Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Cutting off your nose to spite your face

Khalaf has posted a report about injured Lebanese civilians refusing medical treatment from Jordanian medical teams that have been sent in to help the injured in Lebanon because the King of Jordan issued a statement condemning Hezbollah for making an attack within Israel and kidnapping the two Israeli soldiers waaaayyy back when all this started. Seems like this has been going on forever, it is hard to believe it has only been three weeks.

So what is up with this? I can only guess that these must be people with minor injuries and thus can indulge in the "no I don't want you to treat my bruise" rhetoric. Anyone more seriously injured who would respond this way...well there is such a thing as the Darwin awards and I'd have to say that they'd qualify. Really people, let the doctors help you!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

An impassioned plea from Lebanon

Lebanese bloggers at Ouwet place the blame for the civilian deaths in Qana firmly on Hezbollah and make an impassioned plea to Nasrallah:

For the last two weeks, we have been screaming that HA are hiding amongst civilians to attack Israel…we posted on boards, we mass mailed, some wrote to news papers and major news channels…

And yet, the most concerned, the Lebanese people that were themselves the victims, stood silent…they felt powerless and defenseless…

Some accused us of treason…some even went all the way to claim we fabricated those stories…

Today, the proof is with you, in front of you and yet some of you refuse to see…you refuse to see that HUMAN BEINGS are being used as SHIELDS…yes HUMAN BEINGS…kids, women, infants…

Mr. Nasralla, we understand the necessities of a guerilla war…we understand that you are fighting what you and your people consider a battle of existence…but we are not in the Mekong delta or the jungles of Vietnam…this is Lebanon Mr. Nasralla…the 10452Km2 are totally inhabited…so wherever your people hide, they are endangering HUMANS…
Read the rest as they make many important points.

They also posted a video demonstrating Hezbollah's tactics of hiding among civilians :Video

If you haven't been over at Allison's blog of late (like in the last hour) she has an excellent post that I put a "must read" ticker on.

And this post addresses what we all know by now but gives some more details: namely, the building in Qana collapsed 7-8 hours after being hit in the air strike.

Who answered the phone in Qana?

I've written before about how the IDF does not just drop leaflets to warn civilians to flee. When a civilian structure, such as a house, is going to be targeted, the IDF calls on the phone to warn the residents to flee. This is a standard practice. Peretz discussed this with Rice when last she was here:

Despite the enemy's tactics, he told Rice, the IDF was still operating as a moral and ethical army. Hizbullah, he told her, fired at Israel from within mosques and homes, using civilians as shields. "We called up one home and told the residents that we were going to attack, and that they needed to evacuate," Peretz told Rice. "They fled the home and only then did we level the building. A home whose occupants didn't answer the phone, he added, was not targeted.


So, who answered the phone in the apartment in Qana? Hello, Hezbollah here.

I do not think that the civilian casualties that happened today happened by accident. Hezbollah has certainly not forgotten the last time Qana was hit. 1996, 100 civilians killed. A ceasefire came immediately. No, I think Hezbollah deliberately set those people up to be slaughtered. They've done it before and found it to be effective. They've done it recently and found it to be effective. No, I don't think that this little re-play of 1996 in the same place was at all an accident.

Any doubts about Hezbollah hiding behind and setting up the civilians around it --check out these pictures that were smuggled out of Lebanon and appear in this news article. Hat tip: Abba Gav

Another suicide bomber on the loose

Was just reading Ha'aretz and found that there is another suicide bomber on the loose, planning to strike somewhere in the center of the country. Yo dude or dudette try to stay away from my street this time, 'kay? Thanks. Our police are good (and yes, I did bring them cookies after last time!) and they will hopefully catch him or her before any explodings happen. Will definitely be on the look-out all day.

55 people have been hurt or killed in Qana. Olmert spoke today about it and said,
All the residents were warned and called to leave. There are hiding places for rockets inside the village, and the village itself constitutes a shelter for rocket launchers," the prime minister revealed.

He added that "no one gave an instruction to fire on civilians, and this doesn’t mean that any of us gave an order to fire at civilians. We have no policy of killing innocent civilians. For 18 days hundreds and thousands of missiles have been fired, aimed at murdering innocent civilians in the north."

At least these people were warned to leave and had a chance to leave. Our citizens get no warning. Rockets were launched from this village at Kiryat Shmona and at Afula...no warning came to our residents that rockets were going to come raining down on them. And so far Hezbollah has launched more than 2000 rockets at civilian targets in Israel.

I am sad about the deaths of innocent civilians. It is tragic. I wish that they had heeded the warnings we gave to them and had left for safer ground. If someone drops a leaflet on you, calls you on the telephone, makes warnings to you over the radio that yo, you, you are in an area that is going to be hit in just a short while so please leave...and you stay, then you have to take some responsibility for your decision to stay and to put your family in the line of fire.

Peaceful ?!? protest

I have to say I find this rather funny. There was a protest calling for peace in Lebanon held in Australia by approximately 200 not-so-peaceful "peace-loving" individuals:

Mr Howard was leaving the WA Liberal Party state conference when about 200 protesters, many of whom were waving Lebanese flags and shouting "we want peace'', mobbed his vehicle.

Protesters punched, kicked and threw projectiles at Mr Howard's car as police struggled to keep them at bay.

Hmmm sounds to me more like you wanted to kick and punch some things folks. Not sure how wanting peace and yelling for peace while at the same time violently attacking a government minister go together...

(hat tip Not a Fish)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hezbollah executing citizens in Lebanon

This is very disturbing, according to a news account witnesses say that Hezbollah has executed at least 18 Lebanese civilians in Tyre under the suspician that they may have helped Israel.

Hezbollah has laid seige to the village of Mari --a village composed of Lebanese Druze citizens who are opposed to Hezbollah,
"Residents who have recently escaped from Mari tell of a dramatic, desperate situation in the village. The Druse residents, who have no affinity at all for Hizbullah, resisted Hizbullah's attempts to enter the village. The IAF apparently and unwittingly assisted in their resistance by bombing the roads leading into the village, cutting off the militia's ability to enter the town, at least temporarily. Hizbullah responded by cutting off the town's electricity and water supply, essentially laying seige to a town on its own side of the border, hoping that its residents would pack up and leave."
The villagers are trying desperately to keep Hezbollah out of their village.

According to Rampurple, another Lebanese blogger, Hezbollah is also attacking the village of Ain Ebel with rockets

"Now here comes the most sickening part:
Hezbollah has been firing rockets from the village since Day 1 hiding behind innocent people’s places and even CHURCHES. No one is allowed to argue with the Hezbollah gunmen who wont hesitate to shoot you and i ve heard about more than one shooting incident including young men from the village and Hezbollah.
Urgent appeals have been done through phone calls from terrified people who wouldnt give out their name fearing Hezbollah might harm or even eliminate them."


Three other good blogs to check out are The Ouwet Front which provides a compelling analyses of why bringing international forces into Lebanon may not be such a good idea, and there is a good analyses of Hezbollah's aims over on Beirut 2 Bayside. He states "This is yet another indication that Hezbollah's plan all along was a classic coup d'etat..." And The Lebanese Political Journal has a good post that deals with conversations between Lebanese and Israelis and also paints a good picture of the many faces of Hezbollah supporters and why many do support Hezbollah --but without actually supporting the aims of Hezbollah. It is a good read.

***Yaakova has a list of 12 apartments that are available for our refugees from the north to shelter in further south. Please pass this information along**

Friday, July 28, 2006

Qassam rocket hits kindergarten in Ashkelon

Hamas has fired a qassam rocket into a kindergarten filled with children in a kibbutz in Ashkelon, injuring several children. We should be surprised? They only fire their qassams at civilian targets, never at the military installations. This was bound to happen sooner or later. After all, they've already managed to hit a college, two high schools, and a middle school over the past couple of months.

Another rocket hit between two houses, next to the yard in which a family was setting up wedding preparations --no one was hurt and the wedding is going on as planned. Now that is what I call the Israeli spirit :)

Many good wishes to the bride and groom and may your future and that of your children be much more peaceful than your wedding day.

Nasrallah is hiding out in Syria?!

Was just over at the Sandmonkey's blog and read that it seems that Nasrallah has fled to Syria and is hiding out there in civilian clothes with a major security escort. Yeah, tell your Hizbollah fighters to stand strong and sacrifice themselves while you take yourself to a safe little haven away from all danger. This would be a prime example of "Do as I say and not as I do" methinks.

I have a lot of posts to make today, my bad internet connection willing.

I think this war is going to get much bigger and uglier in the near future. Why? Well Al Qaeda is going in the fray it seems, not only wanting to go after us but also to "liberate" Spain. Seems the president of Spain made a real friend of Al Qaeda when he made the statement that he now "understands the Nazis" and they wanna help their boy out.

