Dear Anti-Israel Activist

Some things deserve as wide an audience as possible. This, for example, as first seen at Anne’s Opinions:

I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images.

I see your placards with names of villages lost when Israel’s neighbors invaded in 1948. I see your props: child-size coffins, for a dramatic effect. Mock “eviction notices” and “apartheid walls.” Posters commemorating the “Nakba”—catastrophe—your term for the Arab failure to destroy Israel.

I hear your chants of “Intifada, Intifada” and “We are Hamas”—glorifying violence against Jews and celebrating their murder. I see you disrupt talks by Israeli scholars and experts—and even by Palestinians who support peace. I hear you call for boycotting hummus (made in Virginia!), and petition artists not to perform in Israel, and demand that pension funds divest from one of the world’s most vibrant economies. I hear you misappropriate terms like “justice” and “apartheid” and “genocide,” divorcing words so far from their true meaning that the language is no longer recognizable.

And I can’t help but wonder: How is all this vitriol, this hateful rhetoric, remotely helpful to the cause of the Palestinian people you claim to support?

If you truly cared about Palestinians…

Read the whole thing, here, because the message is well worth noting. Highly recommended.



More loss, this time for the whole country, with the passing of Shimon Peres earlier this morning. I see the Guardian took the opportunity to mark the occasion by attacking the Israeli government.

As recently as last year Peres strongly criticised the direction of the government of Israel’s rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, although he did not name Netanyahu directly.

Peres said he believed the values he and Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995, had inherited from Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, were in jeopardy as he defended a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake, because if we should lose our majority, and today we are almost equal, we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state.

“That’s the main issue, and to my regret they [the government] do the opposite.”

For something that’s not trying to make a political point, and actually deliver a decent obituary, see the Times of Israel piece here.



My mum died twenty five years ago, though sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. But, despite the passage of time, I still feel the loss. The pain may not be as sharp, as deep, or as overwhelming as it once was, but it’s still there, not far below the surface. The loss endures.

My mum did not have an easy life. After she and my dad separated then divorced, she was a single parent bringing up two young boys. This was at a time when that status was far more unusual. It was hard, but she never complained. Instead, she went about her mission, which was to bring up her boys to the best of her ability. She sacrificed everything towards that end. Although I am biased, as far as I am concerned she did a great job.

When my brother Michael and I were on our feet financially, we tried to repay some of the debt. Mum wasn’t comfortable with taking from people, even from us, so we had to be forceful. That was a quirk of her character that both her sons have inherited, so we both understand what it must have been like for her. At least in those later times she enjoyed some happiness, with both her sons making their way in the world, and especially when her granddaughters appeared on the scene. How she loved the girls! And how they loved her.

Near the end, with mum’s body ravaged by the cancer that was to kill her – a cancer that her doctor misdiagnosed as nothing to worry about – she was confined to bed and a wheelchair. She was living in our house, with Susan doing her Florence Nightingale bit to her usual high standards, ensuring she had the best of care, and suffered as little as was possible. I remember the pharmacist being a big help, too.

Although mum was very weak, she had set her heart on being at her niece’s wedding.  For several days before the wedding, it seemed as if she did not want to go to sleep, sensing that she might never wake up. She was hanging on, just.

She made it.

When we took her to the simchah, it was as if she had been plugged in to an energy pack. She was still stuck in the chair, but she smiled, and laughed, and surrounded by close family and friends, she joined in the celebrations, and had a thoroughly good time. We took her home, and she died the next night. She was 59.

Twenty-five years on, I still miss you mum. And I always will.


On being the father of the bride

Photo from the excellent Ori Chayun Wedding Photography Service - See here:

Photo from the excellent Ori Chayun Wedding Photography Service – See here.

Our daughter Sarah-Lee got married last week to Tomer. Susan and I (and her sister, Lori) could not have been happier. It was one of the best days of our life. All the planning, the discussions, the waiting, the anticipation – just everything – faded away as the simchah started. From the arrival of the first guests until the 2.00 AM wind down, it was non-stop enjoyment.

At any simchah, the guests make the difference. The Simpson family and the Bakshi family were favored with guests from near and far, all of whom came to enjoy themselves, and seemed to have a blast. The mix of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Scottish, Israeli, Americans, Australians, Brits, and Canadians got on like the proverbial house on fire. You could feel the joy. Led by the happy couple, people bopped, boogied, and bounced around the fantastic venue – well done to The Avenue. The food was good, the drink was good, the staff were good – it was all so good. Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth delivered an outstanding experience under the chupah, enjoyed by people from across the religious spectrum. Brilliant.

