Saturday, May 24, 2008

Utopia



This cartoon by Tom Janssen, as nice and well made as it is, is not very realistic. Halevay ( +/- "If only...! ), I would say in Hebrew. One crucial element is missing in the picture, by the way.

Een voldaan gevoel

Petje af voor de Saoedi-Arabische regering. Kan iemand me echter de logica uitleggen van het dikgedrukte deel van onderstaand bericht uit het nieuwsbulletin van de Wereldomroep? Ik snap wel wat de bedoeling is ( met behulp van de gift...., mede door de gift kan....voldaan worden... ) maar zoals het er staat maakt het weinig sense. * Saudie-Arabie schenkt WFP 500 miljoen dollar Saudi-Arabie heeft een schenking gedaan van 500 miljoen dollar aan het WFP, het Wereldvoedselprogramma van de Verenigde Naties. Het is een tegemoetkoming voor de sterk gestegen prijzen van voedsel en brandstof. Die zijn volgens De Wereldbank de laatste drie jaar bijna verdubbeld, en miljoenen mensen in met name Afrika en Azie lijden daar onder. Volgens het WFP helpt de extra gulle donatie van de Saudi's te voorkomen dat wereldwijd veel mensen ziek worden of sterven door ondervoeding. Het WFP had gezegd een bedrag van 755 miljoen dollar nodig te hebben om het ergste leed te verzachten. Met de gift van de Saudi's is aan dat bedrag ruim voldaan. PS: In De Telegraaf staat het een stuk duidelijker: "Tot nu toe hadden 31 landen bij elkaar 460 miljoen dollar (meer dan 290 miljoen euro) gegeven. Door de Saudische donatie is het benodigde bedrag nu ruimschoots binnen."

Friday, May 23, 2008

15 years

At this very moment, fifteen years ago, my wife and I met for the first time. This happened in the bus from Be'er Sheva to Kissufim. I lived in that kibbutz, she worked after the army as a guide for the kibbutz youth movement in kibbutz Eyn HaShlosha, Kissufim's neighbor. Two weeks later we had our first date, and we have been together ever since.

Shalom Hanokh - Love of my Youth

A beautiful song by a wonderful artist. The song is used these days for a very nice commercial of a fruit juice factory. During the first year after I made aliyah I worked in that factory, in kibbutz Givat Hayim.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Tom Janssen - "You see - Everybody supports us...!!"
( litt. Everybody is in our favor )


Joep Bertrams - "Doctooor....!!!"


  • Two cartoons by Dutch cartoonists, one about ( the referendum in ) Burma/Myanmar, the other about the critical condition of the Dutch Labor Party ( the same cartoon could be made about its Israeli sister party ).
  • I agree with every word of this analysis, by Nahum Barnea ( not exactly a blind nationalist or hawk ), of the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East, and subscribe to its basic conclusion: Israel can and should only rely on itself. The 'compromise' reached in Lebanon is a clear victory for Hezbullah ( and thus for Iran and Syria ). Maybe this could make life easier for Israel in the next war: chances are that by then this country will have to face Lebanon ( and Syria ) as a whole, and the IDF and IAF will not have to pretend anymore that they are fighting only against one particular faction. I truly feel sorry for most ordinary Lebanese - who, together with the Israelis, in the end will be the ones who pay the most for the fearful indecisiveness of the West - and for brave and patriotic men like Mr Hariri, who in fact was thrown to the dogs by his Arab 'brothers', as well as by Europe and the US. In a country such as Lebanon you need guts in order to take political responsibility, especially if your political opponents are supported by one or two of your country's most powerful meddlers.
  • While eating breakfast I saw a news bulletin on television and learnt that the Israeli contestant Boaz Ma'uda ( I think he won the Israeli version of American Idol last year ) will participate in this year's final of the Eurovision Song Contest. I did not realize that that contest takes place this week, or that Israel participates. At a press conference young Mr Ma'uda - who is of Yemenite descent and sings a song that was written by Dana International - pointed out something that I had not noticed yet: until now all three Israeli winners of the Contest were Yemenite Jews ( Yizhar Ashdot, Gali Atari ( with Milk & Honey ), and Mrs International ). Of course he hopes to follow in their footsteps. I won't watch the final but wish him good luck.
  • This weekend I will finish reading the proofs of my book, which Be'Ezrath HaShem will be published next month. I am very happy with ( and will be very proud of ) the result of several months of very hard ( and interesting and mostly very pleasant ) work.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quod Licet Iovi...


