Monday, October 31, 2005

These two pictures I took less than fifteen minutes ago. Look at the beautiful sky. Apparently winter has set in over here, and it looks like it is going to be a wet one this year. Right after the rain showers it is a real pleasure to walk outside and breathe the fresh air.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Uit het RNW Nieuwsbulletin ( Nederlands nieuws ) van afgelopen donderdag: * Nog meer uitstel benoeming VS-ambassadeur De benoeming van een nieuwe Amerikaanse ambassadeur in Nederland heeft nog meer vertraging opgelopen. Een commissie in de Senaat heeft de benoeming van zakenman Ronald Arnall tegengehouden. De commissie wil eerst een onderzoek naar het bedrijf van Arnall, Ameriquest, dat in verband wordt gebracht met een fraudezaak. President Bush schoof de miljardair al maanden geleden naar voren als ambassadeur, maar door de fraudezaak is de benoeming nog altijd niet rond. Minister Bot van Buitenlandse Zaken uitte maandag in Washington zijn ongenoegen over de trage procedure. Hij zei zijn ambtgenoot Rice dat Nederland 'niet tot Sint-juttemis' wil wachten op een nieuwe Amerikaanse ambassadeur. Ik vraag me af hoe de heer Bot Sint Juttemis in het Engels zei.
At Technorati I saw that Dutchblog Israel is one of the Israeli weblogs in English that is mentioned in a posting on Global Voices Online. I was pleased to learn that this particular posting - the second time that DBI 'appears' on GVO ( click here ) - was written by Lisa N. Goldman, a Canadian-Israeli journalist living in Tel Aviv, and that Lisa will be a regular contributor to GVO from now on. A link to GVO was added to my sidebar, under Various weblogs in English. The website contains links to weblogs and postings from all over the world, you can search according to sybjects, countries, etc., believe me, it is worth a visit. For instance, read this article about the bomb blasts in New Delhi yesterday, with one blogger writing that she was at one of the sites just minutes before it was bombed.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

( FreeFoto.com )

( Josef Hlasek )

( Wildlife Pictures Online )

In the margin on the right links were added to some websites that contain thousands of beautiful pictures. One picture taken from each of the first three sites that were added appears above.

Last week Ha'Aretz published a long article about the Dutch school in Modi'in. The school is definitely a success, and this year a similar project is started in Tel Aviv. With the help of the teacher from Tel Aviv we are going to try to set up such a school in the North as well. North of Hadera there are more than enough parents who are interested, the only problem might be the fact that the families live all over the northern third of Israel, and it could be difficult to find a location that will serve and satisfy everyone. I would love to see our two children go to the school. Since they were born ( our daughter is 6 1/2, our son will be three years old next week ) I have spoken only Dutch to them, and they understand it well. Recently the eldest even has started to read, and to try and speak whole sentences, and both of them use many words and short expressions in Dutch ( "Da'kan niet", "zom'teen", "goed zo" ), in some cases they will even use a Dutch word rather than its Hebrew equivalent ( "zon", "maan", "komkommer" ). Yesterday my daughter wanted to surprise me. She told me not to look, and after five minutes she came to me and showed me what she had written, in a beautiful handwriting ( much better than mine; those who have seen my handwriting will say "kunsjt" right now ): "Zoek hetzelfde woord". She had copied the words from an educational game that we often play with, Mini-Loco. She also wrote "A. love E. pappa en mamma"(*): for her everything that is written with Latin letters is Dutch. Still, they only hear Dutch from me, and no matter how many books, DVDs and CD-ROMs I use, there is nothing like having them meet and play with children of their own age who more or less know the language, and who come from a similar cultural background. For me it is important that they will be able to communicate in my native tongue, especially with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and with my two nieces. Also, since they are Dutch citizens, I would like them to at least have the option of studying in the Netherlands when they are ready for that. For instance, the faculty of veterinary medecine at the university of Utrecht, the city where I was born, still is considered one of the best in the world. Today so few Dutchmen and -women speak and write Dutch without making mistakes, and for so many people in the Netherlands Dutch is not the native tongue, that it probably will be realitvely easy for our children to fit in. We are thinking about coming to Holland for one or two years within two or three years. That way the children will receive the best possible basis for knowing the language and culture of where I was born and grew up, and they and my parents, siblings and nieces will finally be able to really get to know each other a bit. (*) A. is our daughter, E. our son.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Interesting. This is what Sky News has to say about Jerusalem Day, that wonderful and festive Islamic holiday, initiated by Iran's ayatollahs ( never mind the missing word between "it" and "show", what makes this interesting is what Sky has to say about the Palestinians ) and celebrated on the last Friday of the Ramadan ( mostly by Shi'ite Muslims, although in Europe and elsewhere some of their Sunni brothers and sisters join in the fun, by participating in demonstrations near the local Israel embassy ): "Iranians use it show solidarity with Palestinians in Israel living in the Occupied Territories." What is just as interesting is the almost extenuating commentary that the network makes on the already infamous statement by the president of that enlightened country about Israel: " The rhetoric angered the international community and prompted Israel to demand Iran be kicked out of the UN. But Iran has never recognised Israel and the comments are aimed just as much at a domestic audience as they are at reasserting Iranian independence from Western pressure over the nuclear issue."
Two cartoons that I liked, one by Dutchman Tom Janssen ( Moeder Natuur = Mother Nature, vogelgriep = bird flu, orkanen = hurricanes; aardbevingen = earthquakes), the other by Chappatte.
Whereas in the United States the opponents of abortion settle for grafic depictions of unborn babies being butchered ( and for the occasional attack on abortion clinics and gynaecologists and nurses who work in such clinics ) to make their case, here in Israel the 'pro-life'rs have another tool: racial hatred and fear. On the website of Yedioth Aharonoth, a respected newspaper, you can see a small window with the face of good old Binyamin Nethanyahu. It says "If Israel's Arabs reach 40%, the Jewish State is abolished. For the only solution ( sic ) click here." When you click on the window you reach the website of an organization called Efrat.
Talking about people who believe in exclusive solutions, if you think the above was shocking, try this news item on Sky News, that I read yesterday. Two beautiful 13-year old twin sisters from some place in California turn out to be the most adorable figurehead that the white supremacy movement ever had. The twins, who perform under the name "Prussian Blue", sing songs about Rudolf Hess as a martyr, about white power and survival etc. These songs bear titles such as "Aryan man awake" and "The road to Valhalla". The girls' mother, April Gaede, is an activist in the National Vanguard movement. Their baby sister is called Dresden.

Normally I do not waste my time by seriously reading racist and anti-Semitic ravings, but yesterday I could not help myself, and through Google read some stuff about the duo and about NV. Also, I hardly ever post links to websites that I do not really agree with, let alone links to websites that spread ideas that I loathe, but this time I made an exception, probably because I was so shocked. For the same reason I posted two pictures of the girls. Look at the t-shirts on the second picture, that is a Smiley that I never saw before.

