Thursday, August 31, 2006

Boogie Yaalon "I'm More Afraid of the Corruption in Israel Than I Am Of the Iranians"

I took part in a blogger conference call with former Chief of Staff Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon yesterday, sponsored by OneJerusalem. I am not completely sure, but judging from the bloggers who asked questions I seem to be one of the few Israeli bloggers who took part. I would like to write about what he said from the perspective of someone who has lived in Israel for 15 years.

First of all, Yaalon confirmed a number of things that those of us in Israel know in our hearts - but that some Americans don't really understand - living as they do so far away.

The Soldiers in the Field Performed Well - Mismanagement from the Top is Reason For War's Failures

I live in a yishuv where fifteen percent of the married men fought up north. This does not count the additional large numbers of young men (19-22) from where I live who took part. So I know a lot of people personally - and I have heard the stories of screw-ups like everyone else. In most, if not all, of these stories - the problems that occurred were from vague or contradictory orders, and logistical problems that were not the fault of the soldier's themselves. They fought bravely and well. Those in America who are wondering "what happened to the tough IDF soldier?" can rest easy - he still exists. (Want to see a video of the fighting - real time? I saw this on Andrew Sullivan )

Moshe Yaalon said that the failures of the war can be directly attributed to mismanagement by both the senior level in the IDF and by the government. He said that the intelligence that they had before the war was completely accurate - the IDF and the government knew about Hizballah's build-up in southern Lebanon, they knew about both the short and long range missiles, and that the only surprise is that Hizballah had one long range missile called the C802.

Yaalon also went on to say that the spin doctors are dominating the decision making process here in Israel, and have been for at least ten years. This has affected policy - not only in regards to Lebanon but in regards to Judea and Samaria. He said that the politicians and the media have manipulated and deceived the Israeli public into believing that we have to take the initiative and disengage from the Palestinians, by withdrawing from territory. Yaalon himself warned that this would only encourage the terrorists to fight more, and that they would see our retreat as a victory for themselves. Those of us who fought against the disengagement plan warned about the same things - but we were ignored.

When asked by a blogger if the word "corruption" should be used instead of mismanagement, Boogie made a quip that in order to talk about the corruption in Israel we would need a whole other conference call - and that he was more afraid of the corruption in Israel than he was of the Iranians.

Overview of the Region - The Need for Clarity and Patience, and Reasons to Hope

Moshe Yaalon gave an excellent overview of the current security situation in the Middle East, and spoke about the need to clarify the problems - both by us here in Israel, and in the west in general. He said that the current problems are conflicts that have different roots than those of the past. Whereas the past wars that Israel has fought have been against nationalistic Arabs, our current conflict is based on Islamic fascism which started with the Iranian revolution in 1979. This threat is of course not just against Israel but on all western countries in the world. The radical Islamic fascism has as its goal the defeat of western culture, and that there is no room for compromise.

In order to fight this we need to use all of the means available - political, educational, and military means. Yaalon believes that there are moderate Muslims - he says that he has met some personally, and that they should be encouraged and empowered as much as possible. They do not have enough power now, though, and we must take action militarily, because letting the Iranians have nuclear weapons is the worst option.

Specifically speaking, he outlined what should be done in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, and in Syria/Iran. There should be more agressive action in Gaza now, so that it does not turn into a southern Lebanon. The current status quo in Judea and Samaria is fine. Yaalon said that as long as the IDF has mobility everywhere in Judea and Samaria, we can get the terrorists and eliminate them in Jenin and Schem (Nablus) before they get to Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. He was also confident that we can keep this up indefinitely - and pointed out that Hizballah had wanted the Palestinian terrorists to carry out suicide bombings while the war was raging in the north, and that the IDF was successful in foiling at least 9 attempts.

In terms of Lebanon and the possibility of a round two with Hizballah, Yaalon reasoned that it depends on one thing only - Hizballah's ability to re-arm itself. If we manage to prevent that, another round of fighting will not happen. The main problem of course is Iran and its facilitator, Syria. A huge problem with the UN resolution 1701 is that neither Iran or Syria is mentioned. They did not have to pay a price at all for this current conflict.

What links all of the current conflicts so far is the change from the conventional way of war to what he calls the sub-conventional way. We are not fighting a conventional army but a terrorist army, that deliberately targets civilians. Yaalon says that we are fighting this way because Israel has so far been successful in every conventional war that is has fought.

We need to realize that this will be a very long term fight - because we not only have to "cut the weeds, but also the roots". Our only option is to show firm determination in dealing with it - and that both Israel and the west has to wake up to the extent of the problem.

Boogie Yaalon is optimistic though, both in terms of the global fight against terror and about the health and future of Israel. He said that we are a thriving democracy that will be able to deal with our government's failures. We are a strong and enduring people who showed fortitude in dealing with the war, and we are already repairing the damage done. Our economy is strong and our people are resilient.

I was very encouraged and pleased to hear from him - and join many others who hope that when the next elections come around, Moshe Yaalon will be on the ticket somewhere.

For other takes on this conference call, see Atlasshrugs, Bokertov Boulder, Jewish Current Issues, and TelChaiNation

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2996 Names - 90 Days - and Hours of Work

Blogger D. Challener Roe deserves a huge round of applause for organizing the blogger tribute to the victims of 9/11. He started with the idea that the victims were people that deserved to be remembered individually, so he thought to assign each person to a blogger. On September 11, 2006, each of the 2996 bloggers will write a tribute.

It took him 90 days, and countless hours of work to reach his goal - but he persevered. Look for the tributes in another 12 days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Protesters in Neon, and Protesters in Camouflage

While other bloggers have gone on to other topics, at least some of the time, I find that I cannot relax and write about things not related to the past war and the protests surrounding it. Part of this is because I think that how Israel reacts now - and the decisions and actions it takes - have far reaching consequences, and blogging is the only thing I can do at this point. I am looking from the side in increasing trepidation that nothing is being learned, and that Israel is going back to sleep.

So why don't I go and join the protesters in Jerusalem?

To be honest, I would love to. But the problem is is that I would cause more harm than good if I went.

You see, I am a "neon" protester. Since the protest movement against the disengagement plan, anyone visibly national Orthodox (women wearing hats or scarves covering their hair or men wearing knitted skullcaps) is automatically colored neon orange (the color associated with Gush Katif) - and takes up the spotlight, whether we want to or not. The media focusses on us, to the exclusion of any secular people around. Don't believe me? Read here where Jerusalem Jo, a new blogger who is a secular/believing Jew and right wing, describes how this happens in his post giving some cultural background to the political situation in Israel.

Another example is the Orange Cell group.What, you don't remember the Orange Cell - the Student Movement against the disengagement plan? Well, I can't blame you. The media almost completely ignored them because they did not represent a religious group. They held a hunger strike outside of the Prime Minister's Office, and they took a part in the three days in Kfar Meimon - but got little press. This despite very creative gimmicks (orange graduation caps, intelligent and humorous signs) which should have given even the most dull-witted reporter the angles he needed for a report.

Why is this a problem? Because when the people demonstrating are identified as being both Orthodox and residents of Judea and Samaria (settlers, in other words) the entire demonstration loses its legitimacy. A lot of secular Israelis are afraid or embarrassed to be associated with us in any way, shape or form, because of the years of demonization that we have suffered in the media. And this, in turn, keeps them from coming out to demonstrate - even if they agree with us 100% percent. (I have a few secular acquaintances who have told me this directly - it is not my imagination). The secular people who are not afraid of this stigma are ignored - as if they are wearing camouflage.

