Every day there is at least one attempt by a suicide bomber to enter Israel. Last night a terrorist was captured not far from the airport. It is incredibly surprising that they are not more successful.
Last night, when i went to the Gan Ha'ir pharmacy, stopping by the memorial of Rabin to pay my respects, I kept thinking that the wonderful rain would now bring cooler weather, enabling people to hide bombs under their jackets with greater ease. The shopping center is very posh, but al the stores have huge 50% sales - still too expensive for my blood - but greatly reduced. A Russian beggar stopped me with his eyes and I gave him the money i had saved by parking on the street and not in the underground lot... How sad Rabin would have been to have read my thoughts, seen what i saw.
Elections are January 28. Most people think Likkud will get stronger. Some justifications for this exist. I think i'll elaborate on this someday soon when i have time - The element of humanity and humane behavior that is necessary to a politician and to a political philosophy...
I have been thinking all day about the word mensch. It's something I grew up with -- the idea that a human being is meant to be kind, considerate, fine. I always thought of the term as related to a grandness of vision that includes all living creatures - all human beings and animals alike. The consideration for human dignity in particular is basic to my definition of menschlichkeit. In the past week I've been hearing the word a lot. Right wing people accuse leftists of not being menschen because they don't visit the mourners for victims of terrorist attacks. And left wingers accusing right wingers of the same lack because they don't consider the humanity of their enemy. Tonight on the radio some woman called in to insist we 'transfer' all leftists to Arab countries because they are enemies of Zion. So the problem with defining enemies always arises when you limit the obligations of a human being (of menschlichkeit) to a specific group of people - like I have to think of my own people first And yet, as I mentioned long ago, my partisan aunt was burned to death because - after the Nazis ignited the building they were hiding in, her husband helped the other ladies out first. My mother never spoke to him again - even though he was the only survivor of the 40 odd people in her family.
This dilemma of who to save, how to 'rate' the importance of people - remains basic to the left-right issue here today. "How can you help the Palestinians with their olive crop when there are those within those groves who are terrorists?" "How can you ignore the 'image of God' in which all humans are created?" These are not easy dilemmas and should not be made light of.
Mitzna said today: "We should negotiate as if terror did not exist and fight terror as if negotiations did not exist. " -- the acceptance of paradoxes won my heart.
November 7, 2002
Another confession - I am drawn to Arie Deri. Every argument against him - that he has pillaged the coffers of the country, that he is always a politician, that he has misused the anger of the Oriental Jews - doesn't work. I'd like to believe him. So I do. And if he forms his own party at the last minute, he'll get many many votes. And he'll destroy Shas. I don't know exactly what will happen but i predict national surprises from him.
But we have enough problems from other places -even today. We have the problem of the new Turkish government - which hasn't done anything yet but is beginning to scare me - i mean we're going to be getting our WATER from Turkey soon... And the Egyptian all watching the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" on TV this week. A Republican congress. That's not so comforting either. The possibility that war may be avoided with Iraq should be ameliorate these feelings - but i'm too freaked out to think straight, to accept comfort.
November 8, 2002
It's the small stories that illuminate. Like the one of Carmi, Nona's security guard from Shchem. Today, as we were sitting in Nona, we kept hearing people passing by and mentioning him, even though it has been weeks since he was arrested. But there was a big article about him in the papers today - a Palestinian passing as a right wing Israeli, fasting on Yom Kippur, wearing a little bead necklace, getting the award (of a weekend for 2 in Tiberias) for outstanding worker in one of the clubs he guarded, doubting the Arabs would ever make peace, allowing himself to get picked up by the most beautiful girls of Tel Aviv, going home with them for kiddush and singing the blessing over the wine with the family, and sending money home to his mother. The waitress at Nona says visitors can't even get to see him in jail now because he's a security prisoner. Did he steal the motorcycle he's accused of? His Israeli friends are trying to help him - after all if he goes back home he'll be killed. Apparently his picture is all over the Arab web - not only as a collaborator, but as someone who prevented a suicide bomber. So what will happen to him? He's a one man romeo-and-juliet...
Every once in a while i have to center and balance myself here - why am i writing this diary - to convince people of a political point of view? to convince myself? my initial reason was to record for myself and my friends something of the day-to-day human response to the news. i know that when i try to be consistent and political i have no authority. it isn't my purpose - and Yehudit sometimes writes me to point out the many flaws of my arguments, always gently adding that i am interesting anyway...
what i really want to write about are the birds - it is so hard for us to lift our heads up from the garbage in the streets and in the news that i almost forget about the amazing life here a few meters above. And now that migration is at its height there are so many surprising birds in the trees outside my window - all kinds of strangers, visitors. looking at them is a luxury in the middle east - but i would much rather read the birds than the papers.
