Thursday, August 31, 2006

A summer to forget

I am positively drained. This summer of rockets, political scandals and hatred has taken its toll, and I feel horribly, horribly burned out. I am tired of hearing about the war, and have neither patience nor sympathy for the public figures who are trying to weasel out of truly taking responsibility for the failures and the tragedies, whether they be on a political level or a personal one. I no longer want to hear about the scandals in which far too many of our politicians have found themselves. You know your country is in trouble when your president is being investigated for rape, your justice minister has stepped down from his post in order to defend himself against sex-related charges, and a whole slew of other politicians are in various stages of police investigation (including the prime minister). I’m sorry, but what is wrong with you people? Don’t even get me started on those politicians who were not only against the war, but actually, quite publicly, supported Hezbollah. Yeah, that’s right. They were actually supporting those who were firing rockets at their own citizens. How’s that for democracy, folks?

The saddest part of all is that once the inquiries have been completed, once all is said and done, we will probably just go on the same as before. No one will step down and nothing will change, and yet another large stack of collated papers will be shoved into an archive somewhere, collecting dust with all the other reports that have been written over the years. This is the method that seems to work best for those in charge, and I can’t imagine that they’ll be in too much of a hurry to mess with success.

And then there’s the hatred. I’m not talking about hatred between Arabs and Israelis, I’m referring to the flourishing hatred of the Jews, primarily in (but certainly not limited to) Europe. I am shocked by the levels of anti-Semitism these days. I can accept anti-Israel sentiment, and I can differentiate between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism. Of late, I have become acutely aware of a disturbing ability to blur the lines between the two, and the propensity of the former to justify the latter (or vice versa). I am shocked and dismayed by the anti-Semitic fervor that I’m seeing across the world, and am horrified by its prevalence and its sources. I am struck dumb by the words of individuals such as Jostein Gaarder, who write lengthy diatribes against the state of Israel, diatribes so deeply mired in anti-Semitic imagery that any potentially legitimate criticism of Israel is lost. I am shocked by the anti-Israel political cartoons that use religious Jews to represent Israel as the violent oppressor. Most of all, I am appalled by the feigned ignorance that I see, the misguided beliefs about Israel and its people, the ignorance at what accounts for anti-Semitism, and the inability to see the difference. I do not like to think that I am reactionary, jumping at every instance of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel expression. Unlike a number of my fellow countrymen and co-religionists, I do not believe that every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, and indeed, much of the criticism is valid. I say to you now, though, that anti-Semitism is on the rise, and it is frightening and disgusting to observe.
I refuse to sit back and keep quiet while the world vilifies us, using its hatred of Israel as a springboard to anti-Semitism. I am tired of those who live their lives in safety and in comfort while creating some bizarre equation of moral equivalency between a sovereign state and terror organizations, and in my less sane moments, I like to imagine how your own countries would respond to the daily threats that Israel faces.

And then there are those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and for you, I simply have no words (at least no words that I am willing to use here). Get it through your thick skulls and into your puny little brains, people – Israel is not going anywhere, and the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner we will all, perhaps, be able to live in peace. Of course, to that end, there are definitely steps that Israel must take as well, otherwise there will be no moving forward. But please, for those of you who refuse to pull your heads out of your asses and accept the reality on the ground (and that certainly holds true for people on both sides of the divide), all I can say is that you are not living in the real world, and I pity you your ignorance.

Now I feel the need to mention hypocrisy. The hypocrisy of those media outlets who think twice before publishing anti-Islamic rhetoric, but consider anti-Semitic rhetoric (as long as it us under the thinly veiled guise of anti-Israel sentiment) to be an acceptable form of expression. Had Jostein Gaarder written about Islam in the same way that he wrote about Judaism, I daresay that we’d be seeing a repeat performance of what happened following the cartoon scandal. If freedom of speech is to take religious sensitivities into account (and I’m not saying that it should or shouldn’t), this must be extended to all religions, and not used in a haphazard, pick-and-choose manner. It cannot be acceptable to bash one religion and not another.

