Monday, July 31, 2006

Some Links for a Quiet (Thank G-d) Monday

For those who care about the refugees from Gush Katif, please go here to see what you can do .... Haveil Havalim is being hosted this week by Soccerdad, and can be found both here and here.

Don't forget to go to Dry Bones - he has a great cartoon today. about Hezballa houseguests.
The Sky Didn't Fall

Yesterday the inevitable happened. We all knew that at one point or another our troops would inadvertently kill the Lebanese civilians that Hizballah has in effect taken hostage in south Lebanon. (Although there is a serious question about some of the facts of the incident. The IAF attacked the building at 1:00 am, and the ambulances - along with the media - didn't get to the scene until the next morning. There are questions about when exactly the building collapsed...was it from the IAF or from explosives set off in the building afterwards?)

And yes, the Arab world did its best to push for an immediate ceasefire, and a condemnation in the UN Security Council.

And yes, some on the left will try to use the incident to drum up opposition to the war.

Well, there is a very temporary ceasefire - the IAF will supposedly stop attacking for 48 hours (as of 2:00am today - namely about 5 hours ago). Unless they know that there will be an imminent attack, in which case they will attack anyway.

This means to me that the pilots get a well deserved rest.

Another part of this ceasefire is the additional 24 hours that Israel is giving the civilians to get out of the south, supposedly with the help of the UN (which they obviously should have been doing already). This is an excellent development, because now the responsibility for the innocent civilians has been firmly placed on the UN, and if another incident of this type occurs, they will be to blame.

The UN Security Council issued a strongly worded statement, but they held back from an official condemnation.

Hizballah has used its only real weapon against us, and it didn't work out as well as it was supposed to.

The only question is how much this will affect our politician's resolve to finish the war as they have originally stated. So far Amir Peretz and Ehud Olmert have said that we need between 10 days to 2 weeks to finish off Hizballah, which is a good sign.

My only worry, is not for Israelis but more for others.I am afraid of the increased violence against Jews in other countries in the world. Take care of yourselves!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Daily Updates on the Continuing War

4:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: More katyushas land in Kiryat Shmona and the surrounding areas. Total number of injured today in north is 57, including a Haaretz reporter.

Judea and Samaria: IDF troops arrest terrorist in Kalkilya responsible for killing resident of Yakir, whose burnt body was found in his car on Friday.

2:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Suicide bomber caught in Schem (Nablus) before heading out to the center of the country. Kassam rocket falls in Sderot, one slightly injured. Seven rockets hit Kiryat Shmona, one injured.

12:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: More rockets land in north, especially Kiryat Shmona. Reporters say that at least 60 rockets have fallen there this morning alone.

Lebanon: Fighting continues in Tayibaa in south Lebanon, one IDF soldier slightly wounded.

Personal update: Drybones has a great cartoon today summing up Hizballah's "heroics".

10:05 am Israeli time:

Home Front: Alert of possible suicide bomber - roadblocks set up. More rockets fall in north. Direct hit in Akko building, two injured.

Lebanon: IAF bombs southern Lebanon town of Qana, where rockets have been launched toward Nahariya. (This was after warning residents to leave the area) IDF ground forces fighting Hizballah in Tayibah, at least three terrorists killed.

Judea and Samaria: IDF undercover agents kill Jihad terrorist leader in Schem (Nablus). IDF troops also arrest five Tanzim fugitives in Kalkilya.

8:05 am Israel time:

Home Front: Rockets have fallen in the past hour all across the north. 24 have fallen in Kiryat Shmona, two in Tiberias and one in Nahariya, no injuries reported. Sirens heard in other cities including Haifa.

Lebanon: Thousands of reserve soldiers called up last week are training now in case the ground offensive in Lebanon is expanded. IAF continues to bomb targets in Lebanon.

Southern Front: IDF hits an ammunition depot in Beit Hanoun in Gaza.
Where Have All the Flower Children Gone?

Many people have noticed an interesting phenomenon in Israel, which really isn't surprising. Many on the left who were seemingly doves are sounding a lot like hawks, due to the current war. A short article in Makor Rishon points out that a lot of the liberals in Israel claim that even though they hold left-wing views, they are still patriotic -which we call Zionists. Those of us on the right sometimes called them post-Zionists, and honestly questioned their patriotism.

Now we are beginning to see the camp that we thought was monolithic dividing itself. There are those who really are patriotic as they always claimed, and those who are proving themselves to be post-Zionists after all. (And yes, this will affect how I listen to the arguments from now on)

Some examples. Rozie Barkai on IDF radio is definitely left wing - but I heard him more than once argue that we must destroy 80% of Hizballah's ammunition and push the terrorists north of the Litani river. Avry Gilad, also on IDF radio, has sharply criticized the "Gush Shalom" movement who took out an ad in Haaretz claiming that we cannot win the war and posting a phone number where you can call and order a white flag. I won't detail here the type of language Avry used - but the gist was that those in Gush Shalom are seriously mentally ill.

Some doves are not satisfied with becoming hawks - too tame for them. For Yoel Marcus of Haaretz, only the king of beasts will do, as he says here in his article titled "With a Thunderous Roar".

But not to worry, there are those who still think we are living in the sixties. While most people across the political spectrum are doing what they can to help out the war effort - like opening their homes to people from the north, saying Tehillim (Psalms) and praying, donating blood and volunteering for Magen David Adom, there are some who are spending their time protesting, and are stubbornly clinging to their old ideas.

Some feminists for example. 1500 protested in Tel-Aviv against the war. One was quoted with this gem of wisdom "Women don't gain from war but men do" I won't go into what I think about this, I wrote quite enough here, but suffice it to say that I think they are misguided. (See, I can write about feminists in a cool, dispassionate way also!)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The War Goes On

5:15 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Rocket attacks in Rosh Pina, Carmiel, Nahariya and Kiryat Shmona. Eight wounded slightly.

3:15 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Three rockets land in Nahariya and Rosh HaNikra, no injuries.

Lebanon: IAF hits buildings known as Hizballah targets.

Southern Front: One Palestinian terrorist killed in Sajiya neighborhood in Gaza.

1:00 pm Israel time:

Southern Front: IDF continues fighting in Gaza, Palestinians report 15 hurt.

11:05 am Israel time:

Lebanon: IAF targets rocket launchers near Tyre. Fighting continues in Bent Jebail.

Home Front: Rockets land in Tzfat, Hatzor, Maalot, Carmiel and Rosh Pina, no injuries reported. Two more Kassams land near Sderot, no injuries reported.

Personal update: I am listening to IDF radio. Rozie Barkai opened the show mostly to parents to call in and discuss what they feel and think about the fighting. So far every parent has been overwhelmingly supportive of the war. A mother of 11, with five sons in the army - three in combat units - spoke very well. She said that when she finds it hard to fall asleep at night she opens her Tehillim* (book of Psalms) and she takes great comfort from the words of David HaMelech (King David, the writer of the Psalms). One father who admits that he is very worried about his son, said that those who speak about stopping the war only hurt our soldiers. The decision to wage the war or stop it will be taken by the government, and the media and the "pundits" should speak with more responsibility than they are doing.

*And speaking of Psalms, did you hear about the ancient book of Psalms found in Ireland two days ago open to Psalm 83, which speaks about the nations trying to destroy Israel? Go here to Atlasshrugs for more on this incredible story.

9:00 am Israel time:

Home Front: Katyusha rockets land in Maalot, Tzfat, and Shlomi - no injuries reported. Kassam rocket lands in western Negev, no injuries.

Southern Front: IDF hits three ammunition depots in northern Gaza.

Lebanon: IAF strikes hit 90 targets.

7:15 am Israel time: Summary of yesterday's events

Lebanon: Nine soldiers die, 27 wounded in yesterdays fighting in Bent Jebail.

Southern Front: IDF kills 23 Palestinians, including at least 11 confirmed terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front.

Home Front: Over 120 rockets land in the north of Israel yesterday wounding four, one seriously.

Judea and Samaria: IDF arrests one Palestinian suspected of terrorist activity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Beware the "Tel-Aviv Rose"

It's time to talk about the elephant in the room.

Like the "trauma" of the Vietnam War in the minds of many Americans, and the fears it evokes among many American politicians, the war being fought now against Hizballah in Lebanon evokes memories of the war fought in 1982, and the political fallout afterwards.

