Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Two ( or three ) features were added to this blog during the last half hour. The bar on top of the screen allows readers to search this blog, using Google. The "next blog" button on the same bar will bring you to another blog, randomly ( I suppose ) chosen from among all blogspot.com weblogs. From now on, at the bottom of each posting you will find an envelope-icon. Through that icon you can e-mail a link to that particular posting.
Posted by Bert at 10:25 PM
Ook al ben ik het vaak ( meestal ) niet helemaal eens ( lees: totaal oneens ) met Anja Meulenbelt, toch kan ik het niet laten om regelmatig op haar weblog te kijken, omdat er vaak onderwerpen worden aangesneden die me boeien, zij het vanuit een perspectief dat mij vreemd is. Wie zal het zeggen, misschien zal 'de verlossing' niet alleen door mensen zoals ik teweeg worden gebracht. Als teken van respect voor het werk en de opinies van mevrouw Meulenbelt, en om het de lezers van mijn weblog gemakkelijk te maken heb ik dus maar een permanente link naar haar blog in de kantlijn geplaatst. Vandaag begon de SP-senatrix ( misschien onbedoeld ) een discussie naar aanleiding van de opvallende samenwerking tussen mevrouw Ayaan Hirsch Ali en Theo van Gogh in de korte film Submission. Ik heb daar ook een commentaar achtergelaten: Rudy schreef: “Het is heel vreemd dat oud-links zich zo vereenzelvigt met de patriarchale islam.” De laatste jaren zien we ueberhaupt coalities en andere verbanden die op het eerste gezicht vreemd lijken. In Europa gaat het nationalisme van ‘rechts’ soms naadloos over in ( of hand in hand met ) het anti-Amerikanisme van ‘links’, anti-globalisten reizen de hele wereld over om te demonstreren ( ik denk dan wel eens aan een sketch van Neerlands Hoop: “Ga aan je werk, vlerk, zolang het nog kan!” ), en Islamisten ( en andere anti-Westerse religieuze fanaten ) hebben er geen enkel probleem mee hun doel na te streven door middel van moderne media en apparatuur die - hoe je het ook bekijkt - tot de verworvenheden van de ( zo verfoeide ) Westerse consumptiemaatschappij behoren.Lees voor een voorbeeld van vervaagde grenzen tussen rechts en links eens het interview met Mikis Theodorakis dat afgelopen weekend in Ha’Aretz stond ( zie link op mijn blog ). De termen links en rechts voldoen al lang niet meer, toch zullen we hen bij gebrek aan beter nog lang blijven gebruiken, neem ik aan. Een duidelijker scheidslijn vandaag de dag, als het gaat om samenwerkingsverbanden, is die tussen extreem en gematigd, maar ook zo’n onderscheid voldoet nauwelijks. Politiek hokjesdenken is bijna onmogelijk geworden. Zou het kunnen dat dat gebrek aan duidelijkheid en zekerheden bij veel mensen juist tot extremere standpunten en acties leidt?Waar ik Geert Wilders vaak nogal eng ( zowel in de betekenis van ‘griezelig’ als ‘bekrompen’; ik heb hem ooit tijdens een bezoek aan Haifa geinterviewd ) vind, lijkt mevrouw Hirsch Ali me erg moedig, bovendien geeft ze zonder meer de indruk te weten waarover ze het heeft. Als iemand de dingen die AHA zegt afdoet als ( zomaar een ) mening, en suggeert dat die mening niet gebaseerd is op enig ‘inzicht’ zegt dat meer over de spreekster/schrijfster dan over mevrouw Hirsch Ali en haar boodschap. Waarom mag alles en iedereen ( inclusief Israel, ja ik weet dat ik hier vanuit mijn eigen nauwe perspectief praat )worden aangevallen, maar moeten we bij discussies met en over ‘de’ Islam altijd op onze woorden passen? Ik zeg niet dat we allemaal maar ongefundeerde, ongenuanceerde en op vooroordelen gebaseerde kritiek moeten gaan spuien, maar Nederland is nog steeds een democratie, met de modige gebreken en beperkingen. Een ieder die in Nederland woont moet in staat worden geacht te kunnen omgaan met en redelijk te kunnen reageren op kritiek ( of spot ) op zichzelf en/of op de religieuze/politieke/ethnische etc. groep waartoe hij/zij behoort. Denkt iemand dat zulke kritiek de grenzen van het betamelijke/toelaatbare overschrijdt, dan kan om een juridische uitspraak worden gevraagd.Tenslotte, geldt het argument ( dat heel redelijk klinkt ) “Ik denk niet dat je mishandelde vrouwen helpt door de islam aan te vallen. Integendeel. Dat polariseert alleen maar verder, het isoleert de vrouwen die je zegt te willen bevrijden alleen maar nog meer.” inderdaad ( zie commentaar nr. 2 van Josine ) ook niet ( mutatis mutandis ) waar het Israel en de Palestijnen betreft?
Posted by Bert at 9:22 PM
Today's double suicide bombing in Be'er Sheva, which killed 15 people until now and wounded tens of others, 'proves' several things.
1) The fact that this is 'only' the first succesful suicide bombing in Israel in five months shows that all in all the security forces are quite successful when it comes to preventing major terror atacks being carried out. Unfortunately the work of terrorists is much easier than that of the security forces: even one successful attempt out of many bears results for them.
1 a) There is no military solution that will eradicate terror. Terror must be confronted with force, but that battle has to be accompanied by some sort of political vision/plan.
2) The fact that this is 'only' the first succesful suicide bombing in Israel in five months shows that the separation wall basically 'serves its purpose': it makes it much harder for large bombs and suicidal volunteers to be smuggled into Israel from the territories. That purpose can be served just as well by building the wall on ( the Israeli side of ) the Green Line, not inside Palestinian territory.
3) Obviously the Hamas, which claimed the murderous attack, is very proud of this success. As always, it is annoying that rightwing Israeli politicians and public figures feel the need to immediately publish told-you-so declarations, which usually leave me with the feeling that their interests and those of Hamas, Jihad, Hezbollah etc. correspond in oh so many ways. The timing of this attack - the day on which dates were made public for decisions related to a pullout from Gaza - suggests that, like the settlers and their supporters, Palestinian(-Islamist) terrorists would prefer Israel to continue its occupation. In the past, during every stage of negotiations or planning towards some Israeli pullout from occupied territory we witnessed a rise in terror attacks ( plus a heightened level of activities by Israeli nationalist groups and individuals ). By the way, this really proves that PM Sharon and minister of Defense Mofaz are right when they say that they want to take Israel out of Gaza at once, not in stages.
4) The UN and the EU are slightly one-sided when it comes to the protection of human rights. Will we hear any unmistakable denunciations of acts like these from the Security Council or the General Assembly, or will we have to satisfy ourselves once again with perfunctory condemnations from Koffi Annan and some EU official? Ah, of course, this was just another legitimate act of popular defense against the occupation, wasn't it?
Two simultaneous blasts on two buses in Be'er Sheva caused many people to be hurt half an hour ago, close to the Soroka hospital.