And then there is the hypocrisy that exists in our little corner of the blogosphere – and indeed, our little corner of the world. It is astounding and maddening. I am angered by those who attack Jews who dare to criticize the questionable actions of other groups of Jews, yet see nothing wrong with making blanket generalizations and assumptions about the entire world population of Muslims. How can one be acceptable when the other is not? As some of my colleagues can attest to, it is lonely to be a left-wing liberal Jewish-Israeli blogger, chastised by the Jewish-Israeli right for going too far, yet chastised by the European left for not going far enough. I am who I am, and believe what I believe, and I refuse to be cowed by those who presume to know better and do not hesitate to tell me so. Clearly, you folks have far too much time on your hands, and should seriously consider going out and finding a new hobby, preferably one that doesn’t rely on bigotry and hypocrisy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Grappling with Jostein Gaarder

I haven't been blogging so much lately because I've been wrestling with a number of issues, mainly related to the recent war. I've been grappling with identity issues and struggling to understand my own thoughts and feelings vis a vis Israel, anti-Semitism and the world at large, and am feeling quite unsettled, to say the least. I have been avidly following the debate surrounding an article written by author Jostein Gaarder, which appeared in the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftonposten several weeks ago. The original article appeared in Norwegian, and the unofficial translation I've included here was written by Leif, the blogger over at Heretics' Almanac. At this stage, I am going to refrain from sharing my own opinions, as I do not want them to cloud your own. In any event, once you've finished reading the article, I'd appreciate hearing your reactions and thoughts, no matter what your background may be.

If you'd like to read more on this piece, Leif has written a number of blog entries surrounding this controversy (his first one, which includes the translation below, is here), as has Jan over at Secular Blasphemy (with his first entry being here). The comments that each received were most interesting, to say the least.

The translation of Gaarder's op-ed piece is as follows:

God's chosen people

Israel is history. We no longer recognize the State of Israel. There is no way back. The State of Israel has raped the world's recognition and will get no peace until it lays down its weapons. The State of Israel in its current form is history.

No way back. It is time to learn a new refrain: We no longer recognize the State of Israel. Vi couldn't recognize the apartheid regime in South Africa, we didn't recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. And there were many who didn't recognize Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Serb ethnic cleansing. So now we must get used to the thought: the State of Israel, in its current form, is history.

We don't believe in the illusion of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's conceits and cry over its misdeeds. To act as God's chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.

Limits for tolerance
Our patience has its limits, and so does our tolerance. We don't believe in divine promises as a basis for occupation and apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind us. We are embarrassed by those who believe that the god of plants, animals and galaxies has appointed one particular people as its favorites and given them funny stone tablets, burning bushes and a license to kill.

We call those who murder children child-murderers and will never accept that such people have a divine or historical mandate that can excuse their shameful acts. We can only say: shame over all apartheid, shame over ethnic cleansing, shame over all terrorist acts against civilians, whether perpetrated by Hamas, Hizballah, or the State of Israel!

Art of war without scruples
We recognize and accept fully Europe's deep responsibility for the fate of the Jews, for the shameful harrassment, the pogroms and the Holocaust. It was historically and morally necessary that the Jews got their own home. But the State of Israel has with its unscrupulous art of war and repulsive weapons massacred its own legitimacy. It has systematically violated international law, conventions, and numerous UN resolutions and can no longer expect protection from such quarters. It has carpet bombed the world's recognition. But have no fear! The hard times are nearly over. Israel has seen its Soweto.

We are at the watershed. There is no way back. The State of Israel has raped the world's recognition and will not see peace until it lays down its arms.

No defense, no skin
May spirit and words blow Israel's apartheid walls over. The State of Israel doesn't exist. It is without defense now, without skin. May the world have mercy on the civilian population. Because our prophecies of doom are not directed at the individual civilians.

