Archive for April, 2012

Memorial Day For the Fallen Soldiers and The Victims of Terror

April 25, 2012
I’ll start with a confession. I had a really hard time deciding if I should write this post. Due to the emotional state I’m in on Memorial Day, and due to the fact that I fear I’d make some horrible cynical use of it, which is not my intention. But since this the medium I chose for myself almost a year ago, here it goes.

Tonight and tomorrow, just before the celebrations of Israel’s 64th Independance day, Israel mentions Memorial Day. Now, I don’t really know how it goes in many other countries, but for me, here, in Israel, is a day words cannot describe. 24 hours in which life nearly stops still. Whrere politics takes a nap. Where TV shuts off its’ regular programming and commercials are nowhere to be seen or heard. Where families visit graves. Where many ceremonies are held. Where sad songs of loss and death and pain are heard on all radio stations.

2 sirens echo during that day in Israel. Tonight for one minute, and tomorrow morning for two minutes.

Israel’s Memorial Day was initially called “The Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers”. In 1998, it was also decieded to officialy honor within the same capacity, victims of terror attacks (the first terror attack dated on March 17th, 1953. The last one – last night [one injured;]). Thus, today it is called “The Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and The Victims of Terror”. As of tonight, the number of people honored by this day are 22,993.

The day honors eveyone: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Russains, Ethiopians, Religious, Secular, Druze, Beduion and more of the Israeli soceity tapestry.

In this day I constantly hear two main issues rising – the memory of the fallen with the pain of loss, and the burning desire for peace, for the end of war and bloodshed. For the number to stop rising. It echoes in the President’s speech. The Prime Minister’s voice. The Cheif of Staff’s tone. They may change throughout the years, the desire never does.

When I was little, the Camp David negotiations were taking place. I remember everyone being hopeful, so hopeful, wishing that finally some peace will come. That the army would be dismantled. The following year, of course, saw the begining of the worst round of violence and blood shed ever. And yet here we are, over a decade past it, with new changes and uprisings all around us threatening even the peace treaty with Egypt, and though many may have lost faith in the other side and in the chance for peace, the majority still holds onto the want. To the need of peace. And it echoes in this day, with everyone you talk to, so loudly.

One of my favorite poems, taught in high school Literature class, is frequently mentioned in this day. A poem by Shaul Tchernichovsky, framed simply by the phrase [roughly translated: ] “You see, O Earth, how very wasteful we’ve been“. A poem written during The Arab Revolt of 1936, crying for the loss of life, cursing the earth for accepting so many bodies into it and still at the same time producing life in the form of plants.

And today. On this day. There’s something about it, and about the two main issues rising and echoing, that makes me really glad to be living here. On this side of the map. On this little next-to-nothing-yet-full-of-something piece of land. True, the conflicts go on. Wars never really end. The 126 casualties of the past year would not be the last. But taking the time, to hear the families’ stories over the news and ceremonies, to remember, to honor, to stand still and not allow life to completely go by… honestly, I hoped when i started writing that if I just keep going I’ll find the words to describe it. I didn’t.

So with the false hope that wars will end, and conflicts will be resolved, and blood won’t be shed anymore, I bid you good night.

Related Posts:

Click here for a short account of Israel’s many wars

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The Radical Left: Where Activists Won’t Be Harmed, Where They Are Not Needed

April 21, 2012

Before I say anything, please let me be clear about one thing – diverdity of opinions and ideas is a wonderful thing, every society must aspire to. The following post is not about “silencing voices” – it’s about a phenomena. Earlier this week I posted about an Israeli officer who was dismissed after caught on camera hitting an activist. The phenomena of European activists, from the far left (and then a little further) of of the political view map, is the one I’d like to address here.

Why? Because it’s a growing phenomena. Because Israel is facing these activists on a daily basis. Because I truly try to understand (and fails) why someone would choose to focus all his energy on this specific conflict, when I see the world we’re living in, not to mention my neighborhood.

And before you jump of rage, let me make another thing very clear – Israel is a democracy and I, as well as these activists, enjoy this fact very much. I do not wish to be compared to a dicatorship. I am merely pointing out, that the world is a dangerous place everywhere, yet one place in particular (Israel) recieves undivided attention, numerous resources and so on, leaving many many many people around the world, nearly completely ignored! People who actually need the attention, the resources and so on.

