Sunday, July 1, 2012

one man's shit is another man's wonderful..

on saturday morning we went down to the old port of jaffa for breakfast at one of our favourite spots.. it is a pleasant time to walk while the slow rising eastern sun is still hidden by the hill of our former fisherman village.. we like the food and we like the service and the shy rattles of the docking boats are endearing..

two cyclists float by us and their conversation was audibly invasive.. "let me tell you another reason that this country is shit.."

they were decked out in designer bikewear.. in those typical traffic light hues.. so annoying to look at but even more annoying to listen to..

enter a group of african wedding goers following a bride and groom in white crimson and gold.. with two shocking pink clad cousins trailing behind.. they stood still right in front of us as the groom negotiated a boat ride for the whole crew..

our waiter blocked our view momentarily as he gazed at them.. we thought he was ethiopian until he turned to us an declared.. "they are our friends.." and rushed back to the serving station to dispatch someone elses breakfast..

noting that the men did not sport a kippa i spontaneously inquired when he came back as to what ethnicity these africans were.. "eritreans.. christians.." he told..

and then as if i inquired he continued to explain -

"in our country there is a dictator.. it is impossible to live.. we have suffered there greatly.. we love israel.. israel is a wonderful country.."

Monday, June 18, 2012

treading lightly..

waiting at the border between nicaragua and costa rica a few years back i met some people who had been to the amazing volcanos of guatamala.. they bragged about the lack of safety and how the guides walked them almost right up to the volcanos mouth..

i imagined them treading lightly.. my mind reconstructing them carefully placed steps on the melting rock as they eagerly hunted the amazing vision of the massive lava pimple hissing jets of steam as fishers opened in the thin crust..

i idolised their focus and their resolve.. thinking that maybe i wouldnt have had the same in those circumstances and found it easy to picture myself slipping to a tragic death - with loved ones bemoaning my eternal absence..

years have now gone by and i too have ventured towards the volcanos of life.. mastering my own techniques of treading lightly.. choosing the safer areas in my troublesome region to spend leisure time or picking more stable career options and remaining at all times sensible..

the end result - alongside a myriad of achievements of which i am very proud - is a sense of poor grip.. basically a fear.. it seems that if i step any harder i may fall through the ground.. it may give.. and yet there is no turning back because once trodden on the crispy layer separating me from the boiling mass beneath has been weakened forever..

gone are spontenaity.. impulse and whim.. hello planning.. caution and control..

maybe this is just what life is like when you hit the second half of your thirties..

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

dimming the lights..

i often have an idea for a post.. its burns a hole through my mind its so hot.. but then it fizzles.. like a shooting star.. and i forget what it was that i wanted to say.. the passion to speak up is drying.. i no longer have an urge to share or to document.. invites to peace events are filed through the pages of my existence like prepaid bills.. and even meeting up with old friends from activist circles seems cumbersome.. because i cant be bothered with their hope.. its exhausting.. i know that all ill want to do is push them to disagree with the positions that always held.. some of which were also dear to my ethos.. it is not clear whether its just the mood in the middle east these days.. or whether its the constant annoyance we suffer from our arab neighbours in the building we live in.. last night our street was packed and for no apparent reason.. no soccer game or street party.. just packed.. there was one free spot that stood there defiantly.. no one dared to park there.. everyone could see that all our arab neighbours who live on the ground floor - the same newcomers who have decided that the street belongs to them and that we mustnt park there - had already parked their music crunching vehicles.. but still that vacant spot was too close to their front door.. so we gracefully thanked the parking fairy for her stellar efforts and proceeded to do a few more laps around the block until we found the next closest spot 150m away.. walking home with our tails between our legs.. as we turned the corner into our stairwell we could feel the building's structure dancing to the doof doof oontz oontz that our ground floor forum was broadcasting.. it was late and we were already peeved by the blocks circuits.. as we climbed the stairwell we encountered numerous items of garbage that had been evenly distributed throughout the freshly cleaned stairwell with a malodour to match.. maybe this is clouding my judgment.. maybe its raping my thoughts and blinding me from the wonderful potential we have to live together peacefully.. and maybe me not writing has nothing to do with either of these issues.. in any events i feel the lights dimming over this desktop..

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

i wont call the police..

there is terror in my street.. there is violence in my street.. my street was once an oasis and now it has become a hell hole.. good people are leaving and bad people are arriving.. its a sad twist of fate for a street that has come so far.. it deserves better.. the intercultural divide is huge.. and they are solely to blame.. the perpetrators verbally attacked a lady holding her baby who dared to complain about the nightly noise they make.. the family immediately left the street.. they live there no longer.. others call the police but the cops never really do all that much.. people are talking of drug deals and other shady activities.. people are speaking of gun shots.. i know that the property market has pushed them to our shallow shores.. but why do we have to suffer their brutal lifestyle.. what if we were to get caught up in the cross fire one day.. there is terror on my street..

Saturday, May 5, 2012

the land will forgive..

a new fence is being built between lebanon and israel.. its not a political scheme.. not a declaration of any sort.. just a wall of several metres.. a knee jerk reaction to the swelling protests at our seam.. the land lies there obliviously.. it doesnt complain.. it doesnt resist.. it doesnt really care who lives on it.. it ridicules are respective claims of deriving from antiquity.. 2000.. 3000.. 10000 years.. haha it laughs.. its been here for so many billions.. for now we torture eachother.. but the land knows that one day we will all tire.. and it will again be restored through the caresses of the forcs of nature - the evolution of which we constantly battle and fear limitlessly.. then the land too will forgive and forget these scars..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012


iran and israeli facebookers making out - politically speaking..

cleanest quasi porn around..

the more the merrier.. im a supporter..

the morning journey..

counting your blessings is an important ritual.. i have an incredible wife and family.. a great job.. fun friends.. i love residing right by a stunning relatively shark free warm water coast.. i get to cycle to work when its sunny and the skies are often a pleasant blue.. living in israel has its downsides.. but then again - where else could this be my life..

with iran and syria setting the region ablaze with death and threats of it.. with the global economy wobbling like a one legged goose through a crocodile farm.. with antisemitism running at worldwide highs.. its nice to at least have some peace for a solid hour everyday..

and for this i say thank you..

