Monday, December 27, 2010

"We asked for asylum - prison we got"

Dark and grim days. And suddenly, a small moment of hope and encouragement, from people who are not citizens of Israel, and whose status even as temporary residents here is extremely precarious and cast in perpetual doubt. The refugees and asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, living in the slums and margins of Israeli society, have organized and went out onto the streets, to have their say, loud and clear, and hold a mirror to the Israel of late 2010.

For a long time they were talked about without their opinion being asked, without their speaking for themselves, without anyone bothering to listen to them. As if they had no ears to hear what was said, or eyes to see, and feelings to be hurt.

The Prime Minister said that the refugees and infiltrators who arrive in Israel from Africa via the Egyptian border are a security and demographic risk, and that they steal the livelihood of poor Israelis. The government decided to set up for them a camp somewhere far away in the Negev desert, out of sight and out of mind, where they could "stay" under the courteous supervision of Israel's Prison Service.

In the slums of South Tel Aviv a demonstration took place where the extreme racist Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union Party and the moderate racist Knesset Member Yoel Hasson of the Kadima Party both said in slightly different styles the same thing: that black skinned people walking the streets of Tel Aviv and speaking various African languages are a nuisance and disturbance which should be removed forthwith. And of course they were quick to clarify that this was of course not racism, not at all – it was just a manifestation of self defense and a war for survival by the slum dwellers.

And in the course of this demonstration, some of the refugees in question happened to pass in the street nearby. Quite a few of them know Hebrew - certainly well enough to understand such sentences as "We don’t want these blacks here" and the various pejoratives attached to the word "blacks" in fiery speeches blaring from the loudspeakers.

True, no one present there tried to physically assault the passing refugees. They were just ignored as if they were thin air. In media reports this was emphasized with rupture, as a clear sign of tolerance and magnanimity on the part of the rally's participants. Later that night, some of the miserable and overcrowded apartments where the refugees live got visits from people carrying flammable materials.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai reiterated that the demonstration had been "understandable and justified," and the oh so liberal Yair Lapid explained that no one would have called it a racist demonstration had the refugees been blond Norwegian rather than black Africans. (Why not?) And Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called upon citizens not to take the law into their hands, as the government would soon take steps to remove the black nuisance.

On Friday morning, the refugees broke their silence. They went out on the streets of Tel Aviv, organized and articulate, people who began to take their fate in their hands, chanting slogans and carrying signs, handwritten and printed, in Hebrew and English and in their mother tongues. "We are not infiltrators / We are not criminals / We are asylum seekers / We demand justice / We demand our rights", "We asked for asylum - we got prison", "We did not come looking for work / We escaped oppression and murder." Israeli activists were among them, the human rights of the We are Refugees organization and intellectuals and singers and past and present Knesset Members, Dov Hanin and Zehava Gal'on. But in the rally which took place in the center of the Meir Park, the refugees themselves took center stage - the people who had fled from genocide in Darfur and from a brutal and repressive regime in Eritrea, and who had undergone many atrocities on their long way until they found a refuge – a very temporary and precarious refuge – in Israel, and who spoke out very clearly and movingly. To any who wanted to listen. .

One demonstration does not in itself change the entire situation. These people still have ahead of them a difficult time. They have good reason to fear more persecution in the Jewish-Democratic State, possibly detention camps or deportation back to the hell they had escaped from. But at least, from now on it will be harder to talk about them as if they were not present to hear every word.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The bird and the sea

 or: the diplomats' predicament

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel - headed by Mister Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foremost diplomat - there is a certain feeling of concern. There is a sense that this country's international standing is deteriorating, especially since the official announcement that there will be no freeze and that the settlements are going to grow and flourish over every hill and dell.

In particular, the Foreign Ministry got some indications that the Palestinian Authority is in constant contact with European countries with a view to letting them follow the lead of France and Spain and upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representatives there. The Palestinians are talking about this with Britain, and Sweden, and Finland, and Germany, and Denmark, and Belgium, and Austria, and who indeed are they not talking to? And in South America there is a continuing parade of countries extending diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders. And at the United Nations, there is no telling what will happen at the impending vote on the draft resolution stating that settlement construction is illegal and contravenes the Geneva Convention.

In short, the situation is not good. So, something must be done! All Israeli ambassadors are called to stand at the breach, and repel with all their might this dangerous offensive. And heavy ordnance was put at their disposal, in the form of a juridical position paper drawn up carefully by the Foreign Ministry's team of legal experts, a paper which all of the ambassadors are instructed to deliver immediately to the governments to which they are accredited.

What does this position paper say? Quite a lot, in fact. It explains at great length that there has never been a ban on the construction of settlements during negotiations, since the status of the settlements should only be determined when the permanent status is agreed upon. In proof of which, it is pointed out that Israel has already been negotiating with the Palestinians for seventeen years without ceasing to concurrently build settlements. And since in all these seventeen years Israel has not yet gotten around to talking about the permanent status, the settlements had in the meantime tripled in size.

On the other hand, the Palestinians are clearly forbidden to unilaterally create facts via the passing of all kinds of unsympathetic UN resolutions. Certainly it would be a very negative step if various countries begin to help the Palestinians in establishing such facts. It might sabotage and derail the entire peace process. God forbid, it might even preclude the possibility that the negotiations would go on for another seventeen years!

In the Talmud there is the story about a stubborn bird who was angry with the sea and tried to make it into dry land. He filled his beak full of grains of sand and threw them into the sea, and one more beakful of sand, and one more, and one more... Another bird, his friend, happened to pass the spot and told him: "Ye fool, how much can you achieve, when all is said and done?" 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Expelling the darkness

Today the sewers burst out and flowed into the streets of Bat Yam, and gathered into a pool before the shopping mall on Yoseftal Street. A band of local racists, augmented by a stream of militant "Hilltop Youth" bused in from the most extreme of the West Bank settlements, raised high the banner of Jewish racial purity. Specifically they called for murdering any Jewish girl caught dating an Arab ("Arab, don't you dare touch my sister"), and to be killed was also any Jew known to have sold property to Arabs.

The police of the state of Israel listened calmly to the incitement to murder flowing from the loudspeakers. The main duty placed upon them - the "separation of powers" to prevent any contact between the racists and the supporters of peace who gathered in protest around the corner.

"Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies," chanted the protesters, and also "Racists out", "Jews and Arabs – in Bat Yam we are all equal", "Bat Yam - a city for everybody", "Come, sister, there is no problem, you have the right to choose", "Sister, Sister – date whoever you fancy", "Without democracy there would be no country", "In the Declaration of Independence there is no place for racism", "We will not let the racists destroy this life" and then again to ""Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies" and "Racists out". "We are proud Arab-lovers" read the big placard flying overhead.

Former Knesset Member Tamar Gozansky and her husband Yoram were there, who live right next to where the racists held their party. And the Blue Shirt youths sang and danced and jumped and stamped their feet and chanted endless slogans and sang enthusiastically an old Hanukkah song which had become an anthem of the struggle against racism:

"We have come to expel the darkness,
Light and fire in our hands
Each one is a small light,
Together we are a strong light.
Turn back, darkness, turn back, away!
You cannot stand against the light!

