Saturday, May 10, 2003

Two articles in the New Yorker, describing the situation in Baghdad about a month ago (including incidents of looting and civilian casualties) without an apparent bias.

Another one, from the Weekly Standard (by a NY Post embed), cannot not be called "unbiased", but provides a welcome balance to the leftist media's reports of the Iraqis' reaction to the war and the allied troops. Even if the truth is somewhere in the middle, it is still not too bad.

(Thanks to John Anderson for the links.)
Jennifer had me laughing again. (Permalinks don't work - need to republish your archives, dear...):
You're never gonna believe this...

apparently Israel has managed, through genetic engineering and a rigorous high-protein diet or something like that, to produce it's own race of GIANT SOLDIERS.... no's right in the JPost headline: "Palestinians: Large IDF Troops enter Tulkarem Refugee Camp".
Now I know why my husband is on this stupid protein diet. And, mind you, the guy does not even like meat all that much...

Come to think of it, I'd like to know where were some of the PETA members on 4/17, what were they doing, and did anyone see them there doing it?

Aziz quotes Haggai, who earlier quoted this:
In 1953, when a rumor that Hitler might still be alive circulated around the world, an Arab newspaper asked some public figures what they would say to Hitler if they could contact him. As quoted in Bernard Lewis' book "Semites and Anti-Semites," this Arab officer responded: "I congratulate you with all my heart, because, though you appear to have been defeated, you were the real victor." [...] 24 years later, in 1977, the Nazi collaborator and author of that passage--Anwar Sadat--became the first Arab leader to visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Now, this logic supposedly should be applied to abu-Mazen. I am not going to dwell on the several reasons why the two cases are different. I am just going to poiint out two important facts. One is that Sadat is dead (not a natural death, mind you). The other is that the real reason Egypt has not been at war with Israel since 1973 has little to do with the fact that Sadat visited Jerusalem (although this is the reason why he is dead). The real reason for this non-war status is the fact that Egypt was badly beaten in 1973. Another is that there is no longer a Soviet Union to support Egypt financially and militarily. On the other hand, there is the American financial support, that is clearly conditioned on Egypt's nonbelligerency. Just folow the money, and things clear up.

Friday, May 09, 2003

A very cool new ad by Honda". (Flash6 is required, and thanks to Blue Goldfish Café for the link). A note to whomever on that site that though I am like him/her and wondering how can tires roll uphill: I am not. And you must be kidding. My tires, and everyone else's tires roll uphill every day (well, mine don't, but they could if I lived in Beverly Hills...). They had force applied to them, see? And see what I mean when I talk about our schools?
Go Read This. This is what I am talking about (among other things) when I say that I hate my son's school. Mrs. du Toit describes her experience in a high school 30 years ago. I am curious what did elementary and middle schools look like then. I don't know about the rest of the world, but both in USSR and in Israel we had a recess every 50 minutes. A real recess. We jus poured out of the classroom, and went where we wanted, and did what we wanted. I hope Israeli educators don't get any stupid ideas into their stupid heads and "americanize" this as well. My son deserves a childhood.
A very good post by Aziz. I have to absolutely agree that most observations of positive (from the American perspective) influence of the war in Iraq on other Arab countries', and Iran's, policies, is wishful thinking at this point. I have not been reading his blog often, but my impression is that he was, and still is, less than supportive of the war in Iraq. Thus, I am more optimistic about this war than he is. I merely think that it is way too early to see any such positive influence. We need to be patient, as well as focused and persistent.

As to the looting of the nuclear material, it is very worrisome, obviously. I don't have the necessary information on the looting itself to form an opinion, but two things are clear to me: one is that it is silly to tie the looting to the forces that have been assigned to guard the oil fields. These are two absolutely separate issues. It may well be that we have royally screwed up with regard to that looting. Does it mean that we should not have guarded the oil fields? Nonsense.

