Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vote for can't hurt

In general, I don't love these non-scientific polls that are based more on how fast one side can rally people than actual opinion. On the other hand, I can't resist pushing this, Jewish bloggers of the world unite! Let's see if we can blow this one out of the water!

11,000 people have voted so far - we aren't too far behind...but we could get really far ahead. As the old saying goes - vote fast, vote often...!

If I were writing this survey, I'd write different options, but # 1 is the best option we please, click on the link below and vote!

Dear Friends,

Germany's biggest Newspaper FAZ" is launching a survey about the conflict in Gaza . Voters can choose between 4 statements:

1. Israel must protect her citizens against Terror Hamas provoked Israel

2. Israel blockaded peace in the Middle East and shall not be surprised now

3. In principle Israel is right but the attacks on Gaza are totally exaggerated

4. Situation is not clear enough to decide who is right or wrong

This newspaper is very influential in Germany. Most politicians and managers are reading it. So far about 11.000 people gave their vote:

1. statement: 40%
2. statement: 44%
3. statement: 7%
4. statement: 9%

We still can change the results. (Remember? Yes we can!)

Please copy this link: forward this to everybody you know around the globe!

Urge your friends and family to vote!

Right now as a surprise the majority of the media in Germany are in favor of Israel.

So is the political establishment, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But: as longer the conflict is going on as more people here will be overwhelmed with mercy for poor Hamasnikkim. Israel PR is weak?

Not this time!


FreedomCall...Doesn't Value Truth, Freedom, Reality

Amazingly enough, a company called FreedomCall believes it understands the Middle East...better than anyone else apparently. "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company." This was a part of an email received by an Israeli company, alerting them that the British telecommunications firm was terminating its cooperation with them.

The Israeli company has decided not to appeal this absurd position, or even to answer the letter, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't. Here's the plan:

1. If you live in the UK, consider using any company OTHER THAN FreedomCall.

2. Write or call to the company:
FreedomCall Limited Company Number: 5027692
VAT Number: 827 0731 35
Registered Address: Hampton House High Street
East Grinstead. West Sussex.
England RH19 3AW
Telephone: 0800 279 6050
International: 0044 20 7192 0598

This is what they consider hiring anyone else to do it for you...

From their website:

FreedomCall Limited provides fixed line services to home and business users.

I'm sure that makes them experts on the situation in the Middle East!

We work with some of the biggest names in the industry to deliver telecommunications services that meet the needs of home consumers and small and medium sized businesses.

Ah, that's it then...they are concerned that they might lose business if they don't bow to pressure and condemn Israel unfairly.

For the Home User
For the home we offer packages to suit all needs; pay-per-call or call inclusive OffPeak and AnyTime.

Of course, they don't care that 700,000 Israelis and their homes are now endangered by Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza. They don't care that it was the Arabs that started this war by shooting rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilian cities.

Transferring to FreedomCall CPS (Carrier Pre Selection) is very easy;

so long as you don't mind ignoring what is right...

you keep your telephone number

but lose your sense of integrity....

you do not need any equipment and you do not have to dial a prefix number. In fact, all that changes is that you will receive the bill for your calls from FreedomCall and not BT so it will be much. much less!

and FreedomCall doesn't need any facts. They don't need to know about the 10,000 rockets fired at Israel in the last 7 years. They don't need to know about the school that was hit today in Beersheva, the mother that was critically injured. No, FreedomCall doesn't care about the facts, the truth...and so, dear friends, I hope you'll take the time to write to FreedomCall and tell them they missed the call on this one.

It's ALL in the Target

It's all in the target...
The Israeli Air Force struck the office of the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh overnight. The office is used as a center for the planning, support and financing of terrorist activities against Israel . In addition, the office of the interior ministry, located in the same area, was also attacked. These offices of the Hamas government are located in Gaza City , and are considered a strategic target.

The IAF attacked 35 additional targets, including: tunnels in the Rafah border area, weapon storage facilities, Hamas outposts and an armed rocket launcher.

Navy forces also attacked a number of targets in the Gaza Strip including: Hamas outposts, training camps, guarding vessels used by Hamas naval forces and launching posts from which rockets are fired at Israel .

By comparison, the Hamas government targeted:
  • the city of Beersheva - hitting a school and a kindergarten
  • the city of Ashkelon - hitting a stadium, several homes and buildings
  • the city of Ofakim
  • fields outside Ashdod and Sderot and several kibbutzim

Note that not one of the above targets are military installations. Not one is a place where terrorist activities are conducted, where terror attacks are planned. It is all in the target, the intent.

So long as they INTEND to TARGET our cities, we will target their military infrastructure and their military leadership. We will cease...when they stop firing. We have tasted their ceasefire to the tune of 214 rockets. Now, now, they will feel our army. If the ground will shake from incoming rockets against our citizens, our army will continue to hunt the rocket launchers, the suppliers.

It is all in the target.

School Hit in Beersheva...School cancelled

This morning, the Department of Education decided it was too dangerous for children in Beersheva to go to school. This is an amazing occurrence. I have heard of schools closing because of snow, and even because of a teacher's strike, but today Beersheva children joined those in Ashkelon and Sderot and Ashdod because the government predicted missiles would fall and the danger was too great. Imagine if a missile hit a bus on which children were traveling to school. Imagine if it hit a school.

And today, that is exactly what happened. Thankfully, the school was empty because the children were ordered to stay home.

Seven hundred thousand people are now under fire in Israel. Those of us who are working, typing, teaching - we are functioning in a surreal environment wondering what absurd world this is that allows this to happen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 4 - Incoming Missiles and IDF Actions

Well, this is being posted in many places on the web, but if you haven't seen it, following is an "official" update on what is happening:

A short while ago, the IAF struck a Hamas vehicle loaded with dozens of Grad type missiles in the Jabaliya area, in the Gaza Strip. The vehicle was hit resulting in the secondary explosion of the Grad missiles in the vehicle. According to IDF assessments, the missiles were being transferred by Hamas to a hiding location, fearing that the previous location was being targeted by the IDF, or were on route to missile launching sites.

Late Sunday night (Dec.28), IDF forces struck dozens of Hamas targets including headquarters, weapons manufacturing and storage facilities, tunnels, missile launching pads, and equipment warehouses.

Among the targets hit was the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City. The IAF also targeted a weapons research and development center, located in the Rimel neighborhood of Gaza City, which was used as a laboratory to develop and manufacture explosives and was an integral part of the Kassam rocket manufacturing infrastructure.
Hamas has been working tirelessly to extend the range and arsenal of their rockets and their developments have been demonstrated over the past few days. In February 2007, the Fatah Presidential Guard raided the facility and uncovered numerous weapons, including approximately 100 Kassam rockets, 250 RPG launchers, hundreds of assault rifles, lathes, and other materials used for rocket manufacturing.

Israel Naval Forces also struck a number of targets Sunday night, including Hamas vessels and posts. The Naval Forces reported direct hits.

More than 150 rockets and mortar shells have been launched at Israel since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.

The IDF Spokesperson wishes to emphasize that the IDF will continue to act against anyone who harbors terrorists in their residence, provides support to terrorists and their activities, and forces their children and spouses to act as human shields.

Dec 30: Summary of events overnight Israeli air and naval forces attacked dozens of Hamas targets throughout the Gaza Strip during the early morning hours on Tuesday.

The targets included three buildings in the Hamas government complex in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood, Hamas training camps and outposts, stations held by the Islamist group's naval force, a vehicle transporting a stockpile of Grad missiles, rocket launchers, a weaponry manufacturing facility and sites used as headquarters by terror cells.

Two civilians and an IDF soldier were killed, and several civilians and soldiers were wounded from rocket and mortar attacks on Israel since Monday. In all, more than 70 rockets and mortar shells were launched from the Gaza Strip during that time.

Due to the incessant rocket attacks against Israeli towns, the IDF Home Front Command has revised and expanded its emergency directives for Tuesday to include all communities within a 30 kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip.

