Saturday, April 30, 2005

Finally, we can eat bread, pasta, burekas, malawah, ordinary chicken soup, cakes and cookies etc. etc. again. While most Israelis gain a few pounds during the week of Pesach as a result of eating too many matzes, matze balls/knaydeleh and so on, I normally lose a kilo or two, because I am not very fond of most of the things that are kasher lepesach. While we never clean our house specifically for Pesach, we do not eat hametz during the holiday, although our kids eat rice and I put peanut butter on my matza ( both items are kitniyoth, which ashkenazim are not allowed to eat during Pesach ).
Happy Mimunah to all my fellow-Jews of Moroccan descent and to all who celebrate the holiday with them. For some explanations in French about the holiday read this. Many Moroccan-Jewish families have an open house during the evening following the end of Pesach. The next day there are big barbeques all over the country. While I write these few lines my father-in-law, my wife and our daughter are eating mufleta's, visiting several families in the city where we live.
Posted by Hello
Egypt's president Mubarak's reign is nearing its end. Even if he decides to 'run' for an additional term, his authority appears to be waning, and the signs for the post-Mubarak era are not very hopeful, given the popular protests and the realively large number of terror attacks in the country during the past year. Today two more attacks were carried out against tourists in Cairo.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Voor al mijn lezers in Nederland: een fijne Koninginnedag gewenst!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

In today's Ha'Aretz I read, right above my own letter to the editor that I sent the day before yesterday, a letter that was written by professor Bill Freedman of Haifa University: Reject the AUT Regarding "British lecturers boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities" April 25 The proper response to the British Association of University Teachers (AUT), it seems to me, is not a plea for acceptance, but contemptuous rejection and dissociation. Groucho Marx quipped that he would not join any club that would have him as a member. Personally, I'd want nothing to do with a club (the proper word for this community of thugs) that rejected me for reasons as blatantly prejudicial, distorted and absurd as those that led the AUT to single out Israeli universities as appropriate targets for a boycott. My hope is that decent, self-respecting scholars, Jewish and otherwise, in Israel and elsewhere, will share this contempt and publicly declare it. Prof. Bill Freedman Haifa

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Regarding "In the footsteps of that war", Ha'Aretz, April 26, 2005 ( published in Ha'Aretz, April 28, 2005 ): It is a shame that an Israeli newspaper uncritically continues the mantra of Latvian nationalists regarding World War II and its aftermath. While undoubtedly crimes were committed by the Soviets in the Baltic states during and after that war, it is unbecoming for an Israeli journalist to write or repeat - without any reserve or explanation - "occupation is occupation" and to imply - without any commentary - that the German and Soviet occupation of Latvia were almost one and the same. I do not know if the number of 550.000 citizens who were lost in the years 1940-1990 is correct. In any case, I think that Moshe Gilad should at least have stated in this article that about 15 percent of that number were Jewish men, women and children, who were brutally murdered only in the first four of those fifty yeas, in many cases with the active and enthusiastic participation of their non-Jewish neighbors. PS: For a website rich with information about the Holocaust in Latvia click here.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Regarding "British lecturers boycott Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities", Ha'Aretz, April 25, 2005:
On its website, Britain's Association of University Teachers uses the motto "Unity, diversity, strength" and a picture of some people, apparently very satisfied with themselves and with their politically correct union. As a PhD student at Haifa University, I think is sad that the AUT can only find unity in boycotting a university that draws much of its academic strength through its cultural and religious ( and political ) diversity. You do not have to be a supporter of 'the' occupation to understand how politically irrelevant, counterproductive and unworthy of academics these kinds of easy-chair gestures of pseudo-solidarity are, especially as long as lecturers and researchers from Russia, China, Sudan, Syria, etc., etc. are warmly welcomed by their British colleagues.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A very Israeli success story has come to an end. Former Air Force commander, Minister of Defense and President Ezer Weizman died at the age of 80. May his memory be blessed.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Ik hoor het Geert Wilders al zeggen: "Ik heb niets tegen allochtonen, ik heb iets tegen de uitwassen van allochtonen." Posted by Hello
Hag Pesah/Herut/Aviv/Matsot Sameah WeKasher! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bijschrift bij deze foto op de website van de NOS: "De nieuwe paus Benedictus XVI spreekt de zege uit (foto: AP)". Heb ik het mis of sprak hij de zegen en niet de overwinning uit? Dat zou beter passen bij de naam die hij voor zichzelf gekozen heeft. Posted by Hello
Habent Papam: Benedictus XVI, born as Joseph Ratzinger.
It is perfecly legitimate and fair to postpone the implementation of the disengagement plan until after the fast on the ninth of the month Av. What does worry me, though, is the fact that once again it has become clear how badly thought-out Israel's policies often are. Didn't any politician or anybody in the security forces notice that part of the evacuation was planned in the first days of that month? The same goes for the proposal to move some Gaza settlements en bloc to an area near Ashkelon, within the Green Line. It was launched suddenly, without anybody thinking of its environmental, financial and other consequences. A few weeks after its introduction the project already has become an organic part of the public and political discourse regarding the disengagement plan.
