Please share any observations, opinions or updates about the situation in Israel.

40 Responses to “Open thread: Operation Pillar of Defence”

  1. Rob Pinfold says:

    I moved to Jerusalem over 2 months ago from the leafy boredom of London’s Twickenham suburb.

    To sum up: today has been weird.

    I have studied the Middle-East, and Israel in particular, non-stop for the last 7 years. But today I experienced things that no book, however eloquent, could ever get across.

    I was awoken as Dan, one of my neighbours, knocked on my door at 8am this morning. He’s an American hippie who made Aliyah 30-odd years ago. I’m used to seeing him in cheesy tye-dye tshirts looking like the guy who’s been at a Phish concert who might have been an extra in that Cheech and Chong film you saw once.

    But today was different. Dan was decked out in his army fatigues, because he’d been called up for the front. Nothing could have prepared me for it. I don’t have any family in Israel nor do I know any Israelis who have seen front-line service. This morning was the first time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hit me, smack in the face, and it was even harder than being belted by Benny Morris’ loftiest tome.

    I felt instinctively selfish; here I was drinking my coffee and fretting about my Ulpan homework when people close to me were doing the one thing I could never do: shape up, ship out and head towards the rocket deluge. And on the weekend too! I wanted to do anything to help, to be involved, to be affected. I felt like a fly-on-the-wall documentary, peering into everyone else’s lives here whilst taking no risks myself.

    Well, you should be careful what you wish for. Just after 4PM today I was running to the bomb shelter, along with over a million other Jerusalemites: secular and religious, left and right, Jewish and Arab. Sitting in the bomb shelter made me wonder what I’d signed up for: I haven’t done basic training, the worst thing I had to deal with in Twickenham was dodging the monthly hordes of pissed-up rugby rahs.

    Most of all, I felt angry and powerless. Seriously angry: even angrier than when I read Edward’s Said’s tirade of tosh (‘Orientalism’ to others). What have I done to Gaza? How do I have anything to do with the suffering of the Palestinians? I can’t even bump into anyone without apologising profusely like a confused Anglo, let alone strip a rifle or fly an F16.

    Today is the first time I remembered something. Jerusalem has running water, a night life, bacon cheeseburgers, bustling cafes and even Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. But all these Western superficialities were exposed today: I live in the Middle-East. The Middle-East. That bad place on the news. Did you hear that really amazing, heartwarming story from from the Middle-East that rekindled your faith in the inevitability of human kindness? No?

    Me neither. Thanks Hamas, for my welcome to the neighbourhood. But next time, coffee and cake will do just fine, no need to give me the big light show.

    Shabbat Shalom.

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      And to think last time I saw you was in Trafalgar Square after the Gilad Shalit vigil.

      Thanks for this comment, Rob. Keep safe and best of luck. Shabbat shalom.

    • shir says:

      “I wanted to do anything to help, to be involved, to be affected. I felt like a fly-on-the-wall documentary” I felt the same and than we were attacked and I have to say, it sort of put me at ease. I was here during the gulf war when we were hit by Skuds and I went to the army and I’m waiting to here from them (when I called they said they have enough medics for now) so I guess hearing the sirens around Rishon, for me, meant that a kind of equality was restored. I know it’s not real since my friends in Ashdod and Be’er Sheva (not to mention Sderot) have to sleep in the shelters because it’s more sensible than to wake up in the middle of the night to run down there. But, at least now we’re in it with them. yea it’s probably weird but that’s how it feels.
      In addition, I did post a link to Ynet in English last month in another post about those “Pathetic things” but there are a lot more evidence now, provided by the terror groups themselves of how they fire from within the towns and villages.

  2. Steve Wenick says:

    The Enemy Within:
    Friday, in East Jerusalem protests broke out in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and against Israel’s operations there. Who the hell are those people!

  3. Steve Wenick says:

    Friday November 16, 2012 – Ever Shabbat

    I just read this posting on Facebook ; it is an honest report – unlike what much of the media reports.