A small tortoiseshell cat, apparently frightened by the noise and shouting, ran out into the road. A photo journalist, a policeman and two protesters came out immediately to protect her from the racing cars. The cat arrived safely at the other side and disappeared among the bushes behind the racists' rally. At least that.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Each of these detainees has a family.

I got the following from Buma Inbar, a bereaved father and tireless activist who spends much of his time and energy wandering the mountain paths of the West Bank and providing help and support where they are needed. He can be contacted at

The early morning hours of a weekday. This special time when the first rays of the sun appear, accompanied by the melodious chirping of early rising birds. At such moments of grace one may quietly drink a cup of coffee, look out into the street and enjoy the sounds of the waking world, until the pastoral image fades and daily routine takes over.

Recently, my early morning hours include a new element. Every morning between five and six, there is a specific news item joining the news flashes which had been rolling through the news websites overnight. A modest, laconic news flash announcing: "Tonight IDF forces operated on the outskirts of Qalqilya, (or at the approaches to Nablus, or in the Jenin District) and arrested two suspected Palestinians (or three, or ten, or thirteen)." Invariably, the flash would end with the words "The suspects were transferred to Security Forces interrogation". By about Nine AM, when the roads are already full of traffic jams, this news flash would disappear, only to come back on the following morning.

This ritual takes place every day, except on weekends and Jewish holidays. I doubt that the security forces are not active on these days. More likely it is the conscripts on duty at the IDF Spokesperson's bureau who take their weekend rest and fail to issue the daily bulleting. These two or three terse sentences conceal whole worlds of meaning.

The detention of a Palestinian has many implications for family members, and not only with regard to the judicial process itself. It is not so well known that such a detention is enough to immediately put all first-degree relatives of the detainee on the list of those denied entry to Israel, on the theory that one of them might seek revenge. The arrest of one youthful member of the family turns the entire family into security risks. Simple calculation shows that the "club" of detainees gets every month dozens of new "members".

Recently, the laconic lines got – where I am concerned – a clear human face. Early this year the night's detainees included M., the son of my acquaintance Khaled, director of the Palestinian Bereaved Families' Forum. Now also Khaled, a man who invests all his time and energy in promoting peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, is denied entry to Israel.

I ask myself: was there a justified reason for all these detentions? I would have liked to believe that none of them was tortured and that they all get a fair trial. I would so very much like to believe that the system of which I was part and whose members I appreciate and love is doing the right thing. So much I want to believe that M., who like his father took part in many dialogue and reconciliation meetings with Israelis, would be set free without his experience of detention changing him or his any of his family members.

Every time I come to take my turn at the Shalit Family Tent opposite the PM's residence in Jerusalem, I remember these news flashes and I wonder. Each of these detainees has a family. Each of them is an entire world. Some of them are teens who have not yet turned eighteen. How many of them did truly engage in terrorist activities against Israel? How many of them are truly so dangerous that there is no choice but to detain them? And the most important question - are we Israelis really aware of the impact which that small item, running among the news flashes between five and six every morning, has for our lives and our future?

List (in Hebrew) of Y-net reports on detentions of Palestinians

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just an ordinary day

Just an ordinary day
With a blue sky
With no feast nor dance
No drum and no fife
Nothing special had happened
But Senator Mitchell has been here and gone

(Variation of Yossi Gamzu's poem)

And at the airport Senator Mitchell, envoy of US President Barack Hussein Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, reiterated the United States' commitment to conduct substantive talks with the Israelis and the Palestinians in order to achieve significant progress towards signing a framework agreement between the two parties which would be the basis for a definite peace agreement which will be signed sometime. And the newspaper readers yawned and turned the page in search of more interesting news. And the settlers shrugged and continued the accelerated construction. And the Palestinians also shrugged and continued mobilizing international support for the State of Palestine, due to be declared in Auguest or September 2011, with or without an agreement. And seekers after peace, who remember very many peace processes and rounds of negotiations and international mediators, said that when someone had not been able to achieve a three months' freeze, it is up him to prove that he can truly achieve the complete dismantling of the settlements.

And meanwhile, the Knesset plenum was today in upheaval and uproar about a major contentious issue which has the potential of bringing down the government coalition. Namely: what should be the status of a young man whose mother is not Jewish, who is an Israeli citizen speaking Hebrew as well as Russian who is clearly part of the Israeli society, who enlists in the army of this Jewish Democratic state and gets sent on its behalf to the territories which it occupies, who imposes the rule of the Jewish Democratic state over people who are not Jews and have no share in Israeli democracy, who performs the dirty jobs with a high motivation and efficiency and the needed brutality. Doesn't such a young man deserve the right to call himself a Jew - no less so than do his comrades in arms, whose mothers are Jewish and who wear the very same uniform he does and perform with him the same dirty jobs with the same amount of motivation and efficiency and needed brutality?

Truth be told, most likely he does deserve it. 

To The Cisterns

For love
I have gone to the cisterns
In the paths of the desert
In unsown land
For love
I have forgotten city and home
And followed you
With wild longing
To the cisterns, to the cisterns…
(Naomi Shemer)

To the ancestors who lived in this land 3500 years ago, and of whose story Zionism drew inspiration and legitimacy, rain and its absence were quite literally issues of life and death. A rainless year was a disaster year, a year of famine, a year when, to survive, the people of the land had to flee to where food was to be had.

For the Israelis of our time, the absence of rain is an interesting subject for conversation, one of many issues which the papers deal with. "Will the water level in the Sea of Galillee fall below the Red Line?" ask the headlines, and experts are called to the TV studio to discuss the problem in detail. True, the farmers among us are a bit more directly touched. When the November rains failed to come, they started to worry and calculate the financial loss from a spoiled harvest and worry if the government's compensations would fully cover it.

But there are still people in this country whose lifestyle had not changed much in thousands of years, shepherds living in the arid land on the margins of the desert, at the Southern Hebron Hills at the edge of the West Bank. Not that even in this remote region there is any lack of pipes to bring an abundant supply of water. Israeli settlers who came to live there always have running water in their beautiful homes all year round, and green lawns which would not shame any European country, and even some swimming pools. But these pipes laid by the enlightened state of Israel are definitely not intended for the use of the Palestinian shepherds outside the settlements' barbed wire perimeters.

It was left to the shepherds to look with increasing anxiety at a sky which remained blue with no cloud, and pray for rain to come and fill the cisterns which were hewn by hard dedicated labor in the desert floor.

The rain finally did come, early this week. Not that much of the rain got there, to the shepherds who so much longed for it. In Tel Aviv the storm raged and lightning flashed and thunder boomed and luxury restaurants on the shoreline were flooded with the rising water. The remote South Hebron Hills got only some odds and ends of rain, a scattered rainfall here and there. A far cry from the really big rain needed to fill the cisterns with the water of life. But some water is better than none.

