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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The (Other) Ten Commandments

I don't know how long the link will be up, so I thought it worthwhile to reprint part of Barry Rubin's cogent explanation as to why we (1) don't have peace with the Palestinians, (2) haven't had peace with the Palestinians, and (3) won't have peace with the Palestinians any time in the near future.

Don't get me wrong. I suspect the average adult Palestinian working guy or his wife, with children, would like to see an end to the Never Ending Conflict as much as Israelis would--but he and his wife don't live in a democracy. They live in a thugocracy run by rampant pan-Arab nationalists on one hand and by Islamist butchers on the other. They don't get to express a dissenting opinion, and based on the Palestinian texts, newscasts, sermons and websites I've seen translated, maybe they don't have a reason to dissent.....after all, the Germans really believed that Hitler was good for the country, provided jobs, built the autobahns and made the trains run on time, right? National pride trumped human decency there, too.

The Region: Rules of the game, Palestinian-style

by Barry Rubin

Why (isn't there peace with the Palestinians)? Because of the rules of Palestinian politics. These tenets are fatal to the hope of getting a Palestinian state, of the Palestinian polity becoming more moderate, of ending terrorism, or stopping even officially sponsored PA incitement. Palestinians know these rules well; outsiders seem largely unaware of them. Exceptions can be found but few, and since these are considered shameful they go unpublicized and thus form no precedent for changing the rules, which are:

(1) Palestinians cannot stop other Palestinians from attacking Israel. To do so would be betraying the cause, becoming Israel's lackey.

(2) He who is most militant is always right. Extremism equals heroism. This is one reason why Fatah has such a difficult time competing with Hamas. It cannot denounce these rivals for being too intransigent. Suicide bombers along with those who manage them are role models, not misled individuals, much less evil ones.

(3) More violence is good and a "victory" if it inflicts casualties or damage on Israel. Other than ritual denunciations for the foreign media, these are matters for pride, with the implication being that they advance the cause rather than sabotage it.

(4) No Israeli government can do anything good. Olmert is no better than anyone else even as he offers to accept a Palestinian state, and is ready to give up east Jerusalem. Some Palestinian leaders can talk privately to Israeli counterparts about cooperation (and even their dream of peace) but don't tell this to their own people.

(5) Since Palestinians are the perpetual victim they are entitled to everything they want and never need to give anything in exchange for Israeli concessions. Thus, the preferred PA diplomatic option is that Israel withdraws from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, recognizes an independent Palestinian state, releases all Palestinian prisoners, and then talks can begin.

(6) No Palestinian should be imprisoned for attacks on Israel one minute longer than required by international public relations‚ needs. After all, if they are doing heroic deeds against an evil enemy - even by murdering civilians on purpose - why should they be punished?

(7) Fatah won't discipline or expel anyone for launching attacks.

(8) Wiping Israel off the map is morally correct. If anyone says anything different they will be scared or ashamed, justifying their lapse as a temporary tactical measure or way to fool enemies.

(9) The movement sets as top priority the so-called "right of return," the demand that all Palestinian refugees or their descendents must be allowed to live in Israel. It is better not to get a state than to give up this demand.

(10) It is more important to be steadfast and patient with a terrible status quo than to make big gains by ending the conflict forever. To do so would give up future Palestinians' chance to seek total victory. Their right to all of the land cannot be given away.

Palestinian leaders may sincerely voice their dismay with this problem privately but won't fight to smash them. If they ever really do change we'll know.

But until then, these are the reasons why the Palestinian side cannot - and will not - reach for peace or keep existing commitments very well. Even if a handful of top Palestinians want to reach agreement with Israel, they cannot - and even worse, dare not - violate these commandments.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nicotine Withdrawal

Maybe Israel won't need to cut electricity or reduce gasoline shipments after all:

Throughout the summer, various media outlets reported that the price of cigarettes has skyrocketed due to the closures of the sundry crossings into Israel which Hamas has been shelling on a rotating basis. That fact, coupled with Hamas's attempt to corner the cigarette market, has made cigarettes prohibitively expensive.

Now, cigarettes from Israel are a thing of the past. Last night, watching the Israeli news with Tilda, she explained that Israel is closing the crossings to all but "humanitarian" supplies: food, water, medicine and so forth.

Cigarettes aren't on the list. Cigarettes are not a "humanitarian" necessity, an Israeli spokesman stated.

One Gazan disagreed, appearing on television to explain that his enforced withdrawal from nicotine was turning him into an angry man who frightened his children, hence cigarettes truly do fall under the aegis of "humanitarian aid."

So picture this -- several million angry Arab men, all smokers of up to two packs a day, deprived of their drug of choice for an indefinite period of time......

They'll either overthrow Hamas by the end of the week, or kill each other, or both. Maybe we should arrange a deal: every day without a Kassam attack gets you a truckload of cigarettes?

Monday, October 29, 2007

A(nother) Day At The Hospital

The Boy has mild cerebral palsy complicated by a seizure disorder. We were delighted to find an excellent neurologist in Jerusalem, Itai Berger at Hadassah Mount Scopus, who determined that the medication the Boy had been taking these many years wasn't being metabolized by his body, hence the seizures kept re-occuring.

We started a regime of new, different medication and it has made a huge difference: a kid less drugged, more alert, with more energy, more focus on studies and better social skills. He has been seizure-free for quite some time, so in keeping with the special ed school's recommendation to foster independence, we started letting him walk to and from school. It's really four long blocks, but they are doozies! He has to cross Derech Hebron, Derech Bet Lechem, the Railroad Road and Emek Refaim -- all of them crowded with impaitient drivers who all too often are talking (illegally) on their cell phones, yelling at other drivers, shushing their kids and generally divided-attention-challenged in one way or another.

Because his Mom is paranoid, I walked with him to school the first week. "Iiiiiimmmmaaaa," he complained (he is 17, after all), "I can walk by myself." And to prove it, he took off on those long legs of his, leaving his mother about a block to two blocks behind. Rather than chase him to school, I gave in with poor grace and admitted that at 17 he can probably walk to school ALONE but I wanted him to call me when he got to school so I would know he arrived safely. There was grumbling about that, but he gave in rather than have me shadow him every morning.

