Friday, November 26, 2010

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

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

 photo: Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- So we are agreed?

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Korea is here

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

Here follows a translation.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At last, some truth in politics

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Scorpion and the Frog

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The year in between

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

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

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

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

Gideon Orwell

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

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

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

Solving the housing problem

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

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

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

The Incitement Index

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

The square was full

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel is still waiting for a new Rabin.