We've also got Moqtada Sadr sending in 1500 of his elite forces to join Hizbollah.

And I got a lovely email (just one of many along these lines of late) from someone who initially wrote saying he wanted dialogue on how we can all get together peacefully. I thought I'd share it (though not his identity, of course, he knows who he is) and suggest that anyone else who'd like to write me along these lines take a valium or 100 first and then give it a shot:

You better quit letting that shit sleep ! you have nothing to do with politics , you just trying to show offf !!!!!
careful what you say ? you may regret it as long as you're not sure of your providers!!!
Hizbollah is gainign floor day after day and your unknown soldiers will sink there 'ill winter !!!!!
Viva Hizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzboaaaaaaaaaaaalllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah !!!!
Die will thou !!! you better make another aliyah to the mooon thi time !!!!!


Oh, and thanks dude for sending it in those huge letters all writ in red. Was purty. Being just an average citizen and writing about my own average citizen thoughts on this issue along with the thoughts I hear from other average citizens I don't have anything to do with politics. But hey, anyone wanna elect me? ooooo shudder, no thanks!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yo Annan, Apology Demanded

Kofi Annan, the head of the U.N. accused Israel of "deliberately targeting" a U.N. position in Lebanon with the intent to kill unarmed U.N. observers after hearing that an outpost had been attacked and four observers killed. He made these claims based on absolutely no information other than that the outpost had come under fire. He made these claims knowing that the outpost is set up in the middle of territory controlled by Hizbollah and around which fighting had been raging for days. He made these claims knowing that it would be absolutely absurd for Israel to have deliberately targeted U.N. observers --to what end? To what advantage? Anyone with a brain can see that hitting unarmed U.N. observers had no tactical value for Israel and certainly is incredibly damaging from the international P.R. perspective.

Information, including from emails of some of the U.N. observers who sadly were killed at that outpost, has come to light that demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that Israel was not deliberately, calculating, and cold-heartedly setting out to murder innocent U.N. observers (and again, why on earth would we be doing that to begin with?!).

This information clearly shows that it is Hizbollah that should be condemned and blamed for this incident:

A Canadian U.N. observer, one of four killed at a UNIFIL position near the southern Lebanese town of Khiyam on Tuesday, sent an e-mail to his former commander, a Canadian retired major-general, Lewis MacKenzie, in which he wrote that Hezbollah fighters were "all over" the U.N. position, Mr. MacKenzie said. Hezbollah troops, not the United Nations, were Israel's target, the deceased observer wrote.

In one such e-mail, obtained by The New York Sun, Hess-von Kruedener wrote about heavy IDF artillery and aerial bombardment "within 2 meters of our position." The Israeli shooting, he added, "has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

The correspondence between the trooper and former commander amounted to "veiled speech in the military," Mr. MacKenzie, who once commanded the U.N. troops in Bosnia, told the CBC. "What he was telling us was Hezbollah fighters were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them, and that's a favorite trick by people who don't have representation in the U.N. They use the U.N. as shields knowing that they cannot be punished for it."


Ok, so one of the poor guys who was killed is himself saying that Israel was shooting out of tactical necessity and not deliberately targeting the U.N. observers. He is saying that Hizbollah was using them as human shields.

And yet, Annan makes this serious and really quite vile accusation at Israel?

Honestly, more than an apology is due unless that apology is screaming across the headlines of every paper which doubtless it will not --the accusation he flung however certainly made those headlines.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Families in need

Today at our ulpan, the principal came in and spoke to our class about the emergency food drive they are putting together for the approximately 2 million Israelis in our northern region who are stuck in bomb shelters. Even during the brief times between the sirens going off there are no stores open to sell them food, no way for them to obtain money for them to buy it with and so forth. She asked that everyone try to bring in one item of canned food that does not need to be cooked (many do not have electricity or means of cooking of course) or staples such as crackers before the shipment goes out next Monday.

At the break our class poured out of the building and the majority of us headed en masse to the new little corner store (that must have been ecstatic to see us all arriving). No one purchased just one thing. In fact, we cleaned the shelves of cans of tuna (they asked for this specifically for the children). I also bought several cans of olives, pickles, and a couple bags of sugar (which she had mentioned would be divided among many families) the chocolate spread that most children here have for lunch, crackers and, of course, Bamba for the kids.

Last night the local supermarket had two big baskets set up close to the door by the check-out counter. When I arrived to pay for my dinner purchase the girl asked if I wanted to contribute something to send to our soldiers who are also in need of some basics. Of course. She motioned me over to one basket that held things like shampoo, disposable razors, and bamba (the 3 things I picked out) among others (e.g. toothpaste and so forth). After ringing them up we placed them in the second basket and I had the option of writing a little note on a pad of paper to include but did not because my hebrew was too tired to manage it.

I encourage everyone to donate if they can because these people are in real need. I also encourage people to donate to the many funds that have been set up for helping the lebanese people who have been displaced from their homes. Tomorrow I will try to post a list of places where you can donate foodstuffs or monetarily for those in need here in the hard-hit areas of Israel and also in Lebanon.

Israeli Soldiers wave both Israeli and Lebanese flags


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Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

This is quite symbolic of the way that we, as Israelis, are thinking about this conflict. In our eyes, Hizbollah is not just an enemy that aims to destroy our country. It is not just our enemy. Hizbollah is an enemy of the Lebanese people as well. In freeing ourselves of the Hizbollah threat we are also freeing the Lebanese people.


The Lebanese people showed incredible strength and resilience in throwing off the yoke of Syria just in the last year. We would certainly have been happy to let them handle Hizbollah in their own time, and as their government and army gained the strength to deal with that confrontation which would have had to come eventually if Lebanon was ever to be truly free. Unfortunately, Hizbollah called the shots for all us. Had they not attacked us, had they bided their time, we certainly would have bided ours and given all benefit of a doubt to the Lebanese government to handle Hizbollah.

I think that we are all hoping that what is occuring today will actually build a better future for Lebanon tomorrow.

And I think this better future is exactly what Iran is so afraid of happening. That is why now, as Hizbollah is beginning to have to be on the run, Iran has sent large groups of suicide bombers to infiltrate into Lebanon with the aim of blowing themselves up in civilian and military targets. According to the report, the aim is to spark a civil war in Lebanon. Yo Iran, I think the Lebanese people will be smarter and stronger than that.

(BTW: on the topic of my last post about Nasrallah's latest speech, the Sandmonkey has given his take on the message that Nasrallah was sending to the arab world --check it out)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Check out our Lisa being interviewed on the dialogue between israeli and lebanese bloggers

Lisa, of On the Face, gave a fantastic interview on Canadian television. Watch it here.

Lisa speaks as well as she writes, the gifted girl that she is, and she is quite eloquent in this interview.

Nasrallah informed the Lebanese govt that it was going to kidnap Israeli soldiers

Check out this clip of Nasrallah discussing that he fully informed the Lebanese government of the plan to kidnap Israeli soldiers and (according to him) the upper echelons in the government did not object. He discusses this toward the end. Prior to that he discusses what he sees as Israel's objective in this war --he is right on target, we do want to stop the terror, we do want Lebanon to be a place where we can build bridges of peace and harmony between our countries. He sees this as a horrible aim or goal. I think most thinking people would disagree with him.

WWIII has not broken out in my apartment...yet

Five of the six cats sharing my small abode are all now running the full gamut of the apartment. Running is really the operative word. It is amazing how much fear and excitement two tiny, rambunctious kittens can generate in an elderly lady cat, a HUGE hulking middle aged gentleman, and a bit strapping hooligan adolescent boy. There is hissing aplenty from all of the older segments. The little boys persist in trying to make friends. Hey, you, big cat, why are you running away from me, stop I wanna play. Oy, va voy why did you turn around and try to run me over?! Wait stop, EMAAAAAAAAA!

Ema is here alternatively speaking in a soothing tone, and screaming "Nein, das geht nicht!" at Mischa and "Lo, mamash lo, ta'atzor!" at Matan.

Buffy, the auld dame, is sitting high above the fracas with eyes the size of saucers. Tiny new baby kitty is sitting safely in a carrier in the middle of the fracas.

Me, I'm enjoying the show.

Cowardly blending

According to an A.P. report, the U.N. humanitarian chief, returing from a visit to Beirut, accused Hizbullah on Monday of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds.

"Consistently, from the Hizbullah heartland, my message was that Hizbullah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," Egeland said, shortly before departing for Israel. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

Yo, you got that right!

