Sunday, September 30, 2007

Voor alle duidelijk-, volledig-, en eerlijkheid: de organisatie van het hieronder beschreven evenement was in handen van de medewerkers van zowel de IOH als Elah. Het is vijf over elf 's avonds. We kwamen een kwartier geleden thuis, de kinderen zijn al in bad geweest, hebben hun tanden gepoetst, en zetten nu heerlijk de slaap voort die ze tweeeneenhalf uur geleden in de auto begonnen. Vandaag was het de Grote Gezellige Kinderdag, georganiseerd door de Irgoen Olei Holland ( IOH, Organisatie van Nederlandse Immigranten in Israel ). Omdat onze twee oudste kinderen ( een meisje van 8 1/2 en een jongen van bijna 5 ) sinds ons verblijf van vijf weken in Nederland vorig jaar allebei heuse belangstelling hebben gekregen voor alles wat met Nederland te maken heeft, leek het ons een goed idee om de reis naar Bney Atarot ( naast het vliegveld Ben Gurion, iets minder dan twee uur rijden ) te maken. We wilden vooral kijken of er nog wat gezinnen met jonge, Nederlands sprekende of lerende kinderen uit Haifa e.o. zouden zijn. Het is nu toch vakantie ( het is Sukkoth, Loofhuttenfeest, deze week ), dus het was niet erg dat ze voor een keer pas 3 1/2 uur na hun gebruikelijke bedtijd in bed lagen. Mijn vrouw en ik zijn erg blij dat we gegaan zijn. Het was echt geweldig. De kinderen hebben enorm genoten. Ik heb niet zitten tellen maar ik schat dat er zo'n 200-250 man was. Het publiek bestond uit Nederlanders en hun Israelische en/of Nederlandse echtgenoten/s, kinderen en kleinkinderen. Eerst hebben we wat gezwommen. Toen mijn vrouw zag dat er poffertjes waren ging ze in de rij staan en zijn we ons gaan omkleden en op het grasveld gaan zitten. Eerst werden er luchtballonnen, met daaraan een kaartje waarop Peace of Vrede stond en waarop iedereen een eigen boodschap kon achterlaten ( onze dochter schreef haar naam eronder in het Hebreeuws en het Nederlands ) opgelaten. Dit leek me nogal link, omdat Bney Atarot deel uitmaakt van de aanvliegroute van de nationale luchthaven ( we hebben tientallen vliegtuigen van heel dichtbij horen en zien opstijgen ), maar gelukkig ging alles goed. Daarna werden er een aantal mooie prijzen onder de aanwezigen verloot. Aanvankelijk zouden er daarna spelletjes voor de kinderen zijn en ter afsluiting een Nederlandse maaltijd, maar die volgorde werd omgedraaid. Er was patat ( met satesaus ) en kipfilet, er waren kroketten, er was volop bier en frisdrank, ik denk niet dat iemand hongerig naar huis is gegaan. Onze jongste ( over een maand wordt hij een jaar ) zeker niet, hij heeft een flinke portie poffertjes op, plus nog wat stukjes patat en kroket. Daarna waren er spelletjes voor de kinderen, verdeeld over verschillende leeftijdsgroepen. Onze oudste zoon ( zoals gezegd bijna vijf ) was al helemaal enthousiast toen hij hoorde dat hij aan het einde met alle kinderen zou optreden. Ze leerden Lang zal ze leven zingen en gingen daarna nog o.a. touwtrekken en zaklopen. Dit alles onder leiding van uitstekende madrikhim/ot ( jeugdleid(st)ers ). Ondertussen had onze dochter in de sukkah ( loofhut ) een oranje t-shirt zitten beschilderen, ook had ze er haar naam keurig op geschreven. Blijkbaar had iemand een Nederlandse voorbeeldvlag omgekeerd getekend, want zowel onze dochter als - later - haar broer tekenden de vlag ondersteboven. Niks aan de hand, de t-shirts zijn er niet minder mooi door geworden. Tussen de bedrijven door konden de kinderen fietsen, zich uitleven op springkussens, tafeltennissen, biljarten, sjoelen, enzovoort. Er stonden standjes van de Nederlanse school in Modi'in en Tel Aviv, en van Beatrice, de Nederlanse winkel in Tel Aviv. We kochten hagelslag, muisjes, een rol pepermunt voor mijn vrouw, plus een pak cacao voor mijn schoonvader. Daarna zongen alle kinderen samen Lang zal ze leven ( onze zoon, die helemaal gek is van alles wat met optreden en podia te maken heeft, genoot zichtbaar ) en werd er een leuke video vertoond die gedurende de hele avond was gemaakt. We moesten onze kinderen bijna letterlijk uit de speeltuin wegslepen, ze waren graag nog langer gebleven, maar het was half negen en we hadden nog een flinke thuisreis voor de boeg. Ik heb met een aantal mensen gesproken en ik denk dat dit niet de laatste keer is dat we zo leuk contact hebben gehad met mede-Neder-Israeliers hier. Het is me nu eindelijk duidelijk dat de IOH niet alleen ( meer ) vooral voor ouderen activiteiten organiseert, ook voor de wat jongeren en hun kinderen is er bij de Irgoen wat te doen ( hee, dat rijmt ). Kol HaKavod voor Rachel, Iriet, Yaella, Henoch en alle vrijwilligers van Elah en de IOH die dit op poten hebben gezet. Zo, het is al erg laat en ik zal dit waarschijnlijk letterlijk bezuren, maar ik ga voor ik ga douchen, flossen, tandenpoetsen en slapen toch nog even lekker een boterham met muisjes eten.
This sounds like a very good idea to me, although I doubt that the IDF or the government will listen to and implement Mrs Aloni-Sadovnik's advice. Years ago, when I finished my MA I tried to get a job in the army spokesperson's unit. I thought that with my background and knowledge ( fluent Hebrew, Dutch, English, thorough knowledge of German and French, basic knowledge of Arabic, able to learn more languages if necessary ) I could contribute in what I thought would a fascinating and important job. From the feedback that I receive from Dutch and other European readers ( not all of whom are very Israel-friendly ) I know that knowing the mentality and language of a country or public can help to convey your message to that specific country or public. Through personal connections I reached the person who was responsible for the unit's (wo)manpower. She told me straightforward that they normally only hire people who "grew up within the unit". We all know what that means: young Israelis, most of whom never spent more than a few weeks abroad, whose English - if they have a more than very basic knowledge of the language; don't expect them to know any other foreign languages - is very Israeli ( and therefore aggressive ), who do not have even the slightest clue about foreign customs and mentalities, etc. etc. Since then I understand better how Israeli PR has come to such a dead end. I love this country, but one thing that I do not like about its people is that in most cases they refuse to listen to advice or to use outside ( or inside: immigrants such as I can hardly be called outsiders ) expertise unless they are really desperate ( or unless that expertise costs millions of shekels ). Sometimes they allow you to share your expertise, but then mostly only on a voluntary basis, at the expense of your own money and spare time. The officer offered me the opportunity to escort Dutch and other journalists in the occupied territories, but as a volunteer. I told her that I was looking for a job, not for a hobby. By then I was already Israeli enough to know what a frayer ( sucker ) is. Hopefully after the last war in Lebanon the army has come to understand that foreign media are a stage where wars can be won or lost. Still, as I said, I will be highly surprised if military and political leaders take advice from someone like Roni Aloni-Sadovnik seriously.
I am basically opposed to the death penalty but I am thinking about changing that view when it comes to people whose main purpose in life is to spread computer viruses and spam. In my Yahoo! mailbox I just received a spam message ( offering p-i-l-l-s ) from my own mail address. I have no idea how they do this, but this probably means that other people will receive that mail as well, so that my address will appear eventually on spam blocking lists. I reported it to Yahoo! but I doubt if they can do anything about it. I will also change my password. If you have any idea what I can do to prevent such abuse please let me know. Why would people dedicate their lives to ruining the work and totally wasting the time of other people? Spreaders of spam and computer viruses must be either absolutely bored or very, very evil.