We want the people in Israel everything well, everything well, but we reserve the right to not eat Jaffa oranges as long as they taste badly and are poisonous. We easily managed without the blue apartheid grapes for a few years.

They celebrate the triumphs
We don't believe that Israel mourns more over 40 Lebanese children than they for the last three thousand years have complained about 40 years in the desert. We take note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs the way they once celebrate the Ten Plagues as "suitable punishment" for the Egyptian people. (In this story the Lord of Israel appears as an insatiable sadist). We ask ourselves if one Israeli life is worth more than 40 Lebanese or Palestinian [lives].

For we have seen the pictures of Israeli girls who write hateful messages on the bombs to be released over the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Israeli girls are not cute when they take pleasure in death and agony on the other side of the front lines.

Retribution of the vendetta
We do not recognize the rhetoric of the State of Israel. We do not recognize the the bloody spiral of retribution of the vendetta and an "eye for an eye." We do not recognize the principle of ten thousand Arab eyes for one or two Israeli eyes. We do not recognize collective punishment or population diets as a political weapon. It's been two thousand years since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine of an "eye for an eye."

He said: "All that you would others do for you, you should do for them." We do not recognize a state that is built on anti-humanitarian principles and the ruins of an archaic religion of nationalism and war. Or, as Albert Schweitzer put it, "humanity is to never sacrifice a human for a cause."

Mercy and forgiveness
We do not recognize the old kingdom of David as normative for the 21st century's map of the Middle East. The Jewish rabbi who claimed two thousand years ago that the kingdom of God is not a resurrection of David's realm, but that the kingdom of God is within us and among us. God's kingdom is one of mercy and forgiveness.

It's been two thousand years since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and thoroughly humanized old war rhetoric. Already in his time there were Zionist terrorists.

Israel doesn't listen
For two thousand years, we have emphasize the curriculum of humanity, but Israel doesn't listen. It wasn't the Pharisean who helped the man who lay on the side of the road because he had been attacked by robbers. It was a Samaritan, today we'd say a Palestinian. Because first we are human - Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Or as the Jewish rabbi said: "And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?" We do not accept the abduction of soldiers. But we do not recognize the deportation of entire groups of people and the abduction of lawfully elected parliamentarians or members of a cabinet, either.

We recognize the State of Israel of 1948, but not of 1967. That is the State of Israel that doesn't recognize, respect, and yield to the legal 1948 state. Israel wants more - more villages, and more water. To achieve this some are enlisting God's help to find a final solution to the Palestinian question. Some Israeli politicians claim that the Palestinians have so many countries, while we have only one.

USA or the world?
Or as Israel's highest protector puts it: "May God continue to bless America." A little child noted this and asked the mother: "Why does the president always end his speeches with God bless America? Why doesn't he say God bless the world?"

And then there was a Norwegian poet [Henrik Wergeland] who exclaimed the following childlike sigh: "Why does humanity progress so slowly?" He was the one who wrote so beautifully about the Jew and the Jewess [two epic poems by Wergeland]. But he rejected the the illusion of a chosen people. He called himself a Muslim.

Calm and mercy
We do not recognize the State of Israel. Not today, as we write this, in our hour of sorrow and rage. If the nation of Israel should fall under its own acts, and parts of its population must flee the occupied areas and into another diaspora, we say: May those around them show them mercy and calm now. It is always a crime without any mitigating circumstances to to lay a hand on refugees and the stateless.

Peace and right of passage for the fleeing civilians who no longer have a state that can protect them! Don't shoot at the refugees! Don't aim at them! They are as vulnerable as snails without their houses now, vulnerable like the slow-moving caravans from Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless as the women, children, and elderly in Qana, Gaza, and Sabra and Shatila. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!

