no matter for what reasons: idealistic, selfish or opportunist ) to come out and vote, or would apathy among large parts of ( secular ) Israelis plus the high level of organization of the settlers result in a majority against disengagement because of a low turnout of voters?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I was shocked when I read that tonight the singer-songwriter Uzi Chitman ( 'Ch' as in chaver, I normally write an 'h' for the letter 'het', but that would turn his family name into an awful profession ) died of a heart attack at the age of 52. He wrote some of the most beautiful songs in Hebrew ( Ani noladti lashalom, Kan, Todah, Elohim sheli, to name just a few ), and he was such a kind and gentle person ( at least he seemed to be, based on his songs and his performances in public and on television ). May his memory be both blessed and a blessing.
For quite some time I thought about contacting both Chitman and my favorite French singer, Yves Duteil, to try and get them to perform together. Both of them have written many songs for children and about peace and things like that, and I thought that they had enough in common for a fruitful cooperation, at least for one project. Obviously, it is too late for that now.
Chitman's parents married in Bergen-Belsen. He grew up in a religious home ( his father was a hazan ( cantor ) ), studied at secular schools, and spent a lot of time and energy on bridge-building between religious and secular Israelis. His music was often a mixture of Western and Eastern ( Mizrahi ) styles.
Last Tuesday, when I read an idyllic picture of Che Guevara written by his daughter, my thoughts were very similar to those expressed by this IHT reader:
Che's motorcycle
Aleida Guevara's tribute to her father's "capacity to love" ("On the motorcycle behind my father, Che Guevara," Meanwhile, Oct. 12) is historical revisionism at its worst. The same man who oversaw numerous executions at La Cabaña prison, and who praised the "extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless and cold killing machines," is presented as some Jesus-like figure of love and tenderness. Ms. Guevara is certainly entitled to private fantasies of her father but should spare us from her self-serving myth-making.
Laurence King,
Leipzig, Germany

Saturday, October 16, 2004

In last week's Week's End, an article about Japan's Israel-MidEast policies ( and what prompts them ). Interesting detail: the country's outgoing Foreign Minister was a volunteer in kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar more than 40 years ago.
Hoe weet je dat men zich in een bepaald land verveelt ( en dat het blijkbaar minder slecht gaat dan je zou denken als je de media in dat land volgt )? Het volgend bericht lijkt me een aardige hint in die richting ( met dank aan het nieuwsbulletin van de Wereldomroep ):
Zoektocht naar herkomst badeendjes
Vlieland is in de ban van drie badeendjes die in september aanspoelden. Om de herkomst van de plastic speeltjes te achterhalen zijn onder meer het Kustwachtcentrum in Den Helder, het zeeonderzoeksinstituut NIOZ op Texel en reddingsmaatschappij KNRM op Vlieland ingeschakeld.Het Kustwachtcentrum heeft als enige een mogelijke verklaring: de eendjes komen waarschijnlijk uit een container die in 1998 op de Stille Oceaan door een schip is verloren. De 28.000 badeendjes die daarbij in het water raakten, zijn eerder op IJsland en in Groenland teruggevonden. Maar de KNMR zegt foto's van badeendjes te hebben vergeleken en dat daaruit blijkt dat het om een ander type gaat. Het NIOZ denkt dat de badeendjes in zee zijn gegooid om de stroming in zeeen in kaart te brengen.

