A Critical Eye on the News

Every once in a while I like to take a news item from the Israeli English websites and compare how it is covered by each.

Today I compared the story about a Commission of Inquiry that will be set up to investigate the (mis)treatment of the Gush Katif evacuees.

The Jpost.com has the article here, with a picture of an orange-shirted man being pulled by a policeman (with a caption that he is being arrested).

Ynetnews.com covers it here, with an “emotional” picture of an orange shirted woman with her head in her hands, next to someone holding a child.

Haaretz.com also has the article, without a picture.

What is fascinating, to me at least, is the fact that each article is almost exactly the same – with one glaring difference. Both the articles in Jpost and Ynet contain a paragraph about Member of Knesset Vilan (Meretz) claiming that setting up the commission was “cheap populism”. Haaretz chose to ignore this little tidbit.

I’ve said it more than once on this blog – you have to read the news with a critical eye. Every news source is biased, and has an agenda. Even those that try to be evenhanded will emphasize one piece of the story over the other. Sometimes the only way to get the full picture is to read about a topic in more than one place.

You Want to Be A Tough Guy?

Jameel has a good post up about some guys in America who are supposedly putting together a “kitat konenut” (First Response Team in Hebrew) in New York. He points out, not only in the body of the post but in the comments section, some very practical reasons why this is a joke.

He also expresses what I feel too – you want to be a tough guy? Pack your bags, sell your house, move to Israel and actually LIVE here. Pay taxes, learn a new language, put up with the political system (which is awful), and live day to day. Maybe your sons will join the IDF, and then you can REALLY prove how tough you are – by having to worry every day they serve.

THAT is the tough thing to do – not playing out some fantasy in the Catskills.

I have learned a lot of things by living in a yishuv and making friends with Israelis.

One of the main lessons is that the real heroes do not come out of central casting. The real heroes are the guys like the mild mannered librarian, who looks like he would faint at the sight of blood, who goes for extra training in the IDF in order to identify dead bodies, because that is a huge mitzvah. Or the guy with the pot belly and six kids at home, who refuses to stop doing miluim (reserve duty), even though he has an out. Or, my personal favorite, the vegetarian, who refuses not only to eat meat but wear leather because of his beliefs, who is part of a combat unit in the IDF because he knows that it is a mitzvah to protect Jews from getting killed.

They are all “tough guys” – but not just by what they do in a uniform. Because in addition to their service (which doesn’t get a lot of press, by the way), they are also regular citizens. I consider myself very lucky to have them as my neighbors.

Come live here, mister “kitat konenut” and prove just how tough you really are.


This week’s edition is hosted at FrumeSarah’s. So many posts, so little time.

The Chummus Wars

I sometimes marvel at the difference between what my kids eat and what I ate at the same age back in America.

Take olives, for example. When I was a kid, a green olive was something you saw on tv in an adult’s martini. I never saw it on our dinner table, and I would probably have turned up my nose if, by chance, it appeared. My kids, however, eat them like candy.

Back in America we never ate chummus (chick pea spread, for those of you who have never enjoyed it!). Now, we usually don’t go through a day without it served at one meal.

Which brings us to a long running conflict.

If you go in to a major grocery store here in Israel, you will find yourself looking at a dizzying array of choices. Perhaps not 57 Varieties – but pretty close.

First, there are at least four major brands. Within each brand, you can find numerous variations of chummus, with additions.

My personal favorite is Chummus Abu Ghosh, which consists of chummus with whole chickpeas on the bottom, a bit of “charif” (a generic term for a hot and spicy pepper mixture) and pine nuts on the top. Westbankpapa likes the “Yerushalmi” type of chummus, which distinguishes itself by its slightly chunkier texture. One son really likes Chummus Zatar (a spice mixture of sesame, thyme and sumac) My youngest really likes his chummus plain.

So what to do? We need to buy the 500 gram package, which lasts us about a week (if the teenager is not home) – but if I buy a type that most of the family doesn’t like it spoils before we consume it all.

So, in our case, the littlest in the family ends up having the most power. His personal favorite, “Rak Chummus” (yes, it really says “Just Chummus” on the label) is what we buy.

This way one son gets exactly what he wants, and the rest of us get almost what we want. If only making peace in this part of the world was as easy.

Carnivals, Carnivals

I am not usually a “foodie”, but at the end of yesterday’s fast (the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day which lasts from morning until sundown) I started daydreaming of great stuff to eat. Soccerdad has this month’s edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival, with some great ideas to get me into the kitchen…..

This week’s Havel-Havalim is also up, at EsserAgoroth. Enjoy!

Angry and Sad

I think most Israelis are feeling about the same thing today – sad, and angry. I’ll leave it to others to articulate how – Dry Bones here (the short version) and Treppenwitz here (the long version).

I feel badly for the Regev and Goldwasser families, who still had hopes that their loved ones were alive. I feel badly for the families of those who were killed by the terrorists released today. And I am very angry that we traded live terrorists for dead bodies.

Now the terrorists have an incentive to kidnap more soldiers. Where is our backbone? How can we survive if our leaders can’t make the tough decisions?

Would Rabbi Akiva Laugh At This Too?

I jut read a disturbing story in Ynetnews.com. It seems that Hamas is using a former synagogue in Gush Katif as a training ground.

I couldn’ help but think of Rabbi Akiva’s famous reaction to seeing a fox come out of the Beit HaMikdash. Perhaps those of greater faith will see something positive about this latest abomination. I can’t see it.

Havel-Havalim – With an Unusual Name

Jack hosts Havel-Havalim, and it has a very unusual name. Enjoy!

A New Kind of Travelers Prayer

This past week I did my “motherly” duty and I took my turn as a chaperone for my son’s field trip for summer camp. Some of the activities involve rented busses, but others require parents to drive (this way we can lower the overall price of the camp – each bus is required to be bullet-proof, which means that they are very expensive).

As we left our yishuv I asked for quiet and I said tefillat haderech (the traveler’s prayer), which basically asks G-d for protection on the roads. The exact text has changed over the years, and now includes, in some instances, the specific request for protection against car accidents.

After I finished, the boys in my car spontaneously decided to recite their own prayers. One said that the road should be smooth for us. Another said that we should get to our destination quicker (I guess he really was excited about our trip, or he thought I was driving too slowly!). Then another boy added his wish, that “if a terrorist tries to hurt us he should get a flat tire”.

Oh boy. Since the last terrorist attack we now have a new thing to fear – terrorists on wheels.

On the whole I think this was a healthy response to this fear. After all, the best one to ask for protection is G-d himself.

(Lack of) Derech Eretz Watch

One of my pet peeves is the lack of basic derech eretz that some people have in this country. It especially bothers me when Orthodox Jews show this lack.

This past Shabbat we spent time with family in a primarily Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. While walking to and from shul (synagogue) westbankpapa insists on saying “Shabbat Shalom” to everyone he sees. Unfortunately, he receives blank stares in response (nine out of ten times).

I am a relatively shy person, and I am not the first one to say “Shabbat Shalom” to anyone. I know that this is a lack on my part, and I am working on getting over it. But I always respond with “Shabbat Shalom” to someone who says it first to me. I would consider it the height of bad manners not to respond.

I once complained about this to another Orthodox co-worker (Israeli born) and she just stared at me in puzzlement. “Did you know the people in Jerusalem that your husband greeted?” she asked. “No, they were strangers” I answered. “Well, that’s why you don’t get a response. Only olim chadashim (new immigrants) insist on saying Shabbat Shalom to strangers”.

I was shocked. Since when is saying hello in response to a greeting a foreign concept?

Am I the only one who has come across this phenomenon?

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