Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Canadian hosptial care – not dead yet.

ankle-lateral-view-x-ray_ (2) We hear so many horror stories about Canadian hospital health care that getting ill or needing emergency assistance is enough to induce an off the wall anxiety attack. I know because I had one last Friday night. I had a small Shabbat dinner and as I was walking my friend to his car my knee locked and I suddenly went crashing down on my right ankle. I didn't hear the 'crunch' but when I could get up immediately I knew I was facing, at least, a very bad sprain.

Being a former ballet dancer means that I am not a stranger to either to pain or sprained ankles. Gabriel carried me to chair and packed my foot with ice. He wanted to take me to the hospital and being an Israeli, he has yet to feel or understand the dread the very idea of visiting a hospital induces in Canadians. I insisted I would be fine. I showed him I could wiggle my toes which goes to prove that old adage of it not being a fracture bone if one can still wiggle one's extremities is false. The truth is, I have extremely strong toes, toes stronger enough - even to this day - that I can pick up all kinds of unnatural things with my toes, if I so choose. Very reluctantly he left me.

By 2:00p.m. Saturday afternoon, I knew I would have to go to the hospital and face the inevitable. I was still hoping for a very bad sprain but the pain was very different from any sprain I had experienced in my career. My son carried me out the door and into a cab. I live in the midst of at least 4 major hospitals and raising three children means I have had experiences at all of the them. I chose Mount Sinai, only because, I was so impressed with the treatment both my son and daughter have received there in the past. Need a CAT scan or an MRI? Mount Sinai has it arranged in hours or within in three days at the most.

We arrived at in the emergency room at 3:00p.m., and seen right away. After the initial nurse triage examine and paper work filled out, I was sent to the waiting room. A brief stay in the waiting room and then I was wheeled into an examining room. Maybe it took 10 minutes - tops. Five minutes after I in the examining room, I was being wheeled into the x-rays room – and attended to immediately. By the time I was wheeled back into the examining room, my x-rays were up on the examining room screens. Ten minutes later I was examined by a resident. Ten minutes later, the resident was conferring with the attending doctor. A fiber-glass air cast was fitted ten minutes later. I was fully discharged and loaded with instructions. The longest single wait I experienced was waiting for a cab to arrive at the emergency entrance to take me home. I was back home and fully kitted out with crutches, cast and drugs by 4:30pm.

Now, maybe I was lucky, and it would be foolish not to see an element of luck in the timing working for me, but this is my 4th experience at Mount Sinai. And each time, I am amazed at the speed and quality of care. I suspect that a great deal of those Canadian hospital horror stories happen due to dysfunctional management policies of individual hospital administrations rather than signs of a 'broken' health care system. If this is indeed the case, maybe it's time to take a long hard look at how and who is running our hospitals.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Audacity of Dopes

I really do believe I could build an entire blog around the stupidity and foolishness which is routinely published on a daily basis within just the two large Canadian daily papers. Take today and the Toronto Star’s “National Affairs Columnist, Thomas Wolkam’s column on the Gaza Flotilla foolishness. I suppose I have to start at the beginning.

Last year’s deadly Gaza flotilla was a clear win for the Palestinians in their long conflict with Israel. This year’s version is shaping up as another. Ostensibly, the flotillas are about breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza and bringing needed aid to the 1.5 million people there. In reality they are about political pressure and public opinion.

As such, they are David and Goliath contests that Israel cannot easily win. For in the flotilla sagas, Israel is by definition Goliath. If it forcibly stops ships bearing aid, as it did last year at a cost of nine dead protesters, it risks being painted a bully.
The problem with Wolkam’s worldview is that it is not rooted in the reality. Last year’s flotilla was not a resounding political success for the Palestinians.

The images of Israeli marines boarding the ships armed with paintball guns and being senseless bludgeoned by armed thugs peace activists was not a win-win for the Palestinians or their public relation efforts. In fact, I am still humming Latma’s break out You Tube hit, ‘We Con the World’ by the Flotilla Choir.

The Israelis, for all their alleged ruthlessness, could not have staged a better photo-op than the reality - which was of armed peace activists running amuck with weapons. Of course, it does tend to tarnish your peace ‘creds’ when you harbour a convicted terrorist hijacker among your ranks. This is probably why this year’s flotilla stuck to a bona fide Hamas member instead.

And I wouldn’t risk throwing around the term ‘bully’ around so freely or someone might want to question the contingent of Dutch reporters who abandoned the opportunity of being embedded with the middle aged pacifists on board the flotilla and ask - ‘why?’. Of course, this also raises the sticky issue of what restrictions did the Toronto Star’s embedded journalist agree to for the ‘privilege’ of reporting live amongst the so-called Canadian contingent present on the Tahrir.

The danger of asking questions is how easily one question can easily spawn other equally uncomfortable questions. For example, someone might just resurrect this relatively current Jerusalem Post’s article and point out; if the Red Cross preventatives in the Gaza Strip do not believe there is a humanitarian crisis why does The Toronto Star and the flotilla organizers insist there is a need for humanitarian supplies….

Of course, Walkom – not being one to get bogged down by reality continues thus,
Israel says its Gaza blockade is meant to forestall rocket attacks. Palestinians call it collective punishment.
Now there are two possibilities why Walkom writes that the Israel blockade is ‘meant to forestall rocket attacks’. Either he doesn’t really know why the Israelis began the blockage or he is deliberately attempting to mislead the readership of the Toronto Star.

Simply put, the Israelis instituted the blockage of the Gaza Strip not because of rocket attacks launched by the Hamas government exclusively against Israeli civilians or even for the raid across the Israeli border by PRC members to abduct an Israeli solider in order to extort and blackmail the Israeli government into releasing duly convicted Palestinian terrorists. These acts alone are considered enough of a 'casus belli' for war among any normal nations; although, neither of these reasons are the cause of the Israeli blockage against the Gaza Strip.