Friday, October 15, 2004

( RNW bulletin Nederlands nieuws 8/9/04 ) * Klusser laat huis buurvrouw verzakken Een overijverige doe-het-zelver uit Assen die zijn woonkamer wat wilde opknappen, heeft het huis van zijn buurvrouw onbewoonbaar gemaakt. De binnen- en buitenmuur zijn verzakt, de kozijnen staan scheef en de deuren klemmen. De schade aan de huurwoning bedraagt zo'n 30.000 euro. De Assenaar brak de vloer in zijn rijtjeshuis uit om de woonkamer te verlagen. Zijn eigen muur stutte hij, maar die van de buurvrouw vergat hij. Haar woning zakte langzaam weg. De Stichting Woningbeheer Assen heeft de vrouw een andere woning aangeboden. Terug naar haar oude woning wil ze niet meer, omdat ze dat te aangrijpend vindt. Hopelijk ging het hier niet om het lichtend voorbeeld voor velen in klussersland. Gelukkig lijkt de aannemer die wij voor onze verbouwing hebben ingehuurd beter werk te leveren dan bovenvermelde klusser. Als het goed is zal zondag de verdieping ( incl. raam en trap ) klaar zijn, daarna worden de boekenkasten en -planken plus een groot bureau door een timmerman geplaatst. Het lijkt er op dat het eindresultaat ( tegen het einde van de maand ) erg mooi gaat worden.
A week later than promised: a link to ( a copy on my 'backup blog' of ) the full interview of Ari Shavit with Dov Weisglass. Read it and you will find several additional reasons why it might be good for Israelis and Palestinians if Bush is replaced by Kerry. It appears that anyone who ever desperately wanted to believe Ariel Sharon's noble intentions when he talked in negative terms about the occupation was just stupid, or at least utterly naive. I was both stupid and naive, I suppose.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

In an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland EU-representative for the Middle East Marc Otte surprisingly enough admitted that the security fence/barrier is serving its purpose: the number of terror attacks inside Israel has dropped considerably since its building started. Of course Mr Otte sticks to UN and EU opposition to the location of the barrier, something which is understandable and perfectly legitimate.
( PS: For the first time in ages I read on www.joods.nl, the website of Dutch Jewry, an important and interesting news item that I did not know already ).

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nobody should say that ( haredi ) MKs never do anything useful: ( Ha'Aretz News Flash )
14:31 Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen submits bill requiring banks to cancel most fees, allow customers to compare prices
In een interview in De Groene Amsterdammer praat de socioloog Abraham de Swaan over de Nederlandse maatschappij en geweld: geweld binnen die maatschappij en in de grote boze wereld, hoe wordt er op gereageerd, hoe gaat men er mee om etc. Boeiend.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Isn't it ironic that people like MK Zvi Hendel, who was allowed to introduce a blatantly racist ( I have no idea whatsoever why Ha'Aretz talks about a" 'racist' bill " ) draft law yesterday, are the first to use words like 'judenrein' when talking about the disengagement plan? No, it is not ironic, it is sad and disgusting. I would say "Shame on the Knesset, on its members who allowed that man to introduce the bill, and on those who support it", but already long ago it has become obvious that the word 'shame' is not part of most MKs' vocabulary. PS: At the same time, Mr Hendel is setting up "a Knesset lobby that will work toward increasing their compensation for the evacuation and securing them more favorable terms for receiving the payments." How opportunistic and principle-less can you get? I fully understand settlers who say "I don't mind leaving my home as long as the price is right", and I have quite some respect for people who refuse to even consider the idea of having themselves evacuated, but being among the harshest vocal opponents of disengagement while at the same time trying to negotiate better terms for your insurance policies is in my opinion only worthy of contempt.
An interesting and - in my opinion - quite convincing article on Turkey, the EU, and Israel, written by a former director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.

Monday, October 11, 2004

The following article contains nothing that is even remotely funny. Still, I could not help being reminded of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with the limbless Black Knight. An Israel Air Force missile strike on the home of a senior Islamic Jihad leader injured five people in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. The blasts wounded five people, two critically, hospital officials said. The house belonged to local Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed Sheikh Khalil, who was not at home at the time, Islamic Jihad leaders said. "Sheikh Khalil is in good shape ... and he will remain a thorn in the throat of the Jews and will teach them a lesson as he has done before," said local Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Abdel Rahman. Khalil had lost an arm in a previous attempt on his life and lost a leg in an accident while working with explosives. Islamic Jihad said none of the wounded were militants. The army had no immediate comment. Medics initially said Khalil was critically wounded in the blast, but relatives later said he was unhurt. They said that two of his brothers were wounded in the strike. The explosion hit the house and set off a series of explosions there, witnesses added.

Before Posted by Hello
The coming days I will have to improvise a bit. While I am writing these lines a contractor and three of his workers are making preparations to build a 'gallery' in a space left open exactly for that purpose in our living room. Later on they will start drilling etc. I will keep working as long as I can, if it gets too noisy and dusty ( all doors will be closed but you never know ) I might go to our neighbors'/friends' house two floors below us.
PS: I wanted to post a 'before' picture of our living room, and some 'after' pictures after everything is finished, but Blogger has made posting pictures much more complicated than before ( when it was very easy ), and I really do not feel like spending ten minutes doing something that used to take me less than one. PPS: I somehow managed to do it. The picture appears in a separate posting. I will try to enlarge it, and next time I will try to make sure the picture appears within the posting.
PPPS: Just click on the picture and you will get a larger version.
Four Wizard of Id comics dealing with lawyers and, y'know, justice:

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Isn't this hutzpah ( again )? ( Ha'Arretz News Flash ) 07:34 Min. Orlev: Why must we fund the treatment of casualties in attacks if they ignored warning against visiting Sinai?
Remember: this is the same minister who suggested that the IDF is not doing all it can to protect the settlers, as it wants to boost the disengagement plan and make its implementation easier. At the same time, he currently is one of the sanest voices within the National Religious Party, which says a lot about that party today.
For me it is also hard to understand Israelis who took ( and in some cases are still taking ) their families to the holiday resorts in Egypt in spite of specific warnings by the security forces ( never mind that the perpetrators might very well not be whom those forces were worried about ), but every Iraeli who is hurt in terror attacks deserves treatment and care funded by the state and the kupot holim, no matter if (s)he is a settler who insists on staying where he is, a bus passenger who is hurt in a suicide attack in Tel Aviv, or a tourist who is attacked in Egypt or Kenia. By the way, as the names of those dead victims who have already been identified show, terror kills Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Egyptians indiscriminately. Not that we did not know that.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Kol HaKavod to Gideon Levy for writing this op-ed article to draw our attention to two worrying phenomena in Israeli society today: the sorry plight of foreign workers in the countries, and the disgusting eagerness that some people display in denouncing illegal foreign workers to the authorities. The latter - instead of focusing on crimes that really threaten our society - prefer making easy scores by catching desperate people who are willing to suffer hardship and humiliation only to make a very modest living for themselves and their families. As Levy points out, the real criminals here are the middlemen ( and some of those who hire the workers ), who mostly remain out of the authorities' reach.

Friday, October 08, 2004

It appears that Ken Bigley has been murdered by his kidnappers. Amid all the accusations that will undoubtedly come up during the coming hours and days, we should not forget who murdered him. Blaming PM Blair, the Americans, Jews in general and Israelis in particular, etc. etc. might help some people to feel better, but they should remember that Mr Bigley was kidnapped and murdered by Islamists, for the sake and glory of their perverted version of a religion that basically is not much better or worse than any other religion. Pointing fingers to anybody else only furthers their cause and - just like dealing with them as if there is a shuk were kidnappers can sell their goods - will make one partly responsible for the fate of future victims of kidnappings by these murderers.
On the last page of this morning's Yedioth Aharonoth, with bloody pictures of the Sinai disaster on the front page, I read that today some streets in Tel Aviv will be closed for the annual Love Parade, with dj's from Israel and abroad. I really hope that the organizers of that event will have enough sense to cancel it.
Most speculations regarding the blasts in Egypt yesterday evening point in the direction of Al-Qaeda. If one of the purposes was to hurt Egyptian-Israeli relations, that goal is being achieved: the fact that Israeli rescue teams - better equiped and much better trained than anything the Egyptians could offer if they wanted to - are not allowed to work is constantly being stressed by Israeli commentators. Remember: Taba was the last piece of Sinai that was transfered to Egyptian rule under the Camp David agreements. Many will say "What use are peace agreements?", and it will be hard to blame them for asking that question.
Wednesday's editorial in Ha'Aretz deals with the Qassam-stretcher affair and what it has been doing to Israel's credibility.
Until recently I used to turn to Sky News whenever I wanted to have reliable and fast updates on current events. These last months I had a feeling that the station started a real Blair-bashing campaign. When readers were asked to voice their opinion on the kidnapping of the British engineer in Iraq and what the British government could or should do, only anti-Blair views were published. What really annoys me, though, is journalism of this kind. Do the people at Sky really think that Syria cannot handle its own propaganda? Apparently the sky is not the limit when it comes to licking up to Assad's regime in order to be able to work in that country as a journalist.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The blast(s) in Taba show(s) once more that all extremists and not-so-extremists can rest assured: Sharon will not have to withdraw from Gaza, the settlers can stay and expand where they are, Arafat does not have to step down ( since he will not be the president of any Palestinian state ), the occupation will continue, therefore all leaders of the Arab and Muslim world will continue to be able to trun all their peoples' anger and frustration towards those bloody Zionists. Also, since Israel will ( have to ) retaliate, Europe can blame us for overreacting and profile itself as being 'more balanced' than the Bush government, which will use this attack to justify its invasion of Iraq, etc. etc. etc.
Meanwhile ordinary Israelis and Palestinians will keep burying and mourning their dead and taking care of their wounded and maimed, and foreign reporters will be able to show their viewers and readers how hatred among Palestinians is created and perpetuated ( forgetting that hatred is not exactly a one-way street ).
I am forced to take back what I said about the service of Blogger Support. Half an hour ago I received a mail from BS' Steve, who told me that they do not have backups of templates ( which is understandable ), but he gave me the URL of a cached version of my blog at Google. That version is dated September 24th, and I did not make any changes since then ( until this afternoon ), so at least I will know which websites and blogs I added to my side-bar, and which ones I had deleted. After I update all that, my blog will be just as it was this morning.
The main damage has been repaired, now it is just a matter of some cosmetic changes and editing the side-bar before everything is back to normal again.
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been re-added to this blog.
This would be a good moment to swear. I have no idea how, but I deleted most of the template of this blog, which means that I will have to sit for hours and hours to restore everything to the way it was an hour ago or so. In the meantime I put up a copy of my old template, so that at least the postings are visible. For some time it will be impossible to put up comments. Sorry. I asked Blogger Support if there is any backup of my new template, but I have little hope. It all happened when I added Brian Ulrich's weblog to my list of blogs. Of course, it still is my own stupid fault, not his. All the latest addings to my template, including several weblogs, disappeared, please be patient, I will do my best to get everything back to the way it was.
A new blog was added to my list of blogs and websites worth visiting: Brian's Study Breaks, by Brian Ulrich, a PhD candidate in Islamic History at the University of Wisconsin. As I did not feel like creating a new category, I added his blog to the Israel-related weblogs. After all, isn't Israel part of Islamic history?
Regarding "Spain cuts US from national day parade", IHT, October 6, 2004: The United States are snubbed by a government which in many ways represents Europe's New Order. One of those ways is opposition to the war against Iraq, under the claim that it was and is a neo-colonial war. Isn't it ironic? The Spanish national holiday that we are talking about celebrates if not the mother then at least one of the most important ancestors of all colonial wars/crusades in modern times. Also, the place of American soldiers might be taken by representatives of a country which fought some of the most cruel and devastating colonial wars in the 20th century and which still is one of the few European countries that indefinitely hold on to their colonies.
Jonathan Edelstein of Head Heeb posted two valuable comments to my posting yesterday about Dov Weisglass's remarks regarding the disengagement plan and the not-so-peace-process ( tomorrow the whole interview will appear in Ha'Aretz' Friday magazine, I will surely post it on my articles' blog ). Here is his own posting on the subject.
For an analysis of the damage possibly done to Israel's PR efforts by the Qassam-stretcher affair, read this article by Aluf Benn.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ha'Aretz News Flash:
22:45 Employee of Dutch AIVD intelligence service arrested on suspicion of leaking information to terror group.
Is this the news item that I read about some days ago in Dutch media? I missed the terror link, or is that something new that was not mentioned before? I just checked the websites of NOS Teletekst, Telegraaf and Volkskrant and none of them reported on this. Nanette and others who follow the Dutch media, can you help me out here?

PS: I should have gone straight away to the website of my favorite newspaper, Trouw. There I found this article.

There is also some good news today: two Israeli scientists, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, and an American colleague, Irwin Rose, will receive the Nobel prize for chemistry this year.
The words of Ariel Sharon's closest advisor, Dov Weisglass, prove what many on the Left have been saying all along: although he might get us out of Gaza, Sharon intends to continue the occupation and - together with the extremists and not-so-extremists on both our and the Palestinian side - has done and will continue to do everything he can to keep the conflict going, to get things escalated once in a while, and to make sure that a Palestinian state will never ever come into being.
All people on the Right can stop worrying, if - and this is a big if - Sharon evacuates the settlements in the Gaza Strip plus some in the Westbank, that will be it, it won't be the beginning of a larger plan to end the occupation, all other settlers will be alowed to stay where they are, and probably also to expand their existing settlements. On the other hand, all those on the Left and elsewhere who would like to see an end to that occupation should better start understanding that Ariel Sharon is not the right person to support. They should get their act together and get themselves an organized, united and credible leadership.
Even if Iman Alhamas, the poor young girl who was shot and killed yesterday because it was thought she carried a bag of explosives ( which turned out to be books ), had been a terrorist, the alleged fact that 20 bullets hit her might show that we are talking about a case of serious overkill ( although at least one source said that she was shot at by both Palestinians and Israeli troops ). The high number of militants killed in the current operation is not a bad thing, but the circumstances under which so many civilians have been killed these last few days raise many questions that will have to be answered. This appears more than just 'collateral damage', a phrase that is sickening in any case. There is no reason why Israel should listen to the calls by EU and other foreign officials to basically take it easy, sit back and let its citizens be pounded with Qassam rockets, but there is a difference between overreacting/overkill and total restraint.
Here you see how three Israeli intellectuals approach 'the situation', 'the conflict' and in fact life in Israel in general. Each of the three - Uri Avnery, Irit Linur, and Amos Oz - has his or her own history. Uri Avnery explains why he turned from one sort of radicalism - Begin's National Military Organization - to another - The Peace Bloc -, and in the article he states his case very well, clarifying some of his positions about which I had my doubts. For example, while he opposes any wall between Palestine and Israel, he acknowledges that a binational state is not an option, at least not for the moment. Irit Linur apparently has no idea from where she came and where she is going, except for the fact that she seems to bear a lot of confused and confusing hatred towards the secular Left of which she once was one of the main spokeswomen. Someone whose positions have been quite steadfast and constant throughout his life is Amos Oz. While he never hides his Zionist roots - the Jewish people needs and deserves a national state of his own - in his worldview Zionism does and should not exclude the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. His approach is based on pragmatism, and on several occasions he has said that everybody knows what any future solution to the conflict more or less will look like, the only question is how many people will lose their lives before our leaders will find and implement that solution. It is probably obvious that of these three I identify the most with Amos Oz ( and with David Grossman, whose positions often run parallel to Oz's; for instance, both signed the Geneva declaration ).
While I feel sorry for the Palestinian people ( for the opportunities lost by their self-proclaimed leaders, for the sorrow brought upon them by us, by their so-called leaders and brothers, and by history in general ) I have no particular affinity with their national(ist) cause, just as I do not have any with the French, Croatian, Colombian or Tibetan national(ist) causes. Still, I want them to prosper and live in peace and happiness, not only because they deserve a good life just like any other people, but also ( and in particular ) because that is in the interest of my own people. Call me selfish, but I assure you that if leaders on both/all sides of 'the conflict' were as selfish as I am ( i.e. if their main worry was the good of their own people ) things would look much better for almost everybody over here. I do not feel any need to blame the Left, the Right, the Palestinians or Islam for this or that ( which does not mean that I never blame anybody for anything ), I just would like to see a border between two separate states, with two people living side by side, without interfering in each other's lives unless they both agree to do so. Afterwards we historians might or might not decide who is to blame for what. In my opinion pragmatism will beat idealism and hatred in the end.
While I am very glad that the US brought down the regime of Saddam Hussein, I think that the following is exemplary for the Bush government's failure to make up a credible and constructive long-term policy for the Middle-East in general and for Iraq and Israel-Palestine in particular. I mean, how twisted can someone's logical reasoning get?
( Ha'Aretz News Flash ): 06:08 Cheney: The number of suicide bombings in Israel has decreased because Hussein is no longer the leader of Iraq.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ik kwam nog twee aardige commentaren tegen over Anne Frank, de KRO en de verkiezing van de grootste Nederlander: een van Hanneke Groenteman en ( via haar blog ) een van Marcel Moering. Blijkbaar was het verband KRO-heilig wel erg voor de hand liggend: ik was niet de enige die de suggestie deed om Anne Frank naast het Nederlanderschap ook maar de status van heilige te verschaffen, zie bijvoorbeeld Bieslog.
Suddenly our specialists are not 100% sure anymore about the interpretation of the pictures made by the IAF of a Qassam rocket supposedly being loaded into a UN vehicle. Israel should have been not 100% but 200% certain that its accusations were based on solid evidence before publishing them. If Israel's claims turn out to be false, that would be yet another disastrous blow in the PR-war, in which we have been failing - and simply beaten - already too many times. The fact that the affair gave the UNRWA director an opportunity to say some things that will probably damage his organization does not diminish the damage done to Israel if the Qassam rocket really turns out to be a stretcher.
For my readers who read Dutch, a link to an excellent article in the Dutch daily Trouw about kidnappings and beheadings by terrorists in Iraq and the role of the media: "...the public in western countries is subjected to manipulation. A link is being forged between kidnappers, media and viewers by evoking fear, rage, and the need/urge to watch."

Monday, October 04, 2004

This is what I call hutzpah! Where were these lawyers, jurists and legal researchers when during the last 37 years the rights of thousands, if not millions of Palestinians were infringed on in order to accomodate the same settlers who today might or might not be evacuated? Without being a legal expert I can assure you that in that case we are talking about a slightly higher number of human rights being violated. These jurists claim that the "disengagement plan is in breach of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, the property rights of thousands of people as well as other basic rights, such as freedom of movement and freedom to demonstrate." Did they really read their own lines when they published them, or do they honestly believe that there is a legitimate legal basis for the Jews and Palestinians living not only in different worlds but also under totally different laws? Maybe they think "De minimis non curat lex" ( Law does not care about trivial things ) or - paraphrasing the motto of the US state of Missouri - "Salus judaici populi sola lex esto" ( Let the welfare of the Jewish people be the only law )?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Dat is wel het toppunt van moderne gemakzucht: deelnemen aan een virtuele demonstratie. Voor de grap heb ik meegedaan, al kan ik met trots zeggen dat mijn vader gisteren ook op het Museumplein is geweest.
PS: Mijn broer schreef me dat ook hij aan de demonstratie heeft deelgenomen, dus ben ik dubbel trots.
If I was an Italian tax-payer I would demand Berlusconi's government to let me know whether or not a ransom was paid to ensure the release of Simona Torretta. I think that the chances of her having been killed by Zarqawi and/or other murderers were extremely small, since she appears to be such a powerful propaganda tool for their cause. Any money paid for her release - apart from being an incentive for present and future kidnappings - could have been spent in much more useful and just ways. She said - among other things - "You have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. The guerrilla war is justified, but I am against the kidnapping of civilians." Does in her opinion the bombing of children - such as recently in Baghdad - form part of the legitimate guerrilla war, or would she oppose such acts of terror also only if they hurt her personally?
Here are some pictures that I took yesterday morning at Rosh Hanikrah, right at the border with Lebanon.

Bedankt, Nanette, dat je me attent maakte op dit prima artikel in Trouw, waarin tien argumenten voor en tien tegen toetreding van Turkije tot de EU worden gegeven en uitgelegd. Ik kan me vooral goed vinden in: Voor: 3,4,5,8,9,10 Tegen: 3,7,10 Ik zou zeggen: blijf duidelijke en scherpe vooraarden stellen, maar sla de deur van een reele kans op toetreding niet keihard dicht in het gezicht van de Turkse regering en bevolking. Terwijl Amerika ( net als Israel ) denkt terreur alleen met militaire middelen te kunnen bestrijden, zijn veel Europeanen er van overtuigd dat zij alleen maar gevaar lopen als ze Amerika steunen, dat met terroristen zaken gedaan kunnen worden, en dat economische middelen samen met zalvende diplomatie elk probleem de wereld kunnen uithelpen (*). Turkije is een uniek geval van een Moslim-land waarin secularisme - niet altijd met de meest democratische middelen, maar toch - wortel heeft geschoten. De kans dat dat land terug zal vallen op Islamisme is niet gering, een serieuze en hoopvolle en -gevende benadering door Europa zou kunnen helpen om dat te voorkomen. Het "maakt geen sense" voor Europa om landen als Iran en ( het oude ) Irak te willen helpen hervormen of op het juiste pad te komen d.m.v. diplomatie en economische dwang- en paaimiddelen, terwijl het dichter bij huis een land met een grotere kans op succes als het gaat om hervormingen, democratisering en 'verwestering' in de kou zou laten staan. Zo goed als alle problemen die uit een mogelijke toetreding van het land zouden kunnen voortvloeien zijn volgens mij op te lossen. Sorry dat ik het hierbij moet laten, ik geloof dat het Trouw-artikel de zaken heel aardig opsomt. (*) Ik geloof in een combinatie van de Europese en de Amerikaans-Israelische benadering.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Op weg van Rosh HaNikrah naar huis, met de twee kinderen slapend achterin, luisterden we naar het nieuws op de radio. Een van de berichten betrof het volgende onderwerp. Mijn vrouw zei meteen "Ze vervelen zich daar zeker."(*)
( Bron: NOS Teletekst, p. 192 )
KRO wil Anne Frank naturaliseren
HILVERSUM De KRO wil dat Anne Frank het Nederlands staatsburgerschap alsnog krijgt. De omroep ijvert hiervoor omdat Frank een van de genomineerden is voor de titel 'De Grootste Nederlander'. In dat KRO-programma kunnen de kijkers half november de grootste Nederlander aller tijden kiezen. Anne Frank was statenloos toen ze in '45 in het Duitse concentratiekamp Bergen-Belsen stierf. De nazi's hadden bepaald dat alle joden die uit Duitsland waren vertrokken, hun Duitse nationaliteit verloren. Anne Frank had graag Nederlandse willen zijn. Justitie moet haar teleurstellen. "Dat is postuum niet mogelijk."
2 commentaren:
1) Blijkbaar was er ook in Israel, met alle ellende die zich in en om de Gaza strook afspeelt, niet genoeg belangrijk nieuws om het bulletin te vullen. 2) Zou de KRO ook niet zijn connecties kunnen gebruiken om Anne Frank meteen ook maar heilig te laten verklaren? Toen ik destijds over de verkiezing van de Grootste Nederlander las dacht ik meteen "Maar Anne Frank was helemaal geen Nederlander.", maar ik had net op dat moment geen tijd om met de KRO daarover te gaan corresponderen. Blijkbaar zijn er anderen geweest die daar wel de tijd en de puf voor hadden.
PS: Morgen zal ik wat foto's van Rosh Hanikrah posten.
Het volgende bericht, niet wereldschokkend maar toch reuze interessant, kwam ik tegen in het e-mail bulletin van de Wereldomroep dat ik gistermorgen in mijn mailbox vond. Van Van Meegeren had ik wel gehoord, maar over de Goering-link wist ik niets.
Echtgenote stond model voor meestervervalser
De vrouw van meestervervalser Han van Meegeren heeft vrijwel zeker model gestaan voor alle vier de figuren op het schilderij De Emmausgangers. Dat zegt emeritus hoogleraar Frederik Kreuger, die een boek over Van Meegeren heeft geschreven. De Emmausgangers werd in 1932 als een echte Vermeer aangekocht door Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. De vier vrouwen op het doek zijn volgens Kreuger allen uitzonderlijk tenger, net als Jo van Meegeren. Toen de vervalsingspraktijken van haar man aan het licht kwamen, bleef Jo Van Meegeren buiten schot, omdat zij er niets van zou hebben geweten. De opbrengsten van de vervalsingen bleven grotendeels op haar naam staan.Van Meegeren liep uiteindelijk tegen de lamp door het verkopen van een nep-Vermeer aan nazi-kopstuk Goring. Na de oorlog dreigde hij hierom te worden aangeklaagd, waarna hij zijn bedrog opbiechtte: Van Meegeren ging liever als vervalser dan als collaborateur de geschiedenis in.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Now this is interesting, and this time there even seems to be solid proof.
This really makes me mad. The Israel athletes who participated in the Paralympics brought home 4 golden, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals. This is more than six times the number of medals which were won by Israel during the 'regular' Olympics. The national anthem was played four times, as opposed to only once ( very impressive, of course, but that is not the point here ) in August, for Gal Friedman. Besides Keren Leibowitz, gold medals were won by Itzhak Mamistalov ( 2 x ) and by the sailing team of Dror Cohen, Aaron Efrati, and Benni Vexler. So far so good. Of course they were congratulated by PM Sharon and other officials. All winners receive a nice sum from the government. But read this: "The grants are exactly half of the sums awarded to Israeli medalists at the Olympics." For heaven's sake, why?
Although I cannot ignore the violence in and around Gaza during the last few days, I have no idea what I should write. Should I write about Dorit Aniso, 2, and Yuval Abebeh, 4, two little Ethiopian-Jewish kids who were killed by a Qassam rocket yesterday while playing outside, or about the Palestian kids who have been killed on 'the other side', and who were just as 'guilty' as poor Dorit and Yuval, regardless of the question whether they were simply on the wrong place at the wrong moment ( just like us they do not have many places to go ) or were used as human shields by the terrorists? Or should I say something about the Israeli politicians who right after the attack on Sderot urged the government to cancel any disengagement and order the IDF to invade the Gaza Strip again, or about the Palestinian spokesman who happily used the word massacre, as if that word has not lost its meaning by being falsely used more than one time too many? Or should I write that as far as I can see we never have been able to really defend our country as long as we were inside Gaza so maybe we should give it a try from the outside, so that we will have a clear border to defend, and any Qassam that crosses that border is a casus belli, and unlike the current situation we will be able to sell such a bellum as a war of self-defense rather than as a war of occupation?
While I am writing this, large quantities of soldiers and equipment are brought into Gaza and concentrated near the dividing line between the strip and Israel proper. Once again Israel will try to eradicate terrorism by doing things that it has done many, many times before without any long-term success. Maybe I should write that it is about time to try something that has not been tried before, and no, I am not talking about wholesale murder or deportation of the Palestinians. On the other hand, maybe it is better to keep silent, and simply wait and see what happens this time, how long we will stay there, how many of us and of them will be killed, and how many days of peace and quiet will follow this latest attempt to pacify Gaza by military means, and by military means alone.