Thursday, September 27, 2007



A funny comment by Fokke & Sukke on Iranian reassurances to the UN:

Fokke & Sukke reassure the Security Council: "Those centrifuges are not meant for nuclear bombs - our uranium was just very wet".

Last year, during and right after the Lebanon War, I had a short but very insightful and enlightening correspondence with an American DBI reader, about - among other things - my love-hate relationship with the USofA ( mainly love, plus admiration and apprecitation for the young men and women who risk, and too often ruin and give, their lives far away from home, now just as much as 60 and 90 years ago ). This reader is a former US Marine. He wrote something interesting regarding the war in Iraq. His lines stuck with me: " There is one hope, however. America has historically never been afraid to admit its failings and errors, and try to set things right. It may not happen until 2008, but I suspect it will happen. There is too much at stake for us to not correct our course ".
This week he sent me another beautifully written and very helpful e-mail, following my posting about the photo album of SS officer Karl Hoecker. Here is what he wrote me ( I received his permission to quote him ):
" I can say nothing profound to compare with Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" comment during the Eichmann trial, but can add only my observations - seen from the perspective of a Marine, and later, a police officer - of how easy it is to turn off one's identification with those who are suffering, particularly when that is the organizational ethos. This is not to say that those concentration camp guards relaxing on their benches, were not evil. Evil transcends the temporary culture. Perhaps you, yourself, as an IDF soldier, saw this mentality in action also (*). To me, the great danger and tragedy, is when we ourselves lose our identification with the victims. This is what made it possible for these guards to relax in the sun, whilst the screams from the gas chambers and yards filled the air. My point is that there was probably nothing unique - or uniquely German - about the callousness of the Auschwitz SS auxiliaries' behavior. It was the same callousness that we see whenever the perpetrator completely loses any sense of identification with the victim as a fellow human being. I like to believe that Jewish ethics and teachings, make us resistant to this disconnection, but I realize there is no foolproof prophylactic. To me, the difference between a good warrior and a bad one, is the ability to understand that whilst the enemy must be destroyed, the enemy could be us."

(*) I never did. Thank G'd I did all my tours of reserve duty at a quiet basis in the Negev desert, far away from any contact with civilians or armed enemies.


Once again, Joep Bertrams' view on what is going on in Burma.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Hag Sukkoth Sameah!




Two friends of ours, both colleagues of my wife, are official emissaries at a Jewish school in Vilna, the capital of Lithuania. One of them sent us some beautiful pictures of the autumn that has started over there. This is one of the pictures. In a recent posting I mentioned the name of Yehoshua Sobol, an Israeli playwright and director. His play Ghetto tells part of the story of the Vilna ghetto theatre. I saw the Dutch version on television and the original version here in Haifa. It is one of the best and most moving plays that I know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Joep Bertrams' view on recent events in Burma/Myanmar.
Yesterday Columbia University President Bollinger called the Shoah "the most documented event in human history". I cannot verify that claim, but it is true that you really have to be ignorant or evil-minded to doubt or deny that the Holocaust took place. As much as has been published about the persecution and murder of European Jewry ( relatively much more research remains to be done on the murder of Sinta, Roma and other communities that were viciously persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their helpers ), we only know a small part of Holocaust history. So much still remains to be researched. This week it became known that a very important photo document has become available to the public and to researchers. The photos ( many of them picturing SS-men and women talking and having a good time ) were taken in and around Auschwitz between May and December 1944. This means that they cover the period May-July 1944, when about 400.000 Hungarian Jews were gassed in the death camp. Another important photo document, commonly known as the Auschwitz Album, also became publicly available only many years after the war. It pictures the other side of the Holocaust, that of the victims, in that same summer of 1944. As USHMM director Sara Bloomfield said about Karl Hoecker's album: "These unique photographs vividly illustrate the contented world they enjoyed while overseeing a world of unimaginable suffering. They offer an important perspective on the psychology of those perpetrating genocide."
Om de een of andere reden kreeg ik bij het lezen van dit artikel een ongemakkelijk en onveilig gevoel. Het zal wel aan mij liggen, maar zeg zou zelf, zijn er geen plaatsen in de samenleving waar dergelijke kansarme jongeren beter gebruikt kunnen worden? Je hoeft toch geen Geert Wilders te zijn of paranoide neigingen te hebben om hierbij allerlei angstaanjagende ideeen in je kop te krijgen? Of moet ik me geruststellen met de gedachte dat van de drop-outs wordt geeist dat ze "niet voor ernstige zaken met politie of justitie in aanraking zijn geweest". Kom nou toch, ben ik gek of is Nederland langzaam maar zeker achterlijk (*) aan het worden? (*) Nog een voorbeeld.
Just have a look at how the official Iranian news agency 'covers' President Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University. There is no use clicking on the Click for compelete ( sic ) news link at the bottom of the page, you will get the same article. Either the IRNA correspondent was asleep during the speech and all that preceded and followed it or maybe, just maybe, this is a slightly censored report of the event.
I still have not entirely made up my mind about the question whether it was a good idea to allow Mr Ahmadinejad to speak. I do not know if he was invited. If he was, that surely was a very bad idea. For those who have a clue about the nature of the Iranian regime and its policies, Ahmadinejad's words and performance helped to underline and confirm their misgivings and perceptions. As is so often the case with fanatic regimes, there appeared to be little that linked the dictator's words to reality. Still, people who take the speech at face value - and many listeners, viewers, and readers all over the world will probably do so, because they lack basic interest and knowledge - presumably saw an amiable, peace-loving, reasonable man. The whole circus during the weeks that led to the speech only raised the event's ratings. Of course almost every protester used the H-word. I believe that is wrong. By comparing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler one turns both men into caricatures that are the personification, not the exponent, of an evil system that is ( was ) much more evil and dangerous than their personalities. That is a hazardous mistake in the case of Islamism and its shi'ite parallel, and an insult to the memory of all the victims of Nazi-Germany's policies and crimes. Besides, Ahmadinejad is not Hitler, Iran is not Nazi Germany, today thank G'd the Jews have a state and an army of their own, etc. etc. The dangers of Islamism and a nuclear Iran must be fought for what they are, not because they somehow remind some of us of evils of the past. We do not need Hitler to understand how bad and dangerous Ahmadinejad and his regime are.
The university's president scored some 'repair points' with his introduction of Mahmoud A. but Mr Bollinger's claims about free speech in the days before the event never sounded really convincing. There is a big difference between on the one hand allowing your citizens and residents to say and write whatever they want, and on the other providing a stage for a foreign dictator who has called for the annihilation of a country ( which he still refuses to recognize or name properly ), who supports Holocaust denial, and who represents a regime that is responsible for the execution of homosexuals, for the repression of women, and - let's not forget that - for the suffering and deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Americans ( here and here are only two examples of that ). And I am not even mentioning the highly probable involvement of Iran in two deadly bombings in Argentina in 1992 and 1994. After all, those bombings mainly targeted Israelis and Jews, so who cares? I was sad to notice that almost all protesters against the Iranian president appeared to be Jews or fundamentalist Christians. I am afraid that Shmuel Rosner might be right: "...the average American is not familiar with the regional complexities. He is tired of the region's fighting. To him, Ahmadinejad's idea may sound tempting."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Isn't it amazing how ultra-Zionists like Eddie from London, Jake T from Alaska , and Erol from France always know how we should wage our wars? Several Israeli, truly Zionist intellectuals - among whom David Grossman, who already knew a thing or two about 'the' conflict before his son was killed in last year's war - have said that Israel should talk with Hamas. Of the 35+ negative, sometimes abusive and sickening comments on that appeal, more than half come from Zionist bastions such as Point Roberts ( WA, USA ) and Shiloh ( MO, USA ). The online feedback feature 'produced' a coalescence of the armchair general and the checkbook Zionist: the armchair Zionist. Today, in order to be a Zionist you do not have to pull out your purse, attend some lame rally, shwitz in temple about your second cousin who lives in Nethanya, or - heaven forbid - pick up your stuff and move over here anymore. You just stay home, seated in front of your computer screen, and attack all those lefty Israelis who want to sell out to the Arabs. So what if most if not all of those lefties were or are IDF soldiers and officers, so what if their sons and daughters serve in the army, so what if they know too well what war is, so what if their opposition to the occupation stems mainly from their Zionism ( the real kind, not a Diaspora surrogate )? They do not know a damn thing about those bloody Arabs, do they? Hamas, Fatah, Palestinians are all one and the same, the only language that they understand is force, don't they? Therefore oracles with names like Ralph, Ariel, Wilbur Cox ( wow, a PHD! ) have every right to call Amos Oz, Meir Shalev, and Yehoshua Sobol ( my favorite playwright ) "appeasing morons", "loose can(n)ons", "traitors" etc.
Dit is een visie waarin ik me kan vinden ( uit het e-mail bulletin van de Wereldomroep ), realistisch en kritisch zonder in de buurt van een wildersachtige islamofobie te komen:
Simonis: islam wezensvreemd aan Westen
Kardinaal Simonis vindt de islam wezensvreemd aan de Westerse cultuur. Dat neemt niet weg dat moslims en niet-moslims vreedzaam naast elkaar kunnen leven, zei hij in het tv-programma Buitenhof. De niet-moslims zullen zich volgens Simonis moeten inleven in de normen en waarden van de moslims. Hij stelde zijn geboortedorp Lisse als voorbeeld waar vroeger katholieken en protestanten vreedzaam samenleefden. Desondanks zei de kardinaal dat hij ongelukkig is dat in de steden zoveel moskeeen met hoge minaretten verrijzen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wim Sonneveld - Het Dorp