The Israelis instituted the blockade against the Gaza Strip once Hamas successfully staged a violent bloody coup and overthrew the democratically elected leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has no legal democratically elected authority to legislate or govern the Gaza Strip and the blockade was instituted by the Israeli government because Hamas, as a political entity remains committed to the use of terrorism to achieve its political aim and the destruction of the Israeli state.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s economy has been virtually destroyed. The blockade has stifled exports, effectively killing what had been a flourishing fruit and vegetable sector. It has decimated the fishing industry.
I would suggest if anyone killed the flourishing fruit and vegetable sector of the Gaza Strip; the Palestinians should shoulder far more blame than the Israeli blockade.

When the Israeli blockade was instituted in June 2007; the agricultural industry of the Gaza Strip was already decimated. The Israelis had disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005 and handed over to the Palestinian Authority a multi-million dollar agricultural industry with complete functioning infrastructure.

Instead of practicing good husbandry skills, the Palestinian Authority allowed the greenhouses of the Gaza Strip to be destroyed and looted. The Israelis had literally made the desert bloom but you cannot do so without the green houses and a complex irrigation system. I can’t speak with any authority on the fishing industry but I wouldn’t be surprised that to learn the Palestinians have mishandled their fishing industry much like they have mishandled and abused their own agricultural industry.
And finally,

As the Star’s Jim Rankin has reported, those aboard the Canadian ship, Tahrir, are by and large middle-aged pacifists. One may disagree with their politics. But they hardly seem dangerous.
The flotilla activist may present the visual optics of middle-aged pacifists but make no mistake - this group is most certainly dangerous since the flotilla is actively providing cover and offering political safe refuge to one of the more vicious and ruthless military dictatorships within the Mid-East neighborhood.

If the flotilla membership was seriously concerned with the welfare of ordinary Palestinians of the Gaza Strip; they should be protesting and demanding Hamas give up military control of the Gaza Strip. Of course, no fun would be had - since there would be no Jews Israelis to bully, malign or demonize.

What is more disturbing to me, is the fact that the editors of the Toronto Star should know all these same facts, and yet, they still published Wolkam's dribble anyway.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why the Jews

(Picture taken from Many Like Me)

I was reading Sarah Honig's latest column on the coming 'tsunami' at the UN with Palestinians. While I have very little to quibble with Honig's column, I was struck by one incredible and existential 'why'. Let me quote Honig at length to set up the existential 'why'.

The 1947 UN partition plan earmarked a status of corpus separatum (separate entity) for Jerusalem, to be overseen by international administrators. Since the Arabs had already violently rejected the Partition Resolution, besieged Jerusalem, conquered and occupied parts of it, expelled all Jews from the Old City and demolished sacred Jewish sites, Ben- Gurion saw no logic in unilateral Israeli adherence to impotent UN proclamations.

On December 5, 1949, five days before the UN General Assembly was to reiterate the internationalization of Jerusalem (and kick off preparations to take control), Ben- Gurion defiantly declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Without trepidation he told the Knesset: “We consider it inconceivable that the UN would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel or infringe upon Israel’s sovereignty in its eternal capital…

“Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youths liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism.

“We do not judge the UN, which did nothing when member-nations of the UN declared war on its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land and to destroy Jerusalem, the holiest city of the Jewish people.

“Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against the UN, Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of Israel would not have arisen.
“Thus, we are no longer morally bound by the UN resolution of November 29, since the UN was unable to implement it.

“…The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Mideast or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold onto Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington.”

The UN remained impervious. On December 10, 1949, its General Assembly voted by a whopping majority (38-14, with seven abstentions) to uphold its 1947 resolution and place Jerusalem under the auspices of a UN Trusteeship Council, to be governed by the council’s own appointees.

That was the tsunami of 1949. It threatened to engulf fledgling Israel. But Ben-Gurion didn’t lose his cool. Instead of bowing to pressure, he mounted the Knesset podium yet again to repeat what he had enunciated a mere few days earlier: “We cannot assist in the forcible separation of Jerusalem, which would unnecessarily and unjustifiably violate the historical and natural rights of the Jewish people.”
He assertively stressed that “the State of Israel has had, and will always have, only one capital – eternal Jerusalem. This was so 3,000 years ago and so it will be, we believe, to the end of time.”

Ben-Gurion then put to the plenum’s vote his proposal to transfer the Knesset and the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was approved.

There is probably not one city more contentiously claimed than Jerusalem, the historical capital of the Jews and the heart of Judaism. There were periods when Christians claimed exclusive domain of Jerusalem and expelled the Jewish presence from Zion. In an act, now of historical irony, the Jews were only allowed to return when the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem from the Christians was complete. It was only the magnanimity of Muslim rule which allowed the Jews to dwell once more within Zion's walls. Of course, if the Jews were not despised by the Christians would the Muslim forces been so magnanimous? I think not.

No one, who claims to be a supporter of the so-called two-state solution, is suggesting that Jerusalem should be internationalized, but rather, divided between two states. The western half would remain in Israel's control and capital while the eastern half would come under Palestinian control to be their capital. What I find most curious is that there is a general international consensus that no government will recognize even western Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But these same states, are willing to recognize western Jerusalem as Israel's capital providing the Israelis allow the Palestinians to destroy the unity of the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

While I agree with Honig, that all Israelis and Jews need to do is to stand firm in the face of international perfidy and intransigence, I am struck by this singular fact. Only are the Jewish people are denied the right to determine their own capital. Only the Jewish people are told they must divide and share their ancient capital with a people who never existed as a separate distinct group until the re-establishment of the ancient Jewish state.

So the 'why' becomes simply this; why is it that only the Jewish nation is not allowed to determine their own capital?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dairy Wars

While most of the so-called pro-Israeli political bloggers are busy writing about the Palestinians, Iran, Syria or the Jew baiting among the faux flotilla human rights activists; the Israeli body politic is in the midst of a greater public protest and push back against the rise of cottage cheese prices. This week, the protests have reached the Knesset and even the Prime Minister has waded in.

