Living In Interesting Times

Living in Israel is probably the embodiment of “living in interesting times”. Just when we thought the main threat to us was pushed off (at least temporarily, if not longer – I am refering of course to Iran and its nuclear capabilities) the whole region seems to be exploding.

Hizballah has more or less taken over Lebanon – the thugs with the guns usually win out, and Lebanon is no exception. Which means that when things start to go south in the country, Nasrallah will do what most Arab leaders do to distract the people, start fighting with Israel. This will probably include rockets over the border.

Then there is Egypt. Some may be thinking, naively, that the protests in Egypt will bring about the downfall of the dictatorship and perhaps democracy. Most of us in Israel are more worried about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. As Barry Rubin points out, he is worried, and he is worried that others are not worried.  One quote is telling. He is asked if it is possible to have democracy and liberalism in Egypt and answers this way:

“One would need strong leaders, strong organizations, an ability to repress opposition, a clear program, and unity, among other things. None of this is present on the moderate democratic side. Again, I wish it was otherwise. More than any other country, reformers–though not all of them–have believed they can work with and then manipulate the Islamists. That seems like a mistake.”

Rubin writes here for PJ Media and puts forth three possible outcomes.

Here again, if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt they will at one point focus on fighting Israel, probably by arming Hamas in Gaza or more directly by going to war with us. More rockets, this time from the south.

The next war in Israel is coming that much closer.


The Next War In Israel

When the IDF undertakes an operation or goes to war in order to bring security to its citizens, the world’s media focusses on the present, usually ignoring the background events that lead up to the IDF action. They crop out of the picture the terrorist attacks that occur for  months years beforehand, so as to conveniently portray the Israelis as the aggressors. 

I decided to keep a post with a running list of attacks, so that when the next war needs to be fought my readers at least won’t be surprised.

For some background, read here about past rocket attacks on Israel. This article is highly recommended – not only does it have statistics on the attacks themselves but it portrays the damage to the victims, the terrorist groups involved, and has a very interesting piece about the Arab approval/disapproval rating of these attacks. Guess what – after Operation Cast Lead the number of Arabs in Gaza that disapproved of launching rocket attacks against Israel went up dramatically. (I guess this is where NIMBY really comes into play…)

Here is a list of attacks for 2011 – so far:

January 1 – mortar shell fired from Gaza lands near kibbutz in Sha’ar HaNegev region

January 4 – kassam rocket fired from Gaza explodes near a kibbutz in the Ashkelon Coast region

January 5 – seven mortar shells and a kassam rocket fired from Gaza land in open areas in Eshkol region

January 6 – mortar shell fired from Gaza lands in Sdot Negev region

January 7 – projectile launched from Gaza

January 8 – five mortars fired from Gaza land in Sha’ar HaNegev region, three Thai workers are injured. Two kassam rockets launched at Israel from Gaza same night

January 9 – kassam rocket fired from Gaza lands in Eshkol area

January 10 – four rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, one hits an industrial area in Ashkelon

January 11 – rocket fired at Israel from Gaza explodes south of Ashkelon

January 16 – three mortar shells fired from Gaza explode in open area near a kibbutz in Sha’ar HaNegev region

January 17 – kassam rocket fired from Gaza explodes in orchard in Sha’ar HaNegev region

January 18 – four mortar shells fired from Gaza land in open areas in Eshkol region

How To Kill The Peace Process

Al Jazeera and the Guardian have published what they claim to be secret papers detailing the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians in past years. The juciy details about how much each side was willing to give up make up the bulk of the new information.

Whether the papers are authentic does not really matter at this point. The release of this kind of information will have one major effect – it will kill whatever peace negotiations would have been going on.

The PA will be embarrassed, and will have to publicly take on a harsher stance on Israel. Looking moderate, especially in relation to Hamas, is good for public relations in most of the world – but it is deadly for their relations with their own people.

Someone somewhere probably thinks that this is another way to embarrass the Israelis, especially Netanyahu. What it really does is give the Israelis an out – because now noone on the Arab side will be able to come to the negotiating table with any realistic proposals.

More time for us to build. Now we just need the building permits….

When the Outrageous Becomes Ordinary

A Soldier’s Mother blogs on a very important topic – the fact that what would be outrageous in another country is unfortunately ordinary here in Israel. I am talking about the fact that mortar shells are being launched at our cities in the south. We don’t react when they (thank G-d) fall onto open areas – we just are grateful that noone is hurt. What we should be doing is screaming our outrage. What is worse is that the world only reacts when we react – and kill the terrorists launching the shells.

Even those who support Israel are sometimes uncomfortable when the IDF manages to kill terrorists, and there are no Jewish dead around in order to “justify” it, as I wrote before.

There will be another operation soon in Gaza, in order to go in and kill the terrorists that are still launching rockets and mortar shells into Israel. Remember the reason why.

Jack Has New Digs

Jack has updated his blog again – and hosts this week’s Havel Havalim. Check it out.

Assertiveness Training – Part 3

The Second Lebanon War, with its rockets raining down on the north and the city of Haifa, and the continued rocket fire at Sderot and the city of Ashkelon, helped to finally burst the hopes of those who thought the disengagement would bring peace. Only the most die-hard left wingers clung to the idea that it had accomplished anything.

This is why, when the IDF went into Gaza to fight Hamas, it was with unprecedented public support. This in turn explains why the Goldstone report was so bitter a pill to swallow – even for cynical Israelis who are used to the world’s unfair condemnation. It also explains how the organization Im Tirzu came to touch a raw nerve in Israeli society.