I am not the only Dati Leumi person who is afraid to show up in Jerusalem. My yishuv e-mail box has the usual stuff, and includes emails being circulated depicting the horror stories from reserve soldiers, and calls to sign various petitions. I have also received a request to attend the demonstration on Thursday night for the kidnapped soldiers. But I have not read one thing calling on us to go to the demonstrations in the Rose Garden in Jerusalem.

This is deliberate. Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now has reportedly already claimed that the demonstrations are political and "orange", and the people on my "side of the politcal pond" who usually organize our communities have been conspicuously quiet.

So, if the only thing I can do now is blog - then I might as well bring to your attention some of the things that the "camouflaged" camp is saying.

Ari Shavit has another excellent piece in Haaretz. He says that we are in a much more dangerous situation than we were at the end of the Yom Kippur War - and that the changes we need to make are much larger than just replacing some leaders at the top. He calls on everyone to go to the Rose Garden in Jerusalem to join the reserve soldiers, "where Israel is beginning to deal with itself".

Yuval Steinitz, Likud MK and the chairman of the previous Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, analyzes the problems pointed out in the failures of the past war, and says the following in an interview in the Jerusalem Post:

"There was a kind of hysteria in Israel - a fashion, almost - on the part of the public, the media and popular culture about the need to cut the defense budget. As if to say, "Enough already! We're a normal country, and anybody who says otherwise doesn't know what he is talking about. In this cultural milieu, security is art, culture, health, social justice. Security is everything but security. Well, that's all over now. Suddenly we opened our eyes and understood that there are real threats out there."

This is part of his assertion that the intelligence that the government had about Hizballah was excellent - but it was ignored by those who needed to make crucial decisions, because of distorted perceptions. If there is anyone in Israel who can say "I told you so" Steinitz is the one - because he did, literally. Read the whole interview

Monday, August 28, 2006

Update On the Protests Against the Government

The protest movement against the government's handling of the war in Lebanon is continuing, albeit slowly. reports about some reserve soldiers marching from Tel-Aviv - (where they set up a protest tent in Rabin Square) to Jerusalem. Ehud Olmert is supposed to announce this evening (although he has put this off once already) what type of inquiry he will set up. If he chooses a government inquiry (versus the State Commission of Inquiry which is more objective and has more teeth) than the reservists predict that the protests will intensify.

In fact, there are a number of protests going on simultaneously (you know, two Jews, three synagogues. In Israel this translates into political positions). The reservists, who are justifiably angry over the government screw-ups, are calling for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to immediately resign. (For some interviews in English of IDF reservists who served in Lebanon and are now protesting, go to the OneJerusalemBlog here.)

Another group, led by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, is protesting down the street from the reservists, and is currently holding a hunger strike. They are pushing for a State Commission of Inquiry, because they feel that the problems shown up in the war are not just a function of these three individuals, but a function of the inherent problems in the government as a whole, and that a State Inquiry will bring these to light.

I am always wary of these types of groups - because behind the neutral sounding names sometimes hides extremely left (and occasionally, right) wing groups. This one really is a non-partisan, non-profit group that refuses to lobby the Knesset - because they want to be neutral. I laughed out loud when reading their FAQ section, and came across the very straightforward question "Are you just one of those left-wing groups that always bashes the right?" The answer, of course, was no. (My main problem with the group is that it is made up of lawyers and their main approach is to petition the Supreme Court here. Nothing wrong with that - but it doesn't address the problem of the extreme bias of the court itself. Still, they do some good work).

Both groups are being asked to suspend their protests on Thursday in order to join the families of the kidnapped soldiers who are organizing a big rally on Thursday evening in Rabin Square.
The First Blogger Ever

If you want to know who Batya thinks was the first blogger ever, go on over to Me-ander and take a look at Havel-Havalim #84. Lots of good stuff to read there.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Mother Asks for a Different Promise

Sometimes you read an opinion piece that makes you nod your head in agreement. Sometimes you read one that makes you say to yourself, "Yes!". Occasionally you read one that is so well written that you are jealous that you didn't write it yourself.

This past weekend I read the Makor Rishon newspaper which included a piece by Orly Goldkling that made me jealous. Not only do I agree with everything she says, but she writes from the perspective of a clear-eyed, both- feet-firmly-on the ground woman and mother. This is the type of "Kol HaNashi" I can get behind. I didn't write it - but I took the liberty of doing the next best thing - I translated it into English for my readers. (The emphasis is mine).

[For those of you unfamiliar with Israeli culture, Goldkling refers to the lyrics of songs by Yehoram Gaon, and one specifically called "HaMilchama HaAchrona" - "The Last War". This sentimental song is about an IDF soldier singing to a little girl that the current war will be the last.]

"You promised me that this would be the last war. You described for me the heroism of the fighters and the injured and the dead; the communications officers and the medics and doctors; you told me about the tank soldiers and the pilots that broke through the fierce fighting; you sang about the destruction of the mortar shells and the missile and anti-aircraft fire. More than thirty years ago you started with this idea, and accompanied your words of promise with a sweet and heartwarming tune, and you sang over and over about every injury and every war, and that now, in just a little bit, this would really and truly be the last war.

I didn't ask you to do this, but you promised. In your eyes, I was still your little girl, maybe even wearing a red dress and two braids, who stood and asked "why?". But I didn't ask. And I didn't believe you. I knew that it wasn't up to you at all. But I thought it was nice of you to promise all the same.

To be honest, to my little girl's mind, I was a bit surprised by your promises. A warrior is supposed to promise me protection, to watch over me around the clock, to fight for me always, in this war and in the next. But you gave me a loving and forgiving smile, as if you wanted to say: what do you understand, you are just a little girl.

Afterwards another war broke out, and another. And it didn't matter to me at all that you made me promises. Because this wasn't a song that I wrote. You wrote it in my name. That is what adults like you do for little girls like me who don't understand. Write protest songs in their name, and teach them about peace and doves with olive branches in their mouths. And you love to be embarrassed for the fighters that didn't keep their promises.

But now I am not a little girl anymore, and the words of your songs from thirty years ago play in my mind, and suddenly I am furious. How did you dare to promise me that there wouldn't be another war? Where did you get the nerve? How did you turn the heroes of the tanks and the paratroopers who wanted to protect me into an "army of peace" right in the middle of a war?

I have a little girl of my own now, and she even has a red dress and two braids. But when she asks "why?" and all of the characters of your imagination stand pale-faced and mute, I know the answer. You don't have to be a security expert to understand it, and you don't need to be a fan of Bibi to recognize the truth of what Netanyahu says: "If the Arabs put down their weapons, there won't be another war. If Israel puts down their weapons, there won't be an Israel anymore".

You knew this answer thirty years ago, but you chose to take a little girl's question and make it into a symbol. This symbol is now shooting at us, and is hurting and killing thousands.

I didn't ask you why then, but now I am asking, dear old man. Why did you really promise me all that? Based on what exactly? Because you really wanted it? Because everyone really wanted it? Because you read S. Yizhar or David Grossman, and you learned to recognize the pain of the enemy, and you saw that he, too, is a human being?

But now I am a mother. And your assumption that you see the pain of both sides reminds me of my little one who looks through big binoculars, but can't see through them using both eyes at once. When he looks through one side, he as to close the other eye, so that in essence the other side doesn't exist. You learned to see the pain of the other so much, to have mercy on him to the depths of your soul, that you stopped seeing my, and your own, side.

