Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mutatio gratia mutationis

True, I tend to prefer the Obama-Biden ticket, but I identify with the feelings expressed in this cartoon by Tom Janssen about the exaggerated (mostly positive, uncritical) attention of Dutch ( and other (foreign) ) media for Mr Obama. I also get really annoyed when I hear people like Michael Stipes tell the world that they will emigrate from the US if Mr McCain gets ( or maybe they mean: if Mr Obama is not ) elected in November. Where are all those artists and others who claimed something similar four years ago? Most probably still in their homeland. Like many world citizens I was not impressed with the democratic process through which Bush jr. was elected once, but saying that you will leave your country if you do not get your political way can hardly be considered democratic either. I do believe that big changes in America's foreign and domestic policies are necessary and that the Bush administrations have been a disaster in more than one way, but turning change into a meaningless mantra does not really convince me, and I understand why some voters get scared by the change-for-change's-sake slogans. When it comes to personalities, I have great sympathy and admiration for John McCain and for his service record, probably more than for Barack Obama('s). If only the GOP candidate was 10, 15 years younger, had a VP who has any known positions on foreign policy, and was supported by a different party...

Friday, August 29, 2008


Ik weet nog wel dat toen ik over de alleged mishandeling van Mohammed Omer door Israelische veiligheidsfunctionarissen las mijn twijfels over het hele verhaal had. Niet alleen las ik er behalve op de gebruikelijke anti-Israelische fora nauwelijks iets over in Nederlandse media - ook al waren er een of meerdere Nederlandse diplomaten nauw bij betrokken - maar ook stonden in elk van de artikelen die ik elders over het onderwerp vond steeds weer andere belangrijke 'details' die elkaar soms leken uit te sluiten. Ik ben niet altijd een MESI en Jerusalem Post fan, maar hier kun je wel een aardig idee krijgen van de diverse versies van meneer Omers waarheid.


Never mind de hopeloze manieren waarop deze aandachtszoeker steeds weer de publiciteit weet te halen ( of het feit dat ik toch steeds weer de website van Telegraaf opzoek ). Als we er even van uit gaan dat het bericht juist is, hoe hopeloos of geldbelust moet je zijn om met opzet een kind van die griezel te willen? Tsjakkaa!!

The Dutch beating the Dutch?

When I checked my e-mail and today's headlines this morning, I was surprised to read this article on the website of the Dutch daily De Telegraaf. According to its authors, who claim that their story is based on authoritative sources, the Dutch secret service ( AIVD ) has been working in Iran for quite a while. It supposedly was able to infiltrate and commit sabotage on the country's weapons industry. The operation was stopped because an American attack against Iran is imminent, and some of the intented targets are related to the Dutch espionage operation. Apart from a few questionable and shady websites I did not find this story elsewhere, including other Dutch mainstream media ( to be honest, I did only a random check through Google ). I find it hard to believe it is true, but well, who knows? It raises a lot of questions. Why on earth would the Dutch get themselves involved in such a complicated project? On the other hand, apparently Swiss engineers also have been active in this context. If the Dutch are involved, did they do this on their own initiative, or were they asked by the US ( or Israel )? Would the Dutch really be among the ( first ) countries to be notified about any attack against the ayatollahs? The AIVD has in the past been criticized for its failure to monitor certain terror suspects in the Netherlands, among them the murderer of journalist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh. I did not know they have particular expertise when it comes to Iran, but I would not mind being pleasantly surprised to discover that they do. Let's wait and see. Not surprisingly, the Telegraaf article received a lot of comments, many of them aimed at those warthirsty Americans and Israelis/Jews. One thing is for sure, we will continue to read about Iran and its nuclear ambitions for quite a while. It was one of the subjects that I talked about with a former very senior Israeli security official during an interview last week. To be honest, I hope the Iranian threat will pass and this whole story will fizzle out. But I doubt that that will be the case. Forgive me for being selfish and a bit worried, but for some reason I fear that, G'd forbid, the story might end with a big bang, a bang that will be felt here just as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abie Nathan ( 1927 - 2008 )

Abie Nathan z"l

This I just heard. In my first year in Israel I often listened to The Voice of Peace on the radio while working in the laundry. Only later did I learn about Mr Nathan's peace and charity work. He belonged to a generation of pioneers that made this country great, even though he was not exactly a 'regular' pioneer. May his memory be a blessing.


