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Friday, February 17, 2006

Photo Friday (Vol. LVI) ['neighbors' edition]

I've read with interest when Israeli bloggers write about the way they view our neighbors the Palestinians.

Some like to pretend that there is no such people as the Palestinians, and that arguing semantics and provenance will somehow make these people magically go away. 

Some are slightly more enlightened and acknowledge that yes, there are Palestinians 'over there'... but that from 'over here' they all look like the enemy (even if 'over here' is just the next hilltop).  Intellectually they understand that the majority of the Palestinians may or not hate Israelis... and that only a tiny minority are actually engaged in planning and executing attacks.  But since a terrorist looks exactly the same as any of his/her blameless Palestinian neighbors, people from this second group tend to see Palestinians as individual trees... yet treat them like a forest.

Then there are those who are considered by many to be the most enlightened of all.  These are the people who are the most vocal proponents of 'dialog' and 'compromise'.  They are often the ones pushing for new 'gestures' such as opening roadblocks and lifting travel restriction.  When confronted with the fact that every such 'gesture' is answered (often within hours) by shootings and bombings, they insist that Israel needs to 'take a long view' of the process and not focus on individual attacks.

Not surprisingly, I find myself firmly in the second of these three groups.

I personally think it is foolish to put one's head in the sand and pretend that by refusing to call an entire population by a particular name that everything will magically work itself out.  I also think it is foolish to propose 'taking a long view' of the peace process when an honest look at both the track record and the current PA leadership's promises for the future give no reason to hope for a change in the status quo.

I'm not saying that anyone is wrong or right, mind you.  I'm just saying that from where I sit, two of the three groups seem to be acting foolishly.  Dangerously so.

I walked to the top of the hill on which my house sits and pointed my camera down the other side.  This is what I mean by 'from where I sit':


While standing on the same spot I turned 90 degrees and took this photo:


The first picture is of the village of Abdel Ibrahim.  The second picture is of a small section of Efrat.  All that separates us from our Arab neighbors is a hilltop and a small grove of trees.

Efrat used to have cordial relations with this and several other neighboring Palestinian villages.  Many of these neighbors worked in our town, and our mayor and chief Rabbi extended free use of our emergency medical clinic (a facility built entirely from private donations) to all of these villagers. 

Then one of our neighbors walked into our emergency medical clinic with a bomb strapped to his body and blew himself up.  The most plausible explanation I've heard for his action is that his family had been threatened by the Palestinian leadership.  What choice did he have?

Efrat is not some windswept hilltop with a couple of illegal caravans.  Yitschak Rabin himself encouraged the establishment, settlement and expansion of my town.  It is the embodiment of what politicians mean when they talk about holding onto 'large settlement blocks and population centers'. 

So when I look over at the village that shares a hill with my house... I don't have the luxury of pretending my neighbors don't exist.  I also don't have the luxury of 'taking the long view' of the peace process with them.

Peace for me is not a process.  It won't come from 'confidence building gestures', increased funding, removal of roadblocks or allowing unencumbered freedom of movement.  These are all 'deeds' that have been tried time and again without success.  Ironically, when such 'deeds' have failed to bring about peace, the only hope that remains is 'words'.

In my opinion, peace will come from a Palestinian leadership that is powerful enough to threaten a poor villager into using his body as a bomb... yet reasonable enough to make (and keep) a public promise never to do so.

Shabbat Shalom.


Posted by David Bogner on February 17, 2006 | Permalink


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You know, some of us living in the neighborhood you photographed also feel like we're only seperated from Efrat by "a hilltop and a small grove of trees"...

(sorry for the local politics bit that doesn't likely interest most of your readers...)

Posted by: Dave | Feb 17, 2006 4:35:27 PM

I like your grouping the general approaches into the three groups. It’s very clarifying. I guess I’m at about 1.5. I’m happy to call them Palestinians, but I assign them collective responsibility for the war that some of them wage against Israel and the West and believe that they collectively must be defeated, not Hamas, not Al-Asqa Martyrs, not any other subset.

Trep: Intellectually they understand that the majority of the Palestinians may or not hate Israelis... and that only a tiny minority are actually engaged in planning and executing attacks. But since a terrorist looks exactly the same as any of his/her blameless Palestinian neighbors, people from this second group tend to see Palestinians as individual trees... yet treat them like a forest.

Most Germans were unaffiliated with the Nazi Party, but we burned Dresden to the ground. Most Japanese had nothing to do with the military but even before Hiroshima, Japan was inflicted with 900,000 casualties. In fact we were in the process of fire bombing Tokyo but that mission was halted when the atomic bomb was completed. Unlike in law enforcement, war puts groups of people against each other, not individuals. We did not seek to find the individuals responsible for Pearl Harbor, we sought to defeat Japan. In terms of willingness to fight and opinion about its enemy, the recent polls may even suggest that the Palestinians are much more monolithic in their thinking than the Germans were.

Trep: In my opinion, peace will come from a Palestinian leadership that is powerful enough to threaten a poor villager into using his body as a bomb... yet reasonable enough to make (and keep) a public promise never to do so.

I really don’t think so. I think peace will come when Palestinians lose the will to fight. That only happens after definitively losing a war. The problem is that there is no war process; there is only talk of a peace process. You’ve said before that the world will not allow the kind of war fighting done in WWII, but neither is the world brave enough to stop it. The victor of such a war will be loathed in the editorial pages, and will watch their children grow up safely.

Shabbat shalom.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 17, 2006 5:08:35 PM

Admitting I'm half a world away and not well-versed in your country's politics, when I read 'reasonable enough', a different term came to my mind: 'wise enough'. Maybe there's no practical difference, but it seems to me that it is wisdom that is so often missing in political leaders. We get plenty of idealists, radicals, cronies, extremists, beaurocrats, egotists, and so on - but it seems rare that a wise leader comes into power. Cynical, I know.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Feb 17, 2006 5:30:53 PM

golda mayer said that there will be peace when arab mothers love their children more then they hate jews

Posted by: dave | Feb 17, 2006 5:46:06 PM

I just stumbled on your blog because I am a photographer and somehow got rooted to your blog. Your words have touched me in a way that I can say I have not yet experienced. It makes me sad that you have to endure what you do on a daily basis. I will admit I have never been to your country, and I am from one that has not experienced what yours has. It seems like our leaders are too far removed, and do not have a true understanding of the people they try to govern. What is peace? Can there ever be a compromise? Can we ever agree to disagree? I don't think that is a reality. Years of hurt can scorn a person, change them, make a person into something they are not. I don't know what I would do if I were told to go blow myself up to save my family. What a terrible thing to happen. I feel like I am rambling, and I apologise. I mentioned earlier, you have exposed me to something I have not experienced before. It is my hope and prayer, that you and our countries will figure out what peace really is. I will leave you with this question, Is peace when everyone is happy and no one is fighting, if so do you really think it is possible to make everyone happy all of the time?
Love and hope. Erica

Posted by: Erica | Feb 17, 2006 6:06:42 PM

For the most part, I agree with Doctor Bean, "peace will come when Palestinians lose the will to fight."