From a personal perspective, there were three threads to my experience.

First, I had been warned the event would pass quickly, and it did. Faster than the proverbial speeding bullet.

Second, the wedding was a true crossing of several paths; we had guests there from several different backgrounds, all brought together to share the joy of the simchah, and that felt wonderful. It was heightened by the large number of family and friends who attended from abroad.

Third, at times the whole thing felt unreal, like a dream. It was as if I could not quite believe it was happening. I think it finally sank in when I got to bed; after all this was the first bedtime when the wedding was not some potential event in the future. It had happened!

I felt so proud to be the father of that beautiful bride, and so happy to be welcoming Tomer into the family, in the same way that the Bakshi family have done to Sarah-Lee. Susan was equally proud and happy. We are grateful beyond words.


Wedding Break

There are a couple of family weddings this week and next, so it’s unlikely I will have time for blogging until much later in the month.  But, since I am here, check out the following picture, and see if you can identify one of the stops on the Simpson Simchah Tour that Susan organized for our out of town visitors.


If that one is too hard, this should be much easier:


Be well everyone.


Brian Eno and BDS (Updated)

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

In June of this year, at an anti-BDS meeting (“Ambassadors Against BDS”), Danny Danon was quoted as follows:

“BDS is modern anti-Semitism, and we must unite as one body in order to expose its true face and put an end to it.”

Fast forward to this week, and the public announcement of Brian Eno. He told the Batsheva Dance Company to stop using one of his pieces of music after he found out its Italy tour was sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Rome.

I know what my conclusion about Mr Eno is.


I just came across this up to date piece at the Jerusalem Post:

Eminent Hebrew University historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer slammed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement on Tuesday night, at a speaking event in London at London’s Jewish community center, the JW3.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted Bauer, 90, as saying the BDS Movement does not want “a better Israel, they want no Israel at all.” He made the remark during an interview conducted by Labour MP Tulip Siddiq.

“Now of course, they love Jews. Especially dead Jews. The ones who died in the Holocaust, they’re marvelous, they were terrific. Live Jews is something else,” he was quoted as saying.

Bauer unequivocally equated anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, describing the former as an empty slogan. “They want to destroy the Jewish state; they want to destroy it because it’s a Jewish state. That means you are an anti-Semite.”

Read it all here.


Back to School!


In keeping with the way Israeli society and culture treats children, the start of the new school year is a big deal. Not only has it featured as the topic of numerous media pieces in the run up to the actual day – including the inevitable political coverage of Naftali Bennett’s plans as published by the Ministry of Education – but it has also been marked by the usual social media commentary of relieved parents, glad to see their offspring out from under their feet back in full time education.

As usual, the academic year starts on 1st September, so today is when the traffic returns to its higher level of cramped chaos.

On the plus side, as you can see from the icon at the top, Google Israel is marking the occasion. If Google had been around when I was returning for a new school year, to be realistic the graphic would have had to include a tie, a slide rule, a book of log tables, a football, a packed lunch, a bag of tomato flavored crisps, and a switchblade. No, the knife wasn’t mine, but I saw enough being carried by my contemporaries.

Anyway, all the best to the kids going to school here, especially first timers. Here’s hoping they all have a great experience. Good luck everyone!

[A post about my school experiences in more detail, the importance of teachers, their lowly pay here, and the woes of the educational system in much of the western world, will have to wait for another time.]


What is progressive about Palestine?

I read the following in Petra Marquardt-Bigman‘s piece (Dear Linda Sarsour, what’s progressive about Palestine?) at the Elder of Ziyon, and found my self silently nodding in agreement:

“If there is one constant in the long history of antisemitism it is the notion that whatever you see as your biggest problem, it is somehow the fault of the Jews. Nowadays, it’s the fault of the world’s only Jewish state.”

Read the whole thing here.


The Meatgrinder


Action from my game with Josh. This is in the German second turn. They have taken the first building on the right, and have established their tanks in a hull down position. One KV-2 is in place to defend (but is about to be immobilized). Meantime, on the left, German tank reinforcements are about to cream a BT-7A, then will run into the Russian anti-tank gun…

My continuing ASL education…

Recently, I had the opportunity to play scenario AP41, The Meat Grinder, against Ran then Josh.

This two board scenario is set in Lutsk in 1941, with the Russians defending. Their forces include eight squads, two leaders, an anti-tank rifle, an LMG, and a HMG. In support, they have a couple of KV-2 tanks, a GAZ truck with a 20mm AAMG on it, and a 76LL anti-tank gun. First turn reinforcements are three lightly armed tanks: a BT-7A, and two BT-7s. The Germans have ten squads, three leaders, an anti-tank rifle, two LMGs, and a MMG. Their starting support takes the form of three Panzer IV E tanks. Their turn two reinforcements are three Panzer III tanks (and a 9-1 armor leader).

Victory is determined by casualties, with control of multi-hex buildings contributing victory points.

The Russians do not have the forces to defend everything. Generally, a forward defense is a recipe for disaster, so the trick is to defend what is likely to hold out. Then, there is a need to find a good location for the anti-tank gun, the truck borne AAMG, and a safe place to hide the weaker tanks. I was the Russian defender in both games.

The Germans have the right tools for everything but the KV-2s. However, their main enemy is time. So, they either have to get lucky by immobilizing the KV-2s, or avoid them. At the same time, they need to keep their infantry advance moving forward, while hunting down and eliminating the weaker Russian vehicles.

First off, Ran made his main effort on my left flank. That was the weakest portion of my defense, and I made a bad mistake by not shuttling more defenders towards that threat. By the time Ran told me what was going on, and I belatedly did something about it, I had lost all my tanks, and half the buildings. One KV-2 had been immobilized by fire, and one had suffered mechanical breakdown. My anti-tank gun and AAMG between them did nothing. Game over.

That experience helped me a lot in my game with Josh. I used a similar setup, but balanced the flanks so one did not look worse than the other. I also hid my anti-tank gun on one flank, and put the truck borne AAMG in a more prominent position. This time, Josh made his main effort on my right flank (of course my hidden anti-tank gun was on the other flank…) and very quickly overran the first building. However, this time I did react better, and so rushed defenders towards that main threat.

Josh did steamroller the infantry defenses, but it took time. As he fell behind in his timetable, he became more daring (aka “reckless”) with his tanks. So, by the end of the game there were almost no German tanks left. I had a KV-2 left, securing part of the field. And my two BT-7s survived, albeit one had a broken down main armament.

I was very surprised to have won, with the Germans taking 7 out of 13 victory point buildings, and inflicting way more casualties. However, Josh’s tank losses were worse. The bloody toll my infantry took was awful, but had done its job by (just) holding on to the key buildings.

This was a challenging scenario. When I look at it from the Russian perspectvie, I want to be the German player – look at all those leaders and semi decent tanks. When I look at it form the German player, I want to be the Russian – look at those KV-2s, and how do you capture all those buildings in so short a time? This would suggest the scenario is quite balanced. However, if (as happened to me) one of the Russian KV-2s breaks down, that is likely to be crucial. It’s tricky for those tanks to avoid deliberate immobilization shots, but if they can do that and avoid breaking down, the German player has his hands full.  That having been said, there are plenty of weaker Russian targets that provide the necessary victory points. As I said, a challenging scenario, and one that is fun to play. The ASL experience remains among the best in the world of games, even when I get crushed. Well, sometimes…

Thanks to both Ran and Josh for the continuing education.




The Scots making the front page in Israel

Making the front page for the wrong reasons. Here’s the cover of today’s Israel HaYom newspaper:


The red highlighted piece has a picture of the wall of hate at Parkhead, Celtic’s home stadium.

Above the main headline – Provocation – it says:

Shame. Celtic supporters try to assault Hapoel Be’er Sheva supporters.

As far as I can tell, the attempts must have succeeded to some extent as there is discussion on a Celtic Facebook page about people successfully grabbing an Israeli flag from an opposition supporter.

Be that as it may, under the picture it says:

Hundreds of supporters of the Scottish champions waived Palestinian flags outside and inside the stadium. Supporters of the Israeli champions were forced to enter under police escort. On the field, Be’er Sheva were defeated 5:2.

I have not heard any independent reports about the match, but the pictures available tend to speak for themselves. It’s not all Celtic supporters – it’s the vocal hateful minority – but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And, yes, somewhat ironical that it was an Israeli player who was sent on as a sub when the Celtic were a wee bit shaky in the second half.

Celtic knew there was going to be an issue with supporters and flags, but I see no sign that any attempt was made to stop this happening. Celtic do know it is against UEFA rules, having been fined for it before. However, the low level of fines may be one reason why they reckoned it was not worth the effort to do something about it. Their financial gain for reaching the Champions’ League is substantial. While I don’t think Celtic as a club deserve the punishment, there is a part of me that would like UEFA to throw them out of the tournament for being repeat offenders. Boy would that get the message across. But that is not going to happen. In fact, there’s more chance of Hapoel overturning the deficit in the return leg, and knocking out Celtic. And there’s zero chance of that!