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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Exploding Myths

As the last few days of 2007 dwindle down I thought it might be an opportune time to mention a few popular beliefs and ask whether or not some of us need to clean out our closets full of myths for the new year:

Myth #1:  The 'Illegal Settler Enterprise'

Shmuel Katz, a co-founder of the Herut party (with Menachem Begin) and a member of Israel's first Knesset, wrote an essay this past week that should be required reading for anyone who thinks that the construction/existence of settlements in Judea and Samaria - and the very settler enterprise - is illegal under international law.   I'm sick of hearing and reading uninformed idiots make reference to the Geneva Convention and international law in reference to what can and can't be done with Israel's conquered land.  Please read the whole thing, but here's the money quote that explodes this myth quite nicely:

"... the last defining document that underwrites the legality [of the post-Six Day War settler movement] was the Geneva Convention of 1949. It dealt with occupied territories. Its second clause, stating its scope, makes it clear that it does not apply to the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria - because Jordan was not a sovereign possessor but an illegal invader, and similarly was Egypt an illegal invader of Gaza. Israel liberated both areas, restoring them to the territory of the Palestine Mandate of 1922." [emphasis added]

Myth # 2:  Our Moderate Palestinian Peace Partners

Throughout the Oslo War (and even before) Israel was subjected to the Palestinian version of 'Good Cop - Bad Cop'.  Simply put, the 'moderate leadership' would claim to be pursuing peace while privately encouraging/funding terror (something their charter still refers to as 'resistance').  After each atrocity, no matter how depraved or vicious, the Pali spokespeople would condemn the carnage in the strongest terms and add a standard statement such as "the group that carried out the attack seeks to sabotage peace negotiations and undermine the Palestinian Authority's plan to increase security in the Palestinian territories." 

Sound familiar?  It should, since that's the statement given by the PA Prime Minister last night in reference to the murder of two young Israeli hikers near Hevron.  Yet miraculously, the group that claimed credit for the attack reports directly to the Prime Minister's party; Fatah!  Anyone have a problem with finally exploding this myth? 

Good... next.

Myth # 3: Those Downtrodden Palestinians

Sure it's humiliating for Palestinians to wait in endless lines at checkpoints and be searched and questioned on a daily basis.  But so what?  We all have to go through the same treatment every time we want to get on a plane (thanks to the Palestinians!).  And every single day these checkpoints turn up bombs, knives, guns and grenades!  Moreover, Israeli Jews my seem to breeze through the checkpoints a little faster than our Arab neighbors, but we suffer attacks with stones, Molotov cocktails, knives, guns, bombs and rockets on a daily basis!  Is there anything more humiliating than having Palestinians try to main / kill you... and all too often succeeding... every single day?!

In Annapolis Condoliza Rice drew a shameful comparison between the daily humiliations that the Palestinians suffer under Israeli rule and her recollections of segregation in the south when she was a child.  Not only did she gloss over the fact that (to my knowledge) southern blacks weren't trying to kill southern whites on a daily basis, but she also somehow forgot all about the shame of separate drinking fountains and entrances when she forced the Israeli delegation at Annapolis to enter the hall through the kitchen because the Saudi delegation refused to use the same doorway as Jews!

Myth # 4:  Those Evil Settlers

A while back a settler woman in Hevron was filmed cursing at her Arab neighbor and it became big news among the Tel Aviv anti-settler set.  One useful-idiot-blogger even went so far as to say how emotionally devastating it was to witness such open animosity.  At the time I left a comment asking why it wasn't emotionally devastating for her to contemplate the entire Hevron community having been wiped out in a pogrom and have their murderers move into their houses?  Not only that but the Jews who have moved back to Hevron have been subjected to nearly daily physical attacks!  What of that???  I'm still waiting for an answer.

Now here we are a year later and three settlers were attacked by Palestinian terrorists while out hiking in the hills near Hevron this past Friday.  Two men were killed in the attack and a woman who was with them was wounded.  These young settlers - both lifelong residents of Kiryat Arba - were on a weekend furlough from their army units.  Not only were these evil settlers serving their country in combat units, but they had managed to gain entry into two of the most elite units in the IDF; the Navy's Shayetet 13 and the Air Force's Shaldag

While the children of our leaders move to Europe and the US in record numbers, the children of settlers stay put and reclaim the land that Israelis fought and died for in 67.  While teens from Tel Aviv and its environs continue to evade the draft in record numbers by faking mental illness and/or physical injury to lower their medical profile, or by claiming pacifist status, the children of evil religious settlers fight to gain entry to the most challenging and dangerous jobs the Israeli army has to offer, and are represented out of all proportion to their actual numbers amongst IDF's officers. 

While taking a tour of the lefty Israeli blogosphere to see if anyone had seen fit to mention Friday's double murder (none had as of early Sunday morning), I stumbled upon a post written by a blogger who recently accused me of hating her and of having anger management issues.  While it wasn't true when she wrote those things, I imagine this response to her most recent post will probably prove her right.

In her post she wrote about a recent trip she took with some of her lefty liberal friends to help some poor downtrodden Palestinians pick olives outside of Hevron.  Incredibly, this blogger seems to be trying to repackage herself as a centrist because in her post, she would have us believe these lefty liberals are even more lefty and liberal than she.  Reading her post with Friday's murder victim just hours in their graves offered a bit of gruesome symmetry... especially as I read how one of the organizers of the trip stood up on the bus and announced, "We’re almost there... So I just wanted to warn you all: if you have a camera or a mobile phone, keep it close to you at all times because The Settlers have been known to grab them." 

While in her post the blogger made a joking aside about that announcement, she apparently made no attempt to openly challenge such an idiotic statement or set the record straight with the Israeli and European do-gooders aboard the bus.  I bet that if someone had said something similar about the poor downtrodden Palestinians she would have stood up and challenged them. 

I couldn't care less if a bunch of bleeding hearts want to spend their weekends providing free labor to Palestinian olive growers.  But from the sounds of it, these trips are spent vilifying/demonizing settlers to the point that our lives are considered forfeit for simply daring to live on land that is legally ours. 