The first time I had Israeli cottage cheese was this winter and I have to admit it was completely unlike any of the Canadian (foul stuff) cottages cheeses that are widely available for sale here. In fact, I thought it was yogurt originally as it doesn't have texture or flavour as Canadian cottage cheese.

I wish the Israelis must success in their protests and can only wish that Canadian consumers would feel half as enraged over our own outrageous prices for dairy products.

Your move, Steve Jobs

The most amazing part of this story is that the government of Israel actually had to make a formal request to Apple to remove an 'app' whose purpose is to advance a third intifada against the state of Israel.

I would have thought that anything inciting violence against a country and a people would be a common sense red line that no Western company of Apple's size and prestige would willingly cross. Apparently, not. It will be interesting to see how Apple intends to react to this request.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Many Like Me

It is official. I am now a published author. I got the contract and am waiting on the royalties – if any. My children are deeply unimpressed and appear to suffer from the ‘show-me-the-money’ syndrome. Although, Isaiah Sender insisted I sign the last draft of the book I signed off on. Apparently, he did so in hope it might have some intrinsic value one day for which he can auction it off on eBay.

I always thought my first ‘published’ work would be one of the three novels-in-waiting I have spent the last few years toiling away on. I never dreamed my first published work would be a non-fiction historical book….or e-book until the fall when the trade paperback is scheduled to come out.

I was contracted as a hired gun, I suppose ghost-writer is the more accurate term, but my name as ‘author’ is clearly on the cover so I am not sure ‘ghost’ is the most appropriate term in this case. It has been an interesting process, and while I wish that Jaques Bar had been alive to answer in detail many of my own questions that remain unanswered, and consequently, the answers would have given the memoirs more depth but I believe the book does stand as an interesting historical narrative of the times from a unique prospective.

Besides, how many men fought on the Russian front with characters with like Andrei Kirilenko and Sergei Gorbachev? Or were sappers for the British Polish II Corps in Rommel’s Gardens, and then were militarily instrumental in the creation of the nascent Israeli state?

There were times when I really doubted my ability to churn out the first draft before (the always looming) March 31st deadline. I had to keep an impossible schedule to meet that deadline. I would go to my day job from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., go home, feed the sons, go bed and get up around mid-night and work until 6 a.m. Then I would get ready for work and begin the process all over again.

Since I am a hired gun, I do not get a dedication page, but if I did, I would dedicate the book to Gavriel. I met him by chance shortly after I signed the contract to write the Bar memoirs. I was whining away at a party about the inability of my family to leave me alone to work and the horrendous hours I needed to keep, in order, to be able to write. Being an Israeli man, he immediately took action. Of course, being a thoroughly North American woman, I was a somewhat taken back by the boldness of his solution to my predicament. But if there is one thing I have learned in my life - it is this - sometimes one must take a chance. And so I did.

He would wisk me away to his apartment far from my downtown home, in what I call affectionately call the Shtlel, and he allowed me to work undisturbed. I admit the ‘wisking’ (aka driving) made me to understand that everything I had ever heard about Israeli drivers was true and not the least bit exaggerated. Never before, in my life, have I had so many opportunities to recite the Shema in a 15 minute interval. Did I mention that the drive should have taken 40 minutes and my knowledge of modern Hebrew slang and cuss words has expanded considerably and dramatically? I still may not be able to express a complex thought in Hebrew but I can now effectively deliver the most disparaging monologue on the deficiencies of male organs or your mother’s innate promiscuousness with goats, camels etc.

And when guilt would rear its head (like when my youngest son took to addressing me as ‘birther’ rather than ‘Ima’), he would forcefully insist my teenaged sons were old enough to be left alone now and then - and would benefit for fending for themselves – especially given there was a freezer full of meals pre-made for them and my cell-phone was always on. He was quite amazed at how we (North Americans) - baby our children - even in late adolescence – at a stage of life when most Israeli teens are getting ready to join the army.

The entire "Life on the Russian Front" was written in his apartment. It is the part of the book which I am most proud of, but it gave me no end of trouble to write. He would ply me with endless cups of Israeli coffee which would always seem to magically appear at my side whenever I needed a cup the most. He translated reams of Hebrew to English for me when my own written and cursive Hebrew skills were seriously compromised by the material in front of me. Gavriel was fascinated that he had never heard of this man before and he let me ramble on when I needed to.

And so to him, I would say,

תודה לך

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Drawing my redlines in the sand: No Libyans ever called me nigger

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Canadian Defense Minister Peter Mackay is set to ask parliament to increase Canadian funding to the tune of $60 Million.

Apparently, we have already spent $26 million to date for our adventures in Libya. And this, from an alleged Conservative government – I cannot wait to see the next foolish war Stephen Harper elects to involve Canadian in – I’m taking bets it is Yemen.

The strategic thinking of why we are in Libya - as opposed to places like the North Korea, Syria, Iran, Sudan, or central Africa escapes me. And I am a little more than resentful having to fund and help finance the post-colonial adventures of France and Britain.

From what I can tell, the poor beleaguered taxpayers of Western NATO countries seem to be picking up the tab disproportionately for the so-called Arab Spring. An Arab spring, which I am starting to think of as more like the western winter - and I am cringing thinking about the size of the minimum payment needed to be made on the credit card come January.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Behold, a miracle

It will soon be Shabbat and since I am a giver, I thought I would share one of the high points of writing the Memoirs of Jaques Bar (aka Many Like Me). I got to hold in my hands Bar's original battle plans for the Capture of Haifa, circa April 1948, the first real victory in the Israeli War of Independence and without the capture of Haifa, there might not even be an Israel to demonize and kick around - or defend.

I have an Israeli friend who helped me with the translations. He was astounded looking at the maps - he kept saying - I know this street, I played here and he would look at me and say with amazement in his voice, 'they fought where I played as a child'.

