Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Warning: blog in diapers

This baby blog is acting like a two-year-old. It refuses to eat its links. Help. . .


points out that a suicide bomber game
has appeared on the internet. Foul.


It is uncharitable of the Israeli government to give the UN "investigators" such a hard time about their mission. No one doubts what they'll "find" in Jenin -- certainly their report was written weeks ago. But the delay is making their project transparently farcical.

As the UN folks are cooling their heels in Geneva, more and more journalists are digging around for scoops in Jenin and discovering that there doesn't seem to have been any massacre. The Palestinians' descriptions
of the battle tally embarrassingly well with the claims of the IDF. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/119/nation/Claims_of_massacre_go_unsupported_by_Palestinian_fightersP.shtml
People are beginning to suspect that the Israelis are telling the truth.

The ever-expanding UNRWA was responsible for the well-being of the people in this wretched camp, yet quietly let it be turned into a terrorist training camp, bomb factory, and ammunition dump. It has not merely failed, but has become a part of the obstacle to peace. Reporters are discovering truths that should be terribly embarrassing to the UN. The UN had better hope that the people whose tax payments keep them in business are not paying attention.

Meanwhile, they're talking about just doing the "investigation" from Geneva. Right. They's send it to reporters with a cover note: Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?

Monday, April 29, 2002

Refuseniks and George Orwell

The English on-line edition of Ha'aretz sometimes reads like Reuters. Terrorists are referred to as "militants," "activists," or "gunmen" (which can be legitimate usage, for example when a contrast is being made to "bombers"). The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is described as a "militant" organization, which bestows undeserved soldierly connotations on cowardly baby killers. Editors should insist that those who murder innocent civilians be labeled accurately as "terrorists," but without the scare quotes, of course. The Hebrew print edition is generally more careful to avoid the linguistic slovenliness that plagues the English web site.

For example, there are a few dozen Israelis currently serving jail terms for refusing to report for military service in the disputed territories. In Hebrew they are called "sarbanim."

This story has gotten very little play lately, because it is a very little story. The big story is that well over 10,000 reserve soldiers responded immediately to emergency call-up notices. Soldiers came home from all corners of the globe to risk their lives in defense of their fellow citizens. Dozens were killed. Hundreds were wounded. All were very seriously inconvenienced by the interruption of their lives.

They reported for duty nonetheless because, whatever their personal politics, they understood that Israel's very survival is at stake. This war was thrust upon us, and we have no choice but to crush the terrorist infrastructure that has cost so many lives.

The "sarbanim" clearly think otherwise. Their right to think so, and their ability to break the laws made by a democratically elected Knesset, are being protected by soldiers who may, in fact, share many of their political opinions. The "sarbanim" know that by refusing to serve they face a jail sentence. They'll do their time and then get on with their lives. They know that their jailers would never let a mob break into the jail to lynch them as collaborators, and they know that however strongly they may disagree, their fellow Israelis are not prone to lynching people with different views. And this is how things should be in a country ruled by law. They have the right to prefer punishment to service, and I have the right to dis them for it.

Now back to the English on-line Ha'aretz, with which this tirade began. In that publication "sarbanim" are called "refuseniks." (The Hebrew word for "refusenik" is "siruvnik ." At stake here is the distinction between one who is denied permission to do something, and someone who refuses to do something, that is, one is acted upon, the other acts.) Before the Soviet Union collapsed, hundreds of thousands of Jews were trapped there, forbidden to practice their religion or use the Hebrew language. Applying for an exit visa often resulted in job loss, imprisonment, and worse. Jews who were denied the freedom to live as a free people in their own land were called "refuseniks."

To use the word "refusenik" to describe someone who prefers a jail sentence to military duty in time of war is pernicious. There is no equivalence between the captivity and terrible suffering endured by the original "refuseniks" and the illegal actions of the "sarbanim." The appropriation of the word to express a radically different meaning obscures the price we pay for our liberty. George Orwell wrote about "Politics and the English Language," but his insight applies to all times and places. We must use language carefully to illuminate, not conceal how our freedom is maintained.
In cold blood

Shabbat. No phone. No radio. No internet. No news is good news. Twenty-five hours without having a clue what's happening outside the neighborhood.