Two examples of NV ravings. The National Vanguard opposed/s the Iraq war. Guess why? Because the Jews forced it upon America. To be honest, less rabid anti-Semites have hinted at this as well. After all, didn't men such as Wolfowitz and Krauthammer ( not to forget Ariel Sharon himself ) push Bush towads the invasion? According to 'National Vanguard writer, leader, and media innovator Michael Medeiros', " Understanding the Jewish question is absolutely essential if one wishes to understand the ongoing plight of White people in the world today."

Talking about Nazism with a ( cute ) human face. By the way, asked what they think is "the most important social issue facing the white race right now", one of the girls answered: " Not having enough white babies born to replace ourselves..." Doesn't this ring a bell? ( Hint: search within this posting ).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

That terror does not distinguish between Jews and Arabs, Christian, Jews and Muslims we already knew. That Jews and Arabs stand side by side to take care of the victims of terror is also obvious to all of us. Yesterday these two truths came to light once more. Dr. Jalal Askar, who heads the emergency room at the Hillel Yaffeh hospital in Hadera and who happened to be on duty when the terror attack took place, had to establish the death of one of the victims, his childhood friend from the ( Arab ) village of Baqa al-Gharbiyah, Jamil Qa'adan, a 48-year old Hebrew teacher and father of five, who had come to the Hadera market to do some shopping and go to the bank.
On the day that Israel buries five more terror victims, some settlers and settler supporters thought the time had come again to do what they excel in: violently opposing our security forces and making the work and lives of our soldiers and policemen and -women even harder than they already are. Also, almost ten years after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, the family of his murderer ( and of the murderer's brother who helped prepare the murder ) thinks it is about time that Yigal Amir is released. After all, what he did was in fact a mitzvah, if we are to believe Amir's mother and siblings: not their son, but Rabin was the criminal. It is obvious that the apple never falls far from the tree. The hatred and blind fanaticism that led Yigal and Hagai Amir to their despicable deed must have come from somewhere, and clearly at least part of all that was given them at home. What is really scary is that the only difference between the two oldest Amir brothers and the most fanatical among the 'hilltop youth' and other young and not so young rightwing extremists appears to be that the former two simply had the 'courage' to draw the ultimate conclusion of their hateful political-religious ideology, plus the opportunity to carry out their plan. Because of similar goals, the Amirs' success and that of their Islamist counterparts on the Palestinian side run parallel in more than one way.
Apparently Israel's rightwing politicians have forgotten that before the disengagement there were terror attacks as well ( even in larger numbers ). On the other hand, opposition to the disengagement seems to be the only thing that they know anything about, for two months we have not really heard from MKs Orlev, Eitam, Yatom and others, not on education, poverty, etc., things that threaten us much more than this or that terror group. Maybe these MKs were just waiting for the right timing to let themselves be heard again. The terror attack gave them that opportunity.
This is not the kind of news that I like to wake up with: ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ): 05:53 Ten killed after fire breaks out at airport detention center in Amsterdam (Reuters)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ook het AD fietst mee met de weblog-rage. De krant heeft een aantal weblogs in het leven geroepen, waarvan er een de naam Dutchblog - jawel - draagt. Motto van dat blog: "Hoe kijkt het buitenland aan tegen Nederland." Blijkbaar kijkt het buitenland langs of over Nederland heen, of de redacteuren van het AD zijn iets te lui ( of waren iets te ambitieus toen ze zoveel weblogs tegelijk lanceerden ). Met tot nu toe twee postings in augustus en twee in september ziet het er naar uit dat de halve naamgenoot van DBI de weg van duizenden andere weblogs zal gaan, en dat zijn naam binnenkort alleen nog af en toe op Google zal opduiken als je "Dutchblog" intikt.
Today's events show once more how complicated things are in the Middle East, and how everything is linked to everything else.
Islamic Jihad, trying to prove that it is still capable of carrying out attacks and playing a central role in the Palestinian national 'struggle', sends a suicide bomber to Hadera. This is not the kind of attack that was initiated yesterday or last Sunday, preparations for such attacks are being made constantly, and when the timing seems right the murderers do their job, unless Israeli security forces are able to stop them. The timing today is particularly interesting in the light of Iran's president's saying that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth, among other things by Palestinian attacks ( by the way, the Dutch Foreign Ministry reacted as it should have, by announcing it will summong the Iranian ambassador; the Spanish Foreign Ministry did or will do the same, as will other the Foreign Ministries of other countries, I suppose ). Iran is still a major sponsor and supporter of terror, as is Syria, which is doing its best to remain somehow relevant in the eyes of all Muslims and others who would love to see Israel disappear. The main offices of both Islamic Jihad and Hamas are located in or managed from the Syrian capital. The international pressure on Damascus and Teheran most probably played a role in the timing of this particular attack. That Islamic Jihad claimed the attack to be a retaliation for the liquidation of its West Bank leader does not mean very much: just as Israel can find a justification for liquidating any Palestinian terrorist at least once or twice a week, terrorist are not really looking for particular reasons to maim and kill Israeli citizens or soldiers. In the competition for popular support in the Palestinian street - based on the answer to the question who sends the most martyrs to Israel and kills the most Zionists - Hamas, knowing that its political and social activities are not enough to remain as influential and relevant as it is today, also made very aggressive statements these days. I would not be surprised if in the coming weeks or months one or more Hamas and/or Islamic Jihad terrorists will be targeted in Syria itself. As for the leaders of the two organizations in Gaza and the Westbank, each of them is a potential target, even more than he was until today. After all, Ariel Sharon cannot afford to appear weak ( the Yesha council - many of us had almost forgotten it still existed - obviously had to publish one of its famous told-you-so statements; after a vacation of about two months the young settlers and settlers' supporters have rediscovered their mission of making the work of our security forces even harder than it already is: "Right-wing youths set up at least five illegal outposts in West Bank (Channel 1)" ), after he linked the disengagement to better security for Israel, and he has to show that the Qassam attacks from Gaza - which started the latest round of violence, if you can speak about starting something when you are dealing with a vicious circle - are dealt with as if they were attacks from an autonomous ( Palestinian ) state. At the same time, it gives Israel another excuse not to start real negotiations with the Palestinian Authority: Sharon clearly prefers unilateral measures to negotiated compromises. Personally I would not mind if Israel took - at least some - unilateral steps, as long as the outcome is a viable Palestinian state ( for all I care with a part of ( Arab ) Jerusalem as its capital: it is not as if we really make the decisions there ) and definite, secure and defendable borders for Israel. Not only would such borders make it much harder for Palestinian terrorists to enter Israel ( remember: very few terrorists entered Israel from Gaza ), they would also make it easier for Israel to 'sell' military answers to attacks such as the one today in Hadera. And hey, maybe with such a border the Vatican will finally condemn suicide terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets as much as it condemns other acts of terror.
Disengagement, Iran's nuclear policies, Syria-Lebanon, Islamist and Palestinian terror, Israel's national politics, everything has to do with everything else. The only thing that I could not fit in easily in this improvised survey was the visit of Mr William Gates, but I am sure that in some logical way that was related to today's terror attack as well.
Now, isn't that a surprise? ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 16:18 Islamic Jihad: Hadera bombing retaliation for Saadi assasination (Haaretz)
The fact that in the last few years our own - Jewish and Arab - criminals have been using bombings more and more frequently to settle their accounts or to do whatever they do ( like this afternoon in Tel Aviv ) makes it even harder for the security forces to protect the public and to catch and/or neutralize the perpetrators of Palestinian terror attacks and those who help them. It also numbs the general public even more. Whereas I used to immediately turn on the television when I heard or read about a bomb attack, now - partly because I have the impression that most bomb attacks in the last year or so were carried out by criminals, not terrorists - I sometimes first wait for confirmation whether or not it is terror-related before I start to follow the news bulletins. The magnitude of the Hadera bombing and the number of wounded and killed make it most likely that this was the work of one of the Palestinian terror organizations.
Mahmoud Abbas, unlike his predecessor, cares for much more than only his personal well-being and wealth, and appears to have a very keen understanding of Israel's internal political powerplays, as well as of his own strengths and weaknesses. I very much liked the way in which the Dutch cartoonist Tom Janssen viewed Abbas ( "In the footsteps of Arafat" ). ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 13:38 Abbas to Palestinian factions: Don`t give Israel any excuses (Haaretz)
Look who came to visit us here today!

