Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Today in Israel

Today, no rockets hit my country, no mortars were shot at my land. No buses exploded; no restaurant was bombed. No one was murdered simply for being an Israeli, a Jew.

In the morning, children got up, got dressed, went to school and ate lunch. They went home and played outside or inside - whatever they wanted. They rode their bicycles and went to the park. They didn't count seconds and hopefully never imagined hearing a siren.


We adults got up in the morning, got dressed, went to work. We had our meetings, answered our emails. We ate lunch at our desks, in the restaurants, in the cafeterias.

We drove home, took the bus, the train, bicycled, walked. We ate dinner, said good night to our children, and hopefully didn't imagine having to awaken them and rush them to a bomb shelter.

Today, no rockets hit my country.

Sometimes, that's as good as it gets.


LESSON TO MYSELF - Don't post things like this again - a short while ago, two mortars were fired at Israel from Syria. Sheesh!

Who Wins the Race?

When I was little, my mother gave me a poem called, State of Mind. With the wonder of Internet, I found the poem long ago. I had remembered bits and pieces of it and finally had the whole (which had been typed with a typewriter and posted on a card on my cork board for the longest time. That card got lost over time, college, marriage, and kids, but the poem remains.

I think of it whenever I am challenged to do something, especially something that relies not on my abilities, but on other things.

I've got a challenge now. On the face of things, it is a challenge to write something. The first time I participated, a few years ago, I thought long and hard and wrote a good entry. And then was disappointed to see that it really had little to do with quality and everything to do with quantity. I could have posted, "I want to win" - and won simply by asking what I am going to ask you now.

The next year, disillusioned, I didn't participate - what is the purpose? A popularity contest? I was assured that there were additional prizes for quality and substance - so I entered again and won a book. I nice book, but let's face it, several thousand dollars in prizes versus a book...yeah, prizes.

I didn't participate again for the next few years. This year, I decided to participate and try for both quality and quantity so I wrote a good post on some skills you need to have an interview here.

And now, I'm asking everyone to click the link - I need 6-7,000 unique visitors to win. Current top person has over 5,000. I'm not sure why I'm so determined to win, but I am. And amazingly enough, as much as I'd like the prize, I feel like I'm making a point.

The link is here: https://jobmob.co.il/blog/top-job-interviewing-skills/

All I need you to do is click it (maybe even once a day will help), but certainly once and ask your friends to do it too.

And why did I mention the State of Mind poem? The last stanza of the poem is this:

Life battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can


No, this doesn't count as life's battles - that would be having a son in the army, standing beside your daughter as she gives birth. That would be waiting to hear about a missing child, have a friend or relative who is very sick. That would be fighting to keep a family together, helping a child who has so much potential and ability, but still struggles in school.

But the point is that if you think you can, you're more likely to get to that finish line than if you think you can't. No, you won't always win, and I might not win this contest, but sooner or later, the one who wins is quite simply the one who believes enough to try.

That really is the story of Israel - in 1948, desperate beyond anything you can likely imagine, we fought what any sane military expert would say was a no-win situation. No, this "battle" to win this contest isn't in that category by any means - I'm not desperate, lives don't depend on it, I'll lose nothing if I lose. But hey, it would be fun, right - so please help - one click - and it really is a good article!

Leave a comment if you can - anything will help!

https://jobmob.co.il/blog/top-job-interviewing-skills/

Monday, September 1, 2014

Top Job Interviewing Skills (and a favor)

In my other life, I'm a technical writer. I've entered a contest and I need your help because I want to win it. The first time I entered it, I sadly came to the conclusion that it was less about the quality of your post than about the size of your network. Nevertheless, I insist on writing what I think is a good post. So - because I think this is a good article for anyone who wants to improve their interviewing skills - (and because I want to win) - please visit The Job Mob site and read my article...or skim it...and by all means, please leave a comment, even a word or two.

What I did, in honor of their 8th Annual contest, was write what I thought were the top eight “soft” skills that you not only need to have, but need to show during your brief interview.

