Yet another demonstration against the war

Start Peace NegotiationsToday I’ve attended another demonstration against the war. I was taking a nap when my phone rang. The voice on the other side said: I understand that you are not at the demonstration. I asked him what demonstration he was talking about and when he told me the details I realized that it was near my house. Here are all the pictures.

StalinSo, there I was, amongst the red communist flags, the green-black-red Palestinian flags and other small groups. As in the previous demonstration 2 weeks ago, it was mostly the “usual suspects”, with Stalin’s image as well (got you on camera!), and hardly any mainstreamers.

At least there were more people than the last time. Maybe next Saturday, August 12th, there will be more people. It will be exactly one month since the war broke out.

I hope that the next demonstration will see more sights like the first photo and less like the second one.

Other than that, Tel Aviv is business as usual. I’ve been to 2 parties (or social get togethers) this weekend, involving different people. There was one conversation about someone called for reserve service. Except that, I haven’t participated or overheard a conversation about the war. Life goes on. Nasrallah threats don’t bother anybody…

Release the kidnapped soldiers

I follow Ingrid and Mash in a ‘domino post’ calling to release the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. As an Israeli, its obvious that this is something I want, goes withot saying. I liked their initiative, and I follow.

Tonight on Larry King Live, Ehud Goldwasser’s father and wife appeared to plea for his safe return. Ehud Goldwasser is one of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah on July 12. It was the precipitating event of this spasm of violence.

Karnit Goldwasser, Ehud’s wife, made an emotional plea to the wives of Hezbollah for information about his health and safety. When Ehud’s father, Shlomo Goldwasser, spoke about his efforts to free his son, his voice trembled with the quiet anguish of a parent:

KARNIT GOLDWASSER, WIFE OF KIDNAPPED ISRAELI SOLDIER: First of all, I want to thank the people who brought us here to speak to you. I ask the wives of Hezbollah to help me to get a sign that Ehud and Dan are still alive and to know if something happened to them, if they are injured or not.

KING: Shlomo, you’ve heard nothing?

SHLOMO GOLDWASSER, FATHER OF KIDNAPPED ISRAELI SOLDIER: Nothing. It’s now the 23rd day since Ehud was kidnapped. We’ve heard nothing.

KING: Shlomo, what are you doing in the United States?

S. GOLDWASSER: You know, there is no school in the world to teach you what to do when your son is kidnapped. And I was thrown into this situation in the fraction of a second on the 12th of July. And judging what to do, what are the tools to bring him back, I found that there is not so many tools in my hand, and the only one that is in my hands, with the help of you, is the media. I am using it and I’m going everywhere, everywhere that I can raise my voice and have some people to hear me. And you’re doing a great job.

It seems to me that there has been too much death already in this war. Too many parents have lost their children. There has been enough death. Enough.

I still believe if both sides of this conflict could start to see each other as human beings, as mothers and fathers, as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters, this madness that is destroying generations would come to an end. The beginning of the end can start here. It can start with the safe return of Ehud Goldwasser and his two brothers in arms.

I ask all bloggers who read this post, as a gesture of peace and good will, to repost this plea on your blogs. Ask the same of those who read your posts. Let this plea spread across the blogosphere. Perhaps this plea will be posted on the blogs of our Arab and Lebanese friends. Perhaps this plea will make a difference in saving at least one life.

Regardless of which side of the conflict you are on, let us come together on the shared belief in the sanctity of life. Arabs, Israelis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Americans, Jews, and Muslims will still have to live together after the guns fall silent.

This may seem like a naive plea while the bombs and missiles continue to take their deadly toll, but the bombs aren’t working too well – perhaps its time to find some humanity in this madness.

Sunday bloody Sunday

On Sunday there was a bloody killing of civilians in Qana. Just one night before, on Saturday night, I was sitting in a cafe with friends. We were arguing about the killing of Lebanese civilians. They were convinced that all the civilians that were killed were supporters of Hezbollah and not so innocent. I didn’t think so, but we don’t know the exact facts, so this didn’t lead anywhere. I raised another argument and said: “Forget moral issues, aren’t you worried that mass killing of Lebanese civilians will cause the world to halt our just operation against Hezbollah? Remember ‘Grapes of Wrath’?”. 

Contrary to my previous English post, Sunday sure was bloody. Its amazing how history repeats itself. 10 years ago, a military operation by Israel was halted after bombarding the exact same place and killing 100 civilians. This time it resulted in less casualties. But, anyway, it was deadly. I was sorry for all the Lebanese civilians. I was also soory for my country’s stupid actions, shooting itself in the leg, and destroying what was left of international support. The world will hate us much more, and the war will end with our “loss”. The limited achievements of our military against Hezbollah will be jepordized by this tragedy.

But the war didn’t end! It wasn’t supposed to go this way. After two calmer days, it was “war as usual” once again. Fresh rocket attacks in the north of Israel, Renewed bombardments in Lebanon, and fiercer fighting on the ground. Today (Thursday) was the deadliest day in Israel since the war began: 8 civilians and 4 soldiers were killed.  

Everybody still remembers how the war began. But it becomes harder to remember how life was different just a few weeks ago. My personal life wasn’t affected, but a third of my country’s population live a totally different life. On the other side, things are much worse.

Prospering tourism in northern Israel? Gone. Prospering tourism in Lebanon? Gone. It seems so distant.

Tonight, Nasrallah promised that an attack on Beirut would be followed by rockets on Tel Aviv. He said that at about 20:30, prime time on Israeli TV. At 1:00 there were reports of Israeli bombardments of Beirut. So, are we going to see rockets / missiles here in the morning? At least we’ll get rid of the traffic jams…

I got to see my friends from Haifa. So the war did bring us together. They told me that the war ruined their plans for working this summer. So, no vacation for them this year ! Now they are already back in Haifa and they report that Haifa is quiet.

We are already 23 days into the war. It seems that America still encourages Israel, Iran still encourages Hezbollah, and Europe is slow as usual. So, we are stuck. Maybe the upcoming UN Security Council meeting  will bring an end to the hostilities.

Maybe not.

Fresh hope for ending the war?

There is lots of information (and disinformation) in the news regarding the current war. I’ll stick to the good news:

  1. Rice is returning tomorrow to the middle east. Maybe this time it’s for real.
  2. There are reports about negotiations between Israel and the Hizbullah about a prisoner exchange deal.
  3. Bush and Blair urge a ceasefire and support sending an international force to southern Lebanon.
  4. Reports on Israeli TV say that PM Olmert is considering handing in the Shaba farms to Lebanon. This could be a step towards a deal.

On the other hand, there a few other minor issues like calling 3 divisions of reservists, a long range missile hitting Afula this evening for the first time (where is next?), bombardment of Lebanon and the continuation of the firefights in Bint Jbeil. But lets disregard it this weekend.

When I’ve been to Nepal, last year, I made some friends during the trek in the Himalayas. We kept traveling together, until the last possible moment. When everyone returned home, we spoke a few times over the phone, but never managed to meet. Everyone was busy with his life, and the geographical difference made it not so convenient to get together. They live in Haifa. Now they are refugees in Tel Aviv and we’ll probably get together. Who said war was so bad?

I hope that next week (beginning on Sunday here) will see good news…

A visit to Haifa – the warzone

Haifa War ZoneI’ve been to Haifa, in the warzone! Katyusha rockets fall there. I came from my home in Tel Aviv, in the center of Israel, considered by many Israelis to be “a bubble”, disconnected from what’s really going on.  So, I came to see “the real world”. I’ll try to lay down my impressions, and try to avoid politics. I sort of translated my Hebrew post. You can view all my pictures here.


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