Now could you please pass along the same message to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PPR, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (and however many other new ones have sprung up)? Could you tell them not to build their bombs and store their weapons in the same houses where their wives and children live and play? Let them know that if their family members are ok with this, that their neighbors in the houses and apartments around them really don't appreciate it. They don't appreciate it when the militants come and shoot their rockets from the middle of suburban neighborhoods. Nor do they appreciate it when masked militants ambush IDF forces on streets crowded with civilians.

Then, could you tell the civilians to please use a few braincells and not to rush up to a car that has been targeted, for instance, by the IDF and is full of rockets that will explode any second.

Thanks.

And on it goes

We are still being bombed by Hizbullah (Hisbollah? Hizbollah?). We are still bombing Hizbullah targets in Lebanon. We are still being bombed from Gaza. We are still targeting militants in Gaza.

Hizbullah and Hamas have both stated, not for the first time, that they intend to extend their attacks into the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. So not only our embassies and companies abroad are on higher alert but also synagogues and so forth. Since they haven't threatened just jewish and Israeli institutions, though, a lot of other non-jewish/non-israeli potential targets in countries outside of Israel have gone on higher than usual alert in recent days. A friend of mine who works in the upper levels of a british banking institution that has branches in the U.S. and also in, of course, Britain, said they'd received a warning to be a bit more alert for any suspicious people or packages near the premises.

The lovely, smart, kind, effervescent Noorster (about whom I really really can't say too many good things) has agreed to take the newest baby baby kitty into her home to love and cherish. She will collect him in a week. I'm going to cover his kitten shots and getting spayed as any good rescuer does and she is going to provide him with a lifetime of love and excellent care. What a good deal for him, eh?!

My apartment is about 1000 degrees. I have the fan on in the bedroom and it is simply blowing hot air around. I went outside this afternoon to stand for a few minutes on the sidewalk in the sun to cool off --yeah, it is that hot in my apartment. I think that this is what is causing my internet connection to go haywire ...the little connection box gets too hot and then goes on the fritz. I literally burned my finger on it earlier when my connection went out and I went to see what was the matter for about the millionth time. Hint: if you unplug it for an hour and let it cool off it will function again for a little while until it heats back up.

My apartment is a disaster because it is too hot to clean. And because I have 6 cats, including very active kittens, to mess things up by climbing things that shouldn't be climbed, knocking things over, and trying to kill one another ...or at least, generally, make it sound like that is an imminent possibility.

Came across a very interesting Lebanese blog today called Vox's Den which is very worth a read.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Next on the agenda

Dan Halutz, our Army Chief of Staff, spoke to some of our new recruits today and outlined where we are going with our ground activities:

"The ground activities alone are not designed to change the reality but it supports the other efforts we are making from the air, the sea, and intelligence. The aim is to strike the terrorists capture whoever can be taken. We do not want to kill them but we want them to stop the terror. Whoever says 'enough' and comes out with raised hands, we will be responsible for their fate and treat them as best as possible. The ones paying a heavy price on what is happening in southern Lebanon are residents of the Shiite villages which Hizbullah is holding as hostages. I can say that until now 75 percent of those residents have fled their homes," Halutz said.


Capturing rather than killing the terrorists if possible seems to be the goal, backed up by the fact that they have been building at even-working-on-Shabbat pace a place to hold those who are captured. Over the weekend portable showers and toilets were trucked in along with the construction of dormitories for those captured. They are creating a place that can hold up to several hundred captured terrorists. Are they going to bring in hundreds of psychiatrists who can try to make these people stop being crazy? That I think should be a top priority.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Unexpected agreement

The best opinion piece that I've read thus far in our newspapers came out today. When I began to read it, I didn't think I would agree with what (I thought) was going to be said. But it turns out that it captures just about exactly my feelings. Not that I like it or am happy about it but there you are.

Yoram Kaniuk starts it off thus:
They called to say that there's a rally against the war on Saturday night. Which war? I used to rally with my eyes closed, the first to march in protest of the evils of the occupation - that war in Lebanon. But what kind of occupation is Lebanon under now? We withdrew from the country. We left Gaza. The Iranians are announcing that Israel must be erased from the face of the earth. They say this nation must be destroyed. Which other country in the world faces threats of destruction?

Read the rest

While I do think we have to go after Hisbollah and while I do think that getting rid of Hisbollah benefits not only us but will also benefit Lebanon in the long run, I feel absolutely sick about the destruction and devestation that has occurred there. Is occurring. I feel as sick when I see the pictures of Beirut as I do when I see the pictures of our Haifa in the news with 'new bombing' as the order of the day. And I really think there needs to be a world wide law that doesn't allow terror groups, resistance groups, whatever you want to call them, from setting up their resistance in the middle of neighborhoods. Want to resist, make an army and do the old-fashioned let's march to the border thing or launch your rockets and store your rockets and hold your clandestine meetings away from your innocent neighbors.

And I'm going to call and scream again at my internet company. Off and on, on and off; if I can get 3 sentences of part of an email or post in before the connection goes out I'm a seriously happy camper. Is 012 being hacked or something, anyone know?

Internet has been down almost all day and still crashing on me every few second. Hope 5th time is the charm and the post will go through. I spent the entire evening with family tonight. Got treated to dinner and found the family to be really kewl. Found out that they are shomer shabbat with a few cheats --they will turn lights on and off but won't travel except on their own two feets. They do the whole kosher thing. thud. Despite that (grin) they are kewl. Nice to have family here.

Have a new addition (temporary, please G-d) to the household. Picture of her or him tomorrow. Tiny kitten. Of course. What do you do, you can't just walk past them when they are so tiny, fragile, and will die if you do not intervene. So he (I'm pretty sure it is yet another he) is in a cat carrier. His little eyes are a mess. Can't get him to eat much from the dropper. He goes to the vet in the morning. The previous baby babies hissing at him up a storm. He is a bit bigger than they were when I got them by about a week or perhaps even 2. Very fluffy even though completely filth covered. I know, I know. I was hoping to give a kitten to my cousin until I discovered that he brought along his two already. Got to meet them, er, his cats. His cats are kewl too. He still might take one. Gotta love family.

Will post tomorrow if this gets through.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gah!! Terrorist down the street. Literally!

I debated tonight whether to take my books and watch the sunset on the fluffy orange-cushioned chairs at my now second-favourite coffee spot at the port --just down the street from my apartment --or whether to go to the one on the corner of my street. I decided for the one just a stone's toss away since I also needed to pick a few things up at the nearby store. I was halfway through the hd nouns in the dictionary and just begun to sip on my iced coffee when police cars, with no sirens on began converging in the area. The were coming to and and fro from every direction. They were little police cars and police paddy wagons. They were everywhere. Cell phones started ringing and people started paying their bills and leaving. Me and one guy were left. Yeah, there was a suicide bomber on the loose the word was. And it was a woman. I looked at the guy and was like, noooo you don't fit the description. I decided to finish my coffee. No one was going to target a place with just 2 people in it.

Went to the store and the activity had more than heated up. Cars with sirens blaring were now zipping all over. A very big helicopter with a search light was flying around (still flying around). I came inside. Checked the news. Bomber caught just down the street. NOT THE BOMBER THEY WERE LOOKING FOR. There is at least another one out there.

Noorster home and fine, Lisa fine. Me home and not going anywhere. checking the news. Hoping they catch her, them...who knows how many there are!

****Update: Terror alert lifted. 3 terrorists, including the female suicide bomber, arrested a 30 second walk from my apartment. That seems to be the lot of them. Thud. I can see the corner they were arrested on from my window. Thud.

Gooooooooooooo police!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you. I'm bringing you cookies on Sunday.

Wedding blessings while the bombs fall

Maya and Shlomi Buskila got married today in a bomb shelter. The couple replaced their intended 900-person convention center with the Matmid school bomb shelter in their home town of Kiryat Shmona. "We'll be celebrating the wedding night in a shelter as well," said the brand-new groom.

The Sandmonkey posted the other day about a young couple in Lebanon who also wed amidst chaos and destruction.

Love and hope find a way to survive.

And, because we all need something (I'll take anything!) to lighten the mood, I'm posting a link to this post. Oy if my Jewish mother reads this one methinks I'm soon going to have a shiny, silver cell-phone with all kinds of bells and whistles I don't need...!

And Abba Gav posts about hosting a refugee family from our beseiged northern area --a family he had never met before they arrived on his doorstep --and gives information about how people can help. Take a gander.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A must read

Lisa has written a full explaination of the now-infamous picture of little Israeli girls writing on rockets. I've quoted her post in its entirity because it is an important read:

The image above caused a huge storm of outrage in the Arab blogosphere. Huge. You wouldn't believe how huge. The widely-read Gulf-based Palestinian blogger who was the first to post it received so much traffic that he had to move the photo to another server. Many others, including several I know personally, posted it and expressed their disgust. Israeli children taught to hate! Lebanese children are dying and they're happy! They're no better than... (fill in the blank, I don't want to go there).