You can see the full post here:
https://jobmob.co.il/blog/top-job-interviewing-skills/

Please take a minute and go to the site - all I need is a huge number of visits (hey, go there once a day!) - and leave a comment because despite the popularity contest aspect, I do think it's a good post.


Required Sponsor Posting:

Some very special sponsors have donated prizes to this contest in exchange for our posting information about them. This is not meant as an endorsement of their services and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any claims made below as I am not familiar with them - but check them out if you get a chance.


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There Should be Quiet

After a summer that wasn't, Israel's children - over 2 million strong, including over 150,000 starting first grade, returned to school today (and in the last few days). The radio on the way to work was filled with cute songs about "Shalom Kitah Aleph" (Hello, First Grade).

The sweet voice of a first grader, incredibly eloquent, wished all her fellow students well and said she wanted to learn English, Hebrew and Math. There was a review of the summer months, the status of the schools - a school in Ashkelon won't be opening because of the security situation, a few other problems, but overall, Israel returns to school today.

As the man on the radio said, "the main thing is that it should be quiet."

Can't argue with that - the main thing is that there should be quiet.

No, he didn't even dare to suggest peace, didn't hope for anything more than quiet. Quiet is a euphemism for no rockets, for no attacks. The soldiers were more alert at the checkpoints through which I passed to get here; checked the cars more carefully.

And as I begin my work day, they've added another floor to the building across the street.The part on the left, the first part built for each floor, is a reinforced bomb shelter. There are two per floor - enabling everyone who will work there to seek shelter in the future.

Once that part is done, the rest of the floor is built. I don't know how many floors this building will be in the end. As of now, they've stolen my view of the Mediterranean Sea, so i can assure them they'll have a wonderful view...until someone builds in front of them :-).

The main thing is that is should be quiet. If not...we're still building bomb shelters on every floor, in every apartment and home. It's too much to think today, as first graders start their exciting journey, as the sun shines brightly on this country - too much to think that there will be another round in the future.

No, no peace - but for today, and maybe even, if we are lucky, a year or two, there will be quiet.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Is Israel Apartheid? The Definitive Answer

This post is dedicated to CHRIS GUNNESS

Chris Gunness' tweet condemning the murder of a
4 year old Israeli child - it took Gunness ELEVEN hours
AFTER his first tweet condemning Israel for initially
identifying the rocket fire from UNRWA to get
around to actually condemning Daniel's death
The question is often asked and each time answered by one side or the other. Arabs will scream out this word and we can only wonder if they even understand what it means. To them, apartheid is ingrained from birth. Perhaps not in terms of black and white, but certainly in terms of Muslim and infidel. Israelis will scream out that we are not apartheid, just look, we beg you, just look at every train in Jerusalem, every hospital in Israel.

Look at all the Arab doctors, lawyers, politicians - none would be possible in an apartheid society. Just look...ah, but therein likes the problem. The world doesn't want to look or listen to us. Of course, as easily as we are dismissed for being biased, one has to wonder why the Arabs aren't dismissed on the other side. But of course, this never happens and so much of Ireland will call us apartheid, perhaps much of France as well. Easier to hide centuries of anti-Semitism behind convenient labels such as being anti-Zionist or anti-apartheid.

But read and listen to this speech - it is inspiring and it is not biased. It is a conclusion determined by experience and though he says he comes as a friend of Israel and Jews, it is a friendship and a love that we earned by doing more for his people than the United Nations ever has.

These are the words of Simon Deng, once a Sudanese slave, addressing the Durban Conference in NY.
I want to thank the organizers of this conference, The Perils of Global Intolerance. It is a great honor for me and it is a privilege really to be among today's distinguished speakers.

I came here as a friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I came to protest this Durban conference, which is based on a set of lies. It is organized by nations who are themselves guilty of the worst kind of oppression.

Actually, what prevents Gaza from building new
schools and repairing others is largely a
lack of cement...which can be found in
abundance in the dozens of attack tunnels
Gaza built - rather than the schools.
And yet Chris Gunness condemns Israel.
It will not help the victims of racism. It will only isolate and target the Jewish state. It is a tool of the enemies of Israel.