Zo maak je dus een artikel. Je neemt wat online commentaren van je lezers - die immers altijd het meest frisse gedachtengoed dat er in Nederland voorhanden is ten toon spreiden, en die het ganse politieke spectrum in Nederland evenredig vertegenwoordigen - zet er een schreeuwende kop boven en wat verbindingszinnetjes tusse, en concludeert dat het vertrouwen in deze of gene politicus aan het afbrokkelen is. Het ontbreekt er nog maar aan dat we voortaan de lezers van Telegraaf en Geen Stijl - om het leuk en evenwichtig te houden liefst samen met een aantal van de vaste klanten op websites en fora zoals die van de Volkskrant en de SP - de uitslag van de verkiezingen laten bepalen. Dat zou de politiek weer aantrekkelijk en levendig maken, en haar werkelijk dichter bij de burgers brengen, niet?
PS: Ook ik vind dat mevrouw Cramer niet zo moet draaikonten. Als ze haar naam destijds onder de advertentie heeft gezet moet ze dat gewoon erkennen, en anders zou ze alsnog de organisatoren moeten aanklagen of zo. Die advertentie was - in mijn burgerogen - fout, en typisch voor een bepaalde tak van links activisme, waarvan de beoefenaars nu vaak breed glimlachend deel uitmaken van het establishment. Maar in tegenstelling tot in het geval van Duyventak geloof ik niet dat ze hierom zou moeten aftreden. Overdrijven is ook een kunst.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More bread and butter, less activists please...

Please do not think that I think lightly of the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza ( although I believe that Israel bears only a very small part of the responsibility for that suffering ), but when I read this I could not help thinking about a scene from the 1970s WWII-resistance movie Beatricks ( never released, partly broadcast on Dutch television, made by two of Holland's most influential comedians ) in which an old man, who survived the notorious 1944-45 winter of starvation in the western part of the Netherlands, picks up a bread dropped from Allied planes, and says "Yech, that is yesterday's bread! ( Bah, da's brood van gisteren! )".

Zie ginds komt de stoomboot...

Regardless of the question what would be Israel's best possible response to the work of certain activists ( not paying any attention to it, I would suggest ), this article reminded me of a Dutch party in the Yaffo harbour nine months ago, where I took the above picture. St. Nicholas should be careful when he returns to Israel in December, Israel might try to jam his navigation and communication systems. Although in his case suspicions should maybe directed first at Muslim or Jewish religious fanatics.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Asking for pranks

In this age of SMS and virtual elections, this is so obvious but still quite funny, I believe.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amsterdam, 8 september a.s: Paneldiscussie: Nederland, Europa en Israel – Dynamische perspectieven

( Zie de website van het CIDI ) Onlangs verscheen bij uitgeverij Aspekt ter gelegenheid van het zestigjarige bestaan van de staat Israël het boek Israël en ik - Vijftien bekende Nederlanders over hun verhouding met een zestigjarige. Dit boek werd geschreven door de in Israël wonende historicus en publicist Bert de Bruin, in samenwerking met het CIDI. In het boek vertellen vijftien personen – schrijvers, journalisten, politici en andere prominente Nederlanders – over hun band met Israël. Het resultaat is een serie boeiende en openhartige verhalen, waarin naast kritiek, vooral oprechte betrokkenheid bij het wel en wee van de Joodse staat naar voren komt. Geïnterviewd werden: Barbara Barend, Frits Bolkestein, Bernard Bot, Samira Bouchibti, Jessica Durlacher, Elsbeth Etty, Bloeme Evers-Emden, Assad Jaber, Nausicaa Marbe, Dana Nechushtan, Karel Ornstein, Daniel de Ridder, André Rouvoet, Jacques Wallage, en Jan van Zanen. Ter promotie van het boek organiseert het CIDI op 8 september om 20:00 uur in de Eggertzaal (Nieuwe Kerk) in Amsterdam een paneldiscussie met als onderwerp Nederland, Europa, en Israël - Dynamische perspectieven. Deelnemers aan de paneldiscussie:

  • prof. Fred Grünfeld (specialist op het gebied van internationale betrekkingen, mensenrechten, en het Midden-Oosten, Universiteit Maastricht en Universiteit Utrecht)
  • Nausicaa Marbe (schrijfster en journaliste, columniste voor de Volkskrant)
  • Jan Marinus Wiersma (lid van de Commissie buitenlandse zaken van het Europees Parlement, PvdA).
  • Dirk-Jan van Baar (commentator internationale betrekkingen bij HP/De Tijd)

Daarnaast zullen voor die bijeenkomst ook alle voor het boek geinterviewde personen worden uitgenodigd. Bert de Bruin zal een korte inleiding verzorgen.

Om u op te geven voor deze panelbijeenkomst kunt u een email sturen aan of bellen naar 070-3676862 De toegang is vrij.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The world according to Tom Janssen

Tom Janssen's view on five news items that made headlines in the last few months.
"Who dares to fight the big bear?...Nobody?...Then the big bear has won again!"
"Well..., all right! One more term..! But only because you insist!"
( Oppositie = Opposition, Zuid-Afrika = South Africa ) "Are you all right?"
Hillary goes on.
( Vrije pers = Free press )


This week I read three articles each of which made me nod in assent for two or three minutes. The first article was written by a woman whose name I had not heard before. The second and third were the work of well-known columnist and television host Yair Lapid, whose body language sometimes manages to irritate me but with whose opinions I often happen to agree.


While I have my doubts about both US presidential candidates, more and more I start to become convinced that Barack Obama might be the right choice for the Americans. That conviction became stronger this morning when I read about Obama's probable options for the vice-presidency ( two of them , senators Joe Biden and Evan Bayh, seem very interesting choices, the others do not have a real foreign policy record, probably partly because of their function and career ), and when I read that this fanatic ( at least he seems to be an extremist where Israel is concerned ) is one of Mr McCain's possible choices for the VP post. Obama with a more conservative sidekick appears to promise a saner leadership, both internationally and within the US, than McCain with a nanny whose main task will be to make sure that the Republican candidate does not lose the support of America's most conservative voters.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Van meerdere kanten heb ik begrepen dat mensen die mijn boek bij besteld hebben te horen kregen dat het nog wel even kan duren voor het boek leverbaar is. Het boek is leverbaar ( zoals ik eerder schreef lag het in ieder geval in 1 grote Selexyz boekhandel in de winkel ), ik weet niet waar het probleem ligt. De uitgever weet er nu van en zal contact opnemen met Bol. Het boek is in ieder geval ook verkrijgbaar via het CIDI.

Mamma Mia!

Thanks to our cellphone provider, Cellcom, which on every Thursday during the months of July and August offers one free movie ticket for every cellphone that you have, I had a very nice evening yesterday. The choice of movies in the participating theaters in and around Haifa was not very big, but still. Last week I went to see Wanted ( stupid story, nice action ), and yesterday I saw Mamma Mia! Neither of those two I would have seen if I had to pay, but unlike Wanted I genuinely enjoyed Mamma Mia! It is far from perfect, the inclusion of some of the songs is very unnatural, and Pierce Brosnan simply cannot sing ( although he 'received' one of the two best songs of the movie, When All Is Said And Done, the other being Slipping Through My Fingers ), but all in all it is simply an unpretentious, funny, very entertaining movie, which keeps you happy and humming for two hours and for some time after that. I was a young kid when the members of Abba were together, and one of the few long-playing records that I ever possessed was Arrival. I never became a real fan, but I do believe that Mr Andersson and Mr Ulvaeus are true geniuses, their songs are great and timeless. Those songs turn a flimsy story into a very nice and highly succesful ( musical* and ) film. (*) I never saw the musical, but obviously it has been an enormous success.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Dit artikel zullen Robert van Waning, Carola Jansen en veel andere Volkskrantlezers niet leuk vinden. Als ze er op konden reageren zouden we waarschijnlijk kunnen lezen waarom nu juist Israel en/of de Joden schuldig zijn aan het feit dat er door de bank genomen nooit al te veel Arabische ( en Iraanse? ;-) ) sportieve successen te bewonderen zijn. Niet dat Israel het tot nu toe geweldig doet op deze Olympische Spelen.

