Sunday, September 27, 2009

Call

This is the first time ever that I blog on Yom Kippur. About 90 minutes after the fast started, while the whole neighborhood was already in the synagogues, or in the streets biking away, we heard several fighter planes fly over. I went home to try and find out if anything out of the ordinary was reported anywhere, but there was no such thing ( yet? ). To those regular DBI readers who have my cell phone number: Please call if you hear anything that might interest or concern us over here. Hopefully I won't have any reason to go online again before the end of the holiday.
PS: Ha'Aretz Update: 19:43 IAF planes called up in north but feared security threat quickly dispelled (Haaretz)

Yom Kippur

Gmar Hatimah Tovah!

( the picture I found here )

Ha-Ha-Hasbara II

Surfing through my favorite websites before taking an internet break for Yom Kippur, I came across this good article by Amir Oren, and another one, by Bradley Burston. Some extra food for thought for the next 36 hours, perhaps? Tsom kal if you fast, and ( for my Israeli, secular readers ) be careful on your bikes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shlomo Artzi - Moon

Music & Lyrics: Shlomo Artzi
Apart from a few very short folk songs, this was the first real song in Hebrew that I fully understood, from my first CD ( not cassette ) in Hebrew that I ever bought. I learnt the song in 1992, while I did the summer ulpan at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. If ever you want to learn Hebrew fast and well ( when you have a little basic knowledge of the language ), try that intensive ulpan. Within two months I went from knowing a few phrases but being unable/afraid to speak, to speaking almost fluently. Right after that I continued ulpan at the university, and four or five months after my arrival in the country I had about 70% of the language skills that I have today ( I speak, understand, read and write Hebrew fluently ). The fact that I lived in a kibbutz and worked a lot with children and old women also helped, I must admit.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Here and there in Israel ( and New York )

Today for the first time in the already fascinating history of Israel and of Israeli corruption, a former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, appears in a courtroom to face charges "for serious offenses allegedly committed during his public mission". This morning, I sat down to eat breakfast and turned on the television to watch the news and hear about Bibi's speech at the UN. Instead there was a special broadcast from the Jerusalem District Court, starring Mr Olmert and his lawyers. Yesterday evening I heard several commentators call the Israeli PM's speech in New York moving, excellent etc. I do not know, it might be that those commentators and I watched, heard and read about different performances of Mr Nethanyahu. He is a very good speaker, that is for sure, but the contents and drama of his show failed to impress me, and more than once simply annoyed me. While I am not a real fan of Gideon Levy ( who can often be as demagogic as Bibi was yesterday ), many of the questions and comments that he wrote down here also popped up in my mind while I followed the speech. I have written more than once, here and elsewhere: you do not need the Shoah to prove how evil, cruel and dangerous the regimes in Gaza and Teheran are. By making false and utterly unhistorical comparisons and by using the memory of the six million for your own political purposes you blemish that memory, cheapen the suffering of all the victims of the Nazis and of all the victims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and make fighting both anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial much harder. While the famous act of defiance by the late president Chaim Herzog z"l, who 34 years ago tore up the infamous Zionism = racism resolution on the same podium that Mr Nethanyahu spoke from yesterday, was a historical act and a brilliant and impressive rhetorical device, the Israeli PM's use of the Wannsee protocols was a pathetic and second-rate trick. Or did he - heaven forbid - really think that the Holocaust needs any proof? Just as with Israel's demand that the Palestinians must recognize us as a Jewish state, this is yet another sign of the fact that many Israelis ( particularly on the right side of the political spectrum ) still search for recognition of the Jews' suffering during the Holocaust, and appear to be pretty unsure about our very right and our ability to exist as a truly independent nationstate. Why would some of us desperately search for some virtual seal of approval from our neighbors and enemies, if a constant demand for such a seal is not just another way of making sure that serious negotiations will continue to be postponed until Gaza freezes over? PS: One more thing that bothered me when I heard and later read the speech. Just like speeches by our worst enemies, this one was also full of the blame-game, which has become an honored tradition, in the Middle East more than anywhere else. The other side is bad as hell, I am sure, but is that an excuse for us not to do anything ourselves to improve our fate? As has been the case for most of the last sixty years, our so-called leaders wait for our enemies to do this or stop doing that, thus allowing those enemies to decide what our future will look like. Nahum Barnea gives a good interpretation of Bibi's speech.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fatboy Slim - Praise you