O.k., many people are not very fond of the man, the strategies of his company and the ways in which it conducts its business, but I cannot help it, the only things that I come up with whenever I see a picture of Bill Gates, or read about his achievements and his life, are an enormous admiration and quite some sympathy.

Yet another piece of evidence that shows how much has changed in Iran in the last 36 years, and how much we can be assured that whatever nuclear technology that country's regime obtains will never be used for other than peaceful purposes:
( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 12:16 Iran`s president: Israel is an historic enemy, should be `wiped off map` (Israel Radio)
In Israel, during the period from about two weeks before Rosh HaShana until after Succoth and Simhat Thorah nothing serious is being done and no important decisions are being made, it seems. Whenever you want to make an appointment, to get some information or to get something fixed you will often hear "Call me back/I will contact you/Let's talk etc. after the holidays". Most offices and institutions close for at least some of the days between the various holidays, so you can never be absolutely sure whether or not you will receive the service that you are looking for, at least not until..., right, after the holidays. Based on this very Israeli phenomenon ( the period is similar to the one from right before Christmas until after New Year's Day in Europe, but significantly longer ) Uzi Benziman wrote a good op-ed piece: since 'after the holidays' has arrived, there are no excuses anymore to postpone all kinds of changes and vital decisions required from Israel's decision makers. Unfortunately, " nothing is expected to change. The coming year, which will be an election year, will be devoted mainly to political survival battles and not to providing a creative answer to the state's needs."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Het volgende stuk staat in sterk verminkte vorm vandaag in het Reformatorisch Dagblad. Toegegeven, ik heb betere artikelen geschreven, maar het toch al niet geweldige artikel werd nog minder overtuigend en interessant doordat de twee aardigste en meest originele elementen - de verwijzing naar Ben Gurion en naar de Mishnah - door de redactie zijn verwijderd. Jammer, maar helaas.
Irene, Bush en Ben Gurion
Onlangs haalde de oudste zus van koningin Beatrix de krantekoppen met haar uitspraken over de Amerikaanse president Bush en al-Qaida. Prinses Irene zei in de Volkskrant dat George Bush "het totale leidershap" nastreeft, en dat het conflict tussen Al-Qaida en het Westen "moet worden opgelost door vredesonderhandelingen onder toezicht van een onafhankelijke bemiddelaar". Volgens haar moeten "het klassieke vijandsbeeld", vooroordelen en de tunnelvisie die bij Westerse leiders de overhand hebben overboord worden gezet. Ze legt een rechtstreeks verband tussen ( Islamistische ) terreur en de enorme kloof tussen de haves en de have-nots in de wereld. Het zou maar al te gemakkelijk zijn om de woorden van de prinses simpelweg af te doen als het gepraat van een verward en omstreden persoon. Op heel wat websites zijn verwijzingen te vinden naar haar vroegere banden met het fascisme in Spanje en haar dialogen met bomen en dolfijnen. Ze heeft in ieder geval één ding met president Bush gemeen: niet iedereen neemt haar helemaal serieus. Wat ze zegt over Al-Qaida valt inderdaad niet ernstig te nemen. Niet alleen bestaan er juridische bezwaren tegen onderhandelingen ( om maar één voorbeeld te noemen: Al-Qaida is geen staat ), ook de link die mevrouw Van Lippe-Biesterfeld net als veel ander Amerika-antipathisanten legt tussen armoede en terreur is vals. Immers, zo goed als alle terroristen komen voort uit de ( gegoede ) middenklasse van de diverse Moslim-gemeenschappen. Bovendien maken arme Moslims een aanzienlijk deel uit van de slachtoffers van Islamistische terreur. Tenslotte is het gesuggereerde verband een belediging voor alle armen in de wereld: vrijwel niemand van hen zoekt zijn of haar toevlucht tot het doden, vaak op gruwelijke wijze, van onschuldigen. Het is voor ieder weldenkend mens overduidelijk dat het Westen zich nooit of te nimmer zal kunnen veroorloven om aan ook maar één van de eisen van Bin Laden en zijn geestverwanten tegemoet te komen, en dat onderhandelingen met de terroristen ( dus ) onzinnig zijn. Ik vraag me trouwens af wie de prinses op het oog heeft als ze het over een onafhankelijke bemiddelaar heeft. Toch hoeft niet alles wat ze zei als onzin terzijde te worden geschoven. Terreur ontstaat natuurlijk niet in een globaal vacüum, en haar beschrijving van George Bush' beleid als het streven naar totaal leiderschap is helaas niet geheel onwaar. De huidige Amerikaanse regering lijkt soms te denken dat Amerika's weg in alles de enige juiste is, en dat Amerika de hele wereld gerust in haar eentje aankan. Bush' wie-niet-geheel-voor-ons-is-is-tegen-ons houding maakt samenwerking met andere landen moeilijk, zo niet onmogelijk. Ook de verstrengeling van politiek en religie – op zich niet geheel onmerikaans maar in haar heersende vorm soms wat krampachtig en benauwend – roept vragen over de huidige American way op. Natuurlijk valt geen zinnige vergelijking te maken tussen enerzijds wat Bin Laden doet en nastreeft en anderzijds de politieke strategieën en methoden van de regering Bush, maar een meer pluralistische benadering en meer bereidheid tot samenwerking en overleg met Europese en andere bondgenoten zouden meer dan wat dan ook helpen duidelijk te maken dat Amerika, als leider van het Westen, niet toegeeft aan de druk die terreur op het leven in de vrije wereld uitoefent. Bush noemde in een belangrijke toespraak, enkele dagen voor het vraaggesprek met prinses Irene, het bieden van een hoopvol perspectief aan Moslims in het Midden Oosten en elders in de wereld als vijfde en laatste element van Amerika's oorlog tegen de terreur. Desondanks heeft het er soms alles van weg dat hij en 'zijn' neo-conservatieven denken de Islamistische terreur uitsluitend met geweld te kunnen verslaan. In de strijd tegen deze terreur kunnen we volgens mij leren van een beroemde uitspraak van David Ben Gurion. Toen de Engelsen, onder Arabische druk, in 1939 met hun Witboek de immigratie van joodse vluchtelingen vanuit Europa naar Palestina wilden beperken, zei de fameuze Zionistische leider: "We zullen [ met de Engelsen ] de oorlog tegen Hitler voeren alsof er geen Witboek is, en tegen het Witboek [ en de Engelsen ] vechten alsof er geen oorlog is." Met andere woorden, Ben Gurion pleitte voor het simultaan strijden op twee fronten, waarbij de ene strijd geheel los van de ander stond. Als we dit parafraseren zouden we kunnen zeggen dat het Westen twee gelijktijdige oorlogen dient te voeren, die natuurlijk verband met elkaar houden maar niet openlijk met elkaar kunnen worden geassocieerd: de compromisloze oorlog tegen de Islamistische terroristen, en de strijd tegen alles wat ervoor zorgt dat terroristen op sympathie en openlijke dan wel heimelijke steun binnen de verschillende moslimgemeenschappen kunnen rekenen. Kortom, we moeten de terreur bestrijden alsof het onze enige vijand is, en tegelijkertijd – alsof er geen terreur bestaat – de diverse vormen van onrecht in het Midden Oosten bestrijden en de oorzaken voor de woede en frustraties van Moslims waar ook ter wereld weg proberen te nemen. Onderhandelen met Bin-Laden is zinloos en onjuist, maar om hem en zijn verwrongen wereldbeeld werkelijk te overwinnen is meer dan alleen maar pure militaire kracht nodig. De Mishnah ( Spreuken der Vaders, Hoofdstuk 4, vers 1 ) leert ons: "Ben Zoma zei: 'Wie is wijs? Hij die leert van ieder mens' ". Niet alles wat president Bush en prinses Irene zeggen moet bij voorbaat als onzin worden bestempeld, ook al lijken hun levensvisies ons soms wat al te simplistisch. Door wat zij ons zeggen naast de woorden van iemand als Ben Gurion – van wiens leven, denken en handelen heel veel te leren valt – te leggen kunnen wij allemaal weer wat wijzer worden.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