The instructions call for all schools to remain closed, the limiting of 100 individuals per fortified shelter and the discouraging of large gatherings outdoors.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Day in Israel

News is happening so fast today, it's hard to get any work done. Israel is very much like this - a fast moving in how we drive, fast in how we live, and sometimes, fast in how the news happens. Thanks to the Internet, we are bombarded with what is happening. For those who want to know about some excellent news sites in Israel, here's a list of the ones I know. Feel free to tell me about others.


As for today, a man was just killed and eight others wounded in Ashkelon from a Grad missile. Three rockets were launched against Israel this morning. A terrorist decided to start stabbing people in Kiryat Sefer, and buses and cars in many places in Israel have been attacked by rocks and firebombs.

And above my head, dark clouds are moving in over Jerusalem. Rain is a blessing here, not a curse. We have had an unusually dry winter so far. One that follows many others such that we are desperate for water and rain, as our national reservoirs reach critical levels. Perhaps, just perhaps, the rain is a sign from God that He is pleased that we are finally defending the land that He gave us, finally saying that we can take no more. We have worked for peace, compromised for peace. Now, as our Defense Minister said only a few days ago, sadly, now is a time to fight.

The atmosphere here is one of resolution and pride. Resolution because we know that we cannot continue to allow our citizens to suffer and pride because, at long last, our government is allowing our army to do what it know best to do. Am Yisrael Chai - the people, the nation of Israel lives!

Israel's Proportional Response

Did Israel Use "Disproportionate Force" in Gaza?

This is an important question, even a legal one. The following newsletter, sent out by the Institute for Contemporary Affairs offers a legal answer, as well as one that offers common sense. For months, Israel has sought another way. Hamas has offered us no option and so, given the choice between allowing our citizens to suffer from incessant rocket attacks, we have finally responded. Is this disproportionate force? As Dore Gold explains...not even close!

Did Israel Use "Disproportionate Force" in Gaza?

Dore Gold

Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001. Rocket attacks increased by 500 percent after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. During an informal six-month lull, some 215 rockets were launched at Israel.

The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend
its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetuate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it.

Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were "security forces," and Palestinian officials said "at least 15 civilians were among the dead." The numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties. What is critical from the standpoint of international law is that if the attempt has been made "to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage - but is directed at a target with very large military value - would be lawful."

Luis Moreno-Orampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur." The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does).

After 9/11, when the Western alliance united to collectively topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, no one compared Afghan casualties in 2001 to the actual numbers that died from al-Qaeda's attack. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis. To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

Israel is currently benefiting from a limited degree of understanding in international diplomatic and media circles for launching a major military operation against Hamas on December 27. Yet there are significant international voices that are prepared to argue that Israel is using disproportionate force in its struggle against Hamas.

Israeli Population Centers Under Rocket Attack

There are good reasons why initial criticism of Israel has been muted. After all, Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001.1 The majority of those attacks were launched after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Indeed, rocket attacks increased by 500 percent (from 179 to 946) from 2005 to 2006.

Moreover, lately Hamas has been extending the range of its striking capability even further with new rockets supplied by Iran. Hamas used a 20.4-kilometer-range Grad/Katyusha for the first time on March 28, 2006, bringing the Israeli city of Ashkelon into range of its rockets for the first time. That change increased the number of Israelis under threat from 200,000 to half a million.2 Moreover, on December 21, 2008, Yuval Diskin, Head of the Israel Security Agency, informed the Israeli government that Hamas had acquired rockets that could reach Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and even the outskirts of Beersheba.3 The first Grad/Katyusha strike on Ashdod, in fact, took place on December 28. There had been no formal cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but only an informal six-month tahadiya (lull), during which 215 rockets were launched at Israel.4 On December 21, Hamas unilaterally announced that the tahadiya had ended.

Critical Voices

On December 27, 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesmen issued a statement saying that while the Secretary-General recognized "Israel's security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza," he reiterated "Israel's obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law." The statement specifically noted that he "condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians [emphasis added]."5

A day later, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "strongly condemned Israel's disproportionate use of force." French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, also condemned Israel's "disproportionate use of force," while demanding an end to rocket attacks on Israel.6 Brazil also joined this chorus, criticizing Israel's "disproportionate response."7 Undoubtedly, a powerful impression has been created by large Western newspaper headlines that describe massive Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, without any up-front explanation for their cause.

Proportionality and International Law: The Protection of Innocent Civilians

The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetuate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza).

When international legal experts use the term "disproportionate use of force," they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Rosalyn Higgins, has noted, proportionality "cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression."8 In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses whether force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians. The pivotal factor determining whether force is excessive is the intent of the military commander. In particular, one has to assess what was the commander's intent regarding collateral civilian damage.9

What about reports concerning civilian casualties? Some international news agencies have stressed that the vast majority of those killed in the first phase of the current Gaza operation were Hamas operatives. Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were "security forces," and Palestinian officials said "at least 15 civilians were among the dead."10 It is far too early to definitely assess Palestinian casualties, but even if they increase, the numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties.

During the Second Lebanon War, Professor Michael Newton of Vanderbilt University was in email communication with William Safire of the New York Times about the issue of proportionality and international law. Newton had been quoted by the Council on Foreign Relations as explaining proportionality by proposing a test: "If someone punches you in the nose, you don't burn down their house." He was serving as an international criminal law expert in Baghdad and sought to correct the impression given by his quote. According to Newton, no responsible military commander intentionally targets civilians, and he accepted that this was Israeli practice.

What was critical from the standpoint of international law was that if the attempt had been made "to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage - but is directed at a target with very large military value - would be lawful."11 Numbers matter less than the purpose of the use of force. Israel has argued that it is specifically targeting facilities serving the Hamas regime and its determined effort to continue its rocket assault on Israel: headquarters, training bases, weapons depots, command and control networks, and weapons-smuggling tunnels. This way Israel is respecting the international legal concept of proportionality.

Alternatively, disproportionality would occur if the military sought to attack even if the value of a target selected was minimal in comparison with the enormous risk of civilian collateral damage. This point was made by Luis Moreno-Orampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on February 9, 2006, in analyzing the Iraq War. He explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks [emphasis added] against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur." The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does) or when "the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage."12 In fact, Israeli legal experts right up the chain of command within the IDF make this calculation before all military operations of this sort.

Proportionality as a Strategic Issue

Moving beyond the question of international law, the charge that Israel is using a disproportionate amount of force in the Gaza Strip because of reports of Palestinian casualties has to be looked at critically. Israelis have often said among themselves over the last seven years that when a Hamas rocket makes a direct strike on a crowded school, killing many children, then Israel will finally act.

This scenario raises the question of whether the doctrine of proportionality requires that Israel wait for this horror to occur, or whether Israel could act on the basis of the destructive capability of the arsenal Hamas already possesses, the hostile declarations of intent of its leaders, and its readiness to use its rocket forces already. Alan Dershowitz noted two years ago: "Proportion must be defined by reference to the threat proposed by an enemy and not by the harm it has produced." Waiting for a Hamas rocket to fall on an Israeli school, he rightly notes, would put Israel in the position of allowing "its enemies to play Russian Roulette with its children."13

The fundamental fact is that in fighting terrorism, no state is willing to play Russian Roulette. After the U.S. was attacked on 9/11, the Western alliance united to collectively topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan; no one compared Afghan casualties in 2001 to the actual numbers that died from al-Qaeda's attack. Given that al-Qaeda was seeking non-conventional capabilities, it was essential to wage a campaign to deny it the sanctuary it had enjoyed in Afghanistan, even though that struggle continues right up to the present.

Is There Proportionality Against Military Forces?

And in fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops. There are NATO members who have been critical of "Israel's disproportionate use of force," while NATO armies take pride in their "kill ratios" against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence.14 To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties. But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel's responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: "When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible - and no one else is - for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire."15

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict - Hamas - and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression - Israel.

Posted from the Jerusalem Issue BriefInstitute for Contemporary Affairs. founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation - with thanks for their well-thought out work. May it serve as a light against those who seek darkenss.