Sunday, March 18, 2012

swift response..

iran's economy has been largely severed from the swift system.. this is a very powerful and crippling act.. and the media is brimming with how this may or may not impact the iranian nuclear program.. this has been heralded as the first time that a sovereign state has been treated this way.. it smacks of extreme and when extreme kicks in i tend to get edgy..

i dont understand it to be honest.. even if we can slow down the process - how long can you attempt to decide for a sovereign state what they are and are not going to do.. and what i also dont understand is why the world is prepared to foresake billions in cost of energy instead of diverting a fraction of this to solving the core issue in the middle east (in terms of international conflict) and drive the arab israeli conflict to resolution.. and frankly i believe that just like the egyptian israeli fragile yet stable peace deal - even the palo israeli conflict can be sold at the right price to the highest bidder..

anyway - when i think of cornered nations in strife i am immediately sent to memories of history classes of the weimar repubic in high school.. i recall studying about a nation that is cornered and starved and how extreme politics can grow out of such dire circumstances.. and combine that with a manic leader with solid control of masses and i worry.. i feel like we are ignoring low hanging lessons that are over ripe to be picked all for the sake of swift responses..

on the upside if this chokes the syiran regime which in turn chokes hamas and hizbulla - who knows maybe good things will follow..

shekh jarrah..

can you see how complicated the social fabric here is?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Encountering Peace: Planning beyond the possible

Encountering Peace: Planning beyond the possible


The status quo is not sustainable, and leaders need to start going beyond what is presently thought to be possible.

In October 1992, a year before the Oslo agreement was signed, I initiated a series of “Track II” talks in London between a group of Israeli security experts and their Palestinian counterparts. The Palestinian delegation was composed mostly of PLO representatives, with whom it was illegal for Israelis to meet face-to-face at the time.

The Israeli group included General Shlomo Gazit, former head of military intelligence, Yossi Alpher, then acting head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, a former Mossad person and several others. Yossi Ginosar, a former senior Shin Bet agent and advisor to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, was to have participated but was unable to do so due to illness.

The Israelis did not want the Palestinian delegation to consist only of Palestinians from abroad. I contacted Faisel Husseini and asked him to nominate someone. He responded that no one in the territories knew anything about security issues, which were all handled directly by the PLO. He said that there was someone who had just returned to the territories from completing a PhD in the United States, Dr. Khalil Shikaki “who studied something to do with strategic issues – try contacting him.”

Despite having never met him, I contacted Khalil, and asked him to join. He was the brother of Fathi Shikaki, the head of the Islamic Jihad, living in exile in Syria. Israel assassinated Fathi Shikaki in October 1995. Khalil agreed to participate on the condition that he received written assurances from Israel that he would be allowed to return to the territories following the meeting.

After making inquiries, the IDF informed me that they do not give such assurances in writing. I spoke to General Gazit, who decided to call Rabin. Gazit informed Rabin of the planned London meeting and about the problem involving Shikaki. Rabin phoned the military governor of Tulkarm, which is where Shikaki is from, and instructed him to issue the letter to Shikaki. Rabin asked Gazit to report back to him following the meeting so he could learn what the Palestinians had to say.

During the four days of talks in London, the subjects dealt with concerned security coordination, the size of the force the Palestinians required to take control of the territories, combating terrorism, prisoner releases, and types of weapons required. These were discussions which were unimaginable at that time. Who believed that Israelis and Palestinians could discuss security coordination?

But they did, and what’s more found a large number of things they could agree on. The Palestinian team was reporting directly back to Arafat in Tunis on almost an hourly basis. Years later, the late Motta Gur, then deputy defense minister, told me that what convinced Rabin to give the green light to the Oslo talks was the content of the agreements reached in the London talks.

The Oslo process, however, did not succeed, and the first breakdowns were in the security area. This is not the place to go into what went wrong – suffice it to say that mistakes were made, and that it is essential we learn from them. Unfortunately both we and the Palestinians have made some of the same mistakes more than once. Ideally we would make no mistakes, but when we err, least them at least be new mistakes.

The current escalation with Hamas is a case in point. Everyone in the media calls it “the current round,” a recognition of the fact that this episode will soon end, only to return in one way or another in a few months from now. That is the cycle.

I know that when it happens again I will spend hours on the phone and in sending text messages again back-and-forth between the Hamas and Israel and also Egypt in the attempts to get both sides to return to calm and allow for people on both sides of the border to live as normal a life as possible without the risk of being rocketed and killed.

It seems obvious that what is required are some long-term understandings that will guarantee, as much as possible, longer periods of calm. If both main parties, in this case Israel and Hamas, desire to keep the calm – which they do – it only seems natural that they get beyond the current cycle. Three or four days of violence erupting every two or three months, in which tens of Palestinians and Israelis are killed and/or wounded, much property damaged and more than two million people on both sides of the border live under the threat of each other’s rocket fire is simply crazy.

Since the August 2011 Sinai terrorist attack and following the completing of the Schalit prisoner exchange, I have been trying to advance long-term understandings between the parties. The ideas seem as preposterous now as did the idea of security coordination between Israel and the PLO back in September 1992.

The parties are understandably having a difficult time coming to terms with these ideas, but there is no other way, certainly no better way, of ensuring the security of both peoples. The insanity of continued rocket fire with no clear political purpose has to end. It is time to turn the page and begin to rethink the calculus of the present relationship between Israel and Gaza. The status quo is not sustainable, and leaders need to start going beyond what is presently thought to be possible.

The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.

Monday, March 12, 2012

a war is raging in and around gaza..

make no mistake.. people have been stuck in their houses and terrorised by explosions left right and centre..

apparently this is sponsored by iran who are not only arm wrestling us but also showing hamas that when you cross iran and youre palestinian - they will sideline you..

i hope this ends soon.. its not good.. iron dome is performing nicely.. but who cares.. wouldnt we prefer not to know and to have peace?

because while all this crap is going on here there are really cool things going on in the world.. like surfing dogs..

Saturday, March 10, 2012

this time - we started it..

my wifes uncle flew in from overseas with his girlfriend.. it was her first timein israel.. they flew back out this morning after having spent a romantic weekend in missile stricken ashdod..

so basically gaza is in flames right now and sure i know and trust that our pilots are surgically attacking strategic military targets but that doesnt help thousands of innocent families who are impacted by our assault.. it also doesnt seem to be helping the thousands of israeli families who are toggling between bomb shelters and bedrooms.. i can tell you that for my wifes grandparents its a crazy experience..

we were going to visit my wifes uncle on saturday but awoke to the news of this new rising conflict.. we were advised against it by our own families.. they told us to stay in telaviv.. which is kind of crazy given its so close..

this morning i went to our local arab grocer to buy some dairy products before work.. and ud never guess there was conflict in the middle east when i go there.. we pats me on the back.. i joke around about my wifes cravings.. we wish eachother a great week..

i can understand the assasination that triggered the violence.. the dude we killed was responsible for killing 8 israelis directly and was planning additional terrorist attacks.. i get it.. but this never seems to matter - its almost like a reset button.. every few weeks the slate cleans and whoever raises their military head a bit higher than the other suddenly becomes responsible for the "wave of violence".. or so it seems..

so it doesnt matter who starts what.. what matters is who is not doing enough to end what..

eco99fm - my radio station of choice - was joking this morning about all the conspiracy theories that may lay behind this wave of violence.. i sometimes loathe that we laugh about bloodshed.. but then again - how else do you live in this insanity.. most of the time we laugh at ourselves.. still its hard - even just thinking about my wifes relatives panicking at each siren..

this conflict is so last season..

