- In the end, it is the violin that wins ( December 2004 ) ( "Zionism asked of us to lay the violin aside for some time, to pick up the rifle instead "until things get better". The Territories and all that is involved in holding them have made this into a permanent situation. And here is the real danger. For in the end, it is the violin which wins." )
- Not only in war you failed - also in peace-making ( May 2007 )
- Rehabilitating the IDF ( March 2007 )
- Israel's lost 40 years ( June 2007 ) ( The author turned out to be quite a prophet when at the end of the Six Day War he said that "We've bit off something that will choke us". He could also qualify as a national physician, since he concludes: "Israel cannot hear anymore, doesn't see well, can't really grasp matters or understand clearly. Worst of all, Israel refuses to undergo the operation that would return it to good health." )
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Although I do not celebrate the holiday, I can say that I had a pretty good Christmas so far. This morning I woke up to find an e-mail telling me that a person whom I am very anxious to interview for a book that I am working on will meet me early next month. Then I had what was basically an indirect job interview which was very positive and which might be productive in the not too distant future, if my gut feeling does not deceive me completely. I thought this might be a good day to post what many consider to be the ultimate Christmas song, especially since - if I am not mistaken - this is Shane McGowan's 50th birthday. Congratulations to that wonderful artist ( and champion of self-destruction, sadly enough ).
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
And in those days Fokke & Sukke had to search endlessly: "Next time you can simply have a male gynaecologist!!!" ( a reference to this news item ).
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate that holiday!
A happy and healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2008 to all of you!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
- An article, by minister Yitzhak Herzog, about a book by Martin Gilbert that deals with a little known subject: Winston Churchill and the Jews.
- A portrait of a kind of Israelis that many, many years ago got me truly interested in this country and that in my opinion today remains its true pride and hope. Yiftah Spector is a genuine war hero and Zionist. Not unlike others whose opinion I value highly he says that Herzl's type of Zionism has become realized, and now it is time to start realizing the Zionism of Ahad Ha'Am, "who wanted the state to be good and to be a light unto the nations". When asked "What should we do?", Spector replies: "First, we have to end this conflict, which is already ripe for a solution, and demarcate the only possible borders, namely those of 1967. And at the same time, we have to be full partners in the transformation of the Palestinian state into the most successful Arab state in the world, so we will have a good neighbor. And I agree very much with my beloved, in quotation marks, Ehud Olmert, whom I see as the head of the thieves' government - but even thieves sometimes get it right - when he says that if we do not make peace now, we can say good-bye to Israel." Amen to all that.
- An interesting article, by one of my favorite Israeli opinion makers, about one of the most beautiful languages that I know.
- An article, also by Meir Shalev, about something that continues to amaze me: instead of making sincere efforts to keep here those who are already here the government tries to lure back those who - for many different reasons, most of them entirely legitimate, but that is not the point - chose to live abroad.
- An article - in Spanish, a language that I once studied here at the university for two semesters ( twice I received a 100!, I even wrote a paper in Spanish about Franco ) but never really learnt well - about Hugo Chavez' links to and support for Colombian terrorists ( freedom fighters, whatever ). I would not have known about the article if I had not read about it on the website of a Dutch newspaper. By the way, what a beautiful word, narcosantuario.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Het feest werd georganiseerd door de vrijwilligers van het Dutch Forum in Israel. Dutch Forum – met Christiaan Scholtes, Bert Knot en Matthew Reijnders als actieve spil – richt zich al weer ruim zeven jaar op "het met elkaar in contact brengen van de Nederlanders in Israël". Dat gebeurt onder andere door middel van borrelavonden, de zeer succesvolle Sinterklaas- en Koninginnedagfeesten, en het gezamenlijk kijken van voetbalwedstrijden van het Nederlandse elftal. Sommige forumleden zijn ook actief in de stichtingen die twee heuse Nederlandse scholen draaiende houden, Jip en Janneke in Modi'in en Het Kikkerlandje in Tel Aviv. De hoogzwangere juf Liesbeth van Oorschot maakte samen met haar vervangster Charlotte deel uit van de organisatie van het festijn. Op de scholen leren en spelen de kinderen – allemaal met minstens één Nederlandse ouder – wekelijks samen met leeftijdgenootjes, en de gezinnen van de leerlingen komen elkaar een paar keer per jaar tegen op de familiefeesten. Op het online prikbord van het forum helpt men elkaar en nieuwkomers met advies en praktische dingen. Al met al kan dit een Nederlandse successtory in het Beloofde Land genoemd worden.
