Thursday, June 09, 2016

MSNBC Presents 'The Bigger Picture'

Even as their television coverage showed graphic footage of the site of last night's attack on the screen, two of their commentators wanted to make sure the viewers understood the context (read 'justification') for the terror attack:

Note that this was a 'mass shooting' and not a terror attack.

Is there any depravity which these ass-clowns can't explain away?

Posted by David Bogner on June 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Caution Above Honesty

Here in Israel, when ideologically motivated individuals kill civilians they are referred to by the international media as 'gunmen', 'militants', attackers'... anything but terrorists.  Apparently, the media wants to avoid the appearance of taking sides or rushing to judgement.

And far from generating a media frenzy, coverage of such attacks on Israeli civilians tends to be an arid, reserved academic affair, employing cautious words such as 'alleged', dutifully placed before any description of the perps... and plenty of "scare quotes" * placed around any and all information provided by the Israeli government.

Needless to say, after last night's terror attack in Tel Aviv, The New York times did not disappoint.  Their cautious mention of last night's unpleasantness spent only a few hours on the periphery of their home page before being relegated to the 'world' section of their site.

And as previously mentioned, when describing the individuals who shot at diners with assault rifles at point blank range, there was nary a 'terrorist' in sight - only 'gunmen' and 'attackers' - even though the event was clearly described elsewhere in the article as terrorism!  

Terrorism without terrorists; That's a pretty neat trick, if you think about it.

I alluded to this in the post I put up this morning, but it has been gnawing away at the back of my mind ever since.

When ideologically motivated individuals kill civilians in New York, London, Paris, Madrid, or pretty much everywhere on earth, they are referred to as terrorists in the frenzy of news coverage that inevitably follows.  

Everywhere, that is, except in Israel.

So in keeping with this apparent need for cautious, academic correctness, I will refrain from stating that the entire New York Times editorial staff richly deserves to die in a fire.  

Rather, I will suggest that in a perfect world, their aggregate biologic functions would simultaneously cease in conjunction with the rapid oxidation of their surroundings in an exothermic chemical process of combustion.

 /snark

* Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase when they are not required, thereby eliciting attention or doubts.

Posted by David Bogner on June 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

I'm Shocked, Shocked...

... to find that gambling terrorism is going on in here Israel!

For those who haven't been following the news, last night two Palestinian terrorists (the New York Times took pains to call them 'gunmen') entered a popular Tel Aviv cafe with assault rifles and killed four Israeli civilians and injured at least three others.

As hard as it may be to believe, the title of this post is a pretty much a direct quote from the U.N. Secretary General!  

I am not paraphrasing or putting words in anyone's mouth.  Here is the full quote from his spokesperson (lest someone accuse me of taking liberties):

“The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no justification for terrorism nor for the glorification of those who commit such heinous acts. The Secretary-General is shocked that the leaders of Hamas have chosen to welcome this attack and some have chosen to celebrate it. He calls upon the Palestinian leadership to live up to their responsibility to stand firmly against violence and the incitement that fuels it.” [emphasis mine]

Notice that, even though Hamas has publicly stated that the terrorists were operatives in their organization, the UN Secretary General didn't specifically denounce anyone.  No, he seemed to be mostly bothered by the unseemly celebration of the attack.

If only UN Secretary-General were half as charming and witty as Claude Reins' portrayal of Captain Renault in the film, Casablanca, one could, perhaps, overlook his turning a blind eye to the Palestinian terror organizations continuing to do what terrorists are wont to do.  

But since, Ban Ki-moon is neither charming nor witty (it would be challenging to identify a more wooden or obtuse career diplomat), and we're talking about the senseless slaughter of Israeli civilians and not some cinematic victim-less crime, I think it would be safe to say that we are in no danger of starting any kind of friendship with him... beautiful or otherwise.

Shocked5

Shocked... shocked!

Posted by David Bogner on June 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Another Yom Yerushalayim

I'm once again far from Jerusalem today, but I followed the time-honored ritual below, none-the-less: Find a quiet place... turn off the lights... put a box of tissues within easy reach... and press play:

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Click here to see an interview that General Uzi Narkis gave less than two weeks before he passed away.

