Monday, August 18, 2014


Tick. Tick. Tick.  It’s starting to feel a bit routine.  If it’s Monday, it must be time for the ceasefire--to be extended?  To be extended after some missiles are fired into Israel?  Not to be extended?  Not to be extended, with missiles fired, Israel responding, then reinstated?  To be unilaterally extended?  Unilaterally breached? 

Who knows.  And who knows which variation will come with tonight’s midnight deadline.  Or maybe it will be a whole new scenario that no one has yet thought of.

It’s a hell of a way to live, particularly for those in the South or those from the South that would like to return home.  Basically a terrorist organization gets to decide whether we have war or peace.  If it is war, they get to decide how intense it is.  We are not supposed to defeat them if they just shoot a few missiles at our civilians. 

In the name of “proportionality,” we are supposed to just respond in kind.  Because we have invested in protecting our civilians, we are judged to be poor sports or, worse, war criminals, if many more of them die because their leaders invested in missiles and  tunnels aimed at us rather than in building a society. 

This despite the fact that in the laws of international war, proportionality has nothing to do with comparative firepower or comparative death tolls.  The doctrine of proportionality has to do with using only that force necessary to achieve a legitimate war objective. 

Destroying missile-launching sites and tunnels designed to kill and maim civilians is a legitimate war objective.  Whether or not Israel’s use of force was proportionate to accomplishing that objective is a matter of legitimate inquiry.  Discussion of comparative firepower and comparative deaths is simply digression at best, undermining of Israel’s ability to defend itself at worst. 

Israelis are all for Gazans having a thriving society.  Build airports, seaports, resorts, industry.  It would only be good for them and for us.  But they cannot have open borders and free ports and airports as long as Hamas or others would use such assets to rebuild tunnels and replenish missile supplies.  Estimates are that 40% of Gaza’s budget, primarily aid from the world, went toward infrastructure for war against innocent Israelis rather than for building Gaza as supposedly intended by the donors. 

As Einstein famously said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.  Providing aid and movement of goods without disarmament and control will undoubtedly lead to another war.  Insanity indeed.

Tisha B’av, which was two weeks ago today, is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, as it marks the date when both the first and second Temples were destroyed.  It is a fast day.  Traditionally, Jews sit on the floor or the ground with candles or flashlights and chant from the Book of Lamentations. 

Truth be known, I’ve always enjoyed Tisha B’av in Jerusalem.  Firstly, there’s the juxtaposition between the traditional lament and sadness over the loss of our holy city while actually being in our redeemed capital in our recreated homeland.  For me, there is something exhilarating about it. 

Secondly, there’s the Jewish calendar.  As significant as Tisha B’av is, it is just another day for most non-Orthodox Jews in America, noted by few, marked by even fewer.  In Israel, regardless of your level of observance, you know it’s Tisha B’av.  There’s the Three Weeks prior to the holiday when there are no weddings. 

Then there’s the Nine Days when menus are modified to reflect the fact that you are not supposed to eat meat.  Then there’s the evening of the holy day, when Jews throughout the country are on their way to recite the mournful poetry.  The fact that you cannot escape the day on the calendar underscores the fact that we are living out the dream of self-determination for the Jewish nation.  There is something thrilling in being part of that, even as a very bit player in the grand drama.  

Thirdly, and most rewarding and enjoyable, in a lamenting sort of way, is where we go for the recitation of Lamentations.  We go to the Haas Promenade.  That’s Haas as in the late Walter, the great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss, former CEO of the company, and former owner of the Oakland A’s.  With a beautiful view of the lights of the Old City, we read along and sometimes join in with leaders chanting the verses.   If you have to lament and mark the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, it is a most pleasant way to do it. 

Not true this year.  While still beautiful, there was nothing enjoyable about Tisha B’av for me this year, which some old rabbis would probably say is the way it should be.  I was down and depressed, as was the rest of the country. We were thankful that our soldiers have pulled back from Gaza. 

We mourn the soldiers we lost.  We ask toward what end.  Will the rockets truly stop?  Or, once the media’s attention is elsewhere, will they start again, one or two, three or four, drip, drip, drip, as they did for years before we responded?

It’s now two weeks out and we have no answer.  Ceasefires have stopped.  And started.  And. . .and. . . we don’t know what.

Did we really locate and destroy all of the tunnels aimed at terrorizing our innocent children, women, and men?  If the world succeeds at pressuring us to open the gates to Gaza, will Hamas again use the materials shipped in to build tunnels of hate rather than the hospitals, schools, and institutions that were advertised?  Will the world care? 

Will UNRWA, which was shocked, shocked, I tell you, at the “discovery” of missiles stored in its facilities, continue to collaborate with Hamas, continue to contribute to and to feed off of a three-generation refugee industry mentality?  Will the world care?

 Yes, it’s been two weeks since we pulled out of Gaza.  Yet, the state of war trickles on.  We start. We stop. We don’t know what will happen in just a few hours.  The clock ticks toward. . . I don’t know.

Yes, it’s been two weeks since Tisha B’av.  People are back on the streets.  Restaurants are again full.  Festivals are on again.  People are allowing themselves to laugh and to enjoy. But the depression, the despair, the doubts about what the future will bring—they linger and they permeate. 

I hope for a real, lasting peace and to those enjoyable mournful Tisha B’avs of prior years.


A news anchor explaining, justifying, rationalizing why the U.S. and the Western World must attack ISIS, how ISIS is only interested in killing Christians, how ISIS aspires to impose a new Caliphate and rule the world, how it has designs on the U.S. and all of the West. 

All true.  But, then, without skipping a beat or recognizing his total contradiction, he turns to Israel and Hamas.  The ceasefire was broken—no mention of who broke it.  Negotiations have not worked but need to. Can’t the sides get together?  No recognition or no regard for the fact that Hamas’ charter and ideology are nearly identical to ISIS’ objectives—except for one word: substitute Jew for Christian.  

We’ve gone from good vs. evil to Switzerland vs. Sweden in a friendly soccer match.  All faster than you can say—CNN International.


Stop Your Engines:  According to Professor Avi Federguen of Columbia University and Professor Moshe Kress of the Naval Postgraduate School, at its worst, the riskof a rocket hitting a plane at Ben-Gurion Airport when the FAA banned flightswas about one in a million.  They note that according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, between 2000 and 2010, the average risk of death from a car accident was 133 per million.  That is a “roughly 100 times more than the risk the FAA was supposedly protecting against with its ban.”  Makes you wonder. 




There is justice in this world:  I’ve previously noted they hypocrisy of former Vice-President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore.  The man who prided himself on being the environmental advocate for the ages and who professed throughout his political career of being a champion of the working man and woman, a few years ago sold his failing Current TV station to Qatar’s wholly owned subsidiary, Al Jazeera. 


That’s the Qatar whose wealth is built almost exclusively on fossil fuel and the virtual enslavement of foreign workers.  Gore knew very well that Al Jazeera paid a hugely inflated price for Current TV in an effort to buy legitimacy and audience in the West. 


Apparently, when you make a deal with the devil, you do get burnt.  According to The New York Times, Al Jazeera has refused to make payments in the tens of millions of dollars range and poor Al is taking them to court. 


The dilemma:  how do you root for both to lose?

(Originally published in The Times of Israel)

For speaking engagements: 


  1. Powerful. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for doing what you do. The updates outside of the US media are great.

  3. Thank you Alan for continuing to write about this. I am appalled, embarrassed and angered daily by the position of the US.

  4. Great Blog! The message you deliver seems to be so "right-on!"

  5. Yayyy for Al Jazeera and Al Gore!!! They both need to fail!

  6. Fighting for land seems to be overrated. Perhaps we could negotiate a long-term 500 year renewable lease with them as long as they stay in Gaza!

  7. You would think that we never unilaterally withdrew from Gaza or released terrorists.