Thursday, March 8, 2012

old spice israeli style..

a send off using a look alike of an upcoming politician (yair lapid) to the insanely catchy but terribly annoying old spice ad..

homeless syrians..

id like to rededicate this song i wrote to the thousands of homeless syrians that are fleeing persecution of their leadership as the media is silenced around them and food and medical assistance is being cut off..

syrian mudslide..

i would like to remind the worlds navigators that while they deliberate as to the best course - syrians are being slaughtered en masse.. by syrians.. this is a terrible tragedy.. despite following the civil unrest/massacre/whatever you want to call it - im not sure why people have to die this way..

druze kibbutznicks..

nice news.. but a shame it needs to be so monumental..

i hope the new members enable and facilitate the opening of hearts.. not they need to be tasked with that.. but still..

Sunday, March 4, 2012

syrian queen bemoaning her country's demise..

i wish asma al assad was the head of state.. i believe israel and syria would have a peace deal if she was..

Friday, March 2, 2012

bin your butts..

we couldnt take it anymore.. the stench and the cigarette butts that had carpeted the floor.. the dog pee.. the plastic cups.. the loud music.. the pizza boxes.. no this wasnt a music festival.. this was the state of our stairwell.. largely the product of our arab nieghbours on the first floor.. and what makes it worse is that they are so polite to us..

its not easy living in yaffo sometimes.. you have to strike a balance between accepting and objecting.. the same arab neighbours decided to exercise their right to object to our super cheap building cleaner and after refusing to pay their share of her incredibly insignificant fee for several months causing her to leave have consistently trashed the building..

every now and then - repulsed by their own mess they wash the first flight of stairs - which leads to their apartment - ignoring the fact that their children litter all flights on their way to their nightly escapades on our roof

i couldnt take it anymore.. so i decided to exercise my right to try and make a difference.. my wife was horrified by the idea that i might become the building's cleaner but frankly i didnt care..

so the plan was to start cleaning and make a lot of noise so people would notice and i could force some interaction.. but no one paid any attention.. not until i buzzed the door of the worst offenders..

they answered the door smilingly and bewildered and i suggested they join my cleaning venture.. my offer included that i broom sweep the whole stairwell and that when i start washing the floor that they take over the water sweeping form their floor to the entrance..

they praised the initiative and said they would happily join..

once i got to their floor they sent out a 17 year old who started helping out.. at some point his older brother stepped out with a tray of food for their neighbours on the other side of the building and he slipped on the water with his flipflops - ignoring our warnings.. he complained that i had used too much soap.. i told him id barely used any and that the substance was a floor washing liquid.. i was embarrassed that i was apologising floor cleaning his mess.. 3 chickens flew off his tray with a plastic plate and onto the floor.. the younger kid removed the chickens and threw them casually into the garden inviting cats to swarm the entrance within minutes.. the plate they left for me to clean up..

moments later the all disappeared.. leaving me to finish the job.. to be honest it was pleasant for me.. i liked the idea of transforming our shit hole entrance into a nice space..

this morning i went downstairs to buy some stuff for breakfast and of course cigarette butts were already collecting on the freshly cleaned stairwell..

it may sound insignificant to many.. but living in shit is not fun..

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40 years later..

40 odd years a go my parents shared a dinner with their families.. last year my wife and i shared one with ours.. sure it looked a little different.. people seemed more naive.. more connected to their own happiness.. less concerned about the little things.. 3 out of 8 are no longer with us.. most of these people have since fought their own battles with cancer in various ways.. it is surreal looking at them.. young and beautiful.. hopeful and dreamy.. i love how current they look.. this photo could have been taken yesterday.. i hope i havent disappointed..

this is also half the gene pool of my next generation.. i cant find the original version of this arrested developed song that i love so much.. but this one is pretty cool too and i wanted to dedicate this embedding to my family's future and to the future of all families on earth..

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Encountering Peace: Q&A on the future of the Middle East


The divisions are not between Jews and non-Jews, but within each community there are conflicts between the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian.

Meeting with American Jews and non-Jews on college campuses, synagogues and churches all across America is always a refreshing opportunity to see how much interest our small country attracts. It is also quite disturbing how divisive the issue of support for Israel has become.

The divisions are not between Jews and non-Jews, but within each community there are conflicts between those who are pro-Israeli versus those who are pro-Palestinian.

Even more interesting are the differing interpretations between those who consider themselves to be friends of Israel on the meaning of that friendship.

In all of my talks I always leave a large amount of time for questions, of which there are many, and not unsurprising to me the questions asked in the United States and not unlike those asked in Israel.

Q: The Palestinians breached every agreement they ever signed with Israel, how can we trust them?

A: Israel and the PLO, representing the Palestinian people, signed five agreements. Every one of those agreements was breached by both sides. Neither side fulfilled its obligations, and the breaches were substantive in all of the agreements.

It is historically incorrect to assume that the failure of some 20 years of the Israeli- Palestinian peace process is the story of “good guys” against “bad guys.”

The failure to include an implementable dispute resolution mechanism in the process meant that when there were breaches of the agreements, or disputes regarding their interpretation, there was almost no way to repair the damage. The failure to deal with breaches in real time, when they took place, meant that many of these misunderstandings (deliberate or otherwise) ended up turning into full-fledged political crises at the highest levels, often having to involve presidents and prime ministers from the international community.

Breaches upon breaches piled up and created a total breakdown. The failure of both sides to implement in good faith and to repair the damage in real time led to a total collapse of trust between the parties. The basic idea of an interim period (of five years) was to develop the trust that would be required to negotiate the main issues in conflict.

That trust never developed – quite the opposite. Today, objectively speaking, there is absolutely no reason why Israel and Palestine should trust each other – they have completely earned the mistrust that exists between them.

Q: So, if there is no trust how can a negotiated agreement be reached?

A: The thinking until this past year was that there needs to be a trusted third party who could mediate and negotiate between the parties. The accepted third party is the United States. Even though the Palestinians do not believe that the US is an impartial mediator, they accept this role for the United States because they understand that the US is the only effective mediator.

This special status is granted to the US by the Palestinians because they understand that only the US can provide the security guarantees that might ease Israel’s concerns, and that the US is the only party which can apply effective pressure on the government of Israel. Now, however, with a US presidential election in full swing, there is recognition that the US cannot play an effective role until after the November elections.

If President Barack Obama wins a second term, he could begin on a new Middle East mediation effort immediately after the elections. If the Republican candidate wins the elections, that person will not take over the administration until January 20, 2013, and then it will likely take an additional six months before the new administration’s policy directives are fine tuned. My question is: do we have the time to wait?

Q: Without an effective mediator in the coming months, is it at all possible to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace?

A: It seems that neither side is particularly anxious to advance real peace. The Palestinians have demanded pre-conditions to negotiations that Israel refuses to accept. Both sides say that the position of the other is a clear indication that neither side is really willing to negotiate.

