U.S. President Barack Obama accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday and gave an unpredictable speech. Acknowledging the choice of giving the Nobel Peace Prize to a war time president â€“ Obama gave a speech underlining the theme of necessary war.
“Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of warâ€¦those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as oneâ€¦I, like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nationâ€¦I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates – and weakens – those who don’t.”
He went on:
“What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades agoâ€¦and it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peaceâ€¦we must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimesâ€¦there will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
And towards the end of the speech he said:
“For make no mistake: evil does exist in the worldâ€¦a non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”
“A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies”? “Negotiations” cannot halt Muslim extremists? Nations finding the use of force not only “necessary but morally justified”? Hold the phone Jack â€“ conceptually, philosophically, this guy sounds like a modern day Zionistâ€¦Then why’s the Pres so down on the Jewish countryâ€¦or is he? Maybe he just doesn’t “get it”.
Well he’s not as unpopular among Israelis as some may think. According to a new poll by the Washington-based New America Foundation, 41% of Israelis have a favorable rating of Obama against 37% who rated him unfavorably.
And while 55% of Israelis polled said they thought Obama did not support Israel against 42% who said he did â€“ a quote from Reuters remarked that this is “a reflection of the ‘complexity of views’ about the U.S. leader as he presses both Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled peace talks.”
So he sounded rational at the Nobel Ceremony â€“ at least rational enough to agree with 41% of the good Israeli population.
Well, it’s a start.
Chag Hanukkah Sameach
This month’s War and Peace Index is out. Who wants to know what Israelis think now? Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible, since polls can only give indications of trends, and minds change so quickly that it may actually be a good thing that the government falls every two years. People need to keep reassessing their decisions and do some nice zigzagging.
Anyway, here’s what the War and Peace Index found. 66% of respondents believe that building should continue everywhere in Jerusalem, since Jewish sovereignty over the city is indisputable. Those who disapproved of this idea were primarily Labor and Meretz voters, who don’t make up much of the electorate any more these days.
This data could prove, as they say in the media every other day, to be a “stumbling block for the peace process,” as Mahmoud Abbas yesterday suddenly announced that he is no longer interested in East Jerusalem. He now, as reported by Israel Hayom newspaper, wants the whole thing. Oof. I don’t think giving up the Jewish quarter would be such a popular hit these days in Jewish circles. Maybe we should keep it after all.
In terms of Barack Obama, 46% see him as pro Arab, 31% as neutral, and a whopping 7% as pro Israel. Why don’t these things ever add up to 100%?
What about Operation Cast Lead? That’s a little more confusing, and I donâ€™t really understand it. Apparently, 43% believe soldiers accounts of the war (that they didn’t intentionally shoot civilians and things like that), but 47% do not. However, 76% are of the opinion that no further investigation into the war is required.
Almost half thing that fishy stuff when on, but three quarters don’t want to investigate anymore? This sounds a bit strange. Perhaps there was a loaded or tilted question in there that people got confused about.
Remember we spoke about the preparations in Israel for the possibility of an attack and the overall increasing “readiness” level in Israel? Well this just came in the mail with a handy little magnet so we can attach it to the refrigerator. Look at the pretty colors.
This is the map that tells you how long you have to get to a shelter in the case of an attack. The little circles in purple and green are around the southern towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon (for obvious reasons). Also notable are the areas in the north of Israel that have the pretty red areas. These mean, based on the time table, that they need to haul ass and get into a shelter immediately. No time to spare for them.
We near Tel Aviv are living in the lap of luxury and here in the center of Israel we have a whole 2 minutes to collect our loved ones, assorted pets and get to a shelter. 120 Seconds. Day or night. If you live north of Hadera and in the Haifa area you get 60 seconds.
This is what we get on a Sunday morning to start the week off right!
A recent letter to the editors of the Jerusalem Post was sent in by the Dutch RTL media journalist Connie Mus, regarding the baring of international correspondents from Gaza during the recent war there.The journalist, who like others from international news services, as well as Israeli journalists, was not allowed into the Gaza Strip to directly report on the recently suspended IDF Operation Cast Lead which, until halted by a very flimsy cease fire agreement, resulted in the deaths of 14 Israelis and more than 1,400 Palestinians. Mus, who is a foreign correspondent for the Netherlands based RTL News Service, complained that she and her fellow journalists were prevented from directly reporting on and filming the fighting in Gaza during the 22 day operation, and were forced to do so from a hill located outside the Gaza border which they named the “Hill of Shame”.