* * *


1. For numbers of rockets, see Dore Gold, "Israel's War to Halt Palestinian Rocket Attacks," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 7, No. 34, March 3, 2008, Institute of Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,'s_War_to_Halt_Palestinian_Rocket_Attacks. See also December 2008 publications on
2. Robert Berger, "Israeli Official Warns of Growing Hamas Military Threat," Voice of America News,, May 17, 2008,
3. "News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC), December 16-23, 2008,
4. "Intensive Rocket Fire Attacks Again Western Negev Population Center and the Ashqelon Region after Hamas Announces the End of the Lull Agreement," IICC, December 21, 2008,,
5. "Secretary-General Urges Immediate Halt to Renewed Israeli-Palestinian Violence," UN News Service, December 27, 2008,
6. "World Reacts to Israel Strikes in Gaza," Deutsche Welle,, December 28, 2008,,,3905288,00.html.
7. Brazil Criticizes Israeli Attack on Gaza: Special Report: Palestine-Israel Relations," China View,, December 28, 2008,
8. R. Higgins, cited in "Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza - Issues of Proportionality Background Paper," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 2008,
9. Abraham Bell, "International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel's Right to Self-Defense," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 7, No. 29, January 28, 2008, Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,'s_Right_to_Self-Defense.
10. Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel, "Israeli Assault on Hamas Kills More than 200," Associated Press, December 28, 2008,
11. William Safire, "Proportionality," New York Times, August 13, 2006,
12. Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, The Hague, February 9, 2008,
13. Alan Dershowitz, "The Hamas Government Has Declared War Against Israel: How Should Israel Respond?" Huffington Post, March 14, 2008,
14. Richard Cohen, ".No, It's Survival," Washington Post, July 25, 2006,
15. Michael Walzer, "How Aggressive Should Israel Be? War Fair," The New Republic Online, July 31, 2006.

* * *

Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery, 2003) and The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (Regnery, 2007).

This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at:

Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaacov Amidror, ICA Chairman; Dan Diker, ICA Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-561-9281, Fax. 972-2-561-9112, Email: In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215; Tel. 410-664-5222; Fax 410-664-1228. Website: © Copyright.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And a Dose of Truth - Hamas Acknowledges the Truth

Amid claims that hundreds, no a thousand, people were killed in Gaza, the truth is coming out. Hamas has acknowledged what Israel knew all along - the targets were carefully picked by Israel to minimize civilian casualties and this is what has happened.

According to YNET: Hamas TV acknowledged this morning that the vast majority of those killed are from the Hamas military. A news ticker running repeatedly from 10:00 AM announced:
"More than 180 Palestinian policemen were killed including the [Police] Commander, General Tawfik Jaber."

What this means is that Venezuela and Chile and Italy and the UN and Tony Blair were quick to condemn without facts, without proof. Why are we not surprised?

This immediate jump to blame Israel is not new, nothing surprising. The truth comes from the most unlikely of sources and therefore is that much more credible. So far, of the 220 or so casualties claimed, AT LEAST 180 have been confirmed to be part of the battle and not innocent civilians.

At Last...At Last - A Defense Unveiled

Two news alerts have just been published - both are welcome signs that Israel is acting.

The first is so Israeli...the IDF has been leaving voice messages on telephones in Gaza. The message is so simple, so obvious, and incredibly clear. If you stay where there are weapons and rockets, you are not an innocent bystander, and you have been warned. Here's the message:
The Israeli military warns: IDF jets will bomb any house where weapons or rockets are found and the owner of the house will suffer the consequences."

And secondly, the Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilai is doing what Israel's leaders should have done weeks ago: he's moving his offices to Sderot. This is the truest definition of what it means to be an Israeli leader. It is learned in the army, when a commander turns to his troops and says simply, "Follow me."

A few days ago, there was great shame in watching the government show restraint at a time when action was needed. Today, there is great pride in Israel. We did not want war and we did not choose this path. It was chosen each and every time the Arabs chose to shoot missiles and rockets at our cities.

At last, with pride in our government and our army, we can say to our enemies - THIS is Israel!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Will Be...As Others Are

This Shabbat, as Israelis rested from a devastating week of rockets and shock and damage, the government finally allowed the army to do what armies are supposed to do - they moved to stop the rockets. In the early hours, many rockets were launched, a man was killed and others wounded. But this time, there is resolve in Israel. We will be as other nations are - we will not allow our citizens to live in fear of rockets that take over their lives and condemn them to darkness and fear.

It's a scary thing for a nation to go to war; but at times, it is scarier not to. Like most of Israel's war, if not all of them, this was not a war of choice. Perhaps, finally, we chose the time and the place, but we did not choose if this would come to be. Today, Israel wakes to a new day, a dawn where we are at war; where our sons are fighting so that our children can go to school and play outside. There are traffic jams in the streets in central Israel; all is normal and nothing is normal.

People who need to go shopping will go; weddings that were planned will take place tonight. People will go to the movies. But with each step we take, a part of our brain is listening to what is happening in the south; a part of our heart is worrying and a part of our soul is praying.

What comes out of this military action will probably not be called peace, but at very least, it will allow us to live, at least for a while, as others do. And sometimes, that has to be enough.

We will be as others are - others who do not live under the rockets.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 Award for Dumb Moves

goes to...and the envelope please....

Sorry, folks. This is very unusual, but necessary. In light of the current reality, we must award this year's honor to two very deserving recipients. It isn't often that we do this and we beg your indulgence.

First and foremost, to Israel "Defense" Minister Ehud Barak. Yes, the quotes are intentional because we aren't sure who he is defending. It certainly isn't the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon. Perhaps we should indeed remove the quotes from "Defense" and put them on "Israel"? So - first, he gets the award for dumb moves as he authorizes humanitarian aid to Gaza while the rockets fly overhead in the opposite direction. While this is the final reason why he won this year's award, we cannot forget that he has also been holding the army back for many weeks, preventing it from responding to hundreds of rocket and mortar attacks - so, this one's for you, Ehud. You have definitely earned the Dumb Moves of the Year award!

And secondly, because despite an incredible come back toward the end of the year that enabled, even required, us to give the award to Ehud Barak, by far, the leader in the Dumb Moves Award category through much of the year was Ehud Olmert. For reasons too numerous to mention, for idiocies far and above the call of duty, for bad decision after bad decision, you too have earned the Dumb Moves of the Year award!

So, for all those dumb things that you've done now and throughout the year, we jointly award this year's honor to both Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak...And suggest that maybe mothers think twice before giving their child the name Ehud for a while. Of course, if Member of Knesset Aryeh Eldad has his way, Ehud Barak will not only receive our award, he'll also be charged with "aiding an enemy in the time of war." While we agree with this suggestion, we still maintain that Ehud Barak deserves our award.

Stay tuned for other awards we hope to offer in the next few days.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sometimes, Israel is a Rocket Falling

Israel is so many things - places famous and special; people who are so special, in so many ways; a land like no other, and, especially in the last few days, Israel is a target for an enemy that launches rockets and mortars and missiles at our city, while our government stands by and offers only words.

The army could act against the missiles, but they are crippled by a government that knows not how to lead. The saddest testimony came over the radio, when a 14-year-old girl explained what it was like to wake up in the morning and find a hole in your ceiling. She explained to the female radio broadcaster that she saw the hole, her mother came in the room, they got up and went to the sheltered room and waited there a while. Her recitation was calm as she answered questions. It bothered me; it bothered the broadcaster. When asked how she could be so calm, the saddest of all answers was given, "I'm used to it, and I've seen worse."

I can't think of a worse thing to say about Israel today, than that we allowed a 14-year-old to get used to incoming rocket fire.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What You Can't Kill...You Live With

There's something really wrong here...instead of discussing how to STOP the rockets, the government seems to be bent on teaching more and more Israelis how to live with them.

Years ago, when we first made aliyah, we saw a lizard crawling in our daughter's bedroom. Not knowing how common, how harmless these things were, I called my brother-in-law frantically, asking him what to do.