Of course, it already has been suggested to postpone the plan's implementation even more, until after Simhat Thorah ( October 25th ). With these kinds of short-term non-plans and improvised schemes we can expect much more of the unexpected in the coming months. For instance, personally I would not be surprised if for internal political reasons our prime minister decides to attack Iran in the days or weeks leading to the ( planned ) evacuation of any settlements. Let us not forget that our prime minister is hardly predictable. As we say in Dutch, a fox loses his hair, but not his tricks ( according to my dictionary the English equivalent of this saying is +/- " the leopard cannot change his spots" ).
Regarding "Forecast for Mofaz visit to Gush Katif today: cool to stormy", Ha'Aretz, April 19, 2005: As much as I try to feel sympathy for the settlers who might - or, who knows, might not - be forced to leave their homes in a few months' time, sometimes I find it a bit hard. It is probably me who is detached from reality, not the residents of Gush Katif. Still, doesn't any one of them think how many of the needy people - for whom the settlers prepare food packages for Pesach "as part of a public relations campaign" ( I always thought that tsedakah is not supposed to be part of any PR campaign, but I am not really an expert ) - would really be helped with the funds that the Jewish state could save and gain if only the occupation came to an end? Also, if the residents of Gush Katif use the Haggadah to interpret current events, why don't they introduce more of the 'Jewish soul' that is mentioned in our national anthem? The disengagement from Gaza could be interpreted as the (re)start of the Jewish State's exodus towards true freedom. Only if we end the occupation will we ever be able to become "a free people in our land ( not someone else's ), the land of Jerusalem and Zion ( not of Gaza, Jenin and Ramallah )".
PS: Don't get me wrong, I do not believe that the occupation is the only reason why Israel's socio-economic situation is much worse than it could be.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Regarding "Waiting for the denial to end", Ha'Aretz, April 17, 2005: While reading this article I almost thought that Ha'Aretz is deliberately helping those who try to deny or play down the scale and character of the Armenian genocide. Why else would the caption of a picture accompanying the article say "The bodies of Armenians slain by the Turks. Men, women and children were said to be killed."? As far as I am aware, few historians dispute the occurence of the murder of 1.5-2.5 million Armenians in the years 1915-1918 in the Turkish part of the Ottoman Empire, or refuse to acknowledge that men, women and children were among the victims of those massacres.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Amir Oren gives us an elaborate analysis of the ways in which the Israeli army is making plans and assessments related to the implementation of the disengagement plan.
Zojuist heb ik de allerlaatste uitzending van B&W gezien. Het ging allemaal over het programma zelf, en er zat niet echt een lijn in, maar het was toch wel aardig, en omdat de beeldkwaliteit uitzonderlijk goed was heb ik het programma in zijn geheel lekker op het volledige computerscherm zitten kijken. De twee boeiendste/leukste gasten: Erik Hulzebosch ( tweede bij de Elfstedentocht in 1997 ), en natuurlijk Maarten van Rossem. Van Rossem raakte ze ouderwets lekker kwijt. Toen Hanneke Groenteman hem erop wees dat hij wel erg lang praatte zei hij: "Ik geloof dat het voor de televisie een zegen zou zijn als er in het algemeen wat langer gepraat zou kunnen worden door mensen die ergens verstand van hebben."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Ehud Manor, who was laid to rest on Wednesday with thousands of people attending his funeral, was not only a prolific and very talented lyricist, he also translated many works into Hebrew. He represented a kind of quintessential Israeliness that is rarely found in one person. That is probably one of the reasons why he appealed to so many. It is typical that his song "I have no other country" ( Eyn li Erets Aheret ) was embraced by - and sung at rallies of - rightwing and leftwing Zionists alike ( Manor himself admitted that he himself belonged to the left side of Israel's political spectrum, but that when rereading the lyrics of the song he understood why it contains something for every Zionist ). An example of his being so Israeli and so much down-to-earth is the following anecdote, which I found here. " 'Abanibi' as performed by [ Yizhar ] Cohen [ lyrics by Ehud Manor, music by Nurit Hirsch ] placed first in the Eurovision contest in Paris in 1978. Manor used to tell about how he did not believe that the song, which has an African-sounding melody, would win a European competition. But once the points were tallied, with the `douze points' racking up, he started to think about the sandals on his feet, the simple T-shirt he was wearing and about how he couldn't get on the stage looking like this.Sitting alongside him was Yoram Rosenfeld, Nurit Hirsch's husband, who had a similar build and was wearing a brown corduroy suit. The two men exchanged clothes in the middle of the auditorium." On Thursday I read an article describing the funeral, and one very good piece by Uri Klein, in which he raises some questions about 'about proportionality and standards, and about opportunism and exploitation in politics, nationalism and TV': " ...there was something a bit too hasty and mechanical about the way in which Ehud Manor, a few short hours after his death, was appropriated, changed from being a unique and private person, a husband, father, friend and artist, and turned into a symbol of the state and national unity. [...] Many of those who discussed his oeuvre during the past 48 hours noted that he had introduced the word "I" into Hebrew songs instead of the "we" that had been the norm before. But Ehud Manor himself was transformed from "I" into "we" too quickly after his death. The idea that his works should be included in the school syllabus (*) was also mooted too soon. If he deserved it, why wait for his death?". (*) "Education Ministry director general Ronit Tirosh yesterday instructed the nation's schools to hold activities in memory of Manor. The memo to teachers suggests reading parts of Education Minister Limor Livnat's eulogy (!) in their classes, as well as familiarizing students with his songs and various activities based on use of Manor lyrics to foster discussion."
