a different side of Israel

Tag: News (page 3 of 17)

Reflections on Israeli POW’s

Israeli POWs
Last Friday, May 2nd, a very interesting article appeared in the Weekend supplement of the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s oldest English language newspaper. The article, entitled Stigma of Surrender, and written by correspondent Larry Derfner, dealt with Israelis who had been taken prisoner in various wars, especially the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the first Lebanese War of 1982. Former Israeli POW’s who had been taken prisoner and later released, recounted their experiences in the hands of the enemy, and what happened to them after being finally released. Many of them said that the treatment they received by IDF authorities who “interrogated” them afterwards was (from a psychological basis) almost as bad as when they were prisoners of war, or of terrorists.

With Israeli solders such as Gilad Schalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser still not back home after nearly two years, this year’s Solder’s Remembrance Day and Independence Day celebrations will take on a special meaning for members of their families, as well as for many other Israelis.

Israel will be celebrating its 60th anniversary as an independent state this week; and the matter of captured and missing soldiers is an issue even more important, especially in light of recent offers to affect a prisoner exchange with the Hamas organization for captured soldier Gilad Schalit.

Many people in Israel feel that trading this young soldier’s life (assuming he’s still alive) for several hundred Hamas and other terrorists who will only go back to killing Jews, is not going by the old Rabbinical context of “he who saves one life has saved the entire world”. This time it’s entirely different.

I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of either Mr. and Mrs. Schalit or the Prime Minister in regards to what to do in this situation. Israeli prisoners have mainly been repatriated in wartime – and that most were from the Egyptians who were only slightly more humane than their Syrian allies.

Regarding soldiers being captured or taken prisoner by terrorist groups, it’s nearly always been a death sentence – except for some like Elkanah Tannenbaum, an Israeli reserve officer who was captured while in Lebanon on a “business trip” and who may have had “connections” which enabled him to stay alive.

Some people feel that Israeli solders should be issued a cyanide pill, like Mossad people are, and if they have the opportunity, to simply swallow it. At least it prevents the suffering, including by such as Ron Arad, who may actually have died long ago (it was supposedly verified by Russian and other foreign diplomats who had received inside information).

That’s the sad reality of being captured as an Israeli soldier. So much for the “Pinchas Shevi” (POW ID Card) issued every IDF recruit. Many say that it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on!

Or is it?

I’m quite sure that if one talks to parents and relatives of the three young men mentioned here, they will definitely agree that Israeli soldiers should not only come back alive but should be given the honor that they truly deserve. In fact, I’m sure these relatives feel that Israeli leaders are not doing enough to ensure their loved ones’ release.

As Israelis celebrate 60 years of independence, they should also take time to reflect on these brave young men who so much deserve to come home – with honor – to their loving and waiting families.

Olmert Under Investigation – Again

This is from the NYPost

A Long Island mogul is at the center of a sensational bribery scandal that could bring down embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, The Post has learned.

Millionaire financier Morris Talansky – who runs an investment firm out of his tony home in Woodmere – allegedly passed money to Olmert while the politician was mayor of Jerusalem in the ’90s, sources said.

In a highly unusual move, Israeli authorities have barred the country’s media from publishing Talansky’s name – revealed now in The Post – saying it could hamper their investigation. Israeli media has referred only to the involvement of an “American businessman.”

Talansky is apparently set to sing to Israeli authorities about his alleged role in the scheme, sources said.
“It looks serious, and it looks like they have a state witness” in Talansky, one source said.

Talansky – a philanthropist and political contributor to everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Bill Clinton – is in Jerusalem, where he has an apartment, preparing to head to a closed-door court hearing as early as today, sources said.

The 75-year-old was earlier questioned about the alleged scheme almost immediately after arriving in the country for Passover, and he implicated Olmert, sources have said.

It was unclear what the alleged payments to Olmert were for, but sources said they involved hefty amounts of cash.

