Monday, June 25, 2007

Marking The Day

I had several titles for this post. Happy anniversary seemed too insensitive. Then there was something I was working on that had to do with them stealing the show. It could have been called the long hot summer as well. All of it boils down to this, it has been a year since Hamas kidnapped Gilad Shalit and as a present we got a tape of his voice. A sign of life. Maybe. No way of knowing when it was recorded. Oh lets get real. It wasn't really a gift to us. It was a little something Hamas did just for itself. A little victory present. Lets celebrate our victory by showing how heartless we really are.Then lets put on some ski masks and go look for Fatah remnants to shoot. A good time was had by all.

Some wise men are saying that this is a sign from Hamas that they are ready to deal. They feel like they are in the drivers seat. King of the world when in reality they are the dark lords of a hell hole they created in Gaza. So what do we do? I don't think we could rescue him even if we could pinpoint his location. No commando unit is getting near him without someone seeing something and blowing the whistle. If by some strange alignment of the stars they were able to get to where he was he would be dead as soon as our guys made their move. Picture the BBC reporter with an explosives belt strapped to him. You don't even have to use your imagination for that one. We have a picture to prove it. So unless we have a drug that could sedate all of Gaza while we look for him it isn't an option. In my opinion the only prisoners we should release are from Fatah. I don't suddenly think Fatah are the good guys. I think Hamas is the door that Al Qaeda will step through. So we release only Fatah men and only to Abbas. If your from Hamas you can continue to enjoy your stay . Then we find a way to tighten the noose. Just a little.

Today was Olmert's big day. Hanging with da boys in Sharm. Olmert wouldn't let go of Abbas as the cameras snapped their picture. He really tried to flash his pearly whites for the short time he was in the lime light.Hamas stole that thunder with the release of the tape. Never you mind. Just work on squeezing Hamas out. I in turn will pray for Gilad, his family and friends. I pray that they stay strong and I pray for a miracle.

On our northern border there was a seemingly unconnected incident. An explosion in Lebanon not far from our border that targeted UNIFIL. As Hamas fades into Al Qaeda so goes Hezbollah. We should probably be good neighbors and bring them a little welcome to the neighborhood gift. Lets say in the form of a chocolate cake although they are probably hoping for the kind of cake where an Israeli soldier pops out! We have a long hot summer ahead of us as we try to understand and unravel the tangle of events and I will be praying for wisdom.

Submitted by Carol

Friday, June 22, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Abbas

If only life were like a musical. In The Sound of Music the problem of Maria is solved by letting her out of the convent to explore the world. She finds love and happiness. I'm not even sure if Abbas is married. So setting him up is out of the question. And can he sing?

Abbas the man is in some ways Arafat in a suit. He is a terrorist. His big claim to fame is his master minding the Maalot massacre of schoolchildren in the early seventies. He talks peace but continues to let Fatah have a terrorist wing known as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. When necessary he condemns terrorism with his famous line,drum roll please, "It does not further the Palestinian cause." So like Arafat yet without the unconditional love of his people. Now he has his back to the wall. He has shown a bit of backbone. He called Hamas by their name, terrorists. He is refusing to meet with them and has kicked them out of the government. The only question is how long can he hold out ?

We didn't cause the events in Gaza. We are not responsible for their outcome. If I had a choice I would not deal with Hamas or Fatah. In this insane world I have to make a choice. So I pick Fatah. So we give them money. It belongs to them since it is from taxes collected on their behalf. If the money is used for the people I will be happy . If factories or other job opportunities are created with the money then I will feel a lot better than I do right now. There is so much money floating around the PA now or maybe not floating but rather nesting in the pockets of the corrupt and the pockets of Hamas who is arming itself at the speed of light.

What else do we do? Arm Fatah? No. The last thing the Palestinians need is more arms. The arms given to Fatah are now in the hands of Hamas in Gaza. In the case of a round two happening in the West Bank I think it would be better if the West Bank became a protectorate of Jordan so that their army could deal with Hamas. This comes from an idea floating around that Gaza become a protectorate of Egypt and the West Bank join Jordan. They would have autonomy without being absolutely on their own.It might work as a temporary solution.

The next big ticket item is prisoners. Do we release them to give Abbas a boost? Who here thinks the Palestinians can't see through this? They will know it was because he was weak and had nothing to do with his strength or charisma. Still it is worth looking at. Unfortunately the government is not letting me look at the list. There are all different levels of prisoners. Some are young kids who haven't murdered. Could we give them a second chance? There has to be some people on the list we can dump or in more politically correct terminology we can release them. Only the list keepers can do this properly. Prisoners responsible for murder do not make the cut.

I really believe we must think outside the box. Start with Jenin. Make it a real city with proper housing and roads and all the infrastructure. Get rid of the refugee camp it is now. The Palestinians don't want to be refugees and if Jenin is Palestinian then stop this insanity of keeping them in a camp on their own land. Do it by force if necessary. Make Abbas do it. Give them something they can be proud of.

While I wish life was more like a musical I think maneuvering through this mess is like going through the matrix. Its confusing because so much is not what it seems. Olmert is our leader for now as opposed to Neo in the movie version. I'd rather have Neo! I know that Neo is really Keanu Reeves yet I stick by my choice. Olmert may miss an opportunity and do nothing. He wants to stay prime minister so he doesn't want to make a mistake. As if he will be in this job come election time. He may also go to the other extreme and give away the farm in a last ditch effort to save himself. All we can do is wait and see. Whatever movie genre this is, in the end it will have many sequels.

Submitted by Carol

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Joined At The Hip

There’s turmoil in the Palestinian territories. Okay, so that’s an understatement. The world is screaming for everyone to support Fatah so they can fight Hamas.

But Fatah isn’t so great. They’re corrupt and weak. They show no desire to make any progress, and while Abbas screams that he wants peace with Israel, he isn’t willing to give an inch towards that goal. For him, it’s all or nothing and if it doesn’t happen, he can blame the other side.

Although he gives the illusion of being a moderate, he’s basically whatever it is that will keep him in office. He gives chameleons a bad name. And things aren’t going to change any time soon, especially with the situation in Gaza as it is. He won't do anything to dismantle Hamas or anything else that gets in the way of peace because he is easily bullied.

If there was a ray of hope; if there was someone waiting in the wings to offer a better solution, the political system quashes any bright spot of an alternative. There isn’t any room for newcomers in Fatah, and new and inventive ideas are not welcome there. It’s not about the people - it’s about staying in power.

Everyone knows Abbas is pretty useless. He’s not going to get anything done. But at this point, there isn’t any choice. The Palestinians don’t have a Barak Obama who can come out of nowhere and offer some sort of fresh idea. If there is some kind of Palestinian equivalent, he is, as we speak, being silenced by the political machine he is forced to be a part of. None of these old guys are going to give up their cushy situation for the sake of peace. After all, there are some things more important.

So, we’re stuck. And the only people that aren’t affected are the ones already in power. And we go on with Olmert because we’re not given a choice. And we go on with the scandals of the Israeli government and the non-dismantled settlements because that’s the way they like it.

Wait a minute…did I say Olmert and the Israeli government?! I meant Abbas and the Palestinian government!

I mean…wait…hang on…now I’m confused. I must be looking at some kind of weird mirror or something. Really. I meant the Palestinians.

I think.

I’m going to lie down. I’m getting a little dizzy.

Submitted by Charley

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Hardest Word

I'm walking in Jerusalem with journalist/comedian Ray Hanania and our talk turns to ending the conflict. The walls of the old city are a fitting backdrop for our discussion. In the course of our conversation our talk turned to the issue of the Palestinian refugees. He asked me if I, as the representative of Israel could apologize to the refugees. Ray understands that there can be no right of return. Ray also understands that people have their pride and pride can become this big brick wall. Recognition of someone elses pain can turn a wall into lets say a fence maybe. Sorry, I couldn't resist! But seriously, could I apologize?

I am a person with a big heart. So I naturally said to Ray, yeah sure. I am sorry that they are refugees and am really sympathetic to those who have been living in refugee camps for sixty years. No, I didn't keep them in camps. That's an apology they need to hear from their Arab brethren. My apology doesn't give rise to the assumption that I did something wrong in returning to my homeland. Some things just are. A hard concept in a world where people are constantly looking for answers.

Then I got home and thought about this some more. I realized we too are owed an apology. First we are owed an apology for the hatred and violence that was the Arab's first response going back in history much further than 1948. Years of war aimed at the destruction of an entire people. Terrorism is but the latest tool in the plan to wipe us out. So I'm starting to see that the apology thing might not be the way to go.

I believe the answer is not in the negativity of an apology. Its in the affirmation of each other that must be the basis for any peace treaty. We must recognize them as a people who live in this land and call it home. They must recognize that this is our homeland. We are a long way off from realizing these simple goals. Sir Isaac Newton predicted the world would end in 2060 according to some recently released papers of his. At this rate we may not make it.

Submitted by Carol

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Trix Are For Kids

Anyone from the good old USA knows the commercial for Trix, the kids cereal. The one with the cute cartoon rabbit who tries desperately to get his hands on a bowl of Trix cereal. Each and every time he gets it snatched away from him at the last second. The tag line being "Crazy rabbit, Trix are for kids!" Maybe we could learn something from it.

This morning in HaAretz I read the headline "PM sends new message to Assad." It went on to talk about "interesting nuances" that the message contained. This according to an unnamed source albeit a senior political one . The message was sent through the Greek Foreign Minister who was in Israel yesterday and would be travelling to Damascus. Be still my little bunny rabbit heart. Hope springs eternal only to be dashed in the second paragraph of said article. The Greek Foreign Ministry Spokesman said he was surprised at the news. After all they are not mediators or envoys in this little part of the world. And so it goes.

For weeks we have been receiving news about Syria. One day they want to talk. The next day they don't and are arming themselves. Then there is news of Olmert sending Assad messages which are later denied. Then the Syrians have a military exercise near the Golan. After which there is news about our plans in case of attack. Just when you think the summers blockbuster war with Syria is coming soon there is news to the contrary. My head is spinning.

I'm one of the little guys. No political connections. No advisors on Syrian affairs and I know no one that has studied Assad and can talk about what he is likely to do. Truth be told I have no idea what to make of this mess. I can't fathom what Assad is up to these days. Does he want peace? Maybe. Is Olmert really willing to talk with Assad or is it all in the name of his political survival? A resounding "I don't know."

Here is what I do know. If it doesn't look like peace or sound like peace its not peace. Peace looks like Anwar Sadat and it sounds like Anwar Sadat speaking in the Knesset. It also looks and sounds like Menachem Begin his partner in peace. It doesn't resemble Arafat and his peace of the brave. That resembles something else entirely! It resembles King Hussein of Jordan and his peace with Israel. It doesn't resemble anything that Assad has to offer. You can't talk peace and arm terrorists. You can't talk peace and threaten Israel with the tactics of Hezbollah.

Instead of all this empty meaningless talk lets try something else. How about a joint agricultural project with Syria? But hey we have no peace treaty you say. I say so what! We aren't at war. No one is currently fighting. Its a win win. You just have to think outside of the cereal box

All this talk is making me hungry but I will not grab for that bowl of Trix. They won't let me have it. I don't want to be like the Trix rabbit. Having no peace treaty is better than having delusions that if we just did what they want we will have peace. It is better than a peace treaty in which we have to accept terrorism or one that sets us up for a fatal attack. What we need is patience. On the mean time I'll have a bowl of Lucky Charms. It couldn't hurt and they are "magically delicious!"

Submitted by Carol

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Tour Continues

So many little time.

The Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour did a show in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall on May 29th. The response was wonderful. We had around 1200 people there and had a great time. It was our first appearance in North America, and we hope it will be the start of more to come. We did the usual TV appearance, and radio, and answered the usual questions. So, for the record, it's not about peace in the Middle East. It's about me being the center of attention. And really...isn't that what we all want...for me?

Now we're back in Israel for our second Israel tour. Ray and Aaron are here and the four of us have hit the road. Actually, we hit the road with a resounding thud.

Our first show was in Tel Aviv last Thursday. It was a private show for Seeds Of Peace. Now don't get me wrong. Seeds Of Peace is a wonderful organization. They do outstanding work and their staff are some of the nicest people in the world. They're dedicated to their cause and they believe in what we're doing, as well. But the show sucked! First of all, the venue was not right for us. Secondly, it was a reunion! So the people, all younger people - I might add, were there to see their friends. Not to see us. Being a comedian, I kind of like to have people pay attention to me when I'm stage talking at them. Oh well.

Last night, however, was something special. Probably more special than our North American premier, and more special than doing a show for Seeds Of Peace. Last night we did a show at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem. The significance of it was the location and the audience. Being in East Jerusalem, the neighborhood is all Palestinian. You can argue with me back and forth about whether or not they are Palestinian and what they consider themselves. I don't care. The point being, in January we did a show at the American Colony Hotel, also in East Jerusalem. The two hotels are fairly close together, but they couldn't be further apart.

The audience reflected this difference. I have to admit, I was a little worried about this show. I had no idea how many people would actually show up, so I was expecting maybe a dozen people. What made it worse, was NBC News was sending a film crew. They were going to witness this debacle.

It didn't turn out that way. The place was packed. I estimate around 130 people, but I'm bad at that stuff. There may have been more. There was a large Palestinian/Arab contingent, along with many Europeans (diplomats and regular people), and Israelis/Jews.

And they loved us. We all had great sets. I had a great time. Two minutes into my set I received my first roar of laughter and applause, and I thought to myself, This is going to be fun. It was.

A Palestinian came up to me after the show and said, "I gotta tell you. My father is Muslim and my mother is Christian, so I could relate to everything you were talking about. I'm so glad you guys are doing this." A European diplomat said to me, "To see Arabs and Jews in the same room laughing with each other was unbelievable."

So, I'll tell you what we did. For approximately 110 minutes, the four of us put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on hold. We didn't solve anything. We didn't make anything better. We didn't contribute to the "Grand Scheme Of Things".

We're comedians, for chrissakes. We get people to laugh. And we get paid to do it. After all, I'm only a philanthropist up to a point. But I will tell you something. Last night at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem we proved that it can be done, and we were the first to do it. It's not a bad feeling, and I know Ray and Aaron and Yisrael know what I'm talking about. Then again, so do all the people that were there.

Approximately 110 minutes is not a bad start.

Submitted by Charley

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

Free speech, its the reason I can write this blog and voice my opinions on our podcast. Its a wonderful thing. On most days I take it for granted. I spew my opinions without giving it a second thought. Not today. In a neighboring town free speech may be in jeopardy and if it happens there it will eventually happen all over this tiny little country of mine.

The opponents of free speech are trying to block it in our nations capitol, Jerusalem. They are going to do it in the knesset by amending a Basic Law with regards to Jerusalem. The reason for incringing on our rights is a parade that happens once a year, the Gay Pride Parade. Before I go any further lets get some things straight and no I'm not talking about gay people! Jerusalem is the nations capitol and therefore is the place to demonstrate and have parades and gatherings. More important in my opinion is the great respect and restraint the homosexual community has shown. During the disengagement they cancelled the event because they did not want to celebrate when others were suffering. Needless to say the people evacuated would not treat the gay community with the same understanding. Last year because of the Haredi firestorm and the security situation they agreed to have an event at a stadium I believe in Hebrew University. Never has the parade route gone through an ultra orthodox neighborhood. Never by a religious or holy site. Contrary to what the Haredi/religious public would have you believe it does not have the mardi gras atmosphere and dress that a parade of its kind does in lets say San Francisco.

Now lets look at the opponents. Someone in this camp stabbed a man walking in the parade a few years ago. Luckily the man survived. Last year the Haredi hooligans had violent demonstrations and caused huge amounts of damage in shekels that of course the Haredi community doesn't have to pay . The men don't work and they don't pay taxes. I and others like me had to foot the bill for their sinning in Gods name. What angered me more was that soldiers were kidnapped and we were at war and THIS is what gets them out on the streets. I guess its because the soldiers risking their lives are not their sons since a very few serve in the army, my hats off to those that do. They seem to forget that it is because of our soldiers that they have the luxury of studying Torah.

I have no desire to change someones personal view on homosexuality. I do not intend to make anyone accept it or embrace it. Interpret the lines in the Torah as you wish or as you were taught. That is fine too. Just let them march. If you feel the need to publicly disagree then do it peacefully. It should be your right.

Two members of Knesset have proposed a bill enabling the Jerusalem municipality to stop the Gay Pride Parade on the grounds that it disturbs the sensibilities of the residents, security issues or if it offends the religious public! This law covers anything that they can fit into these categories not just Gay Pride. The members of Knesset who proposed the bill are from the National Religious Party and Shas. No shock there. Olmert however told the members of the coalition to vote their conscious. Now that part of their anatomy is in the part they sit on because the maintaining of their knesset seats for their big "consciouses" is top priority. What they actually believe in is not of any consequence. Keeping the coalition alive is the key. None of them will get my vote . Some say this was done to placate Shas. Kadima wants to get Shimon Peres elected president and they need Shas to do it. An eighty four year old who can't win an election on his own is more important than freedom of speech.

If we are a democracy we must watch over our right to freedom of speech as carefully as we watch over the Torah. Then we can be a light unto other nations and then maybe Gods divine presence will once again choose to reside here.

Submitted by Carol