No, I am not a big fan of the Eurovision Songcontest, but that does not mean that I did not watch the contest's 50th anniversary celebration yesterday evening, live from Copenhagen. Since televoting was introduced the voting seems to have become even more political than before, but still, it was fun to see ( fragments of ) some of the few really good songs that once participated, as well as some of the more ridiculous acts and performances that were seen on the stages in the various European ( and Asian ) cities where the contest was held since 1956. I have no real clue why the Greek 2005 winner ended up so high ( although I could think of a reason or two ), but the winner ( Abba's Waterloo ) certainly deserved to win. The show was a bit amateurish, but I nevertheless saw almost all of it. Most of my personal all-time favorite Eurovision songs are in fact Mediterranean, i.e. Spanish, French ( often representing Luxembourg: France Gall, Anne-Marie David ), Italian or Israeli. None of my choices are from the 1990s or later:

The broadcast by Israel's Channel 1 proved once again that this channel should be closed down a.s.a.p. If you own a television set in Israel you are forced to pay a very stiff yearly fee to the Israel Broadcasting Authority, but still you are forced to watch some of the worst commercials ( plus messages by sponsors ) that can be seen on Israeli television. During some of the most entertaining parts of the show we were suddenly treated to those idiotic and irritating interruptions. I have nothing against commercials on a commercial channel - I know programs somehow have to be paid for - but when I pay hundreds of shekels each year to something that has become utterly superfluous and outdated, the least I can expect is that when once or twice a year I watch one of its programs, such a program is not interrupted, especially not during the moments that I find the most interesting. The same always happens during the national anthems at international sporting events, particularly soccer matches. I love to hear those anthems ( especially when Holland, France, or Poland are playing - nobody would have the hutzpah to put a sponsor's message during the Hatikvah, which I also love of course ), but hardly ever am I able to enjoy what I consider to be the most beautiful part of a soccer match.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Although I do not read the English edition of Ha'Aretz on a daily basis anymore, the newspaper's website ( in Hebrew, with most of the interesting and relevant articles normally translated into English, which makes online references easier ) remains my first choice whenever I am looking for new updates and analyses. This weekend I read three good articles by some of the newspaper's most senior writers. Nehemia Strasler, whom I know as an expert of economics and finances who spares neither Right nor Left with his criticism rather than as someone with fierce (party-)political passions, wrote a harsh piece on what he calls the State of Judah vs the State of Israel. I do not know if everything that he writes is totally true ( I have never read such an emotional piece by him ) but when I read his piece my mouth fell open, out of surprise and a certain feeling of agreeing with much of its content: " Since the Sebastia settlement, all Israeli governments have squirmed, stuttered and lied when it comes to the settlements, but in effect, they have executed the plans of the state of Judea: to spread as many settlements as possible throughout the West Bank to make compromise and evacuation impossible. While the state of the Jews gets unlimited resources for spacious bypass highways, tunnels and huge bridges, in the State of Israel, the infrastructure is deteriorating, the roads and clover-leafs are reminiscent of the Third World. The lack of budgets is also a main reason for poverty because for 30 years, the State of Israel has not had enough money for education, welfare, vocational training and environmental protection. It has all gone to the state of Judea, where there's money for everything..." Ze'ev Schiff, who is also known for his expertise, heavily criticizes the former Shin Beth chief, Avi Dichter. Schiff gives highly critical comments on some of the compliments that Mr Dichter received for his work, as well as on the claims of victory over terror, claims made by Dichter and others: "In the present conflict with the Palestinians, Israel lost more than 1,000 people, most of them civilians, an all-time high relative both to Israel's losses in the past and to the enemy's losses. Nothing as serious as this has occured since the War of Independence. Moreover, in not one of Israel's wars were so many civilians killed on the home front. [...] If this is victory, then it is reminiscent of Pyrrhus of Epirus' famous statement: "Another such victory and I shall be lost!" ". Finally, Zvi Bar'el provides us with an analysis - from the perspective of an Israeli expert on Arab affairs - of the recent events and developments in Lebanon and Syria. Notice that he does not mention Israel even once in his article: " The release of the UN probe, the critical damage to Syria and Lebanon, the international pressure and the Larsen report on the implementation of Resolution 1559, which is due to be released next week, all provide the Lebanese government with an important opportunity to assert its sovereignty over all of Lebanon. The question is whether Lebanon will take advantage of the opportunity it is being offered. "
