Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
It is a solid fact that Operation Pillar of Defense did not come out of the blue. It came as a response to a massive, continuous attack on Israeli cities, fired from the Hamas terror organization sitting in Gaza. I know it, because I live in Israel. You know it, because you read the Jewish Journal, which provides a full scan on everything that's going on. But what does the rest of the world know? An overview of popular news websites in English, presents the readers several versions of the past week in Israel. When I browsed the web to see how my reality looks to foreign readers, I was shocked to see articles that were very far from presenting what journalists swore to present: a balanced, objective story.
In case you forgot, last Saturday, a missile fired from Gaza hit an IDF vehicle, and wounded four soldiers. As a response, the IDF fired back at facilities owned by the Hamas, from which the attack came. The response was carefully aimed. Hamas refused to let go, and started a massive attack on Israeli southern cities. For a week, missiles were fired to civilian places, meant to hurt as many Israelis as possible. In this time, more than 1 million Israelis lived under constant fear, and at some point, could not leave their shelters. Yesterday was the first day with Israeli casualties, both civilians and soldiers, and the situation just keeps getting worse. The IDF tried to maintain a low profile, until yesterday, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formally declared a special operation, meant to completely stop the attack on Israeli civilians. To be fully honest, Palestinians were also killed. However, as Netanyahu said well, their attacks are meant to kill innocent people, while ours are meant to protect our people and kill terrorists. The terrorists controlling Gaza are hiding inside schools and hospitals, and are using civilians as targets, which makes civilians casualties inevitable. This story as a whole did not appear in any of the news sites I looked into. Some presented a slightly unbalanced story, and some made me scream at the screen. People who have no idea what's really happening, and rely on a single information source, read a very wrong story, and therefore get a very wrong idea on the situation here.
Take CNN, for example, the first article describing what happened was published on November 10th. The headline, which is the very first thing readers see, and what sets the tone of the article, is saying: "Violence flares as Israelis, Palestinians trade fire." This immediately makes the reader sympathize with the terrorists, who, for some reason, are presented here as "Palestinians,” and not as what they really are, which is a small, extreme group within them. Then, the article presents the course of events which led to the fire exchange, where the IDF vehicle was involved. However, with the use of numbers, they present a touching David and Goliath story, in which a small occasion, where only four Israelis were injured, dragged a massive attack on unprotected Palestinians, who gathered in a funeral.
After Operation Pillar of Defense started, CNN posted an article with the title: "Rockets, airstrikes reignite Mideast conflict." The very strange thing about this story is that they have completely forgotten the past couple of days. In the story, they describe the Israeli attack on Palestinian civilians, right after killing the chief of Hamas' military wing (and not a word about Hamas being a terror organization…). Then, they said that "Palestinian leaders immediately condemned the attacks as an escalation." - Almost as if no fire was shot from Gaza prior to this. Only later on in the article, it says that Israel's Iron Dome air defense system intercepted 28 rockets launched at Israel on Wednesday, but once again, it seems like nothing really hit Israeli ground, and all is safe and sound, which is, once again, not true.
On CBS News, the first cover also appeared on November 10th, with an article titled: "After attack on jeep, Israeli army kills 4 in Gaza." – this also presents the readers with what might be a wrong picture. It doesn't say who attacked whom, and leaves the readers with a blur. Many versions of the story can pop up to the head of the reader, before starting to read. One of them is that the IDF had no idea who attacked the vehicle, and decided to kill civilians in Gaza, "just in case." Later on, the picture clears up, and presents the versions of both the Israeli side and the Palestinian side. It seems like they made this perfect journalistic work, but a closer look reveals a trick which is almost unnoticeable, but easily enters the sub-conscious of every reader: the Palestinian version if described as one coming from "Officials and eye witnesses," while the Israeli version is coming from "Israel's military." You tell me which one sounds more reliable and less biased….Moreover, there is a long description of the Palestinians killed, "civilians between the ages of 16 and 18 and that among the 25 wounded were some children.” It also mentioned that there were no Israelis killed, thanks to the protection of Iron Dome, but doesn't say that Iron Dome did not block all missiles, not even most of them, and did not say a word on the Israeli life in the shadow of death.
The article after the Operation began, reading: "Hamas militant chief killed in Israeli airstrikes," is starting off with the very true saying, according to which Israel "carried out a blistering offensive of more than 20 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday." This story, unlike the last one, shows more details on the missiles fired to Israel, and presents a respond of sort to the last article.
