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!