De krant van ongezond Nederland

De Telegraaf geeft het ungesundenes Volksempfinden weer eens vrij baan. Opvallend genoeg worden de meest walgelijke en achterlijke reacties vanuit Nederland verstuurd, en komt de meest ( let wel, niet de enige ) wijze en juiste reactie uit Oostenrijk. PS: Mijn broer maakte mij er op attent dat Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Duitsland ligt, en niet in Oostenrijk. Oeps... ( foutje, bedaank! ).

F&S in Georgia

F&S almost reached Tbilisi: "Such a one-sided ceasefire really is a perfect godsend!"
F&S keep politics and sports separated: "First we'll bomb South Ossetia, and then we go back watching the Olympics."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Different standards

First of all, condolences to the wife, two children, loved ones, colleagues and friends of Stan Storimans, the Dutch cameraman who was killed by Russian bombs in the Georgian city of Gori. Forgive me for being cynical, but I can't help imagining what this news item would have looked like and how it would have developed if Israel, and not Russia, had killed the man. The international condemnations will be loud this time as well, I am sure, but I have not seen any demonstrations yet by ( leftist, heavily subsidized ) NGOs in any of the European capitals against the 'disproportionate' ( hey, Bush used this word already ) response by the Kremlin against Georgia's actions in South Ossetia. Also, whereas in past wars incidents such as this one have made it harder or even impossible for Israel to continue fighting because of international protests and pressure, Mr Putin probably will just say "F$#&@* off" ( that is, its Russian equivalent, Russian is very rich when it comes to curses ) and go on with his war until his and Russia's goals are reached. And, to be honest and realistic, from his point of view, he is probably right to do so. PS: I forgot - an understandable mistake - that Mr Medvedev, and not Vladimir Putin, is the head of state in Russia. I just read that the president decided to stop the war. I am sure that means that as far as the Kremlin is concerned the Russian objectives have been achieved. And with 'achieved' I do not mean some wishy-washy UN resolution ( 1701 is just an example ).

Say cheese...

This picture ( that I found here ) shows some of the absurdity and craziness that are part of the Olympics ( or of any modern mega-media happening ). Am I just being a kvetch, or is this - tens or hundreds of men and women trying to take the ultimate picture of the same event - at least partly a waste of precious energy, money and creativity?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Surprised? Not!

Just like four years ago the IOC, known for its impressive record of sympathy and support for the Jewish state and for its respect for the memory of the Israeli athletes and coaches murdered at the Munich games in September 1972 (*), once again did not see any reason to punish an Iranian athlete for what is simply too coincidental to be anything but unsporting behavior and mixing sports with politics. (*) The most appropriate response to what happened in the Olympic village in that year was given by Dutch athlete Jos Hermens, who left the games, saying “You give a party, and someone is killed at the party, you don’t continue the party. I'm going home”. The IOC has refused ever since to permanently hold even the smallest remembrance ceremony for the murdered Israelis. Their names do not appear on the website of the IOC. As far as I am aware - correct me if I am mistaken - the only Israeli member of the IOC ( who, by the way, was born in Iran ) never went out of his way to make sure that disciplinary action was taken against sporters or delegations which boycot Israeli athletes, or that any special attention was paid to the murder of eleven of his compatriots.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Looking forward to the demonstrations

Where are all the ( leftist and pseudo-leftist ) hypocrites now? Somehow I get the impression that as long as not the US or Israel is ( not perceived as ) the aggressor, the motivation to demonstrate and condemn suddenly is not so strong in certain circles. PS: I was not surprised to learn about the Israeli connection to the war in Georgia, but this Dutch connection I had forgotten, I read about it when president Saakashvili was elected.