I've looked into many news sites, and I can go on and analyze forever, but since I don't want to wear you out, I encourage you to look into news websites as well, and take to close look at the coverage. Then, remember which sites are more reliable (such as Fox in my opinion), and which are less. Until then, please help and support Israel. In times like this, it is very important for us to unite as one big family and be there for each other. SHARE THE TRUTH.
For constant updates: https://www.facebook.com/IsraelUnderFireLive?fref=ts
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November 14, 2012 | 9:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
A Turkish court began a trial in absentia for four Israeli military commanders responsible for the raid on the Marmara ship. On May 31st, 2010, a ship named Mavi Marmara sailed from Turkey in the direction of Israel, Their intention was to anchor in Gaza Strip, to which they claimed to have brought humanitarian aid. The Gaza Strip was and still is under a legal Israeli blockade, due to terror activity there, led by the Hamas, and the people on board of the Marmara knew that very well. When they came near the Strip, the IDF sent them a warning not to sail into waters near Gaza, and directed them to Haifa port, yet they kept on going. When they got even closer, Israeli Navy commandos boarded the ship, and in this encounter, nine Turkish citizens died and ten Israeli soldiers were injured.
This story got wide media coverage, while the IDF and the activists on the ship both presented two very different versions of the story. The United Nations’ Palmer Committee found the blockade to be legal but said Israel used excessive force while boarding the vessel. A special committee was founded in Israel, with the participation of seven foreign, neutral observers. The committee found nothing illegal or immoral in the IDF's actions, yet claimed that the activists on the ship did use excessive violence. None of those findings helped Israel's image in the public eye. The activists on the ship managed to sell their innocent image to the public, and with the smart use of Photoshop, released fabricated pictures of the struggle to the press, where their weapons were removed. Even though there was no humanitarian aid found on board, their image in the public and media eyes was of humanitarian activists being brutally attacked while trying to help.
This incident caused an irreconcilable fracture between Israel and Turkey, and was followed by a row of diplomatic incidents and feuds. It wasn't long before Israelis were officially recommended to stay away from their number one vacation destination. It took the two states two years to try and rebuild their friendship, and lately, it seems as if things are starting to look better. That is until last week, when the absentia trial for the Marmara incident started. This 'show trial' accuses Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as former navy Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, ex-military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and former air force Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter, causing bodily harm, deprivation of freedom, plundering, damage to property and illegal confiscation of property. Some 490 people who were aboard the ship during the raid, including activists and journalists, are scheduled to testify. The prosecution demands 18 thousand years in prison for the defendants.
It is almost redundant to say that Israel tends to take no part in this trial. Moreover, it was publicly condemned and cleverly ridiculed. Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Agence France Presse, "This is not a trial but a show trial and has nothing to do with law and justice. The government of Turkey, if it really wanted to do something about this issue, would engage with Israel. The so-called accused have not been notified or informed in any way that they are going to face charges or what the nature of the charges is. They haven't been given even a symbolic chance to have legal representation." Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Agence France Presse, "This is not a trial but a show trial and has nothing to do with law and justice." He added, "The government of Turkey, if it really wanted to do something about this issue, would engage with Israel." The detail that really attracted my attention in this whole story was the small fact that the trial will be officially recorded by television cameras, and will later be broadcast. This, along with Palmor's statements, really proves the real intention behind this not-so-innocent scheme: This whole story, from beginning to end, is a show meant to hurt Israel's image in the world. Unfortunately, this scheme is going well. Very well. The anti-Israel activists that were on the ship, along with the government of Turkey, are doing a damn good job in crushing Israel's image to dust. This is not a question of justice, because justice is on our side. Everyone who read the story carefully could have noticed the truth. They did not do a very good job in proving logically the IDF attacked innocent people. All they did was to address the media first and provide the next day's headlines. While Israel did everything right in handling the activists on the ship, it did everything wrong in dealing with the media.
This story proves, maybe more than anything, that what runs our world today is the media. Whoever got his hand on top in media coverage will be on top in the public eye, and therefore- on the winning side. Nowadays, we don't care about looking carefully into things. We need information fast and in short sentences. We need rely on headlines to provide us with all the information we need, and most of the time it doesn't match the content, which does not always match the truth. The way we get our information in the 21st century, gets us very far from the truth. While justice was on Israel’s side in the Marmara case, our lack of media awareness, combined with their initial intention to get the media attention, painted the world in their colors and shades. Some say it is too late now to try and change the public opinion on this story, but I say it is never too late. This "show trial" brought this story back to life, and it gives us the opportunity to bring our side of the story to the surface. Be on the side of justice and reach the media. Share the truth.