Anshel Pfeffer writes about how this is affecting the army brass here.

"The growing number of soldiers being killed on almost a daily basis in what is developing into a growing offensive over the Lebanese border is causing near panic among the army's high command. They're not concerned that the deaths might have been unnecessary or the result of some insurmountable challenge posed by Hizballah. In their opinion, this is part and parcel of ground warfare. What they're worried about are the reactions on the home front to lists of fallen in the papers and rows of photographs of young faces."

Pfeffer goes on to point out that "An army's role is by definition to defend the civilian population, often at the cost of soldier's lives. In Israel, this relationship has been turned around. When a bus explodes and 20 people are killed, there are no calls for an enquiry to find out how the suicide bomber managed to infiltrate and detonate. But if a Merkava tank blows up and four soldiers are killed, a high-level inquiry committee is immediately set up."

How did we get to this point - where our top army brass, instead of focussing all of its energies on winning the war, is constantly looking over its shoulder in fear?

The answer is simple. It is part of a much wider problem here which in effect is the Achilles heel of Israeli society. To use a suddenly popular phrase, the problem we have is the disproportionate influence the left has on the media - and the disproportional influence this in turn has on government decisions.

It is the job of a journalist to ask pointed questions. It is not the job of journalists to further their own personal political agenda using the microphone entrusted to them. This, unfortunately, is what too many reporters in Israel do. This is not my own right wing bias talking. They admit it themselves.

Shelley Yichimovitz, now a Member of Knesset for the Labor party, discusses media bias here.

"Reporter: So basically everything is acceptable in order to promote your worldview as a reporter?"

"Yichimovitz: Yes. For example, like this matter with the leftist media. When it is brought up we are so angry, but the time has come to admit the facts - the media is leftist. Put a ballot box in any media, and you will get very clear results, from the center to the left. The talk of the newspapers in the country is not the talk of the public, and the estrangement between the public and the media reaches new heights each day."

This state of affairs in normal times is troubling. In times of war it is downright dangerous. When media personalities focus too much on the loss of soldiers, they cross the line from professional journalism into being propaganda tools for the enemy - not unlike the infamous Tokyo Rose of World War II fame. There wasn't one real Tokyo Rose - this was the name that the American GIs gave to the Japanese radio personalities who would try to lower the Allied soldiers morale by speaking about Allied losses (when they weren't insinuating that the girlfriends back home were being unfaithful). The overt message was to give up fighting - because you are losing and will continue to lose.

Focussing on the loss of soldiers' lives is what the Four Mothers group did, with the generous help of the left wing media. What the media did not do is put the numbers in perspective. A quick glance at the history of Israel's wars will show that the overall loss of life in Lebanon was less than the other wars Israel fought, except for Operation Kadesh in 1956.

The Israeli public now is strong and holding up despite more than two weeks of rocket attacks - and is willing to go through more if it knows that the IDF is doing its job in Lebanon. The Israeli public is also mature enough to know that killing Hizballah terrorists, after they have had the chance to dig in for five years, is going to be bloody.

Worrying about the military death toll is legitimate. We all share that concern, and mourn each soldier killed.

But blowing this concern all out of proportion, especially to further your own political agenda, is wrong. Every person in this country is put in danger if the security decisions are made solely to placate a specific political interest group. The war should end when the military has completed its mission - and not one minute beforehand.
A Day Worthy of Rosh Chodesh Av - Fighting in Lebanon and Gaza, Rockets and Kassams, and a Possible Suicide Bomber

5:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Police on high alert due to warning of possible suicide bomber. Two Kassams fall in Sderot, no injuries reported. More rockets falling in the north of Israel - more than 100 rockets have fallen so far today. Over 55 injured today.

Lebanon: Toll of IDF injured in fighting in Bent Jebail rises to 30.

3:10 pm Israel time:

Home Front: More rockets hit Kiryat Shmona, Tiberias, and Rosh Pina. Rockets also land in Maalot and Nahariya and cause fires.

Lebanon: Number of soldiers injured rises to 25 in today's fighting. IAF bombs rocket launchers in Lebanon.

1:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: 3 Kassam rockets land in western Negev, no injuries reported. More katyusha rockets land in Carmiel, Kiryat Shmona, Tzfat and Maalot.

Lebanon: Number of injured IDF soldiers in fighting at Bent Jebail rises to 13. At least 50 terrorists killed.

Southern Front: Palestinians claim 10 killed, 40 injured by IDF fighting north of Gaza city.

11:05 am Israel time:

Home Front: Katyusha rockets land in Haifa, Tzfat, Carmiel, Akko and Kiryat Shmona. Taxi driver hurt badly in a direct hit, four others lightly injured. Kassam rocket lands south of Ashkelon, no injuries reported.

Lebanon: Fighting continues in Bent Jebail. Terrorists open fire from mosque.

9:05 am Israel time:

Southern Front - IDF enters Sajjiya neighborhood north of Gaza city to destroy terror infrastructure. 7 Palestinians killed and 30 wounded.

Home Front: Rocket falls in open area near Tzfat, no injuries reported.

Lebanon: Fierce urban fighting taking place now in Bent Jebail. IDF reports 10 injured.

7:05 am Israel time:

Southern Front - 50 tanks enter northern Gaza. Air strikes against Hamas strongholds taking place. 1,000 random pre-recorded phone calls made to residents of Khan Younis telling them not to shield terrorists and hide weapons.

Home Front - Five rockets aimed at Tiberias and Tzfat. No injuries reported.

Lebanon - IAF bomb hits UN observer post overnight in southern Lebanon, killing between two and four peacekeepers. IDF is in control of Bent Jebail, Hizballah capital of south Lebanon, although there are many terrorists hiding among the civilian population, especially the casbah. Troops report that they found Iranian made surveillance equipment and weapons.
Time to Pace Ourselves

Yesterday I had trouble getting into blogger, so I decided to take a day off from blogging altogether. I listened to the news a total of twice - instead of all day long. I must say it was refreshing - and it strengthened my growing realization that constantly live blogging is not good for me. On the other hand, I have been getting e-mails from people all over saying how much they like hearing about what is happening here - especially from the perspective of a private family.

So I have decided to compromise between live blogging and not blogging. I will try to post updates every two hours about is happening, with a less "time based" post thrown in here and there.

This personal change is reflected also in what is going on in the country in general. We know now that this situation is going to last for at least a few weeks - no "zbang v'gamarnu" as they say here in Israel (Hebrew for bang and we're finished). People are trying to figure out how to get back to working. The radio broadcasts are going back to a semi-normal schedule. Even the stock market, which had one or two shaky days, is back to its robust self.

The Jews, as usual, are learning to adapt.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Over 90 Rockets Land in North in Past Two Hours

7:01 pm Israel time: Over 90 rockets have fallen in the past few hours up north. Unconfirmed reports of two dead in Haifa, 13 wounded slightly, and many treated for shock.

4:38 pm Israel time: Rockets fall in Akko, no injuries reported. Reports of rockets in Tiberias,Kiryat Shmoneh and Nahariya.

3:20 pm Israel time: Reports of rockets landing in Nahariya, Haifa, and Shlomi. One person slightly injured.

2:34 pm Israel time: Sirens sounding in Rosh Pina, Hatzor and Tzfat. Rocket lands in Tzfat, no injuries reported.

2:01 pm Israel time: The number of IDF soldiers wounded in Bent Jebail is up to 13.

1:40 pm Israel time: IAF helicopter forced to make emergency landing in the Galilee - not caused by enemy fire. Two injuries reported.

1:03 pm Israel time: IDF radio reports that tanks are entering Bent Jebail, and that there are many Hizballah terrorists killed.

12:36 pm Israel time: IDF denies report that it told Metullah residents to leave.

12:18 pm Israel time: Haaretz reports that the people of Metullah were told to evacuate the town.

A sign that things are quiet (bli ayin hara) in the north is that IDF radio broadcast its usual 11:00 am radio program "The Last Word". This program usually has two personalities, one from the left and one from the right of the political spectrum in Israel, who discuss current events in a combined humorous/serious vein. You know you are not a new immigrant anymore when you not only understand the Hebrew but you understand the jokes.

