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.