Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If Israeli Arabs - let alone Palestinians - did only a tenth of what Jewish militants did, the security forces would have started using live ammunition against them long ago. 'The' settlers ( I know that the terrorists among them are only a minority but a) it becomes clearer every day that we are talking about many more than just a few dozen; b) Yesha leaders and politicians who are considered close to the settler community pay only lip service to the rule of law, hardly anyone of them really makes an effort to restrain this scum - rather than salt - of the earth; therefore it becomes more and more difficult not to identify all settlers with the militants among them ) get away with every violent action that they initiaty and participate in. Few if any of the cases of violence during the disengagement were brought to justice, and I would be surprised if most of the hooligans who have attacked soldiers and policemen in the last year or so will not be drafted into the IDF eventually.
The Israeli Right always talks about how the pullout from Lebanon and Gaza weakened Israel's deterrence towards the Palestinians and the Arab world. I think that the weak-kneed, indecisive approach of the Israeli authorities when- and wherever they face Jewish violence both against Palestinians and - especially - against our own security forces damages that deterrence much more than any withdrawal.
In the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad Hans Jansen, an Arabist at Leiden University, writes about the positive consequences of Hamas having won the Palestinian elections. What he tells us is surely interesting. According to Jansen, there are two possible outcomes of the election results. One could be that Hamas adapts its ideology to international demands and to reality, by accepting the existence of Israel. That would be wonderful, but it is not a very realistic scenario. If, on the other hand, Hamas continues its ideological and terrorist war, the flow of money from abroad will eventually run dry. Dr. Jansen says that in that case chaos will break loose, but in the end the Palestinians will be forced to adapt to reality. He makes a comparison with students: only students who have enough financial means can afford to demonstrate, those who have to work for their money are too busy working and studying. He claims - and his claims are not baseless - that the Palestinians have depended too much on international aid since 1948, which allowed many of them to spend their days blaming Israel, the Jews and the rest of the world for their misery, and which led thousands of them to choose a life dedicated to terror rather than to building better lives for themselves and their families. What makes Jansen's claims even more interesting is the comparison he makes between two divisions of land that took place in 1948 ( I would say 1947-8 ). One, which according to Jansen involved tens of thousands of Palestinians ( if I am not mistaken it involved many more; Benny Morris mentions the number of 700.000; still, for the comparison it does not matter ), happened in Palestine-Israel. The other took place in India-Pakistan, and involved millions of people, who became refugees and without UN help had to settle elsewhere. Like the hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled from their homelands to Israel, the Pakistani-Indian refugees of the late 1940s are no refugees anymore, they moved on. The Palestinians, who according to Jansen received more refugee aid than any other people, are still utterly helpless. Since this is a historical comparison ( such comparisons are always problematic ), and I do not know too many details about the division of and conflicts in the Indian subcontinent, I am not sure if Jansen is right and whether or not I agree with him on all accounts. Yet, what he says about the international aid on one hand and Palestinian dependency and terror on the other makes some sense. Who knows, the victory of Hamas could be a blessing in disguise.
PS: Chapati Mystery's Sepoy, who definitely is an expert on the history of "the indian and pakistani cosmologies", makes clear in a comment to this posting that Jansen's comparison with India-Pakistan is not suitable at all: the refugees had a country where they could settle. He also "disputes that these refugees ' moved on' since".
Seven cartoons that were inspired by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections last week. My favorites are the ones by Chappatte and Robert Ariail.
( Ha'Aretz, by ? )

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail

Petar Pismetrovic

Ed Stein

Christo Komarnitski

Chappatte

Monday, January 30, 2006

As part of his Jewish Education and Education project, Jacob Richman launched a new website, where you can see and learn the conjugation of a large number of Hebrew verbs.
Hitler is being drafted by Bibi to scare Israeli voters into voting Likud. Last week in Tel Aviv I also saw many posters that try to picture Olmert, Kadimah and Labor as the biggest threat that faces Israel. Unless some well-planned and precisely timed terror attacks help the rightwing campaign, I do not think that Bibi's negative tactics will work. The Israeli public wants to know what it should vote for, not what it should vote against. If Olmert and Kadimah ( and also Labor ) make more or less clear what kind of disengagement they envisage, and how they plan to define the - final, until further notice and possible treaties - borders between Israel and some kind of Palestinian state, I believe that Israel's voters will prefer a Kadimah-Labor coalition over the Bibi bunch.
According to the New Oxford Dictionary of English ( 2001 ), p. 1915,:
  • terrorism: "The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims"
  • terrorist: "A person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims"

While these are slightly problematic definitions ( they could apply to several Western, democratic governments and their war-time policies ) they do cover the activities of most extremists in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including most of the militants among the settlers and their sympathizers.