I'm concerned about his crossing the streets NOT because he doesn't know how--as a kid with vision impairment and seizures, he's been getting Orientation and Mobility training since 1st grade. He knows how to get around better than most adults. I'm worried about the crazies--the guy who decides there's no cop around, so it's safe to blow through the red light (killing the pedestrian he didn't see); the guy who decides to drive too fast because he's late and takes the corner without slowing (and kills the pedestrian in the crosswalk he wasn't expecting and didn't see until too late); the driver so distracted by her kids acting up in the back seat while talking to her mother on the cellphone that she hits the pedestrian in the crosswalk that she was too distracted to notice (slicha--taoot, doesn't do it, motek).

But this layer of concern is trumped at all times by the fear that the Boy will simply have a seizure on the way to school and end up falling in the street and being run over by some idiot on a cellphone.

And today he had that seizure.

I got a phone call from him just after he crossed Emek Refaim. "Ima, I don't feel so good," which is Boyspeak for "I'm starting to have a seizure."

"Where are you?!" I asked. He told me he had just crossed Emek Refaim. "Stay there!" I told him. "Sit down and don't move. I'm coming!"

Yeah, I'm coming--but after running to the car and getting into traffic (Jerusalem's answer to the Gordian Knot), I realized I probably would have reached him faster by simply running downhill the four blocks it took to get there. As it was, with it's maze of one-way streets and impassible traffic, it took me at least 15 minutes to get reach the road adjacent to Tal Bagels, where my son was lying unconscious surrounded by a crowd of concerned Israelis (G-d bless them!).

One man had searched Josh's pockets and found the keychain with our medical tag on it, and had already called Yossi (the only one of us who ALWAYS has his phone turned on) as well as an ambulance; another woman had helped take off the backpack and laid it down for the Boy to use as a pillow. When I got there and stumbled around in bad Hebrew, they were quick to assure me he had not fallen and not injured his head--they had made him lie down. A young guy with long hair ran across the street and commandeered a water bottle from Aroma so the Boy could drink.

My Hebrew was so totally absent from my panicked synapses at this point that when I parked the car at Aroma and tried to cross the street, I resorted to English: the ambulance is there, the road is blocked and some idiot decides to drive AROUND the ambulance into the oncoming traffic because, well, because it's Israel and he's in a hurry to get somewhere.

I was in the process of crossing the street to reach my kid and had NO patience. "STOP!!" I yelled in my loudest, angriest voice at the driver, and raised my hand as if to slam the sidepanel of his vehicle to indicate I expected the right-of-way. He was so astonished, and I looked so angry, that he simply slammed on his brakes and actually s t o p p e d. I appeared to have gotten the concept across without Hebrew....

The seizure was the worst I've ever seen: total loss of consciousness coupled with convulsions, which he has never had before. Prior seizures have all been what the doctors call "absence seizures" and usually manifest as a loss of focus, coupled with clamminess, sometimes temporary loss of vision, sometimes nausea and a need to sleep for hours (post-ictal state). Never convulsions. Never a seizure that lasts upwards of ten minutes (the usual time is less than 2 minutes).

The ambulance took us to Sha'arei Tzedek, a hospital I have heard of but never seen. As hospitals go, it was fabulous: quick registration near the ER, compassionate staff but efficient and good at keeping family informed and keeping an eye on the Boy. He was hooked up to a monitor for a few hours until they were sure he was all right, then moved to another berth. The ER doctor called our neurologist and got tests (all normal, surprisingly) and basically told me that "no one knows exactly what causes seizures--his blood tests are all normal, the meds should be fine, but we're going to increase the dosage in light of this seizure."

The ride to Sha'arei Tzedek highlighted one of the downsides of Israeli society. This is a country where people will cut in line, so Israelis jealously guard their places in line--often to absurdity. Any place where there is a line, newcomers check to see who is ahead of them, what number they have, and anyone who tries to cut runs the risk of lynching at the hands of the mob already in line.

Unfortunately, this line-obsession carries over into the traffic pattern. The easiest way to survive Israeli traffic is (1) don't be in a hurry and (2) let the other guy go first. Unfortunately, very few Israelis abide by these simple rules, and seldom give way to other vehicles.

This morning, the main road out of Katamonim was jammed with cars trying to make it to one of two major arterials to the west. This road is one way in each direction, with a raised concrete sidewalk-like barrier in the middle. The ambulance is trying to get through, lights on and siren blaring and NO ONE PULLS OVER. The ambulance ends up driving down the center of the road, wheels on each side of the concrete divider, in order to pass the clogged traffic.

I have a message for all of you Road Pigs on Golumb this morning: the ambulance driver wasn't running Code Three because the MDA crew was late for coffee! He was running Code Three because THAT WAS MY KID CONVULSING IN THE BACK OF THE AMBULANCE!!


After hours at the hospital recovering, the Boy was sent home and slept the rest of the afternoon away, and is now up and hungry, so I am reassured that he is back to normal.

I'm not back to normal. I wonder if I can ever let him walk out the door again. I worried before about his safety and now the reassuring results of new medication are no longer a panacea against that worry. My fear of a seizure on the way to school was realized this morning. Thank G-d people were there to help him; thank G-d it wasn't in front of a bus but after crossing the street....but what about next time?

*photo credit courtesy of Canadian Magen David Adom

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Migdal David

Usually, I'm not one for going out on school nights, but this past week I found a reason for an exception: the Citadel in Jerusalem (also known as David's Tower, or Migdal David) has had a display all summer known as "Soundscapes."

Nefesh B'Nefesh, that organization that has proven so helpful to new olim, sponsored an "NBN Night" at the Citadel so that those of us who had not yet seen the Citadel itself or the Soundscapes exhibit could do so before it closed down for the winter.
The Husband was out of action with the remnants of the flu and a broken foot, so The Boy and I took off for this evening tour. There were quite a number of olim, as well as regular tours of Israelis.