    I’m Elinor, I’m 18 years old and I live in Ashdod, Israel. I live in a building with 3 floors and I don’t have a shelter in my house, which means I have to go downstairs with all the other neighbors to our building shelter. you can see how the children are in panic, and that there’s nothing we can do, we’re hopeless. we have only 45 seconds to reach the shelter. You can hear the bombs really good.

    Hamas is a terrorist organization just like Al-Qaeda and many others. this organization’s goal is to hurt as many innocent citizens as he can.

    I can’t live a normal life like this. Nobody can.

    In response to the above posting a friend of mine Cory Goldstein posted this comment on Facebook.

    Exactly. This is Eti Zlotin’s world too. Older buildings have no safe rooms so you have to run out to the stairwell. I experienced this firsthand last week. We were woken up at 5:30AM by the siren. Eti immediately got into military mode and started rushing me out of the house. But what does this clueless and sheltered American from Voorhees, NJ do? I began gathering my laptop and cell phone and stuff; meanwhile Eti is yelling that there is no time and we just have to go.

    Unfortunately since she lives on the 4th floor of her building we couldn’t make it all the way down to the basement so the only place that is “safe” is the stairwell. I was told that the Qassam rockets cannot penetrate more than one or two walls so everybody in the building must gather on the 2nd floor of the stairwell. That was just one time that we heard the siren; it was nothing like what they’ve been experiencing this week!

    How can anybody live like this?

    Shabbat Shalom… But Not For Everyone

    • shir says:

      and it is worth noting that Gazans are being “pounded” as it was put in various world media channels, only in specific locations that have rockets caches, launchers or Hamas military figures. that doesn’t stop the UN from prompting “both sides to try and avoid civilian casualties”. because really, people, Hamas is only exercising its right to defend the people of Gaze… with rockets… that have no ability to stop a ground invasion… or hit a specific target… so there is no way they would be targeting civilians… but hey, who are we to argue with the UN.

  4. blahblahblah says:

    Any thoughts about the situation?
    Well,when you decide to murder one of the main people of your opposition who is trying to maintain a de-facto truce and ceasefire(Jabari),someone who has been descibed as Israels “sub-contractor” in Gaza,someone who is reported to have been trying to formulate a long-term and meaningful truce,quite clearly you are trying to snatch a bloody victory from the jaws of a peaceful sttlement.
    And this is quite clearly what Netanyahu and his administration are doing at present,all in the interests of the upcoming election in Israel.
    You did ask.

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      I did indeed ask.

      I’m cynical enough to believe that any leader of any country could potentially spark a war to help with an election. So let’s look at the specifics.

      Prior to the recent escalation, Bibi had effectively stacked the electoral cards so well that the forthcoming election is little more than a formality that he can only win.

      Missiles hitting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, together with unavoidable Israeli casualties in a potential ground operation, are as likely to harm rather than help his prospects in the January election.

      This report shows that IDF operations five of the last seven Israeli elections took place within months of military operations and that this often hurts rather than helps the sitting government: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=292035

      • blahblahblah says:

        Ok,just cause it’s a risky strategy that could backfire badly doesn’t mean it won’t be used,does it?But fair enough,my opinion is speculation-how could i possibly know what goes on inside the heads of Netanyahu and Barak?
        I’m amused you have avoided the question of the efficacy of assasinating opponents.Because that’s never been tried before has it?……Oh,wait, it has.
        And were the results effective?
        Obviously not.Every time it has been tried the “snake” has somehow regrown its “head”.
        Perhaps Yisrael Katz should spend a few moments meditating on Einsteins famous definition of insanity.

    • Israelinurse says:

      The trouble with this ‘it’s all to do with the elections’ trope being promoted by certain members of the MSM is that it doesn’t hold water for a minute if you know the first thing about Israel.

      Significant Israeli casualties in any ground operation could be exactly what loses an election.

    • Doron says:

      You clearly get your information from “Haaretz” news paper. One sided and very Anti- Israel.
      Just to remind you that Jabari kept Gilad Shalit for so many years in prison and no one was allowed to visit him. Just to remind you that Hamas declare war on Isreal and dose not want to negotiate any peace but to destroy the land of Israel.

