Tag Archives: Palestinians

Unfriending the Cousins

I “unfriend[ed]” my Arab Facebook friends, this week.

I had met all half-dozen of them on my half-Jewish, half-Arab tour guides course (which I could not complete). But despite sitting with “the lads” – all Arab, more fun than the nerdy new immigrants – at the back of the coach on every field trip, we have not, other than on Facebook, stayed in touch. And I have become increasingly self-conscious that some of my more un-PC “status updates” might, perhaps, offend their sensibilities. Following the abduction of the three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion, a fortnight ago, I felt that being able to be myself, even in a medium as ‘trivial’ as Facebook, was more important than perpetuating these ostensibly futile ‘friendships’.

And the “unfriend[ing]” was also, I think, a gesture. A statement. To myself even. A result, after a decade and a half of life here, of having become totally disillusioned with our Biblical cousins.

No one should have been surprised, however, by the news from the Gush. Following the ‘success’ of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping, it was clear that Hamas would attempt others (see Why Gilad must not be freed “at any price”). Our (continuing) mistake is to judge the Arabs by our own western values (which tell us, in this case, that abducting teenagers is just plain wrong). And we should not be surprised, either, at images of ordinary Palestinians delighting in their ‘victory’. Because to them, that is what it is. And this is a war.

I don’t believe I am a racist. I take as I find. I still go out of my way to find work for Kamel and Rayed, the East Jerusalem Arabs who renovated my apartment, because I like and appreciate them (certainly a great deal more than their dodgy Persian then boss, who, I found out much later, had diddled almost all of my suppliers). And I am in favour, in principle at least, of a “two-state solution”.

But make no mistake: none but an inconsequential number of Palestinians recognise any Jewish claim to this land. They want us out of here. And they won’t rest until we are. The sooner we accept that reality, the safer we will be. And I feel sure that Bibi, oft criticised for political inertia, merely realises that the current state of affairs – total impasse, but (with the Security Wall) without the terror we once knew – is, with neighbours like ours, the best that we can hope for.

On a shiva visit last week, I struck up a conversation with Itamar Marcus, the Director of Palestinian Media Watch, a non-partisan organisation which studies Palestinian society through the monitoring of its media and schoolbooks. Having this piece already in mind, I enquired as to whether there might nonetheless be some potential “partners for peace” on the other side. Marcus’s knowing smile said it all. “Put it this way,” he said, “that is the shortest chapter in our book.”

And joking with a Jewish contractor in my Tel Aviv apartment, last week, that we should lock his Arab worker inside until the teenagers are freed, he replied “The problem is no one there would even care!” And that about summed up the difference between our peoples. The individual is paramount to Jews. The Arabs, on the other hand, use their own children as weapons and shields. We are in a seemingly permanent state of war against a cruel and primitive enemy, a fact now recognised and admitted by increasing numbers on the Israeli Left (aside, of course, from the Anshel Pfeffers of this world – see his latest sell-out here – a conceited so and so no less opportunist or extreme than those he decries on the Right, and yet another reason why I will never resubscribe to Haaretz).

Not many aspects of the Bible “talk” to me, but references to “Good” peoples and “Evil” peoples – which, as a schoolboy, always struck me as Osher Baddiel nonsense – have, in recent years, at least in the collective sense, taken on a certain resonance.

As for my former Facebook friends, I was sorry to hear (I am still on the course e-mail list) that some of them were said to have behaved inappropriately during a recent visit to Yad Vashem . . . though, again, if true, it didn’t really surprise me: even the concept of mutual respect, never mind peace, now seems a pipe dream. There is, perhaps, just too much history.

Shabbat shalom in the meantime . . . and God bless our boys.

Abducted Teenagers

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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 . . .

CLICK HERE

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

Why I am not full of the joys of Spring

You will forgive me, I hope, for not jubilantly swinging my misbaha over my head in celebration of the Arab Spring.

Israeli Embassy, Cairo, last Friday

After months of endless “Allahu akbars” (can’t they come up with anything new?) and the exaggerated, mindless firing into the air of automatic weapons, I – unlike many others it would seem, especially the depressingly naive correspondents of the western news media and the ever-Muslim-fawning BBC – am filled not with hope, but with concern . . .

Concern that liberty, democracy and equality, as well as respect for human life, won’t come to these people in a thousand springs.

And the best judges of this are not Ashkenazi, Haaretz-reading liberals – who believe that inventing, dreaming about, and intellectually masturbating over, a false reality makes them, somehow, more worthy human beings – but Jews who grew up in, and subsequently were forced to flee, one of the countries now ‘enjoying’ its Spring.

Sexpot: Ashrawi (on BBC's Breakfast with Frost)

One such, an Egyptian-born relative, would always remark, whenever having to hear Hanan Ashrawi – the Palestinian Christian sexpot – twist and deceive on British television: “If they get their own state, they will cut her hands off.” (And I must confess to having rather enjoyed the image.)

Concern, too, that these people are motivated not by love, or even the longing for a better future, but by hate and the desire to settle old scores.

The ‘new’ (liberated from the yoke of the tyrant Mubarak) Egyptians, outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last Friday (photograph above), were calling not only for the abolition of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador:  “Jews, remember the Battle of Khaybar, the Army of Muhammad is already here . . . Oh Zionists, please be patient, there’s an Egyptian digging your grave.” Nice.

I was raised in an environment in which the worst intolerance ever encountered was the occasional less than flattering name for “the other,” usually by an elderly relative, in Yiddish.

Another people, on the other hand, raises many of its young to believe that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs, in a conspiracy to control the world (funny that, I have never known a pig to aspire to anything beyond estate agency), and must be destroyed.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Palestinian and Arab schoolbooks and newspapers (the cartoon on the right appeared in the widest-circulating Egyptian daily), listen to some of their delightful clerics (here and here), or enjoy their enchanting version of Sesame Street (and I haven’t even touched upon the latest filth spewing forth from Tehran).

So please excuse me if I am not filled with optimism and joy about the fall of Mubarak, Gaddafi, or even, imminently, of that vile weasel Assad.

Mark my words (though I do hope they prove to be wrong): this is not good.

[Please visit http://www.justgiving.com/mike-isaacson/ . . . only £500 to go!]

Whose catastrophe is it anyway?

Driving past the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Sunday evening, I witnessed the kind of scene which, though no longer new to me, never fails to sicken me anew: on this occasion, a demonstration by around a hundred keffiyeh-wearing Israelis to mark Yawm al-Nakba, or Day of the Catastrophe, on which Palestinians mourn the birth of Israel, in 1948.

Last week, meanwhile, on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day), this country remembered its 22,867 fallen soldiers and 3,971 victims of Palestinian terror. And immediately following the thought that most of the crusty-leftie protesters looked like they could do with a good bath . . . alright, and the fleeting one, too, of plowing my Focus into the shameless bastards, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Allah, whose Nakba?!”

I have no inclination to regurgitate here the details of our two Peoples’ claims to this Land. We are, however, two Peoples. And with two claims. And they both have their merits.

But the Palestinian “catastrophe” as I see it, and it predates 1948, is that neither the Palestinians nor their leaders have – conversely to the attitude of the large majority of Israelis towards them – never truly accepted any aspect of the Zionist narrative, or that there is even another party with a legitimate claim to, at least a share of, this Land.

This explains how the ‘moderate’ Palestinian leadership in the West Bank could sign an agreement, two weeks ago, with the Islamofascists in Gaza, the leader of whom had, a mere two days earlier, condemned the killing of Osama “the holy warrior.” And it is why even Israelis (like me) who favour a two-state solution do not believe that the 1967 borders represent the true extent of the vast majority of Palestinians’ claims and aspirations.

The reason that there will never be peace in this Land, therefore, is not our minority of nutters . . . but their majority of them.

Indeed, we Israelis, if we were so inclined, could commemorate our own “catastrophe”: that, in addition to our almost 27,000 fallen soldiers and murdered civilians, we have been cursed with neighbours – Palestinian and Arab – who are, at worst, capable of slaughtering babies in cold blood and, at best, completely backward-looking and incapable of moving on . . . as evidenced by their endlessly self-pitying, all-consuming, fixation with the Nakba and the past.

Israel’s present government has certainly not covered itself in glory: Bibi’s ‘leadership’ has been characterised only by mind-boggling inaction, making the country – at a time when its international image was already at an all-time low – appear completely uninterested in even attempting to resolve this horrible, tragic mess. Indeed, over the last two years, it has almost been as if Israel hasn’t even had a government.

But, even ignoring its appalling crime figures, one only has to roam the streets of Jaffa to witness the Arab aversion to progress: decrepit buildings without communal electricity (cut-off for failure to pay bills) and surrounded by garbage (usually discarded by residents’ children). Then, for contrast, walk a matter of minutes to the beautiful tayelet (beachfront promenade) recently developed by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality through Ajami, one of Jaffa’s most crime-ridden areas.

Of course, the same folk who have always criticised Israel’s supposed neglect of Arab neighbourhoods are now claiming that the tayelet is part of a strategic Judaization, even ethnic cleansing, of them. Though there is no pleasing the Jew/self-hater.

“The Arabs,” Abba Eban famously once said, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” And, whilst some may currently be enjoying a Spring, others – including the Palestinians and their leadership (now, officially, semi-Islamofascist at least) – are still stuck in deepest, darkest Winter.

"Murderers in Uniform," reads the sign at Sunday's demonstration