Jean Ferrat - La Montagne



To Jewish DBI readers: Gmar Hatimah Tova!


To those who fast: Tsom Kal!


Until Sunday, under normal circumstances there will be no more postings. For those who wil visit this weblog tomorrow or Saturday ( as well as for those who observe Yom Kippur, they will only see and hear it before and after Kippur ) I post the French original and the beautiful Dutch version of one of my favorite songs.

With 'slip-of-the-tongues' such as when PM Olmert talked about Israel's nuclear capabilities or when Binyamin Nethanyahu admitted, yesterday evening, that Israel carried out a strike in Syria, you never know if they are intentional or accidental. If they are planned it often remains unclear who planned them, and why. For all I know it could very well be that the PMO allowed or even encouraged the opposition leader to play a role in the war of nerves that is going on between Israel, Iran and Syria. In that case the accusations that government and opposition spokesmen and -women exchange would be part of a circus aimed at fooling all of us. On the other hand, in the case of Bibi there also is a high probability that he simply wanted to score some political points after he realized that the strike that did or did not take place raised Olmert's ratings. PS: I just watched the 8 o'clock news on Channel 2. There are no signs that Bibi's slip was anything but his own blunder. I watched one aspect of the damage, during a press conference with the American President. George Bush was visibly embarrassed and annoyed when a reporter asked him about the attack in Syria, basing his question on the words of the Israeli opposition leader. Bush declined to comment. This is unfortunately not the first time that Israeli officials were indiscrete regarding security matters that involve some sort of cooperation between the US and the Jewish state. Often such indiscretion was a result of internal political power games in Israel or of the big egos of the prattler on the Israeli side. In this case both factors played a role, apparently. Understandably the Americans do not like to be embarrassed, and incidents such as this one will make them even more reluctant to cooperate and share information ( i.e. more than the data that are absolutely necessary for vital projects in which the two countries work together ) with us in the future. PPS: To get an idea of the tense situation that still exists on the Israeli-Syrian border read this.
On the John Kerry for Senate Blog the comment feature has been removed. The other day I left an angry comment on Mr Kerry's weblog after I watched one of a series of video clips that were published on You Tube. The videos picture an already infamous incident that occured at the University of Florida during some sort of Q&A with the senator. While I still think that the use of the 'Taser' was a disproportionate use of force ( for which John Kerry was not responsible, obviously ), this incident appears to be a good example of an event that has to be placed within its proper context ( click here, see the posting of September 19th 2007, written by the senator's Online Communications Director, which contains a number of online references that more or less 'exonorate' Mr Kerry ), and within that context senator Kerry's response seems to have been less opportunist and spineless than the videos suggest. PS: During Kerry's campaign for the presidency I expressed my support for him more than once ( see here, here, here, here, and here; the latter article was published in a number of Dutch newspapers ).
Now that Mr Carter has declared that Iran is not an immediate threat to Israel - in spite of what Ahmadinejad, the ayatollahs and their military commanders have been saying in public for years and doing in public and in secret for many more years - Israel can stop preparing for the eventualities of war with the Islamic Republic. Or can it? While Jimmy Carter deserves a lot of credit for his role in the peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, he also is the president who started training and arming Islamists who were to fight the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan. PS: While I tend to have a certain preference for Democratic candidates for the US presidency, I must say that like many people I was also slightly concerned when I read that Barack Obama has chosen Zbigniew Brzezinski (*) as an adviser on foreign affairs. Mr Brzezinski was President Carter's National Security Adviser, and one of the main proponents of support for the future Taliban. He openly endorsed the attack by Walt and Mearsheimer against the Israel lobby in the United States. PPS: (*) Note that the link refers to an interview in january 1998. This was more than seven months before the US Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Still, labeling the Taliban and other Islamists as 'some stirred-up Moslems' seems to be a result of an enormous underestimation of the potential danger of Islamism and Islamist terror at the time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Personally I do not really see the sense of this decision.
Today once again we can see clearly that when the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people are on the warpath, not only Jews and Israelis become their victims. We are only one name on the long list of those enemies' enemies.

Vitaly Dimitriev - BWV 565

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


( the picture, made by Peter van Zetten, I found here )

Every year on the third Tuesday in September the Dutch parliamentary year is opened. That day is called Prinsjesdag. The name ( day of the little prince(s) ) was for unknown reasons taken from the holiday in honor of the birthday of stadtholder Willem V ( 1748 - 1806 ), which was March 8th. On Prinsjesdag the Queen leaves her palace at 1 PM and travels by carriage ( the golden coach, made in 1898 ) to the Parliament. In front of all members of the 1st and 2nd Chamber of Parliament ( the female members and other women who attend the ceremony often spruce themselves up, sometimes ridiculously) she reads the Queen's Speech, which traditionally starts with the words " Leden der Staten Generaal, " ( Members of the Parliament ). In this speech, written by the cabinet ministers, the government describes political and economic developments of the past year, and it states the goals for the coming year. Something like the State of the Union speech by the US President in January. At 3 PM the Minister of Finance presents the annual Budget to the 2nd Chamber of Parliament. He carries the budget ( with extensive explanatory notes, called the Miljoenennota ) in a small suitcase ( often a copy of the budget is already leaked to the press before Prinsjesdag ). On the Wednesday and Thursday following Prinsjesdag ( during the so-called Algemene Beschouwingen, or General Debate ) the members of the 2nd Chamber discuss the Queen's Speech and the budget with the government. This website ( sorry, only in Dutch ) deals with all aspects of the day. It is a bit of a puppetry, but it can be interesing to watch and follow the discussions and commentaries that precede and follow the whole circus.
A convincing article, by Danny Gutwein, a historian from Haifa University, about something that endangers Israel more than the threats of Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria combined. Gutwein writes how only a very small part of Israeli society profits from the economic growth, and why Bibi Nethanyahu does definitely not deserve the credit for that growth.



