Tag Archives: Israeli Army

As Good As It Gets?

Welcome to Jewish reality, 2014.

I am not sure who has irritated me more this past week: the English oleh showing off to friends back in Blighty with continual “Look at me! Look at me! I am living under missile fire!” Facebook updates (perhaps the silly sod will now spare a thought for the poor, all year round, buggers in Sderot); the one who, two days ago, posted “Siren in Ra’anana”, as if Hamas had finally gone too far; or the booked summer holidayers asking “Should I come?”

“What about the missiles?” enquired one such, yesterday, to which I could only reply “What about them?” For me, their most chilling effect is forcing me into a confined space with my new south Tel Aviv neighbours (they are working class, you know).

Another messaged me “How’s it going out there?? Do I need to cancel my trip?” This seemed somewhat akin to concluding a comfort telephone call to an ailing friend by announcing that you are too shit-scared to visit them. What the bloody hell ever happened to solidarity?

As for the endless PR efforts on blogs and Facebook, I can’t help but think that they are preaching to the converted. The thing must be to get accurate reporting and analysis into the international press. And, even then, those who don’t like Jews – usually hiding behind the ‘respectable’ veneer of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism – are almost certainly irredeemable. It is in their blood.

Operation Protective Edge is the third such that I have blogged about since December 2008 (see my War in Gaza category). And this is now our reality: every couple of years or so, we will have to give the naughty . . . rather, wicked schoolboy – who, in spite of every inducement, won’t change his ways – a smacked bottom (if I may be forgiven for quoting my own Facebook update of last week: “Can’t help thinking of the Palestinian as the incorrigible class halfwit, who gets beating after justified beating . . . but still comes back for more.”) Thankfully unlike the pond life we are up against, we are both too moral to kill civilians living above (demonically positioned) enemy weapons’ stores and too life-valuing to risk our boys in a ground operation.

During these very months exactly seventy years ago, 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, and the majority gassed on arrival. I think, too, of the unspeakable horrors my antecedents must have suffered at the turn of the last century, in Lithuania and Poland, to force them to gamble on the entirely unknown (even we Litvaks didn’t yet have the Internet).

It has always been thus for us. So, while concerned about the current situation, I am trying to see the (relative) positives in the bigger Jewish picture (who said a degree in Philosophy was a waste of time?)

And now with our own state, IDF, and even “second strike” nuclear submarines – no one can f*ck with the Jews like they used to – this may well be as good as it gets.


You see what happens, Hamas . . .

“Don’t be silly,” I reassure Itzik, as we sip on our sachlabs on Rothschild, early last Thursday evening. “Nothing will happen in Tel Aviv.”

It might as well be the cue for the siren.

There are a surreal couple of seconds, during which the occupants of adjacent tables exchange puzzled, yet pregnant, glances: “Is it . . . ? What now . . . ?”

I jump up, as if stabbed with a shot of adrenaline. The dogs bark. We dart inside the café, my spanking new Galaxy S II abandoned alongside the sachlab. Clive Dunn has only been gone a week, and I have already forgotten his famous advice (though discovering that it is true, no one “like[s] it up ’em”). It is the first time I have experienced a siren not marking the commencement of Shabbat or a Holocaust/Remembrance Day.

We all huddle together at the rear of the café. A 60-something female hears my accent and, as if encouraging a boy to consummate his transition to manhood, asks me if it is my “first time”. I nod sheepishly. She imparts advice that I am in no state to listen to.

A distant boom. Perhaps two. And, within half an hour, I am home, packed, and on Highway 1 . . . on my way to the capital. I am ‘caught’ by my neighbours in the act of attempting to wheel my bag quietly out of the building. “I am not escaping,” I protest. “I have a fortieth birthday party in Jerusalem!” And it is true. But I don’t expect them to believe me. And I don’t think they do.

I tease Itzik – a Tel Aviv real estate agent who has continually belittled my second home in Jerusalem – from the car, telling him that he won’t be getting a key (‘forcing’ the coward into having to stay, instead, with his father in Petach Tikva).

