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