Eretz Yisrael Time

Powered by WebAds
Sunday, April 30, 2006
I occasionally wonder about the differences in attitudes between the US and Israel regarding security. I’ve come to the conclusion that Israelis have become somewhat blasé about it while Americans don’t understand it all.

Certainly we see this when the US requires that we release captured terrorists or remove roadblocks for peace, and Israel then complies, but it actually affects Americans more directly at home.

Israelis know what to do about security, and usually they do it right. On the other hand, there is also this “yihiyeh b’seder” attitude which seems to prevent them from going that extra mile and taking some security matters very seriously for extended periods of time.

To me this explains how Palestinian kids walked into Bat Ayin and stole the guns from sleeping soldiers, why, too often, you see soldiers manning checkpoints not looking as attentive as they could be, and other security infractions that that I need not mention here.

I just had to fly in and out of the US and I witnessed a very disturbing scene at the Kennedy x-ray station.

What I found disturbing is I too have experienced my own version of this scene which leads me to believe that the US has absolutely no clue how to protect its citizens.

A young, religious, Israeli mother was carrying her sleeping baby in a sling. I asked her about it afterwards and she explained that it was because she knew she had to put the stroller into the x-ray machine, and this way she didn’t need to disturb the baby.

As we all stood there sans shoes, the security bureaucrat told her to take the baby completely out of the sling before she went through the metal detector. She didn’t want to as it would wake the baby and he would start screaming. She explained she would either beep or not, whether or not the baby was on her.

The security bureaucrat (not a native-born American, mind you) was insistent and threatened to have her strip searched if she didn’t comply. She didn’t actually understand the threat, but her husband did, and he took the baby out, which immediately began to scream and cry and they walked through.

There are three points that disturbed me (there are more, but 3 is enough for here).

  1. The guard threatened to strip search her, not because he thought she was a threat that required it, but rather as a threat to get her to comply to his bureaucratic instructions.
  2. This woman’s long flowing dress was far more conducive to hiding a weapon or explosives (which the metal detector can’t see anyway) than the baby sling was. If there really was any suspicion then he should have had her fully checked.
    (If they were seriously concerned that the machine couldn’t detect metal between the mother and baby, then at least just have her loosen the sling and hold the baby a little out without overly disturbing it.)
  3. He was incapable of making any decision on his own whether or not this rule made any sense, or how to modify it to fit the situation.

My own experience was when there was apparently a warning that laptops might be used to transport a bomb onto the plane.

So after having our laptops x-rayed we were told to bring it over to the table for a physical examination.

The examination consisted of opening the lid. That’s it! I asked the security bureaucrat, “You know I have a keyboard and screen here, you saw it on the x-ray. Don’t you want to turn it on to see if the battery and hard drive are real?”

He said no, those weren’t his instructions. I said, “But if they told you to check laptops, how else do you have half a chance to see if the components are real and not explosive mock-ups?”

Again he responded that those weren’t his instructions, next.

If I wasn’t flying El Al, I would have felt a certain amount of trepidation on that flight. (Just so you know Ben-Gurion security occasionally spot checks laptops, and they always make you turn it on if they have a suspicion).

After 9/11 there was a (true) story of a baby who was taken from his mother for a more serious security examination – because the baby (not the mother) was the next one to be checked in their numbered sequence. As I recall (perhaps not correctly), the mother was detained for protesting.

These US “guards” are incapable of properly fulfilling their task. They receive instructions and mindlessly fulfill them, no matter how idiotic, inappropriate, or incomplete they may be. They don’t add, they don’t subtract, and they certainly don’t use any common sense.

How safe can it be to fly on a plane from the US (or be a soldier in Iraq) when the bureaucrats in the field are given inadequate and even stupid instructions by the bureaucrats in the office, and no leeway for common sense (if they have any at all)?

I just came across these related links:

In case anyone was wondering what was the story was regarding the female Palestinian hitchhiker, it turns out she was sent by a Palestinian terrorist group, and while this was apparently the first time she got caught, it was far from the first time she's done it.