And Itzik is the first to call me, gloating, the following early evening, within seconds of the siren sounding in the capital. I have darted into the stairwell, where the neighbours are quickly gathering, before shooting back in for my flatmates. My Orthodox neighbour overcomes her fear of Stuey and Dexxy, whom, until now, she has refused to even pass on the stairs. “Shit,” I exclaim, in an attempt to lighten the tension, “I left the back window open.” But the attempt at humour is lost.

I meet an American woman on Saturday who is considering taking refuge in London. Who am I to judge? I still do. And I delete an old law school friend from Facebook after he publishes this photo (right) with the caption: “Address this, Mark Regev . . .”

In fact, the next time I hear a Palestinian talk about ‘his’ olive tree, I will make it my job to find said plant, uproot it, and stick it up his . . . well, in a place that it will get no light. These people attach no value to human life, never mind olive trees.

Make no mistake, when Hamas talks about an “end to the Occupation” (which, in principle, I am also in favour of ending), it is talking about an end to Israel. And, if it was up to me, I would bring those fuckers [complaints, please, to John Fisher – he doesn’t approve of the asterisk] to their knees before even agreeing to listen to talk about a ceasefire.

There is a wonderful feeling of togetherness here at present. I had been putting the finishing touches to a blog critical of Israelis. But I can’t publish it now. These are special people. And they are giving their all for our People . . . and – if the world would only open its eyes – for the values that civilised people everywhere hold dear.

To the residents of the south, we should have empathised more fully with your sacrifice and suffering, and with the intolerable circumstances under which you have had to live this past decade. To former Defence Minister Amir Peretz, respect for promoting – when few believed in it (or you) – Iron Dome. And to the soldiers awaiting your orders on the edge of Gaza, though it looks unlikely now that you will receive them, chazak ve’ematz.

Once again, however, I leave the last words to the great – though oft misunderstood – Walter Sobchak . . .


Hamas would have done well to heed the lesson of Mr. Sobchak – as, from now on, would Iran and even Egypt (which, respectively, have supplied and allowed unhindered passage of the missiles used to attack us) – though I sincerely hope that the IDF has been picking its targets rather more calmly and prudently!

[See also Airstrike on Gaza: Israel’s Right of Self-DefenceF*ck you, too and Days of Awe, Heroes and Whores . . . sadly, all still as relevant today as they were nearly four years ago.]

Corrie verdict: A crushing blow for human rights

Last week was a singularly horrid one for all of us who know that it is our universal, inalienable right to kneel in front of armoured bulldozers without getting our new keffiyehs (they are so cool!) dirty.

And my heart wept for Craig and Cindy Corrie on Tuesday after the Haifa District Court ruled that their 23-year old daughter, Rachel – and not the IDF – was responsible for her own death under the tracks of of a Caterpillar D9 in Gaza in March 2003.

It was an outrageous injustice, and sets a horrible precedent. Whatever next . . . environmental activists running across the M1 to protest motorway widening – rather than drivers not looking out for them – having to shoulder the blame for getting splattered across it?!

“This was a bad day not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel,” announced Mrs. Corrie after the verdict.

How right you are, Mrs. C. And you and your husband should be congratulated for your objective concern for the plight of the poor, defenceless Palestinians against the mighty Israelis – the result, no doubt, of a deep understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as opposed to any prejudice or suspicion on your part regarding the rich, powerful Jew – even though it led to your own daughter’s horrible, needless death.

Objectivity: the Corries in Rafah, January 2006

Rachel was a fine American. Okay, she burnt the flag (who hasn’t?!) But, in writing of the natural rights of man, Hobbes, Locke and Paine surely could not have had in mind any act more noble than the “shielding” of Islamofascist rocket squads and suicide bombers by interfering foreigners who couldn’t find useful work placements during college (see also Time for the Hurndalls to stop their sniping) and who had always heard that Arabs . . . well, everyone really, are nicer than Jews.

Rachel Corrie burning a mock US flag in Rafah, a month before her death

Movers and Svetas: Aspects of the Russian Aliyah

Most things in life never turn out to be quite how we imagine them. A notable exception to this, however, is Russian movers (although not being one to generalise, I use “Russian” to describe any individual from any one of the 15 former Soviet Republics).