Don't let a single Israeli child's life be lost. Too many children and civilians have already been murdered.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

That's the way the UN resolution - I mean the cookie - crumbles

For anyone who might be questioning the effectiveness of the recent UN resolution regarding the conditions of the ceasefire between Israel and the Hezbollah, the following quote, taken from this article in Haaretz, should provide the answer you're looking for.

"According to the (Lebanese) cabinet decision, Hezbollah will not disarm in
southern Lebanon, but its members will refrain from carrying weapons in
public. The agreement was reached following deliberations with Hezbollah
representatives that lasted days."

Is it just me, or does this compromise seem to fall slightly short of what was agreed upon by Lebanon and Israel in order for the ceasefire to come into effect? Perhaps I'm missing some of the finer nuances, but it seems that there's a serious difference between disarming and hiding. If this is the spirit in which the UN resolution will be implemented, I must confess that any fleeting shreds of respect I may have had for the UN are completely destroyed, and to be on the safe side, I believe I will continue to ensure that our in-house shelter is kept in good condition, and pray that round two doesn't come too quickly.

In the meantime, I'll just sit back and watch the country crumble like a chocolate chip cookie that's been dunked in a glass of milk. War-related scandals? Political scandals? Showbiz? Yes folks. You can find all of those scandals and more, right here, right now. Israel - your one-stop scandal shop. The country is going to hell in handbasket, so you'd better hold on. I think we've got a bumpy ride coming up ahead.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Service with a smile - Israeli style

I stopped in at our local pharmacy last evening on the way home from work. Picking out the items I needed (those in stock, anyway, our branch of this national chain is notorious for never having exactly what I need), I found myself at the back of the store, next to the pharmaceutical counter. As opposed to the usual levels of madness, the area was almost totally empty, with no one waiting in the prescription line and only one woman in the non-prescription line. An employee was behind the counter, and as I approached, I asked if I could pay for my items there (after all, there is a cash register). She responded in a sing-songy voice that I could pay anywhere.

Then she walked away from the counter. I waited a moment, assuming that her return was imminent. It seems, however, that I was wrong. I took a step in her direction, and much to my amazement, I found her fiddling with products in the natural and homeopathic department, adjacent to the pharmaceutical counter. I could feel my inner bitch start to awaken as I threw my opening salvo.

"So, I guess I can't pay here, then?"

She looked at me, almost surprised to see that I was still there, hovering around her station.

"You can pay anywhere," she repeated, as she slid back behind the counter. "You can go pay in Cosmetics."

"But I'm already here," I said, standing firm.

"People might need to buy medicine," she replied.

"But there isn't anyone else here. I'm the only one here. If there were other people, I could understand, but there's no one," said I.

"She's right, you know," piped up the woman being helped at the non-prescription counter to my adversary behind the counter. "There's no one else waiting to be helped."

My newfound ally and I exchanged smiles and rolled our eyes.

My adversary (strange – her voice was no longer sing-songy) started to admit defeat, clearly beginning to realize how stupid she sounded, but then another pharmacist appeared and began pressing keys on the computer keyboard. "The computer is busy now," she said, with just a hint of a smile. As I rolled my eyes and quickly scanned the other registers, the other pharmacist moved away from the computer, and suddenly, it was no longer busy.

Triumphant at last, I was finally allowed to pay. Victory was mine, and how sweet it was. With my asinine little transaction behind me, I quickly made my way out of the store. It did not escape my notice that it took this lazy sloth of an individual more than twice as long to try to weasel out of helping me than it actually took for the actual transaction to take place. I marveled at her work ethic, which clearly – hopefully – had seen better days.

When I complain about stuff like this, veteran Israelis like to impress me with stories about how bad things were ten and twenty years ago, telling me that today we are seeing a real improvement. Clearly, these folks have never been to my pharmacy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Coming out of the closet

Can you believe it? It’s been fourteen months since this blog was created, and needless to say, it’s been quite an exciting ride. It all began with this post, as He (who recently “came out of the closethimself) and I jumped into the Israeli blogosphere, hoping to take the world by storm (I’m still waiting for that one). Sometimes witty, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes provocative, and usually pretty enjoyable. I say usually, as because with any ongoing, long-term project, there are bound to be bumps and bruises along the way. I’ll even let you all in on a little secret. At one point, quite early on, I almost quit, so affected was I by some behind-the-scenes (and some not so behind-the-scenes) action around these parts. Fortunately for me, I chose to continue writing, despite the nagging fear that something would trigger a repeat of the events, that I would once again feel threatened for expressing my opinions. So far, it hasn’t happened, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m always looking over my virtual shoulder (and it makes me crazy that I feel this way, but what can I say – once burned, twice shy, right?).

In any event, now that He has sadly bid us farewell (the gang over here at Something Something will miss you terribly, mwah mwah), there may be some changes around here, as I make this place truly all mine, a place where we can all continue to share ideas and opinions, and a place where I can take credit for my writing. To that end, I have decided to forgo my anonymity, at least partially. After all, who in the world will take me seriously if I continue to use my adopted, anonymous moniker of She? Not to say, of course, that they will take me seriously then, either. I’m just trying to improve my chances.

So, without further adieu, ahem, ahem, from here on out, please feel free to call me Liza. Note that that’s Liza with a “z” not Lisa with an “s”, cuz Lisa with an “s” goes “ssss” not “zzzz”. “Lie” instead of “Lee”, “z” instead of “s”, simple as can be, see Liza!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Waiting games

Yesterday, I was looking at these photos that Lisa posted from the north. I’ve always loved northern Israel – its natural beauty, its hidden nooks and crannies. We’ve spent many glorious days driving around the north, enjoying the sights and sounds of the season, whether it be the rushing waters of winter or the blooming flowers of early spring. We love the nature trails that amble past ancient ruins and waterfalls, the breathtaking views from the mountains, the roads that take you past sleepy little villages, suddenly curving and allowing you to sneak a peek at the Kinneret. There are an astounding number of excellent restaurants tucked into the landcape, offering a variety of mouth-watering dishes served against outstanding natural backdrops. And the green. Whenever I think of the north, I think of green. The beautiful forests, the rolling fields, the sloping hills and towering mountains. Green. All of it. Everywhere you turn. Incredible. Magnificent. Gone.

Everyone has seen the pictures from Lebanon – the destruction, the death. We have all been made profoundly aware of the extent of the damage there, and despite the fact that some of the photos have proven to be fakes, it’s clear that several parts of the country are simply in ruins. But what about northern Israel? More than 3000 missiles have been shot into Israel, courtesy of the Hezbollah. 3000 missiles, all containing added bits of metal in addition to the usual explosives, in order to maximize the damage they have been designed to inflict on the citizens of Israel. Many homes and apartments have been damaged or destroyed, schools have been hit, factories, hospitals, businesses big and small. Many, many injured, and a growing number of dead, with no distinction between Jew and Arab. We have all been targeted. We heave a collective sigh of relief when we hear that a missile has landed in an open area, and that there has been no damage to property or human life. These “harmless” landings have also taken a toll, as our lush, green north bursts into flames that leap high into the sky, moving quickly through the grass, plants and trees that have not seen rain for months.

Scenes from northern Israel have been shown in the media – houses going up in flames, buildings collapsing, vehicles that have become nothing more than burned out metal carcasses. Puncture wounds created by metal ball-bearings are everywhere, including in the bodies of the victims (which mercifully we are not forced to look at, due to the Israeli media tradition of not showing pictures of the dead). I cannot look anymore. I cannot see my beautiful north being systematically destroyed, torn apart by missiles and rockets sent by a terror organization that doesn’t care who it kills, who it hurts, no matter whether they are north or south of the border. I fear that even the small window of destruction that we have seen thus fad cannot even begin to prepare us for the actual devastation that awaits us, once we will be able to return safely to the north to see for ourselves. I envision towns and cities where more buildings are damaged than not, fields of blackened, dead trees, where flowers no longer grow. Gaping holes where homes used to be. Cemeteries with far too many freshly-dug graves. We will be a nation in shock, a nation in mourning as we assess and internalize our losses.