There is no possibility for progress without negotiations, yet while both sides recognize this truth it seems that the complete absence of trust, what I call the “trust deficiency,” is more powerful than the desire to reach an agreement at this time. This is enhanced by the complete belief on both sides of the conflict that there is no partner for peace on the other side. Both sides say that they want peace, and both sides blame the other for lack of any progress.

Q: With the current state of internal politics on both sides, the divided Palestinian camp and the right-wing religious coalition in Israel, is it even possible to consider that progress towards peace is possible?

A: Both leaders have been negotiating over their shoulders with their own public, either in the talks in Jordan, or in public diplomacy, rather than negotiating with each other. It is clear that both sides are concerned with the viability of their ability to govern with the current political constellations on both sides. This is why there is zero chance of success in a negotiation which is public or in the public’s eyes.

The only chance for progress in this situation is a secret back channel for negotiations.

If an agreement could be reached, it could only be done in secret. Abbas has already pledged to his people that if he were to reach an agreement with Israel he would bring it to a referendum. I have no doubt that if the agreement is fair ends Israeli control over the Palestinian people, an independent Palestinian state next to Israel and contains the parameters of a peace deal based on prior negotiations, the large majority of Palestinians will accept it.

If Netanyahu were to propose an agreement that would provide Israel with security and fall within the parameters of accepted concessions from previous negotiations he could then go to new elections, and I have no doubt that he would win a landslide victory. Current coalition realities are a lame excuse for forfeiting the responsibility of leadership.

It would be wise if the parties adopted the mechanism of negotiations that was used to create the breakthrough in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit. This mechanism I call the “joint stakeholders mediation team”. This is what my counterpart in Hamas, Ghazi Hamad, and I did to enable those negotiations to reach a positive conclusion. In the total absence of trust between the parties, we worked as a team with basic trust between us (based on five years of contact) and the entire process was kept secret.

The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.

eating away..

combattants for peace are a group of palestinians and israelis who were wounded in the context of our conflict who have decided to use their pain to forge connections that promote peace across the divide..

this video may not remain on air for long..

Gadi - a dear friend - an israeli member of the group has shared the video with me as well as the next one:

for those who do not know better these are arabs and jews hanging out.. meal after meal after meal.. slowly forging friendships..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

save the sea..

please click on this if you want your children to have a world that they can love as much as we have been lucky enough to love ours.. this is an urgent petition to save the great barrier Coral Sea :)

peace song..

sung for peace between iran and israel..

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"non violent resistance"

i want you to enlarge the picture and look at the size of those stones.. and tell me whether hurled stones is how you would describe this scene is you were the one to witness it..

Friday, February 17, 2012

bye ben..

a roommate from my college days abroad took his life..

i feel like ive known too many people whove made this choice.. a choice that carries harsh consequences for loved ones but at he end of the day is a choice just like any other..

it simply comes with a no return policy.. as do so many others..

sometimes i feel like our governments are committing national suicide on our behalves.. making choices - especially with the environment and defence - that will lead us down a one way track..

but also with our education system and our health programs..

two (+) nations colliding.. and for what.. cant things be made better.. cant life improve for us all.. have we really exhausted our desire for a sane and satisfying existence..

its storming in the middle east right now.. amman residents woke up to a coat of white snow on their city and jerusalemites are expecting the same.. cant we take some inspiration from that?

shabbat shalom

and good bye ben.. rip

Thursday, February 16, 2012

iran away..

iran has so many other issues on its plate apart from us.. sometimes the media makes us believe that we are all the iranians care about.. what a tragedy to the history of mankind that two glorious groups of people are made to view each other as such fierce anonymous enemies.. so much so that their governments can get away with diverting such vital resources from such critical local causes to the end of pretending to be existentially defending their respective nations..

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

growing up..

Suddenly u get tired at times of day ud never imagine.. Suddenly u understand what worrying really means.. Suddenly u no longer can imagine all of ur dreams coming true.. Suddenly life loses its luster and u know u need to work harder.. Don't u wish our leaders might grow up one day..

I'm just happy I haven't :)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

poor things..

my wife and i went for a stunning walk this morning and saw lots of animals along the way.. we both love animals and the only reason we dont have pets is because we live in an apartment and its seems unfair to the pet.. i cant understand people who do these things.. i really cant..

Thursday, February 9, 2012

whats your malfunction..

a cute song.. by Thomas Patrick Maguire

no news..

i spoke to someone the other day who doesnt follow the news.. at all.. nothing.. not tv not the papers and not even the odd internet peek.. nada..

immediately i asked myself if i could ever do the same and what good news have done for me.. seriously.. what in my life ever became better due to my obsessing over every little minor tidbit.. and why is it that being informed was turned into such a pure value in modern society..

democracy? is it democracy? is it so that we make informed decisions when we vote? does the enws really help for that? does that take us there?? do the journalists really teach us what we need to know to choose whats best? questionable.. i agree..

is it the entertainment value? the gory voyeuristic opportunity to experience the world without leaving your arm chair.. and run away from any misery directly to the safety of your lunch break - a place where no harm can follow?

is it the social aspect of being able to hold a conversation because people typically prefer to speak of other people and when they dont they resort to events - provided they never have to generate an original idea let alone discuss someone else's?

i dont quite know.. i dont really get it.. but something.. not quite sure what.. but something.. some thing.. tells me it aint that healthy to eat thoughts that someone else has vomited..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

just like you..

عزیز ایران.

من به شما به عنوان یک فرد مجرد به ملت است. یک فرد مجرد، از دولت اسرائیل را دوست دارد که زندگی خود و جهان و به طور مداوم امیدها و آرزوها برای صلح. من هیچ سازمان و یا هر بدن دولتی در اختیار ندارد. من تنها یک مرد جوان که (مثل هر کس دیگری در این زمان نامشخص) برای بهترین امیدوار است. بسیاری از مردم صحبت از جنگ است. بسیاری از مردم در حال صحبت کردن در مورد توانایی هسته ای است. گاهی اوقات نمی دانم چه چیزی را باید باور. شما (ایرانی به طور متوسط​​) ممکن است فکر می کنم که ما از شما بسیار متفاوت هستند. شاید کسی حتی به تلاش برای متقاعد کردن شما که هستند هیولا رفته. من می خواهم به شما یک چیز را به یاد.

درست مثل شما که همه ما به عنوان یک نتیجه از عشق خود به خود از پدر و مادر ما متولد شدند. پدر و مادر ما ما را دوست داشت و همچنان به انجام این کار، درست مثل پدر و مادر خود تو را دوست دارم. درست مثل شما، ما به سختی کار می کنند قادر به پرداخت صورتحساب خود و همه آرزو بهترین راه حل برای فرزندان ما. درست مثل ما نگران سلامتی عزیزان و فقط ما از شما می خواهم تنها مهمانان در این دنیا هستند و یک روز را به صورت خروج خود ما امیدواریم که که ما یک محل است که حداقل به عنوان فوق العاده به عنوان باقی مانده که به استقبال ما هنگامی که ما متولد شدند.