To understand what this interlude means, you have to understand that during the week I (like many Israelis) check the news constantly. Not being the sort who can concentrate on work while the radio is playing, I make a point of listening to the news every half hour or so, and I've developed the habit of turning on the radio in between the news broadcasts, just to make sure that the regular programming is on. Lugubrious Hebrew music can mean that something horrible has happened, and my Pavlovian reaction is to spin the dial, searching for news. Sometimes melancholy music is just melancholy music. Far too often it's filler between reports that make you break out in a cold sweat as you realize how close the attack was to your kids, your husband, your friends, you. . .

There are times when the news penetrates shabbat. This is a mixed neighborhood, and sometimes secular neighbors tell someone what was on the news, and the rumors spread through the synagogue. We heard garbled stories about the Tel Aviv discotheque bombing and the Passover seder attack, so on those occasions we welcomed the new week trembling, knowing that we'd be sickened by the next newscast.

This week we were in blissful ignorance until Saturday night, and the blow of the murders in Adura still has me reeling. I can't clear my mind of the thought of that poor mother playing with her three tiny children in their bedroom, on a shabbat morning, looking up to see an intruder disguised as an Israeli soldier aiming at them. He saw them for what they were, shot the helpless innocents at close range, and continued his killing spree. I wonder if his mother is proud of him. Is this what she dreamed of for him when she changed his diaper and sang to him and kissed his little hurts?

What kind of "freedom fighters" shoot people sleeping in their beds? Losers. Shame and damnation on their heads.

The Palestinian Authority, in a rare gesture of non-hypocrisy, has not condemned the premeditated, cold-blooded murder of defenseless civilians. The world seems willing to treat these moral cripples as unable to take responsibility for their own behavior. Fine. People who cannot control their deranged urge to kill should be pitied. And locked up, forever.

I have seen the word "revenge" used stupidly in many news reports about Israel's military actions. There can be no human revenge for these acts; that is God's business. The best we can do is try to prevent further attacks. We choose life, and nothing will make us change our minds.

As I was writing this an elderly neighbor knocked on the door, apologetically asking me to help her fill out some documents in English. The Austrian government may possibly grant her back wages for the forced labor she did in a Nazi slave camp. [Insert expletives of your choice.] With tears in her eyes she said, "this is what I was doing during the years I could have been studying. I will go to my grave ashamed that I never had the opportunity to get an education." I weep to know that she was too badly wounded to be able to understand now the triumph she has demonstrated by raising and educating children and grandchildren to liberty and hope in Israel.

Friday, April 26, 2002


Captured Tanzim terrorists are singing about the targets they'd planned. How about a hospital? Naw, it's easier to hit the university. . .

I suppose that, according to what passes for thinking in bomber circles, Arabs who frequent places where Jews are targets also merit the death penalty. After all, scholars who work together are called collaborators, aren't they?
Bethlehem Update

Stupid mistake in my previous post: of course the schools are closed when a town is under curfew. I don't recall ever seeing or hearing Palestinians quoted as complaining about this aspect of curfew, surely because there are many more distressing consequences of military occupation. (Memo to Palestinians: some of you should come up with a plan to establish an independent Palestinian state that can live in neighborly peace with Israel. IDF soldiers do not want to be in your villages, towns, and cities any more than you want them there).

Given the curriculum, however, missing school is a step toward peace. (Ooof. The teacher gave us so much homework: we have to write essays on "Why I hate the Jews," "Jerusalem was never a Jewish city," and "Jewish cooking: 25 uses for gentile blood." And I really hate chemistry. Anyway they give you the bombs ready made. Why do I need to learn this stuff?)

Israel Army Radio reports that terrorists holed up in the Church of the Nativity are asking to send a representative to Arafat to ask permission to surrender. That's interesting. Not surprisingly they're afraid to give up with out the chairman's explicit approval. Telephone contact could, of course, be arranged -- but it could be denied later. Arafat could turn to one of the television cameras in his headquarters and broadcast a request that these fellows release their hostages and turn themselves in. That might protect those who surrendered from the lynch mobs, but it would force the fearless leader to publicly excuse jihadists from fighting to their last breath. That would be embarrassing and might dispirit future terrorists. But if one person is allowed to go to Arafat's place, at least he'll be safe and well fed for a while. Hands up whoever want to be the delegate.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Biblical Bethlehem

Exposing their tenuous grasp of what is actually written in The Book, journalists like to preface the proper noun "Bethlehem" with the adjective "Biblical." They're pretty confident about that, probably because it's mentioned in Christmas carols and stuff. One of these days they'll discover that lots of other Israeli cities were mentioned in the Bible. Eventually they may even wonder why.