The UN has itself become a tool against Israel. For over 50 years, 82 percent of the UN General Assembly emergency meetings have been about condemning one state - Israel. Hitler couldn't have been made happier!

The Durban Conference is an outrage. All decent people will know that.
But friends, I come here today with a radical idea. I come to tell you that there are peoples who suffer from the UN's anti-Israelism even more than the Israelis. I belong to one of those people.

Please hear me out.

By exaggerating Palestinian suffering, and by blaming the Jews for it, the UN has muffled the cries of those who suffer on a far larger scale.

For over fifty years the indigenous black population of Sudan -- Christians and Muslims alike --- have been the victims of the brutal, racist Arab Muslim regimes in Khartoum.

In South Sudan , my homeland, about 4 million innocent men, women and children were slaughtered from 1955 to 2005. Seven million were ethnically cleansed and they became the largest refugee group since World War II.

The UN is concerned about the so-called Palestinian refugees. They dedicated a separate agency for them, and they are treated with a special privilege.

Meanwhile, my people, ethnically cleansed, murdered and enslaved, are relatively ignored. The UN refuses to tell the world the truth about the real causes of Sudan 's conflicts. Who knows really what is happening in Darfur? It is not a "tribal conflict."

It is a conflict rooted in Arab colonialism well known in north Africa. In Darfur, a region in the Western Sudan , everybody is Muslim. Everybody is Muslim because the Arabs invaded the North of Africa and converted the indigenous people to Islam. In the eyes of the Islamists in Khartoum, the Darfuris are not Muslim enough. And the Darfuris do not want to be Arabized.

They love their own African languages and dress and customs. The Arab response is genocide! But nobody at the UN tells the truth about Darfur.

In the Nuba Mountains, another region of Sudan, genocide is taking place as I speak. The Islamist regime in Khartoum is targeting the black Africans - Muslims and Christians. Nobody at the UN has told the truth about the Nuba Mountains .....

Do you hear the UN condemn Arab racism against blacks?

What you find on the pages of the New York Times, or in the record of the UN condemnations is “Israeli crimes” and Palestinian suffering.

My people have been driven off the front pages because of the exaggerations about Palestinian suffering.

What Israel does is portrayed as a Western sin. But the truth is that the real sin happens when the West abandons us: the victims of Arab/Islamic apartheid.

Chattel slavery was practiced for centuries in Sudan. It was revived as a tool of war in the early 90s.

Khartoum declared jihad against my people and this legitimized taking slaves as war booty. Arab militias were sent to destroy Southern villages and were encouraged to take African women and children as slaves.

We believe that up to 200,000 were kidnapped, brought to the North and sold into slavery. I am a living proof of this crime against humanity!

I don't like talking about my experience as a slave, but I do it because it is important for the world to know that slavery exists even today.

I was only nine years old when an Arab neighbor named Abdullahi tricked me into following him to a boat. The boat wound up in Northern Sudan where he gave me as a gift to his family. For three and a half years I was their slave going through something that no child should ever go through: brutal beatings and humiliations; working around the clock; sleeping on the ground with animals; eating the family’s left-overs. During those three years I was unable to say the word “no”.

All I could say was “yes,” “yes,” “yes.”

The United Nations knew about the enslavement of South Sudanese by the Arabs. Their own staff reported it. It took UNICEF – under pressure from the Jewish–led American Anti-Slavery Group -- sixteen years to acknowledge what was happening. I want to publicly thank my friend Dr. Charles Jacobs for leading the anti-slavery fight.

But the Sudanese government and the Arab League pressured UNICEF, and UNICEF backtracked, and started to criticize those who worked to liberate Sudanese slaves. In 1998, Dr. Gaspar Biro, the courageous UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan who reported on slavery, resigned in protest of the UN's actions.

My friends, today, tens of thousands of black South Sudanese still serve their masters in the North and the UN is silent about that. It would offend the OIC and the Arab League.

As a former slave and a victim of the worst sort of racism, allow me to explain why I think calling Israel a racist state is absolutely absurd and immoral.

I have been to Israel five times visiting the Sudanese refugees. Let me tell you how they ended up there. These are Sudanese who fled Arab racism, hoping to find shelter in Egypt. They were wrong. When Egyptian security forces slaughtered twenty six black refugees in Cairo who were protesting Egyptian racism, the Sudanese realized that the Arab racism is the same in Khartoum or Cairo.
They needed shelter and they found it in Israel. Dodging the bullets of the Egyptian border patrols and walking for very long distances, the refugees' only hope was to reach Israel's side of the fence, where they knew they would be safe.

Black Muslims from Darfur chose Israel above all the other Arab-Muslim states of the area. Do you know what this means!!!?? And the Arabs say Israel is racist!!!?

In Israel, black Sudanese, Christian and Muslim, were welcomed and treated like human beings. Just go and ask them, like I have done. They told me that compared to the situation in Egypt , Israel is "heaven."

Is Israel a racist state? To my people, the people who know racism – the answer is: 'absolutely not'. Israel is a state of people who are the colors of the rainbow. Jews themselves come in all colors, even black. I met with Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Beautiful black Jews.

So, yes … I came here today to tell you that the people who suffer most from the UN anti-Israel policy are not the Israelis, but all those people whom the UN ignores in order to tell its big lie against Israel: we, the victims of Arab/Muslim abuse: women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, homosexuals, in the Arab/Muslim world. These are the biggest victims of UN Israel hatred.

Look at the situation of the Copts in Egypt, the Christians in Iraq, and Nigeria, and Iran, the Hindus and Bahais who suffer from Islamic oppression. The Sikhs. We -- a rainbow coalition of victims and targets of Jihadis -- all suffer. We are ignored, we are abandoned. So that the big lie against the Jews can go forward.

In 2005, I visited one of the refugee camps in South Sudan. I met a twelve year old girl who told me about her dream.
And here Gunness fails to reference the
three UNRWA schools that the UN
admitted were being used as arsenals;
here he does not mention the hospitals
used as rocket launching sites. Indeed,
shelters should not be combat zones...
it's just a shame Gunness never had the
nerve to point his criticism at the ones
who turned mosques, schools and shelters
into combat zones - Hamas!
In a dream, she wanted to go to school to become a doctor. And then, she wanted to visit Israel. I was shocked.

How could this refugee girl who spent most of her life in the North know about Israel ? When I asked why she wanted to visit Israel , she said: "This is our people." I was never able to find an answer to my question.

On January 9 of 2011 South Sudan became an independent state. For South Sudanese, that means continuation of oppression, brutalization, demonization, Islamization, Arabization and enslavement.

In a similar manner, the Arabs continue denying Jews their right for sovereignty in their homeland and the Durban III conference continues denying Israel's legitimacy.

As a friend of Israel, I bring you the news that my President, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir -- publicly stated that the South Sudan Embassy in Israel will be built--- not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

I also want to assure you that my own new nation, and all of its peoples, will oppose racist forums like the Durban III. We will oppose it by simply continuing to tell the truth! Our truth!

My Jewish friends taught me something that I now want to say with you.

AM YISROEL CHAI! The people of Israel lives!

Thank you

Drawing Red Lines for Israeli Doctors

Israeli doctors have been working incredibly hard over the last 50+ days - in addition to the regular work they have, hundreds of additional patients, mostly soldiers, were brought in for treatment. More, the number of traffic accidents, a sign of the stress within Israeli society in general, have increased significantly over the weeks of the war.

Plus, regularly, they are called upon to treat non-Israelis - Syrians who are injured and brought to the field hospital we have set up; Palestinians who know the treatment they get in Israel far exceeds anything they'll get in any Palestinian/Arab hospital pretty much anywhere in the Arab world, certainly in Gaza. Sure, we've been at war since 1948, but that hasn't stopped Palestinians from getting (and demanding) that our doctors treat them - and they do - with the latest discoveries, with honor, with determination, with dedication.

Israeli doctors have treated Abu Mazen's wife, Ismail Haniyah's grandchild. The former Prime Minister of the PA, and thousands of sick Palestinian children needing emergency treatment, heart surgery, and more.

