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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

We all have them... you know, those guilty little things we enjoy privately but would be embarrassed if others knew.

Oh get your mind out of the gutter!

I'm talking about those songs that come on the radio during our commute, that if someone else was with us, we would instantly switch stations or skip tracks. But if we are alone, we not only leave the song on... but we might even start singing along!

Confession is good for the soul. Here, I'll get the ball rolling:

Over the past few mornings on my ride to work, I admit to singing along to the following songs (and enjoyng myself immensely):

  1. She Blinded Me With Science (Thomas Dolby)
  2. My Name Is Luca (Suzanne Vega)
  3. Hot, Hot, Hot (Buster Poindexter)
  4. Kung Foo Fighting (Carl Douglas)
  5. [Domo Arigato] Mr. Roboto (Styx)

There. I feel better now.

Your turn...

Posted by David Bogner on June 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Too [~DOH~]

At roughly 15 of the more than 20 gas/rest stops I made during my 'Dream Ride', the person behind the counter, or attending the pump, wished me a cheerful, "Have a nice trip" as I was getting ready to leave. To which I invariably responded, "You too!".

Not "Thank you"... not "I will"... not "I am".

I Just grinned like an idiot and blurted out "You too!"

And I always heard myself saying it really enthusiastically, as though I was not only an imbecile, but a really gung-ho imbecile who was so happy to be out of the loony bin and on the road that I assumed that even pump attendants and store clerks were traveling too by virtue of having encountered them at a rest stop.

So if you happened to have been driving in Israel this past Wednesday or Thursday and noticed a guy on a bright red Vespa pulling out of a gas station smacking himself repeatedly in the helmet, that would have been me.... the imbecile who wishes even stationary people a good trip if given the slightest opening.

Note:  I'm sure I must have written about this habit of mine in the past, but I can't seem to find it.  However, while searching I stumbled upon an entire Facebook page dedicated to the phenomenon of saying "You Too" at inappropriate times.

So I guess there's some comfort in being in good company with this roadside stupidity.

Posted by David Bogner on June 28, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Monday, June 27, 2011

So Tempting

Saw this on the nearly defunct blog of my favorite, snarky, redheaded, female IT specialist. *


E6e2_etchasketch_ipad_case

Hi-tech, nostalgia and the snarkiest kind of irony... all in one package. What's not to love?!

* [maybe defunct is too strong a word. It could be that she simply updates her blog at about the tempo of one of those ultra-minimalist composers who has the orchestra playing one note every few months... or years.] :-)

Posted by David Bogner on June 27, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Good, Bad & Ugly* of long-distance scooter riding

[* not necessarily in that order]

A few people have asked me to give a detailed post-ride summary.  some I assume are motorcyclists and want to learn from my experience.  And others are probably just curious.  So here goes:

Before I start, thank you again to everyone for your good wishes and support before, during and after the ride. There were times when I wasn't sure I was up to finishing 1000 miles in 24 hours (more about that in a bit) and it was almost certainly your enthusiasm and encouragement that got me over the hump.

Needless to say, if you haven't donated yet, please do so as soon as possible so we can compute the final total.

First the Bad and Ugly

It doesn't matter how old you are or how fit you think you are, riding a scooter for 24 hours (or anything close to that long) is physically demanding. The word 'grueling' comes to mind now that I'm on the other side of it.

I did some back and neck exercises for a couple of months before the ride, and I'm glad I did.  I can only imagine the kind of agony I'd be in if I hadn't strengthened those two areas. As it is, both are less happy than usual.

After my back and neck, the place that is least comfortable right now is not my butt (as you would expect), but rather my forehead. Strange,  right?

I'll explain.

A good chunk of my ride took me through two of the more inhospitable sections of desert in the world (the Negev and Arava). Twice!

(really curious folks can see the track map here.

When you are wearing an armored jacket, gloves and a full face helmet in 45C (113F) heat, you are gonna sweat. A lot. Even at night it only got down to 38C or so near the Dead Sea... so the pads and lining inside my helmet stayed soaked with sweat for pretty much the whole ride.

If I had it to do over again, I would have brought a spare set of helmet pads and swapped them out periodically to dry (after rinsing them in fresh water, of course). Right now, my forehead looks sunburned and has that stiff, wrinkly feel of a callous from being essentially soaked in brine and chaffed against the liner for 24 hours. Peeling?  Oh my yes.  Yuck!

Next, since we've talked about something that looks like sunburn, perhaps a word about the real thing is in order.

When wearing full gear, you'd think that you don't have to worry about the sun. You'd be wrong. In the desert you find out the hard way what little bits of skin peek out from your protective gear. I now have little sunburned spots on my wrists matching my glove strap cut-outs, on the back of my neck where my helmet and jacket collar didn't quite meet, and the tip of my nose. Sunscreen. 'Nuff said.

I am usually a pretty organized person when it comes to packing. I travel frequently for business and can usually throw together a suitcase for a two week trip in less than 15 minutes. Take it from me... packing for a ride like this requires weeks of careful thought... and a well managed check-list. Even the issue of what goes where becomes critical.

Some things you'll be accessing constantly during the trip (water, snacks, trip log, receipt envelope, map, etc.) while other, equally important things you may never touch (first aid kit, spare clothes, etc.). It isn't enough to have the right things with you. You have to make sure the stuff on the first list are right at your finger tips... and that you aren't constantly stumbling over the stuff on the second list.

An added note about packing. Don't plan on strapping anything to your pillion seat with a bungee net. The aggravation of having to take it off and put it back on each and every time you refuel will drive you bonkers. Luckily I discovered this useful fact on a test run a few weeks ago.

Now that we've talked about the potential physical pitfalls of a long, timed ride, let's talk about the mental ones.