Toch nog een posting vandaag. Ik ben benieuwd hoeveel de bezoekcijfers voor de website van Gregorius Nekschot zijn gestegen. Natuurlijk is veel van wat hij doet smakeloos ( probeer maar eens zijn cartoon van Mohammed en Anne Frank te vinden ), natuurlijk gaat hij regelmatig over de schreef, natuurlijk is hij als moslimhater net zo goed gevaarlijk voor Joden ( vergelijk bijvoorbeeld wat hij zegt over besnijdenis van jongens eens met de jihad van de PVV tegen het halal gehakt en de koshere kebab; GW lijkt een geloofsgenoot van GN te zijn ) maar de beste man oppakken zal hem alleen maar populairder maken, en ik kan me goed voorstellen waarom. Ook ik heb net even zitten googelen toen ik las dat hij gearresteerd was op verdenking van discriminatie of racisme. Het lijkt soms wel dat je a) tot een bevolkinsgroep moet behoren die groot genoeg is om electoraal interessant te zijn, b) hard moet schreeuwen en b) direct of indirect met geweld moet dreigen om in Nederland gehoord en serieus genomen te worden en tegelijktertijd de vrijheid te hebben om zelf naar hartelust te beledigen en te bedreigen. Ik zou denken dat wanneer dit en dit binnen de normen van de wet en het fatsoen valt, er geen enkele reden is om de maker van niet alleen maar puur beledigende maar ook redelijk geslaagde, rake cartoons zoals ik die hierboven heb gepost te arresteren. Een collega ( F :-) ) van mij beschrijft op Gregorius' blog trouwens ook hoe de deskundige en onbevooroordeelde Robert Soeterik door de kritische journalisten van de Tros Nieuwsshow werd ondervraagd, iets waar ik verder niemand zich druk over heb zien of horen maken. Kijk trouwens nog even hier voor de perfect onderbouwde reactie van ene Krisvdmeij, die het een goede zaak vindt dat Gregorius moet brommen: "Deze cartoons tonen geen respect. Dus lijkt het me logisch dat de tekenaar even de cel in kan, als mensen daarom vragen." Spreekt vanzelf, toch? Immers, de moord op Theo van Gogh was niet meer dan een 'respectloze en fundamentalistische reactie' op ''respectloosheid en een ontbrekend inlevingsvermogen''. En dan is het maar een kleine stap naar de bezetting. Volgt u het nog?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No time for serious blogging



Only one, rather lazy, posting today. Mr Owl ( thank you, EJ, for the picture ) will be watching this weblog for the next days. Sorry, and shabbat shalom.

Stort de knopen van uw gulp...(*)

