1948; time to flee

An interesting tidbit, delivered by the Algemeiner:

A British document from early 1948, declassified only weeks ago, tells the story:

“the Arabs have suffered a series of overwhelming defeats…. Jewish victories … have reduced Arab morale to zero and, following the cowardly example of their inept leaders, they are fleeing from the mixed areas in their thousands.”

Do read the whole thing.


I see no condemnation

The Elder of Ziyon comments (here):

Gaza Siege! Collective punishment! – And no condemnations!

After reproducing the BBC confirmation of the Egyptians closing off the Gaza crossing, the Elder makes the following observations and comments:

“I cannot find a single call for an emergency session at the UN.

Nor any criticism from the Arab world.

Nor any criticism from any Gaza groups.

Nor any condemnations from “human rights” organizations.

Funny, isn’t it?”

The Elder sees what others ignore. Shame on them all.


Refuse to be terrorized

This essay, from Bruce Schneier, is an important refresher of one he did after 9/11. It’s a solid, sensible view of terror as he sees it from a western perspective. However, from my perspective, it’s one of those areas – one of the few, you might argue – where Israel and Israelis have a different perspective. Where such events are unusual, in Israel they are not. Indeed, much ‘low level’ terrorism – which is assuredly not low level to those who are its victims – is just not reported out of Israel. It is not newsworthy.

Therefore, be aware that this is a valid view, but it is not the only one. I would very much like to see how Mr Schneier would cover the same topic from our viewpoint.

As the details about the bombings in Boston unfold, it’d be easy to be scared. It’d be easy to feel powerless and demand that our elected leaders do something — anything — to keep us safe.

It’d be easy, but it’d be wrong. We need to be angry and empathize with the victims without being scared. Our fears would play right into the perpetrators’ hands — and magnify the power of their victory for whichever goals whatever group behind this, still to be uncovered, has. We don’t have to be scared, and we’re not powerless. We actually have all the power here, and there’s one thing we can do to render terrorism ineffective: Refuse to be terrorized.

It’s hard to do, because terrorism is designed precisely to scare people — far out of proportion to its actual danger. A huge amount of research on fear and the brain teaches us that we exaggerate threats that are rare, spectacular, immediate, random — in this case involving an innocent child — senseless, horrific and graphic. Terrorism pushes all of our fear buttons, really hard, and we overreact.

But our brains are fooling us. Even though this will be in the news for weeks, we should recognize this for what it is: a rare event. That’s the very definition of news: something that is unusual — in this case, something that almost never happens.

Remember after 9/11 when people predicted we’d see these sorts of attacks every few months? That never happened, and it wasn’t because the TSA confiscated knives and snow globes at airports. Give the FBI credit for rolling up terrorist networks and interdicting terrorist funding, but we also exaggerated the threat. We get our ideas about how easy it is to blow things up from television and the movies. It turns out that terrorism is much harder than most people think. It’s hard to find willing terrorists, it’s hard to put a plot together, it’s hard to get materials, and it’s hard to execute a workable plan. As a collective group, terrorists are dumb, and they make dumb mistakes; criminal masterminds are another myth from movies and comic books.

Even the 9/11 terrorists got lucky.

If it’s hard for us to keep this in perspective, it will be even harder for our leaders. They’ll be afraid that by speaking honestly about the impossibility of attaining absolute security or the inevitability of terrorism — or that some American ideals are worth maintaining even in the face of adversity — they will be branded as “soft on terror.” And they’ll be afraid that Americans might vote them out of office. Perhaps they’re right, but where are the leaders who aren’t afraid? What has happened to “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”?

Terrorism, even the terrorism of radical Islamists and right-wing extremists and lone actors all put together, is not an “existential threat” against our nation. Even the events of 9/11, as horrific as they were, didn’t do existential damage to our nation. Our society is more robust than it might seem from watching the news. We need to start acting that way.

There are things we can do to make us safer, mostly around investigation, intelligence, and emergency response, but we will never be 100-percent safe from terrorism; we need to accept that.

How well this attack succeeds depends much less on what happened in Boston than by our reactions in the coming weeks and months. Terrorism isn’t primarily a crime against people or property. It’s a crime against our minds, using the deaths of innocents and destruction of property as accomplices. When we react from fear, when we change our laws and policies to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed, even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we’re indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail, even if their attacks succeed.