We are nothing if not resilient, and we will rebuild. We have survived terror attacks and Scud missiles, and we will survive this as well. In a few years’ time, the war that took place during the summer of 2006 will be little more than a memory, and our northern environs will be flourishing once again. For now, though, we wait, we worry and we mourn.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Just another manic Sunday...

It’s Sunday morning, and here I am, on the train once again. Sunday mornings on the train are akin to a crapshoot, and this time, despite an initial setback, I thought I’d ended up in the winners’ circle. Having left the house a few minutes late (later than my usual running late), I kept my eye on the clock as we raced to the station. I wasn’t terribly worried, given that the train has been prone to running a bit late these days, with Sundays being no exception (if anything, they’re even later). Was it just me, or were there far more people on the platform than usual for this train? No train had been cancelled, but it still seemed awfully crowded. My fears were confirmed when the train finally pulled into the station, already packed to the gills like a sardine can, and judging by the number of people who were trying to get on the train, a sardine can would have been much more comfortable.

“Okay, I thought. Forget the express train. Sure, you’ll get there faster, but do you really want to spend 40 minutes in sheer, hot and smelly misery, unable to lean on or hold on to anything? Is this the way you want to start the week?” My inner self responded with a resounding “NO”, and knowing that there would be a regular train leaving three minutes later, where I could easily grab a seat, I shuffled down the stairs and headed for the other platform. No sooner had I staked out what I had assessed to be the best spot for waiting (based on a most complicated combination of mathematical formulas, coin tossing and 4.5 rubs on my lucky rabbit’s foot, all in that order), when an announcement was made, relaying the news that the train would be fifteen minutes late.

Sigh. I look at my watch and think for a moment. Suddenly, a coffee-colored light bulb goes on in my head. Fifteen minutes. Fifteen long minutes. Practically an eternity. I shuffled back down the stairs from whence I came, glanced at the express train, where many people were still queuing to get on, despite the obvious lack of room, and scooted out through the gate towards the kiosk, where mercifully, my clever idea for passing the time hadn’t caught on yet. A few moments later, I was making my way back to the platforms, with a cup in my hand and joy in my heart. Once again I began shuffling down the stairs to the far platform, when rather abruptly, the first milligrams of caffeine kicked in, setting my still-sleeping brain cells in motion. With sudden clarity, I realized that instead of waiting fifteen minutes for the regular train, I could wait twenty minutes and grab the next express train. Pure genius!

With far, far less people waiting for this express train than had been waiting for the previous express train, I joined their rather thin ranks, pleased that I’d managed to figure this one out on my own and not (yet again) missed a golden opportunity to travel in both speed and comfort.
Or so I initially believed. Given that earlier trains were running behind schedule and ours had arrived on time, it soon became clear that this wouldn’t be the quickest ride I’d ever had with Israel Railways, as we ambled along slowly due to the trains ahead of ours. At least it was an express train, and I’d managed to grab two seats to myself, with no one sitting across from me. Not too shabby, eh? Once again, my joy was short-lived, as they announced that our train would become a regular train, stopping at all upcoming stations, all the way into Tel Aviv. I managed to retain my two-seat status through the first station, but my bubble burst as we reached the second, as two chatty women joined me and the soldier sitting diagonal from me, alternately reading his book and sleeping.