Staatssecretaris Van der Knaap van Defensie zal wel veel commentaar krijgen op zijn woorden in de Volkskrant vandaag: ‘Ik zou willen dat de samenleving een stukje respect toont voor ministers en staatssecretarissen. Dat zijn mensen die het land nog beter laten zijn dan het al was. Het heeft ook wat meer cachet als je met excellentie wordt aangesproken. Er mag best enige afstand zijn.’
Wim de Bie steekt de draak met de staatssecretaris, in het bijzonder met diens gebruik van het woord 'stukje'. Waarom De Bie een link naar Van der Knaap's CV plaatst is me overigens niet helemaal duidelijk.
Dat iemand over 's lands bestuurders zegt "Dat zijn mensen die het land nog beter laten zijn dan het al was" betekent waarschijnlijk dat hij een grote idealist is of nog met anderhalf been in het begin van de vorige eeuw leeft. Zelf kreeg ik door de woorden van deze excellentie vooral de neiging om een oude kreet van Veronica te parafraseren: "Respect krijg je niet zomaar, daar moet je wel wat voor doen!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

If Israel's security services and forces do not start acting decisively and forcefully against those rightwing fanatics who are seriously disturbing public life here, the latter will become a serious threat to national security. Now that they know that they can get away with threats, chaining school gates, disturbing graduation ceremonies of IDF officers ( today, with the chief of staff attending ), and blocking major roads at rush hour, they might raise their level of violence if they see that the public does not buy their claims. Also, because of 'protests' such as the ones held yesterday and today Israel's army and police is becoming some sort of laughing stock, which - much more than a coordinated and well-executed withdrawal from territories that never will be ours - will affect the ways in which our ( other ) enemies will view and fight us. Personally, I believe those enemies never will pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. People like Marzel, Federman and Ben-Dvir will. In fact they already do.
Toen ik net even keek naar reacties van het Openbaar Ministerie en van de advocaat van Mohammed B. op diens 'verklaring' voor de rechtbank in Amsterdam dacht ik heel even een boek van Baantjer te lezen. Namen als Peter Plasman en Dop Kruimel, je zou het haast niet kunnen verzinnen. Gelukkig zijn we na vandaag veel wijzer wat betreft de beweegredenen van Mohammed B.
In yesterday's International Herald Tribune I read the following: WASHINGTON 'Stop Her Now' blitz to be aimed at Clinton Arthur Finkelstein, a Republican political strategist, has his sights set on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Finkelstein is setting up a political action committee to oppose Clinton in 2006, when she will be up for re-election, according to Republicans familiar with his plans. Those Republicans say he is moving behind the scenes to line up donors to help the committee, called Stop Her Now, raise as much as $10 million. The preparations against Clinton come at a time when her popularity rating in New York State is soaring and state Republicans are having a difficult time recruiting a top-tier candidate to run against her. (NYT) I remembered Finkelstein as a political advisor to Binyamin Nethanyahu ( and to Sharon as well, if I am not mistaken ). While I dit not take special notice of this minor news item, I was reminded of it when I read this posting on Sha!. As Shai says, the world is a curious place. Not that there has to be a contradiction between being conservative and/or expressing conservative ideas on the one hand, and on the other having a lifestyle which most conservatives probably reject.
In today's IHT we can read what the senator's husband had to say about Finkelstein: "Either this guy believes his party is not serious, and he's totally Machiavellian [...] or he may be blinded by self-loathing." Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign will most probably be very interesting, for more than one reason.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

This morning the gates of more more than a hundred schools and kindergartens in the center of the country were chained. Placards protesting Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan were hung on the gates as well. It seems that anti-pullout activists are responsible for this act. Apparently they have lost all hope of gaining the sympathy of the Israeli public at large.
This operation, like its predecessors, required good coordination and at least dozens of militants to plan it and carry it out. Just imagine what the Jewish state would look like if all the efforts and resources invested in the occupation, in the disengagement plan and in protests against both, were invested in a truly better future for our children. I am not an economist, but I am sure that if all the manpower and money wasted on the occupation had been used to create jobs, to enhance our economy, to promote tourism, to fight poverty and make the best possible medical services available to all of us, to boost academic research, etc. etc., Israel could today very well be a light unto the nations. Now, because of decades of failing government and successful, vigorous actions by a relatively small number of dedicated ( some might say fanatic ) people, in all kinds of international rankings ( dealing with poverty, environmental issues, education, etc. ) we often find ourselves in the company of countries that we definitely do not want to be associated with.
When I went online this morning I was shocked to see that Ehud Manor, who wrote lyrics for some of the most beautiful song in Hebrew that I know, passed away. He was 64 years old. With the recent deaths of Ehud Manor, Naomi Shemer and Uzi Hitman Israeli music - while still remaining rich and varied - has lost three of its finest creators. May their memory be blessed.