Having stood me up on the previous day without so much as a phone call, Vitali’s stony-faced crew turned up at 6:30 the following morning, last Thursday week, without so much as a “boker tov”.

Vitali, the boss – or, more aptly, prime mover – with whom I had conducted all telephone negotiations (he had been recommended by a friend), was not among them, remaining throughout a kind of shadowy, Blofeld-like figure, directing operations from afar.

With a little imagination, one of the three removal men could, just maybe, have been “unzere” (though, perhaps, with a rebellious great-gran who had been a little over-curious as to the contents of Cossack breeches). The other two, however, including team leader Alex – who set the tone for our relationship by immediately stubbing out his cigarette on the wall of the Melchett stairwell – were clearly more Putin or Klitschko than Sharansky or Grushenko. And early requests for them to handle certain items with care were met with stares cold enough for me to immediately relinquish any thoughts I had as to the importance of my furniture.

The ‘90s Russian aliyah has been an enormous success, with Israeli mutterings about their new compatriots – spongers here only for the benefits, once heard all too often – now a thing of the distant past.

"Start-Up Nation" my ****

Accusations, too, that Russian women are gold diggers and (as if it were a bad thing) easy – a chorus of “Mrs. Knickersonanov!!” would go up from the bar whenever one would enter MASH – are now heard only from Israeli women envious that they do not possess similar skill in treating (and, in many cases, keeping) their man. And, while we hear so much about Israel’s wonderful innovation and exports, can anyone think of a finer import? Indeed, though I could never quite picture her under the same chupah as my mother, the Aliyah Department should have placed Sveta well above the tax-free refrigerator on my list of aliyah benefits.

But the contribution of Russians to almost every facet of Israeli life has been huge, not least their sons now serving in crack IDF combat units.

There is a sizeable minority of Russian olim, however, who – from just one look at them – cause one to wonder what exactly they are doing here, their only link to anything Jewish perhaps being a single great-grandparent, or merely just a spouse with one. And these, predominantly, were the Russians with whom I was placed for my basic IDF training, in 1999.

Our unit consisted of a Cuban (who had escaped Havana in a barrel), an Ethiopian, an Indian (to my great frustration, seemingly the only f*cking one who couldn’t speak a word of English), and 36 new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Of the latter, the majority were thirty-somethings hardened by having served in the bloody conflict in Afghanistan, but who now – thanks to the astonishing stupidity of the IDF – were being taught how to handle M16s by frechot fresh out of high school.

The inevitable consequence? A kind of Russian-Israeli Dirty Dozen: orders ignored, scoffed at even, and young officers clearly terrified of their commands.

I had an altercation with one of my new comrades on our very first day of basic training, after which I resolved that – sharing a tent with them every night, and with no shortage of bullets and/or pillows – I had best make every effort to be agreeable (it doesn’t come naturally). That same comrade and his best mate, both Jewish, though from the Kavkaz region – which, by all accounts, makes the nastiest parts of Merseyside seem like the Cotswolds – turned out to be my best buddies during those utterly pointless few months. And they were always most intrigued about Blighty. Not for them, however, the predictable questions about Manchester United and the Royal Family . . .

“Tagid li (tell me), Mike,” they would begin, “kama oleh zona be’Anglia (how much does a prostitute cost in England)?”

“Chamishim pound (fifty pounds),” I would always reply without hesitation, not wanting them to think me a loser.

Chit-chat and idle pleasantries (or, rather, their total absence) aside, however, Vitali’s crew were great. The third member, a four-inch burn (perhaps the Ukrainian equivalent of a lovebite) on his shoulder, single-handedly bore my washing machine down two flights of stairs with a look of “When are you going to give me something serious to lift?”

There were no emotional farewells when the job was done, or even “thank you’s” for the decent tips . . . though, then again, there was also none of the quibbling, that one invariably gets with the natives, about money. Spasiba.