Now, I’m not going to try and guess what these activists motives are – whether it’s anti-semetic, boredom, the need for advanture, or even if they truly care about human rights but simply afriad for their own.

I am merely going to point out the duplicity of them focusing only on Israel (and only is the keyword).

Just off the top of my head, the issues around the world getting almost completely ignored, are:

  • Famine and Hunger in North Korea, where only recently people were sentenced to hard labor in camps for no crying enough for the death of their leader.
  • Over a billion Chiense people who live under rules which among other things control the number of children they’re allowed to have, and enjoy no free choice whatsoever (not to mention that when the Olympics or Expo comes to China, they are simply moved or hidden without any regard to their human rights). China is the number one country in executions around the world.
  • The runner-up – Iran’s dicatotrship has become even more brutal since the failed 2009 uprising. Evidences (some extremely graphic and horrifying) about sentences of whip lashes, tortures and rapes in prisons of citizens, and forcing compliance to an extreme religious law (which includes deploying officers on the streets to scold women showing “too much” skin). As I’ve said, Iran has the second most executions per year around the World.
  • Muritania which hosts 600,000’s slaves.
  • Pakistan where for instance a woman by the name of Asia Bibi awaits execution for blasphemy because she’s Christian.
  • Russia’s leadership just won the elections by an obvious fake vote (99.97% of Chechnya county voted?!). St. Petersburd is working on a law that would make the act of coming out of the closet a criminal offense!
  • How about the unfree people of the Muslim and Arab world? The ones whose limbs are amputated in Saudi Arabia for misdemeanors? Or the women not allowed to drive? The protestors who were killed in Bahrain? And the other millions of people who are not allowed to vote, protest, marry, speak their minds and are been incarcerated daily for things these activists take for granted?
  • To that end – what about the people of Gaza? Who are living under an extreme Islamic law, whose rulers took power over their lives by force and bloodshed? Who force them to live in war? Where they are executed, imprisoned, denied the ability to protest or speek out against Hamas, or any other of the extreme fanatic terror groups controling their lives and stashing weapons and rockets under their pillows?
  • What about Cuba, Venezuela, Tibet, Sudan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, The Kurdish Issue, Guinea, Mianmr, Uganda, Somlia and so on and so on and so on!
  • What about the atrocities committed by their own countries? Guantanamo Bay, the continuing tortures of Afgan people for intelligence, The Iraq war (while troops were still displayed), the attacks by NATO and US army in Pakistan, Yemen and so on?

The Palestinians have a much better status than any one of these people who actually need the activists of the world to speak and act for them, but only a small portions does!

The Palestinian people have their own leadership, with international recognition (except for Hamas in Gaza, which won a violent coup).

The Palestinian people have a seat in the UN since 1974.

The Palestinian people have their own UN agency to deal with their so-called refugees (while every other refugee is treated by one agency for all).

The Palestinian people have diplomatic delegacies in many countries around the world, including all of Europe and North America.

The Palestinian people write op-eds in Western newspapers (Like Mahmoud Abbas’, PA President, article in The New York Times last May).

The Palestinian people have engaged in numerous negotiations with Israel (and have declined all offers made to them to this day), and in fact their lack of will to end the conflict (their leadership benefits from worldwide) has even won them a UNESCO seat.

The Palestinian people have many (many!) Israeli NGOs defending them, protesting for them, filing complaints in their names (Betslem, Shalom Achshav, Yesh Din and many many more!). These organizations recieve funding from many European countries.

Even private Palestinian people recieve legal and monetary help from European countries and the aforementioned NGOs when private people of Israel sue them in Israeli court, in dispute over the ownership of their homes.

The overwhelming majority of UN decisions and condemnations are in favor of the Palestinian people, while completely ignoring the people of China, Cuba, North Korea (one condemnations in almost a decade!), Russia, Uganda, Venezuela, Tibet, Somalia, Yemen and ho so many more.