Op Verbal Jam staat sinds gisteren een door mij geschreven stuk over professor Loe de Jong z"l, die vandaag vier weken geleden is overleden.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Although I do have sympathy for the families that are about to be evacuated from their homes in the Gaza Strip, I enjoyed reading this propaganda-self-help kit for use against disengagement protesters, written by Doron Rosenblum. In particular I smiled a sad, bittersweet smile when I saw the reply - suggested by Rosenblum - to the claims, made by many settlers and their supporters, that they were sent to Gaza by successive Israeli governments, and that the disengagement plan has been pushed through and will be implemented with the use of undemocratic means: "The government gave, the government took away. May the name of the government be blessed (or cursed).[...] This is what's called poetic justice - or, in other words, what goes around, comes around - and some [...] will say that the process of dismantling the settlements looks a lot more democratic and transparent than the process of building them." Yesterday's anti-disengagement activities in Jerusalem and near Tel-Aviv ( it is hard to believe that their timing was a totally uncoordinated coincidence ) probably turned some more Israelis into anti-anti-disengagement sympathizers.
Ook Van Agt's reactie op Zalm's reactie op Van Agt's kritiek met betrekking tot de afwezigheid van een vertegenwoordiger van het Koninklijk Huis bij de begrafenis van paus JPII lijkt mij overtrokken. Als dit hem al verbijstert vraag ik me af of hij zich ooit verbaast, of misschien slaat hij die fase over en gaat meteen door naar vormen van verbijstering, ontzetting etc. Het gebruik van hyperbolen is de heer Van Agt niet vreemd. De laatste zin van deze Teletekstpagina vind ik ook heel frappant. Heb ik het mis of voelt onze voormalige premier zich te goed of te groot voor Nederland? Zou hij heel misschien diep in zijn hart een beetje jaloers zijn op de internationale erkenning ( never mind wat dat waard is ) die iemand als Ayaan Hirsi Ali wel en hij niet krijgt? Nah, boven zulke kinderachtige gevoelens is een grootheid als Dries van Agt ver verheven, toch? Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mijn reactie op de twee reacties op mijn laatste artikel in het Reformatorisch Dagblad staat sinds gisteren in zwaar verkorte - lees in dit geval 'verminkte' - vorm op de website van de krant. Ik weet niet precies wanneer het in de krant zelf verschijnt. Als naar aanleiding van die versie weer reacties komen zal het weinig zin hebben om daarop te antwoorden, want een groot deel van mijn argumenten en van de opbouw van mijn betoog is simpelweg weggevallen. Jammer, maar helaas.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Of course there was no reason yet to believe that redemption is near, after yesterday's historical handshakes:
"[...]Khatami told IRNA after his return from Italy: "I strongly deny shaking hands, meeting and talking to the Israeli president.[...]This claim is like other baseless claims made by the Zionist media in the past."[...]"
It will take much more than a simple handshake to bring about serious changes here. Still, it was an interesting and memorable event. NB: the official Syrian press agency first denied, then confirmed that Katsav and Assad shook hands.
In the last hour or so I noticed a sharp rise in the number of visitors to my blog, mostly from visitors outside the Netherlands and Israel, where normally most of my readers come from. Welcome to all of you, of course. I would very much like to know how or why you got here, and will be very grateful if you leave a comment, or send me an e-mail. Shabbat shalom, have a nice weekend.
Alhoewel ik geloof dat een lid van het koninklijk huis bij de begrafenis van paus Johannes Paulus II aanwezig had horen te zijn, ben ik het ook eens met minister Zalm. Net als met zijn kritiek op Israel laat Dolle Dries weer eens zien dat 1) hij zich blijkbaar nogal verveelt en zo af en toe de schijnwerpers wel erg mist en 2) hij zijn opvolger(s) de les leest door te zeggen :"Do as I say, not as I do/did". Posted by Hello
PS: De heer Van Agt suggereerde bewondering te hebben voor de Verenigde Staten, die bij de plechtigheid door maar liefst "drie presidenten" ( hij zal wel een ( 1 ) president en twee voormalige presidenten bedoelen ) waren vertegenwoordigd. Zou deze ex-premier soms heel misschien willen dat bij de begrafenis van de volgende paus - moge hem een lang en gezond leven beschoren zijn - Nederland ook door een president vertegenwoordigd zal zijn?
PPS: Youp van 't Hek geeft deze week weer eens een van zijn betere commentaren.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Presidents Katsav and Assad ( II ). Posted by Hello
Presidents Katsav and Assad ( I ). Posted by Hello

President Katsav standing next to/behind president Khatami, who shakes hands with Jordan's king Abdallah. Posted by Hello
To avoid any misunderstandings: when I wrote "annoying" a few postings ago, I meant to refer to the fact that I was unable to blog for most of the day, not to the handshakes between the Israeli president and his Syrian and Iranian counterparts. On the contrary, I believe their shaking hands was amazing and wonderful. I will post three pictures of today's funeral of pope John Paul II, only to preserve these moments in history in my blog's archive.

Picture 2. Posted by Hello

Picture 1. Posted by Hello
Somehow I managed to capture an impression of the fire that is raging through the Carmel forest, at least of the smoke that can be seen and smelt all over Haifa and the area. This is what can be seen from our bedroom window. On the first picture you can see the University, the other one shows the sun being hidden behind a smoke screen.
