Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Something to Remember

I had high hopes for the Prime Minister of the PA. He seemed to get it. He seemed to understand that it was up to the Palestinians to make their own future. He was against violence and armed militias and terrorist groups running the lives of the Palestinian people. He wanted to build businesses and infrastructure. He changed things in Nablus for starters. Not an easy feat. He was doing what I had been talking about for years.

I could excuse a lot from a man who is trying to take his people in the right direction. We can disagree on borders and divisions. Today however he sounded like every other Palestinian leader in the short history of the people. He ignored the Palestinian terrorism, the leadership and the peoples support of it as well. He talked about the IDF and its strikes against Qassam launchers.

"On Tuesday evening, the PA leader condemned Israel's "crimes against our people in the Gaza Strip and Qabatiya in the West Bank," and called on the international community to intervene immediately "in order to stop Israel's aggression against the Palestinian people."This is from an article on Ynet.

Once again in true Palestinian fashion he forgets about the qassams. He forgets about the eighteen people killed in qassam attacks. He forgets about the lives of the people living in Sderot who live under a daily rain of rockets and mortars. His government wants Israel to tighten the noose around the neck of Hamas. Oh the irony. His government wants us to do the dirty work. So excuse me Mr Fayyad if I wonder about the crimes against my people. The crimes that the Palestinians and Arab world are responsible for. Do not be mistaken. This is not a case of what came first the chicken or the egg. The definitive answer is that Arab violence came first. Arab intolerance came first. Arab hatred came first. Palestinian terrorism came before any roadblock checkpoint or wall. Don't let them or the world forget that.

submitted by Carol

Monday, December 17, 2007

Facebook Fantasies

Myself included, Facebook is not known for being the foundation of forward thinkers. There is a new post going around, at least among Jewish and Israel based Facebook "walls" that goes exactly like this:
Bush Heading to Jerusalem

President Bush will be in Jerusalem on January 9th to push his
"Palestinian State in '08" proposal forward with East Jerusalem as the capital.
This is President's Bush first trip to Israel since becoming
president. His goal is to convince the Israeli public that a Palestine State
with East Jerusalem as its capital is in their best interest and he has
the support of the American people. 21,150 people have signed the urgent
petition to the president. Send this to everyone on your list and ask
everyone to do the same. We need 100,000 signatures so President Bush
knows that we will not support the U.S. dividing Jerusalem. He has
mobilized virtually the entire world behind this plan. If everyone will just
get four friends to sign this we will have the 100,000.
Vote your opinion now.


Now, just like the next guy, I'd like a list of those 100,000 morons just so I can point and laugh. There's nothing that amuses me more than a moron. People that listen to Israelisms Podcast know this. And to have 100,000 of them? sides hurt just thinking about it.

The amazing part of this nit-witted petition is that there is not also a petition to pour a few billion shekels into an urban renewal program in East Jerusalem, which is what it needs and which is what it would take. There is no petition to improve the school systems in East Jerusalem. There is no petition to insure that, since we insist on keeping ALL of East Jerusalem, every citizen has full rights as Israeli citizens there.

Be careful what you pray for, "Oh Ye Petition Signers" just might get it!

Submitted by Charley

Monday, November 26, 2007

Five Qassams, No injuries

Every day I read about Qassam's and mortars falling in Sderot and some of the kibbutzim in the area. Sometimes it doesn't even make it to the main section but is rather a small blurb off to the side. Something that reads'5 qassams fell in Sderot,no injuries." Thats it. I believe it gets no mention in the international press at all. I'm not here to judge the international press or our own for that matter. I am making a statement about how we function as human beings. How really easy it is to glance at these news bites and move on with your day. No harm no foul.

Now lets think of your average family living in Sderot.,Mom, Dad and oh lets say 3 kids. The sun comes up on Sderot and like every morning the Mom is up first. As she has her coffee the car across the street backfires. Mom jumps and drops her cup. It shatters on the kitchen floor. The baby starts to cry. Dad comes in as she is cleaning up. "It was just a car sweetie" She smiles weakly. He goes and gets the baby. Her two older kids come down. A boy and a girl. The boy begs her to let him play soccer after school. She sees the soccer field in her mind. She sees 10 year old targets running around the field and so she tells him "We'll see." The kids have been fed and are about to head out the door when there is a loud unmistakable sound of a rocket landing. The kids look at her. She laughs and tells them they are fine. The stupid terrorists have bad aim. Dad drives them to school instead of letting them walk. Not that a car is protection against a rocket.

Alone in the house with the baby she checks on the internet. Nothing yet. Good sign. Bad news travels fast. Probably hit an empty field. After the usual morning chores its time to take the baby for his check up. With the baby in the stroller she heads out looking like any mother anywhere in the world outside on a beautiful day. Except she stays very close to the buildings. When she crosses the street she walks very fast. Mission accomplished. She is back home with the baby. She puts on some music and prepares some food. Her husband calls to check in. She tells him she might let their son play soccer today. Her husband agrees. Can't keep the kids inside forever. That and only one rocket landed all morning. Maybe today will be a quiet one.

Time for babies nap and Moms too. The kids will be home soon. As she drifts off to sleep there are two loud booms. Two more rockets have hit Sderot. They hit the soccer field this time. Luckily all the kids were in school. The soccer field is in ruins she reads on the internet. Well now she doesn't have to worry about him being out there. He can go play at his friends house.

The kids come bursting through the door. Her son is bursting with the news of the soccer field and the fact that he could have almost been there if she had said yes only later you know! Her daughter who is younger starts to cry. Mom thinks it is because of worry for her brother. She is upset because her friends dog was injured by the qassam this morning. He was out in the open field where it hit and got a piece of shrapnel in his shoulder. She is never going to get a dog. Something could happen to it and she couldn't stand it. Mom hugs her with a knowing smile on her face. The rest of the afternoon is uneventful. Snacks, homework and visiting friends. Life as it should be.

Dinner time approaches. The son is hungry."Can we eat yet?"' No your Dad's not home yet" the Mom replies. He should be home any minute. Then there is the familiar sound. Boom boom. Two Qassams hit Sderot. There is the distant sound of car alarms. The cars were probably shook by the explosions. She keeps the kids busy by having them clean up and set the table. She glances at her watch. The Dad is a half our late. She goes into her room and calls him on his cellphone. No answer. Yet she didn't hear any ambulances. She chews her lip and paces. Just then the dooir opens. Dad's home!

With all the kids tucked into bed he now tells his wife about his narrow miss with the qassams. He was about a block away. They make jokes. Dark humor seems to lift the tension a bit. Just before they go to bed Qassam number five hits. The little park down the street. Two trees catch fire. Luckily no one was in the park at this late hour. The fire department has it all quickly under control. They settle down to sleep. Another day is over. The family is safe. Tomorrow is not here yet where they will have to do it all over again. What changes are the numbers. Five, ten, or eight. In Sderot or outside of Sderot. Open field or parked cars. Some homes might be damaged. Our family here has a busted window taped shut and tiles missing from the roof.Only occasionally human life is taken. Eleven so far. Such a small number. Such a small number of families destroyed. A small number of kids without a parent.

And so it goes. A seemingly never ending story for the people of Sderot. A tiny news blurb whose only constant is that it repeats on a daily basis. Always a little varied. When and where is never known. This is the story of five quassams land in Sderot, no injuries.

Submitted by Carol

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Israel's 'Where's Waldo'

It's been a long time since I've thought about that old little game called "Where's Waldo". You know the one. Where you have to find the goofy-looking kid in the red and white striped sweater and stocking cap in the crowd of similar looking goofy-looking people.

Well, believe it or not, the upcoming (?) Annapolis non-event made me think of Where's Waldo. However, it's not Waldo I'm looking for. I've been looking through the papers; all the pictures; all the photo-ops; for a hint of what used to be known as the Labor Party. The Labor Party goes by many names these days. My favorite is "Kadima-Lite", however I think you'll find the most popular response to the question of, "Where is the Labor Party?" is a quizzical look reminiscent of a dog in front of an electric fan, followed by a mumbling of, "Labor Party? We still have a Labor Party?"