So I am now shimon ha’tzadik mike . . . and whatever Reb Osher Yitzchok – who, according to my Golders Green sources, has fled the rioting shvartzers (not that he would dream of using such a word) for the relative serenity (if not Gentility) of Princes Park Avenue – may say, I have always known, deep down, that the epithet (and I am not talking the shimon bit) would fit.

[Please visit http://www.justgiving.com/mike-isaacson/ . . . it only takes a few minutes/quid!]

New Yids on the Ramat Hasharon Block

I have real issues with all things Ramat Hasharon: I don’t care for the place, much less its residents.

My contrariness (admitted throughout melchett mike), however, is rarely totally lacking in reason or cause, and this small city – situated between the swanky suburbs of north Tel Aviv and Herzliya – is a sterile, soulless, not especially attractive, haven for largely rich, chiloni (secular) and “white” Israelis.

And whenever I learn that a potential date grew up in Ramat Hasharon, the negative stereotype (though one reinforced by experience) that springs to mind – of a stuck-up, high maintenance Ashkenaziya – always preempts any thoughts of a loaded father-in-law (unless, of course, his daughter is a “9”). Indeed, give me a Rosh Ha’ayin Yemenitess over a Ramat Hasharon heiress, any day!

Just to be certain that I am not being unduly harsh here, I asked an Israeli friend, Yuval, for his general impression of the women he has encountered from Ramat Hasharon. “Af kashur le’tachat shel Elohim” – nose attached to God’s ass (the Modern Hebrew equivalent, apparently, of nose in the air) – came the immediate reply.

Shkoyach!” was, therefore, my instinctive response on reading the following by-line to an article, New kids on the block, in Sunday’s Haaretz:

“An ultra-Orthodox, right-wing yeshiva set up on the grounds of an old synagogue in Ramat Hasharon is prompting protests from the neighborhood’s well-heeled residents.”

Now it is not like me to celebrate the establishment of “an ultra-Orthodox, right-wing yeshiva” – I am far from “ultra-Orthodox,” and JDate has my “Political Orientation” as “Midway Moderate” (a claim I justify by the roughly equal number of people who consider me left- or right-wing, respectively) – though when that yeshiva is in Ramat Hasharon . . .

The synagogue in question is behind the home of Avi Adler and Sigal Barak, who are clearly determined to prove what a decent, liberal, “mainstream” (their word) couple they really are: “We’ve never had any problem with it. They have celebrations there, and there’s some praying on Saturdays and Yom Kippur. It didn’t bother us.”

How tolerant of them not to object to prayers . . . especially on Yom Kippur, when the comings and goings of worshippers might interfere with cyclists.

But then, three years ago, Sigal says – sounding every bit the English bigot who has discovered that, horror of all horrors, Asians are  moving in next door – “Different sort of people showed up at the synagogue, people who looked different and weren’t typical of the neighborhood . . . We’re not used to having people like this here on a daily basis.”

Ooh no! Different sort of people? And who look different?! Ooh no! You don’t want that.

After they complained to the Mayor of Ramat Hasharon, the director of the yeshiva – who, according to Sigal, “had this sort of permanent smile on his face” (apparently a crime in Ramat Hasharon) – tried to talk to them, even offering to pay for double-glazing for their home. But to no avail: the couple have now issued court proceedings (in progress) to shut the yeshiva down.

I guess that Avi and Sigal are not too dissimilar from the self-hating Hampstead Garden Suburb ‘Jews’ who launched a dishonest, hateful media campaign against the North-West London Eruv in the early nineties, spreading fear that it would create a “ghetto” (“changing the neighborhood’s character” is the preferred language in Ramat Hasharon) rather than just admitting that they didn’t want black-hatted frummers as neighbours (would they have demonstrated the same steadfast opposition against a new church?)

An old Hasmo friend and I were so repulsed by one particularly virulent and vocal opponent of the Eruv that we masterminded (though, sadly, never executed) a campaign of stuffing greasy, used Bloom’s paper bags – the most heimishe symbol we could come up with – through his letter box!