There's a scene in the movie 'Castaway' in which Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) gives the following speech:

"Time rules over us without mercy. Not caring if we're healthy or ill. Hungry or drunk. Russian, American, beings from Mars. It's like a fire, it could either destroy us or it could keep us warm... we live or we die by the clock. We never turn our back on it and we never ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time."

For nearly the entire ride I had those words running through my head. The passing time was a huge mental challenge for me. I found myself mentally calculating splits and remaining time almost constantly. Because there were big sections of my ride where I couldn't maintain high speeds due to traffic, curves or darkness, I wasn't prepared for how stressful the time factor would turn out to be. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't built in a small fail-safe into the ride, I would have been stressed to the point of giving up.

The fail-safe I built in was two sets of witnessed starting and ending points. I knew that the first part of the trip would take me through Jerusalem at rush hour, so on the chance that it took more than 30 minutes, I had a friend waiting at a second starting point 30 minutes past Jerusalem. As it turned out, it took me almost an hour to get through the Jerusalem traffic.

I wouldn't know until the end of the ride if the lost time would turn out to be significant, but knowing that I had a second official starting time to fall back on gave me a little mental breathing room. As it turned out, it was close, but I did my first finish with enough miles... but kept riding to the second finish very near the 24 hour deadline just in case the IBA folks needed a little more mileage to certify the ride (remember... it goes by their map calculations... not your odometer).

The last thing of a negative nature I want to add (for now) is about knowing your limits.

If you don't tell anyone you are going to attempt a long ride, you will have no explaining to do if you decide to push it off (or shelve the idea altogether). But if you tell too many people, you risk feeling pressured to complete the ride when your common sense is trying to tell you you're too fatigued to continue.

I made a promise to myself when I started publicizing the ride that no bragging rights were worth dying for. I also told everyone of my friends that there was a real possibility that I wouldn't be able to finish.

And to be honest, there was a point just before dawn as I rode up the switchbacks leading from the Sea of Galilee towards Kiryat Shemona that I was sure I was done. I was physically exhausted and could feel my body's reflexes getting sluggish. I pulled over at the top of the hill and had a quick snack and a drink. As the sun started rising over the lake I felt like my batteries were being recharged. I'm not sure if it was the nourishment or the sunlight, but from that point it was a new day.

However, for the rest of the trip I was constantly reassessing myself.

There was another point at a rest stop about 2/3rd of the way through the ride where I thought again I might be done. I sat there for over an hour eating a second breakfast and enjoying the air-conditioning in the restaurant. By the time I was feeling human again I was almost sure I'd waited too long and wouldn't have time to cover enough ground before the 24 hours was up. But since I was feeling better I decided to just keep riding until I felt I couldn't do it anymore.

It came down to the wire, but again, the double starting points gave me the peace of mind to give it a go.

The point is that there is no shame in calling it quits before you've reached your destination or your goal. In short, you and everyone rooting for you have to know that despite Master Yoda's sage advice, there is try, not just do or do not.

Okay, now the Good

I don't need to tell most of you about the joy of being alone with your thoughts on two wheels. If you have been on a motorcycle or scooter even once, you know what I'm talking about. Toss in beautiful scenery and a special occasion (say, a 50th birthday), and you have a real treat.

But unless you are the monastic type, don't try to do the whole ride alone without a support network. At a minimum, make sure a loved one and/or close friend are aware of what you are doing, and are willing to follow your progress, either physically (in a tail vehicle) or virtually (with a spot tracker or Google Latitude enabled phone).

A close friend declared himself 'Mission Control' and stayed up for almost the whole ride following my progress on his computer. He's a programmer and keeps odd hours anyway, so he was well suited to the task. It was comforting when he called me to make sure I was okay as I rode near the Dead Sea. Apparently the SPOT tracker can't 'see' the satellite from below -300 ft, and I was at -1388 ft! (the lowest spot on earth not in an ocean)... so when he saw my trail grow cold, he immediately called to find out why. Several of you also called to let me know you were following my track... so I really felt like I had angels on my shoulders.

Throughout the ride my phone would ring inside my helmet (yay bluetooth!) and I'd find myself talking to well wishers. Some were friends IRL, and others were friends I've only 'met' on the interwebs. Both kinds of friends buoyed my spirits and allowed me the gift of enjoying my solitude, while being able to share what I was experiencing in real time.

Next, it doesn't matter if you are in a hot climate or a cold one. Airflow over your body robs you of moisture. You need to stay hydrated. With time slipping past you, it would be tempting to put off stopping to drink until you feel good and thirsty. Fortunately you don't have to stop. I used a Camelbak system and only refilled it during rest stops. Being able to drink at regular intervals while riding was both physically and mentally refreshing.

A word of advice though; practice using it before your trip. It took a few minutes to get the hang of pushing up my face shield and getting the drinking tube to my mouth.

I think the highlight of my ride was a point in the middle of the night about an hour and a half north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat. I was in the middle of the Arava and there wasn't even a hint of light in any direction. I pulled over, turned off the scooter and lay down on my back on the shoulder of the road. The sky overhead was more bright with stars and planets than any planetarium I'd ever experienced. I felt like I was alone in the universe... a speck of dust on a speck of dust. Humbling, to say the least. And a blessing I will take with me to my dying day.

About an hour before the end of the ride a car came shooting out of a side street and gave no clue if it was going to stop or continue right into my path. A week ago I would have grabbed both brakes in panic and hoped for the best. But after 22+ hours of riding, the scooter was no longer an extension of my body... it was an extension of my mind. I didn't realize what I was doing until I'd done it... and then, only after trying to reconstruct the event.

As best as I can tell, I was in such a zen place that instead of panicking, my mind decided to gently touch both brakes to buy an extra split second of decision time. If the driver had continued, I would have swerved behind him. But since he skidded to a stop, I was able to slightly change my trajectory and swing around in front of him. It all happened so fast and was handled so calmly, that my heartrate didn't even register a little blip of excitement. I'm sure in a week or two I'll be back to my old habits. But I have to say that if nothing else came of this ride, it was neat 'feeling the force' so strongly.