While I was zapping for a minute or two, after I finished eating breakfast and just before I started to work this morning, I came across this video clip, which I really like and which instantly put a genuine smile on my face. Great song, very interesting artist ( sometimes I still find it hard to believe that he used to be play bass in The Housemartins ), brilliant video. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joods-Nieuwjaaroverzicht

Het volgende artikel staat vandaag in het Friesch Dagblad.
Een zoet 5770
Vorig jaar besloot ik mijn Joodse-Nieuwjaaroverzicht met de wens dat ik dit jaar genoeg redenen zou hebben om eens met een Nederlands-rooskleurige,en niet met een Israëlisch-cynische blik op het afgelopen jaar te kunnen terugkijken. Helaas is dat niet helemaal gelukt. Eind november vielen islamistische terroristen diverse doelen in het Indiase Mumbai aan. Daarbij vielen ruim 160 slachtoffers, waaronder 28 buitenlanders, één van hen een Belgische Nederlander. Een belangrijk doel van de terroristen was het hulpcentrum van de orthodox-Joodse organisatie Chabad. De jonge rabbijn Gabriel Holtzberg en zijn zwangere vrouw Rivka werden vermoord, samen met vier andere gijzelaars. Moshe Holtzberg, hun tweejarige zoontje, werd gered door Sandra Samuel, zijn Indiase nanny. Ook in Mumbai vormden Joden en westerlingen weer slechts twee van de favoriete doelen voor islamistisch terreurgeweld. Kort daarna was er een korte geweldsuitbarsting rond het zogenaamde Huis van de Vrede in Hebron . Uiteindelijk slaagde de politie erin om de kolonisten te verrassen en het gebouw ‘snel’ en onverwacht te ontruimen, maar de veelal jonge extremisten die zich in en rond het huis ophielden reageerden hun woede en frustraties af op Palestijnse huizen en olijfbomen in de omgeving. Opnieuw werd duidelijk dat (en waarom) de Israëlische autoriteiten – om het even wie in de regering zit – zich bij elke toekomstige ontruiming van ‘legale’ en illegale buitenposten, nederzettingen etc. wel twee keer zullen bedenken. Voor de meeste Israëliërs was de belangrijkste gebeurtenis van het afgelopen jaar de oorlog in en om Gaza . Israël reageerde op de jarenlang voortdurende raketaanvallen vanuit Gaza met een grootscheeps offensief, dat kort na kerstmis begon. De oorlog, die bijna een maand duurde, verzwakte Hamas ontegenzeglijk, maar helaas betaalden ook nu weer de burgers aan beide kanten van de scheidslijn het overgrote deel van het gelag. Het leven aan de Israëlische kant van de grens is een stuk leefbaarder geworden, maar er landen nog steeds regelmatig raketten vanuit Gaza in Israël. Daarnaast leven de bewoners van Gaza nog immer onder een Hamas-regime en onder een Israëlische blokkade, en is de Israëlische soldaat Gilad Shalit – die aan de vooravond van de Libanon-oorlog in 2006 vanuit Israël ontvoerd werd – nog niet thuis. Ook dit jaar speelde Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weer een centrale rol in het Midden-Oosten. Hij werd herkozen als president van Iran , zij het met gigantische vraagtekens over het eerlijke verloop van de verkiezingen. De oppositie tegen hem en tegen de conservatieve(re) vleugel van het regime in Teheran is hardhandig tot zwijgen gebracht, al blijft het verzet doorsudderen. De dreiging van een nucleair Iran groeit met de dag. Er wordt in Israël al jarenlang een felle discussie gevoerd over de vraag of Israël kan en moet voorkomen dat de ayatollahs atoomwapens in handen krijgen. Vorige week zei minister van defensie Barak in een interview dat Iran volgens hem geen existentieel gevaar voor Israël vormde. Volgens de Russische premier Medvedev verzekerde Israëls president hem dat Israël niet van plan is om Iran aan te vallen. Anderzijds zag ik tijdens een nieuwsuitzending, gewijd aan de Personen van het Jaar, een uitgebreid portret van Ido Nechushtan, de commandant van de Israëlische luchtmacht. In die reportage werd verschillende keren gewezen op de rol die die luchtmacht bij een eventuele aanval op Iraanse atoominstallaties zou spelen, al benadrukte Alon Ben David – een zeer ervaren militaire correspondent – aan het einde van het portret dat de plannen voor zo'n aanval misschien toch beter in de la zouden blijven liggen. Al meerdere malen is gezegd dat de komende zes, twaalf, etc., maanden cruciaal zullen zijn voor het Iraanse atoomprogramma, en voor de Westerse en Israëlische reactie daarop. Ik ben benieuwd of we over twaalf maanden veel wijzer en beter af zullen zijn. Natuurlijk gebeurden er het afgelopen jaar ook dingen die voor hoop, blijdschap en dankbaarheid zorgden. In tegenstelling tot voorgaande jaren was niet de Iraanse president maar zijn nieuwe Amerikaanse collega de persoon die meer dan ieder ander gebeurtenissen en ontwikkelingen in het Midden-Oosten beïnvloedde. Dat is op zich al een verbetering. Ik hoop dat Barack Obama het komende jaar in ieder geval een deel van de hoge verwachtingen die hij op grootse wijze gewekt heeft, ook onder een aanzienlijk deel van de Israëliërs, zal waarmaken. Positieve veranderingen zullen hoogstwaarschijnlijk vanuit Washington moeten worden aangestuurd. De kans dat een dramatisch initiatief tot veranderingen ten goede in Ramallah of Gaza, of door de nieuwe Israëlische regering genomen zal worden lijkt microscopisch klein. In familiekring was voor mij één van de mooiste gebeurtenissen van 5769 het optreden van onze dochter, met haar schoolkoor, in de ambtswoning van president Shimon Peres. Weliswaar was de aanleiding verre van vrolijk – de herdenking van de moord op Rabin – maar de ceremonie viel toevallig op 9 november, precies zeventig jaar na de Kristallnacht. Haar sabba (opa), die net als mijn schoonmoeder de Holocaust als kind overleefde, was met het koor naar Jeruzalem meegereisd. De overgrootouders van onze kinderen hadden zeventig jaar geleden niet durven dromen dat hun achterkleindochter ooit voor de president van de Joodse staat zou zingen. Wat ook hoop geeft is het feit dat op de eerste drie dagen van het nieuwe jaar regen is gevallen. Wie weet kan ik over een jaar schrijven dat die regen het begin was van een goed, vruchtbaar en vreedzaam jaar, voor Israël, de Palestijnen en al onze andere buurtgenoten.