Last week, I had coffee with a journalist friend in Jerusalem. On asking him whether he thought Israel would still be here in fifty years’ time (the subject of a forthcoming post on melchett mike), Matthew replied that prevalent attitudes amongst chiloni Israelis – increasingly large numbers of whom now get out of serving in the IDF (remarkably, just two of the 120 fatalities in the 2006 Lebanon War came from Tel Aviv) – really make him wonder.

Kikar Hamedina: Designer shopping to die for

And it is difficult to be more optimistic: after all, what exactly would such chilonim be fighting for? Their Saturday morning brunch in Tel Aviv Port? The exclusive shopping in Kikar Hamedina? Or, perhaps, their courtside seats at Maccabi Tel Aviv (basketball, of course . . . far too many “darkies” go to the football)?

The recent recommendation by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, meanwhile, that Israeli school children visit Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs – the burial site of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and of their missuses) – was greeted with volleys of derision by Haaretz (with this notable exception) and other left-wing commentators.

Indeed, the only thing such folk – and their tzfoni (good-time, north Tel Aviv area) patrons in Ramat Hasharon and Ramat Aviv (see earlier post) – appear to believe in is antipathy towards Settlers, the right, and all things Jewish.

Who then, exactly, is the “extremist”?

From hero to has-been: A cautionary tale

At last there was some encouraging news here, last week. And I am not talking about Hosni’s continued refusal to be rattled by a rabble of rowdy Arab rebels. No . . .

Yoav Galant will not, after all, be the new IDF Chief of Staff.

It turns out that Major General Galant had chapped some 28 dunams (approximately 7 acres/28,000 square metres) of public land adjoining his modest 500-meter family home (right) on Moshav Amikam (near Zichron Ya’akov) – to build roads and a parking lot – in contemptuous disregard of the law and opposition from fellow moshavniks. After all, he was Yoav Galant, quite probably the next IDF Chief of Staff. He also lied about the matter in a letter to the Israel Lands Administration and in an affidavit to the Court.

What the Major General certainly did not expect, however, was that those same neighbours would, through the Green Movement, petition against his appointment to the IDF’s top job. And they have succeeded: the appointment was revoked on Tuesday, two weeks before Galant was to take up his new post, following the Attorney General’s inability to support it. And to them – and, indeed, to us – I say “Well done!”

Most distasteful of all, Galant, far from holding his hands up, has – with all the finesse of a schoolboy, about to be appointed Head Boy, being caught behind the bike shed with a stack of porno mags and a joint – made excuse upon excuse in a forlorn, desperate attempt to stay in the running. (And the Major General is still refusing to take responsibility for his actions, protesting his treatment and fitness for the post on three different, Friday evening, TV news programmes.)

Corruption in this country is rife. From small-time real estate yazamim (entrepreneurs) all the way up to the Prime Minister (Ehud Olmert being the latest, crudest example) – taking in government ministers and the former Tax Authority head along the way (Avraham Hirchson, Shlomo Benizri and Jackie Matza are all currently doing time) – so many Israelis are lining their pockets at the expense of Joe Schmoe and the State.

But whatever happened to idealism? Most native Israelis cannot comprehend why the hell we came here; and when I inform them that I emigrated for reasons of Zionism, they look at me with a mixture of pity and disbelief. But how did Israel, once the land of kibbutz-living, come to this? Could it be (as I have previously suggested) that there are simply too many Jews here, all competing with one other, and with most unwilling to be the freier who misses out?

Major General Galant’s neighbours on Amikam were constantly told that “he deserves [the appropriated land] because he’s a military hero . . . we have no chance against him, because this is how things are done in this country.” (Haaretz)

Indeed, one cannot help but feel a modicum of reluctance to criticise a man who has given this country 34 years’ selfless and distinguished service, and some sympathy that he has fallen so agonizingly short of the very highest office.

It is to be hoped, however, that folk like the Major General will now think twice before putting personal enrichment and greed before respect for their fellow citizens, the law, and their country.

Time for the Hurndalls to stop their sniping

So, Taysir Hayb will be a free man next month. The IDF Sergeant, found guilty of manslaughter after shooting British “peace activist” Tom Hurndall in 2003, is to be released after serving five years of his eight-year sentence.