Today's hosts were Uri Orbach and Guy Meoz. Uri is a well known personality in the national religious camp, and is soft spoken but right wing. I don't know the background of Guy Meoz, but judging from his opinions he obviously is on the left.

The whole program was good - and I remember two good zingers. Guy complained that given the war a lot of his left-wing friends are going AWOL - to the right, and leaving him alone on the "battlefield".

Another good line was that "you know that things are bad when you are relieved to get reserve duty in Ramallah."

I really hope that it stays quiet, and that I don't have any updates to record.
IDF Fighting in Bent Jebail in South Lebanon

9:35 am Israel time: Number of injured soldiers in fighting this morning is nine - all injuried lightly.

8:20 am Israel time: Six IDF soldiers injured in fight in Bent Jebail.

IDF forces, including reserve troops are fighting in Bent Jebail in south Lebanon. A soldier killed in Maroun a Ras was buried in Kiryat Shmona last evening. The time of the funeral was changed at the last minute for fear that Hizballah would fire rockets at the crowd. During the funeral itself the people heard the sounds of the fighting of the IDF and Hizballah just across the border - and now the family is sitting shiva (the seven day mourning period) in a bomb shelter in Kiryat Shmona.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

No Sense of Humor, But A Helluva Lot of Nerve

[Warning - I am in rant mode. Please excuse my language]

They may not have a sense of humor, but chutzpah they have in spades.

I've been reading blogs and listening to the radio for the past week, and I've noticed something that has increasingly made me angry. Here and there, between the bulletins about rockets falling and the human interest stories about how the people in bomb shelters are dealing with the situation, the media interviews "experts" - feminists all, who complain about one thing.

They don't like the "kol haGavri" (the male voice). This is the buzzword that the feminists use to kvetch about how "male dominated" the war has been (conveniently ignoring the fact that there are female fighter pilots over the skies of Lebanon and that the spokesman for the IDF happens to be a spokeswoman).

They think that the male, aggressive side is being too dominant now - and they want to hear more "talking it out" and negotiating. (Now, now, Hassan, we use our words and not our rockets....)

Shulamit Aloni went as far as to say that the IDF has an indecent drive to kill. (Good morning Shula - our army actually wants to kill the enemy...who woulda thought?)

I can't stand it anymore, and I have to ask all of the feminists in Israel who are complaining just one simple question.

Where the hell do you think you live?

Listen carefully, and I'll tell you where you live. You live in a place where there are maniacs on our northern border who want, in the best-case scenario, to put you in a head-to-toe black shroud. In the worst-case scenario they want to kill every Jew in Israel. Yeah, even those Jews who live in Tel-Aviv. Yeah, even the ones who use their words and talk it out.

You know those IDF soldiers who you complain are "too macho"? I know some of them. Three of my neighbors are on their way to the north right now. These men rock their babies to sleep, hang up the laundry, and help their wives with the cooking, in addition to working full time jobs to support their families.

You know what else they sometimes do? When other people are in danger they put on a uniform and they kick butt.

Instead of complaining you should be grateful that they have the guts to do it - because it is you who they are risking their lives to save.

I'll be the first to say "Hurray for testosterone!" I thank G-d that I live in a country where the men don't hide behind the women and children but stand in front of them and fight. And I think the feminists should realize that their freedom to open their mouths and complain comes directly from this "kol HaGavri".
Maps of Where the IDF is Fighting

5:17 pm Israel time: Rockets land in Haifa, injuries reported.

4:09 pm Israel time: Rockets land in Tiberias, Acco, Carmiel and Kiryat Shmona.

2:37 pm Israel time: Kassam rocket lands in Sderot, no injuries reported.

2:32 pm Israel time: IDF captures ridge overlooking Bent Jebail.(Link to map below.)

11:54 am Israel time: Warning sirens that went off in Zichron Yaakov and Binyamina were done by the Home Front Command and were not practice. (These places mark a more southern area than affected before).

11:38 am Israel time: A woman is being interviewed right now on the radio. She was on her balcony drinking coffee, the siren went off and at first she didn't want to go inside. Her husband made her go into their mamad (reinforced room) and a few seconds afterwards the house was hit directly. She said that there is damage, but that she and her husband didn't suffer even a scratch. When asked about the damage, she told the reporter that when the authorities say it is ok to go back, she will clean up and continue living there. We are a country of shtarker yidden (Yiddish for "tough Jews").

11:03 am Israel time: At least two dead as a result of rockets landing in Haifa, many injured.

10:56 am Israel time: Katyushas falling now in Carmiel and Haifa. At least one injured.

10:04 am Israel time: IAF strikes El Manar tv station again. Possible rocket attack in Nahariya. Earlier, rockets landed in western Galilee without injuries reported.

For those of you who are interested, this is the best map I could find showing the places where the IDF is fighting now. The whole map of Lebanon is here (click on places to enlarge). The specific region of where the ground troops are is the lower left-hand rectangle - click to enlarge. After enlarging look at the middle rectangle. Maroun ar Ras is in the upper right hand corner. Bent Jebail, which I saw referred to in one article as the "capitol of Hizballah" is a bit further north.

Note that the Israeli side is marked "Palestine" - for those of you who still think that the terrorists just want what we conquered in 1967, think again.
Collectively Biting the Bullet

Remember those old cowboy movies where one guy gets shot and they call the doctor? The doctor says that he has to remove the bullet - but there is no anesthetic. The wounded cowboy says "do what you gotta do doc", and then they give him a shot of whiskey and a bullet to bite on.

This is more or less the mood here in Israel. The IAF has been doing a great job of destroying the amunition that Hizbalah has in the northern parts of Lebanon - but the katyushas are still falling and killing our people. After the first fight in south Lebanon between IDF ground forces and Hizballah they found that the terrorists have built bunkers and tunnels - sometimes under civilian houses - where they have stored the rockets. They come out periodically, shoot them into Israel, and then go back in. The IDF can bomb just so much from the air - but at some point they have to go in by foot, find the tunnels and bunkers, and kill Hizballah. Everyone knows it is going to be bloody.

Reserve soldiers have been called up. I personally know of five men (just in my neighborhood) who have received their tzav 8 (special call up in times of war). Two are going to places in Judea and Samaria so that the regular army guys can go up north - and three are going up north themselves.

The men are doing what they have to do - packing their duffel bags and leaving, and the women are doing what they do best - close ranks. The women who can are packing up the kids and going to grandma. The others, who have decided to stay home - are going to be spoiled by the other women in our community. Inviting their kids to play, and bringing over a casserole are just two small things we do to help - knowing that the sympathetic ear we bring along with the food is the most important contribution we can make.

There are some encouraging things though. We are almost 100% united here in Israel on the need for this. Yes, there are some radical lefties (who are so left that they are in danger of falling off the edge) who are protesting the war already - but they are a tiny minority. I was surprised to hear usually far left radio personalities use the phrase "Higiya mayim ad nefesh" - which is the Israeli phrase for "We've had it up to here!" We've switched gears into survival mode - and the Jews always win when our backs are against the wall.

Another encouraging thing is the constant calls by the IDF to the civilians in south Lebanon to leave - with a specific geographical marker now mentioned - the Litani. I hope this means he IDF will not be walking on eggshells there - they are going to do what they have to and if civilians are caught in the crossfire - so be it. They certainly had enough warning to get out.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Layers Upon Layers of History

We are now about a week into the period of the Jewish calendar called the "three weeks". This represents the time between the Hebrew dates of the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av, where many tragedies happened to the Jewish people, including the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. We remember this sad time by following mourning practices dictated by halacha (Jewish law), and on the ninth of Av we observe a full day fast (just like on Yom Kippur). These practices help us to remember our past, and urge us to repent for our sins and come closer to G-d.

My son is now on a week long trip to Poland, learning about the rich Jewish history of a Europe that was destroyed during World War II. He is visting the graves of famous righteous Jews - and of course visiting Auschwitz (today, Friday) - the "gravesite" of hundreds of thousands of simple Jews. We sent him on this trip to enrich his understanding of where his family came from (Europe to America before moving to Israel).

And today, like I have done for about a week already - I am writing about our Jewish present. Rockets falling both in the north and in the south of Israel, soldiers risking their lives to protect other Jews, and civilians trying their best to help each other out.