I see the tank soldiers, the pilots and the paratroopers that came back from the battles, and the Golani brigades that your generation didn't even notice and I ask, no demand, that you will promise both me and my little girl, that when there is another war you will always go out and fight it. Promise her that you still remember the reason why we are gathered here on this injured land; promise her that you still know what you have to do to ensure her safety; promise her that there won't be any more questioning songs, but only ones with clear answers; promise her that you will open your beautiful and tired eyes and see the horizon that you saw at one time, before the dust of delusion blurred your vision, and promise that you will fight for her, so that she, before anyone else, will live in peace."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gaining Steam

The protests led by the reservists taking place in front of the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem are gaining steam. A core group of protestors have set up a tent and stay there 24 hours a day. Two days ago they were joined by Moti Ashkenazi, the reserve officer who spearheaded the protests against the government after the failures of the Yom Kippur War.

According to this report in hundreds more came to support them yesterday. Haaretz predicts that the weekend will see a jump in the numbers, as reservists who are just now released from duty will join soon. On Friday there will be a joint protest with the bereaved families of soldier's killed in the war, and on Sunday there will be a protest march from Tel-Aviv to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem.

The protestors are demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz take responsibility for the failures of the war and resign from their positions. If they don't, they want the public to demand a State Commission of Inquiry.

The three are of course hoping that the protests will blow over, and they can get away with receiving a slap on the wrist by a lower level investigative panel. I don't think this will happen. Right now there are quite a few politicians who are standing on the sidelines and letting the reserve soldiers have their say, while they enjoy the results. If it looks like the protests are faltering, and the "troika" will escape, then they will join the fray and take out their already sharpened knives.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Southern Lebanese Army Family Reunites

This article points out a story about a woman and her three children who approached the border between Lebanon and Israel. She said that she was married to a man formerly of the Southern Lebanese Army who now lives in Israel, and she was now being threatened by Hizballah. After checking her story, the family was reunited after six years.

This article points out a little known fact regarding the horrible way the IDF ran from Lebanon six years ago. There was not enough time to prepare the SLA - who had to literally run for their lives to the Israeli border. Many of them stayed in Israel - and some, like this man, left behind wives and children.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Big Yawp to the Barbarian

Haveil-Havalim #83 is hosted this week at the barbarian's house - and he does a great job. Don't forget to go on over to soccerdad and read this week's Military Monday - and read some interesting facts about the Civil War.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Are We Being Ants or Grasshoppers?

There is a very wierd atmosphere here in Israel now. On the one hand the people are demanding an inquiry commission into the government's running of the war. There is nothing wrong with that - I think it is definitely necessary.

On the other hand everyone knows that this war is not over. Haaretz has an article where this is spelled out specifically - and the time frame for the next round is said to be in a matter of months or weeks.

So my question is, are we making most of this time? Is someone doing what should be done NOW to prepare for the next round?

I have no suggestions for the IDF - there are others who know better than I what should be done. But anyone with a little common sense knows what should be done on the home front. Here is my "to do list":

Improvements to the bomb shelters - bathroom and shower facilities installed or upgraded?

Air conditioner/heaters ready to be installed if necessary?

Plan to evacuate the poor and elderly who want to leave the north and cannot do it on their own?

Plan to educate the children in case of war during school year? Computers ready to be put in bomb shelters? Volunteer teachers ready to go up north?

"Twinning program" in other parts of the country - where similar communities are matched and can absorb temporary refugees if the need arises?

Israelis are famous for being able to fly by the seat of their pants - which is a good survival skill in this part of the world, since we don't always know what is around the corner. On the other hand we Jews pride ourselves as being intelligent - and learning from our mistakes is one component of that intelligence.

Are we being ants or grasshoppers this summer?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

For Those of You Who Like to See the Glass Half Full

I think most people in Israel today agree that the leaders of our government are awful - to put it mildly. The inevitable talk about an inquiry commission will eventually lead to a lot of them getting booted out.

At the same time I think that we should emphasize that there is a lot of positive things to be proud of - and that not only did we accomplish things in this war, but that the average, and not so average, IDF soldier proved that we really still have what it takes to get the job done.

Hashmonean has an excellent analysis of this recent Lebanon war, and believes that we accomplished a great deal. Please read all of his posts on this - which include some good background on the history of Lebanon.

I was also glad to see that the fight hasn't ended, and that at least one IDF officer tells it like it is - to the New York Times, no less.

Gail at Crossing the Rubicon has a translated part of an interview with two injured IDF soldiers who are not only brave, but put everything into the correct perspective. reports on the commando officer who was killed this weekend in Lebanon. This is just one example of the many brave fighters who serve in the elite units - away from the media spotlight. They quietly risk their lives saving ours, and even after their deaths we don't learn of the things they accomplished. These are the guys that find the terrorists in Judea and Samaria and kill them before they can kill us. These are the guys who are dropped into enemy territory, get the information we need, and come back with it - so that not only can the IDF accomplish what it needs to do, but it can do it with less risk for the average soldier.

And not every "soldier" wears a green uniform. In this weekend's Makor Rishon there was a picture of a religious lady with some portable bar-b-ques, cooking up a storm. The caption told of this mother of 18,(bli ayin hara) who came up to the border of Lebanon to bring her sons some "home cooked" food. It turns out that she has 7 sons in combat units in the north. Don't underestimate a country with mothers like these.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Blogger Conference with Former Ambassador Uri Lubrani

Last night I took part in a blogger conference call sponsored by with former Ambassador Uri Lubrani, who is considered Israel's foremost expert on Iran. His impressive experience includes the positions of Ambassador to Ethiopia and Uganda, the head of the Mission to Iran, the Government Co-ordinator for Lebanese Affairs, and Co-ordinator of the rescue of Ethiopian Jews.

He spoke about the internal politics in Iran and its ramifications on both the Middle East and America.

He made a number of interesting points, the first of which is a little surprising to someone with an Israeli perspective. He said that Iran sees itself as the champion of the struggle against the west, and that its main enemy is the United States of America. Israel is "only" the little Satan, whereas America is the "big" Satan. I already knew this intellectually, but from the perspective of someone who is living in a country that Achmadinejad wants to wipe off the map, and listening to his rantings about the Holocaust, it still comes as a bit of a surprise to know that we really aren't his main enemies, and that my friends and family across the ocean are the ones that he really wants to kill.

Uri Lubrani also pointed out that this conflict is a political one, and not a religious or even cultural one. He is a member of a group of people analyzing the schoolbooks used in Iran, and he says that the children there, from the age of six, are educated that the purpose of their lives is to fight the west, and that they have to prepare themselves for martyrdom and that the United States in the incarnate of evil (because they are the leaders of the western world). One of the points used by Iran to convince their people that the United States is evil is its supposed mistreatment of blacks.

Although Lubrani did not say this directly, he implied that fundamentalist Islam is only a tool that Iran uses against the west. My understanding of this is that the fight is not about fundamentalist Islam against the secular west, it is about democracy versus dictatorship. Our understanding of the conflict gives us clues on how to fight it.

Getting back to Lubrani, he added that we should understand what is really happening in Iran. The people there are really suffering. There is a huge drug problem, inflation is at 24%, and that although official figures put unemployment at 20%, Lubrani thinks it is closer to 30%. All of the oil wealth is obviously going to pay for weapons and not to improving the people's lives. This is the key, in Lubrani's opinion, to where the US can fight effectively - by being the ones who actually help the Iranian people.

One bright point of light that Lubrani reported, is that the younger people do not believe everything that they read in the schoolbooks and hear from the government about how awful America is. Many have friends actually living in the United States and they hear firsthand about the quality of life in America. He also said that the Iranians are more open to the idea of democracy than others in the mideast. An interesting point that I had read a few months ago, is that Farsi, the language of Iran is the fourth most popular language used by bloggers (English is first, French second, Portuguese is third). Interesting to note that Arabic, Chinese, and Russian do not make it to the top of the lists.