Talansky repeatedly appears – sometimes under the nickname “The Laundry Man” – in the logs of financial dealings kept by Olmert’s longtime aide, Shula Zakan, a source said.

Olmert was grilled by investigators Friday. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

The allegations are only the latest in a string of woes for Olmert, who has battled past charges of government corruption and questionable personal business practices.

“But this time seems very serious, and it seems eventually, we don’t know if it will be days, weeks or months, in the end, he may not be able to continue to be prime minister,” one source said.

A man answering the phone at Talansky’s multimillion-dollar mansion in Woodmere yesterday said, “He’s not available.”

Talansky lists himself as CEO of the Global Resources Group, a self-described financial-investment firm.

Ehud Olmert 2008Ehud Olmert , the Israeli Prime Minister, is again suspected of corruption. On Friday, police investigators including the Head of the National Fraud Unit came knocking on Ehud Olmert’s door at his official residence in Jerusalem. Olmert was questioned on suspicion of receiving bribes from an American businessman a few years ago.

The prime minister answered all of the investigators’ questions on the subject, and will continue to cooperate with all legal authorities to the extent he is required to do so,” said the official statement from Olmert’s office.

Another official statement from the Prime Minister’s office said he “is convinced that with the discovery of the truth in the police investigation, the suspicions against him will dissipate.”

The Israeli Prime Minister might be facing serious allegations. Can Olmert politically survive this last high profile interrogation that connects him to severe corruption affair? In the last few years, Olmert has demonstrated fantastic survival skills in the political arena.

A senior source has told the media in response: “Olmert is in a grave situation, it is doubtful whether he will be able to continue to hold his position.” In the meantime, Ehud Olmert denies all allegations.

Israeli ministers certainly make police forces work hard these days. Israeli former finance minister , Avraham Hirchson, also faces criminal investigation , suspected of being involved in the embezzlement of 10 million dollars, partly from a charity fund.

The list does not end here unfortunately.
I guess many MKs will not be celebrating Israel’s Independence Day next week.

102 Magic Number for Albert Hofmann

Alebert Hoffman Dead at 102

When we heard this on the news today, people just couldn’t help smiling. A notable strange reaction to the news of someone’s death. But the truth is that when you hear that the man who invented LSD dies at the ripe old age of 102 (God Bless Him!) you have to wonder what the people behind the War on Drugs have to think…

Rest In Peace Dr. Hofmann 🙂

Picture: Alex Grey

Shark Attack

Shark Attack San DiegoDon’t say we don’t get around. We for this from our man in San Diego, direct from Solana Beach. As a country that’s really all about the sea, Israel has had little experience with Sharks. There were a couple of Shark attacks in Eilat way back, but nothing major.

Once in a while we hear about some sharks being observed by fishermen but generally the only reason they would be found in the Red Sea would be because they were disoriented, lost or just old and looking for a final resting place.

Hope this is the last they hear about it in California…

Thank you Moshe!

Lice Art in Israel

If you run into people in Israel strangely scratching their heads, they might be German artists. Seven young artists from Berlin have chosen to express themselves in a very extraordinary way; they are spending seven nights and days in an Israeli museum in the company of lice.
Why? That’s a great question.

Is it art, gimmick, or the art of the gimmicks? This gallery has been loaded with provocations. Did these Germans intend to associate this unusual exhibition with the Holocaust? The Holocaust is still a very touchy subject in Israel. Holocaust survivors and their families might be offended, especially so close to Holocaust Memorial Day.

“We were aware that, as Germans in Israel, there was a risk we may be misunderstood, that we would open up wounds People ask about it – we had one woman who came and thanked us for making such a great statement against the fascist rhetoric of German history”, said one of the artist to the press.

Another artist explained that the group is exploring the theme of hosting.
I am a great supporter in freedom of speech, but some things just give the impression of being tasteless, even for the sake of art.
These German artists can enjoy their freedom of scratching. I am keeping away from this gallery.


