« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Enjoying a nice BLT

No seriously. I did... and it was every bit as good as I remember!

Let me back up a bit. Our 15-year-old son Gilad recently got a part time job behind the counter at a local eatery called the 'Efrat Deli & Grill'.

In addition to the fine array of sandwiches and side dishes available at this establishment, they happen to serve a BLT that is sufficiently authentic to warm the heart of any Ba'al Tshuvah (someone who has become observant later in life).

Here's the story:

The owner of the 'Efrat Deli & Grill' decided that he didn't want to open a typical shwarma and felafel joint. Being originally from the US, he smartly (IMHO) fell back on what he knew best; sliced meat. But since the supply of meat here is somewhat different than what is available in North America, he had to do a fair amount of trial and error with his recipes to see what worked and what didn't.

In the course of experimenting with making different kinds of pastramis, salamis and roasted & smoked meats, his meat supplier sent him a big piece of veal that he didn't quite know what to do with. So he tossed it in the smoker to see what would happen. The result was still not an obvious sucess or failure, so he sliced it thin and decided to see what would happen if he fried up some of it.

What he was left with at the end of this process was something that looked - and tasted - as close to Canadian Bacon as you're going to find this side of a rabbinical supervision certificate (I can attest with an embarrassing level of authority that it was spot on).

So, faced with a small supply of what looked, smelled and tasted exactly like bacon, what would any self-respecting Ba'al Tshuvah do? No brainer, right? He tossed some bread into the toaster, loaded up some mayo, sliced tomatoes and lettuce... and went directly to BT Nirvana.

I'm assuming that most of the Efrat Deli & Grill's clientele is FFB (Frum from birth), so they wouldn't necessarily know to ask for the BLT (or even identify it if it were on the menu). But the other night when Zahava, Yonah and I went over to visit Gilad at his new gig, we certainly knew in advance what we wanted.

I am so glad that Gilad didn't get a job at the local pizzeria! As my younger sister would say, "The man can pile food!".

If you are in the area and want to check the veracity of what you've read here, you can find this eatery in the Dekel Commercial Center in Efrat. No reservation is necessary (it's informal as you can get), but to make sure they have the fixings for a BLT on hand, you can call 02 993 8976.

[Full disclosure: We were guests of the establishment]

Posted by David Bogner on April 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Slo Mo

We have all encountered at least one of these on the road; someone who drives so erratically... so randomly... so counter-intuitively... so contrary to the etiquette and norms of the road... that they are likely to go their entire lives without getting so much as a nicked fender, but will almost certainly leave countless near-misses and wrecks in their wake.

During the many years I've been commuting the 150+ km (round trip) each day, I've become aware of a particular driver on the road.

This gentleman, who I'll call 'Slo Mo', because I found out (as will soon be made clear), that his first name is the same as the Gentleman who led the Jews out of Egypt. Oh, and because he drives sloooow. Most of the time, anyway.

Slo Mo is an older gentleman who must have been self-taught behind the wheel. I say this because when following him, the first thing one notices is that his speed varies constantly between 30% - 90% of the posted speed limit. It isn't just that he accelerates to within spitting distance of the speed limit and then coasts for awhile. No, I know this isn't the case because his short bursts of speed are immediately followed by the flash of brake lights and rapid deceleration.

Based on first-hand reports (from friends who have hitched rides with him), Slo Mo's nauseating speed fluctuations are caused by the fact that he drives his automatic European sedan with his right foot on the gas and his left foot on the brake, using the two pedals alternately, the way most manual transmission drivers use the gas and clutch.

The first few times I encountered Slo Mo (I didn't know his name then), I thought he was being passive aggressive. He would slow up on even the mildest curves to the point that anyone following him would be forced to jam on their brakes. But once the road straightened out again, he would suddenly stamp on the gas, frustrating the timing and momentum of anyone trying to pass him.

I can honestly say that for several months I was convinced he was deliberately blocking attempts to pass him and was getting a power thrill from the resulting conga-line of cars and trucks (and even tractors) that would end up strung out behind him. But after studying him for awhile (and seeing that he didn't even seem to notice me when I did succeed in passing him), I realized that he was simply oblivious to the affect his erratic driving was having on other drivers.