And it isn't just our doctors but our entire medical community. My children were asked if they have any problem treating anyone - including Arabs - when they volunteered to join the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

One doctor in Petach Tikvah was operating on a Palestinian girl when there was a siren. He refused to leave the operating room to seek safety and so the operation continued, despite the fact that Hamas was firing at his city. It is not for me to draw the line where they place their own personal safety above their patient but for all those who ignorantly accuse Israel of being apartheid, this is a living example of how Israelis offer aid without regard to race, ideological belief, age, religion, or the color of a person's skin.

As the fighting ended, Ismail Haniyeh, "disputed" prime minister of the Palestinians (who was elected with an overwhelming majority of the Gaza residents), crawled out of his bunker located deep under a hospital, to announce victory. News reports shortly after reported that he had been rushed to the upper floors of the hospital after suffering a heart attack.

One friend responded, "oh, does he have a heart?" Not that I've seen. He certainly lacks courage given that he spent the last 50+ days in hiding. To the comment about him having a heart attack, I responded that I think it more likely that he was rushed to the hospital suffering from the Bends, a condition associated with rising too quickly from the depths - usually water. In some cases, the Bends can result in death, said one site I checked on the Internet.

And that's when I thought of Israel's doctors and emergency medical responders. They are given clear instructions. The second an injured terrorist is disarmed, he is to be treated as any other person - injured and in need of assistance. My sons have treated many Arabs as part of their volunteer work for the  ambulance service.

I'm grateful that they have never been called upon to treat a terrorist - not because I don't think they would, but because I doubt few other societies would ask this of their young. What I can tell you, without shame or regret, is that the terrorist, once disarmed, is likely to be treated after the victims are removed, especially if the damage done to the terrorist is relatively minor.

I said before that it is not for me to draw the line of where doctors treat patients who became patients as a result of causing injury to others. I can't draw the line in this next hypothetical case either but seriously, if the Palestinians were to ask us to treat Haniyah - no, just no.



Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to Normal

All over Israel, things are settling back to normal. I've spent much of the last 50 days writing about the military aspects of the conflict and how they impacted on daily life around Israel.

What we didn't have was summer - oh, it was hot and dry as usual. Things were slow and people did take vacation but everywhere there was something missing - not a sense of peace, because we've never had that. But there was this unsettled feeling. If we were having fun, we felt bad because those in the south were sitting in bomb shelters and running to safety. How could we having fun?

And if weren't having fun, we felt the summer slipping away and time running down. We usually go camping - we didn't. We try to take a day here or there; we really didn't.

Aliza started school today. Yesterday, I drove Davidi to his new Hesder yeshiva program. Shmulik is settling into his beautiful new apartment; Elie and Lauren are still unpacking their boxes. Amira bought her son a pool and he's been enjoying the water for a while now. Aliza took pictures of Amira's son and Elie's daughter yesterday - I wish I had permission to post the pictures - they are so so sweet.

Rosh Hashana isn't far away - one month...the summer flew by with so much sadness that each drop of happiness is celebrated. Today was a good day - a friend had a granddaughter born; another friend announced her son just got engaged. Two friends have children getting married in the next few weeks; another friend's son got married last night.

It's a subtle message that life goes on.

And if the world isn't insane enough - for the last two days, Syrian rebels and government forces have been fighting very close to the Israeli border and someone has fired mortars and shot into Israel. An Israeli officer was moderately wounded, but is doing well.

The UN has a "peacekeeping" force on the Syrian-Israeli border. I have to tell you, the UN doesn't have much luck (or courage). In 1967, the UN forces were ordered by Egypt's Nasser to retreat and without hesitation, they did.

Again and again, each time tensions rose on the borders, the first to run was always the UN and once again today, the UN peacekeeping forces decided keeping the peace was too dangerous and so they ran into Israel, away from the Syrian violence.

So, our children are back in school; the UN is on the run; Syria is threatening; Gaza and Lebanon aren't so far behind - in short, things are back to normal.

On a personal note, once again it has been proven that the fastest way to get your stats go crazy is to be involved in a war. I spoke to journalists from several countries - Brazil, England, Sweden and the US; my blog was again quoted in The Guardian.

