A unique world cup experience

Susan and I went with friends to watch the final at Jems in Petach Tikva.

Jems is highly recommended. It’s a restaurant attached to a microbrewery. (The branch in Ra’anana is too small to deliver anything decent.) The food in Petach Tikva is good, the beers are good, and the atmosphere is terrific. Usually it’s about the music. Last night it was the football.

First, it seemed that most of the crowd (which was also extended to the front yard basketball court) were there to support Argentina. Susan accordingly persuaded me it would not be a good idea for me to join in singing the German national anthem…

Second, we were watching on one of the main Israeli channels. Before the game, at half time, and full time (before extra time) we got the news about the latest developments in Hamas’ terror offensive.

We sort of knew there was some kind of artificial break in the proceedings, because the channel was broadcasting missile warnings at the top right of the screen. These dwindled to nothing while the game was going on. Before and after, however, there was plenty of evidence that Israel was once again under attack. So, either Hamas are football fans, or it was a bizarre coincidence.

I thought the game was interesting rather than exciting. I felt that if Argentina had taken any of their chances, the Germans might have got back into it. But the Argentinian defense was doing pretty well. It was only at the goal that their marking went to pieces. Whoever should have been marking the scorer was too far from his man, and caught ball watching. That having been said, it was a terrific move and piece of skill.

The goal was deserved. In truth, I’m not sure about the win. However, nobody remembers anything but the winner.

So Germany marches forward, once again masters of the footballing world. The English can only look on with envy. England could win that tournament (in the future) and they could be a real force. But not with the present people or structure. My bet is that they do not sort things out and the poor English football fan is going to be disappointed for decades to come. Shame, because they deserve better.

As for Scotland, I simply wish them well. They should be taking a good long, hard look at Belgium and slavishly copy that approach. It sure works.

Finally, as for Israel, I regret that they are unlikely ever to trouble the world as a footballing force, short of a miracle or ten. But we will see the occasional talented individual flying the flag for his country.

Finally, finally (!) I have a small glow of smug satisfaction at predicting the winner. I am genuinely sad that I was equally accurate in my prediction about England’s campaign. Never mind. The Premier league will be starting soon.

About those civilians

As first seen at Israellycool, here’s a (Fatah?) terrorist in action.

Note:

  • Civilian clothes.
  • Civilian area.
  • One rocket comes close to hitting the nearby building.
  • If the IDF had got him, there would be another ‘civilian’ casualty reported.

Yes, civilian casualties are terrible. But many of them are not civilians, no matter how much Hamas supporters in the west pretend otherwise.

We hope and pray for a speedy, peaceful, and complete resolution.

The Guardian makes it up

Here’s a snapshot of the headlines to a current article about the Hamas terror offensive on the Guardian website.

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What is the takeaway of anybody who reads these headlines? It looks to me like the message is that pressure is building up on Israel to agree to a ceasefire.

What does the article say?

The death toll in Gaza has risen as international pressure builds on Israel to end its four-day conflict with Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in the enclave.

The Guardian says pressure is building up. What pressure?

The White House said late on Thursday that Barack Obama had phoned the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to offer to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said.

Does that sound like pressure on Israel?

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that ceasefire was “more urgent than ever” after an emergency security council meeting on Thursday. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has also urged Netanyahu to consider a ceasefire.

Now that’s a bit more like it. Not pressure, in my opinion. But getting there.

And that’s it. To put it mildly, that headline is misleading bollocks. It’s almost as if the Guardian was projecting its own wishes. Please, you can hear them saying, stop killing Hamas and its supporters.

Pressure would be condemnation or a demand to have a cease fire from the US, or the EU, or the UN, or any combination of them. Funny how that is missing. It’s almost as if they realize Hamas are, again, creators of their own misfortune. Shame the ordinary folk of Gaza will pay a price for Hamas.

Meantime, you do get a taste of the real Guardian disappointment about the situation in this part:

But despite a barrage of rockets targeting Israeli cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – causing thousands to rush to bomb shelters for the first time in years – there have still been no Israeli deaths since the beginning of this latest conflict.

