Friday, December 28, 2007

Today's Photo

The cats were sitting on and around the dumpster as usual.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sunrise Triptych

What we do

Originally posted March 19, 2001

It seems lately all my entries have been on the ride in to or from work...

There are still daily attacks, today there was a shooting and road closure in the 'Gush' area, one of the favored hotspots southwest of Jerusalem.

Over the weekend, Arabs tampered with electric lines and the settlement (and 2 others in our area) were without power for 4 hours.

I'm surprised no one has asked how the terrorists can tell the difference between an 'Israeli' car and a 'Palestinian' car.

Of course, some of you might have this biblical view of Israel, figuring most people live in tent cities and the camels outnumber the people. We all make our living harvesting the olive groves or date palms or by herding sheep and goat, sitting on a rocky hillside dressed in a voluminous robe and headcovering.

I have to say, back in '86 that was exactly what I expected to see on my first trip here to Israel. After all, most of what I had learned about Israel was in Bible study.

Anyway, back to the cars.

Israeli civilian cars (and those belonging to Arabs living in "Israel proper"), have yellow plates with black numbers. In one corner is a blue rectangle with a white Star of David and under the star, it says IL.

Israeli military cars have black plates with white numbers and a "tzadick", which is the first letter in the Hebrew acronym for the IDF, and government and police cars have red plates with white numbers, and a 'mem', the first letter in the Hebrew word for government.

Palestinian civilian cars have either green plates with white numbers, Arabic script in one corner over a P, or white plates with green numbers, Arabic script in one corner over a P.

Their police cars (since theoretically they aren't allowed have a military) have white plates with red numbers.

Well, this is all well and good during the daylight when sharp-eyed snipers, aided with binoculars can see some sort of identifying mark, but what happens when it's night, or before sunrise...

There are different signs Arab cars drive with. The latest is driving with both parking lights flashing. Two months ago it was driving with one directional blinking.

A mechanic friend of mine told me that during the last Intifada, the Arabs would drive with one headlight off. He said he got a lot of settlers coming to him to install a switch so they can disable one light, and turn it back on when they got in to the city so they wouldn't be ticketed.

There have been stories in the last few months about settlers driving with red and white kafiyahs wrapped around their head, others who drive with NO lights on, and there was a tragic story a few weeks ago of a father and his 8 year old child being killed when their car went careening in to the side of a hill. The bereaved mother/wife said her husband would speed because he was afraid of being hit with stones or bullets by Arabs.

Another friend of mine, who owns a mini-van, taped on large white masking tape to the front, back and sides of her car TV, so people on the road would think she was a journalist. I jokingly suggested that she get either the basin of a white plastic birdbath or use the cover to a white garbage pail and attach it somehow to the roof of her car so it would look like a dish. She thanked me with total sincerity and me what a good idea it was.

Yesterday's ride was with the guy who drives with his M16 out the window. This time, he also has on the dashboard a red crescent, facing out. I guess he hopes people would think he was an Arab taxi or something. The effect was ruined however with the fact that on the other side of the dashboard, was a sign (facing out) with the Israel Tourism Ministry, showing that the vehicle can be used for certified tours.

That's not to say an Arab wouldn't have that too...but...

Driving through the Hot Zone

Originally posted March 7, 2001

Things have been escalating here.

No longer content in setting bombs in 'just' Jerusalem, the terrorists have moved to other cities. Tel Aviv, Afula, Hadera, Netanya.

If any good can come of this, perhaps it is that the leftists in these cities are finally beginning to realize that if it can happen in Jerusalem, it can happen anywhere.

It isn't a matter of disputed land or sovereignty.

The Arabs want it all. At all costs.

Which is what many of us have been saying all these years.

Good morning.

Last night the two roads to the settlement were closed. Arabs were shooting on one road and throwing stones on the other. I heard the gunshots...and blocked it out when it wasn't followed by the wail of an ambulance siren.

God help me...I'm becoming inured to it...I shake my head and sigh and hope for SOMETHING.