While Ms. Mus may have thought she had some valid points in regards to her comments about the Israeli government barring foreign correspondents from entering Gaza during the fighting there, judging from what occurred during the 2006 war in Lebanon, having a slew of international journalists stationed in Beirut and elsewhere not only increased the negative propaganda war against Israel but also put the lives of these people in mortal danger.
Mind you, field correspondents have often been exposed to harm’s way during warfare, and many have paid the ultimate price for doing so. But due to the intensity of the bombing and fighting which did occur in many parts of Gaza, several of these journalists, and the camera and other logistical personnel which usually accompany them, might have been killed or injured during the three week operation.
It might be noted that during the 2006 war in Lebanon, in which over 1,190 Lebanese (mostly civilians) and 165 Israelis (44 civilians) were killed, a news photographer and TV technician were killed and at least 12 journalists suffered various injuries and wounds. According to statistics noted by the international organization Journalists Without Borders, 81 journalists and auxiliary personnel lost their lives in the line of duty in 2006 alone.
That none of the journalists covering Operation Cast Lead suffered even minor injuries can be attributed to the ban which was imposed on them by both the government and the IDF. After the cease fire was declared, these journalists have not wasted any time going in to Gaza to get the “full story” as was indicated in the “BBC Ad” incident when the BBC refused to broadcast a controversial fund raising advertisement that has been judged to be show partiality towards Hamas. In light of this, maybe there’s logic to these restrictions after all.
As the thunders of war echo from the South, residents of Tel Aviv continue their daily routine.
Two unrelated anecdotes:
Do to Hamas what the US did to Japan. I believe he was talking about a nuclear holocaust, but let’s not forget yet another serious effect the American involvement in Japan has caused. I’m talking about Sushi of course. Thanks to America’s warm embrace of the Japanese cuisine, this seaweed/rice/salmon delicacy has spread the world. As a resident of Tel-Aviv myself, there isn’t a single day that goes by without my mailbox being infiltrated by a colorful throwaway that notifies me of — yet another — Sushi restaurant that opens in town.
White phosphorus bombs are prohibited for use in civilian areas. They set buildings on fire and cause very severe burns that can burn a person alive.
There have been rumors lately that the IDF uses such bombs in the Gaza offensive. The IDF denies. The UN already wants to investigate the matter.
The “phosphorous front” got (literally) heated up this evening when a Hamas rocket containing phosphorous exploded in the Israeli desert. If this shell had fallen inside an urban landscape, it could have caused severe consequences.
Look at this photo taken by Reuters. Whether or not these are phosphoric explosions in the background, the whole scene looks Sci-Fi.
Yonit Levi is Channel 2’s anchor goddess.
She has been having a few bad days lately after some comments and gestures she made about the plight of the Palestinian population pissed off a bunch of viewers that write the talk backs on some of the news sites. In fact these hotheads went as far as putting up a petition online (now closed) calling for her dismissal and they got 35,000 signatures. Things got so bad that the people at the competing Channel 10 actually proclaimed their support and that they were standing behind her.
Apparently things got to the point that she was receiving some violent threats from a bunch of yahoos and a talk from her bosses asking her to tone down her alleged reactions. Now to be fair, Yonit Levi, is an extraordinary anchor woman. Aside from being a real hottie, she is a sharp, articulate, intelligent, very factual and professional anchor woman (you get we like her right?). She is sometimes called “The Ice Queen” for her cold, almost detached, professional approach. Personally, I think its wonderful and refreshing compared to some of the mindless, mushy twits we see on TV.
This war has received unprecedented support in Israel. Maybe as a result of the last war – that many felt was a slap in the face with the bumbling idiots that were running the show. Maybe its the fact that we had enough of turning the other cheek and getting shit on by a bunch of fundamentalist hate mongers. We feel like this is a just war and we won’t take any criticism for it.
In a post a while ago I discussed Fox News as an example of how low TV News Channels can take the news and the absurd of having to sell yourself as “Fair and Balanced” when that’s the last thing you ever will be. Yonit Levi is ACTUALLY fair and balanced and doesn’t need to sell it. She has been doing this for a long time and has been presenting the news in professional even tone, void of personal views and opinions.
In short, Yonit we love you ! Keep up the great work.
This is a cute viral video being sent around by people and offered by MemriTV.org. I guess you could say it provides a little background on the current dismemberment Hamas is going through…
This morning there is another humanitarian break. It starts at 9:00 AM and the southern cities are bracing for the missile attacks that will follow. As soon as these Humanitarian breaks take place the Hamas uses the opportunity to fire rockets.
The show “Eretz Nehedert” was on live last night after the news on channel 2. These shows are usually prerecorded but this one was live. It was highly critical of the management and future of the war. The message was that Barak was looking for political gain in the polls, the government has no clear objectives and the South is still being attacked.
The skit below is called “No Goals – No Disappointments”. There is no translation but you can see Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Barak who walks into the interview to answer questions from the soldiers.
During the skit Ehud Barak answers some questions from the soldiers with candid answers. He starts with the question – “So Now What?”.
He answers: We are now waiting for a cease fire. You (the army) will need to hang around in the field making you an easy target to Hamas. A couple of soldiers here will be killed (he points to 2 of them). Then we will sign a cease fire agreement, which when you read it, you will not understand why we couldn’t sign it 2 weeks ago.
“And that’s it – that’s how it ends?” he is asked. No, Barak answers, it doesn’t end, you will be called back to reserve duty, 2 years from now to serve here or some other place, all of you will report for duty minus the 2 fallen soldiers obviously. This time it might be the north, south or center of Israel. You will be called to help change the reality of some place – a place with a strange reality to start with.
Ismail Haniyeh was speaking yesterday and was calling basically for a cease fire. He looked bad. He said Hamas was ready for any initiative that will end the violence and for the first time he didn’t sound combative, made no threats and sounded like he wanted out of this war. In the Middle East that’s probably as close to surrender as we will ever get, although I am sure that by the time a cease fire is signed Hamas/Iran/Hezbollah will all be celebrating there victory over our coward army and hailing the legendary ass whipping we received.
As a response today we hear that the Security Ministers Council (Kitchenette) Olmert, Barak and Livni has decided to hold off stepping us to the next level of the war. The army was instructed to continue pressure on selective Hamas positions and that the Egyptian cease fire option was to be explored. (sounds familiar…)
Hamas has indicated they would be willing to have a Turkish force to enforce the cease fire. Different sources say they are only interested in a short term cease fire and that they will reject the Egyptian cease fire offer today. It looks like they are going through some shift in thinking though.
I am not sure how far we are supposed to go but the Eretz Nehedert episode was foretelling the future. When I saw it my first impression was that it was in poor taste. Even the live studio audience was holding back when Barak made reference to the “future” dead soldiers we will be incurring. But the truth is that its probably right on the money. Now it seems like it’s the right thing to ask Are we there yet?
According to leading commentators, both Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni are in favor of pulling the IDF out of Gaza. They understand that there’s nothing more to gain from staying in enemy territory, and that it only puts our soldiers’ lives at risk.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to go in deeper.
Three political opponents, who admittedly can’t stand each other, are running a war together, just one month before the general elections. Each has his or her own personal and political interests.
However, there is one person who stand outs in this odd trio. Mr. Olmert is a man with no political future whatsoever. This is as clear as the morning sky in July. He is the only Prime Minister in Israel’s history whose government has had to tackle two separate war campaigns. When he leaves office, there are several corruption allegations that await him impatiently. It is already known for a fact that he will be prosecuted — Perhaps more than once.
The longer the war continues, more and more voices — both in the media and in the Knesset — are calling to postpone the elections. The one person who might gain the most if such a scenario takes place is obviously Ehud Olmert. The prospect of a few more months in power — and a few more months out of the courtroom — could definitely alter any person’s sound judgment.
These are mere speculations of course. It’s inappropriate to lay down such serious accusations without any evidence. There is only a restless gut feeling… and some very bizarre comments made by PM Olmert himself.
During a press conference yesterday, Mr. Olmert boasted in front of the cameras how he had managed to subdue America’s Secretary of State, and how President Bush promptly agreed to abandon the podium in the middle of a speech in order to pick up Olmert’s call.
“I said: ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,'” Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.”
Olmert said he argued that the United States should not vote in favor, and the president then called Rice and told her not to do so.
“She was left pretty embarrassed,” Olmert said.
— Associated Press
Another childish remark soon followed this self-accounted tale of international diplomacy. “In this struggle between the Hamas and us, we shall see who has the bigger motivation!”, he said firmly.
Yes, our Prime Minister is busy comparing who has the bigger… hmm… missiles.
You have to live here and be an Israeli I think to realize how (tragically some say) we quickly adapt to our tumultuous environment. There were several issued with the alarms (Red Alerts) in several cities. It was an intermittent issue and the local municipalities in the South really did their utmost to resolve these issues. But the fact remains that when you are in the South of Israel (an hour from Tel Aviv) you can be driving in your car and a Red Alert sounding will not be heard.
SO.. The national radio channels Galatz and Galgalatz both managed by the IDF are announcing the alerts in real time as they get them from the Army. Even if they are in the middle of a song or any broadcast they calmly announce the city and ask you to go to the shelters.
What is strange is the sometimes stark contrast between the music and the announcement as the announcer in this case mentions…. take a listen:
So this morning we got a little love from our cousins in the North.. A Palestinian Group was able to get up close and personal and shoot a few older model rockets over the border.
Although no one is actually taking responsibility for the shooting of these 4 rockets into Nahariya and the Western Galilee there are the usual suspects. There was no real surprise here and there was an expectation both in the army and civilian authorities that an attack will be coming especially after the speech by Nasrallah.
The Army Command-Directorate of Orientation issued a statement on Thursday saying that â€œan unknown party launched a number of rockets toward the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israel retaliated and launched artillery shells on the southern region of Naqoura.â€
The Army statement added that no casualties resulted from the Israeli bombing, stressing Army units were cooperating with the UNIFIL and took adequate measures to protect the residents and control the situation. (Al Manar TV)
But we all know who runs the show in Lebanon and if you were listening carefully last night to the nightly rant of the bearded, semi hysterical Hezbollah leader I swear you could hear a hidden tip off…
On Wednesday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, warned that “all possibilities” were open against Israel as he gave a speech condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and voicing support for Hamas….
The comments marked the first time he has spoken so openly on the possibility of a renewed conflict with Israel since the war in Gaza began on December 27.
Nasrallah warned that the 2006 conflict would be “but a walk in the park” compared to what awaits Israel if it launches a new offensive on Lebanon.
“We have to act as though all possibilities are real and open [against Israel] and we must always be ready for any eventuality.
“We are ready to sacrifice our souls, our brothers and sisters, our children, our loved ones for what we believe in.” (Al Jazeera)
So, if one was to listen to the message and put that together with the attack this morning, one could make the claim that we were duly warned. But why would he do that? Hezbollah is not looking for another fight (at least not right now) and yet they had to let the “rogue faction” blow off some steam. Now I know they’re not Jewish but that sounds like … guilt. They feel a little guilty.
I guess sending an entire nation to a state of chaos and death can cause a little guilt even in Nasrallah.
Let’s face it, the Iranians and Nasrallah pushed and egged on Hamas, they made them believe that when the time came they would be there and instead hung them out to dry. The way its being described here is that Nasrallah would fight Israel until the last drop of Gazan blood.
That’s what I call the bitter taste of betrayal. I hope that when this war is over the Palestinian people keep in mind what their “friends” were doing to help them… With friends like that who needs enemies..
The hugely popular sketch comedy show “Eretz Nehederet” (translated as “A Wonderful Land”) was exceptionally satiric and keen last week, several days after the current war began. Since then they’ve been pulled off the air, because Channel 2 believes it’s inappropriate to broadcast live entertainment during wartime.
This is a very talked-about sketch from last week’s show. In it, an Ehud Barak (Minister of Defense) impersonator explains the projected phases of war.
Thanks Lisa for translating!
As a result of the attack on the UN school yesterday and the condition of the population in Gaza a decision was made to open a “Humanitarian Corridor”. Specific areas in Gaza are now free of attacks and are kept quiet for the population to get food, water and medical supplies.
The attack we mentioned yesterday turned out to be as bad as we thought it would be. Depending on who you ask there were 30 to 40 killed, mostly civilians.
The “Al Fahorah” school was a UN school and while it was closed it was housing refugees that were taking shelter there. The School, according to the army, was being used by Hamas commanders as a base and rocket units were firing from the school yard.
In any case there were a large number of civilians killed in this attack and the decision was made to offer a break for the population. The corridor is open right now and I guess its one sided because we are still getting rocket fire…
This is the video the army put out of the rockets being fired from the School – these were taken Dec. 31, 2007.
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