A word about my scooter. In the back of my mind I was stressed that the success of my ride depended on the inner workings of a machine over which I had very little control. Oh sure I'd done a big service a week before the ride and had tools to fix basic problems (flat tire, loose screws, etc.). But if the scooter wasn't up to the strain of 24 hours at wide open throttle in desert heat... well, there was nothing I could do about it.

In the end I needn't have been worried. The modern Vespa engine - actually the whole Vespa scooter - is a wonder of reliability. It hummed along as nicely through the last hour as it did the first. The only real mechanical scare I had was when I accidentally hit the kill switch with my sleeve while stretching my arms and back at a stop light. It took me only a few seconds to realize what had happened... but for those seconds all I could think was 'oh crap, there went the fuel pump!'.

This past Friday morning after dropping my daughter off at school, my younger son (he's 7), and I kept our semi-regular Friday morning date for coffee at a little cafe in Jerusalem. I usually get a cappuccino, and he invariably orders a 'Vienna Coffee', which is layers, in ascending order, of melted chocolate, espresso, milk, whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder on top.

Over our drinks he looked at me with a serious expression on his face and said, "Abba, I missed you while you were gone". I told him I missed him too, but instead of reassuring him it seemed to confuse him. "If you missed me", he began, "why did you want to go away? I know that sometimes you have to go away for your job, but this time nobody made you leave... right?"

Wow, I wasn't ready for that!

I was tempted to offer him the wisdom of two of the Internet's early journalers (what would later be called 'bloggers'), Chuck Atkins and Steve Amaya, who when asked about their epic journey together to hang up a pay phone in the middle of the Mojave Desert had said, "at the core of a man lies a thorn of rebellion and we needed a good scoff, a dare, a sneer that says ‘Back off, world. Today there will be no mowing.’"

But in the end I decided that it would be a couple of decades before he'd appreciate that advice. Instead I told him that sometimes the best way to appreciate all the good things we have is to, once in awhile, put them aside for a moment. I told him I loved him as much as it was possible to love someone before I left on my trip... but when I came back I somehow loved him even more.

He was silent for a couple of moments and then said, "Yeah, it was really nice when you came home". But after a pause, he added, "But don't go away too much, ok?".

I gave him my word, and we finished our coffees in silence.

Some day he'll understand.

Posted by David Bogner on June 26, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Home safe

Now comes Miller ti... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by David Bogner on June 23, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Midsummer Night's Dream Ride

If you are reading this, it means that I am (hopefully) on my way.  You can follow my progress in real time by clicking on this link.  As previously noted,  the regular map view has been disabled by Israel for security reasons... but you can use the satellite view to see my progress markers as they dot the landscape.

If you want the written blow-by-blow, here's how things are supposed to unfold:

Starting a few hours before sunset on today, I left home and headed to Jerusalem before getting on highway 443.  443 loops around to intersect Route 6 near Judah Maccabees's old stomping grounds of Modi'in.

From there I will be riding south for the long stretch towards Israel's southernmost spot; the Red Sea port of Eilat.

Once I reach Eilat I'll turn around and head back north again, this time following the spectacular desert road along the dead sea, and up through the Jordan river valley.

When I reach the Sea of Galilee, I'll loop around to the east of this shining jewel of a lake, through the foothills of the Golan Heights... and ending up in Metulla at the Lebanese border.

From Metulla, I'll head south-west towards Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea; from there picking up Route 6 at it's northernmost point... riding south again, past Tel Aviv... Beer Sheva... all the way down to Eilat once more.

With the home-stretch now in sight, I'll ride back north through the Arava and Negev Desert towards the fertile Elah Valley, where David defeated Goliath... and finally, home to Efrat in the beautiful Judean hills sometime mid-to-late afternoon on my birthday.

If you'd like to keep me company and offer moral support during the ride (or wish me a happy birthday anytime after midnight), you can call me on my cell phone. Don't worry if we haven't met.  I promise, while riding alone through the israeli landscape for 24 hours, I'll be happy to make your acquaintance!  :-)

If you don't already have my number, email me (treppenwitz at gmail dot com) and on one of my rest/fuel stops I'll try to email you back with my phone number.  Alternately, you can email my lovely wife (zahava at zatar dot co dot il), and if you can convince her that you aren't a terrorist or an axe murderer... she'll be happy to give you my phone number as well.  :-)

As always, if you haven't yet donated, I can't think of a nice surprise (or birthday present) than to come back and find we've met our goal. You know you want to

Happy Trails!

Posted by David Bogner on June 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Watch this spot...

... for updates about the ride.  Everything is on schedule and I should be putting up a post just as I set out.

Here is how much time is left before I set out:

 

 

Posted by David Bogner on June 22, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crunch Time

Mndr_banner Okay, just one more day before the Dream Ride begins... and we haven't quite reached our goal yet. 

I know that a lot of you have already made donations, and your contributions are deeply appreciated. 

But based on my rudimentary math skills, I'm pretty sure there are still a lot of regular treppenwitz readers that have not yet stepped up. 

Again, this isn't about large donations (although we won't turn any of those away).  It is about a lot of regular people making a big difference with modest donations.

The Efrat Emergency Medical Center is an extremely worthy cause.  It is designed to be financially self-sustaining once completed... and the Radiology Suite is not only one of the most universally needed of the EEMC's medical facilities, but it is also the closest to completion.