The Citadel staff divided us into manageable groups of English, French and Hebrew speakers and took us through 5,000 years of history in about two hours.
The fact that we went at night was special in itself, not just because of the hour but because seeing the Citadel and seeing the Old City from the Tower was incredible. Pictures hardly do it justice--hit the link in the title and you'll see a drawing of the Citadel, but seeing the sheer size and immense stones that went into constructing this edifice through the centuries is altogether different.

From the seats below in the courtyard, we were surrounded on all sides by construction from different eras. Directly in front of us were the bottomost stones of this fortress, some of which date from the building of a defensive wall on Jerusalem's vulnerable northern edge by King Hezekiah in the face of Assyrian invasion at the end of the 8th century BCE.

"He [Hezekiah] set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall. (2 Chron. 32:5)"

Hezekiah made a number of urban improvements with an eye towards the restive neighbors and while ultimately the Assyrians left without taking Jerusalem, their successors, the Babylonians, conquered the city, destroyed the First Temple and shipped the survivors to Babylon. However, the remnants of Hezekiah's wall remained to become foundation stones for later builders.

The next level of construction was Hasmonean, those doughty Maccabees who opposed the Hellenization of Israel and then went on to found, in the wake of victory, the most Hellenized Jewish society imaginable.....talk about winning the war and losing the battle.

However, the Hasmoneans conquered the Idumeans, a pagan tribe of the Negev, important largely because they sat astride the trade routes linking Gaza to the King's Highway, that royal trade route on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The Idumeans converted to Judaism, not always willingly, and gave the Jews the Herodian dynasty, a nasty historical payback.

While Christians always associate Herod with the slaughter of babes, the Jews know Herod as (1) the king who rebuilt the Second Temple and made Jerusalem one of the most glorious cities of the Roman Empire, (2) the king who build major cities, palaces, fortresses and ports such as Tiberias, Masada and Caesaria, (3) a repressive, paranoid and murderous ruler who butchered most of his family, hated the Jews, oppressed his subjects and weakened Jewish independence to the point where Rome was compelled to take charge of this increasingly unstable, but vital, frontier region bordering the hostile kingdom of the Parthians. Herod had ruled through the grace of Roman favor and by virtue of his marriage into the ruling Hasmonean family, marrying Miriamne, a Hasmonean princess -- then had her killed in a fit of paranoid rage and jealousy.

Nonetheless, most of the major tourist attractions in Israel owe something to Herod and his building frenzy. Sebaste, Herodian, the remains of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall today, Masada and Caesaria among others--these were the products of Herod's desire to emulate Rome's greatness combined with his paranoia over his personal security and hence his need for massive fortifications. It wasn't all paranoia--the remaining Hasmoneans and the majority of his subjects would willingly have killed him.

The huge tower that is mistakenly called "The Tower of David" was a Herodian construct. Herod built three huge towers in this general vicinity and named them for deceased relatives and a friend: Phaesal, his brother; Miriamne, his murdered wife; and Hippicus, his friend. The tower named for Phaesal survived the subsequent Roman conquest, Persian conquest, Jewish revolts, Christian pillaging and Moslem reconstruction.

If this is the Tower named for Phaesal, why is it "The Tower of David"? One source states that even Josephus, that inveterate quisling-cum-historian, mistook the location of David's Palace (archeologists agree today that David's palace was located in the area known as City of David, a slope south of the Temple Mount and outside today's Old City walls, and the subject of on-going archeological exploration).

Our guide told us that early Christian pilgrims, knowing nothing of the geography of Jerusalem or Jewish history, saw these huge fortifications and immediately concluded that they must belong to the greatest of Jewish warrior kings, David son of Yishai. Hence, they called the Tower itself "David's Tower."

However, Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem during the Moslem period were often told that the "first thing they would see when they laid eyes on city of Jerusalem was the 'Tower of King David' arising from the city walls," by others who had seen the remains of this Herodian fortification. Unbeknownst to these pilgrims, though, was that the Moslem rulers of the city decided that their soldiers, quartered in this citadel, deserved a mosque of their own, and so one was build into the Citadel area.

Of course, the first thing pilgrims then saw rising into the sky from the walls of Jerusalem was the minaret of the mosque--which was tagged with the name "Tower of David."

Name confusion aside, the Citadel is a wonderful place to explore, and the Museum of the History of Jerusalem does justice to the complex history and contributions of this city's many inhabitants.
The soundscapes exhibit was beautiful and I'm grateful to Nefesh B'Nefesh for making this display of light-and-sounds in counterpoint to history available to us.

Go at night, if possible. The view of the Old City on the east side of the Citadel and the view of the modern city on the west side is incomparable.

photos courtesy of Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem http://www.towerofdavid.org.il/eng/upload/tour/rexhib.html

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Moving Day

Back in September, our Lift arrived. I know this is ancient history at this point, but the whole ordeal was a pain and I couldn't deal with that, and the start of school, and the house sale and the apartment purchase and the upcoming holidays so I just never got around to writing about it.

Prior to the arrival of the Lift, I had trekked up to Haifa to pay the port fees, fill out customs paperwork, and talk to the Guy-In-Charge. Efficient, business-like but warm, he assured me that this was the final cost, although it is an "estimate" -- there might be some small amount of money owing based on the actual mileage to our apartment in Jerusalem. Yossi accompanied me to Haifa (actually, Yossi drove me to Haifa because I would never have found this place on my own) and he and the GIC hit it off immediately....Yossi has that uncanny knack of getting along with most people.

On the way back to Jerusalem, Yossi cautioned me that when the Lift arrived, I was to call him IMMEDIATELY and he would come right over. The neighbors, Tilda and Avi, had told us exactly the same thing.

"These people are ganavim, Sarah," they all warned me. "You understand 'ganavim'? They will take your things and while you're supervising the machson (storage room), they will steal from your house; while you're in your house, they will steal from your lift. You MUST have people standing RIGHT THERE watching them every minute!"

So Yossi goes off to work on Lift Arrival Day but stays in touch by phone; Tilda and Avi stay home in anticipation of the Lift coming momentarily.