If this is the case, then perhaps it's time the IDF finally gives in to the Machsom Watch hags and does away with the humiliating roadblocks!  My guess is that it would be a matter of a few days or a week at most before the mythical terrorists start blowing themselves up in Tel Aviv cafes again. 

Sadly, I've arrived at the point where that is one myth I wouldn't mind seeing exploded once and for all.

[Update:  The PA Foreign Minister and Chief of Police are now on record as saying that the two off-duty soldiers were killed in a "business dispute" and not out of nationalistic motives.  Will someone please explain to me why Israel is still bank-rolling this bunch of murdering dirt-bags???!]

Posted by David Bogner on December 30, 2007 | Permalink


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Having outed yourself in the previous post as a brutal Israeli thug, what sort of credibility do you think you have left.... among the left?

I bet you even went so far as to not rape Palestinian women:

(IsraelNN.com) A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers’ committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that “the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals.”

The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: ”In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done.”

The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers’ eyes.
- - - - - - - - - -
You, you.... non-rapist, you!

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 30, 2007 3:19:28 PM

Let me explode one myth for you, David: The Israeli delegation did NOT use a separate entrance at Annapolis

Other than that, I pretty much agree with you.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 30, 2007 4:09:25 PM

Ben-David... talk about damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Russ... Thanks for sharing that. I had based my point on Caroline Glick's piece. Still, Rice's analogy was a bit problematic considering she made the comparison knowing full well that it was an Arab delegation that had demanded segregation from the Jews.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2007 4:39:17 PM

As always, great post, Trep. The Shmuel Katz article was particularly eye-opening. I thought I was pretty well read up on the subject, but I didn't know that the settlements were specifically protected by the Geneva Conventions themselves. And they actually, in effect, refer to Yesha as Israeli territory occupied by Jordan and Egypt! How perfect.

Posted by: psachya | Dec 30, 2007 4:59:58 PM

okay, so I'm not trying to be inflammatory here, nor un-caring about these kids. But there is something I don't understand. Why were these kids hiking in the West Bank? It seems needlessly dangerous to me. It's not like I've never been into the West Bank, as I've been to Shvut Rachel a bunch of times, and each time I didn't get the feeling that the Palestinians I was driving past were such a friendly bunch (especially to me with my Israeli licence plates), so why would I want to go hiking there? I won't say it seems provocative, because to many Palestinians the mere presence of Jews anywhere in Israel seems provocative, but it does seem,.. something. Un-necessary perhaps. You spoke about journalists going off to Arab countries, where they can get kidnapped etc, surely this is quite similar? Going off for a hike through Palestinian areas where they can get kidnapped, or killed. I don't quite understand why we would never consider going for a stroll in Gaza (if it were possible) and yet doing it in the West Bank seems an acceptable idea.

Please realise I'm not being unfeeling about the deaths of these kids, I just am puzzled by this aspect of the story, and I wonder if you could explain it to me from your perspective. I don't think they deserved to die for going where they did, but in my opinion it seems like they raised their chances of dying by going where they did.

Posted by: Katherine | Dec 30, 2007 5:38:52 PM

Hello, David. Here is my response to your most recent, scurrilous jab at me ‘n my blog.

Over the past couple of years I have watched as you sanctimoniously patrolled the Israeli English-language blogosphere, bullying and attacking all those with whom you disagree. You never write about Hebrew blogs. Perhaps if you took the time to read some of them, you would see how completely disconnected you are from the mainstream Israeli point of view. You don’t seem to read any Hebrew news sources, either, or to have much experience of Israeli society beyond your heavily Anglo settlement and your place of work in Beer Sheva.

I also remained silent – until recently, obviously – when you attacked me on your blog, or in person. Two years ago, before we had met either offline or online, you took the very inappropriate step of looking up my mobile number, calling me and taking me to task for a comment I had written on someone’s blog, in response to his post about the Orange Youth demonstrations leading up to the withdrawal from Gaza.

Several months later, we met for lunch in Tel Aviv and had what I thought was a perfectly pleasant conversation. You, clearly, felt otherwise. On your blog, you wrote that you felt as though you were walking on eggshells with me, but I felt nothing of the kind. I was very surprised by your characterization of our meeting, and I believe I mentioned my surprise in my comment.

After I blogged about my experience of reporting from the scene of a Tel Aviv suicide bombing in April 2006, you initiated an online chat with me – at 2.00 a.m., when I was exhausted after a rather horrifying day – and chided me for writing about the fact that Arabs were injured in that terror attack. You tastelessly accused me of neglecting to highlight the Jewish deaths.

At the beginning of the Second Lebanon War, in response to my blog posts about the online connection between Lebanese and Israeli bloggers, you accused me of being a traitor.

That is when I stopped reading your blog.

More than a year later, a few acquaintances sent me the link to the post in which you attack me for traveling to Lebanon and reporting about my visits. Your entire attack is predicated on your personal political agenda. You do not bother to ask any questions – e.g., has there ever been a case of an Israeli civilian being abducted in an enemy state (no), or is there a political agenda behind this selective investigation (yes). You do not seem to be the least aware that I did not exactly invent the wheel in traveling to and reporting from an enemy country – that Israelis with dual citizenship have been doing this for years.

And so I responded on my blog, for the first time, to one of your many attacks. And you, predictably, became nearly incandescent with rage. Apparently you think it’s perfectly acceptable for you to attack others, but heaven forbid those you attack should respond.

And now you claim that, with my recent post about olive picking near Hebron, I am “repositioning” myself as a centrist. Actually, David, I never positioned myself as anything. You are the one who creates false dichotomies and divisions within the blogosphere by assigning labels to others. And then you write pious little comments in which you accuse me of being discourteous to my fellow Israeli bloggers – i..e., you. I cannot recall ever having seen you show courtesy to anyone with whom you disagree.