After nearly a year of encountering Slo Mo at various points in my commute, I set about trying to figure out his schedule and points of origin/destination so I could alter my own commute schedule and avoid him altogether. What I finally figured out was that he was a resident of my own town... and he worked just north of the city where I earn my own living. But try as I might, I never seemed to manage to catch up with him inside my town... meaning, I couldn't figure out who he was.

So for several more months, he was just an annoyance in a known make/model of car, and a familiar profile (on the occasions when I managed to pass him) in the driver's side window.

Then one day I was setting out for work with a few of my carpool mates in the car, when I pulled over to offer a ride to a few people who were standing at the big intersection just south of my town. A familiar looking older gentleman nodded when I said I was going to Beer Sheva, but before he managed to get in I whispered to may carpool mates that we were about to meet the infamous Slo Mo in the flesh.

As we pulled away from the bus stop, I looked in the mirror at the man in the back seat (to make sure it was really him) and then said, "What happened to your car? Is it in the shop?".

He didn't seem surprised by the question, and answered in a booming tenor, "Yes, it's time for the scheduled maintenance and they didn't have a loaner for me".

I was sorely tempted to ask if it was because they knew he was murder on the brakes, but instead asked, "You're going down to the Omer Industrial Area, right?"

Now he was genuinely surprised. "How did you know that?", he asked.

I just smiled conspiratorially at my carpool mates and said, "There aren't that many of us who make the daily commute down south... I make it a habit of knowing who else is on the road with me."

He seemed to accept the explanation, and from there we all talked comfortably about random topics until it came time to drop him near his office. He thanked me for the ride, and I gave him my number in case his return commute coincided with ours.

I have to admit, as much as I wanted to really hate the guy for the way he drove, it was hard not to like him. His big booming voice was perhaps a little hard to take. But overall, he seemed a genuinely nice guy.

There was only one other time that Slo Mo ended up on my car. It was on a day between when he had to turn in his old company car, but before they had delivered his new one. Again on that occasion I enjoyed his company... but was genuinely stumped how someone who was so nice in a passenger seat could be such a clueless (and actually dangerous!) terror behind the wheel.

Since I've been commuting on my scooter this past year, Slo Mo has become less of a hazard, and more of a slalom obstacle. Unless I encounter him on a truly blind curve, I find it easy enough to anticipate his random braking, and shoot past him. But I have to admit, occasionally I hang back to marvel at the magnificence of his dysfunctional driving.

However, once I notice a growing line of impatient drivers behind me, I simply make my move and zip on past into the open road ahead. In that respect, he's like a moving pick... ensuring that for at least the next few miles (if not the rest of my commute), I'll have the road to myself.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to tell you about Slo Mo today. Maybe it's because we all have our nemeses on the road. Maybe we meet them only once and (hopefully) live to tell the tale. And maybe we meet them over and over again, gaining an ulcer in the process... or simply a good story to tell.

Posted by David Bogner on April 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Now What?

A recent Pew Survey poll has revealed that only 36% of Egyptians favor maintaining the current peace treaty with Israel.

"The US-based think tank polled 1,000 adults throughout Egypt between March 24 and April 7, finding that only 36 percent would maintain peace. The percentage of Egyptians who support annulling the treaty (54%) does not vary amongst those who sympathize with Islamic fundamentalists and those who do not." [Source]

So here's a silly question: When/if Egypt abrogates the peace agreement with Israel, are they going to give the Sinai peninsula back to us? Even though the Sinai peninsula - with all its natural gas deposits - was the price that Israel paid in order to get Anwar Sadat to sign on the dotted line, nobody would seriously expect Egypt to hand it back once they tear up the treaty.

And that is the real danger of making territorial concessions in return for nothing more than a signed pieces of paper. The paper can be torn up... but the land can never be returned.

And yet, that is exactly what Israel is being asked to do with the Syrians (with the Golan Heights), and the Palestinians (with most of the West Bank) in return for nothing more than a piece of paper.