Finally I can post pictures again as well, everything is working the way it should. Apparently the problem was Blogger's, not mine. Here is a birthday cake that my wife made for Matti, the son of our neighbors and very good friends. Right now he is having his birthday party, and I fled back home to avoid the crowd. As you can see the kid is agreat fan of The Incredibles, for Purim he even dressed up as the character that can be seen on the cake. Posted by Hello
Isn't that annoying!?! Israel's president shakes the hand of his Syrian and Iranian colleagues, he even speaks a few words with the latter in both men's native tongue, only a few kilometers from my house 1500 dunams ( one dunam is 1000 square meters, as far as I know ) of a beautiful forest is burning down, even the dormitories of Haifa University are being evacuated, the whole neighborhood is filled with smoke, and until now I was unable to use Blogger for I have no idea what technical reason.
Though an opponent of the disengagement plan, Eliezer Hisdai, deputy chairman of the Yesha Council, has publicly denounced the calls - by some rabbis and other settler community leaders - to disobey orders and to avoid service in the reserves as part of the fight against the plan. He even said that if such calls continue he will ask the chief of staff to draft him into the reserves as a volunteer ( he is a lieutenant colonel in the reserves ) to participate in the evacuation of the settlers. Not surprisingly already several threats against his life have been made. Still, it is good to see ( even though it was obvious before ) that the settlers and their supporters do not form one, monolithic and extrimist bloc, but that voices of sanity can be heard among them as well.
Two important quotes from the article
" Our responsibility as leaders is to moderate the extremists as much as possible. To say we are bringing 100,000 people and we will block disengagement with our bodies, seems to me pretentious and dangerous, because there's no way in the world to control 100,000 people. As leaders, we must act to prevent bloodshed."
and
"Hisdai called on regional council heads Benzi Lieberman in the West Bank and Avner Shimoni of Gush Katif, to fight for compensation, "day and night to ensure that people will leave the places [where] they have lived for 30 years with a future and hope." "

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Valt er iets te leren uit het feit dat de begeleiders van Samir A. hem bij het verlaten van het huis van bewaring in Nieuwegein nu juist met een vuilniszak probeerden af te schermen?
In Sunday's Ha'Aretz I read two good op-eds.
Yair Sheleg wrote about religious Zionism at a crossroads. His conclusion points out something interesting:
"...all of the camps in Israeli society should learn the lesson of role reversal that transpired around the evacuation of settlements. Suddenly, the right speaks about human rights, while the left and center speak in the name of national responsibility and statehood. (After all, it is clear that in the area of human rights, there is indeed a serious blow here.) Hopefully, when the storm subsides, everyone will remember the values that they are not used to championing: The left will remember that sometimes it is necessary to protect the national and state interest, even when this infringes upon human rights, and the right will remember that without recognizing the importance of human rights, the rights of its own constituents are also not guaranteed."
Zvi Bar'el tells us about the mixed blessings of democracy in the Middle East: "The home truth of supporters of occupation, from the Israeli right to American conservatives, that democracies do not go to war against each other, needs refining."
Na twee uitgebreide reacties op mijn laatste artikel in het Reformatorisch Dagblad ( een van F. van der Rhee, die ik verder niet ken, een van niemand minder dan Meindert Leerling ) kon ik het niet laten om te reageren. Mijn reactie op de reacties zal volgende week in verkorte vorm in de krant komen. Zo op het eerste gezicht lijkt het meningsverschil tussen de heren Van der Rhee en Leerling aan de ene en mij aan de andere kant slechts het gevolg te zijn van verschillende definities en opvattingen waar het de begrippen bezetting en extremistisch betreft. Als we wat verder kijken blijkt echter dat zij en ik de Israëlisch-Palestijnse werkelijkheid met totaal verschillende brillen bekijken en/of ondergaan. De discussie over hoe de 'betwiste gebieden' moeten worden aangeduid is voornamelijk semantisch. De enigen die de aanduiding 'bezetting' en de daarvan afgeleide woorden betwisten zijn meestal zij die redenen zoeken om haar tot in het oneindige te laten voortduren. Okee, ook de Jordaanse aanwezigheid op de Westbank en die van de Egyptenaren in Gaza was een vorm van bezetting, en het is juist, de Palestijnen hebben nooit een eigen staat gehad. Maakt dat de Israelische aanwezigheid daar meer gerechtvaardigd? Is dat een reden om enorme legereenheden afgelegen of geisoleerde enclaves te laten beschermen, Palestijnen in hun huizen op te sluiten om een feestelijke optocht voor kolonisten mogelijk te maken, mensen in Israel onnodig armoe te laten lijden en de joodse staat geen vastomlijnde grenzen te geven? Volgens Van der Rhee gaat steun voor de joodse kolonisten in de Gazastrook prima samen met liefde voor de Palestijnen. Maakt die liefde hem blind voor het feit dat de bezetting Israël in meer dan één opzicht ten gronde richt? Het is haast niet voor te stellen hoe moeilijk het voor een gezin moet zijn