Shas and its marionette du jour, Eli Yishai (where does he hide all those strings?) is up front and vocal (when Eli Yishai speaks, as good as Ovadia Yosef is - I can still sometimes see ol' Ovadia's mouth move) that he is soundly against any peace that doesn't bring more money to their yeshivas to keep their constituency in the dark.

And Avigdor "Don't Call Me Yvette" Lieberman can be heard screaming from the rooftops against anything that might be slightly construed as democracy or equality.

Even Bibi can be seen patiently waiting, audibly chuckling in the corner. With a guy like Bibi, patience can be heard.

Barak and the Labor Party? I'm beginning to think Barak's brain was actually housed in that mole he had removed. Barak has changed colors so often he's got chameleons scratching their heads wondering what the hell he's doing. He out Zeligs Woody Allen's Zelig.

There was a time we knew what the Labor Party was all about. I was never a big follower of Labor, but I liked to know they were there. They could be termed a peace party. They were moderate to left. Not as far left as Meretz, but left enough to let you know what they stood for. The Labor of our memory would have dropped out of this government long ago. The Labor of our memory would never have stood by while the ruling party plays them like a cheap perfume (yes...I just LOVE mixed metaphors). The Labor of our memory would know who the hell their leader is!

River City is in trouble, my friends (that's a "Music Man" reference for those of you who are Broadway Musical challenged). And there's nothing any one can do about it except sit around, wait, and sometimes write about it.

I miss the Labor Party. I wonder what they would have done if they were still around.

Submitted by Charley

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Country of Jews or a Jewish State

The latest arguments around the water cooler have to do with the Palestinians and their inability to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The question being argued is whether they even have to. A columnist for Haaretz, Yoel Marcus contends that the answer is no. He makes some good points in his argument. The first point is that we don't need anyone to tell us who we are. Often I agree with that point of view. He rightfully states that they ultimately see us as a Jewish state. It is the reason they have been trying to destroy us for the last 60 years. Also true. Yoel Marcus sees this request of ours as unnecessary. Many view it as a stumbling block put there on purpose by the likes of Avigdor Leiberman. That may be the case but it doesn't change anything. We still need to ask the question. Why does a people who want to make peace with us have so much trouble excepting us for who we are?

My first reaction was a gut reaction. I was tired of their continuing saga where they portray us as having no history and no legitimate claim to the land. How am I supposed to make peace with this kind of people. Its just more Oslo and more Arafat. In Hebrew there is an expression"I've already been to this movie." I've not only been to this movie but it is a horrible movie that always ends the same.

When my temper died down a bit I realized that it is their strategy not to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. If we are a Jewish state then we have a right to Jerusalem and the old city. Our holiest site rests there. If we are a Jewish state then it effects the right of return for refugees. At least in their eyes. In my eyes we cannot let refugees who have not lived here in 40 years come back no matter how they view us. If we are not a Jewish state then it would be unconscionable not to let the refugees back. They know that the refugees would flood this country and it would no longer be ours. If we are not a Jewish state than they can view this as Palestine with a different name.

In a heated argument on our last podcast Charley played devils advocate. He said that they could say they were worried about the Arabs living in Israel. That might be a reason to not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That is pure hogwash. We have almost 60 years of doing well for our Arab citizens that are actually part of the people who are at war with us. So if we suddenly were at peace with them their lot would worsen? There is no logic to that argument. The next point of his as the devil was that Jordan and Egypt don't necessarily recognize us as a Jewish state and yet we have peace treaties with them. These countries and others have indeed fueled the conflict. They still do. Look at how Egypt relates to Hamas. But in the end the peace we have to make is with the Palestinian Arabs. It is with them that we have to divide the land. It is their strategy to deny us any room to negotiate. So it makes a difference.

Charley is of the opinion that we should not care about their reasons. We should basically ignore their strategy. Their strategy has served them well in the court of public opinion. But lets ignore that. Why do we need strategy anyway. Here is where Leiberman and I differ. I would not have used this card yet. Leiberman may indeed want to stop the negotiations. I would have kept my cards closer to my vest. I would have pulled out that card when it came to negotiating over the old city. I would have said we are the Jewish state and this is our holiest site. Then they would have been forced into a corner. They would have had to then be the ones to trip over the stumbling block and decide whether to forge on or stop. That's where I differ with Leiberman. He is like a bull in a china shop and I am more like a stealth bomber on the way to bombing a Syrian nuclear war plant!

In truth I don't think peace is on the horizon. Not until the terrorists have had a chance to crash and burn. A peace only based on borders is not the answer. It has to be based on mutual recognition. The leadership simply fails to understand this simple idea.

Submitted by Carol

Monday, November 12, 2007

Israel's Choice

I don't think I'm sufficiently grumpy today. I'm actually grappling with something that came out of the mouth of Eli Yishai the puppet leader of Shas a sephardic ultra orthodox party in Israel. He thinks we should release Jews from prison serving time for murdering Arabs for nationalist reasons. These pardons should coincide with the 60th anniversary celebration of the State of Israel.

What was he thinking? He thinks that if we release Palestinian prisoners then why not Israeli prisoners? Up to this point we aren't releasing anyone with "blood on their hands." What I am curious about is who are the Palestinian prisoners with clean hands. If you shoot at Israelis your hands are bloody. If you build the bomb you have blood on your hands. The one giving the order has red hands too. Is the transporter clean? How about the human resource guy who recruits the bombers? Are they bloodless? We seem to have an awful lot of disposable unbloodied guys that we can toss back to Abbas whenever someone feels the need. I for one want to know what constitutes clean hands. I think the public should know who is in jail and why. Maybe then we could feel better about tossing them back to Abbas and it might save some money. Housing criminals is not cheap.

Now that I have gone way off into left field lets bring this puppy back front and center. If we reach a point that we release prisoners with blood on their hands should we in turn do the same for our guys? Its not a notion my gut is fond of. How can we release a murderer who might be seen as a hero among some segments of society? How do we accept people who took the law into their own hands? I don't want to live in that kind of society. What these people did was the very thing we are fighting against. Thankfully the number is small. It gives me hope that we will not become like them, the Palestinians. The Palestinian murderers will be heroes. The only way they will not be heroes is if the PA jails people for acts of terrorism. In the mean time Palestinians support terrorism. So is it fair to let their murderers go and not ours? Does letting their murderers go signal that they were legitimate?

I think the best answer is a simple one. People convicted of murder should have to serve their complete sentences. If not then we become morally bankrupt and we in turn bankrupt the Palestinians by letting them continue in a society that has no consequences for horrible acts. Everyone must pay the price equally.

Submitted by Carol

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Banging Heads

It's frustrating to write a blog, as many of you know. some of you know. It's not the creative process, or the sitting down and writing part, or even spelling and formatting. It's the part where you're at right now. The "how many people are reading this" part.

I know, I know. That's not why I should be doing this. I should be doing this because creating a blog gives me the opportunity to express myself and to get what I have in the inside, to the outside. Well, if I only wanted to do that, I'd buy a diary and write in that.

I write a blog because I want everyone to read it. And when I say everyone, I mean I want to out-Drudge Drudge. That ain't happening.

I don't blame you. You're reading this. Okay, I blame you a little. After all, how many of your friends have you insisted read this blog? And how many of their friends...and their friends...and their friends? (Just saying that makes my hair feel cleaner)

To think that if tens of thousands of people would read this blog, the world would be a better place and peace in the Middle East would be closer to a reality is a bit frustrating. Particularly knowing that no one in the Israeli government is reading this. I don't think they read the editorials in the newspapers here, so I'm doubting this is a destination for them, either.

Of course, I don't know if I'd read me if I were in the Israeli government. I mean, I don't know how willing I'd be to give up my Volvo, office, and the only steady job I've ever had just to do the right thing for an entire population. It's easy for me to judge. I'm driving a ten year old, beat up, Renault Megane. It's easy for me to do what's right for an entire population. But even that said entire population isn't reading what's the point?! I may as well join the government, get rid of the Renault, and get driven around in a Volvo!