Partial Transcript / translation:

Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, we’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitan’s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lion’s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above. [The open square of the Temple Mount.]

[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]

Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.

[Gunfire.]

Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; we’re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.

[Sound of gunfire and soldiers’ footsteps.]

[Yelling of commands to soldiers.] [More soldiers’ footsteps.]

The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. It’s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there. [Gunfire.] We’re all told to stop; we’re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; we’re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. I’m right now lowering my head; we’re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. They’re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lion’s Gate. I’m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here.

We’re about to enter the Old City itself. We’re standing below the Lion’s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; I’m also staying close to one of the trees. We’re getting further and further into the City. [Gunfire.]

Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands! All forces, stop firing!

This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over. Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.

[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]

Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isn’t anybody like you. You’re next to the Mosque of Omar.

Yossi Ronen: I’m driving fast through the Lion’s Gate all the way inside the Old City.

Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance but don't touch anything in the houses, especially the holy places.

[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar. Soldiers are singing ‘Jerusalem of Gold’.]

Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?

Yossi Ronen: I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.

Soldiers: [reciting the ‘Shehechianu’ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem]

Soldiers: Amen!

[Soldiers sing ‘Hatikva’ next to the Western Wall.]

Rabbi Goren: We’re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel: [Soldiers weeping] El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha’arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma’aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba’al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya’amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen! [Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.] [Soldiers are weeping.

Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar. Sound of gunfire in the background.] Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b’nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!]

 

Posted by David Bogner on June 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 13, 2016

If this doesn't make your day...

This short (less than 4 minutes) animated film called 'The Present' is more important than whatever you are doing right now. Seriously.

 

Don't thank me... I'm a giver. ;-)

 

Posted by David Bogner on May 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Connected

[a guest post by Ariella who is alone on a crowded bus somewhere between Delhi and Rishikesh]

Everyone I know who had ever been abroad for the Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) sirens told me it would be hard. But nothing could have prepared me for the sudden title wave of emotion that crashed over me.

My abba called my cell phone so I would be able to hear the siren itself and not just imagine it. And the second I heard it my heart shattered. Tears started running down my face that were beyond my control.

It was much more than the contrasting places that were suddenly connected by a phone call.

On the one side an entire nation, standing in unity, silently remembering friends and loved ones. On the other side I was the only Israeli on a bus driving down a crowded road with people chattering away all around me.

But the pain ran deeper than that. It was the feeling of solitude and loneliness, of being so far from anyone who could understand. It was the unfortunate understanding of what loss really feels like and having specific people to remember.

Nothing can prepare you for that.

Posted by David Bogner on May 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, May 06, 2016

Dear Netanel...

[a letter to a special 11 year old boy who lost his father, which his mother may show him - in its entirety or in parts - whenever she feels the time is correct]

My dearest Netanel, you know me as one of the many grown-ups populating your parent's world. But because I have known your parents for many years - well before you were even born - I know you as a special young man whose very presence in the world is as wonderful as it is miraculous.

As I write this, it has been a month since your father was taken from us. His death left a gaping hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him. But I'm sorry to tell you that you and your Ima are the ones who will feel the pain of his absence the most strongly, and for the longest time.

At the funeral, and during the shiva, you heard many people speak about what a wonderful and appreciated man your father was... how he was a good and honest person, and how he always, ALWAYS, tried to do the right thing.

I won't repeat what you've heard and must already know, but I do want to share a few personal observations from the many years I was privileged to know him.

Your father grew up in a working class city that was suffering through a difficult economic time. I know this because for a time, my family lived a few blocks from his (although he was a few years behind me).

Ours was one of the nicer areas of the city, but the neighborhood and its schools were full of challenges, temptations and dangers. I tell you this because from the many hours of sharing stories with your father about 'the old neighborhood', it has always been clear to me that, even back then, your father was already making good choices and carefully charting a moderate and sensible path that would define the rest of his life.

