You Will Never See This on CNN or BBC – IDF in Gaza

This short video shows what Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza are up against as they engage residential areas in Gaza left behind by Hamas.

Gaza Streets and Homes Rigged with Explosives

This Israeli soldier shows how seven homes are booby-trapped together into one big explosion waiting for the advancing soldiers.
Fortunately, the IDF saw the signs of the trap before entering. This is a typical residential area in saijeyah, Northern Gaza.
In the homes, they found weapons caches, rocket caches, booby-trapped doorways, all inter-connected to a central trigger.

Instead of risking the lives of the ground troops, to try and dismantle the network of bombs, Tzaha”l (IDF) decided to move out the soldiers and blow up the area from the air force support.
When we see the pictures of entire areas being blown away, now we can understand why the response was actually very proportional.

Jerusalem is Not in Israel – Ask the USA Embassy

Renewing your USA Passport in Tel Aviv, Israel

A (not so) funny thing happened at the USA embassy today as we were updating one of our kid’s USA passport. On the form it asks for your child’s place of birth. We wrote Jerusalem, Israel.

jerusalem_usa_passport

The (very friendly) employee at the embassy must process hundreds of these passport requests every week. He asked us a few questions, in Hebrew since the local processing staff at the embassy are Israelis. He reviewed the form in our presence to make sure everything was filled out correctly. He then  asked what city was our child born, and we responded “Jerusalem”, he very quickly and matter-of-factly crossed off “Israel” from the form, so that it was plain to see.

I wonder if there are other cities of birth in the world for which the country is left blank on the passport application of our beloved USA?

Jerusalem Is Ours

Nadav Shragai does a good analysis in today’s Haaretz of how Jerusalem is the key to the entire Mid East peace process.

When it comes to Jerusalem, there is no need to mention either natural growth or natural development; what is at stake is nature itself, the nature of our connection to this city and the realization of the right that is rooted in our religion, our history, and 2,000 years of memory and longing, during which the Jewish presence in Jerusalem never ceased to exist.

I wonder how many of our political leaders adhere to this sentiment?

Coughers in Shul, Put on a mask…Please.

Israel finds 17 more A/H1N1 flu cases

Consider this: You are sitting near someone who is coughing up a lung. You know that he often travels overseas for work. He just got an aliyah and benched gomel, returns to his seat cough and all. Do you worry that maybe he has the swine flu?

Stay Home
With the WHO (World Health Organization) now classifying the Swine Flu as a world pandemic, we really have to think twice about where we go and who can enter our ‘private’ space. Sneezing and coughing, aside from disturbing other prayer goers from hearing the chazan, also raise the possibility of you catching whatever they have. There’s got to be heter (permission) somewhere that says you should stay home and not get others sick in order to make a minyan.

Who Does Israel Want to Win in Iran’s Election?

Today’s Haaretz suggests that it may even be better for Israel if Ahmadinejad wins in Iran.

Ahmadinejad, with his Holocaust denial and his long series of provocations, drew most of the attention, but apparently had less influence on the nuclear program. There are even senior members of the Israeli defense establishment who share the public stance of former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, who claimed that the Iranian president’s behavior, perceived in the West as quasi-lunatic, advanced Israel’s security interests.

In other words, the enemy that you know is better than the enemy that you don’t know…

French Anti-Zionist Party

File this in the “Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse” category:

French Anti-Zionist Political Party
French Anti-Zionist Political Party

France’s comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has created a political party to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections.  The French high court threw out a petition to ban this party from running in the elections as a racist party.

Their platform essentially states the usually rhetoric that Israel, the USA, and the French (by implication) led by the ‘powerful Zionist lobby’ are an axis of evil bent on overturning the world.

Notice how they found the token bearded Jew for this campaign poster to assure voters that they are not ‘anti-semitic’.

People, wake up!  European ambivalence to Jews has already been shaken by change in demographics.  The not-so subtle shift of European anti-Israeli populist movements jumping to the forefround is a harbinger of things to come.

How much longer before America’s populist agenda, especially with the maverick Obamian policies, turns ambivalent, or even worse, against Israel?

Mr Pink Floyd, We Don’t Need No Education!