But to our story. The Vatican has been insisting that the people who have been stuck inside the Church of the Nativity with those Palestinian terrorists for over three weeks are not hostages, because they are in their own property. Okay.

Let me go on record here: if an armed terrorist ever shoots his way into my house, eats my food, wrecks my stuff, and doesn't let me out, I want the IDF to help me. Please. If I say that I want to stay in my home with such "guests," that will be because they have a gun aimed at my back when I open the door a crack to tell you this. Do not believe me. I will be chewing the bars off the windows or digging tunnels with my fingernails to get out. Your assistance will be appreciated.

Monks who have managed to leave the church seem to be under the impression that they were hostages. According to them, the armed people inside are not being respectful of other peoples' property. They are allegedly looting and desecrating the church. (That one's free, since the Israelis have already been blamed).

Those released claim that boys as young as ten years old are being held inside. (Memo to Pope: this could turn into one of those "notorious" cases. Remember to remind everyone that not all the priests inside are Catholic).

One wonders whether these kidnapped kids have parents who want them home. Why haven't they made heartfelt appeals for the release of their children? If they think it's a fine thing for junior to spend a few weeks in church, don't the schools have truant officers or guidance counselors who check up on pupils absent for so long? My kid's kindergarten teacher calls if he misses a day. Doesn't anyone who knows these kids care? Or would asking for the children's release mark those taking interest as collaborators?

The IDF used smoke grenades to obscure reporters' view of those who got out of the church today. This will undoubtedly be spun as an Israeli cover-up. Those screened are probably hoping not to appear in next week's paper, dangling inverted in front of a bill-board of Arafat's smiling face.

Ah, that wacky PA kind of justice. Ahmad, put down that broom. You're the judge. Leave it, Mohammed, someone else will make the coffee -- you be the lawyer for the defense. Here's the verdict. Oops. Right. The trial part is supposed to go first. Whatever.

And those intransigent Israelis are undiplomatic enough to snort at the PA's trial of the murderers of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi and insist upon handling the matter themselves.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Feeble excuses

"Nidal Tzabari Mustafa Klik, 23, who planned to participate in the Pessah night bombing at Netanya's Park Hotel that killed 29 people, backed out because he fell ill" The Jerusalem Post reports today.

I can think of a lot of good reasons for not wanting to blow myself into unsightly bits, but illness!!!
There's nothing like death for ending aches and pain, not to mention indigestion. And the bomber can be pretty sure that he won't linger in agony, unlike some of his victims.

Of course deciding not to go to a bombing appointment might mark one as a collaborator, and that is a very unhealthy stigma in Palestinian circles these days. If you're shot by your co-religionists, dragged through the streets, and strung up in the town center, Mom is not going to get a check and your picture won't be decorating schools and mosques. Furthermore, according to eyewitness reports, lynching apparently hurts. A lot.

So here's a list of excuses for terrorists who decide to stay home and watch TV instead of massacring infidel Jews:

I looked everywhere for a crowd, but the filthy Zionists seem to have all stayed at home.

I was hungry, so I decided to order a meal. On thing led to another, you know how it is, and I just forgot what I was supposed to do in that restaurant. Cute waitress. Good chummas, too.

I missed the bus

I wanted to make sure that the bomb was good, so I tested it at home first. You wouldn't believe how annoyed my parents got about how it rearranged the furniture. On both stories of the house.

The dog ate my detonator.

And especially for the ladies:

That explosive vest made me look fat.

I couldn't find a purse that matched the belt.

Wait a minute. 72 virgins? Sounds like hell to me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Put photos of Jenin in perspective. Compare and contrast

1.The IDF should publish photos of what the Jenin camp looked like before the incursion. To quote a friend, "It wasn't Manhattan."

