Monday, June 25, 2012
Kinda sucks getting your @ss kicked by those sworn to protect you, huh?
Back during the summer of the disengagement, and again during the violent Amona evacuation, I wrote several posts about how not only was the left silent in the face of deliberately violent tactics on the part of police, but also about systematic abuses of civil liberties on the part of every segment of the legal / judicial system towards right wing protesters.
Those posts fell mostly on deaf ears.
And the few leftists who responded came right out and said that those who don't follow the law cannot expect or demand protection from it (WTF!?). In short, anyone who defied the decisions of the government pretty much deserved whatever they got.
Well, pardon me if I find it hard to locate my sympathy for social justice movement slackers who are now crying foul over rough treatment at the hands of the police, and lack of due process from the Israeli judicial system.
Social justice is only truly just if it is meant for everyone; even ones political opponents.
I'll probably end up making a big fuss over the heavy handed treatment of the social justice protesters at some point. Maybe around September... after watching them spend the summer bumping up against the sharp edges of the working definition of irony.
"... then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Entering Area 51
Over the weekend I casually completed my 51st trip around the sun.
As if reading my mind, one of my favorite cartoonist posted a strip that perfectly summed up my feelings on being a grown up.
[Obviously, the gender is not significant to the underlying truth of the strip]
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Take a minute and watch this video. Of all the anti-smoking education materials I've seen in my life, this is the only one that actually makes sense without being preachy or using excessive scare tactics:
I wonder if this would work here?
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
By far the most moving part of the evening.
Don't know what I was expecting, but besides being a pretty good speaker, Peres isn't saying anything particularly earth shaking.
In fairness, neither am I. :-)
He says our enemies want and deserve peace. I could be convinced of the latter, but I think he's unhinged if he still believes the former.
More musical stuff
Opera arias. Better than Andrew Lloyd Webber
Tony Blair speaking now
Not saying all that much, but damn if he can't say it well!
He's talking random pipe dreams about staying engaged with the various countries going through upheavals. As if we or anyone can control what kind of government they ultimately end up with.
At least he came out against a nuclear Iran.
He lost me ... Talking about how we should not be creating anti immigration policies because immigrants have the potential to contribute so much to our society. Disconnected from reality.
Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Upon receiving the award from President Peres, Dr. Kissinger said, "it may be a strange thing for an 89 year old man to say, but I wish my parents were here. I know they'd be prouder of this honor than of any of the other honors that have come my way."
Henry Kissinger receiving presidential achievement award
We're watching a video about Kissinger's life. Tony Blair is sitting next to him and keeps leaning over and asking him things.
Waits for the Gala Evening Plenary to begin
Okay, this is weird. Spooky, even. I'm in an enormous auditorium with roughly a gazzilion people. And I haven't run into one single person I know. Forget 'know', I'd settle for 'looks familiar enough to chit chat with about how familiar they look'.
Henry Kissinger and Shimon Peres just walked in.
Liveblogging the 2012 President's Conference
I may not have mentioned it, but some time ago I was contacted about attending this year's President's Confence. Not just me... A bunch of us logger types were invited!
Nice that the medium, such that it is, is starting to get some traction in terms of mainstream legitimacy.
When I arrived, I was welcomed with a very acceptable glass of red wine and issued a press pass and entry credentials for all the conference's events.
So far so good.
This may be hard to believe, but for the first time in my not so short residency in Israel, I am underdressed for an event. It turns out Shimon Peres' crowd has some nice clothes. I'm wearing a nice Oxford shirt and khakis (what else would a nice boy from Connecticut be wearing?), and a majority of the crowd are in jackets, neckties and cocktail dresses.
Note to self: Next year wear cocktail dress.
More blogging to follow as the wine and canapés ebb and flow.
Monday, June 18, 2012
She can't be graduating high school...
... she was born, like, last week!
I can still remember bringing Ariella home from the hospital... the smell of her skin... the guilty feeling as though the hospital staff would stop us from taking her with us. Holding her head in my hand, her little body didn't reach all the way to the crook of my elbow.