November 8, 2012 | 9:27 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
For the past few weeks my mind has been preoccupied. An event that occurred in my home town got me thinking on how mean can people be? And moreover- how mean can young people be? What makes a kid or a teenager, who didn't even get the chance to experience real life, own a heart of stone?
Two weeks ago, I got a phone call. On the other end of the line was the head of the municipal student council, which I am in touch with due to my work as a local reporter. "I just heard something and I wanted to know if it's true," she said. "I heard that a 16 year old girl from one of the high schools in town tried to commit suicide." She then told me that according to the story, being passed from mouth to ear, the girl got drunk one night about a year ago, and had a sexual encounter with two older kids. That night was filmed by one of them, and now he decided to share everything with his friends. The girl was then teased by her peers, and tried to end her life by swallowing pills. At the last minute, she was rushed to the hospital and was saved. The following day, what started as a rumor amongst friends, turned out to be truth and was covered by all newspapers.
I must admit when it came to cyber bullying, I was naïve enough to believe this was a phenomenon which is mostly fictional on such a destructive level. I was exposed to it mainly on American films and television series. A few weeks ago, I read the story of Amanda Todd, which was the sad approval of the worst outcome of cyber bullying. I wish this proof never existed, because when I saw it on the screen I could doubt its existence in real life. After all, television always takes everything out of proportion. Later I found out just how common this vicious act of teasing is in the United States. I read about more stories of such, with the worst kind of ending, and heard from my American friends about this phenomenon, which takes place mainly in high schools. Everyone who is a bit different, in any way, is doomed to a fate of bullying by his classmates. At that point, it seemed to me like an all-American phenomenon. It's not like I thought Israeli kids never take part or suffer from cyber bullying, but I realized the Israeli cyber bullying is on a much smaller scale.
The American approach towards high school is much different than the Israeli one. In the US, high school is a major part of one's life, and this four-year long experience can alter a person's life. In Israel, it is a lesser deal. For the Israeli students, high school is just another passing phase in life. It can have a positive tone for some, and a negative for others, but in no way it has any similarity to the American high school experience. Because of that, I believed cyber bullying, or any kind of bullying, is creating a destructive path mainly in the States. As it turns out, there are mean people everywhere, and have such a little clue of the power of their words. It is not an American phenomenon, it is a global phenomenon, which grows bigger and bigger as the World Wide Web develops. Nowadays, the "grownups" have very little control over their children’s online social lives, and many parents and teachers fail in tracking the online abuse before it is too late. Teenagers' and children's sense of sensitivity is very blunt. They feel like they can do whatever they want, and say anything that comes to mind. When they see someone or something different, they react, while being fully aware or their harsh words. We live by certain standards, and they know exactly when someone takes a wrong turn. Their mean words sting and burn and scar for life, and for some of their peers, this is too much to take. While there are young people who have the skin of an elephant, some are not capable of taking everything in. They sink and drown and feel too embarrassed and too scared to turn to an adult. As they keep taking punches, their peers continue their brutal attack, wearing out their "victim", until they win.
Only then, when it is too late to do anything, they realize their actions, and the school system and families step in. Talks, lectures, sometimes criminal charges- the system does anything it its power to bring justice, retroactively. I keep thinking how many lives could have been saved if mean words would be handled by the system as seriously as physical violence. Words are harsh, and when they are carved on a virtual wall for everyone to see, they are destructive. I probably would never be able to understand how people can be so mean. How can 16 year olds make their peer be willing to take her own life, when there is so much ahead of her? What is it about people that can make them show no solidarity or respect, and not fully realize their actions?
Words can kill, especially now, in the cyber age. It is so easy for a rumor to get out of hand, or an embarrassing video to spread throughout the world in a matter of minutes. There should be zero tolerance around children and teens for aiming mean words at someone else, and handling this should not be after an action that cannot be rewound has occurred. This phenomenon is spreading fast, leaving bodies behind. It is growing bigger and bigger and soon, it might become too big to handle. Now is the time to put an end to cyber bullying, which cannot be detected inside the schools. It is time for parents and teachers to be aware of the young people's after school online activity, and take more interest in the youngsters’ feelings and behavior outside of class. Now is the time for the educational system and parents, all around the world, to take another step forward in fighting cyber bullying. IT CAN BE STOPPED.