By the way, did I mention the Jews had no artillery capacity, and instead of mortars, used tire bombs filled with dynamite and stones?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hamas and the Agents of Death Peace Narrative

The Globe and Mail ran a weekend feature piece by Patrick Martin on Hamas – and I am using the by-line heading here: Hamas: Agents of terror, partners in peace, or both?Martin tries very hard to give a ‘well-rounded’ both sides kind of piece. Some of it useful, some of it not so useful. I do give Martin credit for at least acknowledging that Hamas’ ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – although, calling Hamas an ‘off-shoot’ gives the Muslim Brotherhood cover from the rather disturbing violence Hamas has deployed throughout the years – both against Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas, is simply; the Palestinian Chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Like so very many articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there are a number of distortions, often reinforcing this ‘cycle of violence’ narrative which so many in the western world cling on to without respite. It also allows organizations like Hamas to cover up their less than savory narratives. Take this one -

It was in 1994 that Hamas first launched its campaign of suicide bombings targeting civilians inside Israel. The first such attack took place in Afula, in central Israel, when a 19-year-old bomber blew himself up at a bus stop, killing eight Israelis and wounding 34 others.

The date was April 6, exactly 40 days after an Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, a physician and reserve army officer, entered the mosque at Abraham's tomb in Hebron and killed 29 Palestinians at prayer, wounding dozens of others. That was the event, Hamas leaders say, that crossed “a red line” and changed the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

…If Palestinian civilians at prayer could be attacked, Hamas reasoned, Israeli civilians would be considered targets too.

Which is all well and good…except The Beit El bombing also known as the Mehola Junction bombing in April 16, 1993 was the first ‘bombing’ Hamas took credit for - almost a full year before Baruch Goldstein’s infamous meltdown in Hevron.

Then there is this little gem:
“We were shocked,” said Ghazi Hamad, recently appointed the Hamas government's deputy foreign minister. Mr. Hamad met with representatives of various European countries immediately after the election. He pleaded for time to show what kind of government Hamas would lead. “ ‘Hamas is not Taliban,' ” Mr. Hamad said he told everyone. “Hamas is a moderate organization."

Nothing quite says “Taliban” or even ‘moderate organization’ like a Hamas Agents attacking a wedding party inside the Gaza Strip…or the violent and bloody coup of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

…or launching a rocket attack at an Israeli school bus from the Gaza Strip and killing one Israeli school boy this past April.

For some reason, the entire history of Hamas targeting Israeli civilians inside the post-49 borders of Israel with rockets is conveniently scratched over…although, I admit, it probably is best to forget it – especially if one wants to accept Hamas can be ‘moderated’ or you have a vested interest in white-washing the Hamas narrative for mass Western media consumption.

As far as Hamas being an agent for peace goes…it probably only works as long as the word ‘peace’ and ‘grave’ are used in the same sentence.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The last legs of the 'two-state' solution

The common wisdom of the Israeli Palestinian conflict dictates that everyone knows the shape of the final peace agreement will take although no one knows how to get there. The common wisdom approach is based on the 2000 Clinton plan as the basis of all future negotiations....which is all well and good, except that Palestinian leadership explicitly rejected the Clinton plan in 2000. One could argue that was simply the results of the intransigence of Yassir Arafat's rule....except well, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 offered the most generous plan to date to the Palestinian leadership of alleged moderate Mahmoud Abbas...and it was still rejected.

Last week, US President Obama, in his now infamous '67 Borders' speech called directly for using the '67 borders with mutually agreed land swaps in exchange for the large Israeli settlement blocks in the disputed territories. Outrage broke out on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

I was not even sure if 'land swaps' in principle had even been accepted by the Palestinians and decided to search. The most recent articles mentioning Palestinian leadership accepting of the principles of mutually agreed land swaps came from the Jerusalem Post, circa May 22, 2010

Palestinians and Israel disagree on the extent of territories to be exchanged, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday afternoon.

Following repeated publication of Palestinian openness to discussing a territorial exchange of about 4 percent, twice the 2% discussed in negotiations with Olmert’s government, Abbas reiterates the Palestinian Authority’s agreement to the principle of some land-trade at a 1:1 ratio, but stresses that “We did not agree about the land area, but we agreed on the principle of swapping land (equal) in quality and value.”
And this May 23, 2010 piece (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that the Palestinians and Israel have agreed on the principle of a land swap, but denied that the two sides had reached any further agreement in this regard.

The issue of the ratio of land Israel would give to the Palestinians in exchange for keeping settlement blocs has long been an issue of dispute, with the Palestinians demanding that the ratio be 1:1, and Israel offering less.

Then there is rather good short piece from The Forward on the land swap issue which suggests the Palestinians will only accept an acre per acre swap and the land exchanged must be of 'good' quality which rather suggests that a corridor cut through the Negev linking the West Bank to the Gaza Strip is out of the question – so far.

So what's left? An Israeli friend of mine suggested the only alternative to a Negev swap was the large Arab blocks within the borders of pre-June 1967 Israel such as predominantly Arab areas such as Umm al-Fahm and even Nazareth – he was quite excited about the prospect of losing Nazareth. In other words, adopting the Yisrael Beiteinu plan.

For years, the Palestinian Authority has been actively cultivating the concept of 'Palestinian' ethnicity within the Arab identity of Israel and the most recent manifestation of the success of these rather new phenomenon is Amzi Bishara, an Israeli Knesset member who is alleged to have actively colluded with Hezbollah during the Israeli-Lebanon conflict of 2006, and MK member Haneen Zoabi. She openly claims to be 'Palestinian' and refuses to stand and remain in the Knesset for the playing of HaTikvah, the national anthem of Israel. I am actually far more sympathetic to her refusal...since I actually know what the words in Hebrew mean and cannot imagine her singing about the longing of her Jewish soul - and meaning it. Now there are a great many things wrong about MK Zoabi, nonetheless of which is her 'truth' issues and her actively colluding against the interests of the Israeli state being just two examples of her perfidy.