Since Israel always has said - rightly so, in my opinion, though it did not always apply that rule, see for example its deals with Hizbollah - that it will not negotiate with terrorists, this morning I was surprised to read this report ( here is the same news item on the website of Ha'Aretz ). Of course I am not making any comparisons, but yet again it becomes clear that extremist violence pays off.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today I read a very good analysis by Aluf Benn about the 'blessings' of democracy in the Middle East. It is relatively easy to do business with dictators and regimes, but the 'will of the people' is often much more radical and anti-Israel than those regimes. Ofer Shelah of Yedioth/Ynet, tells us that and how it is impossible to predict electoral surprises, see for instance the victories of Nethanyahu over Peres in 1996 ( well, those who are cynical could say that the mere fact that Shimon Peres was a candidate said something, but I think that is too easy ): "A flexible security organization would be able – and the Shin Bet has done this superbly in recent years – to give great tactical intelligence to enable the relevant powers to identify and act against specific targets. But it has no way – because there is no way – to predict cultural and political trends."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I stopped following the life and adventures of MP George Galloway ( I posted about him three times before, see here, here, and here ), he remains annoying and a disgrace to the European Left but simply is not interesting enough, and I am not sure if he still represents anything but his own personal interests. He has made such a fool of himself that I do not consider him to be a real threat to anyone but himself anymore. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to read that The Sun ( watch the video ) exposed footage that clearly shows that his sympathy for Iraq was directed more in the direction of the Husseins and their henchmen than towards the victims of either that regime or the Allied invasion that brought it down. The American-British attack against and occupation of Iraq does not seem to be very well planned, they caused a lot of unnecessary suffering and one could think of quite a few legitimate reasons why the Americans and their allies should have stayed away from Iraq or leave the country immediately, but every time that I read an article or watch a documentary about the regime of Saddam Hussein I think that things in that country could and can not be much worse than they were until three years ago. All that I wrote in an opinion article for the Dutch daily Trouw on the eve of the war remains valid.
On Thursday I pampered myself by doing something that I had not done for many months: I bought a CD with Israeli music. The local music scene is very rich, particularly if you take into account that there are only a few million people whose mother-tongue is Hebrew. One of the things that brought my wife and me together thirteen years ago was our love for Israeli music. We have a nice collection of CDs, but the vast majority of them came out years ago. New CDs that we buy - two, three a year for the last decade, I think - are by established groups and artists. Hava Alberstein, Arik Einstein, Shalom Hanoch, different members of the Banai family, Yehudah Poliker, Ahinoam Nini ( Noa ), in recent years they all produced a new album once in a while. In the last few years some very talented new artists have entered Israel's music scene. My favorites among them are Idan Raichel and his Project, Daniel Salomon and Shotey HaNevu'ah ( The Fools of Prophecy ). The album that I bought yesterday is the Fools' second album, Looking for Dorot. This band mixes ethnic music with dance, hip-hop, reggae and whatever suits them. I 'discovered' them through their big hit, Yedia'a ( Knowledge, through the link you can see the videoclip ), which has it all: rhytm, a good melody, funny and in a way very 'deep' lyrics that contain witty word plays, musical instruments that are not too common in pop music. When I heard three of the band's members give an a capella version of Kol HaGalgal ( the beautiful first song on this album ) at the event that marked ten years after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin z"l last year, I knew that I wanted to know more about them.
Het hieronder volgende artikel staat vandaag in het Reformatorisch Dagblad. De afgelopen week heeft deze krant buitengewoon veel aandacht besteed aan de Palestijnse verkiezingen en aan de Israelische politiek. Het lezerspubliek van de krant heeft een bovengemiddelde belangstelling voor wat er zich hier dagelijks afspeelt, ik zie dat ook aan de reacties die ik af en toe van lezers krijg. Dit is een van de redenen waarom ik graag met hen samen werk. Alhoewel het niet zo'n grote krant is stuurde men een journalist plus een fotograaf hier naar toe. Mijn schoonvader regelde voor hen interviews met drie prominente Knessetleden van de Arbeidspartij: Danny Yatom, ( generaal-majoor en voormalig militair secretaris van Rabin en hoofd van de Mossad ), Ephraim Sneh ( brigadier-generaal, nam als medisch officier bij de parachutisten deel aan o.a. de operatie in Entebbe, was later o.a. bevelhebber van Israel's veiligheidszone in Zuid-Libanon, minister van Volksgezondheid en onderminister van Defensie ) en Matan Vilnai ( was deputy-commander in Entebbe en deputy-chief of staff van het Israelische leger ). Ik heb veel interessante dingen gehoord tijdens de interviews, die veel weghadden van militaire briefings. Als je mij zou vragen wat de meest ideale verkiezingsuitslag in Israel zou zijn over exact twee maanden, dan zou ik zeggen een coalitie waarbij Kadimah en de Arbeidspartij samen de meerderheid hebben. Ik ben natuurlijk geen veiligheidsdeskundige ( een sergeant weet niet zoveel als een generaal, lijkt mij ) maar wat ik op maandag en dinsdag hoorde komt aardig overeen met mijn ideeen wat onze verhoudingen met de Palestijnen betreft. De vraag is of bepaalde belanghebbenden aan de Palestijns-Arabisch-Islamitische zijde van het conflict niet zullen proberen om de Israelische verkiezingsuitslag meer naar rechts te sturen. Het zou niet voor het eerst zijn.
Hamas en Israël
De verbijstering – in Israël en wereldwijd – over de overwinning van Hamas bij de Palestijnse verkiezingen lijkt me ietwat overdreven. Niemand had natuurlijk kunnen weten dat de organisatie een absolute meerderheid zou halen, maar wie dacht dat het na afgelopen woensdag in de Palestijnse gebieden weer business as usual zou worden en dat Hamas na de verkiezingen geen actieve rol zou gaan spelen in het bestuur van die gebieden hield zichzelf voor de gek. Je hoefde geen specialist op het gebied van de Palestijnse samenleving te zijn om te weten dat de bevolking de corruptie, het wanbeleid en de onmacht waarmee de Fatah beweging en de aan haar gelieerde facties worden vereenzelvigd zat was. Bovendien, terwijl Yasser Arafat tenminste nog populair krediet kon claimen vanwege zijn 'indrukwekkende' staat van dienst wat betreft het vermoorden van Zionisten en andere joden, werd en wordt zijn opvolger Mahmoud Abbas toch vooral gezien als een duifachtige diplomaat, en met zo'n reputatie scoor je bij de Palestijnen – net als bij veel Israëliërs, moet hier worden gezegd: zie Shimon Peres – nu eenmaal niet veel punten. De Hamas maakte van zelfmoordterreur zijn handelsmerk, en bracht de joodse staat daarmee zichtbaar pijnlijke verliezen toe. Niet zomaar werden zijn methodes door andere Palestijnse en Islamistische groeperingen – inclusief de Fatah en al-Qaida – gekopieerd, en niet zomaar wordt vrijwel iedere aanslag tegen Israël door meer dan één groepering opgeëist: het maken van Israëlische slachtoffers zorgt voor bewondering en respect onder de Palestijnse bevolking. Tenslotte heeft Hamas de afgelopen decennia, door middel van sociale activiteiten op allerlei terreinen die door Israël en de Palestijnse Autoriteit verwaarloosd werden, een stevige politieke basis onder de Palestijnse bevolking kunnen opbouwen. Zoals te verwachten viel staken vertegenwoordigers van de Palestijnse Autoriteit de hand niet in eigen boezem, het is en blijft allemaal de schuld van Jeruzalem en Washington. Toch kan Israël het succes van Hamas inderdaad ook zichzelf deels aanrekenen. Toen de Islamistisch-nationalistische organisatie nog een bruikbaar tegenwicht leek te bieden tegenover de PLO, die tot halverwege de eerste intifadah als de gevaarlijkste Palestijnse tegenstander van Israël gold, werden de activiteiten van Hamas oogluikend toegestaan en soms zelfs aangemoedigd door de Israëlische autoriteiten. Bovendien hebben opeenvolgende Israëlische regeringen nooit echt moeite gedaan om bij te dragen aan de stabiliteit en daadkracht van de Palestijnse Autoriteit. Dat onwil, eerder dan onvermogen, dat bestuurslichaam er keer op keer van weerhield om hard tegen terroristen op te treden was daarbij niet altijd een geldig excuus voor de Israëliërs. De situatie is nu weliswaar moeilijker maar zeker ook duidelijker geworden. We weten nu dat een meerderheid van de Palestijnen – de verkiezingen waren zonder twijfel democratisch, en de uitslag weerspiegelt de wil van de kiezers – eerder in absolute oplossingen dan in compromissen gelooft. Het is niet na te gaan waarom iedere individuele Hamas-kiezer stemde zoals hij of zij stemde, maar het lijkt onwaarschijnlijk dat de meer pragmatische – maar zeker niet gematigde – kant van de partij die haar voormannen aan de buitenwereld probeerden te verkopen voor de electorale overwinning heeft gezorgd. Vooral de duidelijke, compromisloze taal die het Palestijnse publiek te horen kreeg en de bloedige 'successen' die Hamas tegenover Israël heeft behaald hebben de meeste Palestijnen ervan overtuigd dat Hamas de partij is die hen naar een betere toekomst kan leiden. Voor hen is een onderhandelde en dus vreedzame oplossing voor 'het conflict' blijkbaar geen realistische optie. De kans is niet groot dat Israël serieuze onderhandelingen met een door Hamas geleide Palestijnse Autoriteit zal kunnen en willen voeren. Zulke onderhandelingen zijn zinloos als Hamas het bestaansrecht van Israël niet erkent, en als de organisatie dat recht wel erkent zal zij ophouden Hamas te zijn. Dit alles zal de beleidsmakers in Israël sterken in hun overtuiging dat de komende Israëlische regering eenzijdig moet bepalen – en uitvoeren – wat zij denkt dat goed voor de joodse staat is. Wat voor stappen Israel ook zal nemen, in het kader van een eenzijdig terugtrekkingsplan zal Israël minder bezet gebied opgeven dan na onderhandelingen en het sluiten van een bi- of multilateraal vredesverdrag. Sharon's plaatsvervanger Ehud Olmert gaf deze week duidelijk aan dat als onderhandelingen over uitvoer van het routekaartplan onmogelijk zijn een tweede terugtrekkingsplan zal worden overwogen. Dat Kadimah na Olmert's toespraak en na Hamas' zege volgens de opiniepeilingen nog steeds de steun van een derde van de Israëlische kiezers heeft laat zien dat zo'n terugtrekkingsplan iets is waarmee rekening moet worden gehouden. Door Hama's overwinning wordt de politiek hier de komende maanden nog onvoorspelbaarder en interessanter dan ze anders al geweest zou zijn.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tom Janssen