Below is the story behind the photo - from the source.

I phoned Sebastian Scheiner, the Israeli photojournalist who took the photo for Associated Press (AP), explained that the image had given a really terrible impression and asked for the context. He sketched it out quickly and fluidly, but asked me not to quote him. So I spoke with Shelly Paz, a Yedioth Ahronoth reporter who was also at the scene and agreed immediately to go on record. She was quite shocked to learn how badly the photo had been misinterpreted and misrepresented; and she told me the same story Sebastian did, but with more details and nuance.

The little girls shown drawing with felt markers on the tank missiles are residents of Kiryat Shmona, which is right on the border with Lebanon. And when I say "on the border," I'm not kidding; there's little more space between their town and Southern Lebanon than there is between the back gardens of neighbouring houses in a wealthy American suburb.

No, how close is it really?

Well, there's a famous story in Israel, from the time when the Israeli army occupied Southern Lebanon: a group of soldiers stationed inside southern Lebanon used their mobile phones to order pizza from Kiryat Shmona and have it delivered to the fence that separates the two countries.

Anyway.

Kiryat Shmona has been under constant bombardment from South Lebanon since the first day of the conflict. It was a ghost town, explained Shelly. There was not a single person on the streets and all the businesses were closed. The residents who had friends, family or money for alternate housing out of missile range had left, leaving behind the few who had neither the funds nor connections that would allow them to escape the missiles crashing and booming on their town day and night. The noise was terrifying, people were dying outside, the kids were scared out of their minds and they had been told over and over that some man named Nasrallah was responsible for their having to cower underground for days on end.

On the day that photo was taken, the girls had emerged from the underground bomb shelters for the first time in five days. A new army unit had just arrived in the town and was preparing to shell the area across the border. The unit attracted the attention of twelve photojournalists - Israeli and foreign. The girls and their families gathered around to check out the big attraction in the small town - foreigners. They were relieved and probably a little giddy at being outside in the fresh air for the first time in days. They were probably happy to talk to people. And they enjoyed the attention of the photographers.

Apparently one or some of the parents wrote messages in Hebrew and English on the tank shells to Nasrallah. "To Nasrallah with love," they wrote to the man whose name was for them a devilish image on television - the man who mockingly told Israelis, via speeches that were broadcast on Al Manar and Israeli television, that Hezbollah was preparing to launch even more missiles at them. That he was happy they were suffering.

The photograpers gathered around. Twelve of them. Do you know how many that is? It's a lot. And they were all simultaneously leaning in with their long camera lenses, clicking the shutter over and over. The parents handed the markers to the kids and they drew little Israeli flags on the shells. Photographers look for striking images, and what is more striking than pretty, innocent little girls contrasted with the ugliness of war? The camera shutters clicked away, and I guess those kids must have felt like stars, especially since the diversion came after they'd been alternately bored and terrified as they waited out the shelling in their bomb shelters.

Shelly emphasized several times that none of the parents or children had expressed any hatred toward the Lebanese people. No-one expressed any satisfaction at knowing that Lebanese were dying - just as Israelis are dying. Their messages were directed at Nasrallah. None of those people was detached or wise enough to think: "Hang on, tank shell equals death of human beings." They were thinking, tank shell equals stopping the missiles that land on my house. Tank shells will stop that man with the turban from threatening to kill us.

And besides, none of those children had seen images of dead people - either Israeli or Lebanese. Israeli television doesn't broadcast them, nor do the newspapers print them. Even when there were suicide bombings in Israel several times a week for months, none of the Israeli media published gory photos of dead or wounded people. It's a red line in Israel. Do not show dead, bleeding, torn up bodies because the families of the dead will suffer and children will have nightmares. And because it is just in bad taste to use suffering for propaganda purposes.

Those kids had seen news footage of destroyed buildings and infrastructure, but not of the human toll. They had heard over and over that the air force was destroying the buildings that belonged to Hezbollah, the organization responsible for shelling their town and threatening their lives. How many small children would be able to make the connection between tank shells and dead people on their own? How many human beings are able to detach from their own suffering and emotional stress and think about that of the other side? Not many, I suspect.

So, perhaps the parents were not wise when they encouraged their children to doodle on the tank shells. They were letting off a little steam after being cooped up - afraid, angry and isolated - for days. Sometimes people do silly things when they are under emotional stress. Especially when they fail to understand how their childish, empty gesture might be interpreted.

I've been thinking for the last two days about this photo and the storm of reaction it set off. I worry about the climate of hate that would lead people to look at it and automatically assume the absolute worst - and then use the photo to dehumanize and victimize. I wonder why so many people seem to take satisfaction in believing that little Israeli girls with felt markers in their hands - not weapons, but felt markers - are evil, or spawned by an evil society. I wonder how those people would feel if Israelis were to look at a photo of a Palestinian child wearing a mock suicide belt in a Hamas demonstration and conclude that all Palestinians - nay, all Arabs - are evil.

And I wonder why it is so difficult to think a little, to get it into our heads that television news and photojournalism manipulate our thoughts and emotions.

Links to anti-Israel websites with that photo placed prominently next to the image of a dead Lebanese child have been sent to me several times. Someone has been rushing around the Israeli blogosphere, leaving the link to one particularly abhorrent site in the comments boxes. And it makes me really sad that the emotional climate has deteriorated to this point.

The moderates of the Middle East are locked in a battle with the extremists. And look what they did to the moderates. Without blinking, without thinking, we fell victim to the classic "divide and conquer" technique. We work hard for months and years to build connections, develop our societies, educate ourselves, promote democracy and free speech... And they destroy it all, in less than a week. And we let them.

Non-normal normality

Long,long day and being away from the news is bad. And it is good. It is good in that you have something to focus on, something normal and everyday. On the other hand, you experience high anxiety and have difficulty concentrating on that normal because you don't know what is going on. As if, by knowing, you have some kind of control over things. Don't I wish.

And in everything normal, the war intrudes. You meet with a new possible colleague to collaborate with and before you start discussing the studies you might do together, you, of course, do the so where do you live kinda small-talk. You find out that he and his wife are playing host to his parents, her parents, his brother's family consisting of 4 small children, her brother and her sister's families consisting of an additional 9 children between them, not including their 3 own children --in a two and half bedroom flat. Their families hail from the northern towns under attack. What else to do? The few other family members who live in safe areas are playing host to the rest of the siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and so forth and have taken in as many as they can. You are joined by another colleague, an Arab-Israeli who looks worn out. He too has family sleeping piled on his floor from the same region and he additionally is worried about members of his wife's family that are in Lebanon.

You try to focus on the issues at hand and end the meeting deciding another is in order but it looks like we might have some common ground for collaboration (yo, Yael has got a lot --A LOT-- of reading to do on visual perception and its link to cognition and graphics, thud. Totally new area for me and very exciting).

Then you go to another colleague's office and make a conference call to a potential PH.D. student that you really want to work with (she is fabulous) and whom you and everyone in the department are trying to get into the program. She is sick in bed with the flu and has just moved from Ramallah to Bethlehem. She has been awarded a scholarship already by our department and found out today that she has another one waiting from the university in general but a major snag has occurred-- her Masters degree program at the Jordanian University she attended did not have a thesis component. We were all gnashing our teeth collectively during the conference call, while she also sniffled and sneezed her way through it, as we tried to figure out how to fight the powers that be that insist that a rule is a rule. We jointly stress about how we will get her to important meetings when terrorist attacks close off access from the West Bank. We find no solutions only things to continue stressing about and some things to try and hope and hope and try.

I should note that I did not go to my own office because I lost my keys today. Keys to the office, keys to the apartment, keys to my mailbox. Yeah. So in my next post, after I take a shower to wash off the dirt of the dessert from myself, I'll tell about the key saga and more war intrusions on my day.

Ema --I'm home safe and sound. My cellphone is out of juice or I would have called before posting. It is charging. Stop stressing (I know you are stressing!)

Free Gilad button


Please put on your websites.

I'm declaring war on my neighbor. Drums at 3 a.m. I had just fallen into bed. I have to get up early to work tomorrow. And my wall was shaking so hard my bed was vibrating. He had some techno music blaring in the background and was whaling away on his drumset. Took me nearly 5 minutes of banging (like really really banging) on his door before the sound of my hammering made it ways through the vibes he was putting out. Yo, dude, it is the middle of the night! What the????

"I'm stressed out and trying to relax. Haven't you been watching the news. I need to relax."

Dude, it is 3 a.m. You wanna relax, go to sleep. Touch that drum set again and you are going to find one of them over your head. I haven't had a good banshee screaming in days. I feel more relaxed. Off to bed, finally.