Ancient history, modern history, and the present. The places change, the names of the characters change - but the role of the Jew is the same. To remember our past, to repent our sins, and try to come closer to G-d.

Shabbat Shalom to all - I will G-d willing be back to blogging on Sunday morning (Israel time).
No Shortcuts In This War

[Personal update: This is why we will always survive (with G-d's help, of course). Abbagav writes about how his family is hosting a family from the north. They don't have a car. They had to take a taxi from the north (two hour drive!) and they will stay with his family indefinitely. Did I mention that they are complete strangers? Please go to his post and see how you can help in this effort.]

10:02 am Israel time: Gal Shaket will be in use over Shabbat in the north. This is where the army picks one station which only broadcasts when there is a warning to go into bomb shelters. This way the Sabbath observers, who usually do not listen to radio on this day of rest, can leave the radio on, and will only hear when there is a warning. Two Kassam rockets fall in western Negev, no injuries.

8:01 am Israel time: Fighting continues now in Marun Aras and in nearby villages in south Lebanon.

7:39 am Israel time: IDF has now announced that four (instead of two) soldiers died as a result of the fighting in south Lebanon yesterday.

I woke up this morning to the news: Nasrallah is alive and was interviewed on Al-Jazeera television last night. The IDF announced that two soldiers were killed yesterday in heavy fighting north of Moshav Avivim. Two IAF helicopters collided last night and one pilot was killed, and three others injured.

Reports on the fighting yesterday detailed the situation. Hizballah has dug tunnels and bunkers, sometimes under civilian homes, and their terrorists are hiding there with the rockets. They come out, launch the rockets, and go back into hiding. The IDF also found rockets stored in a mosque in Marun Aras.

Thousands of soldiers are fighting in Lebanon now, and there are calls to call up even more.

In the south, the IDF has left Gaza after their recent operation there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fierce Fighting North of Moshav Avivim

19:35 pm Israel time: Fierce fighting taking place now just north of Moshav Avivim in Lebanon. Ten Hizballah cells hit, six IDF soldiers are injured, mortar shells fired toward the moshav. The correspondent reports that the area is heavily forested, and Hizballah has built fortifications in the area - which is making the battle difficult.

18:25 pm Israel time: Katyusha falls in Meron area, no injuries. IDF soldier wounded and Hizballah terrorist killed in fighting in Lebanon.

[Personal update: This is probably the mother of all "only in Israel" stories. Jameel has a clip of an Israeli tank crew saying Tefillat HaDerech (prayers for a safe journey) - reading from the back of their dog tags. Check it out.

[Personal update: In addition to the IDF, there are three other groups who are working like dogs in the north, and in the south. One, the policemen. Two, the ambulance crews. Three, the firemen. As of now I am not aware of an organization that gives these groups encouragement and treats like pizzaIDF. Anyone care to pick up the gauntlet? I am sure it would be very appreciated.]

12:47 pm Israel time: Kassam rocket falls in the western Negev, one person slightly injured. As a result fires break out in the area and firemen are putting them out.Three more terrorists killed in Gaza (bringing the total killed today to 10). A Hizballah terrorist approaching ground forces north of Avivim in Lebanon is killed.

12:02 pm Israel time: More katyushas fell both in the western and eastern Galilee, no injuries reported. The IAF has destroyed more rocket launchers in Lebanon, and has hit the El-Manar tv station again.

[Personal update: I just listened to an interview of three Americans who made aliyah recently, two from the airport, and one who has been here for two weeks. It is wonderful to hear their voices - and the Israelis here are very moved that people from America are making aliyah in the middle of a war! Even the cynical reporters tease them gently - and are moved despite themselves.]

9:43 am Israel time: Katyusha lands in Tiberias, no injuries reported.

[Personal update: For those of you in America and England who would like to demonstrate in favor of Israel, this web site has a list of all of the places where these demonstrations are taking place. It is important to go - both for our morale here in Israel (we look for the pictures and enjoy every one!) and to let the politicians know in America that they shouldn't pressure for a cease-fire too soon.

8:10 am Israel time: Reports of fierce fighting between Hizballah and IDF forces in western Lebanon. Two soldiers slightly wounded.

[Personal update: Many people have left comments wishing me a stress-free day yesterday. In fact yesterday was definitely less stressful - but the war is always with us. We went bowling in Petach Tikva, and then went to tour the Mekorot station in Rosh HaAyin (the water works). We noticed that there was a huge traffic jam on the other side of the street (leading to Petach Tikva) and when we called home to see what was happening, we heard that there was a terrorist alert and they were looking for someone in our area. During our tour of Mekorot, the guide gave us a history of the pumping station, and explained that it was built in a concrete bunker (yes, the entire facility is under ground). She asked our 11-12 year old kids why they thought this was necessary, and every kid knew exactly why - to protect it from the bombs that might be dropped on it. Instead of having to explain something from the past that would be incomprehensible to an American kid, the guide had part of her job usurped by current events. And, when the news came on the radio in the car on the way home, the kids immediately got quiet to hear - I didn't have to ask them to keep it down. ]

7:03 am Israel time: Fighting continues on all three fronts this morning. In the south, Kassam rockets fall both in Sderot and in Ashkelon, no injuries reported. The IDF hits a tunnel in Gaza. IDF arrests 12 wanted fugitives in Judea and Samaria. IAF continues its strikes in Beirut. Speculation here in Israel on whether Nasrallah has been killed in the massive air strike last night in Lebanon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Am Taking a Blogging Break for 36 Hours

Tonight and tomorrow I will not be blogging. I will G-d willing accompany my kid on a field trip for his day camp tomorrow.
Dealing With Stress in Times of Crisis - Questions and Answers

IDF radio had an excellent program with two psychologists, Dr. Edna Katzeneloson and Dr. Irit Cheruti, who answered caller's questions about how to deal with the stresses of our situation here in Israel.

They started with the introduction that according to research done here in Israel, 90% of people are able to deal with the stresses inherent in war-like environments without any professional help. Reacting with stress to emergencies is of course normal - but it is important to know that it will pass. In terms of how much information to give to children - a lot depends on their age, but in general it is important to try to explain things simply. Trying to ignore the situation is not a good idea - because they pick up things from other adults and other children. On the other hand, you should monitor what they see on tv and hear on the radio.

Now to specific questions from callers:

Q: How should I deal with small children (3 and 5) if we have to move to somewhere else?
A: You should explain in simple terms why you are leaving home, and that hopefully soon you will go back. Take a few things from home to make your temporary place a bit familiar.

Q: My daughter is 3 and a half, and until now she has spoken normally. After seeing me afraid after a rocket attack and hearing the booms, she has started to stutter. How should I react? [this one made me cry - ed.]
A: First, you should know that this is a common reaction to stress, and will probably go away by itself, especially since she spoke well before this. Second, have patience with her and don't finish her words for her. Talk about it and tell her this happens to other people and it will go away.

Q: What activities do you recommend to deal with stress? Music? Yoga?
A: Dealing with stress is an individual thing - and anything that makes you feel better is good. Music, physical activity, role playing (drama) and meditation are some ways to help you get through.

Q: My spouse is constantly on the tv looking at the news, and my reaction is to try to block it out. He is driving me crazy! How do I deal with this?
A: Each individual reacts differently, as you can see. Some people need to escape and some people need as much information as possible. Talk it over and explain that you need a break from the constant tv, and try to come up with a compromise.

Q: I have one older son in the army and a younger son who is very nervous, although we do not live in the north. What can I do to help him?
A: Your son is both worried about his older brother and worried about what might happen to himself. One, you should get your older son to speak to him and try to allay his fears. Two, you should give him activities to do to help around the house or to help the kids up north - perhaps packing care packages to send. Passivity sometimes makes it worse to deal with stress.

Q: We have a child with developmental disabilites and he won't enter the bomb shelter. What can we do?
A: Your problem is similar to those who have small children who sometimes react the same way. Try to do something pleasant while in the shelter so that he will associate it with something fun. Try to be calm but firm - but keep in mind that in all cases you are the parent and are in charge.
IDF Radio Reports that Hizballah Shooting Civilians Trying to Flee From South Lebanon

[Personal update: IDF radio will be having a call-in show for those with questions about how to deal with stress during times of crisis (in Hebrew, of course). Phone in from 1:00 pm to (03) 681-3344. Broadcast time 3:00pm today.

