Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Important Things in Life

I was glad to see a wide condemnation of the 'spikes and oil' tactics of the more extreme orange elements yesterday. Now we await what should be an automatic condemnation of the Hezbollah attack on Israel yesterday that killed Corporal Uzi Peretz z"l. In 2000, the UN completely verified Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and if they are to be at all respected as an honest organization, the world body must place the blame where it is due.

Sometimes however, we get so wound up in blocking and unblocking roads, engaging and disengaging and counting colored ribbons that the really important aspects of life fall by the wayside.

Yesterday was a special day in my family. It was our daughter's first birthday.

My daughter, the sabra, born in Jerusalem, the historic and beautiful capital of the State of Israel. I never thought that my first child would be born here. What a privilege! Here, in Yerushalayim where my grandfather Joshua Ben-Porath z"l was also born. Jerusalem to New Zealand and back again. Grandad never met Gila but I know how incredibly proud he was of his grandchildren who fulfilled the Zionist dream in this old-new land. I hope soon to bring Gila to play with my grandmother who resides in New Zealand.

So I have an Israeli daughter, one year old yesterday and I don't mean to sound like an extremist, but she really is beautiful, cute and mightily intelligent. I am so thankful to my wife and to G-d for bringing such a masterpiece of creation into my life.

As generations of Israeli parents have prayed before me, I do hope that Gila grows up to explore a kinder and more peaceful world than we live in today. At the least, she will grow up in a Land so terribly longed for over countless generations and where she will be able to stand proud as a Jewish Zionist and enjoy her Judaism without restriction, pain or embarrassment.

Despite the wonderful efforts and love of my parents, those were small pleasures that I never enjoyed as a youngster.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Out of Nowhere

So I contacted Mr and Mrs Google and they report that "Avi Bieber" appears an incredible 65 times. Well, well, well - who would have imagined that a few days ago... least of all Avi himself?

Avi Bieber became the first IDF soldier to refuse while actually in the field of Disengagement. Over night, Avi attracted great feedback. Within minutes, he became hero, a villian, a leader, a traitor, a shining light and even a brat - it just depends who you ask!

And here lies the essence of the heartache. Whether one is for or against, this is just a taste of the serious question marks and dilemmas that are going to appear this summer. Just reading the 2nd half of the above Haaretz article does really illustrate the tremendous pain that exists within this nation. As Ami Ayalon explained yesterday, the Palestinians must also begin to understand and recognize the deep rift that exists within Israel.

“The settlers are Zionism’s pioneers, and if we decided their mission has ended we must give them an explanation,” he said. “We have to talk about not only where we’re leaving, but where we’re heading.”

He is correct and (as you can read) he is no Greater Israel supporter. Disengagement, right or wrong, does tear at people's foundations. Avi Bieber symbolizes that internal struggle that we face and which will seriously challenge those who are directly involved in the Disengagement.

I am not for disobeying IDF orders. In our neighborhood of the world, the IDF must remain united and with strong morale. At the same time, I do identify with some of Avi's (and his comrade's) statements. It must indeed be a difficult assignment to 'fight' Jews when they are not at all your enemy. The Chief-of-Staff Halutz has said - "These people are not your enemy".

Now these young men and women are being asked to remove those who love the Land as much as they themselves do. Any fair observer must recognize the pain that comes with this.

It is not KIC policy to tell people what to think. For me however, I do not see Avi as a brat, a traitor or a villian. He might be a hero for some and indeed not for others. Avi does not need a legal KIC up the backside (in the first instance at least). These young men and women (and the residents of Gush Katif too) need counselling, support, understanding and direction. In a perfect world they would receive these endlessly.

We must stay united in disagreement and feel for eachother's pain.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

First Time, Last Time

One of my favorite 'hobbies' is showing 'first-timers' around Jerusalem. I used to like doing that in Wellington too (a similarly beautiful city) but there is something very special about being the 'local' in Yerushalayim.

On Thursday night, I had the pleasure to lead a Jewish friend from New Zealand through the holy streets of the Old City, down to the Kotel (Western Wall) and so on. He was of course absolutely taken in by the environment and the whole Jerusalem thing.

It enhances my Aliyah every time I have the privilege to show people my home town. There is something terrific about this city, even if it still requires a little improvement. The positive elements however are untouchable and undescribable. Anyone who has spent any decent period of time in Jerusalem can relate to what I am saying. Something hums here.

Not only is he a friend, but also one who had never been to Israel and had been harshly critical of this government, its army and their policies - loudly and widely. He has a right to do this though I do always maintain that keeping it in the family is better!

This in mind, it was peculiar and a little saddening that his knowledge of this region's conflict and current day realities is actually so limited. Sure, he, like most of the world (and many Jews too), has thorough awareness of Palestinian poverty and suffering (with which I identify) but lacks any Israeli perspective.

I'm not trying to get at him - I mean, he's a great guy with a big heart. It's just frustrating that he and others do not see the irony till they come here. Ironies like the mosques and Islamic prayer towers that still stand in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, next to the Arab-destroyed Hurva synagogue and the memories of the Kotel, shules and Holy places defiled by Palestinians and other Arabs in the last century. And yet, who is it that denies free religious practice etc? You know who? The Zionists of course!

I hope it's not my friend's final visit to this beautiful land.

Those who have been in my lectures know that I don't teach my opinion. I try to avoid extremism.

But I demand that this be 'The Last Time'. I pray that Friday's murder of 17 year old Avichai Levy (and the injuring of others, some critical) will be the last time we have to live this horrific scenario. (UPDATE: Aviad Mantsur, 16, has just died of his injuries). I hope and pray for our benefit and for the benefit of innocent Palestinian people who simply want to live.

Here, like the ridiculous attempt to blow up Soroka last week, we see Palestinians taking advantage of relaxed Israeli travel restrictions and passage in order to murder Israelis. So now, like Gaza last week, the Palestinians around the Hebron area will now be placed under closer surveillance, all to their detriment.

Of course, Israel has no choice but to increase restrictions in the face of this 'calm'. Even as Islamic Jihad threatens to "shake Tel Aviv" and terror continues its upward spiral of the last few weeks, let's hope that today's tragic funeral for Avichai Levy z"l will be the last time this nation mourns, and that more people take up the challenge of an eye-opening first time visit to Jerusalem.

Shavua Tov!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Media Madness

Start by reading this article and you might come away with a cautious smile. Maybe things are changing and the media are about to start adopting accuracy and morality as a basis for their reporting.

But then, take a look at this gross misrepresentation from the same website that so proudly reported the change in editorial policy at the BBC. This bias and misleading article is one of the worst I have read in some time and not only reflects Reuters but to a larger extent, illustrates the NZ media's continued frenzied demonization of Israel.
I am all in favor of free speech and criticism of Israel policy when it is due or fair. Misleading and inciteful articles on the other hand do nothing for peace or reconciliation.

I encourage you to write to the popular NZ news website that published the article and which appears to provide an anti-Israel version of the Reuters original (which was not so great itself!) and deserves some response.

If you want some guidance, here is a segment of what I wrote to Stuff.

The return to such IDF actions was not taken lightly and was in direct response to the Islamic Jihad's continued attempted and successful attacks on Israeli civilians through bombings, shootings and rocket fire.
Just a few days ago, an Israeli man was murdered in a drive-by shooting by this group as was an Israeli soldier. In addition, Hamas, while they have not succeeded or decided to carry out bombings at this time, have continued to fire rockets and missiles at Israeli settlements and at towns in Israel proper. Your inaccurate and inciteful article presents none of this perspective.

The'calm' is only relative to the massive terror campaigns of the recent past and Israel has an obligation to defend itself against the resurfacing of such attacks. Your placing of " " around the word terrorist is clearly representative of your organization's loss of moral bearing.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Trains again

Trains and tracks were the themes of a recent KICblog. Tragically, trains are the focus of much of our thoughts today as we peruse details of the horrific accident that killed 8 and left hundreds injured yesterday in Israel.

Having only yesterday KIC-ed you with a blog about the uncomfortable behavior of some Israelis, this train accident has left us with this bitter expectation that these casualties were avoidable. Though still unproven for this set of events, reports are that the company for which the truck driver worked has recently been investigated for allowing drivers to work 40-hour shifts. In addition, there have been claims that electronic equipment used to monitor driver hours has been 'bypassed' in some of their vehicles.

If this is so and such findings exist in this train versus truck accident, it is not only criminal but another example of the diabolical state of Israel's business and (to large extent) its moral standards. I blogged about it just yesterday - why do we treat people in this way?

With sadness often comes insight. Such a shame we are often forced to await the former before receiving the latter. The Orange Team (in the right hand corner) cancelled today's planned 23-highway challenge in respect for thhe accident victims and mourners.
Ahhh... for me at least, a sense of family and Achdut (unity) resurfaces. It is nice to see that not everything falls by the wayside for the political beliefs of one side. I do not wish to exaggerate but I was impressed at the decision taken.

And yet, there were those across the Internet who arrogantly claimed that it was simply an orange marketing decision because TV would be focused on trains and not highways. Of course, some others suggested Israel should focus on the War on Trains instead of "murdering little Arab children". Then there are the silly people who shouted that Israel resumed targetted killings while people were busy watching train victims.

But lastly and ghastly this afternoon, the anti-disengagement people (or what I imagine to be an extreme minority of them) placed suspicious objects (with anti-disengagement messages) in two Israeli court houses. Not only does this take away from the orange respect for the train victims but it drains support for them from the wider public... and from me.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cops & Bombers

Before we play cops and bombers, let's play the chutzpah game! Not yesterday's Jihad chutzpah game, rather the Israeli one - not as violent, but extremely frustrating and infuriating.

World Jewry often moans about the Israeli lack of service, lack of respect for the customer and the famous Israel bureaucracy. Maybe the word 'moans' actually derogates from the strong basis for their complaints.

ELAL has improved alot - slowly. At one stage (a long stage!) you received a bitter taste of Israel before you even arrived! But I digress...

I guess I'm a little perturbed that the local Gas Company cut off our street's gas for five days without warning. You call them to complain and they give some pass-off unhelpful comment. And then there's my friend who reported yesterday that she hasn't been paid for 2 months by the large organization she works for. No matter how much she and others call and complain, nothing moves... not as speedily as it should anyway.

What is it? Arrogance, lack of respect, no service training, hot summers, societal or terrorism tension? It might be all of these. I am a Zionist and an Israeli (and proud of being so) but I can not fathom this approach to people here and overseas (where Israelis are banned from some hostels in Thailand etc). We claim to be a nation that feels like a collective family of brothers and sisters. Indeed it often feels that way. It's a shame therefore that we can't improve our interpersonal relations just a little more.

As for the Palestinians, the humor of the situation continues to seep away. Take a look at this ridiculous scenario. How can we ever rely on Abbas and his forces while such laughable appointments are made?

Laughing? The entire Palestinian people should be outraged at the attempted bombing of BeerSheva's Soroka Hospital yesterday. This woman's misuse of her medical humantarian entry permit into Israel only weakens the average Palestinian's position and causes Israel to re-evaluate its issuing of such permits. There will be even stricter searches and subsequent delays at checkpoints and far less comfortable arragements for checks of Palestinian women. (Check out my favorite cartoon on my home page - that sums it up perfectly once again, sadly!)

Of course it proves the need for checkpoints, but over and above the justified Israeli "we told you so" claim to the world, the Palestinians should be berating the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and begging for all these terror games to stop. It's for their own good!

Gees, what were they thinking?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Jihad Humor

The pure spiritual Jihad that I learnt about in Islam 207 at University appears special and holy. But the Jihad I've come to know since 2000 lacks much honor.
I've never found this Jihad very amusing. Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad seems to find the whole thing a bit of a game. Take their statement this morning: "We are still committed to the calm". That might be an acceptable position had they not carried out a drive-by shooting today that killed a 35-year old driver and wounded the 15-year old passenger.

Chutzpah! If you murder people (and attempt suicide bombings) as Islamic Jihad continue to do, you are not committed to anything except murder (let alone a calm, whatever that is!) As I always explain to my students - it does not matter whether you are left or right, religious or less so, the fact is that people who live in the West Bank Jewish communities do not deserve to be slain. You might disagree with settlers and settlements but this does not excuse Palestinian terror.

Only a couple of days after Rice was pleased to announce agreement between Israel and the PA on the destruction of the Israeli houses in Gaza, this attack and the one which killed an IDF soldier on Sunday paint a sorry picture of the time to come.

And our politicians know it, and there is an ever stronger call for Abbas to commit to dismantling these terrorist groups. The groups are growing in confidence, in means and in chutzpah. They might be chutzpadik now - that's the best it's going to get unless the PA fulfill their obligations under the Road Map and Israel ensures that it does not run away from Gaza like it did from Lebanon.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Due to illness, the KICblog will not be updated until Monday 20 June.

In the meantime, visit the new KIC official website

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Winds of Change

It doesn't surprise me that the US House of Representatives passed motions last week that urged the UN to launch a campaign against anti-Semitism. It also was not totally surprising that the Americans went on to criticize the tradition of Israel-bashing at the UN. For decades this has amounted to a completely lop-sided number of General Assembly resolutions against the Jewish state. Without the US veto at the Security Council, we would have witnessed even greater (and binding) Israel bashing there too.

All in all, the US are allies of Israel and therefore such supportive actions warm us and do not shock us. (Maybe ironic that all this comes in a week when the US is 'playing diplomatic boss' when it comes to Israel's military sales).

Regardless, the UN has accepted the US recommendations at least in relation to anti-Semitism. The UN-Israel relationship is dynamic and somewhat frustrating and yet we might be experiencing an encouaging change in recent times. In addition to what is listed in the linked article (above), Dan Gillerman (Israel's UN representative) is about to be elected to the esteemed position of Vice-President of the UN General Assembly. In a further positive sign, he was the candidate of the Western grouping of 30 countries. This great Israeli achievement can not be played down.

Why now you might ask? The pro-Disengagement team would argue that such developments are a result of Sharon's concessions for peace. It is in fact hard to reject such an argument seeing as we have seen some warming in Israeli-European relations (for example) in light of the Gaza-Northern Samaria plan.
Still, the question remains - how warm will that 'warming' me after Disengagement, when the media and the world looks for further Israeli concessions?

And what is everyone playing these days? Not rugby my friends (sadly!) - Rather, a provocative little internet game that lets you take IDF soldiers and Jewish towns out of the West Bank. Of course, the Associated Press (courtesy of Haaretz) is having a field day with this one.

When the game is over though, the 'fun' will still be awaiting us...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Worried? Me?

Erev Shavuot and all is peaceful in the Land? Ummm... no!

What is it about Israelis? I've read a few articles in the last few days about the minhag (custom) of the Israeli to go travelling around the world and then expect the Israeli Foreign Ministry to run to their rescue when trouble meets them along the way. Israelis were told not to go to Bolivia - off they went!

Now 15000 Israelis are swimming, snorkeling and relaxing in Sinai and the Government is almsot begging them to come home - "the terrorists are on their way" they claim and they say they have credible information that targets those Israeli tourists. It happened last year and it could well happen again (G-d forbid!). Do we need another big, painful KIC before we'll understand?

And yet, the 'calm', the 'ceasefire', the new PA leadership - it's no brighter at home. I do hate to appear pessimistic but let's look at the last 36 hours or so. PA releases Islamic jihad terrorists; PA Foreign Minister says terrorist weapons are legal during occupation. Where is all this heading - seriously?

Moreover, the polls are showing an increase of dissatisfcation with the Disengagement Plan - some polls showing 48-50% of Israelis in favor - and that's it! The Likud rebels have launched a new anti-D campaign and there seems to be a lot of Orange around right now. Regardless whether I think the plan is correct or not, the increase in terror attenmpts (and successes) appear to be reducing public support for the Sharon line of thinking. Though many still back the Plan and warn of dire consequences should segments of right wing carry out any terror act.

In essence though, Israelis are starting to witness a stronger, more arrogant set of terror groups and a PA leadership that is at best incapable or indifferent and at worst... who knows?!!

Let's hope that the Giving of the Torah which we celebrate tonight and tomorrow will re-inspire the Jewish people and bring light and desire for peace to all nations.

Chag Sameach!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Two Trains For Two Peoples

Last night I ran a session for a group of Australians, British and South Africans from the Netivot-Yeladim Israel program at Beit Bnei. For me, the discussion was insightful as we delved into the Palestinian mind - a truly interesting and somewhat eye-opening experience.

Through clips and interviews from TV news broadcasts and through written sources, I presented the group with a unique opportunity to develop an understanding of 'the Palestinian' - his leaders, his family and himself. (Him includes her of course!)

A CNN interview with a 'failed' female suicide bomber triggered debate on the thinking of such people, who describe themselves "as happy at the thought of fulfilling martydom". How often do we get to interview a suicide bomber? Not often, for obvious reasons!

From fanatic to political leaders - Abbas and Erekat. Who are these men and what do they really stand for? We contrasted them with Arafat and analysed Erekat's quite incredible ability to make the world believe that all the news is as it appears through his eyes.

Families and feelings. We attempted to build an understanding of Palestinian fear, sadness and frustration by reviewing last week's prisoner release and by reading an email received from a Palestinian young man in Gaza who spoke openly about his life, his anger and yet his hope to end the waste of holy blood on both sides. Refreshing hopes from a man who was clearly another victim of Palestinian incitement and education.

And then there were the Gazans begging to cancel the Disengagement, for Disengagement only meant unemployment for them and poverty for their families. Palestinian men who told us that Rabin should have never made peace with Arafat and his men.

All this made me think about train tracks. I'd just read that Sharon had agreed (in theory) to the building of a train route for Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank.

Trains? Hmmm... it made me contemplate whether things would be different if every Israeli (and every Jew) undertook the intellectual exercise that I facilitated for these students. And what if every Palestinian (and every Arab & Moslem) took 90 minutes to watch some clips of real Israelis - people with pain and fear, but with love, with compassion? What if we all sat on trains together on the way to work and on the way home to our families? Imagine...

And yet, we seem destined to be on two parallel train tracks, on separate trains in two opposite directions. And when the two trains pass each other, the two peoples seem to be looking the other way, at the view through the windows on the other side. Each person feels a small rumble as the other train passes, but passes it off as an overhead plane, or his own train or the two young children jumping on the seats behind him.

I'm no raving optimist - who is these days? Yet, I was pleased with the message that came out of yesterday's KIC session - a message of recognition - that we must take the time to understand the other (and them us) if we are to progress.

Chodesh Tov!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jerusalem the Golden?

Yesterday saw us standing on the Tayelet (Promenade) listening to Shiri Maimon and watching fireworks as Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) came to an end. Another patriotic celebration of Israel's regaining of the Old City and Jerusalem.
Our Palestinian cousins had a problem with Jews and Christians touring the Temple Mount (holiest site for Jews) and proceeded to heave rocks at those in range. The result? Israeli Police ban any more Jews and Christians from going up to the site for the remainder of the day and then an entry restriction on young Arabs to their holy sites in order to avoid another violent stand-off.

I'm not for provocation, but it is a little bewildering how the Arab offenders are not downright condemned for this and how Abbas is allowed to defend their behavior and blame Israel of course. And again - what did they achieve for their cause?

But politics aside, Jerusalem, as Golden as it feels most of the time, is still very much Jerusalem the Forgotten, Jerusalem the Poor, Jerusalem the Terror Town - I could go on all day! As a result of a Palestinian terror (much of which has hit Jerusalem since 2000), tourism has gone through the floor and caused great harm to the capital city's economy. What's more, the high proportion of ultra-Orthodox and Arab residents of the city make it now the poorest city in the country. Pretty embarrassing for the capital city of a fairly modern and successful State of Israel and as the focal city for three major religions.

The blame does lie at the feet of terror and yet there are other underlying problems including the sky high property rental and purchase prices that force most young people to look elsewhere and the shabbiness of the central city (which granted is partly another Arafat and Hamas success story).

With all this in mind, it is a little soothing to read that Bibi and friends will be giving a KIC-start to the re-goldenizing of our once (even) prouder and more beautiful city.

Still, Sderot is suffering a similar disease as Jerusalem while the government pauses, waits and ponders as to what to do next. Meanwhile, Sderot residents bare the frightening brunt of Hamas' bad-mooded days (and most of its happy days too). I am normally fairly accepting of the need to consider 'political considerations' when sending the IDF into action but it is still very painful to watch the Jewish state act so hesitantly in its defense of Sderot citizens who have stood up and taken countless low blows in the past months.

KIC them or watch ourselves get KIC-ed? Or maybe it's just not that simple...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

5th June 2000

A lot of things have happened on 5 June over the years. Five years ago today, 5 June 2000, I arrived in Israel from my green, quiet, sheep-filled, rugby playing birth place of New Zealand. On that date, I became an Israeli and began my new life in the Middle East.

When I made Aliyah, things were a touch different... just a touch!
1. George Bush had lost the Presidency already 8 years earlier.
2. September 11 was just a date, like June 5th.
3. Camp David was something from the late 70s.
4. Sharon was in the opposition.
5. I'd never heard of a blog nor ever owned a cellphone with sms or caller ID.

All that has happened since and all that I have seen evolve in this part of the world puts me in an ideal position to facilitate Current Affairs discussion and to train groups in the skills of Israel Advocacy. My Aliyah has stretched the entire length of the Palestinian return to violence and Israel's internal struggle between peace and security.

So where does this 5-year period leave us? The Haaretz editorial would say that Moshe Yaalon has painted a very pessimistic and misleading picture and outlook for us all. And yet, today we already have reports of 5 attempts to fire rockets or missiles at Israeli settlements in the West Bank - as predicted by Yaalon and others as a necessary outcome of (in their words) 'our capitulation to terror in Gaza and elsewhere'. Indeed, it must be said, that such preparatory (?) action by Palestinians during the 'ceasefire' does not bode well for summer time.

Crime remains on the offensive and the Cabinet are debating the proposed job cuts in the police force versus declaring a full-scale war on crime. Granted that it's a relief to see our leaders finally finding the time and vision to get stuck into internal Israeli issues. It's so often the case that societal issues in Israel get put on the backburner to allow for defence and foreign relations needs.

Five years is a long time in the life of the State of Israel and this whole region for that matter. It's been a long process of absorption and re-acquaintance for me. A new language and a new culture, new challenges and at times new dangers.

And yet, a sense of satisfaction that here I can live a full life as a Jew, an Israeli and a New Zealander without shame, embarrassment or suffering. And the fear? It is calmed by the knowledge that only here do I have an army that will defend my right to be all three of the above.

Israel is not the easiest country to live in. My grandfather z"l left Jerusalem (and the Land of Israel) when he was 14 because it was too difficult. How can we bare to compare!
June 5th is the day that I renewed my grandfather's dream to live in the Land, and June 11th will be (G-d willing) the first birthday of his 1st Israeli-born granddaughter, my Jerusalem-born daughter.

I hope to renew his dream each year and through KIC education, to bring peace and security to this Land.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Freedom & The Early Summer

Sitting at Caffit on Emek Refiam last night, I was speaking to two visiting New Zealanders who were in Israel for the first time. We agreed upon how safe it feels (and is) here day-to-day in comparison to what you would believe from CNN and friends. Still we spoke about the other 1% of days that it can all go wrong.

I felt the KIC of that conversation this morning when listening to the radio news on the way to work.

I've been writing about "the difficult summer ahead" for a few weeks now - not only the tense intra-family confrontations during the Disengagement but also the return to the dark days of daily terrorism
In light of the horrific terror plan exposed last night, how wrong was retired Chief of Staff Bogey Yaalon? The double terorist bombing was intended to be carried out today (Thursday) in Ramot (Jerusalem) on a bus and then in a cafe or synagogue?

The summer seems to have arrived early and to our disappointment (if that is a strong enough word!) it appears that terror is ready to come out of semi (I say again, SEMI) retirement for 'Intifada: The Sequel' - sadly coming to an Israeli city near you soon.

All this makes today's release of 398 Palestinian prisoners an extra bit controversial. It was promised at Sharm-a-Sheik and Israel is expressing its desire to stick to its obligations even if Abbas and the PA are not. Ehud Olmert (Deputy PM) has also expressed his belief that we must do what we can in order to progress rather than just convince ourselves that it's not worth doing anything.

I do admire his desire to do 'something'. I imagine something is better than nothing. Still, these are not petty prisoners. This is a serious prisoner release and includes Hamas members and those involved in attempted shootings, murder and the like. Does this give a good, peaceful message or a capitulative message to Palestinians? With freedom comes responsibility. What sort of freedom are they aiming for?

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Departing Thoughts

Well then, is ynetnews (Israeli Yediot Daily) playing with us? Have they gone out searching for the two or three who will say what is required of them? Or is this article a representation of the reality and true feelings of some or many Gazan Palestinians on the eve of the Jewish departure from Gaza? If we understand this article as a sacred truth bearer, then this certainly raises (not for the first time) an opinion that we do not often hear.

That is, the Palestinian bread winner who just wants to be able to feed his family, relies on the provision of work by Israeli settlements and is fed up with the Arafat-ocrisy that has destroyed Palestinian hopes and dreams in the last four (if not 15 years). It has always bothered me that the world abuses Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians and yet so many of our cousins could not survive without 'occupation'. Sadly, the strict and brutal Palestinian society is reflected in the lack of moderate voices like these that are able to push through to the world's surface where such truth is so very much desired and necessary.

What about IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon's departure today? This is a (not to be under-estimated) major leadership tafkid (role) in Israeli society and there has been not a small amount of criticism at his unexpected removal by the PM and Mofaz. Today, we're reading Yaalon's 'last words' and all this fighting spirit makes me think that (like so many other Israeli military men) it is simply the appetizer to a fast-approaching career in the Knesset. His comments might sound like 'sour grapes' but the man does speak in line with what appears to be majority Israeli opinion.

Even if we back it, very few of us believe the Disengagement will bring quiet let alone peace of any description. Yaalon's prediction of a "give up more land or get hit with terror" strategy on behalf of the Palestinians after August is not hard to believe and probably doesn't require the label of top soldier to predict such a bleak outlook. But in today's PC world, it does take guts to say it and to predict the worst, or worse. Read the article for yourselves - gangs not state and a PA leader who still builds up Palestinian hopes for the full right of return.

It might be hot and there might be good kosher ice cream, but it's not a pretty summer ahead. Let's hope we're all wrong...

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