Archive for March, 2008

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Israeli Consessions: Palestinian City, Less Roadblocks, New Industrial Zones

March 31, 2008

Defense Minister Edud Barak met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and presented her with a 35-page booklet of good faith concessions that Israel will make in the near future.

Among those are the building of a new Palestinian city, or several neighborhoods, near Ramallah, financed by Jordanian businessmen, which is to be inhabited by tens of thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to ease the housing shortage in the area.

Other gestures, meant to show Israel’s seriousness and commitment to peace, without harming the security of Israel’s citizens, includes the removal of the Mevo Horon outpost, in addition to another two that were already removed (these are illegal settlements).

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A Beautiful Murderer

March 30, 2008

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I received this by email. I Googled it and found out that it has been published several times on different blogs, but I feel the topic is important enough to publish again. Hopefully others will do the same. This letter was written by the family of Malki Roth.

[Several months ago,] the New York Times carried a review of a film called “Hot House” that goes inside Israeli prisons and examines the lives of Palestinian prisoners. We’re not recommending the film or the review. But we do want to share our feelings with you about the beaming female face that adorns the article.

Murderer

The film is produced by HBO. So it’s presumably HBO’s publicity department that was responsible for creating and distributing a glamor-style photograph of a smiling, contented-looking young woman in her twenties to promote the movie.

That female is our child’s murderer.

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Israeli Film “Lemon Tree” to be Distributed in US

March 30, 2008

Eran Riklis’s award-winning movie, Lemon Tree, will soon be hitting US cinemas. “Lemon Tree,” which recently won the 10th Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Festival, has been purchased for distribution by US company IFC Films.

The movie was also purchased for screening in several other international cities in Europe and other international locations including Canada, Korean, Taiwan, and South American countries.

According to Ynet,

“Lemon Tree” tells the story of a Palestinian widow living next to the Israeli border, who is forced to chop down her cherished lemon grove to accommodate the security demands for the Israeli defense minister and his family who live right across the border from her. The widow fights the decision in court, but ultimately fails.

I haven’t actually watched the movie yet since it only came out this weekend, but if anyone has, let me know how it was.

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Lights Out, Tel Aviv – Part 2

March 30, 2008

I know this is about 847 years late, but better late than never, right? Or something. As I reported a while back, Tel Aviv chose to participate in Earth Hour where all lights in the city were going to be turned off.

Lights out AzrieliAs opposed to the rest of the world cities that participated on Saturday, Tel Aviv actually moved it’s Earth Hour to Thursday because of problems that could arise with Shabbat and to make sure it was effective. At 8 pm, lights in Tel Aviv went out. It was completely dark. Not a light in the city. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. Even if you slapped your face. You’d wonder where the slap came from.

OK, so I’m slightly exaggerating, but the truth is that Earth Hour in Tel Aviv was a big success. Lights were turned off in almost all the major buildings (i.e. Azrielli and the Iriya) and literally thousands upon thousands of businesses and citizens turned their lights off between 8 and 9 pm.

Even at Channel 10 we did our part (sorta). At the top of the 8 o’clock newscast (which begins at 7:58 – don’t ask), Miki, the anchorwoman, ordered our lights out. It’s a cool concept, but we couldn’t see the line ups, so we had tons of mistakes during the newscast.

Not really, it went well, actually, and we had enough lights from the monitors. I personally suggested we do the entire newscast without electricity, but for some reason no one else thought it was a good idea.

So one after the other, lights went out in the city – an approximate equivalent of 700,000 (!!!) light bulbs were turned off, bringing total wattage saved in Tel Aviv, after all calculations of regular drops in electricity etc. to over 20 megawatts – the same as Sydney last year. FYI – 20 megawatts is equal the gas emissions of 40,000 cars a day (!!!).

In Kikar Rabin, some 40,000 people gathered to see the lights of the Iriya turned off by the Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and to hear an acoustic version of Knesiat Hasechel’s music.

Only the first row could hear.

Not really – the concert was powered by a bicycle generator and used vegetable oil, namely falafel oil (I’m not kidding on either counts).

By the way, the reason you see some lights on in the building is because 1) some people are idiots and forgot to turn off their lights regardless, and 2) those are mostly hi tech companies, and many people were, most likely, still working.

I have a question for my readers (the 10 of you out there): What kinds of things would you like to hear about on this blog? What kinds of updates would you like? Feel free to either leave it in the comments or email me at realisrael [at] gmail.com – the address is on my sidebar as well.