November 7, 2012 | 9:36 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Two weeks ago, when Jonathan Mann conversed with Israeli media and political science specialists on the upcoming U.S elections, the discussion revolved around the question: Why do Israelis care so much about the U.S election, and what is its importance to us? For an hour and a half, the group exchanged opinions and talked about the mutual influence Israel and the U.S have on one another. But while the discussion was very passionate, it mostly referred to political, financial and security aspects of this complex relationship. When I asked the members of the Israelife Facebook page what else would they like to read about regarding the Israeli perspective on the elections, one of the readers suggested I should write about the way the "average" Israeli feels about the U.S election: "In the US, both sides feel this election is a crucial turning point for the country, and will likely be following reports throughout the day very closely. Do Israelis feel the same sense of urgency? How closely will your compatriots be watching this election?" he asked.
Well, let me answer with a Facebook status my friend posted two days ago: "I wonder if the Americans care about the U.S election as much as we do." Well, we may not be as passionate about who is better in what policy, but I swear if you visited Israel last week, you would think you never left the States. In the week prior to the election, it seemed as if there is no important news from Israel: Newspapers' headlines gave interpretations, presented predictions, analyzed polls, and compared the enlightened U.S presidential debates to our non-existing ones. Moreover, news channels sent correspondents to Washington, Chicago and New York, to report everything that's going on there during the last week, By everything, I mean EVERYTHING, including visiting bars and asking customers for whom are they voting.
There were times when I wondered if my fellow Israelis really care that much about what's going on many miles away. I mean, I know everyone cares about the results. The future president of the Unites States is Israel's future ally, and we all know that and understand the importance of it. However, the past week made me ponder the small details that there is no reason for us to care about. Do we really need TV specials, satirical shows election specials, news broadcast specials, special newspaper editions? Turns out it depends on whom you ask.
Some of my fellow Political Science students find special interest in the U.S election because of its strategy and order and because it is the international symbol of Democracy. Some of my fellow Communication and Media students find particular interest in the election's media coverage. Some of my friends off campus find absolutely zero interest in the U.S election. Some make jokes on the overwhelming media coverage, and some had no idea when the Election Day is. One of the main jokers on the matter is my friend, Alex Zusmanovich, who wrote this Facebook status Tuesday night: "In just a few hours, 'Presidential Idol' will come to an end across the ocean. The lights will go off, the presentation explaining the electoral voting system to Israelis will go back to storage for four more years, Clint Eastwood will return to his house and embarrass himself there, the United States of America will wake up to the dawn of a new day (because this is what they always do there), and we will go back to deal with the real important issues of our local pond."
On the other side, there are those who stayed up all night on Tuesday (Israel time), and watched the live-update of the results. One of those people is a good friend of mine, Roee Snir. He is the Vice President of the Israeli model United Nations Society, and the Vice President of The Tel Aviv University Model United Nations Society. Soon, I'm sure, he'll be the Israeli Ambassador in the United States, so get ready. But until then, he got the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the election at the U.S ambassador's residence here. He is following every single step of the American politics. This is his hobby and passion in life. He knows of every policy Obama and Romney ever adopted, and has followed their every move. In case you were wondering, he is supporting Obama. Tuesday morning (Israel time), he wrote: "This is it. The United States' citizens will cast their votes in just six hours. After following the campaign intensely, this is my last status on the subject. In spite of its many issues, the United States, to me, is still the best model there is for Democracy: stable, valuable, honoring the freedom of the individual. I want to see a Unites States where every man has the basic right for health insurance, where every woman earns the same wages as her male co-worker. I want to see a United States who does not give up to aggressive Capitalism, who gives women the right to have full control of their bodies. In those intense times, the model of "land of the free and home of the brave" should glow in the dark that drowns our small world whose people are drifting further away. It is good for the state of Israel and good for the Americans as well."
I go somewhere in the middle. I understand the importance of the election to our small country, and also understand our importance to the election. I find the media coverage, both here and there, in the States, quite interesting and sometimes fascinating. There are so many differences between the way the election process and the campaigns work in the two countries, and in the past couple of weeks I learned a lot about the American culture, which I take particular interest in.