So if you haven't done so yet, please consider making a donation

[... and yes, I am aware that the donation page says 'EFART' rather than EFRAT.  The native Hebrew speaker who set up the donation page has been away on army reserve duty and nobody else here has the password to go in and fix the typo.]  :-)

Posted by David Bogner on June 21, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spot On! [pretty much, anyway]

One of the things I've been wrestling with regarding my upcoming ride (two days and counting) has been how to share it online... in real time.

Obviously I'm not going to be live blogging the ride. Yes, I will have my iPad with me, but that will be a navigation tool for when I stop to refuel (great real-time maps showing my location), but I won't have time to start writing posts or sending out email blasts.

A close friend and I were discussing the merits of various online programs such as Google Latitude, Glimpse, etc... apps that you install on your cell phone that use the cell towers to estimate your position.  Then they allow you to share your location with others via the web.

Sounds like exactly what I wanted, right?

The problem is that some of the areas where I'll be riding will have really spotty cell coverage.  Not only that, but my phone is not the most advanced technology (/understatement) so it wasn't clear if it could even accept these programs.

Then this friend called me up yesterday to tell me that he had just remembered that before his son went on his post-army back-packing trek around South America, he'd bought him a satellite tracking device called a SPOT Personal Tracker.  In fact, if memory serves, it was one of the conditions of letting the kid go.

The way this thing works is once it's turned on, so long as it can see the sky, it bounces a signal off of the GPS satellites every ten minutes or so, and provides an online track of where it has been.

There are also buttons on the SPOT device that allow the user to send an 'OK' message... as well as a 911 button that will notify predetermined friends/relatives via email... as well as emergency personnel.

Transparent_spot2 
I tested the SPOT device on my way to work this morning and it seemed to work well.  Only one problem... none of Israel's roads or cities show up on the online map. 

You can use the satellite view or topography view, but on the map view, you see only the outline of the country (and the west bank)... nothing else but white.

I zoomed out to see if any other countries in the region had road and city details... and sure enough, they all did. 

I zoomed out even further, and it seems that Israel is the only country in the world that shows up as blank (i.e. with no road or city details).

My first thought was, 'those anti-Semitic bastards!  How dare they leave Israel off the map!!!

But then my friend and I started doing a little checking around.  And it seems that the problem is on the Israeli side.  You can go into Google Maps and Google Earth and see every last detail of every neighborhood in Israel.  But when it comes to releasing the necessary API interface between 3d party applications (such as the SPOT tracker) and the Israeli map details, the Israeli authorities have refused to let it happen.

They haven't said as much, but if you think about it for a moment, allowing third party apps to interface in real time with detailed Israeli maps would allow missile guidance systems, unmanned ground and aerial vehicles and even explosive devices placed in public transportation, to be sent to harm specific locations.

It sucks that Israel is the only country that has to worry about such things... but until the reality changes, there's nothing to be done about it.

So when I leave on my ride this Wednesday... you will be able to track my progress on the Satellite map view... but you won't be able to see the road outlines, street numbers or place names that you would see anywhere else in the world.

Here's a link to the track from this morning's commute.

And for those who are wondering about such things... here is how much time is left before I set out:

 

Posted by David Bogner on June 20, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Midsummer Night's Dream Ride Status Update

MSDR_DLB_Top_240511Mndr_banner 
Update:  So far we've raised Almost $4000!  That's fantastic!!! 

But keep in mind that the goal for the fundraiser is $10K, and the ride is just a week away.

This is where the Rent Party model of 'tzadakah' comes in.  I don't expect to reach the goal with a couple of big donations... I expect to do it with a lot of small donations.  I'm talking about $18, $36... even the cost of a couple of cups of coffee.

For those of you who have donated, thank you!  For those who are still on the fence... please consider helping meet the goal to complete the Emergency Medical Center Radiology Suite.

If you want more information about the Midsummer Night's Dream Ride (i.e. why I'm doing it... how you can be a sponsor, etc.) you can read the full post here.

If you are already on-board and ready to do your part.  Please Click Here (or on the yellow button below) to be taken to the secure donation page. 

Tcb2 

Posted by David Bogner on June 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Simply the most comfortable shoes ever!

I try not to do this too often, but occasionally I stumble across a product that is so superior to anything else in its class that it just demands a public mention.

In the past I've gushed about Moleskine notebooks and Fjällräven Kanken bags.

Today I want to tell you about Campers.

What, you haven't even heard of them?  Well, sit tight, I'll fix that.

A little over a decade ago, my younger sister (one of my fashion gurus) came to our home in Connecticut for a visit.  When she walked into the house, I couldn't help but notice that she was wearing what looked like vintage (like circa 1920) baseball shoes.  I was intrigued (I mean, what's not to love about vintage baseball apparel?).

When I asked her about them, she explained that they were 'Campers'... a well know European (Spain) brand, and that they were, in her words,  "simply the most comfortable shoe ever!".

That's a mighty bold claim, if you think about it. 

But comfort aside, I was smitten by the look of these shoes.  The already thick sole of the shoes had these neat raised bumps that made it look like it would take even the most egregious foot-dragger roughly a lifetime to wear them out.  And the upper was made of this buttery-soft leather that felt like it would be more appropriate for fine gloves than shoes.
Pelotas
       [Camper 'Pelotas' model 16235]

Needless to say, the following week I ran out to buy myself a pair of Campers on my lunch break.

Most new shoes require a break in period before they are comfortable (or until your foot develops the requisite callouses to make them bearable).  Walking back to work in these Campers was like walking on a cloud... a really stable cloud with excellent traction.

I'm pretty rough on shoes (see the 'egregious foot-dragger' comment above).  Other than Doc Martins (which are apparently made of equal parts tempered steel and Kryptonite), I haven't been able to get any shoes to last more than six months of semi-regular wear. 

Sure, I have a pair of LL Bean Penny Loafers that I've had for most of my adult life... but I've had them re-soled more times than I can count!

