Monday, June 27, 2016
|"Mossad the Greatest Missions..." is on sale, NIS 50 (about $12.50) in this year's Israeli book fair week, D-A Vider 2016|
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Thursday, January 14, 2016
|Security guards in public buildings feel more stress than most Israelis|
Monday, January 11, 2016
|Cafes along Tel Aviv's commercial strips are up and running, but residents are still cautious. Echos of last week's attack.|
Sunday, January 10, 2016
|Almost empty King George (Ha'melech George) street on a weekday morning. Tel Avivians see the fear in empty streets, shops, cafes and public events. Is this a peek of "things to come"?|
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
|Memorial candles and funeral notices at 130 Dizengoff, site of the two killings, January 2nd, 2016|
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Thursday, September 5, 2013
|Graphical representation of Israel's electronic snooping story: People & Tech|
Friday, January 6, 2012
A group of Saudi Arabian hackers broke into a small Israeli shopping site. Apparently 400,000 account details, credit card numbers, PINS and more disturbingly Israeli identity numbers (teudat zehut) were taken. The group threaten to publish the details on the Internet so others can use it to steal. It seems like Israelis are not concerned about the fact that Saudis did this, or that this might be an attack on the state. They are much more concerned about their own bank accounts and paying for pizzas delivered on a camel to a tent in the Saudi Arabian desert. (There was a cartoon in the paper showing a pizza camel delivery to a tent, the delivery boy calling out an Israeli name and the man in the tent saying "cool, thank you" in Arabic (shookrah). Yes, our jokes also make us think of Saudis as camel riding Arabs of the 1930's, we all need our stereotypes. )
Monday, February 21, 2011
Let's look forward a year from now. Let's dream of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan and Bahrain with a democratically elected government. Let's dream a little of open diplomatic relationship and trade agreements with all these new democracies. Not just with Israel but with most of the countries in the world. Happy buzz around the world for the great advances in the Arab world. Something most of the west was hoping for since the 1950s. What does that mean in terms of diplomatic relationships with Israel? Not too far fetched if you just go back a few years. Remember the had shakes between Rabin and Arafat? Rabin didn't want to do it, but he did. Arafat was full of himself. They both got a Nobel Prize for Peace (1994). What most people forget is how the whole world suddenly loved Israel. They suddenly thought that the Palestinians are going to be just like the Israelis, free and democratic and unbelievably successful. Well, that didn't last, but it could have. If the Palestinians did become a democratic pluralistic territory, regardless of the issues with Israel. But with no real example of pluralistic democracy in the Arab world, that did not happen. Maybe it was just too hard to expect a small territory to innovate while organizing a whole new world for themselves.Read More...
Friday, February 18, 2011
|Haaretz showing protests around the Arab world. Not exactly democracy yet, but quietly hoping for a change. From Haaretz.com 18-Feb-2011|
Arabs are rioting now for over a month. It started with Tunisia. A country that seemed quiet and cultured. The Israelis who came from Tunisian descend are known for their quiet personality and hard work. Then came the Egyptians, hardly people of protest, at least not the violent kind. We still hear a bit of echoes from Iranian protests. But somehow the government's harsh suppression and communication isolation has made us forget. We hear protest in other places, like little lights turning on in the middle of the night. One should remember that Israel is the only democracy in our little corner of the world. From the Atlantic ocean to India. Far south as South Africa and who knows how far north, maybe Russia if one considers that government democratic. Israel is by far the only democracy here. So suddenly seeing countries who did not go through the adoption of democracy asking for rule by the people is refreshing. But not really. Israelis are cautious about celebrating democracy in Egypt, Syria or Jordan. Here, we better off not getting our hopes up. We have seen the rise of Gaddafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt. We have seen changes in economy and government in the gulf states. We have seen the war between Iran and Iraq, with very little change in how these countries are ruled and their acceptance of democratic processes by the people. So the press is quiet about our hopes, so is the government. Unlike Obama and Clinton in the press, Bibi and Lieberman are shy to advise Arabs what to do next.Read More...