And as the number of visitors grew each day into the thousands, I waited for things to go back to normal, when the rockets stopped, the reservists sent home, and the curious who came to read my blog would get bored. It's happened several times in the past - and amazingly enough, contrary to most bloggers, I am more at peace with my regular group would leave and I and my long-term friends would be back to the familiar.

There are sites that get tens of thousands of visitors a day...I'm so happy to have those who come to share, to comment, to read. Thousands of visitors a day for me means life is not normal, that my country is going through the worst of times.

So, to those who came for a while and now will look elsewhere, thanks for visiting and I hope that maybe I provided some insight into what it was like here in Israel over these last 50+ days.

And to the rest of you - thank you for being here, for commenting, for reading. I have felt your support across oceans and seas, in Israel and from all over.

Israel's army is slowly returning to its normal level of alert, grateful that as bad as it was, it wasn't worse. Sometimes that's all we can hope for.

And as Thursday ends and Friday comes, here in Israel, we get ready to do what we do each week - cook and clean and prepare...shabbat shalom.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 50 - Are we there yet?

Yesterday was Day 50 of Operation Protective Edge and in the end, the day ended in a ceasefire that is supposed to last for 30 days, during which the sides are supposed to talk and get to some long range agreement.

Today, Ismail Abdel Salam Ahmed Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinians in Gaza, crawled out of the bunker in which he hid for the last 50 days. Much of the world laughed when he claimed victory in no uncertain terms.

Israel was under pressure to accept a ceasefire. The pressure came from beyond our borders - this is unacceptable; and the pressure came from the calendar - and this is understandable.

In just a few days, the new school year will open. Yesterday, a nursery schools was destroyed - had this happened next week, we could have lost so many children. Today, my daughter and many high schools students begin.

The ceasefire was announced to begin at 7:00 p.m. - I saw a few places that said it would begin at 8:00 p.m. If indeed it began at 7:00 p.m., Gaza clearly broke it within minutes.

If it began at 8:00 p.m. - then a last (fatal) barrage was fired at Israel a short time before. The barrage lasted more than a half hour, involved dozens of rockets - including in areas in central Israel and resulted in the death of two Israelis.

All day long, they pounded us with rockets - over 100 hit in the Eshkol region very close to the Gaza border; but others were fired throughout the south and even central Israel.

In the end, two interesting things happened around 8:00 p.m.

Gaza came out into the streets to celebrate their victory and Israel accepted that this war may finally be over.

The idea of Gaza celebrating was both amusing and informative. It was amusing because once again, Gazans fired into the air to celebrate and once again, gravity defeated them and dozens were evacuated to local hospitals. How hard is it to understand the concept of gravity?

But also, there is something quite interesting in their choosing to celebrate. This is a people that shouted that we were committing genocide and had destroyed nearly all of Gaza. It would take, they swore to the world, decades to undo the terrible damage. 

From 1939 to 1945, the Germans committed genocide against the Jewish people. Any Jew was their target - old, young, male, female. Over 1.5 million Jewish children were murdered.

Overall, if one were to do a statistical analysis of the casualties of the Holocaust, one would find that babies died in similar numbers to elderly; men in similar numbers to women. I would guess, young people in their late teens and twenties had a better chance of survival because they were put to work by the Nazis. I know that most of my husband's relatives of that age (men and women in this age range), returned while most of the older and younger family members were murdered.

And in the devastation that followed the Holocaust, Jews did not celebrate - not even their liberation from the death camps. The first time I think we celebrated was three years later, when Israel was created...recreated, after 2,000 years in exile.

The interesting part about this conflict that seems to have come to an end, at least for this round, is the casualties. There is no question, other than among a fringe bunch of lunatics (one of which even wrote to me), that the Jews of Europe did not go to war against the Germans, before, during or even after WWII.

Overwhelmingly, Jewish men in their late teens, twenties and even thirties had a better chance of survival than women, children, the elderly.

And what we see from the statistics of dead in Gaza, is an overwhelming number of men these same ages. Children are by far well under-represented, as are women and elderly. In other words, a large number of the dead in Gaza were military age...connect the dots.