And so, a mere hour and forty minutes after leaving my son at home with a kiss on the forehead, I got off the train and pushed my way through the throngs of soldiers and civilians on the platform, all completely oblivious of the existence of anyone but themselves. By the time I reached the stairs, I’d kicked my share of duffle bags, thrown enough elbows to get several minutes in the penalty box, and received a painful yet colorful bruise on my back, just below my shoulder, from the weapon of a random soldier. Fifteen minutes and one aggravated get-it-all-out-of-my-system rant to my husband later, I slithered into the office building, wilted from the heat and humidity, and essentially feeling like a lettuce leaf that was well past its sell-by date.
I always worry when the week starts off on the wrong foot, and wonder how such an auspicious beginning bodes for the rest of the week (especially after the “alarming” weekend I’ve had). Only two requests, please. Let us be safe, and let there be coffee.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Enough! Di! Halas!

Just yesterday morning I was talking to my neighbor about the situation, and how I would wake up every morning wondering if this would be the day when Hezbollah had put our area in its sights. It appears that yesterday was that day, as I experienced my first siren yesterday afternoon (which was apparently a false alarm, but nevertheless sent us scurrying into our safe room), followed up by another one on the evening, just as we had set the table and my husband was grilling our dinner on the barbecue.

Yes, it would seem that we are now officially in range, as Hezbollah sent a number of missiles into Hadera last night. I didn't actually here the booms (as they are referred to here), but our more experienced refugees from the north confidently reported hearing two. I suppose I always expected that it would reach us eventually, but it's hard to believe that it's actually happened. I can feel how tense I am, and I wonder what we'll do if there will be more missiles falling in the area. I imagine that we will uproot as well, and head to the relations living south of Tel Aviv. I cannot see a situation where we will stay if things get bad here – just thinking about it makes me nervous. On the other hand, I worry about us leaving, and about something happening to our home. I know it's just property, just things, but it is our property and our things, all inextricably linked to the memories that make up our life here.

It's now just after 10:30 in the morning, and if my understanding the translation from Hezbollah's Al Manar television station is correct, we may be seeing another missile attack on Hadera in the next hour or so. My stress levels are sky high, as all the tension I've been feeling throughout the course of this war seems to be coming to a head this morning. Thoughts are screaming petulantly in my head – I just want it all to be over already! I don't know how, and I have no solutions, but pretty much anything has to be better than the paralysis that has gripped northern Israel, a region whose borders seem to be moving farther and farther south with each passing day, and all of this death and destruction that just grows worse and worse, closer and closer. I am sick to death of watching our region burn, and I don't care whose fault it is. Citizens on both sides have suffered far too much, and if I hear one more war mongering talking head I'm going to scream.

Enough! Di! Halas!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And it's goodbye from him...

He is I, I is He. And He is outta here.

Yep, I've been bunking off for some time now, as you might have noticed. And She has been doing a magnificent job, the blog has truly become hers and hers only. She is a great writer and needs her own platform, if you ask me, even bigger and better than this simple blogspace...

So, I'm leaving the blog, going back to my own little abode. Abode? Yep, some of you may well have been aware that I am, in fact, this guy...I enjoyed posting over here for a change, as most of you probably see me as a bit of a joker. And our plan was to shake up things a little bit on the Israeli blog scene, as we indicated in our very first post, but some people obviously didn't like we chilled and I slowly moved aside.

So, it really is goodbye from him. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

About the weather

Friday’s weather report as described by the English-language edition of Haaretz:

“Today and tomorrow will see temperatures dip, but don’t be alarmed, it’s only a blip. When the weekend ends and Sunday rears its head, the mercury will rise and you’ll be sweating instead. No change is seen for Monday, the last day of July, and August 1, they promise, will still be hot and dry.”

You’ve got wonder what’s going on their offices. Clearly a case of “frustrated writeritis”. I’ve got to admit, though, I like a newspaper that takes the time to invest in its weather reports that way. I first noticed it during the World Cup, when they included a pithy little soccer (or football, for all of you non-Americans out there)-related forecast. As I only buy the newspaper on Fridays, I don’t actually know if they take the time to be so meteorologically witty during the rest of the week. All I can say is I’ve never looked forward to a weather forecast as much as I do now...