Your father was a respected accountant in his earlier years, and worked as a bank examiner. But even as he was laying the groundwork for this prominent career, he made sure to have a back-up plan... a 'plan B', just in case things didn't go as planned (or as a way to make extra money). Since he was always gifted in understanding how mechanical and electrical things worked, he decided to get a degree in electrical engineering. Just in case.

'Just in case' is what responsible people plan for, to protect themselves and the ones they love from the pitfalls and unexpected setbacks that life tends to throw at us. It is because of your father's 'plan B' that your parents were able to make Aliyah, knowing that even if a banking career was not possible for your dad in Israel, that he would always have a way to make a living doing something that would always be in demand.

This was just one example of the careful, methodical way your father approached everything in his life. If you ever watched him work, you could see by the organized and practiced way he put out his tools and arranged his parts, that nothing was left to chance.

Unfortunately, the one thing that nobody can fully plan for or control is death. And although I'm sure your father planned ahead for even this sad eventuality, the one thing he couldn't put aside for you or place in trust... was himself.

And that is really why I am writing you this letter.

As you get older, the lessons you learned at your father's side will always be with you. But each new day, week, month and year of your life will present you with questions and decisions that you may not be equipped to make on your own.

You probably already know that your mother is the single best source of information you will ever have, and you can go to her for help and advice with any decision you will ever have to make. Seriously... she is one of the smartest, wisest people I know!

But it is natural that as you get older and begin testing your independence, there will be some things about which you may want the advice of someone other than your mother (or maybe in addition to her).

Be warned, your friends and the kids in your school, youth groups and sports teams will be full of advice. In fact they will offer it to you even when you don't ask.

When they do, listen carefully, nod your head, and store away anything you may hear from these schoolyard sages. And remember, just because something is 100% wrong doesn't mean it isn't useful. Just remember that the kids you know - even those who are a few years older than you - probably know just as little as you do about just about any subject you can imagine.

A good rule of thumb is that the louder and more confidant a person sounds when sharing information and advice, the more likely they are to be wrong. That's why I recommend listening to everyone and storing away the information. Over time you will figure out who is a reliable source of information... and who just talks loud to hide the fact that they know just as little as you.

So, to review... your friends may be so loyal that they would lay down in traffic for you. But when it comes to learning new and important lessons, they are an unparalleled source of myths, legends, misinformation, half-truths and dangerous misconceptions. They will exaggerate (or downright lie) to cover up their inexperience, insecurity and fears (as you will too, I'm sure). And most of them won't even realize they are doing it!

That is part of growing up. Just remember the golden rule: Trust but verify.

That's where a son might seek out his father... to test the theories and suggestions to see if they are even a little bit true.

And this is what tore my heart as I watched you saying Kaddish for your father at the funeral, and afterwards in synagogue. Your father would have been a fantastic source of information and advice for you. He was wise in a quiet, modest way. And he was never afraid to say "I don't know" when he didn't. And 'I don't know' is one of the most powerful and precious truths you can ever hear from anyone. Remember that.

Netanel, I have been humbled at how bravely you have comported yourself throughout this difficult month. I see the confusion and pain in your eyes, but I also see you acting just like your father; trying always to figure out what the right thing is, and then doing it with quiet, confident conviction.

But as you get older, figuring out right from wrong will become more and more difficult. Many times you will find that there is no single right answer.

Nobody can ever replace your father. And as I said before, your mother will always be the single best person from whom to seek advice.

But I want you to know that I am one of many friends your father had who will always be here for you.

If you ever want to talk about something, bounce an idea off of someone older, or just hear or share a story about your dad... please know that you can reach out to me day or night.

As I always tell my own kids, 'You don't have to make all the mistakes yourself... please learn from some of mine (and I've made plenty)'. Think of it as having a 'cheat sheet' for life. Just about any challenge you may face in your life, I've already faced. Some I may have beaten... and others will provide you with some entertaining stories from which to learn.

I don't pretend to know everything, but like your father I promise that if I don't know... I'll say so. And then, together, maybe we can figure out the answer.