Posted by Bert at 3:16 PM
Regarding "A job well done", Ha'Aretz Magazine, August 27, 2004:
There is little doubt that from a purely military perspective the achievements of Harel Knafo and his soldiers have been often succesful, and that we owe those men and women a lot. There is even less doubt that somebody who spent more than half of his young life within the army appears to have a hard time understanding that military and civilian life in Israel are two different things, as closely linked as they are. "Fifty years ago they [ the settlers ] would have been called heroes". While that may be true, not understanding that things have changed during the last fifty years could be proof of a slightly distorted world view. That such a world view is what guides many Israeli decision makers becomes even clearer when this highly respected soldier says about the extremist settlers "engaging in illegal activity": "...using my authority as brigade commander I denied them help as much as I could". If those lawbreakers were Arabs, would they be denied help, or would they just be eliminated? It is a shame that because of a permanent lack of ability and willingness on the part of Israeli and Palestinian non-leaders, the wonderful qualities of men such as Harel Knafo are wasted for the purpose of continuing an occupation which was wrong and immoral from the very beginning, and which in the long run could threaten our state's very existence.
Posted by Bert at 6:23 AM
Monday, August 30, 2004
Regarding "The Jewish problem, according to Theodorakis", Ha'aretz Magazine, August 27, 2004:
Automatically accusing criticasters of Israel's policies of being anti-Semites is indeed for many Israelis often "an excuse,[...] a way to avoid self-criticsm". Still, when in an interview so many classical expressions of anti-Semitism are uttered by somebody - whether he is a Romanian president or political candidate, or a major Greek composer - it is hard not to receive the impression that that person could very well be an anti-Semite. Mr Theodorakis' life story seems to offer much food for thought for those who try to analyze ( the genesis of ) the often blurred boundaries between social and political activism/criticism on the far right/left and anti-Semitism. As the article says, Mr Theodorakis might be " a person whose work and life embody the spirit of the contemporary European left ". The fact that ordinary Palestinians and Israelis are at the mercy of corrupt leaders of unstable regimes, who are supported either by that European left ( which is often motivated by a fierce anti-Americanism, and sometimes also by diluted or virulent versions of anti-Semitism ) or by its European or American neo-conservative counterparts ( who often harbor a passionate Islamophobia ), holds out little hope that drastically positive changes lie ahead for the two peoples in the near future.
Posted by Bert at 1:23 PM
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Ha'Aretz News Flash: 16:34 Civil Service Commission to examine all postings at all ministries to ferret out any nepotistic appointments Is that commission going to be busy for a while, or what?
Posted by Bert at 5:02 PM
On the Head Heeb's blog someone calling himself JSinger reacted to the first Olympic gold medal being won by an Israeli: No offense meant to the Russians, but it's kind of gratifying that both Israel's first medal and first gold medal went to quintessential Sabras in typically Israeli sports, not to Soviet-trained lugers or figure skaters. Actually, for all the excitement about the influx of former-Soviet athletes, coaches and trainers (which probably has, in fact, had an effect on Israeli success in qualification and preliminary rounds), pretty much all the medals and major championships seem to come from the traditional Israeli pursuits of martial arts and sailing.
Not that I have any special affection ( or antipathy ) for 'the Russians' ( "some of my best friends are Russian" :-), no seriously, they are ), but I did reply to those biased views, that just are not true:
"Out of ( only ) 6 Israeli Olympic medals one was won by an Israeli athlete who immigrated from the FSU (*). Also, pole vaulter Alex Averbukh, who on Friday just did not show what he is capable of, was the 2000 European Indoor Champion, the 2001 World silver medalist and the 2002 European Champion. All pretty impressive achievements I'd say. With the small amount of Olympic medals won by Israelis I think it is still a bit early to claim victory for "the sabras vs the Russians". At least JSinger does not subdivide the number of medals into those won by ashkenzazim and sepharadim. Why can't we just enjoy the achievements of OUR sportsmen and -women and appreciate those athletes for what they are, ambassadors of Israel, not of one of its composing social/ethnic elements? Is it impossible even at such cheerful occasions to stand united as a people?"
(*) If I am not mistaken Michael Kalganov immigrated in the same year as I did.
Posted by Bert at 1:27 PM
Saturday, August 28, 2004
The grandson of Mahatma Ghandi is here to tell those among the Palestinians who are willing to listen to him about non-violence as a ( the ) way to oppose the occupation. He said some very wise and true things, stressing the holiness of human lives. I think it would be great if most Palestinians were to listen to/put into practice what this man has to say: it would mean the real beginning of the end for the occupation. As it is hard to 'sell' the use of tanks and helicopter gunships against civilians even when it is obvious that armed terrorists hide behind them, it will become impossible for Israel to justify any violent response to truly non-violent mass protests. Still, one of the 'problems' with non-violence is that you cannot really have it both ways without losing your credibility and thus your strength. If there was a real chance that all or at least most Palestinian activists were to adopt non-violence as their main form of opposition to Israel's presence in the territories, I am sure that the current Israeli government and the settlers would start to sweat seriously. In the meantime that chance remains only virtual, as the incident reported yesterday on the same Ha'Aretz webpage as Mr Ghandi's visit 'proves'. Yet another wasted opportunity for the Palestinian ( and the Israeli ) people.
Posted by Bert at 9:29 AM
Friday, August 27, 2004
Op Anja Meulenbelt's weblog wordt de boycot van een Israelische judoka door een Iranier toegejuicht ( zie commentaar 13 en 18 ), o.a. door mevrouw Meulenbelt zelf, die ruiterlijk toegeeft niet echt te weten waarover ze het heeft: "Ik ken het verhaal van die Iraniër niet, maar ik vind het een goede daad." Mijn reactie:
Zonder de bezetting goed te willen praten of te willen ontkennen dat Israel mensenrechten schendt, vind ik het op zijn minst ironisch dat een rasechte feministe en iemand anders die erg begaan lijkt/zegt te zijn met mensenrechten hier juist deze boycot toejuichen. Immers, welk land ( wie na alle officiele mededelingen door vertegenwoordigers van de Iraanse regering voor en na het wegen van Arash Miresmaeili nog gelooft dat hij het op eigen inititatief deed is wel heel erg naief ) voerde de boycot tegen de Israelische judoka uit? Ach natuurlijk, de kampioen waar het gaat om mensenrechten en de rechten van de vrouw. En laten we hierbij ook niet de massieve hulp van Iran aan de Palestijnse zaak vergeten: geld, materieel en training aan Hezbollah in Libanon, en ( vooral via die groepering ) aan een deel van het Palestijnse ‘verzet’. Kom nou toch!
PS: Net als veel van haar collega-activisten aan zowel de pro-Pal als de pro-Isr kant kan ook mevrouw M. het niet laten vergelijkingen te maken en/of associaties op te roepen met de gebeurtenissen in de jaren 1933-45 in Europa. Mijn mening over en gebrek aan waardering voor het gebruik van dergelijke associaties heb ik al in verschillende eerdere postings/artikelen geuit. Wat betreft Zuid-Afrika, ik weet te weinig af van ( de geschiedenis van ) apartheid om iets zinnigs te zeggen over vergelijkingen die gemaakt worden tussen pre-Mandela ZA en Israel. Wel vind ik het frappant dat Anja Meulenbelt denkt te kunnen bepalen wie hier in Israel het 'echte vredeskamp' is. Dat getuigt van dezelfde arrogantie als die van Israelische politici als Avigdor Lieberman en Uzi Landau die denken te kunnen bepalen wie het Palestijnse volk al dan niet mag/kan vertegenwoordigen.