Goldstone & (Ben-)Israel

Once again, a very good analysis by Isaac Ben-Israel. This time about judge Goldstone'sUN report. Ben-Israel reveals the many faults of that report, without ignoring the mistakes that Israel makes when it 'interprets' some of the criticism aimed at us. His conclusion: "...we too are party to this blindness. Many in the enlightened world hate us (or are at least not empathic towards us) not because they are anti-Semitic (and there are those people too) and not because they are economically and politically motivated by Arab oil (and there are those people as well.) Rather, they feel that way because we rule over another people. It is possible that we understand the complex reasons that prompted the occupation, yet we would do well to also try to understand the intentions of our enlightened global peers. Then we may be able to truly understand how we are perceived by the world, and why so. However, we, just like them, refuse to see and understand. "

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Behatslaha Mr Ahtisaari

I was glad to read that Martti Ahtisaari joined The Elders. Last year, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he spoke some very wise words on ( finding a way out of ) the MidEast conflict. I simply repeat the last part of the DBI post that I wrote last year after reading Mr Ahtisaari's acceptance speech at the Peace Prize ceremony:
  • Two key phrases caught my attention: "All crises, including the one in the Middle East, can be resolved." and "If we want to achieve lasting results, we must look at the whole region." Particularly the latter phrase is important for Israel, since it says what Israel has often been saying: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is part of a larger whole, and should be approached ( and will eventually be solved ) as such.
  • With Mr Obama having to focus on domestic problems before he will be able to seriously deal with the Middle East, maybe it would be a good idea for him - as one of the four members of the Middle East Quartet - to ask Mr Ahtisaari to help set up and operate some kind of comprehensive framework that will be aimed at finding a negotiated Palestinian/Arab-Israeli peace agreement. I cannot think of a more qualified and suitable candidate for such a job ( certainly not among those Nobel Peace Prize winners who are still alive ) than this man. One additional advantage of using the services and expertise of Martti Ahtisaari is that his European contacts and background would help to enhance a European role in such a process, which I think would be a good thing. After all, Europe has even more interest in peace in the Middle East than the US, and Brussels has more carrots to offer both Israel and the Arab-Muslim world than Washington.