After the rain ended the military arrived, equipped with bulldozers and heavy engineering equipment. They moved systematically from one cistern to the next, demolished and destroyed them and dropped heavy rocks to completely fill them in. The bit of water which the rains of this week provided will not provide drink to the sheep. Nor to the humans.

When setting on their work of destruction - twelve cisterns in all, accounted for within a few hours - the soldiers had their weapons drawn, lest the shepherds dare to approach and interfere. "I've got a properly signed demolition order" said the officer of the Defense Forces of the enlightened state of Israel. "These cisterns were dug without a permit. The law must be enforced!"

See for yourself:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Bibi Trap

Wonderful, wonderful! No more freeze, not even a demand for a freeze! No need to fight the settlers, no need to fight the extreme right ministers and Benny Begin and Moshe Ya'alon, no need to bow down before Eli Yishai and offer him all his heart's desires so that he would abstain and provide a narrow majority in the cabinet. Let our friends in Judea and Samaria open the throttles and build and expand without interference. Now it only remains to torpedo the formation of a commission of inquiry on the Carmel forest fire, and we have a smooth sailing for several months at least.

What's that you say? The State Department Spokesman said that the US is still firmly opposed to settlement extension? So he said it. Nobody ever died of words. What more do you want? Oh, yes, Brazil recognized the State of Palestine in the 1967 borders. And also Argentina and Uruguay. Well, really! With all due respect, since when do these muchachos run the world? In the end this will get to the Security Council, and the Americans will impose a veto, full stop. Hilary promised me!

Wait a minute, what are you telling me now? The promise to impose a veto was conditional upon a settlement freeze? Are you kidding?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fighting with bows and arrows

Once upon a time there was a Prime Minister and Bibi Netanyahu was his name, but he wanted to be called Winston Churchill. A single thing preoccupied him, day and night, the nuclear bomb which a diabolical villain named Ahmadinejad was plotting to produce. All other problems and issues were minor and insignificant to Bibi, and he devoted most of his energy to preparing his people for the coming war. So determined was he that, for the sake of stealth bombers which could fly quickly in stealth and arrive to bomb Ahmadinejad 's country, Bibi was even willing to confront the settlers, his best friends.

And yet Bibi did not remember that war with the evil Ahmadinejad would necessarily involve the massive shooting of rockets and missiles, and that missiles cause fires where they fall, and it is the nature of fires to spread in all directions burn everything in their way, and in Bibi's country the fire fighting apparatus was outdated and clumsy and split between thirty competing authorities. And the firefighters were crying out fot proper equipment, and again and again making dire warnings of an approaching disaster. But they went unheard, like a voice crying out in the wilderness.

And it came to pass that while Ahmadinejad was sleeping peacefully in his bed and not a single missile was yet fired, stupid negligence caused a terrible great fire to burst out on the Carmel range, and it consumed woods and villages and kibbutzim, and the Prison Service cadets were caught in the flames and died a terrible death. And the firemen fought the flames heroically but hopelessly because they did not have the appropriate equipment, as if fighting with bows and arrows on a modern battlefield, and they urgently clamored for all the world to quickly and urgently send the vital equipment which nobody provided in their own country. And the TV commentators marveled at the sight of Prime Minister Bibi running quickly and efficiently the entire fire-fighting operation. In the absence of a singe country-wide head of the fire-fighting services Bibi had to take the role upon himself.

And the entire grateful nation determined that this man. Bibi, has at last found his fitting slot and mission in life, and confirmed him permanently in his appointment as the National Commander of the State of Israel's firefighting services.

Frustrated Racists

Forty-eight hours after the terrible fire broke out, racists can no longer stop their frustration at not getting what they wanted - a pretext for an all-out assault against the Arab population in Israel (including the Druze). "I don’t want negligence, I want vengeance on the arsonists!" so wrote an anonymous person in the talkback section of the Y-net news website and speedily others added racist comments, inciting to bloody violence, of the kind which the web editors were supposed (in theory) to immediately delete.

Of course, the racists draw encouragement from the police announcement of two minors from Ussefiya being detained on suspicion of negligent behaviour which led to the fire. Who cares if it was negligence or intentional arson, who cares that Ussefiya is surrounded by the Carmel woods and was the first to be endangered when they caught fire? Just cry out "Catch the Arab!"

Still, it seems that so far these characters are not able to add a raging fire of racism and hatred to the physical fire still raging on the Caramel. The vast majority understands, if blame is to be apportioned, we should look in the right (and obvious) place: up there at the corridors of power, to those who for years heard the firefighters making dire warnings of a lack of equipment and an impending disaster – heard them, and chose to ignore the warnings and to go investing the government budgets in all sorts of other places.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Legend of the Child and the Bird and the Lion and the Soldiers

Once upon a time there were two nice young soldiers who along with their comrades-in-arms went to pour cast lead and fight terrorism and conquer the city of Gaza. And the soldiers encountered suitcases suspected of being booby-trapped and did not want to risk their young lives in opening them and preferred an eleven-year-old boy which they found there to risk his even younger life in opening the suitcases. And the child was very frightened but, fortunately for everybody, there were no explosives in the suitcases and no one got blown up in this location. (Only in various other locations nearby).

And then the Cast Lead Operation came to its end and the soldiers left Gaza and they thought that this story was finished and done with. But a certain bastard judge named Goldstone came all the way from South Africa and published all over the world a nasty report and reopened all kinds of stories which were considered closed, and then the Israeli Defense Forces also started probing some of these stories. And thus, the two nice young soldiers arrived at the military court and there the nasty judges found them guilty. And then all their friends and their comrades-in-arms and their commanding officers came and demonstrated outside the courthouse and held up the two nice young soldiers as the model and pattern of stainless young heroes and expressed anger and irritation at soldiers being so absurdly charged with war crimes just because they had committed all kinds of acts in the course of a war. And all the soldiers and officers as well as a lot of politicians firmly demanded that the court which dared to find two nice young soldiers guilty would take a great good care not to go too far and by no means send them to any actual imprisonment. Otherwise the judges themselves, they said, and also the army's advocate general, and his people, and all the other leftists, would all be charged as traitors and stickers of a knife in the nation's back and collaborators with the nasty anti-Semitic Jew Goldstone.

