Wednesday, August 23, 2006

FW: Well, it's over for now

Dear friends,
A month ago, I wrote a letter "Plan your next vacation", saying
.....Meantime, there are practical things that you can do to help.  First, pray for us and for the brave soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces.  Then plan your next vacation. Now. As soon as this war is over, get on a plane and help the tourist industry of northern Israel recover. Rent a car, take a room in a small bed & breakfast, a meal here, a souvineer there. Drive around the Galilee and the Golan Heights.  Buy a sandwich or a felafel for lunch. Take in a movie after a visit to the Baha'i gardens and the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space in Haifa.  Nothing fancy. Let the people of the north know that just as they can rely on the IDF to get the job done, they can rely on their friends around the world.  Call now, and book a room for "as soon as it's over". 
Well, now it's over. Rochelle and I went out for dinner in Netanya. A favourite summer vacation spot French Jews, the place was hopping late ino the evening.  Boisterous, noisy and fun.  The restaurants on the promenade were full. A street fair in full swing.  Jumping castles and tramplines for the kids. Holiday happiness and laughter in the air.
Friends touring in the north report that things are much quieter there. The northern economy took a much larger knock.  But slowly things are returning to normal. The artist colony and judaica shops of Safed have re-opened.  The "Zimmerim" in the Gallillee are once again providing accomodation with their special family hospitality. The boats are once again taking tourists out on the Kineret.  And my future son-in-law recovered most of his clothes from his bombed-out Nahariya laundromat.  But the tourists have not yet arrived in the numbers that are needed to support recovery of that important industry.

So - wherever you are in the world, book your tickets.  Come and visit;  Jerusalem, Eilat, Tel Aviv, Safed, Haifa, Kiriyat Shmona, the Golan Heights ... wherever you go in Israel will provide a treasure of memories.  And for my many Israeli readers - even a day trip up North before the summer vacation ends will recharge you batteries - and stimulate the economy.


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Monday, August 21, 2006

UK appoints Iranian cats to watch the cream

Dear friends,

The Terror Finance blog has just posted an item that must be causing quite some embarrassment in the UK.  The blog focuses on the flow of British materiel to terrorists in Lebanon.  The story was broken by Mathew Kalman in the San Francisco Chronicle, but quickly found its way into slickly avoided Parliamentary questions. 

Special night vision goggles, were provided to the Iranian drug squad, so they could better curb the flow of drugs through its territory into Britain.  One has to admire the way in which the Iranian drug squad so effectively adopted the British sense of fair play.  We know that before a duel, the cultured Duke makes sure that his opponent is equally armed with a loaded pistol or the sword of his choice.  So, the Iranians handed the goggles straight over to Hezbollah's militants -who are classified by the UK as a proscribed terrorist organisation, and are  known to raise huge sums through the drug trade.  The Iranians certainly put some sportsmanship in the game.  Not to mention that Hezbollah also used the goggles and drug deals to gather intelligence before launching rockets onto innocent Israeli civilians. 

I wonder other European materiel Hezbollah uses in committing its war crimes?  At least we can be confident that it has good use for the "gift of 50 sets of body armour to the Iranian Counter-Narcotics border police .... to fight the trafficking of heroin and opiates," because "...60 per cent. of all heroin entering the UK transits Iran. Iran is actively involved in the fight against drug trafficking..." (as the UK Minister for the Middle East, Dr Kim Howells, so proudly detailed to his parliament  in March of this year).

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Returning to normal

Dear Friends,
The northern border has been quiet since the cease fire with Hezbollah came into force Monday morning.   People are beginning to return to their homes on both sides of the border.  And now the clean-up begins. 
It is a sobering thought that the damage in Lebanon was a totally predictable outcome of that nation's deliberate flaunting of UN resolutions demanding that it take control of its own territory and disarm the terrorists that were usurping it.  Instead, it invited those same terrorists to join its government.  Worse, it condoned and encouraged the war crimes of launching attacks against civilians in a neighbouring sovereign state and the use of its own citizens and civilian areas as  human shields.
Lebanese infrastructure and many private homes - including those used as weapons facilities and rocket launching pads - will need repair.  Iran has stepped up to the plate, and the Hezbollah will once again be its proxy.  Europe, concerned about the positive image Hezbollah will gain was quick to announce that they will set aside hundreds of millions in humanitarian aid, which it is channeling through charitable agencies, the UN and the Lebanese government. 
All in all, though, the message for those who survived will be that the war was not so bad for Lebanon.  Israel got the message, and Lebanon gets lots of new infrastructure houses, and even furniture.  All courtesy of international donors.
In all this, however, where is Israel?  The international community seems to have completely ignored the affect on ordinary Israeli citizens of the month of war, in which they were the direct and sole targets of Hezbollah's war crimes.  Which international charity or donor has come forward to offer even a token?
If you are surprised by the question, consider the extent that your media reported the damage to Israel.  Did you know that 500,000 Israelis fled their homes in the north, and that the rest were forced to spend long hours in bomb shelters? Have you heard of the stream of refugees returning to their homes in Israel's north, to confront their damaged houses, destroyed businesses, lost sales.  The international coverage has been almost completely focused on Lebanon.  Here, though, are the statistics for Israel.

Hezbollah rockets landing in Israel


Israeli civilians displaced by the war


Israelis killed                           


Israelis injured


Israeli civilians treated for shock and distress


Israeli Buildings destroyed                   


Israeli Trees destroyed                       


Financial cost of the war and related damage in Israel

    NIS 25 b

    Of this: military budget

NIS 7 b

One of the reasons that the media did not cover the story is that Israel moved its civilians out of danger to the extent possible.  All around the country not only did people take in friends and relatives, but also complete strangers.  The stories are many and heartwarming.  The stark contrast on the other side of the border, where civilians were used as human shields, and in some cases even physically prevented at gunpoint from fleeing is clear.
Of course, as is the case in the Palestinian Authority, international aid will be interpreted as tacit support for the war crimes that created the humanitarian disaster.  And Israel will be left to cope on its own.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Reuters photo fraud is hardly new

Dear friends,
The blogosphere expressed a level of surprise when Reuters was caught falsifying and staging photos, seeming to completely integrate into the Hezballywod propaganda machine.
I have been loading my archive history, and came across Reuters complicity in anti-Israel propaganda early in 2001.  See - exposing staged photography by Reuters journalist Suhaib Salem, with a blatantly misleading caption.  And a Google search on the man stumbled over the following piece from the Wall Street Journal of a year and a half later.
Wonder what motivates Reuters?
Monday, June 3, 2002 2:40 p.m. EDT

Family Ties--I
Remember Suhaib Salem? He's the Reuters photographer whom Israel arrested in Gaza on May 22 on suspicion of terrorism--the Israelis claimed, and he denied, that he had a grenade in his possession--then released last week. The Associated Press reports that Salem's brother Salah was "one of the men involved in the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldier Cpl. Nachson Waxman in 1994. Both Salah Salem and Waxman were killed when the Israelis attempted to rescue Waxman." Reuters doesn't seem to have mentioned Salah Salem in its coverage of his brother's arrest.

Suhaib Salem, of course, is not responsible for his brother's actions, and we know of no reason to doubt he's fine journalist. (Here's a sample of his work, a shot of an unnamed Palestinian man enjoying a tender moment with the founder of the terror group Hamas.) But isn't there an obvious conflict of interest in assigning the brother of a Palestinian terrorist--or, in Reutervillian parlance, of "another man's freedom fighter"--to cover the Israeli-Arab conflict?

The AP reports that when Salem was arrested, he was on his way to Japan to cover the World Cup, a soccer tournament. If the folks at Reuters are really in the business of news rather than propaganda, they ought to let Salem stay in Japan, or else reassign him to cover some other part of the world where there would be no obvious reason to question his objectivity.

A second Reuters staffer, TV cameraman Jussry al-Jamal, remains in Israeli custody, the AP reports.

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