There is a common saying that Romney is better for Israel than Obama. This makes the American-Israelis vote rate for him much higher. Many voices here rose, saying Obama is not a real partner for Israel, and that voting for him would be a disaster. To them I want to say that as much as we are important for the Americans (and especially to their President), as a strategic location and as an ally at a not-so-friendly area, we are not the issue that should tilt the vote here or there. It is true Israel was mentioned over 30 times during the debates, but we almost forgot this is not our election, but yours. I believe each person should get up and vote, and later make sure he put the right name for him or her on the ballot. I can only hope all of you did it, in fact. Right now, I can wish the elected president good luck, and to all of you, productivity and calmness for the next four years.
October 30, 2012 | 10:44 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* After about two years of preparation, the largest exercise ever between Israeli and American forces started last Sunday. The exercise, called AC12 (“Austere Challenge 12”), is a shared exercise combining the IDF and U.S forces stationed in Europe.It is due to last three weeks, during which cutting edge technology is tested for the first time. The participants will also examine and review new Israeli developments. The exercise is part of a long-term agreement between EUCOM (the United States European Command) and the IDF that calls for cooperative exercises on an annual basis.
* Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, celebrated its 100th anniversary in Jerusalem. Nearly 2000 people from all over the world arrivedin Israel in order to pay respect to the organization, and celebrate many years of activity. At a special dinner, the organization raised nearly 18 million dollars from supporters and members. 10 million was donated by Irene Pollin, which will launch a new heart disease prevention program at Hadassah. Other significant donations were also made that night. Million dollar gifts were announced, among them two sponsorships of Chagall Windows in the Abell Synagogue at Hadassah Ein Kerem. So far, the windows named for Jacob’s sons Judah and Levy, have been sponsored. Additionally, two $300,000 gifts were announced from two sides of the Atlantic: One from Chicago and one from Paris.
* This Sunday, Israel mentioned the 17th annual Memorial Day for the murder of Prime Minister, Izhak Rabin. Rabin was shot by a Jewish, Israeli assassin who disagreed with his political agenda and ways of action. Ever since that day, November 4th, 1995, we mention this day nation-wide, while emphasizing the ideas of Democracy and respect. Rabin himself was a major figure in Israeli history. He was the commander in chief of the IDF, Minister of Defense, and twice Prime Minister. While being Prime Minister, he signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994. In the same year, he won a Nobel peace prize.
An Israeli pride: The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media (WAALM) has decided to give its annual award in the pop music category to Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita for her new album, "My Joys," in which she sings in Persian. The album has been a great success since its release, and became one of the most heard albums in Iran. Since it is not allowed to listen to Israeli singers in Iran, the album was sold on the black market and was listened to quietly.
* Mikhail Baryshnikov, a legendary ballet dancer and an actor best known for his roles asNikolai 'Kolya' Rodchenko in White Nihgts, and Aleksandr Petrovsky in Sex and the City, presented Israelis with his photography skills. The actor/dancer/photographer, held a press conference Tuesday at Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theater in Tel-Aviv, where he launched his exhibit of photographs of dancers, titled "Dance My Way," which opens there on Wednesday. The photos presented in the exhibit were taken in the past ten years. Baryshnikov's signed dance photos will be sold to the highest bidder as the exhibition closes Saturday, and proceeds will help support young Israeli dancers.
* A new project, founded by an Israeli, invites anyone with an internet connection to take a virtual tour of Jerusalem. This project founded by Tamir Orbaum, works in a similar way to Google Street, and took two years to conclude. In an interview for Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Tamir said the idea for the project came as a result of Google Earth's imbalanced representation of Jerusalem's holy site, setting the primary focus on the Christian sites and churches. In this tour, which launched last week, you can virtually visit the various Jewish sites in Jerusalem, including the Mount of Olives, the Hebrew University and Yamin Moshe neighborhood.