What is happening now is a retrospective of 50 days at war - the longest single operation/war we have ever experienced. Israel hit Hamas hard, very hard and yes, Hamas didn't fall. To the very last minute - and fifteen minutes beyond, Hamas continued to fire rockets, even at Tel Aviv. 

Throughout the day, as it became clear that there would be a ceasefire, Hamas bombarded Israel with rockets.

In total, almost 5,000 rockets were fired at Israel in just 50 days.

No, Hamas continued - but not because we didn't cause them any damage. Instead, it is part of the mindset - as completely inaccurate as their claiming victory in the end.

Day 50 ended in a ceasefire. The signs on the highways warning that you should pull safely to the side if you hear a siren, have turned back into regular highway signs warning you to check your tires, what number to call in case there is an accident. The flags and signs remain - the people aren't quite as ready as the government to believe this is over.

Aliza thought she heard a siren at one point; we all still listen and check the news. A few ceasefires ago (this is the twelfth - Hamas broke all the other 11, a perfect record - not one agreement honored), the mother of one soldier came over and told me how happy she was that it was over. I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't over...but now, I believe it is.

The truest end to war is peace. So far, for eleven ceasefires, we didn't even get to a cessation of violence. But peace...

Are we there yet? No. And sadly, it's been a long time since I believed we would ever get there. The only difference now, post war, is that so many more Israelis now stand beside me in believing that peace is not possible so long as Hamas is the legally elected representatives of the Palestinian people. A poll released today says that 89% of the Palestinians are in favor of firing rockets at Israel. 89% - that tells you so much about the enemy we face.

Someone wrote to me complaining that nothing had been accomplished. I don't agree with her and think she is being unfair, especially since she lives in the US, not here. I shouldn't have to explain to her and yet I find myself trying to break through the militant voice she so easily spews out. We did a tremendous amount to push Hamas back. Tunnels were destroyed; their top military leaders removed permanently from the equation.

Their rocket arsenals have been seriously depleted. I believe I saw a report that said our military intelligence estimated they had around 10,000 at the start. Close to half of those were fired at us, many thousands more were destroyed in the hospitals, mosques, homes, and tunnels they converted to arsenals. Of course, we were condemned by the UN and France and others for daring to destroy these arsenals because of the shapes and sizes of the buildings in which they stored, but that's okay because we value the lives we save more than the voices we would hope to have silenced by not bombing these legitimate military targets.

In January, 2009, as Elie fought with his unit - I wrote a mosque is not an arsenal and an arsenal is not a mosque. This is true of hospitals and schools. The minute UNRWA schools were used to store rockets, they ceased being schools and became legitimate military targets - even Ban-Ki Moon admitted that.

It will take Hamas years to recuperate, to get back to the level they were 51 days ago. Is that enough? No - it stinks that we can't utterly and completely remove Hamas forever from the picture. But Hamas played this brilliantly and did all it could to show the world its true colors. If the world is too blind to see or too filled with hate to admit this, that is their loss, and ours.

Foreign journalists, reluctantly and resentfully, in some cases, ultimately added their voices and pictures to show Hamas firing from civilian areas, hiding behind children, and lying about the number of casualties.

Like many in Israel, I wish we could have finished the job, permanently buried Hamas. Without question, we brought Hamas to its knees and that will have to be enough. If the Palestinians can honor a leader that hid under ground while his people took the brunt of the war he waged, that is their loss.

Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory. This is to be expected of a politician and yet, despite the politics of it, he's right. Ultimately, the victory is ours because as a nation, we did what we could to protect our young and now we stop this was for them. Hamas stole their summer. There was no camp, little fun. They were mostly inside, awakened night after night. In a few days, they will start school and, as children do, bounce back. For our children, we would do all and despite many political differences, with this I agree with Bibi.

The reality of the Middle East could have been changed in this war, had we been allowed to do what needed to be done. Instead, the history and the future, at least for now, will be the same. We will all bounce back...and then, in a year or two or three...we'll do this all again in an operation or a war with a different name.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

STOP - They Are Bombing My People

Surreal...just surreal. I'm sitting in a meeting and as we go around the table speaking of tasks and accomplishments over the last two weeks of work at this hi-tech company - in the last 30 minutes, the screen constantly goes red on the small window on the side of my laptop. Again and again.