شما من می دانم که نیست و من شما را نمی دانم. ما غریبه به یکدیگر. لطفا اجازه ندهید که دنیا شما را متقاعد کنم که ما باید به دشمنان. هیچ کس اینکار را در مورد شما نمی کنند.

چرا که دقیقا مثل تو ما نیز غریزه بقای ما و دقیقا مثل تو ما هم خودمان را تا زمانی که ما احساس امنیت دفاع.

که مایل به تماس با ما تمام صلح شایسته آن هستیم. دوباره، اجازه نمی دهد خودتان را متقاعد به نفرت.

سلام شالوم

dear iran.

i am writing to you as a single person to a whole nation. a single person from the state of israel who loves his life and the world and constantly hopes and wishes for peace. i do not represent any organisation or any governmental body. i am just a young man who (like everyone else in these uncertain times) is hoping for the best. many people are speaking of a war. many people are talking about nuclear abilities. sometimes i do not know what to believe. you (the average irani) might think that we are very different from you. maybe someone has even gone to the efforts to convince you that we are monsters. i would like to remind you of one thing.

just like you we were all born as a result of the spontaneous love of our parents. our parents loved us and continue to do so, just like your parents love you. just like you, we work hard to be able to pay our bills and all wish the best for our children. just like you we worry for the health of our loved-ones and just like you we are merely guests in this world and will one day have to face our own departure and hope that we have left a place that is at least as wonderful as the one that welcomed us when we were born.

you do not know me and i do not know you. we are strangers to each other. please do not let the world convince you that we need to be enemies. no one does.

because just like you we also have our survival instincts and just like you we too will defend ourselves until we feel safe.

wishing us all the peace we deserve. again, do not allow yourself to be convinced to hate.

salam shalom

ignoring the blood..

arabs in syria are being slaughtered by the thousands.. is the world aware? does anyone care? i dont hear of protests in the palestinian territories.. what about lebanon.. syria's siamese non identical twin.. seems pretty quiet.. h e l l o... was that a pin drop?

ok so while thousands of members of the umma get murdered lets wonder for a second.. whats next.. after the blood finishes soaking into the land and the grief and sadness follow suit.. some speak of a weakening of the axis of evil (i hate using george bush terminology but it does stick).. and others now are speaking of fertile ground to sprout a second iraq.. a sectarian civil war that may take years to end..

people used to always speak of the arab street.. the simple men and women who just want to live their lives in peace.. and u have to wonder whether these millions of "revolutionaries" whose credentials in transforming their countries have yet to be established are really as peaceful as you always wanted to believe.. are they really as inherently compassionate and do they intrinsically carry the same human instinctive love for life that you always argued that they did..

most importantly (casting eyes southwestwards to egypt) can they hold a peace treaty..

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

the iranian meltdown..

Dr Baskin always rivets me with his thoughts.. but this time more than ever.. people are very concerned about this summer.. and so is my budding family unit.. i cant count all the mad thoughts that have been running through my head about what might be.. and here goes my friend Gershon - painting it in bright pink!! god bless him :)

Unintended consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran


Encountering Peace: I imagine that int'l pressure would push Israel to reach an agreement on the Palestinian issue.

I have begun to change my assessment regarding a possible Israeli attack against Iran. In the past months, as the Iran chatter intensified – particularly after former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s remarks against such a strike – I was somewhat relieved because I believed that the more chatter, the less likely an Israeli attack.

Recently, though, there has been both a quantitative and a qualitative change in the nature of the chatter, and I am beginning to believe that a military strike against Iran may actually be in the advanced planning stages.

The arguments regarding the potential damage to Tehran’s nuclear weapons program seem to be less relevant in light of the assessment that the sanctions regime against Iran will not convince its government to drop its nuclear weapons plans. It seems, for decision- makers in Jerusalem, even if an Israeli strike only sets back Iran’s nuclear ambitions by a couple of years, the risks are worth the payoff. If Tehran is in fact only 12-24 months away from having enough high-quality enriched nuclear fuel to construct several bombs, then, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said, later might be too late. A nuclear Iran is a real strategic threat to the entire Middle East and to the world.

No one in the region, especially the Saudis, will be particularly upset with an Israeli strike on Iran. No one in the region, especially the Saudis, can admit this in public. There is no chance that the US will attack Iran, and without a US-led action, EU countries will also stay away. They might object verbally to an Israeli strike, but I am quite sure that none of the European powers will be disappointed if Israel decides to do it alone.

I imagine that such an attack would be the all-out ultimate show of force for Israel. Israel will use everything it has, except a nuclear weapon, to hit as many targets in Iran as possible. It will probably be an attack from the ground, the air and the sea. It could include targets of the nuclear program that are known, as well as those of which the public is unaware. The attack could also include targets such as Iran’s very vulnerable oil refineries, which would completely cripple the Islamic Republic’s economy, sending it back to the 19th century.

I imagine that the Israeli assessment of the fallout includes a limited rocket response from Gaza, which Israel can absorb and deal with by hitting several strategic targets there, sending the message to Hamas leaders that no real escalation will be tolerated. Israel’s leaders probably believe that Syria is out of the game now with the escalation of the internal civil war there, and while Assad may believe that targeting Israel will unite Syrians around him, this could also be the point when the Syrian people make the final push to get rid of the Assad regime. A new regime led by Sunnis is not going to cry over the Israeli attack on Iran and will not risk launching a major rocket attack against Israel, fearing its response.

Similarly a crippled Syria and a possible Sunni regime in Damascus may have a significant impact on the Hezbollah response. Hezbollah’s line for rearming through Syria from Iran will be cut, and the group may feel compelled to reserve its force to defend its own position within the Lebanese domain rather than risk the wrath of Israel, which could very well bring about a public uprising against Hezbollah within Lebanon – if the Israeli retaliatory strikes are limited to Hezbollah targets and don’t extend to the Lebanese people and infrastructure, as happened in the Second Lebanon War.

The United States will probably be relieved by a successful Israeli attack against Iran, and even if there are voices of displeasure from the White House and the State Department, behind the scenes Washington will be sending congratulatory messages to Jerusalem. The US withdrawal from Iraq has actually made it easier for Israel to use Iraqi airspace to conduct its attack without fear of encountering the US air force on the way.

I don’t know to what extent the attack would set back the Iranian nuclear program. I do imagine that it would increase public pressure inside Iran to end the regime of Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseini Khamenei and his President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian people do not want to be part of a country that is against the whole world.

I think there may be some unintended consequences for Israel that may not be perceived as positive for its current regime but, in my opinion, would have long term strategic advantages for Israel if the government were wise enough to advance them. I imagine that international pressure, including from Washington, would push Israel to reach an agreement on the Palestinian issue, including compromises that the current government is not willing to accept – particularly regarding Jerusalem. This step would also increase international pressure for Israel to positively answer the Arab peace initiative, which would create a platform for the rest of the Arab and Islamic world to engage Israel and would lead to peace agreements between Jerusalem and all of the Arab capitals.