Remember: If you are suspicious even to the slightest amount, then simply ask to see some ID before you let someone in the car (or pull over if you already let them in the car). Better everyone should be a little embarrassed than a lot of people (including you) be dead.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
This is sure to get me some angry, knee-jerk, reactionary comments.

Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz said that the settlers caused contempt for the Holocaust because of our propaganda.

Funny, because I thought that Sharon and his government caused (and showed) contempt for the lessons of the Holocaust when they had the “honor” of being the first government anywhere in the world, in quite a very long time, to specifically expel Jews from their homes, and then knowingly hand over synagogues and yeshivas to be desecrated and destroyed.

Silly me.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I just came across a very scary book I bought back in 1990. Published by the IASPS (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, Jerusalem) it contains an analysis and additional essays by various military and political analysts (including I was amused to see, one Daniel Pipes). The name of the book is “Can Israeli Survive a Palestinian State”, edited by Michael Widlanski.

The premise of the book is obvious from its title, what is scary is its prescience.

It discusses the goals and methods of a potential Palestinian state, and the Israeli/regional repercussions that will (not may) result.

Occasionally limited by the RealPolitic of the day, such as the influence of the Soviet Union, the book is a far too accurate forecast describing where we are today.

I was particularly taken by the insights that religious fanaticism (fundamentalism) will rise, Hamas will be the central player in any future Palestinian state, Iran will provide influence and support on many levels, rockets will fall on the Ashdod ports and power plant, general terror attacks will rise as the Palestinian state would either directly utilize terror or simply permit it from their territory (as well as allow 3rd party terror groups in for their own purposes), and most interesting, Israel will also be severely restricted in the level of retaliation and reprisals that it will be permitted to utilize against this Palestinian state for a number of reasons.

It is unfortunate that this rather descriptive book is also a rather accurate book.

Written 16 years ago it correctly describes the inevitable escalation of events once the PLO is allowed into the Land of Israel. We have only reached halfway through the timeline of inevitable results that this book predicts, and all indications show that we are rushing down this wrong way street at full gas with no intent to stop.

I spoke with an acquaintance from the US recently and he mentioned that no matter how accurate the predictions of the Right have been over the years they are simply ignored for the policies of the Left.

That doesn’t leave much room for hope, does it?
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
In previous posts I discussed how certain Leftist groups take money from foreign governments to spy and run campaigns against their fellow (but Rightwing) Israeli citizens (I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to find the links).

An unspoken (by the Press at least) question floating around Israel today is how this youthful looking suicide bomber got through. The unspoken answer is that a certain Leftist organization named Machsom Watch played a central role in getting this kid get past the roadblock.

I'm sure my readers already know all about Machsom Watch, so stay tuned to see if this theory pans out. I bet it will.
We already know that the demographics demon from the territories was a false demon. Certainly the total 1.2 million registered Palestinian voters (meaning nearly all adults, though presumably including those registered twice or still as alive) puts that question to rest.

But what is interesting is that Israel is still looking for some 30 Billion dollars from the US to pay off the last disengagement and the next one. Surprisingly, certain government people actually think they have a chance to get it.

It’s a shame that these same people can’t think out of the box.

1.2 million registered voters translates down to around 250,000 households (husband, wife, wife, live-in grandparents, older children living at home). Since the concept of Pinui-Pitzui is now acceptable, we’re talking about over $100,000 per household. Since the average Palestinian household is living on much less than $10,000 a year, I’d say $100,000 is a windfall, to say the least.

Other countries claiming interest in Peace can even supply land (like the empty Sinai for instance), additional funds (Saudi Arabia) and we certainly have caravans to spare.

But that isn’t the point of this article.

Shimon Peres on more than one occasion has made ridiculous remarks regarding the strategic value of land in the missile age. And while missiles, rockets, and shells continue to hit our southern communities severely disrupting our citizen’s lives, the IDF is told to only hit back only from the air, which has proven to be remarkably (and unsurprisingly) ineffective, seriously deflating Shimon Peres’s value as an analyst of strategic/tactical military issues.