The driver calls and tells us he's in Jerusalem and will be at the apartment shortly. This call is at 10:30 a.m. which is about 2-3 hours ahead of what we were told would be the arrival time.

Okay, I call the troops. Tilda posts herself at the front lobby; Avi stands out on the large garden-enclosed plaza leading to the lobby.

Yossi comes a bit later--he was in Geula picking up a passenger when I called. He pulled over to the side and told the bewildered chassid, "Get out."

"What?!" the man sputtered.

"I'm sorry, adoni, get out--I have a family emergency!" And with that, Yossi sped across town to Baka, arriving in the middle of controversy.

The driver had pulled his truck into our lot and got out to talk to The Husband. We had paid the shipping company for "door-to-door" service. This means it goes out of our front door in the States and into our front door in Israel. Sometimes there is an additional charge if the movers have to carry a china cabinet up 8 flights of stairs in a building with no elevator, but since we were on the ground floor, and it is a flat walk from the parking lot to the apartment, we didn't anticipate further expenses.

"It's too far from the parking lot to your apartment," the driver announces. "It'll cost you an extra $200."

The Husband doesn't say a thing, but simply walks back to the apartment where he informs me that our delivery driver is a rip-off artist. This is confirmed by another mover who is moving an upstairs neighbor in simultaneously. "He's trying to rip you off," the mover hisses to The Husband, with a head gesture towards our driver.

Tilda walks over to us and upon hearing of this extortion, wants to go confront the driver. "Wait for Yossi," we both told her.

Moments later, Yossi pulls up and is briefed on the situation. "Sarah, you still have the telephone number of the Guy in Haifa?" he asks.

Sure do. Dialed it on my cell phone and handed the phone to Yossi. Rapid-fire Hebrew ensued, and Yossi walked out to the driver with the cell phone.

"I'm talking to your boss," Yossi told him. "He wants to talk to you." And handed the driver the cellphone.

We can hear only one half of the conversation, but it was enough. "No, no, he's an American, he doesn't understand Hebrew. It's just a misunderstanding. I never said anything about money," the driver sputters. He gets off the phone, glares at Yossi, hands back the cell phone and strides back to his truck.

"He says you didn't understand him," Yossi said with a knowing smirk. "You don't speak Hebrew good."

"Right," the Husband said dryly. He speaks Hebrew just fine. And Yossi knows it. "That would be a little more credible except that he demanded the $200 in English--which I understand perfectly."

Yossi wandered over to the container truck in order to keep an eye on the movers while I watched the house and supervised placement, and Tilda kept an eye on the machson and the lobby, and Avi made sure nothing got "lost" in the flowerbeds out front.

While taking up his station near the parking lot, Yossi overheard one of the movers still in the lot call out to the driver, "Hey, did you get those Anglos to fork over the extra $200?"

"Naw, some ben zonah (not a nice word, the Hebrew equivalent of SOB) showed up and called the Boss and almost got me fired. Forget it!" the driver complained.

I had read on Tachlis that it is customary to "tip" the drivers and workers of the moving company who brings you the Lift. The customary tip, I read, was around 200 NIS apiece. We never got a chance to tip them. Had they not tried to extort money from us to start with, they would have gotten nice tips, since The Husband and I both recall our minimum-wage days quite well--and believe tipping for good service is a necessity. As it was, they got nothing.

We, on the other hand, are grateful for good Israeli friends who watch our backs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

HAMAS and the Wolf

The Russian peasantry is pretty quick: it only took about three false cries of "wolf" before they figured Peter was a liar and ignored him, to Peter's lasting detriment and the wolf's ultimate satisfaction.

The Western press and liberal elite aren't so quick. Now HAMAS is crying "wolf" again--this time claiming that it is Israel's fault that Gaza is running out of anaesthetic and therefore only critical operations can take place.

A couple of months ago, a similar accusation was leveled by HAMAS against Israel, telling the world that the Israelis were depriving the Gazans of necessary gasoline to run businesses, hospitals and vehicles.

Before that was the ludicrous claim that Israel was preventing the return and entry into Gaza of thousands of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border. Think about that: Egypt slams the border shut, the EU monitors flee, and this is all Israel's fault, according to Hamas. As if Israel could re-open Egypt's border with Gaza....

In the arena of "shortages" these shortages are due to HAMAS's inability to order the materials needed in a timely manner. Anyone who has worked in Supply or Inventory knows that you need to keep track of what's coming in and what's going out, and re-order as needed. There used to be a large sign in the clerical area of our office which read: LACK OF PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY ON MY PART.

I'd like to make large copies of this in Arabic and post it all over Gaza.

Of course, this is the charitable interpretation: HAMAS is merely incompetent.

Another interpretation was offered by Nir Press, head of Gaza Coordination Liaison Administration (CLA) today:

"Hamas is unnecessarily endangering Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by generating phony humanitarian crises," Nir said, pointing to the claim by Gaza's Shifa Hospital, that due to tight Israeli restrictions on imports into Gaza, it had run out of anesthetic for surgeries, and as a result had canceled all but the most critical procedures.

Press said that in a meeting he held Sunday afternoon with Palestinian Health Ministry officials he was informed that the hospitals were running "low" on the anesthetic. On Monday morning (that's the Very Next Day, folks), less than 24 hours after making the request, Israel transferred 151 nitrous oxide gas balloons to Shifa Hospital.

"It is the Palestinians' responsibility to order the supplies," Press said, noting that despite the daily rocket attacks on Israeli towns - on Monday 10 rockets and shells pounded the western Negev - Israel continued to transfer medical goods and supplies into Gaza whenever they were ordered.

I only have one question.

WHY are we transferring ANYTHING to this government which is firing missiles at us daily?

Press noted that orders were usually placed by the Palestinians days in advance and that Sunday's sudden announcement "was a spin by Hamas and an attempt to put pressure on Israel by creating a humanitarian crisis."

In other words, "Ooops, we screwed up, we're almost out of meds--let's blame the Israelis and tell the world that Israel's (nonexistent) occupation of Gaza is creating a humanitarian crisis!"

