Saturday, October 26, 2002

Reader Ted sent me this article a few days ago, and today I ran into this one - both have a potential of being worrisome. I am often tempted to compare the relationship between Bush and his state department to the one between Sharon and his foreign ministry, but I think it has to be resisted for being overly simplistic. (Did Tom Friedman do this one yet? It is really his kind of thing). It is virtually impossible for anyone outside the immediate circle of the administration to know what is really going on inside it, which is a good thing in a time of war. Good from the American perspective, that is. It may not be so good from the Israeli perspective, unless, of course, Sharon is one of the few people in the world who are in on the scheme (which is not unplausible). But if he is, he is not telling, not even to William Saffire. So all we ordinary Jews are left to do is to take things at face value, while trying not to do any damage in case we are wrong. I just hope that whoever planned the scheme (if there is one) took this into account.
This article to which I linked in an earlier post, touches directly on this issue.
90 innocent people had died. Also, I am not sure that Putin is my kind of guy (I never had a chance to "look him in the eye and get a sense of his soul") Still, I take the liberty of assuming that the Russian people are glad that they do not have a Nobel Prize Winner for a president.

Friday, October 25, 2002

I have to go, but you just have to read this. Via Imshin.
IBA radio says that Russian authoroties are closing a newspaper and a website, because they conducted interviews with Chechen terrorists.
It is almost 9am here, and it is 3pm in Israel. My favorite time of my favorite day, during my favorite season, in my favorite place in the world.
I don't know what is it about Friday afternoons. It is not just that it is the end of the work week. Like most Israelis, I always listened to radio a lot while living there, but I especially liked the radio on Fridays. I still listen here, on the web. Not too much everyday stuff on Friday afternoons, like news and punditry, only hourly news summaries. A lot of Israeli songs (mostly old) and Mediterranian music. No commercials after Sabbat commences. Personal talk shows, that do not, for the most part, deal directly with current events and politics, but do talk mostly about music, soccer, literature, history, religion, food. Life.
It is becoming more quiet in the streets. Most businesses are closing, so make sure you've got enough bread and milk for the weekend. Bus traffic stops, too. If you don't have a car, you better be able to afford a taxi to get to the beach tomorrow. Oh, well, maybe it is too cold for the beach, anyway.
Kids are home from school by now, mothers had finshed the weekly cleaning, and the Sabbat dinner is almost ready. Maybe take a nap now, so as not to be tired when going out or having company tonight.
This Friday is a bit different: the guy on the radio talks about the victims of the Karkur bombing. But still, he talks about their lives, not deaths.
He also talks about the serial sniper.

It is now almost 9:30am here, and I better start moving. I now return you to you regularly scheduled programming.
Gil The Israeli Guy invites you, my fellow armchair warriors and diplomats, to solve the Conflict in his soon to be demolished comments section. Go there, before it's too late...
Curiouser and curiouser...
So, it is terrorism, but it is domestic. It is not white, but it is not arab. It is muslim, but not connected to any Muslim terror group (?)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Sooner or later there will be someone who will ask why don't we invade Jamaica, instead of Iraq, since we obviously are not going to invade either Saudi Arabia or North Korea. So I just thought I'd save them the trouble.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

If you belong to that demographic group so favored by the advertizers that allegedely does not watch "60 minutes", you better grow up fast. It is dangerously close to becoming the only thing worth watching on the broadcast networks.
Tonight's second segment was about NITV. NITV broadcasts from LA via satelite in farsi. It was founded by a former Iranian pop singer, who was forced to leave Iran, because the mullahs did not like his tunes. His initial intent was to provide entertainment to the many Iranian expatriates in LA. But one day a technician's mistake beamed the station's broadcast right into the heart of Iran, where very soon people could not get enough of it: they were selling their most prized possessions to be able to by a satelite dish, and tune in.
No, the mullahs did not like that. They tried to jam the broadcast, but the guys in LA raised some money and got a more powerful transmitter - America! The mullahs are looking for dishes on roof tops, confiscate them and arrest the owners, and they are said to have made some very unpleasant phone calls to LA. In response, NITV had hired an Iranian comedian,who was getting by in Holywood by playing terrorists. The guy watches tapes of the mullahs' sermons, than he puts on a fake beard and a turban, and has some fun on the air. Many times he does not have to do more than just repeat what the mullahs say word for word: "Today I saw a fifteen year girl riding a bicycle. A bicycle! It is worse than eating a pizza!" Funny, no?
On 9/12/01 the owner of NITV addressed their viewers in Iran, and asked them to gather in public and show support for the American people. And they did. This was the only demonsration in the Muslim world where people shouted: "Death to terrorists!".
NITV is running out of money. As you can imagine, they do not get financial support from the US government. Maybe they should.
"How do you feel about it?"
A reporter for CNN goes to Israel to cover the fighting. She is looking for something emotional and positive and of human interest. Something like that guy in Sarajevo who risked his life to play the cello everyday in the town square. In Jerusalem, she heard about an old Jew who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, everyday, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out. She goes to the Western Wall and there he is! She watches him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turns to leave, she approaches him for an interview. "Rebecca Smith, CNN News. Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?" "For about 50 years." "What do you pray for?" "For peace between the Jews & the Arabs. For all the hatred to stop. For our children to grow-up in safety and friendship." "How do you feel after doing this for 50 years?" "Like I'm talking to a fucking wall..."