Wat Joep Bertrams hier precies mee wil zeggen is mij niet helemaal duidelijk.
Deze tekening van Tom Janssen lijkt mij een vervolg op degene die ik eergisteren hier postte.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Israel should not interfere at all - in particular not by making public statements - in the goings-on in the two countries that border the Jewish state in the North. If what Israel wants is to see the Assad regime going down ( I am not sure if that is what is best for us, but some officials are all too eager to see Assad go ) it should do nothing. Syria and its little helpers appear to have activated their own plan for selfdestruction a long time ago already, and the US, France and the UN do not seem to be very forgiving to the Syrian authorities and security services that appear to be responsible for the murder of Mr Hariri. Israeli actions or public declarations can only put a spoke in the wheels that are turning faster and faster every day now in both Syria and Lebanon.
Elk welgemeend initiatief om hier vrede te brengen moet worden toegejuicht, zou ik zeggen, hoe vergezocht het ook moge zijn. Toen ik dit bericht op joods.nl las - over een conceptueel kunstenaar die door middel van lasers, meditatie en wat al niet meer de vrede in Jeruzalem ( en andere steden in het Midden Oosten ) dichterbij wil brengen - dacht ik dan ook "Wat aardig". Helaas waren de eerste dingen die er in me opkwamen toen ik op zijn website een foto van de heer Schrama zag: "Laat je lurven zien, laat je kladden zien, Waar zitten je lurven en kladden eigenlijk?" en "Dat kan harder!". Aanvankelijk wist ik niet waar die spontane associatie vandaan kwam, maar nu weet ik het: hij doet me denken aan Mevrouw Stemband, de vriendin van meneer Kaktus.
Alle gekheid op een stokje, ik wens Rob Schrama veel succes toe met zijn belangrijke werk. Nee, serieus!
Een paar weken geleden stuurde ik per e-mail een vraag naar de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst. Als alles goed gaat zouden mijn echtgenote en ik graag over een jaar of twee voor een of twee jaar naar Nederland willen komen. Ik zou dan post-doc onderzoek kunnen doen en/of werken aan een onderzoeksinstituut of universiteit, en onze kinderen zouden dan eindelijk echt goed Nederlands kunnen leren. Bovendien zouden zij, hun opa en oma, en hun twee nichtjes elkaar zo eens wat regelmatiger en onder normale omstandigheden kunnen zien. Onze kinderen hebben zowel de Nederlandse als de Israelische nationaliteit ( tot hun 18e of 21e, dan moeten ze kiezen zolang ze in Israel wonen ), ik heb ook de Nederlandse nationaliteit en mijn echtgenote heeft de Israelische nationaliteit. Ik wilde weten of er dingen zijn ( vertalingen, documenten en wat dies meer zij ) die we nu al vast kunnen regelen wat mijn vrouw betreft. Ik hoorde niets van de IND en was het eigenlijk al vergeten. Gisteren kreeg ik een e-mail van de afdeling Publieksvoorlichting van de IND waarin stond dat men door drukte er nog niet in geslaagd was om mijn en andere online vragen te beantwoorden, en dat als ik nog geen antwoord op mijn vraag had gevonden ik mijn naam en het telefoonnummer waar ik tijdens kantooruren te bereiken ben kon achterlaten, zodat ik telefonisch antwoord zou kunnen krijgen. Ik beantwoordde de e-mail maar was overtuigd dat ze niet naar het buitenland zouden bellen. Vanmiddag kreeg ik keurig een telefoontje. Ik was stomverbaasd over zo'n uitstekende service. De meneer gaf me keurig antwoord op mijn vraag ( het heeft geen enkele zin om nu al wat te regelen: de regels veranderen vaak, en vertalingen en officiele verklaringen hebben een 'houdbaarheidsdatum', het is zaak om iets dergelijks ongeveer een half jaar van te voren te gaan regelen ) en legde me uit waaraan we moeten voldoen t.z.t. Als ik op uitnodiging of met medewerking van een instituut kom is er ueberhaupt geen probleem, zulke instellingen werken vaak met de IND, daar zijn vaste procedures voor. Mochten we op eigen houtje willen komen dan moet ik een arbeidscontract hebben en een inkomen van minimaal 1100 Euro per maand. Mijn vrouw zou onder de categorie Huwelijk en relatie vallen Al met al een prima service en een duidelijke website, kol hakavod zou ik zeggen.
Toen ik gisteren las dat Andre van der Louw was overleden had ik iets van "Goh". Omdat ik al zo lang niets van of over hem gehoord had realiseerde ik me niet dat hij al 72 was, ik herinnerde me hem nog altijd met zijn karakteristieke snor, die in mijn geheugen niet of nauwelijks grijs was. Toen ik net las dat Karin Adelmund ook is overleden was ik zowaar een beetje geschokt, naar ik aanneem omdat ze in mijn ogen nog erg jong was. Nu is 56 - ik had haar jonger ingeschat - natuurlijk ook verre van oud. De Partij van de Arbeid verliezen zo toch even in - bijna - één klap twee markante en invloedrijke (ex)bewindslieden en leden. Ze rusten in vrede.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

16:49 Iran bans movies that promote Western culture and deny God (AP) ( Ha'Aretz News Flash )
For some reason I was convinced that such movies had been banned already for more than thirty years. Apparently I have no idea what is going on in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Deze sportprent van Tom Janssen vond ik wel geinig.