His immediate response was, "Kill it."

I was horrified. I can't kill a lizard! I can barely kill a bug! "I can't kill it," I told him.

"Well, what you can't kill, you have to live with."

I asked him at the time if that was a political statement or if we were still talking about the lizard. His answer was, "both."

So, I understand the government is now using this same philosophy same concept - admitting it can't stop the rockets and so trying to teach Israelis how to live with these attacks. There is something most rotten about this.

Israel National News item:

The Home Front Command has scheduled a few days of exercises, starting Tuesday, in which the landing of missiles is simulated in a number of southern Israeli communities, according to the News first class website. The simulation will include the striking of a strategic target.

Participating in the exercises are the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi, as well as the Shapir and Yoav regional councils. Intelligence officials say that missiles launched by terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza are now capable of reaching these areas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Rockets Red Glare

No, in Israel, the rockets red glare does not symbolize our freedom. Far from it. With each rocket that pounds into Israel, with each minute the army sits by and watches in frustration, the red glare is a mockery of our freedom, our right to defend ourselves. Yesterday, on a day Israelis hope will be their one day off from the hectic work week, 15 kassem rockets and 26 mortars slammed into our country. Today, it is not even 9:00 in the morning, and already 7 Kassam rockets have exploded in Israel, 3 mortar shells hit our land.

A worker in a green house close to Gaza, working in Israel, on Israeli soil, was injured this morning. On orders from the Home Front, children will not be allowed to play outside today in those areas bordering Gaza.

What should we do? It really is simple and quite absurd that I, a regular citizen, should need to list these things, quite embarrassing really, but what can you do? So here goes, Mr. and Ms. Ministers - here's the plan to make the rockets stop and make the world aware of what is happening:
  • The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations should be given a beeper. Each time a missile hits, he should be beeped immediately. By his desk, he should have two large signs "Kassem fired at my country" and "Mortar fired at my country." The minute his beeper vibrates (he should set it to vibrate and not ring in order to not bother the important proceedings), he should immediately raise the sign up high and leave it there for 3 minutes.
  • The prime minister's office should have a fax prepared "Gaza fired a rocket at my country" or "Gaza fired a mortar at my country." Each time a rocket or mortar is fired, this fax should be stamped with the current date and time and sent to the leaders of the United States and many European countries. One fax for each rocket; it should be considered wrong to use the same fax for more than one. Of course, this is likely to be time consuming, so budget should be allocated to hiring an individual whose sole job will be to send faxes alerting world leaders what is happening.
  • Make it clear that for each rocket we receive - we will respond. Start with power - for each rocket fired at us, cut the power to Gaza for one hour. Pick a number - any number between 1-5 and for each rocket over that amount, Gaza goes dark for two hours.
  • Move artillery and tanks close to the border of Gaza and issue a warning. In fact, issue two warnings: stop the rockets or prepare for war and to the civilians, you've stood by and watched while terrorists fired at Israel, now you can stand by and be bombed, or you can leave. Tell the Egyptians to open the borders of Rafiach adn let the civilians out.
  • We have foolishly and recklessly released prisoners "in good faith" while waiting for some signal of humanity from our enemies. That makes them ruthless and us stupid. There will be no more early releases. There will be no good faith gestures.

The shame of the Israeli government knows no bounds. Beyond the corruption, beyond the placing of their political futures and parties above the interests of the nation, Kadima's greatest sin is seen in its daily failure to act for the people. We saw this in the north during the Second Lebanon War and we see it daily now.

We have an army second to none in the Middle East. Use it. Let it do what it knows how to do. Stop the rockets or bow your heads in shame and leave it to others. The rocket's red glare streaks through the skies over Israel and causes terror, but it is the cowardly response that sickens and shames the people most of all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why is this funny?

I'm not sure why this strikes me as funny. Israel is a very small country but it makes a big "splash" in the news that far outweighs its tiny size. Often you'll hear "the US and Israel" and so the first thought that crossed my mind when I read this next news item was...can you imagine this happening in the United States?

Well, to be honest, I can't, and I guess that's why it made me smile. In fact, it probably would make a lot of people smile...except those who planned to go home tomorrow by train:

From Israel National News:
Train service in Israel will be shut down Friday for repairs. The train
system is receiving a new control system named “Torch.” Train service will be
down for all of Friday and will resume on Saturday evening.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple Equations

In math, there are simple equations, the outcome of which we all learn early in life. 1+1=2. Simple. 2+2=4. So obvious.

In life, there are simple equations as well - here's one: if you launch rockets at us, that equals - closed crossings and no humanitarian aid. Yes, it's very obvious, so why can't the Palestinians understand this simple reality?

From today's news:
A shipment of humanitarian supplies planned for delivery on Tuesday afternoon was cancelled due to the attacks. Four Kassam rockets and a number of mortars were fired at various Jewish communities in the western Negev earlier in the morning. Several of the missiles exploded in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council district and a mortar shell struck the Sdot Negev Regional Council district.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Needed: Some Thick Tape for Tzipi's Mouth

Today marks a very sad day in Israel. It is 900 days since Gilad Shalit's feet touched Israeli soil, 900 days in which his parents have wondered, every minute, where he is, how he is. To mark this sad day, the woman who wants to be Israel's next prime minister, said:
We all want Gilad to come back home, but part of the willingness to fight is the understanding that we don't have any other choice. There is always a risk of minimum casualties, and it's not always possible to bring everyone back home.

What a cruel thing to say to Gilad's parents on such a sad day. What a sad thing that a leader of Israel should accept defeat so easily. Today, as we marked 900 days...the government intends to transfer 100 million shekels of money to the Palestinians...why? The government is granting a pardon to 45 Palestinians who are on Israel's "wanted" list. Why?

The answer is because politicians like Tzipi Livni don't feel it is morally repulsive for them to say something so painful - today, as we mark 900 days. Israel knows you can't bring everyone home. But we released hundreds to bring dead bodies; hundreds for a drug dealer. What has this government done for Gilad Shalit other than moan and whine that they can't do anything? Even if deep in our hearts we fear that we will not succeed in bringing Gilad Shalit home alive, today of all days, Livni should not have spoken this way.

Gilad Shalit can be brought home - easily and quickly - by a strong government who will not bend to international pressure, most of which is based on Hamas lies.

Gaza needs fuel and food - we need Gilad Shalit. Send us our son, and you have have your 1 million shekels, your fuel, or whatever. Until Hamas sets a date for Shalit's return, Israel should have nothing to say, nothing to give, and no one to release.

The government wants to make a good faith gesture in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. When was the last time that any Arab country made ANY gesture for one of our holidays?

A better question might well be - when will our own government make a gesture to its own people. Today, on the 900th day of captivity - declare it Gilad Day. Require EVERY school that gets government funding, including those in the Arab sector, spend a few minutes talking to the children about Gilad and have the older children write letters of support to Gilad's family.

Invite the family to the Knesset and stand with them at a press conference, and declare - Israel will not rest until Gilad is home. It's true, "it's not always possible to bring everyone back home." But Gilad is alive, not dead. Gilad is close, not far. Gilad can be brought home if only we have the leader to do it. Let's do this before we get to Gilad's 1000th day in captivity.

And could someone please, please put some tape over Tzipi Livni's mouth before she says anything dumber?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mumbai...with breaking hearts, we go to help

The terror attacks in Mumbai were a fresh reminder to the world that there are those among us who wish to destroy all that we are, all that we love. They quickly admitted that their targets were well researched - westerners, Jews, Israelis. Israel's response came quickly. Within hours, we sent family members and health and security experts. An Israeli Air Force jet flew to bring our victims home, and a few days ago, another team from Israel left to continue offering aid to India's victims. This is Israel.


Israeli Post Trauma team left during the weekend to Mumbai to assist victims of recent terror attack December 7, 2008 (by IsraAID. )

Following recent terror attacks on the Taj Hotel, Trident-Oberoi and the Chabad Jewish Center in India's financial capital, where over 100 people were killed and many others injured, IsraAID member teams sent today a team of Post Trauma experts to train local peers on how to support victims of the recent attack.

