Wednesday, 27 April 2011


I've just read that Hamas and Fatah have announced a reconciliation and a renewed partnership. At a meeting in Cairo they've signed "an understanding" that they will, amongst other things, bring about a Palestinian state and put a stop to the Judaisation of Jerusalem. Not a word about actually making peace with their neighbours.

Personally I'd have hoped for a much more important announcement prior to this one, particularly from Hamas: a cessation of violence against Israel and Israelis. 

Brothers in Arms? 
Until they do, until they change their charter that calls for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state - they're nothing more than the terrorist group that they have been up until now. The only difference now is that Fatah, the so-called moderate wing of the Palestinians, are to become their accomplices. Interesting choice, considering how Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 by torturing, imprisoning, exiling and even killing many of their Fatah brethren. (See photo - Hamas terrorist masked and armed, threatening his "brothers" as they're marched, humiliated, through the streets to an unknown fate.) 

Prime Minister Netanyahu has tried to warn Fatah of the dangers of walking back into the arms of Hamas, but to no avail. According to Fatah, however, Hamas are part of the fabric of the Palestinians, and therefore reestablishing their relationship is more important than dialogue with Israel, despite the fact that there's so much more to be gained for by Fatah through such negotiation. 

Peace needs partners. Somehow, I can't see this partnership bringing much peace, either for themselves, or, more importantly, for Israel. 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Kever Yosef

Kever Yosef, or in English, Joseph's tomb, a pilgrimage site for Jews for thousands of years, has once again been the site of violence towards Jews. It has been a flash point for many years, and when Sh'chem (or Nablus) was handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords, one of the first acts perpetrated by the residents was to set fire to the tomb. Only recently was it finally restored. 
Smoke billows from Kever Yosef after it was torched,
whilst locals dance on the roof.

A group of Hasidic Jews entered the site in Sh'chem this morning in order to pray, and as they were leaving the area a "Palestinian police officer" opened fire on their cars. 

One person was killed - 25 years old Ben-Yosef Livnat, a nephew of the Likud minister Limor Livnat. 

Several others were injured in what the Palestinian authorities are calling a security incident. 

To me it sounds like murder. 

As if murder wasn't quite enough, the holy site was then torched. Again. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Hasbara in Arabic

Five minutes of perfect Hasbara.

An IDF spokesperson, Avichai Edrei, speaks on Al-Jazeera television.

In Arabic.

No mincing of words.

No mixed messages, one for the world and one for the citizens. We know who does that, right?

Just one simple message - You want peace? Put down your weapons.

There are subtitles in Hebrew and English - definitely worth watching and spreading.

H/T "The Muqata"

Sunday, 10 April 2011


It starts off with a quote from Amos Oz, a famous Israeli author. The chapter, one of several written by Chas Newkey-Burden of OyVaGoy fame,  in a book entitled "Not In My Name - A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy", is one of the clearest examples of how Israel is held by the world to a different standard from the rest of the world. 

‘When my father was a little boy in Poland, the streets of Europe were covered with graffiti, “Jews, go back to Palestine,” or sometimes worse: “Dirty Yids, piss off to Palestine.” When my father revisited Europe fifty years later, the walls were covered with new graffiti, “Jews, get out of Palestine.”'

The rest of the chapter can be found here. It's more than worth a read. 

In the meantime, as those of us in London enjoyed a beautiful, sunny Shabbat, with the worst noise being kids enjoying themselves, towns around the Gaza Strip were subjected to well over 100 missiles fired by Hamas and their terrorist sidekicks.

Last week, Israel sent 34 thousand tonnes of goods into Gaza. I can see why Hamas would retaliate in such a manner. 

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Missiles, school-children, and foul mouthed footballers

A short time ago, several missiles, possibly mortar shells or anti-tank missiles were fired across the border from Gaza into Israel. A school bus was targeted, and at this point one child is critically injured, and the driver of the bus injured lightly. An amateur video of the damage to the bus is shown below. There is no commentary. None, in truth, is necessary. 
Luckily, if one can call it that, approximately fifty other school-children had alighted from the bus only moments before. 

As usual, the BBC news website opens its report with "Israel shells Gaza City", whilst the news hasn't yet made it onto television. Wayne Rooney's suspension is apparently more important.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Six minutes

Easy to describe, difficult to solve. The "Middle East" problem in six minutes. That's three times as long as it takes a missile to reach the Israeli port town of Ashdod from Gaza.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Time will tell

It would be impossible, having listened to the news of the last few days, to ignore Judge Richard Goldstone's climbdown in the press. Surprisingly, even the BBC reported it, at least on their website. 

After Operation Cast Lead, a military operation in Gaza aimed at stopping the hundreds of rockets that were being fired on Israeli citizens, the United Nations wanted an inquiry. A panel was appointed, with the South African retired judge as its chair. 

The report spoke of atrocities, of war crimes, of possible crimes against humanity committed by both Israel and the Hamas terrorist organisation who currently govern in Gaza. Two years after his report was published, the judge has finally discovered that his rose-tinted glasses of Hamas had cracked, and he has now made the most shocking statement in Friday's Washington Post: 

"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document." 

The report was flawed from the outset. Take into account that the noble-sounding Human Rights Council had Libya as one of its members. Yes. THAT Libya. The one where strafing your own people using fighter aircraft is acceptable. Human Rights? Human Wrongs. 

The judge, in his somewhat muted apology, has taken two years to reach the same conclusions the Israelis had done from the outset. He was surprised that Hamas never investigated any of the war crimes that they committed, whereas Israel is still investigating 400 events that may or may not have contravened the rules of engagement, and will deal with any crimes appropriately. He also finally concluded the fact that Israel had claimed all along. There was NO intentional targeting by Israel of civilians in Gaza. 