More than ten years after I bought them, my Campers - aside from being exactly as comfortable as my little sister assured me they'd be -  are still going strong (although the bumps on the sole are decidedly worn in some places).

So now that I've made all the other apparel decisions, I am hereby announcing that my Campers will be the official scootering shoe of the Midsummer Night's Dream Ride!

BTW, I have no connection whatsoever to the company, and will not benefit in any way if you decide to buy yourself a pair.  But I promise you, after wearing them for a single day, you will want to buy me dinner.  After a year, you will want to write me into your will.

Posted by David Bogner on June 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Preparations for the Dream Ride

Although to some on the outside it may seem that the idea of the 'Dream Ride' has been a spontaneous, perhaps even dangerous, undertaking on my part, there has actually been a lot of thought and preparation that has been going on behind the scenes to make sure it goes both smoothly and safely.

 First off, there is the scheduling. 

I'm going to be taking not one, but two days, off from work.  This will allow me to get up on the morning of June 22nd, daven, eat breakfast and do some last minute packing... and then go back to sleep until mid-afternoon.

Anyone who knows me knows that this will not be a problem since (B"H) I can sleep anywhere, anytime that I want to.  By getting up late in the day, I will begin the process of tricking my body's internal clock into resetting itself for the start of the ride just before what would normally be my regular dinner time.

By placing the first part of the ride just after waking up, but during the night, I will have the luxury of being fresh when my body's circadian clock would otherwise take the darkness as a sign that I should be settling down for the night.

By the time I actually reach the mid-point of my ride, it will be morning, and the bright sunlight (coupled with a light meal) will help keep me feeling fresh.

I will also be taking forced rest stops of between 10 - 20 minutes every two hours or so to refuel both the bike and myself.  Keeping the blood flowing and allowing myself to get off the scooter to stretch and walk around a bit are essential to staying focused on the road. Nobody can maintain the necessary focus on driving for that long without taking breaks.

I should point out that several friends and blog readers have offered to call me on my cell phone during the ride to 'keep me company', and at least two people have offered to meet me at pre-determined rest stops to share food and coffee.

If anyone else wants to be able to call me or meet me during the ride ... send me an email (treppenwitz at gmail dot com), and I'll be happy to send you my cell phone number.  I have a bluetooth system in my helmet so I won't even have to take my hands off the handlebars to answer and end calls.

I have given a lot of thought to clothing and pretective gear.  In addtion to the armored jacket and gloves, I have picked out comfortable clothes and added special equipment (Colorado Coolwear) to my attire so I don't overheat in the desert.  I've also invested in a cushion designed by an award-winning company that makes seat pads for pilots, long-haul truckers and those confined to wheelchairs, so that I don't get too saddle-sore.

I've installed a 12V outlet on the scooter to be able to keep the various electronics (phone, iPad, etc.) charged, and I just had a big service done where pretty much every nut and bolt on the scooter was checked by a mechanic that I trust completely.

I've mounted a small carrying case onto the back of the scooter for a change of clothes, food, water, tools, emergency medical supplies and spare fuel... and the shop where I got the scooter serviced gave me a gift of a 'Camel Bak' drinking system so I'll be able to sip water safely while riding (remember, much of the ride will be through serious desert at the end of June!)

As I mentioned earlier, my next step will be to try to organize volunteers at various points around Israel who will meet me at pre-determined spots to sign my trip log.  This, along with time/date stamped gas receipts, will help me get the ride certified.  So if anyone, especially in the extreme north and south of the country, wants to step up and play this important role... leave a comment or drop me an email.

More updates to follow... but if you haven't donated yet, please PLEASE do so (and encourage others to do so as well), so we can reach the goal of $10K for the Efrat Emergency Medical Center Radiology Suite before June 22nd.

Posted by David Bogner on June 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Monday, June 13, 2011

A leftist playing the disloyalty card: Laughable!

I just read with disbelief that the Commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, Brig. General Nitzan Alon has issued a letter to all of the officers under his command instructing them to interview all of their soldiers who come from communities in Judea & Samaria to determine if they have "the potential to harm state security".

Apparently, his justification for instigating this witch hunt is that there were two incidents over the past few years of soldiers who leaked IDF plans to Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria that were slated for demolitions / expulsion. 

Seems to me that that kind of leak should be considered an internal disciplinary matter, not one of 'state security'.  Unless, of course, once considers jews living over the green line to be 'the enemies of the state'.

I have stated in the past, and stand by those statements, that poltiics has no place in the military.  Soldiers have no business expressing their political beliefs or acting on them while in uniform.  Full stop.

However, it is equally incumbent upon the government not to use the military as a police force over its own citizens, or as a political tool which puts soldiers in a position where their patriotic and religious loyalties are deliberately placed on a collision course.

But to issue a letter questioning the loyalty of all soldiers who come from Judea and Samaria - a population that has a disproportionately high representation in elite combat units - is more than just poor judgement.  It is an overtly political act designed to divide the military along political and religious lines!

What of people who have done genuine damage to the state security, such as Ehud Adiv, Yosef Amit, Mordechai Vanunu, Tali Fahima and Anat Kamm?  What of all the left wing draftees from the center of the country?  Are they potential risks to state security due to the political climate of the communities from which they hail? 

In fact, if you want to take that thought to its logical conclusion, if both right and left wing soldiers are likely to disclose information about IDF operations, who are these two groups likely to leak information to?

Even better, let's take a look at all of the Israelis who have been convicted of espionage and other serious security crimes against the state over the past 63 years.  What percentage were from the political left, and what percentage were from the political right?    There's a statistic you won't see published in Ha'aretz!

I have no way of knowing if this Brigadier General was acting on his own accord when he issued this letter, or if he was instructed to do so by our defense minister.  But the end result is deliberately divisive action that calls into question the loyalty of the most loyal, patriotic segment of Israeli society. 