The Guardian sounds let down that there have not been more Israeli casualties.

You can read the piece, here, and make your own minds up. As for the Guardian, it has done enough making up of its own.

Guest Post – SL

My daughter, Sarah-Lee, posted this on Facebook earlier in the week.

8 am… this mornings siren caught me just out the shower and getting ready for work (a great day to wear some underwear!) i almost thought i was imagining the siren, but alas, it was happening again. Me and Tomer grabbed some clothes, flip flops and ran to the stairwell to meet the rest of our neighbours and their dogs…

Three very large booms later and we are back in the house. Took me about half an hour to calm down and was considering not going to work as not to go though it while driving but that is EXACTLY what they want.

They want distruption, they want fear, they want chaos.

Well screw them. I’m going to work, I’m going to exercise, I’m going to the supermarket, I’m going to the beach, I’m going to a bar and I’m going to spend time with friends and family.

Do what you do you assholes, we are STONG and we will STAND and we will continue to FIGHT.

Sending my love to all the Southies who probably live half their days in shelters

Be Safe X

Proud to be her dad.

No getting carried away by success

So far, so good with Operation Protective Edge. From a purely (unfair and selfish) perspective, I had a siren free night of sleep. The volume of missile fire was reduced, though there could be several explanations for that which are not directly down to Israeli military action.

David Horovitz – the Times of Israel head honcho – is a commentator and writer I very much admire. He writes well, and he makes sense. I don’t always agree with him, but I do always think he is being reasonable. (I wonder how his Hebrew is and if he would like to be Prime Minister?) His review of day two is online, and well worth reading. See it here. I offer just one extract – following – but I do encourage you to read the whole thing:

About that world-berated security blockade

Hamas has managed to smuggle in and home produce thousands of rockets, including hundreds that can reach the center of Israel and beyond. This, despite Israel’s internationally lambasted efforts to maintain a security blockade on the Gaza Strip. One shudders to think about what would be fired at Israel right now were it not for that security envelope. More accurate missiles, carrying heavier warheads. And doubtless too, we would be facing more sophisticated missile systems, capable of multiple launches and decoy fire, to challenge even the most effective, most tested missile shield the world has ever seen.

An international community ostensibly committed to keeping people alive might want to reflect on that. Even those in the international community who seem to care rather more about some lives than others. Without the blockade, Hamas would have killed many Israelis, and Israel would likely have resorted to still more desperate measures to try to keep its people safe, likely spelling more loss of life in Gaza.

In other words, thank Heaven we didn’t listen to all those people of the international community wanting the blockade lifted. As far as I am concerned, they are all guilty of being part of a group mind that cannot think straight and cares not one fig about the actual consequences of their shortsightedness.

Who started it?

And, on a related point, you may want to bookmark the Elder of Ziyon’s post about who started the fighting. I bet there are going to be a flood of people in the gutters of social media declaring that Israel started it. There you have the facts to cut them down with.

Siren call

So last night was the first time I had heard the Ra’anana sirens go off to warn of incoming missile attack. And, inevitably, it’s been on mind. I’ve been turning the episode and the experience over, trying to kick around ideas, thoughts, feelings, and related concepts, to help me see the situation from different perspectives.

Here’s one perspective. And with it, a proposal.

What I experienced was nothing compared to what Sderot residents have experienced. No other country would – or should – allow part of its citizenry to live in such conditions. Why did we allow the people of Sderot to suffer and do nothing? Nothing?

One factor is the disconnect between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Sderot. It’s not necessarily the case that people in the first two places don’t care about Sderot; it’s more a case of out-of-sight is out-of-mind.

We allowed that. It was a mistake.

So here’s a suggestion.

Once we get the present situation sorted, how about we connect the sirens in Sderot to the sirens in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? When the sirens in Sderot go off, they go off in Jerualem and Tel Aviv. Every time Sderot is attacked, the people of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (and Ra’anana, if it helps) would know, and would share in some small way.