A small theory

This is a theory I've been kicking around in my mind on why Nazareth was targeted earlier today. For those who don't know our country well, Nazareth is a beautiful city nestled in the hills. It lies not a very far distance from Haifa in one direction and Um Al Fahim in another and Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee in the other. Its population is mostly Christian and nearly 100% Arab-Israeli. Nasrallah has always claimed his beef was with the zionist jews and thus not with our non-jewish citizens --yet Hizbollah targeted a non-Jewish city deep within our country. Many of our towns in the border area have large arab-israeli populations and have been targeted but Nazareth is not a border town.

Now it could be, as some of our news commenters and others have opined that this attack was because Nasrallah is first of all against all Israelis regardless of religion or ethnicity and this certainly demonstrates that. And second of all that he also doesn't like Christians and thus was targeting an extremely holy city to Christians. And third of all that he considers Arab-Israelis to be traitors (to his cause). They all fully agree that Nasrallah is an s.o.b. I'm with ya there.

I have yet another theory and that is that, while the above three are undoubtedly true, they don't also consider 98.1 and 101 fm. These radio channels are run from the same place in Nazareth. They are wholly independent of the government --in other words, this is not army radio in arabic --and are run by a very dedicated and enthusiastic group. They are our most popular arab-language radio stations in the country with a market share of the Israeli arab population of right about 50%. They are also enjoyed by folks in our neighboring countries --with signals reaching into southern Lebanon. Since this balagan began, in addition to the IDF dropping fliers warning Lebanese citizens to leave areas in danger of coming under attack, our arabic-language radio stations have also been broadcasting the warnings in the hopes of reaching those who are hunkered down in their homes listening to the news on the radio and thus who might not have seen the fliers. They have been tirelessly urging those in areas who could be in danger to please leave and to do so without hesitating or taking a wait-and-see approach.

I'm wondering if Nasrallah, in addition to the above reasons, didn't want to try to shut our arabic radio stations up.

Nasrallah hit or no?

We've hit a major bunker in Beirut used by top leaders of Hizbollah. The question is now who was there at the time it was hit and was Nasrallah one of the people there?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Heartsick

I was just in Nazareth a week ago and it is so difficult for me to think of missiles falling on that beautiful, ancient city. I was in ulpan when the news that two of our little boys have been killed and 76 others injured made me frantic. I excused myself from class and put calls through and found that the lovely people I met who are the backbone of the **Al-Ittihad Daily are safe and their families are safe. I am heartsick for the families of the dead and injured. I can't find the numbers I exchanged with several of the people at 98.1 fm and I am hoping they ard their families are also safe. I hate it when I write things on slips of paper!

Two of our soldiers have been killed on our border.

Just got home and am going to check the online news.

**The Al-Ittihad Daily was Israel's very first arabic language newspaper, started in 1944. It is the newspaper for the arabic communist party here and has an incredibly interesting history. If I ever get around to blogging about my visit to the major arabic media outlets in our country I will share it with you. Truly fascinating.

Bomber caught, IDF clashing on the ground, missiles ugh

The suicide bomber has been caught in Hod Hasharon before he could detonate himself. Thank you policemen! Roads are now open in the Sharon region as a result. Clashes between our IDF troops and Hisbollah on the ground are looking ugly. Heard a report that we bombed one of the places that Hisbollah stores their funds. Missiles are still hitting our northern region but with less accuracy and are thus hitting fewer houses and businesses here, probably because the ground troops are making it difficult for them to set up and shoot effectively. People in the north are in bunkers (or they are stupid). We are still shelling in Lebanon. My heart is going out to the civilians caught in the middle of this there.


If you want to see what things are like in Haifa and our other regions of late, here is a home video of Haifa during an attack and one of Tveria as the sirens wail and you hear a missiles hit. Warning, sirens are loud.

**Oh no, just read that Hisbollah is firing on Lebanese civilians. Is this true, anyone have any confirmation of this?!***

Updates in a bit.

Suicide bomber on the loose

Today I will not just be looking up. I will be looking around and sideways. I will be examining my fellow passengers and passers-by with suspicion. Everyone over the age of 12 who is not dressed in next to nothing and also empty-handed is the subject of my scrutiny. Before I moved here a friend of mine in the States, who happens to be Black, said to me "Look it isn't exactly PC but watch out for people who look, you know, Palestinian. I'm against racial profiling and all but here people aren't carrying bombs around."

I will be honest and say that if doing a bit of racial profiling would make me safer from a suicide bomber on the loose I'd do it, PC or not. But that's not the way it works here. First, we have Arab-Israeli citizens. They look just like the Palestinians and they aren't going to be carrying any bombs about. Second, a huge percent of our Jewish-Israeli population hails from surrounding Arab countries and so guess what, they look Palestinian. And, of course, we have lots of Palestinian workers who come in daily and they are here to work and earn a living and not to blow anyone up.

Suicide bombers don't wear signs and they seem to do a good job of blending in with the local population. You can't distinguish a homicidal suicide bomber from your fellow passengers and pedestrians. The Haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jew over there is just as suspect as the young arabic-looking man in the seat in front of you --suicide bombers have effectively disguised themselves as ultra-orthodox Jews. The tall, light-skinned and blond young man who is well-dressed must be equally suspect --one of the many attacks on the mall in Netanya was carried out by a tall, handsome, blond, European-looking young palestinian. They don't have to look like adults --children as young as 14 have been apprehended with bomb belts around their waist and in their bags prior to exploding themselves and nine 16-17 year olds have effectively carried out suicide bombings. Women, well, as I posted yesterday, women too can be completely insane. 7 suicide bombings have been carried out by women. They do not have to be in good physical health either. A young palestinian woman who had been coming in to Israel on a humanitarian visa for medical treatment for severe burns she received in a kitchen fire was arrested on her way to exploding herself in the children's wing of the hospital in Beer Sheva where she had been getting medical treatment. The list goes on.

So, you just have to 'be alert' (I'm getting really tired of that phrase) and suspect everyone.

For really excellent info on the situation on the ground in Haifa I'd recommend checking out Live from an Israeli Bunker -a new blog started by a 17 year old who is, well, spending most of the day and night in a bunker. Very insightful kid!

Steadfast but looking up

I think that's the way I'm feeling and maybe the way everyone is feeling. My student certainly seemed to be of a same mind as I --as three of our military helicopters zoomed low overhead with a racket, we both glanced up and watched until they disappeared from view and then she said, "I feel secure and safe and scared as hell at the same time, is that possible?" Yes, I assured her it was very possible. I felt the same; feel the same. I know our government is doing all they can to protect us. Our casualties and injured show all too well that they don't always succeed. Missiles hitting Haifa.

Many people seem to have a "well if your number is up..." philosophy but personally I think a lot of that is posturing, as much to convince themselves as anyone. I'm basing this only on one case, of course, but I'm pretty sure it is beneath the surface of all those who shrug with an assumed unconcerned air.

So my one case --my lovely green grocer down the street. I've posted before, I think, about him. He is the nice arab-israeli (he prefers the term "Christian-Israeli") owner of the little store where I buy most of my veggies. He always has a warm smile and sometimes sneaks a little something extra into my bag --a small cucumber, a plum that "will go bad so soon, take it, it is nothing" --because he thinks I'm too skinny and need my mother here to feed me better. Well...I do eat better when my mother is here! So, the other day we were discussing the news (of course) that was blaring on the tv hanging on the wall half in and half out of his open-sided shop and he opined that if a rocket hit in Tel Aviv and it hit him, well it was just that his number was up. I nodded my personally nervous agreement (yo, if something can fall on me, it will). He bagged up my things and, as he was about to hand it to me, a car alarm started to blare ...we both nearly jumped to the ceiling. Then, heart still not quite back in my body, we exchanged nervous and rueful grins. Whew, our number was not up just yet.

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to our newest olim, the 174 who have arrived in the past two weeks, the 220 that will come on thursday from the U.S. and Canada, and the 620 from France early next week --but things are already quite hot enough. Still, a special welcome to my cousin (yeah another cousin!) who arrived yesterday. Steadfast guys, but keep your eyes looking up and 'be alert.'

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An army of female suicide bombers

Now this is scary: An "army" of female suicide bombers marched today in Gaza. They are calling themselves the Army of Suicide Bombers and they burned flags. Yo, fine burn the flags, step on 'em, spit on 'em. Go for it ladies. Just don't go combusting yourselves around anyone else, ok? Flag burning we'll take. I'll lend you my lighter. Becoming a lethal human projectile is soooooooo not ok.

As an interesting note, they burned Israeli flags (of course) and American flags (no surprise there). They've added to the flag-burning reperotoire however. Trying to be all-inclusive they also burned: EU flags, British flags, and that of the Arab League.