In the meantime, while waiting for the learned judges to render their verdict, we have some moments to dip a bit into Jewish tradition and hear the parables made by the Great Sages of our people. Oh, what does this remind of? It's like the time when a bone got caught in the Lion's throat, and the Lion's attendants called upon a Bird with a long beak to push his beak into the throat of the King of the Beasts and remove the bone and be suitably rewarded. And the Bird went and did as they had requested, and then he asked for his reward. And they said unto the Bird, go to the Lion and he will hand you your reward. And the Bird went to the Lion and asked for his reward, and the Lion laughed and told him, you got your life as a gift. When you stuck your head into my mouth I could have swallowed you whole. Who can ask for a greater reward? And you, Child from Gaza, what is this chutzpa to complain that the two soldiers got off with a suspended term? You were in the hands of the Most Moral Army in The World and you are still breathing, is that not enough? And all of you over there in Tel Aviv, what is this that I read in the paper, that conscription rates in your city are exceedingly low and even Tel Avivians who do go to the army are not keen on joining combat units? What are you, dodgers? Shirkers? Are you in Tel Aviv not patriotic? Are you not Zionists? Do you not love your country? Are you not ready to go to Gaza and find Palestinian children to open booby-trapped suitcases? Shame on you! At least, take care to participate in the great campaign of the great newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, and choose from a list of thirty-one combat units in the IDF the combat unit which you like best, and contribute by SMS ten Shekels towards the aid and comfort of the fighting combat soldiers of this your favorite combat unit. What, not even that? You guys are really hopeless.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


One officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, whose name we'll perhaps never know but whose story we read this week in the papers, patrolled one night with his soldiers along the Egyptian border and encountered a group of newly arrived refugees from Africa. He was ordered to return them immediately to the Egyptian side of the border. Thinking about what these refugees might have already undergone at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers who got them so far, and what they might expect from the Egyptian army immediately upon their arrival back in its territory, and what they might expect later on at the hands of the regime or of rival ethnic groups upon being returned to the country from which they escaped, the officer refused the order and tried to bring the refugees to his unit's base camp. For this disobedience the officer is to be severely punished. The refugees were handed over to the charge of another officer, who duly did his job and expelled them across the border on the same night.

But the difficult dilemma faced by soldiers and officers with a conscience will be resolved soon. From now on - so is the government of Israel due to decide on Sunday at the initiative of the Prime Minister - all the refugees will be taken to an "Open Stay Center" to be erected deep in the desert. There, the generous State of Israel will provide them food and drink free of charge, and also tents to live in. Also free of charge the state will provide them with the armed guards, well-trained by the Israeli Prison Authority, who will guard the locked gates of the Open Stay Center and patrol day and night the fences surrounding it.

And best of all: in this Open Stay Center the Admissions Committees Bill, due also to be enacted into the law of the land next week, will not apply. No one, absolutely no one, will be turned away. No one will be denied entry or residence there. There will be no "admissions committee" to screen those who seek to enter its portals and reject those who do not "fit the community's social fabric."
An egalitarian community in which e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y will live, like it or not.

"Israel is the only developed country which you can reach by foot from the poorest countries in Africa," complained our Prime Minister, adding that the infiltrators crossing the border every night are threatening the Jewish and the democratic character of the state.

Indeed, it might have been a serious miscalculation on the part of Herzl and the other founders of the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish and democratic and progressive and successful and flourishing state at such an unfortunate and inappropriate location. A location which allows hungry and desperate people, who are willing to walk a thousand miles and more in the desperate hope of improving their lot, to come knocking on its gates.

Every year, the highly developed and prosperous State of Israel is getting a full three billion dollars in aid from the United States of America. More, much more, than the total sum of American aid given to the whole of Black Africa.

If the aid does not come to Africa, Africans come to the aid.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Report by the fly on the wall in the meeting between Bibi and Hillary

 photo: Wikipedia

- (...) Well, Bibi, it is nice to exchange reminiscences of how you and Bill came to blows in the Oval Office, but we should move forward. The President returns from Indonesia next week and he wants results.

- I told you I am ready to freeze again, even though it makes me feel sick, and it will give me a lot of trouble. But I must have a nice package, tied with a ribbon, to show to the cabinet ministers. The stealth aircraft sound very good, though we will not get them in time for the bombing of Tehran...

- How many times do we have to tell you not to hurry up about Iran? We have enough problems in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last thing we need now is another war, more American soldiers returning in coffins.

- How many times have I told you that this bastard Ahmadinejad is a danger to the whole world? We must land him a blow on the head with a big club.

 - Yes, I know, I know. Ahmadinejad is Hitler and you are Winston Churchill and it is now the year 1938. But you're not speaking in a public meeting now. Let's get back to the issues, I told you we don't have much time. What about East Jerusalem? You know we need to have something for Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad. They, too, have an opposition at home.

- Well, I told you that about Jerusalem I can't say anything in public. We will just continue as in the previous freeze. It worked out fine, didn't it? My Chief of Staff sits on the tap, no building tenders in Jerusalem. Not even in West Jerusalem.

- Except for one or two tenders which did get issued, at the worst possible moment. There was such a big outcry, everything nearly blew up in our faces…

- What can I do, you know that our Interior Ministry is in the hands of the Shas Party, and they are accountable only to God and to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

- Sometimes I think that Rabbi Ovadia is your true Head of State. Maybe you can once upon a time send him here, let us talk directly to him?

- Sorry, he is an old man and doesn't like flying. But I must have a document that I can show him, regarding Jerusalem. Just a bit of lip service, I must have it.

- A written document is a bit problematic. But we'll see what can be done. And what do you say about the borders? Can you start negotiations, for real, not like it had been until now? And to sum it up in three months, to really define the borders of the Palestinian state?

- Mmm ... yeah, maybe, I hope we can. (Whispering) Three months is a long time.

- So we are agreed?

- Yes, more or less. We will see. In about a week. (Whispering) Even a week's delay is not nothing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Korea is here

I meant to write here about Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture of the State of Israel, and her plans to make support to theaters in our country conditional upon their willingness to perform  in the settlements. But then, I found  what Arianna Melamed already wrote on this subject in Y-net.,2506,L-3983276,00.html

Here follows a translation.

Limor Livnat announced this week that actors will from now be required to perform  everywhere, occupied or not, as a condition for getting state aid. And a softening last touch she added that the Ministry of Culture will also grant a special award towards "encouraging   Zionist creativity". Even since hearing this joyous message, I still cannot understand what she meant. In contemporary Israeli dance, would they be required to raise aloft the national flag while dancing? Would theaters present an optimistic play about a tough riot policeman falling in love with a settler woman which he picked up in his armoured jeep, the two of them living happily ever after in a new settlement  created on the hills of Judea and Smaria?

Or maybe someone will write a new biography of Herzl, omitting the syphilis and the delusions of grandeur? Or maybe a wide-ranging epic set against the background of the Likud Party conferences? All options are, of course, open to the artists' creative fantasy.

There are about five or six countries in the world where artists can receive awards for conforming to the dominant ideology. North Korea is the prime example, but such awards are also granted in Burma, Vietnam, Cuba and even some Emirates (though there one needs to sing the ruler's personal praises). Is that what Livnat has in mind? Is she really and truly unaware that  quality works of culture almost always correspond by way of criticism with the dominant ideology or its current interpretation?

And while searching for what "Zionist creativity" might mean, I have a feeling that quite a few classics of Hebrew literature would have had no chance to get past Livnat's Award Committee. Consider Jabotinsky's "Samson", where both the Biblical protagonist and the  author praise the Philisitines' civilization, which is presented in complete contradiction to the Hebrew primitives. And  is the exposure of the abuse of a prisoner of war "Zionist", or "anti-Zionist" - as in S. Izhar's "Khirbet Hiz'aa"? Is realism a Zionist genre, of must everything be blue-and-white-washed?

