Category Archives: Second Lebanon War

Posts during, and about, the Second Lebanon War (July and August 2007).

First Rain

It must be Fall: I wake to the wonderful smell of damp earth and ozone.  It rains again in the morning. 

Speaking of water… I’ve never seen a cat do this before.  Hat tip to LR.

Refu’ah shlema: President Peres collapses yesterday.  He is doing well and has already been released from the hospital.  The man is 86 and is one of the hardest working public figures you can imagine.  He routinely has long, intense days, often standing for hours at public events, enduring endless meetings, reading hundreds of pages of documents.  Just reading about his average day makes me tired. 

Oh, dear, didn’t we tell you?  So apparently UNIFIL forces got a heads up ten days before the latest Ketusha attacks, and they didn’t bother to tell us.  They told the Lebanese army, but not us, the targets of the attack.  Grrr…  Here we go again.

Slow down!  Last week’s train derailment has triggered the expected investigations. Was it sabotage or an accident?  The decision to slow trains down to a max speed of 80 kph is frustrating, because it doesn’t address the security issue or solve anything.  I ride the trains quite frequently (though not that particular line), and I will continue to do so.

Madonna is ho-hum, be we love Leonard: Madonna couldn’t come close to selling all the tickets for her recent Tel Aviv concerts, but Leonard Cohen is in hot demand.  Is this a sign of musical taste or politics?

Top prize: Movie “Lebanon” wins Golden Lion in Venice.

Warped Logic

Grads falling on Be’ersheva: Two Grad-class rockets (the mid-range ketushas that were used on us in the north during the the Second Lebanon War) hit Be’ersheva this morning.  Hamas uses the bizarre logic of saying that these are in retaliation for Israeli air strikes.  Uh, what?!  The air strikes were to take out rocket launchers that had been pummeling Israeli communities for months and months!  We’re through the looking glass now, kids.

Israeli math: Thank goodness for Kamah Kessef, the website that helps you calculate how much you are supposed to give at an Israeli wedding.  With the son of a first cousin getting married in a few weeks, I need to figure it out.  Hmmm.  That much? Oi.  And me without two skekels to rub together. 

Nadine update: Damn cat has gone from being lusciously fat to a sack of bones.  I now have an anorexic cat.  She seems totally disinterested in food, though if I heat up something and put it right in front of her, she’ll lick a bit.  She ate about 1/2 tsp of expensive Italian cat food this morning (chicken and pasta, I think).  Terri hovers nearby, almost shaking with excitement. She knows that she automatically gets to finish off whatever Nadine rejects.

A Sad End

The bitter end of a two-year drama: The bodies of kidnapped Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were laid to rest today. As a nation, we have been holding our breath for two years. We still don’t know the fate of a third soldier, Gilad Shalit, kidnapped at the same time. These were the actions that triggered the Second Lebanon War. Our heart goes out to the families of these young men.

A Somber Day

Yom HaSho’ah: Tomorrow (Wednesday, 30 April) is erev Yom HaSho’ah—Holocaust Memorial Day.  While Thursday is a normal work day, everything will stop mid-morning for the sirens.  It is really something to see everyone stop and stand at attention.   

I finally got around to upgrading the blog, so now I can do podcasting. This is my first attempt, recorded back on 8 April after they did emergency preparedness drills up here in the north and the sirens were going off. Fitting for the upcoming days of serious reflection.

Security Drills

Deja vu:  They’ve been warning us for days that there will be massive emergency preparedness drills all over the country (particularly here in the north) at 10:00, but it still is hard not to react when the sirens go off.

Snow Day

Storm watch: Yesterday’s fierce winds and heavy rain caused flooding, power outages, and downed trees, and in higher elevation areas (Jerusalem, the Golan, etc.), the rain became snow.  It isn’t anywhere near freezing in Karmiel (right now around 8 C), but there is thunder, lightening, and rain.  Hail yesterday.  Check out the live webcam of the snow storm in Jerusalem.

Waiting for Winograd: The formal Winograd report (the committee that investigated the government and army’s responsiveness in the Second Lebanon War) is due.  Anticipation for it leads to some rather biting political satire, including Eretz Nehederet’s spoof of the game show 1 Against 100; their version: 1 Against 119 (referring to the number of Israeli soldiers who died in the war), in which Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz (former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, who was in charge of the reserve army at the time of the war) have to answer loaded questions.  (The video clip takes a long time to load, so be patient.)  Very funny.  The level of debate, open discussion, freedom of speech, and public involvement in such issues here is a sign of a healthy democracy and open society, though you sure wouldn’t know it if all you heard about Israel came from the international press.  Case in point: the recent barrage of anti-Israel press about the Gaza blockade.

Feel the love: Tennis, that is.  In case you missed it, an Israeli duo takes the Australian Open.  First time!

Show the love: The original Fluff Bomb, Freddie (Nadine’s number 1 long-distance squeeze), gives us a glam Playgirl pose.
ooooh, baby…

Zombies on Parade

Hoo-ya!  I leave the house on Monday at 5:30 and get home at 22:30.  Nothing like a 17-hour day to make you feel fresh and alert the next day.  My day involved:

  • Drive to Akko.  Leave my car at the train station.
  • Take the train to the Tel Aviv University station.
  • Transfer to a train to Hod Hasharon.
  • Grab a taxi to the client site.
  • Set up and teach a very demanding four-hour seminar.
  • Grab a taxi to Herzliya. 
  • Eat something.  Try to get some work done on my laptop.
  • Hike to the STC administrative council meeting. 
  • Get through the meeting, running out about ten minutes early.
  • Trot very quickly to the train station in Herzliya.
  • Catch the train (which is running suspiciously late) to Binyamina.
  • Change trains to Akko.  Try to get more work done on my laptop (which garners a lot of curious looks from passengers used to seeing bigger laptops).
  • Drive home.

Gill is asleep when I leave in the morning and asleep when I get home.  Nadine yawns, blinks, and then slowly creeps up from the foot of the bed for a bit of a cuddle before I fall asleep.  Sheesh!

Ready, set, strike!  With no advance warning, Israel Railways workers go on strike yesterday from 8:00 to 11:00.  I step off my train a few minutes after 8:00 and am oblivious to this, but apparently trains are stopped at stations all over and passengers and requested to get off.  I feel very sorry for all the people left stranded.  Ironically, this occurs the day before May Day, which is traditionally a day of the celebration of labor and workers.  Hmmm.

Winograd Committee releases findings:Over seven months after the special commission is formed to investigate the government’s actions during the Second Lebanon War, the results are finally released.  Olmert gets a fairly bad report.  You can read an early translation of some of the report here.

A New Year’s Rant

The books are here: What constitutes a good compilation editor? The ability to select appropriate pieces? Basic command of punctuation, grammar, and spelling? An understanding of appropriate layout and design? Judging from any of these, Michael Totten’s “books” about the Lebanon war (and I use the term loosely) expose him as an untrained amateur. The three skimpy mini-pamphlets (Blog Digest #1: The Hezbollah War, Hassan Nasralla: In His Own Words, and Everything Dould Explode at any Moment) includes such errors as the bizarre choice of a monospaced typeface, the use of hyphens instead of em dashes, the misspelling of Karmiel (even to the point of changing it in my entry), and the general confusion between your and you’re, these documents constitute a busha (shameful thing). A few fellow bloggers have good pieces from the Israeli perspective, but unless you are curious about the depth of hatred flowing south over the border towards us, you can give the series a miss. Apart from the diatribes and rants of some of the posts, I am mostly filled with a deep sense of shame that so few native English speakers can write a grammatically correct and well-punctuated sentence.

Holidays for one and all: Sunday marked a day of across-the-board events. For Moslems, it was Idul Adha, and slaughtered goats and sheep were the order of the day. For Jews, it was Tzom B’tvet, a fast day. For Christians, it was Sylvester (aka New Year’s Eve). Traveling by train from Akko that day was a noisy and uncomfortable ride, with what seemed like half the Moslem population of the Galilee going to visit friends and family. Add in cold, rainy weather, and the whole thing was a mess. The ride, which normally would be a quiet chance to rest and snooze before another intense training session, turned into an endurance test of patience and tolerance, with kids running up and down, luggage clogging the aisles, babies crying, and did I mention the kids? Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Moslem kids per se; I uniformly dislike all forms of knee-biters, rugrats, and even most teenagers. Race, religion, and nationality have nothing to do with it. As WC Fields once said, “I am free of all prejudices. I hate every one equally.”

Indulge your paranoia: A local reader sends me a link to a global incident map, to let you track terror events as they happen around the world. Oooh! Police find a suspicious purse in Montana! A shed burns down in Brazil! The whole thing has a faintly “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” feel to it—a suspicion quickly confirmed when one of the site’s sponsored advertisers assures me that “the only solution to the Middle East conflict is through scripture prophesy.” Color me orange alert.

See what you’re missing: Even the most devout of TV junkies among you may not realize that you are missing out on a wealth of stuff not shown in your country. I’m not talking about programming, but ads! Funny, naughty, rude, silly, and downright creative TV ads from all over the world are featured at Very Funny Ads. Make sure to click the browse country link to see all the ads from each country.

If she was a car, they’d recall her: Nadine has another malfunction, leading to (dare I say?) unfortunate and somewhat explosive leaking from both ends. We clean up messes, change the sheets, and put her back on a restricted diet. Embarrassed and uncomfortable, she retreats to a safe place under her Fluffy Blanky and sulks.

It’s a cold! It’s a strike!

Sniffling and wheezing: Ah, yes, those back-from-the-travels colds. Here I was thinking that I had outsmarted those airborn germs and viruses, but the many flights, changing climates, and general travel-related stress finally caught up with me. I spend the last two days lying around like a sloth, going through several metric tons of tissue, coughing and sneezing and feeling miserable. Nadine, confident of her feline superiority, snuggles close to me and purrs. She doesn’t even mind when I sneeze on her.

While I’m down for the count, the country is, too. The Histadrut (largest labor union) calls a general strike, closing all seaports, airports, trains, post offices, government offices, etc. Luckily, it looks like the strike is ending today.

One if by land, two if by sea: While the police arrest a knife-wielding Palestinian youth near Jerusalem (sent, he says, by Hamas to “stab soldiers and Jews”), our navy stops a suspicious foreign vessel off the coast near Ashkelon. One of the things that doesn’t make it to the front pages is the astonishing number of attempted terror attacks that are thwarted here, almost on a daily basis. Our police, border police, army, and intelligence units get a lot of flack when someone slips through, but we tend to forget that 99% of the time, they are getting it right. Even the much reported “grandmother jihadist” was stopped before she could effectively carry out her attack.

Lebanon update: The assassination of Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel (who happened to be Christian, anti-Hezbullah, and an outspoken opponent of Syrian control) triggered large anti-Syrian and anti-Hezbullah grassroots protests, especially in light of intelligence linking the assassination to a Syrian plot. However, pro-Hezbullah forces are not going to give up easily. They are calling for demonstrations against the Western-backed government.

The situtation has become more complex and you almost need a scorecard to keep track of the players. In the past, Lebanese Christians were always pro-Western, pro-Israel, and political moderates. In fact, during Lebanon’s civil war, Israel gave refuge to thousands of Lebanese. (If you’ve never heard Brigitte Gabriel speak about her experiences, check it out.) of But with Christian politician (and former general) Michael Aoun throwing his support behind Hezbullah, it is getting tricky.

Oh, those wacky Taliban guys: Let’s see the PC crowd try to explain away the brutal slaying of a schoolteacher who dared to teach (gasp!) girls.

A ray of hope: Meet Good Neighbors, a new blog in town. Real people from all over the Middle East, speaking in a civilized, rational manner, respecting each other’s histories, religions, and opinions.

Vote early, vote often: I can official announce my candidacy for a Director position in STC (Society for Technical Communication). If you are an STC member, make sure to vote in the 2007 elections! As the largest international professional society in the field of technical communication, STC needs to make sure that society-level leadership includes people from outside of North America. We’re on the right track.

I have cool colleagues: I’m always pleased to see friends and colleagues get good articles about the field published. Check out David Farbey’s article in the British Computer Society about technical documentation. David, now an active member of the UK chapter of STC, was a long-time active member of the Israel chapter.

High Alert

Error and tragedy: The country goes on high alert after yesterday’s IDF slip-up kills 18 Palestinians in Beit Hanoun, many of them women and children. IDF initial investigation suggests that the accident may have been caused by an equipment malfunction.

Whatever the cause, the event is dreadful, and no sane person can think that it was intentional. Of course, that doesn’t stop Hamas from saying that we should be wiped off the face of the earth. Ah, yes. They target civilians, and that’s somehow OK, and we try to target weapon caches and Qassam launch sites to protect our civilians, and that isn’t OK. (Photo on left: police sappers remove a Qassam rocket in S’derot. On right, S’derot residents pick through a crater when a Qassam landed in a busy commercial neighborhood.)

While all olim (immigrants) from English-speaking countries struggle with the many aspects of cultural and social interaction here, the gulf is relatively small. Israelis, no matter where they are from, either already have or quickly adopt a western mentality when dealing with most of the big issues in life. We want a better world for our children. We favor democracy and freedom of speech. Despite sharing tastes in music and food with our Middle Eastern neighbors, our cultural and political sensibilities are overwhelming western. This—our inability to understand what seems like irrational and counter-productive reasoning—is one of the roots of our problem here. We keep expecting the Palestinians to make rational decisions, as if they were a western partner. We can’t seem to climb into their heads and figure out why their leadership would so consistently take the path that causes the most pain and suffering for their people. We understand cause and effect: they fire Qassam rockets in S’derot, we go after the weapons and launchers. And if they put those in densely populated civilian areas, people are going to get hurt.

The constant rain of Qassam rockets on the area (20 rockets were fired from Gaza throughout Wednesday, including one that landed near a children’s home of a Negev kibbutz) has caused a huge increase in casualties there, and has triggered demonstrations. People expect Olmert to step up and do something.

A near tragedy: French UNIFIL troops almost fire on an IAF plane. Luckily, they remember how much wine and cheese we import, and hold back.

Trying to prevent a tragedy: Police are fearful that if the Gay Pride march isn’t called off in Jerusalem, there will be a major explosion of violence. The past week has already been rocked with horrible demonstrations from the lunatic fringe religious right.

An editorial tragedy: OK, so it isn’t a tragedy. Blogger dropped my 04 November post, so I reposted it this morning. I also failed to give credit to my sister Tracy for first alerting me to the Natan Shaked (Mr. Gay International) story, but other savvy readers also spotted the story, almost seconds before I had posted it. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

I’m so busy, it’s tragic: As the countdown to liftoff (i.e., my trip to the States) continues, I keep frantically checking things off my list. Yet the list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. Nadine, sullen over the confiscation of her sheep (which Gill suspects may have been causing her stomach problems), and cranky that I have been ignoring her, wedges herself into bed on Gill’s side and refuses to come near me all night. I will have to do some serious groveling when I return.