We'll get a worthless treaty, and they'll get irreplaceable land that we'll never see again... if/when they set aside the treaty.

Can anyone explain this to me in a way that it will make sense to hand over more land?

Posted by David Bogner on April 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Enough blame to go around

Early this morning several vehicles containing Jewish worshipers made a clandestine visit to Joseph's tomb in Shechem (Nablus). This kind of unauthorized visit to the Jewish holy site is not an uncommon occurrence, especially on the part of Brealev Hassidim, since according to the current security arrangements, only one nighttime visit per month is allowed... and then only to a small number of people.

According to published sources, there is currently a list of thousands of Jews waiting for permission to visit the site.

Because of this backlog, many Jews have become accustomed to visiting the tomb and adjoining synagogue under cover of darkness in the early morning hours; finishing their prayers as the sun comes up. This has been done largely with a wink and a nod from both the Israeli and palestinian security forces.

Until today, that is.

At about 6:00 AM this morning, several vehicles containing a group of Breslev Hassidim came under a hail of automatic machine gun fire, allegedly from Palestinian security forces. One worshiper was killed and several were wounded before they managed to make their way to an Israeli check point.

To my way of seeing things, this ludicrous, not to mention dangerous, situation has been deliberately allowed to develop by our leftist, anti-religious defense minister in much the same way that he has fostered the fallacy that the very presence of Jews within stones throw (and firing range) of Arabs is deemed sufficiently provocative to spark calls to remove the Jews rather than the stone throwers and shooters.

There is absolutely no reason why we should be meticulously maintaining access to Muslim holy sites (such as the Temple Mount) for Arabs, while Jews are routinely denied access to those same, and other, sites.

We'll leave aside my personal conviction that Islam is a modern, made up religion that flies in the face of all historical evidence, not to mention is incapable of coexisting with other faiths.

What really bothers me (aside from the wanton slaughter of innocent Jews), is the ongoing trend of discounting millennium old Jewish claims to holy sites in our own land, while holding as sacrosanct any and all Muslim claims and sensibilities, however modern and inconsistent with historical and religious texts.

The PA is calling this morning's murder shooting a "security event, not an act of terror". I beg to differ.

As I said earlier, both the Israeli and Palestinian security services are quite familiar with these unsanctioned early morning prayer visits, and have treated them as harmless for years. That the Palestinian police felt comfortable opening fire on these vehicles today indicates that they have received new orders.

I am so sick of Jews being arrested and assaulted for daring to move their lips in silent prayer on the temple mount. I am sick of our holy places having to be fortified like bunkers in order to ensure the safety of arriving worshippers (Rachel's tomb), and of Jewish life and property being deemed equally unworthy of protection by our own defense minister.

Jews praying at Jewish holy sites is not a provocation. It is not a security threat. It is not an obstacle to peace. Only the mindset of those who feel otherwise creates a climate where peaceful coexistence can never be achieved. And I include both Israelis and Palestinians in that accusation.

Posted by David Bogner on April 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A test run

Yesterday we were supposed to take a family tiyul / hike on a Roman road that parallels a modern road near where we live. However, Ariella was working (she has a part time job at the Jerusalem zoo) and Yonah was under the weather, so Zahava magnanimously agreed to stay home with the little guy so Gilad and I could do something together.

That something was a ride on the scooter almost to the Lebanese border (Hurshat Tal, near Kiryat Shmoneh). This was only a 500 km round trip, so it was a nice test run for my big 1600 km in 24 hours ride in June. But if my butt is going to be more than three times as sore as it was this morning, I'm in big trouble.

When we got there Gilad and I had a nice BBQ with some old friends from Hashmona'im. But as great as it was to eat grilled meat with close friends, for me the highlight of the day was enjoying the kind of exciting closeness that can only be achieved when traveling together the length of this beautiful country on a sunny spring day... on two wheels.

Posted by David Bogner on April 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Monday, April 18, 2011

Of fudge and complicated politics

I was once in Union Station in St. Louis when I heard singing. I followed the sound to a fudge store where a half a dozen young African American men and women were making fresh fudge while singing and encouraging the gathered crowd to join in. When they were done making the fudge they began cutting it into big chunks as the crowd applauded and lined up to buy the fresh confection.

