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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did I mention what Ari did during the war?

Yes, I know I did.  I'm just being an insufferably proud parent. 

Here is a picture of Ariella with one of her fellow volunteers during the conflict (Ari's the one without glasses). 

Ari and friend

She also sent me a bunch of photos of herself and the staff with the adorable kids she and her friends were looking after, but I suspect that many of the parents would not be so crazy about a stranger posting pictures of their children on the Internet without their permission.  Sorry.

Posted by David Bogner on November 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Nagging Thought

Last week a friend left a comment on this blog that got into my head and wouldn't leave me alone.

It was a short comment, but it got so far under my skin that I quite literally have been losing sleep over it.

Consider this:

The relationship between Israel and the US is not what one could possibly call 'balanced'.  Sadly, Israel needs the US far more than the US needs Israel.  We are dependent upon the US not only for an unhealthy level of foreign aid, but also for its veto at the UN security council.

Although Israel certainly has some value to the US as an ally in the Middle East, and as a test bed and sometimes partner for the development of defense and aerospce technology / products.  It is a rare thing indeed for my country to find itself in a situation where our American patron is figuratively 'over a barrel' and genuinely has no choice but to do something for us... or we simply won't budge.

We found ourselves in such a position last week. 

The Obama administration, mere days after its election victory, was placed in a very awkward position by Israel's untimely decision that we'd (once again) had enough of the missiles from Gaza and launched a military operation against Hamas.

As much as every US administration in the past half century has wanted to be the one to bring peace to the middle east, the last three or four US presidents have really been in a diffiuclt position because not only can't they get Israel and the Palestinians to play nice together, they are excruciatingly aware that, for better or worse, the Arab world holds the US responsible for pretty much everything Israel does.

So you can imagine, having the stink of Israel beating the crap out of Hamas in Gaza hanging over every US diplomat for the next four years was certainly not how the Obama administration had envisioned kicking off its second term.

Within microseconds of the Israel Air Force introducing Ahmed Jabari to his 72 virgins, the US began trying to figure out how to broker a cease fire in such a way as to demonstrate that it had been the US that stayed Israel's hand. 

Less than a week into the operation, Hillary Clinton flew over here and began meeting with Israeli officials... and magically within a few days our Prime Minister and his spokespeople were starting to talk publicly about the possibility of a cease fire.  The message she conveyed to Israel's PM from President Obama was probably something along the lines of, "You backed the wrong horse in our elections and now we own you, bitch.  Wrap this up or we start turning off the spigot on your jet fuel and F-16 spares."

Take note that it wouldn't be enough to have Israel simply declare that the goals of its operation had been met.  No, it had to do so at an odd moment in the midst of one of the most intense days of Hamas rocket fire on southern Israel so as to prove that neither the decision nor timing were Israel's own.

During these few days of strong-arming, the US probably trotted out all manner of threats and enticements to bring Israel around.  But until Israel actually said 'yes', the balance of power was momentarily shifted in Israel's favor, just enough that we had what the arbitrage crowd likes to call 'leverage'.  We couldn't ask for just anything... but we could certainly ask for something!

So far as details of the cease fire terms trickle out, pretty much everything I'm seeing are concessions that Israel made to Hamas:  Easing of border restrictions... Palestinian fishermen allowed to go further to sea... Palestinian farmers being able to go closer to the border fence, etc., and nothing in return.

Which brings us to the tantalizing comment that has gotten so far inside my soul and won't let me sleep:

"Israel should have demanded [Jonathan] Pollard's release as part of the deal."

And just like that I realize how badly we squandered this rare moment of leverage we had with the US. 

How many hundreds of Arab terrorists has Israel been forced to set free as part of deals the US pressured Israel to accept?  How many times have we squandered our meager political capital on empty promises and un-enforceable agreements?

And here, for the briefest of moments last week, we held the keys in our hands to free just one of our own... and we let the moment pass.

Posted by David Bogner on November 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another NY Times Blood Libel

Dead center at the top of the Home Page in the online edition of Today's NY Times is the following story:

NYT Fail

Let's stop for a moment and ask ourselves what the voracious news perusing, page clicking, online information junkie can take from a glance at the New York Times today:

1. Based on its prominent position/placement on their site, this is the most pressing story of the moment.

2.  Somebody is using war as a convenient cover for the deliberate targeting of journalists.

3.  The photo is of journalists in Israel.

4.  Conclusion:  Israel is targeting journalists.

No matter how much or little of the article has been read - even if it is just the picture and the caption - the Times has ensured that the voracious news perusing, page clicking, online information junkies can now click onward with this new 'fact' stored in their mental database... 'Israel targets journalists'.

It doesn't matter that more than 40,000 people have been slaughtered in the bloody Syrian crackdown right next door (including 435 foreign civilians!!!).  You won't see that on the front page of the Times or hear about Hillary Clinton and other world leaders flying to Damascus to demand an immediate cessation of violence.

No, only Israel gets that treatment.

If one clicks over to the main article from the picture above, the central kernel around which the piece is constructed is following quote about an unfortunate incident during the recent Gaza operation:

... three employees of news organizations were killed in Gaza by Israeli missiles. Rather than suggesting it was a mistake, or denying responsibility, an Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, told The Associated Press, “The targets are people who have relevance to terror activity.”

So it has come to this: killing members of the news media can be justified by a phrase as amorphous as “relevance to terror activity.”

I can think of scores of incidents over the past 50 years were journalists have been killed and wounded in war zones.  But I don't ever recall anyone making the claim that the dead or wounded media personnel were deliberately targeted.  Until now, that is.  Because Israel is the country in the dock.

In recent conflicts, Israel has either attempted to exclude journalists from the war zones altogether (knowing full well that their presence will be exploited by the enemy and make the IDF's job more dangerous / risky), or has resigned itself to having to issue continuous warnings to journalists as to what places are about to be attacked; reports that are instantly transmitted to the enemy.

In last week's operation, journalists were allowed to go into Gaza and were given few restrictions on their movement other than strict warnings to avoid close contact with Hamas operatives since they were obviously being targeted:

Israeli officials have said Hamas was using journalists and their operations as “human shields,” and a press officer for the Israeli Defense Force warned in a Twitter postthat reporters should be wary of the company they keep: “Advice to reporters in #Gaza, just like any person in Gaza: For your own safety, stay away from #Hamas positions and operatives.”

Conducting a military operation of this scale in an area as small and densely populated as Gaza without causing harm to civilians is already a nearly impossible task (although Israel has gone to greater lengths to protect civilians than any other country in any other modern conflict).  But the presence of a large number of journalists flitting around the battlefield, who are not reporting their presence to the officers directing the operation, complicates the task exponentially.

But for the New York Times, none of that is relevant.  All that is important to them is that journalists were injured and killed, so Israel deliberately targeted them.

The active malevolence against Israel on the part of the New York Times is so unabashed and palpable that to deny it is laughable, and to try to defend against it is like responding to questions like, "Are you still beating your wife?". 

The problem with such blood libels as are contained in today's NY Times piece, is that once they are whispered into receptive ears, they take on a life of their own and become accepted 'truths... part of 'the rocord'... 'facts'. 

Posted by David Bogner on November 26, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well, that solves that!

About a month ago I started getting a trickle of SMS messages from various current and perspective Knesset members on the Likud list requesting my vote in the upcoming primaries (yes, I am currently a party member, but that could change).

As the days passed, the trickle turned into a torrent, and the SMS messages were joined by calls to my cell phone at all hours of the day and night, that when I answered, tried to force me to listen to recorded messages from the same current and perspective Knesset members in the Likud list requesting my vote.

As the recorded phone calls and SMSs started to hit every hour or so, I started keeping track of who was waging this harassment campaign (there is no other way to describe it), and vowed not to vote for anyone who employed this tactic.

I am pleased to announce that as of this morning, every single person that I would conceivably have voted for in the Likud primaries has been eliminated (most many, many times over) from  possibly receiving my vote.

As a result, unless I get a personal phone call before the polls close today from  live candidates actually apologizing to me for the phone and SMSM sh*tstorm, I am not going to be casting my vote for anyone. 

Of course, if I happen to be passing a polling place today, I may just go in and vote for the unworthiest people on the Likud list (those that didn't harass me, that is), just to spite everyone else.

The issue of whether I remain in the Likud at all is very much in play at the moment.  *

*  Not due to the shameless electioneering, but rather due to the shameful (IMHO) way in which the most recent conflict was 'resolved'.

Posted by David Bogner on November 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lather, Rinse... Repeat

'I told you so' is neither satisfactory nor sufficient enough to sum up my deep disappointment this morning.

Everything went exactly according to the tried and true formula:

The Instigation:  The media repeatedly referred to the fighting as having lasted for eight days, while studiously ignoring the years of continuous rocket fire on Israel's towns and cities that lead up to this all-to-brief response.

The 'War':  Israel attacks exclusively military and terror targets in a campaign which is both costly and fraught with risk, while the enemy continues to target Israel's civilian population unhindered by any rules whatsoever.

The  World's Response:  Despite years of studiously ignoring the enemy's war crimes (by every definition) of targeting Israel's civilians and using their own population as human shields, the world leaders and bodies, aided and abetted by the media, suddenly stir to life and begin loudly declaring that an immediate cease fire is necessary to restore calm to the region.

The Pressure:  The US, UN and other useful idiots send their representatives to the region and begin applying pressure to Israel to unilaterally de-escallate the violence (with no mention of the ongoing war crimes being committed by the other side).

The capitulation:  Israel finally bends to outside pressure and agrees to cease fire terms.

The 'Cease fire':  At whatever hour the cease fire is to go into effect Israel, and only Israel, stops all military activity.  The enemy continues to fire un-answered volleys of missiles for the next few hours so as to demonstrate to their own people, and to Israel, exactly who is still standing at the end.

The victory lap:  The enemy claims victory, receives congratulatory messages from all of the other despot leaders, and declares a holiday during which their population dances in the street, pass out sweets and trumpet to the world their triumph over the evil Zionists. 

The Coda:  The rest of the world (which forced the cease fire in the first place): pats itself on the back for having quieted the quarrelling children in the back seat of the family car and begins writing fat aid checks to the Israel's enemy to help them rebuild (or re-arm... whatever feels right).   Israel, on the other hand, is left to lick its wounds and explain that 'giving peace a chance' is what mature, grown-up nations do when offered the opportunity.

Have I missed anything?

Think back to the main terms of the cease fire (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701) which ended the second Lebanon war:

1.  Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon:  CHECK
2.  Disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon (implying Hezbollah):  NOPE
3.  No armed forces other than UNIFIL and Lebanese Army (implying Hezbollah will be disbanded):  NOPE
4.  Full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon:  NOPE

Other than Israel retreating to a position where it couldn't enforce any of the other terms, none of the other terms were realized or adhered to.  Today, Hezbollah is far stronger than it was before the Second Lebanon War, and is a loaded pistol held to Israel's head by its puppet master; Iran... all because we refused to keep pushing until the enemy was left with no choice but to surrender.

I can assure you that only Israel will adhere to the terms of this most recent cease fire, and that the most serious problem is that the main term to which Israel has agreed is to stop targeted killings of terrorists and armed response to the enemy's violations. 

Instead of direct action against Hamas terrorists, we will now be required to file our protests over any breach of the cease fire terms to a third party.  And this third party will essentially be a soccer referee who has a pocket full of yellow cards, but no red cards.  Stern warnings and strongly written letters will fly like confetti, but Hamas will now be able to act with complete impunity because the third party to which Israel is now obligated to turn (whoever that is), will have no power whatsoever to do more than say, "You're being very naughty... please don't do that again".  

In June of 1940, when the outcome of WWII was far from certain, Winston Churchill's presented his people with a message of inspiration and resolve: 

"Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour."

But instead of recognizing the need to finish the battle with even one of the greater enemy's proxy armies, Israel is once again forced to hear a variation of Neville Chamberlains laughable hallucination:

"This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ' ... We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.'  ... My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds." 

I, for one, will not sleep quietly or well, knowing that this is far from the end of the war, nor even a worthy point in the conflict to stop and praise our valient efforts to date.  It is September of 1938 all over again, and misguided leaders at home and abroad have once again deluded themselves with pipe dreams of peace rather than recognize the looming violence on the rapidly approaching horizon.

I beg my children's forgiveness for the fact that they will certainly have to fight this war again, and perhaps die, because my generation was not wise or brave enough to finish the fight when we had the chance.


As it says on the back of the shampoo bottle:  "Lather, rinse... repeat".

Posted by David Bogner on November 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rhetorical Questions*

1.  If the deliberate targeting of civilians is defined as a war crime under international law, why hasn't the International Court of Justice indicted the leaders of Hamas (who are the legally elected representatives of the Palestinians) for doing so?

2.   If the deliberate use of civilians as human shields is defined as a war crime under international law, why hasn't the International Court of Justice indicted the leaders of Hamas (who are the legally elected representatives of the Palestinians) for launching missiles from within residential neighborhoods, and for the use of mosques, schools and residential/commercial buildings as weapons storage facilities, military training centers and launch facilities (classic examples of using civilians as human shields)?

3.  If the US and other world leaders truly support Israel's inherent right to defend its population (as they say), why are they pressuring Israel to unilaterally 'de-escallate' the conflict while its population is still under full attack?

4.  If a country or diplomatic body refuses to define Hamas as a terrorist organization (or removes Hamas from their list of groups considered to be terrorists), why are they not holding Hamas to accepted standards of conduct under International Law as would be expected if Hamas was any governmental or semi-governmental body?

5.  Why is only Israel expected to employ pin-point intelligence, precision weapons systems and surgical strikes in all military conflicts while its opponents incur no international censure or penalty for the deliberate use of un-aimed weapons that are designed to paralize and target the largest possible civilian population?

6.  On what basis should Israel be expected to begin negotiating a cease-fire while Hamas continues to repeat the Casus Belli  which sparked the conflict in the first place (e.g. launch missiles at Israel's civilians).  Doesn't that seem a lot like surrendering?

7.  If Gaza has no army and therefore no 'legitimate' military targets or soldiers (as defined by the Geneva Conventions), and all aggression against Israel is being carried out by non-uniformed civilians, shouldn't Israel be allowed to pursue satisfaction as a purely criminal or sovereignty matter without the interference from, or need to explain to, uninterested parties (i.e. the rest of the world)?

8.  If the Geneva Conventions define "anyone who breaches the laws or customs of war" (whihch Hamas , Islamic Jihad, et al obviously have) as an 'unprivileged combatant' (i.e. not entitled to the protections outlined in the conventions), why are world leaders and the media requiring Israel to afford such 'unprivileged combatants' the same protections that a uniformed army or militia would be entitled to?

9.  If Israel's response to the most recent attacks is expected (required!) to be proportional, why isn't Israel allowed to fire short-medium  range missiles in the general direction of Gaza's civilian population?  That would be exactly proportional.

10.  Why is Egypt - a country whose leader has not only publicly come out in support of one side in the current conflict, but also condemned the other side as 'deserving of destruction' - being allowed to act as a mediator?  Wouldn't a country that has not expressed public support for one of the sides be a more honest mediator acceptable to both sides?

*  A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point and without the expectation of a reply.   If these questions related to any country other than Israel, they would be asked at the highest levels of international diplomacy... and answers would be demanded! 

But because it is 'only' related Israel (or more likely, because it is 'only' related to a country which has attacked Israel), these questions remain in the realm of rhetoric and the answers are of no interest to anyone.

Posted by David Bogner on November 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surrender or Die!

I overheard an idiot on the street yesterday saying that it was time to think about a cease fire because we'd reached our goal.  I asked him what goal he thought we'd reached, and he answered, "To deplete the inventory of rockets in Gaza."

The stupidity of some people boggles the mind.  It's like saying that a boxer is doing well in the match because he has used up most of his opponent's energy by absorbing hundreds of head and body punches.

I've said it multiple times in the past, but it bears repeating:

Ever since Egypt's Nasser accidentally discovered the trick in '56, every subsequent Arab leader has stuck to his tried and true formula for military success:
  1. Instigate a war. 
  2. Once the war is well underway and you are in the process of having your ass handed to you... get a few world powers to force your western opponent into a cease fire. 
  3. Whatever you do, don't surrender or submit to any terms dictated by your enemy.  That would ruin everything!  All you have to do is wait it out and eventually the world will become sickened at what is being done to your 'soldiers' and civilian population... and will force a truce.
  4. Once a truce has been called you can resume your intransigence (which probably caused the conflict in the first place), and even declare victory as your opponent leaves the field of battle.

This tactic has never failed.  Not once. 

Operation 'Cast Lead' was Israel's last serious attempt at trying to tamp down the fires of terror in Gaza and it played out along the very same lines as I've described above.  They fired rockets at us at a slowly increasing rate until we had no choice but to respond with force.

Once the military operation was underway, Hamas started screaming to the world (via a sympathetic media) about the 'massacre' Israel was carrying out.  The world was fed a steady stream of videos and still photos of destroyed buildings and wounded/dead Gazans (what the hell did they think happens in a war?!), and before you could say 'short term memory loss' the UN and the world powers were screaming right along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists for the big bad IDF to stop its 'senseless' onslaught.

Within seconds of the cease fire being reached at the end of 'Cast Lead', Gaza's terrorist leaders declared victory and immediately began enthusiastically smuggling replacement rockets for the continued harassment of Israeli civilians (the culmination of which we're seeing now).  The useful idiots of the world helped and encouraged their weapons smuggling by loudly denouncing Israel's blockade of Gaza as a war crime under international law (even though it has repeatedly been declared legal).

Israel, on the other hand, was universally castigated for its use of force... and a few more shelves at the UN were filled with reports condemning the evil Zionists.

So why the hell would we stop now?  Why wouldn't we continue until the carnage is so overwhelming that Hamas' leaders will have no choice but to submit to unambiguous surrender terms (or be destroyed)?

The reason is simple.  It doesn't fit the formula that I've described above.  Our leaders are schooled in 'western-style diplomacy', and they seek, at all costs, the approval of a chummy club of nations that will never accept this violent Shylock in their midst.

The western school of diplomatic thought has these romantic 19th century ideas about the Arab sense of 'honor' and 'face'... and we panic at the idea of forcing the proud Arab to accept defeat for fear that it will shame the leaders so badly that they will be pushed aside by a crop of even more belligerent and forceful Arab leaders; that the Arab 'street' will settle for nothing less.

Personally, I don't believe in such nonsense.  I can't worry about the future of some Arab despot while my country is not allowed to have a present... and the world insists on forgetting the past. 

And I give the Arab 'street' far more credit than the world's diplomatic community.  They are tired of their leaders using them as cannon fodder and human shields.  They are tired of having their lives' hopes and dreams continuously dashed by the greed and ambition of despots and kleptocracies!

To assuage our shame over 19th century colonialism ,the 'enlightened' west created these august diplomatic bodies that were supposed to make the world a safer, more sane place by forcing everyone - first and third world alike - to play by the same rules. 

Yet the existence of these bodies has had quite the opposite affect.  The world is a far more dangerous place because we have given the savages a seat at the table and politely agreed to look away so as not to make them feel bad over their lack of table manners as they stab the other diners with the polished silver.

I say to hell with talk of cease fires and temporary truces.  They only benefit the terrorists!  

I'll say again what I have said so often in the past:  These aggressors must be allowed to be beaten so badly that every civilized nation will stand in horror, wanting desperately to step in and stop the carnage... but staying their hand and letting it continue to its necessary conclusion.  Because the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and is forced to admit defeat.

If anyone in the Israeli Cabinet is reading this, please, please don't let this opportunity go to waste. 

The UN is already drafting the next version of the Goldstone Report and we will inevitably be condemned for our disproportionate response to the unceasing and deliberate targeting of our innocent civilians.  We know this.

So why not try something new... something novel

Why not finally push this agressor, who has forced us onto the battlefield, to the ultimate decision in warfare: surrender or die? 

It worked in Sri Lanka.  The UN wanted to impose yet another in an endless serious of cease fires that only the Sri Lankan Government observed... and that government finally said, 'go to hell'.  And they trapped the Tamil terrorists between the guns and the sea, and sent their demands; 'surrender or die'. 

The Tamils chose death.  Now there is peace.  It turns out the 'Tamil Tigers' didn't represent the Tamil people.  They represented only themselves.

It worked there... it can work here.

Gaza is a proto-state well on its way to becoming a failed state.   And make no mistake, the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank are watching carefully to see whether 'armed resistance' or diplomacy bears the most fruit. 

It isn't colonial arrogance to step in and finally remove a brutal leadership that is destabilizing the entire region and continuously at odds with the interest and welfare of its own people.  It is exactly what nations with principles, might and will are supposed to do. 

That nobody else wants to do it is our misfortune and our burden.  But we are part way there already... why not see it through to the end?

I'll end with a quote from a General who knew a thing or two about war:

 "War is cruelty.  There is no use in trying to reform it.  The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

                                                                 ~William Tecumseh Sherman~

Posted by David Bogner on November 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Monday, November 19, 2012

The family logistics the news never talks about

With all the media outlets fighting over who can provide the most dramatically inspirational (or dramatically critical) portrayal of the current conflict, one of the things that tends to never get mentioned is the day-to-day logistics of being a parent in a country under attack.

For example, most of the schools that are in range of the Gaza rockets have been ordered closed by the Homefront Command.  However, businesses have been allowed to make their own determination as to whether to remain open or not.

The obvious logistical problem arises when young kids are suddenly forced to stay home but parents are required to work.  Who looks after the kids?  Who makes sure they have proper supervision... that they make it to the shelters in time when the sirens wail... that they get things as basic as timely snacks and nutritious meals???

My 18 year old daughter is currently studying at a Mechina (a pre-military program between high school and the army) and they have individually and collectively decided (along with many similar groups) to travel to communities within missile range of Gaza to set up youth programs so that parents can go to work with an easy mind.

Most parents, that is. 

My daughter, who has been safely studying in the Jordan Valley in one of the few parts of the country currently out of rocket range, is willingly relocating to a place where they have between 15 and 30 seconds to find shelter when the 'Code Red' sirens sound.

I am so proud of her for this decision that I wish I could give her a promotion to some higher level of human being; Princess or Empress, perhaps.  But I am also terrified.

All over the south, difficult decisions are being made... and wonderful, strong, resilient Israelis (like my daughter), are stepping up and providing solutions to logistical problems that probably never even occurred to most people outside of Israel.

Posted by David Bogner on November 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When 10 minutes feels like 10 years

 [A guest-post by Zahava]

There is really nothing that adequately prepares you for the sound. You learn about it. Your kids have drills in school. Your community tests its siren and emergency broadcast system intermittently through out the year.

You know what to do. You know how much time you have to do it.

But.

Until it actually happens – until you are forced to put the practice into action – you really don’t know.

You anticipate that the siren will be terrible. But what you are really unprepared for is the fact that the siren is not the most terrible aspect of the experience.

As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, there were a thousand things that flashed through my frenzied thoughts as my brain registered and processed that our community’s air raid sirens were in fact actually shrilling their warning to take cover. Immediately.

90 seconds.

We in Gush Etzion are incredibly lucky. We have a full 90 seconds to get to safety. We have 6 times the amount of time as our compatriots in the south.

The sound. 

I think it only took about 10 seconds to absorb it. Good thing I live in Gush Etzion. 5 seconds would not have been adequate time to: 1) finish drying off after my shower, 2) race up the stairs while simultaneously stabbing my limbs into garments, and 3) rattle off the names of my husband, kids (who were home) and Shabbat guest, while also screaming 4) “get into the mamad (re-inforced room), this is probably not a drill.”

Somehow, the five of us all made it before the siren ceased its wail.

Head check.

Again.

Wait.

Boom. Boom.

Quiet. Muffled.

A bit of pressure accompanies the sound.

Sort of reminiscent of a sonic boom.

Except so much more sinister than the sound of an airplane breaking the sound barrier.

Designed to terrorize. Designed to kill.

We waited the required time – 10 minutes according to home front command – before exiting the mamad, wondering the entire time. Worrying the entire time.

It was 10 minutes. But it felt like 10 years.

We emerge grateful that we are all accounted for and unharmed. We hope that everyone in our area can say the same.

In shul, the boys hear from the men who serve on the community’s security squad that the rockets landed in an open area causing little damage and no injuries.

We finish our entry into Shabbat profoundly grateful that we and those we love and those we live among have been spared harm.

We worry.

We worry about our compatriots. We worry about our soldiers. We worry about the Gazan civilians. We worry about the worrying of overseas family and friends.

Shabbat remains quiet, though we are all edgier than normal. The howl of the traffic from 60 plays tricks on our ears and on our minds.

Was that the start of the siren?

No. For us, mercifully, it was not.

Each moment that carries us further from those 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes which felt like 10 years.

It is Sunday. I, like every news-junkie Israeli, move between productive work and the news sites. Checking. Praying. Listening. Worrying.

And it occurs to me.

If that one time experience of 10 minutes felt like 10 years, what does 3 rockets a day feel like? 30 years?

What does 12 years of rockets feel like?

My heart is broken for the one million residents of southern Israel for whom these exaggerated moments have already stretched on for eternity.

It is enough. Enough is enough.

Kol Yisrael arevi’im zeh la zeh – loosely translated, this means all Israel is responsible for one another.

The time has come to put aside political, philosophical and theological differences. Our citizens may not be subjected to rocket fire.

Ever.

You want to talk about all the ways that Israel can improve her international standing, her civil policies, her democratic process? Great. Me too. There is, admittedly, much work to be done.

But.

Not now.

At the moment, our only responsible action is to defend our citizens.

And know that we do this while taking extraordinary measures to simultaneously protect the innocent lives of non-militant Gazans.

It turns out the old axiom is true: time flies when you’re having fun.

Time should fly.

Missiles should not.

Posted by David Bogner on November 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Murphy is alive and well in Beer Sheva

Despite the chaos going on elsewhere in the south, it was a quiet morning in Beer Sheva.  So much so, that I allowed myself to be lulled into a sense of normalcy.

In fact, I felt so relaxed that I actually made an appointment to go over to the Optician and pick up my new frames which they told me via SMS were ready.

No sooner was I away from the fortified protection of my office campus, I heard the Code Red sirens start to go off all around me.  Following procedure, I pulled over and ran (hah!, my knee said, no... you'll stroll) to find the nearest shelter.

Nothing nearby.  Not a building.  Not a house.

So I stretched out in the dirt by the curb and prayed.

As the sirens were fading away a second set of sirenscame to life... this was a multiple rocket attack.

After a short time I hear seven distinct explosions off to my left and over head.  Some were likely interceptions by the Iron Dome system and some were rockets that got through.

Murphy's law that I would pick that moment to venture out.

Silly me.

Posted by David Bogner on November 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We're okay, thanks!

I've lost track of the emails, SMSs, PMs, and comments asking if we are okay.

The answer is yes... but as a country, it is going to be a rough night. Rockets have been confirmed landing in Tel Aviv, as well as most communities in the south.

Russia is saying our attack on Gaza is disproportionate. To them I have two words: Chechnya, bitch! I don't ever want to hear the word 'disproportionate' coming out of a Russian's mouth unless he's prepared to have his teeth kicked in.

So far massive numbers of reserves have been called up, and the roads are clogged with tank carriers bringing Merkavas down from the Golan. In the mean time, the air force continues to pound high value targets in Gaza to soften things up for the nearly inevitable ground incursion.

I don't know many people in Tel Aviv, but the few I do are near and dear to my heart... so please take what I'm about to say with that in mind: I am sort of glad that the Gaza terrorists have finally taken out their long range missiles. It's not that I want anyone to be hurt, but too many of this country's decision makers live in and around Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, this means that they are a little too willing to let 'colorful' places like Kiryat Shmoneh and Sderot take a beating while the decision makers make a show of not being hasty with their responses.

Now that rockets are falling on lily white Tel Aviv you can bet there will be no leisurely weighing of options or 'let's wait and see where this latest attack goes...'.

In short, we might finally get to see an old fashioned Israeli ass-kicking... The kind that used to provide years worth of deterrence, not weeks.

Posted by David Bogner on November 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Finally!

After weeks and months of unending rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, it looks like we're finally going to respond in some sort of serious form. Sitting in my office's bomb shelter during a rocket attack this week, many of us were wondering out loud when enough would finally be enough.

This afternoon in a coordinated series of pinpoint strikes, the Israel Air Force killed Hamas' top military commander, wounded at least three other top Gaza terrorists, knocked out a big part of gazas command and control network, destroyed a warehouse containing many of the long range missiles currently held by Gaza terror groups, and opened fire with tanks and artillery at high value targets inside Gaza.

Additionally, many israeli army units have been moved south to staging areas near Gaza and many reserve units have been called up effective immediately.

Eerily, there is a nearly unanimous support for today's action across Israel's political spectrum, and for now, foreign leaders are staying mum.

Please,have our sons and daughters in the IDF in your thoughts and prayers.

Translation:

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Force, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.

May Hashem cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighting men from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor. May He lead our enemies under their sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is Hashem, your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you. Now let us respond: Amen.

 

Posted by David Bogner on November 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Belatedly getting what YOU deserve

Last years some of you may remember that I decided to do a 1000 mile (1600 km) ride on my Vespa in 24 hours for my 50th birthday.

I needed something on which to hang this stunt to lend it the kiss of sanity and altruism, so I decided to try to leverage the ride to raise funds for my community's Emergency Medical Center; specifically the radiology suite.

In the end, treppenwitz readers stepped up big time and donated a nice chunk of change which allowed the medical center to purchase the last of the required furnishings and equipment to open the radiology suite.

Over the past year the director of the medical center has been pestering my wife to convince me to come to some sort of ceremony where hands would be shaken, pictures would be taken and a plaque would be affixed thanking me for my contribution.

Zahava, knowing me as she does, begged off and assured the director that such a ceremony would be the last thing I'd want. After all, I hadn't donated the money... I just did a stunt that managed to put you lot in the mood to donate money!

After a few attempts, the director finally gave up, and I was content to know that together we'd done some good.

Flash forward to this past Thursday when I found myself at the medical center waiting to get my knee X-rayed, and I noticed this on the wall:

In the end they got it just right. The credit went where it belonged; to the people who gave their hard-earned money to a worthy cause... Not to the performing monkey on the scooter. :-)

By the way, if you missed the boat or are more flush now than you were then, the donation page is still up and I know they can always use a hand!

 

Posted by David Bogner on November 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 04, 2012

And the Nobel Prize for Stoicism goes to...

My current pain meds are not even touching the searing pain from my left knee.

My doc offered me serious schedule 2 narcotics for me knee, but like an idiot I turned him down because I didn't want them to interfere with my ability to drive and work (not to mention that in the back of my mind I didn't want him to think I was seeking drugs).

Now the pain is interfering with my ability to think, breath, live...

So in retrospect, trying to play tough guy was a bad choice.

Note to self: When the doctor thinks you are hurt badly enough to warrant the big guns, don't talk him out of it. It turns out there's no prize for stoicism.

Posted by David Bogner on November 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Friday, November 02, 2012

Not as bad as it could have been...

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes and supportive comments.

Here's the deal:

After an excruciating visit with a sadistic (but very well respected) orthopod, the news is tentatively good. He said it doesn't look/feel like I've torn anything, but things are so inflamed in there that an MRI is likely to be inconclusive right now.

He put me in an elastic knee sleeve for support and told me to try to stay off it as much as possible.

He said that if it was, as he suspects, a bad sprain, I'm likely to have a lot of pain for as long as a month. But if it persists any longer than that, or if I have the sense that the discomfort isn't gradually diminishing as time goes on, then he'll order the MRI.

My meds are wearing off so I need to go take the edge off...

Posted by David Bogner on November 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Like Bambi On Ice

I always assumed that if my scooter ever landed me in need of the tender ministrations of the medical community, it would be because of some high speed collision.

But assumptions are designed to make fools of us all, and the hours (so far) today I've spent getting poked, prodded, X-rayed, bandaged, injected, and dosed are but a prelude to what awaits me this afternoon at the orthopedist... and though as a result of my scooter, speed and traffic had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

The story begins with an otherwise routine commute home last night. The temperature was unseasonably warm... a mostly full moon peeked out from gently drifting clouds to illuminate the perfectly dry roadway... and no more than a slight breeze rustled the sparse vegetation along the side of the quiet road.

With the exception of a rare passing car, I was alone on the road for most of my commute. And I was alone when I saw the 'T' intersection looming ahead which marked the 2/3 point of my commute. As always, about 50 yards before the stop sign I rolled off the accelerator and let my speed bleed off naturally... applying the brakes gently only in the last few yards to stop the last of my forward momentum.

My scooter had almost come to a complete stop a few feet before the white line as I'd intended, when I suddenly had the sensation of drifting... as if my scoot was no longer in contact with the roadway. I knew my brakes hadn't failed because that would have caused me to roll forward in the direction I'd been traveling. Instead, I watched in puzzled amazement as the scooter began do drift crab-like eeeeeevvvveeerrrr ssooooo ssslloooooooowwwllllyyyy as if sliding on ice.

At the same moment that the moonlight allowed me to perceive that I was in the middle of a large slick of some sort of liquid, the stench of diesel fuel hit my nose. Clearly a truck with a leaking gas tank had sat for a good long while at the stop sign and soaked the roadway before continuing on its way.

I said a silent prayer of thanks that I hadn't encountered the fuel slick in the roadway while traveling at speed, and put my left foot down to stop the glacially slow drift of the scooter towards the intersection.

That's when things started to go seriously wrong.

The scooter continued to drift at an angle away from where I'd planted my foot, and within a few seconds I found myself being forced into a comical split as I tried in vain to support the weight of the leaning scooter with my hands on the handlebars... All the while looking down in panic as my planted left foot got further and further from the imaginary vertical line that intersects the scooter's center of gravity.

As my crotch muscles began to scream their protest at the unfamiliar demand on their flexibility, I began feeling like a Thanksgiving turkey where someone was enthusiastically trying to rip off the drumstick.

Just when I thought I would split in half like a wishbone, another part of my body decided to give way. I watched in horror as my left knee suddenly gave out, shaking off the confines of its usual axis of flexibility and allowing my lower leg to extend sickeningly at a 90 degree angle to the left.

The sudden lack of support from my leg forced me to fall to my left (further hyper-extending me knee in that unaccustomed direction) and allowing the scooter to slide gently onto its side in the roadway.

It all happened so quietly and with such surreal slowness (with the exception of my knee giving way) that when the scooter finally touched the pavement, it was as gently as if I had deliberately lain it down.

For a good 15 seconds I sat there frozen in that odd position with my hands still clutching the handlebars of the scooter, my right leg still straddling the scooter's step through, and my left leg extended at that angle that made me want to throw up.

Oddly, I didn't feel any pain. Yet. Just nausea and shock.

Then the pain hit my left knee and the left side of my groin as if someone had sunk a red hot poker into me. But for some reason I still couldn't let go of the scooter's handlebars. Maybe it was some blind instinct to try to keep it from rolling further onto its side (where it might get scratched up) or maybe it was to preserve the illusion that it was supporting me. But whatever was going through my mind, I just couldn't get my hands to let go.

Within a few minutes a car approached from the direction I had just come and stopped a few feet behind me. I heard the sound of car doors opening, and within a moment strong hands were gripping me under the arms, and another set were wrestling the scooter from my grasp.

I guess the guy who had me under the arms didn't see my left leg clearly, because instead of just pulling me away from the scooter and laying me down, he lifted me up into a standing position. As he did so I felt, more than saw, my left leg straighten out into a normal angle, and most of the pain evaporated. My groin still had a searing burn from the muscle strain of the split, but my knee seemed sort of okay.

I'm sure by then I was in shock and operating entirely on adrenaline, but when the two men asked me if I was alright or if they should call an ambulance, I told them I was fine and re-mounted my scooter. My knee was now throbbing mildly and shot me little lightning bolts of pain if I tried to turn my foot in any direction but straight ahead. But the leg could support me so I thanked them for the help and rode slowly through the rest of my commute... seeing, hearing and remembering nothing.

When I got home it took me a few minutes to be able to get off the scooter, and another few to get it up on the center stand. All I could think about was getting inside and sitting down.

When I walked in the door my wife wrinkled her nose and said, "what's that smell?".

I hadn't noticed it outside, but in the warm confines of our home the stench of diesel fuel wafted from my pants and shoes in cloying waves. We put my shoes outside and tossed my pants into the washing machine (getting them off would have been comically funny if not for the searing pain caused by the necessary bending and flexing of my legs), and I explained to my wife and kids what had happened.

I had a light dinner of soup and Percocet (I had a stash of pain meds in my travel bag for emergencies), and settled in to see how badly my knee was going to swell up.

I woke up around one in the morning on the couch with no recollection of how I got there. Until I tried to stand up, and it all came flooding back. I managed to make my way into bed and woke up this morning with both my knee and groin telling me that there would be a small change in plans for the morning.

I emailed my boss to make it official and waited for the local medical center to open so I could officially hear the bad news.

I couldn't drive our car because I didn't have a reliable left leg to work the clutch, and the idea of folding myself into the passenger seat while my wife drove me was a non-starter. So ironically the only semi-comfortable conveyance my leg could tolerate was the scooter.

One of the nice things about living in a small town is that there is rarely a wait for anything. I hobbled into the waiting room and the doctor, who was standing by the door of his office, waved me in. He poked and prodded the knee and very quickly arrived at the decision to order some x-rays. He told me that if I'd torn any muscle or ligaments it wouldn't show up, but he needed to rule out anything being broken.

While I was waiting across the hall for the x-ray technician to arrive, the nurse said she noticed I hadn't had my flu shot yet and offered to administer it. I gave her the go ahead and am now immunized against at least a couple of strains of flu. I know... a crap shoot, but better then nothing considering all the traveling I do.

The good news is that nothing is broken (not that this was surprising). I've filled a prescription for two different kinds of big league pain meds, and am now waiting for my appointment with the orthopedist in a few hours.

I'll let you know how that goes. In the mean time, send good, healing thoughts and lets hope it is just a sprain and that words like 'surgery' will not be part of the recovery discussion.

Oh, for those who are curious about such things, my scoot is fine. A tiny scratch or two on the beading along the left leg shield where it touched the road... but otherwise pristine.

Posted by David Bogner on November 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack