Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pics from Miluim (Reserve Duty)

Scrolled our battalion's website and found 3 pics with yours truly! :)

Lunch time on Day 2:

And the following are from day 3 where we were drilling urban warfare techniques:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Time for War ...

I'm sure I will write more about this war as it continues. It's been a very trying few weeks for me, my first stint in reserves (I thought about writing about the experience but it seems rather trivial when compared to the current situation) & my first brush as a citizen of a country in war. It is difficult to explain the stress (dealing with friends going to the front, daily IDF incursions into Lebanon and the daily barrages on our Northern cities - 2500+ rockets in the last two weeks) this 'war' has placed on Israelis . That topic however is for another day's blog, for now I'd rather focus on our amazing soldiers. The pride and joy of our nation are now standing up against our most serious test since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. They won't fail us; they never have, they never will. I would like to share this snippet from a article ... It made me extremly proud to be an Israeli, a reservist and a Jew living in my one & only home:

"It's our turn now. It's our turn to protect the border. And we'll carry out any mission we need to, against any force, in the best way possible. If we don't, we have no right to exist. We will not lose this war. We did not start it, but it's our duty to protect the Jewish nation and see to it that the residents of Metula and Haifa can live in peace. If we don't do it, no one will. We waited 2,000 years for our own state, and we won't fold because a group of terrorists think that they can scare us. Someone who cannot protect his freedom does not deserve it"
Captain Ori Lavie - Golani

Monday, July 10, 2006


Unfortunately, I clearly remember the penalties from the 1994 World Cup Final, the penalties which resulted in Italy bowing out to a stronger Brazilian team after Roberto Baggio's famous miss. As extra time began waning away in last night's Final, the nervous tension of the Italian fans at Seven (a pub on Yaffo Street) started to increase steadily. Since 1990, Italy has been eliminated from the World Cup through the dreaded penalty shootout three times. In 1990, Argentina did the honors while the aforementioned Brazilians delivered the cruel blow in 1994. Les Bleus were the guilty party in 1998, sending the Italians home after a quarter finals shoot out. However, this time history would thankfully not be repeating itself. A 'German' like efficiency in the penalty shoot out would lead Italy to a memorable 5-3 penalty shoot out win, their 4th triumpth in the tournament (Italy were also crowned world champions in 1934, 1938 and 1982). A fantastic achievement for a team many overlooked at the tournament's beginning, despite their highly rated head coach (Lippi) and a squad full of Serie A stars.

A few thoughts from the game:

When I saw Fabio Grosso approaching to take the 5th and decisive penalty kick, I knew we had won. This was the same lad who Lucas Neill brought down in the dying seconds in the 2nd Round against Australia to win the deciding penalty, the same lad who scored a quite stunning game winning goal against Germany in the 119th minute of the Semi Final against Germany. Failure wasn't an option for this Palermo based player. And as he struck it sweetly into the right hand corner, he had further cemented his spot in Italian footy folklore. What a sudden rise to stardom by this youngster - congratulazioni!

What a black mark on one my generation's greatest talents. The best player on the European continent since Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane ended his storied career with a sickening head butt to Marco Materazzi's chest and a rightful red card. It's a black mark on a fantastic career that saw this maestro dominate in Serie A with Juventus and in La Liga with Real Madrid. Zizou's tricks, remarkable passing ability and uncanny ability to score critical goals (2 goals in the 1998 World Cup Finals and the only goal in the 2002 European Champions League final) will be missed. Merci pour les mémoires ...


