Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Note to Pilots...Please Identify Yourself

For those pilots who are not familiar with the Middle East...Israel is the small jewel resting at the crossroads between Africa and Europe and Asia. It's the beautiful yet modern State...that is involved in a really bad situation with...well, most of our neighbors. So, should you happen to fly near Israel, could you do us all a favor and identify yourself?

It's just one of those friendly things to do and, in the end, will not only save thousands of dollars in fuel costs - but may well save So really, a small, "Hello, I'm a friendly Bulgarian pilot on my way to Eilat" works wonders. Try it some time, ok?

From YNET:
Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept an unidentified executive jet en route from Bulgaria to Eilat. The pilot eventually did identify himself and the jets are currently escorting the plane to the Eilat airport.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Don't Get Sad - Get MAD!

According to Israel National News, the IDF is saddened that Hamas is boasting that it has body parts of soldiers who died in the Gaza War. Someone has to teach the army how to correctly respond. Don't get sad, get mad!

Fine - they want to parade body parts? If that is the only language they understand than answer in the same language. Ask them how many parts do they want Israel to produce. Really, it's not a problem - with 1,000 prisoners waiting to be released for Gilad Shalit, I'm sure Israel can cut up a few to have the needed parts.

Disgusting right? Not something a civilized country would do, right? Well, then do something - wherever you are - right to your government, to the Red Cross, to the United Nations. If the Palestinians want to barter body parts, Israel is ready to play the game. Let civilized nations step in and condemn Hamas for this horrendous announcement; let the world stop giving aid.

Demand - the return of Gilad Shalit and all "body parts" they claim they have...or we'll return 1,000 body parts to them - no charge. Note that Prime Minister Olmert actually showed some backbone today and told Hamas that the crossings would remain closed until a deal was made to return Gilad Shalit...and with the message of strength - Hamas is announcing a deal may be close.

Don't get sad, get mad!

From Israel National News:
The Spokesperson's Office of the Israel Defense Forces expressed what it called "sadness" on Sunday over a claim by Hamas terrorists in northern Gaza earlier in the day that they have body parts of an Israeli soldier killed during the Cast Lead campaign in early January. According to a statement by the office, "Hamas manipulates subjects like this while damaging values holy to all religions, including Islam."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Israel at the Polls...and in the Middle East

Israel went to the polls today and with a larger-than-last-time turn out, voted in a democratic election that will determine the future path of this country. And, as the polls closed, Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel and Arabs near Beit El fired shots at Israelis.

This is the Middle East we live in and our neighbors are already reminding us of the reality that the next government must consider. For now, Israel celebrates its democracy - unparalleled in the Middle East.

Today, Israel went to the polls to vote. Arab and Jew, religious and secular, men and women. That doesn't happen in any other country in the region. The real winner tonight wasn't Livni or was Israel.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Want to Beat the Bad Economy? Attend TCC!


Techshoret Third Annual Technical Writers Conference
February 26 in Jerusalem International Convention Center

Israel’s technical writers, like much of the world, are facing difficult economic times. Hoping to gain the competitive edge, learn about new directions in the industry and benefit from a unique networking experience, approximately 200 technical writers will gather in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center for the Third Annual Techshoret Communicators Conference (TCC). Featured sessions cover some of the hottest topics in the industry: Single-sourcing with DITA, Usability, Advanced Features in Microsoft Word 2007, Effective Training Materials, the Future of Technical Documentation and much more.

The economy and its growing negative impact will feature prominently in discussions during the sessions as well as in the large vendor area between sessions. One provocative session, Torah and Technology, is sure to challenge and inspire attendees while a session on Mind-Mapping is likely to offer new perspectives on information organization. Many large companies are again sponsoring attendance for their technical writers, graphic artists, documentation managers and specialists, confident they will gain added knowledge and return to work enriched with new and valuable information and contacts.

Speaking about last year’s conference, freelancer Shira Stepansky said “I can tell you that the conference really provided value for your money.” Technical writer Sarah Rosen, employed by a large Israeli telecommunications firm, agreed: “I enjoyed and learned a lot from each of the four sessions I attended and was sorry to miss out on others. The conference was a real sanity saver.”