Don’t glorify the terrorists and their actions by calling this part of a “war on terror.” Wars involve two legitimate sides. There’s only one legitimate side here; those on the other are criminals. They should be found, arrested, and punished. But we need to be vigilant not to weaken the very freedoms and liberties that make this country great, meanwhile, just because we’re scared.

Empathize, but refuse to be terrorized. Instead, be indomitable — and support leaders who are as well. That’s how to defeat terrorists.

[This essay originally appeared on TheAtlantic.com. Available, here.]


I’m a disbeliever

This is too important to passover. From the Elder of Ziyon (with my added emphasis):


Don’t believe anything you read in the PalArab media

The “International Middle East Media Center” says:

Monday evening, May 13 2013; a group of extremist Israeli settlers set ablaze Palestinian olive orchards and farmlands that belong the villages of Qaryout, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Local sources reported that the armed settlers burnt the agricultural lands, and prevented the villagers from reaching their lands to put the fire off.

Bashar Qaryouty, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Qaryout village, reported that the burnt lands were planted with wheat and olive trees.

And from Palestine Info:

Jewish settlers set ablaze more than 20 dunums of cultivated land lots in Qaryut village, south of Nablus, on Monday and prevented their owners from approaching to put it off.

Bashar Al-Qaryuti, in charge with monitoring settlement activity in the village, said that dozens of settlers from the settlement of Shilo started the fire that burnt the land cultivated with barley, wheat, and olives.

He charged that the Israeli occupation forces provided protection for the settlers and blocked the land owners, 25 individuals, from extinguishing the fire.
There are stories like this daily in the PalArab media. Unfortunately, it is all too rare to find out the other side of the story.

Luckily, this time we can.

The land is owned by a Jew and this was upheld by a court judgment. He is the only person who ever cultivated that field. He started a controlled fire to get rid of overgrown brush.

No barley, no wheat, no olives, no Arab owners. Every single word that was reported by the Arab media, and by the spokesman, was a lie.

How can anyone believe anything these people say when we have proven time and time again that they lie with impunity?


Ra’anana Gamer: I suggest the last question is directed to every mainstream western media outlet. Just what fact checking do they bother to do?


And on this day

From Israel HaYom:

On Shavuot, the holiday which Jews around the globe begin celebrating this Tuesday night, Iraqi Jews mark 72 years since the Farhud — the 1941 riots in which 137 people were slaughtered and hundreds more injured. The Babylonian (Iraqi) Jewry Heritage Center in Or Yehuda has inscribed the victims’ names, and Iraqi Jews worldwide recall the horrible disgrace of those events, which were so reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Germany. The Farhud riots were carried out by a mob that had been incited to violence, and resulted in the Iraqi Jewish community losing faith in the country they had called home for millennium; the community of some 140,000 Jewish people dwindled to just a sparse few today.

You can read the whole thing, here.  It rather debunks the nonsense about how well Jews were treated in Arab countries before the establishment of modern Israel.

(And as to why the establishment of Israel should be any kind of excuse or reason for anti-semitism in the Arab world, that only ‘works’ if you assume their culture resembles that of a collection of immature alpha males, unable to cope with a challenge to their world view. In other words, it’s crap.)

And while the recollection of the events must be a terribly sad occasion, there hopefully is some comfort in the gathering of these exiles and others in Israel today. I love the melting pot nature of the population. (Though it has to be said, the pot’s pretty white in Ra’anana!)

[I first saw this at Point of no return. It will add something to my Shavuot.]


Something special this way comes

One of the distinctive aspects (for me) about living in Israel, is the wind down on Friday afternoons as Shabbat approaches. The hustle and the bustle slowly ebbs away. The traffic thins out, household activity round and about seems to fade, and a special kind of invisible calm begins to settle.

As I write this, it’s mid afternoon in the run up to Shavuot, and it’s the same kind of experience happening now.

You don’t have to be religious or observant to appreciate it or benefit from it; a rest day is a chance to recharge the batteries in whatever way takes your fancy.

For Shavuot, the traditional orthodox Jewish approach is to learn Torah through the night, and do the morning prayers as early as possible. There are opportunities all over Ra’anana, and I am spoiled for choice. (But I do miss Shavuot in Glasgow, and have some very happy memories.)

To those who celebrate the chag, Chag Sameach. To everyone, just be well.




On the table is Stadtlohn, the fifth battle out of the Saints in Armor box. [See here for my initial quick review of the system.]

"Steady, lads. Steady!"

“Steady, lads. Steady!”