Since the Palestinians demand their 'state' be ethnically cleaned of Jews and the Palestinian leadership wants 'quality' land, and the Arab minority in Israel now actively seeks to align themselves 'ethnically' within Palestinian niche rather than with the larger Arab community; it does make sense to put the large Arab communities within Israel on the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority. In fact, this minority in Israel want to impose their will on the majority and wipe out the Jewish character of the Israeli state; if this report from the Moshe Dayan Centre is at all creditable. So why not swap them for the Jewish settlements in the disputed territories?

If the two state solution is to be shoved down the collective Jewish throat; why not swap the Jewish settlements for Arab Palestinian ones? I realize it is the Lieberman Yisrael Beiteinu solution and no doubt there will be cries of racism thrown at anyone who suggests it, but realistically, what else is there which will meet the needs of the Israelis and satisfy the demands of the Palestinians?

Furthermore, if the the Arab communities within Israel on the table as 'land swaps' with the Palestinian Authority the Israeli Arabs will not be thrown out of their homes nor will they be left without benefit of a citizenship. The Palestinian Authority gets land and a native population whose infrastructure has already been built, and consequently, has no needs to be met as in the case of refugee populations. Israel loses its potential fifth column and gains control over the Jewish settlements in the disputed territories. If the two state solution is to be saved; this is the only realistic option.

Of course, the real irony of this my blogging this issue; is that I never have supported the establishment of another Palestinian state.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Jew hater by any other name....

The Vicious Babushka brought the ‘Global Peace Index 2001’ to my attention. The progressive Euroweanies apparently used a variety of factors to rate the relative peacefulness of other countries.

Now ask yourself what do Kuwait (29), United Arab Emirates (33), Egypt (73), Congo (98), Saudi Arabia (101), Ivory Coast (128), Syria (116), Iran (119), Bahrain (123), Lebanon (137), Yemen (138), Nigeria (142), and Libya (143) all have in common?

Each of these countries was deemed a far more peaceful society (both internally and externally) than Israel – ranked at 145. Israel is placed just somewhat above well-known war-torn hell holes like Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia.

I have to admit that it’s an impressive display of anti-Semitism wrapped up to be passed off as something else.

x/posted The Last Exile

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Changing the dial on get the most out of the demographic mile

US President Obama in his infamous ‘reset’ on the Middle East speech from last week alluded to the idea that time is not on the Israeli side …Skippy Stalin took up the mantle where Obama left off in this post and used a very old school demographics argument to suggest the Palestinian fertility is something for the Israelis to fear. All of which is my long winded way of pointing out this article from the Asia Times Online on the power poised by the Israeli demographic. Here’s a snippet.

At constant fertility, Israel will have more young people by the end of this century than either Turkey or Iran, and more than German, Italy or Spain. With a total fertility rate of three children per woman, Israel's total population will rise to 24 million by the end of the present century. Iran's fertility is around 1.7 and falling, while the fertility for ethnic Turks is only 1.5 (the Kurdish minority has a fertility rate of around 4.5).

Not that the size of land armies matters much in an era of high-tech warfare, but if present trends continue, Israel will be able to field the largest land army in the Middle East. That startling data point, though, should alert analysts to a more relevant problem: among the military powers in the Middle East, Israel will be the only one with a viable population structure by the middle of this century.

That is why it is in America's interest to keep Israel as an ally. Israel is not only the strongest power in the region; in a generation or two it will be the only power in the region, the last man standing among ruined neighbors. The demographic time bomb in the region is not the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank, as the Israeli peace party wrongly believed, but rather Israel itself.

Read the entire article, and then speculate on the possibility of a thing called – (dare I say it publicly?) ‘Israeli hegemony’.

x/p: The Last Exile

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chutzpah Borders

It takes a special kind of chutzpah for a US President to make policy pronouncements on what should be the border of Israel; when he cannot even effective secure the borders of his own country.

xpost: The Last Exile

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The long lie

One of the first truisms one encounters when studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that truth is fluid. What was true yesterday or even today is not what will be truth tomorrow. Of course, truth could depend entirely on what language is spoken.

There is no better example of this principle in action than Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' New York Times opinion piece. Why the NY Times gave this man their paper as his soap box to preach on is beyond me. I will not re-hash the points others have covered but instead I just want to point out Abbas' personal narrative is a little 'fluid' depending on time, place and language. Abbas' starts his op-ed piece with a personal walk down memory lane.

SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine. This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe

In July 2009, Abbas speaking on Palestinian television stated quite plainly in Arabic that his family was not driven out by the Jewish militias but fled out of fear that the Jewish milita would potentially take revenge for the ill-treatment the Arabs had metered out historically to the Jews. Arutz Sheva:

Speaking with Al-Palestinia TV on Monday, Abbas admitted that his family was not expelled or driven out, but rather left for fear that the Jews might take revenge for the slaughter of 20 Jews in the city during the Arab pogroms of 19 years earlier.

“I am among those who were born in the city of Tzfat (Safed). We were a family of means. I studied in elementary school, and then came the naqba [calamity, namely, the founding of the State of Israel – ed.]. At night, we left by foot from Tzfat, to the Jordan River, where we remained for a month. Then we went to Damascus, and then to our relatives in Jordan, and then we settled in Damascus.

“My father had money, and he spent his money systematically, and after a year, the money ran out and we began to work. “The people’s basic motives brought them to run away for their lives and with their property. These [motives] were very important, for they feared the violence of the Zionist terrorist organizations – and especially those of us from Tzfat felt that there was an old desire for revenge from the rebellion of 1929, and this was in the memory of our families and parents.”

Yadda, yadda. And so goes the long lie.

xposted to The Last Exile

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama, I hardly knew you

Bin Laden is dead, Americans are uttering sighs of relief, but you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. What Bin Laden launched a million radicalized souls will continue on.