In my humble opinion, this officer must be removed from his position, forcibly retired from active service, and his smear letter be rescinded by his superiors.

Posted by David Bogner on June 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Unfriendliest Shul in the World

I've traveled to well over 50 countries around the world, as well as 49 of the 50 US states.  And I've visited synagogues in nearly every place I've ever visited as an adult.

With the possible exception of one or two places in the metro New York area that are known as gathering places for young singles and transients, I have never, EVER, walked into a synagogue and been completely ignored... much less actively made to feel unwelcome. 

Until recently, that is.

When my parents made aliyah several years ago, they bought a lovely apartment in the heart of Jerusalem's trendy German Colony. The neighborhood was a perfect fit for them, with plenty of shopping, restaurants and public transportation... and it is one of the few areas of Jerusalem that is relatively flat.

Since they moved into their apartment, we have stayed with them on numerous occassions. And there have also been plenty of times when they were abroad that we've availed ourselves of their place for a family Jerusalem weekend get-away.

One of the things I was initially quite pleased about was that, on the same street as their apartment building, there is a convenient synagogue (called by the name of the street) where we would be able to pray when visiting over a shabbat or holiday.

I didn't realize at the time that we had stumbled upon a likely candidate for the title 'Unfriendliest Shul in the world', in the heart of Jerusalem, of all places!

The first time we were at my parent's place for shabbat, the kids and I went to this shul for Friday night 'davening' (prayers). Not wanting to inadvertantly sit in anyone's regular seat, I timed our arrival to the synagogue so we wouldn't get there too early.

When we walked in, I was a little surprised that nobody in the already crowded sanctuary said hello to us. Not only that, when we started looking around in the back for available seats, nobody offered assistance or even said 'Shabbat Shalom' to us.

Each time I made a tentative move towards a group of empty seats, someone would make a 'tsk tsk' noise, or wave us off with a "that's someone's seat" in brusque Hebrew.

We finally ended up standing in the back while several of the empty seats we had attempted to take remained unoccupied. At the conclusion of the service, nobody greeted us, or in any way acknowledged that there were strangers in their midst. It was a truly surreal experience.

From Australia to Hong Kong to Honolulu, I had never experienced a shul where people didn't say hello, inquire who you were visiting, or where you were visiting from.

In fact, in most places, it would be uncommon for a stranger not to be asked if they had a place for the Shabbat meals... and if not, an invitation would be extended.

Not ony have I been the recipent of countless such invitations... but as an adult, I have had the privilege of extending many such offers of hospitality.

This is such a common practice that many of my friends have stories of their father bringing home unexpected guests from shul on Shabbat, and their unprepared mother conveying a pre-agreed code to everyone at the table to let the guest serve him/herself first, and for everyone else to fill up on side dishes... just in case there wasn't enough of the main course to go around!

Yet here we were in Jerusalem - the epicenter of Judaism - and not only had we not been welcomed, but it seems we had been actively snubbed!

The next morning I decided to take the family to a different synagogue a few blocks from my parent's place, and was pleased that many people greeted us warmly, and we were offered seats as soon as we arrived.

Not only that... once the service was concluded, we were personally invited to the 'kiddish' (a small reception with refreshments) by someone sitting near us.

The next time we visited my parents I was tempted not to go back to the shul that was on (and named for) their street. But it was so convenient that I decided that our previous experience must have been an unlucky fluke. Surely it couldn't have been as unfriendly as I'd remembered.

As it turns out, it was worse than I'd recalled.

Not only did nobody offer so much as the smallest greeting, but when 15 minutes into the service we finally sat down in what seemed to be empty seats, we were almost immediately un-apologetically nudged out of them by the late arrival of the seat's regular occupants.

And once again, the service ended with everyone around us warmly greeting one another... but acting as though we were not there.

The following morning we attended the other synagogue and were again struck by the warm welcome we received. This has been repeated each and every time we have stayed at my parent's place.

You may be wondering why we would continue to subject ourselves to such rude treatment... and I'm not sure I have an answer for you.  I think it is mostly out of a desire not to keep my parents waiting on Friday night for the extra few minutes it would take to get home from the more distant shul.

But I think there is also something in my nature that wants desperately for someone - anyone - in this shul to prove me wrong... to show me that I had judged them unfairly.

This past weekend we spent shabbat at my parents after more than six months of not having done so. As always, I took the kids up the street to the convenient-but-unfriendly shul.

Apparently I had misjudged the time that the service was to begin, because we were among the first to arrive.  Not wanting to sit in anyone's seat, we hung back and took our time selecting a 'siddur' (prayer book) and making as if were were admiring the architectural accents of the sanctuary.

When the place had mostly filled up (with nobody having so much as said 'Shabbat Shalom' to us), I grabbed the boys' hands and guided them towards three empty seats on the side of the shul.  As we settled into the seats, I glanced up at the Shul's Rabbi in his seat of honor next to the 'Aron Kodesh' (the ark where the Torah scrolls are kept).

I know it isn't very nice to admit, but as I looked at this fine specimen of a Rabbi - with his big black hat, regal white beard and fine black frock coat - I couldn't help wondering what kind of personal example he was giving to his congregants through his leadership that would cause them to act so callously towards strangers.

I couldn't help racalling that the true sin for which Sodom and Gemorah had ultimately been destroyed had not been their licentious behavior.  These cities had been considered beyond redemption, and worthy of complete destruction, because of their lack of hospitality to strangers! 

No sooner had I finished forming this uncharitable thought, the Rabbi looked up from the book he had been perusing and glanced in my direction. Upon seeing us, he immediately got up from his seat and began walking towards where we were seated.

I instantly felt ashamed for what I had been thinking. Certainly he couldn't be held responsible for his congregant's rudeness. After all, here he was coming straight over to welcome us.

