Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nissim in Video

If the embed isn't working for you, click on the title and that will take you to the YouTube page. Enjoy!

Noises during the Hiccup Battle

Nissim's 6th flip in the last 2 days!

David Shapira, an ordinary hero

Let his words do the explaining, mine are unnecessary here:

"...but this was what I had to do"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are human rights for some, but not others?

Another brilliant piece courtesy of Aish:

Liraz Madmony, a 23-year-old law student from Sderot, addressed the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza in Geneva on behalf of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) on Monday, Jan. 12, 2009 before the vote by the council that condemned Israel's military offensive in Gaza and resolved to send a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinians.

Here is the text of her speech.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I come from Sderot, the city in Israel that for eight years has been terrorized, by 10,000 rockets fired against us from Gaza.

As a law student, I learned -- and I believe -- that all human beings have the right to peace and security.

But when I see today's resolution, I ask: Why is the United Nations ignoring my suffering? When the terrorists committed these 10,000 violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, why was the UN silent?

Are human rights for some, but not others?

The constant assault on Sderot has destroyed our ability to lead a normal life. The warning before each attack gives us only 15 seconds to run for shelter. Fifteen seconds that will decide, life or death.

Mr. President, who will protect our right to life? My family does not have a bomb shelter, so we run to the most protected room, which is the shower.

There is one attack I will never forget. We heard the siren at seven in the morning. We ran to the shower. The rockets fell next to my house. My little brother, who was 14, went to see if anyone needed help. He found a man whose legs were blown off, and a woman blown to pieces.

My youngest brother is six. The rockets have been falling for eight years. He knows no other reality.

Everyone suffers in Sderot. Fathers and mothers are afraid to go to work, creating poverty. Kids are afraid to go to school. I have missed many of my law classes. My friends are afraid to visit. The streets lie empty.

I dream of the hometown that I remember. When the park near my house was filled with happy families and children playing. When people enjoyed life.

I still dream of peace. It will come when the rulers of Gaza choose humanity over hate, when they stop firing on our children while hiding behind their own.

We refuse to grant victory to the terrorists. We choose to live, staying strong with our faith, family and love of country.

Mr. President, who will protect our most basic human rights? My country is now trying its best, and all who love life and desire peace should pray they succeed.

Thank you, Mr. President.

I muse a lot

In a brilliant letter by A.B. Yehoshua to Gideon Levy, one of Israel's most ultra left wing media figures, Yehoshua (a left winger himself) brings up some excellent points:

There is something absurd in the comparison you draw about the number of those killed. When you ask how it can be that they killed three of our children and we cause the killing of a hundred and fifty, the inference one can draw is that if they were to kill a hundred of our children (for example, by the Qassam rockets that struck schools and kindergartens in Israel that happened to be empty), we would be justified in also killing a hundred of their children.

In other words, it is not the killing itself that troubles you but the number. On the face of it, one could answer you cynically by saying that when there will be two hundred million Jews in the Middle East it will be permissible to think in moral terms about comparing the number of victims on each side. But that is, of course, a debased argument. After all, you, Gideon, who live among the people, know very well that we are not bent on killing Palestinian children to avenge the killing of our children. All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.

Gideon Levy responded in today's Haaretz, a response which I stopped reading after this line:

a fundamentalist movement using improper means to fight for a just cause, namely the end of the occupation

You wonder how extreme you have to be to describe Hamas in such kind words. Whatever motivates Levy's ultra left wing sickness, perhaps he should take some time to read Hamas's charter before defining their cause as just:

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it

... Unless of course that's what he wants too ... You have to wonder sometimes.


The Piha family spent the weekend in Kochav Yair with Elaad, a good friend of mine from the army. As we ate lunch on Saturday, the phone rang. For a religious family, this is a very rare occurrence. The mom got a fright that it was related to Elaad's youngest brother, who has spent the last two weeks with an elite unit in Gaza. She asked someone to run to the gate to see if three officers were there to notify her of his death. Elaad's sister got very angry, "They wouldn't have called first, they would have come to our house. It's just a wrong number, it happens." Realizing what scared her so much, I responded, "You shouldn't think like that. You're just tempting the evil eye." She looked at me after a glance at Nissim, and said, "You'll be the same way in 18 years."

In my heart, like most Israeli parents, I hope my son won't need to serve in the army; that when he's 18, he'll see a different world, a region at peace. Alas, when Elaad's mom said that sentence, I smiled uncomfortably realizing that my heart's hope had little chance of being more than just that, a hope.