om – na decennialang door opeenvolgende Israëlische regeringen te zijn gesteund en aangemoedigd – nu tot verhuizen gedwongen te worden. Ook zal ieder redelijk denkend mens begrijpen dat de kolonisten het idee hebben dat de regering hen in de kou heeft laten staan, of zelfs dat zij worden opgeofferd voor de 'lieve vrede', een vrede die – ook in mijn linkse ogen – niet veel kans van slagen heeft, zeker niet op korte termijn. Niet iedereen die zich tegen Ariel Sharon's terugtrekkingsplan verzet is dan ook een extremist, verre van dat. Wel zijn er zeker de laatste tijd veel tekenen geweest dat er zich onder de kolonisten en hun sympathisanten heel wat mensen bevinden die koste wat kost de bezetting willen laten voortduren. Daarbij worden illegale middelen zoals het verbaal en fysiek bedreigen en aanvallen van soldaten, politieagenten en politici niet uit de weg gegaan. De veiligheidsdiensten hebben de meest vreselijke nachtmerriescenario's in de la liggen, met – nog steeds, al dan niet terecht – de moord op Rabin in hun achterhoofd. Als het om Israelische Arabieren ging zouden ze zonder twijfel extremisten/terroristen worden genoemd, en hun acties zouden door de Israelische veiligheidstroepen met zwaar geschut worden beantwoord. Wat Palestijnse en joodse extremisten gemeen hebben – naast een totaal gebrek aan ontzag voor het wettelijke en democratische gezag – is dat ze G'd met het grootste gemak voor hun ideologische karretje spannen, waardoor hun waarheid absoluut, onvoorwaardelijk en daardoor voor alle andere mensen levensgevaarlijk wordt. Dit wil niet zeggen dat ik al die extremisten over één kam scheer, dat zou veel te ver gaan. De vraag is niet – zoals de heer Leerling zegt – of de Gazastrook als joods grondgebied moet worden gezien, maar of dat gebied als deel van Israël kan gelden en als zodanig behouden kan worden. Demografisch, militair, economisch en politiek gezien moet het antwoord op die vraag negatief zijn. Het is een illusie te denken dat Israël het zich kan veroorloven deze bezetting voor eeuwig te laten doorgaan. Ik weet dat ons recht op een joodse staat in Eretz Yisra'el zijn oer-sprong vindt in de door G'd aan Abraham gedane belofte. Tegelijkertijd weet ik ook dat ik als realistisch-Zionist me te schikken heb naar de door G'd gegeven werkelijkheid, en in die werkelijkheid zie ik dat Israël als joodse, democratische staat zich geen bezetting kan veroorloven waarbij ik weet niet hoeveel soldaten een paar duizend kolonisten moeten beschermen die temidden van meer dan een miljoen Palestijnen wonen. Per saldo zijn M. Leerling, F. van der Rhee en ik alledrie geïnteresseerd in het welzijn van de staat Israël. Het grote verschil ligt hem in de manier waarop wij onze bezorgdheid voor dat welzijn invullen. Voor mij betekent pro-Israël zijn niet automatisch het uitdragen of steunen van de Groot-Israël gedachte. Integendeel, niets kan het belang van het joodse volk beter dienen dan een kleine, veilige, verdedigbare, economisch stabiele joodse staat met duidelijk gedefinieerde grenzen. Dit is waarom ik er bij christenen die werkelijk een betere toekomst voor het joodse ( en het Palestijnse ) volk willen op aandring om hun aandacht te concentreren op joodse en Palestijnse personen en organisaties die zich inzetten voor een zo vreedzaam mogelijke tweestatenoplossing die is gebaseerd op de legitieme nationale rechten van beide volken. Wij joden hebben G'd zij dank al weer bijna 57 jaar een eigen staat in de "Bergen Israëls". Die staat heeft de hulp van al zijn vrienden hard nodig. Gaza's duinen kan hij daarentegen missen als kiespijn.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

This is the kind of t.v. programs that can make me emotional. Twenty years ago, during the Eurocup I finals between Juventus and Liverpool, 39 people were crushed to death in the Heizel stadium in Brussels, Belgium. A terrible organization, not enough police forces and first aid officials, a ramshackle stadium ( built in the 1920s and about to be demolished ), and too many fans formed the ingredients for a disaster. Photographer Guus Dubbelman took a picture at a few minutes past eight ( you can see the time on the watch ): an Italian father touches the face of his 17-year old daughter who died that evening. Dutch television made a short portrait of this father, Antonio Conti ( 60 years old today ), who lives with his wife in Arezzo, a city in Tuscany. Their daughter, Giuseppina , a big Juventus fan, would have been 37 today, the same age as I will be in a few months. Seeing this father talk about his daughter brought a lump to my throat. This week the two teams will meet again in a Champions League game.
Het deed me goed de reactie van de heer Van der Rhee op mijn laatste artikel in het Reformatorisch Dagblad te lezen. Het is altijd leuk als iemand serieus ingaat op wat je schrijft, en helemaal als dat in een krant gebeurt. Dat we de Palestijns-Israelische realiteit met totaal verschillende brillen bekijken ( en aan den lijve ondervinden, althans in mijn geval ) moge duidelijk zijn. Niet alle joodse kolonisten zijn extremisten, verre van dat. Wel zijn er zeker de laatste tijd veel tekenen geweest dat er zich onder de kolonisten en hun sympathisanten heel wat mensen bevinden die koste wat kost de bezetting willen laten voortduren. Als Arabieren dezelfde middelen als de rechtse Israelische fanatici gebruikten zouden ze zonder enige twijfel extremisten/terroristen worden genoemd, en hun acties zouden met zwaar geschut van de kant van de Israelische veiligheidstroepen worden beantwoord ( en terecht ).