Last night I finished reading this book ( the 1991 Alfred A. Knopf edition ), about Heinrich Himmler and his role in the murder of millions of Jews and others during World War II. It is well researched, easy to read even though the story that Richard Breitman tries to tell is sometimes a bit confusing - e.g. it is not always entirely clear what happened on which date since Breitman jumps between different months and dates - and highly informative. I expected to read more about Himmler 'the man', his personal background etc. Also the fact that the book deals only almost exclusively with Himmler's work until right after the Wannsee Conference ( January 2oth 1942 ) left me a bit 'disappointed', if that is the right word. His role in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews in the spring of 1944, his orders to stop the gassings in Auschwitz in November1944, his efforts to conduct negotiations with the Allies, all these are subjects that a book such as this should have covered.
The book is very interesting - but not always entirely convincing - for everybody who is interested in the timetable and the planning stages of the Holocaust. In the ongoing discussion between 'intentionalists' and 'functionalists' Breitman assumes - rightly, in my view - a place somewhere in between: as soon as the wholesale murder of Jews became logistically possible, the opportunity - for which men like Himmler only had been waiting - was seized with all available hands. While Nazi policies towards and murder of the Jews was not always logical and consistent, one can discern a certain line leading from Hitler's first political activities to the attrocities committed in the extermination camps and other murder sites in Eastern Europe. What is striking - though not new for those who are familiar with the history of the perpetrators' side of this part of history - is how opposition to the work of Himmler and his henchmen was almost exclusively a result of economic, military-practical and/or personal considerations. Few if any of the senior military and civil functionaries in Germany, the Generalgouvernement and the countries under German control raised objections to what was done to and with the Jews out of sympathy or compassion with the victims.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bill Gates will visit Israel next week. On the website of Ha'Aretz you can read about the whole one-day program for his first ever visit to the Holy Land. I especially liked these parts of the article ( never mind the bad phrasing in the last sentence ):
Gates' people in Israel say he made no special requests, not even for a computer.
...the operations manager at the hotel, Zeev Keren, noticed that Gates' 50th birthday is just four days after his stay, on October 28. As a surprise the hotel will have a birthday cake in his room.
Rain has been pouring down in installments this morning, only now the skies are clearing up. Right now I pull down the shades in my study because the sunrays are starting to blind me. We are invited tonight for a meal in the sukkah ( tabernacle ) of friends of ours, so hopefully the rain showers will not return later today. Unfortunately the weather forecast predicts heavy rain towards and during the evening.
Could it be that this is how David Beckham was picked out for his job?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

One of the things that have taken up relatively much of my time during the last weeks is organizing and financing my coming trip to Paris, early December. The plane and train tickets are covered ( thanks to my always beloved, loving and supportive parents, and to the generous French-Jewish fund that helped me so much until now), but more than half of the budget ( rent for a studio, living expenses, insurance, books ) we will have to cough up ourselves, since the scholarship that I receive through my university does not refund most research-related expenses ( except for photocopies, basically, but I hardly make any photocopies since I started working with a digital camera two years ago ). Because the two weeks' stay in December was not expected or planned I did not have time to apply for one or more specific scholarships, as the deadlines of all the relevant ones had passed already.
Years ago somebody already suggested that I should find private sponsors for research trips and other projects. Who knows, he might be right, and maybe my weblog is a good way to find such ( a ) sponsor(s). Sorry that I play the role of shnorrer here, but if you are interested and able to help, please contact me by e-mail. Contributors of € 100 and more will have their names mentioned in the Acknowledgements of my PhD thesis and of any book that will be based on my PhD research.
Yesterday night I went to bed around 11.30 PM. My wife was asleep already and I zapped to see if there was anything entertaining or interesting to watch on television. I stopped at the History Channel, where I watched a rerun of one of Koby Meidan's Nightly Meeting programs, broadcast - correct me if I am wrong - originally in the late 1990s on channel 2. This time Meidan spoke with the woman who is my absolute favorite among Israel's female singer-songwriters, Chava Alberstein ( also here ). I know that Chava Alberstein has worked more than once with poems written by post-war Yiddish poets, but I did not know that she even made a documentary about some of those poets( scroll down on this page, the movie is called Too Early To Be Quiet, Too Late To Sing ). Yesterday a short excerpt of that documentary was shown. In it, the actress-wife of the poet Binem Heller ( 1906 - 1998 ) recites one of his most famous poems, Mayn Shvester Khaye ( My Sister Khaye ). While she recites the poem, you see the emotions getting the better of her husband, and at the end - as an apparent sign of appreciation and love - he lays his hand on her shoulder. While watching this and listening to the poem I found myself crying, just like almost every time that I hear the song that Chava Alberstein made out of the poem. The song appears on one of the best CDs ever made by modern Yiddish-klezmer artists, Di Krenitse ( The Well ), a cooperation of Alberstein and the Klezmatics. Here you can hear a Real Audio clip of the song. What follows is a transcription of the Yiddish original text ( found here ), plus the - not literary but good - English translation found in the booklet that accompanies the CD. The same translation appears on this website. Since the transcription and translation in the booklet and on the website are identical, I do not know whose work they are, Michael Wex's ( who gets the credits for the translations in the CD-booklet ) or Edgar Hilsenrath's. Read and see for yourself how powerful and moving this poem is. Mayn shvester Khaye mit di grine oygn mayn shvester Khaye mit di grine oygn, mayn shvester Khaye mit di shvartse tsep - di shvester Khaye, vos hot mikh dertsoygn oyf smotshe-gas, in hoyz mit krume trep. di mame iz avek fun shtub baginen, ven oyfn himl hot ersht koym gehelt. zi iz avek in krom arayn fardinen dos bidne-drobne groshedike gelt. un Khaye iz geblibn mit di brider, un zi hot zey gekormet un gehit. un zi flegt zingen zey di sheyne lider, far nakht, ven kleyne kinder vern mid. mayn shvester Khaye mit di grine oygn, mayn shvester Khaye mit di lange hor - di shvester Khaye, vos hot mikh dertsoygn, iz nokh nisht alt geven keyn tsendling yor. zi hot geroymt, gekokht, derlangt dos esn, zi hot getsvogn undz zi kleyne kep. nor shpiln zikh mit undz hot zi fargesn - di shvester Khaye mit di shvartse tsep. mayn shvester Khaye mit di oygn grine, a daytsh hot in treblinke zi farbrent. un ikh bin in der yidishe medine der same letster, vos hot zi gekent. far ir shrayb ikh oyf yidish mayne lider in teg di shreklekhe fun undzer tsayt. bay got aleyn iz zi a bas-yekhide - in himl zitst zi bay zayn rekhter zayt. My sister Khaye, her eyes were green, My sister Khaye, her braids were black - Sister Khaye, it was she who raised me In the house on Smotshe Street with tumble down steps. Mother left the house at dawn When the sky had hardly lightened. She went off to the shop, to earn A wretched penny's worth of change. And Khaye stayed with the boys, She fed them and watched over them. And at evening, when little kids get tired, She'd sing them pretty songs. My sister Khaye, her eyes were green, My sister Khaye, her hair was long - Sister Khaye, it was she who raised me She wasn't event ten years old. She cleaned and cooked and served the food, She washed our little heads, All she forgot was to play with us - Sister Khaye, her braids were black. My sister Khaye with her eyes of green Was burnt by a German in Treblinka. And I am in the Jewish state, The very last one who knew her. It's for her that I write my poems in Yiddish In these terrible days of our times. To God Himself she's an only daughter, She sits in heaven at His right hand.
It seems that there is quite a gap between what some former Gaza settlers demand ( or deem fair compensation ) and what the governement is willing or able to offer them. Since both sides use a lot of spin it is hard to determine when which side is telling which truth or what lie, but it is quite clear that within the Green Line it is hard to afford the lifestyle that many settlers have become used to, which is one of the main reasons why so many of them oppose giving up the occupied territories. All this does not come as a surprise to anybody who is familiar with at least part of the history of colonialism and decolonization.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Happy Succoth
Here is Andy Capp, dealing with his mother in law. Thank G'd, I get along very well with mine, even though or maybe simply because in many respects she is typically polanya ( and tschechit, and belgit: I do not know the characteristics of Czech and Belgian mothers in law ).

