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Peretz beats the odds against Peres

Amir PeretzAmir Peretz won a stunning victory over his opponent Shimon Peres in the race to lead Israel’s Labor party-a vote that will most probably bring down Prime Minister Sharon’s shaky coalition, resulting in early elections.

The dramatic upset changed Israel’s political landscape, with Peretz, a Moroccan immigrant whose father worked in a Kibbutz factory, taking over the Labor, a fortress of Israel’s Eastern European elite. “This is the moment we bury the ethnic demon in Israel” Peretz declared in his victory speech. Peres led the Labor party into the Government this year to build the support for Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal, the pullout divided Sharon’s Likud party, and without Labor’s support, the plan could not have been carried out. Continue reading

Remembering Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin MemorialThe last few days were dedicated to Yitzhak Rabin and his assassination on November 4th, 1995. Ten years after the murder the country paused to remember the event and the fallen leader. All week television broadcast various documentaries and articles about the man, the final days and the Israel he left behind. Rabin’s death symbolized the end of a particular brand of Israelis for many people, the loss of innocence in a way and a departure from the “brutal honesty” that was so much a part of Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy.

The memorial in Tel Aviv Sunday, the official remembrance ceremony at the gravesite in Mount Herzel in Jerusalem and finally the official launch of the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies last night were just some of the main events held.

Notable speeches where given by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who recalled the friendship and personal history they shared. He remembered their differences and the respect he always felt for the man. In September and October 1995, Sharon was one of several political leaders that preached against Rabin’s way and wasn’t addressing any of the hateful posters in the crowed showing Rabin in an SS uniform or wearing the Palestinian headdress. Moral responsibility is not big for today’s political leaders in Israel.

The Clintons were very much an important part of these events and in particular Bill Clinton was notable. The man loved Rabin and his words touched people. It seems like his appearance as an independent non political figure allowed him to speak from the heart and in people responded. He spoke of Rabin’s legacy, the dream of peace they both shared and his personal memories in warm, personal tones. In his speech Clinton spoke to Israeli politics in general as well, he spoke of our ability to accept the possibility that we may be wrong, as a crucial step in holding any meaningful debate. True to so many of the political life in Israel and the Middle East, the conviction and belief in a cause does not cancel out the validity of opposing points of view.

Hillary Clinton speaking at the dinner right after her husband was also remembering the times with Rabin and especially her experiences with Lea. She commended Lea as a wife of a military leader, statesman and politician, acknowledging with a nudge to Bill that it was very hard work. The crowed laughed. At that moment one could understand what made the Clintons so likeable in Israel. The awareness that they were as human as anyone else and that despite their personal issues they continued together has made them a very strong couple and one that can withstand future political challenges.

After Ariel Sharon made his speech he was rushed off by security. Broadcasts were paused to allow him the time to leave and it made me realize what a profound effect Rabin’s murder had. This event, the most heavily secured in the country’s history, was still not safe enough for the Prime Minister.

In a time where corruption lies and deception are rampant in Israeli politics, people like Yitzhak Rabin would have no room. In his final days Rabin was physically attacked and warnings by the security services were shrugged by him regularly. He refused to use the bullet proof Cadillac because he hated the symbol on the hood. He turned red in anger at protestors and yelled back at the crowds when he was hackled in speaking engagements. Never hiding behind heavy security and never shying away from an opportunity to speak to his people. The nation of Israel was his to argue with, fight for and lead and he did it in the most personal way he could, with as little barriers as possible. That was his way, for better or worse.

On the way to the Peace Rally in Tel Aviv on that fateful night security services warned of a definite threat on his life. He leaned over to Lea and asked her if she was afraid. She was but true to her Israeli nature answered no. He smiled and said well I guess we’re going then. He wouldn’t have it any other way and anyone who knew anything about the man would know that.

Shalom – The Classic Video

This is a classic video. Click to play.

[ACT]http://onejerusalem.com/wp-content/shalom.mpg,300,250[/ACT]

Yitzhak Rabin – A Biography

Yitzhak Rabin (Pronounced: Rabeen) was born in Jerusalem on March 1st 1922 to Nehemia and Rosa Cohen. His parents were active members of Achdut Haavoda, a Labour movement, his father an employee of the Israel Electric Company and his mother a member of the Hagana Organization and a City Council Member in Tel-Aviv.

Most of Yitzhak Rabin’s childhood years were spent in Tel-Aviv, first in a southern part of town bordering Jaffa and later in the town center. His primary school years were spent together with the children of the Labour party activists, he later enrolled at Givat Hashlosha High School when a short time later his mother became very ill, and the young student was transferred to Kaduri boarding school in northern Israel.

Yitzhak Rabin 1937
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World without Zionism

World without Zionism - Iran's VisionLast Wednesday the 4,000 students in Teheran got a guest speaker, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This was part of their course titled “A World Without Zionism“. His presence was part of celebrations for the final Friday of the Ramadan fast. The main message of this lecture was the need for the destruction of Israel and the immediate removal of this “stain” on the face of Islam. The crowed cheered with acceptance at these words.
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Rosh Hanikra – The Northern Border

We went in the middle of the Summer 2005 to Rosh Hanikra. Lots of kids with us and a few adults. Had a great time. Rosh Hanikra is the Northern most point on the Israeli coastline. The visitor can walk through the Grottos all created in a chaulk mountain. The Grottos are cool and damp, the water Green and its a truely unique location in Israel.

Rosh Hanikra from a distance Continue reading

The Israeli Arse – A documentary

This is an oldy but a goodie in the Israeli email universe.
In the daily exchange of emails we come across some
interesting video clips. This one describes “The Arse”.
The Arse is a term used to define a particular charcter
in Israeli society that makes life in Israel, a little more
colorful…Just click play.

[ACT]http://onejerusalem.com/wp-content/the_israeli_arse.wmv,360,270[/ACT]

Katrina – is it happening?

Ever think that maybe its all happening as the environmental experts and scientists warned ? The Tsunami in Asia and the disappearing city of New Orleans (Katrina Hurricane) and the southern US makes me wonder.
What if this is it ?! Continue reading

Seperation – A point of view

Its started, smoke, cries and mayham. In these hours troops have enterd the settlements of Morag, Tel Katifa and Neve Dekalim and the live images are showing the sites providing great material for the local news channels. Long rows of soldiers are entering these settlements, garbage bins that were set a light have been put out and the young activists have run into the houses and built structures.

Israel map

It’s a huge operation and for the army a very difficult one. Some describe this as the largest non combat task they have had to face. The soldiers, young 18-21 year old kids facing a traumatic task today. The Cries of “please don’t throw me out of my house”, “we have no where to go”, “you can do this to us”, “traitor”, “killer” will remain with some them for a while. It’s never going to be easy – moving people from their home.
Some weaker links in the army did break, a senior level commander (Rabbi in the army) while on duty faced troops and asked them to disobey and not remove the demonstrators from their homes. He was demoted to the level of Private.

Morag - Seperation from the settlementsNeve Dekalim - Seperation beginsIsrael, Neve Dekalim - Seperation imagesIsrael - Seperation in Neve DekalimThere are some very sad stories in the seperation and for the most part there are 2 groups here. The real thing, the people who have honestly built their home in the settlements and who are now leaving after years of living there. You can argue that they were pawns in a political grand plan, some names come to mind, Bibi Netanyahu (the future prime minister) is one of them, never the less, they are the real residents and the people who’s heart is breaking today. Overall, about 60% of the settlers are estimated to have so far moved whithin the time they were given and with the assistance of the army. Each family leaving before the cut off day gets a financial settlement of $300,000.

The other group is being described as “infiltrators” (AKA. Shit Disturbers), are the people that are looking for a purpose in life, people who have travelled sometimes all the way from the US just to come here and attack Israeli soldiers. These are people who up until a couple of months couldn’t find Neve Dekalim with a guided tour. These people are actually so unfamiliar with the territory, that army troops have to watch them as they run off, in fear they end up in Gaza and in the hands of an angry mob. These are the people you’ll see in the news in the next days, these youngsters with lots of energy, misguided and angry. There might be some uglu scenes and you can be sure they be around when those happen, likely chearing them on.

I lived in Eilat when the first major seperation was at hand in Sinai. Leaving a home and especially as beautiful as the one people had in Sinai (one of my favourite spots in the world) is very difficult. Was it worth it? Maybe, yes… But that’s not the question.

We are a country of law and order. Unlike the countries and regimes around us we are a democracy. We choose our political leaders and we vote for what we consider is right and in our best interest. True we have some pretty poor quality political leaders – but damn it, that’s all we have. Regardless, we need to obey the laws of the land or this country, as a whole, will not be worth a damn. Individuals, even thousands of them can not determine and turnover the lawful and legitamate majority rule and government of the land.

But that’s just me.

Trip to Amuka – Northern Israel

We went for a few days to a romantic weekend in the North of Israel. We had a great time, met some good people and saw some beautiful places.

Amuka Northern Israel

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London attacks

Bus Blast in London July 2005It’s all over the news and I have been watching Sky today and getting the media’s official coverage of events. Interesting people the English. Strong in a polite sort of way. The official death count is 50, 4 attacks on 3 tubes and a bus. A severe hit for a large metropolitan and mostly because of the psychology and stress involved with these attacks. The real “value” for the terror organizations is the disruption of daily life, and I think that for the most part they have failed in London.

London Attacks mapped outI was very impressed by the calm and order that were visible in the streets in the following 24 hours. No crowds or disruptions to the police and an overall sense of cool control. Cool customers these British and good for them. Well handled.

King Cross Tunnel - London BombingsAs someone who has lived through a long period of urban terror, its not easy to keep daily life moving along. I spoke to several friends living in London in the hours following the attacks and they were most of all surprised. I think that locals were in a way better prepared. They seemed to have an idea that this was coming and almost knew to expect it. Foreigners working in London were surprised this could happen in a city like London. That sort of raises another thought. Have people living in large cities become the new front line warriers in this world?

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