I'll substitute "Arabs" for palestinians, because the Arabs could have stopped the fighting any time over the past 60 years by accepting Israel and absorbing their "refugees." And, though not at all likely, the palestinians could lose the will to fight, if the rest of the Arabs decided to make peace.

In the end, the utter defeat of the Arabs is, most likely, the only route to a lasting peace.

Posted by: Ocean Guy | Feb 17, 2006 6:18:59 PM

Doctor Bean: are you suggesting that the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo (not to mention Frankfurt) were somehow *acceptable*?! I would have thought to use the same examples to DISprove your point.

Not everything the Allies did was flawless or immune to criticism. Attacking targets full of civilians that had no strategic value was a serious mistake, from both a military and moral point of view. Strategic bombing of cities, though no longer in vogue (we now have other, faster methods for taking out specific industries), *can* have specific strategic uses - knocking our industrial sectors, transportation hubs, etc. But the concept of using wholesale bombings of unimportant cities as 'punishment' to 'convince' the populace to end their resistance... it didn't work in WWII, and it won't work now.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I think that Israel should cease so-called 'collective punishments'. However, I believe this because I do not think they *are* collective punishments, but rather reasonable policies.

Two reasons for these 'collective' punishments in the territories:

1) They are not constructed as punishments, but for specific security concerns. Each and every 'punishment', though it may affect large proportions of the Palestinian populace, is a reasonable exercise given the strategic and tactical situation, and the intelligence information at hand.

2) A little bit more of a stretch, many of these collective punishments (such as curfews in cities where the IDF is operating) are instituted not only for the safety of Israeli soldiers, but also for the safety of the Palestinian noncombatants. Working with my example above, if there had *not* been a curfew in place, a bloodbath would ensue when soldiers had to wade through a sea of unsympathetic civilians on each and every mission. Thus, it is hardly punishment to the populace, but an effort at sparing their lives.

To somehow suggest that retaliatory policies against whole populaces is a *good* idea, and has a chance of doing anything constructive is, IMHO, immoral.

(Please take this as my own view - I'm not singling you out, I just wanted to address your WWII analogies. Pardon me if I come off sounding harsh; I was attempting to attack your statements, not you.)

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 17, 2006 6:59:37 PM


are you suggesting that the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo (not to mention Frankfurt) were somehow *acceptable*?!

I’m saying something even more than that. Not only were they acceptable, they were necessary.

The ultimate target in war is always psychological – the enemy’s will to fight. All strategic and military targets ultimately have to have a psychological toll. It doesn’t matter how many of his ships you sink or how many tanks you destroy if he still thinks he might win. What we did to Dresden demoralized Germany. Your statement that our tactics then were not effective is false on the face of it. Japan surrendered after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why? They weren’t militarily essential. They surrendered because of the shock value of the complete devastation we were able and willing to inflict on them. They surrendered because we broke their will.

Not everything the Allies did was flawless or immune to criticism.

I never said that everything the Allies did was immune to criticism, but they won, and the entire world is incalculably better because they did. I’ll leave the criticism to others and instead concentrate on the lessons of what it takes to win. I will always prefer to survive and be criticized than to go to my grave with a clean conscience.

I was attempting to attack your statements, not you.

I appreciate that very much. Same goes for me.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 17, 2006 8:22:07 PM

When it comes to strategy, I tend to agree with Doctor Bean... but when it comes to the semantics I'm a bit more conflicted. Calling a group of people by a certain name implies a certain position towards them... And frankly, aside from the strategic view, I'm not sure what my position is. On the one hand, acknowledging their claim to be "Palestinians", a separate nation, may be interpreted as if I'm agree to everything they've been doing as a group, etc - i.e. a reward of sorts. On the other hand, I need to separate them from the rest of the Arabs because, they are a separate group with specific goals.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 17, 2006 9:29:12 PM

Necessary? Several points:

1) The Allies did not paint the bombing of Dresden as psychological warfare, but rather as an attempt to help the Soviet advace by destroying communication to the east and hindering movements of reinforcements from Western fronts. Even then, the bombing was supposed to be of secondary importance to hitting targets of greater strategic importance: oil and airplane production, etc. The only psychological effect that was valued was chaos, not despair. Nonetheless, it was of extremely low strategic value, and the decision to bomb the city was seriously questioned by Allied leaders (political *and* military) after the fact.

2) The bombing was in February, 1945. By then, the question was not *if* the war would be won, but *when*. (This had been the case for quite some time by then). Allies forces were advancing on three fronts, with superiority in air power, supplies, etc. The war was over three months later. Do you honestly think that bombing Dresden was necessary to win the war?

3) Roughly 25,000 people died in the raid, the majority of them civilians. Can you tell me with no remorse that those deaths were warranted for such a shaky end as 'psychology'? If those 25,000 people hadn't died, would the outcome of the war be any different?

Now, as to Japan:

I specifically neglected to mention Hiroshima in my previous post, because in that case a reasonable case can be made for strategic necessity. The casualties the US would have incurred in finishing the island campaign and directly assaulting the mainland would have been prohibitively high (on the order of hundreds of thousands, minimally, and many more Japanese). With the development of atomic weaponry, they had a clear advantage, but the Japanese would hardly believe the Americans claiming to have a 'superweapon' of extremely destructive power.

The solution? A demonstration that the Japanese could not ignore. Hiroshima was a strategically significant city for the war effort, and a demonstration of the American power to utterly destroy such an important city in one stroke was deemed necessary. This *did* have an effect on psychology, definitely - but not as you suggest, to 'destroy their will to fight'. The Japanese cabinet came to a *rational* decision that if the US could continue to utterly destroy Japanese cities and military bases at will, they would shortly have no country to surrender.