2. The IDF should publish photos of the homes and offices of Palestinian Authority officials.

3. The IDF should publish photos of bombing damage in, say, Danzig, Hamburg, or Berlin in WWII. Those were "disaster zones."

4. The IDF should publish photos of bombing damage in say, the last dozen shahidiot bombings in Israel. The physical destruction in Israel has been scattered, but very costly. Each Egged bus costs as much as several slum apartments.

Collective punishment

In the past Israel used to destroy the houses of terrorists, the logic being that people would think twice about committing a deed that would result in Granny, Mom, Dad, and all the kids finding themselves homeless. This, of course, was cruel, and the world did not like it.

So Israel started sealing off only the terrorist's room in the house, which was a symbolic rather than punishing gesture, as the perpetrator was meanwhile getting shelter elsewhere at the expense of the Israeli taxpayers.

But now that the Saudis and the Iraqis are making it so profitable for Palestinian families to make blood offerings of their children, perhaps its time to levy some counter-tax on this source of income. Suggestions?

Set up a charity fund for that boy! Build an extension on his parents home!

A fourteen-year-old boy from Gaza returned home a couple of days ago, after deciding at the last minute not to blow himself to bits in the company of Jews. His parents were as shocked, surprised, and horrified to learn about what their son had been on the verge of doing as I would have been were he my son. The family realizes that they need psychological help, but not surprisingly they have nowhere to turn in a society that considers the problem here the fact that the boy turned back. It's not PC in Gaza to disappoint one's religious leaders and terrorist handlers that way. (They must be asking themselves, "Where, oh where did we go wrong with this boy's education?")

God grant this family strength, and may we meet in days of peace.

Do the "news" services have editors?

Look at the following two paragraphs that appeared precisely as follows in an article headlined "Amnesty says evidence of Israeli human rights abuses in Jenin" on Ha'aretz's website with an AP byline:

Israel says it worked hard to minimize civilian casualties and estimates that dozens of Palestinians, mostly fighters, were killed.

"The claim by Israel that only combatants were killed is simply not true," said Derrick Pounder, a professor of forensic medicine at Dundee University in Scotland, who conducted several autopsies on victims in Jenin as part of the Amnesty investigation.

So now we know that the investigation is being carried out by people who don't know the difference between the words "mostly" and "only." That should enhance their accuracy. We also know that the results will be reported by people who don't question authorities even when they say ridiculous things. But that's not news to bloggers.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

This way to heaven, you go first. . .

Palestinian "militant" leaders and clerics have been remarkably successful at convincing their best and brightest to don explosive belts and head into crowds of Israeli citizens to blast themselves to heaven and the Jews to hell.

I don't know what happens to a human soul after death, and neither do you. Yet "everybody one day will / Know very clearly - or at least lie still." Most of us hope to avoid that knowledge for as long as possible.

Yet the parents, extended families, friends, and neighbors of "successful" shahidiots invariably express pride and joy about the final deed of the departed. They often make statements such as "If I had ten sons, I would sacrifice every one of them in this way." (Think of it -- 250K from the Saudis! It sure beats working -- especially if you're not the one doing the childbearing.)

Suha Arafat made headlines with her claim that if she and Yasser had a son, they would be happy to have him detonate in a crowd of infidels. (Note to feminists: this woman needs her consciousness raised. Girls joined the shahidiot club years ago.)

Maternal expressions like this make it hard for me to believe that our enemies love their children too. Western notions of "tough love" involve such actions as refusing the car keys to kids who won't promise not to drink before driving. Trying to ensure the survival of one's offspring is a pretty basic trait of people who want their genes to remain in the pool.

I will never understand these people. Child sacrifice went out when God stopped Abraham from slitting Isaac's throat.

And another thing. I can understand a parent projecting onto his children dreams and aspirations that are beyond his grasp. At a certain age one becomes too old to become an Olympic athlete or to learn to play the violin. But modern technology has made murderous self-destruction push-button simple. Parents who claim to wish this end for their offspring should be asked: "If this is such a great idea, why don't you do it yourself."

No one seems to be asking this question. Look at the shahidiotic reaction to the current massive roundup of terrorist leaders. People who have persuaded teenagers to "martyr" themselves and have sworn to fight to the death are now having second thoughts and are coming out with their hands up to be arrested by the Israelis. This is good news for us, assuming that these terrorists will become talkative about works in progress and that they will never see the outside of a jail again.

