Wednesday, August 31, 2005

KICing, Pinching and Pulling Hair

Like kids squabbling over a toy in the sand pit, Bibi and Arik (and their buddies) are behaving like only good (?) Israeli politicians can. Like two party leaders in two opposite corners of the forever elastic Zionist political spectrum, the two Likudniks are throwing sand in the eyes of the other and KIC-ing up and dreaming up every type of personal and professional insult possible. And when they take a few minutes for a diaper change and a snack of milk and cookies, they have plenty of sand pit buddies to maintain the destruction of the other sides' majestic sand castles.

But that's Israel for you. Political careers like Israeli life in general can be creative and strong one moment and seemingly sinking and crumbling the next.

One of the KIC educational policies is that my students need to have an understanding of the Israeli political sand pit before they can understand how Israel (and Israelis) go about trying to make peace and bring security. This last week of Likud bickering makes understanding Israel just a little trickier.

Look at all the permutations. Sharon behind Netanyahu among Likud members but ahead among Likud voters and the public. Peres losing in the polls against Sharon but ahead of Bibi. And then there's the possibility of the Sharon lone ranger scenario. Could a new Sharon-led party attract the Israeli center?

It certainly is peculiar that a ruling party is on the verge of deposing its widely popular leader. Even stranger is their willingness to 'risk losing their Volvos' for what they see as the good of the country. Maybe all this shows some selfless morality on behalf of the Likud rebels - and then again...

Frankly, all this worry about Likud leadership drags us away from where our focus should be. I am astounded (though not at all surprised) by Israel's apparent weakness in the face of the clear return (?) to terror by Palestinian elements since Disengagement. Where is the Arik Sharon who promised harsh measures if terror 'returned' after Israel's withdrawal? There have been rockets at Sderot, shootings at IDF forces even as they continue the Disengagement process, the murder of my father-in-law's cousin in the Old City, firebombing on the Gush Etzion Road and the homicide bombing in Beer Sheva. Where is Israel's response? Are we waiting for another Sbarro, Dolphinarium, Maxim or many bus horrors? Why do we always wait?

I know Sharon is about to be lauded with praise at the upcoming UN gathering and maybe he deserves it - at least as far as courage goes, Sharon has displayed a great deal, even in the face of much internal resistance. And yet, courage must be shown in all aspects of diplomacy and leadership. Sure Abbas needs time, but time is of the essence and delay costs lives - Israeli and Palestinian. Now that we have begun (what I see as) an unstoppable process of Disengagement from the Palestinian sand pit, the PA must be encouraged - no, forced - to show some reciprocity. That is what Israelis want to see most.

Nonetheless, rather than taking such action as required by the Road Map, the Palestinians are spending their time and money preparing their next UN campaign - to stop UN confirmation of an end to Israeli occupation in Gaza and to get the Security Fence condemned at the UN Security Council. Maybe a few more forthright court decisions like this one would help persuade the PA leadership to clean up its act. The Bush Admnistration should avoid putting its hands in the broth in this case. Justice should be allowed to take its course.

If Sharon wants a third term and polls suggest he could well achieve that, then he would be better advised to ignore the Likud tantrums and rather keep to one of those many promises that he made. Why? Because when it comes down to it, the non-voters may well decide his future if he allows them to remain untouched by PA or Israeli hand. We already know what kind of sand pit they are developing and Israelis know how much their sand stings the eyes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back from Chofesh

I've been away in Northern Israel on chofesh (vacation) and hence the KIC-less existence on the blog. Within hours though, we'll be up and going again. I've got a few stories from the last few days of relaxing in the Land. Tune in a little later...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rejecting Israeli Mis-Leadership

As the last eggs and tomatoes are being thrown (and sadly the odd Israeli flag is ripped and burned) in the Northern Shomron, the deep inner reflection on this Disengagement operation has begun. The truth is that some Israelis are ignoring the whole matter and are not looking for any internal evaluation. (I have such friends!) That attitude I consider a great self-injustice indeed.

Whether for or against or simply upset and confused (like most of us), we as Israelis need to gather ourselves and do some honest soul-searching. It must start with individuals, include all segments of society and extend to the very edges of the Jewish world.

On this topic, I could blog and facilitate KIC sessions for hours. (Try me!) Certainly, if anything, Disengagement has made us think and given us lots to write about.

I want to start with the relationship between the Israeli government(s) and those residents of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) and their supporters. A colleague said something quite intriguing yesterday and yet so blatantly brimful with morals and common sense. Basically, it's time for this or the next Israeli government to decide what past Israeli governments have been too weak, afraid or incapable of doing. In essence, it is time, according to my colleague, that our national leaders decide once and for all what will be our relationship with the territories and the Jewish towns that were established there with the approval, funding and encouragement of countless Labor and Likud governments.

Without a doubt and as it has been proven this last week, such a decision brings with it crushing of dreams, bursting of bubbles, challenges to unity, to democracy, to morality and to Israeli society as a whole.

I am not backing the taking of such major decisions because I am anti-settlement or pro-Palestinian or wearing any label for that matter. Simply, as I see it, it's time for Israelis and world Jews to lay it all on the line. How should I put this? Try this - if the Israeli majority (and the next government) plan to disengage from large segments of the Land of Israel, then have the decency to let us know NOW. As far as I am concerned, it is totally unacceptable for successive governments to lead the settlement movement and its supporters (religious and secular) down the slippery and winding road downwards towards despair, heartbreak and dream destruction. It's a rotten thing to do - immoral and painful.

I can not overlook the powerful role that Rabbis and righter-wing community leaders have to play in this. But when push literally comes to shove, the last week has shown that the IDF and the police (proxies of the Israeli government) will decide what remains in Jewish hands and what is given over to Palestinian ownership.

I was amazed as 20 new English-speaking immigrants watched silently, some with tears, as I showed them coverage of the Disengagement during my KIC session at Ulpan Etzion last night. I was struck by the South African 2-year oleh who told me on Shabbat that for the first time since his Aliyah (and probably in his life) he was now forced to re-evaluate his relationship with Israel and with the IDF.

Friends - now is the moment! Our leaders and our citizens must find the courage to face what is fast becoming policy - that is, Israel's abandonment of post-1967 lands. It might be a policy we reject and I personally hold great fears for Israel when we persist on giving without the existence of even a semblance of peaceful reciprocity from the Palestinians.

Clearly, neither the world nor the Palestinians will send us chocolates of any description nor show any inch of appreciation for the courage and risks taken this last week. (According to that columnist, we won't be the happiest little family ourselves either).

Yet, I never again wish to see such broken, distraught adults and children, whether soldiers or Yesha residents, fighting over a decision that was made somewhat hastily and without honest and brotherly consultation before execution.

Israeli leaders (politicians, Rabbis, community heads) and all of us must be willing to re-evaluate and embrace consultation. All Israelis should brush up on their listening skills a little.
Orange supporters must evaluate the major reasons behind their lack of representation in the courts, the Knesset, the academic world and the media. If their lack of influence bothers them so much, they must take this time to search for solutions.

We, voting citizens of this great country, must find the courage to elect leaders who stand ready to sit with the brother they disagree with and who show honest leadership, foresight and wisdom. For good or for bad, for the benefit of us all and for more enjoyable dreams, we must mislead no further.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I am proud to be an Israeli

by Ashley Perry (a friend of KIC and Michael Lawrence)

This and last week are perhaps the most internally traumatic in the history of the State of Israel. There were voices who warned of apocalyptic scenes, massive violence, large dissension and generally a tear in the fabric of Israeli society. None of these things have come to pass and through the sad events one can see something that lifts our spirits and makes us realise why we have chosen Israel as our home.
Forget the scenes on BBC, CNN, SKY and the other international news orgainsations. These organisations wanted to titillate their viewers with harsh scenes and violent imagery and of course there will always be a small minority that will provide this for them. They scraped the barrel of sensationalisation when they introduced scenes of passive resistance as 'violence and insurrection'. Those of us who live in Israel and saw the Israeli media feed will have been provided a more compassionate and true story.

We witnessed scenes of security forces coming to homes and being invited in for drinks and food. As these people were about to be taken out from everything they knew many could only think of the welfare of those who had been sent to perform this difficult task. Many of the residents asked the soldiers and police to sit patiently and listen to their stories and look through their photo albums, it was a scene from any normal household ay any time. But this was not a normal scene, it was heartwrenching for all concerned and the tears flowed from all directions.
There were the unforgettable scenes of residents and soldiers dancing and singing together as they made their way out of the schools and synagogues. There was compassion, each group for the other in what was a day none will forget.

The dignity and honour which both the residents and the security forces accorded each other could not be imagined anywhere else. There was no hatred in the air and very little recriminations. One story was that of a resident who asked of those who had come to evacuate him if they would do him one favour. The resident asked the soldiers if when they return to their homes if each will do at least one act of Hesed (loving kindness), of course they all agreed.

We must not forget that being evicted from ones home and community, whatever our political viewpoint, is one of the most traumatic experiences one can imagine. Even those who wished to passively resist did so without malice and with only love and affection for their fellow Israeli. One of the most frequently heard chants from the residents in Gaza as they were pulled away was 'Chayal, Shoter Uni Ohev Otcha - Soldier, Policeman I love you'.

Much time and words have been spent on the non-residents who 'infiltrated' Gaza and should not have been involved, but to get a true version of events one must go back in time a few weeks or months. When the non-residents started arriving in Gaza it was not to make trouble it was to help and uplift. Those who witnessed these mainly young people saw the reason they came. Suddenly there were adverts everywhere offering free help to clean, to babysit, to teach children and day and night these youngsters gave up their precious summer holidays to do any odd job that needed doing no matter how menial. However, perhaps the biggest aid they gave to the residents was with their spirit.

When the residents of Gaza were at a low and felt the whole country was turning their back on them in came these young people and showed them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. On the last Sabbath before the evacuation these youngsters in each area took to the streets and danced and sung until all hours, the residents joined them and the atmosphere was a combination of sadness and joy but above all of strength.
Even when they knew the end was near and they would not prevail they did not give up their spirits and carried on singing and dancing. The famous scenes in the synagogues were more about what was not shown on the international networks. Beyond the focus of the camera shot were hundreds of men and women, girls and boys singing and dancing with smiles on their faces. When a soldier fell down in his duty he was lifted to his feet and offered a drink of water. It was inspiring to hear the passion and fervour of these people as the foreign correspondents talked about the 'hooligans'.

Of course a very special mention has to go to the soldiers and police, many of them not much still in their teens. They had a very difficult task to perform but never lost their humanity. Many of them wept with the protestors and while many will see this as a sign of weakness I prefer to see it as a sign of their humanity and their souls crying out for what was happening even when they knew it had to be done. There was a scene after all had been evacuated when the Torah scrolls were removed and taken past the masses of security forces. Many who were avidly secular rushed forward and kissed the Torah with tears in their eyes and knew what this scene represented to them and their ancestors.

So it is after a very heavy and sad week that I must say that I am proud to be Israeli. I am proud that no matter what our ideological and political differences are we came together for a very difficult rite of passage. It was not a matter of right or wrong it was a matter of one family disagreeing, but doing it in a manner that brought us closer together and made us feel the hardships of the other. We never ceased to refer to each other as brother or sister and our divisions can be what unite us. As another popular song that was sung all week goes 'Um Haneztuch lo mefuked b'derech urookah - The eternal people is not afraid of the long road'. This is how I know that Israel will win far more battles than she loses, because of the sum of its parts - its people.

Please link to this article and send it to as many people as possible so the truth may emerge... Ashley

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dumb and Dumber and Just Sad

Like the Jim Carrey 1994 movie, our little country is showing that while we're not all dumb, some of us are a little silly and stupid. But at the end of the day, it's just plain sad.

I sat with my wife last night and we watched Channel 10's review of Disengagement: Day One.
Frankly, I think I'll stick to the rugby week in review in future.

Sad is too lesser word to explain the feelings involved. For those of you who take interest in what is going on but live outside Israel, count your lucky beans (or stars) that you can not see all the coverage. Still, I imagine that those who are concerned are using the internet to experience the Disengagement pain. Have you seen the IsraelReporter? The site includes amazing video coverage from a personal video camera in Gush Katif. Ynet also has some difficult TV coverage - see here for confrontations in a Neve Dekalim synagogue on Thursday.

It hurts to see the residents in emotional pain and it hurts to see our IDF and police forces straining under the mental and physical trauma. Blue or orange, green or white - it hurts.

I'm not the only one who has been impressed with the restraint shown by all sides. For sure, there have been soldiers convicted of looting houses, there has been one stabbing of a soldier by a female resident and some pushing and struggling. At the same time though, we've seen soldiers sitting and singing Zionist songs with residents and at one time, police and residents stood and sang Hatikva together. Truly amazing.

Most of the more extreme actions that we are witnessing are reflections of fear, sadness, anger and a sense of betrayal. The burning of houses and yishuv gates, egg throwing and dangling children from windows. All of these represent people brimful with frustration. Could we expect any less from people who feel such pain? I encourage you to read the comment added by Ash to my last posting. The emotional but generally non-violent protests stand proudly in comparison to so many other world societies.

My hope is that the threats and emotions now being expressed at this hour in Shirat HaYam will not spiral out of control.

All that aside, I fail to fathom the actions
of Asher Weissganin in Shilo yesterday. I appreciate
(and many Israelis) appreciate his feelings. Still, killing innocent Palestinians, (let alone ones you are friends with) is simply dumb - dumber than dumb even. The photo in the Haaretz article reminds us how children and innocents on all sides suffer and in this case, there are really no distinctions to be made.

And yet, I continue to deplore the 'labelling' that exists in that Haaretz opinion piece and the ridiculous, naive suggestion that the blood of the Israeli victims of future attacks by Palestinian terror groups will fall on the heads Weissganin and Eden Natan-Zada. Yes, as if the Palestinian terror movements would refrain otherwise! The Jewish attacks simply boost Hamas eternal Palestinian effort to justify their attacks. Other than that, there is no logical connection.

Even if these Jewish attacks manage to spark Arab riots or a string of terror attacks, this probably would not succeed in halting the disengagement. When it comes down to it, it simply allows anti-Semites and anti-Israel folk the perfect opportunity to equate all settlers and orange flag bearers with Palestinian terrorists. It also reduces sympathy for those in orange and leaves his own children (in the case of Weissganin) without a father for the rest of their lives.

Here's hoping that they'll be no more violence and no more pain in this Land and that soon, the blood and tears will step aside again and be replaced by the sweet flow of milk and honey only.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I was a bit worried about adopting the title above. Who knows who will come visiting the KICblog as a result of a Google search with an entirely different kind?!!

So why am I infesting the KICblog with X-Rated material? Simply, just like pictures that depict pornography, child abuse or violence towards people or animals, I am not the only Israeli who currently feels violated by the pictures (moving and still) that we are receiving from the Gaza Strip and the Northern Shomron. This is by no means a criticism of one side or the other - rather a reflection of the incredible
heaviness, tension and sadness that has enveloped most of the country this week.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine, left-wing and secular explained to me how she would have waved goodbye to the settlements and the territories years ago if she were PM. And yet, she said quite seriously, she feels incredible pain for the Jewish communities of Gush Katif and every one of their inhabitants.
She is not alone in wearing the blue ribbon, but feeling blue too.

However, I have read the opinions of some Israelis, Diaspora Jews and non-Jews who speak deceitfully and horribly about right-wing opponents to disengagement. I was shocked that an IDF reserve soldier could write how "I wish we could take our riot gear, batons and bullets and teach those criminal settlers a lesson they'll never forget". Then he added a further comment about how "the settlers contribute nothing to the country and neither enrich or improve it".

A mother of a soldier rang her IDF son who is in Gaza and ordered him to open fire on the next group of settlers who surround them and their jeep or punctures their jeep tyres. Thanks Mum - maybe sign up for officer's course!

Sadly, there are others like them who are blinded by their own political opinions and use public forums to promote and incite against their brothers. At the same time, the leaders of the right wing must also show the maturity and responsibility that true leaders should show. They must stop violent tactics if they can. The red lines are thin and easily crossed - from both sides.

The photos in this blog represent (for me at least) the true essence of Disengagement. The international media (and some of their Israeli counterparts) are intoxicated with the joy of showing orange teenagers facing off with the IDF and the police.
As I have always seen it, intoxicated people do not really have full control of their faculties and there is no difference here.

For me and for the mainstream, this is no war. This is a tragic disagreement within our family and the photos I am providing here reflect the true brotherhood and the pain that exists at these moments. Some of these pictures are truely heartbreaking, as are those that depict violence and disunity. The sight of soldiers crying like babies and our IDF strong men and women (I mean boys and girls!) hugging those that they are forced to evict, makes the Jewish heart tremble.

That's not politics. That's love and honesty. G-d willing, as President Katsav pointed out, I too hope in the end and for all Israel, "we have love and that she will win" as predicted by those in orange.

So where's the X-Rated material? Those are the photos above. X-Rated because even if love does eventaully prevail, these photos and stories could scar this generation forever. Disengagement is not something that can be hidden from our children, nor our parents nor ourselves. In the heart of Tel Aviv however, some people recognize the difficulties involved and others do in fact try to sweep Disengagement dilemmas under the carpet.

I only pray and hope that we can find the inner strength to look at soldier hugging settler and see the pain but not the hate. Let's feel each other's hurt without hurting. Let's make these photos the X-Factor inherent in our unity as a people rather than the X-Rated material that some wish to make them.

Friday, August 12, 2005

On the Eve of the Future

As Shabbat quietly creeps into Jerusalem, we are almost at the climax of these Nine Days of Jewish mourning and disaster - nine days that complete the Three Weeks of Jewish mourning for many horrific events that have fallen upon the Jewish people across the ages. From Saturday night, we shall fast for Tisha B'Av - a time to contemplate, pray and for soul searching.

The Disengagement was delayed some time ago to allow for the Three Weeks to pass before beginning this painful operation. Yet, the irony of the timing (one day after Tisha B'Av) is not lost and many people see an inherent message and meaning in the date that is D-Day.

As I walked home from work in central Jerusalem on Wednesday, it was fairly obvious that something big and orange was going on. I had never seen anything like it - hundreds of private coaches and thousands of pedestrians travelling towards the Old City walls on their way to Judaism's holy site. The media says 70000 attended that last gasp appeal to the heavens. People I know who were there report the crowds flowing out as far as Dung Gate, also up the stairs towards Aish HaTorah and further up the road that leads up to the Jewish Quarter car park. There really was probably many more than 70000.

Tel Aviv turned orange last night too with what the media reports was 150000 people and orange supporters say was closer to 300000 in strong voice at Kikar Rabin. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Accurate numbers are not that important anymore. What these two very large protests signify however, is how great the country's opinion split actually is. Such large and powerful demonstrations of opposition do not appear every day. I was at the 300000-person "Jerusalem as One" protest in 2000 when Barak placed the city on the table at Camp David. Barak went on to be removed from office. The sight of two large protests within two days, about a little area called Gaza would suggest that Sharon will require the luck of the brave come the week ahead and the weeks and months to follow.

When a nation is so split and so torn, a leader of quality is required. On Wednesday night, President Katsav tried to fill those shoes. In Katsav's speech, he did what very few of our leaders have bothered to do up till now. Simply, he sympathized with the Gush Katif residents, he asked forgiveness and he praised their Zionist ideals. At the same time, he demanded tolerance, non-violence and respect for the law.

I heard some say this was a very cynical speech. I disagree. It was an honest and bridge-building expression of a man who spoke from the heart and addressed the people and the issues respectfully and with emotion. The Jerusalem Post agrees.

When I next post to the KICblog, it appears the initial stages of the Disengagement will be underway. Notwithstanding Bush's latest assurances of how good this pullout will be for Israel, we are in for a Tisha B'Av that will not fade from our collective memory easily.

But like we refrain from trying to interpret "why the Shoah happened" when we stand just 60 years after that murderous era, so now is not the time to add Disengagement to the list of disasters that befell the Jewish people in the month of Av. Similarly, we must avoid claiming the opposite - that it is not following the Av line of tragedies. No one knows the thoughts of the Almighty and we must not attempt to represent His thoughts. Only in time will we understand, one way or the other.

Wherever you stand on the political sidewalk, I ask you to acknowledge the pain and distress that many feel at this time. Brothers must remain brothers and support each other even when they disagree. (In that way, I am always heartened to see "We love Tzahal" banners at the orange protest events and to see people with orange and blue ribbons on their cars).

We know so well how great the challenges are that await us post-Disengagement. When the orange and blue ribbons are packed away for another day, we will need to stand united against common foes and challenges once again - whether they be Arab terrorism, assimilation, poverty or the grand task of continuing the success of the Jewish people who have returned home, after that day of Israel's destruction, in the month of Av, two thousand years ago.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Full of Surprises

Well, obviously Haaretz have been reading my blog and are taking a liking to my KICviews. They might have thought it up themselves, (no seriously!) but nonetheless yesterday's Haaretz editorial was a mirrior image of my opinion on the lynch which I posted on Monday and which attracted some interesting comments from readers (both public and offline).

I read Haaretz online a great deal, mostly because I find its site a lot clearer than some others. It reports breaking news speedily and its editing (also in its print version) is of much greater quality than other English publications.

Still, I have often found its editorials and opinion pieces disconcerting and periodically find them frightening to read. While their news is fairly similar to other sources, their contributors tend to turn Haaretz into far more than just a left-wing publication, in fact almost anti-everything that moves, breathes and makes decisions in Israel - especially if the thing wears a kippah, lives outside the Green Lines or votes more rightward than Labor (or maybe Meretz). I'm all in for freedom of press, speech and opinion but I've often questioned why Haaretz hosts contributors who persist on demonizing their own State without a whisper of constructive suggestions to accompany the criticism.

Hence my surprise (and that of others that I've spoken to) that Haaretz is calling for the investigation of the lynch of Eden Natan-Zadar. For once it appears, Haaretz can find no excuse for Arab misdemeanors. Like I do, Haaretz recognizes Israeli-Arab frustrations at their struggling status in the State, but rejects out of hand suggestions that the lynch should be swept under the carpet. Haaretz also specifically criticizes Arab MK Azmi Bishara who hinted that this could have all been planned by the Shin Bet and Sharon anyway.

The editorial concluded that "the investigation must be conducted without concessions and without extraneous considerations, with the understanding that it is unacceptable for such a serious act to take place in Israel without those who are involved paying the full price for their actions" - on that I could not agree more. Kol HaKavod Haaretz!

A few other surprises appear to be waiting in the wings. Iran has done the Bibi and put all its money on the table of the diplomatic poker game. Slowly, slowly, European patience is running out and as Iran restarts nuclear preparations, they have let us know that there is plenty riding on any move by the UN Security Council to order sanctions and they warn against any planned attack on their sites. I've posted about this previously and I repeat that there is a real need for the Europeans to continue their sudden awakening to the dangers and allow for tough diplomatic and other action to be taken. One thing's for sure, Israel will not sit back, eat shwarma and watch Iran reach the finish line.

Netanyahu might have surprised us, now Sharon might be in for a bit of a surprise too, a shock even! A poll of Likud members released today shows that Bibi's bailing has lifted his popularity and it predicts the end for the brave man of Disengagement. And yet, if the rumors can be believed, Israel's political landscape might be in for yet another bout of reconstructive surgery and Sharon might yet fight another day.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Disengagement, love it or leave it, is arguably the biggest challenge to Israel's society that we have ever known and starting D-Day, the surprises will almost certainly keep on coming and increase in shock value.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lynch of the Law

Sunday night's Channel 10 footage of the lynching of Eden Natan-Zada has re-confirmed what I had hoped would not be the case - the brutal murder of the Jewish terrorist who carried out the terror attack on Israeli Arabs last Thursday.

I have no reason to try to explain this Jew's horrific act of violence. He planned the attack and though I have sympathy for his family and him in regards the hate and brainwash that he was taught and fed, I reject and condemn such terror wholeheartedly.

At the same time, I will stand by him and his family in one sole respect - that is, that his human rights were taken away from him and that he was left to be pummeled and slaughtered to death by a crowd of angry people. He might well have deserved a death penalty or life imprisonment but where I come from and where I live now, this is not how honest, just people carry out justice.

Though I studied the subject at University as part of my law degree, I do not claim to be a human rights guru. But I do know that criminals have rights too. Yes, even rapists, even paedophiles, even murderers and yes, even terrorists - let's face it, the world and Israel civil rights groups remind the IDF and the Israeli government of that fact each and every day.

When the the car blew up in a West Bank settlement last month and the bomber survived, Israel rescued him and he is undergoing treatment in Israel. When the bomber sat at Kaffit (on Emek Refiam) and tried to set off a briefcase bomb, the waiter tackled him and he was arrested.
When the 16-year old arrived at a checkpoint wearing an explosive pack across his chest, IDF sappers sent a robot and scissors to assist the boy to cut his way out of explosives pack. Last week, an Australian friend working at Ein Karem Hospital told me about the Palestinian terrorist who has been in the burns unit there for months, as Israeli doctors treat him for horrific injuries. He blew himself up while building a bomb destined for Israel.
Whenever it can, Israel arrests and treats, even to the extent of endangering Israeli lives and adding great expenses to Israel's medical system.

My friends, he murdered innocents in cold blood, but Eden Natan-Zada had rights that demanded protection too. Israel failed to provide those, and our fellow Arab citizens of Shfaram brutally stripped him of those rights and of his life.

None of this excuses Eden's criminal and terror act. Nothing can justify it. But frankly, the Rule of Law, justice and morality requires that nothing be said or done to justify the actions of those Arab citizens of Israel who attacked and slaughtered him.

These Arabs are citizens of Israel. Israel (though its democracy struggles at times) does not and should not accept anarchy nor private, personal justice being laid out upon others. This is the kind of justice we witness and deplore in the Palestinian Authority, Iran and in other states, where suspects are placed in monkey court rooms, convicted and then shot, hung, dragged behind a car, decapitated or the like. We Israelis must reject any semblance of similarity to the Palestinian or Iranian 'justice' systems.

This AWOL IDF soldier come Jewish terrorist was handcuffed and under the supervision of two Israeli policemen on the bus. He was no further danger to anyone. The crowds attacked him and committed a grave crime.

These are Israeli citizens of Israel. I sympathize fully with their distress and anguish and I can imagine their frustration at seeing two policemen protecting the guilty person - all this in light of an Arab sector that still sees itself as the victim of Israeli discrimination.

But that is where my understanding ceases. As Israeli citizens who receive much (and much more than Palestinians receive from the PA), these Arabs must obey Israeli police orders and reject such violence and cruelty. I expect the same restraint from anti-Disengagement supporters and expect strong justice to be handed out to those who turn to violence during their orange battle.

It's not easy to defend a terrorist - and therefore I am not. I simply deplore the fact that his human rights were overlooked and destroyed - along with him.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bibi's Double or Nothing!

Talk about leaving it late, Bibi has quit the government in the last hour in response to what he sees as Israel's surrender to terror and giving of land without reciprocal security. Four other senior Likud ministers have also raised their hands against the Cabinet's vote for implementation of the first stage of Disengagement.

Well, in a sign of his importance and influence, the TA Stock exchange is plummeting and no doubt this will send jitters through the entire political system. While this will almost certainly not block Disengagement (which has, nonetheless, been passed 17-5 in the Cabinet today), these five hands may well spell out the beginning of the end for Ariel Sharon who now appears to lack much support in his own Likud party for his policies and Disengagement. (The 'for' votes came mostly from the Labor party).

No one changes their mind more than an Israeli MK and none more than the former (resurrected future?) Prince of the Likud. He has swayed backwards and forwards on this issue for months and only recently said he would not leave his Finance Portfolio to which he attached so much importance. Many agree that he has done a reasonable job in jumpstarting the ecomomy again after some tough Intifada years. I think he thought he was doing a good job too.

Now we know where he stands. After months of pressure from the right-wing, he has nervously but clearly jumped from his (un)comfortable position on the fence. His reasons, (that we'll hear more about at 6pm in a Netanyahu press conference), seem to be based upon the environment that currently surrounds Disengagement rather than land for peace in general. He was of course the man to give over parts of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority.

Bibi says that he's concerned about the split that is being caused in the nation, the joyous, celebratory attitude of the terror groups and the Islamic base for terror that will be created. In addition, he criticizes the rejection of the voters policy choices at the last election. Maybe it was today's terror attack near Jerusalem after checkpoints were removed, that was the straw that broke the Bibi back.

When all is said or done at 6pm, Bibi will (or should!) know that he has gone for double or nothing. Sharon has won elections easily because of the center's perception of him as a strong but brave leader who would fight terror but compromise where needed.
Netanyahu's decision today may paint him in the opposite light and damage his ability to present himself as a moderate but strong leader - seeing as the majority (even if small) do still back Disengagement.

But Israel is a funny place, and there are more than just "50000 fanatics against all of Israel", contrary to Yoel Marcus' article. In fact, many (and that can't be just 250000 settlers) stand against this policy. And then there are those who currently wear blue and do so with a heavy heart and will not wear blue when it comes to Jerusalem and large West Bank settlement blocs. Gaza was always a different kettle of fish for many Israelis.

Bibi (and the other four 'against' voters) must be hoping that the minority today, become the majority tomorrow. There's every chance they will if the PA Territories are further transformed into a terror fun park following August 15th.

Leave your comment on Bibi bailing and the effects of this move...

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Week That It Became

On Monday, I blogged about "The Week That Might Be". It has sadly become the week that might well get worse yet!

In my shock, disappointment, anger and frustration, I sat with CNN, Fox, Sky News and BBC last night to wait for their reports on the terror attack against Arab citizens of Israel. The reports did not appear. There was plenty of al-Zawahiri to broadcast instead and only after 10pm did I finally catch full reports from Israel about the events of 4 hours earlier.

When the reports came, they were shining brightly with apparent media maturity for once. There was no immediate equating of this attack with Palestinian suicide bombings, no demonization of right-wing Israelis as a whole and not even a mention of the word terrorist. In fact the first time 'terrorist' was mentioned was from the mouth of the Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.

The UK Guardian did include this sentence: If the motive is as Mr Barakeh fears, the attack will be compared to several previous incidents where Jews indiscriminately killed Arabs, described by Israelis as "nationalist murders".
Such 'several previous incidents' number only very few in fact and do not involve murder except for Goldstein's massacre in Hevron and two or three incidents. These were of course acts of terror and inexcusable.
In most other respects, it was a fair account of the situation by the Guardian.

The immediate admission by Israeli leaders of a Jewish terror attack was important. In fact, to be fair to the victims, one might argue that the international TV reports should have labelled it terror too. Sharon's remarks were necessary and showed not only Israeli maturity and morality, but also a significant difference between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Sharon has called this AWOL IDF soldier "a blood-thirsty terrorist" and MKs across the board have condemned the act - yes, settler leaders too!
In response to Palestinian attacks on Israelis, their President and PM come out with "we condemn this act that damages Palestinian national interests" - hardly a condemnation and this phrasing has perturbed Israelis for years.

Let's pray that the Arab community (and the Palestinians) calm their people who rightfully are hurting at this time. They must realize however that this is a lone gunman who had, as was reported, a difficult background and who had been unstable in recent times. (None of that is an exuse by the way!)
Yes, he shouldn't therefore have had a weapon and that will be investigated.

The Arab-Israeli community has every right to be angry and distraught. But the anger must be directed correctly. This was not another case of official IDF action that saw 13 Arab rioters killed at the outset of the Intifada.

No Israeli, except those who are rejected by 99% of us, condone such action. The Israeli security forces are and will continue to take action to monitor and curtail similar plans. Thankfully, Israeli democracy and the rule of law still stand strongly in that regard.

We maintain that we are a major player in the global war on terror. We will not tolerate terror of any kind. Whether our neighbors follow that example is irrelevant.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Where I come from, a 'mate' is a genuine friend through thick and thin. (He's also the 6 foot 6 inch stranger who just poured beer on you at the rugby game - but I digress...)

So London Mayor Ken Livingston has found a mate - someone to have a beer with over a meeting about how to sympathize with suicide bombers (even those who kill British and USA soldiers). I'm not certain that MP George Galloway and Livingston will require any time to get acquainted either. They've both been outspoken critics of the war on terror and Israel for some time. It's really only that they're continuing the show after the July 7 London attacks that is a touch surprising. Still, mates who play together, stick together. Crooked but true brotherhood!
Yesterday's Galloway statements deserve a read and PM Blair will need to decide how to deal with this, seeing as these comments represent encouragement of and incitement to terrorism - undoubtedly!

Here at home, the week is still unfolding. I found it fairly difficult to watch the Israeli TV news last night. Though the confrontations between orange protestors and police were fairly calm and 'reasonable', there was some coverage of police dragging away kicking and screaming women and this did pull on the heart strings. It hurt to watch, not because of one's political leanings but simply because after decades of fighting off our enemies, it is hard work to watch mates (and the Jewish family) confronting each other in battle over the land.

It took its toll on IDF soldiers too. Young and old orange people are putting huge psychological pressure on soldiers - not through any demonic means, but by shmoozing and using personal contact and emotion. These tears I imagine are only a sign of the tears of all that are yet to come. Tears of pain between mates, peas of the same pod.

Legally, of course, the attempts (some successful) to reach Gush Katif last night are undesirable. It is a closed military area and the Knesset or Cabinet have voted in favor of Disengagement several times now. The road blocking of yesterday (which saw my wife stuck in traffic for 2 hours) is also not being tolerated by the legal system.
These actions are illegal because Parliament and the courts have decreed as such. Yet I remain satisfied with the relatively sound leadership of the Rabbonim, MKs and Yesha leaders who are leading the protests at Ofakim. There have been leaders who have not followed this example, but those who are the official mouthpieces are promoting steadfastness but a total rejection of violence.

We can only hope that when push literally comes to shove, the restraint from police and protestors will hold strong. It's not easy when you're standing eye-to-eye with your brother or your sister or your mate.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Sand & The Hour Glass

"Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives..."

And so begins the infamous American TV soap. I haven't lost the plot - it's simply my analogy for the little Iranian soap opera that continues to be produced, episode by episode.

This week has seen some Iranian themes and episodes that closely match the story that has been evolving over the last few years. Iran, according to some, is only a few years from being "unstoppable" on their merry way to nuclear weapons capability. Some American experts now claim it might be as far as way as ten years. (Far away?)

Either way, the Europeans appear (at last!) to be losing patience with the Iranian double-talk and its new, less moderate leader. I am hoping that the sand in the Iranian hour glass has finally begun to flow at a quicker rate to the bottom half of the glass. No country can be more satisfied with the European threats of Security Council sanctions than Israel herself. Let's face it - only Israel and not the USA or the Europeans will be faced with an existential threat should Iran be allowed to play the "it's only for civilian use" game for much longer. While thousands of USA and allied troops are in range, their respective homelands are not in immediate risk - unless of course weapons of mass destrcuction are gifted to Osama and friends.

Israel to its credit has toned down its rhetoric of late. They have plenty to deal with already. Regardless, I did read an article some time ago that none of us should be surprised if we wake up one morning and hear that Israel has flown a mission to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.
The truth be told - Israel could probably do it with at least some success. They've invested in longer range fighter jet technology with Iran in mind. But the consequences would be, at best, unknown and at worst... well, who knows?

Israel should sit tight for now and continue to provide intelligene and support to USA's determination to rid the world of terror supporters and pray that the Europeans continue to exhibit at least some semblance of understading of the threat posed by a nuclear Iran that is already up to its armpits in terror-related activity.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The British Fight Back

Leading by example - Kol Hakavod!

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Monday, August 01, 2005

The Week That Might Be

This is likely to be one of those posts where I paint a picture of the week ahead and then find myself re-reading this on Wednesday with red face embarrassment. As far as Israel is concerned, this is destined to be one of those 'as soon as you read the news, it's immediately out of date' kind of weeks. They occur fairly regularly around this neighborhood.

It's quite clear that this is do-or-die (unfortunate phrasing!) week for the orange crews across Israel. Both the anti-Disengagement thousands and the Israeli authorities remain steadfast. I am hoping that our brothers and sisters will exhibit patience, tolerance and understanding to one another as they did so well 2 weeks ago. Like the IDF however, I imagine that the orange brigades can not keep its 'army' standing for more than a few days. (Contrary to what it might appear, people do have other things to do). More importantly, we are now just over two weeks from D-day and it's not hard to imagine that emotions and tension on all sides will be overflowing after a short time in the hot Israeli sun.

Supporters of Gush Katif want to flood the area with orange. Sharon will want to avoid this at almost any cost.
I am just not too sure what to write at this stage. Politics aside, it is very difficult to watch this internal tension and distress evolve day-to-day and I can not see any solution to the dilemmas that will present themselves tomorrow - that is, beginning with whether to declare the protest as illegal.

Equally as difficult to read, is the chutzpadik requests coming from the Palestinian side. Look - I'm all for promoting peace and trying to build a level of trust but come on!!! Following on from Abbas' recent request for Armored Personnel Carriers, ammunition and weapons, now we are jolted by a PA request to have Palestinian armed soldiers situated around each Gush Katif settlement during disengagement.

Now, I'm not stupid. Sure, I can see the Palestinian desire to have the areas completely (?) guarded from Palestinian looting etc on 'the day after' but other than that, such a move would only slow the Disengagement process, risk enflaming emotions and massively increase the risk of serious violence between Israelis (civilians or soldiers) and Palestinian soldiers. And besides, whether you wear blue or orange, can you honestly say that Gush Katif residents deserve to be escorted out by a team of PA troops, many of whom have been known to get involved in deadly attacks on Israelis?
And of course, the PA wants Israel's plans for Disengagement. As has already been noted elsewhere, it would take about 34.5 seconds (or less) for those plans to be arrive to the hands of Hamas, Jihad & Brothers Co.Ltd.

I am a big fan of big Zionists and of those who have built this country from its roots. Shimon Peres is one those men who deserve some respect. Sadly, it appears he remains lost somewhere along the way. He is one who is currently in favor of giving weapons and ammunition to the PA. Sharon has rejected this (at least until terror ceases he says).
I just can't fathom the concept. We've spent 5 years trying to convince the world that the PA uses donated weapons for terror. Now we're looking at restocking the arsenal. You don't have to be wearing orange or vote rightwards to feel more than a touch bewildered by this scenario.

PM Rabin z"l said from the outset: "We're giving them guns. If they turn those guns on us, that will signify the end of the peace process".
Unless you can enlighten me, (feel free!) it seems to me that we want to be fair players and make it a better, more exciting contest. Aren't we nice!