Birthday wishes go out to one of Israel's greatest singers and actors, Yehoram Gaon, who turned 69 in late December. Here is one of my favorite Gaon songs (bar the ones he performed in Ladino, which he's fluent in):


I'm not sure how long this cease fire will last but I am disappointed that it will most likely not include Gilad Shalit, who as of today has spent the last 938 days in captivity.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are we in Crisis?

Here's my latest for the Sephardic Hebrew Congregation of Cape Town's monthly publication:

Are We in Crisis? – A Response from Israel

As I read Mr. David Albeldas’s article, Are We in Crisis?, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “When aren’t we in crisis?” While there is a growing sense of unease within the Jewish world for many reasons, it seems that’s just part and parcel of being a Jew – in Israel and abroad. Despite the positive aura continually surrounding Israel for reasons ranging from the positive emotions generated by tourists to the medical and technological contributions the country makes, we are ourselves struggling through very uncertain and worrying times.

Southern Israel has become target practice for Hamas rocket crews, with our government struggling to end the problem. To make matters worse, the security concerns on our northern border with Hezbollah and with the Hitler wannabe in Iran are edging closer to a full confrontation. Our education system is a mess, with the average scores of many age groups dropping to appalling levels, partly because we have an Education Ministry refusing to improve negligible teacher salaries. The violence throughout the country is increasing without an end in sight; not a day goes by without another innocent human being taking his or her last breath. Traffic accidents continue to take far more lives than terrorists. While ordinary civilians haven’t lost hope for positive changes, most are becoming frustrated with an incompetent, corrupt government. How do we push through during these tough times? How do we build a positive future? A few helpful tips for continued survival and growth through this seemingly perpetual crisis can be learned from Yaakov Avinu.

Before spending 20 years in Paddan-aram, Yaakov studied for 14 years in the academy of Shem and Eber. After so much time studying with Yitzchak, why would a man of such spiritual stature need extra study? Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky explains that Yaakov needed the Torah of Shem and Eber to cope with the dishonest and corrupt world he’d be entering for the first time. Those 14 years allowed Yaakov to survive and remain true to his faith and values during his sojourn with Laban in Paddan-aram. The lesson here is clear: We should take time to educate ourselves (and our children) so that we are fully aware of Jewish history and the Jewish value system. It will stand us in good stead as we forge ahead in an often-cruel world that demands a different value system for success and ‘survival.’

When Yaakov returned to Canaan, he was confronted by a surprisingly friendly Esau, who requested to “proceed alongside” him (Vayishlach, 33.12). Yaakov refused the offer twice, making his way to Shechem with his family but not with Esau’s escort. This short encounter between the two shows how important it is to have the right influences around your loved ones. Yaakov didn’t want Esau’s presence near him, not only because he feared for his own life, but also because he realized how negative an effect Esau could have on his family. Although we cannot eliminate all the bad influences around us, or around our family, we can strive to limit them.

Lastly, before Yaakov sends his sons to Egypt for the first time, he questions them, “Why do you make yourselves conspicuous?” (Mikketz 42:1). Rashi comments that Yaakov warned the brothers that acting as though they had plenty would lead to envy and ill will amongst those they would encounter along the way. In his old age, Yaakov’s question defined the necessity to not flaunt one’s wealth and success as it attracts negative attention – we should in fact find the middle path as Rambam and others would later comment. In essence, the advice here is to shy away from unnecessary attention and live a humble life.

Yaakov’s three ‘lessons’ to us are three great starting points in handling and overcoming the crises that will occur in our personal lives, as well as within the Jewish nation:

1. Reinforce the lessons of Torah, especially when amongst those who would take you away from its teachings.
2. Detach yourself from those that would influence you negatively and lead you astray.
3. Live your life humbly to limit unnecessary negative attention.

In my opinion, living by these teachings will breed a strong respect for family, tradition and Jewish values; three pillars that allow us to remain steadfast in our beliefs despite external pressures. This is just a start however - I am not implying that one has to be religious to ‘survive’ this world – religious observance is a personal decision that should be made solely by the individual. However, one doesn’t have to be an observant Jew to learn to utilize the lessons passed on to us for millennia to better our lives, the lives of our children, and the lives of those in our community.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blackhawk Down's 80%

Another very well written piece by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic:

At least nine hundred people, maybe half of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza so far, the overwhelming majority presumably killed by Israel (some people, more than we probably know right now, have been killed by Hamas, mainly Fatah activists in revenge killings). This number, nine hundred, is large, and it brought to mind another conflict between a Western army and a Muslim insurgency, the one portrayed in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down." Roughly one thousand Somalis were killed by American forces over the twenty hours or so of the First Battle of Mogadishu (eighteen American soldiers, of course, were also killed).