When he reached the spot where we were seated, I got up and extended my hand to reciprocate the anticipated 'sabbath greeting'. But instead of taking my extended hand, the Rabbi said (in Hebrew) "You might be more comfortable sitting somewhere else. I think these are someone's seats".

I was floored!

But instead of simply walking away I decided I'd return the rudeness... just a little bit.

So I smiled and said, "we're just visiting and don't know who sits where. Perhaps you could suggest seats that don't belong to anyone."

He glanced around and pointed to two empty seats that had prayer books placed in front of them.  I smiled, tilted my head and said, "Excuse me Rabbi. But there are three of us and you've pointed out only two seats. And not only that, but someone seems to have placed their 'siddurim' there to hold the seats".

The Rabbi just shrugged and said, "Perhaps you're right. In any event, you may as well stay in these seats. Maybe the regular occupants aren't here this week or davened at the early minyan."

With that he turned on his heel and returned to his seat without having even said 'Shabbat Shalom'.

Posted by David Bogner on June 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Shavuot goodness

So, as the holiday of Shavuot is upon on us, I thought I'd (once again) share a couple of recipes that lend themselves nicely to a dairy menu.

The first one is a recipe for ersatz Kahlua® I inherited from a friend back in the early 80s while we were undergraduates at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus.  A batch of this stuff costs a tiny fraction of the real stuff... and it tastes exactly the same!:

Ersatz Kahlua®

Ingredients:

4 cups water
6 teaspoons instant coffee
2 cups white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup vodka (use the cheap stuff)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (optional) *

1. Bring water to a boil and add instant coffee and both white and brown sugar.

2. Immediately after pouring in sugar turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes (stirring occasionally)

3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and chocolate (if used) and allow to cool.

4. Once liquid is cool, add vodka

Once all the steps are completed give the whole mess a good stir and immediately pour into empty bottles (using a funnel) and close tightly.  The whole process shouldn't take longer than an hour start to finish!

Note:  You can safely double this recipe, but I've had bad results when I've tried to triple or quadruple it.  Also, if you want to make ersatz Tia Maria® instead of Kahlua®, just use rum instead of vodka.  They are otherwise identical recipes.

*  If you want to keep your ersatz Kahlua® Parve (meaning non-dairy), make sure to use non-dairy chocolate syrup or leave out this optional ingredient.

OK, other than getting hammered on ersatz black/white Russians, sombreros and mudslides, I'm sure you were wondering what else you could do with your stash of newly minted ersatz Kahlua®.

I'm glad you asked:

Chocolate [ersatz] Kahlua® Cheesecake

Ingredients:

8 oz. Chocolate cookie crumbs (I use Oreo® crumbs if I can find them)
½ cup melted butter
2 envelopes of dessert topping (e.g. Dream Whip®)
1 cup milk
1 lb. cream cheese (splurge and use the Philly!)
2 tablespoons [ersatz] Kahlua®
⅔ cup sugar
12 oz chocolate chips (melted and cooled)
1 cup whipping cream
One square bittersweet chocolate
10" (or two 8") ungreased spring-form pan(s)


1.  If chocolate cookies aren't pre-crumbled, crush them into a fine crumbly mess and place in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add melted butter to cookie crumbs and mix thoroughly

3.  Press buttery crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the spring-form pan(s)

4.  Bake for 7 - 8 minutes @ 350° and then put in refrigerator to chill

5.  Process dessert topping with milk until stiff

6.  Add cream cheese and mix until smooth (no lumps!)

7.  Add [ersatz] Kahlua®, sugar and melted chocolate chips

8.  Process until smooth and then pour over chilled cookie crust(s)

9.  Lick bowl until face and ears are sufficiently chocolaty and then wash mixing bowl

10. Process whipping cream until stiff (but not too much or you'll end up with butter!!!)

11. Pour over chocolate layer using a spatula.

12. Garnish with shavings of bittersweet chocolate

Note: Refrigerate for minimum of 6 - 8 hours before serving!

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

Posted by David Bogner on June 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, June 06, 2011

A Man's View of Women's Attire

Although I sometimes complain about the volume and complexity of my wife's wardrobe (as compared to my own, that is) ... I'll stipulate that there is probably a time and place for most (maybe even all) of the various women's attire categories listed below. 

But based on my first-hand observations, as well as surreptitious eavesdropping on conversations and compliments that women give to one another, I'd have to say that the holy grail of women's fashion - regardless of occasion - seems to be to look 'cute'.

Women's Attire 

Posted by David Bogner on June 6, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Memo to Suzie and Chip Activist

While reading 'Book of Joe' late last night, I came across a rare political offering (albeit tangentially so) on his excellent blog. It was a blurb about a web site that helps budding young activists plan ahead before heading out - laptop or iPad in hand - to save the world.

The site, called 'Access Now', is a catch-all reference for those who need up-to-date data on what kind of censorship they are likely to encounter when they arrive in a particular country to try to offer their worldly wisdom to the noble savages. Here are the relevant maps showing the different types of censorship:

Filtering Conflict
Filtering Political
Filtering Tools
Filtering Social


What the site never comes out and says (although, if you squint you can figure it out from the maps), is that Israel is the only country in this part of the world that has none of the Internet filtering/censorship that might interfere with little Suzie or Chip's summer / post-grad activism tourism.

In fact the only mention of Israel I was able to find on their entire site was a random comment in a thread about corporate complicity written by a would-be activist named Ana stating:

"I agree that nokia is doind [sic] very dirty bussiness [sic] but I think you have to write as well that this company work [sic] with the sionist [sic] country of Israel which doesn’t respect UN resolutions, international law, geneva convection, International criminal court…. So until don’t [sic] add this information too you won’t show the real facts. thank you very much, looking forward see [sic] a new stament [sic]."