Joep Bertrams ( "A very last salute/greeting" )

Fortunately I opened my mailbox half an hour ago, before I started the weekly cleaning of our house. A Dutch newspaper asked if I could send them an opinion article that deals with the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, for tomorrow's issue. Since I know quite clearly what I want to say on the subject I eagerly accepted the order. That order is the reason why I probably won't blog today, apart from this posting. For the loyal visitors of DBI here are my two favorite Dutch cartoonists' views on the Hamas victory. Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ten minutes ago I returned home, after having watched a screening of Steven Spielberg's latest movie, Munich. Maybe I will write some more about it tomorrow, but let me just tell you this: the movie is not anti-Israel ( or anti-anything, for that matter ), it is just stupid and is definitely not a credit to Spielberg's name. Most of all, the film is superfluous: the same story was told - in a less bombastic, more modest and certainly not less powerful manner - by the makers of The Sword of Gideon, which is based on the same ( problematic ) source, the book Vengeance by George Jonas. Still, I am glad that my friend Y. ( he, his wife and their son were our best friends when we lived in Paris, after he finished his PhD they returned to Israel, and came to live in Haifa ) asked me to come with him, otherwise I would not have wanted to spend money on such a controversial movie, now at least I could judge for myself.
So Hamas appears to have won the Palestinian elections. Danny Yatom, the former head of Mossad who is one of the politicians whom I heard analyzing Israeli-Palestinian politics the other day, made it clear that with a Hamas government in power on the other side Israel will never conduct serious negotiations on final-status agreements. No matter what party will lead the Israeli government after March 28th, steps taken by Israel will be mostly unilateral, which will lead to disengagement, though not to a Palestinian state. While it is yet too early to decide on such steps ( just as it was premature for the US or Israel to say that they will not negotiate or cooperate with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas ), we can be pretty sure that unilateral disengagement will be a central item in the coming Israeli elections. Israel's rightwingers blame the Left, Olmert and Kadimah ( they do their best not to mention the comatose Sharon ) for the Hamas victory. What could we expect? More interestingly, what will Likud propose as an alternative to unilateral disengagement? Will the victory of Hamas cause Israelis to turn to extreme rightwing parties, or will it strengthen Kadimah, which is being identified with disengagement? The elections seem to have been very democratic, with few irregularities and a high turnout. That leads us to several conclusions as far as the will of the Palestinian people is concerned.
  • Understandably Palestinians were really fed up with the corruption and infighting of the Fatah-related factions. Like other Islamist political parties, Hamas has a reputation of honesty and modesty.
  • One could seriously start to wonder whether a majority of Palestinians wants/believes in a peaceful, negotiated solution of the conflict with Israel. For decades support, among the Palestinian population, for the various ( terror ) organizations that make up the political spectrum in the territories has been linked directly to those organizations' success in their 'struggle' against Israel, i.e. the more Jews an organization managed to murder and maim, the more respect and popular support it has received. Hamas is the organization that - by turning suicide terrorism into a byword for the Palestinian nationalist struggle - has been the most 'successful' in that struggle. Although the organization has tried to present itself abroad as pragmatic, few Palestinians voted for it because they believed in pragmatism and some sort of peaceful coexistence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
  • The assumption on which Oslo was based ( as soon as the Palestinians understand that peace is in their own interest - only through peaceful coexistence alongside and economic cooperation with Israel will they be able to improve their lives - they will give up terror ) was faulty, to say the least. Like the extreme and not so extreme rightwing Israelis, Palestinian voters made clear that they believe only in absolute solutions: their right exludes the right of the other side. If - and this is a big if - Israeli policy planners ever took the Palestinians' wellbeing into account ( assuming that their wellbeing is Israel's interest ), they can stop pretending to do so from now on, and make their plans and carry out their policies based on one consideration only: Israel's wellbeing and security interests.

In diverse media I heard people say that once in power Hamas will become more realistic and less fanatic, but I find that hard to believe. True, the Muslim Brotherhood - which, one could say, inspired the founders of Hamas - has participated peacefully and democratically in Egyptian and Jordanian politics, but in neither country that Islamist organization ever had an absolute majority, and terror has never been the Brotherhood's raison-d'etre. While I do not believe in historical comparisons I could not help thinking that in the 1930s some people believed that being in power would soften the Nazis' anti-Semitism and other radical ideas. On the contrary, their hatred only intensified, with one big difference: now they had all the means to implement their promises.

PA officials blamed Israel and the US for the Hamas victory. Such claims are not entirely baseless, of course, but Fatah officials - and most of all their late leader, Arafat - are also to blame. If they had put their people's interests before their own, if they had fought terror instead of allowing and encouraging it, if the US had not remained on the sidelines for the last five years or so, if Israel had realized sooner that the occupation hurts 'us' as much as or even more than it hurts 'them', if..., if..., if... As Matan Vilnai said to the Dutch journalist whom I accompanied, there are too many ifs, we have to wait and see, and deal with reality. While that reality has become clearer now, it also has become more complicated, and based on common sense I would say that both a Palestinian state and some kind of a peaceful solution/end to the conflict have become less feasible now than ever. On the other hand, based on common sense I would say that this whole conflict is unnecessary and absurd. Apparently common sense was not invented and has never really taken root in the Middle East.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Dilbert episode that made me smile several months ago.
I spent two productive days in Tel Aviv, and heard three fascinating analyses of the political situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The analyses were given by a former head of Mossad, a former deputy chief of staff of the IDF and a former deputy minister of Defense ( the appointment with the former defense minister was canceled eventually ). Since I was only the mediator and not the one who conducted the interviews I do not think that it would be fair if I repeated parts of the conversations here. You will find the final results on the pages and the website of the Reformatorisch Dagblad. While the Labor party has without any doubt a very good list of candidates, it has an image problem when it comes to the person heading the list, Amir Peretz. Today, one of the most talented and popular candidates on the list, Isaac Herzog, made an 'interesting' attempt to improve that image: "Peretz inexperienced? So was Bush." Although the three briefings that I heard yesterday and Monday in Tel Aviv convinced me of something that I thought I knew already ( that Labor has the best team and the right ideology to lead the coalition after March 28th ), Herzog's words almost caused me to start having misgivings about that. Bush-bashing has become as populist as Bush is himself, and I do not normally join the anti-Bush choirs that can be heard singing loudly all over the world, but I do not believe that George W. Bush is the best possible example in recent history of an unexperienced politician who turned out to be a wonderful leader in difficult times. Au contraire, I am afraid. Mr Herzog should know better than to use that example.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tom Janssen ( "...cause Iran does want to be a modern theocracy!" )

Chappatte

Two cartoons and then it is back to work for me.

( A Hamas rally )

( Members of the Palestinian security forces who voted in the elections )

Talking about the Palestinian elections, here are some pictures of Palestinian democracy at work. I found them at the website of Reuters and of Ha'Aretz.
Sorry for having neglected my weblog lately. In addition to my regular pursuits I have been busy helping to fill this week's schedule of an editor of a Dutch newspaper who is here to write about the Palestinian elections and about post-Sharon politics in Israel. The editor wanted to meet some VIPs who might have something interesting to say about those two subjects, and he asked me to arrange some meetings through my father-in-law, who has quite a few contacts among Israel's who-is-who. 'We' got him interviews with one former head of one of Israel's main intelligence agencies, a former deputy commander of the IDF, a former minister of Defense and a former deputy minister of Defense. All four of them are seasoned politicians and former highranking IDF officers who played an active role in some of the most fascinating chapters of Israel's history, and all of them know Ariel Sharon personally and are familiar - from the Israeli perspective, of course - with events and developments in Palestinian society. Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be in and around Tel Aviv, accompanying the journalist and the photographer who came with him.

Friday, January 20, 2006

This morning I put the following CDs in my stereo:
  1. and
  2. Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte - Daniel Barenboim
  3. Aangenaam Barok
  4. Aangenaam Barok Plus ( two baroque compilations, issued in 1992 and 1993 respectively )
  5. Back to Bach - Dave Matthews and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra

Not every day I have a casual conversation with a Nobel prize winner. Early this evening I returned home with our son after having brought a freshly baked loaf of bread to my parents-in-law, who live two streets away from us. When we entered the building where we live ( ten families live in our building ) I saw a man who appeared to be the same age as my father with a girl who appeared to be about the same age as our daughter. They were clearly looking for someone or something so I asked them if I could help them. I recognized the girl, she used to be in the afternoon playgroup with our daughter, and when the man - who obviously was the girl's grandfather - said that they were looking for the H. family, I understood that the girl was going to visit Gal H., who used to be in kindergarten with our daughter, and who started primary school one year before our daughter because of the age difference. I told them that I was almost sure that the H. family lives in the next building, the grandfather thanked me and they went on their way. His face looked familiar, and when I finally remembered the girl's family name the penny dropped: I just had spoken to one of the three winners of last year's ( 2004, that is ) Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Right now my stereo contains the following CDs:
  1. and
  2. W.A. Mozart: Complete violin concertos - Emmy Verhey and the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
  3. The Hidden Light - The Andy Statman Quartet
  4. Songs of our Fathers - Andy Statman & David Grisman
  5. Themes - Vangelis