Tear Down the wall says Roger Waters, former band member of Pink Floyd.  Mr Waters visited Israel in 2006 and played a single concert to a sold out makeshift open air stadium of 50,000 (paying) Israeli Jews.  He also found time on his whirlwind visit to hop over the fence (or over the big bad wall, as he would put it) and spray paint some graffiti on the Palestinian side.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd at the Israel Security Fence
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd at the Israel Security Fence

Three years later, at 65, Roger Waters is ambivalent about his having visited Israel (and taking in millions of dollars spent by adoring Israeli fans).  Mr Waters thinks that the wall is actually a colonialist action by Israel.  Never mind that this wall was put up to help prevent terror attacks and bus bombings of innocent civilians.  Never mind that the wall has essentially stopped terrorism from the areas in where it was erected.  Never mind that the US has a longer and bigger wall with it’s Mexican border in several high-trafficked areas (and Mexico is not at war with the USA!).

What would I say to him if I had the chance to sit him down and explain the whole thing.  Would I tell him how the wall has given Jewish families in Neve Yaakov and Gush Etziyon, to name a few, the chance to leave for work in the morning without wondering if their kids would be burying them that night?  How much Jewish blood can be spilled for Mr. Waters to acquiesce to Israel attempting to prevent further savage acts.  How many children living in the southern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo should be forsaken?

These questions may remain unsolved to many, but to me it’s pretty clear.  As Israel’s government spokesman, Mark Regev put it ever so bluntly, “We don’t need no education about suicide bombers coming into Israel and murdering innocent people, and how the security barrier has prevented that by more than 95 percent”.

Hungarian Anti-Semitism

According to the Jewish Agency, Hungary today has a population of approximately 50,000 Jews. In 1910, one hundred years ago, there were nearly one million Jews living there. The Nazis killed many, some emigrated to America, some to Israel, and others assimilated during the Soviet regime.

Hungary has a total population of just over 9 million. So with Jews totalling 1/2 percent of the population, you wouldn’t figure for them to a major force in that country.  Therefore, I found it odd to see today’s headline in Haaretz:  “Proud Hungarians must prepare for war against the Jews.”

This is not a headline from some blogger world or an offbeat political commentator. This is a headline taken from Hungary’s leading Police union newspaper. Here’s another example:

After the recent resignation of prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, one of the candidates for the post was Gyorgy Suranyi, formerly the governor of the Hungarian Central Bank, a brilliant economist, and a Jew.

The center-right party Democratic Hungarian Forum published on the front page of its newsletter a picture of Suranyi’s face inside a yellow star of David (reminiscent of the yellow patch from the days of Fascism) with the following caption: “Suranyi is actually the candidate backed by the elderly [Israeli President] Shimon Peres.”

The frightening and chilling tones of pre-WWII Eastern Europe are rearing their ugly heads yet again.  This time, there are practically little Jews left there, and yet they still pipe the same headlines – “Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.”

Jews of the diaspora today should pop open the history books and read what are the warning signs of anti-semitism so they can draw their own conclusions on appropriate action plans to keep their families safe from the ordeals our recent and past ancestors endured.  One book that I can specifically recommend is The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz.

UN Sends Jewish Goldstone to Investigate Israel Warcrimes

“A United Nations team headed by a veteran war crimes prosecutor has begun its probe into possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas militants during Operation Cast Lead. ”

Israel has not accepted this probe and questions the validity of a UN-led team, with its known anti-Israel bias.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said “This committee has been instructed to find Israel guilty no matter what and there is no point in cooperating with such a masquerade.”

Goldstone in Gaza to Probe Possible Israel Warcrimes - Source: Haaretz
Goldstone in Gaza to Probe Possible Israel Warcrimes - Source: Haaretz

The commission is headed by a Jew, Richard Goldstone, a South African judge. The irony is not lost on this author that even in this day and age a Jew and non-Israeli would be willing to lead a commission that investigates Israel in a world forum.

Israel said last week that it will not cooperate with the UN team.

40% of Israeli Arabs believe Holocaust never happened

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1086115.html

This headline would come as a shocker in any other country, in any other context, in any other time.
However, here in Israel in 2009, I was only surprised that the percentage was less than half.

The survey shows that Holocaust denial among Israeli Arabs has become more prevalent in recent years. In 2006, 28 percent of Israeli Arabs polled denied that the Holocaust occurred.

That didn’t surprise me either. Why do Arab children in Israel get such a different education than their Jewish counterparts?

Moreover, only 53.7 percent of the Israeli Arab public believe Israel has a right to exist just as an independent country, according to the poll, down from 81.1 percent in 2003.

Is there a solution to all this? Someone? Anyone?