I was standing behind a young blond girl who, when her turn came, handed her friend her camera and motioned for one of the fudge factory workers to join her for a photo. Once the picture had been taken, she took out a notebook and started writing the name of the place and the date. Amused, the young man blurted out, "Girl, you gonna have one picture with a black man in your whole photo album... you gonna tell me you won't remember where you were?".

I've shared this anecdote because in my entire cell phone memory, among more than 100 entries, is only one Arab. It is the number of a highly skilled handyman named Awad. And as much as I knew he'd instantly know why I called him, the moment I heard that my parent's wayward dog, Humphrey, had somehow found his way to Ramallah, I knew that I needed to get an Arab I trusted involved... even if it was the only Arab I knew.

I had initially called the person who had left the message for my parents, but despite my gentle prodding to have them bring the dog to one of the Jerusalem checkpoints Thursday evening, the young woman insisted that the soonest they could get us the dog was Saturday. She also indicated that they no longer had the dog, having given him to relatives in Nablus for safe keeping.

Alarm bells started ringing in my head, So I called Awad and asked him to speak to her and determine if they were really going to return the dog, and to find out why the dog had been handed over to a third party, and why the delay.

After a few minutes, Awad called me back and I could hear in his tone he was smiling. He explained that the people were Palestinians who had lived in the US for many years and had only recently moved back. A friend of theirs had found the dog dragging his leash along a rural road that connected Hebron and Ramallah... bypassing Jerusalem. But for the leash he probably wouldn't have stopped, because feral dogs are quite common. But once he had Humphrey in the car, the first thing that came to mind was this quirky American family in Ramallah who had three house dogs (a relative rarity in their culture), so he brought Humphrey to them.

Once the woman (her name is Miral) had Humphrey, she checked his collar and saw the US rabies tag. Having lived in the states she made a couple of long distance calls and was soon talking to the Fairfield Animal Hospital where Humphrey had been vaccinated. They checked the records and gave Miral my parent's phone number. Miral called the US phone number and left a message, but assumed that some tourists had lost their dog. So, having a house full of dogs and no idea how long it would take my parents to get in touch, she contacted some family members in Nablus who agreed to look after the dog for however long it would take.

What Miral didn't know was that my parents have a VOIP US number that rings in their Jerusalem apartment. So when they got back from a day in Herzylia, they heard the message and nearly went insane with relief.

Since we couldn't got to Nablus or Ramallah, and they couldn't come to Jerusalem, I asked Awad if he could go pick up the dog and bring him back to my parent's home. He readily agreed. I told him that even though the people holding the dog hadn't mentioned a reward, he should please give them a particular sum and that my parents would pay him back when he came tp drop off the dog. He said he'd be happy to advance the money.

In the end, Awad had no trouble getting the dog and bringing him back to my parents. For his part, Humphrey had been bathed and pampered by the children of the Nablus family, and had gained a lot of weight from all the treats and canned dog food he'd been given. Apparently they'd mistaken greed for hunger. :-)

Yesterday I called and spoke with several of the family members who had handled Humphrey. I thanked them again for going to such lengths to find us and for taking such good care of him.

Before getting off the phone I told Miral of my initial suspicion. She laughed good naturedly and said that if someone had called and left a message saying one of her dogs was in Efrat she would have been just as suspicious. I told her that it was a shame politics had made two families of pet lovers so suspicious of one another. She agreed.

In the end I told her that she should save my phone number, and that if I was ever able to do a favor for her or anyone in her family, I owed her one. She laughed, thanked me, and said she hoped it wouldn't be necessary.

My parents view these events as nothing short of a miracle. Me? I see it as an important reminder that political considerations are important... but do not paint a fair picture of people with different points of view. Does this change my politics? No. But does it complicate them? Absolutely.

Posted by David Bogner on April 18, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh where oh where has my little dog gone?