Which is where the story of Peter and the Wolf comes in -- the Western press and leftist corps of Arab romanticizers, antiSemites, knee-jerk antiIsrael groupies and Just Plain Stupids lap this stuff up. I can't count the number of times I've read, "Humanitarian Crisis Looming in Gaza" or some variation of this garbage in the last year.

Press noted that some items really ARE embargoed -- for example, the pipes and the fertilizer manufactured in Israel which Hamasnikim and their allies use to make Kassam rockets.....we don't let those into Gaza any more.

My other favorite is the crie de coeur by Hamas that Israel isn't allowing the various crossings to be opened to foot traffic (so people can leave Gaza and go to medical appointments or find jobs) and truck traffic for the import and export of foodstuffs.

What the MSM fails to print is the reason for these closures: a woman admitted to Israel for burn treatments was found to have a suicide bomb belt and planned to detonate herself in a Beersheva Hospital waiting room; men who snuck into Israel ostensibly looking for work turned out to be a HAMAS cell planning a major suicide bombing in synagogues in Tel Aviv; when the crossings are open, Hamasnikim or their allies shell the crossings or shoot the technicians.

Has it ever occured to ANY of these folks that the very idea of opening any part of our border to a population dedicated to our genocide is absolutely NUTS?

The US won't let people from south of it looking for work come in, much less people dedicated to killing Americans....and let's all recall the gentle British approach to IRA terrorism--they reoccupied Northern Ireland in force and clamped down with martial law. Need we even mention Russia's approach to Chechnya?

But these trusty Quartet members are more than willing for Israel to get shelled, be on permanent military alert, have our civilians killed and our soldiers killed and kidnapped...and yet demand that we make "concessions" in the name of peace and not respond in force to terrorism.

Can someone name a "concession" that the Palestinians have made in the last 60 years? Losing each war they and/or their Arab puppetmasters started doesn't count.

Soooo.....orders of medical supplies or food are immediately processed and we're apparently allowing some Palestinians to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel for medical treatment daily, according to the Jerusalem Post.

In an effort to improve health conditions in the West Bank, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yusef Mishlav (that's the Apartheid Occupation to those of you on the Far Left) yesterday allowed 120 Palestinian medical students to enter Jerusalem to complete their studies. Some of the students are from the Gaza Strip and have been studying medicine for the past six years at Al Quds University.

The Foreign Ministry also approved a plan to train Palestinian medical teams at Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem. Under the plan, Palestinian doctors, nurses and technicians will be trained at the Israeli hospital and in addition receive a monthly stipend of $643.

On Thursday, a joint Palestinian-Israeli conference on gynecology and childbirth will be held at the French Hospital in Nazareth. The IDF has allowed 50 Palestinian doctors to enter Israel to attend the conference.

Let's hear it for Russian peasant scepticism.....the intellectual elites here and in the West appear willing to root for aid to an Islamofascist terror group-cum-dictatorship because as the children of an era of sound-bytes, immediate gratification and lack of "objective truth" (there is no such thing, they claim--unless it's THEIR truth, which is sacred) they are unable to research, analyze and objectively evaluate any threat -- to us, or to themselves.

*Photo and quotes courtesy of The Jerusalem Post

HOT News

Our Cable Provider, HOT, had announced some time ago that it would in all likelihood not be renewing its contract with CNN. HOT already provides BBC, SkyNews, and FoxNews to its English-speaking subscribers.

The reasons offered for this cancellation varied--contract price, lack of demand, CNN's ratings collapse in the States.......notably, the only voices raised in protest in Israel were those of two letter writers from the uber-liberal bastions of Boston and San Francisco, respectively, who pled to keep "their" news channel.

CNN is not popular in Israel. Israelis may have short political memories, as some have charged, but everyone here remembers the carnage of the Second Intifada, the burning buses, the charred bodies.....and CNN rushing off to interview the grieving families of the murderers.

As a result, CNN's imminent cancellation is not raising the outcry of protest in the Anglo community that the threatened cancellation of BBC Prime did last year. Then, letters flooded into HOT demanding that this cornerstone of English-language entertainment remain aboard.

All CNN's cancellation has wrought is wry snickers, especially in view of the proposed replacement channel: Al Jazeera.

Which is only fitting. During the Gulf War , then 9/11, then the Iraq War, CNN was derisively referred to in the States as the "local Al Jazeera affiliate" due to its embarassing rush to embrace the mendacious Arab narrative.

Now CNN is cancelled in Israel. There is justice. Good riddance!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cox & Forkum Takes A Bow

The best editorial cartoon team in the blogosphere is bowing out, thus depriving us of some of the most cogent, witty commentary on current events around. Better than Oliphant....you guys will be missed.

I refuse to take down the link. Anyone who wants to order their books can do so at their web site.

I'm really going to miss these guys.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"To" and "To" in Hebrew; and The Big Felafel

Since Murphy's Law is currently operative in this universe, it stands to reason that this week, when flu shots are available at our health plan, I already have the flu......and of course, one cannot get a flu shot if one is sick, ergo, I'm locked out of flu shots this season. I can only hope that the flu I have will protect me from whatever the shot was designed to guard against, but in the world governed by Murphy's Law, that's probably too much to hope for....

This bug starts with a sore throat. First, just a tickle, followed the next day by the feeling that someone has just taken a backhoe to your throat. That's the easy part. Next comes the fever and chills, coupled with the worst sinus congestion I've ever had (which is saying something because I'm the champion of sinus infections). Instead of sinus cavities, I felt like I had boils getting ready to burst around my eyes and alonside my nose.

The Boy also got a version of this, so we both tramped up the street to our Meuhedet clinic, met with the doctor, got throat cultures (Mom has a phobia about strep), and were blithly informed that "it's just a virus."

If this is "just" a flu virus, then I never want to meet the mutated ones bred for WMD deployment. I'm usually pretty tough when it comes to colds, flu, sinus infections, etc.....very few judges in my career ever allowed a continuance because one of the lawyers was sick. Our standing joke was that the only way to get a delay in one's case was "to call in dead." But this flu virus knocked me silly for a week--it started last Monday and has progressed through the sore throat/inflamed sinus/running-like-Hoover-Dam nose to what is apparently the final stage--chronic coughing.