This morning I took a ride with someone to Jerusalem. He drove with his M16 in one hand, across his chest with the barrel out the open window. The guy sitting next to me had the stock of his Uzi unfolded, finger on the safety and the barrel of his gun out his open window.

I wanted a tank.

I wanted to cry.

I want this to be over.

Comments On

Originally posted January 25, 2001

I've written before about the belief religious Jews have about 'the hand of God', and how many believe that bad things happen by His grace.
I believe it too.
When Moses went to Pharoh on behalf of the Hebrews, God hardened Pharoh's heart against Moses' pleas and didn't allow the Hebrews out of slavery. It was only after the 10 Plagues were visited upon Egypt that Pharoh told them to go (and even after, changed his mind and went after them).
The hand of God was never more apparent then at Camp David over the summer, when Barak was ready to hand over 92% of the West Bank. Arafat refused because east Jerusalem wasn't included. Talks broke down and about a month and half later, the Al-Asqa Intifada was started.
A friend of mine said that whenever things between Israelis (secular vs religious, religious vs ultra-religious, etc.) gets bad, God sends an Intifada, so we have to band together and fight against the Arabs.
Two months in to this Intifada, we finally have leftists saying that upon reflection, they were wrong. On CNN, we have someone from Peace Now (a stout supporter of the Palestinians) say that the Arabs were the sole cause of the latest spate of violence.
Another two months have gone by and now it seems the Arabs are targeting Israelis who would call them friends.
This friendship, this complacency, is what are now getting Israelis killed.
In a radio report on the latest double murders, a friend of the victims was quoted saying that the "Arabs are our friends".
She's still saying this after these Arab friends murder her Israeli friends.
How many more leftists are going to be lured to their death by their so-called friends before they realize that THE ARABS ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS.
Perhaps one can say that this is the hand of God at work after all. With more lefties being killed, OTHER leftists may start rethinking their utopian ideals.
Ideals. Yes, now someone I'm sure is bound to leave me a love letter saying that I live in YESHA because of MY ideals, what's wrong with the leftists trying for kumbayah-oneness with the Arabs.
The difference is I recognize Arabs for the enemy that they are and take precautions to stay alive.
The lefties, with their blinders on, are well, blind tothe fact that the hand being extended to them by the Arab is holding a loaded gun.

A Prayer

Originally posted December 31, 2000

Prayer of the Jewish Soldier

Lord of the Universe
We, the soldiers of the people of Israel
Come to You in humility
And pray for your help

Once more, we are asked to defend our
People and
The Holy Land against our enemies

We ask You to have mercy on us and
Help us watch over our people
With clean hands
And with a heart filled with mercy

Let our people have the strength to
Stay in good spirits
And live in unity and
Walk in Your ways
The ways of Justice and Truth

Let us not make mistakes
And hurt those who are not guilty
Who do not understand
And have no part in this conflict

Let our bullets not hurt those children of our enemies
Whose parents place them deliberately in dangerous spots,
Fire on us
And then shield themselves
Behind their own offspring against
Our forces so as to fault us when their children
Get hurt or even killed

Remove the evil spirit of these parents
And make them realize the wickedness of their actions
Stop their teachers from manipulating their students
With hate for us in their schoolbooks
On the radio, television and

O God,
You know what one of our Prime Ministers once said:
"We may forgive our enemies one day
For hurting and killing our children
We cannot forgive them for having made our children
Into those who needed to kill"
We beg You, do not let our Jewish souls have to undergo
This ordeal which we cannot bear

We are the children of Avraham, your servant, who
Prayed for the evil people of Sedom with the hope that
They should repent and live a decent life

So, we beg you
Make our enemies repent
Force them to understand that
We are good people
Who wish to live in peace with
All our neighbors

O Lord,
Remove from their thoughts atrocities such as those
In which they dip their hands
In our blood
As Jews, we
Cannot fathom
Doing this even against our worst enemies

You commanded us to live in a country which
Is little more
Than a tiny island
Our population is smaller than that of
Many single cities

