Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I allowed myself to stop working early today, in order to spend some ( extra ) quality time with my wife and our children, to watch television, answer some e-mails and write a few lines here. My wife took the above picture a week ago, when she spent a very sunny day on or near the Hermon mountain, together with our two eldest children, and with a friend and her son.

While I am busy and the five of us live our uneventful, quiet and quite happy lives, the people of Sderot are still suffering what caused my pregnant wife, our children and me to flee our home after only one week, almost two years ago already. Of course, the people of Gaza are also suffering, but I am afraid that I have to put most of the blame for that on the shoulders of their 'leaders'. Why is it that those leaders invest most of their organizations' energy, money and resources in buying, producing and firing rockets and other weapons, the use of which they know will eventually hurt their own people even more than they hurt Israel, including the poor people of Sderot? Why is it that as soon as there is a breach in the blockade of the Strip - brought about by Hamas explosives, never mind, but still - the holes in the fences are used particularly to smuggle weapons and the like from Egypt, rather than food and other more vital and life-supporting/improving products? While I do agree with mister Olmert when he says that "anger is not an action plan" I also have to admit that Israel cannot leave attacks unanswered that on a daily basis terrify, maim and traumatize tens of thousands of its citizens, including young children. That is why I could not help thinking "serves them right, I find it hard to feel sorry for them" when I read that Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders have started to seriously fear for their own lives. Not that killing them would solve anything, of course. As wouldn't a large-scale ground offensive, something which we saw more than once before, which did not help us then and will not help us now. Although there is nothing new under the sun I did learn a new absurd fact this week, when I read that Israel's total exports to the Palestinians ( about 3,5 million people ) are equal to those to Italy and France combined ( together about 120 million people ). Which partly explains why Israel will think twice before starting a total boycott of the Gaza Strip's economy.

PS: These days I read a book by a legendary Dutch columnist. Before my last visit to the Netherlands I bought a number of books that I needed to prepare for the interviews that I have been working on for the last four, five weeks. Together with those books I also ordered some books that I simply wanted to read for fun, among them five or six compilations of pieces that Simon Carmiggelt ( for a more detailed description of his life and work, in Dutch, click here; during WWII he worked for the Dutch resistance newspaper Het Parool, which still appears today; his brother, who was arrested because he had helped Jews and others who had to hide from the Germans, was murdered in the Dutch concentration camp Vught) wrote. The columns in the book that I am reading were published in the 1950s and 1960s, and the language sometimes is slighly old-fashioned, but many of the stories - about the writer's children and about his first grandchild - remain funny, beautiful and ageless. The box with almost ten kilos of books arrived about a week after its owner returned home.

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