Shin Bet Blog

Shin Bet BlogIsrael security agency has launched a new blog in which four employees, identified by their initial letters, tell about their work as Shin Bet agents. Sounds intriguing? By what I’ve read and heard so far, the blog is not too exciting (to say the least).

This move is unexpected, considering the legendary reputation of this secret agency. I was very curious to hear what motivated this rare initiative. It appears that shin bet is interested in marketing itself as a standard high-tech company, while fighting its intimidating image. This move is a part of a bigger campaign aiming to attract program engineers and other high-tech professionals from Israel and across the world.
The lives of the Shin Bet employees as described online seem completely normal. That is the message Sin bet wishes to convey.

One of the bloggers, Y, tells the readers that his first priority is his family. “You don’t stay at work if u don’t really have to”, admits Y, who only wants to return home as early as he can. If you are looking for patriotic slogans, search elsewhere. It looks like working for Israel’s intelligence agency is not the James Bond stories that one might imagine. I personally prefer the myth, and by judging readers’ commentary, I’m not the only one!

While the official website has been recently translated into English and Arabic, the blog is only available in Hebrew. Don’t be too disappointed though: who really wants to read a blog by a boring high-tech employee ?…

This 2008 Passover

Before you read the post below I have a couple of words about the Gorilla. Yes, he is eating Matza. He really doesn’t have that much of a choice. If he is anything like the rest of us though I suggest you stay away from the Ramat Gan Zoo in the next couple of weeks – it’s not going to be pretty…

Hat Tip: Tibor Yagar MSN GALATZ

Israelis have always had a “love-hate” affair when comes to the 7 day holiday known as Pesach (Passover) or Hag HaAviv (Festival of Spring) to secular folk. Pesach is one of Judaism’s most beautiful and important festivals as it commemorates the Jew’s freedom from slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramsis II, more than 3,000 years ago. Like Thanksgiving in America, the Passover Seder is one of the best times for families to be together to enjoy this holiday and eat the foods that God commanded their forbearers to eat as they left Egypt for what turned out to be 40 years of wandering through the wilderness of Sinai.

Gorilla Trying Matza in Ramat Gan ZooFor some Israelis, however, Pesach is not the joyous and meaningful festival that it should be, and many go abroad for the week to escape having to eat matzah or unleavened bread and other foods deemed Kosher for Pesach. Recently, more and more restaurants and stores have begun offering bread products, including pita, pizza, and even baguettes to those who want them. This now includes large supermarkets as well as small convenience stores, many of which are run by non-religious kibbutzim. Enforcing the existing law concerning the selling and eating of “hametz” (leavened bread and other non-kosher for Pesach products) has been difficult, and many businesses, including a large supermarket chain, simply pay fines as a “cost of doing business”.

Enter Pesach 2008. Due to objections in the existing laws by secular Israelis, a Jerusalem court judge issued a decree that in some instances the existing “Passover Law” will not be binding for private establishments who are not considered as “public arenas”. This means that breads and other “hametz” products will now be allowed to be sold in grocery stores, restaurants and pizza parlors, etc., and that beer will flow freely in all the pubs (as if it hasn’t already up to now!). While this has made a lot of secular people happy, religious and traditional Jews feel just the opposite as this edict clearly violates a very old and important tenet of Judaism.

Or does it? Those who intend to keep Kosher for Pesach wouldn’t eat or drink in most of the establishments who will serve “hametz” as many of them are already non-kosher and are open during the year on Shabbat and religious holidays; serving non-kosher foods, including pork and shellfish. This being the case, there’s really no reason for these types of establishments to have to be Kosher for Pesach anyway, since serving non-kosher pepperoni pizzas prepared on matzos instead of normal pizza dough is a bit superfluous.

The bottom line is the personal consciousness of people; and being forced to do something they really don’t care to do is not going to change them. Anyway, it’s been estimated that at least 70% of all Jews in Israel will forsake their pizzas and falafels for a week and be none the worse off for it. In fact they will do this proudly, out of respect for their faith and tradition.

