Wednesday, August 31, 2011
It's more than a little odd
In 1939, the Jews of Europe would have paid anything... given anything... to get their families - or at very least their children - to a place of safety.
They could only dream of a Jewish nation in 'Eretz Yisrael' while desperately trying to hide their precious children in convents or the basements and attics of the rare sympathetic neighbor.
Yet this week we, a family of Jews; citizens and residents of the sovereign State of Israel, placed two of our precious children on airplanes bound for Poland.
Ariella and Gilad are traveling with their respective high school classes to learn about the vanished Jewish communities of Poland. Their trip will be far more than a tour of concentration camps, ghettos and cemeteries. They will also try to place themselves in a position to comprehend the magnitude and splendor of Jewish life that once existed there.
Zahava and I were not of one mind regarding the idea of sending our children to Poland.
On the one hand, allowing a country that was complicit in the murder of millions of Jews, to profit from Jewish tourism - even if the goal is to explore that complicity - is repugnant.
On the other hand, as the last witnesses to this dark chapter in history are silenced by the hand of time, it becomes essential to create subsequent generations of witnesses; not to the actions, of course... but to artifacts and results of those actions.
Creating a new generation of primary sources is essential in an age where all scholarship is suspect and even now, there is a growing chorus of voices gaining mainstream acceptance, claiming that the Holocaust never happened; that it was an exaggeration... a metaphor... a myth.
In the end we made the decision to send our children to Poland.
But I wonder what those Jewish parents of Poland in 1939 would say to me if they could see into the future. How odd they would find it, amid their frantic attempts to get their children to a place of safety, to see Jewish parents in Israel sending their precious children back to Europe.
Monday, August 29, 2011
In his blog post today Derfner makes his firing out to be a big right wing conspiracy and bemoans the fact that people ignored his tepid apology.
As I said yesterday, when you spend your career river-dancing near the graves of your countrymen... it is inevitable that you will eventually find yourself dancing on their graves. And while Israelis will tolerate an incredible diversity of opinions in the public discourse... we pretty much all draw the line at saying it is okay to murder us.
It doesn't happen nearly often enough, but I'll take justice whenever and wherever I find it.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
River-dancing on your countrymen's graves
After what he described as 'a rightwing sh*tstorm' over the piece I criticized a few days ago (notice it's always the right's fault!), Larry Derfner has removed the post from his blog and issued an apology of sorts.
It isn't a real apology, but it is about as close as someone like Larry is able to come without actually talking sense.
However, to keep people from parsing what he wrote and comparing and contrasting with his apology, he opted to take down the post completely.
For those who want to be able to read it, a cached version is available here.
What Larry fails to realize is that when you spend your career river-dancing near the graves of your countrymen... it is inevitable that you will eventually find yourself dancing on their graves.
Of missed missiles and @asshat readers
No sooner had I pulled into my office parking lot this morning and taken off my helmet when my cell phone rang. It was Zahava calling to check on me... she'd just heard on the news that a Grad Ketyusha had fallen on Beer Sheva.
I hadn't heard anything, but reassured her that I was okay.
When I went into the office I found several colleagues chatting about the missile that had just landed. The news said the Iron Dome system had intercepted it but my workmates clearly heard it land somewhere not far off.
The news also said that the 'color red' sirens had been heard throughout Beer Sheva, but a quick poll of my colleagues showed that to be inaccurate as well.
Surprisingly, what really got my blood boiling was not the fact that some terrorists in Gaza tried to kill me (or anyone near me) this morning. It was the email waiting for me when I turned on my computer.
This reader took exception to the fact that I sometimes refer to the Grads and Kassams as 'missiles' instead of 'rockets' in my posts.
The 'rockets' the Palestinians were shooting at Israel, she pointed out, were "primitive projectiles with no guidance systems and very little explosives". She also took pains to point out how Israel had far superior weapons, and that the Palestinians were therefore justified in using whatever was at hand to fight the occupation.
Clearly this woman is a fan of Larry Derfner.
I responded by pointing out that the definition of 'missile is as follows: 'An object or weapon that is fired, thrown, dropped or otherwise projected at a target.'
I also offered to provide free day care for her children in any community of her choosing in Israel's south. I even offered to personally watch them in a clean, well tended playground in the center of the city of her choosing.
The only caveat to my offer: When the sirens go off indicating incoming 'rockets', I'd have to leave her children in the playground while I took cover in a nearby shelter. Seeing as these 'rockets' are so 'primitive', have no guidance systems and 'have very little explosives', I assumed she'd be okay with that arrangement.
Strangely, I haven't heard back from her yet.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wow, that's not good for my blood pressure!
Hat tip Yonah
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Is Larry Derfner representative of Jpost's values and views?