      • blahblahblah says:

        What does it matter what Jabari has done in the past?
        I never said he was an angel.
        The important thing is that he was acting to restrain armed groups from carrying out attacks.By killing him Netanyahus gov.have demonstated their desire for conflict.
        Jabari will be replaced by someone just as capable.What lesson will Jabaris replacement learn from his death? That there is no point in trying to maintain any kind of defacto truce or ceasefire with Israel.This is why i mentioned Einsteins definition of insanity.

        • Brian Goldfarb says:

          Yup, Jabari was so trying to stop rockets that the number was increasing day by day. Given that Hamas is the de facto government of Gaza, if any group is firing rockets then Hamas is responsible.

          Anything else is blowing smoke.

  5. Brian Goldfarb says:

    I’m in North London, not Israel, and am old enough to be just a little older than the State of Israel. I’ve been a Zionist since I was old enough to understand what the word means, thanks in part to a father who an old-fashioned anti-racist, trade unionist and Jewish lefty.

    And we have family and friends in Israel, some of them of an age to be reservists. We hold our breath for all of them on a daily basis.

    But what annoys me greatly is that so much of what can be loosely be called the liberal media in the UK has fallen for the allure of August Bebel’s “socialism of fools” and become those sort of “progressives” that Nick Cohen excoriates in his book “What’s Left?”. Thus The Guardian has a cartoon in Thursday or Friday’s paper (by Steve Bell, supposedly a lefty) which shows Netanyahu, behind a lectern, with Israeli flags to either side, rocket smoke trails behind him, holding glove puppets of William Hague and Tony Blair and with a banner proclaiming “Vote Likud” also behind him. And friends wonder why I refuse to read (let alone buy) the paper, even online.

    We have even taken to watching Sky News (part of the Murdoch empire) in preference to the BBC, in order to get a more balanced view of what’s happening in the region. Even Sky News’s Gaza correspondent points out that it was Hamas that started the current confrontation and broke the “cease fire” while Egypt’s Prime Minister was in Gaza, not Israel.

    I can’t see Jeremy Bowen doing that. Nor any other directly-employed BBC correspondent. Thank heavens Orla Guerin is in Pakistan, where she can less harm to the region.

    Still, despite the Guardian cartoon, Hague got it wrong. He went on the record requesting (demanding?) that both sides show restraint. Both sides? Who started the exchange of rocket fire? And who showed restraint in the first place? And how many rockets have come from Gaza into Israel since 2009? And how many have gone the other way since the end of Operation Cast lead?

    And Hamas have the cast iron nerve to suggest that Israel’s successful targeting of Al-Jabiri has “opened the gates of Hell”? What was that before the assassination? Purgatory?

    You might find the following article (from Israel Hayom, for those who don’t know it, an Israeli online paper, in English) of some interest. It is by one Dr. Reuven Berko: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2885

    As others have said “Shabbat Shalom”, but certainly not for all.

    • F Callen says:

      Orla Guerin….what a vulture that person is.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        No argument from me on this one. But why do so many of the BBC’s female overseas correspondents sound like her? Has it become a condition of employment for overseas assignments?

        • F Callen says:

          And why do they insist on sending so many women and near-women to the conflict zones? Are the men too chicken?

  6. RK says:

    WTF is with the image colour? It makes me want to vomit or something.

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      I did. Absolutely ghastly.

      The heroic Mark Gardner of the CST has a good letter in today’s Guardian:

      The Guardian has, in recent years, editorialised against the use of antisemitic language, publishing strong articles on this subject by Chris Elliott (the readers’ editor), Jonathan Freedland and others. They have rightly noted that such language may well be inadvertent on the part of the user, while retaining its offensive power. Nevertheless, too many Guardian contributors continue to get away with using antisemitic imagery and tropes, the latest example being Steve Bell’s cartoon (16 November) showing Tony Blair and William Hague as puppets of Bibi Netanyahu. This is an unoriginal way of visualising the old antisemitic charge that Jews are all-powerful. (The notion of Jewish power and conspiracy has long distinguished antisemitism from other racisms, which tend to depict their targets as idiots.) The paper’s integrity and reputation is seriously compromised by its continuing failure to get a grip on its own content.
      Mark Gardner
      Community Security Trust