And while the Palestinians make “land incursions” in the way of suicide bombers, knifers, kidnappers, and drive-by shooters, the IDF is told to stay out of Gaza solely for one reason.

If ground forces enter Gaze en masse (and I don’t mean running in and out for 100 meters like scared chickens) to stop the missile attacks - that means that disengagement failed.

It is inevitable that Israel will have to send ground troops in, the question is how long will Israel have to wait for that, which solely depends on when certain politicians feel they can disengage the acknowledgement of disengagement’s failure from the return of the troops.

But that is also irrelevant. It still scares me most that the Israeli government feels it must wait for a successful mass/mega attack before it has the moral right to effectively fight back, as if mass failed mega-attempts aren’t moral enough reason.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I feel a little bad.

Because of me, some little Lubavitch kid is going to go home and get smacked upside the head when he asks his father who Yeshu was.

I couldn’t help myself.

I was driving through Jerusalem and was confronted by posters that said the Rebbe is the Mashiach and he is the leader Israel needs. At the red light some little kid came over and tried to give me a pamphlet. I’m already thinking J4J and Hari Krishna and so I asked him he if knew that the Rebbe was dead. The conversation went on, with me becoming more and more despondent as I saw with my own eyes how Chabbad is breaking away from Torah and Judaism right in front of us.

At some point when the conversation with this little boy was getting completely ridiculous and I asked him if he knew who Yeshu was. He, of course, didn’t. We talked a little more and the light changed.

Afterwards I felt bad that I introduced him to the idea, even though his teachers and parents are introducing him to what is turning out to be the modern version.

I stopped short of telling him that it is forbidden to eat Chabbad Shchita - there’s a Chashash of ‘Ever min Hachai‘ (concern about eating the limb of a still living animal).

Seriously though, I don’t know what can be done at this point, but Lubavitch is taking a very wrong turn. It’s no longer a joke that Chabbad is the religion closest to Judaism.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Quietly whispered in the hallways it is said that our ultimate spy was sacrificed by the establishment. He knew too much, he would return to Israel popular, powerful, untouchable. His arrival would create political complications that would cause upheavals in the corridors of power.

The rumors say that in the end he wasn’t caught and jailed by accident, but that “those in power” in Israel purposely exposed him to those in whose military heart he was so deeply embedded.

Jonathan Pollard?

No, but you would think so.

Actually, in Sephardic homes across the country this is the unspoken, but understood truth about Eli Cohen and his capture.

Eli Cohen, the non-Ashkenazi spy whose return to Israel would send the embedded Ashkenazi control of the spy establishment into a tailspin. The risk was too great that someone who wasn’t ‘one-of-them’ might be in a political position to take control - so he was exposed.

Why do I mention this?

Well, let me ask you in return, why did you immediately think Jonathan Pollard?

Is it possible that our agents abroad are being sacrificed cheaply after achieving so much?

Last weekend’s Makor Rishon reported that Rafi Eitan, the head of the Pensioner’s party, new Knesset member, potential government minister, and former operator of Jonathan Pollard allegedly said that if he had been there when Pollard came in from the cold he would have put a bullet through Pollard’s head right there and then rather then get Israel embrangled in a political mess.

At some point Pollard has said (or implied) that Eitan demanded that Pollard supply him with U.S. information on various Israeli government ministers, presumably for the purpose of blackmailing them or at least political gain (what other use is there for that kind of information) - Pollard, of course, refused to supply political information and continued to only supply military information he felt was necessary for Israel’s survival.

We know how shabbily the Israeli government has treated Jonathan Pollard. Is this the immoral attitude that the Israeli government has towards its agents, looking at them as mere assets to be thrown to the dogs when they become political or personal liabilities?