In response to a question Lubrani pointed out that Iran has an interest in influencing what is happening in Iraq. The success of the United States in Iraq, and the budding democracy there, is a direct threat to them.

Lubrani voiced his opinion that the military option against Iran should be the last resort, and not only because of the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. He says that threatening fundamentalist Muslims with war (death) does not work, because dying for them is not a terrible option.

I thought a lot about his viewpoints, and some of what he says dovetails with my own perspective as an Orthodox Jew. It makes me extremely uncomfortable (and I would think it also makes religious Christians uncomfortable) when I hear the worldwide conflict we are engaged in defined as "fundamentalists against secularism". The fight is not about the burka versus the bikini, the fight is about the choice of whether to wear the burka or the bikini. As an Orthodox Jew I follow the laws that my Torah dictates to me - and living in a democratic country I have the choice to do that. I fully respect the Christians and the Muslims who follow their religion, as long as they don't harm anyone else for following a different way.

This leads to how to "market" the western values of democracy. Emphasizing the materialism and success of the western world is not enough. The "good life" will certainly be attractive to people who feel deprived, and have the perfectly acceptable goal of giving their children a financially secure future. But the "good life" can't be seen as the either/or choice in regards to their spiritual life. We all know that Bin Laden, and many, if not all, of the "homegrown" terrorists in the western world, came from financially secure (if not outright rich) families - so it is not just a question of poverty.

The greatest marketing tools that we can use is the combination of happy, financially secure and Orthodox families of all religions. It really does boil down to the cliche of freedom - but not just the freedom to pursue financial happiness.

This is where both the liberals and conservatives can find common ground. Most of us in the conservative camp get uncomfortable at the term multiculturism - not because we don't respect others who are different from ourselves, but because in too many cases the respect for another's culture includes the unquestioning acceptance of the other culture's intolerance. I assume that most of those in the liberal camp are uncomfortable when we conservatives point out that there are some values that are more important than others. But if you look at the value of tolerance for others - we all agree. This is the basic common denominator in democracies, and this is what we have to use to win this global conflict.

Now the only problem is how to make sure they don't kill us before we can convince them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is the Jewish Left Opening Its Eyes?

It is no secret that the majority of American Jews are liberals - at least above a certain age. I have heard, though, from family members in America that this past war with Hizballah has changed a lot of people's opinions.

Westbankpapa pointed out this article in Opinionjournal which just affirms this view. Read the whole thing - and send it on to your liberal friends!

There has been an awakening on the Israeli left also, as I have written before. On the other hand, there are still plenty of left wing thinkers who refuse to see what is right in front of their faces - and continue to lay the blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East strictly on Jewish shoulders. I won't link to them, but if you really want to you can look at the editorial section of Haaretz - the left sidebar. Don't forget the antacid first.
False Alarm or The End of the Ceasefire?

10:50 am Israel time: The IDF is announcing that it wasn't a false alarm, but that there was an attempt to fire one rocket from Lebanon that failed. They theorize that this was done on purpose to frighten the public [and to test to see if we are still vigilant -ed.]

10:40 am Israel time: They are saying that it was just a false alarm.

10:30 am Israel time: The radio just announced that there are sirens going off in Kiryat Shmona and Tzfat, and the residents are asked to go into the bomb shelters.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ceasefire Getting Shakier By the Minute

Some of the reserve IDF soldiers are being sent out of Lebanon, the residents of the north are starting to go back home, and there are those in the government who are taking out the knives and starting to attack each other for the failures of the war - all signs that Israel is going back to its usual routine.

On the other hand there are worrying signs that this period of time is just a short break from the fighting, and that it will start up again soon. has their report here that Hizballah is announcing publicly that they will not disarm, and the IDF Chief of Staff said today that we may have to stop pulling our troops out of Lebanon.

I just listened to an interview with Member of Knesset Effie Eitam, one of the current Knesset members with relatively recent IDF experience. He is urging those in charge to make their criticism of the IDF both professional and constructive, in order to learn and plan for the next stage of fighting - which he predicts will start in just a few days.

I hope that Effie Eitam is wrong, but I feel that he is right. My fear is that the nutcase in Iran wants to celebrate August 22nd by bashing Israel - and is urging Nasrallah to give it another go. Waiting a little bit until there are more civilians in the way - both Israelis in the north and Lebanese in the south, would be just his way of operating.
File This Under "Duh"

The Kadima party has had a real brainstorm. They realize that they have to find a new agenda - as they acknowledge the obvious, and admit that they have to scrap their plan to withdraw from the westbank.

I should be jumping for joy at this news - it means I can continue to live in the wonderful community that I love so much. Instead I am honestly relieved that this threat is not over my head - but I am much more afraid of the new threats that hang over all of our heads in Israel.

The best you can say is that we achieved a "tie" against Hizballah in this war. Most people think we failed miserably. I see both the obvious failures and some reasons to be thankful.

You can read about the failures elsewhere - I don't have the patience to list all of them.

In terms of what to be thankful for: I don't know who decided on the timing of this, but it is obvious to me that Nasrallah miscalculated badly. He should have waited until Olmert had given away more parts of Judea and Samaria, and then provided the Palestinians with Katyusha rockets. Then they could have hit Tel-Aviv and the central region in addition to the north. I don't know if he would have been successful in pushing us into the sea - but he would certainly have been more successful than he was at killing civilians.

Nasrallah also woke up the country to the threat. Now that most people acknowledge what we have to deal with up in Lebanon, we have the chance to fully prepare ourselves for the next round.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two Summers, Two Lessons

After living in Israel for 15 years, and reaching my (gulp) mid-forties, I have developed a very deep cynicism for politicians. At the same time I have kept my almost Pollyanna-ish optimism about my fellow "simple" Jews. I retain my hope that even those of us with very different backgrounds and political views can talk to, and more importantly, listen to each other - and perhaps actually do something to improve this little G-d given country of ours.

Now that there is a ceasefire, I can take a break from the fast-paced present events, and write about what I hope we can all learn from the past two summers.

First, what I have learned from this summer. (I apologize in advance if what I say sounds condescending. This is not my intention).

Listening to the radio and reading various articles, I have been surprised at the change in some of the left wing journalists and intellectuals. Yes, some of them repeated the same-old platitudes - and did not acknowledge the new reality revealed by this war. But quite a few did change, and proved that they are open to new ways of thinking. To oversimplify, until now I have usually labeled most left wingers as "self-hating" - and dismissed what they had to say in the past based on my assumption that they love the Arabs more than they love their brothers, and sometimes even themselves. I see now that in many cases this assumption was wrong - and I hope that this will help me listen in the future.

Second, what I hope others have learned from those of us on the right - and more specifically, from the settlers, from the events of last summer.

Before the disengagement there was a great fear of a civil war. Part of this was due to the media's demonization of the settlers, and part of it was due to the true reading of just how passionately we opposed the plan. Most people (including myself) who haven't been forced out of our homes can only dimly imagine just how painful it really is - but all of us knew that the pain would be profound. The fact that many people made great sacrifices before last summer - getting arrested for blocking roads, getting arrested for refusing orders, moving to Gush Katif and living in tents for months - sharpened the fears and led to the question many asked themselves - "just how far will they go to stop this from hapening?" Many on the left feared that the settlers would go so far as to kill other Jews, because of the assumption that they love the land under their feet more than they love their brothers, and sometimes even themselves.