What I find interesting from the initial reports I have read is that Bin Laden was targeted for assassination while living in a mansion in a suburb of Islamabad. All of which means he has probably been under the protection of high officials within the Pakistani government – and this from the so-called US Allies.

Since Bin Laden was given up now; I would like to know what offer the US Administration made to the Pakistanis which was sweet enough of a deal for them to give up Osama now. Make no mistake, there was a deal; otherwise, no US forces would have been allowed to operate by the Pakistanis inside their capital of Islamabad.

This wasn't the hinterland mission on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan where one can claim 'hot pursuit' and so say 'sorry'. While there are reports that the US government did not advise the Pakistani's of this operation; then ask yourself how the US helicopters just managed to operate freely in the air space of the capital of Pakistan? Or why would the Obama Administration jeopardize relations with a US ally by carrying out a targeted assassination which is by the nature of the act a gross violation of the concept of nation sovereignty. Of course, other reports claim Pakistani commandos were on board. Either way, there was a deal, and so what is the price to be paid?

Secondly, while it appears all sides of the political spectrum have found relief by Bin Laden's death by targeted assassination, I would just like to point out the innate hypocrisy of the left for being relieved with bin Laden's death, but then, spew outrage when the Israelis target Palestinian terrorist leaders for assassination. You can't have it both ways. Those targeted by for death by the IDF are just as committed to seek the life of the citizens of Israel as Bin Laden was against Americans and just as deserving of their fate.

xposted: The Last Exile

A perfect storm of delusion or the world only loves dead Jews.

Maybe it is me but there is just something widely appropriate for Ha'aretz's columnist Gideon Levy to pen an op-ed piece arguing that Israel should give Hamas another chance on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It has been less than a month since a guided missile attack emanating from the Gaza Strip targeted an Israeli school bus and killed a 16 year old boy.

Gilad Shalit is still held captive and a prisoner of yes, of course, why not give Hamas another chance?

I mean, why not roll the dice and play roulette with the other 7 million Israeli lives? It's a perfect storm of delusion and I can just imagine how Levy would have argued against the Warsaw Uprising if he had been alive and present in the Warsaw ghetto.

For the sanest opinion piece on Holocaust Rememberance Day - read Sarah Honig.

xposted: The Last Exile

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The hand of fate

Blogging has been practically non-existent for the last few months because I received a contract to write the memoirs of a little known Israeli military hero from the War of Independence. My deadline is looming and I have just the conclusion to write which is all well and good except I am suffering from the worse case of writer's block in the known verse.

As much as my goal is to breathe life in this memoir; I find the birth pangs are grinding down my will and impairing my ability to focus on the task at hand. In an effort to jump start this process I thought I would write a little about the man whose memoirs I am writing.

His name isn't very well known although he played a direct role in the formation of the Israeli state and fought as a sapper with the Soviet Red Army. In fact, he was instrumental and played a direct hand in ensuing the Soviet's escape a German pincher movement in the Ukraine.

If the Red Army hadn't successfully crossed the Dnieper River more 1.2 million Russian soldiers and equipment would have been vanquished from the field of battle, and consequently, the Soviets would have lost all ability to fight on. Imagine - the consequences for us in the West; if the Soviets were defeated in the fall of 1941.

It is really not surprising his name was only known in the upper echelon of Israeli military and early Labor Zionist political/government circles. He left Israel in 1956 feeling the Labor Zionist movement had betrayed the very people - like him - who were among the few to take up arms and risked the treasure of their lives to make the Zionist state a reality.

The lesson we so often learn is that only the victors write history and so why would a man like him be lauded? A man who routinely referred to David Ben Gurion a 'shrimp' and thought Golda Meir was the 'root of all ugliness'. A man who believed Moshe Dayan should have been tried by a military court for incompetence, and wasn't only because of his family's connections within Labor Zionist movement. Or who thought that Menachem Begin had a gift for making a speech but couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. A man who commanded the young Ariel Sharon and thought him a good boy who could be counted on to do exactly what he was told to do – no matter the price.

Every once in a while a witness outside the victor's circle gets heard and gives a contrary cry to the established narrative of the victors. When I was first offered the project I wrote a friend and asked his opinion on the matter. He wrote and I quote -

Even setting aside his own role, anyone that even witnessed battles as diverse as helping yet another Soviet army being destroyed in a Kiev-like encirclement battle, Tobruk, and Haifa – let’s see, by my tally, that’s someone who:
helped prevent the defeat of the Soviet’s in the first year of their war with Germany, helped prevent the Nazis from capturing the Suez Canal – preventing a linkage between Germany and Japan, and played a causal role in the creation of Israel.

Most people never get the chance to be present at one major historical event – this guy was present and active at 3. I hate to admit it, but some things are better than sex.
I am not so sure about the sex part (the verdict is still out on that one) but there are very few personal accounts of life in the Red Army during Operation Barbarossa. It is one of those little historical ironies that most accounts available to us in the west tell the tale concerning life for a German soldier on the Russian front. There are varied reasons for this - one of which is the constant Soviet need to rewrite their own historical narrative to reflect whatever current political realities of the day was reining. And so here is an excerpt from Jaques Bar's - Life on the Russian Front 1941

The convoy was rolling as fast as the road allowed  in order to reach the bridge in the shortest time possible and by the shortest route. There wasn't much talk amongst the ranks during this time and it occurred to me that the first group of Soviet soldiers were probably hoping to reach the bridge before the Germans and praying the crossing would be done in time. The second group was probably wishing the Germans had already reached the bridge and were waiting for the convoy. I was preoccupied with trying to determine the ratio between the first and second group. The regiment sent forward a detachment to the bridge holders to persuade them to wait and not to blow up the bridge precisely at midnight in case the convoy arrived late and providing the facts on the ground would allow it.

We arrived twenty-three minutes after midnight and found the bridge was still standing. The convoy crossed the river in seven minutes and the bridge was safely blown away. With a group of German troops still on our heels but moving cautiously we continued on in the night in the direction of the river. We did not dare to stop even for a moment after crossing the river but continued to drive in a southeast direction, climbing the top of a deep canyon on the east banks of the river. The road was steep, narrow and curved which made it very difficult for the larger trucks to manoeuvre. It was assumed there were probably a few other German units who had already crossed the river in a few places – possibly north and upstream of our position.

The drivers by this time were weary and harassed from the constant need to drive without sleep or food. Long before sunrise the convoy came out from the canyon into the open steppe and started moving very fast in the southeasterly direction. The wide road on the steppe made it possible to drive three to four trucks side by side and this abridged the length of the convoy to half a mile long. The race was to get to the new Russian front lines before any fighting occurred and possibly hunker, down in the forests where German air craft could not sight us and attack from the sky.

Out of nowhere came a barrage from different firearms and explosions. The convoy was racing directly into a line of fire and it was instantly apparent we were the target. Kirilenko immediately jumped out from the truck he was riding with Gorbachev and me to join his assigned men. Under heavy fire, the convoy broke formation in an attempt to look for cover or hideouts in all directions – spreading out as widely as possible. The fire intensified and concentrated on the convoy where the explosives seemed to be concentrated. Different types of shrapnel were hitting the convoy and no matter which direction the drivers took to evade fire. Whenever a vehicle stopped, frightened soldiers crawled or leaped out from the trucks, screaming this was an ambush, a trap, the Germans had trapped them in a surprise attack.

The soldiers left the convoy and spread out onto the field leaping from one place to another and took up positions in the lowest possible places on the ground - great distances from the trucks and waited for further orders. I knew the realities of the front line but I never expected to find myself in the midst of live fire on the front line. I had convinced myself the evacuation and the retreat would be safe and not pose any real risk of danger. I did not think I was exposing myself to the opportunity of certain death. I looked up into the terrified eyes of Gorbachev whose eyes told me the situation was clear. The convoy had been intercepted by German troops and within a very short period of time everything would be lost and destroyed.

I made it clear to Gorbachev that I could not surrender to the Germans because I was a Jew and since no chance of escape existed, I would commit suicide. No other solution was possible for me. Gorbachev was close to breaking down; so deep was he shocked by the latest turn of events. He turned to me and said that he had no other choice but to fight to the bitter end. He would not allow himself to be taken alive. Then just as suddenly, the shooting ceased and the noise from the guns grew quiet.

Gorbachev and I jumped out from the truck and saw two trucks with white white cloths were moving towards the direction from where the shooting had originated. 
There were scattered bodies of the dead and wound soldiers lying everywhere in the fields. There was no attempt at subterfuge and the white flag of surrender was tied to a truck in the lead. This time, the Ukrainian nationalist elements in the regiment were convinced their moment had come and the convoy would be shortly and firmly be under German control.

Gorbachev and I were surprised and interrupted from carrying out our suicide pact by a group of Ukrainian nationalists acting on their own initiative. They forcibly disarmed us and placed us under armed guard until we could be handed over to German military authorities, The Ukrainians promised that after our interrogation by the Germany authorities they would personally kill us both. Gorbachev couldn’t understand why the regiment surrendered without even displaying token resistance while I sunk into despair.

It was an existential moment for me, and I was left pondering, why it was so necessary to come this far, only to be caught by the German division within miles of the new Russian front. I was willing to endure long periods of being cold, wet and lice, suffering chronic hunger and sleep deprivation; if this suffering meant one day I would get my life and freedom back. This left me questioning why my luck had run out at such a moment as this. This ignorable end meant that my opportunity to do something of lasting importance had passed and future historians would never remember or have reason to mention my tragedy.   The all clear was given and the convoy moved back into formation and proceeded to move forward towards the obvious ‘German’ lines.

The self-appointed pro-German Ukrainian soldiers began their new orders by firing additional shots from the machine guns of the moving trucks to ensure all those soldiers lying down were really dead, and if not dead before, were well and truly dead now.

  When the convoy reached the firing lines and crossed over with the soldiers there was once again much confusion written on the Soviet faces. These were not German troops but Soviet Red Army soldiers behind the newly established front. The convoy was the victim of a friendly fire incident. The Soviets at the new front lines were never advised or made aware there was the possibility of a regimental sapper convoy arriving sometime after midnight. Furthermore, after string upon string of devastating losses and retreats, it seemed far too incredible for a convoy of this size to have been able to succeed in piercing through the German army iron rings of tanks and guns.

If it wasn’t for the cover of darkness and the convoy arriving late, the Red Army would never have mistaken the regimental sapper convoy for a motorized column of German infantry. After a short battle and the misunderstanding the issue was cleared and the convoy was allowed to pass through with only a loss of about 10% of our strength. The friendly fire incident started because darkness had not completely lifted and the arriving force was taken as a motorized column of German infantry. The Ukrainian soldiers realized that they were also victims of a misunderstanding born out of the fog of war.

The first draft is due on Thursday, and no doubt, there will be multiple re-writes, but until then, let us all ponder the hand of fate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Freedom is just another word for kill the Jews

What amazes me is how so often everything in the Arab world always comes back to killing Jews. It's like the entire body politic of the Arab world is literally a one-note charlie. And that one-note? Listen and learn.

h/tip: The Muqata

crossposted at the Last Exile

Better cry for Cairo

You may think you are watching the struggle for freedom and democracy in Egypt as ordinary Egyptians take to the street in the hopes of shedding the shackles of an oppressive dictator – and it might have even started that way - but now, it has come to a showdown between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hosni Mubarak. NY Times

CAIRO — Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition banded together Sunday around a prominent government critic to negotiate for forces seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, as the army struggled to hold a capital seized by fears of chaos and buoyed by euphoria that three decades of Mr. Mubarak’s rule may be coming to an end.

The announcement that the critic, Mohamed ElBaradei, would represent a loosely unified opposition reconfigured the struggle between Mr. Mubarak’s government and a six-day-old uprising bent on driving him and his party from power.

Though lacking deep support on his own, Dr. ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and diplomat, could serve as a consensus figure for a movement that has struggled to articulate a program for a potential transition. It suggested, too, that the opposition was aware of the uprising’s image abroad, putting forth a candidate who might be more acceptable to the West than beloved in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood just bought themselves a public secular face as a beard. And for those of you with little short term memory – let point out that it was during Dr. El Baradei’s watch at the International Atomic Energy Agency that the Iranians got away with creating a second parallel but ‘unmonitored’ nuclear program.

crossposted at the Last Exile

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dateline: Moscow

My condolences to the victims and their families of the Moscow airport bombing.

While I have yet to read any reports of any groups claiming responsibility for the attack; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know things have been heating up in Chechnya in the last 14 months.

I suspect the vast majority of westerns had no idea just how hot things have been in Chechnya for some time. It has been an issue which western mainstream media has seriously under reported. It I was a cynic, I would suggest the reason for this is that there are no ‘Jews’ involved to condemn… Oh wait, I am a cynic.

crossposted to The Last Exile

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another terror peace activist's mask slips

The Toronto Star carries a fluff piece on a Canadian group seeking to raise funds to send a Canadian contingent boat to sail to the Gaza Strip which is currently under an Israeli naval blockade. Make no mistake, this is most definitely not a ‘humanitarian aid’ mission delivering food, medical or humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as Palestinian ‘activist’ Kevin Neish makes very clear, and I quote,
“The goal isn’t to send aid to Gaza, but to break the blockade,” Neish said.
While I realize it is all the rage for the alleged peace activists to go into full-scale touchy-feelie towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but let us not loose sight of the fact, all Hamas has to do to come in from the international cold and end the Israeli naval blockage is;

1) Denounce the use of terrorism to further political ends
2) Amend the Hamas charter so the destruction of Israel is not part of Hamas’ political mandate.
3) Return Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit to Israel.
Three simple actions which would cost the Hamas leadership nothing but probably gain them just about everything which would radically improve the quality of life for ordinary Palestinians, and yet, Hamas refuses to succumb to ‘international pressure’ to do the only moral and right thing under the circumstances.

These Israeli demands are not outrageous or beyond the pale, and if people such as Neish, were really concerned for the welfare of the Palestinians under Hamas control - he’d be first in line in bringing pressure against Hamas rather than wasting his time attempting to run a blockade which is a civilized response to indefensible barbarism. Neish and his fellow-travellers won't attempt to apply political pressure to Hamas simply because no one does peace activist quite like a Palestinian supporter.

Cross posted to The Last Exile

Old Sins really do cast long shadows

I was contacted last month and entered into discussions about the possibility of writing the memoirs of an Israeli military hero from the 1948 War of Independence. The contract was officially signed last week but I have been working on the project steadily since taking possession of documents in late December. How this project came into my hands is a bit of what I call Jewish geography at play. Needless to say, if my Zionist credentials were suspect, it wouldn't have come to pass at all.

I have been working crazy hours as I have a March 30th deadline and I cannot work properly unless I am left entirely alone and undisturbed. Call me crazy and anal but being interrupted a non-stop stream of innocuous questions like - 'where is the milk?' and 'did you wash my gym clothes or black shirt' or 'what can I eat?' (boy code for will you make me a snack) or 'where are my boots' just ruins my concentration and negatively impacts my ability to work. All of which goes a long way in explaining why my grammar is often wanting and suspect in blog posts that are, more often than not, written between constant questions and non-stop interruptions.

I go to bed around 7pm and get up at 1am and work on the project till around 6am. Then I get dressed and go to my 'day' job until 4pm. I go home and cook for the boys and literally fall into my bed. Most days I do not even see the hands of the clock move to strike 7pm. I tell myself, and the men in my life, it will all come to an end – one day.

All of which is the 'now' reason blogging has been nearly non-existent. For some one like me, who often considers geopolitics and war as a kind of foreplay; reading the memories of the man who planned the battle of Haifa, fought with the Soviet Red Army and was part of the Anders Aliyah is far more compelling than anything going on currently in the blogsphere.
I have documents written by Polish government officials that need to be translated into English since my Polish is beyond wanting. The letters are the 'official' response to a number of questions regarding anti-antisemitism in the Anders Army. No biggie or so I thought. I work with a number of Polish Canadians who I am quite friendly with, and who I thought, I could call upon to ask for assistance.
All of the Poles I approached are my age and born approximately 20 years after WWII ended and were initially happy to be of assistance – until they read through the documents. To say, I was more than a little taken back by their collective and often downright venomous response to the idea that any Pole could commit an act of 'anti-antisemitism' – at any time in history - is the understatement of the new year.
Consequently, I have been 'exposed' and stand accused of being an integral part of an international conspiracy designed to smear and besmirched the Polish people and their history with the most vile and baseless of lies. I have never heard so many 'you people' or been the subject of such venom in 48 years of living. Not one of the Poles I approached and had cordial relations with for the last ten years are now speaking to me. Not because of what I said per say but because of what I represent to them. There is an irony here which is not lost upon me, which is simply this; most of my life I have not been Jew enough for some, and now in middle age, I find I am far too Jew for others.

And who knew in 2011; Jews are still not to be trusted and are innately disloyal and can always be counted on to shit in the hand which feeds or shelters them. Or that Jews are cowardly by nature and cannot fight their way out of paper box and who would sell their mothers or first born for a dollar?

The reason my hero didn't publish his memoirs before he died was that he felt once his memoirs were published; his existence in Canada could be threatened by some crazy Pole with an axe to grind and he wouldn't even see the loon coming. I thought he was exaggerating - now I am not so sure he didn't have a perfectly valid point. Old Sins really do cast long shadows...

crossposted to The Last Exile