Is this the attitude we want for a minister in the State of Israel? Someone who could put a bullet in the head of an agent, a hero, because it might cause someone some political or personal damage?

I’m not into conspiracy theories but during the Iran-Contra affair you might recall that an airplane crashed with an Israeli in it.

Look up the story, and based on what I said above, think about how the Israeli government chooses to 'clean up' its messes, mistakes, and heroes, and then remember Gush Katif.

Is there a connection?
Friday, April 07, 2006
Is anyone questioning this one? I’m actually not and for good reason.

Peretz is an incredible administrator (or to use a different term, a boss, but not just a boss, but a boss’s bossI bet he wouldn’t like that). Look what he did to the Histadrut. He took a crumbling edifice, destroyed and ransacked by its own masters (Labor) and rejuvenated and regenerated it into a monster that caused billions of shekels worth of damage to our economy over and over with the single twist of his mustache. There was never a single man in the history of this country with so much destructive power available to him at will. An economic terrorist if you will – though one without the cajones to be Prime Minister despite the opportunity handed to him on a silver platter.

But why ‘Defense Minister’? It’s actually quite simple. The Army is the largest (non-unionized too, I might add) employer in the State of Israel. It has a manpower efficiency rate worse than the even the laziest protected union employee. It is also the largest black hole this country has ever seen, gulping down public funds (not to mention US Aid) at a rate that is simply draining our economy to the max.

Can you imagine if Peretz put his hands around the IDF with a mandate to ‘thin and trim’ it to half its cost and half its size?

And it can be done. As someone who spends far too much time at various bases and installations I can tell you that there is so much wasted overhead that can be trimmed away, there are jobs and departments to be reorganized and closed down, and purchasing processes to be improved.

If there is anyone that can do it, then that would be Peretz.

And now you’re asking yourself, what about defense? Peretz knows nothing. (True).

That’s not just irrelevant to the issue, but it also fixes a major flaw in the Israeli MoD.

We’ve almost always had generals as defense minister who simply looked at the job as being an ‘uber general’ who then continued to play internal army political games with their staff as opposed to a politician who actually let the army do what it does best, while he defined the goals and missions and concerned himself with its administration and finances. It's always been the Prime Minister who has actually decided on military missions anyway.

But what does Peretz get in return for destroying/revamping the IDF?

I think that the answer is pretty clear. Every billion shekels he saves will go towards social issues.

For Olmert, Peretz (the Communist) stays clear of the Ministry of Finance, while taking advantage of his skills as a powerful and able administrator. Peretz in return gets to redirect the money he saved for his social concerns.

Time will tell.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Excellent News
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Reprint of: Ibrahim's Mirror
Posted by David Bogner on April 2, 2006

This is a very troubling post to write, and it will be doubly so if people leave comments based on their prejudices rather than their intellect.

My intention is to demonstrate an example of how even relatively small disputes here in our region often have many layers of complexity. Much as we would love them to be... things are rarely black and white. As you will soon see, there is plenty of blame to go around.

There is a man who does some light yard work for us from time to time who, for the sake of this post, we'll call Ibrahim.

Ibrahim lives with his wife and children in a neighboring Arab village, and like many people in his village he cultivates a few dunam of table grapes to supplement his meager income. The land he farms is his by legal purchase and document, but he has had several recent disputes with his Jewish neighbors over where exactly his property ends.

In a recent show of solidarity with Israeli residents in my area, a visiting group of American Jews spent a few days enthusiastically planting trees out on the hills between our town and Ibrahim's. Whether by accident or design they planted many of the trees on Ibrahim's land.

It is Ibrahim's opinion that the trees were deliberately planted there to create facts on the ground that would eventually erode his claim to the land. I've tried to assure him otherwise, but in my heart I'm not so sure.
Ibrahim is not a wealthy man and did not consider for a moment pursuing a solution to the problem through legal channels. Instead, a few nights ago he went out and hooked his beat up old tractor up to the new trees and one-by-one, pulled them up by the roots.