This picture is featured on the main page of Ynet in Hebrew, next to an article that is titled "Rabbi Yosef to soldiers: I love you ". It is obvious why he loves them. These soldiers are pretty much alive, they are not the soldiers who according to the same rabbi were killed in last year's war because they do not observe mitzvot. O.k., I am a bit too cynical and I probably do Mr Yosef injustice, I just would like him to be slightly more responsible and think again next time he wants to say something that he knows might hurt other people, for instance bereaved families or Holocaust survivors.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Als het goed is staat het volgende artikel vandaag in het Friesch Dagblad:
Oorlogsnevel
Er wordt vaak gezegd dat de waarheid het eerste slachtoffer van elke oorlog is. In het geval van de komende ronde in het voortdurende conflict tussen Israël en Syrië zien we alleen nog maar voortekenen van een naderende oorlog, en als er al een waarheid achter de vijandelijkheden schuilt lijkt die al lang ter ziele te zijn. Het begon op donderdagmiddag 6 september toen Syrië verklaarde dat het in de nacht daarvoor het vuur had geopend op een Israëlisch vliegtuig dat in het Syrische luchtruim vloog. Het vliegtuig zou de geluidsbarrière hebben doorbroken en munitie boven open terrein hebben afgeworpen. In de Israëlische media zorgde het bericht meteen voor grote koppen. Al die media baseerden en baseren hun verhalen op buitenlandse bronnen. Het Israëlische leger weigerde commentaar, en regeringsbronnen zeiden dat ze het bericht zouden nakijken. Aan dit alles gingen maanden van speculaties vooraf over een op handen zijnde oorlog tussen Israël en Syrië. Over mogelijke vredesonderhandelingen tussen de twee landen heeft niemand het nog. Sinds het eerste bericht over dit ‘inident’ zijn er bijna dagelijks nieuwe bijzonderheden over naar buiten gekomen. Het is onduidelijk wat er van alle gepubliceerde details waar is, berichten spreken elkaar ook tegen. Syrië laat ondanks officiële protesten doorschemeren dat het belang heeft bij een sluier over de affaire. Woordvoerders van de Israëlische luchtmacht, het leger en de regering laten verschillende boodschappen naar buiten sijpelen. Ze doen dat vrijwel uitsluitend via buitenlandse – inclusief Arabische – media. In Israël lees of hoor je de laatste tijd regelmatig formuleringen als “ volgens een hooggeplaatste Amerikaanse Midden-Oosten deskundige, die in de Washington Post / door CNN werd geciteerd... ”. In één van de laatste artikelen over het onderwerp citeerde de Israëlische krant Ha'Aretz een anonieme Amerikaanse deskundige die zei zijn informatie te hebben gekregen van Israëliërs die aan de aanval hadden deelgenomen. De belangrijke rol van Amerikaanse functionarissen en media zou kunnen wijzen op nauwe Israëlisch-Amerikaanse samenwerking tegenover de Iraanse en Syrische ( nucleaire ) dreiging. Die samenwerking spreekt bijna vanzelf maar is nog nooit echt duidelijk naar voren gekomen. Niemand gelooft nog dat het een onschuldige verkenningsvlucht betrof. Meestal wordt nu gesproken over een aanval, soms aangeduid als “de aanval die er wel of niet was”. Alhoewel Syrië over één vliegtuig sprak ging het hoogstwaarschijnlijk om een aantal ( acht? ) vliegtuigen. Er zouden zelfs Israëlische grondtroepen hebben meegedaan. De aanval vond diep in Syrië plaats. Wat het doel ervan was is nog niet geheel duidelijk. Wel wordt in bijna alle berichten gesproken over de buitenlandse herkomst of bestemming van dat doel of die doelen: ( Iraanse? ) wapens voor Hezbollah, Russiche luchtafweersystemen, Noordkoreaanse wapens of grondstoffen voor kernbommen, Iraanse raketten, een Syrische basis waar door Noord-Korea geleverd nucleair materiaal verwerkt wordt, opslagplaatsen voor chemische wapens. Nog een mogelijk doel van de operatie was het verkennen van het Syrische luchtafweersysteem, als voorbereiding op een toekomstige aanval op Syrië en/of Iran. Wat opvalt is dat behalve Noord-Korea, Iran, Rusland, Libië, en Syrië zelf geen enkel land Israël openlijk veroordeeld heeft. De Franse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken praatte tijdens een ontmoeting met zijn Israëlische collega luchtig over het onderwerp heen. Ook opvallend is de klaarblijkelijke medewerking van de inlichtingendienst van het Turkse leger. Als de Turkse regering echt niet van de samenwerking wist – ze riep de Israëlische ambassadeur ter verantwoording –zegt dit iets over de verhoudingen tussen de regering en het leger in Turkije, tegen de achtergrond van de voortdurende strijd tussen seculiere en islamistische krachten in dat land. Een andere mogelijkheid is dat de Turkse regering bewust meewerkte maar in het openbaar wel moest protesteren, wat op zich al veelzeggend is. Het Israëlische stilzwijgen heeft diverse redenen. Eén daarvan is de les die het land geleerd heeft na de vernietiging van de Iraakse kernreactor in Osirak in 1981. Mede door de openheid waarmee Israël over die operatie sprak werd de joodse staat wereldwijd veroordeeld. Ook zit niemand in Israël zo snel na de laatste oorlog op alweer één te wachten, zeker niet nu Gaza weer veel militaire aandacht vraagt. Een oorlog met Syrië ( en/of Hezbollah-Iran ) lijkt er aan te komen, maar Israël zou graag nog meer tijd hebben om zich daarop voor te bereiden. Het is nu vooral een soort zenuwenoorlog. Israël heeft een duidelijke waarschuwing afgegeven en misschien belangrijke tijd gewonnen en informatie verkregen. Het ziet er naar uit dat wat de regering en legerleiding voor ogen stond bereikt is: verschillende bronnen berichtten over een triomfantelijke stemming onder Israëlische regeringsfunctionarissen en hoge officieren. De grote vragen zijn hoe snel dit ‘ incident ’ een vervolg zal krijgen, en hoeveel en welke buitenstaanders bij dat vervolg betrokken zullen zijn. Weken, maanden, een ( paar ) jaar? Amerika, Europa, Turkije, Iran, Noord-Korea, Rusland, de Arabische vijanden van Iran? Dat deze muis een staart zal krijgen, en dat dit alles regionale of zelfs globale gevolgen zal hebben, daar bestaat weinig twijfel over. Dat naast ‘de’ waarheid vooral Israëlische, Palestijnse, Syrische en andere burgers weer de voornaamste slachtoffers zullen worden staat helaas ook als een paal boven water.
Last night my wife went with her parents to a party in honor of one of her mother's cousins (*), who celebrated her 80th birthday. After the children went to sleep I sat down and watched a great thriller, Flightplan, on DVD. I intended to go to bed early but decided to see the whole movie. Great story, good actors, very nice bonuses on the DVD.
(*) That cousin is from Antwerpen. When our daughter was just a toddler my wife took her to the house of that cousin's daughter in Ra'anana. Until then our daughter had only heard Dutch from me ( and a little bit when she was five months old and we were in Holland; this was before we celebrated her first birthday with my parents in Holland ). She heard the woman talk Flemish to her and my wife said that she looked amazed, as if she heard something that sounded familiar ( Flemish basically is Dutch with an accent, or maybe Dutch is Flemish with an accent; in highschool Dutch students learn both Dutch and Flemish literature ), and started babbling to the lady.