If these unintended consequences do advance, I imagine that the US and others will insist that Israel enter the non-proliferation treaty and place its nuclear facilities under international inspection. With this, the international community and the regional states will work toward a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

One of the main fears of a nuclear Iran is the beginning of a rapid arms race in the region. The crippling of its nuclear program could have the reverse effect and that would be good for Israel, for the region and for the entire world.

The writer is the co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for Gilad Schalit’s release.

Friday, February 3, 2012

no more songs..

the war between lebanon and israel in 2006 left us with many dead and injured and this song.. i will never forget hearing about the tank that overturned entrapping a soldier.. his lower body crushed.. and then that evening hearing it was the baby brother of a very close friend.. i dont want any more heros or war tunes.. im happy to give up all of this.. just not to have a war..

the media is beating the war drums.. so loud i can barely hear myself think.. and the american politicians are recklessly speculating about when we're going to attack the persian islamic state.. its almost ironic how easy the media makes it sound.. just drop a few here and refuel there.. piece of cake..

if this ruckus brings about enough pressure for the iranians to renounce violence and come to the table then great - but otherwise - at the high summer of my life - how will i forgive you for making me believe that the world is nothing but a hell hole..

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

drawing a line in the sand..

Dopamine II - Surf Film from Insight Clothing on Vimeo.

after burying my cousin's baby last night.. and witnessing such a painful funeral.. i am in search of deeper wisdom..

glad to have found this.. loved the longboard tucking in..

Monday, January 30, 2012

how the jordanians see us..

according to a jordanian weather service..

burying a baby..

i have to go to a baby's funeral today.. this is one of the most aweful situations that life knows how to generate..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

guilty till proven innocent..

the media has told us the following over a dense series of prominent articles (not necessarily in this order):
a dad takes his son to the hospital with an ambulance..

the son undergoes tests and ultimately was found to have broken bones and was hemorrhaging.. the hospital immediately requests that the twin daughter be brought in and the police are involved..

the parents are immediately accused of child abuse and ultimately detained.. while this is happening the media enflamed by the talkbacks constantly reports (either directly or by heavy insinuation of child abuse)..

the parents stay in hospital the entire time until they are detained.. not moving an inch.. neighbours give overwhelmingly positive reports to the media of the couple and their twins..

a famous criminal lawyer is engaged..

the son is declared brain dead and the parents are allowed to visit the hospital to say goodbye..

the whole country follows the story with fanatic interest..
my questions to the country..

(a) helpless women are being persecuted all over the country and chased down alleys and attacked and spat on.. stories get reported and then they fade away.. where is the attention to this endemic issue that is now plaguing our capital and mixed (ultra religious - secular) towns and neighbourhoods?!?!? where is every parent who sends their child to school by foot?!?!

(b) the peace process.. our existential lifeline has come down crashing after israel at best presented a list of principles regarding borders rather than any real proposal.. why isnt the country enraged?!?! where is the left?!?! where is the right?!?! where is every parent in the country who is damned to send their children to life threatening military service during the best years of their lives?!?!

(c) our housing system is collapsing.. young people cannot afford anything.. anything.. seriously.. unless your parents cough up their guts and blood in a deposit most people cannot afford a home.. a colleague at work was talking to me yesterday about the shit box he was thinking of buying for $400K that was not even inhabitable.. he sent me reports of recent sales in the area to convince me why he should beg his and his wife's parents for help.. i wouldnt want to live in that area..

so the whole country ("lead" by dafny leaf) held a woodstock all summer long - camping out in protest bla bla bla.. and the government appointed a panel bla bla bla.. and now even the panel doesnt agree with the government's measures.. where are all the young parents who are stuck at their parents houses or in dire straights with rentals who will never afford to buy a home?!?! where are they?!?!

look this could go on.. for a long time.. my point being that the country is plagued with serious concrete issues that have solutions that are not being implemented.. and all these young parents are screaming out as the defenders of two twins against their "monstrous" parents.. parents who have not left the bedside of their kids for a second and who are cooperating with everything the police have asked of them and not wavered for a second.. parents who are reported to be normative and kind people and who have been lovingly assisted by their own parents.. and who have yet to be proven to be guilty..

im not blaming the media.. because the media is basically just the public dressed up with journo tags.. im blaming the country.. the people.. the so called do gooders.. the same people who will agree that fencing in millions of palestinians who have yet to be proven guilty and who need to beg that they are innocent at check points every day to get to their schools and workplaces etc.. the same people who will subject a whole nation to misery to insulate their mentality.. these people are delighting in this persecution because it makes them feel morally valid and is now distracting them from the rest of the disasters for which they are all collectively and democratically responsible..

this family is being monumentally destroyed - if they are innocent (which is supposed to be our presumption) then they have been served with the worst hand ever.. and the damage done to them will never repair..

my nation - rather than seeking to better its weaknesses - has decided to decimate a couple to distract itself from all the shit going on.. and the couple hasnt even yet been proven to be guilty..

so its true.. in a place where people will cannibalise others.. they will ultimately cannibalise their values and eventually themselves..

something is very wrong.. may the magic of this shabbat be dedicated entirely to its correction..

shabbat shalom..

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

tunisian sun..

a free nation looking to use free resources to generate clean energy.. very refreshing.. and this to me is the essence of the arab spring..

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

the premonition of war..

every now and then i have a dream that scares me.. either because it feels so real or because i fear that it may materialise..

last night i dreamt of nuclear war.. i dreamt that iran was attacking israel and that we had to evacuate.. in my dream there the call to prayer of "alla huakbar" had become the warning siren for the nuclear missiles and the sounding time was midday or midnight..

my mother and wife had already been removed to safer territory and i was the last one left.. the sirene was faintly heard in teh background and i ran to the pendulous converyor belt that was to lower me from the hill i was on to the collection point..

but it didnt work.. so instead i ran for dear life..

our soldiers seemed calm.. like the situation was under control but i kept running.. i felt i couldnt trust the facade.. and that life wasnt safe..

when i got to the river (which was toxic and all green and merky) i didnt hesistate to jump in.. i kept my head above water and side stroked to the other side at that stage my dream became largely translucent and the morning light pierced the bubble of my slumber..

iran isnt at war with us yet.. but today the european union appears to have confirmed that it will immediately start to sanction iran by launching an oil embargo..

any animal big or small cornered and threatened is highly likely to become unpredictable and my guess is that uncertain times lie ahead..

how does one start a family in the midst this geopolitical turmoil.. how do we invite new fresh souls into this place.. how do we ignore the hell that we and our neighbours are creating for eachother..

this is a dream that i truly hope never happens..

Sunday, January 22, 2012

cold water..

this has been bouncing around the internet - its not mine and i dont know whos it is.. if someone can attribute the author i would be happy :)

i was freezing friday morning.. its a cold winter in israel.. one of the colder ones.. i went in for a surf and spent an hour facing waves that were out of my league.. suddenly a open cutie came along and i took the drop onto the open shoulder.. i decided to tuck in rather than rip and if the winds were different (ie in another universe) it may have barrelled.. but instead i just enjoyed the sensation as i careful edged up its face and over to behind the break before it crashed heavily..

remember to exit your comfort zone..