One might think that the knowledge that their fearless leaders are raising the white flag and surrendering as soon as they get cornered might cause bomber wannabes to reconsider the promises these guys made to them. After all, if the perfumed embrace of 72 virgins is such a sure thing, why are hundreds of terrorists, including leaders of the highest rank, opting for the earthly clasp of the IDF?

Today a shahidiot blew himself up "prematurely," and as the radio reported "no one was hurt." I wonder if his parents will have a party and get a check from the Saudis anyway.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

UN envoy: Sh'hidiot bombing is 'horrifying beyond belief'

By Agencies

The U.N. envoy to the Middle East, arriving at the scene of the most recent sh'hidiot bombing since the last one, called the scene "horrifying beyond belief" and demanded unfettered access by international humanitarian agencies and journalists. "Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him," said Tartuffe Sancti-Monious as he obsessively tried to rub a spot off his pinky while gazing at the splattered remains of someone's grandfather, who now occupied most surfaces of the restaurant. [It might have been a bus, shop, wedding hall, synagogue, or school -- Shoot me, I forgot to write it down in my notebook, and all these acts of self-defense are so alike that it makes no difference anyway. Agencies].

"I think I can speak for all in the U.N. delegation (in saying) that we are shocked," said Sancti-Monious as he walked through the blood soaked rubble. "Just seeing this area, it looks like there's been an earthquake here, and the stench of death is over many places where we are standing."

The envoy said he had seen the corpse of a 12-year-old boy, and added that "evidently there are lots of other corpses" still unrecovered. He demanded that Israel give "immediate access" to aid organizations and the United Nations so they could mount a "major humanitarian operation."
Sancti-Monious sharply criticized Israel for maintaining a curfew of fear on the country, which is home to about 6.5 million people. "I think this is absolutely, totally unacceptable and unheard of, that a huge proportion of the civilian population [is kept]suffering day by day. This has to stop," he said.
Israel has been repeatedly criticized by the nations of the world for not executing a full withdrawal to the boundaries acceptable to Arafat. "If Israel would merely move a tiny a bit westward, there would be an end to these tragic acts of defensive martyrdom," said Sancti-Monious. Some environmental fringe groups, however, protest that such a move might radically change the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and insist that environmental impact studies on endangered species be carried out immediately.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Independence Day: Oh, blood and thunder

After fifty-four years of Jewish self-governance, the nations of the world, friends and enemies alike, seem to be conspiring to convince us (as if we'd had any doubt) that our freedom and liberty are still very much at risk. At dinner I asked my kids to name one country where Jews aren't being attacked these days. No problem. They rattled off the names of countries notably devoid of Jews.

Note to the terrorists and their apologists: here we are, and here we'll stay. Deal with it.

We spent yesterday mourning our fallen soldiers and the victims of terrorism. Usually the switch from the sorrow of Memorial Day to the rejoicing of Independence Day is shocking. This year there was little contrast. Here in Haifa, as in most cities, the big celebrations were cancelled. I don't know how secular people marked the day, I saw very few of them out.

I mentioned that it was as quiet on the streets as on Yom Kippur. No, it's quieter tonight, the kids corrected me (that's their job). On Yom Kippur the streets are empty of cars, but packed with people.

So we Orthodox Jews went to synagogue, dressed in blue and white. Usually the festive evening services are followed by hours of dancing in the synagogue courtyard. This year the dancing was kept indoors and brief. Armed guards were ubiquitous.

A blood drive was on, so my husband and I gave blood while the kids danced nearby. I chatted with the friendly Magen David Adom worker about the "matzav" (i.e., the "situation"). He told me that the wounded in the recent suicide bombing a few blocks from here had needed 380 pints of blood -- and that was just to stabilize them before they got to the operating room. I've marked on my calendar to give blood again in three months.

Although the big outdoor concerts were cancelled, the fireworks went on (and may this decent and beautiful use of explosive devices speedily become the only one we see here). We set out to a spot between tall buildings where there is a good view. At the first blast the whole family simultaneously leaped into the air (we looked like one of those ads for shoes). Mind you, we were expecting this noise. We had come out on purpose for this. But we are wound up like a spring.