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I stumbled across this video (on another blog) about views of different Israelis negotiating with Hamas over Gilad Shalit. As an Israeli I am sure that it is funny, in certain places. Each of us has a way of laughing at certain characters in everyday Israeli life. Overall, the clip is also disturbing, that's what satire is all about. It has the mother character (second to speak), the Israeli negotiator (main character) and various prototypical Israelis (Facebook geeks, techno geek (called "talk back" like comments on blogs), army buddy and dark song writer.) A disturbing thought comes across: how in the press and in private conversations we have all kind of banal excuses for keeping a man in a hole for years. The political view in Israel is continuously debated. The characters in the clip are familiar to most Israelis. It ends with a "calculation" of the amount of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldiers (and one Israeli drug smuggler.) If you have a sense of humor... or are interested in Israeli opinions on the exchange issue... ENJOY!Read More...
Saturday, May 1, 2010
|Israelis act as if they are here forever, but sometimes speak as if just temporary visitors. Israeli survey point marker at the end of Tel Aviv's marina pier / © 2010|
I don't understand how Israelis think about the future. It's not because I don't understand the words or ideas, it's just that there are so many different views, most conflicting. Some Israelis really believe that the state is not going to survive. If saddam hussein with chemical rockets from Iraq, the Palestinian suicide attack or Ahmadinejad's nuclear bombs don't succeed, eventually someone is going to bring down the state. These views are based on personal fears and media reports. On the hopeful side, Israelis simply point out where Israel is today and how people struggled for a long time to keep us safe. Attacks on Jews (essentially pre-Israel) started before the state was declared, wars with bigger armies and more determined leaders did not bring down the state, why would someone succeed now? Then there are the middle thinkers, Israelis who think that a really strong force came at us, an Iranian nuclear bomb for example, the Israeli army would retaliate. Something would remain after the smoked cleared. To outsiders this all seems grim, but what else can we do with daily news reports of someone making a speech to squash us?Read More...
Sunday, April 4, 2010
How do you describe a country's personality? How do you explain to someone how things are done in a different culture? or business environment? Israelis have been doing things their own way for such a long time, it is hard to most people to understand a unique and very different culture. Israelis are not at all like their American Jewish cousins, also they are not like their European Ashkenazi ancestors and certainly not like the Arabs surrounding cultures (and the Arab countries from where the Israeli Sephradi population came from.)
Israeli culture of creating is unique and can help others in becoming more creative, productive and constructive. Israelis have an 120 year record of building, inventing and innovating intensely. That attitude of doing the "hard-fun work" or what here is considered the "important work" gives Israelis pride and confidence. Some say over-confidence (or false bravado) at extreme cases. Israelis are known to be overly optimistic about their abilities. For most Israelis culture and history also gives a sense of reality and a "can do" attitude. I think this is the most crucial difference between Israeli and people in other countries. In some countries, like the US after World War II this was the case. American won the biggest world war so now Americans felt like they could do anything. For a generation, this attitude propelled the American economy and society which became the envy of the world. Attitudes are developed in Israelis as a cultural element from early age. It makes sense when you are here and you see and experience how Israelis think and work. It is very strange for foreigners with different cultural attributes to understand (or even believe) Israelis describe this attitude. A combination of historical success and strong personality gives the country a truly unique behavior.Read More...
Monday, October 5, 2009
Unless you have been living under a rock in Tel Aviv you definitely hear, see and FEEL the quiet nervous tension here. This quiet two minutes and forty second plea for freedom was streamed on TV and computer screens like a thunder bolt in mid-summer. The first few seconds after he finished was the most silent Tel Aviv has been in a long time. Than came the whispers and interpretations. What can you say to a prisoner held for four years? What can you tell the family? What should the government do? Tzipi Livni more than two years ago blurted out in anger something like "we are not going to bow down to the Palestinians on the count of one..." Immediately Olmert, Ashkenazi, Barak and everyone you can think of wanted to hit Livni on the head with a baseball bat (OK we don't have baseball here, we can find a bat somewhere.) But there was something to that blurb that is finally sinking in for Israelis and Palestinians: nobody wants to back down and look like a loser. The Israelis are not willing to let murderers out just to be treated like heroes in Gaza. The Palestinians are not willing to settle for not getting everyone out of prison, specially their big heroes. Shalit sits in a hole just beyond our reach. To most at first impression he "looked good". But the way he looked did not calm the nervousness. Just seeing this face reading quietly a simple speech [video/transcript] made everyone's hair stand in the back of his neck.
I think you know things are bad when nobody talks about it. The old white elephant in the middle of the room, the king walking naked in the middle of the street, Shalit still "there" four years later. The situation indicates two big shifts in attitude in Tel Aviv:
1) Israelis are no longer willing to trade Palestinians at any price. If we "JUST" get Shalit without a complete stop to terrorism "they" are not going to get the "very bad ones". (Israelis are not willing to release mass murderers which for the Palestinians are heros)
2) Israelis can be silent and tolerant for a long long time. We can take stress, we can take Iranian presidents on TV, we can take Nasrala and Haniya on TV. We can take silence from Ashkenazi and Bibi... few remember 8 years of shelling from Gaza, Israelis remember.Read More...
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Obama's message to Tel Avivian's is not simple to accept here. Is this a problem to Netanyahu's government? Should Obama or Netanyahu change their stance? Should Tel Avivian's change? (from White House web site)
Ha'aretz [Hebrew addition] recently published a story about the unfinished state of the security fence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (14/07/2009). A not so hidden message mentions the "America's disapproval of the whole idea of cutting the country into two". Therefore the Israeli government budget and matching US funds simply stopped in 2007. Since then the work has slowed down to a crawl. At the time nobody wanted to aggravate the Bush administration or restart a wave of negative press from international media channels.
Actually, Ha'aretz is focusing on the unresolved settlements issue. The settlements issue is complicating a final border agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Therefore the uncompleted sections of the security fence suddenly make for news. The unresolved settlements issue can be seen in the "three fingers" jutting out of the green line (official Israel 1949 armistice map). The Palestinian Authority will not give up on this land without getting something in return from Israel. Israelis are not blind to the position of the Palestinian Authority and the people they represent. This issue has been slowly resolving itself. Tel Aviv residents clearly view this issue as the most visible item holding up the security fence completion. That makes it the most controversial and a key factor in the security of the central part of Israel.Security Fence, August 2008, mostly finished, still un-built in controversial sections.
The feeling about the security fence in Tel Aviv is one of annoying necessity. Some would say it is a necessary evil. The fence is annoyance in terms of the international press and Israel's image in some countries, but not all. Comparison of the security fence to the Berlin wall and walls between North and South Korea or the US and Mexico border barrier are made all the time. At the same time, the security fence has clearly helped in quieting down complaints from both side of the border. Terrorism inside Israel has virtually stopped. Complaints about Israeli citizens in Palestinian areas has also completely stopped. Palestinian Arabs are not seen in the central part of Israel and Israeli Jews are few and far between anywhere outside the green line. The necessity of the security fence is undeniable, fences work in other places and they work just as well here. The same can be said of the security fences with Lebanon in the north and with Gaza in the south. But they also cut off the daily interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. It feels like we are in one large pen. Even cows and horses feel penned in when you put them into a fenced area. Once in a while you hear Tel Avivian's mention the good old days when you can shop for olive oil in Beit Jalla (the best in the world some say [Cooperative site] [YouTube clip]) or shop at some roadside stand for vegetables. But you also hear about the brisk trade of stolen cars taken from upscale Tel Aviv neighborhood to an anonymous orchard in the 'territories' and chopped up for parts. This has stopped as well. Like most people, Israelis have positive and negative labels to the Palestinian territories. When things were better construction workers, car mechanics, cleaners and restaurant workers made their way daily from Palestinian refugee camps [UNRWA page], towns and villages [pictures] to work in Israel. Sometimes they would even find a place to sleep, a storeroom in a restaurant, the back of a garage, a rented room in an Arab village or even in Jafa (close to Tel Aviv). This would help in the daily travel but also had the consequence of being caught (most Palestinian Arabs did not have permission to live in Israel just to work there). But this is just nostalgia speaking. The sad part is how few people have essentially caused two nations to feel haltered and fear towards each other. NO TEL AVIV RESIDENT would ever think of the majority of Palestinian as terrorist. Not even a fraction of a percent has attacked Israel. But even the thought of another attack in the middle of the city is enough to accept the security fence and call it a necessary evil. Overall, the security fence is good news, being isolated - possible NOT, AmiV @ TLV
Monday, June 22, 2009
There is an unwritten agreement among countries when it comes to internal political strife: "don't tell me what to do and I will not tell you what to do". I guess this goes for these developed and civilized countries. The ones which fought hundreds of years ago when gentlemen made the rules and stuck by them. When it comes to political media sniping and gentleman's agreements its pretty safe to say that Israel and Iran are on the other side of this "don't tell me what to do" spectrum. Iran's leaders have used the media to attack Israel's politics so much that when you see a crowd of chanting Iranians following a leader's chant "... death to America, death to Israel..." most people just ignore this, after 30 years of the Iranian revolution it's not news any more. International TV news channels (CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera) run these videos as if they are meaningless. But in Tel Aviv it is not meaningless. Americans and Britons can take some comfort in distance and strength in numbers. It seems improbable that Iran would carry out on the chants 'death to America'. But with intermediaries like Hezbollah in Lebanon, it does not seem such a far fetched idea to be attacked - even if not killed by extremists in Iran. So the idea of "I am not going to tell you what to do" does not fit here. Israeli leaders have shied away from voicing their opinion in public. Many here think that this is a big mistake.
Why should Israeli leaders incite Iranian demonstrators? Why should Israel be on the side of changing a government in Iran? Because the election demonstrations in Iran is the best news Tel Avivians have heard from Iran in a long time. Why should it seem to most of us that fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon is OK but speaking out in the media is not? Does this make sense? No, it does not make sense. It also does not make sense to be silent about an oppressive Islamic government exporting it's hatred to Israel's borders left unchecked. Words may not influence Iran during peaceful times but these are not peaceful times in Iran. Israel wants to stay neutral, so far that has been one sided and it does not seem like Iran is going to stop using international media against Israel. Even without absolute proof, Iran has been supplying Hezbollah and Hamas with arms to use against Israel. It seems that this "I will not tell you what to do" equation is not balancing in the side of Israel. On the streets of Tel Aviv there is a split between these who think of achieving peace by simply being peaceful and these who feel that we need to defend ourselves against Iran and it's Palestinian intermediaries (Hezbollah and Hamas.)
The situation is a little more complex since US President Obama entered the scene. He was elected with the agenda of bringing a solution to the Israeli - Palestinian problem. To most outsiders that seemed like a good idea. From an outside perspective of US or Britain the situation here seem trivial. Obama probably thinks: [A] let the Palestinians declare a state, [B] give Israel more support in case the Palestinian government loses control over militant factions, [C] everybody goes home happy => [D] Obama/Clinton look great, take the credit, make the American public happy. What's wrong with this picture? A reality test in face of the fierce split among Palestinian factions and basically the Iranian support of Hisbollah and Hamas. No Arab leader, government or organization can be credible in assuring control over extreme factions' terrorizing Israel. So we are back to the first point, should Israel wish for Iranian government fall or even change in policy? If Iran's government falls or even alters it's support of intermediaries terrorizing Israel, than we can have the Obama scenario. Well, at least this is one scenario, hey a Tel Avivan can dream can't he? Let's wait and see what happens with the second Iranian revolution - oh sorry, election demonstration.Read More...