Het Nederlandse gezelschap had flink wat bekijks. Aan de kade stonden plaatselijke bewoners, voornamelijk Israëlische Arabieren, te vissen. Zij leken niet erg onder de indruk, misschien omdat het feest vorig jaar al eens op dezelfde plek was gevierd. Toen volstonden twee boottochten. Vooral de toeristen vonden het een mooi spektakel, ik hoorde uitdrukkingen van verbazing en bewondering in o.a. het Frans, Duits en Spaans. De meeste deelnemers kwamen zo te zien uit de wijde omgeving van Tel Aviv, maar er waren ook gezinnen uit Haifa en omgeving, waaronder mijn vrouw, onze twee oudste kinderen, en ik.
De Nederlandse ambassadeur in Israël, Michiel den Hond – die hier op de juiste plek lijkt te zijn beland: namens de Nederlandse regering nam hij deel aan het vredesproces in het begin van de jaren negentig, daarna was hij een aantal jaren hoofd van het departement voor het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika op het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken –, heette de Sint welkom. Net als de Sint en de pieten moest de ambassadeur er driemaal aan geloven: drie keer een welkomstwoord, drie keer een boottocht van ruim 40 minuten, en drie keer het hele repertoire aan sinterklaasliedjes meezingen. Zijne excellentie, die in augustus Bob Hiensch opvolgde, was erg te spreken over het enthousiasme van de deelnemers en over de organisatie.
Het weer deed de Sint - die de beste vriend van de correspondent van RTL Nieuws in Israël schijnt te zijn - waarschijnlijk eerder aan zijn Spaanse thuisbasis dan aan Nederland denken. Onderweg naar Tel Aviv waaide het flink en zagen we witte koppen op de golven, maar 's middags was het heerlijk zonnig, warm en rustig. Toevallig was de jongste opvarende bij de tweede tocht, waarop wij meevoeren, een halve Fries. Liam werd drie maanden geleden in Nederland geboren, en vierde zijn allereerste Sinterklaasfeest op een boot in Jaffa, iets wat maar weinig kinderen hem na zullen kunnen zeggen. Zijn jonge moeder, Thirsa Jillings, werd in Franeker geboren en woont nu al weer ongeveer twee jaar in Israël. Tijdens een studie Spaans in Ecuador leerde ze haar Israëlische partner kennen. Veel van de leden van het Dutch Forum hebben een fascinerend levensverhaal te vertellen, waarin de globalisatie vaak een belangrijke rol speelt. Naast me op de boot zat een correspondent van de Telegraaf die zijn kinderen drietalig opvoedt. Naast zijn Nederlands en het Duits van zijn echtgenote leren ze op school Hebreeuws. Geen wonder dat Nederlanders het in het algemeen goed doen als wereldburgers.
Bij het verlaten van de boot kregen alle kinderen nog een zak met lekkernijen. Wij benutten de gelegenheid om na afloop nog wat beigels te kopen bij de gebroeders Abulafia, een bekende bakkerij in Jaffa. Onze kinderen kregen, in het Hebreeuws en Arabisch, leuke commentaren op hun pietenmutsen, die opa en oma samen met chocoladeletters, pepernoten en wat speelgoed van de Sint hadden gekregen om naar Israël door te sturen. Op weg naar huis zetten we in de auto nog een CD met sinterklaasliedjes op, maar na tien minuten sliepen de kinderen al en schakelden we over op een Israëlisch radiostation. De sinterklaasliedjes zullen we nog wel tot vervelens toe horen, totdat dinsdag Chanoekah begint en de liedjes van dat feest ons leven weer voor een paar dagen gaan beheersen.
You can fool all ( the ) people some of the time...
( Russian women voting in the elections that provided Vladimir Putin's United Russia party with a "sweeping mandate" )
and some ( of the ) people all the time...
but you cannot fool all ( the ) people all the time.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
60 years ago the UN voted, through resolution 181 ( 33 for, 13 against, with 10 abstentions ), to partition the British Mandate territory of Palestine into a Jewish and a Palestine state. Yesterday on channel 1 I watched a fascinating documentary about the Jewish-Israeli side of the story of that vote and of what preceded and followed it. It had interviews with some of the few key players in the process who are still alive, plus with the relatives of others, such as the widow of Abba Eban, and the son of Moshe Sharet ( one of the underestimated giants of Zionist history ). Hearing them talk I realized once more that we often fail to appreciate how important the establishment of the state of Israel was for the Jewish people - at that moment in history, and in general - and how easily things could have turned out very differently.
I understand why the partition plan was far from perfect or even totally unacceptable for the Palestinians, but looking at the pictures below ( found at the website of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs ) you have to admit that not accepting the plan was one of the many utterly mistaken decisions that the Palestinian and other Arab 'leaders' made for - or rather against the best interests of - their people and their 'brothers'. Meanwhile so-called supporters of the Palestinian people still waste their, our and the Palestinians' time trying to 'convince' us that the partition plan was unfair, a result of Jewish scheming and lobbying, and unacceptable to Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
- Although I am not sure what is the exact point that Bradley Burston wants to make in this article, I agree with most of what it says.
- An article about one of the more interesting old-new faces that appeared on the MidEast scene recently.
Friday, November 23, 2007
- Much has been written about the demand, by Israel's minister for pensioners' affairs Rafi Eitan, for additional payments by Germany to Holocaust survivors in Israel. This article appeared the other day, I agree with almost every word in it.
- Two excellent postings by one of my favorite Israeli bloggers, On the Face's Lisa Goldman: one that starts with sugar packets but in fact deals with two of the greatest threats that Israel faces ( social injustice and our indifference to it ), the other about the lack of Israeli interest in what is really happening in Lebanon.
- Islam is not the only religion that excels in injustice towards women and minorities, but many of its followers seem to do their best to make their religion a champion in that field.
PS: This posting was written on Wednesday, but I posted it by mistake on my parallel blog, where I normally only post articles for reference and future use.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- Yet another proof of how the occupation, Islamist terror, hatred, and fear - no matter how genuine and justified - have eroded our basic humane values. You should also have a look at the talkbackers' comments.
- A wonderful article by an outstanding scientist about what he rightly calls the real Iranian threat. Unless Israel changes dramatically and drastically a nuclear Iran will be one of our least worries.
- Ehud Olmert comparing himself to David Ben-Gurion. Talking about a lack of taste, of perspective, and of perception.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Kal ( The Economist )
Saturday, November 10, 2007
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The birthday cakes that my wife made for the birthday party of our son who since last Friday is 5 years old, for his friend and classmate who will celebrate her fifth birthday with him tomorrow, and for our youngest son who had his first birthday almost two weeks ago. The children's names on the cakes were erased.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
This very moment I am watching television. Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem, is sung at the manifestation in memory of the life and murder of Yitzhak Rabin z"l. According to the police more than 150,000 people were at the Rabin Square and in the surrounding streets. Ahinoam Nini's performance of "We'll touch the dream" was beautiful, as was the speech by Rabin's son Yuval, who is not known for his eloquence and who until this evening never gave such a public speech. Layla tov, and shavua tov.
The Scream, a monument by Jeroen Henneman for director and columnist Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Islamist, on November 2nd 2004 in Amsterdam. As I wrote in an article for the Dutch daily Friesch Dagblad on Thursday, his murder and that of Yitzhak Rabin ( on November 4th 1995, by a religious extremist who is not less fanatic than Mohammed B. ) are remembered in the same week. In 2005 I wrote an article ( sorry, it is in Dutch ) about two parallels between the two murders and the aftermath of each of them. Not only did both murderers obtain at least some of their goals ( polarization and alienation in the Netherlands, polarization and a lack of any perspective towards peace in Israel ), in both countries a dangerous level of understanding for the murderers' despicable acts has been and continues to be expressed, in parallel ways, sometimes by highly reasonable people: "Of course the act of Yigal A./Mohammed B. is wrong and should be condemned, but hey, Rabin/Van Gogh should not have angered and frustrated so many people in the first place."
In May 2006 Faleh Abdoullah al-Mansouri, president of the Ahwazi Liberation Organisation (ALO), which aims at independence for an Arab minority in the Khuzestan province in Iran, was arrested in Syria. A few days later he was handed over to the Iranians. His case would probably not have attracted much attention if he had not been ( in addition to his Iranian citizenship, if I am not mistaken ) a Dutch citizen ( who received a royal decoration for his work on human rights ) and an active member of Amnesty International in Maastricht. Last week there were persistent rumors that Al-Mansouri was sentenced to death and that his execution was imminent. This led to protests which united political groups and individuals who hardly ever agree on anything. Each of those protesters had his or her own reasons for showing support for Al-Mansouri or opposition to the regime in Teheran. I saw rightwing populist Geert Wilders standing next to members of the leftwing populist Socialist Party, and I also saw a show of support for Al-Mansouri and Ahwazi independence, as well as for Iran, on the website of the anti-Semitic Arab European League. I particularly was impressed with the way in which the latter explained its stance on the issue: "Al Ahwaz is part of the Arab world [...] Iran is an ally in the important struggle against the imperialist project of America and Israel and therefore has our support and dedication. We struggle of al-Ahwaz and the behavior of the Iranians we criticize as friends. During the essential struggle in the Arab and the Muslim world against a ruthless enemy it is important that we keep the ranks closed. [...] Only the neocolonial project profits from Al-Mansouri's death sentence. [...] Weakening Iran is a bloodletting/drain for our struggle in the whole Arab world." Clearly the AEL gets the meanings of Arab and Muslim mixed up.