I do not, and never have, called myself a leftist. I reject political labels because I think they are false and misleading. I write about my life, my experiences and my personal interpretations. One of my closest and most beloved friends voted for Lieberman in the last elections, and has a newly-married daughter who lives in a religious settlement. She is the most uncritically supportive, caring friend I could hope to have. I also have a Palestinian friend in Ramallah who opposes the two-state solution. I call her to talk about her family and our jobs, but we simply do not discuss politics. We have agreed to disagree, and neither of us would ever attack the other. The point is that I see them as individuals, not as political representatives.

You, David, are obviously under no obligation to agree with my interpretations of my life and experiences. But don’t you dare question my honesty – as you did when I explained how Israeli reporters work in the Palestinian territories. And if you must stoop to the level of personal attacks, then don’t expect those you attack to stand by quietly.

In your latest report, you refer to the women who volunteer for Machsom Watch as “hags.” Perhaps you should go and stand with those women at the checkpoints and see who they really are, what they really do, and what really goes on at checkpoints like the one at Hawara, near Nablus. By calling them “hags,” you haven’t exploded any myths here. Rather, you have perpetuated two: that the checkpoints prevent suicide attacks (in fact, even Avi Dichter admits that intelligence information and night-time raids are the real reason for the decline in suicide attacks over the past couple of years); and that the women who volunteer for Machsom Watch, many of whom are the mothers of soldiers serving in the IDF, are interfering with security procedures.

What goes on at the checkpoints should not be an issue of Right versus Left. It should be seen objectively as bad for all of us: bad for the soldiers, who have to stand there for 12 hours at a time, doing a miserable job; bad for the state of Israel, which expends money and manpower on those checkpoints; and bad for the Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are just human beings trying to get from one place to another.

Even more contemptible than your use of the term “hags” is your expressed wish that Tel Avivians once again be subjected to suicide bombings, just so they’ll “understand” why the checkpoints exist. Yes, indeed, your compassion and caring for the Jewish people is boundless – as long as they are Jewish people who live and think as you do, I gather.

I expect that you will once again become enraged upon reading this long comment. You will probably deconstruct it, twist its meaning, throw some more accusations at me, use terms like straw man and clichés about kettles calling stoves black. Perhaps you will write me angry emails, too. Go ahead, David, knock yourself out. You have long driven away the commenters who might disagree with you, so I expect your readers will all respond with verbal thumps on the back and words of encouragement.

I might come back to read those responses. Then again, maybe I won’t. Because I don’t think you have anything original, insightful, balanced or wise to contribute. And I certainly don’t think you are capable of engaging in a fair, detached debate with anyone who disagrees with you. That much, at least, you have demonstrated most amply over the past couple of years.

Posted by: Lisa Goldman | Dec 30, 2007 5:49:33 PM

Katherine: I will try to respond in a non inflammatory manner to your query.

BTW, Did you skip reading about myths 1-3? I only ask myth 1 in particular deals with the legality of Jewish 'settlements' in the West Bank. An essential part of the post, and possibly the most overlooked bit of Geneva Convention application in the recent 60-year history of the area....

The West Bank is home to quite a few Israeli citizens. For example, the city of Ariel, a community in Samaria (northern West Bank) is home to 20,000 permanent Israeli residents plus another 10,000 students. Kiryat Arba, the west bank home of the two most recently murdered soldiers is home to approximately 7,000 Israeli residents. Ofra in the Mateh Binyamin Regional council is home to 3,000 Israeli citizens. Shiloh (also Mateh Binyamin) is home to approximately 1,500 Israeli citizens. Gush Etzion is home to over 13,000 Israeli citizens alone -- a conservative estimate for the population of Efrat is 8,000; 3,000 for Alon Shvut; 1,000 each for Elazar and Neve Daniel. This does not include the smaller Gush Etzion communities of Tekoa, Nokdim, Kfar Etzion, Carmei Tzur, Rosh Tzurim, Migdal Oz, or Bat Ayin. Nor does it include the many communities of the Hebron Hills -- Karmel, Maon, Sussiyah, Matir.... Nor does it include Beitar with over 25,000 residents, or Maalei Adumim with 28,000 residents.

Hmmmm. By my tally we are already talking about over 107,000 Israeli citizens. And we haven't even scratched the surface in terms of yishuvim, cities, and moshavim.

So. In answer to your question what were they doing hiking in the west bank? I respectfully submit that they were living there. Living there, I might add, at the initiative of several previous Israeli governmental policies.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 30, 2007 6:49:23 PM

Zahava, that's 100 thousand settlers to about 2-3 times as many Pals. You can play the numbers game, but the bottom line is- Jewish pple who choose to live there today are taking a risk. The risk is certainly less when they choose to stay in their settlements. And it's certainly greater if they choose to venture out hiking- that's just plain logic when you're surrounded by many pple who would love stab you or blow you up. Is this fair? Is this just? Didn't previous gov't encourage this? No, no and yes. But, that's life. I don't think it's fair to anyone to pretend otherwise.

Posted by: Abbi | Dec 30, 2007 8:19:11 PM


I was originally going to post a short comment asking you, David, why you linked to Lisa's blog again - I'm sure I'm not the only one who went reading it via your link today. If anything, a mega-blogger such as yourself must realize the value of a link in a post of yours (feel free to throw me one any time...)

But then I read Lisa's comment. You guys both write so well - it's amazing. And I think that's perhaps the core of the conflict. I don't think it's politics. David is not as right wing as he has been portrayed, and that's within the limited Israeli definition of left and right. In the States - I'm guessing he'd probably be viewed to the left of center.

And from what I've read of Lisa - I don't think she's quite as far left as she may seem either.

Lisa wrote about her right-wing friend, and I'm sure David has plenty of good friends on the left. So what's the problem?

I think the real issue is what you both are writing as. David writes as an Israeli citizen with the writing skills of a professional journalist. Lisa writes as a journalist with the familiarity of Israeli life that isn't found by most in the press here.

I think David is expecting Lisa, as an Israeli citizen, to act like one. That was the core of his complaint about your trip to Lebanon. And in all fairness, Lisa, you didn't reply to the objective nature of his post, but kept it personal.