Yeah, I know it's old - still funny, though. Thanks, Carla.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

IBA radio says that Israeli authorities are considering halting all water drilling by the Palestinians. They accuse the PA of allowing an uncontrolled sewage flow, and illegal drillings by individuals, thus polluting the underground water pool, which is shared by both Israel and the PA.
Both Gil and Imshin recount the general numbness Israelis feel after the attacks: people do not talk about them much, and are going about their daily lives, joking etc. In a way I was glad to read it, since I used to think that I feel numb because I don't actually live there. Then I read this part of a note someone has left in Gil's comments section: "Yesterday I was also thinking about an incident that Corrie ten Boom records in 'The Hiding Place.' Corrie and her family helped to hide Jews in the Netherlands during the Shoah. Once, when her elderly father saw the Germans rounding up Jews, he said, 'Oh, those poor Germans, those poor Germans'. Corrie was shocked, but her father explained, 'They have put their hand on the apple of God's eye and their doom is certain.'" I wept like I have not in a long time - I have no idea why.

Monday, October 21, 2002

This is a very good thing. Especially this line: "We shall not be paralyzed by fear of the enemy, nor yet by fear of ourselves". Making it available for comments and corrections is also very good. This line is not so good: "THIS WE SWEAR, on the graves of those who died at the World Trade Center; and those who died in the Sari Club in Bali; and those who died on U.S.S. Cole; and indeed on the graves of all the nameless victims in the Middle East itself who have been slaughtered by terrorism and rogue states: YOU SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN." My problem with this, as you might guess, is the "nameless victims in the Middle East". Middle East? Didn't Eric mean "Israel" by any chance? He sure was specific enough about Bali. And "nameless"?

Not just another blog. Actually, not even a blog. Still, go check Murray out. Oh, he is in NZ - you know how to get there, right?
The Israeli Labor is virtually non-existent. The only time we hear from them is when there is some internal power (what power?) struggle, or when they whine about how Sharon does not have a coherent policy, and how they are going to abandon the "unity government" an hour ago. A "no confidence" vote today was defeated by a large margin. Most of Labor MKs were absent.
Via IBA radio.
A car exploded behind a bus about half an hour ago near Karkur in the northern part of Israel. The bus caught fire, which is now extinguished. No casualties numbers yet. Called my husband's cellphone - he did not know yet. He was not far from there just a short time before. It reminded me that 2 years ago I was in Tel - Aviv, and he called my cellphone from here to tell me there was an explosion a few miles away from where I was. It was about the same time of day, too.
A witness is saying that there are many people who "can no longer be helped", as she put it.
Update: so far 14 killed, 5 injured seriously. The car hit from behind when the bus stopped at a bus stop. 3 more cars are reported damaged. The Islamic Jihad took "credit". There were no more than 2 people in the car, and they came from Jenin.
This post by CB (AKA Cind) has reminded me of my mostly happy childhood in the Evil Empire. It has also reminded me how forgettable most bad memories are. Here are some of the better things I remember well. Also here, here and here.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

In defense of the transfer.
The word itself has come to be a dirty word. Rehavam Zeevi, who was the most notable proponent, was for years ostracised by large parts of the Israeli electorate. As a result of the events of the last 2 years, Zeevi is now dead, and 46% of Israelis have now come to agree with him.

No, I am not saying that it is the ultimate solution. Or the best solution. I am not even sure it is a solution at all. It is just that to me it sounds like the least of all evils. Also, I do not see it unilaterally forced on the Palestinians by Israel, but rather taking place as a result of a negotiated agreement between Israel and at least one (probably more) Arab state.

Consider the alternatives:
1.An independent Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza.
I have heard many people rightly point out the obvious problems with this, most notably the impossible border lines, both for Israel to defend and for Palestinians to live and function. But did any one ever consider the fact that this solution will require a transfer as well? Not of Arabs, but of Jews who have been living in the settlements for years now. Most objectors to the transfer of Arabs from the "territories" do so on moral grounds. Why is it morally objectionable to transfer Arabs, but not Jews? I would also like to remind everyone that a Jewish transfer has a precedent in a not so distant past: the evacuation of Yamit in 1982.
2. An annexsation of the territories by Israel, with their arab population in place.
I absolutely agree with people like Tom Friedman who point out that this will be a demographical disaster for Israel.
3. Nuke them all.
A possibility, but not a good plan. A possibility: if the current situation continues for a prolonged period, we might reach a point where we either drive the arabs who are stiil alive out, or, conversely, the arabs do it to the jews. If Israel reaches a point where it has to choose between the two, the nukes can come into play. Not a good plan: I, and I think most people are, am interested in a solution with as little loss of life as possible on all sides.
4. We keep doing what we are doing now: i.e. the stick and carrot approach. But what is the carrot, #1? I think what we are doing now is the right thing, although with much room for improvement. But we can only keep doing it for a limited time. Both Israeli and Palestinian economies are in the toilet, the loss of lives continues on both sides, and, lest we forget: the other side can get nukes, too.
Option 4 is the only one we have at this time. We have to keep using it, while trying to cause as little loss of life as possible on both sides. At the same time, we have to keep our presence in the territories, both in the form of military, and the legal civilian settlements. We have to use it until after the war in Iraq, which is bound to reshuffle the Middle Eastern cards. Then maybe we can start a new game with some new and creative thinking. Did I mention the donkey yet?
Update: Tal G. seems to doubt the 46% CBS is quoting. Unlike me, Tal actually lives in Israel, and is an honest guy, so I would put that number under a question mark, until a better poll comes along.
Update: I have finally read this article in the Guarduian by the Israeli historian Benny Moris, in which he discusses the history of the transfer idea. A must-read. Thank you Ted.