You asked us to live there so as to send
Your holy Word to all the corners of the world
We are surrounded by many nations who
Embody more than a hundred million people
They inhabit one of the largest regions of the world
But deny us the right to live in even the smallest corner of the world
They do not want to listen
And only wish our death

Give the Arab nations
Who are men of justice and who really
Care for their people
And do not wish to bring their own brothers to despair
And unbearable pain
With the intention
To accuse us
Of grave injustice

After thousands of years of our dwelling
On this globe and after many exiles, tortures, pogroms,
Expulsions and Holocausts
We finally found our way back to our
Small homeland
Which You promised to our forefathers

But once more our dreams of peace
Have gone up in smoke
While we were trying, at the risk of our own lives,
To find a way to
Allow our Palestinian neighbors to
Live their own lives
While we were prepared to make sacrifices
For the welfare of these people
As no other people ever did
While we offered them land, peace, finances
And even firearms so as to defend themselves
We once more pay the price for being a people
Who believe in the honesty of another nation and its leaders
And once more we feel misled

Oh Lord, remove the evil intentions of the
Security Council which distorts the truth
Remove the deliberate lies
From the hearts of those who head the

Why do they want to portray us
As an evil people?
They do so
To deny Your existence and Your moral
They hide behind their own wickedness
And cover up theirs and their fathers'
Immoral acts which they brought on us
And our forefathers for thousands
Of years

O, God You know
No army in world history has used so much restraint
As ours.
No army is so careful not to hurt or kill
As ours
But what shall we do when they are not even prepared
To give us the option
To prove this to the world?

Please God,
Bring peace into the hearts and minds
Of our enemies
Let them be uplifted with a spirit of righteousness
Stop them from hating us because we are Your people
Let us sanctify Your name as this is our
Mission and our dream
Give us the possibility once more to teach
Your ways to the peoples
Of the world
And make them hear and

We hate war as nobody else does,
We abhor the need to wear weapons
We cannot stand the sound of our own artillery
And our tanks

We are the people of the Book
The Book which demands holiness,
And integrity
Our heroes are not the generals or the marshals
But our prophets and our sages
Men of righteousness

So, deliver us from this anguish
Bring peace to the nations
Let us not be forced to use our strength against them
For they will have no escape
Let the blessing which you gave to Avraham come true,
"And through you all the families of the earth will be blessed"
For this is our hope

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

The usual suspects

Originally posted December 19, 2000

I realized I'd been in Israel too long while on a recent trip back to NY.

I'm standing at the back of the city bus by the door as the bus pulls into my stop. And I stand there like an idiot for a few seconds.

I'm about to call out "Nahag!" (Hebrew for 'driver'), to get his attention so he'll open the door for me when I remember that in NYC, you have to work to get off the bus. You have to press the yellow tape to open the door. In Israel the bus driver operates all the doors.

I finally managed to find my way off the bus laughing.

Another thing that made me realize I'd been here too long was my surprise upon entering a mall in NY and not being stopped by a guard so he can fondle my bag, swish the contents around with a ruler or pen and otherwise pass this Star-Trekkie type device over the bag looking for a bomb.

This morning, we were met with yet another facet of Israeli life...the "suspicious package".

8 times out of 10, someone running after a bus or trying to catch a ride will forget the day's shopping or laundry and since no one is stupid enough to go through it (because times 9 and 10 are bombs) the Army Bomb Squad is called in.

Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is stopped in all directions. Now once the bomb squad arrives, it should take no more than 15 minutes to clear the package. You've got the guy in head-to-toe flak jacket controlling the little robot with video camera...

It usually takes longer than 15 minutes because the bomb squad guy usually has to stop because there's some oblivious moron walking through the cleared area...Either he's lost in his own world and doesn't notice the dozens of people milling about and the stopped traffic, or she thinks she's invincible and won't get blown up.

Personally, I think those people should be given a ticket for hundreds of shekels....

Anyway..this morning we passed French Hill just before they closed the streets. I think someone for got their laundry at the hitch-hiking station.

Sunrise Observations

Originally posted December 17, 2000

5:45 a.m. and I'm at the bus stop at the settlement's entrance. At the gate and guardhouse 6 a.m. means duty change.

The Sun hasn't risen and I wish I hadn't either. The guards seem a bit punchy at this point and they've got the radio playing. Since there's no other sound anywhere close by, whispers seem noisey. The guards are singing loudly and terribly off key and every time one of their voices' crack I look up from the book I'm reading by lamplight and chuckle.

At 5:55 a.m. a pair of soldiers come walking down from their barracks, helmets swinging in hand, M-16 slung across their back and wearing a flak jacket. When they reach the guardhouse, the night boys step out, unload their own machine guns and aim their weapons to the lightening sky. Instead of singing I hear the click-click-click of someone pulling the trigger of an unloaded weapon.

The two weary boys trudge uphill and pass me on the way to their beds. I wish I were in my own bed.

Eventually someone stops and I get in, and I'm on my way to Jerusalem. We drive down the hill where the settlement tops.

Did you know that when a tire burns, the remains look like black licorice ropes? They leave a stain on the asphalt.

A few days before, IDF soldiers bulldozed an olive grove that Arabs were sniping from. The trees lay broken and dying on the edges. I felt sorry for the trees. Not for the Arabs' loss of income.

A lot of Arab houses are enclosed with a high wall and gate. Today, one of those houses had it's wall and gate torn down. It sits right on the road and they were probably sniping from there since they didn't have tree-cover anymore.


Hey Neener Neener

Originally posted December 4, 2000

Ok, I'll be the first to admit, it's childish and petty. And the fact that I get pleasure from it just shows me to be the perverted sadist I really am.

And that I'll admit to all this and put it out in a public forum, I shudder to think what a therapist might say.

But I don't care.

Driving past the checkpoints...long lines of cars with green and white or white and green license plates, stopped by soldiers, waiting their turns to give ID and move on. Only to have to repeat the process 50 kilometers down the road...and on the trip home.

Whilst I, or rather whatever yellow and black license-plated vehicle I'm in, passes these lines and goes merrily on my way...ok, not exactly merrily, since the driver has his gun in his lap and we're all on the lookout for rock-throwers....

Today's Photo

Most folks have lawn gnomes. My neighbor has an upended commode on her front lawn filled with charcoal.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Real-time update

I pretty much started this blog so I could leave comments in other blogs. SO as you can see, I don't update all that often.

Maybe I should.

When last we left our intrepid settler, she was 1 week into a very nerve-wracking 2 week wait after a third IUI procedure.

Well, I am happy to say it was indeed a success and a week before Shavuot, I gave birth to a healthy boy via c-section.

It's been a wild 7 months.

I will endeavor to start posting regularly here again.


Originally written November 23, 2000

About a month ago, when they lynched the two soldiers in Ramallah and the IDF went in and shelled the Ramallah police station, my kids heard the shelling.

Later that night, I heard the IDF shelling Nablus (Shechem). The experience literally left me shaking. I'm about 15 minutes from Nablus, and actually 15 minutes from Ramallah.

Since then, I've heard shelling a few more times, most recently last night. I'm assuming it was in retaliation for the bus bomb in Hadera and the bus bomb in Kfar Dorom that left devastation, death and maimed small kids on their way to school.

The shelling has ceased to leave me shaking any more. Instead I look out my window (can't see anything) and wonder why they just don't pulverize the damn city into dust.

This morning, I got a ride to work at 5:45 a.m. THe sun was just starting to rise, coloring the sky and tinting the clouds a neon pink and purple. THe vally was full of mist. It was quite beautiful. Of course I'm wondering what the mist is hiding. Or rather..WHO it conceals.The roads at this time are still quiet, but we still travel no slower that 100 kph.

We topped a rise and zipped around a bend and slowed. Ahead of us on the road, near Ramallah, was an IDF jeep, tank and half-track. But it was still scenic. Because of the sunrise and their positions, the first sight of them is in stark black silhoutte.

I've discovered I've expanded my vocabulary nicely: flak jacket, half-track, Apache and Chinook heliocopters, armored personel carriers...

Heading Home

Originally written November 21, 2000

I've decided to take the bus home from now on. It's just safer.

Yes, we make a bigger target, but the windows are double-layer thick plexiglass and the sides are steel plated.

I was so tired yesterday, I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I got on the bus. I don't remember leaving Jerusalem.

BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM...that woke me up...

We had gotten stuck behind a slow moving flatbed truck, hauling rebars uphill. Sitting ducks. We couldn't get around the truck since we weren't going much faster.

It started raining stones.

No one was injured. The bus has a few more dents in the side than it did at the start of our journey.

I said the Traveler's Prayer and we thanked God it was 'just' stones.

Running the Gauntlet

Originally written November 16, 2000

People have developed methods of getting to and from the city with the increase of attacks on the roads, it's a usual topic of conversation...You know instead of "How was work, dear?" it's "Thank God you're home. How was the drive?"

I leave the settlement at around 6 a.m. and generally all the terrorists are abed after staying up late at night harassing, injuring and killing Israeli motorists and soldiers.

The roads are usually swept clear of the previous day's rock throwing. Yet as soon as we leave the settlement and hit the main road, someone says a heartfelt "Traveler's Prayer".

"May it be Your will, Eternal One, Beloved of our ancestors, to lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace; to guide us in peace, to support us in peace and to bring us to our destination in life, joy and peace. Deliver us from the hands of every enemy and lurking foe, and robbers and wild beasts on the journey, and from all kinds of calamities that may come to and afflict the world; and bestow blessing upon all our actions. Grant me grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who behold us, and bestow bountiful kindness upon us. Hear the voice of my prayer, for You hear everyone’s prayer. Blessed are You Lord, who hears prayer. "

Eyes scan the side of the road. You sit tensely as you drive through the ravines, places where the hills were parted like the Dead Sea to allow a path. These are danger spots because the Arabs just have to throw a rock down and it could hit you.

But like I said, at 6 a.m. it's usually quiet.

But then there's the return trip. At 4:30...5...7 p.m.

As soon as we pass the checkpoint, you're looking, waiting, watching, tense. Anyone with a gun, locks and loads, finger on safety and gun in lap.

The roads are littered with stones and rocks. When we come up to points in the road like this, the driver usually tenses his/her hands around the steering wheel. And everyone else's eyes scan the side of the road. If he's able, the driver will drive in the middle of the road. This way, the thrower has to throw out as well as down. Some people even go as far as to drive "serpentine", zig-zagging across as they drive. Of course you don't want to make a predictable they zig...zag..zag...zig...zig...zig...zag... zag...

We travel at 120 kph in a 90 kph zone. Very little of the road is straight. Since the shooting has gotten worse, they've also set up road blocks in various locations near Arab towns that have been harassing drivers more than others.

When your car IS hit by a rock, you floor it. Don't bother staying to do anything. When they get a hit, they scatter for 15 minutes, scuttling back like rats to their holes. You call the Regional Council hotline and tell them you've been hit and give an approximate location. Generally, withing 10 minutes of the call, an Army jeep will come by and patrol the area.

People have developed different ways of driving. What they think is best. Some say drive slowly. Personally, I think that's stupid.Slow makes for an easier target. Their feeling is that if you're a fast projectile and the stone is a fast projectile and they meet, it's much worse. My feeling is a fast projectile makes for a target harder to actually hit. My South African neighbor agrees. He says he learned from the conflicts HE lived with in SA that faster is better. If you're going to go in a caravan, make sure everyone agrees to drive at the same fast speed and anyone who doesn't want to will get left behind.

This friend doesn't take the company car anymore. Not because the company won't let him, but he feels it's safer to take the bullet-proof bus to and from work. I agree. When I can I take the bus home. And I certainly don't stand on the main road any more waiting for someone to come by and give me a lift.

When you finally reach your destination, be it home or work, you sit back and relax. You don't realize how tense you can get. And it's exhausting. So you have dinner and sleep or go about your work it all again.


Sunday, April 22, 2007