But the Hurndall family’s “anger and shock” at Monday’s announcement is not, says Sophie Hurndall, Tom’s sister, directed at the soldier who fired the bullet, but rather at the IDF and Israel as a whole: “To be honest, it’s about the system. Not the man himself. This man who shot Tom was the same age as him. He is both the victim and the killer. He is part of a system that proactively encouraged soldiers to target civilians.”

That is bollocks, Ms. Hurndall (as anyone who has served in the IDF can testify).

I was back in England at the time of the shooting of Tom Hurndall (right), in the Gaza town of Rafah, at the height of the Second Intifada, in April 2003. I was also there throughout his nine-month coma, until his death, aged just 22.

And, during the Hurndall family’s protracted UK media campaign against Israel, I was continually forced to question my capacity for empathy for feeling so little about their obvious (and natural) suffering. In fact, the only thing that the Hurndalls’ campaign did move me to do – although, in the end, I didn’t (for which I am now glad) – was to drop a letter into their north London home (close to mine), with my condolences, but also telling them that Tom had absolutely no business being there in the first place.

And this week’s comments by Sophie Hurndall – who works for Medical Aid for Palestinians – have only served to remind me of just how I felt (or, rather, didn’t) seven years ago. No, my heart has not softened with the years.

While I, of course, take no joy in the tragic death of Tom Hurndall, the time has come for his family to take a good look at themselves, too, and to ask certain painful questions about the decisions and actions of their son and brother, and about how they may have influenced or prevented them:

  • What right did Tom Hurndall have to interfere with IDF operations – his declared goal was to blockade tank patrols – at the height of the Second Intifada, in the then war zone of Gaza?
  • Did he possess any comprehension whatsoever as to the entirely justified purpose of those operations (i.e., to protect Israeli citizens)? Or did he, maybe, view Hamas and Islamic Jihad as some kind of benevolent presence that Israel could simply ignore? Perhaps, for him, Jewish lives – as opposed to Palestinian ones – were just unimportant?
  • Why did he choose to be a “peace activist” in the only democracy – or, at least, the only country that can reasonably claim to be one (as even Israel’s enemies could not deny) – in the entire Middle East? Why not in one of the many Islamofascist, or other, tyrannies the world over?
  • And, anyway, as a self-proclaimed “human shield” – purportedly of children (endangered only because they themselves are used as such by Palestinian militants) – did Hurndall not succeed in his stated purpose?

Without in any way condoning the actions of Sergeant Hayb (right), to whose intent only he was privy, one wonders how long Tom Hurndall would have survived in Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, attempting to impede the operations of British or American forces there: How long would it have taken before an irate – or, perhaps, ever so slightly unhinged – squaddy,  in the “pressure cooker” of a war zone (which Gaza was no less), thought “F*ck this! I have had quite enough of this interfering little prick”?

To me, Tom Hurndall – like Rachel Corrie just before him – is not the hero that he is so often portrayed to be. He was, rather, a very misguided young man, appearing to suffer from the misapprehension – even more popular these days, and shared by his family – that Israel’s war against Islamofascism is a gratuitous rather than strictly necessary one, and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants are, somehow, not really dangerous.

“We have had to deal with cover-ups and lies and a total lack of accountability throughout, and this is in line with that – it’s symptomatic,” continued Sophie Hurndall on Monday.

Bollocks, once again.

Sergeant Hayb was tried and convicted (if following several months of pressure from the Hurndalls). Would Tom Hurndall’s death in Iraq or Afghanistan (as described above) have resulted in a similar outcome? I very much doubt it. And under an Islamofascist dictatorship, such as the one Hamas is establishing in Gaza, the Hurndalls would still be trying to discover how and why their son ‘disappeared’, and whether he is still alive . . . while, all the time, his dismembered body was lying at the bottom of some well.

Of course, the fact that Sergeant Hayb is a Bedouin rather than a Jew has all been rather inconvenient for the Hurndalls, forcing them to modulate their rhetoric to the media over the past seven years.

On the other hand, the Jewish state is a much larger, easier, and – in these dark days – popular target than the particular motivations and reactions of a 20-year old, non-Jewish soldier.