For most of us Ariel Sharon remains an enigma. For some people he has always been the incarnation of ( Jewish ) evil, others he hailed him as a king and savior, only to curse him when he came up with the disengagement plan. Often I agreed when I read the various "in memoriam"s about him, and while I have written many letters to the editor in which I attacked him and his ( lack of ) policies, in the last years I also came to realize that he is a fascinating person, whose biography contains more than one dark chapter but who also did some things for which Israel owes him big time. Last week the Dutch Reformatorisch Dagblad published an article that I wrote right after it became clear that Ariel Sharon would not return to the Prime Minister's Office. I wrote that two things will determine the results of the elections on March 28th: developments - and possible power struggles - within the Kadimah party, and - more importantly - efforts by organizations led from Teheran, Damascus and Gaza to make sure the next Israeli government will not take any further steps as part of whatever kind of 'peace process' that might or might not be rekindled by the disengagement plan's implementation. It seems that efforts by Jewish militants to stop further retreats from occupied territories - such as the riots in Hebron - have exactly the opposite result: Kadimah gains even more seats according to the opinion polls, and ordinary Israelis become more and more convinced that our own extremists are a danger for the Jewish state. Today an article is published in the Dutch daily Trouw, in which I react to an opinion article by Uri Avnery. Avnery stresses Sharon's "simplistic nationalism" and cynically hints that those lefties who embraced Sharon are naive and failed to understand that Sharon had an agenda of his own. In my article I write that Uri Avnery's one-dimensional portrait of the 'bulldozer' is remarkable, particularly because Avnery's own biography proves that gifted people hardly ever are immune to change. I claim that though Sharon did not really change, he realized that the reality around him had changed, and he ( partly ) set aside his ideology when he understood that that ideology hurt the interests and wellbeing of the people and country that he has served all his life. Because of that he belongs in the hall of fame where we find men such as Rabin, Begin and Sadat. His view of reality might be pessimistic, but it is not detached from reality. True peace is a goal that seems unattainable right now, and therefore little steps such as the disengagement from Gaza are the only substantial contributions to a solution of 'the' conflict that can be made today. You do not have to understand or admire Sharon - or to ignore the blood on his hands - to understand that contribution. In the last week or so many interesting articles were published about Ariel Sharon and the repercussions of his illness. I only saved a few of them. Ynet (re)published the last interview that he gave, to a Japanese newspaper. In the interview we read about almost all main issues that will ( have to ) be dealt with by the next Israeli government. Amos Oz and David Grossman gave their interpretation and appreciation of the person Sharon and of Israel's future without him. Ha'Aretz' Bradley Burston wrote about the ways in which both extremist and mainstream private and public figures reacted to Sharon's stroke. Amir Oren wrote an extensive piece on Sharon's career and legacy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

While I am writing this I listen to Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A major op. 13. It happens to be performed by the Sharon quartet, which seems very appropriate. The above pictures show the view that we had early this morning from our bedroom window and our balcony, respectively.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

This picture appeared on Ynet.
The above picture I found on the website of Ha'Aretz. Two Arab youngsters throwing stones at Israeli soldiers? No. That is, those attacked are Israeli soldiers ( and/or maybe Palestinians, I do not know, I wasn't on the spot, thank G'd I have no reason to be there ), but the attackers are Jews, Hebron settlers and/or their sympathizers. If the caption is correct ( who knows, these two might be agents of the General Security Service - Shin Beth/Shabak - or Palestinians posing as settlers :-) ) we are watching "young, masked settlers throwing stones from rooftops in the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday". I wonder what Albert Memmi, who has written extensively about the relationship(s) between the occupier and the occupied, would say about this picture.
Als ik het volgende bericht lees en mijn enige reactie is "Zonde van/sneu voor die bomen." betekent dat dat ik afgestompt ben? Als dat het geval is, komt dat doordat ik te lang in Israel woon, of zijn er Nederlandse lezers die hier ook niet echt warm of koud van worden? ( gelezen op de website van de Telegraaf ) Vrouw rijdt Porsche tijdens proefrit total loss AMSTERDAM - Bij een ongeluk tijdens een proefrit is dit weekeinde een Porsche ter waarde van 450.000 euro volledig vernield. De vrouw die de auto bestuurde, raakte daarbij zwaargewond. Twee gasten van een hotel in Ootmarsum mochten de sportauto even lenen van een andere hotelgast. De proefrit eindigde na een kilometer in een drama. De vrouw raakte de macht over het voertuig kwijt, doordat ze waarschijnlijk te hard reed. De wagen raakte een aantal bomen en scheurde vervolgens in tweeën. De medepassagier kwam er met lichte verwondingen van af. Bron: RTV Oost PS: Om helemaal eerlijk te zijn - en te laten zien dat menselijke gevoelens me toch niet helemaal vreemd zijn -, moet ik vermelden dat ik ook dacht "Gelukkig zijn er geen onschuldige voorbijgangers gewond geraakt."
Apart from Arik Sharon, who remains the 'party' 's main asset as long as he is breathing, no one is helping the Kadimah campaign more than the settlers in Hebron and the other extremists within the settler community who are fighting our security forces these days. If the implementation of the disengagement plan made clear that the settlers' cause is not really a part of the national consensus anymore, the violent actions by their militants ( and the public statements made by a small minority of rightwing extremists after Sharon fell ill ) made the distance between them and the average Israeli even larger, it seems. Most of us just have had it with them, and if the moderates among the settlers do not start to distance themselves from the actions and words of the Hebron settlers - more convincingly than they did before and during the disengagement - sympathy for the settlers at large will become even less heartfelt. If Ehud Olmert turns dealing with the settler militants and the evacuation of large parts of the territories that remain under Israeli occupation into election issues I am sure that will provide his list with significant electoral support from voters who otherwise would stay home or vote Labor or Shinuy.
The question remains what is going to happen in the next two and a half months. Some political parties are imploding ( on Tuesday the Labor party members will choose the party's candidates for the elections, that could be not less interesting than the primaries in Shinuy and Likud ), Kadimah still has to make up its definite list, Sharon's condition is stable but vey worrisome ( if, heaven forbid, he passes away the time of his death could determine the result of the elections ), several illegal settler outposts plus some houses in the market in Hebron are supposed to be evacuated next month, Palestinian elections, Qassam rockets and other terror attacks, all these things can and probably will influence the results of the Israeli elections. Only on March 28th after the ballot boxes are closed and the votes are counted will we know who will lead us for the next ( here I should write '4', but coalitions and governments change too fast over here to say that with certainty ) years.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

( Ynet Updates: ) 14:11 Ahmadinejad: Israel a land of immigrants who kill innocents.
When I read this, in my mind automatically a sentence was formed that contained the words Muslim countries, emigrants and killing innocents, but no, I did not write it down, that would be too much of a generalization, wouldn't it?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Steve Benson

Mike Luckovich

Mike Lester

As promised, three cartoons that make fun of Pat Robertson and his understanding of divine punishment. The one by Mike Luckovich is brilliant, I think.

( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 07:53 Iran: No cooperation on nuclear issue if we`re referred to Security Council (Reuters)
Does this mean that what they did until now was to cooperate? They must have some faulty dictionaries over there in Iran.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Vanmiddag was ik op een begrafenis ( levaya, lewaaje, waar het woord lawaai vandaan komt ), voor het eerst dat ik in Israel in de stromende regen een begraafplaats bezocht. Toen het zand over het lijk werd geschept moest ik aan dit artikel denken dat ik gisteren op de website van de Telegraaf las. Sommige mensen vervelen zich blijkbaar echt, en moeten wel heel rare dingen doen om hun leven zin te geven.
Robert Ariail

Petar Pismetrovic ( Austria )

M.E. Cohen

Christo Komarnitski ( Bulgaria )

Christo Komarnitski

Chip Bok

Bob Englehart

Looking for cartoons about Ariel Sharon I found some at this website. Here are seven of them. Tomorrow I will post three cartoons that ridicule the comments by Pat Robertson. As you can see, there is a certain similarity between the second cartoon of Christo Komarnitski and the one made by M.E. Cohen. This is not the first time that I noticed such a similarity ( see here ). In both cases the two cartoonists centered their message around the Israeli flag. Of these seven the best cartoon, in my opinion, is the one made by Petar Pismetrovic.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just a minute ago I read this on Sky News:
Explosion In Dutch Shops
Updated: 13:28, Tuesday January 10, 2006
Several people have been injured in a blast at a shopping centre in central Holland, news agency ANP reported. Police do not yet know how many have been hurt at the scene, in Utrecht city. "We have heard from the fire brigade radio that it may have been a gas explosion. We cannot confirm this," a police spokeswoman said. More follows...
Immediately I checked Dutch websites. It has all the characteristics of a gas explosion, not a terrorist attack. The explosion happened to take place in Overvecht, the district of Utrecht where I was born.
Likud officials are afraid that the party's primaries will be won particularly by opponents of the disengagement and of a Palestinian state. Normally that would not concern them very much, but they fear that the Israeli public is looking for a way towards the political center, and that a list with mostly notorious rightwingers and 'rebels' will make it easy for a party like Kadimah to brand the Likud as an extremist party. I hope that all those fears will become reality. Another concern for party officials is the fact that Silvan Shalom is the only one of 'Middle-Eastern descent' among the party's top 10 candidates, that is, all the others are wus-wus-im ( from the Yiddish word for 'what', after all, all Ashkenazim are supposed to speak Yiddish ). I think Michael Eitan's comment on this problem is - unintentionally, I hope - very insulting: "I call on members of the Likud Central Committee to properly represent all of Israel's ethnic groups on our list. However, it is important to have worthy candidates." If you really care for the interests of Israel, the coming months will probably be difficult, but if you see politics mainly as entertainment you will be able to enjoy the whole election campaign. Whatever its outcome and character, the campaign will doubtlessly be interesting.
Talking about Mozart. A populist and somewhat eccentric rightwing politician in the Netherlands ( I once spoke with him when he was in Haifa; I don't agree with almost all of his views but respect his openness and courage ) in whose political platform the main plank is opposition to ( an increased influx and influence of ) Muslim immigrants, is often quoted as saying that "The problem is not Islam but the excesses ( de uitwassen ) of Islam." I agree with that, although sometimes I have my doubts, not really knowing how to define excesses.
Is it me, or is this whole Sharon-stroke-circus becoming some sort of farce? ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 10:32 Doctors to try to place shawarma near PM to stimulate sense of smell (Army Radio)
If you had asked me who the favorite composer of Ariel Sharon is, I do not think that W.A. Mozart would have been my automatic reply. To be honest, I never would have made the association between 'the bulldozer' and classical music. Talking about prejudices. PS: If I had been told he loves classical music and asked the question mentioned above, I probably would have answered 'Johannes Brahms' or 'Giuseppe Verdi'.
Dat de Chinezen niet echt het beste voor hebben met het milieu wist ik wel, maar ik had geen idee dat het zo erg was: "Dezer dagen is ook bekendgemaakt dat de zware vervuiling van de rivier de Songshua met het kankerverwekkende benzeen zo'n drie miljard dollar gaat kosten en zeker vijf jaar in beslag zal nemen." ( citaat uit het e-mail bulletin Internationaal Nieuws van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep )
According to the Hebrew calendar today is the tenth of the month Tevet, religious Jews fast from sunrise till sunset. On this day in history Nebukadnezzar started his siege of Jerusalem, which ended with the destruction of the first temple. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel also decided that on this day Kaddish ( the traditional 'prayer for the dead' in which G'd is praised; in this context the mourner's kaddish is meant ) is said for the victims of the Holocaust whose 'day of departure from this world' is unknown, i.e. we do not know exactly on which day they were murdered ( for example, the grandfather of my wife ). Normally Kaddish is said on every yahrzeit, the day - in the Hebrew calendar - on which a person passed away, but obviously we do not know the exact date for many of those who were murdered during the Shoah. My father-in-law, who started to go to synagogue every morning after his mother passed away - and after he more or less went into retirement -, said it this morning, I am sure. The tenth of Tevet is not only about mourning and fasting. It was also the birthday of ( on of ) the most important poet(s) of Modern Hebrew, Haim Nahman Bialik ( 1873 - 1934 ). Already for more than a week our 3-year old son, who learns about such things in his playgrup/kindergarten, reminds us of that by telling us "Lehyalik yesh o'me'at yom holedet" ( Hyalik is having his birthday soon ). When the other day my wife took him to a local Toys 'R' Us store he insisted on getting a shooping trolley himself, so that he could choose a birthday present for Hyalik ( my wife let him take the trolley but managed to talk him out of buying a present for the dead poet. Today he was almost as excited as he was on his own birthday. I thought it would be cruel, unnecessary and simply too early to tell him about the less festive aspects of this date.

Monday, January 09, 2006

For those of you who might ask ( I know some people who do ask ) what kind of people study philosophy, what is the use of studying philosophy, why should the state invest at all in the study of the humanities, and similar questions, here is one answer. Wouldn't Anat Gelber be the perfect candidate for some important diplomatic post?
In yesterday's issue of the Dutch daily Het Parool for the third time in a row a cartoon - made by Joep Bertrams - was devoted to Ariel Sharon ( and Israel/the Middle East ). This one is really beautiful, I think.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

After Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty last week and Tom DeLay gave up the House majority leader post, it is about time to post an Ed Stein cartoon that I saved several months ago. I added two other cartoons by Ed Stein that I liked very much. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Y-net news update ( 03.08 PM ): "Sderot mayor: Palestinians scared to fire Qassams".
Is this some kind of stupid I-dare-you game, played by this mayor and Likud activist? Enjoy the calm, try to work with the police and the army on better protection measures for your city, and/or ask the army for tough counteractions and preventive bombardments against those who terrorize Sderot and other communities that border on Gaza, but why would you defy 'the other side', if not for some political gain? After all, at least one of the many factions competing for popular support among the Palestinians could see this as a challenge. "Those bloody Zionists think that we are scared? Let's show them something!"
Last night the doctors at Hadassah hospital almost used superlatives to describe how successful the latest operation that Ariel Sharon underwent was. I already started imagining him returning to office, beating all those ( I almost used the word 'vultures' here, but that would be too cynical ) who will vie with one another for the PM job in the coming months, and thumbing his nose at all the Ahmadinejads, Robertsons and Marzels of the world. Even before that, the Dutch-Jewish Center for Information and Documentation on Israel was even more optimistic than anybody else. Through its website one was ( and still is ) invited to send an online get-well-soon card to Sharon. All e-mails will be bundled and sent to the PM's office in Jerusalem, according to the website. Based on how the card is phrased it seems that the people of the CIDI are convinced that Mr Sharon will be able to read the e-mails after his recovery. I wish I could be that confident ( or naive ).
While during the first 24 hours after Mr Sharon (re)entered the hospital we had the television on for most of the day, most Israelis have returned to their daily routines. When I go online to check my mail or the news, the headlines still deal mostly with our PM's medical condition and with its political consequences, of course, but there is no continuous television coverage anymore, simply because there is not very much news to be broadcast about the subject. It is widely thought that as soon as the doctors stop the artificial respiration and the anaesthesia Ariel Sharon will die within hours if not minutes, and that he is only kept alive in order to allow the authorities and his family to prepare for his death and for his funeral. Yesterday evening, when I could not fall asleep, I went out of bed and watched the German movie Alles auf Zucker, a DVD that I bought in a German bookschoop in Paris. I bought the DVD only after I made sure it has subtitles ( German, for the heard of hearing ), because while I can read German very well I do not always understand what people say, especially because many Germans speak some sort of dialect. Interestingly enough Jacky Zucker, the protagonist of the movie, often uses words or phrases that sound very Dutch. The movie is funny, sometimes even very funny, but I really wonder why it won many more German movie awards than Der Untergang, which was maybe a more controversial but in my opinion also a much better ( though uncomparably different ) movie. While watching the movie I had some fresh strawberries - my favorite fruit - with sugar. Right now I am working on my laptop, listening to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert's Die Schoene Muellerin. The other four CDs in my stereo are the two remaining CDs of the Deutsche Grammofon DFD-box that I have, containing Winterreise, Schwanengesang and 7 songs, all by Schubert and all sung by Fischer-Dieskau, with Gerald Moore on the piano, plus two CDs with Verdi's Otello ( a Double Decca bargain that I bought years ago ), with Carlo Cossutta and Margaret Price as Otello and Desdemona, and Sir Georg Solti conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker. My wife took the children to a birthday party at a playground in a kibbutz nearby. As you can see, all is back to normal, at least on the surface.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Two cartoons dealing with Israel today, both by the Dutch cartoonist Joep Bertrams. The first one ( Sharon ) speaks for itself. I think I get the message of the second one ( Nethanyahu: Showing sympathy ), but I do not really understand the drawing itself.
With 'all' the details of Ariel Sharon's medical condition being brought into the open on television and in newspapers ( about 50% of all MDs in Israel must have appeared in one medium or another ), every Israeli has become an expert in neurosurgery, it seems. The medical staff and advisers of the PM who were responsible for him in the hours before he was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday evening got buckets of sh*t emptied out over them. They are accused of negligence, making questionable or bad decisions ( letting Mr Sharon stay at home, on his isolated farm, on the eve of his planned operation; giving him bloodthinning medicines without putting him under permanent medical observation; bringing him to a hospital in Jerusalem and not in Be'er Sheva; rushing him to hospital by ambulance and not by helicopter ). Isn't it all too easy to blame this or that person for all this? After all, "The best horseman is always on his feet", and as far as I know in order to make medical diagnoses and decide on the best possible measure or treatment you have to consider all known details of a patient's condition, and except for the doctors directly treating Mr Sharon nobody has or had a complete file on his medical record and current situation, no matter how many details we are given through the official spokespersons. Don't forget that we are talking about a self-willed soldier-politician, who has been living a not very healthy life for decades. Like Rehav'am Ze'evi and Yitzhak Rabin, who often ignored warnings and advice from those responsible for their security, Ariel Sharon had a say in what he did, and how and where he did it. Of course those in charge of their safety and health are blamed, and maybe, or even probably, mistakes were made, but the P&E ( personality/ego ) factor of the VIPs themselves should be taken into account ( and blamed accordingly ) as well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I guess I will be making several short postings in the course of the following hours and days. Things here are very uncertain and at the same time quite dynamic now. Ariel Sharon is still in the operating room, whatever news can be published about his situation can probably not be very good. Right now I hear Udi Segal, political commentator for Channel 2, say that whereas the previous time that Sharon was taken to the hospital - on the evening that I returned to Israel two and a half weeks ago - the state's heart skipped a beat, and that now it stopped breathing for several hours.
There are many people in Israel this moment that nobody should be jealous of. First of all, obviously, Ariel Sharon and his loved and loving ones. His has always been a very loving and close family, and most of us pray for him and for them in one way or another. Also, one could have a lot of sympathy for those responsible for the security of our political leaders. Protecting Sharon, who is a widower and has been a soldier all of his life and who lives at the Sycamore Ranch - isolated and therefore relatively easy to secure -, is much easier than taking care of the protection of someone like Ehud Olmert, who lives in the middle of Jerusalem, has a family and, though he has lived in the public spotlight for decades, has always been a civilian. The people from the Shabak have a tough time ahead of them, not that their job was ever really easy.
We also could feel sorry for Mr Olmert, who has always been ambitious enough to want the post of PM, but who never in his worst nightmares dreamt that the job would land in his lap ( to use a cynical phrase and 'literary' reference: that he would become khalif instead of the khalif ) under these circumstances. Finally, imagine the problems that Ehud Olmert's family and neighbors will have with all the security measures that surround him, his home and family from now on.
Not for the first time since I came here almost 14 years ago did I go to sleep not knowing what to expect exactly the next morning. When I turned off the television at midnight the doctors were staring to operate on Mr Sharon, and the operation is ending just now. Things do not look good, and one thing can be said for sure: Ariel Sharon has ended his career as leader of Israel. Ehud Olmert is the acting Prime Minister now.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Today nobody cared ( or at least nobody talked ) about the health of our Prime Minister and his operation tomorrow. The main two news items were corruption-related:
  • is what was published yesterday about the Sharon-Kern affair something new, is the timing of its publication politically motivated, should Sharon resign, should he be allowed to run for re-election, does the publication affect the voters' opinion, etc.?
  • the investigation of the Israeli ( or Israeli-Russian, I am not sure ) Arkady Gaydamak. Finally more and more Israelis are starting to remember and pronounce his name properly, which is hard not to, since he has not been out of the spotlights since July, when he started a highly publicized 'shopping/donation' spree, buying a soccer team, a basketball team, donating enormous sums to different charities, initiating a new political movement or party, having the biggest New Year's party of Israel etc., while all the time it was known that he is being investigated in a large whitewash-affair at one Bank Ha'Poalim branch ( on the television I heard this afternoon that he is even wanted by French authorities ). Three of the main questions that were asked today are: what is the origin of some of his wealth, did that origin make it necessary for him to engage in whitewashing large sums of money, and was his public campaign partly aimed at buying political influence and/or public sympathy?

The only thing that really worries me is that somehow the renewed corruption scandal will cause Bibi N. to replace Sharon after March 28th, or - maybe even worse - that Sharon will be tempted to take some rash action to boost his chances in the elections. I do not have to spell out here what kind of adventures I mean ( and I am not talking - only - about the country that today is by far the most dangerous threat for Israel ) but we all know that such operations could do us a lot of good if carried out properly and successfully, but if they fail - and haste makes waste, particularly if we are talking about soldiers doing things in a hurry because of political pressure - the consequences could be disastrous for all of us.

PS: While I am writing this I read online that Ariel Sharon has been taken to the hospital because he did not feel well. Let's hope and pray that he will recover and hang on for some more years. I normally wish most human beings all the best, especially if they are ill and have loving families, but as much as I had my doubts about Mr Sharon in the past ( and I still think parts of that past are not glatt kosher in some respects ), my wishes for him are a bit more anxious and heartfelt today than they are for other people. Apart from all the political repercussions, just imagine how 'our' and 'their' Hamasniks would celebrate his - heaven forbid - demise. May he live long and prosper.

When I went outside this afternoon I felt some strong winds, and when I look outside I still can see that the weather is a bit stormy, but I had not noticed yet that it is really serious: ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 21:12 Strongest wind ever (*) of 100 kph recorded in Haifa (Haaretz) (*) I suppose they meant to say 'ever in Israel'.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A little more than a month ago, when the election campaign started and Ariel Sharon's Kadimah already was doing very well in the opinion polls, I wrote that four months until the elections are a very long time. Many Qassams, several Katyusha rockets and terror attacks and five weeks later the same is still true. If I had to bet, I do not think I would put my money on Ariel Sharon as the next Prime Minister. His health problems and the medical procedure that he will undergo on Thursday appear to be more complicated and less routine than we were made to believe until earlier this week, and today, after a year or more of quiet on his legal front, new reports have come up of evidence regarding illegal financial transactions involving Ariel Sharon('s family ). This is bad news, I am afraid. Although I do not think that I would advise someone to vote Kadimah ( the party's list is too much of a mixed lot, containing many opportunists who have no ideological basis whatsoever ) I would like to see Ariel Sharon leading the government after March 2006. Not that I have much confidence in him or his integrity, but the alternatives are hardly any better, they do not seem to have proper solutions for - or interest in - the issues that the new government will have to address, and none of them has the balls or the experience necessary to initiate a Disengagement II, and to deal with the fanatics who attacked the soldiers and policemen in Hebron today.

Monday, January 02, 2006

All readers of this blog are very welcome here, of course, and I am always interested to read how you got here, why you visit, if you more or less found what you expected, if you agree or disagree with something that I wrote, etc. To almost all e-mails and comments I reply in one way or another. Some of the regular DBI readers I ( got to ) know personally, and I recognize their 'identity' among my webstats, but sometimes I notice among those statistics a new reader who appears to return regularly, and that makes me curious. In the last days I have noticed daily visits by a visitor 'identified' as Univ. of Science Technology, Trondheim, Noorwegen ( Norway ). I do not know anybody who lives in Norway, as far as I am aware, and would very much like to get to 'know' you. You - like every other reader - are invited to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Layla tov/Slaap lekker/Good night to al of you.
Isn't that the perfect way to make their point clear? ( from a Reuters article that I found on the website of Ha'Aretz )
Dozens of policemen stormed government offices in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Monday to protest the failure of the Palestinian Authority to fight growing lawlessness.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Bijna ieder jaar moet ik op 1 januari denken aan een vriendje van me op de lagere school. Mijn vader moest en zou hem muzieklessen geven want, zo zei zijn moeder, H. was zoooooo muzikaal. Hoe wist ze dat? Wel, hij zat ieder jaar op 1 januari 's morgens met zijn ogen dicht naar het nieuwjaarsconcert uit Wenen te kijken. Hij zat blijkbaar voor de televisie te slapen, want de muzieklessen zijn niet echt geslaagd, en dat lag niet aan de inspanningen van mijn vader. Later verhuisde het gezin, en als ik aan H. denk herinner ik me voornamelijk het bovenstaande en het feit dat hij altijd zei dat hij 'hengstenboer' ( of hengsteboer? ) wilde worden. Als kind leek ook mij dat een fascinerend beroep.
Vandaag heeft onze dochter haar eigen nieuwjaarsconcert. Ter afsluiting van de Hanukah vakantie is er een middag vol activiteiten op de plaatselijke muziekschool, en daarna volgt een kort concert door de vioolleerlingen. Onze dochter mag zelfs een solo spelen. :-)
One of the reasons why the raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor was so successful in 1981 was the fact that hardly anybody imagined or talked about such an attack, and the attack came as a complete surprise. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry in the US, Europe and Israel has an opinion on whether or not Iran's nuclear installations should and could be attacked, and the subject is being discussed in most media, on numerous weblogs and internet fora, and even - for God's sake, I could not believe my eyes when I read this - publicly by Likud members, led by Yisrael Katz and the one of the party's main clowns, Uzi Cohen. If this is not a sure way of endangering our security ( and that of the rest of the region ), what is?