The other thing that is clear to me, is that WMDs getting into terrorists' hands is not the only reason we had to go to war in Iraq, Bush's assertions notwithstanding (This is one other thing Aziz and I seem to have in common: I am still having a hard time warming up to Bush). There are at least a few other places in the world where such weapons/materials may be present, and where terrorists could get their hands on them (Russia, for example). A more important reason was that in Iraq we had a dictator who was actively working towards producing a nuclear weapon. One of the things the war has clearly accomplished, was diffusing the danger of Iraq becoming a North Korea. The looting, however serious, did not diminish this accomplishment in any way.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit

Saturday, May 17-18, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The objectives:
* to assure Israel's survival in the face of Palestinian terrorism and the Quartet's Road Map for imposing an irredentist Arab state in the "West Bank" and Gaza.

* to educate the public on the threat of Palestinian statehood to America's true and enduring national interests.

* to document the responsibility of Palestinian leadership and society - aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, other terrorist states - for originating and sustaining jihad/intifada violence.

* to expose media ignorance and bias in Middle East coverage and virulent Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic agitation on campus.

* to solidify and chart future strategy for the emerging alliance of Jewish and Christian Zionists.

Speakers will include, Daniel Pipes, Joseph Farah, Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney and presenters from CAMERA and JINSA.

More information here.
Oh, and by the way, for those of you who have been wondering whatever happened to our "repatriation" plans: if you are looking for a nice house, I have one to sell.
Well, what do you know. I was so busy yesterday annoying everyone who is unfortunate enough to be on my e-mail list with the announcement of SR new headquaters, that not did only I forget to post it on my own blog, but I also forgot to change the link on my own blogroll. Anyway, go say "hi", change your bookmarks and permalinks, and hopefully one of us will get to some real posting real soon...really.
Update: yes, there is a link now...

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

More news (not all good):

Iran's reformist MPs warn Islamic republic's hardliners to allow reforms, call for normalised foreign relations. (ME Online).

India not satisfied with Pakistani offer. 9 Die in Kashmir Ahead of U.S. Subcontinent Visit (Reuters).

NY Times: U.S. troops in Iraq searching for ancient Talmud find intelligence papers, maps pertaining to Israel (Haaretz). Update: the NYT story (thanks to USF).

Diplomat says U.S. will let inspectors from UN`s nuclear watchdog agency return to Iraq (Haaretz.)

PFLP says ready to close offices to ease pressure on Syria (Haaretz.)

Lebanese officials: Suspects detained for bomb attacks on Western targets tried to kill U.S. ambassador Lebanon (Haaretz.)

In the Good News department: Qatar Appoints First Woman Minister.
Writing about Wolf yesterday reminded me again of my high school years in Israel. We went to a boarding school, that was - and still is - primarily intended for children of olim (new immigrants). Those probably were best 5 years of my life. I miss the place terribly, and I miss the people even more.

3 years ago, when I took Pashosh to Israel, my friend Anna and I also took him for a visit at the school. The place is as beautiful as it was then, probably even more, with all the oak trees grown older. I think Pashosh did not know what to make of it: it does not at all look like a school as he knows it. It really looks and feels like a village.

I had not visited their web site for a while, so today I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have added an Eglish site. I wish they had larger pictures of the place - it would be something to look at. Go take a look anyway.
Speaking of pictures: that picture of Wolf is not a very good one, obviously. I don't have any pictures of him, because we did not have cameras then - most of us could not afford one.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Amitai Etzioni"s blog has become one of my daily must-reads. I really like both the content and the style.
Piracy seems to be having a modern day comeback in the Pacific. Thanks to Oskar van Rijswijk at CP for the link.
Happy Independence Day.

Wolf Platonov, 2/1/1961 (Gagarin, USSR) - 8/1/1982 (Beirut, Lebanon)

I only now managed to find Wolf's page on this Heberw site, to which Imshin linked. There is not much I can say here about Wolf, except that he was one of my best friends, and one of the most interesting and unusual people I have ever met. I cannot say much, because the things I would have said would sound mundane, or silly, or insignificant. They are not to me, though. They are some of my happiest memories. And I know there are many other people who feel the same way about him.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Some more news (not all are good):

From SKY News: The Union flag is flying again over the British embassy in Baghdad as diplomats returned for the first time since the Gulf War 12 years ago.