President Peres and Mrs and Mr Ritchie. Is it just me, or does it really look as if Madonna actually had to shlepp her husband to the Holy Land?


Israelis are easily thrilled when a foreign celebrity visits this country, and they get really excited when such a celebrity has something, anything nice to say about Israel or the Jewish people. Madonna, Demi Moore, and several other famous Kabbalah aficionados ( most of them not Jewish ) have spent a few days in Israel. More than three years ago, in a letter that was published in the International Herald Tribune, I already gave my view on the dubious fascination of some non-Jews with almost everyhting Jewish. I must say that I am surprised that Mrs Ritchie is still so fascinated about Kebbale ( here I tried to write the word the way that Americans pronounce it ). Nevertheless, my reservations about that kind of love for Israel and the Jewish people remain. I welcome almost every show of sympathy for this country and for our people, and I am not exactly religious myself, but I find it hard to consider Madonna ( doesn't she call herself Esther anymore? Shouldn't Miriam have suited her more? ) a serious ambassador for Judaism. Unless by the latter she means a shallow, un-Jewish, Hollywood-style version of some pseudo-Judaism.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Has the countdown begun in earnest? I would almost say so. When the French President and then his Foreign Minister talk seriously about the possibility of a war, I think that we ought to take them seriously and start preparing for the possibility that a war between Iran and ..... might be(come) inevitable ( and believe me, I do not mean this as an offense to France or the French, or as a sneer in the direction of their war record or their military capabilities and political penchants ).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tom Janssen's view on general Petraeus' report on the war in Iraq.






"...and they lived happily ever after....Mister President."



PS: Only now did I learn that Mr Petraeus is of Dutch descent.

Het volgende artikel staat als het goed is vandaag in het Friesch Dagblad:
Ondanks alles, een zoet 5768
Het was deze week joods nieuwjaar, het begin van 5768. Als ik een artikel teruglees dat ik aan het begin van het jaar 5767 voor deze krant schreef ( Een allesbehalve goed jaar voor Israël, 25 september 2006 ) moet ik helaas constateren dat vrijwel alles wat dat jaar tot een slecht jaar maakte ook dit jaar een hoofdrol speelde. Je zou haast denken dat het Franse spreekwoord Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ( hoe meer dingen veranderen, hoe meer ze hetzelfde blijven ) zijn oorsprong in het Arabisch of Hebreeuws heeft. Wat ook dit jaar weer opviel is dat wanneer het slecht(er) gaat met de ene partij in het Palestijns-Israëlische conflict, de andere kant vrijwel automatisch meefietst. Mijn vorige nieuwjaarsartikel eindigde met een wens van Aviva Shalit, de moeder van de ontvoerde soldaat Gilad. Hij vierde onlangs zijn 21e verjaardag, de tweede keer dat hij een verjaardag in gevangenschap viert. Ook Ehud Goldwasser en Eldad Regev – de twee Israëlische soldaten die ruim een jaar geleden in handen van Hezbollah vielen – zijn nog steeds niet met hun familie herenigd. Onderhandelingen tussen Israël en de Palestijnse en Libanese ontvoerders van de drie hebben nog geen vruchten afgeworpen. Corruptie, huiselijk en zinloos geweld, armoede, verkeersongelukken, politieke en religieuze ruzies en haat zorgden ook dit jaar in Israël weer voor de nodige krantekoppen. Wel is het aantal dodelijke slachtoffers van terreuraanslagen in Israël gedaald ten opzichte van vorig jaar. Dat is echter jammer genoeg niet bepaald toe te schrijven aan een daling van het aantal pogingen aan Palestijnse zijde. Met de arrestatie van een would be zelfmoordterrorist vorige week vlakbij de Egyptische grens werd een grote aanslag verijdeld die rond de feestdagen in Be'er-Sheva was gepland. Bijna alle Israëlische terreurslachtoffers vielen in 5767 in Sderot, een stadje dat wederom bijna dagelijks vanuit de Gazastrook met Qassam-raketten werd beschoten. De positie van de Palestijnse president Abbas is inmiddels nog wankeler geworden, al wordt hij na de staatsgreep van Hamas in Gaza nu niet alleen meer door Amerika en Israël maar ook door de Europese Unie innig omhelsd. Waar Israëliërs een niet echt geslaagd jaar achter de rug hebben en weinig redenen hebben tot optimisme voor het volgende jaar, geldt dat nog meer voor de Palestijnen. Serieuze Palestijns-Israëlische onderhandelingen zijn in de nabije toekomst niet te verwachten. De bloedige Hamas-putsch en de nasleep daarvan laten zien dat zelfs de bezetting door en haat tegen Israël niet meer voldoende zijn om de Palestijnen te verenigen. Alleen al in juni van dit jaar werden volgens de Israëlische mensenrechtenorganisatie BeTselem 160 Palestijnen door Palestijnen gedood. Volgens de Palestijnse Onafhankelijke Commissie voor Burgerrechten ligt dat aantal voor de periode sinds januari 2006 – toen Hamas de verkiezingen won en ging meeregeren – op ruim 600. Een eensgezind en verantwoordelijk leiderschap is aan de Palestijnse kant van het conflict nog meer een droomwens dan in Israël. De meest verontrustende – voor Israël en al haar buurlanden – ontwikkelingen vinden plaats aan Israël's noord-oostelijke grens. Veel Westerse deskundigen waren het erover eens dat de oorlog van vorig jaar een voorspel was voor een toekomstige oorlog tussen Iran ( en Syrië ) enerzijds en Israël – al dan niet in samenwerking met de Verenigde Staten en met steun van een aantal andere Westerse landen – aan de andere kant. Hezbollah-leider Hassan Nasrallah heeft inmiddels toegegeven dat hij slechts “ een kleine soldaat van de Iman Khamenei ” ( de huidige Opperste Leider van Iran ) is en dat zijn organisatie de oorlog voerde “ in naam van de Imam Khomeini ”. De Israëlisch-Syrische zenuwenoorlog van de laatste paar weken moet in hetzelfde kader worden gezien. Bij de operatie die Israëlische vliegtuigen zo goed als zeker in Noord-Syrië uitvoerden zouden doelen geraakt zijn die oorspronkelijk uit Iran of Rusland afkomstig waren. De vrees bestaat dat Syrië van Noord-Korea materialen voor nucleaire wapens krijgt. Dit brengt een volgende oorlog dichterbij. Net als bij de vorige rondes zal ook deze keer een ogenschijnlijk regionaal conflict zo goed als zeker globale gevolgen hebben. Palestijnen èn Israëliërs zullen daarvan weer de eerste maar niet de enige slachtoffers worden. Natuurlijk zijn er in het afgelopen jaar ook veel goede dingen gebeurd. Zo kregen wij er bijna een jaar geleden een prachtige zoon bij, het was een goed jaar voor de Israëlische economie ( iets waar jammer genoeg niet iedereen van profiteert ), de hotels waren goed gevuld, en de werkloosheid daalde. Daarom kan ik het ondanks alles ook nu weer niet laten om u en allen die u dierbaar zijn – evenals Israël, de Palestijnen, de Libanezen en alle andere volken waarmee we in dit kruitvat samenwonen – een gezond en gelukkig, saai en succesvol, zoet en zorgeloos, en veilig en vredig 5768 toe te wensen. Bovendien wens ik alle moslims ook nog Ramadan Mubarak. Laten we hopen dat ik over een jaar kan schrijven dat 5768 een jaar van vooral positieve veranderingen was.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007





To all DBI readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, in Israel and elsewhere: a happy, healthy, peace- and successful 5768!



To the Muslim visitors of this blog: Ramadan Mubarak!


