May 4, 2002
Thanks to those of you who responded positively to my ‘letter’ last week. And to the others who did not respond, please do not feel obligated. And to the one who bombarded me with perhaps the most horrific and devastating words I have ever personally experienced in my life, coupled with a PPT presentation that can only have been edited by the blindest of fanatics… Emil Kaspar, now exposed as an anti-Semite, won’t mind if I don’t include him again on any mailing list.
(It is a question as to how one should react to such vilification. Me and my very mixed background have never faced ultra anti-Semitism like this in my life. Do I stick my head in the ground? Do I respond in kind? Do I publicise/expose the misguided fool? Would I then be exposing myself to dangers that I have as yet ignored?)
So what brings me to writing today?
Got the ‘Sunday papers’ (I suppose it’s a rhetorical question as to how Friday and Sunday became Sabbaths. At least in English and other similar languages, the verbal difference in obvious. But how can ‘Sabbado’ not be the Sabbath?).
Shall soon go on our roof to relax in the sun and read. But this morning, Friday, I had to run a few errands. Took part of my paper and went out. Passed many shoppers, bought flowers off one of the street stalls, watched mothers and grandparents with their kids in the play area of one of the parks in our quarter, then sat at one of many outdoor cafés and read news and comments.
The Jerusalem Post is OK as a paper. When it was the only English-language daily in the country, one felt constricted by the choice. I, as an Englishman, was not happy when there were management changes, and the style, not to mention the sports concentration, moved blatantly across the Atlantic. There was also a definite swing to the right.
But then there were 3 important developments. The JP joined hands with the NY Times and Wall Street Journal, and we now get a much wider vision of domestic and foreign issues.
The there was the appearance of the English version of Ha-Aretz (The Land), which combines each day with the IHT (Intl Herald Tribune).
Thirdly, the JP’s Website, which I never check, is apparently an enormous international success. It gets more international ‘hits’ than the next five most popular Israeli websites, and is considered one of the most popular in the World.
And it should not be forgotten that international issues of other English-language publications, like The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, open up the opinion door even further. I feel better today with my JP.
I have a scanner. I could attach bits and pieces from today’s issue. But that would seem to be too propagandist. What I want to show is the relative fairness of the Israeli press, despite the obvious temptation to be one-sided. Herewith some bits and pieces –
An ad for some organisation or other: UNWRA statistics show that, as of Jan 2000, of 823,881 refugees in Gaza, two-thirds, 544,859 are of Gazan origin. Why are they in refugee camps…..Why hasn’t UNRWA helped settle the Arabs of Gazan origin in Gaza? (Goes back to my e-mail last week).
IDF films (taken by balloon) clearly show shrouded Palestinian bodies carried in funeral procession suddenly falling out….and climbing back in, once more to be wrapped in shrouds.
Leader of W. Bank Fatah, Marwan Barghouti, among many prisoners now being interrogated, says that Arafat personally authorised funding for Fatah Tanzim activities.
Israeli court refuses to allow terror suspects to see lawyer. (Sounds like ‘par-for-the-course’, except these terror suspects are Jewish, accused of planning attacks against Arabs).
Natan Sharansky’s plan for the future:
Establish intl coordinating body, to include moderate Arab nations
Day-to-day admin in hands of Palestinians
During transitional period, Security in Israeli hands, gradually being turned over to Palestinians.
Development of democracy in Palestine (education aimed at peace and tolerance – not hate)
Dismantling of refugee camps (give them a life) – to be financed by Arab nations and UN
Intl economic fund – for creation and financing of industry, infrastructure, R & D companies
Negociations for permanent peace.
(I would add, dismantling of majority of Jewish settlements and establishment of defensible borders).
Letters about Danielle Shefi, the 5 year-old girl among those killed last week, while in her bed:
All attention on Bethlehem stand-off, Arafat’s impending release, IDF’s incursion into Nablus. Almost no mention of Danielle’s death and funeral.
When a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was tragically caught in a crossfire between IDF and armed Palestinians, the whole World was treated to a steady diet of photo and newspaper re-runs….over a long period. There is now growing evidence that the victim was shot by his own people.
When a 5 year-old Israeli girl is slaughtered in her bed, within the sanctity of her own home, it is a blip on the news, and there is not a peep or a sign of any moral examination as to the values of a society that would spawn such evil…..
Arafat was quoted as saying that the terrorists in (the settlement of) Adora were ‘only Palestinians defending their homeland’. ….Since when is the murder of 5 year-old children considered a valid way to defend one’s homeland?
………..Danielle died because a terrorist Israel should have had behind bars was still free that fateful Saturday. Her photograph on President Bush’s desk should serve as a poignant reminder of the real and serious consequences of forcing Israel not to defend itself.
Wow – I’ve written too much. No way you will have read all this. And if you have, thanks.
It’s just so frustrating to sit here and see the futility of ‘acting as correctly as one can’, while all falls around us.
May 8 – I started this 5 days ago. I end with the sound of last night’s bomb vibrating heavily in our hearts.