On the other hand, I don't think Lisa views herself as an Israeli citizen first, but first and foremost a journalist. And so she has Palestinian friends, and goes to Lebanon and so on. And therefore perhaps she can't understand why as good a writer as David wouldn't be more balanced when it comes to the issues he cares about. But of course, David is not writing as a journalist, but as someone who is passionately concerned about the future of his country. That may be partisan, but that's not a dirty word - it's the life-blood of a healthy political discourse in any democracy.

And between the lines of Lisa's comment, I see two people who probably really do desire the respect of one another, and perhaps care about the other more than they're willing to admit. If David tracked down Lisa's cell phone and chatted with her at 2 AM, it's not because he's obsessed with her (as she unfairly accused him not long ago), but because he thought that someone of her caliber should be more balanced. Bottom line, it's a compliment.

And I think that Lisa must be impressed with David's writing as well, or she wouldn't harp on him the way that she does. I'm sure David's not the only one who's criticized her publicly, but she's responded in such a personal way, that it must simply be personal for her as well.

I don't know if either of you listen to Galei Tzahal, but there's a great program called Mila Achrona daily at 11 AM. It's one of those rare cases in Israeli society where two people can publicly debate critical issues with out shouting at each other. It's fun to watch not only because the two hosts are so different, but also because you realize just how similar they are.

I think if there was some way that the two of you could have such a forum online, all of your readers would benefit.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Dec 30, 2007 8:46:15 PM

I have very few regrets in life. The '77 and '78 Dodgers should have won the World Series. I was heartbroken when the hated Celtics defeated my Lakers in '84. There are a few stocks that I intended to buy and never did thus losing untold dollars.

However the most serious regret that I have is not having been able to make aliyah. Now it may be that in the future I will fulfill this dream and that is something that I continue to aspire to.

In the interim part of how I quench my thirst for all things Israel is by reading various blogs about life in Israel. For close to four years you have let me tag along on your adventures and I am grateful for that.

I think that Dave (Balashon) has some interesting points that are worth considering.

Excuse me, I have to go now my tuchus is sore from sitting on the fence.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 30, 2007 9:03:26 PM

Hey Trep,

Here's a post about some recent Machsom Witch activities.

Thought you'd find it interesting.


Posted by: JoeSettler | Dec 30, 2007 9:30:20 PM

psachya... Sadly I think he's preaching to the choir.

Katherine... I've covered most of this ground before in this post. Feel free to go read. The gist of that post is the that there is something flawed about blaming the victim when he goes to a place he has every right under the law to be. On top of that is a very clear prejudice on the part of anyone who suggests that certain people /neighborhoods are more dangerous than others. Certainly not PC. As it relates to the here and now, there are plenty of people in the US who think living in Tel Aviv is an unnecessary risk and that our presence anywhere in this land is an unnecessary provocation. At some point we have to make a decision of whether we simply give up and give the whole ball of wax to the Arabs just because they've to made it too dangerous for us here in OUR HOME. These boys lived very close to where they were killed and had every right to feel it was their land to explore. Since when is taking a nature hike an invitation to violence??? To end my point, how would you feel if Arabs started getting lynched if they plowed their fields too close to Jewish settlements? Would you blame them for their murders or the Jews?

Lisa... Oy, I'll give you points for consistency. You are batting 1.000 when it comes to not answering a single question put to you about your words or actions. You also have a perfect score when it comes to trying to deflect uncomfortable questions by making personal (and irrelevant) personal observations and attacks. I asked you why you didn't correct the woman leading the group when she said something terribly unfair/untrue about settlers, and your response; Silence. Well, not exactly silence. You certainly felt the need to condemn my characterization of the Machsom Watch ladies as 'Hags' but your response to the public characterization of settlers as thieves... still silence. Your Leiberman-voting friend not withstanding, you seem to pick and choose your battles along partisan lines. You seem to think that since I don't read the Hebrew dailies (I try to read Yediot on Shabbat) that my opinions are uninformed. You think that because I live in a town with many immigrants that my opinions are valueless. You suggest that because I don't read the same bloggers that you find interesting that I have no right to form and express an opinion. You condemn roadblocks by citing one person's opinion that completely ignores the daily seizure of weapons and explosives at checkpoints (the bags of explosive ingredients marked as EU Sugar donations the other day comes to mind). You call me a bully yet fail to explain what kind of power you think I wield over you or anyone else in the blogosphere. Other than calling you a dilettante (an unkind remark for which I apologize), I don't think I've attacked you personally or shown anything more than mild annoyance at you... and certainly not rage. No Lisa, just this once why don't you take a step back and look at the question someone is asking you. If you don't want to answer, I'll have to accept that. But unlike the US or Canada where you have the right to remain silent, I'm sure you are now aware that in Israel, silence in the face of questioning is often weighed against you.

Zahava... I don't like to play the numbers game because of the comments they attract. The first black family living in Scarsdale had every right to be there. If only one Jewish town were legally built on legally purchased land, that would be reason enough to justify taking a hike in the hills nearby.

Abbi... I'm not asking for fair. I'm asking for justice. You don't make concessions to people who continue to try to kill you. I will personally throw a party for everyone I know the day I no longer feel the need to carry a gun to and from work.

Dave.... Yes, Lisa is a fantastic writer. Yes, I have a grudging respect for her on some levels, although my respect for her objectivity and judgment has taken a few hits lately. I doubt Lisa would be much fun in a debate since she seems content to let any questions she finds bothersome remain unanswered . She doesn't realize it, but our still-born friendship never had a chance for the simple reason that I never felt she cared a bit for anyone's opinion but her own.

Jack... Some people would have you believe that the Israeli experience I've shared with you is somehow counterfeit. I'd ask for a refund if I were you.

Joes settler... Not facts! I can deal with anything but facts! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2007 9:37:19 PM

You know, David, that I'm a dedicated reader. I plowed through all those archives because I enjoyed them. I like how you write, I like how you think (most of the time), and I agree with you (much of the time). In general, I applaud your perpetual efforts at הסברה - Israel vis a vis the world, Israelis vis a vis Arabs, right vis a vis left - although I think that unfortunately you're often preaching to the choir. I have been to Efrat, have friends who have lived there and in nearby towns, and would love someday to live in that area.