Even so, I have serious qualms about the choice to bomb Nagasaki, and the choice of targets for the first bomb. (Unfortunately, it was hard to separate military from civilian targets on the Japanese mainland, necessitating a great number of civilian causalties in making their forceful point.)

A strong case can be made that the bombing of Hiroshima was a strategically intelligent move that saved hundreds of thousands of Japanese and American lives, and ended the war much more quickly. Can you say the same about the firebombings of Dresden or Tokyo? With Dresden, the fate of the war was already decided, and Germany would have fallen in months either way. With Tokyo, the firebombings did a great deal of damage, but had little effect. Heavy bombing of Tokyo had been happening since mid-1944, and firebombing had been underway since February 1945, but as of August of that year, the Japanese cabinet refused to enter into peace negotiations (despite casualties of roughly 100,000).

The bombing of Hiroshima was justified; firebombing Dresden and Tokyo was not. It's the difference between measures of strategic significance and collective punishments.

Sorry that was long-winded; if you got through that, kudos. Hope it makes sense.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 17, 2006 9:55:46 PM

Poignent post - puts things in perspective.
Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 17, 2006 11:09:24 PM

Excellent, excellent post. I like your categories - I'm probably most similar to you, around (2).

I'm also somewhere between you and Dr. Bean: Peace always only comes when both sides have more of a desire not to fight than to to fight. Dr. Bean was only partially correct when he said "when they lose the will to fight" - I'm not sure they will ever lose the will to fight; it's more that they will lose the desire to fight. I'm not sure that will come through defeat by the hands of Israel, though I could definitely see that play a role; it's more the recognition that it is a war they cannot win, combined with a) the realization that democracy can be utilized for purposes besides war; and more importantly, b) the chance at a life without checkpoints, fighting, worry, and poverty.

Personally, I actually think [nobody hurt me!] they've started down the right path - even with the election of Hamas. There is a *good* chance they might need a kick in the pants at some point to fully realize how this can and will work - but they're still getting there.

Sorry for the long comment - just something I've been thinking about for a while.

Posted by: Ezzie | Feb 17, 2006 11:29:20 PM

excellent post and I think Israel would be in far better shape if more Israelis shared your point of view and not the suicidal and enemy loving #3.(how can one explain the continious giving of food,water and electricity to a mortal enemy during a conflict.(This is the first example of true Christian love in the history of the world ,I believe) However I'm squarely with Doctor Bean.Palestinians have to be defeated as a population. On a related note ,it sends me into blind rage when IDf keeps saying that they have no solution to the Kassam problem(which may reach Ahskelon soon and hit achemical plant) problem. Why not do what any other country in the world would do when being shelled? Yes its called shelling civilan centers,and no its wouldnt be immoral because its self defense.Its this love for Palestinians thats in the root of the problem I believe.I dont know what the Palestinians have to do for Israel to actually treat them as ane enemy.(1100 dead didnt so it)They just elected a Nazi like party with an overwhelming majority of the vote.And yet they will still get aid.

Posted by: alexbmn | Feb 18, 2006 9:32:58 PM

Dave... I'm hoping that when you guys finally get your own shopping center and the construction finally is finished that you'll stop feeling (and acting) like second class citizens. :-)

Doctor Bean... Your assumption is that the only thing Israel would have to face from bombing civilian population centers is the New York Times Op Ed page. Unfortunately Israel still relies very heavily on US aid. If Israel were to 'bomb the Palestinians into the stone age' (which is how many of the less enlightened commenters phrase it) Israel would find itself overnight without the ability to meet basic budgetary requirements. More than that, Israel would lose almost all of it's overseas clients for everything from produce to defense technology. In short, we would become a pariah state. The Arabs can afford to endure this status because they have a resource the rest of the world can't do without (for now anyway). Israel has no such resource.

Steve... The reason I used 'reasonable' rather than 'wise' is that with the Arabs it always comes down to pragmatism. They act according to criteria and expediences that we can't even imagine. Therefore it would be incorrect to say that they have been unwise up to this point... just unreasonable.

Dave... Always a good point.

Erica... I can't imagine a photographer finding much value in my terrible 'point & click' fumblings, but I'm flattered that you've looked beyond this and stayed. I appreciate you very honest and accurate impressions of the current reality. The only thing I can offer is the fact that less than a decade after the end of the holocaust Israel had official relations with Germany. If that chasm can be bridged then perhaps there is hope for this one.

Oceanguy... Unfortunately warfare has changed too much since WWII to allow a proper defeat to take place. Since 1956 no Arab leader has surrendered and admitted defeat. Egypt's Nassar discovered quite by accident that even though he had lost the war, if he didn't officially surrender then someone would step in and arrange a face-saving truce. That is the model that has been used by the Arabs ever since. No matter how many wars they lose, they never really lose because someone always calls it a draw.

Matlabfreak... As a student of history (and having discussed this very subject with Japanese military officers in Japan) I can tell you that the deliberate targeting of civilian population centers was the only reason the war ended when and how it did. The Japanese had a well developed propaganda machine that was assuring them that they were winning the war... that they were invincible... that the Japanese mainland was untouchable. The Bombing of Tokyo completely demoralized the population and took away their will to continue fighting. However, I do agree that a 'demonstration' of the A bomb on a nearby uninhabited island would have been enough to convince the Emperor to surrender. And certainly the second one we dropped was more out of scientific curiosity than for any real strategic reason.

Irina... Any group of people have the right to self determination. Obviously it heps their case if they share a common language, culture etc. But since most of the countries in the Arab world are inventions of the British and French meddling in this part of the world, it would seem odd to suddenly deny a particular Arab population the right to call themselves what they like. My big problem with the 'Palestinians' is that they have been dishonest about their population numbers and deceptive about their long-term intentions. At least with Hamas we are getting the real story.

Ezer Knegdo... I hope you understand that this is just one Jews point of view. :-)

Ezzie... I agree that the election of Hamas is a step in the right direction, but I doubt you and I share the same opinion of why.