      • Leonie says:

        HI, Chas,
        RE: Mark Gardner’s excellent letter.
        DeuteronomyL 4;6: The nations shall say ONLY…”Surely this great Nation is a wise and clever People” העמים….אמרו רק עם חכם .
        ונבון הגוי הגדול הזה
        Even that one presumable “compliment” from the nations is used as an old antisemitic charge. Calling Jews “clever” is some sort of insult. We are clever – ie: sly and cunning. That leads to all-powerful and the world domination plot accusations (made by Nazis and funamentalist Islamists, who, of course, were and are far from aspirations to do any of that!) .
        I think the “ONLY” in the quote above is a warning to us that that’s the only compliment we should expect!
        With all the crazy and wild accusations hurled at us, “stupid” is one I’ve not seen or heard.

      • blahblahblah says:

        How is the cartoon antisemitic?
        Please explain-I heard Tony Blair on the radio the other morning and every thing he had to say was indistinguishble from the official Israeli position-right down to the phrase “i’m afraid the time for talking is over”.
        Given this,surely the visual imagery employed by Steve Bell counts as a particularly apt satirical depiction of the relationship between Israel and the supposedly “honest brokers”
        such as Blair and Hague.
        Chas,when dealing with grown-up subject matter like this,please try to remember that this is satire and not technical drawing.Satire is not meant to be “balanced”,rather satire aims to portray in an exagerrated light in order to expose the folly or immorality as percieved by the satirist.
        I realise this is difficult for you Chas,but if you are up to the task perhaps you could compile a list of visual imagery that is acceptable to you and your friends for the benefit of any artist who wishes to avoid an avalanche of libellous vitriol from you and your friends.

        • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

          One of my favourite ever of your contributions!

          • blahblahblah says:

            Interesting that you found racism in a cartoon by Steve Bell,and yet were unable to detect it at Cifwatch,whose commenters are very worried about the supposed backwardness and savagery of “The Arabs”.

          • blahblahblah says:

            Thanks for the complement by the way.I was worried that I might have overdone the condescension.
            Then I thought “Nah-the guy writes celeb biographies.He must be used to it by now.”
            Hurry up with that list of acceptable visual images Chas.

        • Jonathan says:

          Bell’s cartoon uses classic antisemitic iconography: powerful Jews in control of Western leaders for their own evil ends. It could come out of Der Sturmer from the 1930s/40s. More recently, it’s the equivalent of that local Repulican activist who campaigned against Obama by representing him in a doctored photo as a monkey. And the saddest thing is that Europeans of all people, and supposed liberal-left Europeans at that, can’t see how vile Bell’s image really is.

          • Brian Goldfarb says:

            And Bell’s response that he was only exercising his right of free speech to criticise Israel is a classic example of the Livingstone Formulation (copyright David Hirsh!): when – accurately – accused of antisemitism, claim you were only criticising Israel.

          • blahblahblah says:

            I don’t see “powerful Jews” in that image.I see Netanyahu the man and politician.And what’s that above him?
            A banner proclaiming ‘Vote Likud’
            Is this “classic antisemitic iconography”?
            No.This is a reference to the manipulation of the current situation by Netanyahu the individual politician for cynical electoral considerations.
            Is this view of the situation shared by everyone?
            No,of course not.See comments above.
            is the charge that Netanyahu is using the situation with Gaza to his electoral advantage uncontroversial?
            Why no! See comments above.
            Does criticism of the policies of an individual politician equate to a slur on an entire people?
            No,of course not.Nobody would argue that in good faith.

          • Jonathan says:

            Actually, in addition to the antisemites of yesteryear, plenty of people on the Islamist/far-right/hard-left extremes nowadays are arguing just that by among other things using the kind of imagery Bell has employed in this cartoon. Such imagery has a long and nasty history, whether people echoing it now are aware of it or not, and it simply isn’t credible to maintain that it’s possible to detach a particular usage of such imagery from these associations. I can’t believe you’re even trying to defend the indefensible in this way.

  7. Chas Newkey-Burden says:

    I enjoy reading the Kacholvelavan blog: http://kacholvelavan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/israel-under-attack.html

  8. Snogsie says:

    I don’t live in the south, never did, but you know Tamar, she does. I was supposed to be over her place this weekend but didn’t go because of the rocket fire.
    I’m trying to do my best to keep my routine; it’s not very easy when I’m pretty much glued to the radio and hear ‘rocket alarm’ every five mintues every now and then. But we’re doing our best.
    Today I went to the pool so I could keep my facade of normalcy again. As I was leaving an alarm was heard. Let me remind you that I live in TLV area, and this isn’t something we’re used to. At least, not in the past 20 years or so.
    It’s just– suddenly everyone is gathering around in this tiny, tiny room, and my mom was with me because she came to pick me up, and I clutched her hand with all the force I could muster and breathed in and out very slowly.
    This feeling of– helplessness is so awful. It’s terrifying and paralizing. It’s scary, and all I could think of is my family; where are they right now, what are they doing, are they safe.
    Suddenly you understand everything that the south citizens are going through. It’s terrible.
    I just hope it’ll be over soon. I wish all of us a quiet week, because you never realize how important the routine and boring life are unless everything crashes around you.

  9. Orla says:

    Did you catch some of what your chum Owen Jones has been writing on Twitter about Israel, Mr N-B? NOT impressed.

    • Chas Newkey-Burden says:

      I have.

      Owen Jones is not technically my chum, I’ve never met him. It’s true to say I admire much of his work on class issues, which he is solid on. I loved his ‘Chavs’ book. On Israel he is quite lost, as his keeness to comment far exceeds his understanding of the realities, particularly when it comes to Hamas.

      His ‘constituency’ is mostly kneejerk anti-Israel, so his point-missing Tweets get him plenty of cheers. It’s all a bit embarrassing, really. I’ve tried engaging with him but he’s hugely defensive and dismissive when it comes to this. It’s awkward to watch, but having watched his pronouncements on other issues there’s no doubt his heart is in the right place.

  10. Avril says:

    I’m not sure about some of the footage showing injured Palestinians, it looks very iffy, lots of film of men being ‘schlepped’ around, children being made to cry by so called ‘medics’ man-handling them, I have never seen children handled in this way, especially if they are injured and already traumatised, why are there always about 50 people surrounding a bed in a hospital shouting, its bizarre. I have just seen something aired on RT and they were slapping bandages around a little boys head who looked totally bewildered, I am not saying there haven’t been casualties and deaths, but I am also not convinced they are in the quantities that they claim.

    • Leonie says:

      With us (I’m Israeli, southern Israel and writing this between sirens) painstakingly avoiding civilian injuries on both sides and the Gazan leadership doing all it can to cause civilian injuries on both sides, some civilians inevitably get killed. So far they have used photos of a baby killed in Syria and see this classic 32-second clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kvaUmIB87-M
      Forget Hollywood, forget Bollywood, he-e-e-e-e-re’s Pallywood! View the miraculous resurrection the BBC (so surprisingly) missed. Honestly, if they were fighting anyone but the Jewish State, don’t you think the world would be sooooo fed up of the whining by now? And even a little peeved for their cynical use of their children as terrorist shields? I believe the reason the world doesn’t give a **** for all the innocents being brutally murdered in Syria etc is because they’re not Palestinian so it can’t be linked to Israel. If there ain’t Jews, it ain’t news. 65 years later, look what a remarkable amazing country Israel has become though under daily threat. If they had accepted partition back in 1947, wow, what an amazing country they’d have had by now with us as their partners and neighbours. But, time to wake up and smell the humus: freedom, education and love are not on the agenda of a terrorist entity preaching hate 24/7 and nurturing homocide bombers.

  11. Aryeh says:

    Chas,
    Hope you don’t mind me using your blog again – but my latest post is an open letter to UK PM DC.

    http://kacholvelavan.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/open-letter-to-prime-minister-david.html

    Would love to hear what people think!

    Aryeh

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