It is a stupid idea. Therefore, it will probably be implemented. The award ceremony will fill Livnat with righteous pride - but she will find what she considers as Zionist creativity to be a far cry from independent, three-dimensional, non-dogmatic thinking.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At last, some truth in politics

"Eighteen years we are negotiating with the Palestinians while building settlements. Why should we suddenly change it? " so asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

True enough.
For eighteen years the state of Israel is building and expanding the settlements while negotiating with the Palestinians, and indeed from the negotiations nothing came. Only the settlements have expanded (even more).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Scorpion and the Frog

"Ferry me across the river, please" said the scorpion to the frog.
"But how can I know that you will not sting me when we are halfway across?" asked the frog.
"Why should I sting you? Am I crazy?" answered the scorpion.

The frog was convinced, put the scorpion on her back and set off. But when they were in the deepest part of the river, the scorpion stung her. "Why did you do that?" cried the frog. "Sorry, that's my nature" replied the scorpion.

"Invite me to America to talk about resuming negotiations,"
said Netanyahu  to Obama and Hillary Clinton.
"But how can we know that you will not announce a settlement construction plan just as you are in the meeting with us?" asked  the Americans.
"Why should I make such announcements? Am I crazy" answered Netanyahu.

The Americans were convinced and invited Netanyahu. But when they were together at the  conference in New Orleans, Netanyahu's officials suddenly announced the construction of thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem. "Why did you do that?" cried Vice President Joe Biden. "Sorry, that's...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The year in between

Everybody had been waiting for these U.S. Congressional elections – some with hope, others in anxiety. Republicans were waiting for the opportunity to sweep into Congress and conduct there a Tea Party. The Democrats hoped to save at least their Senate majority. Palestinians waited for the President of the United States to be finally free to turn his attention back to the wild West Bank. Netanyahu hoped to see a wing-clipped, humiliated President, no longer in a position to make demands with regard to settlements.

"After the elections" begins now. Now begins a period of a bit more than a year, until preparations start for the next presidential elections - with even more blatant pressures and direct interventions by the government of Israel in the internal politics of the United States.

A year in between in which Barack Hussein Obama could - if he really wants to - realize his pledge to make the State of Palestine into the newest Member State of the UN. A year which might be remembered as the time when the malignant occupation, lasting more than two-thirds of Israel's history, came to a long-overdue end.

This year ahead of us might also be remembered as the time when the last hope was extinguished.

Gideon Orwell

George Orwell described in his famous "1984" a monstrous tyrannical regime which calls everything by an opposite word. The distributors of lying propaganda are called "Ministry of Truth", the constant wars are run by the "Ministry of Peace", and the dreaded secret police is managed from the "Ministry of Love. "

1984 is long past, but Mr. Gideon Sa'ar, Minister of Education in the State of Israel, has proven himself a worthy Orwell pupil. The Minister of Education announced this week that he intends to formulate "guidelines" which would be imposed on Israel's universities forbid lecturers from expressing "anti-Zionist positions" of the kind disliked by the minister.

To these guidelines the minister refers by the name "Principles of Academic Freedom."

Solving the housing problem

Uri Elitzur, considered as one of the most articulate and talented writers in the settler camp who had been PM Netanyahu's Bureau Chief, recently spoke eloquently on the problem of steeply-rising housing prices in Israel.

"We can not solve the housing problem by financial tricks. Some 10,000 homes are lacking, so clearly the prices for existing housing will continue to rise. How did this happen? A partial but significant answer: the freeze on housing in Judea and Samaria. The pace of construction at communities in Judea and Samaria fell down by about 1500 per annum, and this has already begun in the time of Sharon and Olmert. 1500 families who would have been living in the West Bank are now looking for an apartment in Petah Tikva, Jerusalem or Holon. After five years, 7500 apartments are lacking, and prices across the country are going wild "(Makor Rishon, 29/10/2010).

Of course, it might have been possible to suggest solving the problem by having the government apply its construction budgets in Petah Tikva, Jerusalem and Holon. But one should not confuse Mr. Elitzur with simplistic solutions.

The Incitement Index

A few months ago the rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of Yitzhar Settlement published the book "Torat Hamelech" (The King's Torah) which won the support and encouragement of several other famous rabbis, and gained fairly wide circulation at some circles in Israel and the settlements.

"The King's Torah" lists some situations in which, according to the authors, the act of Jews killing "Gentiles" would be permissible (or even praiseworthy) under the precepts of the Jewish religion.

Among other things, Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur wrote: "From the verse 'Thou shalt not kill', you cannot draw the conclusion that there exists a prohibition on the killing of Gentiles. Regarding the killing of babies and children, it can be concluded that it is permissible to deliberately harm also infants and completely innocent people. It can be said that this is also to their own benefit, since otherwise they would grow up in an improper way and we would have to kill them anyway. They would grow up to become people who deserve death and for whom there is no room in the world, so it is best to kill them already now".

This week, at long last, marked the launching of the "Index of Incitement" project, on which Prime Minister Netanyahu and his aides have been working for almost a year. A team of senior officials led by Ron Dermer, Netanyahu's political advisor, and retired Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser have carefully monitored and recorded unsympathetic statements made by Palestinians. They are to be published and widely distributed, divided into four major categories: explicit incitement to violence, encouraging the creation of an atmosphere of violence and terror, promoting hatred and demonization and failing to prepare the hearts for a positive change.

Of course, this project is limited solely to monitoring Palestinian performance in the field of incitement. Still, it is worthwhile to ask Nethanyhau's experts in which of their four categories they would have placed "The King's Torah".

Monday, November 1, 2010

The square was full

Yitzhak Rabin. The man who spent most of his life in wars. The officer who participated in the expulsion of Arab villagers near Jerusalem in 1948, the Chief of Staff who led Israel's armed forces in the 1967 war which started the occupation. The Prime Minister who declared in 1975  "We will meet with the PLO only on the battlefield", The Defense Minister who in 1988 ordered his soldiers "To break the bones of Palestinians rioters". The man whose very name, when mentioned from the podium in peace rallies, was enough to immediately fill the square with a storm of whistles and boos and catcalls. The same square which today bears his name.

Yitzhak Rabin. The man who has shown his ability to change radically when well over the age of seventy. The man who went out to meet with the leader of the PLO, not on the battlefield but on the White House lawn. The Prime Minister who shook hands with Yasser Arafat with the reluctance evident in his face, but who grew into the role of the peacemaker and persisted in it even in the face of mounting difficulties. The first and only prime minister in Israel's history who embraced the simple and very controversial principle that a citizen is a citizen is a citizen, that in a parliamentary democracy the government should rely on the majority of legally elected members of the Knesset duly representing the citizen body - even if they happen to be Arab.