Whether his action was expected or someone simply overheard the tractor and called the authorities is still not clear. What is clear is that the police arrived and promptly arrested Ibrahim. Not only that, they impounded his battered old tractor to boot.

Ibrahim pleaded with them not to confiscate his tractor as it was essential to his ability to work his land and provide for his family... but the more animated and agitated he became the more adamant (some witnesses even say spiteful) the police commander was in assuring him that he had lost the tractor forever.
Finally the police called in some IDF soldiers to help subdue Ibrahim and make sure there was no trouble from the large group of men from his village that had gathered on the scene upon hearing the noise and seeing the flashing police lights.

This story is terribly troubling to me from many standpoints.

First of all, as much as people would like to say otherwise, the land in this area has been extensively surveyed and everyone living here has had ample opportunity to present documentation showing their claim to all parcels of land that are inhabited, cultivated or even idle.

I'm not talking about the issue of 'occupation' or 'conquered land' at the moment, but simply about land that was legally purchased by, deeded to, or inherited by private individuals. Of course, landmarks change... surveyors make mistakes... and documents are sometimes forged or altered. But for the sake of the small picture, the people here know pretty much to the inch who owns what.

Therefore, if a well-intentioned bunch of foreign Jews head out to plant trees, they almost certainly have a very good idea on whose land they are planting them. After all... this kind of thing doesn't happen without some local guidance.

Secondly, although the laws in this part of the world may seem rather primitive or arcane to an outside observer, there are laws... and Ibrahim should have known better than to eschew proper channels in order to take the law into his own hands. By taking the course of action he did it now appears to the courts (real, and of public opinion) that he was doing the land-grabbing and not the Jewish tourists (or the local Israelis who organized the tree-planting outing).

Lastly, with tensions always high in this area I have to question whether the intention of the Israelis who sent the Jewish tourists out to plant trees wasn't to use their combination of enthusiasm and ignorance to shave off a few precious meters of Ibrahim's land, knowing he was too poor to mount a meaningful legal challenge.
I've shared this with you today for several reasons.

First, no matter who you are or where in the world you are reading this you likely aligned yourself with one side or the other based more on who you wanted to see as right rather than who had the stronger claim to actually being right.

Second, in almost every modern altercation over property in this part of the world, mistakes are made... poor judgment is exercised and blame can easily be assigned in more than one direction.

Lastly, if you honestly disagree with the previous two points I have some news for you:

What I have told you to this point is nearly all true.

The only minor details I have changed (which shouldn't matter to a fair and balanced consideration of this case) are the following:

a) Ibrahim is not my sometime gardener... he is the husband of my children's piano teacher.

b) Rather than being a Palestinian farmer from an Arab village who cultivates a few dunam of table grapes on legally purchased land... he is a Jewish farmer from a legal settlement who cultivates a few dunam of wine grapes on legally purchased land.

c) The contested tree-planting was not performed by a bunch of American Jewish tourists under the guidance of some local Israelis, but rather by a bunch of European tourists at the behest of local Palestinian leaders.

Everything else is exactly as I've described it... legal title to the land where the trees were planted... taking the law into his own hands... the confiscated battered old tractor... the IDF troops called, etc.

Of course you are free to continue reading the news as you always do, and to award the black or white hat to the players based on your current world view. But I try very hard to read the news as if with a mirror.

Wherever and whenever possible I try to reverse the roles, religions, nationalities and motives of the players involved to see if my sympathies remain as firmly in place.

I am here to tell you that when I have looked at the news using such a mirror, neither Israeli nor Arab comes away wearing pure black or pure white.

I don't expect to change anyone's mind here... and this was actually not my intention. I just want some of my readers to try using what I've come to think of as 'Ibrahim's mirror' for a few days to challenge their own objectivity.

See the original post with comments here.
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Powered by WebAds
    Follow the Muqata on Twitter
      Follow JoeSettler on Twitter
      Add to favorites Set as Homepage

      Blog Archive

      Powered by WebAds