October 29, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Yesterday, we mention the 17th annual Memorial Day for the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister, Izhak Rabin. Rabin was murdered by an Israeli, Jewish assassin, during an assembly for peace on November 4th, 1995. Moments after the end of the assembly, right after joining the massive crowd in a song calling for peace, Rabin was shot three times by Yigal Amir. Amir was one of many Israelis who did not see eye to eye with Rabin. Rabin took a very left-wing approach, and was willing to give a lot for peace with our neighbors. In 1994, he signed a peace treaty with Jordan, and won a Nobel Peace prize. A year before, he signed a peace treaty with the Palestinian organization- Ashaf. During that time, peace seemed closer than ever. The people were full of hope and put their trust in Rabin. However, at the same time there were also many people who believed his way is wrong, and accused him of bringing Israel to oblivion. The incitement against him included a comparison of Rabin to the Nazis and arranged photos of him wearing an Arabic Kaffyiah. Yigal Amir was one of those who found Rabin's ways wrong, and his solution for the disagreements he had with the Prime Minister was putting an end to his life. Everybody wept that day. People were devastated. I was only five years old, but I still have in my mind the image of my mother watching television and suddenly starting to cry. Yigal Amir was imprisoned for life, and it seemed like the slight chance for peace was buried with Rabin's body. But while some people disagreed with this statement, we all knew one thing for sure- on that day, Democracy had died.
Every year since, we mention the day of Rabin's murder nationwide. Ceremonies are held at schools, IDF bases, and in almost every city. Every year, people went on the stage and talked about Rabin and his legacy, and speeches were made about democracy, respect, and solidarity. However, in the past couple of years, a disturbing thought made its way to my mind, and it is refusing to let go- this day has lost its true meaning. At first, this day was named "The Memorial Day for the Murder of Izhak Rabin." But as the years passed, and children who did not know the man filled the schools, it slowly changed to "The Memorial Day for Izhak Rabin." I noticed the name change as I was going through my calendar. My eyes read the sentence, while my brain suddenly noticed the change. Ceremonies gradually dropped the discussion about the actual event, and dedicated more and more time to talking about Rabin, the person, the politician and the family man. Every year, children listen to speeches glorifying Rabin, calling him a "warrior of peace" and a "true hero." I see several problems with that: First of all, not everyone agreed with Rabin then. He might have brought us closer to peace, but many people still do not see him as a "hero" or as a glorified person and found his way to bring the peace- wrong. Those people are then left speechless when their child comes home from school telling them about Rabin.
Second, those kids do not care about the person as much as the children of the 1990's. They did not know him, and usually get bored while their teachers are going on and on about Rabin's many achievements. I've been to this year's ceremony in an Elementary school, and I can sadly but surely say- it was boring. It hadn't changed since I was in high school. Those kids would hear the same texts, same songs, and same speeches for 12 years of the educational system. I believe that this day can be put to a much better use, while shifting the attention back to something relevant to all people, young and old - the murder of a person, based on political disagreements.
This brings me to my third and final point: A Jew killed a Jew. An Israeli killed an Israeli. A person killed another person, just because he thought he was wrong. This is what the new generation, who did not know Rabin, must carry with them from this day. The political opinions in Israel are more varied than satellite channels, and are spread on a very large scale, from right to left. We would never be able to agree on that, but this is one of the things that make our little country so colorful and special. The one thing we can agree on is: Thou Shalt Not Murder. Each and every person has the right to express his opinion in public, and the only way to quiet him or her is only by speaking louder.
Not everyone agreed with Rabin, but everyone cried that day. We must remember and commemorate that day as the Memorial Day of the Murder of our Prime Minister, and not let the true message get lost on the way.
October 26, 2012 | 11:45 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This weekend, I invite you to join the music of the Israeli newcommer, Tal Ramon. Tal is a 22 years old pianist and singer. He preforms live, mainly in small clubs. He performs with his original songs, both in Hebrew and in English, and combines them with new arrangements of existing songs. With each performance, and each You Tube watch, Tal gradually gathers a crowed of followers thanks to his truly remarkable talent.
Since he is yet to release an album, you can enjoy his soft voice and addictive sound with some of his live performances:
Inside Your Mind:
A Place of Your Own:
Trumpet: Noam Bar
Photo taken by Daniel vogman
Video: Adir Haruvi
October 24, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Gilad Shalit is one of the most sensitive topics in the Israeli discussion. It is the one thing we all agree on, but also one of the many things we have a disagreement on. The only problem is, it is very hard to disagree on such a delicate issue.