Oh, and here’s an unrelated little tidbit of information… I discovered yesterday that the little one thinks that “Mommy works on the train”. I can see his reasoning, after all, he and his father drop me off at the train station in the morning, and then they pick me up there in the afternoon. Needless to say, we were highly amused.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What's it all about?

What the hell is wrong with the Israeli government? Don’t answer that. If you try, we could be here forever. I have stated in previous entries that I support the premise for this war. It is absurd that we, as a sovereign nation recognized by most other nations in the world (and even supported by a few of them), should have to put up with and accept the continual threats and cross-border incursions made by a terror organization based in another sovereign nation that has turned a blind eye for years to its activities and amassing of weapons. It is inconceivable that Israel’s citizens should be forced to live with this threat day in and day out, never knowing when a Katyusha rocket will suddenly fall from the sky, never knowing if it’s soldiers will return from routine border patrols. What other country in the world would be asked to put up with such a situation, asked to show restraint in the face of constant threats to its sovereignty, to its very existence?

For those of you who think that the current war is about two kidnapped soldiers, you are very, very wrong. The kidnapping of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev was simply the catalyst. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Israel left Lebanon six years ago, with no desire to return (why would we want to return to a place where so many of our soldiers lost their lives?). The Hezbollah left us no choice. We could not take anymore. Lebanon refused to act against the Hezbollah, choosing instead to ignore the fact that it was building up a well-armed militia on its soil. The UN, great friends of Israel that they are, proved once again that they could not be relied upon to play the role of peacekeeper, instead taking the meaning of the term “observer” to whole new levels as they observed the Hezbollah gaining strength and carrying out actions that could be considered dubious at best. What is Israel expected to do at this point, just sit back and take it? Accept it as “the way things are”? We did the only thing we could do. We did what we had to do. We took it upon ourselves to eliminate the threat. Dare I speculate as to what other countries would have done in Israel’s situation? If the state of Washington was repeatedly coming under attack by a well-armed group of renegade Canadians, do you think the US would stand by and take it? If a rogue Belgian militia was periodically lobbing rockets into Amsterdam, would the Dutch sit back and accept this status quo? If a bunch of cheeky Slovaks were occasionally hopping across the border to kidnap Czech soldiers, don’t you think that the Czechs would be more than a little bit miffed?

And then you claim that we should negotiate. With whom, exactly? With the organization that questions our very existence? With the organization that attacks our citizens while hiding behind its own? What would be the goal of the negotiations? To get our soldiers back? For the sake of argument, let’s say that Israel goes this route (as we have done a number of times in the past). What will stop the Hezbollah from kidnapping more soldiers the next time it suits their needs to do so (as they have done a number of times in the past)?

All of that being said, I am heartsick and nauseous when I see what we are doing in Lebanon. How can we claim to be moral with all of the damage that we are inflicting? Do the Israeli officials realize how petulant and childish they sound with regard to their defense of the Qana debacle? “We didn’t know there were civilians in the building.” “We warned them beforehand to leave.” Clearly, for whatever reasons, they didn’t or couldn’t leave, and our excuses sound hollow and lame when so many innocent people are dead. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that it is entirely our fault – the Hezbollah is just as much to blame for purposely using Lebanese citizens as human shields, and the stories I’ve heard about their treatment of the local population are absolutely frightening.

But still, in our exuberant rush to finish the job, we are committing sloppy, inexcusable errors, errors explained away with poor reasoning that only serves the interests of our unscrupulous, murderous enemies, and once again turns Israel into the world pariah, no matter how righteous and just our long-term goals may be in this case. Granted, I do not have alternative solutions, but I cannot help but question our methods as we sink deeper and deeper into the mire, and I fear that once all is said and done, we will have set ourselves and our region back by many, many years.