Federal, state, local authorities in U.S. to hold joint drills next week to test response to terror attack with WMD (Haaretz.)

Hezbollah fires anti-aircraft shells over eastern sector of Israeli-Lebanese border, no injuries (Haaretz.)

Israeli killed, 2 seriously hurt in West Bank shooting attack (Haaretz.)

UK probes ties between British bombers and Libya, Algeria (Haaretz.)
It looks like there are some good news coming out of Pakistan and India.

Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars
and Israel Independence Day

6-7 May 2003 - 4-5 Iyar 5763

Thanks to Imshin for the link.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Bwahaaaaaaa! (No permalinks - the top one...)Ha-ha-ha-ha! Ik...
My friend Sarah called me last week. "How are you, Alisa?" she asked.
"Fine, how are you?"
"So, what do you think?"
"About what?" I laughed. I knew very well what Sarah was talking about. She always calls me when something significant happens in the ME.
"The war! What do you think?" Needless to say, we have discussed this before.
"What do I think? I am not surprised, I can tell you that. Everything went more or less as I expected. What do you think?"
"I hate it! It is disgusting!"
I proceed calmly. I ask her what is so disgusting. "The war! I hate war, it is wrong! It is only good for Bush, because he gets the oil."
"OK, but who is it bad for?"
"What do you mean?"
"You said it is good for Bush. Is there anyone it is bad for?"
"Well, how would you feel if someone from your family was killed in battle there?"
I point out that the US military is composed of volunteers, and that they were not forced to go and fight there. “What about the Iraqi people, and all the terrible things we now know they had to endure under Saddam? Is it bad for them?"
"Well, maybe it is good for them, but..."
"I don't want to talk about it any more...Let's talk about something else."
"Whatever you say, Sarah. You know I love you, no matter what your views are!"
"Yes, I love you, too, but..."

- - -

I first met Sarah when I was pregnant with Pashosh. Sarah is an artist. She has been painting pictures for as long as she can remember. She still has a painting of her late mother in her little studio, as well as of some other members of her family - most long gone.

Sarah was born and grew up in Palestine, sometime during the first decade of the last century. Hers was a prominent Sepharadic family. All of the children went to Alliance, and everyone spoke French at home. When Sarah was 18, she left for Paris to study art. There she met Paul, her future husband. Paul took Sarah to his little hometown, and introduced her to anyone he could. He also told anyone who would listen that his wife is Jewish. (He was young and idealistic, and naturally and fashionably cosmopolitan). He regretted that when the Germans came and started rounding up the Jews. They had to leave. They started moving south, until finally reaching the Marseilles area.

Meanwhile, Sarah’s brother, who also came to France to study, and who married a Jewish girl from Russia and had a baby girl with her, had joined the resistance, was caught by the Germans and killed. Soon thereafter the baby’s mother fell ill and died. Sarah and Paul adopted the baby, and Paul adopted his wife’s and his late brother’s in-law last name, so as to avoid embarrassment for his adopted daughter when she grew up.

It was clear to them that they were not going to stay in Europe after the war. Paul’s best friend has left and settled in the US, and was trying to arrange a job here for Paul, who was a biologist. They corresponded for a while, then the friend stopped writing. Years later when they finally found each other in the US, it turned out that the guy’s wife disapproved of that correspondence, and started hiding/destroying the letters. By the time they found each other, though, he was divorced, and remarried, to a woman who turned out to be Sarah’s best friend from Palestine.

Sarah, Paul and their adopted daughter lived in several places, including Mexico, and a few years in Israel in the 80ies. They eventually ended up retiring in a small house in a nice college town in Missouri, not far from their daughter and her family. Paul died some 10 years ago, and so Sarah moved to a retirement home. She was still driving until about a year ago, and my husband once caught her trying to pull a fast one on a policeman at a scene of an accident. She is still painting, though – her favorite method is encaustic. She uses a torch to heat the wax. She never worked outside the home, but she always painted.

- - -

At the end of our rather short conversation Sarah informed me that she was so upset about the war, that she got into a wheelchair with an umbrella in hand (it was raining), and went out to join a protest demonstration. “Good for you!”, I said. I meant it, too.