Israel Resource Review 31st July, 2006


13 thoughts for war time: The Only quiet areas right now are Judea and Samaria.
Yair Lapid

Even the most extreme leftists are reconsidering: maybe it isn't about the occupation after all

1. I bought a flag for my car. Nothing special, small on a white plastic stand that sticks to the window of the car. My flag says: Maybe I am not so crazy about everything that happens in this war. Maybe I am not entirely convinced that Beirut has to be sacrificed and maybe we need to think twice about a ground invasion, but in the end there are good guys and bad guys in this war. We are the good guys.

2. I was drafted in 1982 and after a few months the war in Lebanon broke out. My son was drafted in the beginning of this year and after a few months… the war in Lebanon broke out.

3. The so-called 'bubble' that is Tel Aviv is purely a Jerusalem invention. I am having coffee with actresses Rotem Abuhav and Anat Magen Shabu. They are both in the midst of rehearsals for a play. Okay, up to now a kind of bubble, but then Rotem talks about the decidedly unfestival-like premiere of her new film 'Aviva, My Love' inside a stuffy bomb shelter in Tiberias. Her husband is in the career army; my boy is in the standing army. Anat is worried like everyone else. Only in the Jewish settlements are there people who believe there is a city next to the sea where life is carefree. If you want to mess with spiders . . .

4. Something has changed for us. We quietly and with dignified sorrow accept the fact that civilians are being killed in this war but cannot tolerate the idea of our soldiers dying.

5. This entire war evolved in order to prove the fallacy of Nasrallah's 'Spiderweb Theory'. Hizbullah leader kept repeating that Israeli society is constructed like a spider web. Stretch it a little and it will tear. Turns out that not only Nasrallah doesn't understand anything about the Israelis, he knows even less about spider webs.

They are one of the natural wonders of the world; more resilient and flexible than steel wire of the same diameter and thinner than silk thread. They can stretch to five times their size without tearing. Scientists and industrialists have tried to recreate the spider web out of silicone but nothing has emerged that is as strong as the original.

In short, if you want to mess with spiders, you are going to end up fighting with Spiderman.

6. If we are already talking, there is another applicable metaphor to be drawn from the world of biology: Spiders have eight eyes.

7. Harold Pinter, Jose Saramago, Naomi Klein and a long list of intellectuals have signed a strongly worded letter against Israel which was circulated by Professor Noam Chomsky and featured prominently in the international press.

It opens with these words: "The last chapter in the Israeli Palestinian conflict began when the Israelis forcefully abducted two civilians from Gaza, a doctor and his brother, an incident that appeared in very few of the media except for the Turkish press. On the following day, the Palestinians abducted an Israeli soldier and proposed negotiations and the beginning of a prisoner exchange."

I asked the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman's Office to verify the story for me. It seems the two brothers were hardly model citizens. They were both members of Hamas who planned terror attacks for a living and were caught in the midst of doing just that when special Israeli forces arrested them and took them in for questioning by General Security Service investigators. (The IDF could not confirm or deny that one of them was a doctor.)

Even if you don't believe the official Israeli version, just use logic. The brothers were arrested on Friday night; IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit had been kidnapped 36 hours later. Since it takes long months to dig a tunnel and there is no way that the terror attack at Kerem Shalom army outpost was a response to the arrest of the two brothers. For a noted linguist, Chomsky is certainly sloppy with his words.

8. One more thing about the letter: That is, Nobel laureate for literature Jose Saramago (author of the international bestseller Blindness) is one of its signatories. Saramago, for your general edification, was born in Portugal, but chose to relocate to the occupied territories of the Canary Islands.

These islands were settled by the Guanchi Tribe who were shepherds and peaceful toilers of the land. Then the Spaniards arrived and conquered the islands. Through carrying out a number of massacres, they almost succeeded in exterminating the entire tribe. In the 1970s' the Guanchis established an underground resistance which tried to achieve independence for the islands but was defeated by the Spanish government's military. Never mind. The important thing is to allow Saramago to preach to us.

Because of the occupation?

9. "Another week has passed," writes my friend Ilan who lives in Nahariya, "and not too much has changed."

10. We withdrew from Lebanon and Hizbullah is attacking us from there. We withdrew from Gaza and it is from there that the terror groups are attacking us. The only quiet areas right now (and I would not bet on it for long) are Judea and Samaria. Even the most extreme leftists are reconsidering: maybe it isn't about the occupation after all.

11. "I am going nuts," says Terry, my travel agent. "Everyone is canceling. Business people don't want to leave their families alone. Families are not taking holidays because they have relatives in the north. Workers committees are canceling group excursions because how can you enjoy yourself when there is a war going on?

Ten minutes ago, I got a phone call from a corporation canceling a group excursion for 600 people to Antalya, Turkey. I asked the Turks to waive the cancellation fee but they refused. I understand them. In any other country, when there are warnings of missiles and terror attacks, people take the first plane out. Only in this crazy country does everyone insist on staying home."

"Terry", I utter in a cowardly whisper, "please don't be angry but I called to cancel our trip."

12. One has to be wary of the self-righteous. On Friday I was playing backgammon with Eli Yatzpan (well known comic and TV host) and someone started to yell at me: "Lapid, this is how you help the people in the north?" I tried to explain that I had already been there but I got angry, like my playing backgammon should bother someone.

"Forget it." Yatzpan said. "I was walking on the beach at sunset yesterday and someone used the lifeguard's megaphone to yell at me, 'Yatzpan, there's a war in Lebanon and you're walking on the beach?'"

13. And between the bomb and the katyusha, a year has passed since the death of poet Dalia Rabikovich. She wrote a poem called "Leaving Beirut" and the last two lines are: 'And children squawk and scramble like chickens in a barnyard. / / How many children do you have? // How many children will you have? This situation makes it hard to look after the children.'

This piece ran in Ynet News on July 31st, 2006

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EVERY SECOND COUNTS: TRUE STORIES FROM ISRAEL, by Richard Oesterman, Gefen Publishing House, New York 2006
Reviewed by David Bedein

The human face which lies behind every news story in Israel remains the bread and butter of every good reporter who covers the fledgling Jewish state.

Richard Oesterman, a Danish born journalist who has covered Israel for the better part of the past fifty years for the Scandanavian media, has written a book which should be read by everyone who ever dreams or plans to be a reporter in Israel. Simply put, Oesterman makes each of more than fifty interviewees come alive, in the most unusual of circumstances.

Oesterman provides portraits of people behind the scenes like an Orthodox Jew who founded an organizations that is out there every time a terrorist attack takes place, recovering body parts and providing the basics of religious life support in the most traumatic of times. And then there are the people who have survived loved ones in terror attacks, whom Oesterman shows to be deeply religious and philosophical, despite the terrible traumas that they have experienced. Surprisingly, Oesterman Follows his interviews of terrorist victims with the interviews that he has conducted with Palestinian killers themselves, who speak clearly and matter of factly and with no regret, when they describe their acts of murder.

In order to put things into perspective, Oesterman also features an interview with Bernard Lewis, the preeminent scholar of Islam, who patiently explains to the reader that without an understanding of Islam, one cannot begin to cover the events of the day in the Middle East. And Oesterman covers the visionaries of peace, Amos Oz and Shimon Peres, and he asks them hard questions.

However, when Oesterman portrays his fellow Danish citizen, Peter Hansen, the former head of UNRWA, the UN agency that handles Arab refugees, there is no evidence of tough questions from an experienced journalist of a UN official who had falsely accused Israel of carrying out a massacre in the UNRWA camp in Jenin in April 2002.

Nor does Oesterman ask Hansen about how UNRWA continues to nurture the specious premise and promise of the "right of return" for yet another generation of Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendents to take back Arab villages from 1948 which no longer exist.

Other chapters in Oesterman's book feature give lively portraits of Israeli archaeology, tourism, science and industry, while giving life and background to the Jewish communities in Sweden, and in Venice, while a very special chapter of EVERY SECOND COUNTS: TRUE STORIES FROM ISRAEL gives special insight into Israel's most recent winners of the Nobel Prize – Robert Aumann and Daniel Kahneman.

In short, EVERY SECOND COUNTS: TRUE STORIES FROM ISRAEL remains a must for anyone who wants to report from Israel, and for anyone who wants to understands what makes the heart of every Israeli beat.

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