Hmmmmmm girls, this is really not the way to be multi-cultural.

We are not crazy and neither are they

I had a rant of despair yesterday after receiving a personal communication from someone I like and respect, consider a friend, and who is now wishing for the death and destruction of every member of my country, myself included. It was a bad day all around. War does this to people. To him, to me. And this is a war no matter what we are all calling it.

There are many voices of reason in the arabic world. There are many many good and decent people on all sides of this multi-faceted conflict. For every tiny incremental step forward we all take it seems we get pushed twenty steps back. And yet we do continue to creep forward, tentative step by tentative step. The voices of moderation and reasoning continue to grow --on all sides. There are ties and bonds that have been formed that are strong enough to endure this war and others that hopefully will be mended. There are new ones that will be formed. We are not all crazy here in the Middle East, not even most of us. Those that are truly crazy, the extremists the terrorists, they are not going to win. They may gain a temporary advantage but it is temporary. Because the rest of us are creeping forward.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Are we crazy?

It is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately. While, without a doubt before this latest balagan you would find Israeli voices who call for the expulsion of our Arab citizens or for a scorched earth policy in Gaza but those voices are few and roundly condemned by the majority of Israelis. The majority of Israelis simply want to live in peace, to engage in trade with our neighbors or simply to live completely separately.

When news comes that civilians have been killed by an IDF attack against terrorists in Gaza, or now in Lebabon, people sigh, they shake their heads, their expressions are pained. They feel pain and sadness. There are calls for more care to be taken so that civilians are not harmed when attacks are made on the terrorists.

When our citizens are killed by suicide bombers there are celebrations on the streets of Gaza. Here are some of the 20,000 celebrants happy that 16 Israelis, mostly women and children, were killed in the double bus bombing in Beer Sheva.

They celebrate the deaths of our children and yet we regret and feel sorrow over the deaths of theirs. You will see no celebrations of death, ours or theirs, here.

Lisa posted yesterday her coverage of the peace demonstration by our leftists here in Tel Aviv. The Sandmonkey posted about the leftest demonstration he attended --one he thought was to be a peace demonstration--here --and drew quite the contrast between them. Check them out; warning if you already depressed don't check the SM's out.

And yet, despite finding ourselves under constant attack by rockets, by suicide bombings that are successful and the many more that are stopped --such as the one in Jerusalem today-- despite the fact that the majority of even the liberals on their side wish to see us destroyed, despite all this many Israelis continue to work for peace, to build bridges, to call for moderation of response when no moderation is shown to us. The rest do not call for blood nor celebration when innocents are killed.

Given their responses versus ours, I must conclude that we are crazy. But I would rather be crazy than to allow myself to become blinded by hate, to give in to the grief, pain and fear that we suffer and become callous to the sufferings of 'the other.'

Sirens going off in Haifa, building hit and collapses

Rescue workers in Haifa are trying to find the people trapped in the rubble of a 3-story apartment building that has been hit by a missile. they've set up a field hospital nearby. The sirens are going off in Haifa and. People in shelters waiting for the next barrage. Glued to the news.

An eye-opener

Just read a post that is better than coffee to waking you up (4 cups still haven't done it for me this morning) over at The Sandmonkey's titled "Israeli-Sunni Alliance???"
There is something very weird happening in the middle-east right now: Israel and Sunni countries are starting to find common ground against an alarming growing threat: The Shia Muslims, heralded by Iran. I saw this coming, with the growing influence Iran was having in Both Lebanon and Iraq, and with their insistance on gaining nuclear weapons. I said before that the next major war in the middle-east, because of the Iranian threat, will be between the Sunnis and the Shia. There is no way around it.
Read the rest, it is truly worth it.

I've developed a new theory about when the bombs might fall on Tel Aviv--daytime. I was convinced that all the major attacks would happen at night during the wee hours of the morning, the better to catch us all unawares. But the missiles seem to come mostly during the daylight hours. Then I read in Ynet why : IDF officials estimate that Hizbullah focuses its efforts to fire rockets during day and take advantage of daylight in order to hurt as many civilians as possible.

I still can't sleep at night. I got 4 hours of sleep this morning and my batteries are starting to run seriously low.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Surreal Summer Skies

There has been a sense of the surreal hanging over my day all day. Here we are with this beautiful, sunny, fantastic summer weather with a sky the shade of blue you don't find anywhere else in the world outside of the Middle East, a cooling breeze blowing constantly off the ocean if you venture close to the shoreline. And all hell breaking loose under these beautiful cloudless and sun-kissed skies. As I was waiting for my student I sat and closed my eyes. For just a brief moment I could make myself believe that it was a normal sunny, summer day and that none of this was happening. A pair of our military helicopters flew low overhead, shattering that brief moment.

And, of course, in every falafel stand, kiosk, and outdoor restaurant a tv was hung above the street blaring the latest news at high volume. People walked beneath them, turning to look back over their shoulders --anything new occurred since I passed the last one 40 steps back? No? Keep going. Or stopped and stood staring with a concerned frown, trying to catch up and to share a few words of murmured concern with their fellow-onlookers.

The blue skies and glorious sun told me that it should be like any other hot and lazy summer day. The expressions on every face told me otherwise.

My one bright spot today is that a good friend of mine, who is one of the smartest and most talented people I've ever met (and a real sweetheart in the bargain) has started blogging again. Of course it had to take a war to get him back to blogging...check out A Whiff of the Med.

Looking at the destruction in Haifa and it is massive. My beautiful Haifa. TV going non-stop. Noorster is coming over in just a few minutes. She doesn't have a tv. And it is better to sit through all this with someone than alone.

We have a bomb shelter in my building: otherwise known as the rat-infected basement. It is, of course, not an official bomb shelter but the best we have and where the residents of this building took shelter when Scud missiles were falling during the Gulf War. Our apartment manager has asked me to be responsible for getting my elderly neighbors from the floor below down into the shelter if there is a need. They move at an inch a minute so it should be fun. Of course I said yes. He had also given me a list of supplies to get, a lot of which I already had on hand (thank you Frank!!), but I have to go and get some more waters today cos while sitting up all night watching the on-going horror and destruction of our beautiful countries I was compulsively sipping away. Ema, sorry, but that attempt to cut down on smoking I was making ---errrrr kinda have gone the other way.

Updates as they come.

Siren going off in Haifa...

Have a meeting with a student in an hour and half, I'm so not able to absorb the thesis chapter he has sent me that we need to discuss. Trying to concentrate. Noorster is here. Phone ringing with students setting up meetings. Tv blaring. Life goes on but what a chaos of a life. Oy.

I vote for a 3-minute warning...what, don't I get to vote? :)

Oh well, hey, as long as I'm voting, I'm voting we all just stop bombing one another, give back the stolen soldiers and make nice. In one minute I couldn't get myself down all those flights of stairs much less corral 5 cats in carriers and drag them down the stairs. Getting a warning is pretty good though, folks up north in the line of major fire don't get any warning at all.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Why has no one thought of this?

Ok so here are some facts on the ground:

The Lebanese position--
1. The Lebanese do not like or want Hizbullah in their country
2. They don't like it that Hizbullah attacked their neighbor and broke all hell loose
3. They want all under-handed Syrian influence out of their country
4. Their government and army has been too weak to kick Hizbullah across the Syrian border (or bury them 6 feet under)

The Israeli position--
1. The Israelis do not like or want Hizbullah
2. They don't like it that Hizbullah attacked them and broke all hell loose
3. They want all under-handed Syrian (and Iranian) influence to stop messing about with their country
4. They are going to have a very difficult time totally quashing Hizbullah because they are hiding themselves among the Lebanese population centers

So to sum up: The Israelis want Hizbullah gone. The Lebanese want Hizbullah gone.

Why don't the Lebanese army and the IDF team up to jointly squash Hezbullah like a bug??!!

If this was coordinated between them the strength of each could counter-act the weakness of the other for success with very little loss of civilian life.

Then we could all sign a peace treaty, we could help Lebanon rebuild, we could rebuild our own decimated areas, and through joint trade we could all be a lot better off. Then the beautiful dreams so eloquently posted over on Israel 2046 could become a reality and before I'm a grandmother.

Just a thought...

Are my eyes deceiving me?

I can't be reading this right. Is this some sort of wishful thinking? Check it out from Ha'Aretz:

"The Saudi foreign minister appeared to be leading a camp of ministers criticizing the guerrilla group's actions, calling them "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts."

"These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them," Saudi al-Faisal told his counterparts.

Supporting his stance were representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, delegates said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks."

Thud.

Has to be Abbas. Go Abbas!!

(On another side note this is a must-read for leftists).