I couldn't get an accurate read on how many of those Somalis were civilians, so I called my colleague, Mark Bowden, who wrote the book. He said that eighty percent of the Somali deaths were of civilian. Eighty percent! Roughly eight hundred people. I asked Bowden if he thought this meant that American forces in Somalia had committed war crimes. Andrew has been leading an interesting discussion about whether or not Israeli actions in Gaza constitute war crimes, and I've been trying to place Israeli actions in a broader context. Bowden agreed to help me by providing his own understanding of civilian deaths in asymmetric warfare. Here's some of what he had to say:

"If you feel the need to go to war against an enemy that is not as powerful as you are, one of the tactics of the weaker party is to hide among civilians, and use the global media to advertise the horror of the onslaught. People on the receiving end of the bombs greatly exaggerate the casualties and get photographers to take the most gruesome of pictures, and at the same time, the people in charge of the stronger power try to minimize the number of casualties. If you live in a democracy, then public opinion really matters, and reports of dead children swells the criticism of the war. If you live in a dictatorship, then you don't care what the people think. Israel is a democracy and it cares about the way the rest of the world feels. It gets hurt by killing civilians, so for moral and practical reasons, they're trying very hard to avoid it."

"I believe that culpability for these casualties is very much with Hamas. Take this leader, Nizar Rayyan, who was killed with many of his children. He knew he was a target. If I knew that I was a target, I sure as hell wouldn't have my children near me. It's a horrible and cynical choice he made. But if your enemy is a sophisticated manipulator of public opinion, then this is one of the many downsides of choosing to go to war. Israel knows that."

"The parallel with Mogadishu is that gunmen in that battle hid behind walls of civilians and were aware of the restraint of the (Army) Rangers. These gunmen literally shot over the heads of civilians, or between their legs. They used women and children for this. It's mind-boggling. Some of the Rangers shot civilians, some of them inadvertently and some of them advertently. They made the choice to shoot at crowds. When a ten-year-old is running at your vehicle with an AK-47, do you shoot the kid? Yes, you shoot the kid. You have to survive. When push comes to shove, faced with the horrible dilemma with a gunman facing you, yes, you shoot. It's not just a choice about your own life. If you don't shoot, you're saying that your mission isn't important, and the lives of your fellow soldiers aren't important."

The Disengagement - Looking back

In the video above, the following statements were made by our politicians:

"There is an argument according to which there will be a threat… a threat and a fleeing… a threat on the Negev communities… I have never before heard such a ridiculous argument."
MK Meir Sheetrit, Kadima (Formerly Likud)

"The disengagement is good for security. The right wing people stood here and talked about Kassams flying from here to there… I'm telling you, whoever wants to spare not only Sderot but also Ashkelon, both of them, must understand: if we don't go out of the Gaza Strip in two or three years, maybe after one year, the range will reach Ashkelon."
MK Ran Cohen, Meretz

"I want to believe that, as a result of the evacuation, and the exiting of Gaza, the moderate Palestinian leaders will become strong, and terror will be reduced."
MK Orit Noked, Labor

"I am convinced the act is necessary and right, it can grant greater security for the residents of Israel and can reduce the burden on the security forces, it can break the current stalemate and open a door to a new reality that will enable, when the day comes negotiations for coexistence. "
MK Shaul Mofaz, Kadima (Formerly Likud)

"Honorable Knesset Chairman, before I arrived in the Knesset today, I brought my son to the Tel Hashomer base, he received his first call-up order to the IDF. I must thank Ariel Sharon for the hope he gives me and my wife that my son, when he is recruited, will not have to serve the nation of Israel in the Gaza Strip."
MK Pines-Paz, Labor

and last but not least ...

“The purpose of the Disengagement Plan is to reduce terror as much as possible, and grant Israeli citizens the maximum level of security…These steps will increase security for the residents of Israel and relieve the pressure on the IDF and security forces in fulfilling the difficult tasks they are faced with. The Disengagement Plan is meant to grant maximum security and minimize friction between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Herzliya Conference, December 18, 2003

Oh well ... Let's hope they're right, eh?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Musings, cont.