PS: Behatslaha = Good luck, succes

Three is company

Bringing together
Dutch cartoonist Joep Bertrams' view on the meeting between Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Nethanyahu.
PS: Never mind the cynical comments and the low expectations about the meeting. One thing is for sure: in eight months Mr Obama has invested more personal energy in trying to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table than his predecessor did in eight years. That Obama is trying to re-kickstart those negotiations from a relatively weak position ( economic crisis, weakened international position of the US, internal political troubles ) is not exactly or mainly his own or his party's fault, I would say.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid Mubarak

To the Muslim visitors of this weblog ( according to my webstats, DBI is read several times a month by people from Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other predominantly Muslim countries, and I am sure that Muslims can also be found among the readers from Western countries ):
Eid Mubarak!
( the very nice calligraphy, which says four times Eid Mubarak ( blessed holiday ) I found here. ( Helaas zijn er altijd weer bepaalde personen die het voor een groter geheel moeten verpesten. Je zult bij mij weinig of geen PVV-geluiden horen, maar als je leest "Volgens een woordvoerder van Pathé hadden de bioscopen extra beveiliging ingezet. „Dat gebeurt elk jaar tijdens het Suikerfeest. De islamitische jeugd trekt er dan massaal op uit, dan lijkt me het logisch dat er zich wat incidentjes voordoen.”, dan hoef je je niet af te vragen hoe Geert Wilders en de zijnen aan hun stemmen komen. )

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Year

A Happy, Healthy, Success- and (Hopefully) Peaceful 5070! ( The picture I found here )

Google translate

I am afraid that you will have to learn Dutch if you want to understand the previous posting, an article - about President Obama's Mid-East policy - that I wrote for the Dutch daily Friesch Dagblad. When I received a mail from the people at Medium4you, to tell me that they had posted the article on their - Belgian - website, I had a look and clicked on the Google translate - English link. While I am surpised that some sentences come out pretty well ( one of them, a translation of an English original, was identical to the original: "Not this time, not now" ), I discovered that the English 'translation' gives some interesting new interpretations of what I intended to say. A few examples:
  • Hillary Clinton has long been, and George Mitchell and other official delegates of Obama are regulars in the various capitals in the region. In the background is by diplomats and others worked hard. Harder and more serious than under Obama's pastor, that's for sure.
  • Many of the known versjteerders have to paint the Americans, and attract all too often openly or secretly a long nose towards Washington.
  • Jerusalem sits in the most nationalist government that Israel has ever known.
  • You would think that Obama is now Israel should have made clear that no international aid (not just against Iran but also against Hamas and UN reports) and gain sympathy while the middle to hail the international community by colonization blandly to continue, in whatever form.
  • Last week the U.S. president was a wonderful speech in Congress, his plans for the national health system (finally) to reform.