Registration is still open and details are on the Web site:

This year, the conference is again coordinated by WritePoint Ltd, a leading technical writing company located in Jerusalem, and is sponsored by a number of vendors and companies both here in Israel and abroad.

A Wedding Gown - of the People Israel

Nothing in the story that follows took place in Israel and yet everything about it is Israel. We are a country; but we are country made up of a people. Sometimes, the oceans that separate the people cause some to think that we are divided, but in so many ways, we are not. This is the amazing story of a wedding gown...but more, it is the story not just of survival, but of triumph. It was this same determination that helped build and sustain our country in the early years, and even in the most recent war in Gaza. So, though this is not Israel, this is most definitely Israel.

I don't know who wrote this story originally, but I hope they don't mind my copying it here to share with is truly an amazing story, about an amazing woman, part of an amazing people.

Note: With gratitude! The author of this original piece contacted me. All credit for this wonderful story goes to: Helen Zegerman Schwimmer and here is a link to the original story! Wonderful, beautiful, inspiring!

The Wedding Gown That Made History

Lilly Friedman doesn't remember the last name of the woman who designed and sewed the wedding gown she wore when she walked down the aisle over 60 years ago. But the grandmother of seven does recall that when she first told her fiancé Ludwig that she had always dreamed of being married in a white gown he realized he had his work cut out for him.
For the tall, lanky 21-year-old who had survived hunger, disease and torture this was a different kind of challenge.

How was he ever going to find such a dress in the Bergen Belsen Displaced Person's camp where they felt grateful for the clothes on their backs? Fate would intervene in the guise of a former German pilot who walked into the food distribution center where Ludwig worked, eager to make a trade for his worthless parachute. In exchange for two pounds of coffee beans and a couple of packs of cigarettes Lilly would have her wedding gown.

For two weeks Miriam the seamstress worked under the curious eyes of her fellow DPs, carefully fashioning the six parachute panels into a simple, long sleeved gown with a rolled collar and a fitted waist that tied in the back with a bow. When the dress was completed she sewed the leftover material into a matching shirt for the groom.

A white wedding gown may have seemed like a frivolous request in the surreal environment of the camps, but for Lilly the dress symbolized the innocent, normal life she and her family had once led before the world descended into madness. Lilly and her siblings were raised in a Torah observant home in the small town of Zarica, Czechoslovakia where her father was a melamed, respected and well liked by the young yeshiva students he taught in nearby Irsheva.

He and his two sons were marked for extermination immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz. For Lilly and her sisters it was only their first stop on their long journey of persecution, which included Plashof, Neustadt, Gross Rosen and finally Bergen Belsen.

Four hundred people marched 15 miles in the snow to the town of Celle on January 27, 1946 to attend Lilly and Ludwig's wedding. The town synagogue, damaged and desecrated, had been lovingly renovated by the DPs with the meager materials available to them. When a Sefer Torah arrived from England they converted an old kitchen cabinet into a makeshift Aron Kodesh.

"My sisters and I lost everything - our parents, our two brothers, our homes. The most important thing was to build a new home." Six months later, Lilly's sister Ilona wore the dress when she married Max Traeger. After that came Cousin Rosie. How many brides wore Lilly's dress? "I stopped counting after 17."

With the camps experiencing the highest marriage rate in the world, Lilly's gown was in great demand. In 1948 when President Harry Truman finally permitted the 100,000 Jews who had been languishing in DP camps since the end of the war to emigrate, the gown accompanied Lilly across the ocean to America. Unable to part with her dress, it lay at the bottom of her bedroom closet for the next 50 years, "not even good enough for a garage sale. I was happy when it found such a good home."

Home was the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. When Lily's niece, a volunteer, told museum officials about her aunt's dress, they immediately recognized its historical significance and displayed the gown in a specially designed showcase, guaranteed to preserve it for 500 years. But Lilly Friedman's dress had one more journey to make.

Bergen Belsen, the museum, opened its doors on October 28, 2007. The German government invited Lilly and her sisters to be their guests for the grand opening. They initially declined, but finally traveled to Hanover the following year with their children, their grandchildren and extended families to view the extraordinary exhibit created for the wedding dress made from a parachute.

(Picture: Lilly Friedman and her parachute dress on display in the Bergen Belsen Museum)

Lilly's family, who were all familiar with the stories about the wedding in Celle, were eager to visit the synagogue. They found the building had been completely renovated and modernized. But when they pulled aside the handsome curtain they were astounded to find that the Aron Kodesh, made from a kitchen cabinet, had remained untouched as a testament to the profound faith of the survivors. As Lilly stood on the bimah once again she beckoned to her granddaughter, Jackie, to stand beside her where she was once a kallah. "It was an emotional trip. We cried a lot."

Two weeks later, the woman who had once stood trembling before the selective eyes of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele returned home and witnessed the marriage of her granddaughter. The three Lax sisters - Lilly, Ilona and Eva, who together survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march and Bergen Belsen - have remained close and today live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn. As mere teenagers, they managed to outwit and outlive a monstrous killing machine, then went on to marry, have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and were ultimately honored by the country that had earmarked them for extinction.

As young brides, they had stood underneath the chuppah and recited the blessings that their ancestors had been saying for thousands of years. In doing so, they chose to honor the legacy of those who had perished by choosing life.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yeah, That'll Work

I am amazed at the many and varied ways people find to "punish" Israel. Never mind that fact that Israel has done nothing deserving of this punishment. Never mind that the recent was in Gaza was about as clearly an act of defense as can be established in history - I mean - you shoot 10,000 rockets and missiles at a country and, really, can you be surprised that they fight back?

So, here's a new one (according to JTA):
Dock workers won’t offload Israeli ship

CAPE TOWN (JTA) -- South African dock workers say they will not offload an Israeli ship that is set to dock in the harbor of the port city of Durban....

Referring to workers' commitment to "refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe," the committee recalls the refusal by Durban dock workers last year to offload arms from China that were destined for Zimbabwe. The release also says that workers will not allow South African ports to be used as "transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel."

The release continues: "We also welcome statements by various South African Jews of conscience who have dissociated themselves from the genocide in Gaza. We call on all South Africans to ensure that none of our family members are allowed to join the Israeli Occupation Forces' killing machine."

Calling on the South African government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with
Israel, the Palestine Solidarity Committee announced a week of action under the banner "Free Palestine, Isolate Apartheid Israel."

All I can say is that someone should give these people a dictionary. Clearly, they don't understand big and complicated words such as "genocide" or "apartheid."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ceasefire Violations

Amazing how such a simple thing as NOT firing...seems to be so far beyond Hamas and their supports. On January 19 the IDF forces began withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, and on January 21 the withdrawal was completed. On January 19, Hamas, speaking for itself and the other terrorist organizations, said that it would maintain a ceasefire for a week (which was later extended), and would use the time to reach an arrangement based on the Egyptian initiative.

In the short amount of time that has passed since the end of Operation Cast Lead there have been no less than 12 violations committed by the terrorist organizations. Despite Hamas's agreement in principle, and despite the fact that the IDF forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip, the terrorist organizations do not implement the ceasefire. Almost every day, they carry out sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire, or terrorist attacks directed against IDF forces near the border security fence (shooting with light arms, detonating IEDs). The most serious violation occurred on January 27, when an IED blew up north of Kissufim in the central Gaza Strip, killing one IDF soldier and wounding three others. No casualties were incurred in the other attacks. The IDF responded by shooting at the sources of fire and with pinpoint Israeli Air Force attacks on terrorist targets.

Al-Alam TV, January 28, 2009

Operatives belonging to a global jihad-affiliated network called the Army of the Nation

launching a rocket (Al-Alam TV, January 28, 2009).

Here's a brief listing of some of these attacks:

i) On the afternoon of January 20 terrorists opened fire on IDF soldiers operating near the border security fence south of the Kissufim crossing. Approximately 40 minutes later, armed Palestinians opened fire at a different IDF force near the border security fence in the central Gaza Strip; the force returned fire. In addition, 11 mortar shells were fired at IDF forces and into Israeli territory. There were no casualties.

ii) On January 25 a PFLP squad tried to launch rockets into Israeli territory. One rocket was fired and fell inside the Gaza Strip near Beit Hanoun (PalPress website, January 25, 2009). Hamas operatives shot at the squad and prevented it from continuing the attack. The PFLP issued an announcement denying its squad was attacked and stressing the organization's objection to the ceasefire or any lull arrangement with Israel (Qudsnet website, January 26, 2009).

iii) On the morning of January 27 , an IED, one of a wreath of explosive charges, was detonated in an attack on an IDF patrol moving along the border security fence north of the village of Kissufim . An anti-tank missile was also fired at the force at the same time. The IED explosion resulted in the death of an IDF soldier and the serious wounding of an officer; two other soldiers sustained minor injuries. The attack was carried out by a terrorist network linked to the global jihad . In response, the Israeli Air Force struck a motorcyclist in the Khan Yunis area who was suspected of being involved in the attack. The terrorist was Husaym Shamiya , a Hamas operative from Khan Yunis (Palestine-info website, January 27, 2009). The Israeli Air Force also attacked a number of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border used to smuggle weapons.

iv) On January 28 , a rocket landed in Israeli territory across from the central Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no property damage was reported. It was the first rocket fired since the ceasefire was declared. Fatah and the PIJ claimed responsibility for the attack (Bawwabat Al-Aqsa forum, January 28, 2009). In response, the Israeli Air Force struck a facility for manufacturing weapons in the Rafah area. Various organizations, including Hamas's military-terrorist wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades , claimed responsibility for mortar shell fire. In fact no mortar shell hits or attacks were reported. (Al-Qassam website, January 28, 2009).

v) On January 29 , a rocket fell in an open area near Sderot. There were no casualties and no property damage was reported.

vi) On January 31 , a rocket fell south of the city of Ashqelon . The organization behind the attack is not yet known. There were no casualties and no property damage was reported.

vii) On February 1 there were a number of attacks: During the early morning hours three rockets were fired at western Negev villages. One fell between the buildings of a kindergarten and one in an open field. Two hours later, Palestinian terrorists shot at an IDF force patrolling the border security fence in the Kissufim area. The soldiers returned fire; there were no Israeli casualties. Two hours after that (at approximately 1100 hours) four mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory. At 1730 hours five mortar shells were fired at Israel and two soldiers sustained minor shrapnel injuries.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Ultimate Spin II

The Ultimate Spin II involves a near tragedy today in Jerusalem. The floor of an Arab Girls School collapsed today, sending pupils into an illegally built room underneath. Amazingly enough, neither the girls, nor the parents blame the builder. Rather, they have come up with the startling conclusion that "the settlers" are to blame for "digging into the Western Wall." No explanation is offered as to why we would want to dig into our holiest site or even how this is possible, given the depth of the Wall itself - well below ground level.

Despite the failed attempt to spin this against the settlers, the new mayor of Jerusalem was quick to clarify the situation: "This was caused by sloppy construction," he told Ynet. "It's clear that whoever built this place did not do it properly. This is a classic engineering problem. Under the floor was a space built on logs which rotted and could not stand the load. The floor was weak, and this caused its collapse. The whole building must be rebuilt so that such an incident does not repeat itself, God forbid."

The spin did succeed in fooling Knesset Member Michael Melchior (Labor), chairman of the Knesset's Education Committee who promptly joined in condemning...well...we aren't sure who: "The situation of schools in east Jerusalem is catastrophic. It turns out that with the Arab sector, a floor has to collapse before someone becomes interested in the schools' conditions. If we don't wake up, the floor may collapse on us all."

Note to Melchior - if you dig an illegal room, support it with wood logs that are bound to rot over time - you shouldn't complain when they collapse. Two points to the mayor of Jerusalem for putting the blame where it belongs - on sloppy construction and shame on Labor Knesset Member Melchior for not doing the same!