Mijn scepsis over de zin en het nut van grootschalige, georganiseerde ontwikkelingshulp is de laatste jaren - mede door wat ik allemaal heb gelezen, gehoord en gezien in de loop van de voorbereidingen van het UCP-rapport voor het CIDI vorig jaar - tot cynisme verworden. Voor de goede orde, het gaat bij UCP maar om een paar organisaties ( die alles bij elkaar met honderden miljoenen gesubsidieerd worden ), maar zij zijn niet de enige die met belastinggeld puur politieke doelen steunen die niet of nauwelijks iets met ontwikkelingshulp te maken hebben. Natuurlijk hebben de mensen in arme landen hulp nodig, natuurlijk moet dat professioneel gebeuren, maar de ontwikkelingsindustrie is helaas niet zelden gewoon corruptiegevoelige big business, waarbij je je af kunt vragen hoeveel centen er van iedere Euro of dollar bij het uiteindelijke doel - of bij direkt daaraan verwante en noodzakelijke bijdoelen - terecht komen. Sommige mensen zullen misschien zeggen dat als er zelfs maar 1 of 10 cent van iedere Euro goed besteed wordt het de moeite waard blijft om te blijven geven. Ik zeg dat niet. Dit bericht - ik zeg het voorzichtig, niet alleen omdat de Telegraaf mijn bron hier is - lijkt de twijfels van de cynici te bevestigen. Toch blijven er genoeg kleinschalige, mooie, controleerbare en leuke acties over waaraan je als eenvoudige burger bescheiden of gul kunt bijdragen zonder je aan politieke boodschappen en overhead te ergeren. Hanneke Groenteman promoot zo'n actie. (*)"...in de bus voor Winterhulp ". Uit: Don Quishocking, Collecte.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

60


Sixty years ago, on the Friday afternoon of May 14th 1948, David Ben Gurion read out the scroll of the Establishment of the State of Israel. As you can read here, the reading took 16 minutes. The establishment of this state certainly was a valid reason to recite the Shehecheyanu blessing: " Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment."

Het is ook allemaal niet makkelijk

Dat het Midden-Oosten ook voor de mensen bij de Wereldomroep soms net iets te ingewikkeld is om het allemaal te snappen en te duiden wordt duidelijk in de kop van dit item uit het e-mail bulletin van RNW van gisteravond:
Iran waarschuwt Syrie over steun aan Hezbollah
Iran zet zijn relatie met de Arabische wereld en islamitische landen op het spel door zijn steun aan de Hezbollah-beweging in Libanon. Dat zegt de Saoedische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Saud al-Faisal. De pro-Syrische Hezbollah begon zes dagen geleden een gewapende opstand toen de Libanese regering maatregelen nam om de macht van de beweging in te perken. Hezbollah-strijders kregen aanvankelijk grote delen van Beiroet in handen. Later trokken ze zich terug, maar het geweld hield aan. Ook braken gevechten uit in de noordelijke stad Tripoli. Het Libanese leger probeert actief een eind te maken aan het geweld van de Hezbollahstrijders.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Aanrader

Op 22 mei speelt het Idan Rachel Project in De Melkweg The Max in Amsterdam. De Joodse Omroep maakt opnamen, die zondag 8 juni worden uitgezonden ( Nederland 2, 12-13 uur ). Van harte aanbevolen. Ik heb hun tweede album, en ik heb ooit heel erg van een concert van hen genoten ( met dank aan Intel ).

Israel and I

  • Last night I received an e-mail telling me that my book - interviews with 15 Dutch VIPs and celebs about their relationship with Israel - will be published and presented next month. This means some more work against the clock in the next week or so, but finally the end is near, and I am looking forward to it.
  • Here is one article that made me smile this morning: God must be a leftist.
  • In the Dutch daily De Telegraaf I read that the Saudi government understands what Israel has been telling the world for many years: Teheran is behind much of the instability and violence in Lebanon. For just as many years Damascus has been the ayatollahs' little helper in this. Not that other Arab or Muslim countries, the West or Israel ever contributed too much to the stability on Israel's northern border, but it is important when even Israel's enemies recognize who the real and main villains are in this sad and ongoing saga.
  • Behatslaha! to the new commander of Israel's Air Force, Major General Ido Nehushtan.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Al HaPanim - NOT

On the Face's Lisa gives a very useful overview of the coverage, by Israeli media, of the developments in Lebanon.