In point #4 of this post, however, IMHO you've pretty much thrown out all objectivity, civility, and maturity in favor of petty, indiscriminate vindictiveness. In her response, Lisa mentions several actions of yours that might be worrisome...if I were at all interested in the ongoing feud between you two. I'm not. That's a personal matter, or should be, and in my opinion there's been too much pointless public mud-slinging already. But she also highlights your shocking disregard for what I thought were your own values of respect for diversity of persective and free speech...not to mention human life!

I'd like to suggest you reconsider your last few paragraphs. If you want to condemn Machsom Watch because you feel they're endangering Israeli lives, כל הכבוד. JoeSettler just modeled for you. But suggesting that the civilian population of Tel Aviv be freely fed as bait to those who wish to murder them, simply because their demographics contain a large portion of politically left-leaning citizens...well, you're too good a writer to need that kind of hyperbole.

Posted by: Alisha | Dec 30, 2007 9:44:47 PM

of course the 3 guys had every right to hike there. and of course those palestinians were committing murder.
but it just wasnt the smartest thing to do.
example: you go into 7-11 with your car door open and the engine running. you come out to find your car missing. now, you had every right to leave your car open and running. and those baddies who stole your car deserve to be in prison. but come on...
the central park jogger comes to mind...

Posted by: fred | Dec 30, 2007 9:47:58 PM

Abbi: there are few, if any places, which exist as risk-free in today's world. My point in bringing up the numbers was merely to show that the West Bank is not currently judenrein -- though certainly not for lack of trying by the Palis.

It is not inconceivable that Jewish Israelis hike in the areas surrounding their homes. And as for risk -- how much riskier will life get elsewhere if we all cede way to the homicidal demands of the terrorists? They have made it clear that they desire not only the West Bank, but all of Israel.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 30, 2007 9:49:26 PM

"I will personally throw a party for everyone I know the day I no longer feel the need to carry a gun to and from work."

Right, but just remember that only you made the conscious choice to live in an area where you feel you have to be armed in order to commute to work. You had the choice to live in many other places in Israel where you really don't have to be armed to get to work- my husband gets along just fine commuting to Herzilya from Raanana without any firearms in tow. Be'er Sheva proper or the swanky Omer suburb, also require no firearm protection (and your commute would be practically nothing)

So, again, while you have truth, justice and the Israeli way on your side and some numbers, it was still your own choice to live in a higher risk area then most other Israelis choose, for whatever reasons.

Posted by: Abbi | Dec 30, 2007 9:53:04 PM

Zahava- sorry, as I pointed out to David- most Israelis do not need firearms to commute to work- so I really don't buy the argument about "no risk free places in the world". There are greater and lesser risks everywhere. I might have every right to go to an ATM in the middle of 125th street at midnight, but I would say the risk of theft or worse is much greater there and then than going to a neighborhood bank in Stamford CT at 9 am. Which would you say is the smarter choice?

Posted by: Abbi | Dec 30, 2007 9:57:28 PM

Alisha... My guess is that your comment and mine crossed in the ether. If so, I hope you'll go back and read some of my responses to others. That said, I have frequently said things here for which I have apologized. I rarely edit myself and sometimes the stuff I'm thinking about at 5:30 AM is not worth reading at noon. A lot of that you never see... but some slips trough. You are correct about the end of the post. I would never seriously want a single Jew to lose their life, in Tel Aviv or Bat Ayin. But I often think that the decision makers in this country would gladly allow settlements and development towns on Israel's periphery burn under relentless rocket and terror attacks... so long as the Cafes and clubs in Tel Aviv remain out of range. Think I'm wrong? Maybe. But so far the lives of people in Sderot and Kiryat Arba seem to be worth less than those living in the merkaz. Anyway, if you slogged through the archives you are a glutton for punishment and deserve what you get. :-) Seriously, I appreciate the criticism and take it to heart.

Fred... Go read he post I linked to in my response to Katherine. I'd love to hear your views in light of the points I mention there.

Abbi... By that rationale I shouldn't have moved to Israel at all since the Intifada was still raging when we made aliyah. Again, why is some risk OK and other not.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2007 10:06:44 PM

As someone who has been reading both blogs for a while now, I must say that there's some part of this debate that disturbs me. I'm not sure how David's being an Anglo or living around other Anglo's makes his opinions somehow less relevant. His views don't seem that far out of line with some of the columnists in Yediot or Maariv and inline with Makor Rishon and Arutz 7 if you're looking for Hebrew equivalents (I do read the Hebrew dailies).

An Israeli is an Israeli period. Someone's right of center views shouldn't be discounted simply because they're an oleh. This tactic seems to be prevalent amongst those left of center, but regardless of who does it, its disturbing. Why should the opinions of olim be discounted simply because they don't tow the line of Haaretz/Meretz? Shame on anyone who suggests otherwise.

Posted by: Yitzchak | Dec 30, 2007 10:31:10 PM

Thanks for taking it to heart. FWIW, I did read your last set of responses before posting my comment, but it didn't change anything I had to say.

Posted by: Alisha | Dec 30, 2007 11:21:20 PM

Fred and Abbi: Leaving your car unlocked and running outside a convenience store might or might not be asking for it to be stolen, jogging solo in a city park after nightfall might or might not be asking to be raped, and withdrawing cash from a public street ATM while alone at midnight might or might not be asking to be mugged, but sitting inside your car while parked on your own street certainly is not asking to be set on fire, exercising with others at the gym certainly is not asking to be bombed, and withdrawing money from inside your neighborhood bank during banking hours certainly is not asking to be shot.

Posted by: B | Dec 30, 2007 11:34:56 PM

Trep: I notice that once again, you're trying to equate greater and lesser risks, when you know that this is clearly not true (it might make you feel better, but it's just not reality). Living in closer proximity to hostile enemy carries a greater risk then living farther away, regardless of how legal it is for you to live there. Sure, anyone can say the same thing about living in Israel. But reality is that neither I nor my husband need guns or bullet proof vests to carry out our daily activities and clearly you do. I can hike up the Lebanese border if I really wanted to, and the chances of getting shot are much smaller then hiking around Chevron. So who's living in a riskier environment?

B: Sorry, I missed the punchline to your post. If you're trying to equate exercising at the gym with hiking in hostile territory that we have a legal right to- sorry, I'm not buying it.

Posted by: Abbi | Dec 31, 2007 7:15:56 AM

So Abbi, what are you suggesting? Do you suggest that we abandon our rights because exercising them is risky? Do you suggest that we (as a collective society, as well as individuals) "reap what we sow" if we exercise our right to be somewhere risky?

Your remarks seem to imply that a person who acknowledges the risks and accepts them somehow surrenders the right to be outraged when the risk becomes reality. And again, I ask you, where do you draw the line? If we keep retreating to safer ground, the borders of "safe" become exponentially smaller.

Incidentally, even given the "added risk" of where we live, statistically, Trep is more likely to (G-d forbid) be involved in a car accident than being in a terrorist attack. Should he stay off the roads?

Posted by: zahava | Dec 31, 2007 9:37:41 AM

Abbi, I've just reread your comment re: ATM at 125th St. in NYC at midnight vs. Stamford, CT at 9:00 am, and I am sorry but I am just not buying your argument either. There are exponential reasons a person might find themselves in a risky situation -- either by choice or by circumstance (broken down car, economics, etc.). Being "smarter" often has nothing to do with it.

I doubt the vast majority of residents in high crime areas prefer living under those circumstances. Many however, lack the financial ability to change their lot. I bring this up because the vast majority of Sderot residents remain under a constant barrage of rockets not because they do not recognize the current risks of living in Sderot, but because they can not afford to remove themselves from that risk.

If you want to insist that putting oneself in harm's way justifies harm, there is little I can say or do to dissuade you, and you are certainly welcome to your opinion. I contend that "safe" is not only a relative term, but a term which requires participation. And not just in the "don't go there" sense. IMHO, real safety is a reality only when society determines that it won't tolerate intimidation factors, thuggery, or violence as a means to prevent people from simply "being" somewhere.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 31, 2007 10:00:58 AM

Sure there are "exponential reasons" why pple might find themselves in riskier siutations. However, everyone would agree that given the choice (so, excluding your car breaking down, etc), it's better to hop on the subway and take money out in many other places then 125th street at midnight. Is this fair or just? Abosultely not. But, it's reality, and most pple live their lives by recognizing this reality.

Also, I think you just can't compare yourselves to pple living in Sderot. You could have very well chosen to live in many other places, due to your economic circumstances, but you didn't. The pple living in Sderot clearly do not have the economic opportunities that you do, as American olim and Israeli middle class. So I think the comparison is disingenuous. Also, your car didn't just "happen" to break down in Efrat after you landed in Israel, so again, I'm not sure how your situation is in any way circumstantial.

I'm not justifying pple getting killed by terrorists. I'm just saying that to dismiss the increased risks of hiking near Chevron because they have "every right to be there" and because they were simply living their lives, is just foolish.

Posted by: Abbi | Dec 31, 2007 10:57:14 AM

Abbi: I am not comparing myself to the people in Sderot. I am, however, saying that what you deem "foolish" is, in my opinion, a short-sighted view of the situation.

You insist that you are not justifying the deaths of these young men, and I honestly don't think you mean to. But when you simultaneously insist that it was foolish of them to have been there, it does seem as though you are accusing them of having contributed to their own deaths.

Am I misunderstanding? Good G-d, I hope so!

Posted by: zahava | Dec 31, 2007 11:44:38 AM

Abbi... OK, I'm stepping in here and putting a stop to this. You are simply restating a tragically flawed argument. There have been periods in recent Israeli history where drinking a Latte in Tel Aviv or riding a city bus in Jerusalem meant quite literally taking your life in your hands. The theoretical demarcation between what you define as acceptable and unacceptably risks is a slippery slope that is impossible to define. Not only that, by trying to define where that line is you are giving legitimacy to the Arab claim of our status as interlopers who can be legitimately targeted if we impose our insulting and offensive presence into their domain. This is the big lie that allowed most of the world to 'accept' that Sharon's footsteps on the Temple mount were enough of an offense to warrant the second intifada, yet the Palestinian destruction of Joseph's tomb was a reasonable and acceptable act towards one of Judaism's holy sites. You are arguing from our enemy's point of view and I will not give you a further platform to do so. For the most part your comments here are intelligent and interesting and I welcome them on future topics, but on this one we will have to simply agree to disagree. END OF THREAD

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 31, 2007 11:59:06 AM

goon on ya lisa G

i believe if you take someone who is neutral to the israel/palestine conflict to hevron they will come away feeling appalled at what the settlers and army have done. the place has been ethnically purged of palestinians because of settler harassment and army closures.

"A while back a settler woman in Hevron was filmed cursing at her Arab neighbor and it became big news among the Tel Aviv anti-settler set." i wonder why. it was sickening. the thing about that film is that it's nothing special - settler violence is well-documented on videos and news reports.

so egpyt and jordon were 'illegal invaders' what makes israel different?
the settlements are blatantly illegal and signal the end of zionism if not reversed. there's no jewish majority between the sea and the river, only within the green line. soon the palestinians will ask for one-man-one-vote instead of two-states-for-two-peoples.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 31, 2007 12:13:55 PM

Abbi - let's try it this way:

I grew up in NYC during its dark, graffiti-covered bad times. I went to City College right near the "125th street" epicenter of crime that is being referenced in this thread.

A downward spiral in which vandalism and petty theft - unchecked in a bankrupt and apathetic city - led to violent crime and de-facto balkanization by gangs. You could call it a "loss of sovereignty" with very little exaggeration.

Ever broader tracts of the city became "too risky" for white, middle-class people (and for minority people who had the resources to choose to exit) - as the emboldened thugs reached out - by bus and subway - to other districts.

The Guiliani administration turned that around - largely by focusing on restoring order and a sense of safety in public areas. Now subway lines and areas of the city once thought to be "too risky" are thronging with people late into the night.

But this was achieved gradually - initially only few people ventured back into the areas that had previously been labelled "risky": off-beat clubs, theaters, and restaurants began drawing small crowds, the bohemians who always spearhead gentrification sought out cheap gallery space, etc.

Should the Guiliani administration have shrugged when these people were attacked by gang members defending "their" turf? After all, they "asked for it" by going to places "known to be risky".

What would that imply about the sovereignty and authority of that - or any other - administration?

The analogy is, in fact, exact - because David and I, and many others, commute daily from the "territories" into Herzliya Pituach and the TA metropolitan area. The scale is exact.

With this added point: New York is a jot on the American map, but "greater Israel" is merely the size of a modern metropolotican area, making this an issue of NATIONAL sovereignty - and survival.

Abbi - you seem to have succumbed to "Texas syndrome": the psychological defense of coastal Israelis who - led that way by the media - have come to think that their county is Sooooo big that what happens "over there" in the territories can't possibly affect them.

And that people who choose to live "over there" are crazy adventurers - a burden on "the rest of us" who "deserve what they get".

We're all in this together.

1967 was fought because of continued attacks from the central mountains on the coastal plain - and that was before (a) Tel-Aviv expanded so far east, and (b) the shoulder-mounted missile launcher was invented.

It ain't Texas.

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 31, 2007 12:27:32 PM

Michael... Nice try. If by "someone who is neutral to the israel/palestine conflict" you mean someone who has no historic context in which to place the current antipathy between the Jewish and Arab residents, yes it is probably pretty shocking to see all that yelling. But anyone with the aforementioned context should be able to weigh cursing against outright murder and come up with a value judgment. As to the blood libel of "settler violence is well-documented on videos and news reports", please provide something substantial. links. pictures. non-haaretz articles. That dog won't hunt here. s to your thoughtful "so egpyt and jordon were 'illegal invaders' what makes israel different? " question... did you take the time to read the essay to which I linked. If you had I wouldn't need to answer such a silly question. As to the majority between the sea and the river, I suggest you bring some relevant information before running off in that direction. The demographic scare tactics have been debunked... hadn't you heard? Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 31, 2007 1:02:32 PM

"While the children of our leaders move to Europe and the US in record numbers"

Gauntlet time for Leumi bloggers: create a repository on the web of names of [children of] famous Israelis who have become unZionist, with links to documentation if possible: Olmert's kids, Avrum Burg, Shari Arison...

Posted by: Gidon Ariel | Dec 31, 2007 1:37:38 PM

"Maalei Adumim with 28,000 residents"

That would be 35,000 residents at least, last count (I'll verify this with City Hall and update Wikipedia when the appropriate official is back from his coffee break). FYI

Posted by: Gidon Ariel | Dec 31, 2007 1:51:05 PM

Gidon: FWIW, Wikipedia is where I got the numbers.... I thought many of the numbers were on the low side. I seem to remember at last year's Yom Ha'Atzmaut tekes that the mayor of Efrat mentioned something about 10,000 Efrat residents.... But I could only report on what my research yielded.... Don't wanna be accused of exaggeration! :-)

Posted by: zahava | Dec 31, 2007 1:56:52 PM

@treppenwitz - in the green line, 79% of the population is jewish. including the west bank, it is 54% jewish, predicted to fall to 52% by 2020. add gaza and you've got an arab majority - and one which will only grow. in the 70s gush emunim hoped for c.2 million jews in the west bank - today c.15% of the west bank in jewish.

"But anyone with the aforementioned context should be able to weigh cursing against outright murder and come up with a value judgment."
sure, all the hebron settlers do is yell. i guess that's all baruch goldstein - the tsadik - did in the machpela - and he wasn't the only one. settlers who use violence are just the same as pali terrorists.

you can find dozens of videos documenting settler violence in hebron online: try youtube or the tel rumeida project. also plenty of betselem reports.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 31, 2007 2:51:02 PM

sure, all the hebron settlers do is yell. i guess that's all baruch goldstein - the tsadik - did in the machpela - and he wasn't the only one. settlers who use violence are just the same as pali terrorists.
- - - - - - - - - - -
... how many of each type of terrorist are there?
Can you document the equivalence you claim?

you can find dozens of videos documenting settler violence in hebron online: try youtube or the tel rumeida project. also plenty of betselem reports.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
2 out of these 3 sources are politically motivated, and groups like these have been caught falsifying "evidence" of settler violence - to the point of cutting branches off Pali trees, then claiming the settlers did it.

Again - what is the VOLUME of terrorist activity?

...to say nothing of the question of official sponsorship: there's a big difference between the several lone Jewish vigilantes and the full-court-press of officially sponsored Pali terror.

Including indoctrination of youth in jihad.

If there is so much evidence, it should be easy for you to come up with factual support for your qualitative/quantitative equation of settlers and Pali terrorists.

Posted by: Ben-David | Dec 31, 2007 3:20:55 PM

Ummm, Michael, just out of curiosity, why on earth would you include Gaza in your demographics? News flash -- we no longer have citizens living in Gaza.

As for calling Baruch Goldstein as tsadik -- not here, not ever.

You obviously haven't done your homework. Though Lisa would have you believe that David is a rabid, anti-Arab bigot, nothing could be farther from the truth. Try reading "Not in My Name" post from December 12, 2004. Or "No Weddings, Five Funerals" from December 14, 2004. Or "Please Take a Moment" from August 29, 2005. Or most memorably, "Reap What You Sow" from August 5, 2005. And these are just to name a few.

David has publicly denounced both the bad acts and the bad actors who claim to stand for Israel, yet adopt the tactics of our enemies. You will find no support for the likes of any vigilante here. Not. Ever.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 31, 2007 4:08:43 PM

Zahava and Ben David... Stop trying to educate our visitor. It is a classic case of trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig. Michael's using Baruch Goldstein (may his name be forgotten for what he did) as the prototypical settler speaks volumes for his worldview and his inclusion of Gaza in the area Israel nominally controls is a clear indication of his grasp of the current realities on the ground. His reliance on you-tube and btzelem as sources of verifiable information is just the bow on the precariously wrapped package that is Micheal's rabid hate of religious settlers. Move on. Nothing more to see here.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 31, 2007 4:18:48 PM

Ah, where to begin? First of all, the repartee between Trepp and Lisa Goldman prompted me to repost a story I originally posted during the war: The Sandman: I too was called to serve
I think that both are guilty of personal attacks and this is unfortunate. I enjoy reading both blogs and I urge you to make amends. We can only benefit from polite discourse especially regarding events and ideas which inspire such passion.
I would like to remind Ms. Goldman that the residents of Tel Aviv are not necessarily the "mainstream" in this country. Even those of us who live and work in places like Be'er Sheva have valid points of view. One of the points I make in the aforementioned post is that Tel Avivians are curiously under-represented in combat units. This may not be surprising, but is irksome since these "mainstreamers" don't bear the same burden of service as the rest of us. Since I served in the army both as a combat soldier and an army physician, I well know how difficult it is physically and emotionally to man the checkpoints. One must remember that what is referred to as "occupied" territories are, in fact, disputed territories and this is grounded in international law. Whether or not one believes that Jewish settlements should be where they are, until the government decides otherwise, we have an obligation to protect our citizens there. And this is one of the main reasons the checkpoints exit. At the very least one should recognize that before 1948 there was a Jewish presence in ALL of the land of Israel, and that includes Hebron. To acquiece to the Palestinian view that Jews somehow "invaded" is to be blind to the truth.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Dec 31, 2007 8:18:44 PM

So do settlers/Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria harass Palestinian olive harvesters and damage their olive trees, or don't they? I really want to know, and all the online sources that say one thing or the other are politically motivated, so I don't know who to believe.

On an unrelated note, can I just say that I cringe every time I see people use the term "Pali"? I don't know how widespread it is, this blog and its comments is the only place that I regularly see it but that may just be the sheltered life I lead. Now that words like "Nigger" and "Jap" have dropped out of most people's vocabularies, we really don't need to invent new ones.

Posted by: Simon | Jan 1, 2008 12:19:41 AM

Simon... To the best that I have been able to determine, yes, there have been a small number of well publicized cases of settler vandalizing Palestinian olive trees. At least one of these stemmed from a dispute over the ownership of the land but it as unquestionably handled outside the rule of law. The majority of vandalized trees seem to have been done by Palestinians as the trees are often cut after harvest time... a time when trees are often extensively pruned anyway... when the harvest is safely picked... and when the state restitution money will add nicely to the profitability of the season. There have been far more documented (meaning filmed and photographed) cases of Arabs cutting down trees than settlers. as to the term Pali, I have read it on many sites and never perceived it to be pejorative... only a sort of shorthand such as Brit, Aussie or Turk.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2008 12:31:52 AM

Well, yes, I guess ending a thread is a good way to end an argument.

Happy commuting.

Posted by: Abbi | Jan 1, 2008 8:15:56 AM

Abbi... You are 100% in saying that this way of ending the discussion is both unsatisfying and more than a little unfair. But I think you have to recognise that when two people discussing a particular issue keep repeating the same facts and are not getting a millimeter closer to understanding one other... it is time to move on and perhaps revisit the topic with a fresh mind another day. Fair enough?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2008 8:47:15 AM

QuietusLeo... While I admire your attempt to find the best in everyone, I strongly disagree with your contention that Lisa and I have both made personal attacks on the other. I have made no personal attacks upon Lisa. Everything I have said/asked here has related directly to her words and actions... not to the person saying/doing them. That is an intellectually honest way to ask someone what they were thinking. Every one of her responses, on the other hand, has been designed to attack me personally and ignored the issues under discussion. Nobody is required to respond to questions I ask here. But I am under no obligation to allow my blog to become as a forum for someone to attack me personally. As to the main point of your comment, I think the big problem is that there is more than one 'mainstream' in Israeli society and few care to recognize the existence of any other mainstream. The secular left majority of the coastal plain is one mainstream. The more traditional greater-Jerusalem population is another mainstream. The country's religious/traditional population, while more widely dispersed, represents still another mainstream (despite overlapping with both of the other two mainstreams I mentioned). For any one segment of Israeli society to claim dominance in national decision-making simply because they consider themselves the 'mainstream' is an unsupportable, arrogant position.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2008 9:42:04 AM


I have a link to a video of Palestinians cutting down their own olive trees near the town of Yitzhar, the place where they are always claiming that it was done by settlers. But this time they got caught on hidden camera.

But the real question is why does no one discuss the Jewish-owned farms and trees that are regularly being vandalized by Palestinians and Left-wing inciters?

Posted by: JoeSettler | Jan 1, 2008 10:21:59 PM

"Zahava and Ben David... Stop trying to educate our visitor. It is a classic case of trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig."
"the precariously wrapped package that is Micheal's rabid hate of religious settlers. Move on. Nothing more to see here."

I just love the tolerance for other points of view here. Funny how some people can read the minds of others based on three or four paragraphs I don't like the settler ideology but neither do I 'hate' them.

Disagreement is one thing, but why resort to playground language. It's a poor reflection on the authors.

PS thanks for the links zahava ;-)

@simon - I can't speak for others but the term 'pali' is quicker to type than the full spelling.

Posted by: Michael | Jan 2, 2008 1:36:33 AM

Michael - You knew David's feelings and point of view before you posted your first comment. How can you then blame him because you forced him to go on the defensive?

David - Honestly, I'm in awe at how level headed and non-insulting you manage to stay after reading some of the comments to this post...I tend not to read blog comments, like I tend to stay away from the comment areas of news sites, too many small minded people who lack what I call the "Shut-up Filter" that keeps them from sticking their feet so far down their throats they'll never walk again...

On my next trip to Israel, I'll have to come meet you for coffee in your "Risky" town...

Posted by: Jesse | Jan 4, 2008 7:03:08 PM

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