Since the war began, I've become active again on the internet defending Israel's position. While I find this hasbara necessary, it is difficult and often time, futile. I've come up against quite a few people who seem to be motivated solely by hatred. This sadly is not an internet phenomenon either - it can be seen in most of these Pro-Gaza rallies, where such terms as Nazis and Holocaust are thrown out to define Israel and her actions. That's why I come away from these discussions mentally exhausted and angry. Israel does, and has done, a lot wrong in her brief history - no one is denying that. Innocent civilians have died here, which is always tragic (It seems to be we're getting Jenin II with the numbers from the Palestinian sources however). But the audacity to compare us to the Nazis? Or our actions to the Holocaust? Have they no shame?

A good article about this can be found here.


Some people are calling this Operation an election stunt. If it is, I hope it's as successful as Begin's 'election stunt' during June, 1981.



Last but not least, a picture to end this blog on a happy note. Here's the latest of my "I've learned that smiling makes my parents happy" son:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Just Sharing

A piece about the dedication and determination of our soldiers. Click here.

These kids want to be out there - not out of thirst for blood, but in order to fulfill their duty

The problem with these guys is that they want to be out there and protect their homes but that is also their greatness

Monday, January 05, 2009

More Musings

Before his mom put him to bed last night, Nissim lay down next to me. As he started his more frequent smiling session, I started asking him random questions. To my surprise, he started making all these noises in response. I smiled ... The simple joys of life.


I had some coffee, or to be precise, a hot choclate yesterday morning with a good mate. We discussed the matzav (situation in Hebrew) and a host of other topics on Emek Refaim, one of the main streets in Jerusalem. Cars, tourists, Israelis ... Unless you're in the South, life goes on as usual, as if nothing really is going on. What war exactly?


I was talking to one of the older folks at synagogue yesterday, and jokingly remarked, "Have they drafted you yet?" He smiled and replied, "I got drafted in 1958, fought with Golani in '67 and '73 so I'm done with wars." As we briefly discussed the different reality for a soldier back 'then', he remarked, "I fought, my kid has fought and now my grandchild too?"

It's difficult to respond to this, but most of us accept it is the reality we live in currently. Will it change? I hope so ...


As Tals & I watched the 8 o'clock news last night, a whole segment was dedicated to the thousands of reservists called up on Tzav 8 (emergency call up). It reassured me of how our boys once again answered the call of duty with few questions asked. From the first time father of a 2 month old ("It's worrying but I have to be here"), to a confident youngster ("Bring on Hamas") to the old timer ("My wife told me I can get out but this is my duty"), the stories of these regular citizens showed an incredible aspect of our society. I'm proud to be amongst the few who don't shirk their responibility to this country ... Those willing to take an extended (& often times dangerous) break from their family and professional life to defend their country.

For a similar story in Haaretz, click here.


A simple, yet 'to the point', article about the war courtesy of Jeffrey Goldberg:

If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

These aren't my words -- they're Barack Obama's. But I attach myself to this sentiment. Obama said this in July, after visiting the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Visits to Sderot will do that for you -- make you see things clearly. For what it's worth, this is how I see what's happening in Gaza: In 2005, the Israeli government acceded to the longstanding Arab demand to withdraw its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. Almost as soon as the Israeli withdrawal was completed, Hamas and other Islamist factions in Gaza began firing rockets at Israeli civilians living in towns and kibbutzim inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel. Sometimes -- and I've seen this with my own eyes -- Hamas rocketeers fired on Israel from atop the ruins of the abandoned Jewish settlements.

No country in the world could afford to ignore such attacks. And no country would. An elected government, such as Israel's, has a basic, overriding responsibility -- to protect its citizens from the organized violence of their enemies. Of course, it can do this in part by negotiating with its enemies (assuming its enemies recognize Israel's right to life) but its immediate mission must be to stop the violence, which is what Israel is now trying to do. Whether it succeeds or not is an open question (It is Hamas' indifference to Palestinian life, not Jewish life, that makes it a formidable foe, in the manner of Hezbollah), but Israel must try to use all of the tools of national power to stop attacks on its citizens. Otherwise it is simply not a serious nation, one that does not deserve sovereignty.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


I'm all coiled up inside. The IDF has now entered Gaza with the ground forces, and now, the difficult part of this war will begin:


For a very interesting interview with Benny Begin, mostly on politics, click here.

I am only a geologist, not a psychologist. Nor am I a nephrologist or a cardiologist - I do not read people's inner thoughts. But I wonder whether the bellicose cries in Kadima for war to topple Hamas are not related to an attempt to atone for the grave mistake of handing territory to Hamas


In difficult times such as this, a smile is sometimes needed. This is courtesy of one of the blog's anonymous fans:

In a carefully worded statement released on the eighth day of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s security cabinet confirmed that it would be “running down” the offensive, in a move widely-expected after high-level diplomatic calls for a ceasefire on Friday. Addressing a news conference in Tel Aviv, a shaken-looking Ehud Barak – Israel’s defence minister – later explained the decision, singling out Annie Lennox’s call for a hiatus in the bombing as “the final nail in the coffin”.

“Whilst we are not keen to be seen to kowtow to demands from the outside world, there are occasions when we have to acknowledge where the protests are emanating from, and the impact of their words on future negotiations”, he said. “Annie Lennox has, for a long time now, been a major behind-the-scenes player in the Middle East peace process, and is fast becoming a significant actor in political circles”, he continued. “For her to break cover and go public with her petition was not something we [the government] felt we could ignore, hence our decision to bring an end to Cast Lead”.

Scenes of jubilation in Gaza greeted the Israeli announcement, with Hamas immediately declaring Lennox a “living shaheed”, urging all the group’s supporters to purchase as much of Lennox’s back catalogue as possible, in order to demonstrate their commitment to the cause. “And not just the early stuff, either”, boomed Hamas musical attaché Mahmoud Al-Suwani from a hastily-assembled stage in a crowded Gaza square. “Her solo albums also deserve to be recognised by the united Palestinian people. Particularly ‘Medusa’, which – despite being comprised of cover songs – still ranks up there with anything the Eurythmics released beforehand”.

In the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which bore the brunt of Hamas’ Kassam rocket fire for several years, residents retreated from their previous hawkish positions upon hearing of Lennox’s plea - acknowledging that “there are times to fight, and times to accede to the demands of somewhat washed-up and irrelevant lesbian icons”, according to Sderot’s mayor. “Whilst we are sorry that doyens of the eighties rock scene haven’t granted our military sufficient time in which to complete their mission, we nonetheless are grateful to have been allowed as much leeway as we have to carry out at least part of our task – despite earlier setbacks”.

He was thought to have been referring to last week’s minor political spat involving three of Queen’s backing singers, who issued an unofficial statement via Sony BMG calling for an unconditional ceasefire, before swiftly retracting the demand amid rumours of infighting between various soft-rock factions involved in the peace process.

This is not the first time that the worlds of popular music and unpopular military campaigns have collided – as witnessed earlier this year, when Ethiopia’s ruling party finally caved in to pressure from A-Ha frontman Morten Harket and withdrew their troops from Somalia. At the time, Harket’s intervention was predicted by many commentators as heralding a new age of blurred boundaries between international diplomacy and Top 40 songsmiths.

“In an era when domestic public opinion is shaped by the stars of yesteryear, it is not unthinkable that generals of armed forces around the world will also sit up and take note when platinum-selling stadium gods speak out about the wisdom of their military strategies”, wrote Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. “Furthermore, with the likes of Paula Abdul able to marshal millions of votes supporting her proclamations on American Idol every week, the logical next step could see armies and militias deciding their tactics on the basis of a ‘Strictly Come Carpet-Bombing’ interaction with the TV-watching public”.

Defence Minister Barak has, it is believed, privately expressed his support for such a move in relation to Israel’s forty-one year occupation of the West Bank. Sources close to his staff suggest that he is ready to utilise mass-telephonic voting in order to avoid deeply unpopular moves such as the infamous Disengagement of 2005. “Back then, the government relied on the advice of Bananarama to make up their minds about the move”, an anonymous diplomat stated. “At the time, it seemed entirely rational to canvass, and act upon, the opinion of those who had achieved chart success via saccharine pop music twenty years ago in another continent, but in hindsight it wasn’t the Israeli government’s finest hour”.

With that in mind, he was sceptical of the wisdom of Barak’s latest move. “Whilst acceding to Lennox might shore up international opinion in the short term, going forward it would seem far wiser to rely on weekly Saturday night viewers’ votes to help us decide how to rid the scourge of Islamic terror and fundamentalism from our midst”. Lennox herself was unavailable for comment in the wake of the ceasefire, her spokesman announcing that she had immediately turned her attention to tackling the ever-deteriorating situation in Angola, in which she had the “unwavering support” of political titan Roland Rat and his aide-de-camp Kevin the Gerbil.


There's a lot of anger in the world towards Israel lately, and I've seen a lot of it online since the beginning of this war. A good friend of mine found a suitable strategy to confront these anti-Israel online activists when I discussed with him the difficulty I was having with some of them. He remarked that a person should ask themselves whether they'd support Israel's actions if Hamas was not fighting from heavily populated civilian areas. If they say no, you know 'what' you're dealing with. If they say yes, then the natural question would be how can Israel be blamed for Hamas deliberately endangering their own citizens by fighting this way, and should this be the reason Israel not defend her citizens? It's not easy times for us (or for the innocent civilians stuck on their side) - but we'll overcome. As the famous Meir Ariel song goes ... "We overcame Pharoah, we'll overcome this too."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bashing Self-Hating Israelis

Great piece by Ari Shavit on

Israelis who blame Israel are not helping the Palestinians
By Ari Shavit

Operation Cast Lead is a just campaign. Just, because in the summer of 2005 Israel destroyed all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrew unilaterally to the international border. Just, because from 2006 to 2008 the Palestinian entity in the Strip did not take advantage of the occupation's end to build itself and its future and instead repeatedly attacked Israel within the Green Line.

Just, because for three solid years the State of Israel bit its lips and acted with restraint. Just, because no country in the world can accept for an extended period of time a situation in which its citizens are forsaken and its sovereignty violated. Just, because there is no chance for peace in the Middle East if the Jewish state is viewed as easy prey bleeding in the water and attracting sharks.

Operation Cast Lead is a tragic campaign. Tragic, because it is causing the deaths of hundreds and injuring thousands. Tragic, because it is causing physical and emotional injury to innocent Palestinians, including women and children. Tragic, because like every war it creates intolerable human hardship and heartbreaking suffering.

But the tragedy of Operation Cast Lead is unavoidable. It derives directly from the fact that the Palestinians did not take proper advantage of the historic opportunity given to them in 2005. It derives from the fact that when the Palestinians achieved self-government for the first time in their history they misused it. It derives from the fact that the Palestinian need to destroy Israel is still stronger than their need to build Palestine.

Israel-hating Israelis call Operation Cast Lead a war crime. They record the names of each and every Palestinian killed, denounce each and every Israeli action and portray their state as a bully. While the Egyptians are saying that Hamas is largely responsible for the tragedy of Gaza, Israel-hating Israelis place the whole responsibility on their government and military. While the international community silently understands that a sovereign state is duty-bound to protect its citizens' lives, Israel-hating Israelis believe that Israeli lives can be forfeited.

While the simple facts indicate that the violence in the south derives from the despicable actions of an extremist organization that turned the Strip into a district of terror, Israel-hating Israelis persist in their hatred of their people and homeland and defend the morality of Hamas' destructive aggression.

There is no call for hating the Israel-hating Israelis. At the end of the day, their position is a pathetic one. Their self-righteousness is not at all righteous, and their moralizing has no morality. Their inability to show compassion for the Israelis of Be'er Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Sderot shows that they possess a degree of callousness. Their inability to view the Arabs firing the Grad rockets as being responsible for their actions shows that they are not free of paternalism.

The real motivation of Israel-hating Israelis is not genuine concern for the Palestinians, but rather a form of reverse racism. By showing forgiveness toward Palestinian fascism they turn their backs not only on Israelis but also on moderate, freedom-loving Palestinians. Those who blame Israel for everything and exonerate the Palestinians of everything are neither serving the cause of peace nor helping to end the violence and occupation. All they are doing is proving the extent to which they are blinded by their burning self-hatred.

Operation Cast Lead is an intelligent, impressive operation. The element of surprise was total, the intelligence was precise and the timing was brilliant. The fact that the operation was launched after a six-month cease-fire violated by Hamas gives it political legitimacy and moral justification. The fact that it was carefully planned and carefully executed has restored a degree of trust in Israeli capabilities.

It is possible that after the initial air campaign and the destruction of the tunnels, the operation should have been suspended. It is possible that the French truce proposal should now be adopted and a final chance given for Palestinian clearheadedness. But those who reject the operation in its entirety are blind to reality and the moral failure.

The coming days will be difficult. There may be errors, perhaps complications, perhaps even victims. But for this very reason now is not the time for a campaign of hate against Israel's leaders, commanders, soldiers and pilots. Just the opposite. This is the time to strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is proving himself to be a respected national leader.

This is the time to stand behind the commanders, soldiers and pilots working day and night to conduct a difficult, complex and entirely just war. This is the time for Israel to finally behave as a mature nation protecting itself with wisdom and restraint.