I staggered into ulpan this morning because I dislike missing two days in a row, and I missed Thursday's class......so today, I alarmed almost everyone by coughing through the first half of the class, and I felt badly because I didn't know how to say in either Hebrew or French, "I'm not contagious any more."

I stayed until the break, which was good. Before Break, we explored the intricacies of "L...." versus "el...", their conjugations and when/how they're used. I suppose this will one day be second nature but having to think of two different ways to say "to" depending on if it's a person, a place or the name of a place, AND conjugate it correctly, was almost beyond me this morning.

NB non-Hebrew speakers: Hebrew conjugates its prepositions! Arrrggghh!

For example:

to me = li .......... OR .......... to me = alai

to us = lanu .......... OR.......... to us = aleinu

to him = lo .......... OR.......... to him = aleiv

I'm sick enough that I don't have the energy to really get confused about his--I just wrote it all down and simply decided to memorize it, which in the long run will probably cause me less grief than trying to figure out the how and why of it.....

On another note, I took up Rebecca's invitation and went to her and Molly's blog, The Big Felafel (http://www.thebigfelafel.com/). Listen up, everybody-- READ THIS BLOG! . This is the blog I wanted to/wished I could have written about life in Israel. This is the best new blog (in English) in Israel, and may turn out to be the BEST blog in the Anglo community.

Why can't I write like this? We won't even talk about amazing graphics, links, etc.....

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Different Approaches To Aliyah

For anyone considering aliyah, there is a wealth of resource out there. Tachlis, a website run by Eli Birbaum at the WZO, is definitely one of the best. It's an English language message board whose members are both vatikim (veterans) and olim (new immigrants) as well as potential olim who pose the usual questions--should I bring my American washer/drier or buy them in Israel; will my record player work there; how much is the cost of living; does national health insurance cover my medication; etc. The wonder of this message board is that it has many vatikim who are more than willing to answer the same questions over and over and over again from each new wave of immigrants.....the vatikim are willing to help, because they remember their own experiences. You also get a slew of one-time only questions that remind you this is a community message board, albeit the community is the entire country: anyone driving to Hadassah Hospital this morning because I need a ride; anyone want to buy tickets to the Moshav Band concert?

There are also the AACI and NBN sites; the WZO and State of Israel web pages. Most ministries have their own web pages and were very helpful to us long-distance (yes, you can bring your two cats and your dog and we'll fax you the forms for your vet to fill out; NO, you CANNOT bring your guns). Tehilla will show you job opps and places to live if you want a religious community. There's Flathunting if you want a place to live; Lagur if you want a place to live with pictures and links to realtors and other real estate web pages; Janglo if you're looking for second-hand goods, services or have something to sell....

My point is, there is a lot of information on the web and most of it is accessible by email and/or telephone.

We got turned down for aliyah 15 years ago. "Turned down" is something of an overstatement but that's how it felt....our shliach told us he couldn't stop us, but recommended we wait until we (1) finished the Boy's operations and (2) retired inasmuch as Bituach Leumi didn't cover pre-existing conditions at that time (no longer true) and the Husband was too old to go into his field in Israel and I didn't speak Hebrew. Our shliach, a pleasant religious fellow who was clearly pained to tell us the bad news, said, "Look, right now you're a recipe for failure--custody issues, job issues, medical issues--give it a few years. Israel will still be there."

He was right.

We used the intervening years to "lurk" on Tachlis and post the ocassional question; we researched every community (except Jerusalem, of course, so naturally we ended up here); we looked into comparative costs of buying Israeli versus importing American......we spent a LOT of time trying to get ready to make a successful aliyah. After all, we had the time, so we figured we ought to devote it to getting updated information and doing it right.

Even with this prep, we made mistakes. It's inevitable. We've been fortunate to have friends like Deena Edelman and Shari Kleinerman from Lamdeni to help us with our special ed search and placement; with Yonaton in tutoring the Boy; with Tilda and Yossi to help us navigate Israeli society.

But the mistakes weren't fatal....because we came prepared, and because we are fortunate in our friends, we've made it through an entire year without messing up too badly.

This is one way to make aliyah. While I don't recommend waiting 15 years, I do think the general principle behind our wait is a good one: COME PREPARED.

We know someone who just arrived in Israel. I ache for this person, who does NOT speak Hebrew, who has never even visited Israel before, who is full of passion for an imaginary place where we all love each other and study Torah all day and the very rocks are imbued with holy energy; who does not have a job waiting and who may not get licensed to work in the field of choice; who HAS NO MONEY except a bit of savings and a small stipend. The decision to make aliyah was made THIS year and the very unrealistic expectations and the lack of any support system (financial, emotional, etc.) makes me wonder HOW this person is going to survive the next six months.

How did the person in question get past the Sochnut? He didn't. He by passed the whole Agency issue and came in on a tourist visa and plans to make "internal aliyah," a procedure usually reserved for students, researchers, teachers or other professionals who have been working/studying here and have decided to stay.

Yossi drove me to the airport to pick up the new arrival, and we took him to the apartment we found for him. On the drive back to Jerusalem, we pondered aloud about the many improbabilities of this being a successful aliyah...and then Yossi pointed out that nonetheless, helping him in the limited way we did is still a mitzvah.

"Maybe that's why we're on the road tonight, in the middle of nowhere," I muttered. "We maybe have a small part to play in HaShem's game plan for this guy. A very small part, but..."

Then it hit me. His will be a successful aliyah because he knows he is supposed to be in Israel, working and studying Torah. End of discussion. Washer/driers, communities, schools, the models of cars, the brands of coffee -- it's all nonsense. Knowing this, he put his trust in G-d and got on the plane.

I'm not so worried about him anymore. After all, his faith is greater than mine.
*Art by Judy Racz who has other wonderful renditions of the aleph-bet online with commentary.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Down The Rabbit Hole...Where's Alice?