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From a Sudanese African in Israel – An Israeli Apartheid?

March 26, 2008

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This is a repost from This is Israel. Posted by A Soldier’s Mother, this is a letter from a Sudanese refuge who is now living in Israel. For those of you who don’t know, Israel opened its borders to thousands of Sudanese refugees who are mostly living in the south of the country. For those of you who are convinced Israel is an apartheid, I urge you to read this letter and pass on the link to everyone you know.

A reality check for Bishop Tutu from a Sudanese African in Israel
Disappearance of Bishop Tutu

By Simon Deng

Late last month, I went to hear Bishop Desmond Tutu speak at Boston’s Old South Church at a conference on “Israel Apartheid.” Tutu is a well respected man of God. He brought reconciliation between blacks and whites in South Africa. That he would lead a conference that damns the Jewish state is very disturbing to me.

The State of Israel is not an apartheid state. I know because I write this from Jerusalem where I have seen Arab mothers peacefully strolling with their families even though I also drove on Israeli roads protected by walls and fences from Arab bullets and stones. I know Arabs go to Israeli schools and get the best medical care in the world.

I know they vote and have elected representatives to the Israeli Parliament. I see street signs in Arabic, an official language here. None of this was true for blacks under Apartheid in Tutu’s South Africa.

I also know countries that do deserve the apartheid label: My country, Sudan, is on the top of the list, but so are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. What has happened to my people in Sudan is a thousand times worse than apartheid in South Africa. And no matter how the Palestinians suffer, they suffer nothing compared to my people. Nothing. And most of the suffering is the fault of their leaders.

Bishop Tutu, I see black Jews walking down the street here in Jerusalem. Black like us, free and proud. Tutu said Israeli checkpoints are a nightmare. But checkpoints are there because Palestinians are sent into Israel to blow up and kill innocent women and children. Tutu wants checkpoints removed. Do you not have doors in your home, Bishop? Does that make your house an apartheid house? If someone, Heaven forbid, tried to enter with a bomb, we would want you to have security people “humiliating” your guests with searches, and we would not call you racist for doing so. We all go through checkpoints at every airport. Are the airlines being racist? No.

Yes, the Palestinians are inconvenienced at checkpoints. But why, Bishop Tutu, do you care more about that incovenience than about Jewish lives?

Bishop, when you used to dance for Mandela’s freedom, we Africans all over Africa joined in. Our support was key in your freedom. But when children in Burundi and Kinshasa, all the way to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and in particular in Sudan, cried and called for rescue, you heard but chose to be silent.

Today, black children are enslaved in Sudan, the last place in the continent of Africa where humans are owned by other humans. I was part of the movement to stop slavery in Mauritania, which just now abolished the practice. But you were not with us, Bishop Tutu.

So where is Desmond Tutu when my people call out for freedom?Slaughter and genocide and slavery are lashing Africans right now.Where are you for Sudan, Bishop Tutu? You are busy attacking the Jewish state. Why?

Simon Deng, a native of the Shiluk Kingdom in southern Sudan, is an escaped jihad slave and a leading human rights activist.

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Helena Bonham Carter’s Grandfather Honored by Yad Vashem

March 20, 2008

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum posthumously honored a Spanish man for helping save 1,500 lives during the Holocaust.

Eduardo Propper de Callejon, grandfather of Oscar-nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter, was named a “Righteous Among the Nations,” the highest honor granted to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust.

Propper de Callejon was, at the time, first secretary in the Spanish embassy in Paris, stamped and signed passports nearly non-stop for four days to allow refugees to escape to Portugal through Spain. He actually went against Spanish foreign ministry orders NOT to issue such visas.

“He was signing papers with both his hands,” said Elena Bonham Carter, his daughter. “He signed so many that his hands hurt so much, my mother had to bandage them at the end of the day. It was extraordinary.”

Bonham Carter said her famous daughter wanted to be at the ceremony, but was on location filming the latest installment of the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

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Facebook Update

March 20, 2008

So this was actually publicized yesterday, but I didn’t have the time to update the blog. So here goes.

Following much controversy surrounding Facebook’s changing some Israeli towns to Palestine instead of Israel, Facebook is now giving people the choice between listing Israel or Palestine for their towns. In itself, this seems like a great thing, right? All is right with the world?

Not so much. This doesn’t change the fact that Ariel, Ma’ale Adumin, etc. will never be Palestine. Like I mentioned in my previous post about Facebook, were these towns to be part of a future Palestinian state, they would surely not keep the Hebrew names these towns have.

So what have we achieved here exactly? It seems that Facebook, in light of much controversy regarding taking sides of political conflicts, is trying to be as parve (neither here nor there) as they can. In the process, they are making some decisions that do not make sense. I understand giving the choice between Israel and Palestine for Hebron (leaving aside the fact that technically there is no such country as Palestine at the moment), but how can you compare Hebron (a predominantly Palestinian territory with very few Jewish settlers) to a town that is made up only of Israelis (Jewish, Arabic, or otherwise)?

Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and other Israeli towns will NEVER be part of a Palestine. Were these towns to be given to the Palestinians under any future agreement (and these particular towns are not up for negotiation, but this is not the point here), the towns, as they are, would cease to exist and new Palestinian towns would rise over them with PALESTINIAN names.

Be a bit sensible, Facebook.

It’s time to take care of the hate groups now. You know, those who advocate for killing any Israelis overseas (it seems the group has been shut down, thankfully) and the one praising the murderer of the 8 kids at Merkaz Harav a couple of weeks ago (still up).

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Israel is the Silicon Valley of the Mediterranean

March 16, 2008

In other words: Israel’s Technology Creates an Investment Goliath

Yes, ladies and gents, as many of us here in Israel know (and few of us outside of it know), Israel is a powerhouse when it comes to technology and medicine. It is third only to the US and Canada in terms of number of companies listed on Nasdaq (75!!!), well ahead of England, China, and Germany.

For those of you who don’t know (again, probably most of you), Israelis have invented much of the technology used today such as instant messaging (ICQ), firewall security software, Intel wireless computer chips, numerous medicines, and miniature video camera capsules to examine internal organs. Other Israeli inventions: the cell phone (invented by Motorola, with it’s largest R&D center being in Israel), most of the Windows NT operating system, voice mail technology, and VOIP technology.

More Israeli patents are registered in the US than from Russia, India, and China combined, despite the enormous population disadvantage (about 7 million in Israel vs. 2.5 billion combined in the other 3).

Click here to read about Israel’s robust economy in this great Fox Business article.

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Go to Sleep in Israel, Wake Up in Palestine

March 14, 2008

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Update to this post here.

I’m sorry, what?

It appears that a resident of Ma’ale Adumin found out that his city is listed on Facebook as part of Palestine. Facebook no longer allows residents of several towns, such as Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, Beitar Eilit, and others, to be listed as residents of Israel. Instead, they are listed as living in Palestine.

I can completely understand the desire to be as “politically correct” as possible. However, this action on the side of Facebook is, in my opinion, WAY out of line. I have yet to see a person from Texas listed as Mexico. I wonder what’s going on with the people from Kosovo (Kosova?) What are they listed as?

Why would such an enormous site, one of the top ten sites in the WORLD, choose to make such a stupid move? If you want to avoid the conflict of “which country does this belong to” then don’t have the town as an option. Have them only write Israel. Or only write “Ariel” or “Ma’ale Adumim.” But suddenly moving someone to another country?

I can guarantee you that if at any point Ariel and other towns will later be part of a Palestinian country (and Ariel will definitely NOT be), that they will change their names. The Palestinians would not keep them with a Hebrew name. So there will NEVER be a place named Ariel, Palestine or Ma’ale Adumim, Palestine.

I’m all about openess and freedom on the Internet, especially on enormously popular sites. But with popularity comes responsiblity, and taking upon yourself to decide about political situations that don’t even relate to you (with all due respect to Palo Alto, California) is completely irresponsible. As it is, there are so many anti-semitic and anti-Israel groups on Facebook that no one will remove. If these were groups against African Americans or gays, they would be gone in a moment.

However, not only are the simply “anti-semitic” groups still up, even after thousands of complaints, but recently a group was opened about the “martyrdom” of the terrorist who murdered 8 kids last week in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. This group is still up.

I think it’s a disgrace, and as someone who owes quite a few friendships (old ones that came back) to Facebook, it makes me look down at the site and wonder if it’s really where I want to be.

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There’s a Grenade Outside My Office

March 12, 2008

I can’t remember that happening in Houston.

My friends and I got back from lunch today and we had to go around the building and walk in through the parking lot to get back up to work.

I love having these stories. Have them from high school in Houston too. An exploding trash can in the cafeteria or a bomb threat were not sufficient reasons to postpone a test.

The funny thing is we were all annoyed we couldn’t get back into the building (not that, heaven forbid, there was a grenade outside our office). Who ARE we people?!

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Israeli Singer Yael Naim Wins Award

March 10, 2008

French-born, Israeli-raised Yael Naim won the Album of the Year award in France. Naim, who served in the Israeli army as a soloist in the Air Force Orchestra, has recently become a household name in the US when her song, New Soul, was chosen for the Macbook Air commercial. It is currently the most downloaded song in iTunes.

The album, her second, is not available yet in Israel, but I did hear the song on Galgalatz yesterday – I can see why it would be chosen for an Apple ad.

Congrats to another successful Israeli!

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The Mystery of Hate, by Yair Lapid

March 10, 2008

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A while back, Yair Lapid, an Israeli journalist (and now news anchor) wrote this column. I’m not sure who translated it, so if someone knows, please let me know. For those of you who aren’t Israeli, this sheds quite a bit of light on how we feel.

The Mystery of Hate

by Yair Lapid

Hundreds of years of fighting, six and a half wars, billions of dollars gone with the wind, tens of thousands of victims, not including the boy who laid down next to me on the rocky beach of lake Karon in 1982 and we both watched his guts spilling out. The helicopter took him and until this day I do not know whether he is dead or survived. All this, and one cannot figure it out.

And its not only what happened but all that did not happen – hospitals that were never built, universities that were never opened, roads that were never paved, the three years that were taken from millions of teenagers for the sake of the army. And despite all the above, we still do not have the beginning of a clue to the mystery of where it all started: Why do they hate us so much?

I am not talking about the Palestinians this time Their dispute with us is intimate, focused, and it has a direct effect on their lives. Without getting into the “which side is right” question, it is obvious that they have very personal reasons not to stand our presence here. We all know that eventually this is how it will be solved: in a personal way, between them and us, with blood sweat and tears that will stain the pages of the agreement. Until then, it is a war that could at least be understood, even if no sane person is willing to accept the means that are used to run it by.

It is the others. Those I cannot understand. Why does Hassan Nasralla, along with tens of thousands of his supporters, dedicate his life, his visible talents, his country’s destiny, to fight a country he has never even seen, people he has never really met and an army that he has no reason to fight?

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8 Dead, 7 Injured, No One Claims Responsibility (Yet)

March 6, 2008

It is 8 dead, there are still 7 injured. No one has actually claimed responsibility yet, though it will surely happen soon.

Several of the injured are still in surgery, one is still touch and go, the others are mostly going to be OK.

Also, it seems there was only one terrorist, not two.

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The Unknown (and unimportant, by comparison) Side

March 6, 2008

I really really really need to go to the bathroom and I’m starving. More than anything, I REALLY need to go to the bathroom, but there’s only one of each of us, so there’s no one to switch with me. I’ve been on air for the past 4 hours straight – we’ve been on longer, but it doesn’t help my poor bladder.

It reminds me of the day when Saddam Hussein was caught. We had just finished the morning news (from 6-9 am) and as we were leaving the control room, the head producer said “it looks like they caught Saddam – we’re going on air.”

We literally went back to our seats and were on air for hours – it was one of the hardest shows I had done – and at around 1, the head director of the channel came to relieve the morning director. Since TECHNICALLY it wasn’t 1 yet, I literally pulled the director into my room, showed him what was going on (“Sadam archives on 1, Udai and Kusai dead on 2, We’ve got him! on 3, Sadam beard on 4!”) and RAN to the bathroom.

Except there was so much going on that there were “traffic jams” going on in the newsroom, all of which is visible from the newscast going on live. This in itself isn’t so much of an issue – people are used to it and it gives “a feel” or action – except I had about 3 seconds to go to the bathroom, so I had to sprint and, unfortunately, my sprint was caught on live TV.

I wouldn’t’ve known this had ALL my friends called to ask me if I was OK. Too funny. (Not so much, but the more I type, the less I realize my bladder is exploding).

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Final Numbers: 7 Dead, 7 Injured, Arab-Israelis Claim Responsibility

March 6, 2008

The good news is that one less family that previously thought will be mourning their loved ones. Hopefully the injured will get well soon – hahlama mehira to all the injured.

An Arab-Israeli organization has claimed responsibility for the attack. In case you don’t know, Arab Israelis are 100% Israeli citizens who have the same rights as Israelis and vote in our elections. This would be like any faction of American citizens carrying out attacks in the US.