To The Editor In Chief, Jerusalem Post (email@example.com)
I'd like to add my voice to those who are currently expressing outrage over the screed posted by Larry Derfner on his personal blog justifying, and even encouraging, lethal terrorism against Israelis.
By all indications, Mr. Derfner has bought into the criminal idea that anything and everything is justified in trying to 'end the occupation'. Arguments that palesinian terror predates Israel's control of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would be lost on anyone who could write something as reprehensible as the piece to which I've linked.
I don't know if Mr. Derfner is suffering from some sort of Stockholm syndrome or if he is so full of self-hate that he can't identify the line between legitimate political expression (his or the Palestinian's) and condoning/encouraging murder.
Granted, Mr. Derfner usually stops short of outright incitement in his Jpost columns, but it seems to me that someone in your position should be asking himself at what point balance/fairness are no longer being achieved by offering a soapbox to someone who encourages terror against his own countrymen as a legitimate form of resistance.
I hope that the relevant authorities will see fit to file criminal charges against Mr. Derfner for his incitement, but I would also expect his employer to take the appropriate disciplinary steps after so clear a breach of journalistic norms and guidelines. Dismissal comes immediately to mind.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Let's review, shall we?
The UN Security Council refused to condemn the unprovoked terror attack in which Palestinian terrorists murdered seven Israelis and wounded scores more... because one of the council members - Lebanon - wouldn't go along with the motion unless Israel was also condemned for killing the man who planned the attack.
Over the weekend so far, more than 90 missiles have been fired into Israel from Gaza, wounding dozens (several critically) and killing one.
Yet not a peep from the UN.
but now that Israel warplanes are bombing strictly military targets in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority has instructed its representative to the UN to push for a statement condemning Israel for its aggression.
Something tells me that one won't have a problem getting passed.
Friday, August 19, 2011
As usual, we're the bad guys
Apparently, Israel's swift response to yesterday's unprovoked three pronged terror attack gave the New York Times the opening they needed to frame their initial coverage of the events as follows:
1. The attacks were not attributed to anyone. Apparently The Times didn't care to even speculate who might have carried out the attacks.
2. The name, and even nationality, of the resort - Eilat - was also omitted, since it is an Israeli city, and an attack on an Israeli civilian target might make a retaliation seem, what's the word... justified?!
3. The initial attack is not described using any potentially prejudicial terminology; not 'terror', and certainly not 'fierce'. The latter descriptive having been attributed only to Israel's response.
4. Although there were ample photos available from the scene of the three pronged terror attack, The Times opted to only show a photo taken in Gaza of a Red Crescent medic caring for wounded Palestinians.
5. Any time blame is assigned for tensions in the region, it is Israel which is singled out. The relentless firing of missiles at our civilian population centers should not cause heightened tensions, nor should frequent terror attacks and incitement. No, only when Israel acts is it a cause for heightened tension. To this end, the UN's Ban and Palestinian tool Erekat had strikingly similar statements immediately following the terror attack:
Ban Ki moon softened his condemnation of the terror attack by completing the breath with his concerne "at the risk of escalation and calls for all to act with restraint". In other words Israel is expected not to react, because that would be an escalation. What message does that send to the terrorists if they know that after even the most heinous attacks, the international community will try to tie Israel's hands?
Saab Erekat went even further by "warning Israel against irresponsible action in Gaza.". I've written frequently in the past about the overt infantilization of the Palestinians by the international community. They are apparently incapable of rational thought or self control, to the extent that all violence emanating from the Palestinian camp is described as 'spontaneous'. Now even one of the Palestinian' most vocal spokesmen is taking this line. A carefully planned and executed Palestinian terror attack and non-stop rocket fire on Israeli cities is not irresponsible. But any reprisal on Israel's part is. You do the math.
One thing is sure. When the issue of Palestinian readiness for statehood comes to a vote in September, nobody will hold them accountable for the type of behavior that will officially be considered state sponsored terrorism once the votes are counted.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Triple Terror Attack
Details are still emerging, but it appears these coordinated attacks in the south of the country originated in Egypt and/or Gaza.
At least seven killed (not counting the terrorists that were all killed) and scores of wounded... many seriously.
Check your favorite Israeli news site for updated details.
My take will follow shortly.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Once again, nice to know he gets it
Back in the bad old days of the second intifada, Stephen Pastis, the artist who draws the 'Pearls Before Swine' comic strip drew a poignant strip about the human side of the cafe and bus bombings in Israel that the international media studiously ignored.
That strip was out in the open... mentioned Jerusalem and everything. I'm sure that his support for Israel cost Mr. Pastis a lot more fans than it gained him.
For a long time after that his strips were entirely apolitical.
A few years later he ran a strip that was equally supportive of Israel... without actually coming out and mentioning us by name.
This story line featured a policeman named 'POTUS' who kept asking the zebras to compromise with the crocs by 'giving them a hand'... literally. After all, they had two.
I sent the artist an email asking him if I'd read the strip correctly (that POTUS was President Of The United States and the zebras were Israelis), and he answered in such a way as to indicate his support without giving a clear yes or no.
The backlash from that first pro-Israel strip must have been something.
Now, in the past few days he has started a new story line that, IMHO seems to be talking about us again.
It portrays the zebras having built a tall wall to keep the crocodiles from trying to kill them. Of course the crocs are angry, and even go so far as to hire a political consultant to try and spin the building of the wall in such a way as to make the zebras seem to be the bad guys.
Even though the obvious reference is to the Cold War, I don't need to email the artist again. This one is also a crystal clear reference to the seperation fence to anyone who cares to see it. But sadly, for those who aren't sympathetic to Israel... it probably is too subtle to have hit its mark.
Good for you, Mr. Pastis... nice to know we still enjoy your support.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Finally… something in common!
I've written in the past about a new supermarket which opened in our area called Rami Levi.
Besides being an excellent store with a huge selection and attractive pricing, this Rami Levi store is located in an area accessible to both Jews and Arabs... and so at any hour of the day or evening you are likely to find settlers and Palestinians (in their respective attire/costumes), wandering the aisles, bumping into each other, and even helping one another reach things on high shelves.
Even the store's employees and management are a mix of these two, normally incompatible populations.
Yesterday, on my way home from work, Zahava asked me to stop off at the store to pick up a few things for our break fast meal at the end of Tisha B'Av.
I wasn't happy about shopping for food while fasting. After all, we all know that the cardinal sin of shopping is to go into a grocery store while hungry. But being a good husband, I told her to email me the list (I had my iPad with me) and I'd pick up whatever we needed.
As I made the rounds of the crowded grocery store, I noticed that I wasn't the only one with a sour expression on my face. All of the other shoppers - Jews and Arabs alike – seemed to be scowling and acting impatient.
Then it hit me. Not only was it Tisha B'Av... but it is also Ramadan (the month when Muslims fast during the day).
I have to admit, it felt sort of nice to finally have something in common... if only for a day.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Why do they call it a 'fast' if it goes so slow?
Yeah, I get that the point of fasting on Tisha B'Av is to suffer a little in order to remind ourselves of a tragic event that caused a lot of suffering (and continues to do so to this day).
But does it make me a bad Jew that I'm not fit company to be around when I haven't had my morning coffee?
Monday, August 08, 2011
Sucks to have your trailer towed, huh?
I had to chuckle when I read an article about the Tel Aviv municipality removing a trailer (caravan) set up by the leadership of the tent protest movement.
First off, the quotes were priceless:
"Gilad Erditi from the University of Tel Aviv student union said that the [installation of the trailer] was meant to protest Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's establishment of a multiple cabinet member team to examine the social issues addressed by the movement."
Um, I kinda thought that having the Prime Minister of the country set up a committee composed of some of the most powerful people in the government to find a solution to the issues being protested was a good sign. It means he is taking the protests seriously, no? What did you expect, that he would wave his magic welfare wand and every 21 year old college student would suddenly be able to afford a big apartment in North Tel Aviv?
"Deputy head of the National Student Union, Ofri Raviv, said Monday that the trailer was set up in order to send the message to Netanyahu that "the struggle is not over. We are protesting the committee that he set up in order to kill time; by setting up this trailer in order to show that we are not going anywhere.""
See, the funny thing is that in democracies, the Prime Minister isn't supposed to act by himself and issue decrees and orders (i.e. Rule by fiat). He is the leader of a coalition full of elected parties; the ministers of which (at very least) need to be consulted... and ideally involved in finding a solution to the problems being highlighted by the protesters.
I think perhaps young Ofri has Israel confused with some of the dictatorial regimes in the neighborhood. That's the problem with hardcore lefties. They are all about rights, democracy and due process. Until, that is, they want something really bad... and then they are all about appointing a leader who is willing to short-circuit the checks and balances, and break a few eggs in order to deliver the desired omelets. I think that's called Bolshevism.
Bottom line, there is no secret stash of rainbow dust or unicorn farts that the Prime Minister can tap into in order to make housing and the cost of living more affordable overnight. If there was an easy fix, I'm sure the Kadima government could/would have made everything right when they were in power. [~cough~]
Besides, while the cost of living is high here (largely due to the defense and welfare burdens), thanks mostly to the prudent decisions made by Netanyahu when he was Ariel Sharon's Finance Minister (decisions that were loudly protested by many of the same welfare cheerleaders), Israel's economy is the envy of the world right now. Unemployment is hovering just over 5% , all of the other indicators are extremely strong/stable, and nobody is about to downgrade our credit rating (much less need to bail us out).
But what really cracks me up is that these moonbats who are angry over their caravan being removed by the government seem completely unaware of the irony of the situation.
They set up a caravan to protest not being able to afford to live anywhere they chose.
The settlers set up caravans to protest not being able to chose to live anywhere they can afford.
What they have in common is that, no matter why/what you are protesting, the bottom line is that it totally sucks when the government comes and tows away your trailer.
[Afterthought: The only difference is that when it happens to the settlers, it usually happens on Friday night when the family inside is asleep... and the eviction is carried out using needless violence by the police's 'Yassam' unit.]
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Our little 'community organizer'
Summer here follows a fairly predictable trajectory:
First, the kids finish school and spend a few days underfoot while their 'summer activities' wait to kick in.
Then each of the kids begins their respective summer activity:
Ariella is again working at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (this is her third year there), and on her off weeks she did her 'Survival Course' (more about that tomorrow) four day/night hike across the Galilee to Mount Hermon.
Gilad landed a summer dream job (through some connections of mine) at a local winery/vineyard doing a combination of field work (tending vines, clearing weeds, checking and repairing irrigation, landscaping, etc.), and indoor work (racking, bottling, labeling, etc.). He is working with a couple of other boys from our community, and although they are working hard, they are getting paid extremely well, and are treated to a nice informal sit-down lunch at the winery.
Yonah, being only 7-and-a-half, wasn't able to find a summer job. We tried… but it turns out that his primary skill-sets – running around, making loud noises and demanding to be fed every few minutes – were not particularly in demand. Go figure. Luckily, we are not unique in requiring a safe and enriching environment for our young child, so we had a nice selection of 'kaytanot' (day camps) from which to choose.
However, as the saying goes, 'all good things must come to an end'… and even those patient souls who run kaytanot require a short summer vacation of their own, so this week found us without an organized plan for Yonah.
Last night as Shabbat was ebbing away, Yonah and a few of his neighborhood friends stopped playing whatever outdoor screaming/running game they'd been involved in (hide-and-go-seek, cops & robbers, etc.) and sat down to hold a neighborhood council. It seems that all of these little seven and eight year olds were aware that day camp was over and that there was every indication that they'd be planted in front of the TV for the remainder of the summer.
Enter our little community organizer.
Yonah decided to organize an ad-hoc day camp for the coming week(s)… a camp that would be held at our house. Naturally all the other kids agreed, and the first we heard of it was when Yonah came home to present it as a fait accompli.
The only problem with such a plan is that Zahava isn't a typical stay-at-home mom. She is actually a 'work-from-home' mom who balances long hours in her design studio (often working 14 hour days) against the flexibility of being able to drop everything when necessary and be there for the kids when they need transportation, food or are transitioning between activities. In short, while her schedule is flexible… it isn't flexible enough to accommodate a supervisory role in an all-day summer camp for Yonah and his friends.
I'll be interested to see how this plays out.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
A quick survey of European and US media outlets this morning shows a paucity of news about Israel right now.
If there is news about the near east, it is presented in the following order:
1. How the social justice protests (AKA tent protests) in Israel are analogous of the 'Arab Spring' uprisings.
2. How Israel continues to attack Gaza with helicopter gunships and drones (not to mention the ongoing 'illegal blockade')
3. Occasionally buried in the second category of Israel-related news, somewhere after the third or fourth paragraph, is sometimes a mention of how Israel's attacks on Gaza are actually a retaliation for a renewal (did it ever really stop?) of terrorist rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns and cities. But even then it is framed in the tired, equovical language of 'the cycle of violence' which makes both sides seem equally culpable.
What almost nobody outside of Israel is reporting (at least not prominently) is that the rockets/missiles being fired from Gaza are now long range 'Grad' Ketyusha type weapons that are landing in/near large cities such as Ashqelon and Kiryat Gat... nowhere near the Gaza border.
So far the IDF response to these deliberate attacks on Israeli civilian population centers has been to bomb arms smuggling tunnels and other purely military targets.
But given that Hamas deliberately blurs the lines between military and civilian enclaves in Gaza... it is only a matter of time before the front page of the Guardian, New York Times and LA Times have color photos of poor, dead Palestinian civilians in Gaza as a result of Israel's brutal 'war crimes' because, well, that's newsworthy!
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
I can't believe Bibi caved...
I had such high hopes for our Prime Minister. Even when he remained frustratingly silent in the face of the moonbats and naysayers, I always had a sense that he had a plan and knew how to get it done.
Now it seems he is reverting to past behavior; promising big to win the election and then eventually folding like a cheap suitcase.
He handed over Hebron - the one piece of real estate whose purchase is actually documented in the Bible - to the Palestinians during his last stint as PM.
And now he is agreeing to withdraw to what Abba Eban (no hawk by any stretch of imagination) used to call 'Auschwitz borders' *.
I'm ready for new elections. Anyone else?
Per a request, the full quote is as follows:
"We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountain and we in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history."