The winning squad:
1 Gianluigi Buffon
12 Angelo Peruzzi
14 Marco Amelia
2 Cristian Zaccardo
5 Fabio Cannavaro
6 Andrea Barzagli
13 Alessandro Nesta
22 Massimo Oddo
23 Marco Materazzi
3 Fabio Grosso
4 Daniele De Rossi
8 Gennaro Gattuso
16 Mauro German Camoranesi
17 Simone Barone
20 Simone Perrotta
19 Gianluca Zambrotta
21 Andrea Pirlo
7 Alessandro Del Piero
9 Luca Toni
10 Francesco Totti
11 Alberto Gilardino
15 Vincenzo Iaquinta
18 Filippo Inzaghi

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A 12 year absence

For any Italian footy fan, the image on the left is etched in his/her memory. With his team needing the penalty to stay alive in the first penalty shoot out in World Cup finals history, Roberto Baggio sent his spot kick sky high. The 'divine pony tail', as he was fondly known to his adoring fans, put his head down in sheer disbelief. After almost single handedly carrying his nation to football's holy grail, including stunning performances against Nigeria and Bulgaria, he had just let down the entire nation. I remember the whole game & the incredible shock after the miss quite clearly. I had just returned from my 2 week trip to Israel with Carmel College, and was eagerly awaiting the game after following most of the World Cup in Israel. Italy's run had captivated the whole nation, and even my parents & little sister sat with me in our lounge watching the game. Only some fantastic saves by the 'wonderful' (just quoting my Mom here!) Gianluca Pagliuca managed to keep Brazil from breaking down the stubborn Italian defense. However, the cruel penalty shootout would finally put an end to the Italian dream ...

Fast forward 12 years later (granted, I'd be watching the game in Jerusalem, my sister in London and my parents & little brother in New York) to 2006 and Italy again had a chance to make amends for the previous generation's errors. A daunting game against the hosting nation, Germany, stood in between Italy and another Final's appearance. The first 90 minutes provided few chances, with Simone Perotta and Bernd Schneider both guilty of missing golden opportunities to put their teams ahead. As extra time loomed, Marcello Lippi, a defensive minded head coach, threw caution to the wind by substituting tiring right winger Mauro Camoranesi for the fresh legs of Udinese striker, Vincenzo Iaquinta. This move almost paid off immediate dividends with the substitute's presence on the right flank allowing Alberto Gilardino to hit the post on a determined individual effort, and Gianluca Zambrotta to hit the bar with a thundering drive off a corner won by the aforementioned Iaquinta. With the first period of extra time ending, Lippi yet again made a surprising tactical move by taking off Simone Perotta, who put in a fantastic performance, and replacing him with Alessandro Del Piero, the man who replaced Roberto Baggio as Juventus and Italy's golden boy. Del Piero's history with the Azzurri has been a bitter sweet one. Although he's always played well for Italy, he was guilty of failing to put away the French in the 2000 European Championships final, missing two golden opportunities. The French would eventually tie the game in the waning moments of normal time and win the game with a golden goal. History seemed to be playing the same cruel trick on Del Piero as he missed the net completely late in the 2nd period of extra time after Jens Lehmann took a 'field trip' in the box. With the game set to go into penalties, a stage where the Germans had never lost and the Italians had never won, Fabio Grosso stepped up and etched his name in Italian football history in the 119th minute of the game. After a fantastic pass by man of the match Andrea Pirlo, Gross struck a one time, curling shot into the upper left corner of Lehmann's net, leaving the German keeper with no chance whatsoever. Grosso, who's celebrations reminded some Italians of Marco Tardelli's similar act in the 1982 Finals against West Germany, had yet again played a critical role in the dying minutes of a game (He won the hotly disputed penalty against Australia in the 2nd Round). Seconds later, Del Piero would finish off the game by scoring a goal after a fantastic fast break move by the Italians. As he ran to celebrate, the refree blew the whistle and Italy eagerly awaited the winners of the Portugal-France game. 6 games down, 1 to go to reclaim the Crown we last won in 1982 ... Forza Azzurri!

Here are the highlights from yesterday's riveting 2-0 win:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Remember Entebbe?

Another 4th of July is fast approaching here in Israel. A day which should mean something not only in Israel, but also worldwide, will probably only be mentioned non-stop throughout our media because of its 'anniversary'. It is after all the 30th year since one of history's most daring rescue missions. However, even 30 years later, this event can still play a major role in shaping the world's mentality in pursuing her inalienable rights. During such an uncertain stage in Israel's & the world's war on radical Islam's terror tactics, July 4th should be remembered for the actions of Israel's elite forces during Operation Thunderbolt, otherwise known as the Raid on Entebbe.

A brief overview of the event: Late June 1976, an Air France jet leaves Israel and lands in Athens, where 2 Germans and 2 Arabs board the plane and proceed to hijack it. The plane arrives in Entebbe (Uganda), where the terrorists are joined by more Arabs & friendly Ugandan troops (by orders of the country's president, Idi Amin Dada). The terrorists demanded the release of their imprisoned buddies throughout Europe & Israel. After a few days, all the non-Jews and non-Israelis were released, allowed to return to Paris (an eerie reminder for Israel of the holocaust and the selections). While the world remained silent, Israel planned a daring mission while 'attempting to negotiate'. Late July 3rd, Sayeret Matkal (Israel's most elite unit) with other standout soldiers from various units, left Israel on a 4000 km flight to deal a death blow to terrorism. On July 4th, Israel's forces did the impossible: they rescued all but 4 of the hostages (2 were killed by stray bullets at the terminal, 1 died of his wounds in a Nairobi hospital and Dora Bloch z"l was left behind in a Ugandan hospital, where she was murdered by Ugandan troops) and one soldier, the commander of Sayeret Matkal, Yonatan Netanyahu z"l. Israel had once again stood up to terror, refusing to allow it to dictate her policies.

The significance and importance of such an accomplishment should be stressed in light of worldwide events in the last few years. Islamic terror has killed thousands of innocent civilians since 2000, and while their numbers, supporters & strength only grow stronger, the world's reactions become more and more timid & pathetic. While the US pursues actions (offensives against terror supporting Afghani & Iraqi regimes) that she deems are necessary to protect her citizens, way too many countries refuse to react. When Spain suffered a devastating attack which killed 191 people, their reaction was to change PM and withdraw all their troops from Iraq. Wonder what the terrorists learned from that mission?!?!? (Perhaps something along the lines of: kill civilians, get what you want!). When Australia lost 100+ citizens in the attacks on Bali in 2002, the reaction was a few harsh words from PM John Howard and since then, very little else. After the introduction of suicide bombing on buses in London, England's reaction also left much to be desired. While radical Muslim activity flourishes in the Balkans (& Europe in general), Northern Africa, the Middle East & Southeast Asia, too little is being done to put obstacles in the terrorists' paths. The inability to act or react is only further strengthening the belief of the terrorists that one day they will win the war against the West.

The rescue at Entebbe stresses the rights of any nation to defend her citizens' right to live and breathe. A day to honor the bravery & excellence of those soldiers would stress a vital point: A country should undertake whatever means it deems necessary to protect her citizens from the threats of terrorism, be it a preemptive strike (for example, the 6 Day War where Israel attacked Arab forces lined up on their borders before they were ready for their attack, hence allowing us to win the war) or by reacting to attacks. A good example of the above are the events surrounding the World Trade Center towers: Bill Clinton should have reacted with force after the first attack in '93 (By that, I don't mean bombing a medicine factory in Sudan) and George W. Bush should have started to act when all the warnings came in before the tragic attacks on 9/11. The free world is in the most vital phase of its war to eliminate radical Islam's terror tactics & allow a moderate & peaceful Islam to flourish. Any hesitation (like we're seeing today with Israel with regards to Hamas) or backtracking will only strengthen the terrorists' resolve to destroy the values most of us take for granted. By commemorating & highlighting the brave actions of the IDF on July 4th, the world would be sending a clear & necessary message to the terror cells of the world: no action taken against the citizens of the free world will go unpunished.