Obama, Iran en Israel

Het volgende artikel staat vandaag in het Friesch Dagblad.
Meneer de President, hurrie up plies!
Vijf maanden voordat Barack Obama de Amerikaanse presidentsverkiezingen won, schreef ik dat twee dingen bepalend zouden zijn voor een eventueel succes van het Midden-Oosten beleid van de nieuwe president. Die president zou waarachtige betrokkenheid – commitment – moeten laten zien bij het zoeken naar een uitweg uit het conflict tussen Israëliërs en Palestijnen. De vorige president had dat conflict gedurende twee regeringstermijnen volkomen verwaarsloosd, waardoor de extremisten en anderen die belang hebben bij de status quo jarenlang vrij spel hadden. Daarnaast zou de nieuwe president het economische, diplomatieke en militaire aanzien van de Verenigde Staten – dat onder George W. Bush zwaar geleden had – moeten terugwinnen. Acht maanden na het aantreden van de regering Obama moet ik zeggen dat er aan commitment geen gebrek is. Het is verfrissend om te zien hoeveel serieuze aandacht die regering aan Israël en de Palestijnen schenkt. Hillary Clinton is al langsgeweest, en George Mitchell en andere officiële afgevaardigden van Obama zijn vaste gasten in de diverse hoofdsteden in de regio. Op de achtergrond wordt er door diplomaten en anderen hard gewerkt. Harder en serieuzer dan onder Obama's voorganger, dat is zeker. Wat Amerika's aanzien in de wereld in het algemeen en in het Midden-Oosten in het bijzonder betreft ben ik echter bang dat er niet veel veranderd is, althans niet veel ten goede. Veel van de bekende versjteerders hebben lak aan de Amerikanen, en trekken maar al te vaak openlijk of geheimelijk een lange neus richting Washington. Twee voorbeelden. Het ayatollah-regime in Teheran gaat ongestoord zijn gang, onderdrukt de oppositie en houdt de wereld aan het nucleaire lijntje. Nadat Noord-Korea Amerika ongestraft uitdaagde weet Ahmadinejad helemaal dat hij zijn gang kan gaan. De al dan niet stilzwijgende steun van China en Rusland heeft Teheran al, de Europese Unie lijkt zich al lang bij een nucleair Iran te hebben neergelegd, en de kans dat Amerika meer zal doen dan met harde sancties te dreigen – laat staan dat het ooit militair zal ingrijpen – is miniem. Praten met Iran is beter dan verketteren en niets doen, maar praten en paaien wordt gevaarlijk als men in Teheran weet dat er geen enkele sprake is van militaire druk. In Israël heerst de indruk dat het niet op Washington hoeft te rekenen als het nucleaire uur van de waarheid aanbreekt. In Jeruzalem zetelt de meest nationalistische regering die Israël ooit gekend heeft. Vrijwel al de coalitiepartners van Bibi II hebben belang bij het voortduren van de huidige situatie, met als belangrijkste elementen: de voortschrijdende bezetting van de Westoever, het Hamas-regime in Gaza, een zwakke Palestijnse Autoriteit. Het absurde ‘aanbod’ van Nethanyahu, om de bouw in de bezette gebieden voor korte tijd stil te leggen na eerst nog even een flink aantal woningen op te leveren, zou zelfs onder Israëls grote ‘vriend’ Bush luidkeels en verontwaardigd verworpen zijn. Onder Obama en Clinton is dit weliswaar niet geaccepteerd, maar er is wel serieus onderhandeld over de vraag of die bouw nu zes, negen, twaalf of meer maanden bevroren zou moeten worden. Je zou denken dat Obama Israël inmiddels duidelijk had moeten maken dat het niet én internationale steun (niet alleen tegen Iran, maar ook tegen Hamas en VN-rapporten) en sympathie kan krijgen én tegelijkertijd de middelvinger kan opsteken naar de internationale gemeenschap door het nederzettingenbeleid doodleuk voort te zetten, in wat voor vorm dan ook. Mijn gratis advies aan Barack Obama is dit: maak een deal met Bibi. Voer ongekende druk op hem (en op de Palestijnen) uit om tot een onderhandelde vredesovereenkomst en de oprichting van een Palestijnse staat naast Israel te komen, met behulp van ‘wortels’ maar ook met ‘stokken’, maar overtuig Israëls premier tegelijkertijd dat zijn land voor 100% op Amerika kan rekenen als het gaat om het wegnemen van de Iraanse nucleaire dreiging, zo nodig met ondiplomatieke middelen. Ik denk dat Nethanyahu verbazingwekkend compromisbereid zal zijn tegenover de Palestijnen (en de confrontatie met een groot deel van zijn regering zal durven aangaan, wetend dat hij op steun van de oppositie kan vertrouwen) als hij ervan overtuigd is dat Israël de Iraanse, zeer reële, dreiging niet in zijn eentje het hoofd hoeft te bieden. Als het huidige Amerikaanse beleid – het willen sparen van de Iraanse kool en de Israëlische geit – nog even wordt voortgezet ben ik bang dat we, sneller dan verwacht, een Israëlische militaire actie tegen Iran zullen zien, niet alleen zozeer bedoeld om Iran te verzwakken als wel om een Iraanse reactie uit te lokken en daarmee Amerikaanse steun af te dwingen. Vorige week hield de Amerikaanse president een prachtige toespraak in het Congres, over zijn plannen om het nationale gezondheidsstelsel (eindelijk) te hervormen. We konden weer eens zien waarom deze ultra-charismatische en verbaal superbegaafde man tien maanden geleden zoveel Amerikanen er toe wist te brengen om op hem te stemmen. Ik zou hem heel graag binnenkort ( PS: toen ik dit schreef was het nog niet zeker of Obama, Abbas en Nethanyahu elkaar komende week zouden ontmoeten ) een soortgelijke, bevlogen en inspirerende toespraak zien en horen houden, staand tussen Abu Mazen en Nethanyahu in New York of Washington, waarbij hij de volgende drie zinnen uit zijn speech van vorige week letterlijk herhaalt: “ Ik zal niet werkloos toezien terwijl belangengroepen dezelfde oude tactieken gebruiken om alles precies zo te laten blijven zoals het is. […] Ik zal de status quo niet als een oplossing aanvaarden. Niet deze keer, niet nu! ”. De tijd dringt, meneer de president!