So if, sometime soon, you see me on TV standing next to Prime Minister Olmert, nodding my head like a bobble-head doll, while he talks about brainless haphazard plans to do nothing except stay in office; you'll know it's your fault for not getting enough people to read this blog.

I won't be able to see you, however. I'm planning on getting one of those Volvos with tinted windows.

Submitted by Charley

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Consumer Report

Its always about the politics. The Palestinians or are own government is usually doing something that spurs me to write. This week I am throwing caution to the wind. This weeks blog entry is for the consumer. Specifically the female consumer or a guy who wants to buy his special gal something nice. This is for the tourists out there who want to spend some of their hard earned dollars while soaking up our culture.

Let me direct your attention to product number one. You can find it at a chain of stores called The Body Shop. No not that Body Shop. Not the world famous one that originated in London. I'm talking about the Israeli one. The owners of the Israeli one had the chutzpah to refuse to change their name so THE Body Shop never opened its stores in Israel. But lets get back on track. Our Body Shop has a fragrance called White Musk that is out of this world. They sell it oil based and alcohol based. I prefer the oil based. It lasts longer. It lasts a really long time. I get compliments on the smell all the time. It really is worth trying. The oil based one is 100 shekels which is loosely translated into real money about 20 bucks.

In door number two we have another favorite item of mine. I actually hate to be without it. This from a chain of stores called Laline. Laline is a beautiful store that sells soaps and all kinds of other girlie stuff. They have a Body Peeling or a Body Scrub that I swear by. The granules are coarse and you can feel them. Not just for decoration as in many body scrubs. The granules are in this rich and thick scented oil. There are many different scents. My favorite is Vanilla Patchouli. The patchouli makes the vanilla smell delicious but not like a bakery. My skin is baby soft after I have used it. I kid you not. They also have great hand made soaps in different scents.

Everyone who comes here buys stuff from Ahava and the dead sea. Its good stuff but we really have other things worth trying. We are more than a country of mud! Writing this is actually fun. Not a rant in sight. I feel relaxed. I think I'll go eat some Bamba! The quintessential Israeli snack. Its a peanut butter flavored puffed snack. No added sugar. It is my favorite original Israeli snack. I don't have it often. Just looking at a bag makes me gain weight but those who have tried it know what I mean. Its really yummy comfort food. We need comfort food. Just listening to the news makes me want to grab some Bamba. Maybe I should stop listening to the news! I think I could lose weight that way!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Who You Are

As a citizen of Israel for the past eleven years I have days where I wonder exactly where I fit in Israeli society. I'm not religious but I'm not secular. I'm defined as secular but I don't belong to the left. I don't always feel at home among the religious right either. So I've pretty much staked out my own identity under the umbrella of Israeli society. So I can understand that Arabs who live in Israel have problems when it comes to identity. After the war in 1948 to destroy Israel ended they found themselves on the Israeli side of the green line, through no fault of their own. Israel was still standing and the other guys were in the West Bank and Gaza. What to do?

Living in close proximity to Jews the Arabs quickly learned guilt. They had accepted citizenship in Israel along with all the rights that come with it. Financially they were better off than their West Bank counterparts. No refugee camps. They were not used as political pawns. While they enjoyed all this they knew their brothers were on the other side watching. How do you straddle that fence? The Israeli Arabs are living in a country who is having a major conflict with its people.

I can certainly tell you how not to handle it.Don't follow Arab Member of Knesset Zahalka. Okay lets start at the beginning. National service is an alternative to service to the military. Religious girls often choose it over serving in the army. Last year the number of Arabs volunteering to do national service doubled. Zahalka is upset and is threatening those who want to serve. He said they would be like lepers in the community. He accuses Israel of wanting to Israelify the Arab youth who volunteer. Imagine that? We are at fault for NOT shunning them. We are at fault for trying to let them be part of society.

People who volunteer for national service work in hospitals and schools for example. Its a year long program. Some opt to stay in it longer. It is a way to give back to society for those who do not serve in the armed forces. As citizens of a country you are granted rights and freedoms. Citizens of Israel receive health care, child allowances and national insurance. So if you are going to make use of these things then giving something back would seem to be a positive thing. Yet Zahalka said "It's our right as a national minority to safeguard our identity. Actually, we see volunteering for service as an attempt to Israelify our youths, and we have a major issue with that."

Somehow Zahalka and his supporters have twisted things to make national service part of the armed forces. It is not. It is an alternative to the army. He would make anyone who did national service a leper in Israeli Arab society. Thankfully the Arab kids doing national service don't give credence to his speech's. They are too busy living their lives in Israeli society. If they were in Italy would it not be okay to join in Italian society? As a Jew living in the States was I not a part of society yet with my Jewish identity very much intact? Yes I know Italy and the US are not in a conflict with the Palestinians.

Hopefully the day will come when Israeli Arabs can choose to live in Palestine and fulfill that part of their identity if they feel so inclined. I can understand that need. Its why as a Jew I moved to Israel. Those who choose to stay are welcome as well. What we cannot do and should not do is make our country not Israel. Its just like asking the Italians to be something else. Its not fair. Think of the gelato.

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our Kids Don't Count

The teachers' strike is now entering its third week. Again. Every year there's a strike. And every year, give or take an issue, it's about the same thing. It's disgusting. We're not talking about the salaries of teachers here. We're talking about the future of our country. The average person in Israel understands this, but like always, the average person in Israel is ignored.

Don't get me wrong. That problem is not "Israel specific". We all know that the average person in all countries is ignored. But, I live in Israel so I can only tell you what goes on here.

We need to give our teachers more money. We need to give our teachers enough money so the profession of teaching is not considered charitable or philanthropic work. We need to increase the hours in the school day. We need to do that now. Because of Israel's low salaries and high living expenses, our country is already experiencing a brain-drain of good people going elsewhere to make a living. That "Zionist thing" still works for me and keeps me here (along with Carol and my kids), but I guess that isn't true with everyone. So, if we've got a brain-drain, and we're not educating our kids...we're screwed.

Our Education Minister and our Finance Minister claim we don't have the funds. Well, yes we do. If we take away the money we're doling out to the ultra-orthodox yeshivas, we'd have the money. I'm talking about the huge amount of yeshivas that refuse to abide by the requirement of having a core curriculum. I'm talking about the huge amount of huge yeshivas that don't teach practical skills, and give sanctuary to draft dodgers. If we took away all that money and gave it to our secular school systems, including our universities, there would be no reason for a strike and the best and brightest minds in the world would be nurtured right here in Israel.

But that won't happen. And it won't happen for a very practical reason. You see, the teachers and the school system can only strike. They only have the power of depriving our children of their necessary education. The kids won't be ready for their matriculation exams, but so what? Very soon there will be a back to work order from the courts and that will be that. Until the next strike, and the children will suffer even more. But that's all they've got. A strike. Big deal. Olmert hasn't given this situation even a fleeting thought. He doesn't care. He doesn't need to care.

The ultra-orthodox situation is another story. We wouldn't dare touch their money for their school system. As a matter of fact, they'll get more if they ask for it even during the secular school strike! Because if they don't get their money...they'll bring down the government. That, my friends, is what counts.

Our kids don't have representatives in the government. Our kids don't have their own political party to protect them. All they have are a bunch of spineless, self-serving bureaucrats whose only ambition is to protect their own government position. Can you imagine if the Labor party stood up and said, "Hey! Take the money from the ultra-orthodox school systems that won't abide by the laws, and give it to the secular schools! Or we'll bring down this government!"

I smiled to myself as I just wrote that, because when I envision Labor party members in this government, the image of a cowering wimp always comes to mind. He (or she) is shivering in the corner mumbling, "Just don't take away my Volvo".

Don't believe a word of what the treasury or the education ministry says. The money is there. They just won't take it.

Submitted by Charley

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

And Then What

Abbas makes it more and more clear what he plans to bring to the proverbial table at the end of November. None of it surprises me because I've never given him much credit anyway. I could probably stop this little blog right here and many, if not most, of you would agree with me and we could go on our merry way.

But for the sake of clarification, I'll go into a little more specifics. What the heck. I'm not doing anything right now anyway.

