Thursday, June 27, 2013
Several months ago, right before the elections, I spoke with a good friend of ours. He is quite rightwing, though far from being fanatic or extremist (he was considering voting Likud or Yesh Atid), married with children, and very well educated. I could not believe my ears when he said without blinking that Israel can afford "a small war" every now and then. Yesterday I was reminded of his words when I came across this article. This morning - the letters for the word 'incident/coincidence' and the phrase "Only from G'd" are the same in Hebrew, as I learnt about twenty years ago from a rabbi - I read a passage in an amazing book by Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler, a very insightful, real-time (!!!) analysis of the developments which led the Germans from one worldwar to another. In no way would I want to imply that Israel resembles pre-Nazi Germany - I am not a big fan of historical comparisons, and there are oh so many differences and hardly any real similarities between the two; for example, Israelis know very well how to enjoy their lives, probably better than anybody else - but for a very brief moment I could not help thinking of Israel today when I read the following:
"A whole generation was , it seemed, at a loss as to how to cope with the offer of an unfettered private life. A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills-accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private live great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk. In the end they waited eagerly for the first disturbance, the first setback or incident, so that they could put this period of peace behind them and set out on some new collective adventure."
Posted by Bert at 12:33 PM
Friday, June 21, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Yesterday my wife, two of our children, and I attended a concert of The Idan Raichel Project. WOW! It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen and heard in Israel, and abroad. Whenever you get the chance to watch and hear them perform (October in the US) go and do so. After October Idan Raichel is taking a break, if I am not mistaken. I also highly recommend his/their albums, particularly number two, three, and four. The same goes for the CD he made with Mal guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. I am sure the live album of the project is great as well, it is the only one that we haven't bought yet. The song in the video above ("At Night") appears on the project's latest album, A Quarter to Six.
Posted by Bert at 6:42 AM
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The election of Hassan Rohani, of course, does not mean that suddenly Iran is not ruled anymore by a clique of fanatics that aims at enforcing and spreading an extremist version of (shi'ite) Islam, at developing nuclear weapons, at threatening American interests and destroying the state of the Jews. Still, Bibi and Ya'alon's Delenda-Est-Iran reactions before, during and right after the Iranian elections don't serve Israel's interests and looked pathetic. A responsible and smart government would have come up with various scenarios (one of them including the victory of this, the most moderate or least fanatic man among the handful of candidates), their international implications and possible Israeli responses. Instead, Israel was the only country which had a one-size-fits-all response ready for what was - according to all analysts, in spite of everything - a surprise victory. Not that Rohani was not a leading candidate, but hardly anybody foresaw the size of his victory, in the first round.
PS: For a good analysis of Rohani's election - one that mixes cautious optimism with strong warnings - click here.
Posted by Bert at 7:01 AM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Today, both the Times of Israel and Haaretz have an AP article about Leon Wieseltier. One of his best known books is Kaddish. When the prayer by that name is said, the audience responds several times with "Amen". I did the same when I read both articles, since I agree with what Mr Wieseltier says.
Posted by Bert at 6:58 AM
Sunday, June 09, 2013
For a change, I absolutely agree with Binyamin Nethanyahu: the decision by Austria to immediately withdraw its UNDOF troops from the Syrian-Israeli border proves (once again) that, within the framework of any peace agreement with its neighbors, Israel cannot rely on the UN (or on any other outsider) when it comes to its own security. Also, Israel does and can not expect any foreign soldier to risk his/her life and health for its own wellbeing. I still believe that foreign help in helping find a way out of the conflict is vital, and I am sure that Mr Nethanyahu's conclusions based on all current events are different from mine, but still, he and I have about the same level of confidence in the reliability of the United Nations when it comes to the conflicts between the Jewish state and its neighbors.
Posted by Bert at 3:21 PM