Déja Vu ( Écrit )

Some people asked me why I do not write more about Israeli politics and the ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip. Lack of time is my main excuse. Also, as long as Gilad Shalit is not set free there is not much to write, I am afraid. Both sides are talking about escalation, 'going one step further', a wholly new ball game, etc. etc. but all of this we already have seen and done before, and there really is nothing new under the sun. Except for some sort of workable political agreement to which all sides will stick, everything has been tried in the past. Since I have so much to do, so little time and even less original or brilliant ideas and solutions, I think that blogging about 'the situation' should not be my first priority right now. NB: I wrote these lines on July 5th 2006, exactly one week before the Lebanon War started. There are too many similarities between then and now for me to be totally at ease and relaxed right now. I really hope that I am just a worrywart ( o.k., I found that word in a dictionary ). I noticed that on the day the war in the North started I even had time and patience to write about my new cellphone. By the way, I still have that phone, and I am still very happy with it. A day later the first rocket landed in Haifa. A week after that we fled to Holland. You can read my postings from those two summer months here and here. It was a very 'productive' period for me as a blogger and writer. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to a very 'dry' and fruitless summer this year.

Bevrijding


Deze cartoon van Tom Janssen vond ik erg geslaagd.

Ready, aim, fire!

This really scares me: ( Ha'Aretz News Flash ) 01:58 Lieberman: I'd join Netanyahu gov't if I got defense position (Haaretz) The other day I read that if elections were held now, the outcome could very well be a coalition of Nethanyahu/Likud, Lieberman/Israel Our Home, Eitam/National Religious Party-National Union, Shas, and Gaydamak. At least three of these party leaders have been or still are under some sort of investigation, and more Shas MKs than I can remember have already been convicted of fraud, theft and other crimes. So the chances of any future government serving out its term without any legal interruptions are small, to use an understatement. But Lieberman as Defense Minister? For heaven's sake! Never mind that he is a fanatic and a racist, but that man technically even would have to salute me ( 1st sergeant ( res. ) ) if the two of us were in the army together! Doesn't our precious army deserve a supreme commander who has commanded more than a toilet cleaning unit? I wouldn't even trust this man with commanding a firing squad, like his equal Corporal Jones in Blackadder IV. Haven't we learnt anything two years ago? I'm afraid not. Israel's problem is not so much the fact that many if not most of our leaders are corrupt, weak and without any vision, but rather the truly worrying fact that there are few if any real and trustworthy alternatives. I would very much like to believe that Tzipi Livni can be such an alternative, but unfortunately her leeway is very limited and her record has already been tainted by the games ( compromises, party dynamics, opportunism etc. ) that every politician, no matter how clean and good-willing he or she is, has to play in order to get anywhere over here. In spite of that she is one of the few Israeli politicians whom I truly respect ( and like, in a way ), who appear to have some sort of vision, and who seem to have what it takes to become a real political leader. And I say this not ( only ) because I got the opportunity to interview her last week ( she did not really tell me anything that I - or anybody else who has followed Israeli politics and her role in it - did not know).

Life in a jar

Irena Sendler, a true hero, passed away. May her memory be blessed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Back to bed

After sending my wife and the kids off to school, checking my mailboxes, and sending the text of one of the last interviews for my book that still needed editing to one of the interviewees, I'm going back to bed now, I had a white night as a result of what appears to be some kind of food poisoning. I suspect that my mother-in-law tried to poison me because I did not give her anything for Mother's Day ;-) ( In Israel, Mother's Day is celebrated on a different date than in Holland, the US and other places ). Have a nice continuation of your weekend ( for those outside Israel ) or a good start of your week ( for the people over here ).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy anniversary


"How time flies! I remember as if it was yesterday that we
had to fight for our right to exist...!"


Cartoon by Tom Janssen
PS: This is one of the most Israel-friendly references to 60 years Israel that I found in Dutch media. If there is such a thing as a well-organized and well-oiled Israeli or Jewish propaganda machinery ( which I doubt seriously: it might be well oiled but certainly is not well organized and does not function properly and/or get enough results ) then the Netherlands is a good example of utterly failed Israeli-Jewish efforts in that area. We have mainly ourselves to blame for that, on several levels.