How is it possible that she is graduating from high school this evening?!
Rodney King: The dark Forrest Gump
The ample list of his mis-deeds circulating on the internet notwithstanding, some people make history (for good or for bad), while others have the fortune or misfortune to have history act upon them. The subject of this thread clearly fell into the latter category.
Rodney King was an already deeply flawed (who among us isn't?) man before his brush with history thrust him into the spotlight.
Taken individually, his misdeeds and crimes were, by current standards, rather mundane. And even when strung together as they have been in the past 24 hours, they show him to have been little more than a petty criminal and perpetual scofflaw... neither monster nor martyr.
If there is to be a legacy for this man... I'd have to say that Rodney King was a Forrest Gump-type character; a catalyst for things - good and bad - that went far beyond anything to do with him or his own personal conduct.
Criminals murdered, looted and rampaged... ostensibly in his name. And police departments across the country were forced to adopt new levels of accountability... also ostensibly in his name.
But Rodney King didn't deserve the blame or the credit for either.
Those who lost loved ones or property in some of the U.S.'s worst riots can't blame him, and those who have been handled more humanely by members of the Law Enforcement Community subsequent to those events, don't owe him their thanks.
Rodney King was the dark version of Forrest Gump; having had the misfortune to find himself at the crossroads of terrible events far beyond any petty evil he could have conjured on his own.
Rodney King didn't make history. History acted upon him.
Note: I have not used the word 'dark' here in reference to the color of his skin. I hoped that would have been clear, but...
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I think I must have something in my eye... [~sniff~]
As the youngest Vietnam Vets are reaching retirement age, it is heartwarming to see this kind of thing. To me, at least, it shows that some people are struggling to come to terms with the shabby treatment of the previous generation of vets.
Well worth 2 minutes and 31 seconds of your day.
The question the kid asks is "Are you a hero too... that guy over there says you were."
Tip of the Hat to a my favorite Cajun (and fellow veteran)
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Watch this all the way through... killer!
Monday, June 11, 2012
Yeah, I meant to do that!
In order to make sure I haven't accidentally wandered into a look-alike website designed to steal my user name and password, I always enter both incorrectly at least once (often several times) before finally entering the correct combination.
As soon as I see that bold, red-lettered warning telling me that my user name and/or password are not recognized by the system', I get a nice warm, secure feeling, knowing that I am in the right place and not being spoofed into handing over the keys to my precious personal information.
At least that's what I pretend is the reason as I 'fat-finger' my login information (or forget it outright!) several times.
In truth, this is the electronic equivalent of tripping over your own feet in your office building lobby, and then trying to pretend that your sudden awkward stumble/lurch was part of a planned change in direction to allow you to take a whiff of the plastic flowers on that big fake potted plant in the corner.
'Yeah, I meant to do that!'
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Me: "Open the pod bay doors"
Siri: "Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that...... are you happy now?"
I'm still pretty new to the whole iPhone experience, so I'd love to hear about some of your favorite Siri interactions... not to mention some tips on how to get the most out of this modern-day HAL9000.
Monday, June 04, 2012
Every time I think I'm starting to understand...
... it turns out I don't understand anything.
There are five multi-family houses in the 'Ulpana' neighborhood of Beit El which have been at the center of a dispute for several years.
The lots were cleared and the buildings constructed with all the necessary permits from the government. The gas, water and electricity were all hooked up with approval of the government. The residents (6 families per building) all took mortgages and registered their purchases, with government approval.
And to be clear, when I say 'the government' here, I'm talking about the Israeli government under Ehud Olmert's left-of-center Kadima led coalition, not some 'evil right wing' Likud coalition.
Only one problem. An Arab from a neighboring village came forward and claimed that the land on which these five houses were built was his and had not been legally sold.
I'm not sure exactly what that means in this day and age. But at face value it could mean anything from 'the land was taken and built upon without ascertaining proper ownership'... to 'the Arab sold the land (directly or through intermediaries), and is now facing a death sentence, since selling land to a Jew is a capital offense under PA law'. Or it could mean anything in between those two extremes.
Seriously, politics aside, it could also be as simple as a surveyor's or clerk's error. Granted, it probably isn't... but still.
But back to our story... here there are five beautiful multi-family homes on contested land.
On one side of the argument, the PA Arab who claims to own the land (along with a raft of leftist NGOs and journalists) will settle for nothing less than the demolition of the homes. It doesn't matter that he can't do anything with the land even in the event that the homes are demolished, because for security reasons, he would never be permitted to build inside Beit El (see location of the 5 houses inside the red lines) anymore than a Jewish Israeli would be allowed to build in Bethlehem, even if he had undisputed ownership of the land:
No, not only is compensation or alternative land out of the question. But the alleged owner and his leftist political backers would rather spend a fortune on legal filings and proceedings which will result in scorched earth where those houses stand, just to stick their thumb in the eye of the evil settlers.
On the other side of the argument are the families who own the homes (or thought they did), along with a raft of rightist political activists, who have spent years trying to legislate and finesse the legal status of the land rather than just trying to figure what the magic number is that would allow the Arab claimant to quietly move his family to the French Riviera and leave them the hell alone.
The Supreme Court has long since issued a ruling requiring that the five homes be demolished, but the government has continuously stalled, hoping to find a way to either circumvent the Supreme Court ruling, or enact legislation that would make the ruling moot (which amounts to the same thing).
Along comes Bibi Netanyahu and decides as Prime Minister, he will offer a two part compromise worthy of King Solomon:
Part One: Instead of demolishing the homes, he'll have all five of them removed from their foundations and physically moved to nearby land that is owned by the government. This should, in theory mollify the Arab owner and his leftist backers since his land will have been vacated and the rightful ownership awarded to him once and for all.
Part Two: For every home moved, 10 new homes will also be constructed alongside them. This should, in theory, mollify the owners and residents of the homes, as well as their rightist backers since this would amount to an entirely new neighborhood in Beit El, with instant / full government backing/permits (a process that could take years under the current Defense Minister), not to mention funding.
If ever there were a win-win situation, this would be it, right?
The Arab claimant and his leftist backers are screaming bloody murder because they want to see Jewish homes in rubble, and will settle for nothing less.
The home owners and their rightist backers are screaming bloody murder because they won't give up a centimeter of the Land of Israel.
Hunger strikes have been launched... new legal pleadings have been submitted... everyone is up in arms... and nobody will be happy until there is blood on the ground. Which, if you ask me, would suit them all very well.
Both sides want to add another chapter to their narrative of victim-hood while simultaneously scoring a victory worthy of their legacy. I say a pox on both their houses!
The Arabs and their leftist backers don't want the land, so much as they want to deny it to the Jewish rightists. The Jewish rightists want to claim the Zionist mantle of 'settling the land' while ignoring the inconvenient fact that we weren't brought here on wings of eagles and magically dropped into 'a land without a people for a people without a land'.
There weren't a lot of Arabs here when the waves of 19th and 20th century Aliyah began crashing onto the Levantine shore's of our ancestral homeland, but there were some! Many (maybe even most), of those Arabs were stateless share croppers paying rent to absentee Ottoman landlords in Damascus and Beirut. But some of them actually had title to their lands (at least according to the laws of the time). Certainly those who can provide proof of their land claims are entitled to keep or sell their land as they see fit (or at least be compansated when honest mistakes are made).
In such a framework, compromise is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary!
Certainly, neither the Jews nor the Arabs are strangers to the marketplace or the negotiating table. At the first sign of a dispute, a fair price or alternate plot of land should have been offered and accepted. It should never have come to the need to cause destruction and homelessness. It should never have come to the need for total victory or nothing!
But then again, every time I think I'm starting to understand how things work (or should work, anyway)... it turns out I don't know anything!!!