Moreover, the Palestinian people are “fighting”rockets are fired at Israeli citizens daily. Stones are thrown at moving cars daily (last September they caused a man to crash his car, killing both him and his 1 year old son). Demonstrations are taking place every week (and though it’s saddening when it happens, only a short small few of these end in casualties, and their majority are certainly handled in less violence than US police when they evicted the “Occupy Wall-Street” movement). Palestinian leaders are interviewed in Israeli media, invited to take part in Israeli panels, and so on.

Why?! Please explain to me why the Palestinian people recieve an overwhelming majority of the worlds’ activists (most of them only operating in this conflict and not in any other non-domestic conflict), while so many others get ignored? Live in famine and disease. Die untreated for AIDS, TB, malaria and more. Fear that their words would end them in torture, in prison, on death row. WHY?!

Israeli Military Cheif of Staff Dismisses Officer Caught in Violent Episode

April 18, 2012

Last Saturday, a group of activists went on a bike ride in Jordan Valley in protests of [their accusation of] Israel’s withdrawal of water from Palestinians in the territory (a complete and absurd distortion, as I’ll explain later in the post).

According to Israeli military, when they spotted the ride [approved as a legal and valid demonstration in advance with the Israeli army] was drifting off its’ course and about to block a major route and disturb the public order, they approched the activists with the attempt to block their provacation.

While many things are in dispute, one isn’t – there was a clash between the activists and Israeli soldiers. During which, one of the officers – Lieutenant colonel Shalom Eisner – was filmed by the activists hitting a Danish activist in the face with his gun.

The activists did not file a complaint against the officer or the event, they simply used the footage in the psychological warfare against Israel, in the de-legitimization process of demonizing it. They uploaded the video onto the internet.

As soon as Israeli media got a hold of the footage, it broadcasted it and brought it to the attention of both the public and the military’s higher ranks of command.

On Sunday, every major news broadcast agency (both TV and Internet, and later on on Monday morning in print) reported it first thing (first page news!).

On Sunday, The officer in question was called for questioning in his commander’s officer. His explanations were found unsatisfactory and was put on immediate leave. A military police investigation has been opened against both him and the other officers and soldiers present at the scene who failed to report it.

On Monday, The event was strongly condemned by many, including: Israeli President, Shimon Peres; Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; Israeli Military Cheif of Staff, Beni Gantz.

On Tuesday, A preliminary report of the event and the investigation was wired to the Cheif of Staff, who requested immediate clariffications about some of its’ parts.

On Wednesday, less than 72 hours since the matter has been brought to his attention, Israeli military Cheif of Staff, Beni Gantz, dismissed Lieutenant colonel Eisner and denied him the much-coveted position he was to enter in two months.

Both Gantz and Eisner’s direct commander found that though the activists were causing a provacation, it did not justify use of force, and that Eisner acted not according to protocol (who demanded he let the police handle the attempt to disturbt public order, rather than directly engage the activists).  Eisner himself claimed violence was used against both him and the other soldiers, and claims two of his fingers were broken shortly before his own violence (and has filed medical reports of his injury’s treatment from Saturday night). However, the investigation concludes that even if that were true (the Army’s own footage of the event could not prove of disprove his version due to a technical failure), the footage clearly shows he was not in danger (even if for merely a couple of seconds), when he assaulted the Danish activist.

Lieutenant colonel Shalom Eisner, a few days after the incident.
Photographed By: Omer Miron

Once again, I would like to mention that the activists in play chose to not file the any complaint (it was the military police who asked the Danish activist to do so. I am unaware if he actually did) and only use the footage against Israel as a whole! I suppose it stems from their own bias anti-Israeli belief (the same one who made them take part in the bike ride in the first place) and their unrealistic view of both the situation and the forces at play (including who they percieve to be “evil“). But the truth is different! While the reality of the territory is much more complex, Israeli military has a harsh penalty system that trials and investigates many matters [such as that and much lighter]. In fact, when the Danish government approched Israel on the matter on Monday (due to media reports), Israel’s Prime Minister has already condemned the event and the officer in question was already under investigation.

It should be said time and time again until these people get it – Israel is in a complex situation (not unlike a fairy tale one full of dichotomies), and its’ military has an etheical and legal code that all its’ members must honor or face the consequences. It is based on the British model and has evolved since and is today very similiar the one in various military around the world including Britian, France, Spain, United States, Australia and so on. Is every case brought to full justice? Not necessarily (but that’s also true for the non-military conflicts in any democratic and open society). But just like not every incident in a NATO operation is investigated to the full extent of the law as we’d like (and Wikileaks documents show major cover-ups of operations, especially in Iraq but also in Afganistan), and those photographed have a much higher chance for immediate response (like the infamous case of the American soldiers violenting Afgan bodies), the truth of the matter is Israel’s army is not different than those of most European, North American and South Down Under regions armies. Including in matters such as this.

Click here to read a few appendices to this post

The Jonathan Pollard Issue

April 11, 2012

United States is Israel’s best ally. That remains to be true, even if the current US administration does a poor job of presenting it, even if former presidents make ludicrious (sometimes racial) allegations. It’s an alliance, that despite what some may think, benefits both parties (for instance, did you know that many American soldiers, on their way to Afganistan, sometimes take training from Israeli soldiers, since the Israeli army has been facing combat in urban territory for decades, which is similiar to the challanges facing US and NATO forces these days?)

However, here’s one issue where that alliance does more damage than good to both parties.

Jonathan Jay Pollard is an American citizen (granted Israeli citizenship in 1996), and has been serving a life sentence in United States prison since November of 1987. He has been convicted of spying for Israel without the intent of actuallyharming US security.Pollard approched an Israeli official in 1984 about material he believed was vital to Israel’s security and that Israel was entitled to, due to a 1983 agreement between the countries.

In 1998, Israel officialy acknowledged Pollard as an Israeli agent.

Jonathan Pollard in his official picture

Jonathan Pollard in his official naval picture

Israel itself has formed 2 investigation committees, whose result found the Israeli Bereau of Science Relations (a branch of Ministery of Defense) to be responsible for accepting Pollard’s offer, without notifying the Defense Ministers of that time, and as a subsequent result the Bereau was dismantaled completely.
This is not a post about the rights or wrongs of the Jonathan Pollard issue.This is a post about US refusal for humanatarian release for Jonathan Pollard who is on practically on his death bed, after serving 26 years of his 30 years sentence.

A relatively recent picture of Jonathan Pollard

A relatively recent picture of Jonathan Pollard

This is also a post about the wrongs conducted by the freest country in the world, and some duplicities when it comes souley to Israel, its’ ally.

As of today, a large number of US officials, from the past and no-too-distant past (present are understandbly not allowed to speak openly about current policies, or undermine them in the press), some of which had a part in the issue back in the 1980.

Click Here to read more about US refusal and duplicity

UN Refuses to Fire Bias Employee, Taking Part In De-legitimizing Israel

April 5, 2012

Now this is a truly enraging story!

During the last escalation round between Israel and Gaza militants, in which over 200 rockets were fired upon Israeli civilian population, a UN employee – whose job description mandates her to be objective and unbias – turned her tweeter account against Israel, filling it with false propaganda and heinous lies.

Khulood Badawi is still the information and media coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanatarian Affairs. On March 10th 2012, she tweeted on her account a picture of Palestinian girl bleeding, while being held by her greiving father (I chose to not post this picture – Israel has nothing to do with this little girl’s death, but it’s still a horrible picture to post). The tweet said:

Palestine is bleeding… another child killed by #Israel… another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza

This tweet was re-posted over 300 times!

However, not only was the picture not from the latest round of escalation, it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with ISRAEL!

This little girl, as another tweeter member (Avi Mayer) revealed, has been dead for at least five years – The image was taken by Ruetuers newsagency in 2006. The little girl died in a car accident. Israel had nothing to do with it!

It should be noted that in the latest escalation round in Gaza, as well as in previous, Israeli aircarfts took great majors in attempting to minimize the hurting of innocent Gazans (which comes in contrast to the agenda of fanatic militants who use death of innocents for political fortune as well as an execuse to keep taking the population of Gaza hostage in its’ illogical war against Israel). True, some civilians suffered injures (as well as on Israeli side), and there were even a few unfortunate deaths of innocents, however the numbers speak louder than words about Israel intent to not harm civilians as much as it could – 20 out of 23 Palestinian killed in the latest escalation round were militants (by Palestinian’s own reports!).