Alexbmn... I think it would be more accurate (and fair) to compare Hamas to the current Iranian regime than the Nazis. And as I said to Doctor Bean, Israel is not in a position to be able to act in the manner you suggest. We do not have the finances or natural resources to survive as a pariah state and that is exactly what we would become if we were to start carpet bombing civilian population centers. You may be right in theory, but Israel is not a theoretical exercise... it is a living, breathing country.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 18, 2006 10:07:16 PM

Well I do remember that pretty much up to 1993 Israel acted much more severely against far smaller acts of terrorism. The casualty ratio in the first intifada was I think ,25-1 and now now its a ridiculous 2.5-1 despite the fact that the first intifada featured very few civilian deaths on the Israeli side.(and as Shamir said ,had the Palestinians used firearms there wouldnt be a memory of them left)Let's not forget what Rabin said either. After Munich (12 dead- less then your average bus bomb) Israel in fact did bomb Lebanon and caused quite a few casualties. I just have this feeling that Israel simply lost the desire to fight and lost the belief thats its cause is just.There' no need to cause another Dresden but theres a need to do more then bomb empty ground and buildings.

Posted by: alexbmn | Feb 19, 2006 1:10:55 AM

also the threat of the embargo, the sancions, the UN Invasion? i just wonder how real is it?

Posted by: alexbmn | Feb 19, 2006 1:22:30 AM

And you nearly had another Arab/Palestinian/Terrorist bomb in your town this evening.


Posted by: JoeSettler | Feb 19, 2006 1:23:06 AM

I meant to write:

And you nearly had another Arab/Palestinian/Neighborly bomb in your town this evening.


Posted by: JoeSettler | Feb 19, 2006 1:24:13 AM

Treppenwitz -

I will freely admit that I *don't* have the experience or personal connections that you do, so I'll bow to your greater knowledge. However, a few facts that are why I seriously doubt that version of events (I briefly alluded to them earlier):

The first major raid (not counting the joke of the raid in 1942) was in June 1944, and several others continued through the beginning of 1945. Firebombing raids of Japanese cities began in February 1945, with two major raids (and third in May) and hundreds of smaller missions against Tokyo in the space of two months. In the second and most damaging raid in early March, somewhere around 100,000 people lost their lives (number are debated, but it's a hell of a lot).

Yet the Japanese continued fighting without pause *or* peace overtures well after these raids, after their allies had been soundly defeated, all the way until August. Does this sound like they lost the will to continue fighting? I would like to recall to your memory that the bloody American invasion of Okinawa commenced *after* the worst bombing of Tokyo, and the results of that battle hardly seem to indicate that the Japanese had lost the will to fight.

I have only read a handful of books on the issue, but I get the general feeling that while the populace may have been demoralized, the military leadership did not share that feeling, and was firmly opposed to peace negotiations, up to Hiroshima. So... yes, the populace was demoralized. Yet even the slaughter of 100,000 civilians in Tokyo and 150,000 at Okinawa (the latter somewhat acceptable given the strategic value in taking the island, and the close proximity of military and civilian centers) did not seem to detract from their will to fight to the end.

However - I have to admit that I *haven't* had the opportunity to talk with Japanese military officers, nor am I an expert on the issue. So I'll accede the point on the assumption that there are some mitigating circumstances that make all of my above reasoning incorrect.

Agreement on the A-bombs, certainly. I'm not *completely* sure that a non-lethal demonstration would have convinced the Japanese (hence my vacillation on Hiroshima), but I'm certain that Nagasaki was simply wrong.


Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 19, 2006 2:12:17 AM

Yeah, it's tough to choose between hard and soft forms of power. I think maybe you need a balance. Public promises are one thing, but I do not think a reasonable leader would threaten the poor. I don't like the bomb imagery even though I realize it's relevant. What I think you may mean is that a poor villager would be willing to use his body as a shield, were it necessary, because he/she believed in the value of protecting their greater community, though a reasonable leader would have enough power through relations to protect them from that. That is in favorable circumstances. However, although they are a large part, I don't think it is political leaders that make the circumstances for this to happen. It is also many many small leaders that do too. Gestures may be ineffective at stopping terrorists, but they do leave impressions on people. They may be more preventative than they are a deterrent. Each of the three groups have their own versions of leaders based in their own teleological view of how things can work compared to the contingencies that might happen. An ideal world will emerge, and it is a process, not one you see overnight, and not even one that makes sense when it is seen looking two separate directions from one perspective. The question is, who's ideal is it?

Posted by: sirbarrett | Feb 19, 2006 7:31:07 AM

Treppenwitz - I missed some punctuation above; I was trying to say that the fact that they had democratic elections is a good sign.

That they chose Hamas has its own positives, and my guess is we actually do agree on why.

Posted by: Ezzie | Feb 19, 2006 9:26:08 AM

Trep - I agree with you 90%, and I count myself in group number two. But I disagree with you that the argument against the use of the term Palestinian is just one of semantics, and that those who use the term Arab are unrealistically hoping that they will "just go away".

Until 1967 the Arabs in Judea and Samaria were Jordanians, and those in the Gaza strip were Egyptians. Ignoring this fact can also be seen as a question of semantics and hoping that this reality will "just go away". The use of the term Palestinians was deliberate in order to push for a separate state.

(Many readers will think I'm crazy, but here goes..)Personally, I think the point will soon be moot. I see a world war starting soon, and Israel will have to rescue the Jews living in Europe. Our Jewish population will grow, and G-d willing, our leaders will annex Judea and Samaria, with the provision that the Arabs living there will receive the same rights, including the right to vote, that the Israeli Arabs have now.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 19, 2006 9:58:34 AM

Alexbmn... Yes, once upon a time Israel did have a policy of massive/disproportionate retaliation. However, this was possible for two reasons:

1. The terrorists were staging their attacks from the soil of countries that had high-value military and industrial targets that could be attacked.
2. The terrorists themselves were set up in bases and areas mostly apart from main civilian population centers.

Now that our neighbors (Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) have mostly wised up and refused to allow the terrorists to use their soil for staging attacks, the terror groups are forced to operate from within PA-controlled areas. Partly because of space constraints and partially to take advantage of western hesitation to attack civilian areas, the terror groups have set up shop deep inside civilian population centers. In my opinion Israel hasn't lost the will to fight so much as it has not maintained a strategic advantage over its enemies. F16s and Merkava tanks are all fine and good... but they don't do much good against a kassam factory on the 2nd floor of an apartment building in Gaza City. Slowly but surely Israel is shifting its military funding towards technologies and weapons that are geared for low-intensity conflict in urban settings. But few of these have the satisfying pyrotechnic result we all got used to seeing on the news back in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Joe Settler... Oh well, boys will be boys! :-) Too bad we weren't called out... it would have given us an opportunity to catch up.

Matlabfreak... One of the reasons I haven't objected to anyone bringing up the Japanese for comparison's sake is that there is an interesting parallel. While not religiously motivated, the Japanese did have a very strong culture of duty... even up to and including intentionally sacrificing one's life to carry out an order. Kamikazes were a terrifying development for the allies later in the war because we couldn't figure out how to fight an enemy that wasn't afraid of dying. The flip side of that coin was that a society whose sense of duty was so strong that it would willingly serve up a nearly limitless supply of these avian suicide bombers was not likely to openly rebel against the government and start calling for an end to the hostilities in order to avoid large scale deaths. This is why the anecdotes of Japanese military officers were so eye-opening for me. While we can look back at the Vietnam war era and map a gradual shift in public opinion against the war with corresponding public pressure to change US policy. The Japanese model did not look anything like this. The Jaanese public was severely shaken/demoralized by the realization that they were neither winning the war nor untouchable, but it was completely out of the question from a cultural standpoint for the public to start publicly calling for their government/Emperor to end the carnage. The decision by the Japanese government to surrender was not a gradual one but rather a binary one. Their decision was not based on an outcry from the people but rather on the government's sense of responsibility to protect the people. One day it simply became impossible to prevent the decimation of the Japanese population so a decision was made. Where this differs from the Arab model is that the Arab leadership has never demonstrated this sense of responsibility to the populace. There is no amount of carnage that Israel could visit upon the Palestinians that would prompt the leadership to say "OK, this is too much... we can't allow you to punish the people any more... we surrender" . Therefore it would be pointless and barbarous for us to pursue such a policy.

Sirbarret... In Arab society this power I spoke about is the only thing that matters. How that power is used is the 'reasonableness' to which I was referring. Suicide bombers are not individuals acting on spontaneous anger or despair. They are almost always people who have been coerced, brainwashed or threatened into these attacks. Notice that you never see relatives of the ruling elite taking part in such attacks. The challenge is to force the leadership to cease using their power in such a destructive manner.

Ezzie... I figured that out after I hit the publish button. I also enjoyed your post on the topic.

Westbankmama... I agree that the fictional term 'Palestinian' was born of expedience in order to set the stage for self-determination. The window-of-opportunity to deal with that closed a long, long time ago. Now whatever we call these people they are already a formal entity that the world recognises... even without the official trappings of statehood. We can't afford to get mired in rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic, which in my humble opinion is exactly what those who get into the 'there's no such thing as a Palestinian people' argument are doing. According to the Geneva Convention a soldier isn;t allowed to use hollow point bullets... only full metal jacket rounds. If you are on the battlefield you can't stand up and start shouting, "No fair... you're using illegal ammunition" and expect anyone to care. You need to deal with the new reality. The Palestinians are our 'new reality' and shame on us if we don't figure out the best way to deal with them.
I don't think you are crazy for your prediction since my point of view is that we are already involved a world war. But I do think it would be crazy to make territorial/demographic decisions based on events that may or may not take place in the future. Just my 2 cents. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 19, 2006 2:02:15 PM

Fascinating points, Treppenwitz. I'll file them away under my 'things I learned from clever people' file. Thanks! *smiles*

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 19, 2006 4:45:25 PM

Of course, Trepp, we all come from our own experiences and situations which inform our perspectives. I just thought yours was articulated poingnently. I think you try to be as even-handed as you can, while still staying true to what you believe and feel. The mark of an actual thoughtful person. Amazing! We CAN have different perspectives, opinions,and beliefs in this world and still be civil - WHAT A CONCEPT. Thanks for illustrating that concept so beautifully. For those of you gagging, Hallmark moment over! :-) - EK

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 19, 2006 5:51:26 PM

Trep -

The trappings of Pali nationhood are as easily furled and disposed of as they were unfurled - they aren't based on fact. Pointing this out is not wishful thinking or "rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic" - it serves a valuable purpose in what is largely a psychological battle.

After incessant bombardment by our left-leaning media, we are now at a stage where many Israelis no longer feel they can justify their presence here - they have swallowed the line that they are usurpers. The cultivation of terms like "Palestinian" has been part of this propaganda campaign.

Exposing the flimsy basis of Palestinian nationhood is therefore essential - perhaps moreso within Israel than outside it.

Regarding "bombing the Palis into the stone age" -

(1) We are now witnessing a situation in which the United States has had to force the *Israeli* PM to take a harsher stand on Hamas than he otherwise would have - recall that Olmert initially relelased monies to the Palis, and now the US has demanded that the Palis *return* monies already given to them - a big slap in the face.

The notion that the Americans will rein us in if war breaks out in the territories is laughable - again it's a construct promulgated by our left-leaning media to make their daft proposals for gradual self-immolation seem like the reasonable thing to do.

(2) We are already being accused of atrocities we haven't committed, and given no credit for our considerable efforts at making peace. Why not actually clear out the problem, weather the vilification - and be done with it once and for all?

(3) It will no longer be possible to return to the blissful "occupation" of the post-67 era - the Arab population has been radicalized far too much. The "decisive defeat" that would shatter Palestinian hopes will also decimate and disperse the "Palestinian" people - so we won't have to worry about whether they've had a change of heart: they will (finally!) be building their lives in Jordan or other areas, as they should have decades ago.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 19, 2006 10:36:03 PM

This has been an interesting discussion. I believe there is a significant aspect to 'the problem' not being addressed. To my mind this would be the human being's susceptibility to religious fanaticism.

I would bet that none of the participants of this discussion have ever succumbed to this psychological state. We can only observe the actions of those who have in order to understand it. We tend to believe it is a rare thing in people and even rarer in whole societies. I maintain it is not.

If you ever watch The History Channel you may have seen the very well done documentaries of the battles of Iwo Jima and Guadal Canal. They very graphically depict the fanatical attitudes of the Japanese soldiers. They endured every hardship known to human kind and gladly without hesitation died in final attempts to kill just one more of the enemy. A US soldier. These men were fighting an offensive war of aggression to advance the Japanese Empire. This for them was a religious expression. They believed it was the devine right of the Emperor and the japanese people to subjugate Asia.

It is appropriate that the japanese aggression of WWII has been brought into this discussion because it is a very good example of religious fanaticism and how that plays out when directed towards world dominantion.

The 'Palestinian problem' is now morphing into Islamist extremism of the lowest order. This ism is all pervasive once it takes hold. There is no doubt in my mind that within a short time you will see Sharia law in the territories along with every sickness Islam has to offer. Women will not just be subjugated they will be enslaved. The huge majority of Palistinians will see their goal not as statehood but annihilation of Israel and then all Jews.

Israel is no better at recognising world wide Jihad than is the West in General. You seem to still be thinking in terms of coming to terms with the Arabs of the territories while those Arabs are rapidly morphing into psychotic jihadis.

Can any here imagine that there was ever any possible way of appeasing the Japanese once they had built up their war machine and invaded China? Could we have bought them off when they were convinced they were on the verge of controlling one third of the world? Could we have convinced them to stay home after thay had raised an entire generation to make war and conquer all Asia?

Doctor Bean is right. The Jihad is just now ramping up. They have brainwashed an entire generation and are working on the next generation. They have mentally formed how many millions (hundreds of millions) of sold out religious warriors? If we will not fight them we can hold this stalemate probably indefinitely with just a few thousand deaths here and there from their terrorist attacks. Maybe they will nuke a couple cities. They WILL destroy Israel without doubt and then in fifty years they will be the vast majority of the world's population. both through birthrate and forced conversion.

Rome is burning and we are fiddling.

Israpundit has published an excerpt from a speech given by Bridgete Gabriel at the Intelligence Summit in Washington, DC on Feb. 18, 2006. It is entitleld: Islam's March Against the West


Posted by: Scott | Feb 19, 2006 10:59:50 PM

I'm not sure when peace will come. While I don't relish the idea of handing back territory taken when Israel had no other choice, and at the cost of many Israeli lives, I don't know what other solution there is. Demographically, Israel can't 'annex' the territories without Jews becoming a minority in the country.

What still puzzles me, is that if Israel is going to withdraw from part of that land (Gaza), why not return it to the country it was taken from? Gaza should have been returned to Egypt - "Here, it was yours and we're giving it back". Would have been fun to see what THEY did with it. Similarly on the West Bank side - build the wall and give the rest back to Jordan. If it was theirs before, then if Israel is going to abandon it, let it be theirs again, and see how anxious they are to convert it into an independent state. I'd love to see them juggle that hot potato.

Posted by: Iris | Feb 19, 2006 11:02:13 PM

Matlabfreak... I'm just talkin' here... I could just as easily be full of sh*t. :-) While I honestly think the comparison's I've made are valid... the Arab mentality is still such a mystery to me (and unfortunately to most of those who state with such certainty that they know the Arab mind) that I am making assumptions only on what I have personally observed. Not being a member of their culture this is always an iffy way to go about gathering evidence on which to base one's opinions.

Ezer Knegdo... As an amateur beekeeper I've observed that you can catch a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar. Most of the people who comment here regularly have followed my example of expressing their opinions tentatively and with respect. Others... not so much. :-)

Ben-David... Even if you turn out to be correct (far from a sure thing), you're drawing to an inside straight. So many things have to happen for your end-game scenario to come to fruition - things over which we have little or no control - that I find it pointless to argue for or against the ideas you've out forward. And the statement that I am hearing more and more lately (that the world already thinks we have committed atrocities so we have nothing to lose by acting the way they expect) horrifies me. Yes, war is horrible. But I refuse to be defined (or have my actions predetermined) by the world's opinion of me.

Scott... You are confusing religion and fanatic cultural devotion to duty. The religion to which many of the WWII-era Japanese belonged did not call for human sacrifice or expound destruction of any other peoples. Culturally the Japanese saw themselves as superior to other races and even had a loose sense of 'divine right'. But this was not the same as the Koran's imperative to go out and subjugate/destroy other cultures. The ancient code of 'Bushido' and the Japanese cultural predisposition to give blind loyalty to their leaders made the them as inscrutable an enemy as we now find in the Arabs. However, with the Japanese we were lucky enough to stumble across the threshold of how much punishment the leadership would tolerate before throwing in the towel. Unfortunately, not only have we never come close to this point with the Arabs... but we don't have any reason to believe such a threshold exists. The religious element to their fanaticism shields them from responding rationally (our definition of rationally) to any of the actions you and Ben-David suggest.

Iris... Unfortunately Jordan officially and legally relinquished all claims to the West Bank many years ago and I'm not sure we could actually force Egypt (or any country) to accept land containing a hostile population. It bothers me to hand the keys over to the Palestinians as well... so maybe the answer is to unilaterally walk away form the non-Jewish areas of Judea and Samaria and let whichever local warlord who wants to take control do so. They seem hard-wired for anarchy and civil war anyway... why not let them have at it?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 20, 2006 11:05:46 AM

OK. I'm no expert on the Japanese Emperor worship of the last century. They still offer a working example of how civilization is forced to deal with extreme fanatics. My main point. My other point is that Islam will prevail amoungst the Arabs of Samaria, Judea and Gaza. Peace with islamists will never come through negotiation or appeasment. I doubt that little fence will do much good in the long run either.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 20, 2006 11:47:22 AM

David wrote:
Yes, war is horrible. But I refuse to be defined (or have my actions predetermined) by the world's opinion of me.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

... yet by excluding a priori the option of actually defeating the Palis - by accepting the PC notion that such an option is beyond the pale for Jews - you (and Israeli society in general) has, in fact, let the world's opinion define and limit our sovereign right to self-defense.

So despite your grand proclamations, you are already living on the sufferance of others - and oh-so-nobly bleeding at their whim - a state that the Zionist enterprise was intended to change.


It's important to get those pieces of paper - the UN resolutions, the diplomatic recognitions by other states - but they are not in themselves sufficient for independence.

Sovereignty is never just granted (and when it is, it's hardly ever based on moral merit). It has to be asserted, taken, and repeatedly defended.

That often means that others must be defeated, crushed, hurt, disinherited, exiled.

I think this is what Dr. Bean is getting at.

There are parts of pre-67 Israel that were not Jewish under the partition agreements. They are not now on the negotiating table - because instead of self-abnegating 1967-style pleas to trade land for peace, Israel's initial reaction was to assume sovereignty - including clearing out the remaining population and acting consistently like they owned the place.

So now they do.

Those are the schoolyard rules of geopolitics.

I do not know the details of what will happen in the future. But eventually one or the other side will win territory by repeatedly, credibly asserting sovereignty and control over that territory - on the ground, and in diplomatic circles.

The thousands of dunams of Israeli land illegally settled by Arabs is of a piece with the propaganda ploys that have led so many to accept the fiction of Palestinian nationhood - they are all part of the same challenge to our sovereignty. And it's clear that one reinforces the other: Israel is not forcefully removing those Arab squatters precisely because the Palis have successfully created a climate in which they are viewed as more authentic - even by Israelis!

Thus is our sovereignty and capacity for self-defence undermined.

The notion that somehow going along with the fiction of Palestinian nationhood will somehow get us brownie points that we can cash in for the moral weight of sovereignty betrays a deep misreading of how geopolitics work. And an assertion that "Jewish morality" demands such a self-effacing "niceness", such an abdication of nationhood, is an even greater distortion.

This way of thinking may make folks feel all warm and cuddly - or sophisticated and cultured - but it plays directly into our enemies' hands, and surrenders the reins of Jewish sovereignty to third-party opinion makers.

Could you (and people like Iris) kindly explain why physically, decisively defeating the pants off the Palis is not on the list of options available to the Jews?

And why that is not a double-standard that hobbles our assertion of sovereignty?

And how such cravenness jibes with Jewish teaching?

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 20, 2006 12:46:50 PM

Sott...You are probably right about the wall, just as airbags and seatbelts are grossly inadequate measures compared to simply driving safely. But you take what you can get.

Ben-David... You have ignored (or distorted) the main point of my argument. I don't care about negative editorials and UN resolutions. There are already enough of those to wallpaper every home in Israel. But so long as Israel requires foreign aid and foreign trade to meet it's fiscal responsibilities, we can't simply and act in such a way that will bring about economic isolation and devastating sanctions. all the rest of what you said is built on the assumption that I disagree with you about creating facts on the ground, and I don't. Israel has adopted a self-defeating attitude in asserting its right to land that was won in war, bought with cash money and awarded through diplomacy. No question. Its just the idea that Israel can flagrantly ignore all standards of currently-acceptable warfare that I find foolish and short-sighted.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 20, 2006 12:58:34 PM


Our major patron in the United States.

Not only has the US not applied any real pressure - since committing troops to our region it has been taking a harder line than the Israelis.

Let's recall that the initial American response to Sharon's plan for unilateral withdrawal was alarm - the Americans (correctly!) estimated that such a withdrawal would only embolden the Hizbullah terror axis. The last thing America wanted was for Al Jazeera to broadcast photos of Palestinian "freedom fighters" swarming victoriously through Israeli settlements.

An this week's news shows that the Americans are taking the lead in isolating Hamas, while Israel dithers and drags its feet: in that crucial week after the PA elections - while Olmert was shopping the territories for some blood-sport - he still managed to authorize the transfer of monies to the PA. In the meantime, the Americans have demanded that the PA *return* aid funds that were already in their coffers.

Pressure? What pressure?

It's the Israelis who have swallowed the Kool-Aid, and lost their will.

Israel could take a much harder line with the Palestinians without incurring any wrath from our primary patron.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 20, 2006 2:38:39 PM

Ben-David... Again you have ignored my point. One more time with feeling, shall we? Israel has never engaged in the kind of action that you are advocating so it is pointless to point out what the US has done to date. The truth is that EVERY SINGLE TIME that Israel has engaged in any kind of sustained military action against Palestinian targets EVERYONE (including the US) has immediately urged restraint. Something as innocuous as the wall triggered outcries in the US Congress to reduce funding in the amount spent on the wall. You are probably right about what will or will not have an influence on the Arab leadership, but in my humble opinion you are dead wrong about how screwed Israel would be if we ever tried to follow the course you suggest.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 20, 2006 2:55:30 PM

Damn, I always get to your best posts too late! This one, and the donuts.

I think I'm a 2.5 by your categorization: I fear however that there are rather a lot of subcategories within each grouping. But thanks for making me slightly more optimistic about the potential unity of our people!

Posted by: PP | Feb 20, 2006 4:47:40 PM

Absolutely. 100%. There are those few and far between bees who seem to prefer vinegar, as they are unhappy bees in general. But the honey method has been the backbone of our approach to our congregation and other professional endevors, and in our humble opinion is the way to go. Works in parenting, too! :-)

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 20, 2006 6:06:54 PM

PP... Never too late! :-) I agree that it is always possible to create sub and sub-sub categories. But in this case it is more helpful to use broad categories.

Ezer Knegdo.. In parenting too? I'll have to try that. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 21, 2006 10:19:53 AM

... so the solution is to kill ourselves gradually - but with adulation?

This brings us back to the discussion of how being maneuvered into "being nice" hass essentially eroded our sovereignty - and our self-respect.

Again: sovereignty is not granted, it is asserted. Many countries less valuable to America - and more dependent - simply say no to American demands. The sky does not fall.

Israeli leaders said "UM-shmum" back when this country was far less well set-up economically and militarily than now.

Sovereignty must be asserted. If you show that you are susceptible to pressure, you will be pressured.

Posted by: Ben-David | Feb 21, 2006 12:01:26 PM

Ben-David... You are talking about an era when Israel literally had nothing to lose. Our economy was in shambles, inflation was beyond 'run-away', unemployment was sky high. Now that our currency is rock solid, our economy is fairly solid and unemployment is starting to recover, no Israeli government is going to risk losing US aid and International trade. That would send us back to the bad old days of the 70s and 80s (or worse). The reason I enjoy your comments is that there is always a tremendous amount of perfectly accurate data presented. I just disagree with how you string it all together. I agree that we need to be more assertive about our sovereignty. I agree that we need to find a way to inflict serious hurt on the sponsors and perpetrators of terror. You just lose me when you start suggesting that Israel can ignore all modern norms of warfare and diplomacy and either cast all the Palestinians out (to who knows where) or simply crush them all under the might of our military boot.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 21, 2006 12:26:49 PM

Per your comment on Stacey's blog, I didn't know you meant you were literally a bee-keeper - that is so cool! And we have found that the honey approach is the best method of parenting. Even when 'allowing one's children to experience consequences' - ie, the kid who ends up in school in his PJ's because he purposely dawdled in order to gain as much attention as possible - the honey approach helps me keep my cool (well, most of the time anyway). I mean, I guess I could yell and threaten, but what good would that do me? After only one morning of "Gee, it seems like you are going to have to go to school in your PJs - let's get in the car!(said with a smile)", BELIEVE ME this child got dressed so fast after that, we never had to tell him again. Seriously. But this comment is waaaay off topic -sorry! Maybe I'll add this topic to the list of posts I'll never have time to write!!

Have a good week!


Posted by: ezer knegdo | Feb 21, 2006 5:57:54 PM

treppen I dont know how much aid Israel would lose but it seems that the Israeli goverment is far more fearful of the risk of losing aid then losing its own people.It choses to do nothing against Kassams (or rather employ "solutions" that they know are useless because "they dont want to go to the Hague.") Its a crime against its own people. 1000+ people killed, mostly civilians ,countless injured ,families destroyed and most of this could have been averted. It nearly drives me mad. There's "a concept" of "tolerable terror" in Israel.It boggles the mind that when five children with their mother are killed ,that considered tolerable.I'm sorry to say this but whats the point when Jews again cant defend themselves.And when missiles will threaten Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport and international trade will be hampered because of this,will shooting back still be immoral?

Posted by: alexbmn | Feb 22, 2006 7:33:17 AM

Ezer Knegdo... Yes, I am really a beekeeper in my spare time. There are some pictures here and here in case you need proof. :-)

Alexbmn...I happen to think that Olmert deserves the criticism you have leveled for thinking more about his political career and foreign opinion than about the welfare and safety of the people. However, he is a Johnny-come-lately in the decision-making seat and I would not say the same about all recent Israeli leaders/governments. I noticed that you are writing from Brooklyn... which is not at all a problem. But I would submit for your consideration that it would be much easier to think about what would become of nearly half of the Israeli population if Israel were to suddenly lose both US foreign aid and all international commerce. Almost overnight a huge portion of the population would become unemployed and the ecomonmy would spiral back 2 decades to the bad old days of hyper-inflation. By the way, I linked to that Jerusalem Post column only half-jokingly, so please don't be offended. Your comments here have always been thoughtful and well-considered (although more than a tad to the right). I just thought you might find the piece interesting. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 22, 2006 10:26:28 AM

Wow - that is seriously cool. Neat pictures.

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Feb 22, 2006 2:41:38 PM

well Kalkin's article is quite tyical and I'm sorry such attitude is ridiculous .He doesnt adress any arguments, he simply states that if a person doesnt live in Israel ,it means by default that his argument is invalid.Well I also visit a Russian-Israeli forum with many members(and living in Israel)who share my opinions.So what would Kalkin say to them?

anyway ,i'd like to mention a few of my problems with how Sharon handled the situation over the last few years.And I dont think my opinions will seem in any way extreme.

First of all Haaretz,yes even Haaretz(which I read more then any Israeli newspaper) mentioned that in the last 30 years (possibly since 1984)there has not been a prime minister who obeyed the US administration so slavishly.There literally was not a single time in these four years when Sharon had the guts to stand up to Bush.

In 2001 (the year of such events such as Dolphinarium ,Sbarro and twin December bombings)his response was "restraint is strength).What was the logic behind that? How many people paid with their lives for it? I dont even want to say.In 2002 Operation Defensive Shield was finished when it wasnt even close to achieving its result.But honesly its not what matters.The IDf only seemed to actively pursue terrorists within the next few days after a major terrorist attack.Apparently the intifada kept ending between terrorist attacks.Also it kept suspending its targeted assasination campaign despite knowing that it was effective and it only felt justified to restart it after the next suicide bombing. It removed roadblocks and introduced "confidence building measures" knowing full well that these acts will lead to increase in terror.Overall it kept treating the terror as if it was occuring in a different dimension from the ongoing "peace process" with the maintstream "peace loving" Palestinian population.The army often engaged in effective and fairly targeted anti terror operations just to cut them short immediately.Operation Rainbow in Gaza comes to mind. And finally Sharon promised "harshest reponse ever to terror after disengagement".Even Haaretz noticed that he lied.He completely lied. Oh and lets not forget the unfinished wall(after 4 years.)And nowhere was there a threat of an embargo,and never did Bush threaten to cut off aid.

Yes I'm rigth wing and whats saddens me is that despite the fact the the Right was right about everything the maintstream in Israel still treat them as lunatics.The Right said Oslo would fail and it did.It said the disengagement would lead to Hamasland and it did.Centrist "pragmatism" has lead to 1100 dead .I just dont get at all,the Israeli mainstream mentality.

Posted by: alexbmn | Feb 24, 2006 12:50:41 AM

Hello again. I have read all of the comments, but I am not convinced that minds have been changed or that solutions have resulted. The fact remains that we can talk about this until you are blue in the face, what are you going to DO... I mean actually DO about it. Can anyone really do anything about it. Honestly I am tired of the crap that is going on in the world, I am tired of the crap that politicians are feeding us. This problem is going to be the end. I do mean "THE END." Am I the only one who sees this coming? What the hell has happened to us? I mean people are so mean, I hear things like "they are not from my country, so I hate them." "they are black not white so I hate them" "Muslims vs shi-ites" I mean seriously... what the heck? Why can't we have enough respect for our neighbor to just accept them? Yes, ther are basic laws, don't kill, don't hit people, don't steal... but we all know better (I thought). I really do not care you who worship, or what country you are from or what color you skin is. You know, there are people out there who would hate me just because I am an American. Never mind the fact that I am a warm, caring, loving person who would do anything for a person in need. But no, I am an American so I must be fat and selfish and an awful person. We all need to grow up a bit and stop the crap. Honestly, bitching about it on a blog is one thing... DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Get off your ass and do something!
If it were not for this blog, you would not have motivated me to do something about it ... what has it done for you?
Sorry if I offended you... I am just a bit hurt and upset that I can not find a solution.

Posted by: Erica | Feb 24, 2006 8:59:44 PM

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