Yitzhak Rabin. The man who said: "I am retired Lieutenant-General Yitzhak Rabin, ID 30743, a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces and a soldier in the army of peace. I, who sent regiments into the fire and soldiers to their deaths, I say to you: today we are embarking on a battle that has no dead and no wounded, no blood and no anguish. This is the only battle that is a pleasure to wage – the battle for peace". Yitzhak Rabin - the man who, not long after saying these words, was killed in that battle.

Fifteen years later, could the name and the memory and the way of Yitzhak Rabin still serve to bring the crowds out unto the square? The organizers doubted it – and they were proven wrong.

Tens of thousands came to the square, including many teenagers who do not remember the days of Rabin. The events of recent weeks - the collapsing negotiations and flourishing settlements, the racist bills coming daily on the Knesset agenda, and the despicable religious rulings by rabbis, and the provocations at Karmiel and Safed and on the outskirts of Umm al Fahm and in the proclamations of the Foreign Minister of the State of Israel – aroused, more than ever, a longing for the time when Yitzchak Rabin could provide some grounds for hope. After the events of recent weeks, there were quite a lot of people who waited for this opportunity to come out on the street and let their voice be heard, loud and clear.

The square filled up, and above the crowd waved the signs and banners - some printed in advance in large quantities, others hand-written in which considerable effort had been invested: "We will not let democracy be assassinated", "Fascism is on the march", "This government is shameless", "Struggle against the government of darkness – struggle for democracy",
"Racism erodes the foundations of democracy ","Enough incitement – no more sinister religious fanaticism", "Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it","Arabs and Jews - united in the struggle", "We will not let our mouths be stopped", "We will neither forget nor forgive," "We will never forget who killed and who was murdered", "Rampant Fascism prepares war and bloodbath", "I will not keep silent when my country has changed her face", "Danger – the end of democracy ahead", " Yes to Peace - No to Violence " .

"Israel is waiting for Rabin", the campaign slogan which led to Yitzchak Rabin's election victory of in 1992, has been resurrected in the Rabin Square of 2010, and copies of it were everywhere.

Israel is still waiting for a new Rabin.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A week without Racism

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safed, published a ruling forbidding residents to sell or rent their homes to Arabs. And Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Spiritual Leader of the Shas Party, tends to the same position. Not that the distinguished rabbis are racists, God forbid. Of course not. The Rabbis just checked and found that under Jewish religious law, Jews may not sell or rent their homes to non-Jews. And rabbis are constrained, of course, to maintain the Jewish religious law.

Oren Milstein, Deputy Mayor of Karmiel, strongly called upon residents not to sell or rent their homes to Arabs, and established the Red Email to which you can inform on a neighbor known to be selling to Arabs. Not that Milstein is a racist, God forbid. Of course not. Milstein just found that the goal of Zionism is to establish towns and villages intended for Jews only, and from which Arabs would be excluded. And public officials are constrained, of course, to realize the goals of Zionism.

Supporters of the late Meir Kahane came to demonstrate at Umm al-Fahm and inform its Arab residents that sooner or later they would be expelled from their homes and that Umm al-Fahm would become a Jewish city as they were willing to explain on the radio. The National Police raised a large force to protect the demonsrators and allow them to exercise their democratic right to call for the expulsion of the Arabs. The police's weapons were directed at the protesting residents of Umm al Fahm. Heavy volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets were shot at the Arab residents and the Arab Knesset Members supporting them. Not that the police supports racists, God forbid. Of course not. The police just noticed that the residents of Umm al-Fahm were demonstrating without a permit. And the police is constrained, of course, to maintain public order.

Kahane fans also held a conference in the luxurious Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem and called for the expulsion of all Arabs from all over the country. The hotel's management is not sympathetic ro racists, God forbid. Of course not. The hotel management just consulted its lawyers and found that the Kahanists already signed a valid contract for the event. And respectable business people are constrained, of course, not to violate contracts.

Members of the Knesset Constitutional Committee approved for the second and third readings the Admission Committees Bill, which would enshrine in law the right of state-funded communities, which get government land at next to nothing, to refuse to admit Arabs. Not that the Knesset Members are racists, God forbid. Of course not. They just checked and found that Arabs joining these communities might disrupt their social fabric. And decent Parliamentarians are constrained, of course, to maintain the integrity of the social fabric.

In the coming days Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to announce the appointment of Gilead Arden as the next Ambassador of Israel to the UN. And Arden will not have any difficulty in fulfilling his new role. Of course not. Ambassador Arden, an articulate and experienced person, will find no difficulty at all in rebutting the assertions that Zionism is racist, and showing this as the infamous anti-Semitic calumny that it is.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Water in an arid land

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it. For out of that well they watered the flocks, and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. And thither were all the flocks gathered, and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place.

And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep. And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. (Book of Genesis, Chapter 29).

So begins one of the oldest and most well-known love stories in world culture. A story which was originally told in a society of shepherds for whom the raising of herds and watering them was at the center of daily life. A story which may have been often told when shepherds met at the waterhole, and which was eventually written down, and included in a Holy Book, and translated into all the languages of the world. It is still told to all children in Israeli schools (sometimes they hear it already in the kindergarten). A story which is part of the heritage that the Zionist Movement cited when firmly laying claim to the ancestral land of the Jews.

When arriving in this country as a young pioneer, David Ben Gurion tried his hand at being a shepherd, but did not last in that profession for more than a few months. But, there were still shepherds in this country, whose livelihood it had been from time immemorial - a life not so different from those of the shepherds of Jacob and Rachel's time (and perhaps those ancient shepherds are also among the ancestors of the present ones...)

Noah El-Rajabi is such a shepherd, with a herd of two hundred sheep and goats. He is married, and has seven children. They live near the town of Bani Na'im, 17 kilometers from Hebron. They live under the authority of the Israeli Defense Forces, the army which was established by the state which was established by the movement which firmly demanded that a Jewish state be established in the ancient homeland where Jacob and Rachel once grazed their herds.

Last week - just an ordinary Monday, October 11, at 08:00 am – the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces arrived unannounced at the spot where Noah El-Rajabi was grazing his flock. They destroyed his water cistern and his tent and a small wooden structure Noah used for cooking and storage.

The soldiers also kicked and beat the animals, and one pregnant ewe aborted. Noah's eldest son, 14, tried to protect the sheep. According to the army, he was arrested after assaulting the soldiers.

The Christian Peacemakers Team met Noah in Hebron. He did not know where his son was being held, or where he could get water for his animals. CPTers from Britain and Sweden accompanied Noah in his prolonged running about between three Israeli police stations, finally getting the information that is son was being held at the "Ofer" detention camp. For how long, nobody could or would tell. Nor were the police ready to hear the complaint which Noah tried to lodge about the behavior of the soldiers.

For the time being, Noah's herd is being cared for by his brother, who lives on a nearby hill and whose water cistern is still in tact...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A voice from the past

The "Loyalty Oath Bill" – latest shot in the incitement campaign against the Arab citizens of Israel. Those at the helm are prone to de-legitimize them, ultimately aiming to strip them of citizenship and leave them on the other side of the border.

And just now falls, by the Jewish calendar, the anniversary of the assassination of  Rabin. During the official memorial ceremonies scheduled for tomorrow, representatives of all parties will air the most beautiful cliches, expressing  grief and mourning and shock at the murder of a  Prime Minister in the streets of Tel Aviv.

Few will remember
or remind of the words of Yitzhak Rabin in his last interview, aired on Israeli television on the evening of  November 1, 1995:

- Host: Mr. Prime Minister, your government relies for its parliamentary majority on the vote of Arab Knesset Members. Also in order to approve the Oslo II Agreement you relied on such a majority. How do you answer those who say that a government which relies on Arabs is not legitimate?

- Yitzhak Rabin, angrily: Anyone who says that is a racist.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

When the cat is away, the mice can play

How long until the U.S. elections? Three weeks? Quick, quick, how much more can we achieve in three weeks? Hurry, after the election Obama will come back in force, what we don’t achieve now will never get done, quick, quick ... In the settlements hundreds of housing units were already built, and Lieberman's bill of Loyalty to the Jewish State gained a large majority in the cabinet, and also a firm Knesset speech on the Jewish state gained all the headlines, and our boys in Hebron performing a neat assassination of two Hamas people without making too much noise, and a small public insult to the European foreign ministers, well that's just routine, and we destroyed again that Negev Bedouin village, and in Silwan the head of the settlers ran over two Palestinian boys and this also got done more or less quietly, and a bit of burning of olive trees during the harvest ... How long still to the elections in America? More than two weeks left? Good. Good, so there is still time for a lot more. Kill Ahmadinejad when he is close to our border? Hmmm, this would be a great idea. On the other hand, as long as he lives, his idiotic speeches really help us with PR. No, forget about this. But 250 houses in East Jerusalem? Excellent, excellent, now is the opportunity. There will be some yelling, but until the elections in America it will be forgotten.

How long until the elections? Two weeks still? Who has some more good ideas?

 The burning report

The testimony of A., a Palestinian farmer from the village of Far'ata telling of what happened to his olive grove yesterday morning, was written down by peace activist David Nir, who spends much of his time monitoring the situation in the Nablus Area.

On the morning of Friday, October 15, A. And his family were harvesting olives on a plot near the built-up area of Far'ata. At 10.30 he was alerted to smoke rising from his other olive grove, which is near the "Gile'ad's Farm" settler outpost. The olives from the trees in that grove had been stolen by settlers before the Palestinian owners were allowed to visit it, and the settlers had recently started pouring concrete foundations for building a house there.

A. run to the spot, accompanied by two other Far'ata residents who also have trees nearby. All three ran on foot, intending to put off the fire. When the settlers saw the Palestinians approaching, one of them ran in their direction – being followed by four soldiers. The soldiers pushed the settler back from the three Palestiniand but did not detain him. It was the Palestinians who were detained, taken by the soldiers away from the burning trees and kept directly under the sun. (The temperature was about 37 degrees Celsius, and A. eventually required medical treatment for dehydration symptoms.)

While detained by the soldiers, the Palestinians saw the same settler moving between the different plots and personally setting the trees on fire, without interruption from the many soldiers who were nearby and witnessed the scene.. When A. asked the soldiers guarding him why they were not preventing the settlers from putting trees on fire before their eyes, they shouted at him to be quiet. When he said he would complain about their helping the settlers to burn the trees they said they would testify that it was him who had set the fire.

Around 13.30 two of the four soldiers were called to another place. The three Palestinians took advantage of the remaining soldiers' inattentiveness and escaped back to Far'ata, as they were sure the soldiers intended to take them into detention.

Only after hours of burning did the army allow fire trucks to arrive, but it was too late. When TV crews from Israeli, Palestinian and European stations arrived, the soldiers rushed them away to a location from which the fire was not visible.

A. estimates that the fire consumed more than a hundred acres of olive groves with more than 3000 trees, most of which belong to farmers from the nearby village of Tel. When Tel villagers riding donkeys tried to reach the spot, the settlers took away their donkeys and the army chased them away.

When representatives of the Palestinian Authority arrived, the soldiers expelled them, too.

All throughout the fire, there were about 40 settlers running about, as were many policemen and some 150 soldiers. The settlers were demonstratively friendly with the "security forces", who made no attempt to stop them from continuing to put trees on fire.

Something to be proud of

The following segments have been translated from the article "He goes Free" which appeared in Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - and speak for themselves:

In the middle of a trip to Eilat, Daniel Okev stopped the vehicle, drew his gun and shot the British tourists who had taken a ride with him. 13 years have passed, and now he is already being released from prison.

On August 12, 1997 Okev, an IDF reserve officer, picked up in his car a pair of tourists from England, Max Hunter and Charlotte Gibb, who were in their twenties. In the evening, when they reached the Mitzpe Ramon area, he stopped the car and went out with the tourists to freshen up. The three smoked cigarettes, looked at the stars and Okev explained to them how to find the North Star. Suddenly, for no reason, Okev pulled out the pistol which he carried with a permit and fired five bullets at the two. Hunter was hit in the head and died on the spot. Gibb was hit in the face and survived by pretending to be dead.

Okev, who thought he did kill the couple, went back to his car and sped away, but within days the police managed to track him down. He was arrested, confessed, and was indicted for murder and severe assault.

Okev's attorneys argued in his defense that he had committed the murder under the influence of traumatic experiences from the time of his military service, spent in the Rimon Special Unit which in the seventies carried out hundreds of liquidations in Gaza, in the course of the struggle against Palestinian terrorist organizations

A character witness in favor of Okev was Maj. Gen. (ret.) Meir Dagan, founder and commanding officer of the Rimon Special Unit, who is at present Dircetor of the Mossad. Dagan's testimony was given behind closed doors and its contents remain a mystery.

Okev was sentenced to twenty years in prison after being found guilty of "murder with reduced responsibility". It was decided, however, to deduct one-third of his sentence for good behavior and he is accordingly being released after 13 years in prison.

Upon his release Okev said: "First of all I am going to rebuild my family. I want my children to understand that their real father is not the murderer but the warrior from the Rimon Special Unit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A golden opportunity

Upcoming visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Lebanon is a golden PR opportunity for Israel - providing fuel for its ongoing worldwide campaign against Iran, a country which gave a key role in its government to such a person - a vulgar racist provocateur, who incites and crudely insults whereever he goes.

And we have among us just the person to head such a campaign against the President of Iran – Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Catch 44

- Hello, is this the Interior Ministry of the State of Israel?
- Yes, sir. How may I help you?
- I wanted to find out about my request for family unification.
- Family reunification? What do you mean?
- You know what family reunification means! I am a Palestinian living in Nablus, my wife is an Israeli citizen who lives in Nazareth. We got married five years ago, and still you do not allow us to live together and start a family.
- Start a family?
- Yes, a family. You know, buy a house, have children, is it not a natural aspiration?
- There are all kinds of opinions about that, depending on the political situation. Never mind about that now. You know you should provide a lot of documents and certificates?
- I gave you all the certificates, months ago. Everything, exactly according to all your laws and regulations. It took me an enormous lot of effort, running around to get everything. What more do you want?
- You know that we have a new law. You must pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
- Okay, okay, I will declare whatever you want. To end this hell I would even declare that the moon is made of green cheese. Well, then, here goes: I hereby solemnly declare my allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. OK? Can I now go to Nazareth?
- Wait a minute, sir. Do you understand what you have declared?
- I have declared that Israel is a Jewish state. You have rabbis and a Jewish tradition and Jewish holidays, Passover and Hanukkah and Yom Kippur. Very nice. But how does this concern me and my wife and our home in Nazareth?
- It does, very much so. Perhaps you noticed that you also swore allegiance to Israel as  a democracy?
- That certainly does not bother me.
- It might not bother you, but it very much bothers us. We are a democracy. That means that if too many democratic Arabs vote in our democratic elections, it will become difficult to elect a Jewish Knesset which will establish a Jewish government. In short, even without you we have got a bit too many Arabs here, and we don't want any additions. So kindly turn back to Nablus and stop bothering us.
- What is this? You are crooks!
- Sir, you are
posing to me a demographic threat. I have a clear principle, never to talk to anyone who threatens me.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Unknown people entered yesterday night the village of Beit Fajr, which is surrounded by settlements on all sides. The unknowns reached the village mosque, set it on fire left graffiti in Hebrew about "Revenge" and "exacting a price".

Shaul Goldstein, the elected leader of the settlers in this area, protested angrily the media assumption that settlers are responsible for the arson. "The investigation is still at its the beginning, all options are open. Why are we blamed? This is part of an incitement campaign!"

Indeed, it is also quite possible that the mosque was torched by aliens who arrived during the night in a spaceship from Mars. This possibility, too, should be looked into.

"Why can't they deport me, instead?"

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire was detained at Ben Gurion Airport. The State of Israel is absolutely unwilling to let her enter the country. Maguire appealed to the Supreme Court, but the state authorities hold firmly to their resolve: no way can she enter the country, not even for a few days. It is dangerous!

"Why can't they deport me, instead?" remarked Mordechai Vanunu, who had come to the Petach Tikva District court to support Maguire.

But: Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear whistleblower, can't get through Ben Gurion Airport, either. The State of Israel is absolutely unwilling to let him leave the country. Vanunu appealed to the Supreme Court, but the state authorities hold firmly to their resolve: no way can he leave the country, not even for a few days. It is dangerous!

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Why am I singled out?"

PM Netanyahu has a bitter complaint to make. For seventeen years the Palestinians are negotiating with Israel, without demanding the freezing of settlement construction. There were lots of festive ceremonies, lots of handshakes in front of TV cameras, multiple peace processes – an all the time, the bulldozers continued their work, and settlements grew and expanded apace. Seventeen years it lasted, and it seemed such a convenient arrangement!

But suddenly, the nasty Palestinians changed the rules. Now they are fiercely demanding a settlement construction freeze. Otherwise, there will be no negotiations, no meetings, no handshakes, no photo opportunities.

"Why does it have to be me? All these headaches, all this trouble with the Americans, and with the coalition partners, and with the settlers. Why me?"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Logic of our time

- This Bibi is not to be trifled with! Look how he confronted the whole world and won. Obama demanded that he go on freezing the settlement construction. And he did not.

- Who is this Obama, anyway? Who cares a fig about him? He talks and talks, we build on the ground.

- By the way, did you hear about the report of UN commission of inquiry about our operation to stop the Gaza Flotilla? Very annoying, we knew it, a very one-sided report. It's anti-Semitism, pure and simple.

- Yes, it's really annoying. But we'll manage. We just have to talk to the Americans and ask for their help. They'll see to it that this report is not approved.

Peace Tabernacle

Thousands, tens of thousands of tabernacles (Sukkot) are erected this week, to mark an ancient holiday.

The Religious Culture Department at the Ministry of Education of the State of Israel made sure to post this week quotes from different Jewish thinkers about the meaning and significance of this holiday. Among others were published the words of Hermann Cohen, a Jewish philosopher of the 19th century:

"There can be no hatred where peace has spread its tabernacle in a person's heart. That is why the prayer for this holiday uses the term "A Peace tabernacle". Sukkot is the holiday of peace, the holiday when we erect a tabernacle to mark our wanderings in the desert of mundane life. Peace makes life into a holiday."

The Ministry which published these words is not far from Sheikh Jarrah. This is where Israeli peace activists set up a Sukka, jointly with the Palestinians who have been expelled from their homes. But the municipal building inspectors did not read the words of the philosopher and came to destroy it, three times they destroyed it so that the message would be loud and clear: "Enough with this Peace Tabernacle - enough with peace, enough!"

The events around the Sheikh Jarah tabernacle can be seen at:

The Locked Sea

Gaza is closed and locked. By land, and by sea, and by air. Gaza residents may not go out, and those who live elsewhere may not enter.

Those who attempt to defy the ban may come to a bad end. A few months ago, nine Turks returned home in coffins. The reasons why and how it happened this way are now investigated by no less than four commissions of inquiry in different locations around the world. Three days ago the 20 year old Gazan fisherman Mohammed Baker tried to sail into the Mediterranean, away from the shores of Gaza, and got slightly beyond the limits set for him and his fellows by the Navy of the enlightened State of Israel. The gun boats opened fire, and Baker will never again sail anywhere.

Nevertheless, this night a small boat is sailing on the Mediterranean waves, en route to Gaza. A Jewish Peace Boat. Its passengers and crew are all Jews who don’t endorse the policies of a state which insists upon being recognized as a Jewish state, the Jewish State. Jews from Britain and Germany and the United States, as well as Jewish citizens of Israel.

Yonatan Shapira, a former helicopter pilot in the Israel Defense Forces – and whose former colleagues had carried the naval commandos who raided the previous Gaza Flotilla - called from the boat on them to refuse this time.

What will happen when the boat gets near the coast of Gaza? In a few hours we will probably know.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The clock is ticking

The clock is ticking. The decision will fall in 72 hours.

Naftali Bennett, General Manager of the settler Judea and Samaria Council, addressed the Prime Minister via large ads in the Israeli press. He demands that Mr. Netanyahu end the freeze and allow the resumption of full-scale construction in the settlements. If the Prime Minister does not respond to his demand, Mr. Bennett threatens to mobilize Knesset Members and government ministers to topple the government.

Barack Obama, President of the United States addressed the Prime Minister directly and urgently, via a televised speech from the podium of the UN General Assembly. He demands that Mr. Netanyahu continue the freeze and facilitate continuation of negotiations with the Palestinians. The President did not elaborate on what he would do if the prime minister does not respond to his demand.

What will Netanyahu decide? Samer Sirhan of Silwan will never know. He was killed yesterday - by a settler.