1:48 pm Israeli time: Reports of katyusha rocket landing on border between Israel an Lebanon.

[Personal update: Westbankpapa sent me this map by e-mail with the title that says it all "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words". Click on the link and see a map of the distances from Lebanon to Israel and the table of the missile ranges in the upper right hand corner. Wonder why we're fighting - take a look.]

12:47 pm Israeli time: IDF reporting that there are unconfirmed reports that Hizballah is shooting Lebanese civilians trying to flee the south. Sirens going off in Haifa now. Rockets in Tzfat which caused a gas balloon to blow up. Fires reported in the Galilee.

12:17 pm Israeli time: Female soldier stabbed near army base in the Negev.
Thank You New Yorkers For Standing With Us!

This just warms my heart. Atlasshrugs was at the rally for Israel and has pictures and video clips, including one of Elie Wiesel speaking. It is great to see the big crowd of people. Thank you from Israel!
The Most Important Front

I don't like Ehud Olmert. I didn't vote for him in the last election, and I disagree with almost everything he stands for politically. I am a member of a community that was bitterly disillusioned last August when the disengagement from Gush Katif was implemented - and I may suffer personally if his wish to implement another disengagement plan from Judea and Samaria goes through. But I was extremely pleased with his speech to the Knesset last night.

I was encouraged on two levels. One, that he saw the need to speak the way he did. There was an awareness that the war being waged now is being fought as much in the minds of Israelis as it is in the skies of Lebanon. The lesson has been learned that even if you are fighting a just war this justification has to verbalized, and is not a given. In a country as politically polarized as ours this step cannot be forgotten - and unfortunately has been in the past.

Two, the content of the speech was excellent. There were a few lines meant for international consumption, but most of it was tailored for us. He reminded us who we are - and except for some of the contemporary facts his speech could have been given by David Ben Gurion or Menachem Begin.

He spoke about the fact that we want peace, and will actively seek it - but that if we have to we will wage a fierce war in order to survive.

He touched on the fact that we are one big family. He mentioned the prayer that we say in the synagogue for the safety of IDF soldiers - and pointed out that it is not only said here in Israel but by Jews all over the world. He mentioned the names of the those killed by the rockets both in the north and in Sderot, and although they all came from different backgrounds, we identify with their mourning families.

Ehud Olmert also emphasized how much he thinks about the families of the kidnapped soldiers - which, of course, we all do too.

To end he quoted from the Tanach (the Bible) the famous lines about Rachel Imeinu (the matriarch Rachel) crying for her children and being comforted that her children will return to their borders (to Israel). This quote resonates in the Jewish heart and is symbolic on many levels. It strikes a deep chord with religious and non-religious alike because it reminds us of our shared, if ancient, Jewish mother. It symbolizes the national dream of the Jews returning to their homeland. And it also symbolizes our hope that the contemporary children - our kidnapped soldiers - will also return to us.

The speech was brilliantly written by a skillful speechwriter, and given forcefully by Olmert himself. I am skeptical enough to doubt that it shows a change in the man's politics - and perhaps he was just mouthing the words. But I am grateful that he said what he said - it was damn good to hear.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Miri Regev IDF Spokeswoman Briefs IDF Radio on Today's Operations

8:23 pm Israel time: IDF announces that all soldiers and border patrol personnel are accounted for, the claim that the Al Aksa Brigades kidnapped a border policeman is not true.

5:45 pm Israel time: Miri Regev spoke on IDF radio and gave a report on today's operations. The IAF destroyed ammunition depots and 13 bridges throughout Lebanon. They hit five trucks filled with rockets - one of which caught fire and flew into to air - this was the object that Al-Jazeera and Al Manar television claimed was an IDF plane. The IDF is also in the process of clearing out a section of south Lebanon which will turn into a "no man's land". They are flattening it completely so that there will be no place for the terrorists to take cover. This is in addition to striking Balbek, a village in the eastern border of Lebanon where Hizballah has offices.

5:07 pm Israel time: Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades claim they kidnapped border policeman in West Bank, IDF is checking this claim.

2:43 pm Israel time: The Arabs are claiming that an Israeli plane has been hit and is burning. The IDF claims that this is not true, and that the pictures shown on Al-Jazeera are false. More katyushas fell in Haifa, Migdal HaEmek and Natzrat Ilit. A building in Haifa badly damaged, injuries are reported.

1:46 pm Israel time: Katyushas fall in Tzfat, one injury reported. Others fall in the beach area of Haifa. Sirens go off in Nahariya warning of attack.

Editorial Update: Every hour the Pikud HaOref - Home Front Command - has instructions on what to do based on location. This is available on tv on channel 33. The phone number for the Pikud HaOref is 1207. Some radio stations have instructions after the news broadcast every hour.

1:06 pm Israel time: More katyushas have fallen in the Galil (Carmiel) and a few houses were hit directly. So far no injuries reported.
Want to Help, Even From Far Away?

Soccerdad has another version of Military Monday, this time on ways that civilians can support the troops (both IDF and American troops). The list is partial, but a good start.
Terrorist Attack Foiled in Jerusalem, Soldier Killed in Schem (Nablus)

11:31 am Israel time: A terrorist attack was foiled in Jerusalem. A Palestinian was found with bomb in his bag. He was detained and the bomb is being exploded now.

[Personal update: I don't usually listen to music during the three weeks - but in between news reports on the radio they are playing songs - old ones. The ones they played twenty plus years ago when I was a student in Israel when the Lebanon war started in 1982. David Broza, Arik Einstein, etc. None of the modern stuff they usually play. Interesting to see.]

9:11 am Israel time: IDF radio is now reporting that one soldier killed, another two wounded seriously in Schem (Nablus). The soldiers were going after terrorists and a bomb was thrown at them in the casbah. Shimrit Meir reports that Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for this attack and they say that it was under orders to heat up the situation in Israel in order to make it difficult for the IDF to fight in Lebanon.

9:06 am Israel time: Ynet reports that Palestinians threw two Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem. No injuries reported.

9:03 am Israel time: Rockets hit Kiryat Shmona.

8:34 am Israel time: Two Kassams land in Ashkelon, no injuries reported so far.

7:30 am Israel time: Katyusha lands in Acco, two slightly injured. Reports of rockets landing in Tzfat.

7:05 am Israel time: Warning sirens go off in Tiberias. About an hour ago the sirens went off in Haifa but there was no katyusha attack
Time to Make a Shopping List

Last night katyusha rockets landed near Afula and the Jezreel Valley, which marks the farthest south that the bombs have reached. I live in a yishuv in the Shomron (Samaria) directly east of Tel-Aviv. The IDF thinks that the chances of a rocket reaching our area is very small - but not nonexistent. I am making a shopping list for westbankpapa to take care of on his way home from work today. We live in a house that was built after 1991, so we have a special reinforced room (called a mamad), and we will go into it if we hear the sirens. My kids have day camp for another week, and one son leaves for Poland (the "Holocaust tour") tonight (a post on that will be forthcoming when the dust settles).

Just a reminder that there are real people behind the updates on the war!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Message of the Day - Give Us Enough Time to Finish the Job

(I will continue my updates on this post. See below for earlier updates).

[Update 6:22 pm Israel time: Nasrallah appears on tv. He says that the Israelis have no "red lines" so Hizballah doesn't either. We surprised them in Haifa and we will surprise them again. We are strong, and we are not afraid of a ground operation. Don't believe anything that they Israelis say in their media reports.]

I have been listening to IDF radio all day long, and updating as I go. In addition to the specific information from Pikud HaOref (Home Front Command) on specific details about how the citizens of Israel should conduct themselves and updates on where the IAF is operating, I have heard one clear message repeated by four different politicians and IDF personalities - give us enough time to finish the job.

First it was Miri Regev, the spokeswoman of the IDF who said that in speaking to regular citizens who are under attack up north, she heard encouragement from them to continue fighting. Shaul Mofaz, former Defense Minister, spoke at the scene where eight people died today in Haifa, and praised the courage of the home front and said that their ability to withstand the assaults gives the IDF the opportunity to clear out the terrorists in Lebanon. IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz spoke along these lines at the end of the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, and just a few minutes ago Gideon Ezra said roughly the same thing on IDF radio.

