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)