I just wonder how long it would be of that ‘sharing‘ before the political and military elite realized how very badly they had let down our southern citizens in the past. I wouldn’t expect it to be very long before proper action was taken.

Heaven forbid we get back to a phony truce. But if it does happen, making a real connection between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Sderot, would be a real commitment to the unity of the country and Am Yisrael. We should not forget. They should never be out of mind again.

We are under attack

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Asleep, I was awakened by (Susan and) the sirens. These awful, beautiful sirens. Seconds to get to safety – the safe room in the house. Made it.

Now, to a tiny, tiny, extent, I know what it must be like for the people of Sderot. My admiration for them and their restraint is complete.

If Hamas think this is going to do them any good, I sincerely hope they are mistaken; disabused of that notion, perhaps given their heavenly desserts, but certainly in one way or another persuaded of the error of their ways. Let this not end well for them.

Passing thoughts

One of the first thoughts that popped in to my head as I was in shul getting ready for mincha on Friday night, was that I had said nothing in my Five for Friday post about the three kidnapped and murdered Jewish kids, nor the kidnapped and murdered Arab kid. It was almost as if I had put those awful crimes out of my mind, perhaps because they were too tolerable to contemplate. But, in the few moments of quiet contemplation before prayers, that was almost all I could think about.

Those crimes are never going to go away, but in the media storm that has followed them, there seems to be an almost desperate rush to promote two opposing predictions. One is positive – about the binding together of the Jewish people in times of trouble – and the other is about a cycle of hate that will be hard to stop. I don’t believe either will turn out to be right, but would gladly accept the first if it beat my expectations.

Prediction of the future being as tricky as it always has been, I’ll just say whatever happens, I wish an end to the suffering.

 

The disappearing internet

The potential consequences of the following story (from Sarah Spickernell at City AM and dated 2 July 2014) are incredible:

Blog post criticising former Merrill Lynch boss is “forgotten” by Google

This morning, BBC journalist Robert Peston received a “notice of removal” from Google, informing him that an article that he had published in 2007 about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal would no longer be shown in European Google search results.
Titled “Merrill’s Mess”, the piece describes how O’Neal was forced to leave the investment bank after it endured significant losses on the back of careless investments.

In May this year, the European Court of Justice ordered that anyone could apply to have search results relating to them deleted from Google under the new “right to be forgotten” rule. It said that Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its results when a member of the public requests it.

As Peston pointed out in a follow-up article earlier today, this effectively means that no one will see the blog post from now on. “To all intents and purposes the article has been removed from the public record, given that Google is the route to information and stories for most people,” he wrote.
He questions whether the content of the article was inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, and therefore whether Google was justified in removing it. He adds that the action will consolidate fears present among many that the new rule is detrimental to freedom of expression.
“Most people would argue that it is highly relevant for the track record, good or bad, of a business leader to remain on the public record – especially someone widely seen as having played an important role in the worst financial crisis in living memory (Merrill went to the brink of collapse the following year, and was rescued by Bank of America),” he wrote.

“So there is an argument that in removing the blog, Google is confirming the fears of many in the industry that the “right to be forgotten” will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.”
Google informed Peston that since the rule came into force it has received around 50,000 removal requests, and that it has hired “an army of paralegals” to process them. Peston has contacted Google to ask if he can appeal against the blocking of his article. He is currently awaiting a response.

Given the status of Google, an article that doesn’t show up on its search engine might as well not exist. It’s almost like reshaping history. How many people will take advantage so as to improve their apparent standing? And will all search engines follow suit? Probably.

[I know it's the European engine we are talking about. It also seems strange that there will be multiple categories of Google search engine. Shades of China's demands.]

Should we care? I’m open to persuasion. But I have this optimistic hope that somewhere in cyberspace, a proper hero of the information age will offer a solution. For example, what if somebody decided to start a website offering links to the places Google forgets? Google might have to remove search results, but can the European Court of Justice censor a historical record, or an academic analysis, or a fan site for the new hobby of watching things that disappear?

[Thanks to Guido Fawkes for the tip.]