The Jerusalem Post reported two interesting items of news today. The first was that Egypt, without apparently checking with the PA or Israel, released two wanted Hamas terrorists who were supposedly going to be used in a prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit. The terrorist, wanted by the PA for his role in murdering a member of the PA's security apparatus in Gaza, is also wanted by Israel for his role in a number of terror attacks.

The second item is that Egypt opened fire on a group of African (read: Black) refugees trying to escape the Sudan, Eritrea and the Ivory Coast for a more prosperous life in Israel. Granted, Israel has complained to Egypt in the past about allowing the 2,800+ Africans to sneak across the border in recent years (very few of them are from Darfur, contrary to the indignant cries of many in the US which has noticeably failed to take in many Darfurians itself)--but SHOOTING them?

Okay, got it -- African illegal immigrants seeking employment try to sneak into the Land of Milk, Honey and Social Benefits are SHOT but Arab terrorists who actually murder Jews and other Arabs are released back into Gaza to create more murder and mayhem.

And where's Alice? Well, Condi's motorcade stopped all traffic and passed 20 feet in front of me today, armed to the teeth and escorted by Shin Bet, the Jerusalem Police and many 4x4s from the American Embassy (the latter of which invariable carry strong young guys who could pose as Chippendales because of the cut of their muscles). Having conferenced with the Red Queen, she's apparently off to consult with the Cheshire Cat in Ramallah.

I, on the other hand, have tons of stuff to get done in this life as it is really lived here, so I skipped the tea party, went on to Modi'in, closed another chapter in our house sale, and have yet to put the check in the bank and pick up friends at the airport.....

Eid Mubarak, neighbors--let's hope against all odds that something good will come of all this. After all, this is a time of new beginnings for you and for us in our calendars. B'ezrat H"S, yihiye tov, yihiye shalom.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How Can You Have Peace When You Can't Even Have A Peace Concert?

I have shamelessly stolen the title from the Talkback contributor in Germany who posed this plaintive question.

A concert in Jericho to support a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines has been called off after participants were threatened, the Palestinian organizer said Friday... "For security reasons we cannot have the concert at this time," said Nisreen Shahin, executive director of OneVoice Palestine. Shahin said Palestinian participants had been threatened and that the political situation in the Palestinian territories was too unstable for such an event. ..The Jericho event had drawn criticism from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization for its attempt to normalize ties with Israel. A Palestinian Internet posting had threatened to "wipe out" OneVoice's Palestinian offices, a spokeswoman said.

Methinks perhaps that "Another Voice," the quasi-anonymous Facebook plug against OneVoice, might share the PFLP's goals -- that of endless war against the Jewish state...maybe they even share funding?

Wouldn't surprise me -- Another Voice has now emerged from the shadows and can be found on the International Solidarity Movement's website, that front for fascists against Jews having their own country.

Endless war has its supporters. As always, follow the money.....what would guys in the various Arab militias actually DO for a living if the conflict ended? As 7th grade dropouts brainwashed to become shaheeds and terrorists, they don't have much of a future. But this is just the riff-raff....how could Uncle Mohammed pay for that snazzy new 4-story multi-family luxury house going up outside of Ramallah unless the United Nations and EU keep throwing money at Abbas & Co.? This form of trickle-down economy guarantees that the war will continue---Fatah gets loads of money, distributes it to the loyalists, all of whom have fancy cars, bodyguards, truly impressive houses, and the impoverished Arabs living in the "refugee camps" without a sewage system will continue to be educated in the ways of jihad.

Ah, but that's Fatah and we all know that Fatah is corrupt! Hamas, on the other hand, takes in as much or more money from Iran and Wahabist Saudi Arabia, and while they don't drive fancy cars, they do throw the opposition off of rooftops, execute opponents in the street, and murder unarmed women belonging to a clan which opposed them. Instead of villas, they buy advanced weaponry and new APCs and their Palestinians still have open sewers, too.

Folks can scream all they want about the Iraq War (and Gulf War before it) being "all about oil" and enriching the oil companies BUT the Israel-Arab conflict is the longest running money-maker in the Middle East. Sans oil. We have just scads of UNWRA employees (all Arab except for the "front guys" who are usually naifs from England or Norway), several platoons of UN employees all over the place (we have at least one platoon here in Jerusalem--they are easily noticed because of their obnoxious habit of driving slowly and pointedly down Derech Hevron on Yom Kippur), dozens of workers for each of the several dozen NGOs active here, plus liberal Christians here to push "liberation theology" and countered vigorously by the Evangelicals arguing more fiercely for Jewish rights than our own government. Then we have the various countries and arms manufacturers who are making money hand over fist supplying the local arms race as well as providing more than enough small arms to arm every Arab in the West Bank, man, woman and child, seven times over.

So here the grassroots Palestinians are, trying to find a common voice with their Israeli counterparts, even if everyone knows that there will be disagreements on the details and ugly sticking points in arriving at peace......and the PFLP threatens them. The PFLP, for those late to the region, was originally a Marxist organization and a rival of Fatah but lately acting under the auspices of their prime sponsor, Syria (and hence, Iran).

So these stooges of Iran/Syria up in Damascus in the name of "liberating" their fellow-Palestinians, criticize the concert and suddenly anonymous threats are being posted on the Internet. A shadowy terror organization with members in the thousands at most can shut up half a million moderate Palestinians by flexing their Kalashnikovs.

Yeah, right, let's have a peace conference....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Yet Another Evil Zionist Conspiracy

So it appears that many among the youth of Israel and the West Bank are fed up with politics and promises (like, who isn't?) and there is what claims to be a grass-roots nationalist (of both nations) movement to speak with "One Voice" and call for and end to the endless stalemates of war and terrorism and no-bottom-line negotiations that go nowhere.