The moment he was taken, there wasn't a single soul who didn't want him back home. Everyone agreed that a person who serves his country and is taken away should be brought back home. This is just how things work in Israel- you commit to the country when joining the IDF, and the country commits to you. The split in the opinions of the public began when the matter of the "price" was brought to the discussion table. All of a sudden, the conversation shifted from "Gilad should be brought back home" to "Gilad should be brought back home, but at what cost?" Everyone wanted him back home, but some thought there is a limit to how many prisoners with blood on their hands should be released to continue their "job" in return of one Israeli soldier. Amongst those people were families of Israelis who were murdered by those prisoners. This disagreement became harder and harder as the massive campaign for Gilad's release did not let us forget he is not "one soldier," but a person with a name, "the son of us all." Soon, it was almost impossible to disagree with a release at any cost. I, for instance, felt very uncomfortable saying, or even thinking, there is a price for him that could be too high. When I recruited, the disagreement was even harder. People felt bad thinking negative thoughts regarding his release, and those who weren't afraid to speak suffered from rough criticism by the public.
When he made his first step on Israeli soil, everything changed. The disagreement was no longer heard, and everyone came to an agreement once again: it is good to have our son back home. Everyone shed a tear that day, and since then, Gilad Shalit was untouchable. Not a single bad word, no criticism, just massive support and one big hug. The newspapers captured his every move, and followed his process of returning to a regular life. Soon, he became a celebrity. He shook hands, took pictures with "fans", and was invited to be an honorary guest in many events. Later on, he even started writing sports interpretations for one of the national papers. In one of his columns, he wrote a few sentences of his captivity, describing how sports helped him get by. But with all the joy of his homecoming, a new discussion took place: when would he talk about his captivity? Once again, the public opinion was split. Some thought we must give him space and let him do it on his own time, and some thought that if he feels comfortable enough appearing at public events and writing columns, he should take a moment and give a full interview. Once again, there was a general agreement on the "what": he is the son of us all, the public had a major part in his release, and we want to hear what he was going through while we banged on Netanyau's table. The part on which we disagreed was the timing of that interview.
When channel 10 announced there would be an interview, all eyes were on the television screen. We were all eager to hear what he has to say on what he had been through. We wanted to know everything on those five years: what was he doing, how did they treat him? What went thought his mind? Everything. I'm sure you've read the translated interview by now, so you know that as touching as it was, something was missing…It felt like the sensitivity revolving around the "Gilad Shalit" topic kicked in, and the interviewer abstained from asking many expected, yet rough questions. We wanted to know if he was tortured, if he remained at the same place or was on the move from one hiding place to another. Some of us also expected to know what he thinks of the "cost" of his release- 1027 terrorists. Once again, we were stuck, because Gilad is someone we all want to be safe, and "rough" questions might have been placing him in an uncomfortable place. However, we all were eager to hear him speak for so long, and were disappointed with the lack of complicated questions. This time, the sensitivity went a little numb. Many television critics sharpened their pencils and Facebook users roamed their keyboards. "The interview was more of a "touchy" drama than a high quality documentary," many said. But once again, the opposite voice rose: "who cares as long as he's home and well." At first, I wasn’t sure what to think, but when I translated the interview, and read every word twice, I could see what the critics were saying. The interview didn't really reveal anything new, and said what we wanted to hear. It just presented us with Gilad, a year later, telling us everything and at the same time, saying nothing.
It wasn't until I read your comments and saw your Facebook "shares" of the interview where I realized what really matters. A year later, Gilad is healthy, not as skinny, smiling, making jokes, and happy. This interview was not meant to reveal any secrets or knowing the truth about his own personal nightmare. This interview was really meant to present us with Gilad Shalit, the one for whom we all united in the effort of bringing home. At this point, I realized what I was so eager to know about him was not whether or not he believes 1027 terrorists are too much, or whether or not he celebrated any holidays. What I really wanted to know, and I'm sure everyone (including the critics) will agree with me- is if the soldier who has been through the worst has recovered from his wounds, physical and mental. I wanted to know if the son of us all can smile and mean it.
Maybe some day he will be able to tell us everything. I sure hope so. Until then, we will continue to complain and support at the same time, because that's how we, Israelis, roll. There is not a single Israeli who has no sympathy for Gilad. Even the toughest person shed a tear while watching him speak last Wednesday. But here, where we all feel so close to one another, and where everyone worked together in an effort to bring Gilad back home, we wanted to know more, and were disappointed when we didn't. Sometimes it takes a person from the outside to help those inside get perspective. I thank you for doing this for me. You didn't feel like something was missing, you were just happy that he spoke. Now, so am I.