Who are they talking to? It may be to the United States and the other countries around the world who want to pressure Israel to back down - but I doubt it. It may be to the people sitting in the bomb shelters in the north - but I doubt it. I think they are all talking to the left wing/left - leaning media people who may start to demonstrate against the war we are waging. The same naive people who got us into this mess in the first place - who kept repeating over and over that we have to talk, that there is no military solution to the terrorist problem, yada, yada.

The army knows that if it is to succeed they have to finish the job, and clear Lebanon of the Hizballah, which they can't do in one or two days of fighting. Patience is needed. Those of you with blogs should write about this - clearly and calmly. Put your two cents in to the talkbacks. Vote for Israel on website polls (CNN for example). (My husband reported that a very left wing colleague sent around an e-mail urging everyone to go on to CNN and vote that Israel is completely justified in its operation in Lebanon. Pigs flying moment?)

Go to left leaning blog sites and put your two cents in on the comments section (example: Lisa of On the Face has an extremely superficial "analysis" that this whole operation is just a matter of testosterone levels. Really. You know, just a matter of two guys getting into a pissing contest. Anyone care to set her straight?)

The media war is just as important as the real war being waged. Let's help the IDF by giving them the time to finish the job.
Fighting Continues on the Second Front Down South, IAF Takes Out El-Manaar TV Station

(I will update here about what is happening in all three regions - Lebanon, North of Israel, and Gaza here from now on. Today I will be an adrenaline junky for once! For other Jewish bloggers who are liveblogging what is happening in Israel, go here:)

Update 5:05 pm Israel time: Hizballah threatens to hit the chemical plants in Haifa. Tens of thousands of citizens of south Lebanon are heading north, away from the anticipated IAF attacks. Over sixty buildings in Lebanon are bombed by the IAF.

Personal update: I read on the JBlogosphere post that there will be demonstrations in favor of Israel in various cities. If you are wondering if it is worth going - don't hesitate - GO! I for one get a huge morale boost seeing pictures of people waving those blue and white flags along with the red, white, and blue ones. Everyone knows that the world will soon put huge pressure on Israel to stop going after the terrorists. We need your counterpressure.

Update 2:09 pm Israel time: More rockets falling in Haifa, no injuries reported.

Update 1:12 pm Israel time: Shaul Mofaz, past Defense Minister, says that the rocket that fell today in Haifa and killed the eight citizens was a Syrian rocket (220 mm).

Update 1:04 pm Israel time: IDF radio is reporting that the government estimates that Hizballah will try to use all of their rockets, including the ones with the longest range, and therefore Tel-Aviv and Gush Dan (which means the Shomron/Samaria is also included) may be in range of the rockets. The IDF has also warned the citizens of south Lebanon to evacuate before they attack.

Update: 11:30 am Israel time: Rockets falling again in Haifa and Nahariya. IDF radio says that those who live south of Haifa, including the Tel-Aviv/Gush Dan area, should prepare themselves in case rockets fall there also. Prepare your special rooms (mamad) if you have one, if you live in an older apartment/house without a mamad, know where your closest shelter is. In any case, you should stay near buildings. If you hear the sirens, which will rise and fall (vs. the sirens we hear on Yom Hazikaron) go to the shelter or at least find a stairwell to stand under. There is no need to leave work now - this is not a warning of an imminent threat - but you should be aware of what to do in case there is an imminent threat.

IDF soldiers are still fighting down south in Gaza. According to Haaretz here they are bombing targets and they went in to flush out terrorists near Beit Hanoun. Kassam rockets fell in Sderot, and at least one fell near Netivot (farther east than Sderot), with no injuries, thank G-d.

There was also a report that the IDF used a radio frequency usually used by Hamas to warn the citizens in Arabic not to leave their homes so as not to be hurt. Our soldiers worry more about their women and children than they do.

The radio is announcing that the IAF has destroyed the El-Manaar (Hizballah) tv station. The Arabic correspondent says that the broadcasts have stopped.
Report From Magen David Cut Off - Haifa Under Attack

IDF radio is reporting that Haifa got hit this morning again, at least 8 dead and at least 20 wounded. 13 rockets landed, and there was a siren ahead of time. Besides the fact that Haifa has never been hit before (which shows how much farther the new rockets can reach) people are upset because the people in Haifa are not used to this, and don't really have themselves organized for this type of attack. Yes, there are bomb shelters- but they haven't been stocked as well as they could be. Also, the people don't stay in the shelters - they don't take the warnings seriously enough.

The commentators are discussing why Hizbollah have launched the rockets only during the day and not at night. They think that it might be because the terrorist think it would be easier to pinpoint where the rockets are being launched from at night.

They are now talking to a Magen David Adom person for an update, and suddenly he yells that there are more rockets falling and the phone goes dead. This is a nightmare in broad daylight.

Update - 9:53 am Israel time: The announcer says that the phones are out in Haifa because of a rocket hit. If you are trying to call someone and not getting through, do not assume the worst.

Update - 10:15 am Israel time: Bezek says that the phones are not out because anything was hit, but because of all of the people calling. Patience, and you will get through. A more serious problem - people who heard the shriek of the rockets stopped their cars and ran for shelter (which is the right thing to do). But now these cars are blocking the roads that the ambulances need to travel to get to the hospitals. People, go home if you aren't there already, park your cars, and get into the shelters.

Update - 11:20 am Israel time: More rockets reported falling in Haifa and Nahariya.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Peaceful in the Shomron, But Crazy Up North

We had a very nice Shabbat. I was pleased to see that the other man called up north on an emergency tzav 8 (which is a callup to reserve duty in times of war) was also home. It seems that everyone is on stand-by, but are home for now. The Israel Air Force seems to be doing most of the work bombing places in Lebanon, but the people living in the north of Israel are still suffering rocket attacks. Two people killed in Moshav Meron, a direct hit on a house in Tiberias, and other rockets in many other places.

The thing that worries me is the Jewish calendar. This period of time (the three week period of time from the 17th of Tammuz to the ninth of Av) is not a good one for Jews. Many calamities occurred during this period of time, and that is why we mourn - no weddings, no music, no meat for nine days, no new clothes, and a full day fast on the ninth of Av. I know, it sounds superstitious, but I hope the IDF does not have to undertake a big ground offensive until after the ninth of Av (August 3rd this year). I have always wondered why the Arabs picked other times of the year to start up with us - and not this one. I guess someone finally checked out the Aish website :(

(hey guys, maybe check out the 7 Noachide laws while you are at it??????? - wishful thinking....)

Shavua tov (good week - traditionally said on Saturday night after our Sabbath ends and the week starts) and I will write again tomorrow...

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Jews Mourn and the Arabs Celebrate

We fasted yesterday (the 17th of Tammuz) in mourning of the beginning of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. I had a big headache yesterday - but instead of breaking my fast early (which is allowed on this fast day versus the more serious ones of the ninth of Av and Yom Kippur) I kept to it. Rockets falling all over the place (last night in Haifa!!for the first time ever) is a good reminder that we need to do teshuva (repent for our sins) and our safety is, in the long run, dependent on G-d.

Last evening we heard a lot of booms outside. At first I thought it must be an Arab wedding (they like to set off fireworks and sometimes shoot into the air - I guess dancing for the bride and groom doesn't do it for them) but then, when I went for a short walk - I saw that they were going off in three different places. Three different weddings in the three little villages near me? No way - it must be because they are celebrating.

Then again - there were also a lot of army flares going up, so our guys were out reminding them not to get too excited and join the "party" themselves.

My friend's husband was sent home from the north and told that if they need him again they will call him. I invited the family for shabbat - but now they would prefer to be home. The invitation of course still stands if her husband is called up again. This is the way we deal with the situation - cooking! At this point there is nothing more to be done.

There are other blogs with up-to-the-minute updates about what is happening. I could theoretically do the same - but I don't want to. Six years ago when the violence started everyone was glued to the tv/radio/computer. The adrenaline junkies were high all of the time! When it turned out that it was going to be a long term situation, those of us who are not adrenaline junkies quickly learned how much news we could take, and what we needed to do to keep our emotional balance. For me it means listening to the news most of the day, but turning it off around 6:00pm. I then read books and take care of small things in the house. It is also important for women with children in the house not to broadcast too much panic/excitement. The kids need to feel secure, and to know that if there is a danger then we will listen to what the army tells us to do and things will be ok.

Most people are saying that this present situation will probably last at least a few weeks, so my routine seems appropriate. I will try to blog every day - and probably more than once a day - but expect mellow stuff! If you want really up-to-the-minute, then Israelmatzav, Hashmonean, and David Bender are good sources.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Jewish Woman's Way to "Batten Down the Hatches"(Compare and Contrast to My Previous Post)

If you've stopped by my blog to read about the latest events in the developing war in Israel, you've come to the wrong place. Not, of course, because it doesn't interest me - I know two women whose husbands have been called up to reserve duty up north, and I'm sure it will get worse before it gets better.

What I wanted to write about today is how the women - at least those in the national religious world - react to the tumultuous events that always seem to affect the Jewish people. If you want to stop for a few minutes and see what is happening on the "home front" - read on.

Yesterday I spent the whole day perfecting my art. No, I didn't go to a writing workshop. I spent the whole day in Jerusalem learning how to better carry out one of the crucial roles of the Jewish woman, how to strengthen herself and her family in the face of the craziness of the outside world.

Away from the radio and the internet, I attended the ninth annual conference in Jerusalem of Binyan Shalem. (the web site is in Hebrew) This organization was set up some years ago with the idea that the best way to strengthen the Jewish people as a whole was to strengthen its most basic component - the Jewish family. The organization runs year-long courses on issues relating to the family - and sponsors this very successful conference every July in Binyanei HaUma. (No, I do not work for them!)

The topics covered vary from the deeply philosophical to the nitty-gritty details of how to improve the relationships in the family. There are speeches given by fertility specialists in the Orthodox world who are experts on both the latest technologies and how Jewish law relates to these developments. Lectures are given on practical ways to improve communication between spouses and between parents and children. The issues of the day are not ignored - how the events that occur affect our faith in G-d and how to deal with ideological differences in the family are discussed. In addition to the general courses there are three "special tracks" - one for single women and the issues that they face, one for grandmothers (or soon-to-be ones) on how to deal with married children, and one for women who teach brides the laws of family purity before their marriage.

From all of these lectures I chose five - and enjoyed every one of them. I chose one on raising teenagers. It is hard to summarize an hour long speech in a short sentence, but if forced to I would say that I learned that the goal in raising teenagers is to set up strong boundaries - with enough room in between them for the adolescent to find his own way as an individual.

I heard another good talk about how to deal with idealogical differences in the family. This boils down to two main tasks. One, make sure that there are no underlying problems which are just being masked by these idealogical differences - and deal with them. Two, deal with each other with as much respect and love as humanly possible. One memorable quote - "the more love there is, the more creativity in finding compromises."

A unique speech only open to married women was on the role of kedusha (holiness) on the intimate relations between man and wife. The female lecturer prefaced her remarks by saying that the secular world has taken something that should be private and beautiful - the sexual relationship - and smeared it all over the public sphere - to the point where most refined people recoil in revulsion. This reaction should be monitored carefully by Orthodox Jews, so that we don't unwittingly adopt an unnecessarily negative attitude to our sexuality. We have very strict rules as to when, where, and with whom relations are permitted - but when these criteria are met, not only is intimacy good for you and your husband, but it is actually holy. Taking time to work on this part of your life is highly recommended. (Just think, another excuse, a divine one this time, to buy yourself something pretty.)

A lecture which really is impossible to summarize was one given by Rabbanit Idit Itzkovitch on love for our fellow Jews during times of crisis. The Rabbanit spoke about the feelings of betrayal by fellow Jews that many of us feel in the dati-leumi community (national religious) as a result of the disengagement plan. She used Moshe Rabbeinu's (Moses) reaction to the sin of the golden calf (his defence of the people of Israel when G-d offered to wipe them all out and start all over again with just Moses) as a springboard to thoroughly discuss this issue. She brought in Rav Kook and his injunctions to focus on the G-dliness inherent in every Jew.

My favorite talk of the day was one given by Avital Sharansky about her relationship with the late Rabbanit Chana Tau z"l. She spoke very movingly about this great woman who not only taught her about Judaism but helped her during her twelve year fight to free her husband from the Russian prison.

She touched on a lot of different topics both in her speech and in the question period afterwards, including a description of her meeting with President Ronald Reagan, but two other things stand out in my mind. Avital described how when her husband Natan was finally let go and came to Israel, they had been separated for twelve years. During this time she had become observant, but he, of course, wasn't. She was petrified about how things would work out between them, but Rabbanit Chana reassured her. "Treat each other with love, and don't be afraid", she said. "It might take twelve years before you are in the same place, but that's ok, as long as you proceed with love". Good advice for everyone.

A woman in the audience asked Avital what she thought about the aftermath of the disengagement plan, and she smiled and responded beautifully, in my opinion. She said that G-d is always working on his plans and that He doesn't get tired in the middle and stop like humans do. We, of course, don't know exactly what these plans are, but he have to have faith that things are happening the way they should.

Yesterday was one long day of feasting my mind and my Jewish soul, and being with thousands of other women doing the same. It has helped me to "batten down the hatches" of my home against the storms outside. I look forward to doing the same next year, and I highly recommend it to those of you who understand Hebrew.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades Announces Take Your Daughter to Work Day

I really wish I was kidding here, but I'm not. In the Jerusalem Post there is an article about how the offshoot of Fatah held a press conference where they announced the setting up of a special female suicide bomber unit.

A spokeswoman, with her face masked of course, announced that they had 100 women already signed up to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.

To add to their charm, she hinted that they would be willing to target Hamas members also, due to the fighting between the two terrorist organizations.

Oh joy. Take a hint fellas. Don't go out on any blind dates for awhile. You never know when "you da bomb" is more than just a casual compliment.
Free Gilad Demonstration

A demonstration was held in New York City protesting Gilad Shalits kidnapping. Atlasshrugs has pictures and vlogs. In addition to the Jews who showed up, some politicians spoke, including one from the Chinese American community. Those who bless us will be blessed, and those who curse us will be cursed.

Guess who else was there: Irina! She has her take on the demonstration, with pictures also.
Another Superb Post by Soccerdad

Soccerdad has another Military Monday post, and this time it is about a sacrifice that soldiers make that we don't always think about. Go over and read - and be proud of your fellow Americans.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The World Cup Has Affected My Mind

The World Cup has affected my mind. No, not in the way you might think. I haven't gone crazy this month because I am a big fan of soccer - and no, I haven't gone nuts because the men in my family are. We don't own a television, and my kids watch short clips of the games on the internet. I do like to see spectacular plays, and I think that it is really cool when they get a goal with their heads - so my kids call me over to see those. Last night they went to a friend's house to see the last match, and were very happy that Italy won. But on first glance the World Cup seems not to have affected me all that much.

Except for yesterday. I heard another news report that another Kassam rocket fell in the Sderot but didn't kill anyone (thank G-d). The wierd thing was that I had a strange image pop into my head. I imagined rows of angels hovering over the houses in Sderot, dressed in the traditional Hollywood angel uniform - white dress, white wings, and a halo over their heads. But in addition to this usual uniform they had one special addition - a pair of goalee gloves. I had this mental video clip in my head of a Kassam rocket heading toward someone, and an angel smacking it out of the way. If you hear some of the stories coming out of Sderot (and the hundreds of similar miracles that happened in Gush Katif over the years) it doesn't seem all that wierd.

I think.

Who knows, maybe G-d is a soccer fan?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shiloh Musings Hosts This Week...

Haveil-Havalim of course. Take a look - its great.
What A Difference A Word Makes

Sometimes the choice of specific words can change a lot. After last night's incident where the Palestinians claimed that the IDF was responsible for the deaths of a woman and her two children in an apartment in Gaza (the word "wolf!" comes to mind..) the IDF performed its own investigation, based on the soldiers reports and the videos available (from the drones).

Haaretz , Ynetnewscom and the Jerusalem Post reported on this investigation, but of course the spin they give is a bit different. The Jerusalem Post says clearly in the first few paragraphs that the "IDF was not to blame for the incident" - based of course on the facts, but does not go into all of the facts themselves.