Memo to Ana (and all of her fellow activism tourists running around with their laptops and iPads trying to save the world: If you really want to bring democracy and free speech to those colored countries on the maps I've posted... come here to Israel and discover the only working model in the entire region of of what you actually want to achieve. And then, rather than putting on a Kefiyah and demanding that Israel change its stripes... maybe take a look at whose stripes really need changing.

Nah... that's crazy talk!

Posted by David Bogner on June 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

It's that time again...

Close the door to your office... turn off the lights... put a box of tissues within easy reach... and press play:

Part 1

Part 2

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 bulids 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 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Adding my name to the boycott

My good friend and fellow blogger Jameel (at the Muqata) has written an excellent letter to the distillers of West Dunbartonshire; the Scottish region that has recently implemented a complete ban on all Israeli products.
 
I urge you to join us in this counter-boycott, and encourage your friends, family and Shul's kiddish clubs to do the same.
 
Here's Jameel's letter.  I'm proud to add my name to it:
 


Letter to the Fine Whisky Distillers of West Dunbartonshire
Tuesday, 31rst May, 2011
 
To The Fine Whisky Distillers of West Dunbartonshire;
 
Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.
Auchentoshan Distillery, Dalmuir, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire G81 4SJ
Distillers of Auchintoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, McClelland’s
 
Loch Lomond Distillery Co. Ltd
Lomond Industrial Estate, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire G83 0TL
Distillers of Loch Lomond, Scots Earl, Distillery Select, Glen Scotia,
Littlemill, Croftengea, Craigslodge, Inchmurrin, Glen Douglas, Inchfad
 
Chivas Brothers
Kilmalid, Stirling Road, Dumbarton, Lanarkshire, G82 2SS
Distillers of Ballantine’s, Chivas, Royal Salute, Clan Campbell,
Something Special, Passport, 100 Pipers, Imperial, Long John
Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Glendronach, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa
Tormore, Jameson, Paddy, Powers
Walker Special Old, Wisers
 
Gentlemen,
 
I would like to preface this letter, in that I have enjoyed your fine whisky products for many years, and believe they are truly world-class. Unfortunately, due to the actions of your esteemed West Dunbartonshire council members, I will not be able to enjoy your whisky in the foreseeable future.

It has come to my attention that the West Dunbartonshire Council claims to have voted unanimously to boycott Israeli products.
The West Dunbartonshire Council clearly states their point on their website, updated on the 30th of May, 2011.
 
The actual boycott resolution is as follows:
 
‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises the disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.’
 
I find it disturbing that the esteemed council found no reason to mention the reason for the IDF’s operation in Gaza. There was no mention of the intentional targeting of civilian infants, children, women and men by Gaza’s Hamas government, the thousands of rockets they launched at Israel’s civilian population, and the restraint that Israel employed over the previous years when attacked on a daily basis.
 
The IDF does not target civilians. The vast majority of Palestinians that Israel killed have been terrorists. Go check the facts. I have. Palestinians terrorists routinely use hospitals, mosques, and schools to launch their rocket attacks on Israel. Try defending your population from terrorists and see if you can guarantee zero collateral damage. Does your council not condemn the barbarism of the Arab terrorist because in the back of their minds they are concerned terrorists might hunt them down and terrorize THEIR families?
 
Why was there an IDF operation in Gaza in the first place? To oppress poor Palestinian Arabs? How would you deal with Gazas’ Arabs’ targeting Scotland’s babies, other children, and other civilians. Have you not seen the pictures of atrocities the Arabs have visited on innocent children, or does your council not care? We are not talking about isolated attacks on Israel, but about thousands of rockets they have launched at Israel’s civilian population.

The restraint of Israel under attack is astounding. Colonel Richard Kemp, previous Commander of British Armed Forces in Afghanistan said when presenting his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2009: “During its operation in Gaza, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” (source)
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to the US Congress last week: "Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel's Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one half of 1% are truly free, and they're all citizens of Israel! This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East!" (source)
 
Lastly, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas stated this past Saturday that the future state of Palestine will be “free of Jews.” (source)

The State of Israel offers equal freedom for all its citizens, Jew, Arab, and Christian alike, including full parliamentary and judiciary representation. The State of Israel is the unchallenged leader of democracy in the Middle East, and the West Dunbartonshire Council boycott unfortunately attempts to undermine the very success of Israel as a democracy.
 
Therefore, it saddens me to have to inform you that the global counter-boycott of Scottish whisky products, distilled in the West Durbanshire Council region, is beginning. I don’t know anyone who bears malice toward these fine distilleries. When, however, your local council representatives boycott my country, under the most unethical and immoral of pretext, you cannot expect your market to sit idly and pretend your are not perverting justice.
 
• The counter-boycott is on the purchase of Scottish Whisky, distilled in the West Durbanshire council region.
• The counter-boycott is not retroactive and applies only to purchases made from June 2011 onwards.
• The counter-boycott will not prevented global residents from purchasing whisky products, distilled outside of West Dunbartonshire.
• Attempts to depict this counter-boycott as racist are also entirely inaccurate. The counter-boycott is instigated in response to conduct and boycott initiated by the West Durbanshire Council and applies to no specific ethnic or religious group. This is in direct opposition to the West Durbanshire Council which refuses to condemn the actions of Palestinian terrorists targeting Israeli civilians and the anti-Semitic, racist declarations of the Palestinian Authority, which calls for a “Jew-free” apartheid, State of Palestine.
 
The counter-boycott is publicizing the list of West Durbanshire distilled whisky by internet and distributing press releases to news agencies and others around the globe.
 
Sincerely,
Jameel Rashid
The Muqata Blog
www.muqata.com


 
Also signed,
David Bogner
The Treppenwitz Blog
www.treppenwitz.com

Posted by David Bogner on June 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack