Wednesday, January 05, 2005

While the main Israel-related news items that I have been following on the website of Ha'Aretz this week have to do with the ( threat of a ) civil war between settlers and their sympathizers on the one hand and the rest of the country, including most of the security forces, on the other, here in Europe media still dedicate most of their front pages/prime time to the Tsunami disaster in South-Eastern Asia. Today at noon people all over the EU were supposed to observe three whole minutes of silence - more minutes than I can remember to have been silent in remembrance of anything, ever -, an idea apparently suggested by the Dutch government. Dutch prime Minister Balkenende considered the acceptance by the other member states of that idea as a real achievement for him and his cabinet, whose chairmanship of the EU ended last Saturday. Anyway, I found myself at noon today on the Champs Elysées, inside the Virgin Megastore ( it was raining ). Although the store management turned off the music for three minutes I felt really stupid for standing still for 180 seconds: virtually everybody else continued shopping, talking on cellphones, asking salespersons what was going on, etc. Really, quite an achievement for JP Balkenende and for the EU.

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