I hope that the fact that the civil war did not materialize last summer has shattered this assumption, and that there are those out there who can now listen to us.

Will we learn our lessons this time?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Olmert and Netanyahu Speak to the Knesset

I listened to the speeches made by Ehud Olmert and Bibi Netanyahu to the Knesset this afternoon. I was underwhelmed by Olmert's speech, and pleasantly surprised at Netanyahu's.

Olmert said the usual blah -blah - thanking the soldiers and the home front, and mentioned those in the north specifically. He took personal responsibility for going to war as "part of my job as Prime Minister". I found this a bit puzzling. He then outlined the goals that the government had set for itself a month ago when going to war, and he tried to show how today's ceasefire agreement includes these goals. Didn't wash - for a number of reasons. One, the agreement does not mention the kidnapped soldiers at all - and Olmert's appointing of a special envoy to negotiate for their release does not make up for this. Two, he is depending on this piece of paper to implement what has been written before in previous agreements (1559), but has not been done in reality. How is this agreement any different? He didn't answer. He made some vague statements about how the international community will be responsible. We all know that if "everyone" is responsible, then noone is. He addressed the nation's disappointment by saying that we have to have patience, and that the terror war has been around for a long time and will be around for a long time. Not a very satisfying answer.

Bibi Netanyahu was expected to withhold sharp criticism of the government's decisions - but he managed to do it anyway, albeit it in a more elegant way than most opposition leaders. He also started with the usual blah-blah but he specifically mentioned the people in the south who have suffered with the Kassams - something that Olmert forgot to do. Netanyahu then made some very clear points - that will do well for him in the next election.

He stated that we should learn three points from the current situation. One, that the idea of unilateral moves was wrong and should be thrown out - because it is interpreted as weakness by our enemies. He said clearly that the way we left Lebanon in 2000 was the direct cause of our current war. Two, he said that Nasralla taught everyone that our fight with the Arabs is not about pieces of land but about our very existence. We withdrew to the internationally recognized border and it did not prevent him from attacking us. We left Gaza, and this did not prevent Hamas from attacking us. His third point is that this war has taught us the importance of treaties with other countries - and that these treaties are based on common values, common interests, and based on strength. He said that noone makes a treaty with a weak entity - and that our goal now is to strengthen ourselves as much as possible.

He also pointed out sharply that since the government did not complete the goals that it had set out for itself we were headed for another round of fighting - and that we should take advantage of this time wisely.

The Speaker of the Knesset, Dalia Itzik, spoke briefly before both Olmert and Netanyahu, and she called for the government to form an emergency coalition government (instead of the more narrow government that we have now). I agree with her completely - we cannot pretend that this war is over and go about our business as usual. The mistakes made have to be corrected, and quickly, and the best way to do that is with national unity.
Ceasefire Measured in Hours?

Kol HaKavod to MK Effie Eitam who is calling on the government ministers to hold back their criticism of the way the war has been handled - because it really isn't over yet. He correctly points out that we have important work to do, and more importantly, our soldiers are still in Lebanon.

Update: A second exchange of fire between IDF soldiers and Hizballah takes place in another place in southern Lebanon.

The IDF is reporting that there was an shooting incident in Lebanon - where a Hizballah terrorist opened fire at IDF forces and was then shot and killed. No IDF soldiers were hurt. This is less than four hours after the ceasefire came into effect.

The Home Front Command has requested that civilians in the north stay in their bomb shelters. They are waiting to see if Hizballah sticks to the ceasefire and completely stops launching Katyusha rockets.

The IDF is also monitoring what is being said and done in Lebanon in relation to the Lebanese army - whether or not they will, in fact, take the ammunition away from Hizballah.
Some Links for this Monday Morning

Soccerdad has done a fine job with this week's Haveil-Havalim - if you are interested in a roundup of what the Jewish bloggers had to say this week, go on over.

I just stumbled upon a relatively new blog called Israelity. A "spin off" of Israel 21c, this blog focusses on the day-to-day life in Israel - things you may not read on the regular web sites and blogs you usually read.

The controversy over the faked photographs and Hizballah's role in manipulating the mainstream media is continuing. For a short video summary go here to Aish HaTorah - to the movie titled Photo Fraud in Lebanon. For an extensive look, go to Eureferendum, who is documenting all of the evidence available on the net, and is doing an excellent job.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Failure of the Elite

For those of you, especially in America, who are trying to figure out where Israel went wrong in this war, here is an article that spells it out.

Ari Shavit writes passionately in Haaretz that the current fiasco is "not a failure of the IDF but a failure of the elites that turned their backs on the IDF". He goes on to spell out that the average Israeli has stayed strong and realistic, but that the intellectual elite here has lived in a bubble - which has led to the dreadful mistakes made by the politicians.

Those of us on the religious right here in Israel have been warning about this for years - about 13 years in fact - since the beginning of the Oslo Accords. I can't remember how many demonstrations I have attended over the last decade (plus) where we tried to make our voices heard, and were dismissed as "propellors" - Yitchak Rabin's name for us (as in, keep spinning) - or as right wing fanatics, or religious fanatics, or racist settlers (you get the message). These names were meant to demonize us - and make it possible for the elites to dismiss our rational warnings as so many rantings.

Not exactly "kill the messenger" - but close. We watched the approaching train wreck with mounting fear, but we proved powerless to stop it. In the meantime we stood strong in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) despite the terror, and we sent our sons to fight alongside everyone else, even though we knew the policies of the elites in control of the government put our lives and those of our soldiers in peril.

I can only hope that those reading Shavit in Haaretz will agree with him - and we can work to fix the problems before we head into another disaster.
Paging Dr. Kevorkian

I really don't understand this. is reporting that an injured Hizballah operative (terrorist? mortal enemy of Israel?) is being treated in an Israeli hospital for moderate wounds. They even have a picture, (tatoo on his left arm, but his face is electronically blurred) and reported on his request to tell his family that he was alive. They also mentioned that he was transfered to a hospital away from injured IDF soldiers (might upset a few folks there, ya think?)

I really hope that this is some veiled message to Nasrallah that we have someone important, that will be tortured soon and will spill a lot of secrets. Otherwise it doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

Definitely a case for Dr. Kevorkian.
From the Other Side of the Mechitza

There is so much to write about in this war - the rockets still falling, the ceasefire agreement, the upcoming political firestorm that will make the fighting in Lebanon look tame by comparison, the American's disappointment by the results of this round of fighting, etc., etc. It is sometimes hard to pick a topic to focus on.

I am going to ignore the above topics for today and share a perspective that isn't always written about on the blogs.

I am an Orthodox Jewish woman and although I do not pray with a minyan (a group of ten adult men) on a regular basis, I do attend the synagogue on Sabbath mornings and for special occasions.

One of these "special occasions" was the evening of the Ninth of Av, when we read the book of Eicha (Lamentations) and mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. After the reading there was a break before a scheduled woman's Torah lesson, so most of us waited in our section of the synagogue, behind the mechitza (the barrier separating between the men's and women's sections which is found in Orthodox synagogues). I noticed not too far away from me a group of women forming, and I quickly realized that they were all mothers of sons now fighting in Lebanon. I couldn't hear what they were saying, as I sat too far away, and I didn't feel it was my place to move closer just to satisfy my curiosity. But their faces spoke clearly enough. Grim, and sad, but strong nevertheless.