Posted by Bert at 11:05 PM
Unfortunately Alex Averbukh, Israel's last remaining serious candidate for another medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, failed three times to clear 5.75 meters in the pole vault final. Also in the men's hockey final the last real Dutch candidate for a gold medal lost 2:1 to Australia, which still leaves the Dutch team with a silver medal. Both for Israel and for the Netherlands Athens 2004 has been a highly succesful Olympic tournament, with as far as the Dutch are concerned several cases of 'almost' a golden victory. Both countries can be proud of their athletes. Maybe the Israeli education minister - who this week remembered that she is also responsible for sports in this country, which led to an embarrassing scene right after Gal Friedman received his gold medal, with Limor Livnat, the minister, pushing her way onto the podium ( as if she was in her local supermarket trying to get ahead in the line ) and leading the way for other Israelis to do the same - now will be kind enough not to forget about sports for another four years, so that maybe the Israeli delegation in Bejing 2008 will be able to return with even more than one golden and one bronze medal.
PS: Maybe, just maybe, Dutch mountainbiker Bart Brentjens will surprise us with another medal for the Netherlands tomorrow.
Posted by Bert at 10:08 PM
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Net als zoveel mensen die een grote betrokkenheid met het wel en wee van joden of Palestijnen te hebben, neemt Anja Meulenbelt het niet zo nauw met 'de' waarheid ( zie haar eigen commentaar, nr. 9 ). Ze heeft het over mythes, iets waar de geschiedenis van het Palestijns/Arabisch-Israelische conflict zo rijk aan is. Ik kon het niet laten ( ja, ik weet dat ik belangrijkere en meer zinvolle dingen te doen heb ) een commentaar op haar weblog achter te posten:
“Neem de Oslo periode. Geen aanslagen, geen gewapend verzet.” ( commentaar nr. 9 )
Net als de fanatici en goedpraters aan ‘mijn’ kant lijdt mevrouw Meulenbelt aan een wel heel selectief geheugen.
Ik noem hier alleen even de grote aanslagen die tussen 13 september 1993 ( het tekenen van de zogenaamde Declaration of Principles door Shimon Peres en Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, het officiele ‘begin’ van Oslo ) en 4 november 1995 ( de moord op Rabin ) gepleegd zijn:
Apr 6 94 - Asher Attia, 48, of Afula, bus driver; Vered Mordechai, 13, of Afula; Maya Elharar, 17, of Afula; Ilana Schreiber, 45, a teacher from Kibbutz Nir David; Meirav Ben-Moshe, 16, of Afula; Ayala Vahaba, 40, a teacher from Afula; and Fadiya Shalabi, 25, of Iksal were killed in a car-bomb attack on a bus in the center of Afula. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahuva Cohen Onalla, 37, wounded in the attack, died of her wounds on April 25.
Apr 13 94 - Rahamim Mazgauker, 34, of Hadera; David Moyal, 26 of Ramat Gan, an Egged mechanic; Daga Perda, 44, who immigrated from Ethiopia in 1991; Bilha Butin, 49, of Hadera; and Sgt. Ari Perlmutter, 19, of Ir Ovot in the Arava were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a bus in the central bus station of Hadera. HAMAS claimed responsibility for the attack.
Oct 19 94 - In a suicide bombing attack on the No. 5 bus on Dizengoff Street in Tel-Aviv, 21 Israelis and one Dutch national were killed: Haviv Tishbi, 54, of Tel Aviv; Moshe Gardinger, 83, of Tel Aviv; Pnina Rapaport, 74, of Tel Aviv; Galit Rosen, 23, of Holon; Zippora Ariel, 64, of Tel Aviv; David Lida, 74, of Tel Aviv; Puah Yedgar, 56, of Givatayim; Dalia Ashkenazi, 62, of Tel; Aviv Esther Sharon, 21, of Lod; Ofra Ben-Naim, 33, of Lod; Tamar Karlibach-Sapir, 24, of Moshav Zafaria; Shira Meroz-Kot, 20, of Kibbutz Beit Hashita; Miriam Adaf, 54, of Sderot; Anat Rosen, 21, of Ra’anana; Salah Ovadia, 52, of Holon; Eliahu Wasserman, 66, of Bat Yam; Alexandra Sapirstein, 55, of Holon; Dr. Pierre Atlas, 56, of Kiryat Ono; Ella Volkov, 21, of Safed; Ayelet Langer-Alkobi, 26, of Kibbutz Yiron; Kochava Biton, 59, of Tel Aviv; Rinier Yurest, 23, of the Netherlands.
Jan 22 95 - Two consecutive bombs exploded at the Beit Lid junction near Netanya, killing 18 soldiers and one civilian. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. The soldiers killed were: Lt. David Ben-Zino, 20, of Ashdod; Lt. Adi Rosen, 20, of Moshav Bitzaron; Lt. Yuval Tuvya, 22, of Jerusalem; Sgt.-Maj. Anan Kadur, 24, of Daliat al-Carmel; Staff-Sgt. Damian Rosovski, 20, of Kadima; Staff-Sgt. Yehiel Sharvit, 21, of Haifa; Staff-Sgt. Yaron Blum, 20, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Maya Kopstein, 19, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Daniel Tzikuashvili, 19, of Jerusalem; Sgt. Avi Salto, 19, of Rishon Lezion; Sgt. Rafael Mizrahi, 19, of Ramat Gan; Sgt. Eran Gueta, 20, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Soli Mizrahi, 18, of Ramat Ramat Gan; Cpl. David Hasson, 18, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Amir Hirschenson, 18, of Jerusalem; Cpl. Gilad Gaon, 18, of Herzliya; Cpl. Ilie Dagan, 18, of Kochav Yair; Cpl. Eitan Peretz, 18, of Nahariya; and Shabtai Mahpud, 34, of Moshav Tnuvot. Lt. Eyal Levy, 20, of Ashdod, and Cpl. Yaniv Weiser, 18, of Givatayim, who were seriously wounded in the attacks, later died of their wounds.
( bron: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/608775/posts ik kon niet zo gauw een betere website vinden met zo’n uitgebreide chronologische lijst van voor 2000)
Op de aanslag bij Beth Lid na heb ik hier de aanslagen weggelaten die ( vooral of alleen ) tegen soldaten ( m/v ) gericht waren. Ook aanslagen in bezet gebied heb ik niet genoemd. De reden? In de ogen van heel wat lezers van dit blog ( dat van AM, BdB ) zullen zulke aanslagen waarschijnlijk legitieme daden van verzet zijn, al zijn de slachtoffers soms zwangere vrouwen met hun jonge kinderen ( zie de posting van 3 mei op dit weblog ). Hierin ( en niet alleen hierin: zie de eerste zin van deze posting ) vertoont de manier van denken van de apologeten onder de pro-Palestina activisten een opvallende parallel met die van hun tegenhangers aan de pro-Israel kant. Dat er in de genoemde periode ‘geen gewapend verzet’ was is dus ook niet helemaal waar, om een understatement te gebruiken.
Zolang Palestijns geweld tegen onschuldige Israeliers ( joden en Arabische Israeliers/Israelische Palestijnen ) door zichzelf supporters van de Palestijnse zaak noemende activisten wordt goedgepraat, en hetzelfde gebeurt door zogenaamde pro-Israel activisten als het gaat om geweld, vernedering, diefstal etc. ( allemaal een direct gevolg van een corrumperende bezetting ) gepleegd door Israeliers tegen de Palestijnen, zijn wij ( joden en Palestijnen die in Israel of de bezette gebieden wonen ) aan non-leiders zoals Arafat en Sharon overgeleverd. Als iedereen buiten Israel/Palestina die zegt of denkt het beste met ons voor te hebben nou eens ophield met het zoeken naar de uiteindelijke schuldige van alle ellende, met het dromen over een ‘ideale’ oplossing, en met het begrip hebben voor ‘functioneel geweld’ tegen onschuldige burgers, zouden we een stuk verder zijn.
Het treffen van onschuldige burgers ( en ja, in mijn ogen vallen zwangere vrouwen van kolonisten en hun kinderen daar ook onder; als zij een legitiem doelwit zijn of hun gewelddadige dood anderszins goedgepraat kan worden, zou volgens een dergelijke absurde en onmenselijke logica het zelfde gelden voor de moord op Palestijnse kinderen en zwangere vrouwen ) is fout, of dat nu gebeurt door Israelische soldaten onder het mom van ‘veiligheid’ of door Palestijnse terroristen ( oeps, vrijheidsstrijders, militanten, activisten, whatever ) met de strijd tegen de Zionistische bezetting als excuus. Wie ons steunt van buitenaf zou er goed aan doen dit onomwonden en zonder voorbehoud duidelijk te maken.
Amos Oz schreef een paar jaar geleden, en ik parafraseer, dat ieder weldenkend mens weet hoe een uiteindelijke oplossing er min of meer uit zal zien, het is alleen de vraag hoeveel onschuldigen nog het leven zullen laten voordat zo’n oplossing werkelijkheid zal worden.
Posted by Bert at 9:10 AM
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Gal Friedman having become the first Israeli to win a golden Olympic medal and to have won two medals at two different Olympic games seems to be a good reason to post something. Mazal Tov!
Posted by Bert at 2:11 PM
Today, exactly 60 years after Paris was liberated from the occupation by Nazi Germany, I will start writing my PhD thesis. The frequency of postings on my weblog in the coming year will be lower than that to which you ( and I ) have become used since I started my blog. Still, I will try to comment and write articles on present-day issues whenever I have some spare time. Also, I will once in a while post comics and articles that I like. Here are some examples of comics that made me laugh or smile.
Posted by Bert at 9:04 AM
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Regarding "Targets of his probes seek to remove new state prosecutor", Ha'Aretz, August 22, 2004: The fact that police officers whose behavior was investigated were only fully acquitted - with the court criticizing Eran Shendar for having indicted them at all - after they had been ousted from their jobs, whereas our beloved Prime Minister was spared the trouble of a trial and allowed to keep his job by an Attorney general about whom even the Supreme Court wondered if he had not been to lenient in accepting the Prime Minister's version of the truth, proves that in Israeli law one Latin adage is more valid than any other: Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi ( What Jupiter (supreme God) is allowed to do, cattle (people) are not ).
Posted by Bert at 9:13 AM
The other day I wrote about radicals who 'switched sides'. One example of that phenomenon passed away on Friday. As a youth the playwright, literary critic, writer and politician Moshe Shamir was active in the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, and he lived for a number of years on a kibbutz. After June 1967 his views became more right wing, and he became a member of the Knesset for the Likud. In protest over Begin's decision to return the Sinai to Egypt within the framework of a peace agreement with that country Shamir and others founded the ultra-rightwing Tehiya ( Revival ) party. I read one of his short stories in English, but I basically know him only from his political work. He was an Israel Prize laureate. May his memory be blessed.
Posted by Bert at 12:10 AM
Saturday, August 21, 2004
By ( again, just like 4 years ago in Sydney ) winning a gold medal on the 50 meters free style swimming, Inge de Bruijn became the first Dutch athlete in history who has won 8 Olympic medals: 4 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze. Kol haKavod! Our 5-year old daughter was very happy to hear that she shares the same family name with this champion. She does not know yet that there is a tiny difference between Bruin and Bruijn, I did not want to spoil her enthusiasm.
Posted by Bert at 10:21 PM
Friday, August 20, 2004
Dennis van der Geest, the twin brother of Elco, the Dutch judoka who was defeated yesterday by Israel's Ariek Ze'evi, just beat an Iranian judoka, and thus won the bronze medal in the 100+ category. Congratulations!
Posted by Bert at 5:14 PM
Literally with tears in my eyes I read this article in today's International Herald Tribune, which originally appeared in the New York Times.
It tells us about a 6-year old Palestinian boy named Mahdi, who was seriously wounded by a shrapnel-filled bomb set off by a Palestinian terrorist last week. The bomb killed the poor boy's grandfather, who happened to be the family's breadwinner, and wounded his grandmother. Now this victim of the region's absurd violence is being treated in an Israeli hospital, where - as I wrote earlier on this blog, based on my own experiences - Jews, Muslims and Christians, be they doctors or nurses, patients or visitors, coexist and cooperate on an equal basis.
Why tears in my eyes? First of all, the picture that accompanies the article shows a little scared and scarred boy linked to different tubes and sensors, which reminded me of our daughter when she had to undergo ( first as a 1 1/2, then as a 5-year old ) minor surgery, and she looked so little and frail, and me and my wife were so helpless. In addition, I realized that the 'intended' victims of that bomb were our two children, my wife and myself, as well as as many other - preferably Jewish - Israelis, since the bomb was destined to be detonated in Haifa, not at an Israeli security checkpoint near Jerusalem.
Do we need any more proof of the absurdity and randomness of the violence that haunts Jews, Arabs and others here? What do the terrorists say to this poor boy and his parents? Is he the victim of an accident, whereas my daughter would have been a legitimate target for the Palestinian resistance against the occupation? Mahdi's father is right ( although as a matter of course he blames Israeli violence for it all, which is not surprising: "Open criticism of Palestinian militants is not considered wise." ) when he says: "Everyone is paying the price of this conflict."
Posted by Bert at 3:45 PM
Op haar weblog schreef Anja Meulenbelt, die uit solidariteit met de Palestijnen regelmatig vrijwilligerswerk doet in de Gaza-strook, eergisteren: "[...]De avond met Khaled om bij te praten. Buiten horen we het gebrom van helikopters, en dan even het geloei van een ambulance. Niet goed, zeker niet in die combinatie. We staan op het balkon en zien een paar van de helikopters. Als ze stil hangen in de lucht en je maar een zwak gebrom hoort zijn ze het gevaarlijkst, dan volgen vaak de mortiergranaten. Maar ze vliegen weer weg. Nasser komt onze maaltijd brengen, verse vis, en salades. Er is een tank opgeblazen door het verzet, vlak bij de grens. Drie soldaten gedood. Dan komen er vrijwel zeker vergeldingsmaatregelen."
Ze weet blijkbaar meer dan wij allemaal hier. In de afgelopen dagen heb ik niets gehoord, gelezen of gezien in de Zionistische media over een door het Palestijnse verzet opgeblazen tank. Als er drie soldaten waren gedood of zelfs maar licht gewond, zou het hier in Israel zeker bekend zijn geworden. Zou het hier om wishful thinking gaan? Zo ja, van wie, van haar Palestijnse bronnen?
PS: Vandaag schreef mevrouw Meulenbelt dat haar bron overdreven had, het zou om een pantserwagen en een ( 1 ) gewonde soldaat gaan, niet over een tank en drie dode soldaten. Gelukkig maar.
Posted by Bert at 12:26 PM
This morning I thumbed through a book that my wife is reading, "HaMatarah: Tel Aviv" ( The Goal: TA ), by the Israeli bestselling author and publisher Ram Oren. In this book Oren describes the failed attempts by the Egyptians to invade Israel right after its establishment in May 1948. On page 260 there is a picture of a young Uri Avnery, who looks like an Australian soldier. While I knew that Avnery, now a so-called peace-activist who heads Gush Shalom, had fought in Menachem Begin's Irgun Tzva'i Le'umi ( National Military Organization ) and been a member of the legendary Samson's Foxes unit, I did not know about his publications in the second half of the 1940s. Ram Oren quotes from the anthem "The Foxes", which became a hit on the radio:
"[...] Listen, Egyptians, to the song of Samson,
He portended the end/destruction for the Philistines,
Listen very carefully to the machine-gun, to the grenade,
The song of death for the army of the invaders."
While many songs of that period are very masculine and aggressive, they mostly stress 'our' courage, dedication and strength rather than directly threatening the enemy in such unmistakable, threatening and violent terms.
According to Oren the words of this song were written by Uri Avnery himself.
If this is true, it might prove once again that people who 'switch sides' often easily turn from one kind of radicalism ( some might call it fanaticism ) to another. Quite a few ex-communists were to be found among the most zealous supporters of Vichy, Effi Eitam - who used to be secular - today is one of the most passionate leaders of the National Religious Party, and emeritus professor Yehoshua Porat of the Hebrew University, formerly active in Peace Now, is today one of the most prominent among the minority of academics who openly identify with the nationalist right in Israel. Of course there is no reason why one should not be allowed to change one's views ( never changing one's views could even be a sign of simplicity and stubbornness ), and this does not prove anything regarding these people's sincerity or the righteousness of their diverse causes. I just think it is an interesting, even fascinating phenomenon, that's all.
Posted by Bert at 10:28 AM
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Ha'Aretz news Flash: 19:49 Int`l Judo federation: Iranian two-time world judo champion who reportedly said he wouldn`t fight an Israeli opponent will not be penalized
As I wrote earlier, as long as Israel is at the receving end of a mix of sports on one hand and political violence and boycotts on the other, no body can really be bothered.
Posted by Bert at 10:16 PM
It has been quite a successful day for the Dutch and Israeli teams in Athens. Mia Audina and Inge de Bruijn added two silver medals to the already impressive list of medals that the Dutch have been collecting, and Arik Ze'evi earned the first medal for Israel during these Olympics, bronze in the -100 category of the judo competition. As they say in Israel ( notice that it is in Arabic ): Mabrouk!
While Inge de Bruijn swam towards her silver medal, a ceremony was held at the home of the Israeli ambassador in Greece, to honor the Israeli athletes who were brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists in Munich in 1972. After 32 years the IOC still has not agreed to make some sort of official commemoration an integral part of the Olympic circus, so during each Olympic games Israel has to organize a ceremony of its own. I think that it would be appropriate during each Olympic games to have a small and respectful official OC ceremony on the day on which the terrorists entered the living quarters of the Israelis ( I am not sure which day of the Olympics it was ), to honor the memory of those who were murdered and to remind the world that at the Olympics there should be no place for politics. Do I sound naive, or what?
Posted by Bert at 8:56 PM
Expats and immigrants are often asked whom they prefer to win if a team/sports(wo)man from their home country is to compete against a team/sports(wo)man from the country where they decided to make their home. If someone asked me right now whom I prefered to win the bronze medal in the -100 kg category of the judo competition at the Olympics, Dutchman Elco van der Geest of Ariel Ze'evi, I think I have to say Ze'evi. Both Van der Geest and Ze'evi competed very well today, but Arik Ze'evi represents the best ( or only ) chance for Israel until now to get any Olympic medal whatsoever this year, whereas Dutch sporters already earned 10 medals, two of them in judo.
I like this picture of Pieter van den Hoogenband, the Dutch swimmer who won a gold medal in Athens yesterday:
Posted by Bert at 9:50 AM
In today's Ha'Aretz an MK whom I admire very much, rabbi Michael Melchior of Labor-Meimad, harshly criticizes the socio-economic policies of the Jewish state today. At least he gives us Olympic hopes: " In one field Israel could win a gold medal, although not in Athens. It is in the income gaps between society's top tier and the lower tiers. These gaps compromise human dignity, and cast grave doubt on our right to be called a Jewish democratic society."
And to think that in this article he only talks about the way in which ( some ) Jews are treated in Israel.
Posted by Bert at 9:20 AM
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
What a day for the Dutch athletes at the Athens Olympics! Two gold medals ( Leontien Van Moorsel, cycling, individual time trial; Pieter van den Hoogenband, 100 meters freestyle swimming ), one silver ( Edith Bosch, judo -70 kg ), one bronze ( Mark Huizinga, judo -90 kg ). Inge de Bruijn qualified for the finals 100 meters freestyle swimming, and the badmintonplayer Mia Audina ( formerly from Indonesia ) reached the finals by humiliating the nr. 1 in the world.
The Israeli team has performed rather disappointingly until now, although two athletes have done unexpectedly well: Marina Kravchenko reached the third round of the table tennis tournament, and the gymnast Pavel Gofman was the first Israeli to reach the finals of the men's all-round gymnastics competition. Andy Ram and Yoni Ehrlich yesterday reached the quarter finals of the tennis doubles ( but were beaten by a German duo ). Tomorrow European champion judoka Ariel ( Arik ) Ze'evi will try to win a medal in his category, 100 kg. Hey, that would have been my category today if I had made it to the Olympics. In fact, when I was 7, 8 years old I hated my judo lessons and stopped in a very, very early stage of what never would have become a promising career ( i.e. I did not even receive the yellow belt ).
Posted by Bert at 8:27 PM
Ha'Aretz News Flash: 13:54 Leaders of Palestinian security prisoners` strike, among them Marwan Barghouti, seen eating in secret in their cells
If this information turns out to be true, it would be a great tool in the hands of Israel's propaganda war, proving their point that the hunger strike is motivated by power struggles rather than by lofty ideals, the struggle for freedom and dignity etc. If it is not true, this is just another piece of misinformation in the power struggle between Israeli and Palestinian propaganda.
Posted by Bert at 4:27 PM
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Regarding "Ruling postponed in Iran judo case", IHT, August 17, 2004: It does not really matter whether Arash Miresmaeili deliberately failed to make the weight of the class in which he was supposed to compete in order to avoid meeting the Israeli judoka Udi Vaks, or that he knew in advance that he would be disqualified because of overweight and wanted to give his loss an 'anti-Zionist touch'. The fact that the spokeswoman of the Iranian delegation and several Teheran officials praised his refusal to compete against a representative of the 'Zionist entity' and that he was promised the rewards of a gold medal winner should be enough proof that this was a blatant example of mixing politics and sports. Therefore soms sort of punishment for the whole Iranian delegation would be appropriate. It seems, though, that few members of international sports federations - Olympic or not - can be bothered when Israeli sportsmen and -women are at the 'receiving end' of such a mixture, and the show must go on as if nothing really happened. This was the case when Israelis were slaughtered in Munich, when Israeli soccer teams were forced to play their home matches abroad because of terror threats that today are not only Israel's problem, and it is again true when a representative of a totalitarian and fanatic regime is allowed to humiliate a colleague who just like him trained years to make it to what should be the greatest show on earth of the superiority of sportmanship and professional pride over politics.
Posted by Bert at 9:02 AM
Monday, August 16, 2004
Far from being an expert in the use of internet search engines, I do know that the best search results are obtained by using carefully chosen keywords, cross-references etc. Some people still think that the internet is some sort of Delphic oracle: you ask a question, and it provides you with an answer. That is why at least one visitor reached my weblog by asking Yahoo! the following question: "why is israeli prime minister not a favorite of the french government". I doubt whether Dutchblog Israel provided this reader with the answer that (s)he was looking for.
Posted by Bert at 3:39 PM
Sunday, August 15, 2004
A Dutch soldier was killed and five others seriously wounded in Iraq last night. In May another Dutch soldier became the first Dutch casualty in Iraq.
Posted by Bert at 10:21 AM
Micahel Moore often is a bit too manipulative and blunt for me. Nevertheless, I think he has a wonderful 'scoop' with US Congressman Porter Goss, George W. Bush' nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, saying to producers who worked for Moore in preparation for his Golden Palm winning Fahrenheit 9/11: " I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified."
Posted by Bert at 10:16 AM
The Iranian judoka who on Friday already said that he would not compete against Israel's Udi Vaks but who yesterday was rumored to consider competing anyway, in the end refused to be weighed this morning, handing Vaks a victory by default. I still believe that the IOC should take disciplinary measures against any Olympic delegation if one of its delegates mixes politics with sports in such a blatant way. In the past Olympic medalists were disqualified for raising their fist as a sign of identification with the cause of the Black Panther movement. I think this case is much more serious than such a protest move, especially if we take into account reports that the Iranian 'sportsman' has already been promised a financial reward for his 'courage'.
PS: Now ( half an hour after I wrote this posting ) it says in Ha'Aretz' newsflash:
10:05 Olympics judoka Udi Vaks wins by default when Iranian opponent found to exceed weight limit
Maybe the Iranian knew already that he might be too heavy for his category and prefered to be considered a champion of the anti-Zionist cause rather than a disqualified loser? If he really does not recognize the state where his opponent comes from, why did he show up in the end?
Posted by Bert at 10:08 AM
While the Pope has been visiting Lourdes, a real medical miracle took place in Britain, at least that is what I understood from the following report on the website of Sky News on the private life of Home Secretary David Blunkett, who is blind: NO COMMENT ON 'AFFAIR' David Blunkett has refused to discuss newspaper claims that he is having an affair with a married mother. The 57-year-old insisted his private life has no bearing on his role as Home Secretary. According to the News of the World, the Sheffield Brightside MP has been seeing the woman for three years. The newspaper did not name the woman, who is in her 40s and has one child. In a statement Mr Blunkett, who has three sons from his former marriage, said: "After my divorce I decided not to talk again about my subsequent private life. "I have stuck to that principle over the years whatever the pressure to confirm or deny a particular story and defended all politicians' right to a degree of privacy in their private life. "I am adhering to this principle now. "My personal life is my business and has never compromised my jobs as an MP and Cabinet minister. "Anyone purporting to speak about my private life does so without knowledge or authority."
Posted by Bert at 7:30 AM
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Never have I been nor will I ever be a great admirer of Tzachi Hanegbi, who these days is the minister of Public Security. That does not mean that I do not agree with what he said yesterday, even though it sounded very harsh and heartless.
I am sure that the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails are not those of a five star hotel, but you do not have to be a suspicious genius to understand that they do not demand things like "public telephones in their cell blocks, the removal of glass separating them from visiting relatives, and an end to what they call "intrusive" body searches" only because they care so much about their personal privacy or because they would like to hug their dear ones very very much. These terrorists are aware of their waning status and influence in the territories, and being able to better communicate with the outside world will give them new opportunities to return to their lethal trades from within the prison walls. On Israeli television I heard yesterday that the hunger strike will not include fluids, and the Prisons Service director Ya'akov Ganot said that in the past such hunger strikers have been able to hold on for many months. There is no reason whatsoever to give in to their demands. After all, Israel does not negotiate with terrorists, or does it?
Posted by Bert at 11:17 AM
Our first victory in this year's Olympics is in the pocket!
With easy victories such as this one and expressing any recognition of or sympathy for Israel appearing to be more dangerous than ever the Israeli delegation might return from Athens with a record number of medals:
( Ha'Aretz news flash ): 20:55 2003 world judo champ Arash Miresmaeili of Iran withdraws from Olympics after drawing Israeli Udi Vaks in first round
I wonder if this so-called world champion learnt about the draw and withdrew before or after arriving in Athens. If he is already there, he will probably be partying right now, that is much more fun than competing with those bloody Zionists. When will the IOC get the guts to disqaulify the whole delegation of a country that uses such un-Olympic means to further its ideological goals? Oh no, such a courageous move would mean mixing sports and politics, something that is not done in IOC and other international sports circles, right?
Posted by Bert at 12:02 AM
Friday, August 13, 2004
On May 31st 2003 I had an article published in the Dutch daily Trouw, in which I wrote that Ariel Sharon should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove himself as the one who might be able to pull us out of the quagmire of the occupation. In the days before the publication of that article the Israeli Prime Minister had been unprecedentedly straightforward, admitting that the occupation is bad for Israel and should be ended. More than a year, several unfinished scandals, various versions of some sort of pull-out plan, many demonstrations in favor and even more in opposition to any end to the occupation later our security forces still spend much of their precious time continuing an occupation rather than defending a recognized border and Israel's sovereignty, and we are still stuck with the same non-leadership in government and opposition. I cannot but agree with Gideon Samet in today's Ha'Aretz: Ariel Sharon ( probably ) never really intended to give up even once centimeter of his Greater Israel: "He's no de Gaulle, he's no Menachem Begin: He is a man, as David Ben-Gurion warned long ago, who cannot be taken at his word."
Shinuy and Labor should allow Sharon and his Likud to form a coalition with all the rightwing and religious parties and start working together ( if possible with Yahad, if not without Beilin c.s. ) to offer a real alternative to the current mess. If Lapid and Peres are able to let their egos play second fiddle and to let the interests of a viable, truly Jewish and democratic state dictate their parties' programs, I am sure that they will find a lot of common ground. If they do, the Israeli public will finally have a real choice regarding its future when it comes to the territories, the economy and the character of the only Jewish state in the world.
Posted by Bert at 4:19 PM
Thursday, August 12, 2004
If you read my writings regularly you might know that I am not a rabid nationalist, neither as a Dutchman nor as a Jew living in Israel. Still, the call by an English bishop to ban the beautiful hymn I Vow To Thee My Country because it has racist overtones seems to me to be yet another proof of the stupidity of overzealous political correctness. I sent the following comment to the website of Sky News ( the comment's first and third lines appear on the website ): You do not have to be a BNP, Front National, or Freedom Party supporter to have some nationalist feelings and love the country where you were born or which you adopted as yours. With so many Europeans slowly but surely losing, forgetting or trying to bury their national identities and histories, it would be no miracle if Bernard Lewis is proven to be right when he predicts that Muslims will make up a majority in Europe towards the end of this century. There is some middle way between the hysterics of Nick Griffin, Jean-Marie le Pen and Georg Haider on one hand, and those of the bishop of Hulme on the other. Knowing and respecting one's national heritage - including its less savoury sides - will make it easier for people to accept and respect the different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds of their fellow-citizens. FYI, here are the lyrics of the hymn. Just before I started writing this posting I put on the first of a 2- disc album called "Heavenly Voices" ( in Hebrew ): The perfect choir collection. Apparently the collection was not that perfect, because at least one other collection was issued by the same record company, Deutsche Grammophon. Nr. 14 on this disc is IVTTMC. Never before did I know or try to carefully listen to the lyrics, I just enjoyed the melody, which is gorgeous like that of so many English hymns. This hymn's lyrics are beautiful, I think, nothing wrong with them. I vow to thee, my country - all earthly things above Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love; The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test, That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best; The love that never falters, the love that pays the price, The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice. And there's another country, I've heard of long ago Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know; We may not count her armies, we may not see her King; Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering; And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase, And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
Posted by Bert at 7:14 PM
Ha'Aretz news flashes this morning: 08:55 Poll: NRP and National Union voters back the proposed budget; Likud, Labor voters oppose it 08:45 Poll: 51 percent of Israelis oppose Netanyahu`s proposed budget Could it be that the NRP and the National Union - more than any other party/-ies undivided supporters of a continued occupation - are aware that at least a serious alternative for budgetary cutbacks can be found among the funds channeled to that occupation, and that therefore they - as opposed to voters of ( today ) anti-occupation Labor and of the divided Likud - do not mind cutting back on other, 'less vital', paragraphs?
Posted by Bert at 4:02 PM
Regarding "Darfur's people need international protection", by Leslie Lefkow, IHT, August 11, 2004: Why should the poor people of Darfur need international protection? After all, the advicer to the European Union's foreign policy chief said that the massacres perpetrated by Arab militias - with the support of the Sudanese government which in its turn is fully supported by the Arab League - are not genocidal, and Jan Pronk, the UN secretary general's special representative for this part of Sudan, has already said that he believes that the Sudanese government seriously tries to fulfill its commitments to the United Nations. Of course, as the country's Foreign Minister was able to broadcast uninteruptedly to the whole world through BBC television, it is all Israel's fault, again. Tom Jansen, a Dutch cartoonist, was right when he drew a picture of several dead and dying Darfurians, with three people who are still alive saying "...if we were Palestinians...", "...and the perpetrators were not Arabs but Jews...", "...then we would be world news...".
Posted by Bert at 10:01 AM
Regarding "Other Views: Arab moderates and American Jews ( Middle East Times)", IHT, August 11, 2004:
Did your editors really read this comment, or where they blinded by its apparent call for a 'moderate Arab approach' towards US policy for the Middle East? By publishing - without any commentary - a comment that unhesitatingly speaks about "the American Jewish community in its capacity as the only policy-making establishment in the United States that shapes all things Middle Eastern" the International Herald Tribune unintendedly becomes a partner to today's so-called 'new' anti-Semitism.
Posted by Bert at 8:03 AM
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Regarding "For votes, Bush turns to churches", IHT, August 10, 2004: Not that we did not know it, but articles such as this one prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Taliban, Bin Laden and other Islamists do not have a monopoly on dangerously mixing politics and religion. The big difference is that unlike Bush and Cheney, people such as Bin Laden have no reason to even consider - let alone cherish - a separation of state and mosque/church, since such a concept is unknown to them and not an integral part of the laws of their countries of birth. As always, les extremes se touchent, and once in a while they outdo each other.
Posted by Bert at 8:22 AM
Monday, August 09, 2004
In today's Ha'Aretz two thought-provoking articles, one by Sefi Rachlevsky, the other by Dan Ben-David. The conclusion of Rachlevsky: " Anyone who really wants to begin to leave the territories doesn't have to save Sharon: He has to bring him down." A firm statement by Ben-David, which makes just as much sense to me: " The time has come for Israel to make a clear determination between policies that will allow it to blossom and policies that are causing it to wither. As is indicated by unemployment, poverty and growth rates that have become steadily worse since the 1970s, there is no middle road. The only way to preserve our current population and to draw more Jews to Israel is by creating a viable democratic state with a solid Jewish majority and an internal strength built upon equal rights, obligations and opportunities at the personal level, and unshakable integrity by it leaders. This is what our children are being drafted this August to defend. For 18 years, each parent lovingly and tenderly raises these flowers - but not to serve as cannon fodder for irrational and capricious ideologies of hypocritical and self-serving leaders."
Posted by Bert at 8:57 AM
Regarding responses to Beware of the smiles" by Yoel Marcus, Ha'Aretz, August 3-8, 2004: The 'human chain' that formed between Gaza and Jerusalem was a powerful show of force by those opposed to any Israeli pull-out from the territories. The organizers deserve our respect for this peaceful and very well-organized demonstration. Still, should we forget that during previous - small-scale - evacuations of illegal settlements opponents to an Israeli pull-out from Gaza and from ( parts of ) the Westbank already have been endangering the drivers and passengers of military vehicles by getting them stuck in ditches and by means of spikes, right in the middle of hostile territory? That some of them showed their love for the Land of Israel by setting fields alight and polluting the air by burning tires? That some senior spokesmen for 'the' settlers have not categorically condemned possible violence during a future evacuation of Gaza settlements, and more than one even encouraged such violence? If the supporters of a continued occuption want us to take their policy of ( peaceful ) civil disobedience seriously, they should make clear that they do not want to have anything to do with any sort of violence aimed at sabotageing an evacuation by Israeli soldiers and policemen of settlements in Gaza and elsewhere. If not, and if people like Yoel Marcus and me are not really convinced that various members of 'the Right' try to achieve the same aim through different means - most of them peaceful, others less so -, peaceful opponents of a pull-out will continue to be identified with those within the margins on their right, just as all leftists are thrown on one heap by men like Moshe Saperstein of Neveh Dekalim ( Ha'Aretz, August 5 ).
Posted by Bert at 8:35 AM
Some comics randomly chosen from among those that I saved because they made me laugh, or at least smile:
Posted by Bert at 6:11 AM
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Sometimes I think that I should get danger money for sitting in my study at home and writing my PhD thesis. Yesterday I was working on my computer, with my feet resting on my chair's footrest. My right foot fell on the floor, and now its second biggest toe is blue and purple. I had to put ice on it, and am lucky it wasn't broken. A few weeks ago I bruised a finger, when the New Oxford Dictionary of English fell on it. Sounds pretty risky what I am doing, doesn't it?
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Het deed me goed te lezen dat ik niet de enige ben die vraagtekens zet bij wat premier Balkenende en Bundeskanzler Schroeder beweerden tijdens de herdenking van de mislukte aanslag op Hitler over de direkte link tussen het verenigde Europa dat we vandaag de dag kennen en de 20e juli 1944. Na het lezen van het boeiende artikel van professor d'Oliveira kan ik ook prima leven met het antwoord dat ik kreeg van het NRC Handelsblad vlak voordat ik mijn eigen stuk naar de Volkskrant stuurde, waar het uiteindelijk werd geplaatst: "Dank voor uw bijdrage naar aanleiding van de toespraak van premier Balkenende bij de herdenking van Stauffenberg's aanslag. We hebben echter aan andere bijdragen de voorkeur gegeven.".
Posted by Bert at 6:38 AM
Friday, August 06, 2004
This I just read on the website of Sky News: BUSH'S LATEST GAFFE George Bush has added another verbal gaffe to his long list of blunders.The latest addition to the catalogue of Bushisms came as he addressed Pentagon chiefs during the signing ceremony of a defence spending bill. The US President said: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we."They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted to the mistake.White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush's error "just shows even the most straightforward and plain-spoken people misspeak.""But the American people know this president speaks with clarity and conviction, and the terrorists know by his actions he means it," he said.
Posted by Bert at 9:30 PM
Regarding "Qaeda hallmark: patience", IHT, August 6, 2004: The fact that Islamist terrorists and militants think in decades and centuries - not, like us Westerners, in days, weeks, months or years - should teach us some things. 1) We should forget about the possibility of quick and painless solutions, even though it is hard to sell any other responses to terror to an impatient electorate. 2) We should give up the illusion - cherished in the past and present by people on the Right in Israel, such as Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon - that time is on the side of Israel and the West, and that doing nothing ( in Israel's case continuing the occupation without being worried about its demographic, military and political consequences ) will serve our interests. 3) While it is highly probable that this week's terror alert in the US was also based on electoral considerations, we should not ridicule any security measures. It is better to undergo some uncalled-for security check or endure a false alert than once again to install a special committee that investigates yet another intelligence failure. 4) Even old intelligence can be useful. 5) We can expect our enemies to accept truces and temporary agreements, but we should not be surprised or utterly disappointed if such agreements are violated more easily than they are reached.
Posted by Bert at 9:28 AM
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Regarding Letters to the editor, Ha'Aretz, August 5, 2004: Right after a letter in which a reader complains about the fact that generalizations - in this case by Yoel Marcus - regarding 'the' settlers paint "a self-righteous worldview of us against them", we find a letter from 'a' settler talking about "we settlers" as opposed to "people like Mr Marcus". Unfortunately, polarization and antagonism between different sectors and interest groups are the reality in Israeli society today. The reader from Gush Katif is right, a national referendum ( or general elections ) should be called for, to make clear once and for all whether this country's electorate wants a continuation of the occupation or an end to it. Still, the chances of the opponents of occupation being ready to continue serving the occupation or of the opponents of the settlements' evacuation being willing to carry out such an evacuation are small, even if a majority of the people supports this or that option. In the end, a two-state solution will not be enough anymore, each small interest group will need a little state of its own, and Israel will be divided once again into some sort of two-tribe kingdom for the Palestinians and a ten-tribe one for us.
Posted by Bert at 9:22 AM
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
The following article was written in response to an op-ed article by Uri Avnery in last Friday's IHT:
Our future lies in the balance
Once, when an absurd law forbade Israelis to have contact with any representative of the P.L.O., people like Uri Avnery played a crucial role in waking up public opinion and decision makers. He cannot be praised enough for the important work that he has done. Unfortunately, these days it is hard for any peace movement in Israel to be taken seriously by and receive the support of a majority of the Israeli public. The main reason for that is that ‘peace activists’ such as Avnery play an utterly unilateral and simplistic version of the blame game, while almost totally ignoring the responsibilities of Palestinian and other Arab parties to the conflict. Uri Avnery is right when, in his most recent opinion article ( IHT, July 30, 2004 ), he says that the battle that is taking place right now within the Palestinian territories is “ about power and control ”. It also cannot be denied that many Israeli commentators, politicians and ‘security experts’ do not make much of an effort to hide their satisfaction over the ‘fact’ that they were ‘proven right’ ( “there is no partner for peace” ), while we ourselves bear an important part of the responsibility for the anarchy that reigns among the Palestinians today, as well as for the Palestinian people’s hardships. What I cannot understand, though, is the almost primordial need of Mr Avnery – and of other ‘peace activists’ who claim to be concerned with the fate of the Palestinian people – to serve as an apologist and ante-mortem eulogist for someone whose responsibility for Palestinian misery is as large as – if not much larger than – that of Ariel Sharon: Yasser Arafat. If the latter really has any “ wide strategic grasp”, in recent years that grasp has hardly helped Arafat’s people any further on its way to a better and independent future. The PA president certainly does have “the ability to make decisions” as well as promises, but his “talent for maneuver” causes him to retract those whenever that suits one of his personal short-term interests. Because of those talents he – not unlike his current ‘partner’ on the Israeli side – is an unreliable non-leader, who might have “led his people out of so many existential crises” but who has led them into many, many more. Several factors are at the root of the impasse that causes Palestinians and Israelis to suffer on a daily basis. In addition to the lack of leadership on both sides, and a far from balanced approach from outside parties such as the European Union and the United States, what is most missing on both sides is a true and viable opposition which can offer a credible and solid alternative to the current non-leaders. Oh yes, there are Palestinians and Israelis who loudly disagree with their national leadership, but – like the pseudo-leaders whom they oppose – they prefer to blame ‘the other side’ for virtually everything, and say what they oppose rather than making clear what their demands, desires and boundaries are, and acknowledging the ( partial ) accountability of their own people and its current and former leaders. Few people on either side have the courage of men such as Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon to avow their own shortcomings, to admit that only a real recognition of each people’s national interests together with painful compromises will create some sort of modus vivendi for Palestinians and Israelis, and to try looking for practical, not ideal solutions instead of culpability. It is on such men, who are willing to see that every coin has two sides and that absolute justice will never be brought about, that I pin my hopes for a better future for my children. Their views might very well be as marginal as those of Avnery, but at least they are balanced and based on the complex reality in Israel-Palestine. ‘The Situation’, as the state of affairs in Israel since September 2000 has become known, is one of polarization. Many Israelis have moved to the right, because a more and more populist Right has been offering simplistic but clear ‘solutions’. Still, in spite of a powerful and vocal settler lobby, it appears that most Israelis do not believe that a continuation of the occupation serves Israel’s long-term interests, on the contrary. A majority of Israelis also does not believe that Arafat or any other Palestinian pseudo-leader aims at anything but the eventual annihilation of the Jewish state. Therefore, in order to make an Israeli withdrawal from almost all of the occupied territories ( and not just the Gaza Strip ) possible and to finally move peace forward somehow, Israeli voters will have to be convinced that such a withdrawal will benefit us militarily, economically, politically and (inter)nationally. As long as Israel’s opposition is either busy thinking which posts it wants in yet another Sharon government, or exclusively blaming ourselves for both our and the Palestinians’ suffering, few members of the Israeli electorate will be convinced that there is an alternative for Ariel Sharon. By only blaming the Israelis for every misfortune that befalls the Palestinians, by praising Arafat without any proper justification, and by allowing him and other Palestinian leaders to duck the responsibilities they have for their people’s fate, Uri Avnery and his colleagues abroad discredit many other genuine peace efforts in the eyes of the Israeli public. Peace will probably never be served by or achieved through their activism.
Posted by Bert at 8:50 AM
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Regarding "And now comes a political cola", Ha'Aretz, August 3, 2004: A political cola deserves a hefty political surtax. Why not use such a surtax to counter the amounts of money spent on Islamist and Palestinian charities by the French-Arab company? The extra tax revenues could be spent on aid for victims of Palestinian terror or perhaps even on the security-separation fence. By the way, isn’t it ironic or at least absurd that a brand named Mecca uses an illustration of the Dome of the Rock? Maybe it is time to launch an ultra-orthodox cola named Jerusalem with a picture of the Ka’aba?
Posted by Bert at 1:00 PM
Monday, August 02, 2004
Laziness, lack of motivation and inspiration, and work kept me from blogging the last couple of days. I just added five blogs to the list of webblogs that I read, plus a website by a Dutch writer whose columns and other writings I like very much. Check them out: Adventures in Jerusalem, Letters from Rungholt ( in German ), On the Face, Peaktalk, Sha! , Koelman.com.
Not Another Israeli Blog returned to my list. It seemed that he had stopped updating his blog, but he is back again.