Monday, 16 March 2009


Paratrooper Brigade Battalions Complete Training Exercise

On Thursday (Mar. 5) two Paratrooper Brigade battalions finished a weeklong series of training exercises on Thursday (Mar. 5). The combat soldiers, who recently returned from Operation Cast Lead in the South, are trained in Ramat HaGolan in the North of Israel. The soldiers continue to train and to prepare for every possible situation on all fronts.


Dutch teens convicted of insulting Jews ordered to visit Anne Frank House

By The Associated Press

Tags: Holland, Israel news

A Dutch judge has ordered four teenagers to visit the Anne Frank House museum after finding them guilty of discrimination for insulting Jews at a rally.

The boys, aged 14 to 17, must turn in a report to the Hague Police Judge about their visit the canal house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi occupiers during World War II.

The four boys were convicted Friday for insulting Jews who were protesting Israel's military attack on Gaza. Prosecutors say two boys held a banner with a swastika superimposed on the Star of David, and two shouted "Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas."

The judge also convicted and fined three adults for shouting anti-Semitic slogans at the Jan. 18 rally in The Hague.


WATCH: Sesame Street explains the Bernard Madoff scandal

By Haaretz Service

Tags: Israel news, sesame street

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, concerned that some people may not understand the Bernard Madoff affair that has rocked the financial world, presented a clip on his show explaining the inner workings of the case in terms even a child can understand. The clip was first featured on the popular news website

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Letter to the World from Jerusalem

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: Letter to the World from Jerusalem


Two Israelis were killed this evening by Palestinian gunmen.

Three important things to bear in mind when discussing Israeli willingness to trade many Palestinians for very few Israeli hostages.

The first is that the Palestinians (and Hezbollah) have a policy of holding hostages for years without ever allowing contact between them and their families. Twice this decade Hezbollah has had dead bodies, and throughout the years of negotiations they never admitted that's all they had, preferring to torture the families with the hope someday they'd see their beloved ones. Hamas has been slightly more accommodating with Gilad Shalit, probably because he really is alive, so about once a year they allow a note from him to reach his parents... and that's it. It's despicable, evil, and they're very proud of it. These are our enemies, and we should never forget it.

The second is that Palestinian terrorists, once they're set free by the hundreds for a handful of Israeli hostages, go back to their previous occupation of killing Israelis. International practice is that returned PoWs are not sent back into battle against their erstwhile captors, and most countries respect this. In the case of the Palestinians, each and every one of them must sign a document, before leaving jail, in which they give their word of honor not to return to terror. In some societies, ones' word of honor is binding; Arab culture indeed sets high value on honor (and many Arab women are killed for besmirching someone else's honor) - but Palestinian terrorists aren't bound by their word of honor. On the contrary: hundreds of Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists who were let out of jail as part of the so-called peace process or in return for Israeli hostages. These are our enemies, and we should never forget it.

Third, the dynamic of these things is that sooner or later, the Palestinians or Hezbollah will manage to capture an Israeli, and eventually they'll spring hundreds of Palestinians in return - either that, or a future round of negotiations in the "peace process" will be stuck until Israel releases Palestinians, because after all, we're making peace, aren't we, and peace means we let bygones be bygones. Which mean that Palestinian terrorists know they'll be set free after a few years, or a decade, and won't spend the rest of their lives in jail. The price of killing Israelis (unless in an act of suicide) isn't all that high.

And yet Israel repeatedly exchanges hundreds for one, or more than a thousand for three dead bodies, and so on. Even while knowing that other Israelis wll die, down the line, at the hands of those being let out now. Why?

First, because of that torture. Who would leave anyone in the hands of vicious beasts if there was an alternative? Who would tell a mother to reconcile herself to spending indeterminate years in uncertainty, not knowing if her son is even alive, and if so, fearing the tortures he's undergoing at the hands of animals, who eventually may kill him and discard him somewhere, as probably happened in the 1980s to Ron Arad, an airman shot down over Lebanon, who was still alive a year or more later, but has apparently been dead for many years?

Second, because of our cohesion. External observers are often startled by the vehemence with which Israelis often disagree with one another, in politics and in any other part of life. They fail to understand that this is the corollary of what ultimately is a family: Israelis regard themselves as "we" in ways that are quite lacking in any Western society I've ever encountered. True, as in any family, this doesn't mean there's equality and goodwill spread evenly in all directions. Look how we treat the folks down in Sderot, for example: They were shot at for years and we couldn't be bothered; eventually we went to war for them but didn't do the whole job (and maybe we couldn't have, I don't know), so now they're getting shot at again, daily, and we're back to pretending it isn't happening. I can think of lots of less dramatic examples - none of which change the basic fact that we really do empathize with the mothers of those hostages. We also know it could have been us, heaven forbid, since most of us send our sons to where such stories start.

Third, because of history. The concept of redeeming Jewish hostages is at least a thousand years old, and is deeply ingrained in our culture. Very deeply. It's part of who we are, for better and for worse.

Fourth, because of that "better or worse". No-one will admit to thinking this, but we hope that by being "better", and making the pain of that one family or few go away, along with reuniting hundreds of Palestinian families (who could of course visit their jailed relatives all along), maybe things will get better. Back in the 1990s as we were setting free most of the convicted Palestinian terrorists, we really did hope they, also, might be putting the past behind them, and letting bygones be bygones. Of course, there was not much evidence this was true even then, and there's essentially none at all now, but we like to hope. It's a nice, pleasant sensation.

I'm very glad, at moments like this, that I never accidentally became Prime Minister. Prime ministers are called upon to make life and death decisions, and sometimes they're called upon to make life and death and life and death decisions; me, I blog about their decisions.

And of course, I live in the realities their decisions create. Nothing funny about that.

taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Here's a really fun, short, news item from the BBC. I'd like simply to cut and paste the entire item, but my understanding of blogging etiquette (or is it copyright law?) is that one doesn't do such a thing. So I'm linking, and giving a quick synopsis:

The British recently announced they were going to try to engage Hezbollah in negotiations (codewords: We must engage, they're part of the landscape). The Americans, as in Obama Administration, were puzzled by this (codewords: they look like terrorists to us).

Hezbollah clarified things today, when their leader Hassan Nassrallah explained:

He was responding to a US suggestion that both Hezbollah and the Palestinian faction Hamas should recognise Israel before expecting any US engagement.

"We reject the American conditions," he said. "As long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognise Israel."

But don't expect this to deter the British. Or at least, not for very long.

taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Last week the Economist had a long article on the International Criminal Court's decision to issue a warrant against the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, for his role in the genocide of Darfur. As the article itself conceded, the chances of the ICC's action making much difference were not good, for many political reasons. While reading the article, I searched for the slightest indication that the Furis, the people who ive in Darfur, stood to gain anything from the decision, but the Economist didn't mention such a possibility. They did, however, have this to say:

The omens are not good. Hours after the arrest warrant, several of the main Western aid agencies were told to leave the country, some within 24 hours. This was at the extreme end of the reaction people expected: a worrying sign that Darfur’s civilians may again bear the brunt of the regime’s wrath. [my italics]

Why was this at the extreme end of what anybody expected? We weren't told.

At least the Guardian is following the story, unlike most of the world's media. After all, hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered, and more than two and a half million are in camps, but it's in Africa, the Jews can't be blamed nor can George Bush, at least not directly, so it's not an interesting story. But the Economist is telling. This week, their report is even bleaker, and is well worth reading in its entirety. Here's some of it [again, my italics]:

GIVEN the history of the Sudanese government’s brutal treatment of the population of Darfur, some adverse reaction to last week’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was expected—but nothing quite as bad as what happened. A dozen major international aid agencies and a couple of local ones were immediately expelled from Darfur, and many from the country altogether; staff were unceremoniously escorted to waiting planes while their computers, files and much else were confiscated by the authorities. The remaining aid agencies have been put on notice, and could be next.

The NGOs that were expelled from Sudan provided much of the food, water and medicine to the 2.75m refugees who live in temporary camps in Darfur. So this move is, above all, a huge blow to the fragile humanitarian lifeline that has been keeping the wretched victims of the Darfur conflict alive...

The Sudanese government has given no official explanation for the expulsions, but has made spurious allegations that all these aid agencies were involved in a conspiracy to supply the ICC with the evidence to prosecute Mr Bashir and his henchmen. More to the point, the Sudanese government evidently has no backup plan to replace the vital services the NGOs provided. Although it is clear that the expulsions were planned carefully in advance, it is equally clear that no thought was given to who would do the expelled workers’ jobs instead. This makes the action doubly callous. As usual, it is the ordinary Darfuris who will bear the burden of the government’s vindictiveness.

Since 2003 about 300,000 people have died as a result of the fighting in Darfur.

I apologize, but to me the story as told be the Economist, is, quite simply. weird. The Sudani government is waging a genocide against an ethnic group within its borders. This is so clear that the ICC has gone to the unprecedented step of issuing a warrant against the Sudani Head of State. In response or retaliation the Sudanis.... are stepping up the persecution! Who would ever have thought of such a possibility! They MUST be told to stop!

Do you begin to have the feeling someone is living in never-never land, and it's not the Sudanis?

Zvi Barel, an informed observer of the Arab world and beyond, tells in Haaretz this morning that the Arab World rejects the whole ICC move as Western Imperialism and intervention in the internal matter of an Arab state. These wold be the same Arabs who routinely use the terminology of International Law and its institutions to castigate israel, condemn it for its horrendous crimes, and generally couch their reservations about Israel in Western terminology knowing perfectly well that this will generate agreement.

If you wish, you may think the Arabs are a bunch of hypocrites, and of course you'l be right. But in a deeper way, there is a profound truth to Barel's story. Sometime in the middle of te 20th century, the European,s exhausetd by their own horrendous recent history, decided to radically change their modes of operation. The Americans, having been twice drawn into European wars, went along with them. The Soviets were also exhausted, and played along, probably insincerely.The creation of the very elaborate system of international law in institutions was the expression of this decision.

The rest of the world wasn't really asked. No-one tried to find out if the rest of humanity was willing to lay aside the murderous traits of 4,000 years of history, merely because the Europeans were exhausted. The imperialistic assumption was that if the West decided to call off human nature, the rest of the world would go along with it.

Apparently not.

taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


I announced a number of weeks ago that I wouldn't be speculating on the coalition negotiations, because 110% of what's reported is spin, misinformation, speculation, wishful thinking and so on. There are perhaps three people, at most, who really know what's going on: Yaakov Neeman, Gideon Saar, and Netanyahu, and it's a safe bet they don't know, either. There was never any doubt that near the end of the allocated period, there would be a second, serious attempt to forge a Likud-Kadima coalition: first, Bibi needed to show Tzipi he could set up a coalition without her, and she needed him to recognize the price he'd have to pay for doing so. Are we there yet? I don't know. The headline of this morning, whereby Netanyahu (in the Hebrew version it said Bibi) isn't yet ready to agree on rotating the prime-minister's job, indicates that's what they're talking about. Otherwise, how is it a headline? I mean, we assume Bibi isn't ready to jump off the Azriely towers, either, but that's not a headine.

And note the reasoning of Yossie Verter, in Haaretz: it's his job to know things and tell us, but he knows no more than we do; however, he deduces that there must be serious negotiations underway because... Tzipi ain't talking.

So, if the suspense is too much for you to bear, I wanted to tell you all that I consulted my tea leaves and coffee dregs this morning (my crystal ball has been sent to the lab for re-calibration after it insisted Obama would bring world peace, so I couldn't ask it). The tea leaves insisted Peres would run for prime minister next electoral cycle, and the coffee dregs agreed, but added he wouldn't win.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (

Israel Matzav: Breaking: Terror attack in the Jordan Valley, Fatah responsible#links#links

Israel Matzav: Breaking: Terror attack in the Jordan Valley, Fatah responsible#links#links


I'm counting with you all to make "Rick's " a better blog.
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