On the following Sabbath morning I sat next to a very young woman who I recognized as one of the newer faces in our settlement. I knew that her husband was called up and serving in Lebanon - and a quick glance to my left showed me how hard it was for her. Red eyes and nose and slightly trembling fingers holding the siddur (prayer book) spoke volumes. It is forbidden to mourn on the Sabbath, but I couldn't help but sigh. It helped me focus on my prayers, though.

Yesterday I spent the Sabbath with family members in another city in Israel. At one point I noticed that someone was giving out little scraps of paper to each man in the synagogue. After the services were over I went up to my family and asked them what they were. On each scrap of paper was written a name of a soldier, Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of the mother. Each man was requested to pray and learn Torah especially in the merit of this specific soldier. It gave me pause when my nephew's scrap of paper had my son's name - both his given name and my given name.

For more information about this program, see this article on the Arutz 7 website. To participate yourself, send an e-mail to

Friday, August 11, 2006

Listen to the People Olmert, Not the Spin Doctors

The government voted to expand the ground offensive on Wednesday - but held off on implementing it to supposedly give the diplomats one more chance to come to an agreement.

Everyone knows that the ground offensive is going to be hard - and a lot of soldiers will die. The politicians are naturally worried about the effects on their careers afterwards, and are looking nervously at the national mood to guage whether or not to proceed.

I have a hint for you guys - LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE, NOT THE SPIN DOCTORS.

Listen to your army - they guys who are going to actually do the fighting and dying. The IDF "wants to move, fight, and attack".

Listen to the people - 90% say the war is justified. (Ignore the misleading headline - obviously written by someone who did not like the contents of the article, and read the whole thing) This is based on a survey done by Tel-Aviv University, not exactly a hotbed of neo-conservatism. As a matter of fact, those doing the survey admitted that they were surprised at the results. "The public is united in the belief that the war is justified. Similar data was published at the start of the war and two weeks into it, but we didn't think that support would remain so high a month after the war broke out."

Listen to the people who are sick of the spin, and know that "A war of spin is a war that is divorced from reality...", as Ari Shavit writes in this excellent piece in Haaretz.

He writes "The name of the game now is national will. Only a full enlistment of national will and all national resources will lead to a crucial national victory on the battlefield. This national will cannot be enlisted on the basis of spin, but only on the basis of truth."

Listen to Natan Sharansky, who says that we have to win militarily, and accurately claims that you are hesitating too much.

And yes, listen to the left wing - but more importantly - count them. Last night there was a protest in Tel-Aviv against the war. This time it was not just sponsored by the radical left (Anarchists against the wall, etc.) but both Peace Now and the Meretz party joined in. Only 600 people showed up. And this number was reported by AP, which leads me to believe that it is inflated. Further proof of the failure of this protest is the fact that the web sites chose to focus on the words of a few intellectuals (A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, and David Grossman) instead of the protest itself. put their article in the "Culture" section and not in the news section - because they think that these people represent a small fringe view.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Knee-Jerk Liberal Left Returns to Itself

4:05 pm Israeli time:

Home Front: Police report that 110 rockets have fallen in Israel so far today. Earlier an Arab mother and her five year old child were killed by a direct hit on a house in their village.

Lebanon: For the first time the IAF is dropping leaflets in the southern neighborhoods of Beirut warning of imminent attacks. IDF engaged in heavy fighting in Marjayoun and villages near Bent Jebail.

[Personal Update: The reporters here are also beginning to feel the stress of the war and the never-ending reporting. I just heard a reporter on the radio announce "a rocket fell in the Kiryat Shmona area, hitting a chicken coop in a moshav. Some of the chickens died and some went into shock". He then stopped himself and said "huh" - he is now checking the report to see if this was a practical joke in order to lift spirits, or if someone was seriously in need of some sleep!!! How do you know if a chicken is in shock anyway?]

I guess it was just a matter of time. The left wing Meretz Party and Peace Now have announced that they will join the anti-war protests. Until now they supposedly supported the war, because it was justified. Now that the government has approved the increase in the number of troops going in to Lebanon (so that maybe we can stop the rocket attacks and kill the terrorists) they have decided to protest against it.

I am honestly confused. If the war was justified two days ago, when the rockets kept landing on Israeli soil and killing civilians, why is it now not justified? The rockets are still flying and civilians are still being killed. The terrorists are still there.

I guess until a rocket falls on Sheinkin there will be people who are still deluded. My question is, what will happen to the people on the left who have already woken up? Will this war mark the beginning of the Israeli neo-con movement?
Spy For Hizballah Arrested in Israel

12:05 pm Israel time:

A baby girl has been killed in a rocket attack near Carmiel, another person seriously injured. Seven rockets fell in a village, one hitting a house directly. Others injured in the Nahariya area.

A Beduin has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Hizballah - he gave them information about Katyusha rocket landings and other sensitive information.

Sirens are going off now in northern cities, afer rockets landed earlier in Nahariya and Kiryat Shmona. 40 rockets have landed so far today.

In Lebanon, the IAF strikes a road leading to Syria and severs this road link. IDF ground forces reach the Christian village of Marjayoun (eastern part of south Lebanon near the Galilee panhandle) and takes up positions there and in other villages overlooking the Litani River valley. These soldiers are part of the forces already in Lebanon - the new forces waiting to enter have not been given the go-ahead yet. Fighting is also continuing in the western sector of south Lebanon.

The names of the 15 soldiers killed yesterday are slowly being released by the authorities. Some of the 40 wounded soldiers from yesterday's fighting have been released from the hospital, others are still being treated. A special underground hospital in Kiryat Shmona has been opened (built for this type of war).

For some good news, more new immigrants from America and Canada landed today. Welcome home guys!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On Grains of Salt and White Space

Just a quick post about a sensitive subject - the amount and reliability of the information you are reading on the web.

No, I am not talking about faked photographs. I am talking about the endless streams of military analysis being published in article form. I am talking about the detailed plans and timetables that the IDF talking heads are giving out.

In a word (or in this case, a phrase) take everything you read with a grain of salt. What is more important really is what they are NOT telling you - what I call the white space - between the lines. And the bottom line is that you won't know what they are not telling you until it is safe for everyone to know. And you should have patience and the maturity to wait for this information.

Why am I writing this? Because I have seen the very understandable curiosity and concern by blog readers tempt people to write things that they really shouldn't. Those of us who know people fighting in Lebanon get bits and pieces of information. Sometimes this information is accurate - but sometimes the broken telephone syndrome does its job and the information is distorted or just plain wrong. And sometimes passing this information along does a lot of damage.

I'll give you an example. The first time there was fighting in Bent Jebail, a friend of mine told me that he heard from his brother (supposedly a higher up with access to information) that 12 soldiers had been killed. Later that night, when the accurate information was published, it turns out that 8 had died. I had people from America call me to ask if I knew anything (I think Reuters had published a high number of dead). I told them what I always say - that when the IDF has finished notifying all of the family members, they will publicize the accurate information. Until then I will not pass along rumors. It just causes unnecessary anxiety.

Talking, or writing, about rumors you have heard about the numbers of troops, the timing of operations, and where people are fighting not only causes anxiety, but it also gives information to the enemy. Don't think for a minute that both the IDF (waving hi ) and Hizballah (you get just one finger) are not reading the blogs (yes, even my stupid little one) and that information you write is not being passed along. "Loose lips sink ships" may be vintage World War II, but it still stands today.

I have already started making notes about stupid and dangerous things people and professional reporters have published on the websites and blogs. I intend to write about them - but NOT NOW.

NOW is the time to use what we have between our ears.
Note to the Palestinian Terrorists - We Haven't Forgotten About You

2:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: 100 Katyushas have fallen so far today, mostly in the Galilee. A rocket hit a house in Kiryat Shmona and caused extensive damage. A long range rocket, aimed at Hadera, blew up midair.

12:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Rockets fall in open area in Nahariya, sirens in Haifa. Long range rockets hit Beit Shean area. Mortar shells fired at Kiryat Shmona.

Lebanon: Fighting continues in south Lebanon. IAF strikes 120 sites overnight, including house of top Hizballah official. He was killed along with his family. IAF also hit Hizballah headquarters in Bent Jebail this morning and killed 10 terrorists. Cabinet expected to approve IDF pushing north to the Litani river and beyond.

The IDF, in addition to fighting in Lebanon and in Gaza, has not forgotten the terrorists in Judea and Samaria. In the past hour the IAF performed a targeted assasination in Jenin, which killed an Islamic Jihad terrorist.

This is in addition to the arrests that occur in sweeps almost every night. I can personally attest to the fact that the IDF is working hard in our area, because at night I see the flares lighting up the night sky over the hills of Samaria, and I hear the occasional loud boom. The jeeps are out in force also, doing their usual rounds on the roads.
Music Instead of Sirens

Jews mark the beginning of our Sabbath by lighting candles 18 minutes before sunset on Friday afternoon. In Jerusalem, there is a tradition to light the candles earlier - 40 minutes before sunset. Jerusalem is also unique in that they signal to the residents when candlelighting time is by a siren.

Uri Lupuliansky, the mayor of Jerusalem, was hosting a family from Tiberias in his home, and was witness to a very difficult scene this past Friday afternoon. When the siren went off (the same siren that signals a rocket attack, G-d forbid) the little children started to cry hysterically. Here they thought that they were safe, and suddenly that scary siren went off. (Will the fears of little Jewish children make the international news? I doubt it)

This coming week they will play songs over the citywide public address system to signal the start of Shabbat.

Tel-Aviv is also a scene of "music instead of sirens" but in a slightly different way. There are tens of young couples from the north who should have been getting married in their hometowns now. A lot did not want to put off the weddings, so they are improvising and having the ceremonies in Tel-Aviv instead.

G-d willing, when the IDF finishes Hizballah off, we will only hear music and no more sirens.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

One, Two, Three: AWWWWW!

I have waited a long time to see this, and I am enjoying it immensely. The far left is complaining tht they are not receiving enough coverage in the media, as explained here in the Jerusalem Post.

According to the protesters, they have held demonstrations all over and have received just a few lines in Haaretz and no coverage at all in the other papers.

An explanation for this phenomenon has been given - that the "mainstream left" (I put it into parenthesis because I am not familiar enough with each left wing group to judge) such as Peace Now and the Meretz party have not called for protests. The groups protesting now are Gush Shalom, the Hadash Party (communists?), and Women Against Violence (which only protest against violence against terrorists apparently).

Abir Kopty is quoted in the article as saying that the rocket fire in Haifa will only convince more people to join their protests.

I'm a bit skeptical about the her theory. The protest that was scheduled for Haifa was cancelled because of the danger of Katyushas.

Note to readers: I will be taking my kids to Savta's house today, so no more blogging until tomorrow. For up-to-the-minute updates check out Jameel at the Muqata.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Do You Really Want to Kick Me Out of My Home?

For the few people who still think Olmert's plan of "convergence" is a good idea, check out this eye-opening article in Haaretz.

It seems that the Palestinians are really impressed with Nasrallah's success using missiles against Israel. They are drooling over the possibility of acquiring some of their own, and one is quoted as saying that if they get them they "can fire missiles at Gilo instead of bullets".

My settlement overlooks the central coast, and I can see the Azrieli towers in Tel-Aviv and the ocean when the pollution is not too bad. I shudder to think of terrorists standing in my backyard and launching missiles at Tel-Aviv, but that is what will happen if the country loses its collective mind and makes me leave my home - for the promise of peace. Oops, wait a minute, this is supposed to be unilateral - so there isn't even that.

If nothing else, this current war should teach everyone that we have to hang on to Judea and Samaria - permanently.
To All the Feminists Who Want to Hear the "Kol HaNashi" - Go to Lebanon

Lebanon Prime Minister Siniora (appropriate name, huh?) breaks down in tears during his speech to Arab leaders, complaining about how his country is being wrecked. (Clue the violins)

As my grandfather (may he rest in peace) used to say, my heart bleeds borscht. Stop your wailing and kick the terrorists out of your country. If you can't do that, then shut up. You have noone to blame but yourself. (I am also extremely skeptical about this performance. Arab leaders do not cry in public. I have a feeling this was meant for the western press - all of the moonbats will lap this up.)

On the home front, the fighting continues steadily in south Lebanon, and the soldiers are moving steadily northward. The IDF reports that they have found numbers of rocket launchers set up in private houses aimed out of the windows, alongside huge stashes of rockets. Defense Minister Peretz has said today that the IDF will fight anywhere we have to in Lebanon, including places north of the Litani river, in order to stop the rocket fire.

The Galilee was hit today with about 90 rockets so far, 60 of them just in Kiryat Shmona. Thank G-d only four people were injured slightly.
Will Lebanon Be Dark For A Few Years?

1:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Rockets fell in Kiryat Shmona including a direct hit to a house. Other rockets fell in Tzfat, Rosh Pina and Tiberias. A few people are injured slightly.

Lebanon: IDF reports that one soldier was killed this morning in fighting in Bent Jebail.

11:05 am Israeli time:

Home Front: Rocket hits house in Shlomi and in Nahariya. Sirens heard in Kiryat Shmona and Tiberias.

Lebanon: Heavy fighting in south Lebanon. 3 IDF soldiers wounded in the village of Houla. 14 Hizballah terrorists killed. IAF continues to strike Lebanon in Beirut, Baalbek, and other villages. Truck with ammunition struck near Bent Jebail, where fighting continues.

Yesterday was a difficult one for the home front in Israel. 12 reserve soldiers were killed in Kfar Giladi in the north from a direct hit by a Katyusha rocket. Haifa received a barrage of 22 rockets last night which killed three people, injured 200, and caused extensive damage.

In response, the IDF has plans (pending government approval) to hit Lebanese infrastructure for the first time in the war. Until now they have bombarded the runways at the airport, but have left other structures alone. One defense official was quoted in Haaretz as saying "It could be that at the end of the story, Lebanon will be dark for a few years."

Meanwhile ground troops are continuing to fight in south Lebanon, and the IAF continues its strikes.

In the southern front, IAF is continuing its strikes on terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. In Judea and Samaria the IDF arrested Hamas terrorist Fadel Salah in Ramallah, and they killed a wanted fugitive near Jenin.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fake But "Accurate" - Reuters Photographers Photoshop Pictures From Lebanon

5:15 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Six more katyushas land in the Haifa area, no injuries.

Lebanon: IAF bombing south Beirut again.

UPDATE: According to, the offending photograph has been pulled. Let's hear it for blogs!!

1:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Heavy Katyusha attack in the north. 9 killed in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, four badly hurt, 5 slightly hurt. One killed in another part of the Galilee. Earlier rockets fell in Tzfat, Carmiel and Akko. Palestinians celebrate in Schem (Nablus).

Lebanon: Heavy fighting in southwest Lebanon, south of Tyre. Two IDF soldiers hurt, one badly, one slightly. Hizballah terrorists killed there. IAF continue bombing runs in Lebanon.

If you haven't read this already, go over to Littlegreenfootballs and see Charles Johnson's analysis of the faked photographs that a Reuters photographer has put together of the bombing of Beirut. Not only is the MSM biased, but they are using faked materials.