Oh dear, watch out. There is not only a Zionist Conspiracy that controls the entire world down to what you have for breakfast , according to Hezbollah and friends, but Hezbollah now proclaims that there is an international Arab Conspiracy that is seeking to "eliminate the resistance."

We already know that the first part is laughable. But, if the second claim is true then all I can say is, it is about damn time.

Blog pointer: Civax has made some excellent commentary in a post titled "how to stop the war in Lebanon." Snoopy the Goon has a post that makes some similar points in a post titled "open letter to Lebanese bloggers." One of the things I found the most interesting about both of these posts is the belief and that the Lebanese people are a lot stronger than they think and that they have already done some incredibly (internally) difficult things such as booting Syrian troops out the door and that they will find the strength and the reserves to boot Hezbollah as well.

It is Shabbat and here in Tel Aviv things are business as usual for the most part. It is always quieter on Shabbat but things are, even so, quieter than usual in my area of town. Friday nights are generally pretty loud (and obnoxious) on the street outside my apartment, with horns honking, music blaring from cars waiting at the traffic light, people strolling along the street going to and coming from the clubs and restaurants at the port just down the street from me and being very loud as they do so. Last night the street was very muted and I didn't even have to yell once from my window that hello, it is after 2 a.m. and there are people living here who want to sleep so could you please stop yelling across the street to one another!

A few minutes ago, the sounds from the loudspeaker at the beach drifted through my window with the life-guard calling 'hey little boy, you are going out too far. Come back toward shore, now, immediately.' Over-laying it was the sound of one of our military planes flying along the shore.

Here it is life as usual. Not so for the people in our northern communities. For a very long time not so for the people in our communities bordering Gaza. Not so for the people in Lebanon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I don't think the Egyptians would agree with the saying "three times is the charm" right now. For the third time this year, Palestinian gunmen have just blown a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt (yes, Egypt has a concrete border wall separating themselves from their Palestinian neighbors). The report says hundreds of palestinians are pouring through the hole. Let's hope no one is killed on either side this time. The last time several Egyptian border guards and policemen were killed by the gunmen and the previous time a number of palestinian civilians were killed.

Allison pointed out an interesting Lebanese collaborative blog I'd not read before (thanks!). This post is, of course, the one I found the most fascinating because we always find things that are self-relevant the most fascinating. The rest of this blog is very interesting as well and this post added a bit of sardonic humour to my day. The Lebanese Blogger Forum is definitely worth a check out.

Awake and on edge

But is anyone asleep in this region? Night-time is definitely the worst, not least because this is when the biggest things seem to happen. Those hours as the night creeps toward dawn and everyone's mind and body are at their weakest seem to be prime time for actions. Ours. Theirs. The other Theirs. The Other Other Theirs...

Watching the news of course and thinking about our innocent citizens in the North crowded into bomb shelters and pacing the floors of their homes. I'm thinking of innocent people in Lebanon wondering what the hell might hit them. I'm thinking of the innocent people in Gaza who, no doubt, want to corner Meshal and Nasralla and beat them into a pulp. I'm thinking of our young soldiers, boys and girls, Jews, Arab-Israelis, Bedouins, and Druze; of our reservists pulled away from their studies, their wives, their children. I'm thinking of children in three countries who will endure lasting trauma. I'm thinking of all of those who lost innocent loved ones. I'm thinking of all these and my heart aches and feels like a stone is tied around it.

I'm thinking of Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and I'm gnashing my teeth and filled with rage.

I'm thinking of 8 Palestinians who have died on the Egyptian border and nearly 3,000 more stranded there with inadequate food, water and shelter because their own government will not allow them to cross back into their territory for needed medical care. We, Israel, have been offering to let them cross, to escort them or allow the Red Cross to do so via either of two different crossings since they began arriving at the border but their government will not allow it.

I'm thinking of the leaflets and flyers our forces have been dropping into the populated areas that we plan to attack --since this fiasco began -- warning civilians to please leave the area because an attack will be coming. We do this to try to avoid killing innocent civilians. We do this despite the fact that it alerts many of the terrorists we would like to target so that they also can leave beforehand. We do this despite the fact that it endangers our own troops by giving the militants a clear signal of where we will be striking and where they can thus strike our forces. I cannot think of any other country that has ever ever taken such steps to warn an opposing civilian population. Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the five million smaller terrorist groups certainly don't return the favour. No, they actively target our civilians.

I am thinking of what Hamas, led by Meshal, and Hezbollah, led by Nasrallah, and both backed by Syria and Iran have done, what suffering they have caused and are causing to Israelis, yes, but to Palestinians and Lebanese too --in theory to their own people--and I am really beyond words. They do not have the interest of their people in mind. They have power and power of a very personal nature in mind. They should be very glad that we are acting with restraint. They should be very glad that we take more precautions on behalf of "their" people than they would ever deign to.

I'm awake, pacing the floor and thinking. I'm watching the news.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Just got a call. Haifa has been hit. Checking news. Ok, no injuries reported. Things are not going to calm down any time soon. No, not a chance.

Deep breaths

We cannot let the extremists win. That is the one thing I am sure of in all this mess.

Check out Lisa for a voice of reason on the Israeli side. She of Something Something seems to be in the same place as I am on the emotio-meter. Hang in there girl. The indomitable Sandmonkey is, as usual, a fountain of excellent information and commentary. (Thank you Sam, I can't tell you how much you do for my sanity). Up to the minute and around the clock updates on the situation here can be found at The Muqata. On the ground updates from Lebanon can be found at Lebanese Bloggers and on The Lebanese Political Journal (a link I've been meaning to add). One of my favourite Lebanese bloggers, Mononoke is feeling as sick as I am. Hang in there girl.

Yet another of my favourite Saudi bloggers, Saudi Jeans, has been blocked in Saudi Arabia. You guys and gals know what to do: the unblock Saudi Jeans form is here.

I'm hanging in there. By my fingernails, some of which are a bit broken, but hell I never was one to care much about a few broken nails.

Anyone have any prozac they could spare? I could use some. I feel ill. I really just feel like I've been beaten, punched in the stomach, kicked in the head.

All day today I have felt like when you are watching a horror film where you sit in the darkened theater and want to scream "what, are you stupid, don't go into that room?!" and of course...But this is worse, because in the horror film you, at least, know exactly where it is the monster is hiding and lurking and you have a pretty good idea when it is he will strike. In this horror film we are all flying blind.

I'm checking the news religiously. Been on the phone for hours, people here calling, people from the States. People from the States keep asking, "what is going on over there?" --well folks, you read the same news (news, news, news) that I do and know as much. I haven't mustered the strength to read the comments to my previous post. I haven't done my usual tour of seeing what is up with friends and those I've never contacted but whose positions on many issues I very much respect and admire in my own country or in my neighboring countries.

Had a conversation with a friend today. She is even more to the left than I am. She was in tears. "We've just been wasting our time and our energy hoping for peace, working for peace, believing that they want and value the same things as we do. They don't. They don't even care about themselves, about their own interests, about their own people. I can't do it anymore, I've had enough," she said, "I'm washing my hands of it. They can go to hell in the handbasket of their own making."

I agreed with her. She agreed with me. We vented, we raged. And then we began to slowly argue each other out of those stances, but...yes, well true, however...I spoke with someone the other day who said...

And now, truth to tell, I don't really know where I stand other than being able to say I feel exhausted and ill. I can't say that I have hope. In fact, I can say that I have the least hope for peace in our region that I've ever had save for, as another friend mentioned, the afermath of the terrorist attack on the dolphinarium and the horrificlynching of two of our reservists who had the bad misfortune to have committed the crime of taking a wrong turn in Ramallah. Those images haunt me to this day and those were the lowest points for me. But I'm pretty to close to that. I'm pretty close.

I ended my conversation with my friend far from the positions we both started the phone call at ...but also far from where we were a few weeks ago. Where I stood last August, riding high on hope after the disengagement from Gaza...that is a far and distant memory.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

F***. Hezbollah has attacked our northern border and kidnapped two of our soldiers. I am not going to say anything more because right now I am having the very non-rational and certainly non-peaceful response of "go in and bomb the living F*** out of Lebanon. Bomb the living F*** out of Gaza. No holds barred" as a pretty minor statement of my feelings at the moment. So I'm not going to post right now. I am going to go away from the keyboard. I am going to go and repeat the name Ghandi about a thousand times. I am going to go shopping. I will hopefully return in a more non-warlike frame of mind. I can't guarantee it.

***Note: if you are coming in here more than a few hours after this was written --meaning basically if you are seeing this now for this first time --please read my more recent posts. Ghandi: 1, Hezbollah: 0

Hezbollah will not make me irrational. They will not make me wish for blind acts of retribution made out of anger and pain. Hezbollah you have lost the war over my heart and mind.