Palestinians vs. Israel – We’re in the Third Phase

I read an interesting interview yesterday with a Rabbi from a program that specializes in keeping religious soldiers on the path of learning Torah _after_ they leave the army. I can’t remember the Rabbi’s name, but this was the gist of his argument on why Hamas and Palestinians seem to be gaining so much of the world opinion against us. Here’s his point in a nutshell:
The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, have locked horns with Israel since 1948 using three distinct methods. The first phase was conventional war – army to army. That tactic failed them miserably. The second phase was terror. It’s nascent steps of hijackings and international staged terror events began in the late 60’s and continued through two intifadas in the 80s and 90s. This phase failed as well, since despite all the terrible pain inflicted on us, we are a stiff-necked nation (?? ??? ????).
We’ve been in the third phase in the past couple years as Arab nations build mock trials and judicial hearings and use the soft tongue of Arab diplomacy to assure the world that everything would be better if there just wasn’t Israel. Putting it bluntly, they couldn’t beat us by force, so they are trying to gain in the world forums by persuading world leaders, including newly elected Obama, and European Nations (with their own Islamic population problems) to join together against Israel.
–End of the Rabbi’s hypothesis–and on to my analysis:
The early indications show that Phase three is potentially the deadliest.
When Ahmadinejad in Iran threatens, we listen, and we respond. When President Obama tells us to lighten up and accept the Fatah as our partners, we say “well at least we’re better off than with Hamas. Remember the so-called ‘moderate’ Fatah. In 1995 we gave Fatah assault weapons (as part of the Nobel Prize winning Rabin and Peres’ Oslo Accords). In 1996, they turned their weapons on the Israeli checkposts.
It was the Fatah who butchered the two Israeli reservists who ended up unfortunately in Ramalah and were dragged to a Fatah controlled Police Station to meet their untimely demise. By the way, this was during our ‘period of peace’. It was the Fatah who danced on their rooftops for joy when the twin-towers fell to Osama Bin-Laden’s deadly attack.
Today’s headline: ?????: ???? ???? ???? ???????? ???? The Russian Foreign Minister met with Khaled Mashal (Hamas Terrorist #1) in Syria, and then told the world that Hamas is “ready to share it’s responsibility in Gaza” and that we (e.g. the western world) should be speaking with Hamas and not shunning them.
As much as we’d like to think that world opinion couldn’t possibly make a difference, it does. Have a look a this article from the well-respected political affairs magazine Commentary – Israel Today, Tomorrow the West. Very depressing stuff…
I suppose the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we ready to fight the third phase?

A Pious Man – (Yes, They still exist)

I went to the local electronics store yesterday to pick up a new bread machine.  The owner keeps the store open in the late afternoon and early evening hours.  He learns Torah during the day and then opens the store to sell appliances to locals.

This is Ramat Bet Shemesh in 2009.  The owner of this shop is a young man, late 20’s at most.  He answers all questions and even offers extra information honestly, even when it leads you not to buy his merchandise.

So as I’m paying for the bread machine, (which he tried to talk me out of buying until we’d baked a loaf or two with a neighbor’s machine to make sure we were really going to use it), I asked him if the economy has affected his sales.  He asked me what I was refering to.  I told him about the economy and stock market in the USA and the world downturn, etc…  He had no idea what I was talking about.  No TV, no radio, no newspapers.  He doesn’t listen to or read the news.

However, he’s very knowledgeable about all his products.  He knows the appliances industry.  You want to buy a stove or a refrigerator? He’ll tell you what importer is unloading stock they couldn’t sell in France, and what products have the best repair record.  He doesn’t go by the adage that you must sit and learn Torah and do nothing else.   Part of his service to the community is to sell quality products at a fair price, and then back them with solid service should something go wrong.

He learns Torah by day and night, and sells appliances by afternoon so that he can continue learning Torah.

For a second, I thought he was kidding about not knowing the news. But then it became apparent that not only was he serious, but truly the happier one.  Quite refreshing.

Ramat Gan Safari – A Baboon in Israel

A visit to Israel should include a stop at the Ramat Gan Safari & Zoo. Located just minutes from the airport, it’s a great place to spend a day. The kids will love seeing wild animals such as Hippos, Rhinos, Lions, and more in natural settings. They’ll also love seeing the 3 meter tall Ostriches that bend down to peek into your car to see if any snack food is available.
FYI – feeding the animals is a strict no-no and could be dangerous, even life-threatening to the animals. however, many of the visitors seem not to care. Hopefully, someday the park authorities will crack down on these miscreants.

Here’s the stately Baboon perched upon his stoop looking at all us silly humans:

Baboon at Ramat Gan Safari, Israel
Baboon at Ramat Gan Safari, Israel

Baboon with a relaxed pose