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Whoever believed that the wounds of the disengagement had started to heal was probably wrong. Such a process - if it actually takes place - will take years, not weeks. This weekend we were reminded once again of, on the one hand, the hatred felt by many settlers towards those whom they consider responsible for the evacuation of the Gaza settlements, and - on the other hand - the indifference that many Israelis show towards the hardships of the settlers. This morning I read an interesting article by Zvi Bar'el of Ha'Aretz. He tells us about the Yesha Council, and about the relationship between settlers and the State, post-disengagement. As Bar'el points out, the last letter of the acronym Yesha ( Yehudah, Shomron, 'Aza, i.e. Judea, Samaria, Gaza ) has lost its relevancy, since there are no Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip anymore. His conclusion makes sense: "It seems that the Yesha settlers realize that from now on they will need to struggle to join the State of Israel and not vice versa. It is a political battle - for example, over the path of the wall or the demarcation of borders. It is a battle in which, for the first time, the citizens of Israel will have a decisive vote, or at least an equal one, to that of the settlers." One reader commented that he hopes Yesh ( "There is" ) will become "Eyn" ( "There is not" ) soon, as there is no future in the territories. In many ways I would agree with that. Still, that did not change the fact that I had to swallow hard when I heard about the shooting near Gush Etzion in which three young Israelis were murdered this afternoon. I heard the news when I waited for our daughter to finish her swimming lesson ( she is six years old and already does some nice freestyle swimming, maybe at the 2016 Olympics both Israel and Holland will be able to celebrate the achievements of De Bruin/Bar-On ( no, not Inge ) :-) ). Later we went to buy two school sweaters for her, and I forgot about the news and heard nobody else talking about the terror attack. When I watched the evening news, my attention was mainly caught by the cloudburst outside, and by the news item on the attack against Major General El'azar Stern and his family last Friday. The same news item told us about soldiers serving in Hebron who recently ( one of them even on Yom Kippur ) were verbally attacked by settlers near or in the Tomb of the Patriarchs and told that they could not pray there. Also I heard that soldiers who hitchhike in the territories often are asked by settlers about their role in the disengagement before being given or refused a ride. As for the attack near Gush Etzion, at least the right wing politicians and Yesha representatives whom we had not heard from and about for more than a month got a chance to tell us how right they have always been and to imply once again how evil and destructive Ariel Sharon and his policies are. One wonders whether we ever will be one people again. Maybe we stopped being such a people a long time ago, or maybe such a people never existed. Or maybe I am just getting depressed because of the weather. No, I don't think so, although I am not a great fan of rain in Israel. I always said - only half-jokingly - that I would want a job that allows me to spend ( hot and dry ) summers in Israel and ( cold, white and stormy ) winters in Europe. Whereas houses in Europe are not built for hot summers, here the houses are never as comfortable as those in Europe when it is cold and wet outside. PS:
Gideon Levy wrote an article that describes a phenomenon that came to my attention almost each time that I watched television recently: more and more criminals who are shown in news broadcasts appear to (have) be(come) religious, i.e. they wear a kippa. As is often his custom, Levy exaggerates and deals freely in stereotypes ( "the least ethical community in Israeli society, the settlers", "the true guardians of the stamp of morality, the human rights activists" ), but that does not mean that the phenomenon is not noticeable.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I have not written much these last few days, for a number of reasons: Yom Kippur, the cancellation of my IHT-Ha'Aretz subscription, being busy with other things. I do follow the news but I just did not read anything that 'forced' me to write a comment. This weekend several news items caught my attention. First of all, the attack on Major General El'azar Stern and his family near the Western Wall yesterday. Again, I wonder how frum the fanatics who did that really are. Well, at least they have a whole year to think about their sins before the next Yom Kippur. A subject that I follow closely is the developments in and around ( the ruling elite of ) Syria. Apparently Israel is wise enough not to get itself too involved in the mess that Assad seems to have gotten himself into. One interesting news item that appeared today on Ha'Aretz' website is about an infamous Nazi war criminal who has been located in Spain. I wonder if anything will ( can ) be done to somehow prosecute him, I certainly would not mind if he is forced to spend his last years on earth fighting against some kind of justice being achieved. Lately I added four weblogs to my list of Israel-related blogs. All of them are written by ( new ) immigrants, you are invited to have a look at: If you will it..., Like I've Got Time For A Blogspot, Savtadotty, and Shalom Israel. Finally, have a look here. My brother and his girlfriend returned from Crete yesterday, and of course they ate very well over there and made lots and lots of pictures ( you should see his face when he watches me flipping through his photo albums ). Some of these are really beautiful, two of them I added here. Isn't that a tanned lookalike of Verbal Jam's Arnoud playing backgammon in the second picture?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yom Kippur passed quietly again. Our daughter and son drove their bi- and tricycles in our street, together with tens of other kids. We went to synagogue yesterday evening for the Kol Nidrei ( the hazzan could hardly be heard, our neighborhood's synagogue's acoustics are terrible; I prefer the Ashkenazi versions anyway, but the Ashkenazi synagogues are too far away, unless you could take the car of course ) and tonight for the children to hear the shofar. I wonder if the fact that those pious Jews who threw stones at vehicles coming by ( sometimes bringing people to work or to a hospital - or both, if the driver happens to work at a hospital ) probably fasted was enough for them to get a positive qualification in this year's Book of Life, or will they have to wait another year, so that they can try again at next year's Yom Kippur? 19:19 Arab infant lightly hurt after vandals stone car en route to J`lem hospital (Haaretz) 19:17 Jews stone car transporting nurses to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in J`lem (Haaretz) 19:03 Police detain six Jews for allegedly stoning automobiles on Yom Kippur (Haaretz)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Gmar Hatimah Tovah, and if you fast, Tsom Kal.
( For those of you who did not know yet: from tomorrow evening till Thursday evening it will be Yom Kippur. PS: I know that one does not put on tefilin on Yom Kippur ( or Shabbat or Yom Tov ), but this was the most beautiful picture of a shofar being blown that I found ).
I do not think I will be able to spend time online tomorrow, my next posting will probably appear not before Friday morning.
As sad as this news item is, to me the action it describes appears to be an extraordinary physical achievement:
( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 02:41 Taliban militant kills four in two suicide bombings in Afghanistan (AP)