War of Independence 2008

Is it me or can we start gearing up for a very hot spring and summer? It seems that Israel is not the only one who understands that Iran tries once again to wage a war of proxy through Hezbollah, at the expense of a country that is powerless because of the indecisiveness of the international community. As soon as Israel will be forced to respond to and act against rockets being fired from Lebanon southwards, it will be Israel that is condemned and left to fight alone by that same international community. The same goes for the media. The civil war that Hezbollah started and that might very well end with the Shi'ite militia taking control of even larger parts of Lebanon - with the UN seeing nor hearing any evil whatsoever -, is only worthy of a few lines on page twenty-something in Western media, but when rockets start being fired into our direction and Israel hits back the poor Lebanese will make headlines again. And guess who will be the bad guys by then? I give you a hint: it will not be Nasrallah, Assad or Ahmadenijad.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Independence Day 2008 in Haifa

With two of our three children I went to Haifa this morning, to see the band of the Israel Defense Forces march and play together with military bands from all over the world. It was beautiful and great fun, even though the organization was a bit of a shambles. You could see that Israelis are not used to bands like these playing in the streets. My wife dropped us off right next to the starting point of the parade, so when the buses with all the musicians arrived I had the opportunity to take pictures of our children with several band members. This resulted in some great pictures. All the musicians were very cooperative. Thanks to the IDF for this idea and to all the musicians for coming here and entertaining us. Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures, I was not in a very good position. There were no police barriers so it was a bit of a jungle out there. A few spectators were very kind and suggested that my son and daughter sit on the sidewalk in front of them. That way I could stand behind them and take the pictures. A typically Israeli experience, seeing different faces of the same country: on one hand wonderful warmth, helpfulness, and ihpatiyut ( care ), on the other rudeness, carelessness, and one big balagan ( mess ).
U.S.A.

Russia

Romania

Poland

The Netherlands

Great Britain

Germany


Israel

Two members of the band of the Dutch Royal Air Force


France


Ben Gurion Boulevard, with Israeli, Dutch and other ( Polish, Russian? ) flags.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hatikvah II

Yom Atzma'ut Sameah!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

HaTikvah

Today I won't be posting, I have to write an interview that I had yesterday with Israel's Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, for three Dutch newspapers. The interview will be published on Saturday and Monday, on a full page. In honor of Remembrance Day ( Yom HaZikaron ), which starts tonight, I post a beautiful rendition of my favorite national anthem ( I love quite a few national anthems, including the Dutch one, which like the Hatikvah gives me goose bumps, even though I am in no way a fanatical nationalist ) by Aki Jacob. For tomorrow night, when Israel's 60th Independence Day celebrations start, I will try a new Blogger feature, scheduled ( i.e. future ) posting, with another version of HaTikvah.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Remembrance Day


Tonight Holland remembers all civilians and soldiers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who were killed in war situations and peace operations, anywhere in the world, since May 10th 1940, the day on which Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands. Tomorrow the country celebrates its Liberation from the Nazi occupation. I will celebrate that day with breakfast in Tel Aviv ( with an Israeli blogger whom I have come to consider as a friend ), lunch in Jerusalem ( with a fellow-historian ), and after that an interview with a major player in Israeli politics. The above picture I took one year and one day ago, at the war monument in the city where I grew up. I already posted the picture last year.

Crocodile Accusations

( Death to Israel!; "Hello, is this the UN? Help!
Iran is being outrageously threatened by Hillary Clinton!" )

Cartoon by Tom Janssen



Saturday, May 03, 2008

Nothing says "I love you" as much as donating 30 criminals

Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger probably had enough of the bad image that some Austrians have given ( and are giving ) his country of birth. He came up with a brilliant idea to show that ( former ) Austrians can be big-hearted ( and philosemitic ) as well. As a gesture to Israel, on the occasion of our 60th anniversary, he donates 30 prisoners to the Israeli Prison Service. Now, if that is not generosity, what is? :-) PS: Ik dacht niet dat ik zou kunnen lachen om iets wat ook maar enigszins in verband kan worden gebracht met Josef Fritzl, tot ik sommige van de commentaren bij dit artikel las.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Danger: 'Red Ken' Lo(o)se(s)

