Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
- 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
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
- 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.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
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
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.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
- 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?