Monday, October 10, 2005

This afternoon I spent about an hour browsing through the (auto)biographies of some of the Nobel prize winners. It is simply amazing how many of them are and were ( children of ) immigrants( and not less fascinating to see how many of them are Jewish ). This tells us something about the potential which immigration has to enrich countries and societies, very much depending on the immigrants themselves and on the societies that receive them.
One more beautiful picture I would like to share with you. This one I found on the website of a German newspaper or magazine, one of those to which I put a link in the righthand margin last weekend. If I remember correctly, this is a nuthatch ( boomklever, Kleiber in German ).
I really like this picture of professor Avram Hershko with his parents and older brother in 1938.
To see how much the personal histories of these three Nobel prize winners are part of and intertwined with Jewish and Israeli history, one can read the well written and very interesting autobiographies of Daniel Kahneman ( whom Ha'Aretz mistakenly calls an American-born Israeli ), Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover. These autobiographies I found on the official website of the Nobel organization.
As in 2002 and last year at least one ( American-)Israeli is among the various Nobel prize winners. Congratulations to professor Robert J. ( Yisrael ) Aumann ( see the picture above ) who, like Daniel Kahneman in 2002, is one of the two recipients of the the 2005 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel . Together with Thomas C. Schelling Robert Aumann receives the prize "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis".
If only our ministry of education - or rather Israel's political masters in general - fully understood that brainpower is our most valuable and strategic asset, and that seriously investing in education should be at the basis of each economic, social and even military-diplomatic policy plan of the Jewish state. Last year's recipients of the Nobel prize for chemistry, Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko ( I almost wrote "the adorable..." before these two names, but that seemed a bit too much ) publicly linked outstanding education and winning something like a Nobel prize, and they argued in favor of investments in this country's education, but apart from all kinds of empty gestures of praise for the two Technion professors I am not aware of any special attention that their words received among Israel's decision makers.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Waar ik de laatste tijd niet echt aan toekom is het bezoeken van andere weblogs. Enkel door toeval heb ik dan ook gelezen wat Arnoud, van Verbal Jam, te schrijven had over de mini-heisa rond het thema van de Kinderboekenweek, en over het uitroepen - door Time Magazine - van Job Cohen tot held. Over dat laatste schreef de soms wel erg pissige Ephimenco ook een column.
Lately I have made some minor changes to the sidebar. The clock, a service provided by ClockLink, was turned to winter time, which started last night. In addition to a number of what I call Israel-related weblogs, several online news providers in Dutch, English, French, German and Hebrew were added.
One research-related website was brought to my attention by a friend of mine: Archives Made Easy, an on-line guide to archives around the globe. Hosted by the International History department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, this website gives researchers and others practical information about a growing number of archives all over the world. The information is provided by fellow-researchers who - so it seems at least - visited the archives themselves for their own research. Benn Williams, the American historian who provided information about the archives of the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Present, happens to be one of the doctorants with whom I shared a room at that institute, when I spent almost half a year with my family in Paris in the winter of 2003-4. Another useful website contains links to many libraries and archives that are relevant for everyone who is interested in or works on subjects related to Judaism, Jewish history etc. This website is created and updated by Ethan Starr.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In today's Ha'Aretz I read two very articles that I saved for 'posterity' on my articles' backup blog : the newspaper's editorial and an article by Aluf Benn. Both pieces deal with what Sharon does and does not say, might and might not do in his post-Gaza glory days. It will be interesting to read the two articles next year around Rosh HaShanah, just as interesting as it is to read again some of the articles that were published more than two years ago, when Mr Sharon only started to mention words like occupation, and to talk about a disengagement from Gaza. In Dutch I would say about the man that he certainly did not choke on his first lie, but on the other hand, when it comes to Gaza few people really believed he would pull his plan off, and pull it off he did. Aluf Benn expresses some good ideas about possible Israeli moves, initiatives or reactions as far as Syria and the Golan are concerned. Benn points out something that often is missing from other analyses: while his predecessors liked to talk about the Golan in order to be able to talk less about/with the Palestinians, Sharon prefers to talk and deal with the Palestinians, rather than touching the issue of the Golan.
Regarding "Like Bush, court nominee took a turn toward religion", IHT, October 6, 2005: Religion can be a beautiful thing. The combination of religion and politics often is not, as many people in the Middle East can testify. Islamist terror, one of the most dangerous phenomena these days, is the most extreme example of the dangers that combining religion and politics can entail. Whereas in politics we deal with reality through compromises, religion - especially in the varieties embraced by many newly religious men and women - deals mainly with absolute truths. For centuries in Western societies a separation of state and church/mosque/synagogue has been considered a clear sign of progress, contributing to democracy. When we see how in the country that is supposed to lead the West in the war on terror religion becomes a more and more determining political factor, it becomes clear how much impact the acts and preachings of Bin Laden and other Islamists have had on American politics, and easy to understand why the glory and domination of the United States are in decline.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Now this is the kind of good news that I have been waiting for: ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 19:31 Leading J`lem rabbi says Monday`s earthquake indicates good new year (Army Radio) If Asterix' friend Obelix was here, he probably would say " These rabbis are crazy " ( in Dutch: "Rare jongens, die rabbijnen ".

Monday, October 03, 2005

A little more than an hour ago I felt everything trembling slightly for a second or so. My wife, who was still in bed, later asked me if I felt the tremor too. Now I read on the website of Ha'Aretz that there was an earthquake registering 4.3 on the Richter scale in the Jordan Valley this morning.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Voila, three beautiful pictures that I found on each of the three photoblogs that have a link among my favorite weblogs and -sites: BrownNoise ( my brother's photoblog; this picture was taken in De Keukenhof ), Pictures of Holland ( this one was taken in the city of Oudewater ), and Geert Fotografeert ( I do not know where and when the picture with the windmill was taken ).

In this weekend's newspapers I did not read anything that I felt like commenting upon, but in today's Ha'Aretz I very much enjoyed reading the interview with/portrait of Jennifer Miller, whose father Aaron has been involved in several American administrations' MidEast politics. She wrote a book that could be very interesting: Inheriting the Holy Land: An American's Search for Hope in the Middle East. I put it in my basket at Amazon UK, where I keep a list of all books and CDs that I intend to buy or ask as a present at the first available opporunity.