Monday, July 10, 2006

If anyone is wondering why it is that we (Israel) are doing what we are doing right now, you can find the answer over on Sarah 's blog. As usual, Sarah manages to sum up the things I'm thinking and feeling but am unable to get into words. Go Sarah! (Hmmm, maybe I can hire her out to write this paper for me...:)

Oh, and for those (ahem, Ema) interested in my love life (or sadly lack thereof) let me just say that Salsa dancing my be the cure. I got a kiss on the cheek last Tuesday from one of my dance partners when he left the club (ooh ah) and I'm told that on Saturday (when some of the gang went but I didn't) the guy I chatted about with in a horrible mixture (on my part) of German and hebrew for about an hour asked where I was and when I would be back...:)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The post on visiting the different arabic media in Israel is still coming as soon as I can get the pics off the camera. The reason the camera turns on and then immediately turns itself off is shuk batteries. Note to the unititiated: do not buy your batteries at the shuk. No matter how great a deal they might seem, even when that cheap price is screaming your name, just don't go there. I went there last fall and still have a drawer full of these great cheap batteries. I, of course, don't have any other batteries. They will allow my baby Hello Kitty alarm clock to run for exactly 2 hours. They turn on the camera. They don't give the camera enough juice to do anything else. They, in short, are useless. So the only working set I have are in the Hello Kitty alarm clock and that puppy (er kitty) takes precedence. Tomorrow I go battery shopping at the supermarket.

Today I did a lot of cleaning. Not that you'd notice. I think there should be a law against needing to clean any space that isn't visible and screaming "look at me how nice and neat I am!" You definitely shouldn't have to open a door of any kind to discover the neatness. But now, if you open my refridgerator you will see a nice, organized and clean little space. Ditto for my kitchen cabinets (er well most of them) and the bathroom cabinets. If you walk into my living room or bedroom, however, you will see an ung-dly mess. That is because if you open the clothing closet you will a big huge empty space with nothing in it --it is uber clean, heh. Nope everything that was in it is now piled around my apartment waiting to maybe (or maybe not Muuuuaaahhhhaaa) go back in it. I have a serious need to organize my life.

Can you tell that I have a paper way past deadline? :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ohh. Owwwww. Ohhh.

I made a smarta** comment the other day about teeth cleaning being worse than a root canal. Uhhhh, no. Definitely, positively no. Retract and retreat! I guess I should be glad the dentist didn't say "extract." Or maybe not. If it were gone would it hurt this much? I'm voting that if there ever is a next time (and there so probably will be) that we do that experiment and find out.

I am blessed with having a left side of my mouth that doesn't really respond to novacaine, especially on the upper side which is of course where the hideous tooth needing a root canal was hiding out. I warned the dentist beforehand but he obviously didn't quite believe me. He gave me a massive shot in 3 places and we sat around waiting for it to take effect. He started and all was fine for about 2 minutes. I nearly reached the ceiling with fingernails outstretched to try to cling there.

"That hurt?" he asked, concerned. "Uhh huhhh gahh," was my response around the hideous purple rubber thing he'd clamped in my mouth along with a frantic nod. Another shot in another 2 places. We waited. He started. 10 minutes later I was going for the ceiling again. Another shot. Another 20 minutes and "Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy." Final shot in 4 different spots including inside the destroyed tooth which really made me reach for the ceiling. He started again. Oy va voy va voy. "Sorry, I can't give you any more it would be dangerous at this point." Oh - my - g-d. Finally, finally the torture ended. Except...

"You are going to have some pain. Take some aspirin..."

"Allergic"

"...Ibuprofin..."

"Allergic"

"I can give you a prescription for codeine...oh your chart says you are..."

"yeah, allergic."

"Tylenol probably won't do much but give it a try."

I already knew that Tylenol wouldn't work. It is the only thing I can take for anything and so of course it doesn't even get rid of a headache for me. Now I'm 8 tylenol extra-strength tablets later and walking the floor. Oh_my_g-d.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A small commercial break between promised posts:




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'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com


Good night --I happen to have a bruised little toenail and lots of cat(s) that will miss me, does this mean my demise is imminent?!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Important now more than ever

Two posts coming today, the first, below, is the one I promised about the conversation I had with a *student who lives with her children on the outskirts of Sderot. The second (with pics provided my pics came out) is about the extremely interesting tour I got to do yesterday of many of the Arab-language media outlets in Israel, including newspapers and radio stations.

When I first started at BGU last October I met with a very motivated doctoral student who came to me with an interesting and exciting project. We hit it off immediately, having similar research interests and being close in age. She is actually a couple of years older than I but I would never have guessed it at the time. I filed away in my mind where she lives (meaning promptly forgot). Over the course of the year she and I have met with varying frequency to discuss work on her project. Each time I saw her she looked progressivly more haggard. At first, I put it down to her working a full-time job (she's a teacher), having 3 young children, and of course, working on her dissertation. Then I began to wonder if maybe she were ill. But since she didn't offer, I didn't want to pry.

When I met with her last Thursday it had been 3 months since we had gotten together in person to discuss her project, having made good use of email and the telephone in the meantime. She had aged a good 10 years since my first meeting with her. This time I had to inquire if everything was ok with her.

"I live in Sderot," she reminded me gently. She told me she could no longer remember the last time she was able to sleep through the night, or indeed, for more than an hour or two at a time. "It's the qassams, of course. The fear. But it is also our response. Everything the people just across the border in Gaza are getting, we are getting too but it is even louder on our side because the artillery canons are right there. The sonic booms, the sound of the shelling, we get it too." Even during the hours of quiet on both sides she is awoken by the screams of her children who are suffering from nightmares and who have returned to wetting the bed. "We are locked in a nightmare," she said.

And then she went on to tell me about her progress with her project. Despite all the chaos in her life she has made good progress and the project is almost ready to implement. This too was a surprise, especially given the circumstances under which she is living. I asked her how it was that the current set of circumstances had not sapped her motivation and she looked surprised and said simply,

"It is important now more than ever. There are also mothers in Gaza who want the firing on both sides to stop as well."

Her project aims to bring Palestinian and Israeli children together through an online cooperative project in their schools where the children will work together, improve their english skills, and it is hoped, break down the stereotypes they have of one another.

*(Permission to post about this conversation was obtained)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Medusa (aka the Palestinian Authority)

This is the biggest reason no peace deal has ever been brokered between our peoples:

""The efforts by the Egyptians are facing difficulties due to the absence of an address on the Hamas side capable of taking decisions," said Abbas, the moderate leader of the mainstream Fatah movement.
"Hamas political leadership outside are saying the decision is in the hands of its military wing inside Gaza, while the military wing is saying the decision is in the hands of the political leadership outside. Ismail Haniyeh, the current prime minister of Hamas government, appears not to have any say in what is going on in this regard," Abbas said in a statement issued by his office.
"If things do not change, all indications are leading into one direction, more bloodshed, more chaos and poverty, more catastrophes, and worse instability in our region," Abbas said of the hostage crisis.

Not only do we not know who to talk to "over there" at any given time, but the folks "over there" don't know who to be talking to among themselves.

Agreements get signed by one person (let's call him the theoretical head of their government) and some groups say nope nope not recognizing it, not abiding by it and a few years later a new government comes in and says hmmm maybe at some point we'll agree to agree on things that were decided and agreed on a decade ago and then again maybe we never will. Some of them jump up and down and scream we never will. Others say, wellll not so fast. Then there are four or five additional groups (with more popping up every day) not represented in the government at all but who seem to have as much say and to run around doing pretty much what they want --and they certainly don't agree to it or to anything else. The New President tries to say, uhh guys this was already agreed on and is a fact ...uh boys, BOYS, ...boys please...

G-d I really feel sorry for Abbas. He has got to feel like a substitute teacher in charge of a kindergarten class filled with delinquent children over whom he has absolutely no control and stands helpless pleading with them to stop, sit down, behave, stop tearing the classroom to pieces...

(And these delinquent children all have guns -and lots of them- and various little groups of them have tried on several occasions to kill off the teacher. That's of course when not trying to kill off one another. And nearly all of them are trying to kill off the kids in the classroom next door who are a year older and so a little bigger and stronger and who fight back)

When we say we don't have a negotiation partner we are wrong: There are at least 8 or 9 over there currently--all of whom unfortunately don't agree with each other, don't agree within their own representative groups, over whom their leaders have no power, and thus whose ability to sign or do anything meaningful other than cause a royal mess is absolutely nil. And this is nothing new it has been going on for more than a decade. The only new thing here is that they are finally coming out and saying ok no one seems to really be in charge here.

I could scream. And I could cry because this is so representative and it is such a tragedy for them and for us.