De discussie over hoe we de 'betwiste gebieden' moeten aanduiden is voornamelijk semantisch. De enigen die de aanduiding 'bezetting' en de daarvan afgeleide woorden betwisten zijn zij die redenen zoeken om haar tot in het oneindige te laten voortduren. Ook de Jordaanse aanwezigheid op de Westbank en die van de Egyptenaren in Gaza was een vorm van bezetting, en het is juist, de Palestijnen hebben nooit een eigen staat gehad. Maakt dat de Israelische aanwezigheid daar meer gerechtvaardigd? Is dat een reden om enorme legereenheden afgelegen of geisoleerde enclaves te laten beschermen, Palestijnen in hun huizen op te sluiten om een feestelijke optocht voor kolonisten mogelijk te maken, mensen in Israel onnodig armoe te laten lijden en de joodse staat geen vastomlijnde grenzen te geven?
Volgens Van der Rhee gaat steun voor de joodse kolonisten in de Gazastrook prima samen met liefde voor de Palestijnen. Dit is zeker het soort liefde waarbij je hen die je liefhebt kastijdt of laat kastijden. Hij haalt 1 Thessalonicenzen 5:3 aan. Ironisch genoeg is deze brief van Paulus gericht aan een christelijke gemeente in een stad waar ruim een eeuw geleden joden, moslims en christenen naast elkaar leefden, maar waar tegenwoordig - na een korte periode van ethnische zuiveringen, met plaatselijke christelijke assistentie - in ieder geval van de joodse gemeente niets meer over is. Ik ken de cijfers niet meer precies ( christenen-moslims-joden in 1914, 1940, 1948 ), maar Mark Mazower heeft daar vorig jaar een prachtig boek over gepubliceerd, ik heb een lezing van hem over Thesalloniki gehoord toen ik in 2003-4 in Parijs was. Anyway, in bovengenoemd vers ( dat overigens deel uitmaakt van het christelijke, niet van het joodse, deel van de bijbel ) staat "Als de mensen zeggen dat er vrede en veiligheid is, worden ze plotseling getroffen door de ondergang, zoals een zwangere vrouw door barensweeën. Vluchten is dan onmogelijk." ( Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling ). Mij zul je niet horen zeggen dat een terugtrekking uit Gaza vrede en veiligheid zal brengen, of dat er ueberhaupt ooit werkelijke vrede zal zijn tussen joden en Palestijnen. Ik zeg alleen dat de bezetting fout is en Israel in strategisch, politiek, moreel en economisch opzicht enorme schade berokkent.
Wat de bergen Israels uit Ezechiel betreft, bedoelt de heer Van der Rhee hiermee misschien de duinen van Gaza?
( PS: Om begrijpelijke redenen houd ik deze reactie voor mijzelf, ik heb haar niet naar het Reformatorisch Dagblad gestuurd. Zou ik dat wel willen doen dan zou ik het stuk minder sarcastisch moeten maken, waardoor er weinig over zou blijven. Ik kan er slecht tegen als mensen met de bijbel, de koran of een ander religieus boek in de hand recht praten wat krom is en er geen moeite mee hebben als anderen door hun ideologieen onnodig lijden of aan gevaren worden blootgesteld. Ik geloof zelf ook en ben me ervan bewust dat de oer/oorsprong van onze aanwezigheid in Israel religieus is, maar een van de mooiste dingen van het jodendom ( zoals ik het beleef ) is dat het eerst en vooral op het leven hier en nu gericht is. In dat leven vind ik een kleine, veilige, verdedigbare en economisch stabiele joodse staat belangrijker dan een groot-Israel, dat een onhoudbare illusie is die het einde van de Israel als joodse, min of meer democratische staat betekent. Omdat ik mijn klassieken weliswaar redelijk ken maar niet mijn brood verdien met bijbelvastigheid, zou een woordenwisseling tussen mij en de heer Van der Rhee voor mij bij voorbaat een verloren strijd zijn.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Following my latest article in Dutch - in which I wrote that most of the outside help to Israel and the Palestinians appears to benefit the extremists on both sides, and that Christians and others who really would like to help us should focus on the no man's land of Jewish and Palestinian moderates who just want to get on with their lives and live right next to each other, in two states - one DBI reader asked me to name a few organizations that work within that no man's land.
Therefore I made a provisional list of 15 organizations the work and goals of which I think are a good example of Jewish-Arab shared interests/goals and possible cooperation. The work of some of them I know personally, most of them I know only through various media. That I mention an organization does not mean that I endorse or recommend it, that an organization is not mentioned does not mean that I do not support its cause, the list is simply far from complete. All organizations that appear here work for and/or with both Jews and Arabs. In some of them the focus is more on Arab than on Jewish communities and individuals, in others it can be the other way round. I only mention organizations that work and/or are based within Israel proper ( I am not familiar enough with - and slightly suspicious about some - NGO activities in the territories ) and that maintain a website in English, so that my readers can have a look and get an impression of their work, and of the kind of cooperation, coexistence, shared goals and interests that I talked about in my article. The organizations are arranged alphabetically. If you know about an organization that should be mentioned here let me know, I might add it. It goes without saying that there are many, many more organizations that are worthy of your attention and donations, ones that deal with welfare, handicapped, children, etc. etc. As far as I know ( partly from personal experience ), for instance, in most if not all hospitals in Israel you will find Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Druze and other doctors, nurses and patients living and working side by side in perfect harmony, as if to say that as long as you are aware of your common interests and humanity, it is very well possible to coexist and cooperate.