Although I have no problem whatsoever with the fact that Mr Livingstone will stop being the mayor of London, I am not happy with his electoral loss either. First of all, I have no idea who that Boris guy really is, I mainly know him as some sort of clown ( his hair reminds me somehow of a Dutch clown/parliamentarian/cineast ). What really bothers me, though, is the fact that 'Red Ken' now will have a lot of spare time, and many retired politicians and other public figures who have both an obsession with Israel ( or Jews ) and too much time on their hands have turned their obsession into an annoying hobby. Anyway, congratulations Mr Johnson, and good luck to all Londoners with their new mayor.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In the Dutch Mountains

In Holland, these days you will hear and read comments about Israel and the Jews that - unless my memory deceives me - you would not hear and read ten, fifteen years ago. I do not know if what is behind that is anti-Semitism ( old or new, indigenous or 'imported' ), anti-Zionism, an anonymity ( provided by the internet ) that did not exist or was not very common yet in the 1990s, the effect of 9/11 and Islamist terror, a false sense of solidarity with the Palestinians or a combination of all that. Still, in Dutch online media which offer the possibility of providing feedback you will almost always encounter anti-Jewish verbal violence whenever a subject comes up that involves Israel or the Jews. And I am not talking about ( one-sided, or balanced and totally justified, even welcome ) criticism of Israel here. It appears to me that in this context there is no real difference between Right and Left, even though in Dutch politics anti-Israel bias has more and more become a characteristic of the Left. A good example of the tone of anti-Jewish comments I just found on the website of the Dutch free daily De Pers, underneath an article that is titled "Israel remembers Holocaust". I will translate the two first comments, even though they do not deserve that and should be ignored. Someone 'named' Tuurke, registered at the website since December 2007 and the writer of 540 posts since then, commented:
  • Holocaust is a word that the Jews have appropriated unlawfully. As if Gypsies, gays and many more do not fall in that category. Typical "Jews' trick".
  • From my mother I heard about the Jews. In the war a Jewish family had to leave (*). That is why they left the main household effects with neigbors. With one neigbor they left a box of with shoes. A few streets further down they also left a box with shoes. After the war, when those Jews did not come back (**), the box was checked more closely. In one box there were only left shoes, and a few streets there were only right shoes in that box. My mother always said after that: "...those are real 'Jews' tricks' ".

(*) Notice the euphemism.

(**) You can almost hear Tuurke think: "Good riddance!". Many if not most Dutch Jews who wrote or spoke about their return from the camps or from hiding mentioned neighbors who refused or were quite unwilling to return valuables, clothes and other effects that the Jews left with their neigbors before they went into hiding or were deported. The cynical term for these neighbors is "Bewarier", a combinatie of the Dutch words for 'to keep/save' ( bewaren ) and 'Aryan' ( Arier ).

( Also posted on PoliGazette ).