First, an essay by Alan Dershowitz I got from a few people and cut and pasted from em-ail that echoes how I felt on U.S. Campuses:
National Post Back to the birds - they make much more sense.
November 5, 2002
If a visitor from a far away galaxy were to land at an American or Canadian
university and peruse some of the petitions that were circulating around the
campus, he would probably come away with the conclusion that the Earth is a
peaceful and fair planet with only one villainous nation determined to
destroy the peace and to violate human rights. That nation would not be
petitions circulating on most North American university campuses that would
seek to have universities terminate all investments in companies that do
business in or with
faculty members to boycott scientists and scholars who happen to be Israeli
Jews, regardless of their personal views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. There
have been efforts, some successful, to prevent Israeli speakers from
appearing on college campuses, as recently occurred at
There are no comparable petitions seeking any action against other countries
that enslave minorities, imprison dissidents, murder political opponents and
torture suspected terrorists. Nor are there any comparable efforts to
silence speakers from other countries.
The intergalactic visitor would wonder what this pariah nation,
have done to deserve this unique form of economic capital punishment. If he
then went to the library and began to read books and articles about this
planet, he would discover that
of speech, press and religion, that was surrounded by a group of tyrannical
and undemocratic regimes, many of which are actively seeking its
destruction. He would learn that in Egypt, homosexuals are routinely
imprisoned and threatened with execution; that in Jordan suspected
terrorists and other opponents of the government are tortured, and that if
individualized torture does not work, their relatives are called in and
threatened with torture as well; that in Saudi Arabia, women who engage in
sex outside of marriage are beheaded; that in Iraq, political opponents are
routinely murdered en masse and no dissent is permitted; that in Iran
members of religious minorities, such as Baha'is and Jews, are imprisoned
and sometimes executed; that in all of these surrounding nations,
anti-Semitic material is frequently broadcast on state-sponsored television
and radio programs; in Saudi Arabia apartheid is practised against
non-Muslims, with signs indicating that Muslims must go to certain areas and
non-Muslims to others; that China has occupied Tibet for half a century;
that in several African countries women are stoned to death for violating
sexual mores; that slavery still exists in some parts of the world; and that
genocide has been committed by a number of countries in recent memory.
Our curious visitor would wonder why there are no petitions circulating with
regard to these human rights violators. Is
-- worse than the Chinese occupation of
combat terrorism by
Chechen terrorists? Are Arab and Muslim states more democratic than
Is there any comparable institution in any Arab or Muslim state to the
Israeli Supreme Court, which frequently rules in favour of Palestinian
claims against the Israeli government and military? Does the absence of the
death penalty in
barbaric than the countries which behead, hang and shoot political
in exchange for peace, worse than the Chinese attempt at cultural genocide
members of the Knesset somehow worse than the policy of Muslim states to
persecute those who have a different sexual orientation than the majority?
Our visitor would be perplexed to hear the excuses made by university
professors and students for why they are prepared to delegitimate Israel
while remaining silent about the far worse abuses committed by other
countries. If he were to ask a student about the abuses committed by other
countries, he would be told (as I have been): "You're changing the subject.
We're talking about
1920s involving then-Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell.
that the number of Jews admitted to Harvard should be reduced because "Jews
cheat." When a distinguished alumnus, Judge Learned Hand, pointed out that
Protestants also cheat,
we're talking about Jews."
It is not surprising, therefore, that as responsible and cautious a writer
as Andrew Sullivan, formerly editor of The New Republic and now a writer for
The New York Times Magazine, has concluded that "fanatical anti-Semitism, as
bad or even worse than Hitler's, is now a cultural norm across much of the
see them destroyed."
Our intergalactic traveller, after learning all of these facts, would wonder
what kind of a planet he had landed on. Do we have everything backwards? Do
we know the difference between right and wrong? Do our universities teach
These are questions that need asking, lest we become the kind of world the
visitor would have experienced had he arrived in
1930s and early 1940s.
Alan M. Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard and author of Why
Terrorism Works. This essay is based on a speech he is making at a United
Jewish Appeal forum tonight in
It was on the National Post on Nov 5, but it off the web now.
I must admit that after reading a Daniel Pipes article on the way the word "Jihad" is interpreted on U.S. campuses as 'internal moral struggle' I really was ready for this article. There is an pathological bias among Universities in the U.S. and Europe that I cannot fathom. It seems to go against every intellectual process I've ever encountered.
Back to the birds - they make much more sense.