( I found the picture here )


Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Six years ago ninteteen Islamist terrorists caused United Airlines flight 175, American Airlines flight 11, American Airlines flight 77, and United Airlines flight 93 to crash, an act of terror that killed almost 3,000 innocent people ( may their memories be blessed ) and in fact resulted in the deaths of many thousands more in its aftermath. This beautiful picture I found at the website of Project Rebirth.
Tonight a Qassam rocket injured dozens at Zikim, the military base near Ashkelon where I had my ( and where many thousands more had their ) basic training ( and where I experienced the worst cases of anti-Semitism in my life, as I mentioned the other day ). I have a feeling, sadly enough, that this might lead to a massive military response, whereas the almost daily attacks on Sderot were not enough reason for such a reaction.


According to reliable sources this is a picture that the Syrians took of the Israeli airplane that flew over their territory.

( For those unfamiliar with Israeli children's television: the guy in the picture is Yuval HaMevulbal, Yuval the Confused, in real life Yuval Shem-Tov; our kids and many other Israeli children love his shows, CDs and DVDs ).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Funny to see that suddenly Shas ministers have become concerned about the memory of the victims of the Holocaust: they oppose the choice of German-made/owned Audi and Skoda as the suppliers of cars to Israel's government. Where were those Shas ministers when their ayatollah, ahum spiritual leader, called the six million Jews who perished in the years 1933-45 the reincarnation of sinners? Do the Shasniks know that Volvo, which until now supplied the cars of our ministers, is owned by Ford Motors, and that Henry Ford was a notorious anti-Semite? This is all a bit ridiculous, isn't it? Didn't Basil Fawlty say: "Yes well, forgive and forget, Major... God knows how, the bastards" ?
Heb gisteren "De Tweeling" van Tessa de Loo uitgelezen. Erg mooi en triest verhaal, heel aardig geschreven. Ik heb de DVD met de gelijknamige film ook in huis, vanmorgen tijdens mijn ontbijt heb ik het eerste halfuur ervan gezien. Ziet er ook goed uit. PS: Heb inmiddels ook de rest van de film bekeken. Het is wel een erg uitgedunde verfilming van het boek geworden, met een paar storende verschillen. Een voorbeeld: De (februari)staking wordt als aanleiding genoemd voor de razzia waarbij de joodse vriend van een van de hoofdpersonen wordt opgepakt. In de film is het dan 1942. In feite was de staking - van dinsdag 25 tot donderdag 27 februari 1941 - vooral een reactie op de razzia's, die op de zaterdag en zondag daarvoor plaatsvonden. Toch nog wel een film die ruim boven het gemiddelde nivo uitkomt. Goed spel van de twee ( jonge ) hoofdrolspeelsters. Mooi hoe zowel in het boek als in de film bijna alle personages sympathie en antipathie opwekken. Anna, de 'Duitse zus', heeft de mooiste en meest interessante rol in het boek en de film.
Suddenly people over here are shocked about the 'discovery' of a neo-nazi cell in Petah Tikvah. Officials either call for tough measures or try to downplay the whole thing as an isolated incident that should not be taken too seriously. Foreign media make a meal of it. When people ask me about anti-Semitism in Europe I always say that the worst cases of anti-Semitism that I experienced personally were here in Israel, during my basic training. You only had to know a handful of words in Russian to understand what some of the soldiers were saying, and most of them were not ashamed to say in Hebrew what was on their minds. Besides, their actions spoke for themselves: many of them clearly hated everything Jewish and/or Israeli. Much of their hatred was a result of anger and frustration, I am sure. Of the 100+ men from the former USSR whom I did my basic training with, about 20 could be categorized as hardcore anti-Semites ( Jews and non-Jews ), about 10 were very brave and did their best not to be associated with the majority, and the rest just ran with the anti-Semitic pack. When I tell people about my experiences in the army I mostly meet with unbelief and shock. Even when we ( most of the non-Russian immigrants in basic training ) complained to our commanders, they often brushed aside our complaints and told us to just get the whole training over with and move on. They appeared to have received clear instructions not to confront the troublemakers. All this is definitely not " the Russians' " fault, this is a problem that should have been dealt with long ago by every official - in the army, in schools, in absorption centers, etc. - who had dealings with the phenomenon. Instead, many if not most of them acted like the three monkeys who keep their ears, eyes and mouth shut. For the record: I have nothing against immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Some of my best friends are 'Russians'. :-) No really, that is true. The interesting thing is, by the way, that some of the worst anti-Semites whom I served with were Jews according to Halakha. All Russians that I did reserve duty with after I finished basic training were wonderful people, two of them were among the best, most serious and most loyal soldiers who served with me.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

De Telegraaf laat zich weer eens van zijn beste kant zien. Gisteren speelde Israel tegen Engeland. Israel speelde waardeloos, in ieder geval gedurende de ongeveer tien minuten dat ik al zappend meekeek. Het eerste doelpunt heb ik toevallig gezien. Ik heb weinig verstand van voetballen maar het had wel veel weg van buitenspel. Bij de herhalingen werd het doelpunt steeds vanuit zo'n hoek getoond dat het niet te zien was of de doelpuntmaker wel of niet buitenspel stond. Ik wist trouwens niet dat de scheidsrechter een Hollander was. Anyway, zelfs als het eerste doelpunt vanuit buitenspel gemaakt werd en - zoals de Israelische trainer beweert, ik kan dat niet natrekken - bij het derde een overtreding werd begaan zou Israel sowieso verloren hebben door het tweede doelpunt ( en door wat volgens de meeste commentatoren gewoon slecht Israelisch voetbal was ). In al zijn wijsheid wijdt de Telegraaf aan Dror Kashtan's commentaar een artikeltje, en omdat bij ongeveer elk stuk over Israel of joden sappige commentaren te verwachten zijn geven ze hun dierbare lezers de kans om hun vuil te spuien. En ja hoor, de reacties liegen er weer niet om. Een greep daaruit:
  • Tuuuuuurrrlijk !!! Jullie (lees: Israeliers cq Joden) zijn gewend dat de wereld jullie voor zal trekken aaangezien het WOII verleden ..... fuck off !!! jullie hebben terecht verloren en winnen kunnen jullie niet !!! De wereld politiek zou eigenlijk aan deze wedstrijd een VOORBEELD moeten nemen !!!
  • zelfs met sport proberen ze de slachtofferrol te spelen. Jammer dat er tussen israel en de palestijnen geen onafhankelijke scheids is!
  • Als ze geld nodig hebben om weer bommen te maken zijn we goed in Nederland, maar als ze ergens mee verliezen worden we zelf bekogeld.
  • Waarom doen die Isrealiers toch altijd mee met Europese wedstrijden? Omdat er toevallig een paar inwoners van Israel, Europese voorouders hebben? Wat een onzin!
  • Ach, het enige wat die Isra?liers kunnen is ruziemaken. Dus waarom ook niet in de voetballerij
  • Waarom zeuren die joden nou altijd, ze hebben gewoon terecht verloren. Het moet eens afgelopen zijn met het vertroetelen van de joden.
  • Dankzij Israel is er zoveel terrorisme in de wereld. Minder als Ubermensch gedragen. Dan heb je kans op vrede!
  • Israel hoort hier niet thuis maar in hun eigen regio en ze hebben het er zelf nagemaakt dat het daar zo'n zooitje is.
  • Het komt er op neer dat deze haatzaaiende mensen (joden) op allerlei gebieden (sport, politiek, militair....etc) door een hoop gejank en zielig doen proberen aan het langste eind te trekken !!!! Het word eens tijd om te verkassen naar Jeruzalem !!! Daar wonen toch alle super-mensen ..oftewel joden ....Helaas !! Mijn optiek : Jodendom staat gewoon niet in EEN lijn met wereldvrede ....
  • Tsjonge wat zijn de joden weer zielig!!Altijd maar weer de slachtoffer rol spelen!! Waarom doen de joden eigenlijk mee??mee!!!!Dit gaat om de europese kampioenschappen!!

The following article was published last December in the Viewpoint section of the Jerusalem Report. It is based on a piece that I wrote earlier last year. I removed it temporarily, but its subject remains topical and relevant, I am afraid. The only difference with today's reality is that we have a new Minister of Defense, who is most probably more capable and on much better terms with the PM than his predecessor.
Let's start thinking positive
Israel's democracy is not in tip-top shape these days. Our government is hardly functioning, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense communicate mainly through press leaks and public accusations. That would not be so disastrous if only some promising alternative was to be seen anywhere. Unfortunately even worse than the shape of our government is the shape of the opposition. The only ones who appear to have a serious chance of replacing Ehud Olmert are Binyamin Nethanyahu and Arkadi Gaydamak. Bibi never managed to become this country's leader entirely on his own. It is highly doubtful whether he would have become Prime Minister without the help of Yigal Amir and Hamas. As Prime Minister he mishandled many things. He antagonized the US and in spite of his rhetoric gave away territory without anything in return. Almost written off politically earlier this year, Bibi is back in the picture again. Courtesy of Hassan Nasrallah & co., I would almost say cynically. Also, the incompetence and arrogance of the government during and after last summer's war helped to clear Nethanyahu's path towards the Prime Minister's office. His advisors make sure his complacent face does not appear too much on our television screens: that could only ruin the work that Israel's enemies from without and within do so well for him. Arkadi Gaydamak's name has been linked to illegal arms trading, tax evasion and money laundering, and he is wanted by the French authorities. Still, in the few years after he fled France to return 'home' he managed to gain a significant circle of supporters, particularly by buying sports clubs and through donations to the victims of Israel's wars. His ratings are especially high among the less well-off Israelis who do not question the origins of his wealth or the motives for his philanthropy. He basically bought his way into the opinion polls by filling a void left by the government's ineptness and lack of empathy. The current popular support for Gaydamak and Nethanyahu points to what I call the anti-vote phenomenon. Much of Bibi's support has always come from people who do not love and trust Bibi/Mordechai as much as they despise everything associated with the Left/Haman. Bibi has been a master at turning such hatred into vital political support. Similarly, Gaydamak's supporters tend to ignore the gray areas in his resumé: what is important is that his generosity reveals the bankruptcy of the state and that he opposes the current non-leaders. We tend to vote against someone or something, rather than in favor of an idea, a vision or a personality. Today we want to get rid of Peretz and Olmert, tomorrow we will be dissatisfied with Bibi or Gaydamak and replace them with another politician whose failures we will have forgotten by then. Anyone but Bibi, anyone but Olmert, anyone but the one whom we cannot stand today but will be begging to save us tomorrow. Nobody truly believes that Nethanyahu has some panacea for our troubles, and nobody really knows what Gaydamak's political vision is, or if he has any. That does not matter, as long as one of them replaces the bunch that is leading us to nowhere right now. Because our politicians know that our vote is determined by negative rather than positive factors, they do not have any reason to take us seriously: the only thing they have to do is to point at the innumerable flaws of their opponents. Why should they bother to come up with a proper alternative? Thus the status quo, which serves several interest groups and many politicians but hardly the common good, is continued perpetually, and our destiny is determined largely through initiatives taken by our enemies. We only react to our enemies' actions, and are unable to decide how we think our state could become better functioning, less corrupt and rotten, more just and secure. Although I consider myself leftwing, I believe that even a convincing, determined rightwing policy would be better than the string of successive, unguided anti-policies that we have witnessed for too many years. No matter who is in charge on 'the other side', Israel should take the initiative on several fronts. Far too long we have been pushed into corners because we had to react to our enemies' initiatives. If a more active approach does not bring us peace, at least it will give us a chance to decide where, how and under what circumstances we meet our enemies, without being unpleasantly surprised time and again. If we make up our own minds and if our politicians capitalize on what we want rather than on what we despise, this state's leaders will be better able to take bold and not so bold initiatives that might change our lives for the better.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This is an interesting report. If it turns out to be true, Israel's security forces carried out a very daring operation that could either complicate or lead to a solution of the sad saga involving Gilad Shalit.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The tensions between Syria and Israel - after Syria said it had shot at an Israeli plane in its airspace - take the headlines in all Israeli media. Until now I did not find this item in any major Dutch or other foreign ( Sky, CNN ) medium. Follow the Israeli websites in English if you are interested. I am going to bed now. Layla tov.
After reading this article - much of what the author says makes absolute sense in my opinion - I posted a new opinion poll. The previous poll 'confirmed' what I believe: most people know that several parties ( Not only Israel and the Palestinians but also the US, EU, Iran, Syria ) will have to act and somehow work together in order to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
( Tom Janssen )

Made in China: 30% polyester, 25% corruption, 20 % exploitation, 6% benzene, 4% lead



( Tom Janssen )


A Dutch bishop suggested to use the Arabic word for God in order to ease tensions between Christians and Muslims. His proposal, like a rightwing politician's call for a ban on the Qur'an, drew a lot of riducule and criticism.




( From a series about the two characters spending the summer holiday with their two nephews )Fokke & Sukke received a call..."Ikea, the nephews want to be picked up from Smaland" "Oy, already...?"




This one reminded me of last year, when we were in Holland. Twice we left our two children ( the third did not need a babysitter yet :-) ) for an hour in the store's playground. Unlike F&S we did not 'forget' to pick them up before we left.
Only one posting last month, I am afraid that is a record since I started this weblog. For several months now I am hardly able to find enough time or the right mood for blogging. The little spare time that I have I prefer to spend playing with our children, reading ( right now I am reading a very good Dutch novel that was turned into a movie which became an Oscar-candidate ), or watching a movie or some series or sitcom on DVD ( Curb your enthusiasm and Foyle's War are my favorites ). I also do not really read other people's blogs, except for Lisa's ( I recommend her reports on her stay in Lebanon and its aftermath ). I do follow the news, though, but while much of it makes me angry, sad and cynical, it does not inspire me to write any meaningful posting about what is going on here and in the rest of the world. When I read an online article that I might want to refer to later I put it in a special Favorites folder. Here are some of the subjects that had my attention - in some cases only for a minute or two, I must admit - in the last few weeks, in random order.


    ( Don't allow indifference to kill them )

  • Poor Gilad Shalit. He celebrated his 21st birthday last week, his second birthday in captivity. Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are also still far away from home.
  • Israel's tennis player Shahar Pe'er reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Just before the tournament started she also gave a clinic for "underprivileged New York City kids", an excellent opportunity for Israeli diplomats to show a very positive, human and warm side of this country. She did not make it to the semifinals.
  • Qassam rockets continue to be launched against Israel. For more than five years the people of Sderot have been living in a hell that my family and I left behind us after a little more than a week last year. Nobody has a real answer to the violence in/from Gaza. Something has to be done, though, the current situation cannot be allowed to continue infinitely. The problem is that most violent options have already been tried, and at the most they provided temporary relief for the people on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza. On the other hand, even temporary relief will understandably and rightly be welcomed by those people. Hopefully cutting off electricity and other basic supplies to the people in Gaza is not seriously considered by Israel.
  • As far as I am aware Al-Jazeera is a highly respected medium and news source, one of the best and most independent - everything is relative - in the Arab-Muslim world. Here is an example of the station's high professional standards: "Late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat's blood contained the deadly HIV virus, Arafat's personal physician told Jordanian media over the weekend. Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi stressed, however, that Arafat did not die of AIDS - which is caused by the virus. Jordanian news site Amman quoted al-Kurdi - a former Jordanian health ministry official - as saying that the virus had been injected into Arafat's bloodstream close to his death, and that the real cause of the chairman's death was poison. Hours earlier, al-Kurdi was interviewed on television news station Al-Jazeera. However, the network cut short the live interview with al-Kurdi as soon as he mentioned that the former chairman had contracted HIV."
  • This is an endorsement that the Democrats could do without, I am sure. I bet it will play a prominent role in the Republican campaign next year.
  • Though not in the least funny, this news item made me smile: "The cause of the blast was not immediately clear and no one accused Israel."
  • The other day I watched part of the ceremony in which the Chief of Staff handed out medals to soldiers who fought in last year's war. Listening to the stories of their heroism, I wondered how so many soldiers were able to return alive. Thank G'd I have no battlefield experience whatsoever, but in those stories the enemy sounded highly trained and organized, and we know how determined those terrorists-fighters of Hezbollah are. What most of the medal-winning events have in common is some form of pikuah nefesh ( the mitzvah of saving a live, a mitzvah that over-rides virtually every other mitzvah ). Most of the soldiers who received a medal had taken care of their wounded comrades or taken command over their fellow soldiers after other commanders had been hurt or killed. The respect and love for life still seems to be our most cherished value, one that sets us apart from our most dangerous enemies. The saddest part of the ceremony was when the families of the fallen soldiers who were posthumously decorated came on stage. I saw one boy receive a medal in his father's name and felt so sorry for the kid. For a few moments the whole ceremony seemed to be a circus to me.
  • Racism is always evil and stupid. This is one of the most ignorant forms of racism that I have heard about.
  • By chance I came across this sad but inspiring News-in-pictures story on Sky News' website. A young mother and wife died, after having led an amazing life.
  • Hezbollah's Nasrallah confirmed what most of us knew or suspected already: his organization fought last year's war mainly as the ayatollahs' mercenary/contractor. You will never hear one of the Western NGOs who are so concerned with the wellbeing of the Palestinians ( that is, as long as Israel is the evildoer ) about the evil role of Iran ( and its and our neighbor Syria ) in the conflict, or about that role's influence on the Palestinians' fate. In the meantime, Iran has been selected by the United Nations for a leading position in a committee that will plan the 2009 UN World Conference against Racism, turning that conference ( like so many UN projects and institutions, e.g. this one: when Polish European Parliamentarians call something or someone biased against Israel/Jews I tend to believe them ) into a farce years before it starts. A good and worrying article about Iran was written by Guy Bechor.
  • Linked to that article is this news item, which I did not find in many other media. It is proof of two facts. First, US MidEast policies under Bush are and have always been a total disaster, with some policy makers - those who got their visions implemented eventually - getting it wrong time and again. Iran was and remains the biggest threat for US interests in the region ( and for Israel ). The revelations by the high official, who worked for Colin Powell, also totally contradict at least one of the most important allegations by two influential American professors, who have worked very hard to provide Islamist and rightwing extremist Israel/Jew-haters with something academic to base their accusations on.
  • A thought-provoking article by Ha'Aretz' Bradley Burston on a terribly difficult issue. Today I read this article, which is basically good news, both for the settlers and for Israel. A resettlement-settlement ( meaning agreement ), finally. Meanwhile, the settlements ( meaning the places where settlers live ) continue to expand, legally and illegally.
  • Most foreign media have reported in a very dry, neutral, unjudgmental tone about the battles in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon ( for example the Dutch Telegraaf: Lebanese army wins battle for refugee camp ). According to this Reuters article 163 Lebanese soldiers, 222 Islamist militants, and at least 42 civilians were killed in the fighting. I do not blame the Lebanese army, I guess they had good reasons to act against the terrorists. Still, remember the Jenin """massacre"""? Jenin was dubbed the capital of suicide terrorism, about a quarter of the 100 terrorists who carried out suicide attacks in the year and a half that preceded the battle of Jenin came from that city. Israel had its reasons to try and deal with the terror infrastructure in Jenin. The Palestinian death toll was eventually 52 or 54 ( Israeli troops found only 46 bodies ), less than half of whom were civilians ( every killed civilian is one too many, but still, it is about half of the number killed in the fighting between Fath-al-Islam and the Lebanese army ). 23 Israeli soldiers were killed. The MASSACRE made immediate headlines all over the world, while if after months media admitted that their leg had been pulled by Palestinian propagandists ( among them Saeb Erekat, who I still think is one of the best Palestinian spokesmen and negotiators ) they did so somewhere deep inside the newspaper or on an obscure part of their websites. In any case Israel was condemned by the UN. We can forget about a similar condemnation of Lebanon. Double standards? Naaaahh... ( Ma Pit'om, in Hebrew ).
  • Instead of trying to keep those who have not left yet here, the Israeli government spends tens of millions of dollars to 'convince' Israelis who chose to live abroad to return 'home'. I do not blame anybody for trying his/her luck somewhere else - life can be unnecessarily difficult, stressful and annoying here, and in many fields ( mine, for instance ) job opportunities in US, Europe and elsewhere are often better than here - but I think that it makes more sense to cause people not to leave than to try and make them come back after they have left already.
  • This week apparent major Islamist terror plots were uncovered in Denmark and Germany. In both cases local citizens ( either naturalized immigrants or local converts to Islam ) are suspected to have been part of the plot.
  • More than 1.6 million Israelis live below the poverty line ( a line that is quite low to begin with ). The total percentage of Israelis who live under the poverty line dropped from 24.7 percent to 24.5. Do you see the difference? A whole fifth of a percent! Reason enough for good old Bibi Nethanyahu and the Likud to tap themselves on the chest and take credit for the "success" of the former Finance Minister's policies. They forgot to look at - or, more probably, chose to ignore - another disgraceful statistic: the percentage of children living under the poverty line has grown - from 35.2 percent in 2005 to 35.8 percent. Of the 550,000 children who "occasionally go hungry in Israel", 400,000 are Arab. Yes, that is what the article says: 550,000, 400,000, occasionally, hungry!!!
  • Finally, some words about 'the' religious, or rather about some of them. Shas' spiritual leader, rabbi Ovadia Yosef, had some terrible things to say about soldiers who were killed in the la(te)st Lebanon War. Of course he was heavily criticized for his words, and of course his disciples told us that the media misinterpreted those words, that the old man loves and prays for each and every IDF soldier, etc. etc. If every people receives the ( spiritual ) leaders that it deserves, we are about as blessed as Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Libya. If what this mullah says was true, what about all the poor religious men, women and children who do pray every day, and who still get ill, killed, etc.? To me that does not make sense. But hey, I believe in a loving G'd, and not in some perverted form of Allah, whose prophets all believe that theirs is the only truth. Their stupid followers continue to listen to them and to pay them handsomely for keeping the poor masses stupid and dependent. If for one minute I believed that 'my' G'd kills fathers of young children, and sons of wonderful parents only because they drive a car, barbeque or watch television on Shabbat, I would stop believing right away. One berieved parent, who happens to be a rabbi himself, replied beautifully and effectively to Mr Yosef's sermon.
  • The coming year is a shnat shmita. If it is up to some of the rabbis, that could mean a death blow for many of the already struggling farmers in Israel. I am sure that if they really want to, the rabbis can come up with a creative, very Jewish and even more Zionist solution to this problem. There is no reason to turn away even more Jews from the true faith.
  • Talking about turning away people from religion. Read this about the High Holidays industry in some local synagogues. I knew about it, I know about the rationale behind it, and yet every year I am disgusted once again by the practice.
  • Personally I think the official symbol for next year's 60th anniversary of the state of Israel is o.k., but not more than that. It could do without the kid, I believe. The comment of a Shas MK made me laugh, though. Mr Cohen said that the child looks :"frumpy and should get a haircut". Did the honorable parliamentarian get his English and his very limited Yiddish ( after all, he belongs to Shas, not to a more ashkenazi brand of political orthodox Judaism ) confused, and did he want to say that the kid does not look frum enough?