Israeli expertise on how to deal with massive disasters, especially terror attacks, is widely regarded.. In response to their request, an Israeli team will partner with the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre's Trauma Counseling Unit in Mumbai, which will use Israeli expertise on how to provide post trauma treatment to families and victims of terror.

The IsraAID member team will provide training in the hospital. At local schools in Mumbai they will train teachers on how to impart resiliency to their students and how to provide direct support to help the families and victims.

In addition, the team will offer its assistance to foreigners and Jewish and Israeli personnel who were on the ground during the attack. This program is a partnership of IsraAID, American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

Friday, November 28, 2008

We are all Chabad

A young couple goes to India - no, not to meditate in the eastern ways, but to create a marker of home. Thousands of Israelis go to India, Thailand, and numerous places throughout the Far East. Far from home and family, the one constant so many of them experience, is a need to feel connected. For many, Judaism is secondary to their being Israeli. They were raised in a secular home and take pride in this.

Back in Israel, they feel little in common with the ultra-Orthodox movement and those who follow it. They are free, children of the world. Post-army and ready to take on the world. They will joke, if you can survive the army, you can survive anything. This is often what they believe, often what they practice.

Until they get to a small, unpretentious building somewhere and a feeling deep inside stirs. Home. Connection. Family. This is what Chabad centers throughout the world offer these traveling Israelis and business people. There is no judgement - do what you must do, go where you must go, but if you need a place to feel a connection with home, come to us. For a Shabbat meal, for directions, for anything.

To maintain such places, young families go and live. They forsake their own needs of family and community and share this with each Israeli or Jew who stops by - they too are alone and far from home.

This week, tragedy hit in Mumbai, targeting, among other places, one such Chabad center. At this moment, as troops storm the Chabad center to hopefully free the hostages and capture the terrorists who have spread havoc, hatred, and death throughout the city, we do not know the fate of those inside. We do not know if the Rabbi and his wife will live to raise their small child. We pray for the victims and the hostages. We pray for those who are ours.

Today, we are all Chabad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chess Anyone?

Congratulations to Israel's Olympic Chess team. In Tuesday's match, they won their first medal ever, a silver, in the Dresden Olympics. Israel beat Holland in the 11th round, scoring just one point behind Armenia.

It's another part of being Israel - this hope and struggle to make our place in the world of champions - on Tuesday, in Dresden - we did! Congratulations to the team...and us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If it quacks like a's probably a duck...

Last year, in September, according to most sources, Israel's air force bombed a building in Syria. According to the New York Times and others, the building was a nuclear reactor in the process of being built. Syria, of course, denied this.

Now, the United Nations has confirmed what we all knew. According to Reuters...when it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and quacks like a's a duck:

A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore features that would resemble those
of an undeclared nuclear reactor and Syria must cooperate more with UN
inspectors to let them draw conclusions, an International Atomic Energy Agency
report said. (Reuters)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The UN Stikes (out) Again

Israelis have long accepted the double standards of the United Nations. It becomes so embarrassingly clear, year after year, resolution after resolution, that the United Nations is a biased and manipulated entity.

More than sixty rockets, mortars and missiles have been fired at Israel in the last week. Why? What triggered this sudden violence? The Palestinians objected to Israel destroying a tunnel that they planned on using to attack Israel, perhaps kidnap another of our soldiers. What nerve we have, says the Palestinians. We have violated the "relative calm" by protecting our territory from an imminent attack.

How does the UN respond? Do they request the Palestinians stop firing these they condemn the tunnel and its violent intent...

No - that would be UNlikely, that would be UNbiased, that would be UNnatural. No, here's the UN's latest response:

According to YNET:
The UN's top human rights official has called on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says the blockade of the Palestinian territory breaches humanitarian law.

Monday, November 17, 2008

From the Four Corners of the Earth...On the Wings of Eagles

This is, perhaps above all else, what Israel is truly about...this is, in the greatest sense of the word...Israel.

From the Jerusalem Post:

'Lost tribe of Israel' coming 'home'Group believes it descended from biblical patriarch
BY: Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – The Israeli government has given permission for about 150 Indian citizens who believe they are one of the "lost tribes" of Israel to move legally to the Jewish state.
This decision clears the way for the arrival here of some of the remaining 7,200 members of the Bnei Menashe in India, who believe they are the descendants of Manasseh, one of the biblical patriarch Joseph's two sons and a grandson of Jacob.

"With so much economic and political turmoil in the world, it is comforting and reassuring to see that the Divine process of the Ingathering of the Exiles continues," said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based immigrant organization working with the "lost" Jews.

"Just as the prophets foretold, God is gathering in the Bnei Menashe, one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, and bringing them home to Zion," Freund told WND.
Over the last decade, several organizations, most notably Shavei Israel, have brought more than 1,300 members of the Indian group to the Jewish state, where they were successfully integrated into religious Israeli society, holding professional jobs, attending universities, becoming rabbinic leaders and serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Shavei is a private organization that relies on individual donations.

Freund said the new batch of 150 Bnei Menashe will arrive here on a special charter flight in January. He said they would settle in the Galilee, "where the landscape and pastoral setting resemble the land of their birth, making it an ideal place for the Bnei Menashe to start their new lives in the Jewish state."

Tribe members live in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they say they were exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire.

According to Bnei Menashe oral tradition, the tribe was exiled from Israel and pushed to the east, eventually settling in the border regions of China and India where most remain today. Most kept customs similar to Jewish tradition, including observing Shabbat, keeping the laws of Kosher, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy's life and observing laws of family purity.

We Send Food...They Send Rockets

Last week, approximately 50 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel. Over the weekend, the barrage continued. Sunday, it continued, as well. A man was lightly injured from shrapnel, others sent to the hospital in shock. Imagine, without warning, a huge explosion in your yard...

No, the government did not respond with military action - although let's give credit where credit it due - they issued a very strong, "Please don't do that again!" warning. What did they send to Gaza in exchange for these rockets and mortars:
Thirty trucks carrying humanitarian equipment, medications and food, will enter the Gaza Strip on Monday morning through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the defense
establishment decided following another discussion.
I'm sure that will convince Hamas to stop those rockets!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Think?

Sometimes, news items are so obvious, it's almost painful. And sometimes, the absurdity and simply astound you. This news item is an example - it left me thinking..." think?" Two points to Human Rights Watch for stating...the obvious.
Egypt must stop shooting African migrants, including Sudanese refugees fleeing Darfur, when they try to make the dangerous trek over the Sinai desert border into Israel, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. The US-based rights group, in a report on the perils of African migration between Egypt and Israel, said Egyptian security forces had shot or bludgeoned to death at least 33 mainly African migrants at the Israeli border since July 2007.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Holy Fight?

A few years ago, I took a visitor on a tour of the Old City. When we approached the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I knew my time was up. I finally had to explain that I don't go in churches. I would wait outside while they enjoyed the opportunity to worship at such an important site. To understand the next part, you have to know that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is either in or very close to the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and so, after I'd been sitting there a short while, an Israeli police officer came over and asked why I was there. I explained.

I guess he felt that he should "watch" me or perhaps he felt that he could watch everyone else from a position right near me. In any event, for the next 30 minutes or so, he stood nearby and after a few minutes, we began to talk. I asked him if he went in the church or only patrolled outside. His answer was that there are regular fights inside and so he goes in several times per day.

"Who's fighting?" I asked.

"Who's not?" he answered.

Apparently, there are disagreements if one group stays too long or is too large, or moves to slowly. He looked resigned to the concept that this would happen all the time and so today's news item brought back the police officer's words...
Fight breaks out at Church of Holy Sepulcher
Published: 11.09.08, 12:08

A fight broke out between Greek Orthodox worshippers and Armenian worshippers during preparations for Inventio Crucis at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in eastern Jerusalem. A police force separated between the two sides and detained two worshippers for questioning.

Yes, I Can...for Gilad Shalit

Barack Obama ran for president on the slogan, "Yes, I Can." I personally didn't support him and don't really understand these one syllable concepts, but I'm willing to borrow it for now.

There is something you can do - right now...for Gilad Shalit. We can't swing nations to care. We can't get the Israeli government to do all in its power (see below on that one), but what you can do...right now - is open a prayer book or Bible and say Psalm 142. (Click here for Psalm 142 in Hebrew and English).

My idea to return Gilad Shalit:

Very simple. Gilad Shalit is our son, our child. He belongs with Israel, with his family. We must do all we can to save our child, our children. If you have extra to give, Judaism instructs you to give charity. But if you have but one piece of bread, there is no commandment to give charity and let your family starve. First, you see to your own and you pray that you have enough to give others afterwards.

Israel is a central location for all manner of medical care. We have operated on thousands of Palestinian children to save their lives or better the quality of those lives. We have operated on children (and adults) from Egypt, Jordan, even Iraq and Iran.

Our own child is suffering. We have no obligation to help others until we first see to our own. Our government should send the following note to all Arab leaders:
Dear Arab leader,

For many years, quietly and without credit (and often without payment) we have treated your young. Our doctors and nurses have worked tirelessly to help, to save, to improve. We did this because it was the right thing to do, the human and humane thing to do.

With great regret, until our son is returned home, healthy and sound, we will no longer be able to take care of your children...until you return our child to us. When Gilad Shalit comes home...we will once again open our hospitals to care for your children. Until then, we recommend you find another country willing to care (often for free), willing to give the highest quality health care, with top equipment and caring doctors and nurses.

Send Gilad home and your children...and ours won't suffer.

Now, all we need is an Israeli leader brave enough to send this message.

For now, what you can do, until that brave leader steps forward, is say a prayer for Gilad.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Ultimate Spin

Spinning a story is a political challenge for many, and few excel at spinning better than Hamas and our other enemies. Today's news provides a perfect example. A tunnel was being dug close to the security fence between Israel and Gaza. According to Israeli military intelligence, which is notoriously accurate (as opposed to much of what Hamas' leadership says), the tunnel was built with its exit inside the Abu Hamam family home, to run under our security fence. It's goal, says our army, was to be used as a passage way through which to enter Israel, capture one of our soldiers, and escape back to Gaza - another Gilad Shalit.

Israel destroyed the tunnel. And here comes the spin:

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed Tuesday night that Israel's raid into Gaza proves that Israel no longer wants to maintain the lower level of direct attacks begun in June. Abu Zuhri called the Israeli destruction of the tunnel "aggression... a major violation of the ... agreement..." He threatened that if Israel conducts more such raids Hamas would bring the combat to more of Israel than merely within rocket range of Gaza.

The IDF spokewoman's office stressed that the incident was just a pinpoint operation to stop an immediate threat, and that it was not intended to bring about an end to the relative calm. (Israel National News)

So there you have it - the intention to break the "relative calm" - was not the digging of a tunnel to kidnap one of our soldiers, but rather our nerve in destroying it. And the response from Gaza:

At least seven rockets and 16 mortar shells landed near kibbutzim (agricultural collectives) in the western Negev on Wednesday morning. No injuries have been reported at this time. The Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service has gone on alert in the region.

Four IDF soldiers were wounded in a mortar shell attack in Gaza, IDF spokesmen said Wednesday morning. Three of the soldiers were moderately wounded, meaning doctors see no imminent threat to their lives, but one or more of their limbs or major organs are at risk. The fourth soldier was lightly wounded.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Here Comes the Rain...

Israel's national obsession with the level of the water of the Sea of Galilee finally allows us to take a deep breath and say thanks...

According to several news sources, recent rains combined with cloudy skies has delivered readings equal to the previous day for the water level in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). We've long since passed the red the fact that we've had this two day stabilization...along with the hope of much more rain to us hope that from this point on there will be much rain and the levels will only rise!

Here comes the rain? Let's hope so! May it be a long, wet winter!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Here We Go Again - The Rain!

There are certain laws of physics in this world that we know, must accept, and respond accordingly...well, that's the theory.

See, there's gravity - what goes up...WILL come down.

There's quantum leaps...whatever that is...

And - there's rain in Israel. When it will flood.

And each year, it does...and each year...people get caught. It happened again this weekend:

Five cars were swept off the roads on Saturday due to flooding in the Judean desert. Those traveling in all five cars managed to escape unharmed. Heavy rains fell Saturday in the Judean desert, the Hevron hills and elsewhere. The rains have led to a risk of floods in the desert, and tourists are warned to avoid desert valleys and coordinate their trips with nature experts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Smallest Sukkah in the World Award

I got this from a friend, who got this from a friend. This very real sukkah is there - but will likely be gone tomorrow. It's on Rechov Herzl in Jerusalem and must win some sort of award...
  • Sukkah in most daring place?

  • Smallest sukkah?

  • Most economical use of air?

Either way - it is a testimony, once again, to the ever-creative minds of Israel.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blaming the Jews...again

This isn't so much an "Israel" thing as a "Jewish" thing. Once again, a calamity occurs and the Jews are blamed. In the Hamas covenant ( - see article 22)

With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the
press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money
they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of
achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the
French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies,
such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the
world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.
With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate
them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their
resources and spread corruption there.
You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

They blamed us for the tragic tsunami in Asia several years ago, 9/11 in the United States, earthquakes and more...and now, yes, and now, according to Hamas, we are responsible for the economic woes in the United States.

In the “The American Economy from Deception to Collapse,” written by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum . It accuses the Jews of responsibility for the collapse of the American economy (Felesteen, October 7).

The main points are:
  • Behind the collapse of the American economy is the managerial and monetary corruption of a polluted banking and financial system ruled by the “Jewish lobby.” The “Jewish lobby” controls American capital and the economy. President Bush and the White House staff all know the “truth” but hide it from American public opinion.
  • The United States has become a club in the hands of the “Jewish lobby” and a way of enabling the Jews to take over the whole world. They ignore the American people, who pay a heavy price in the form of bankruptcy and the collapse of their economy. According to the article, the United States has caused destruction and pain all over the world, including Iraq , Afghanistan , Lebanon , Somalia and Palestine.
  • The article asks who will be brave enough to expose the “Jewish lobby” to the Americans, directly responsible as it is for the holocaust of the American economy. Will it be President Bush and the American administration, enslaved as they are to the “Jewish lobby?” The article expresses grave doubts, noting that there is no essential difference between the two Bushes, Obama and McCain.
  • The article again asks if “we will witness a popular American revolution against the American dictatorial regime which destroys nations, economies?...” “Will we witness the prosecution of President Bush and of his corrupt administration,” or rather, will the curtain go down on this dark affair in the history of the world “which was led by the American administration and directed by the Jewish lobby?”
  • Fawzi Barhoum ends the article with his hope and evaluation that the wheel of time will turn against America and Israel , and that change will come. He says prophetically, “nothing lasts forever, he who is strong today is not strong forever, and he who is weak today will not be weak forever.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Father's Love

It's nice to see that this Iranian father understands something that his government clearly does not:

"I can't thank the Jewish people enough for all the love and support we've been getting," said the father of the Iranian boy flown to Israel for emergency brain surgery over the weekend.

According to several news sources, including YNET:
The 13-year-old arrived in Israel from Turkey on Friday, after Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and the Shin Bet gave an ex-gratia authorization to the move, due to his grave medical condition. A special authorization was required as Iranian citizens, who are essentially residents of an enemy state, are forbidden from entering Israel The boy's father and grandmother stayed by his side at the Safra Children's Hospital, a facility adjacent to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, throughout the weekend.

"I ask you, all of you, to pray for my son. A father's love for his son goes beyond borderlines and religion... It is important to me that you know that the majority of Iranians don't hate Israel. We are all people and we all have the same feelings.

"All I want now is to hear my son's laughter again. I'm sure any parent in my condition would do anything they can to save their child. My wife and my baby daughter are waiting for us back in Tehran. We are all praying for the best," he added.

The boy underwent an extensive battery of tests since arriving at the Safra
Hospital. "The tests have shown that the disease has spread throughout his
brain, the central nervous system and the spinal cord," Prof. Amos Toren, head
of Hemato-Pediatric Oncology Unit, told Yedioth Ahronoth.

"His condition is too grave for us to operate on him, so we're trying aggressive chemotherapy, in hopes that it would help."

What this shows, above all else, is that a father's love is stronger than national interests and reminds us of Golda Meir's message that when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us, there will be peace. Here's one Arab family that clearly loves their son more than they hate us - we can only pray that his son is granted a full and speedy recovery.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paying for Olmert to go to Russia?

Another wonder in Israel - a leader can resign in disgrace...and we're still stuck with him. Ehud Olmert has finally fallen under the weight of corruption and agreed to leave office and yet, apparently, Israel will afford him yet another opportunity to speak for our nation (and pay his way to get there).

According to YNET:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to leave for Moscow next week for a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The outgoing prime minister's trip is planned for next Monday and Tuesday, following an invitation extended to Olmert by Medvedev.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a number of issues, including Russia's arms supply to Syria, Moscow's objection to additional sanctions on Iran and Israel's peace process with the Palestinians.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said the meeting had been planned for some time, after several phone conversations between Olmert and Medvedev after the latter took office.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dog Dropping? More info than I need to know!

You know, there are things I really don't want to know about and this next story drops firmly in that category. While this is important information for dog lovers (of which I am one), it still seems personal. Do we really need to know this?

I guess it makes sense and we should all be held accountable - according to YNET, one Israeli city is making sure this is the case...

An Israeli city is using DNA analysis of dog droppings to reward and punish pet owners.

Under a six-month trial program launched last week, the city of Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv, is asking dog owners to take their animal to a municipal veterinarian, who then swabs its mouth and collects DNA.

The city will use the DNA database it is building to match faeces to a registered dog and identify its owner.

Owners who scoop up their dogs' droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva's streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog

But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friedrich Nietzsche and Ehud Olmert

There's a long standing joke that Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "There is no God."

To which, God replied, "There is no Friedrich Nietzsche."

In the end, of course, long after Nietzsche was dead and buried, God was right.

I thought of that recently when I heard Ehud Olmert proclaim that there is no greater Israel, no claim that what was once ours. Who he is to claim this, I have yet to figure out. Of course, who Nietzsche was to proclaim there is no God is not much different. And, in the end, long after Olmert and Nietzsche, there will be God and the land of Israel.

Olmert's words (at least for now):
"I used to believe that everything from the Jordan Riverbank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours. After all, dig anywhere and you'll find Jewish history."

That is most definitely true.
"No other nation is as strong and no other nation in the Middle East can rival us. The strategic threats we face have nothing to do with where we draw our borders.

Well, those two sentences have nothing to do with each other...but let's give the Prime Minister a break...maybe, just maybe, he's getting to some point.
"We can argue about every single detail, but when we finally hash out an agreement we may find we no longer have the international community's backing, or a partner for that matter."

Um, isn't that exactly where we found ourselves?
We'll be left with nothing but the feeling that once again, as for the past 40 years, we were right.”

Olmert is the only one I know who can make being right...sound wrong. If we are right, and we don't have a partner...why exactly are we worried about what some supposed partner in the future may agree to?

But Olmert's concern remains, as it has been for the longest time, his legacy, his future, his interests and so, he has declared that Greater Israel is no more and with great relish, Israel is coming close to the point where it can say, the reign of Ehud Olmert is no more. Long after Olmert and Nietzsche, there will be God and the land of Israel.

Imagine all the People....

flocking to hear Paul McCartney sing in Israel...only to have a suicide bomber target the star (or the audience). Ok, that isn't something we want to imagine, and yet, according to several news sources, that is exactly what is being threatened:

A Syrian-born Arab has threatened that McCartney will be targeted by suicide bombers unless he abandons plans to play a concert in Israel later this month. I can't saythat I am surprised, so I guess the next move is McCartney's. Will he come to Israel and sing the beautiful songs that made him and his band famous? Songs dreaming of a world of peace...or will terror triumph. I guess Israel...must stay tuned to find out.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mohammad Atta, Israel, and September 11

On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, destroying both buildings, and into a section of the Pentagon. Thousands of people lost their lives and in many ways, the world was irrevocably changed.

One of those terrorists as Mohammad Atta, may his name be forever cursed.

What many people around the world don't know, is that Mohammad Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release so-called 'political prisoners.'

At first, the Israelis insisted that they would not release terrorists with "blood on their hands." But the American President at the time, Bill Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, 'insisted' that all prisoners be released.

Thus, Mohammad Atta was freed and eventually thanked the Americans who were so instrumental in helping to attain his freedom by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade Center.

On September 11, it is proper to remember and mourn and we don't want to think about past mistakes and ways it could have been prevented. We have to accept and move on. Tomorrow is September 12 - maybe then, tomorrow, we should think about what it means to release terrorists and murderers who have shown in the past that they have no respect for human life. There is, as Mohammad Atta showed us, a pretty decent chance that they will kill again.

Ehud Olmert, Please Go HOME

Apparently Israel has a distinct and unwanted honor. We are probably the democracy with the most corrupt and unwanted leader around. I honestly can't think of another. We've been cheated, weakened, lied to repeatedly and I honestly don't know a single Israeli who can smile when they say "Ehud Olmert." Most groan or curse loudly.

I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss' book, "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Home." It's long been an urban legend that Seuss wrote this book as a plea for Richard Nixon to leave the White House after Watergate but it was written to close to the even to actually have been written for that and we know it certainly wasn't written for Olmert, and yet few books more clearly express the will of the vast majority of Israelis when they think of Olmert and his government.
Towards the end of the book, the narrator simply begs, Please, please, just go! One can only hope.

YNET, Israel National News and others report:

Despite solemn vows, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will reportedly remain head of the transitional government that would come into being when he quits following the Kadima primary, even if he has been indicted.

Coming Home

There are bittersweet reunions that take place all over the world, all the time. There are happy, "coming home" celebrations that take place in Israel. Beyond the happiness of the individual families that choose to make aliyah (move back to Israel), there is a feeling that some ancient wrong has been made right.

Interestingly enough, sometimes it isn't even about people. Sometimes, as in the story below, it's about something holy but not human.

According to Israel National News:

A rare 215-year-old Jewish manuscript that was discovered missing 10 years
ago has shown up in the German National Library, which it is returning to the
Rambam Library in Tel Aviv, cultural official Avigdor Levin said. The missing
one-of-a-kind- book was written by a Berlin rabbi in 1793.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Training to Save...Saves Lives

This is a wonderful news story which shows the incredible bravery and quick-thinking instincts of many of Israel's rescue teams. This story is so Israel!

According to YNET:

A team of Israeli firemen performing rescue drills in France saved the life of a local girl found drowning in a river Wednesday. The firemen rushed to pull her out when the kayak in which she was paddling turned over in the water. The men are in France conducting drills focusing on rescue missions in water and high places. They arrived at the Mieux River to practice in its strong current; however the practice soon became a reality.

"We were on the river bank preparing for water rescue. The current was strong, and families were paddling it in kayaks, one of which held a 10-year old girl," Oren Shishatzki, of the Petah Tikva fire station said.

Suddenly the firemen noticed that the girl had turned over, and that her head was in the water below the kayak. The strong current pushed her towards the rocks near the bank.

The Israeli firemen did not lose their cool, however, and rushed to her aid. "Two immediately jumped in and swam to the overturned kayak," Shishatzki said. "The kayak couldn't be righted, so they dove under the water, released the girl, and pulled her out onto the bank."

The girl emerged unscathed, and thanked the firemen for saving her life. "She was
surprised and wouldn't stop thanking us," Shishatzki recalled.

Pictures of the life-saving event can be found at:,7340,L-3591889,00.html

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Another Reason Israeli Americans Won't Vote Obama

Israelis are known to disagree on about as many things as they might happen to agree, but almost universally, those of us who love this country know that a nuclear option is simply not an option.

What that means, how it will be prevented, we have no idea. So Vice-President Hopeful Joe Biden's recent comment that "Israel will have to reconcile itself with the nuclearization of Iran" (quoted on Army Radio Monday as telling senior Israeli officials), is yet another reason why most Americans living in Israel will not vote for the Obama-Biden ticket.

Obama's history and comments on Israel are concerning enough - Joe Biden's quotes (and a well-known slant towards Iran and Iranian culture) helps cement where we will place our votes.

The only question for us, I guess - is who stands with us in America. Will you vote for Obama-Biden, knowing that this likely endangers Israel? I guess that is the question many American Jews will have to decide.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gilad is 22...and still in captivity

Who could have imagined that Gilad would spend yet another birthday in captivity?

Just last week, Israel released almost 200 terrorists, criminals, security prisoners. For what? Nobody I know in Israel understands this action. Not a single one. Hamas is still demanding the release of 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad. Hizbollah says it doesn't know where Ron Arad is. Syria says it doesn't know where Eli Cohen is buried and so can't return his body.

And in the meantime, Gilad has spent another birthday in captivity. As the mother of an Israeli soldier, it sickens me, it saddens me, it worries me. I cannot imagine a week without speaking to my son, let alone a year. I cannot imagine a month in which I can't at least give him a kiss, a hug, a touch, let alone a year. How is it possible?

What words of comfort can we offer Gilad's parents? What words of hope?

Two weeks after Gilad was captured, our government and army failed to prevent the same thing from happening in the north. Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were taken. They were finally returned to us. Heartbroken, we watched them come back in coffins while Lebanon danced and celebrated the return of a child killer.

What words of comfort can we offer Gilad's parents? What words of hope?

The sad fact is that there is none and so long as this government has other priorities, there is not likely to be any.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Well Gee, Can't you tell the difference?

or perhaps it is a case that "they" all look alike...

"they" being helicopters, I supposed.

According to a recent article in Haaretz, the downing of a Lebanese army helicopter last week was a case of mistaken identity. Hizbollah thought they were downing an Israeli chopper...

All I can say it - may they continue to make such mistakes in the future. Of course, had it been an Israeli chopper, there would have been a universal call for a UN resolution condemning Israel. Now the UN is stuck - no one to one to condemn.

And the good news is, that probably means Hizbollah now only has 39,999 missiles they can aim towards down...too many more to go.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Their Children...and Ours

What did your children do this summer? Mine went to a camp where they went swimming, did all sorts of art projects and played games.

According to a newsletter I receive regularly from a reliable source, here's what many Palestinian children did this summer:

Summer camps in the Gaza Strip run by Hamas and other terrorist organizations
inculcate youngsters with radical Islamic ideology and the culture of terrorism. Some camps offer military training to prepare future ranks of operatives for the terrorist organizations.

Young Palestinians undergoing military training at Hamas summer camps. Their instructors are Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives; the rifles are made of wood.

1. Every year Hamas and other terrorist networks organize summer camps in the for Palestinians youngsters from the age of kindergarten to university. The camps indoctrinate them with radical Islamic ideology and the organizations' culture of terrorism (“the resistance”). It is part of a continuing process, which begins in
kindergarten and ends with university students, to turn the children into at least supporters and if possible, operatives in the various terrorist organizations. For the Gazan population, which is economically distressed, the camps (which charge almost nothing and provide the children with hats and T-shirts) are a convenient and popular way of giving the children something to do during the summer vacation.

2. Several hundred camps are operating in the Gaza Strip this summer, with tens of thousands of campers. Most of them have been organized by Hamas or Hamas-affiliated Islamic institutions. The Islamic Block, Hamas's student organization, also organized a summer camp for Islamic University students. The PIJ camps have at least 10,000 campers. In addition to the usual games and other leisure-time activities, the children are exposed to propaganda promoting violence and terrorism as the means of achieving Palestinian goals (especially the “right to return”) and the glorification of shaheeds, who are turned into role models. As part of their camping experience, Hamas campers are taken on field trips to visit the graves of shaheeds such as Hamas leaders (such as Ahmad Yassin and Abd al-Aziz Rantisi) and others.

3. Some of the camps have paramilitary or even fully military activities intended
to prepare the young Palestinians for enlistment into the ranks of the various
terrorist organizations. These activities are integrated into the extensive
training held by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip in preparation
for “the day after”. The training is often deliberately held in full view of the media. For example, an AP correspondent in the Gaza Strip was present at the graduation ceremonies of a Hamas camp in the eastern Saja'iya neighborhood of Gaza City , which ended on August 10. The correspondent reported that the camp aimed at “preparing the youngsters for battle against Israel .

About 200 teens dressed in the uniform of the Hamas military wing showed off their new skills,” which they acquired at the camp. Their final show included the presentation of various fighting techniques, while in the background their instructors (bearded Hamas operatives) kept up a steady barrage of rifle fire and detonated small explosive devices in a nearby field. Present at the final activities was Khalil al-Hayyeh , a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, who “thundered” that “[These youngsters] are tomorrow's leaders” (AP, August 11, 2008 ).

4. Some of the summer camps in the Gaza Strip, which are a breeding ground for future terrorist operatives, are run by radical Islamic associations, most of them affiliated with Hamas. The associations are funded by Islamic foundations abroad, some of them through a organization known as the Union of Good. Thirty-six funds and foundations belonging to it were recently outlawed by Israel .

The Union of Good's Internet site reported it was sponsoring more than 100 summer camps in the Gaza Strip , whose theme was “We stand firm despite the blockade” (Union of Good website, July 8, 2008 ). The camps which the Union of Good sponsors (and helps finance) are fully affiliated with Hamas, and at some of them military training is provided by operatives from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the movement's military-terrorist wing.

Palestinian youths given military training by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives Campers receiving paramilitary training at a Hamas summer camp (from an Israeli TV Channel 10 report which appeared on the Haaretz website, July 29, 2008 )
Typical images of these "camps" include:

  • Children wearing Hamas hats practice using a gun to subdue an enemy, practice capturing prisoners, fight with nunchakus, traditional Japanese weapons consisting of two sticks connected at their ends by a short chain or rope.

  • Children at a Hamas summer camp in the Gaza Strip exercising while
    shouting anti-Israeli and anti-American slogans.
  • Hamas summer camp in the Saja’iya neighborhood of Gaza City featured a theme “We stand firm despite the blockade” (Hamas Palestine-info website, August 17).
  • A group named after “shaheed” Ismail Abu Shunab, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip who died in a targeted killing in August 2003. The group is part of the summer camp run by the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Association.

  • Encouraging children to join Hamas and its military-terrorist wing when they grow up (from an Israeli TV Channel 10 report which appeared on the Haaretz website, July 29, 2008 ).

    Asked, “Who is your army?” the children answer “[the Izz al-Din al-] Qassam [Brigades], [Hamas's military-terrorist wing].

    The children are asked what their movement is, and they answer “Hamas!”
    A Hamas camper answering the questions “What do you want to be when you grow up,” says, “I want to be a military man, a holy warrior, to liberate this land, which belongs to us and not to others.”Pictures of children who wear uniforms and carry weapons. Hamas brainwashes the young to both accept and desire violence.

  • A preschool child wearing battle fatigues and a hat with the Hamas insignia; the picture is from the Hamas website. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations often issue pictures of children in uniform and carrying weapons, sending a message to the younger generation that violence is acceptable and desirable
    (Palestine-info website, August 17, 2007).

    The difference in the nature of the summer camps in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria is readily apparent. In Judea and Samaria, where they are under the control of the Palestinian Authority, more emphasis is placed on art, sports, preparation for matriculation exams, foreign languages, music, literature, etc., in addition to Palestinian nationalistic themes such as the “right to return” and commemorating the shaheeds.