Probably one of the most difficult places to be an open pro-Zionist is on the college campus – and it is doubly sad that this applies to the Israeli college campus also.

This is why Im Tirzu is so important. Just a short quote from their website:

“We believe the younger generation, and especially the university student population, holds the key to the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and that it is the duty and responsibility of this population to lead Israeli society. Regrettably, in recent years, anti-Zionist trends have been proliferating at Israeli universities, which have gradually displaced, marginalized and excluded the Zionist discourse, preventing Zionists from making their voices heard. Since December 2006, Im Tirtzu has been the only movement that has provided a response to the spread of post-Zionist and anti-Zionist currents among the faculty and student body in Israeli universities.”

Im Tirzu became a household term in Israel early last year when they investigated the NIF (New Israel Fund) and found that they were responsible for the bulk of the testimonies against the IDF in the Goldstone report. People were infuriated that the IDF soldiers who risked their lives to fight the terrorists were betrayed by other Israelis, who, in turn, were funded by foreigners. This  created a storm of publicity, and some members of Knesset called for an investigation into the funding of left-wing NGO’s, specifically focussing on the participation of foreign governments. Just this past week the Knesset voted to establish a committee to investigate this funding.

Im Tirzu is also famous for its report about bias on campus – and the Ben Gurion University in particular. Just this week BGU announced that they will be changing their ethics code so that teachers are now asked not to use the University’s name when they speak at political rallies, and are asked to refrain from expressing their political opinions in class. It is amazing what pushing back can accomplish.

What is telling about Im Tirzu and the political groups that are voicing their opposition to these left-wing groups, is that the leadership is (outwardly) secular. Most of Israeli society is pro-Zionist – but many are cowed by the dominant voice of the liberal left from expressing their Zionism. In the past they would be afraid to be associated with the “face of pro-Zionism” – the knitted kipa and beard of the national religious segment of Israeli society. Now a pro-Zionist can be clean shaven, bareheaded, and young – so the stigma has started to fall away. Being openly patriotic is no longer “fringe” – it is mainstream, as it should be.


Assertiveness Training – Part 2

When what is called the second intifada (what a lot of us call the Oslo War) started in September 2000, those of us identifying as right wing were not surprised. The subsequent years of riots, drive-by shootings and suicide bombings were horrific. The political mood of the country turned sharply to the right, and most of us were relieved when Arik Sharon was elected Prime Minister. He didn’t disappoint us – at first. After the terrorist attack at the Park Hotel on Passover 2002, Sharon called up the army and finally went after the terrorists in the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria – exploding once and for all the idea that Israel could depend on the Arabs to keep the terrorists in check – and that there were places that the IDF had to keep away from. This operation, and the use of targeted killings of terrorist leaders, slowly reduced the terror.

Then, just when we thought things were getting better, Sharon stunned us all with his proposal for the disengagement  from Gaza. Another year and a half of protesting, lobbying Knesset Members, and endlessly debating over whether to block roads (civil disobedience) and refuse army orders followed – all to no avail. The disengagment went through,  thousands of Jews were forced out of their homes in Gush Katif, the IDF left – and the Arab hordes proceeded to celebrate by destroying everything standing – including burning the synagogues. Then the inevitable happened – they started shooting rockets and mortar shells. Now, instead of aiming them at the Jews of Gush Katif, they were close enough to send them into Sderot and the surrounding kibbutzim.

 During the time before and during the disengagement, the left expressed undisguised glee at the irony of the fact that the (formerly) right wing hero, who built communities in Gush Katif and Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria) was now destroying them. Many expressed their never-ending hopes that there would be peace as a result of this action, and some even predicted the demise of the national religious movement in general and, for want of a better term, the settler movement in particular.

The disillusionment on our part was intensely felt, and the reactions to this were many and varied. For some it took the form of “pulling away” from the mainstream in Israel.  Now many young men reaching army age who would have joined the Hesder program in the IDF (where they would combine army service with Torah learning in yeshiva) have opted to sit and learn exclusively – as a reaction to the possibility of being asked to remove other Jews from their homes. Some turned to the Charedi world and its relative insularity.

Many others decided, after a lot of soul searching, that the answer to the disengagement was the opposite of pulling away. They thought that one of the reasons that the disengagement was so easily accomplished was the fact that the average Israeli did not relate to Gush Katif. Part of this, the theory says, was because the idealists in the national religious community spent their time building thriving communities in Yehuda, Shomron and Gush Katif – and left the other parts of society to their own devices – trusting, falsely, that they would not only continue to be pro-Zionists like the previous generation, but would be proud of it too.  Realizing that this hadn’t happened, many have decided to “engage” the larger Israeli society.

This takes many forms. Some, both secular and religious,  interact in what is called “panim b’panim” – “face to face”. In other words, engaging other Israelis on a personal level. Some dati leumi young couples take this further by actually moving to parts of the country and forming a “garin Torani” – literally a “Torah seed”. This means that a few religious families will move together to a non-religious and in most cases a needy neighborhood where they start a yeshiva, form a school and do outreach.  (When these communities start to grow and become successful, the housing prices inevitably go up, and there usually is an economic benefit to the city as well). Of course the garin Torani has been around for a long time, and was somewhat popular before the disengagement, but it has become much stronger since 2005.

The most obvious change, though, has been in the right wing secular community.

Next up: Taking the battle to the enemy’s territory – on campus.

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