A little over a week ago my parents came to Efrat to join us for shabbat.  Luckily their apartment in Jerusalem is less than a 30 minute drive from our place, making it easy for me to pick them (and their two dogs) up before shabbat, and drop them back off Saturday night.

A nice restful shabbat was enjoyed by all, and even the dogs - theirs and ours - got along famously, as usual.

When it came time to pack up the car for the trip back into Jerusalem, my dad and I loaded everything up, put the dogs in the back of our station wagon, and my mom took her usual place in the shotgun seat.

However as we were passing a traffic circle north of Efrat near the entrance to Al Khadar (a suburb of Bethlehem), I noticed that the light in the way back was on... indicating that the rear hatch was not closed completely.  

Humphrey, my parent's little border terrier, had already jumped into the back seat with my dad.   But Adelaide, their big shepherd lab mix was still in the cargo area in the back, and I didn't want to risk her falling out.  So I pulled over next to the traffic circle and parked across from an IDF pillbox.

I was about to jump out to re-shut the rear hatch, but my dad beat me to it.  Once he'd gotten back in the car and I'd checked to make sure the light was out, I turned the car around, did a quick loop around the traffic circle, and got onto the main road heading north toward Jerusalem.

As we drove towards our destination, we chatted about what a good thing it had been that we'd noticed the back door was ajar.  Stories of canine tragedies were exchanged, and the cavalier attitude of some pet owners about safety was mentioned.

When we pulled into the small parking area next to my parent's apartment building, I got out and went around back to let Adelaide out.  As I was helping her out, my mother saw that my father was standing with his door open and reminded him to make sure little Humphrey didn't jump out on his own (he has a habit of lighting off after cats and other small prey if given the chance).

Something about my dad's posture caught my eye, and I could see from where I stood that he didn't have Humphrey.  My mom must have sensed something wrong as well, because she asked - a bit more pointedly than usual - if we had Humphrey.

I ran around the side of the car and did a quick scan of the parking lot.  He couldn't have gotten away that quickly.  Then I dove into the car and looked around for the missing dog.  As I came up empty, I got a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach... Humphrey must have slipped out unnoticed when my dad had gotten out to re-close the rear hatch.

By now my mom was beside herself, but I didn't have time for hand holding.  I literally yanked her out of the car, tossed their suitcase onto the asphalt, and fired up the engine.  Through the open window I explained where I thought Humphrey had jumped out, and told them I had to get back there fast before the dog had time to wander away or be hit by a car.

While I did the 30 minute drive back to the rural traffic circle (it actually took me 15), I called Zahava and asked her to have a friend drive her out of the northern entrance of Efrat so she could start looking for Humphrey.  We arrived within a minute of one another.  But Humphrey was gone.  He'd still had his leash attached to his collar, so I was doubly worried that he might get caught on something and not be able to free himself.

I called up to the soldiers in the pillbox to ask if they'd seen the dog.  After a short consultation they yelled back down that they'd seen a small brown dog walking across the traffic circle perhaps 30 minutes earlier, but hadn't seen it since.  When I asked what direction he'd been heading they couldn't agree on a direction.  I thanked them and continued the search.

I drove around the area where the dog had been left for several hours calling his name, while Zahava looked inside Efrat (in case the dog had somehow caught a whiff of our house on the wind and was heading back to the last place he'd been.  

The only direction I couldn't check was the road leading down into the Arab areas of Al Khadar and Bethlehem.  Actually I did go part way down that road (even though it is illegal for me to have done so), but turned back when I got close to where houses and businesses began.

By 1:30 in the morning I had to call it a night.  Humphrey's terrier genes, and the proximity of feral and domestic felines, made him a flight risk under the best of circumstances.  But having been unceremoniously dumped in a rural area rich with the scent of rodents and other potential prey, his breeding must have taken over and led him happily in pursuit over hill and dale.

For the next few days I spent early mornings and late evenings driving around looking for Humphrey, and checked in frequently during the day to see how my parents were dealing with the loss (not well).