The One Voice movement announced

Jericho/Tel Aviv, September 19, 2007 —Today, the OneVoice Movement, a youth-led mainstream nationalist movement with parallel operations in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, announced that it had exceeded its original goal of recruiting half a million Palestinian and Israeli citizens as signatories of a mandate demanding a two-state solution. The OneVoice Mandate calls on Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to start immediate, uninterrupted negotiations until a comprehensive two-state solution is reached...The groundswell of Israeli and Palestinian citizens committing themselves to the movement will gather on an unprecedented scale on October 18th, 2007, when OneVoice will host the One Million Voices to End the Conflict people’s summits...Through a series of groundbreaking negotiations held among Palestinian, Israeli and international experts and advisors, OneVoice revealed that a hidden consensus amongst the people exists on the basis of a two-state solution. 76% of both Israelis and Palestinians are in favor of a two-state solution, and would be willing to compromise to live in strong, independent, stable states at peace with their neighbors. Building off of these Citizens Negotiations is the OneVoice Mandate, which calls upon the region’s elected representatives to:
*Recognize the right of both peoples to independence, sovereignty, freedom, justice, dignity, respect, national security, personal safety, and economic viability,
*Implement concrete confidence-building measures that will improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli people, including ensuring freedom of movement for ordinary civilians and fostering education against incitement on both sides, and
*Immediately commence uninterrupted negotiations until reaching an agreement, no later than October 18, 2008, for a Two-State Solution, fulfilling the consistent will of the overwhelming majority of both populations.

So, it seems that there are "moderate" Palestinians willing to literally put their futures and maybe their lives on the line by signing a public petition calling for a two-state solution, something abhorred by Hamas and its ilk and not too popular with Arafat-the-pretend-moderate, either. I have a pretty clear recollection of his rise to rais-dom and recall from exile. One of his first acts was to round up and kill all the "collaborators" -- which were defined as anyone who belonged to a Palestinian grassroots peace endeavor, or who didn't fully support Arafat or who owned something Arafat or his minions wanted handed over as a gift.

There seems to be steam gathering for a push at peace that will be something other than heads-of-state meeting each other in foreign capitals and posing for promising photographs but never really getting things done. Lots of position papers and proposals but no action on the ground, except from the spoilers who have historically disrupted movement towards compromise with mass murder.

So who could object to a musical "happening" in favor of final status negotiations for a peaceful settlement.

Other Palestinians--or so they claim to be....

"Another Voice" disses One Voice as being the stalking horse of sinister Zionist promoters of "apartheid." Their complaint? That OneVoice fails to "mention key elements required for a just and lasting peace. From justifying settlement blocs to avoiding the refugees’ right to return, the OneVoice plan avoids the framework of international law, and serves to subordinate Palestinian rights to Israeli interests.

As opposed to subordinating Israeli rights to Palestinian interests, which seems to be the goal of this particular operation.

“Like many other diplomatic misadventures, the OneVoice campaign overlooks the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and repackages dangerous concessions into an initiative that looks nice on the surface. It is misleading, and many are starting to realize that,” said Another Voice organizer Haithem El-Zabri.

You need to be able to speak Palestinian Newspeak to decode all this.

"Inalienable rights" means the Palestinian (and other Arabs') demand that the State of Palestine be created in the zone of land "from the river to the sea" meaning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel is currently situated on some of that land, but in the exercise of their "inalienable rights" the Arabs are willing to see the Jewish state exterminated and replaced by an Arab state called Palestine.

"Inalienable rights" also means that the descendants of putative Palestinian refugees (now numbering about 1.4 million) have an absolute right to move into Israel proper. Of course, the descendants of Jews who were forcibly expelled from this land have no rights to it whatsoever, in the Palestinian narrative. A fourth generation Israeli Jew whose great-grandparents emigrated from Moscow with the permission of the Turkish authorities running the Ottoman Empire at the time is a "European colonialist" despite proof of persecution historically and currently in Russia, which rejects Jews as being non-European, non-Russian, non-Christian and not wanted. A "Palestinian" from the United States, born and raised in Virginia, who speaks no Arabic, and is the product of a marriage from a European born-and-bred "Palestinian" father and European mother, whose Lebanese grandfather worked in Haifa for five years, is NOT a "colonialist" but instead is a "Palestinian refugee."

Of course, the descendants of Jews living in Arab lands (about 800,000 or 50,000 more than the Arabs who ostensibly fled from "Palestine") aren't entitled to either return to their native lands, receive any compensation from those governments or even be mentioned in anyone's discussion of refugees.

Got that? "Palestinian" refugees have rights--Jewish refugees from Arab countries aren't worth mentioning.

The Palestinians have no "right of return." It's a non-starter and even Abbas is dancing around the terminology, talking about a "right" that must not be exercised for the greater good of the Palestinian people. The general consensus, including among the Palestinian leadership outside of Hamas, is that any "right of return" must be to the new state of Palestine and not to Israel.

AnotherVoice apparently has decided that isn't good enough. "Apartheid" as used in their context clearly doesn't mean South African apartheid where a minority of Whites ruled one nation where the majority of Blacks were disenfranchised and discriminated against.

The Palestinian Newspeak word "apartheid" means any agreement that results in two states--a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine. This isn't even Dhimmi Carter's definition ferhevvinsakes!

It does illustrate the outright dishonesty of the anti-peace-camp among the Palestinian Arabs and their Islamofascist and Left-wing Fascist supporters. Their press release posted today on Facebook (http://www.anothervoice-palestine.org/) is full of the kind of fuzzy rhetoric found in Left wing circles which resonates with all the proper buzz words but when analyzed, is found to be empty of concrete meaning.

Whether or not you agree with OneVoice, it is heartening to see hope and idealism on a mass scale not just in Tel Aviv, but also in the West Bank. It's nice to see huge numbers of people coming out in support of some kind of stab at a peaceful settlement.

Too bad that "Another Voice" wants to be the spoiler by insisting on the fossilized and entrenched demands of irrendentist Arab nationalism which previously gave us the "Three Noes" of the Khartoum Conference. Who are these people? "Another Voice" is supported by whose money? Whose backing? In contrast to OneVoice, which has transparently put their supporters and money on their pages, "Another Voice" is anonymous except for two names at the bottom of the press release who may or may not be real people and which names may or may not be noms de guerre since absolutely NO information is provided about them.

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