The same cannot be said for Hamas. Their rockets were and still are aimed directly and intentionally at towns that neighbour the Gaza strip, terrorising the residents day in and day out. At the same time, these rockets were fired from family homes, from schools and from hospitals whilst hiding behind civilians, and callously hoping that any strikes undertaken by the Israelis would kill civilians, and thereby provide useful propaganda. The disregard shown by Hamas for human life, either that of the Israelis or, more shockingly, of their own people, shows the true colours of their belief and way of life. Or death. 

Golda Meir, already decades ago, summed it up perfectly.  

"Peace will come when the Arabs love their children, more than they hate us." 

It's just sad that it took two whole years of vilification and increased hatred of Israel, for the one person who was supposed to investigate what happened to finally admit that he didn't really have all the facts at all. 

Either that, or the reality was too ominous to believe, so it was easier to report the lies. I'll give him his dues. It takes courage for a man to admit that he was wrong. I wonder what he'll do now to try to repair the damage to Israel, to its reputation, to its soldiers, to it's people. I wonder how he'll go about overturning the two years of propaganda that he helped create. 

I suspect, somewhat cynically, that he'll worry more about his own reputation first. As in this case however, I believe that time will tell, as in the end it always does. 

Sunday, 3 April 2011


The official reason for my most recent visit to Israel was to run in the first ever Jerusalem Marathon. Admittedly, being a somewhat late starter both at running in general and training for this specific event in particular, I decided that the half-marathon option was probably a more sensible start. 

The real reason was that I just needed to go Home for a while, and had to come up with a reasonable excuse as to why I was going to abandon my wife and children for a week. They bought the story, I bought a ticket, registered for the race, and then panicked when I suddenly realised that twenty-one kilometres was a very long way to run. 

At practically the last minute, I decided to turn it into a fund-raising activity. Not because I had to, but because events in Israel meant that suddenly, appallingly, three children were left with no parents. 

The Fogel family lived in Itamar. They were a normal family, hoping for the same things we all do. They wanted their children to grow up, to learn, to become a part of their community, to live in peace. One Friday night, only a few weeks ago, their dreams were torn away. A terrorist, maybe more than one, broke into their home and murdered both parents, Ruth and Udi, as well as three of their six children - eleven year old Yoav, four year old Elad, and infant Hadas, just three months old. 

This murder, this shocking disregard for human life, the blatant disregard for the innocence of children, barely caused a ripple on the surface of the world's news outlets. Excuses such as events around the world, in Japan, in Libya and elsewhere would have been more palatable had these same media outlets not pounced immediately on the Israeli government's response to the callous murder. The murder of babies in their beds wasn't deemed newsworthy. Apparently the response to it was. 

The response itself was not violent. No arms were raised, no shots were fired, not one single person was killed or even injured. The response was a promise - a promise to build more homes for Jewish families. To rebuild what the murderers want to see torn down, both physically and metaphorically. 

This terrorist atrocity left me, along with many others in Israel and around the world, torn from the inside out. Pictures of the murder scene were published. Graphic photographs, meant to shock the world out of its slumber, made it no further than Facebook pages and Israeli news websites. I won't share them here, but they are easily accessible elsewhere on the internet. The apathy continued unabated. 

Israel came together. The Left and Right wings of the political spectrum meant nothing, at least for a short while. The generosity of people country-wide, even worldwide, was astounding, and my tears over the senseless, cowardly slaughter of parents and their young children were turned into determination. 

Determination, despite a lack of training, to complete the half-marathon, but more than that, determination to help the surviving children, however insignificant that help may be. I set up a fund-raising page, and completed the course in the knowledge that my efforts weren't, in fact, for my own self-satisfaction. Running through the streets of Jerusalem, seeing her in all her splendour, now had a purpose, a target, a mission. Any money raised will go towards counselling and rehabilitation for Tamar (12), Ro'i (8) and Yishai (2). 

I ran some of it, walked some of it, stopped at points to recover as I admired the beauty of my favourite place in the world. And for its entirety, I thought of these children and the obstacles that await them as they rebuild their shattered lives. 

Tamar, much wiser than her twelve short years, has in one moment turned from being the older sister into a mother, and shows us all what determination really is. My efforts pale into insignificance. I can only wish that I was capable of such strength and courage, and wish her and her siblings that they and their family know no more sorrow. 

Kachol Velavan

Kachol Velavan - Blue and White.

It's a flag.

A song.

An ideal.

A dream.

To each and every person, it means something different. Now, it's also the title of a blog. 

As an introduction, let me just say that I plan for this to be a small cog in a huge wheel. This will be a blog of my views, my feelings and my experiences living in a world that struggles to cope with the idea of Israel, its many successes, its continuing growth against all the odds and whilst defying all logic. Instead of yelling at the TV, the radio and the internet, becoming more and more frustrated at their often one-sided views of the complex issues, I have decided to attempt my own media presence, humble as it may be.

I spent half my life in Israel, learned in its schools, served in its military, worked in its economy. Now, whilst living overseas, I still hope and pray for, and am actively working towards, the day I go Home.

I'm proud of Israel, of my roots there, of what it stands for. Having returned recently from a short visit, I realised that I have to do more to tell its story to an increasingly ill-informed (or mis-informed if you wish) world. There are bigger and better blogs out there that do the same thing, some of them are linked to at the side of this page, and I have decided to join their ranks.

I only hope I do as good a job, and make Israel as proud of me as I am of Israel.