Ha-Ha-Hasbara

Israel Facts is yet another example - or proof, or explanation - of the sorry state that hasbara is in. Apart from religious nationalists and other rightwingers ( extreme and less extreme ) today few Zionists feel the urge to actively explain and defend Israel's current actions, particularly those concerning Gaza and the occupied territories. Maybe that is because the settlers and their various lobbies in and around the Knesset dictate much of Israel's ( foreign ) policies and reality, apparently today more than ever before. Several of the most visible and audible bodies that deal with hasbara are partly or completely staffed by extreme and not so extreme rightwingers, from the Foreign Ministry to organizations like NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Of course the occupation is not the only, or maybe not even the main reason why Israel is doing so poorly today, PR- and otherwise, but I - and many Zionists and true friends of Israel with me - continue to claim that the settlements cause Israel huge diplomatic and economic ( and social, military, etc. ) damage. As long as the government does not radically change its policies towards the Palestinians and the settlers, hasbara hardly has a leg to stand on. Early last year I attended a conference on anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, organized by the Foreign Ministry and the Minister for Diaspora, Society and the Fight against anti-Semitism ( I was invited by one of the conference's organizers ). I remember very well how David Hirsh of Engage ( a group that does extraordinary and extraordinarily important work in the fight against anti-Semitism ) was booed and verbally attacked when he dared to mention some of the less kosher sides of Israel's behavior in Gaza and the occupied territories and to suggest that a) there is a link, no matter how irrational and unjustified, between that behavior and some expressions of anti-Semitism, and b) no one would profit more from an end to the occupation than Israel itself. Unfortunately, these days people like Richard Gold and David Hirsh - whose work I admire, and who in my opinion are true friends of both Israel and the Palestinians - are lone voices crying in the Zionist wilderness.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Make a wish

I would love to be reassured by the words of Mr Barak when he says that Iran is not an existential threat for Israel. On the other hand, this man also claims that the Labor party will one day lead this country again and that if and when a two state solution to the conflict is reached that will be because of Labor's participation in Bibi II. Those are only two reasons why I find it hard to really believe him.

Sugar...., oh honey, honey...

It is a shame that this picture cannot transfer the scent of our kitchen right now. These three honeycakes, for Rosh HaShanah tomorrow, I just took out of the oven. I used my mother's recipe for a regular cake ( very, very easy to make, with lots of variation possibilities ), replaced half of the amount of sugar with more or less the same amount of honey, and added mixed spices ( for speculaas ). The cake is delicious ( the other day our daughter and I already made two cakes for her to take to school this morning ), it takes less than 15 minutes to make, plus about 45 minutes in the oven. If you want to have the recipe you will have to send me an e-mail. I would post it here, if I was not afraid of the health police ;-) Hag Sameah!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Advies voor Kim Clijsters

Gebruik de volgende keer een beter scheer/knipapparaat! Wat jij in dit filmpje gebruikt werkt niet echt lekker, zo te zien. Ik kan je Philips aanraden, gisteren heb ik mezelf met zo'n apparaat geknipt ( 0 mm ), het is een oud beestje, kan niet meer worden opgeladen, maar het werkt nog prima. En oh ja, proficiat, klasse! Overigens, als het om PR-punten van de afgelopen week gaat is de score Clijsters-Williams 10-0. Zo leuk kan sport zijn: hard werken en ontspannen, plezier, een vriendelijke uitstraling, sportief gedrag en resultaten kunnen zo te zien goed samen gaan. Kol HaKavod!

Prinsjesdag 2009

( the picture I found here )

If you like ceremonial circuses and want to take some nice and funny pictures, the Dutch city of The Hague is the place to be today. Every year on the third Tuesday of September it is Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands. More information you can find here. The official website ( in Dutch ) is here. I know where my father will be in the next few days: in front of the television, following the parliamentary debates on government policy for the coming year. Very few people are as fascinated by those debates as he is.

And the winner....

of the Oh!Nuts Rosh HaShanah gift is: SSheinfeld of KosherAcademic. Her name was drawn from among only six participants whose entries and e-mail addresses did not smell like spam and who named their favorite gift basket ( though, next time, you should also place a link to that basket ). Congratulations, and Shanah tovah!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Asaf ben Ilan Ramon z"l

Yesterday evening, while my wife was picking up her mother at the hospital, where my father-in-law is being treated, I was at home with our children. After they went to sleep, I read some chapters in the very interesting ( though not very well edited ) book that I am reading these days. I did not watch the news, as I normally do. When my wife came home she asked if I had heard the news. Since President Peres had fainted the other day I thought that maybe something had happened to him. But no, it turned out that Asaf Ramon, the son of legendary Israeli icon Ilan Ramon, had died in a training accident. I felt very sad. Israel, in spite of everything, is still a very closely knit society, many if not most Israelis do not need more than one or two degrees ( unlike the six degrees of Kevin Bacon ) to 'reach' a bereaved family, for every one of us it is easy to identify with parents and siblings who lose a loved one. When Ilan Ramon died in the Columbia disaster, I was doing reserve duty somewhere in the Negev. I remember how much we all followed the events, the funeral, the memorial services etc. The Ramon family became another exemplary Israeli family, whose members served this country and people as best as they could. Unfortunately Asaf's promising life was cut short so early. May his memory, and his father's, be a blessing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mazal tov

Congratulations to Shmuel Maoz and the other makers of 'Lebanon', for winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. I have not seen the movie yet, but I heard and read a lot about it. The idea behind it - presenting the audience with a 'view' of First Lebanon War from inside an Israeli tank, making viewers identify with the four crew members - sounds brilliant, according to many critics it really works. Never mind the pretty predictable comments by some Ynet feedbackers and their ilk.

" I will not accept the status quo as a solution "

For us in Europe and Israel it is difficult to fully understand and appreciate the ongoing public debate about health care reform that is going on in America these days. If I was an American, I most probably would fully support my President on this issue. Last week, once again I was impressed with a speech by Mr Obama. Hopefully, pretty soon he will deliver a similar speech on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In such a speech, he could absolutely recycle the following lines from last week's address: "I won't stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in this plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time; not now. "

Collignon

( Nederzettingen = settlements, Israel's signaal aan de wereld = Israel's signal to the world )
Without being a real fan of the work of the Dutch cartoonist Jos Collignon, I really liked this one, as it hits the nail totally on its head, unfortunately.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mira Awwad: There Were Nights

Lyrics: Ya'acov Orland, Music: Mordechai Za'ira Shavua Tov!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Rosh HaShanah Oh!Nuts Giveaway!

Next week we will celebrate the Jewish New Year. The nice people of Oh!nuts.com offer a free Rosh HaShanah Gift ( up to 30$ ) for one of my American readers, i.e. a reader (M/F ) who lives in the USofA. All that you have to do is leave a comment to this posting, with the name of plus a link to the gift that you would like to win, from among the various and very tasty and beautiful gifts that you can find on the Rosh Hashanah Gift Page here. On Tuesday morning ( September 15 ) one of my children will pick a winner from among those who left a comment. It is very easy, have a look at the comments at the Oh!Nuts Purim Giveaway on this weblog earlier this year ( the posting of February 25 ). Please leave an e-mail address or send me a mail, so I can contact you and send you the gift certificate if you win. You can also enter by writing your favorite gift on the wall at the Facebook page of Oh!Nuts ( the people of Oh!nuts.com will pick a winner at random ), or you can participate via Twitter by following these directions. Hag Sameah uMatok ( a happy and sweet holiday )!

Recommended reading

Two articles that I read in Ha'Aretz, today and yesterday. One by Bradley Burston ( which I liked, though it contains a lot of wishful thinking, see for example points 2, 4, 5 ), the other by Benjamin Hartman, about yet another ( arrogant ) campaign to lure Diaspora Jews to come and visit Israel. There are too many reasons for too many Israelis to think about trying their luck, building their lives and starting/taking their families abroad. I think that we should first try to make Israel a ( more ) attractive home and better functioning state for Israelis, before we try to convince Diaspora Jews that they belong here and that this country is a great place to study, work and live.

Wizard of Id

The creators of The Wizard of Id did a(nother) great job this week. The cartoon about the redhead made me laugh out loud, and today's episode - with the mirror - is brilliant, I think.

De wereld rond

Dit artikel heeft enkele best wel geinige commentaren gekregen. Zie bijvoorbeeld WK2010, Riembo, Jaap.

09-09-09

This is what today, quite a remarkable and rememberable date, looks like on the Human Calendar. A special mazal tov to all those who get married today, and to all the children who are born today.

Monday, September 07, 2009

They ( and we ) deserve more than this

As much as I think that Israel should have ( better ) leaders, some countries are even worse off than we are. I really feel sorry for the Iranians. What else but pity and sympathy can you feel for the people of a country in which ' universities' are ruled by angry bearded fanatics, and where being an internationally wanted terrorist does not disqualify you for a senior minister's post ( au contraire ), while once having been photographed next to an ( Arab- ) Israeli minister does? If the people of Iran had honestly elected those fanatics maybe we could say "They got what they deserve", but after the latest elections I do not think it would be fair to believe and say that anymore. Just as I do not believe that the people of Gaza get what they deserve: a majority of them voted to have Hamas in the government, but not for Hamas to take brutal and total control of their lives.

Different times

That I hardly write any new postings, apart from automatically posted video clips on Saturday evening, does not mean that I am not interested in or do not get excited about or depressed from the news. I am just too busy with - sorry - more important things than this weblog right now. Most of those things are related to the news, one or two are not. My wife and our children have returned to school, so at least I have more time and energy to work now. Here are links to only four of the many interesting articles and reports that I read in recent weeks:
  • Gideon Levy and Anshel Pfeffer on the Swedish-organ-harvesting affair
  • A very true comment by the German Bundeskanzlerin.
  • An opinion article by Yael Gvirtz, with some pain- but also truthful observations about the way in which the State of Israel is - or rather isn't - functioning and being led: "Everyone admits that everything is being managed through impromptu solutions and that the thinkers behind 'reforms' and the true masters are the low-ranked officials. There is not sort of planning from above or future strategy. " When I searched for more articles by Yael Gvirtz I came across two other, pretty good, not too recent but still very relevant, pieces that she wrote: about the security fence ( June 2006; I could not help but thinking about the diplomatic row between Norway and Israel of the past week ) and about Tzipi Livni ( January 2007 ).

Finally, somebody sent me this link. The YouTube video shows two Dutch-Jewish musicians who perform a song, written by one of them just a few weeks before, in front of wounded Israelis soldiers and their caretakers, at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem during the Yom Kippur War. A very moving video. According to the show's host, the song was played often on Dutch radio, right before and even more during the war. I don't remember that, I was only five years old in those days, it would take at least another five, six years before I was able to find Israel on the worldmap, I believe. I do remember a renewed version of the song which was recorded by a number of Dutch artists - Jewish and non-Jewish - as a token of solidarity with Israel during the Gulf War of 1991. Or rather, I remember the Israeli parody of that song, that I saw in the summer of 1991 or 1992 ( I cannot find that parody on YouTube ). The 1991 version looks a bit kitschy, but I am absolutely sure that the solidarity of all the participants was heartfelt and true. No doubt the same goes for the feelings of Mr Hammelburg and Klipstein in 1973. During the last two wars that Israel fought, in the summer of 2006 and the winter of 2008-2009, I was happy to see, hear and feel some of that solidarity myself, online and elsewhere. Why do I write this? I think because I realized that - as opposed to 1973 and, also, 1991 - today supporting and understanding Israel has become less a matter of course for outsiders, both Jewish and non-Jewish. To me it appears that these days by far the most foreign supporters and 'supporters' of Israel are led by religious and/or rightwing/extreme-rightwing political motives, among which 'the enemy of my enemy of my enemy' is but one. A very large part of the hasbara is being directed and carried out by ( very ) right-wing Israelis and Jews, and their non-Jewish supporters. All criticism of Israel is disposed of hateful, anti-Semitic, and unworthy of any real consideration or serious response. Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate some of the outside support, and I know from my own experience that much of it is genuine and helpful, but I find it sad and worrisome that very, very few leftwing and so-called progressive Westerners choose to express their solidarity with Israel. That fact is partly explained by changes in the Muslim world and says a lot about the metamorphoses undergone by the European, American etc. Left, but those changes do not explain it all. Israel today is also very different from Israel in 1973 and 1991, and not only in a positive sense. On the contrary. While the Jewish state has become more affluent and - militarily - stronger, Israeli society has also become more violent, more racist, more polarized and divided, than ever before. As Yael Gvirtz writes, ad-hoc policies have become the norm, and if there is a foreign policy, it is dictated by Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah and the settlers. Bibi and Barak say that they agree to freezing building in the occupied territories, but only for a short time and only after several hundreds of more houses have been built in those territories. Do they really believe that they can fool all the world all the time and get away with tricks like these? Since Israel managed to really anger even the current Dutch Foreign Minister - who is the most Israel-friendly Dutch FM that I can remember, the kind of true friends that Jerusalem should listen to - I would say that it should do some serious thinking. Could it be that former - and potential new - supporters simply do not recognize themselves and their values in today's Jewish State, and that they are under the impression - with or without good reason - that real friendship is hardly appreciated by Israelis today?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Daniel Salomon: Love

Lyrics and Music: Daniel Salomon Shavua Tov!