This is the quirkiest battle so far. It starts with the Protestant army trying to get its loot away from the enemy who are yet to appear on the map. However, the front line heavy infantry are not steady. So the first action is to decide if these guys – already with poor morale – flee or not. Historically they did, though the suggestion is it was a rearward move that lost cohesion and went downhill from there. As the Protestant player, you can recreate the flight, or gamble and have them hold steady. In the latter case, they may hold steady and be slaughtered. But, hey, it’s your game!

The winner will be the player who achieves his goal so far as the precious wagon train is concerned. So, the Protestant side can lose their army and win the game so long as they save the wagons. The Catholic forces need to get the wagons, probably, no matter what. As usual with the battles in the box, the historical notes are excellent and do a top notch job of creating a proper backdrop and rationale for what is going on. It definitely adds to the enjoyment.

I played this three times with the Protestants claiming one decisive and one marginal victory. The other game was a marginal Catholic victory. The Protestant decisive victory was the first attempt and I really screwed up things for the enemy to let that happen. And then savaged them with awful die rolling. Great fun.

"Are we ready?"

“Are we ready?”


The hottest Israeli startups?

From Globes:

“Business Insider” names 20 hottest Israeli start ups

“As a startup hub, Israel is second only to Silicon Valley.” Waze tops the list.

“Business Insider” yesterday listed Israel’s 20 hottest start-up, and praised the country’s developed start-up industry. “By some counts, Israel is home to 4,800 startups today. It’s also home to least two dozen accelerator/incubator programs in the Tel Aviv area, alone, including some run by Microsoft and Google,” it says, adding, “As a startup hub, Israel is second only to Silicon Valley. So it’s not easy to name the nation’s hottest, most exciting startups because everywhere you turn there are young companies doing really cool things.”

Waze Ltd. tops the list, with its crowdsourced traffic reports. “Business Insider” says, “Waze is far and away the hottest, most talked about startup in Israel these days.” It adds, “At one point, Apple was rumored to be buying Waze. That didn’t happen but the company is doing so well that co-founder Uri Levine has become an angel investor in other Israeli startups, like Pixtr.”

Wix is in second place. “It provides free and low-cost websites and lets people with no tech background create beautiful sites. Wix hosts over 30 million sites,” “Business Insider” writes.

The rest of the start-ups are:


The war on drugs

In a Guardian/Observer interview (promoting a debate on the topic they are hosting later this month) David Simon (of the Wire) makes a couple of points worth highlighting:

Question: The picture painted in The Wire and The House I Live In is bleak, and people don’t like to look at bleak pictures. How can America turn and face this huge problem?

David Simon: It won’t happen from leadership. There are two things politicians in my country pay attention to. One is money and the other is votes, and the two are inextricably linked in many respects. For a long time the inner city hasn’t voted. In the inner city you have an incredibly disenfranchised American population that understands the burden of the drug war. One of the fundamental ways in which they’ve disconnected is that if you’re convicted of a felony you lose your right to vote for ever. So this is an agenda that has no immediate gain for a politician. That’s why jury nullification and a refusal to co-operate with drug prohibition is going to be a grass roots movement.

So, if Simon is correct, there’s nothing to be gained by way of money or votes, if a politician wants to help his country face up to the real situation about the war on drugs.

There is also this exchange:

Question: Decriminalisation still leaves an international criminal network and distribution business in place. With legalisation there is a basis on which to start unpicking all of that.

David Simon: When I make the distinction for decriminalisation I don’t care about laws any more because the first step will not be to change any laws. And certainly there will not be a sufficient number of politicians with enough courage to legalise drug use. The mistake you’re making is that you’re leading from the rear. You’re having a dilettante’s argument about something that will never be considered by the political infrastructure. Getting them to stop jailing people for this crap is plausible. To start talking about legalising heroin and cocaine, you might as well go to a university and shave your head into a point.

Some thought provoking material there. (He also says, incidentally, that drugs are – effectively – legal in Baltimore because the number of users makes enforcement impossible.)


Calling all Brits

The inimitable Elder of Ziyon has an important essay about the Hawking BDS situation.

“In a nation that has embraced the false themes of unlimited Israeli evil and absolute Palestinian Arab victimhood, can we expect people to suspect that they are being fed a diet of lies? Finding out the truth takes time; it takes effort, and it takes commitment, all resources that most people cannot be bothered with. If their newspaper says that Israel is the intransigent party, who will spend the time to research the other side? Who would even consider that there is another side?

Read it all. If you are British, read it twice. Then never say again that you haven’t been warned.