Mijn vader mailde me dat hij mijn boek bij Broese Kemink ( eigenlijk moet ik zeggen Selexyz Broese, een van mijn vaste bezoekadressen wanneer ik in Nederland ben ) op de Oudegracht in Utrecht heeft zien liggen. Ongeveer tien exemplaren van Israel en ik lagen tussen twee boeken van Geert Mak in. Dat vond ik erg leuk om te lezen.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


For some reason I have a feeling that in this case no rightwing columnist or feedbacker will accuse the person who filmed and exposed human rights abuses by an Israeli soldier-policeman of being a traitor, as Uri Orbach did when Israeli activists helped in the exposure of an infamous incident which led to the dismissal of a senior IDF officer.

Monday, August 04, 2008


I have very mixed feelings about the upcoming Olympics, mainly because I have serious doubts about the regimes that organize the games ( i.e. the Chinese government and the IOC ). Still, I am sure we will see some beautiful pictures, and I probably will watch at least some of them. This wonderful picture, the work of a photographer whose name suggests an Israeli link, I found on the website of Sky News. Let's hope that the games will pass off smoothly and peacefully, and that ( Muslim and other ) attention seekers and warmongers will not be able to use the Olympics as the world stage that they are constantly looking for.

The ugly face of Israel

The land and people of Israel have many faces. Many of those faces - and it does not matter whether they are frum or atheist, or anything in between - are pretty, some of them are utterly beautiful, and quite a few are ugly as hell. Now some will say that people like David Cohen - who filmed this - are traitors of the Jewish people, because they expose our ugly face to the world. Again, I say that the real traitors are those ugly faces themselves, who by betraying our values ruin this state from within ( and are stupid enough to get themselves filmed while doing just that ).

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tom Janssen on Darfur and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Meanwhile, in Sudan: "If we were Palestinians..., and the perpetrators were not Arabs but Jews..., then we would be world news!"

( a vintage cartoon by Tom Janssen, appearing here as an illustration to the previous posting, in Dutch )

Leer mij uw vrienden kennen...

Israel doet veel fout. Heel veel. Wie wat ik de afgelopen jaren geschreven een beetje gevolgd heeft weet dat ik me daarvan bewust ben, en dat ik het niet onder "stoelen of tafels" steek. Wat mij betreft zou Israel bij wijze van spreken vandaag nog alle nederzettingen op de Westoever ontruimen en de Palestijnen de kans geven ( en hen zonodig helpen ) hun eigen heil(staat) te zoeken, niet dat ik denk dat voor Israel dan de vrede zal uitbreken, verre van dat. Toch ben ik ervan overtuigd dat Israel slechts een van de kleinere problemen van de arme Palestijnen is. Hun eigen non-leiders, hun solidaire moslim-broeders in Teheran, Beirut, Riyadh en elders, en hun zogenaamde solidaire vrienden in het Westen zijn vele malen gevaarlijker dan die verdomde Joodse buren van ze. Lees dit maar eens. Op het hoogtepunt van een nieuwe geweldsgolf in Gaza, terwijl de Gaza-strook weer eens door broederlijk geweld uit elkaar barst, doen mensen als Jaap Hamburger vooral hun best om wederom toch vooral Israel als schuldige aan te wijzen voor alle ellende die de Palestijnen keer op keer treft. Geen woord over de schietpartijen tussen Hamas en Fatah. Je zag ditzelfde patroon tijdens Hamas' machtsovername vorig jaar: organisaties als EAJG en UCP kronkelden zich in allerlei bochten om Israel weer eens pikzwart te maken, maar over het Palestijnse geweld tegen Palestijnen werd niet of nauwelijks gerept. Als Israel ergens schuldig aan is dan is het misschien aan het feit dat het Hamas ook niet zijn gang laat gaan op de Westoever. Anders was daar al net zo'n paradijs op aarde gesticht als dat waarin de arme mensen in Gaza al ruim een jaar leven, met Israel als enige schuldige voor hun rijkdom en welzijn. De Palestijnen mogen misschien wel blij zijn dat ze de Joodse staat als zichtbare vijand tegenover zich vinden. Anders waren ze in de internationale media al lang een roemloze PR-dood gestorven, net als de stakkers in Darfoer, Tibet, Tsjetsjenie en andere ethnisch-politieke brandhaarden waar maar weinig honden zich werkelijk druk om maken. Dit is wat Tom Janssen jaren geleden in een prachtige cartoon weergaf. Ik zal die cartoon hier ( nogmaals ) posten.