"They are bombing my people," I want to scream. Except that everyone here in the room is "my people" too. There is one that connects from Germany. He sits there and listens, has no idea that my screen is turning red; no idea that my heart cries as I explain what tasks were accomplished, what problems there were in delivering the document before him.

The names of the communities mean nothing to him, to most people in the world but each is so precious, so beautiful. Each is a community built with love, tended by people who chose to live there.

Nahal Oz, where little Daniel was killed; Alumim, where another friend lives and close to where Elie was stationed during Cast Lead. Be'eri, beautiful Be'eri. Kissufim, that I passed so many times driving south.

On and on...

They are running for their lives, or sitting in their bomb shelters afraid to leave because only there are they truly safe. I want to scream in this meeting. I am asked an opinion and I speak..and as I speak, my screen turns red. Do I stop and say - they are bombing my people! Or do I answer the question...

And, of course, I speak. I answer questions...and my heart cries. They are bombing my people.

The Sound of Scared

This morning as I was driving to Tel Aviv - early because I prefer to beat the traffic, the 6:00 a.m. report said that there had been no rocket fire from Gaza since 9:00 p.m. You're tempting fate, I thought to myself.

And sure enough, a short while later - sirens in Ashkelon. A few minutes later - Rishon L'Zion - far enough north to begin to worry. If the missiles were ont point on a graph and I was another - we would collide in the middle somewhere. Of course, the rockets - for the good and the bad - fly faster than I'll ever drive.

They're firing up here, I thought to myself - coming north. I was passing the airport - a major target (which in practical terms means the airport is fine and everyone else around it has to worry). I moved to the left lane so that if I had to stop, there would be a place and a dividing wall. Many other cars did the same and traffic slowed dramatically. What a concept this is, I thought to myself - driving to work waiting for a rocket. In what world? And the answer, of course, is only in Israel. And how the world finds that acceptable is quite sickening. How the world can worry not about those being fired upon, but those who are firing the rockets.

And yes, I know the world isn't worried about Hamas, they are worried about the poor Palestinian civilians...who continue to ignore when we drop leaflets in targeted areas, who climb to the roof tops of buildings because they know that we won't fire if we identify them up there, who don't build bomb shelters but use the cement that could save their lives to build attack tunnels and bunkers for their leaders. These are the people who worry the world and bring the vile Chris Guinness, spokesperson for UNRWA, to his knees in fear.

So mixed in with my concern, as I thought of this, was anger. They are firing at over one million people who are doing nothing but waking up, showering, and driving to work.

And within a few seconds, more cities. I could feel my heart begin to race - seriously. Tel Aviv...Jaffo...Herziliya...that's where I'm headed. Shoham...Rosh Ha'ayan. Shoham is somewhat close to where my sister lives; Rosh Ha'ayin is very close to where my parents live. Rosh Ha'ayin on one side; Tel Aviv in the distance on the other.

It was about 6:30 a.m. and I decided to call my parents and wake them. My father answered and I explained quickly - I didn't hear the name of the city where they live, but I had already figured that it was too hard for me to listen for their city and listen other places while calculating where I was and if I needed to stop.

I looked at the sky long after anything fired from Gaza would have landed. A friend driving from the north of Herziliya saw Iron Dome take out two rockets - or at least be fired twice.

Israelis have come to the call to the bomb shelter relatively calmly - we go, we sit and even if there is a direct hit - as there was a few minutes ago on a house in Ashkelon, most often, the people are okay. It's only possessions and that is not what we worship.

But being on the road adds a whole new dimension of scared. This is why Gaza fires. After close to 4,000 rockets and mortars, even they know they are unlikely to hit anything major with our amazing Iron Dome. They killed little Daniel on Saturday only because he lived in a beautiful village so close to Gaza, built long ago when people still believed peace would come some day.

No, Gaza doesn't really fire to kill, they fire to terrorize.


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