Angels and demons


In order to provide a cheerful note to a somber day, here is a picture of a feline Hitler-lookalike, found here via the weblog of a Dutch journalist-blogger who today will tell Dutch-Jewish teenagers how as a young girl she lived in hiding from the Germans and their Dutch collaborators.
By the way, the son of such a collaborator, who is a respected and succesful historian and journalist, wrote a book on the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary, titled "Israel, an irreparable mistake". Last week I saw him - online - on Dutch television being interviewed about the book. That his father was a very senior member of the most notorious and anti-Semitic part of the Dutch National-Socialist Movement ( another son - a famous actor, playwright and screenwriter - tells us about their father's wartime past on his website ) is of course not the man's responsibility, and normally a person's parents' past is not necessary relevant when judging that person's work. Nevertheless, I could not help noticing that this historian - who became famous with his book Grey Past, in which he fervently argues in favor of a balanced, non-judgemental approach towards the history of WWII and attacks the ways in which the Dutch until the 1980s and 1990s divided the players of that history rigorously into goed and fout ( right and wrong ) or white and black - has no problem whatsoever with a black-and-white-approach when it comes to judging ( the genesis of ) the state of Israel ( and the immediate aftermath of that genesis ). I have no idea about Chris van der Heijden's expertise in history of Zionism and/or the Middle East, but from what he said on television and from the available online information about this book it is crystal clear that for him Israel is not white or grey but pitch-black. In the interview he tells about a Palestinian girl who was raped and murdered by Israeli soldiers during Israel's War of Independence ( 1948-9 ). This sad and shameful episode of Israel's history, which appears in Ben Gurion's diary, was made public in the fall of 2003 through an article in Ha'Aretz ( and not only three years ago, as VdH claims ). I am sure that Israeli soldiers committed more criminal acts during that war than that single one ( a war is a war, which is a fact, not an excuse ), the most (in)famous act being Dir Yassin. But why does this historian pick out only one sad horror story that highlights the guilt and cruelty of only one side, and not also mention the massacre - perpetrated by Jordanian and other Arab soldiers and 'irregulars' - of the defenders of Kfar Etzion after they had surrendered, on the eve of the declaration of Israel's independence? Or the massacre of 79 civilians, among them many nurses and doctors, who traveled in a civilian convoy to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, one month earlier? A friend of mine sent me a quote by Hans Teeuwen, a popular Dutch comedian, a quote which illustrates very well the contrast between Chris van der Heijden's passionate plea for a balanced approach to the history of WWII and his utterly one-sided view of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict, and which might shed some light on the rationale behind his work: "Well, people talk all the time about those Jews and everything, but those Germans were no angels either!".

Bits and pieces

  • About two days a year most Israeli media talk about only one subject, the Holocaust. Of course the Shoah is discussed and mentioned during the rest of the year as well, but on Holocaust Day and the day preceding it we are simply overfed with excellent, very good, good, reasonable, bad, very bad and horrible documentaries, interviews and movies that somehow deal with the Shoah. I am very much interested in the subject, both personally and professionally, but I can understand why some young Israelis ( my wife is one of them ) are very uncomfortable with it, or simply ignore it for 363/4 days a year.
  • It is a known fact that Israeli politicians love to abuse the Holocaust to further their own interests, thereby contributing to falsification of Holocaust/Nazi historiography and Holocaust denial, and making it even easier for our enemies from within and without to make unhistorical and unjustified comparisons and analogies. But why is it that a major Likud politician such as Yuval Steinitz has to choose Yom HaShoah to make a stupid and historically ridiculous remark ( " Hamas is Nazi movement " ) that insults not only the intelligence of all of us, but also the memory of the victims of both Nazism and Hamas terror?
  • That highly intelligent people can do dumb things is no news, but this really struck me as gross and foolish.
  • I recognize some of my own feelings and doubts in this article.
  • This article, written by a non-Jewish Greek blogger and editor of Ha'Aretz in English, I read with great interest. I agree totally with his conclusion: "The Holocaust does not make Jews or Israel infallible. Nor did the Holocaust alone make Israel - that is post-colonial gibberish of hateful extremists. But so long as there are those out there dreaming of another Holocaust, I know whose side I am on. "
  • There are a lot of unjust, stupid and bad things being done in and by this country, and the last sixty years have given Israel and the Israelis not only many, many reasons to be proud and grateful but also many, many reasons to make amends, do some soul-searching, improve our own lives and those of the people around us. Still, when I hear an Auschwitz survivor tell me during an interview how she listened with tears in her eyes to the radio broadcast of the UN vote for the partition of Palestine ( November 29th 1947 ) and what she felt at that moment ( "I was so happy that I, a little girl from the camp, had been able to live and see this day" ), and when I hear and see our daughter ( 9 ) and son ( 5 ) (*) sing Israel's national anthem in beautiful Hebrew, I feel hardly anything but a lot of pride and joy that I have been able to play a tiny part in the history of this state.

    (*) Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and great-grandchildren of a man of exactly my age who was arrested in France, deported from Drancy and murdered in Maidanek; our 1 1/2-year-old son is named after him.