Haaretz uses its headline to of course cast as much doubt on the IDF as possible. "IDF Denies Role in Gaza blast", and then goes on to present the case as a clear example of he said/she said - the Palestinians claim x when the IDF claims y, without giving the solid factual proof that is available.

The Ynetnewscom article is the most comprehensive. It says that the Palestinians initially claimed that a tank shell was responsible for the explosion in the family's apartment. When the IDF reported that there were no tanks in the area at all, but that there was in fact an air strike on terrorists about the same time, the Palestinians then claimed that this is what they were talking about. Some inconvenient facts get in the way of this claim, though, as the IDF has proof that the air strike took place at 8:08 pm, and the the report of the blast in this woman's apartment had already been received at 8:00 pm.

It is obvious that the IDF was not responsible - and even more obvious that the Palestinians are desperate for both the international community and the left in Israel to get hysterical and try to stop the operations in Gaza. They are losing, and the killing of innocent civilians by our troops has not happened, so they have to manufacture them. The press here is playing a very important role in this attempted travesty - and I am pleased to see that at least two out of the three web sites in English are being responsilble in their choice of words.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

If You Haven't Read it Yet....

Go on over to neo-neocon and read her excellent, and chilling, post titled The Pied Pipers of Palestine, about how the Palestinians are recruiting children to be martyrs.
Pigs Sometimes Fly - Even in Israel

It is pretty obvious to everyone in Israel that the disengagement plan was a complete failure, and that all of the dire consequences that we on the right side of the political spectrum predicted have indeed come about.

This is shown by the fact that even the left leaning journalists are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to find a way to spin it - and are coming up short.

I just listened to an interview on IDF radio. Ilana Dayan was speaking to Ari Shavit, who wrote an article in Haaretz this morning. His position is that the disengagement plan was a failure because we did it stupidly. The problem was that we thought that it would solve all of our problems quickly, and that was unrealistic. We should have analyzed the plan better. This is particularly infuriating for me to hear because this is what those of us who opposed the plan said for at least a year before it occurred - and we were completely ignored.

Then came the real bombshell. Ilana Dayan said that "maybe we journalists didn't do our job correctly by asking the tough questions". Maybe? Maybe? The so-called objective press blindly assisted the radical left throughout the whole process, because of their desire to see settlers thrown out of their homes. Doing their job of asking pointed questions was forgotten because of their own political bias. Now, when the failure is apparent to all, it suddenly occurs to them that they made a mistake.

Will this mean that they will improve in the future? I don't know. I honestly think that the veteran journalists cannot change, and will always be biased. My only hope is that the younger ones, not as set in their ways and seeing this grave mistake, will try harder to do their jobs professionally in the future.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Go On Over and Say Welcome Home

Aliyah06 is here. Yes, in Israel. Read about her first battle with Israeli beauracracy and how she made the security guard smile - and give a big welcome home! I think EmahS is landing sometime today - so look out for her too....

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

It Was Just the Prologue

Since I was in fourth grade and my teacher had me read a story that I had written to the class, I've always enjoyed writing. I kept a journal from the time that I started college until a few years after we made aliyah, when I gradually stopped. I've actually sent pieces to Jewish women's magazines and a few were published. I got into the habit of jotting down notes and ideas on pieces of paper (old fashioned girl that I am). About a year ago I organized all of these notes into plastic sleeves which I then snapped into a three ring binder. So it was a bit of a surprise when I came across a stenographers notebook and opened it to find not only notes that I had forgotten to put into my binder, but a fully written piece that I remember sending to a magazine but which was rejected.

After reading the notes and the complete essay, I was overwhelmed by a confusing array of emotions. Since two weeks ago I have been trying to tease out each emotion and analyze it - and I think I have come to some sort of understanding.

My first reaction to the complete piece that I had written was pleasure. After receiving the rejection I remember consoling myself that the magazine that I had sent it to wasn't really the right place to publish it. Underneath this self-consolation was the fear that it really wasn't any good. Coming across it almost six years later and re-reading it, I had the pleasure of thinking - sometimes I really do write well. It is always a pleasant surprise to me when it comes out right!

The other emotions were not so simple to understand - but I think I've figured it out now. Here is the piece I wrote in November 2000:


I wake up at 4:00 in the morning and I can't get back to sleep, because the events of the past few weeks keep replaying in my brain.

On Rosh Hashana the Arabs start what some call the second Intifada and others call the Yomim Noraim War, rioting and burning forests all over Israel. On Shabbos Shuva (the Sabbath between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) they destroy Yosef's tomb, razing it to the ground. On the northern border they kidnap three Israeli soldiers, and start a litany of demands for their release. Two army reservists lose their way and are brutally murdered in Ramallah, their bodies horribly disfigured by a crazed mob. Every night Arab snipers shoot both at Jews driving home to their yishuvim in Yesha and into houses in Hebron, Psagot, and the Gilo section of Jerusalem. The Israeli government is floundering, struggling to figure out what to do.

Viewed in one way, a screenwriter couldn't have done it better. The forces of good and evil are clashing again as Israel prepares for another war. One can almost hear the music swelling in the background, enhancing the drama. This would be an exciting suspense movie, if I were sitting in the audience.


At 4:00 in the morning, when the daily running of the household is not a distraction, I have to face the fact that this is not a movie, and I am not just sitting in the audience with my eyes glued to the screen. There are no humorous interludes to break the tension, and a happy ending is not a sure thing, where the main characters emerge with just a bruise or two.

In a word, there are no guarantees. Things change when there are no guarantees - not all of them negative. My kavana (concentration) in davening (praying) has immeasurably intensified. Neilah (the concluding service on Yom Kippur) has a very different feel to it when you know that the women standing next to you have husbands and sons in the army. Tefillat HaDerech (the prayer we say when starting a trip) becomes more than a personal plea for protection against car accidents. Saying Tehillim (Psalms) changes from a daily obligation into a great source of comfort.

On the other hand, no guarantees means that I have had to re-examine my sense of emunah (belief in G-d), and all kinds of questions arise.

If someone asked me today if I believed that all of the events of the past few weeks were part of Hashem's plan, I would easily say yes. Everything that happens is part of Hashem's plan - of that I have no doubt. If someone asked me if I believed that everything that happens is for the good, I would honestly say .....yes, with a bit of hesitation at the memory of the Ramallah killings. I can't help but be overwhelmed by such evil, and wonder, "How can people G-d created act in this way? Why did two innocent men have to die so horribly?"

Then I immediately feel guilty. Does this mean that my emunah is weak? Is there a place for these kinds of doubts?

Is there a way to believe that everything that Hashem does is for the good - but to still fear the pain of what might happen on an individual basis? After all, no guarantees means the possibility of pain.

We all know of families (lo aleinu) where one member is stricken with cancer. Sometimes there is a miraculous cure, thank G-d, and sometimes someone is niftar (dies), seemingly before their time. We all know of couples who are blessed with a child after years of trying. But we also know of those who are not blessed with children and have to live with the endless ache of unfulfilled dreams.

The sun comes up and the house begins to stir. I hear the familiar sound of pajama'd feet scritch-scratch along the tiled floor, and I rouse myself to start another day filled with (blessedly) mundane activities, hoping that my doubts are quieted for at least another 24 hours.

This is what I wrote six years ago - and it makes me feel slightly embarrassed and unbearably sad - for the same reason. I am slightly embarassed because I seemed so naive then. Primed by a diet of short sitcoms and made-for-tv movies, I believed in my heart that what I was writing was the better part of a short story. I thought that any moment the inevitable denoument would take place, and the good guys (the IDF) would take care of the bad guys (the terrorists/rioters). My cursory perception of history (everyone knows that the war in 67 only took six days, after all) led me to believe that the happy ending would be coming up at any moment.

I am unbearably sad - because I wrote this six years ago, and so many tragedies have occurred since then. Suicide bombings and other attacks have taken the lives of so many wonderful people - some that I knew personally. What I wrote then was just the prologue of a long epic, and the happy ending is still nowhere in sight.

Monday, July 03, 2006

There is Some Great Reading Out There

Irina at the Ignoble Experiment hosts this week's Havel-Havalim, and it is the mega version of great reading. Check it out.

I made a promise to myself that I would link to Soccerdad's Military Mondays - and I am keeping it here. Read about another, much more famous person, who also keeps his promises.