Time for Pajamas Photography to complement Pajamas Media?
Have I Got A Ceasefire For You!

The Americans have really come through for us this time. The ceasefire proposal draft that has been decided on surpasses Israel's wildest dreams - and contains every point that Israel wanted.

It allows Israel to defend itself if attacked. It calls for the unconditional release of our hostage soldiers. It calls for the implementation of UN resolution 1559 which calls for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon. The topic of Har Dov will be decided later.

The best part of it is of course that Hizballah will never let the Lebanese agree to this. It is too good for us - and they know it. So they will of course keep fighting - which gives us more time.

Meanwhile there are some sleepless terrorists in Hizballaland. The IDF carried out another successful operation in the middle of the night in Tyre on Friday, killing 11 Hizballah terrorists who had used an apartment in a residential area to shoot rockets. Coming after the Baalbek night operation last week, I am sure that there are others out there sleeping with one eye open now.

Over the weekend the IDF arrested a suicide bomber in Schem (Nablus) and they arrested a big fish in Ramallah, a senior Hamas official named Abdel Aziz Duaik. This is in addition to the continuos fighting in Gaza, where the IDF is targeting weapons depots.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Nasrallah's Threats Don't Make an Impression

Yesterday was a bad day for Israel - typical of Tisha B'Av. Eight civilians were killed by rocket fire in the north, and four soldiers were killed in heavy fighting in south Lebanon. Nasrallah threatened to bomb Tel-Aviv in his speech last night - if the IAF continued bombing Beirut. The IAF was not impressed with this threat - they launched 24 bombing raids in less than one hour this morning - hitting both Beirut and Baalbek.

In addition, I live in a settlement in Samaria directly east of Tel-Aviv, and the local authorities have not given us any special instructions, so I am assuming that the IDF has determined that his threats are pretty empty.

In better news, I was happy to read this morning about 11 New York firefighters who have come to Israel to volunteer. The firemen have had a really tough time in this war - every time a rocket falls into an open area the brush and trees catch fire, and they have to battle this. Kol HaKavod to them - and thank you to the New York volunteers!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rocket Lands in West Bank Near Jenin

Personal Update: The "honor roll" in my yishuv has grown substantially in the past few days - the number of men called up for reserve duty in the north has grown to more than twenty, and this does not count the young men who are regular soldiers. All are leaving wives and families - in some cases newborn babies. We all need your prayers at this tense time.

I will not be blogging tonight or tomorrow as it is the ninth of the Hebrew month Av, which is a fast day.

4:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: More rockets fired at north in past two hours, bringing total up to 160 for today.

Lebanon: Golani soldier wounded seriously, two others slightly in south Lebanon.

2:00 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Over 125 rockets have been fired at Israel so far today, including one that reached as far south as Jenin in the West Bank (Palestinians cheer). One man killed in kibbutz north of Nahariya, one woman in Tzfat seriously injured.

Lebanon: Four Hizballah terrorists killed in fighting.

Personal Update: I heard on one radio station that today is Nasrallah's birthday (not confirmed). If this is true, I join millions of Jews the world over who wish that this is the last one he celebrates.
Successful Operation in Baalbek in Lebanon

12:05 pm Israel time:

Home Front: Over 65 Katyusha rockets land in the north - from Ramat HaGolan in the east to Carmiel in the west. Four houses suffer direct hits - six people wounded slightly.

Lebanon: IAF drops leaflets warning citizens within 20 kilometers of the border of Israel to evacuate. IDF ground troops - including reserve units - fighting in various villages in south Lebanon. IDF warships firing mortar shells towards Tyre and Sidon.

10:15 am Israel time:

Home Front: Kassams land in western Negev and Ashkelon, one man injured. Katyushas landing throughout the north - 10 in Maalot and Rosh Pina, 3 in Tzfat - including one direct hit on a house.

Lebanon: IAF hits more than 50 buildings throughout Lebanon. Ground troops fighting in villages throughout south Lebanon - 17 soldiers reported slightly wounded.

A very successful operation was completed deep into Lebanon last night. IDF special commandos, on specific intelligence information, were dropped by helicopter onto a hospital in Baalbek. They killed 10 Hizballah terrorists, took five Hizballah officials back to Israel, and returned to Israel without one injury to our soldiers.

Other IDF operations in the area found and destroyed ammunition depots.

In an earlier battle in Ayta al Shab three IDF paratroopers were killed after heavy fighting, and 7 Hizballah terrorists killed. Fighting continues there.

According to this report in Haaretz, Hizballah is showing signs of panic - they have started to lie on their tv broadcasts on Al-Manar. This article, also in Haaretz, quotes Lebanese sources who point to Hizballah's failures.

Two katyusha rockets have fallen this morning in the Galilee.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You're Drafted!

Do you want to help Israel? Do you surf the net? Write a blog? Check out this website called . Tzav Giyus is Hebrew for a call up order, and in English the letters stand for Give Israel Your United Support.

This site will give you concrete ways to use your keyboard to help Israel. These include articles and videos to include on your blog, notices of internet surveys where it is important to vote, talking points and resources to include in posts and talkbacks, and a place to give others a heads up on articles that they may have missed.

This site is associated with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and they are asking for your help. Pass the word...I'm putting it on my blog roll now.
We Are Family....

1:05 pm Israel time:

Lebanon: Heavy fighting in Lebanon between ground troops and Hizballah. IAF hits Baalbeck area (near Syrian border.

Personal Update: Just finished reading an article in the Jerusalem Post about the Jews from Muslim states who have signed up on the internet site coordinating prayers for IDF soldiers. Don't forget, today at 7:00 pm Israel time.

Personal Update: An "only in Israel story" - not connected to the war. On the 11:00 IDF radio show with Uri Orbach and Irit Linor, they announced "For the religious people who do not listen to music during the nine days, the following song will last 2 minutes and 40 seconds". Isn't that great?

Personal Update: Can you imagine a New York Times editorial with the headline, "Go Marines!" I can't, but this morning I read the editorial from Haaretz with the title "Keep Fighting Until the War Ends". Interesting times, no?

11:05 am Israel time:

Home Front: Mortar shells fired into upper Galilee, no injuries reported. Five Katyushas fired into western Galilee.

Lebanon: One IDF soldier slightly wounded in fighting in south Lebanon, 20 Hizballah terrorists killed.

9:05 am Israel time:

Home Front: Katyusha rockets fired at western Galilee. Kassam rockets fired toward western Negev, no injuries reported.

Lebanon: IAF hits launching sites in Lebanon overnight. Ground troops fighting in al-Taibeh in south Lebanon.

Southern Front: IDF fighting in Dahaniyeh in south Gaza.

The government has approved a wider offensive against Hizballah - including air strikes when needed. I heard the distant rumble of jets flying overhead again last night and early this morning, and found it a bit puzzling. When I heard the news I then understood.

It is obvious that Israel is afraid that a ceasefire is going to be forced upon us - and that Hizballah is going to be given another chance to re-arm and hit us again in the future.

Personally, I don't know what I am more afraid of - the fact that the terrorists may have run away already (no Katyushas at all yesterday - just a few mortar shells) and won't get what they deserve - or the fact that we are going into a major offensive on the seventh, eighth, and ninth of the month of Av. (The nine days of the Hebrew month of Av are days of tragedy for Jews throughout the centuries).

In any case, this is the time to increase our prayers and good deeds, and watch our tongues - fighting amongst ourselves could have deadly consequences - literally. Maybe that is why G-d chose this time for this specific war.