  1. Adam - The Institute for Democracy and Peace in Memory of Emil Grinzweig
  2. Adva Center - Information on Equality and Social Justice in Israel
  3. Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights
  4. Re'ut - Sadaka ( Friendship Village )

Last week I was surprised to read an article about Kibbutz Kissufim, the second intifadah and the disengagement plan. That kibbutz happens to have been my first home in Israel, I spent more than a year there in 1992-3 as a student, working in the laundry, the chicken coops, the dining room-kitchen, the kindergarten and as an assistant to the person who was responsible for the volunteers. Three days a week I took the bus to Jerusalem ( a 2-3 hours' ride ) and back, the rest of the week I worked in the kibbutz, where I had a room of my own. Most of my Hebrew I learnt in a two months' intensive ulpan at the Hebrew university, and in the laundry, the coops, the kindergarten, dining room and swimming pool of Kissufim. I had a great time there, and met Y., who today is my wife, on the Be'er-Sheva - Kissufim bus ( nr. 36, if I am not mistaken ) a few months before I left the kibbutz. I was on my way to Kissufim, she got off at Eyn HaShlosha, the kibbutz right next to mine, where she was a youth leader for the kibbutz youth movement, after she had finished her army service. In those days I took Y.'s bike and cycled the four or five kilometers separating Kissufim from Eyn HaShlosha several times a week, in the early morning to get to work or in the afternoon right after work. Only later did I realize how stupid and dangerous it was to do that, both kibbutzim are right next to the Gaza Strip, but then things seemed to be so quiet and almost peaceful over there.
The family of Ahuva and Shlomi Ilan, who is mentioned in the article, used to be my kibbutz family.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Vlak voordat Terri Schiavo-Schindler stierf stuurde een goede vriendin en trouwe DBI lezeres me een link naar een scriptie, geschreven door een HBO-V student(e), over "Versterven en abstineren" bij geriatrische patienten. Het schijnt dat dit een vorm van "zachte dood" is, waarbij de patient zijn bewustzijn verliest, weinig pijn lijdt en een 'rustig sterfbed' heeft. Ik blijf het luguber vinden, zeker nadat ik de beschrijving - door de priester van de familie Schindler - van de kurkdroge mond en tong van die arme mevrouw Schiavo las.
Sometimes a reader writes a comment on something that was posted two, three or more days ago. I very much like comments, and often comment on them or otherwise make clear that I read them. If you want to be sure that I somehow reply to your comment, just send me a short e-mail telling me that you left a comment, otherwise I might miss it, especially if it concerns a posting that is more than two, three days old.
Recently I wrote an angry posting following an appeal by evangelical Christians asking the state of Israel to ban the World Pride 2005 activities the coming summer in Jerusalem. It is not that I support the very idea of holding a gay and lesbian festival in Jerusalem ( it might be considered a bit provocative ), but the tone of the petition was very threatening and aggressive. Last week a much better phrased appeal - directly to the organizers of World Pride 2005 - was made by seveal leaders of different religions. If I were one of the organizers of the festival I would take it elsewhere, Tel Aviv could be a good alternative I guess.
Still, it is sad that rather than the fight against poverty and other injustices in the region and in the world it takes a gay pride parade to unite the leaders of so many different religions.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Afgelopen vrijdag verscheen dit door mij geschreven artikel op Verbal Jam. ( Ook hier te vinden ).
An article by Daniel Ben Simon, on football and politics, France and Israel, Jews and Arabs.
Last Thursday on page 2 of the IHT I read some background information about French ( and, who knows, European? ) efforts to counter Google's plans to put millions of books and other media online, something which I found out about and mentioned about a week ago. Interesting.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I just read that pope John Paul II has died. God rest his soul, he always gave the impression of being a good human being.
This wonderful caricature by Joep Bertrams appeared in yesterday's Het Parool. The heading says "Free elections". Posted by Hello
Right next to my letter to the editor, which was pulished ( except for the last paragraph ) in this weekend's International Herald Tribune, I read a letter which was sent by a reader from London with an Arabic-sounding name. Not surprisingly he writes something which is entirely at odds with what I wrote. He finishes his letter with a very remark that no historian can take seriously: "The Holocaust stands as the eternal symbol of what happens when we forget."
Regarding "Remember what? Remember how?" by Uri Avnery, IHT, March 26-27, 2005 ( Published in the IHT, April 2-3, 2005 ): Along with the cynical use by Israeli diplomats of the opening of the renewed, impressive museum at Yad Vashem, Uri Avnery's article proves once again that the Holocaust/Shoah has become an event of all seasons, which can be used by anybody for his or her personal - often political - goals. Mr Avnery is right, the concept of the exclusiveness of the Holocaust can lead to despicable perversions, but it does not necessarily have to. Personally, I do not need the Holocaust to know that Israel's occupation of the Westbank and the Gaza Strip is wrong. Claiming, as Mr Avnery does, that the Shoah should propel us towards a universal struggle against all that is evil in this world is as much a contemptuous exploitation of that period of Jewish history as are the ways in which some of the settlers have been defiling the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims. By the way, that so many Israeli and other Jewish leaders and opinion makers have often been crying wolf regarding the anti-Semitic character of criticism aimed at Israel's policies does not change the fact that "the painting of a swastika on a Jewish tombstone" is much more than simply an "insignificant incident".