Back to the fake photo, though – Israel took this matter very seriously, and its’ investigation should that the same employee, who is supposed to be unbias, took part in 2008 in anti-Israeli demonstrations and has publicly called Israel’s Defense minister “a war criminal” and “a children’s murderer”. Objectiveness is obviously not one of her strong suits.

Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, issued an acute letter to Badawi’s supervisor, Valarie Amos, saying:

It is unacceptable that for 4 years, the UN would employ someone who doesn’t live up to its’ most basic standard, required of any employee.

Prosor demanded Badawi will be fired. Her supervisor declined, only citing that Badawi’s personal views do not reflect on the UN or keep it from being objective, which personally sounds like a pretty ridiculous excuse. She also noted that an internal investigation has been opened (I’m not holding my breath of it yieling something) and that the UN worker had no idea that he job required her to maintain restrain.

I can’t help but wonder what if the shoe was on the other foot? If a UN worker would post a false picture about a kid being hurt in a suicide attack or a by rocket, when in fact he or she too were simply killed in a car accident, would the UN be so forgiven and understanding there? The realist in me believes this would have been handled much differently.

Grad Missile Fired Overnight at Israel’s Resort City Eilat

April 5, 2012

Last night, a little after midnight, an explosion was heard in the resort city of Eilat. After searches for its’ source, remains of a freshly-exploded Grad Missile were found in a dune not too far from a residential neighborhood.

Though no responsibility has been claimed yet, it is fair to assume that militants from the Gaza Strip once again inflitrated the Egyptian Peninusla and fired rockets into Israel’s Eilat. This is not the first time this has happened, nor the second. While the ability to fire at Eilat is fairly low, thus the frequency is very low as well, Grad Missiles have been fired before at Israel. In 2010, one Grad even went through the narrow city of Eilat and exploded in a street in Jordan’s resort town of Aqaba, killing a Jordinian resident.

Just a few weeks ago, Israel assissinated a cheif terrorists in the Gaza Strip, who was planning an attack on Israeli citizens through the Sinai Peninsula, much like the gruesome attack of August 2011.

The timing is no coincidence either – tourism season is about to begin, and tomorrow night is Passover Eve – a Jewish holiday, in which many families take a vacation to Eilat and some even spend the holiday eve there already. That is, of course, is addition to over 47,000 of the city’s residents (47,800 according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics).

Map of Israel's south and Sinai Peninsula (From Google Maps). Circled in red is the Gaza Strip, the red X marks Eilat and the blue area is roughly the areas constantly bombarded with rockets from the gaza strip.

See Also:

Summary of Rockets Fired at Israel, March 2012

April 2, 2012

March of 2012 was a very bad month. An escalation round with fanatic terrorists from the Gaza Strip put over 1.5 million of Israel’s citizens in peril, caused over 200,000 Israeli school kids to stay home for several days and once again took the population of Gaza hostage.

On the night of March 31st, terrorists were captured with knives, gun, ammuniation and a barbwire-cutter, trying to breach the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. One was killed, the other managed to get away and run back to the strip, where Israel has no interest in entering by foot, unless the militants of Gaza would force its’ hand once again.

In the latest escalation round, the most active terror groups where Popular Resistance Committees and Islamic Jihad. Hamas set this round out, but did very little to impose its’ governance. These rockets were fired from Iranian dime who is still funding these organizations that are firing blindly at civilians – women, children and men alike – with the vicious hope of killing as many innocents as possible. In March, 55% of the rockets fired at Israel were long-range missiles!

The following numbers are of the lowest estimate found – over 40 rockets were interecepted by the Iron Dome defense system, meaning over 40 rockets were headed to populated areas!!!

And as you can see, before the escalation and after it, “calm” was restored.

Count of rockets fired at Israel daily from the Gaza Strip

A total of 208 of rockets and mortar shells (by the lowest estimate) were fired at Israel in March of 2012.

After a cease-fire has been declared, nearly a dozen rockets were fired at Israel in the span of 24 hours, one of them hitting a residential parking lot at 10 PM.

A dozen rockets and mortar shells have been fired in the “calm” since the end of the escalation round!

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