Yesterday he told Condi (as in Rice) that he demanded all settlements to be removed. Oh, and the checkpoints be moved back to the 2000 border before the most recent Intifada (my count has it as Intifada LXXXVIII....there have been more Intifadas than Super Bowls, and I think there's something wrong with that). He also wants all prisoners released, control of the Old City, and assorted other goodies that we've all heard before.

This is all good. And in the essence of diplomacy, who could blame him. However, nobody is letting the man finish his sentence. At least, I hope he hasn't finished his sentence. You see, what's missing from the above list is the necessary adjunctive words, "...and in return we will..." Because that, my friends, is what we call "negotiation". As we all know from when we were trading baseball cards, that if I want Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris; I'm going to have to offer you Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, and Roy Campanella. I can't very well demand Musial, Mantle, and Maris and offer nothing substantive in return. Sure, I suppose I could use the Palestinian tactic of "give me Musial, Mantle, and Maris and I won't kick your ass". But I would hardly call that negotiations, would you?

If I were a smart Olmert (yes, that does seem to be an oxymoron for a complete moron), and Abbas approached me with these statements, I would just stand there quietly, patiently, and with a smile on my face. When asked what I was waiting for, I'd simply reply, "I'm waiting for you to finish your sentence."

Submitted by Charley

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Before November

November is approaching and people here on both sides of "The fence" are nervously wondering what will happen. Or for that matter there are those who aren't even curious because they believe nothing will happen. Who the hell knows. On the chance that something might happen I want to give my two cents.

As part of this joint declaration of fill in the blank the PA wants Israel to recognize the suffering it caused the Palestinian refugees and it wants compensation for said refugees. I would change the wording of this recognition to reflect the fact that there are refugees due to a war we did not want. I think the statement should also reflect that the continued state of war on the Arabs part intensified or lengthened the suffering of the refugees. The fact that the Palestinians were not encouraged to set up their own state on part of the land affected the refugees as well. Lastly the fact that the refugees living in other Arab countries are kept in camps and some have no civil rights should be acknowledged. Then I can recognize that the war for our independence created a refugee problem and because we did what you do in a war there are refugees from villages that no longer exist. The monetary compensation could come from Arab countries in payment to the 700,000- 900,000 Jews that had to flee Arab countries due to persecution. Lets get it all out there.

While we are at it we should have the PA clarify some things. Or is the phrase declare? Lets start with them acknowledging that we have a history that ties us to this land just as they have a history here. In addition our temple stood on the Temple Mount and therefore we should be able to share the area. The same should go for the cave of the patriarchs. Why should we not have any control over it? Yosef's tomb in Nablus could be administered by a Jewish religious trust just like the waqf.

All I'm saying is it cuts both ways. We do not constantly need to give and not get in return. My fear is that Olmert once again is stumbling around, happy that he still has a job. God knows what he will get us into. Hamas however could squash it all if it unleashes the longer range rockets that Egypt let them smuggle into Gaza. Hopefully that scenario will not happen and we are able to take some baby steps forward. I only hope someone on the negotiating team reads this blog so that both sides get to move forward.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Professional Jealousy

Do you think evil gets jealous? Ahmadinejad has been stealing the spotlight lately. His latest headline grabber was to say that the zionists should be sent to Europe, Canada or Alaska. Why no place warm? What did we ever do to him? In any case the other evil doers are getting jealous. What if he gets his own show? So Nasrallah who is no shrinking violet has stepped up to the plate. The leader of Hezbollah shall not be out down.

He spoke at celebrations for Jerusalem Day in Lebanon. He wished that the Arab armies would invade Israel. Basically do what they failed to do in 1967 which was to destroy Israel. Nasrallah is a guy who refuses to give up the spotlight. The sole purpose of his group was to get Israel out of Lebanon. When the Israeli government decided to leave Lebanon and did so he should have been out of a job. But he stayed. In the same speech Nasrallah blamed Israel for the killings of anti Syrian members of parliament in Lebanon. The lack of logic does not escape me. Why would we want to help Syria get a hold in Lebanon? Yet I guess he can do it by once again painting Israeli's as hungry to kill Arabs. People brought up on hatred of Israel will believe him.

Its easy to dismiss all of these truly evil people as crazy. That they are. Ahmadinejad takes the cake followed closely by Chavez of Venezuela. However we should not dismiss them because it is the crazy people who act. Hitler should never have been ignored. The slaughter in Darfur is not committed by sane people but rather the crazies. The camps in North Korea which imprison their own people were built by a crazy man. Add to the mix a few countries like China and Russia that are willing to let the insane thrive because it suits them. Possibly they see a little of themselves in the crazy evil ones. We cannot afford to close our eyes and turn away from the evil. We need our eyes wide open and we need to be prepared for the gathering storm.

Submitted by Carol

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Great Columbia Give Away

You can get free speech at Columbia University. They spent the week advertising this leading up to President Ahmadinejads visit. I'm just curious. The people who got to sit in the auditorium didn't have to pay for their seats? I'm guessing tuition alone is not exactly free. I think it was false advertising. I got it for free from Fox News but really I had to pay my cable company so...So I think we can pretty much say this had nothing to do with FREE speech!

I will give the university points for making me feel smart. The President of the university was pumped because this would expose the students to Ahmadinejad. They would hear his ideas and dialogue would ensue. They would learn from it. I learnt everything I need to know about the man in kindergarten. I did not need to hear him live to grasp what he is selling. Open up a newspaper for Gods sake. Go on the web. He doesn't hide who he is.

President Bolinger thought he was like Braveheart. He was going to put the President of Iran in his place. He was tough. Called him out almost to his face. My God he was so enamored of his bravery he couldn't see the train coming down the tracks. He let Ahmadinejad have the last word. He got scolded by Ahmadinejad for being rude. After all he was invited to speak.

The speech went according to script. There were some parts in the beginning that made me feel dizzy. I thought someone had slipped me a date rape drug. But then he got to the part about Israel and the holocaust. The man was focused! He left nothing out. No stone unturned. No lies left untold. No accusations that were true. This is the pathological liar and sociopath I had come to know.

Now on to the Q&A section of the broadcast. We were going to hammer him with our stealth like questions. Well not we but the uber smart students of Columbia University. He could have answered those questions in his sleep. He didn't hesitate or need a moment to form his answers. The questions were so general and vague I think his kids could have managed. The questions were asked by the Dean of International something or other. He could have asked follow up questions. No homosexuals in Iran you say then what about the case of MrX who was stoned to death. Women are on a pedestal you say. Then what did Miss Y do that she is no longer alive because she was executed by your government. The big shots of Columbia didn't do their homework. Just for fun I would have told him that Israel just changed its name from Israel to The Zionist Entity. Then what would he call us?!

What Columbia did was an exercise in futility. They had their 15 minutes of fame and I got to be entertained for a bit. I also got to feel as if maybe I am smart. Anyone who needed that to learn who Ahmadinejad really is should be smacked upside the head. Anyone who felt he had some credibility should just be shot. Anyone who thinks that inviting sociopathic leaders to speak has anything to do with free speech should be sent to live in Iran.

Submitted by Carol

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yom Kippur

Most years I dread Yom Kippur. I hate to fast. The hardest part is the lack of caffeine. I can feel the withdrawal headache as we speak. This year I honestly don't feel that dread. I'm kind of at peace with the whole thing. I look forward to the day. For me it will be a day of looking inward. A bit of moral inventory taking. Probably should have done that sooner since Yom Kippur is when God seals the deal. At some point I usually have a little talk with God. Okay so I talk and I hope he listens! Its a ritual I have on Yom Kippur. The books are closed so Gods got some free time.

My favorite part of Yom Kippur is the silence. No cars. No honking. No people running errands. No TV's blaring. I like to walk around on the eve of Yom Kippur and take in the silence. It is like the world has ended. Knowing that's not the case makes it less spooky! I don't think there is another part of the world where this happens.

To the readers of our blog who are Jewish I would like to wish an easy fast and Gmar Chatima Tova which roughly translates means a wish that you finish with a good signature. That you get signed into the book of life.

Submitted by Carol

Headline News

People never cease to amaze me. Our government leaders being at the forefront of this group. I could laugh but then I realize they are getting paid and a salary much higher than mine. This makes them considerably less amusing in my eyes.

I went to see what was going on in the news. Imagine my shock to see the headline "Gaza a Hostile Entity"Shock and awe. The cabinet voted for this proclamation. No one voted against it. What an accomplishment. The kicker is that they did this so they could enforce sanctions on Gaza adding that they would use none that would harm the Palestinian civilians. I can't wait to hear how that will work. What kind of sanctions could those be? Will they not allow the Gazans to watch crappy Israeli TV? Lucky Gazans. Don't get me wrong. I am all for tightening the noose around Hamas' neck. I just don't think we had to go this route to do it. We state the obvious so we can do what? Make more silly statements. And okay I do like the extra hot channel on TV.

We however are not alone in this. The next headline was "Hamas is a hostile group" That came from our BFF Condeleeza Rice. You go girl. Say it sista. Hamas a terrorist organization who wants to destroy Israel is hostile. Maybe they just need a little anger management.

No worries. The leaders of Hamas get there moment too. We are fair. So Hamas has decided that "Cabinet decision a declaration of war." Yeah yeah yeah. Heard it all before. Yawn. Their loosing their creativity as they twist reality. They keep making the same stale statements. Now Iran is still a bit entertaining. At least until they try to nuke us. But in the mean time they have said "We can bomb back" This in reference to their claim that we might try to bomb them because of their nuclear capability. Well so what. We'll just bomb you right back. Hah! Man am I good when it comes to a smack down with Iran.

Do not fear for Israel. Yes our leader is a moron. Yes we are surrounded by enemies. But the Israeli army is on the job. The latest headline about the army and its plans to rehabilitate itself proves we need not fear because "IDF Forms Dance Troupe to Fight Draft Dodging" Oh hell, I'm going to the bomb shelter now!

Submitted by Carol

Monday, September 10, 2007


The eternal question. Why should this year be different than any other year. The holidays are upon us. No where to run. So today I braved the mobs of Israelis buying food for their holiday celebrations. As all good Jews know you can never have too much food. Add that to the fact that stores will be closed for three days. Holy crap! We could starve. What if they never open again?! We must buy more food! So I am pushing my cart which is groaning under the weight from all the food and I make it to the check out counter. I look at the persons cart in front of me. Oh my God! They have more food then I do. Doubt quickly sets in. I obviously did not buy enough. Never mind that they are feeding a family of twenty and I am not. I just know we are going to be hungry.

Now I am back home. The deed is done. Could I please relax now. Hell no! The gefilte fish is not made yet. No fish from a jar for this family. Everything else on the table is mere window dressing for the gefilte fish. The making of the fish starts tomorrow. Until then I worry. Will it be a good batch this year.

Every year it is the same story. Worry and stress and cleaning and cooking and a touch more stress. But as every year once the food is on the table its such a great feeling to have my family around. Things are once again right with the world. Syria wants to run to the UN security council for yet another resolution. Iran wants a seat on the security council. I yes. Things are as they always seem to be.

In case I don't have time before I make the fish I'd like to wish all of you a shana tova.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I Need Chocolate

Its not enough we have this conflict going on here. We seem to need more problems. Do I have to get aggravated every time I read the paper? I need some chocolate to make me feel better. I don't know if it was a slow news day but the front page of Haaretz talked about Neo Nazi Skinheads. In Israel! They have some how slithered into this country. They are Russians. Let them not be confused with 99% of the Russians who immigrated to Israel and are good citizens. These are the guys the Russians don't even want.

They seem to be concentrated in the Petach Tikva area. They harass the Orthodox Jews of the area. They use violence. Ever met a skinhead who did not use violence? They desecrate anything Jewish. Synagogues and graveyards. A fun outing for them is to go to Tel Aviv and attack foreign workers. A gang of eight were arrested last month. Being the good little Nazi's they are things were well documented on their computers.

First thing that needs to be done is to make these groups illegal. Don't look so shocked. I've come to discover that the empty headed members of Knesset have been working on a bill for two years outlawing Nazi symbols. These skinheads need to stand trial and receive the maximum sentence each time. Then the parents need to be dragged in. You don't have an underage kid who is a neo nazi and then get to take no responsibility for it. I'm not suggesting jail time but lets everyone see who you are. The last step is to return the trash to where it came from. One conviction you get jail time. Second time around you are outta here. I think that's quite generous of me.

Anyone is allowed to hate. They are allowed to say repugnant things in their homes. They can talk trash to each other on the street. Once someone is verbally or physically attacked the line is crossed. Free speech ends and a crime has occurred. One of my wishes for the New Year is that we see justice prevail against these skinheads. Justice of biblical proportions.

Submitted by Carol

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Page 9 Below the Fold

Sometimes its the little stuff that gets my attention. Okay maybe most of the time. In any case a docudrama is being filmed in Israel. It is the story of the Altalena. The Altalena was a munitions ship brought to Israel by the Irgun which was led by Menachem Begin. The Irgun was a pre state underground militia. The Altalena was bringing in arms to help support Israel in its war of independence. Had the arms gotten through there would have been a different picture today.

The Altalena was late. Instead of arriving in May it arrived in mid June. There was a truce in the fighting at this time. Begin at first tried to send the ship back. It was already on its way to Israel. The provisional government headed by Ben Gurion knew about the Altalena. This government decided to bring the ship in during the truce period.The ship was supposed to anchor off of Tel Aviv.The Ministry of Security had them change the landing site to the area of Kfar Olga or Kfar Vitkin near Netanya. This was supposed to be done to avoid the UNO observers. Nothing seemed amiss. The important thing was the unloading of arms. One fifth of those arms were to go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not high on the priority list of Ben Gurion. This was a cause for joy. Then further discussions ensued about whom the arms would go to. The Irgun was being integrated into the IDF. Shouldn't these men have arms? No agreement was reached on the distribution of arms. Suddenly the government washed their hands of it. They would not help with the unloading of arms."We shall not help." That is what the government said. They at no time said do not unload the arms.

The short version of the story is that the ship was surrounded on the beach by government troops who fired on the ship. They shelled the ship and continued to do so. The white flag of surrender was ignored. The ship was destroyed. Good men were killed. All for what? Ben Gurion's plan to get rid of a serious political rival. False rumors were spread that the arms were to be used for a revolt against the government. After what was done the members of the Irgun would have had good reason to revolt. Jews had shot and killed other Jews. The irony resonates all these years later in the tragic death of Rabin. We were shocked as a nation that a Jew would have killed Rabin. Jew against Jew. The irony is that Rabin was on that beach with the forces who attacked the Altalena. Begin did not stage a revolt. No civil war. Begin had his priorities in order. First and foremost the Jewish state. We have not seen a leader of his caliber in a long time. I hope the movie does the story justice.

Submitted by Carol

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Promises and Realities

After my morning coffee I began my usual routine of perusing the internet. I came across an article on Ynet where Fayyad, the PA prime minister, states that Israel has not kept its promises in regards to a few of the issues discussed by Abbas and Olmert in their presummit meetings. His statement was made to the Arab press who has been very occupied with the meetings between Abbas and Olmert. I think Fayyad is the best leader to come along for the Palestinians in a long time. I did not as I read the article automatically dismiss what he had to say.

His first point had to do with checkpoints. We need to give Palestinians the ability to move around as they wish and we need to keep our citizens safe from terrorist attacks which originate in the West Bank. Two months ago Olmert gave the task to Barak. In this mornings Haaretz I find that Barak has not been a slacker. He has been working on plans to replace permanent checkpoints with mobile ones. This would give the Palestinians freedom of movement and would let us focus on security issues. If we know an attack may be coming from area x we can spot check that area. In the mean time areas y and z are open. The reason for the delay in implementation is a training issue. Troops need to be trained in this new method. This overall seems better than removing a few check points here and there. In addition the army is focusing on removing some of the unmanned checkpoints. These are used to channel traffic making it easier to spot the light blue Peugeot with the terrorist inside. If there is only one way in and out of Qualqilya for instance then life is easier for the men in charge of our security. I know that the Palestinians are tired of waiting. I think a few more months is a reasonable time table to implement these plans. As Barak said he favors improving the Palestinians lives but his overriding commitment is to Israel's security.

Next on the list was raids and assassinations. I am for an amnesty deal between Israel and Fatah. They will put their weapons down and stop committing terrorist attacks. We in turn will not hunt them down. They will become members of a government security force. This is a large responsibility on the shoulders of the PA. If their security force attacks Israel all bets are off. As far as other terrorist groups are concerned we have the right to go after murderers of innocent civilians. When he mentions Gaza it is a bit disingenuous since we are doing the dirty work for the PA. They want Hamas gone. We can't give them that but we can weaken them so that the PA will be able to regain control of Gaza. Fayyad didn't want fuel from the EU to reach Gaza. He is willing to let his people suffer a bit so he can remove Hamas.

His last issue was settlements. Illegal ones should all be removed. It will be easier now than in any final agreement stage. Legal settlement should remain intact until a final deal where we can see what land swaps will be implemented and we can see what we are able to save. Settlement however has never been the equivalent of terrorism. It is a stumbling block but not the root of the problem.

In closing I would like to forgo the typical conclusions and summary of my statements. Instead I would like to offer my thanks to the PA security officers who saved the life of an Israeli soldier in Jenin. Shukran.

Submitted by Carol

Monday, August 27, 2007

Face to Face

I joined facebook. I am a facebook addict. Maybe I'll try a twelve step program if it ever gets too bad. Then I could go to rehab and get a nice little vacation.I love facebook because I see there are thousands of young Jews who support Israel. I love to read their intelligent points of view. I ignore the ones who resort to cursing to get their point across if they even have one. They are not my problem. I leave that to their parents. In the same breath I also hate facebook. It puts me face to face with people who hate Israel.

The people who use facebook as a platform to spread hate of Israel come in a few different packages. The first group are actual Palestinians or Arabs. It is crystal clear that their agenda is a smear campaign. They post on sites dedicated to Israel. They make large statements against Israel. When their point is refuted they ignore it and continue with something else. They blur the facts. A prime example is someone who writes that Israel is apartheid because they do not allow Palestinians to become citizens. Forget that Palestinians don't want to be citizens of Israel. Forget that they are under PA rule. Forget that they want their own state. There is no dialogue. They are not there for dialogue. They are there to spread propaganda. The ones who want dialogue are few and far between.

Group two are the high school antisemites. Their posts are vicious and based on 1% fact. They have no knowledge of the middle east and the conflict. It is a way to attack Jews. I ignore them. Sometimes that gets them angry and they try and taunt me. I keep ignoring them. They are not the people I want to reach. They are the ones who need a good smack. They will spend their lives hating one group or another.

The last of these groups are the intellectuals. College kids. Their tone is rarely shrill but occasionally sarcastic. They speak with authority. They have sources. This group is easy to spot. Israel is a terrorist state. Hamas is technically not a terrorist group. They speak of a Palestinian State that Israel destroyed. They ignore the fact that there was no Palestinian state in the territories from 1948 - 1967. They are the members of the far left who simply frame the picture wrong and are not capable of adjusting the frame.

I do battle with these people. It is not a war that can be won. I simply refuse to let false accusations stand without being challenged. If my opponent resorts to calling us Nazis or anything of that nature I stop. If they post outrageous lies I stop. Then its game over. Most people can see through that crap. I know I have won a battle when they don't respond to my point but change the subject. The mental sparring is a great learning experience. It helps me sharpen my weapon. And now to battle I go.

Submitted by Carol

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wrong Fix

There are 750,000 Israelis who have left Israel to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. To mark the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel the Absorption Ministry headed by Jacob Edery has decided to lure them back. They have put together a neat little package costing 100 million shekels. I want Israelis to come back home but their approach boggles the mind.

Somebody did a survey. In today's day and age people at the top are so distanced from the regular guys that they need surveys to find out what everyone else knows. Of course you have to ask the right question. When asked the number one reason for delaying their return home the answer was health insurance. They don't want to pay 8,730 shekels and they don't want to wait six months for the health insurance to kick in. My first response was "huh?" What idiot ran this survey. Then I looked at the question. The question should have asked what the number one reason for not returning to Israel is. What they asked was if you are returning what is causing the delay. If my question had been asked it would not have health insurance as the number one answer. The answer would have been cash, moolah,the big bucks.

I'm not thrilled by Israeli's who leave to make money. I understand the need for money. Just ask my bank! Yet some inner part of my being dislikes the idea of chasing after money. I think that is what most are doing. I'm glad the pioneers of this country never felt that way and they had it much harder. Okay so times were different. I can almost hear the Israeli's living abroad saying "So what's so wrong about wanting a nice life?" Nu, okay, maybe.

My objection to this new fix is that it fixes the wrong problem. Should we not be fixing things so Israeli's don't leave in the first place? If you fix that then the Israeli's living abroad will come back too. Its a simple plan really. Get a team together of regular people. No government workers with inflated salaries allowed. First figure out what size the average Israeli family is. Then figure how much mortgage or rent costs for a middle class type apartment. Add to that the cost of food, electricity, gas and water. Don't forget phone bills. Then add the cost of clothing, school supplies and other basic needs kids might have. Don't forget taxes! To this number add savings. People should be able to save money so they can buy a house or car,even go on vacation. When you arrive at a number that is what the average Israeli should earn. The government should adjust salaries accordingly. People need to be able to live without the fear of overdraft and bankruptcy hanging over them constantly.

As it stands today the average Israeli salary does not cover these costs. There is a 95% tax on new cars! Arnona which is like a local tax is close to one month's salary! I won't even mention the price of an apartment or how large of a down payment you need. This is what drives Israelis away. The government should work on making life here better. Then the extra million left laying around that they would have used for luring people back could be used for something important like sending me on vacation to a villa in Tuscany!

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Laughter With My Coffee

I'm not working today so I was able to really enjoy my morning coffee along with reading the newspaper. Rarely does news from around here make me laugh. Looks like today is gonna be a great day.

The first news item was about Arafat, the late Chairman of the Palestinian Authority and founder of the PLO. Dr al Kurdi was interviewed on Al Jazeera. He was Arafat's personal physician. The interview was cut short as soon as the doctor mentioned that Arafat had contracted HIV! Amman a Jordanian news site quotes the doctor as saying that the virus had been injected into Arafat's bloodstream close to his death. The real cause of death was poisoning according to the good doctor. He knows this even though when Arafat's condition worsened he was not called in. Suha would not let him see Arafat in the Paris hospital where he was being treated. Aids is not funny. Not even when Arafat has it. The funny is in the ridiculous cover up. If I were Suha I would stop blaming Ariel Sharon for poisoning him and go get myself tested!

The big laugh for me came with this headline in HaAretz-"Israeli Website causes New York City to Up Counterterrorism Precautions. Is this for real or is Jack Bauer a FICTIONAL character running CTU in New York City these days! Deputy Police Commissioner Browne said the measures taken were strictly precautionary.Homeland Security and the FBI said there were no credible threats. The mayor of NY Michael Bloomberg said the police measures were nothing out of the ordinary. Never the less the police deployed extra radiological sensors on street, water and air patrols. They stopped vehicles at checkpoints in lower Manhattan and around the city. Their source you might ask? DEBKAfile! For those not in the know DEBKAfile is a right wing Israeli news and opinion site. They talked about the possibility of a dirty bomb carried by trucks against America's biggest city and financial nerve center. I do not mean to disparage the people who work at DEBKAfile. But come on folks. Does anyone really think they are so well connected that they can get the scoop from Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group? If that's the case then governments should start listening to our podcast Israelisms for advice on Middle East policy. Okay well I really do believe they need my advice! Now any site has the right to say they think there is a possibility that something or other will happen because of whatever they may have found while surfing the web. It may even happen that their scenario actually happens. Yet anyone who believes its because they are getting inside info is not living in reality. My advice to New York is simple. Treat every day like there will be an attack. In the mean time I had a good laugh. I raise my cup to DEBKAfile and to the Deputy Police Commissioner. I think I can hear the terrorists laughing as well.

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Dodger Stadium

Draft dodging has become one of this great country's ills. Ehud Barak our Minister of Defense knows it and talked about it in a speech this past week. Good for him. He caused people to start talking. All the newspapers and many of the internet sites addressed the issue. We discussed it on our podcast.

A large part of the discussions dealt with the fact that Barak did not mention the ultra orthodox in his speech. They make up the largest percent of draft dodgers. The ultra orthodox phenomena is one that will have to be dealt with and should be dealt with as soon as possible. For that we need leadership who has courage. Maybe we need to send our leaders to Oz to find their courage like the cowardly lion did. Many accused Barak of leaving them out on purpose. Maybe he thinks its okay. Maybe he was trying to garner votes for his run at the current Prime Minister. I think he left them out because he was talking about the contributing members of society of which they as a whole are not a part. While what the ultra orthodox do with regards to the draft is a source of frustration for me I, like Barak want to look at my part of society and fix the wrong.

There was a time when draft dodgers were so looked down on. They were ashamed. Today we have reached a point where people don't hide it and they are not ashamed. Aviv Geffen might be the poster boy for draft dodgers. He dodged the draft and has been successful as a rock star here. I use the term rock star in its loosest sense! Michael Lewis is living large as the resident hunk on a soap opera. He did not serve. Some of the contestants on our version of American Idol have not served. On a more personal level two of my daughters one time friends did not serve. I say lets put the spot light on them. Let them not hide. Let them know their shame. More importantly let them grovel at the feet of those who serve and protect them. Finally let them look into the eyes of the mothers who lost their children in the war and let them explain why they were not there.

Some of my favorite dodgers are those who claim they did not enlist because of the occupation. They view the army as the occupying force. They should look a little deeper. What does the army do in the territories? Hunt for terrorists? Protect us from terrorists? When did that become a bad thing? To them I say widen your view. It is not inconceivable we could be attacked by another country. Was last summer too long ago? Would you not want to protect your citizens? But you can't because you didn't enlist. Someone else has to do your job. Shame on you. If you want to change government policy then vote against it or enter politics yourself. I don't know what the numbers for the flip side are. Those who don't want to serve because of the disengagement. You too harm this country whose land is so precious to you. I think your pride is more important to you. Disengagement from the country lets you nurse your pain without interruption. Let the good men and women of the IDF protect you. They are the ones that care about all of the people of Israel. They care about the people they disagree with enough to put their lives on the line for them. Every one of those soldiers has a different political opinion. They serve the country that grants them this right with pride.

I can only hope that the draft dodgers are starting to squirm. Maybe they will turn away in shame as they pass a soldier on the street. My daughter has a friend who won't go out with a guy who was not in a combat unit. My daughter dropped her friends that weaseled out of the draft. I will support legislature that gives more benefits to soldiers that have served and takes away benefits from those who do not serve. Most importantly, don't let these losers win. Support the IDF and turn your back to those that dodge the draft.

Submitted by Carol

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

He Who Knows No Shame

Ehud Olmert. It is almost hard for me to speak his name. He has announced that "we are correcting a 60 year old injustice that has never to date been solved. Holocaust survivors living in Israel are entitled to lives of dignity...." Apparently a holocaust survivors dignity is only worth 83 shekels a month. This is according to an article published in Haaretz today. I'll let the facts and figures speak for themselves.

One hundred and twenty thousand holocaust survivors live in Israel today. According to the article the survivors must be at least seventy years old to be eligible for the stipend. The program is not scheduled to start till next year. In 2008 120 million will be allocated, in 2009 240 million will be allocated and 300 million in 2011. So if they live till 2011 they will get 260 shekels worth of dignity. According to the announcement the decision was based on a recommendation of a committee within the Ministry of Welfare. According to Haaretz the committee recommended giving the survivors a little over a thousand shekels a month. Herzog, the minister of welfare denied that it would be 83 shekels a month. He claimed it would be a reasonable sum. How much? "A very suitable package." Take that to the bank and try to buy some dignity with it.There is also talk about hundreds of millions of shekels from non government sources. The sources are mostly nameless although Herzog the Welfare Minister listed some of these sources as "the Jewish People and Germany"

Olmert is only the head of this shameful and callous group. Its members who also think dignity costs 83 shekels a month include the Finance Minister Bar On, Justice Minister Friedman, Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, Health Minister Yakov Ben Yizri and the afore mentioned Welfare Minister Herzog. All of them present at this announcement and all feeling as though they have done a good deed for the less fortunate.

Ten percent of survivors die every year. As one of them put it "the government is choosing a biological solution. " The government needs to do the dignified thing. They should not spread it out over the years but take the lump sum of 720 million shekel and divide it among the survivors in a lump sum giving them the dignity to do with the money what they see fit. As for the man with no him out. Elections will come sooner or later. Let him disgrace us no more. Vote Olmert out of office.

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Horizons on the Horizon

While I am searching in Israel for new leadership I look with envy at the PA. Their new prime minister was born from the ashes of Fatah and Hamas. You might say that's a bit dramatic but I think its true. Now I can only hope that the people let him lead.

Fayyad first came to my attention after a simple statement he made. He said he would work on building the PA's economy and infrastructure regardless of what is happening as far as negotiations with Israel. Halleluyah brother! Something I have been saying for a long time. Do I dare think he listens to our podcast? Finally someone who is ready to govern. Much of the reason Hamas rose to power is because in the PA no one was willing to govern. They filled a void and helped Palestinians with their schooling and health care for example. Lets face it,people want a better life. In that quest you don't always look further down the road. A hamas led Palestinian society would have meant the death of Palestinian society. Hamas wants a strict Islamic state. No more inventors because you wouldn't be studying science. No more poetry and literature unless it is sanctioned by the party. Need I go on?

This week I read that Fayyad did not put armed resistance to Israel in his platform. No more groups and splinter groups doing what they want which is to kill innocent Israeli's. It will no longer be sanctioned by the PA government. The PA will be the ones standing up for the Palestinians in a face off with Israel. What an idea! Of course this ironically struck terror in the hearts of the terrorists groups. So many terrorists might be out of work. The PRC already has threatened that they will kill Fayyad and his cronies. They claim that no one has the right to stop the Palestinians armed resistance of Israel. Not ever. Under no circumstances. If he can scare the terrorists then he is on the right track. Of course they have dragged out their tiresome refrain that if you don't back them then you are a collaborator with Israel. Unfortunately I can't help but think of Anwar Sadat. A true man of peace killed by terrorists because of it. Will history repeat itself?

I don't expect Fayyad to suddenly see the light and realize that what we want is the right thing for the PA to do. I know that he wants a return to the 67 borders. That's not happening so welcome to the negotiation table Prime Minister Fayyad. The difference for me is that he is someone we can bargain with because he seems to have his peoples best interest in mind. I look foward to the challenge.

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, July 22, 2007

To Naqba or Not to Naqba

On May 15th Palestinians celebrate a day called the Naqba. It is no coincidence that it is the day after our Independence Day. Naqba means disaster. Palestinians mark this day as the day their people suffered a catastrophe. No they are not talking about a disaster brought upon themselves. We are the catastrophe. If not for our know the rest. Yuli Tamir the Minister of Education has just okayed a textbook for the Arab school system in Israel that talks about the Naqba.

The name of the textbook is Living Together in Israel. This book is of all things a geography book!What surprised me most was that it was a third grade textbook. Maybe its been a long time since I was in third grade but I just can't see this being the topic for any valid discussion. In fairness to the book it does mention that the Arabs refused the UN partition plan which would have divided the land between the Arabs and Jews. It does say that Israel accepted the plan. However since it is a third grade book it talks in broad strokes which can lead to easy misinterpretation. The book states that after the Arab leadership opposed the UN Partition plan "then war began." It goes on to talk about how some Arabs became refugees.

Lets leave the age appropriateness aside. That's not the real issue. The real issue is our acceptance of this idea of a catastrophe brought on the Palestinians by our existence. I don't buy it and in fact I hate this day because it seeks to delegitimize us. We are a catastrophe. We are a disaster. I think the Arabs with their intolerance and hatred caused this "catastrophe" we find ourselves in. We should have a day that talks about how destructive they have been. War was their choice and in fact their only choice.

I don't have a problem with any Israeli textbook that talks about Arab villages lost in the war. Name them all. I don't have a problem with knowing this and neither should Israeli students. But likewise we need to talk about the Jewish places that were destroyed. What is the history of Hebron and its importance to the Jews. What catastrophe happened there in 1929. Jews were nassacred by Arabs and the British removed us from Hebron to "protect" us. Now the likelihood of Hebron returning to be part of Israel is slim at best. Lets talk about Silwan in East Jerusalem and the Jewish village underneath it. Lets talk about the Temple Mount and the Arabs denial that it is the Temple Mount. Lets not teach any student, Arab or Jew only the part of history that best suits them. Let us however not teach about a day that is a lie.

Submitted by Carol

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Eli Yeshai and the Hours of Work and Rest Law

Not a bad title for a book. Very reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. He could play a super muggle because he definitely has no magic in him. First lets set the scene. Our main character is Eli Yishai from Shas the Sephardic ultra orthodox party. He is the Minister of Industry Trade and Labor. There is an irony there but I don't want to go there now. In the scene he is confronted by the fact that the last Harry Potter book is scheduled for release on Shabbat. At 0201 Saturday morning to be exact. That's Israel time. The books are being globally released all at the same time.Two of the major bookstore chains in Israel will be offering the book. What will our guy do?

According to HaAretz the bookstore Steimatzky is planning a launch for the book this Friday night at the TelAviv port. The rival chain Tsomet Sfarim will be having an event at its Ga'ash branch. Eli Yishai has threatened to fine them under the hours of work and rest law because they are employing people on Shabbat. I could have predicted this scenario once I heard that the book would be coming out on Shabbat. Before I give the final word I want to reveal another character in this saga. Member of Knesset Ravitz of United Torah Judaism the Ashkenazi Ultra Orthodox party. According to Ynet news he has said "Aside from the book and its poor content..." Did he read the book? Lets see, a book that gets kids reading and one that adults love as much as the kids must be a piece of crap. He went on to say that it " serves as education for teenagers in Israel." Well first of all anytime my kids can learn about good versus evil I'm for it. I think however he was talking about Israeli teenagers who are not ultra orthodox. So it was really a dig at our kids. To that all I can say is that they get their bagrut(matriculation exams) and graduate high school, they do army service and then they go to university and they get jobs.They become productive members of society. Do you get my drift MK Ravitz?

Here is my bottom line. Israel is the Jewish State. It is the state for all Jews. It is not the Ultra Orthodox Jewish state or the Reform/Progressive Jewish State for that matter. Steimatzky is having an event in Tel Aviv. It is not opening all its branches. Tzomet Sfarim is having its event at Ga'ash which has stores open on Shabbat all the time. Neither are in places that might disturb the Shabbat for someone who is observant. Eli Yishai and company are simply wrong on this one.

submitted by Carol

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More Coffee Please

I have had my morning coffee but yet I am still having trouble wrapping my brain around the morning headlines. On Ynet the headline reads Fatah Gunmen Disarm. In our desire to find ways to make Abbas strong like bull something interesting is happening. The first gesture was that we would release 250 Palestinian prisoners most of whom belong to Fatah. These guys are all almost at the end of their sentences. While I'm not against their release I have to laugh at some of the pundits who think this will strengthen Abbas. They think the Palestinians will be awed by Abbas's power to get what he wants from Israel. They basically think the Palestinians are stupid. Step two however is something else.

Israel is offering amnesty to 178 members of Fatah's terrorist wing including Zubeidi. So far 150 men have signed the agreement in which they relinquish ties to the terror group and hand in their weapons. These are the terms according to an article in HaAretz-

The agreement with the Al-Aqsa fugitives includes four stages:

1. They will promise to refrain from terrorism and cut their links with the group.

2. They will spend a week in holding areas of the PA, where they will not be allowed to use cellular telephones or contact members of the group.

3. They will restrict their movements, for a three-month period, to the area where they reside.

4. After three months, they will be allowed to move freely in the West Bank.

These men will likely join the PA security forces. If it works there will be a win win situation. We get a PA government without a terrorist wing. We are now able to concentrate our efforts on Hamas and friends which are holed up in Gaza. This is also a win for Abbas. We can do his dirty work. Abbas can lead a strong government with a prime minister (Fayyad) who is on the right track. He wants to build the Palestinian economy and infrastructure regardless of what happens with negotiations with Israel. Something I have been talking about for a long time. The Palestinians need to take care of themselves. If Fayyad continues to lead in this way they have a ray of hope for a better life.

I think I need another cup of coffee. I must be in an alternate universe where something might go right in the middle east.

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Knesset

In fulfilling my duties as tour guide for visiting family we went to the Knesset. It was fun to sit in the plenary hall where the speech making, the heckling and in the end the voting takes place. The Knesset was not in session so the room was quiet. Hard to imagine. Whenever talk of our parliamentary system comes up I am not sure if I should be cursing the British or our leaders who thought it best to follow in their footsteps. I dream of a day when we can have a representative government so that politicians who so love their seats might actually do something to earn them. I believe the Messiah will arrive before that happens.

The tour of the Knesset is short and most of it devoted to the artwork. I'm not a big fan of Chagall so most of the tour guides explanations were like so much background noise as my mind began to wander. Then we came to a wonderful exhibit, our declaration of independence. On May 14, 1948 the eve of the end of the British Mandate over Palestine, we declared our independence. We did so knowing that seven countries had their guns pointed at us and were getting ready for the kill. This is somehow forgotten in the Arab narrative. They wanted our death and complete destruction. I believe they are fond of the term ethnic cleansing. It fits here perfectly.

Our declaration of independence could be divided into three topics. The first talks about our rights to establish a state on this land. Next it talks about what kind of a state it will be. We will be a Jewish state open to Jewish immigration, an in gathering of exiles. It will be a democracy for all its inhabitants. Not the picture painted by the Palestinian propaganda machine. We offered equal rights to all who live here and those that do live here enjoy these rights. Lastly we extend our hands in peace to our neighbors. This fell on deaf ears. I wonder how different it could have been had hatred not blocked the ability of the Arab world to hear us.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Yad VeShem

People who live here usually go to Yad VeShem when people come to visit. You take them to do all the touristy stuff in Jerusalem. The old city, the Kotel, Machane Yehuda and the holocaust museum Yad VeShem. The holocaust is part of who we are and it colors the way we look at the world. We know that while Jewish souls were burning in Europe the seeds of yearning for our homeland were starting to blossom here. We also know that we cannot depend on the world to come to our rescue. I don't think the world as it were singles out the Jews. They don't care about genocide in Africa, or work/death camps in North Korea. After all, are we our brothers keeper?

When I go to Yad VeShem as I did this past week I am always reminded of an old woman I met who had 30 grandchildren! She likes to point to them with pride and say "that's revenge!" My children and I are the revenge for my grandparents. Revenge can leave you feeling empty. This is the best kind of revenge because it is full of life.

Walking through the museum I found myself drawn to the section dedicated to the resistance fighters. Those that survived gave their testimony. I stood in rapt attention as a woman told about the final meeting before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Should they flee to the forest and fight with the resistance or should they stay and kill as many Nazi's as possible. Did I have that kind of courage in me? If I do it is buried deep inside of me.

At one of the stations there was a recording from Eichmann's trial. Someone was reading a letter from the Jewish resistance to the people of the Warsaw Ghetto. The letter tells the people what is really happening to the Jews that are being transported. He said not to believe the lies of the people who want to kill you. Do not believe their lies he pleads. What you must do is defend, defend, defend. Do not be afraid to defend yourself. As I heard these words I was no longer thinking of the Jews in the ghetto but of here and now. I thought of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and of a world that is not so crazy about us defending ourselves. His words may have not been meant for me but I will remember them as if he was speaking to the people of Israel in 2007.

Submitted by Carol