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

and on the note of cyber control..

this is what i saw when i clocked onto wikipedia today.. take a stand please..

does the hacker have a costume?

when i was a kid super heroes used to rivet me.. i still love those movies and am avidly awaiting the release of the new batman.. as a kid though i loved the comics.. i would spend whole weekends devouring their low quality paper pages - bridging the static frames with the enthused force of my raw imagination..

the end however was always the same.. id leave the cinema or put down the book knowing that the closest i would ever come to crossing paths with such a story was indeed through the jungle of musky pages or in the movie theatres..

until now..

a guy in my class yesterday told us that his credit card details had been included in the recent attack by the saudi hacker.. he was so annoyed.. and today we read about the israeli super heroes who are out to say the day.. using jargon that is reminiscent of the old comics..

suddenly the world seems a little more musky and so much more surreal..

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

two sides to every wall..

israel built a wall.. a tall concrete largely ineffective wall.. well maybe it is effective.. maybe it even saves my very own life.. but at a huge expense.. not only to the palestinians daily lives and not only to our collective tax pockets but also to our knowledge of our neighbours..

hamas hizbulla and iran were always quasi synonymous around here.. and yet since the arab spring bounced around the middle east new fissures appeared and have now developed into solid cracks..

iran is losing its lebanese mistress because its right of passage through syria is being compromised as a result of the popular revolt.. hamas by identifying with the public has pissed off its iranian sugar daddy who in turn shut off the flow and all this we've known for some time.. but i had no idea that the hamas counter tantrum would involve persecuting shiites.. yes - theyre a type of muslim.. yes based on 1 + 1 hamas the islamic palestinian political / terrorist organisation is now terrorising muslims..

i asked the same question when assad started to massacre syrians.. when these are your counterparts.. organisations that do not hesitate to violently cut off their own noses in order to spite their faces - how can you ever develop a sense of confidence in their peace making intentions..

and having said all of that.. i believe that the PA wants peace.. (at least thats what i believe for the moment)..

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the whispers on the walls of telaviv..

it says jews and arabs refuse to be enemies..

the most vicious war of all..

a bust stop with a gear box depicting a disabled sign in the sixth gear.. a la speed kills..
a car key morphed into a military armoured tank style vehicle.. on the side of a main south telaviv artery,,
eath by road accidents is probably the number one behavioural source of death in my country.. sometimes i wonder what would happen if we poured the same number of billions into road safety as we do into military might.. ok i know thats stupid.. the obvious argument is that the military investment yields a relatively lower number of deaths with grace to its extent rather than in spite.. but still.. if this is currently the state of affairs then surely it deserves more attention..

and it turns out the state has given it the attention revealing a staggering finding of severe disproportionality between the jewish and non jewish sectors in terms of the fatalities..

the causes have hollistically been attributed to various issues that themselves could also be characterised by both state originating and demographically sourced factors..

take for example the cause of road infrastructure.. if arab towns dont have good roads its because either the municipality isnt investing in the roads and/or because they havent got the money.. why dont they have money? because people either arent paying and/or arent paying enough.. why is this? because they are either evading and/or not registering home extensions culminating with a mismatch between the incoming and outgoing cashflow..

as a result - people are dying on the streets - quite literally.. the fact that hundreds of people are dying in cars and not on the sidewalks or in their own houses should not dim our senses.. arab lack of societal participation is killing hundreds of arabs.. its that simple..

the state on its part needs to stop accepting this as a status quo.. this cannot be "their" problem.. this needs to be cleaned up.. brought into line and regulated once and for all..

the signs above were placed around telaviv.. they should be everywhere.. as should speed cameras.. as should traffic police.. there should be a dense net of traffic tribunals set up to alleviate the stress on the judicial system and the judges should be granted a terrifying degree of authority to prospecute offenders.. the police should be retrained to do their job properly.. and they should be taught how it is supposed to work..

i once received a fine because i tried to merge into a lane and ultimately turn right.. so vicious were the drivers that i failed to merge over a stretch of 300 metres and ultimately managed 20 metres before the turn of the turning lane.. i was fined 250 shekels.. when in so many other countries the other drivers would have received fines for not giving way..

we have a gruesome war on the streets that we fight every day to get to work and home.. and here again if we look at the causes rather than just the symptoms maybe we can spot that the israeli model needs reform.. maybe we cant continue being the way we are.. roadside manner is such a cultural mirror and clearly we disregard life and prioritise our ego in a way i have never seen anywhere else in the world.. we clearly have some serious work to do on our attitudes..

maybe if the palestinians examined their participation issues and we reviewed our lack of respect issues we might end up finding that there are more solutions to our mess than we realise..

Thursday, January 12, 2012

it feels apocalyptic..

maybe its my age catching up on me.. but i do think about death.. my own.. that of others.. i dread the day that our president shimon peres will be no longer.. his response to the scandalous treatment of the ethiopian israeli community was exactly what we needed.. he is like the father of this country right now.. i dont see anyone in line to take his stately role..


all the rage out here.. you send in clips of your cats and they turn it into an episode.. halav is obviously milk..

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

pitching to your market..

i saw this advertisement in daliat el carmel - a druz village in the northern part of israels central coast.. i found it strange that deli cream would use such ashkenazi (european jewish) point of sale imagery in a druz town..

in light of the previous post i would also like to draw your attention to a street sign offering $10,000,000 as a reward for any information leading to the majdi halabi..

his family should be supported.. the country shouldnt rest until this is resolved..


Shamgar: Did you ask why it took almost five years?


Encountering Peace: All of my direct knowledge and involvement testifies to the belief that we could have brought Gilad four years earlier.

Last week the Shamgar Commission, which was established to examine ways to deal with cases of kidnappings of Israelis, civilians or soldiers, issued its report. Most of the 100- plus page report is secret, but the parts that were disclosed discussed the idea of transferring the handling of such cases from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Ministry of Defense. The report suggested that a permanent and professional function be established for this purpose that would have no contact with the family of the victim and would be depoliticized.

The substantive elements of the report have not been made part of the public record and I have no inside knowledge of the content, but we can guess that the report deals with the price paid in the past for abducted Israeli soldiers or prisoners of war and the decision making process at the governmental level regarding negotiations for their release.

I think that almost all Israelis would agree that first of all we should avoid situations where the enemy is successful in abducting one of our soldiers. Secondly, most people would all agree that if, God forbid, a soldier is abducted, we would prefer for the soldier to either escape or to be rescued in a military operation, preferably one that also resulted in the capture of the kidnappers.

The IDF failed to bring Gilad Schalit home with a heroic military operation. Immediately following the abduction the military probably knew where Gilad was being held, but deemed it impossible to bring him home alive. Later, when we had no idea where he was being held, no military operation could even be considered.