 

Posted by David Bogner on May 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Travel Diary of a Germaphobe

I totally get the idea behind placing a phone in the hotel bathroom within easy reach of the toilet. I mean, Murphy's Law dictates that no matter how long one has waited for that important call from the concierge confirming the arrival of a business associate, the phone in the hotel room will only ring once the plane is well on its way down the runway and aborting take-off is no longer an option (like the way I've kept the metaphor within the travel genre?).

With that said, I can't possibly be the only one who has considered the logistic difficulties of cleaning this convenient commode-side handset (that is, if they even try!), right? Right?!

Make no mistake, my company usually books me into the most posh (and secure) properties in whatever city I am visiting. But yesterday (Shabbat), I was stuck in the room with nothing to do but read and snack on complimentary hotel fruit and blueberry muffins that Zahave packed for me.

So when housekeeping showed up and asked if they could tidy up the room, I asked them if they minded if I stayed put on the comfy sofa in front of the window while they did the room.

They were very accommodating and even asked if they could order up an assortment of local newspapers for me (I accepted gratefully).

It was only once the two women began cleaning the bathroom that I decided to check if my suspicions were correct. This was accomplished via the full wall glass window that divided the bathroom from the sleeping and work areas (for the curious, there is a mechanized privacy shade that can be lowered in case more than one person is in residence and either of them possesses even a shred of shame).

Sure enough, the two women went about scrubbing, bleaching, disinfecting and polishing every last surface in the bathroom... except the telephone.

In fact, not only did they not make even a token effort to clean the phone, one of them noticed that a previous guest had left the cord a bit tangled, so she picked up the handset with the rubber glove she was wearing to protect her skin from whatever chemicals (and pathogens), were in the toilet bowl she had just been scrubbing, and carefully untwisted it and replaced the handset in the cradle so that the now-tangle-free cord was wrapped neatly around the rest of the phone body and well above the floor.

After the last of their chores was completed and fresh flowers and fruit had been placed in the vase and bowls (this time, thankfully without the rubber gloves), one of the women handed me the bundle of Indian newspapers that had been delivered at their request and asked if there was anything else they could help with.

I was tempted to ask about the phone, but I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get the question out past the spasm of dry-heaves that was now convulsing my body. I just smiled and shook my head.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is skieved out by this.

As an afterthought, I'd also be curious to know if anyone else out there travels with a bottle of Purell alcohol hand sanitizer in their carry-on?

Posted by David Bogner on March 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, March 07, 2016

Finally Finding (And Crossing) The Left's Red Line

I've often wondered what, if any, red lines exist for the extreme left of Israel's political spectrum.

So far they have found a way to condone, and even embrace, such acts as:

  • Draft Dodging (or encouraging widespread disobedience of orders after enlisting)
  • Stealing and passing nuclear secrets to journalists (and by extension, the world)
  • Stealing and passing military secrets to journalists (and by extension, the world) 
  • Denunciation of Israel as a racist, fascist apartheid state at academic and governmental forums abroad
  • Supporting and encouraging the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in their efforts to isolate Israel

All of the above have not only been excused and explained away by Israel's extreme left and their flagship mouthpiece Haaretz, but in many cases have been openly sanctioned and encouraged.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise that this week something happened that finally reached a level of post-Zionist / self-hatred that those gathered at a 'Cultural Conference' sponsored by Haaretz were forced to declare a red line, beyond which, apparently, lies that terrible thing called 'disloyalty to the State':

It seems that the entertainment hired by Haaretz for the event - Israeli actor Ariel Bronz - was concluding his performance of a provocative one-man play entitled "Love the Juice: The Art of Squeezing the National Dream Into an Orange", when he suddenly produced an Israeli flag and proceeded to stuff it up his, er, posterior region.  On stage.  In full view of everyone.

Immediately the audience began booing, screaming 'enough' and 'stop', and even throwing squeezed oranges at the stage (which had previously been thrown at the audience as part of the play).  But as the saying goes, 'the show must go on'.

It wasn't until Haaretz's senior management instructed the venue's security staff to forcibly remove the actor from the stage that it was clear to all “La commedia è finita” (“The comedy is over”)*.

Although I'm relieved to know that the left does, in fact, have at least one uncross-able 'red line', I find it sad that it is such a trivial, and entirely symbolic gesture they refuse to condone.

It seems that, for the extreme left, it has never really been about democracy or democratic values... it has been about appearances.  You can actively work to destroy the State of Israel, but don't you dare besmirch its symbols.

I, for one, have no problem with the act for which Mr. Bronz was given the hook.  In a democracy, what he did (no matter how distasteful), is called 'protected free speech'.  And far from endangering the state, the fact that a citizen can get up on a stage and do such a thing here in Israel is actually an encouraging sign of our democracy's strength and health (albeit not its taste in entertainment).

Now you can congratulate me for the self-control required in not allowing myself a single butt joke.

[* dorky opera reference]

Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Ax Grinding Masquerading As Balanced Reporting

One of the better kept secrets here in the Middle East is that Israel has long been the sanctuary of choice for gays and lesbians who are forced to flee for their lives from pretty much all of the surrounding Muslim countries.  

By all rights this should be an open secret (or no secret at all!), except for a convenient alignment of the interests of the western media (which would rather close their doors than publish anything positive about Israel) and the countless future and current LGBT refugees who have not yet escaped the intolerant Muslim societies where they live in mortal fear (since a nearly certain formal or extra-judicial death penalties awaits any non-heterosexual who is discovered living in Muslim lands) or who still have vulnerable family living in peril back home.

So it was with considerable surprise that I saw that the New York Times was running a front page story this morning about a gay Iranian poet who had escaped from Iran and was seeking formal asylum while living comfortably in Tel Aviv.

I shouldn't have been surprised.

The New York Times does not publish anything about Israel that can be construed as even marginally positive, without also offering equal or greater negative commentary in the name of 'even-handedness'.  

So as I read the article, the other shoe wasn't terribly long in dropping.

Read for yourselves what the editors at the New York Times felt was an acceptable bit of background information to this otherwise heart-warming article that should have painted Israel (and Israeli society) in a very flattering light:

"Israel has sometimes been accused of “pinkwashing,” or portraying itself as a progressive hub of tolerance, particularly toward gays, to detract attention from the government’s policies toward Palestinians. At Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's annual meeting with the international press this year, there was a performance by the Israeli transgender pop singer Dana International, who appealed to reporters to go easy on Israel."

Impressive, no?

Not only does the Times fail to give any clue as to who, exactly, has accused Israel of "Pinkwashing" (and whether that accusation is accurate), but it shamelessly tries to use the performance of Dana International, a very popular, and openly transgender, Israeli singer (who took first place at the Eurovision Song Festival as Israel's representative as far back as 1998), at a Netanyahu press event to suggest that it was a nefarious plot by Israel... as if Bibi had trotted out a token drag queen in order to bolster Israel's progressive cred and distract the world from our cruel policies towards the Palestinians.

And then, as if they hadn't dispensed enough even-handedness to banish any memory of the positive subject of the article, they went on to mention the tragic fatal stabbing of a teenager at last year's Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, as if gays (and their supporters) being attacked in the US and Europe is a thing of the distant past.  Heck, the NY Times hasn't seen fit to give any coverage of the dozens of stabbings that the Palestinians have carried out in the past few moths, yet they were able to effortlessly summon a single stabbing that was carried out by a Jew last year in order to bolster their case against Israel.  

For comparison's sake, in a New York Times article two days ago about a senior Hamas terrorist (of course the Times referred to him as a 'commander' and 'militant', not a terrorist), who was executed by his own organization, allegedly for being gay, they felt no such compunction to introduce even-handedness.

Not only did the Times fail to mention the glaringly obvious irony of an allegedly gay terrorist spendng his entire career launching deadly terror attacks against the only country in the middle east that has a vibrant and inclusive policy towards the LGBT community, being executed for his sexual orientation by his own people... but they spent the entire article describing him and his background in exclusively positive terms. 

In the article, he is referred to as "Hamas royalty" from a "storied family"... who had tragically left behind not one, but two wives.  They even ran a photo of his mother and one of his sisters crying next to a poster of him!

And the Times took pains to portray him as a wronged Palestinian patriot for having been executed despite bravely sheltering Mohammed Deif at considerable personal risk.  At no time did the Times feel the need to offer contextual information, such as the fact that Deif was in hiding because he was/is being targeted by Israel for master-minding suicide attacks and bus bombings that have killed more than 50 innocent Israelis.  

It is absolutely infuriating to see the lengths to which the Times will go to ensure that Israel is continually vilified, facts be damned.

The New York Times makes no secret of its editorial line regarding Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.  I'm okay with that.

But the Times also has a huge number of writers, photographers, cameramen, technicians, stringers, fixers and visiting bureau chiefs stationed/living here in Israel who are perfectly aware of Israel's extremely progressive policies and welcoming stance towards the LGBT community.  

So it boggles the mind that one should be used to negate, or assign sinister motives, to the other!

Posted by David Bogner on March 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Everyone Just Take A Deep Breath!

Before everyone in the United States and Europe loses their collective minds over the report (correct, as it turns out) that Israel is appropriating 380 Acres of land in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, please take a deep breath.

I hate to be the bearer of bad (inconvenient) tidings, but the truth is, this move is 100% in keeping with the vision of Yitzhak Rabin (also known as the horse y'all backed).

In his last speech to the Knesset a month before he was assassinated, Rabin said the following (I have placed the stuff people conveniently like to forget/ignore in bold):

"...

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

..." [you can read the entire speech in English translation here]

Wow, with talk like that, he'd be called a right wing fascist today!

Let's review, shall we:

  1.  He not only categorically rejected the idea of dividing Jerusalem, but he explicitly endorsed a unified 'greater Jerusalem' that includes Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Zeev as Israel's capitol .
  2. He was against the establishment of a Palestinian state.  Instead, he wanted a non-state 'entity' for the Palestinians.
  3. He considered the Jordan Valley to be Israel's security border and emphasized the permanent Israeli presence there by using the phrase "...in the broadest meaning of that term" to define the Jordan valley. Therefore what Israel did today is entirely within Rabin's vision.
  4. He not only made it clear that the large settlements in Judea and Samaria would be annexed, but also that Israel would establish and annex large settlement blocks in these areas.

So again... for everyone who got the vapors today when the news was confirmed that Israel was formally taking control of a part of the Jordan Valley, please take a deep breath and remember that even according to Yitzhak Rabin, this area has always been considered part of our security border and was never up for discussion.

You can now go back to your regularly scheduled Israel bashing.

Posted by David Bogner on January 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

You're Doing It Wrong

For quite some time now the western world has been wondering out loud why Arab armies aren't in the field alongside western coalition forces fighting international terror; particularly in the fight against ISIS.

Well, as refreshing as it was to see the news this morning that Suadi Arabia is putting together a coalition with representatives from Arab militaries in order to fight terror, seeing 'Palestine' among the list of Arab militaries was a tad disquieting.

Memo to Riyadh:

a) 'Palestine' doesn't have a military. In fact it is illegal under international law (not to mention existing agreements with Israel) for them to have one.

b) Even if the Palestinian Authority did have a formal military, enlisting them in the war on terror would be as colossally bad an idea as Richard Nixon enlisting Elvis Presley in the war on drugs.

c) If you are using terrorists (and those who fund them) to fight terrorists, you're doing it wrong!

 

Posted by David Bogner on December 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Canary in the Coal Mine

For years we Israelis have been warning the world that what is happening here will soon happen elsewhere. We are simply experiencing it first.  And if they equivocate, excuse and justify such attacks against Israelis, they too will soon begin to feel the terrible effects of Islamic violence.

Yet the wise leaders of the world's governments and diplomatic institutions have rejected the idea that Israel is just a canary in the world's coal mine*.  We must have provoked the violence directed against us, as well as the groundswell of anger emanating from the Muslim world.  

After all, no reasonable people would behave with such violence and callous disregard for human life, unprovoked.

No reasonable people, indeed.

Now after months of silence from the Europeans regarding the current wave of stabbings and shootings we have been enduring here in Israel, somewhat apropos of the canary in the coal mine analogy, a stabbing attack has just been reported in the tunnels of the London Underground.

Interestingly, the New York Times is already reporting the attack in London as 'terrorism', while they have largely ignored the attacks happening here, or dismissed them as the random acts of 'militants'.  I guess the difference between Chateaubriand and Flanken depends on where you cut it.

I'll be interested to see if such attacks against Europeans will be greeted with the same indifference and apathy as those carried out against Israelis... or if the creeping danger in the tunnels will finally be recognized for what it is, and addressed with clear-eyed resolve by the civilized world.

 

*An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.

Posted by David Bogner on December 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Probably just a coincidence, right?

In a rare unguarded moment on the campaign trail back in 2008, Obama made the following statement about small town, Christian Americans:

"... "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them..."

Although he was referring to a sizable portion of his own [Christian] countrymen when he made that remark, it is puzzling that he has thus far failed to apply a similar criticism to Muslims when they demonstrate exactly the traits he described.  

My heart goes out to the victims and families of yesterday's attack in California.  I can empathize with them because I have been seeing - up close and personal - far too much of what they experienced yesterday.  

But my mind can't help but wonder why U.S. President lost no time using the shooting as an excuse to issue a reflexive call for gun reform... yet remains circumspect about making any mention of the inconvenient (and probably irrelevant!), religion and worldview of the shooters.

I wouldn't hold my breath...

Posted by David Bogner on December 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Consensus? What Consensus?

In light of the dozens of terror attacks that have taken place within walking distance of my home in Gush Etzion over the past few months, I decided to take a step back and take a look at how Gush Etzion fits into the 'consensus'  - a word that has assumed nearly religious stature among Israel's left - as to what Israel's borders will look like the day after a peace agreement is signed with the Palestinians.

The great thing about throwing around the word 'consensus', is that it sounds suspiciously canonical; as if the wise powers that be have met, discussed, and agreed upon the general principles of a contentious issue.  If a 'consensus' has been reached, it implies broad agreement, or at least an acceptable resolution; one that can be supported, even if not the "favorite" of each individual. [source]

When the Israeli left talks about 'consensus' in terms of what portion of the areas conquered in 1967 will remain part of Israel the day after an agreement, they usually mean all of Jerusalem (and its surrounding neighborhoods), the Jordan valley and the major settlement blocks (Ariel and Gush Etzion).

Yet most Israelis have no idea where this consensus came from or whose views that consensus represents.

It may surprise many to learn that it was none other than the sainted Yitzhak Rabin who laid out the basis for this broad consensus of Israel's ultimate borders in his last speech to the Israeli Knesset just one month before he was assassinated (you should read the whole thing, if you have the time).  If that doesn't lend broad credibility to the consensus, I don't know what does.

Let's have a look at Rabin's words (I have added emphasis in bold to words and phrases which some may find surprising):

"...

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

..."

So if a consensus already exists, why does the current wave of terrorism seem to be directed almost exclusively against targets within that consensus; within the green line (i.e. pre-1967 Israel), as well as within areas of the 'West Bank' that are, according to 'the consensus', slated to be included inside the borders of the State of Israel after any eventual agreement?

The inescapable conclusion is that despite the Oslo accords and all subsequent offers that have been made to the Palestinians by successive Israeli governments, and despite the strident claims of Israel's left to the contrary, the Palestinians do not feel party to, or bound by, any sort of consensus.

The only thing that can possibly explain the focus of this current wave of terror attacks in areas that are supposedly within 'the consensus' is that the Palestinians still envision establishing their state within those areas being attacked... meaning, in place of Israel, not alongside it.

Posted by David Bogner on December 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)