As for the remaining 30%, hopefully some of you will get the message and join your Jewish brethren in observing a truly unique and wonderful religious tradition to celebrate our release from human bondage into freedom.

Chag Pesach Samech!

Israeli Film Festival in UK

Noodle The MovieExciting news for the Israeli cinema: the first Israeli film festival kicks off in London, Britain, showing recent films that have won international recognition as long with some classic Israeli movies. The film that opens the film festival is an award winning film Noodle, starring Mili Avital, which tells the story of a flight attendant who tries to reunite a Chinese boy with his missing mother.

“This Israeli cinema showcase is an opportunity for cinema-goers to experience some of the best of the great films that Israel has produced over the years and also to find out more about the diverse society that exists behind the daily news headlines”

, said movie’s director Ayelet Menahemi.

Israeli cinema has gained world-wide recognition, both from audiences and critics. In the last few years, Israel has produced high quality movies: Walking on Water, Free Zone, Beaufort, to name a few. Remarkably, this year, Israel was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category, and won second place. Indeed, we have reasons to be proud. Even more significantly, Israeli cinema opens a window wide for the world to see what it means to be an Israeli, which is much more than the limiting frame of the Jewish-Arab conflict.

Riding the “Kosher” Bus

In the midst of cleaning for Pesach—or, as they say, making the house kosher for the holiday—I have been pondering the use of the term kosher as it is being applied to Israel’s “kosher buses”.

Kosher Buses In Israel?The segregation of women on some public transportation in and between religious neighborhoods—literally, sending them to the back of the bus—has caused a outpouring of anger in many circles here and overseas. As always, it falls to the victims themselves to campaign against the infringement of their civil and human rights. Women who do not want to be relegated to the back seats, and who have been humiliated and even attacked for this refusal, are now appealing to Israel’s courts to challenge this arrangement on public buses. They are being supported by overseas groups, including a campaign by the U.S. affiliate of the International Council of Jewish Women, the National Council of Jewish Women, and initial reactions from the judges in these cases agree that there is a clear violation of women’s rights as protected by the law.

For those of us who remember the first acts of the civil rights’ movement in the United States, we are very aware of the significance of segregated buses. We can also attest to the fact that these violations of civil and human rights inevitably lead to violence—in this case, violence specifically targeted against women.

And here is the true point of the “bus situation.” This is not really about seating on buses, or any real attempt to preserve modesty between the sexes. If those behind the segregation of men and women were really acting in the interest of modesty, they should have perhaps followed the example of countries like Mexico who provide women with separate “grope-free” public transportation.

Every woman who has ever used public transportation has experienced sexual harassment of one type or another. The idea of “grope-free” transportation offers separate transportation for women so that they can travel comfortably, without having to fight off the wandering hands and lewd looks of male passengers. Had the “kosher” bus initiators made similar arrangements for the women in their community, I doubt whether there would have been any uproar. In fact, the argument could have been made that there was some forward thinking in this policy, just as there is a strong argument to be made for separate education for boys and girls. (In many research studies, the latter has actually been shown to serve the scholastic and intellectual development of the girls.)

But the point of segregated buses is not to protect the women. Insisting that the women travel at the back of the bus is a symbolic act of patriarchal oppression in a community that feels it has to remind its women of their “proper place.” It has nothing to do with religion, and it is not remotely “kosher.” It is another tactic to enforce the status quo in a community that fears the cracks of gender equality are growing wider.

As we get ready for the Pesach holiday, let us remember that the message of the holiday is freedom. Any perversion of that message is simply not kosher.

Written by Leah A.

Good News – The world hates Iran more than Israel!

Wow, I’m very much relieved! Just when I thought that the country I have chosen to live in for the past 32 years was top on the list of countries that most of the world despises, it’s suddenly been revealed that there is another county out there that is even more unpopular. And that one (you’ve probably guessed it) is none other than the Islamic Republic of Iran.

JeremiahHow this all came about is the result of a recent poll conducted by the BBC, that U.K. based media network that has always been a bit unkind towards the Jewish State. This poll, conducted last week, and involving listeners form all over the globe found that of all the respondents, 54% said that Iran is the country most feared and which has the most unpopular regime. After Iran, Israel came in a close second with an unpopularity rating of 52%. Pakistan came in third at around 51%, larger due to recent events there which included the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and the activities of President Pervez Musharraf, whose present popularity rating in his own country may be even lower than that of U.S. President George W. Bush.

The BBC went even deeper into “percentages” and broke down various ratings of popularity and unpopularity for countries that have often been considered as part of an “axis of evil” due to their internal and external policies. Iran was actually perceived more favorably by countries like Egypt (62% positive towards Iran) whose citizens dislike of their Israeli neighbor grew to 94% of those polled, which is up from 85% in a previous poll. Other countries in the same region also increased their dislike of Israel, including Lebanon, whose dislike of Israel increased to 87% of those polled, up form 78%. For Lebanese, this may be understandable due to how their country was pounded by the Israeli Air Force in the 2006 war. Most likely, however, the BBC pollsters failed to asked the Lebanese concerning the Hezbollah’s (who are based in Lebanon) launching of more than 4,000 Katyusha and other missiles at Israel’s population centers, which in itself caused a great deal of personal property to Israelis.

Both European and Asian respondents, including those living in countries like Japan also expressed a higher percentage of disapproval to Israel policies towards the Palestinians and others in the region. And even Americans polled registered increases in negative feelings, which were up from a former 33% to 39%. 43% of polled Americans did express positive feelings towards Israel, however. The U.S.A. in comparison came in fifth in this “most unloved” poll, behind North Korea, with a 47% unfavorable rating; while Germany and Japan received the highest favorable ratings. For those two countries anyway, that’s a 180 degree turnabout from how they were regarded during WWII.

Many people both within Israel and abroad, admit that the Israeli government could do a lot better PR job to present their country’s position in respect to how most of the world views this country. After all, people usually believe what they want to believe, whether it is true or not.

Desperate mother fights for wheelchairs

Human drama in front of the Knesset building a couple of days ago: a woman, mother of two, threatened to blow up her car outside the compound, with one of her children inside. According to recent reports, the woman demanded two wheelchairs for her handicapped children. Police has also reported that she was holding a knife, while threatening to cut her own throat.

This woman is not insane, she’s a desperate mother. She was not looking for money or fame. This cry for help shows how easily we forget the real dramas in life: we talk about Tel Aviv’s most expensive apartment, valued at $ 34 million dollars, and at the same time, ignore the stories of thousands of Israeli families who don’t have most basic needs. I cannot imagine what went through her mind, but I’m not a mother who has to watch her own children suffer. I simply cannot judge her. Why hasn’t the state assisted her so far? A mechanical wheelchair costs less than what the state spends on a single MP in one month.

Luckily, the woman surrendered and the incident ended peacefully. The news says that the Variety foundation will finance the costs of the two wheelchairs. Yesterday, this woman, who has been struggling for years to receive wheelchairs for her children, finally won her personal battle. Who said ‘Desperate times call for drastic measures’? Evidently, that’s the only way to get things done in this country.

Deals with the Devil

Newspapers around Israel have reported that Hamas is now threatening to murder Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was wounded and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists back in June 2006 which ignited the second Lebanese-Israeli War. Hamas stated that if the Israeli government does not meet their demands of the release of 350 prisoners, many of whom are imprisoned for outright murder of innocent civilians, they will begin negotiating over releasing Shalit’s remains as opposed to the soldier himself.

Dealing For Gilad ShalitOver the past several weeks reports from officials stated that Shalit was alive and in good health. Doubts about his well-being have surfaced since his capture nearly two years ago, yet over time, intellegence sources have confirmed that the young soldier was indeed alive. There has been no contact between Shalit and his family since. Yet, nearly a year after his kidnapping, Hamas released a recorded message of Shalit was was broadcast to all of Israel and eventually worldwide. It pulled at the heartstrings of many, as of the three soldiers who were kidnapped during this conflict, Shalit is the youngest and most vulnerable. Unlike Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two IDF Reservists who were kidnapped by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon less than a month later, there has been at least some signs of life from Shalit.

Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit has become a familiar face in the media. Reports of his meetings with Prime Minister Olmhert, President Shimon Peres and Members of Knesset have lead him either to dead ends and virtually nowhere while pleading with officials to do anything they can in their power to have his son released. Support for the soldiers have come from across the globe, from private citizens to human rights organizations to world leaders. Yet, cries have fell upon deaf ears as Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev have become nothing more than barganing chips to both Hamas and Hezbollah. Leaving the Israeli government pleading with her hands tied behind her back is part of how this game has been played.

Many people have voiced very strong opinions, many of whom advocate not giving into terrorists and not allowing blood thirsty terrorists loose just so they can continue causing more harm to Israelis in Israel and worldwide. Jonathan Pollard, the American-Israeli who was imprisoned over twenty years ago for leaking confidential information to Israel which lead to the destruction of nuclear facilities in Hussein’s Iraq, has stated that he would refuse to be released from prison if it meant a barter agreement between his release and the release of wanton murderers.

Now put yourself in the shoes of Noam and Aviva Shalit, whose bespectacled now 21 year old son is in the clutches of those who sacrifice their lives for the love of Allah and 72 virgins. Imagine yourself trying to function daily, going to work, doing your job, eating, sleeping, shopping, holidays, etc and knowing that your child’s well-being, safety and whole life is in the hands of those who have no problem sending youngsters into crowded areas with bombs strapped to their belt buckles to murder who ever is within their radius. Imagine sitting at your own dinner table having a meal and looking at an empty seat across from you. It would be one thing if the child were dead. As horrible as this would be, at least there would be an everlasting mourning period and some sort of closure.

Can you at least imagine what is going on in their minds? I’d doubt you can.

Now, what would you do? Advocate for the release of 350 imprisoned terrorists who could indeed inflict more harm upon innocent civilians for the release of your child or demand that terrorists release him because he has already served a sentence without a prisoner exchange?

Take your time to decide.

Good news for reservists

Good news for IDF reservists! Last Wednesday, the Knesset passed the reservists’ act in a massive yes vote. This new bill outlines the rules of mandatory reserve duties, by large improving the conditions for the reserve soldier called for duty. In addition to cutting off the length and frequency of duty calls, the reservists will also enjoy tax breaks and other benefits. Congratulations to the Israeli parliament – finally a positive vote in the Knesset that does not concern MK’s salary raise.

Indeed, Wednesday was not a boring day at the Knesset. The Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert was called by the opposition to make a speech that explained the government’s policy regarding reserve soldiers.

“The opposition’s job in every part of the world is to be an alternative to the ruling party still, I grew up in this house and I have never witnessed such an amorphous and purposeless hearing, which has nothing but to harm the Knesset and its status”,

said Olmert in a speech that lasted embarrassingly about a minute.

Olmert’s government does not seem to say or do much these days. Considering Olmert’s usual self-expression, including his infamous nuclear slip of the tongue, silence might just be the wisest thing for him after all.

Unnatural NATO

President Bush went out on a diplomatic limb yesterday by pushing entrance of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. His suggestion was roundly rejected by influential NATO member countries France and Germany and so, it seems, Ukrainian and Georgian membership to the military alliance is still a far way off.

Still, Bush actually went to the Ukraine last week to push the case. It’s no secret that the US president is trying to advance a missile defense system and play a little bit of balance of power with Russia, which vehemently opposes basically anything America does east of Vienna.

Bush may have good practical reasons to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and also good ideological ones too, given his policy of spreading democracy to undemocratic places. However, when you think about the move in terms of Israel’s NATO, or non-NATO, position you have to wonder.

Both Ukraine and Georgia have undergone recent revolutions. It’s true that they were non-violent cases, earning them pretty, botanical monikers like the Orange Revolution and Rose Revolution but they were revolutions nonetheless.

More worrying is that both have major secessionists movements going on within their borders. The Ukraine faces serious political problems, as the government was dissolved after only being in power for four months in 2006. The Kremlin also has a troubling hand in Ukrainian politics and power and it’s unclear how deep the Russian roots run.

Hardly what you would consider countries with democratic control over their military, as NATO requires of its potential members.

Israel, on the other hand, does have democratic control over its military. It’s been a democracy for six decades. It is a regional power with significant military capability.

Israel has also stepped up military ties with NATO and NATO members, going so far in friendly relations with the alliance as to participate in wargames. Israel also has developing relations with one of the few regional members, Turkey. Israel’s entrance into NATO could solidify the ties which, from time to time, show signs of slipping.

NATO has also taken a lead in combating Islamic terror and its roots, (filling a space that the UN has left gapingly empty). Israel, needless to say, is on the forefront of this war and has much to contribute.

It’s not entirely clear what the Israeli population feels about a potential entrance into NATO. NATO officials have consistently demured on the Israel issue, talking about “even handedness” and the “step by step process” instead of giving clear answers on NATO policy regarding the Jewish State and the present low level wars with Arab powers.

All this is fair enough. NATO is not just a dance partner but a marriage. The thing that leaves questions hanging in the air is not so much why President Bush came out on behalf of two troubled Eastern European countries while never in his presidency mentioning a word about Israel membership to NATO. The real question is why anyone from NATO members to America’s diplomatic and military echelons to Israel itself finds this acceptable.

A new Israeli comedy about suicide bombers?

The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is showing a new 30-minute comedy called Bombshell about a young Arab female suicide bomber who fails in her terrorist attack.

BombshellThis is a story of a young female terrorist who plans to blow herself up on an Israeli bus. Her plan takes an unsuspected turn when she is running late and misses the bus. Meanwhile another woman, an Israeli, is on her way to a Leftists’ protest. Her name is Gali Fahima- a parody of Tali Fahima, a radical left-wing activist who has been accused of aiding a well-known terrorist leader Zakaria Zubeidi.

Terrorism and comedy – sounds like a paradox? Not to the creator of the film, Atar Offek: “A good satire, as I intended to make it, does not make fun at the expense of the weak ones but at the expense of the powerful forces in society.” “So here, too, the movie does not ridicule terror victims, it ridicules the terrorists and the (Israeli) army,” says Offek.

The movie satirizes the two sides of the conflict- Jews and Arabs who are both depicted as comical and absurd. The movie trailer introduces the audience to the “IDF absurd theater,” showing a Hamas woman with a gun who tells the viewers: “whoever doesn’t come to watch me is a smoked egg.”

This black comedy offers a different perspective on widely debated Jewish-Arab conflict. The relatively quiet period of the last four years has allowed this movie to pass under the sensitivity radar without raising too much public objection. Yet it managed to invoke considerable attention with its provocative outlook. But will people actually buy tickets to watch it?

Many Israelis look for escapism while others might not be so open to humoring this sensitive subject. An important quality of humor in our lives is that it acts as a great equalizer between people of different groups by bringing them to the same level of entertainment for the masses. Perhaps this is the recipe for making the enemy more of a human being and for normalizing life in the shadows of a violent conflict. After all, the basis of comedy is people and their human faults.

Tacking such a sensitive issue with black humor may seem out of line. But what is the purpose of art if not to provoke, shock and give a unique and unexpected perspective on life? The view taken in this film offers an attitude we may consider adopting though perhaps not to such a radical extent – despite the harsh reality we live in we should not loose sight of our humanity and our brilliant ability to make silly mistakes.

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