As the person who opened the negotiations channel between Israel and Hamas I thought that if it was necessary to negotiate an exchange, it should be done as quickly as possible for as small a price as possible. Throughout the ordeal, government and military officials claimed that public talk about the negotiations would drive up the price.

This proved to be false. The basic price and formula for Schalit’s release (450 Palestinian prisoners from a Hamas list, and another 550 prisoners selected by Israel) was set, and agreed, by January 2007, about six months after the abduction. The public campaign in Israel to bring Schalit home did not drive up Hamas’ asking price. In fact, the opposite is true: The first set of demands I received from Hamas a couple of months after the kidnapping was for 1,500 prisoners, an end to the siege of Gaza and a full mutual cease-fire.

WE ALL feel the price we paid for Gilad was high, very high. Most people around the world were amazed that Israel was willing to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds with Jewish blood on their hands, for one single Israeli soldier.

One Hamas negotiator, Salah al- Arouri, who is credited with building the Izzadin Kassam force in the West Bank, praised the “strength” Israel showed in a prisoner exchange on Israel radio saying: “To do what Israel did shows the value Israeli society places on human life. This is a pillar of Israel’s strength – to wage a war to free one man, to free a thousand prisoners for him, this is the strength of a society and an army.”

In the end Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave the mandate to his special envoy David Meidan from the Mossad to complete the negotiations that brought Gilad home. I believe Netanyahu made that decision to make the deal after he came to the realization that there was no other way to bring the soldier home. He knew that there was no military option, and he believed that if he didn’t move now, there was a good chance Gilad might not come home alive. The regional circumstances also created a window of opportunity which he believed could close a deal quickly.

These conditions emerged together with an opportunity provided by me for direct back channel contacts that led directly to the people holding Gilad and those responsible for making the decision in Hamas. The public campaign, I believe, had an impact on Netanyahu as well, and should not be dismissed. I believe that waking every day to the sight of the Schalit family in front of the prime minister’s residence with the number of days in captivity in bold numbers had to have had an impact on Netanyahu.

I do not believe that Netanyahu made the decision because of political calculations. To the best of my knowledge, Netanyahu made the decision to negotiate a deal in mid-April, long before the summer protests and six months before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN to declare a Palestinian state. He made the decision because there was simply no other way to bring Gilad home alive.

Was the Shamgar Commission report able to generalize from the specific Schalit case to possible future similar cases? I don’t know, but I seriously doubt it. Will the “professionals” in the Ministry of Defense be more professional than Ofer Dekel, Hagai Hadas and David Meidan? Will they be more immune to public pressure than Netanyahu? Is the Minister of Defense any less of a political personality than the prime minister? Is the desire or demand to pay a smaller price going to affect the way that future abductors of Israeli soldiers relate to the precious asset that they are holding? Again, I doubt it.

I am afraid that if there is no military option to rescue a kidnapped soldier, there is no alternative to negotiations. My main hope is that next time, God forbid, it won’t have to take five years and four months. All of my direct knowledge and involvement testifies to the belief that we could have brought Gilad home at least four years earlier for the exact same price. The question that Shamgar Commission should really be asking is why did it take so much longer than it should have?

The writer is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and a radio host on All for Peace Radio

light entertainment..

Monday, January 9, 2012

scope creep..

i remember when our government asked the palestinians to renounce violence as a precondition to talks.. i dont remember the moment or the statement but i remember perceiving that to be the precondition..

then it became requiring the palestinian authority to recognise israel as a jewish state.. one of the most bizarre requests.. i could never understand how having a non state entity crown us as the land of the jews was a plausible reason to defer progress on a matter as urgent as peace in our country and region..

now the prerequisite appears to be to refrain from perfectly non violent action pursuant to international law to seek the enforcement of what they and much of the world appears to believe is their legitimate right..

the palestinians have been just as brilliant.. asking for negotiations to be predetermined by finite statements.. asking for us to accept blame.. and ultimately yielding to the pressure and coming to the table.. just as we have..

when juxtaposed against previous preconditions you cant help but worry about the nature of our respective governments' attitudes.. i am encouraged that the peace talks have recommenced.. and i can see why it took jordan's intervention.. a close country lead by a seemingly objective intelligent and reasonable leader to retrigger the track..

i am cautiously pleased that there have been reports of border proposals being exchanged without any many disruption to the talks..

and i cant help but wonder if the iranian threat and our growing isolation havent pushed our government to realise that even the zionist wonderchild is no match for a roaring unpredictable middle east in a global ocean of dire financial turmoil..

from the palestinian side.. its hard to miss the paradoxical dichotomous trend of democracy and islamification both toppling governments together.. the fact is however that other than the islamists no one is winning.. women in egypt are becrying the clear lack of inclusion in the country's future leadership nothwithstanding the fact that the women of tahrir stood firm beside everyone else during the momentous demonstrations that changed history by leading the mubarak being ousted..

fatah as a secular movement probably knows that it needs to achieve fast.. otherwise it stands to be removed once and for all.. hamas on the other hand need to bet the full hand.. iran is being isolated and has punished them for siding with the syrian public by cutting funds and the arab streets spring never made it to summer.. unless they can downplay fatah as a old guard corrupt anti democratic traitor (which is not so hard) they will end up empty handed both politically and financially.. and then they will have to cave and ultimately do what they fear most which is renounce violence and accept that israel is here to stay..

the entire region - just like this post - appears to lack focus.. you think you have it all figured out but you dont.. anything could happen.. i keep going back in my mind to the tahrir days during which i had no doubt that moubarak would crush all opposition ruthlessly and that the west would support him in fear of the muslim brotherhood..

and there you have it.. a critical mass of people showed up and the US could no longer genuinely do so.. suddenly everything switched..

what has become of us..

torch over torture..

after this piece i have appended a couple of extras to provide an insite into this guys mind.. he has clearly gone through a very personal experience and speaks from his personal point of view.. i dont agree with everything he says but it is certainly a fascinating voice..

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

champions at dialogue..

the israeli team one this year for the english as a second language category.. very proud..

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

proud resident..

i am a third generation telavivian and proud of my amazing little town..

tentative hope..

with the region crumbling and things falling apart left right and centre.. with the americans and iranians playing chicken over the us presence in the gulf and with every country in the region experiencing local political mini explosions sometimes its hard to keep the faith..

you wake up in a worry.. how will our future look.. what will our families have to deal with.. why is it so hard for people to get a long.. etc etc..

and then you get a piece like this and you try to convert it into hope..

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

israeli (arab) soldier girl..

obviously the arab media finds this one monaliza (as she appears to be called) interesting.. i wonder if i can find an israeli piece on this.. in the interview in hebrew you can hear her rhetorically asking "i live here.. arent i supposed to contribute?"


i just found an interesting piece about another arab female israeli combat soldier called elinor joseph here.. and heres an english version of that story..

milk is bad.. (part hebrew part english)