There was never a question of blame.  Humphrey often came up front to sit on my mom's lap on the drives to and from Jerusalem, so it was perfectly reasonable for my dad not to have missed him when he got back in the car from closing the back hatch.  And the dog just as often stayed in the back with my dad, so my mom wouldn't have found it strange not to have seen him during the drive.  

The only one who felt any guilt was me.  If I hadn't noticed the light on, or if I had noticed it before we even pulled away from my house, we would never have stopped in that remote setting.

Every day that passed without finding Humphrey, our hopes dimmed.  And by Thursday morning I had decided that at best, he was far away living off the abundance of the land... and at worst, he was dead on the side of some road.

It wasn't until Thursday afternoon that the strangest thing happened: A stranger left a message on my parent's answering machine saying they'd found their dog.  They were calling from Ramallah (the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority).

[to be continued...]

Posted by David Bogner on April 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 14, 2011

With friends like these...

The first headline to catch my eye this morning was:

"Following reports of "renewed atrocities," including firing of mortar, artillery rounds into residential areas of Misrata, US secretary of state Clinton condemned Libya's forces 'brutal attacks' on civilians." [source]

It made me sad to hear our close friend and ally, the United States of America, reserving words such as 'atrocities' and 'war crimes' for an assault on civilians that has been going on for a matter of weeks... when Israeli civilians have been absorbing hundreds of rockets and mortars per month for years

Oh sure, every few months the US condemns the ongoing attacks on Israeli civilians, and usually issues some formulaic statement about Israel's right to defend her citizens.  But such lip service is invariably followed by pleas for 'restraint', and for all sides to refrain from escalating the 'cycle of violence'

Truly, with friends like these... who needs enemies?

Posted by David Bogner on April 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

'Festival of Freedom' my @ss

Festival of Freedom is the apt name which is given to Passover to commemorate our forefathers having been redeemed from slavery in Egypt.  And this freedom thing is not to be taken lightly.  Every morning we recite not one, but two related blessings:

Blessed are you... who did not make me a slave.

Blessed are you... who releases the bound.

Perhaps it is a result of our Biblical experience in captivity, or perhaps it's because we Jews spent a good portion of our history being individually and communally ransomed to satisfy the whims and greed of the nations... but it speaks volumes that "the Talmud (Bava Batra 8b) calls pidyon shvuyim (the redeeming of captives) a “mitzvah rabbah” (= great mitzvah) and says that captivity is worse than starvation and death". [source]

"Maimonides rules that he who ignores ransoming a captive is guilty of transgressing commandments such as “you shall not hearden your heart” (Deut. 15:7); “you shall not stand idly by the blood of your brother” (Lev. 19:16); and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). (Maimonides, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 8:10 = Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 252:2). And one who delays in ransoming a captive, is considered like a murderer (Yoreh Deah 252:3)".   [source]

From this one is supposed to understand that freeing Jewish captives is meant to be a priority for Jews... for the simple reason that it is most certainly not a priority for the Goyim.

Case in point is the International Red Cross, which today went to the extraordinary lengths of demanding that Hamas release another 'sign of life' from Gilad Schalit as a goodwill gesture towards Israel before the Passover holiday.

Note that they didn't demand that Hamas release the hostage they seized in contravention of international law and the norms of civilized society.  They didn't even demand that a Red Cross representative or doctor be allowed to visit him! 

They haven't done this in the past, and have pointedly refused to do so now for the simple reason that they know there is no way of getting the Palestinians to agree to play by the same rules as the rest of the civilized world.

The Red Cross' refusal to demand Palestinian compliance with the Geneva Conventions and international law is tacit acknowledgment that Gilad Schalit is being held by an organization as far beyond the laws and norms of civilization as the Somali pirates and warlords. 

Yet they persist in demanding that Israel relate to the Palestinians as a legitimate proto-state... an adolescent Belgium or Denmark... a soon-to-be Spain on training wheels.  A UN body today even announced that the Palestinian "gov't functions are sufficient for [the the establishment of] a Palestinian state, but progress will be hard while "occupation" continues." 

See, according to them, Israel is the only thing standing in the way of a Palestinian Switzerland.

Careful readers may have experienced a moment of discomfort when I began substituting 'Palestinian' for 'Hamas' a few sentences ago.  Your sense of fair play was likely offended by my disengenuously painting all Palestinians with the Hamas brush.

Therefore I would ask the question; what are we to think when the UN and EU nod approvingly each time rumours of reunification talks between Fatah and Hamas surface.  I would also ask what we are to think of the speed and ease with which Hamas toppled Fatah in Gaza?

At the same time that we are being strong-armed into making long-term, permanent concessions to the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, we are being asked to pretend that Hamas won't enter the picture by guile or force before the ink is even dry on any agreement.

Which brings us back to one of the few Jewish captives we are fairly sure is still alive; Gilad Schalit:

The Red Cross isn't going to demand that the Palestinians give him back. 

The UN, EU and USA aren't going to demand that the Palestinians give him back. 

All they will do is continue to make demands of Israel... telling us what we must do in order to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

What they fail to appreciate is that peace with the Palestinians will last for exactly as long as it take Hamas and Fatah to reunite... or for Hamas to topple Fatah in the west bank as easily as they did in Gaza.  But by then we will have already made irretrievable territorial concessions.   And Gilad will still be sitting in some dank dungeon, growing in value like a savings bond.

Call me crazy (many do), but I think that Israel should stop dressing up and playing polite diplomatic games to please the goyim, and once and for all start acting like Jews. 

It is time for Israel to put its foot down and say, NO!, we will not be a party to our own lynching.  We will not talk peace with an already criminal / terrorist-ridden entity that is days, if not hours, from being overthrown by an even more criminal / terrorist-ridden entity. 

If the rest of the world can't even bring itself to go through the charade of asking the Palestinians to abide by existing international agreements and laws, they shouldn't think for a moment that we are stupid enough to enter into any new agreements with them.

And most importantly, while one of our sons sits illegally in Palestinian captivity, we will not engage in any more diplomacy of any sort with those who have the power to free him.  This is the minimum responsibility of every Jew, and to sit down to celebrate the Festival of Freedom while engaged in diplomacy with those who would see a Jew remain indefinitely in captivity is unconscionable.

Posted by David Bogner on April 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Monday, April 11, 2011


Last year I wrote a post entitled 'Blank Check' in which I described the generosity of some friends of ours in the US who had handed over their son to the IDF... and about the selflessness of their son who had decided on his own to come to Israel in order to serve.

Since then, this young man - Meir - has been living with us (when the army lets him go) and has been training in an elite program which required him to sign on for an additional year and a half.

Yesterday, because we have been sort of a surrogate family for Meir, Zahava and I, as well as another close friend from the community, were honored to be invited to a special ceremony at an IDF training base.

We all stood and watched his mother proudly joining his Senior Commander in attaching his new insignia/epaulets and pinning on his hard-earned designation badge (and yes, only Meir would wear a Mickey Mouse kippah to such a ceremony!). 


Also in attendance were his direct commander (who offered some glowing words of praise), and the training staff  from the course. 

We called to wake up his father in New York so he could share in the celebration.  And as you can see, no Jewish function would be complete without a bite to eat.  :-)


Meir is now officially an IDF Paramedic and will soon be getting orders to a unit stationed on the border with Gaza or on the northern border with Lebanon.  He'll find out today.


The shoulder insignia say 'Paramedic' in Hebrew, and the certificate says, "Certificate of Completion... This is to certify that Corporal Meir Shubowitz has completed the paramedic course and has fulfilled all requirements and tests, and is therefore allowed to carry out all actions related to his job."

In my earlier post I wrote about the generosity of those who write blank checks.  In this, we see that such checks often pay handsome dividends.


Posted by David Bogner on April 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 07, 2011

More love from our peace partners

A few minutes ago it was reported that either an anti-tank missile or a mortar fired from Gaza hit a school bus near Kitbbutz Saad in the Negev.

Luckily the bus was nearly empty, but the driver was moderately wounded and a teenager (some reports place his age at 13... others 16) is in extremely critical condition with paramedics on the scene trying to resuscitate him while they wait for the IDF helicopter to airlift him to Beer Sheva's Saroka hospital.

It seems to me that if Hamas has set the exchange rate at 1000 Palestinians per Jew (based on the Gilad Schalit negotiations, anyway), that seems about fair. 

Leveling three or four Gaza apartment buildings near the place from which the weapon was fired should just about even things up. 

Posted by David Bogner on April 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

When I get a bug in my head...

Since writing the last post about riding 1000 miles in less than 24 hours, I've been thinking about little else.

It isn't carved in stone yet, but I think I'm going to set a target date of Thursday, June 23rd (my birthday). 

I'd leave late evening the night before and ride until late afternoon / early evening on the 23rd (I figure the sunlight towards the end of my ride will work with my body clock to keep me alert).  Also, that would leave me all of Friday and Shabbat to recover.

Route planning and assorted brainstorming/day-dreaming to follow shortly.

Posted by David Bogner on April 6, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, April 04, 2011

Midlife Crisis Redux

Longtime readers may recall that when I turned 40, my patient and caring wife allowed me gifted me the opportunity to celebrate my private passage into midlife by driving the old Route 66 alone from Chicago to LA.

It was a memorable trip that I will treasure forever. 

But as my 50th birthday has crept ever closer, Zahava has been asking me what I have in mind for that milestone.  Funny she should use the term milestone...

A while back I read about a quirky organization that certifies long-distance endurance rides for motorcyclists.  They call themselves the 'Iron Butt Association- World's toughest motorcyclists' (you can't make this stuff up!).

They have all kinds of rides they certify... the shortest being a 1000 miles in 24 hours!  They call that one the 'Saddlesore 1000'.  And nowhere in their extensive rules and regulations does it say that scooters aren't eligible.

One little wrinkle though.  Due to the proportions of my beautiful-but-diminuative country, if I were to try to earn the 'Saddlesore 1000' certification, I'd have to take the following route (within a 24 hour period, of course):

  • Jerusalem to Eilat - 191 Miles
  • Eilat to the Golan Heights - 350 Miles
  • Back to Eilat - 350 Miles
  • And then back to Jerusalem - 191 Miles

The more I think about it, this has all kinds of possibilities:

1.  I could open the ride up to sponsorship (for a worthy cause - or causes - which you all could help me select)

2.  I have a Bluetooth music / speakerphone set-up in my helmet so I could post my cell phone number and let treppenwitz readers from around the world could call to keep me company during the ride.

3.  I could invite friends from around Israel to ride along with me in their cars for short segments of the ride (sort of like support vehicles).

4.  I could arrange rest breaks throughout the country at the homes of friends and soon-to-be friends (Israeli readers who I've never met) to break up the trip.

Note:  I thought briefly about trying to organize a group ride... but have pretty much decided against that.  The reason being that riding with others who have different riding styles can take you out of your comfort zone and cause additional stress/fatigue on a long ride.  I'm not completely dismissing the idea of maybe one or two other riders... but I'd have to take a few shorter rides with them to see if we are compatible.

Hmmmm... this has real possibilities.  Stay tuned.

Posted by David Bogner on April 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Body Surfing the Web

Have you ever gone to the beach to do some body surfing and swum out to where the waves were breaking... only to miss the last/best wave of the set by mere seconds?

This is especially frustrating since not only do you have to watch jealously as a bunch of other body surfers zoom past you in apparent ecstasy... but you also find yourself out there treading water like shark bait for however long it takes for the next set of waves to build (8, 10, or even 12 waves).

Well, that's nothing compared to the frustration of arriving at a really interesting, well written blog just after it peaks... and the author loses interest and (apparently) abandons it.

Good blogs tend to ramp up like sets of waves at the beach.  It takes a little while for the author to find his/her voice... followed by increasingly powerful posts... and then all too often... silence.

I don't do all that much online reading anymore... but lately it seems that nearly every time I stumble upon (or rediscover) a blog worth following... I end up treading water by myself, while watching the date on the last post recede further and further into the past.

At least at the beach you know your patience will eventually be rewarded and another set of waves will arrive.


Posted by David Bogner on April 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack