Friday, March 21, 2014

Letter From Israel

 elinor        אלינור   


Home Invasion

To begin with—not at the beginning, but closer to the front of this story—when I first married, I became a second wife.  In the flush of a brand-new (re)marriage, my then husband bought me jewellery.  Not much, but ‘good stuff’.  Amongst this stuff was a lovely jade pin, surrounded by diamonds.  Definitely good stuff.  Earrings followed, then more pins and earrings, although not of the same calibre. 

When my father died he left me his key chain, a lovely piece of braided gold, and his pinkie ring which, it seems, had a diamond of some significance in it.  More good stuff.

Everywhere I schlepped my jewels, from Montreal to Florida to Montgomery, Alabama back to Florida to Jerusalem to Melbourne, Australia and back to Israel, there were available bank safety deposit boxes to hire.  My only worry was bank safety deposit box robberies. 

I’d had just one experience with losing stuff, when I lived in Florida.  Eventually every building in the south, certainly up to the time I abandoned ship, became infested with termites.  Termites require poison, and the professionals know exactly how to do that.  Every living thing has to be removed from the residence—people, animals, fish, plants, whatever.  A giant tent is created, actually sewn together to suit, which covers the entire building. 

The individual apartments must be left unlocked so that the gas can escape after all the termites are dead.  Someone has the job of opening the apartment front doors at the appropriate time and once, a robber or two followed a door or two behind, scooping up the best of jewel boxes, small appliances and such.  It seems that the door-opener person either never looked behind him, or was one of the gang. 

I will never forget seeing the contents of my jewel box spread in a wide semi-circle on my bedspread.  Only the good pieces were missing, amongst which was my father’s keychain.  Ah, well.  These things are not given to us in perpetuity.

All that took place circa 1975.  Years later I was living in Israel, where the feeling of trust has lasted much longer than in other ‘more civilised’ countries where I’ve lived.  Doors used to be left open; windows still are.  And so, when I invited two of my grandsons to have a falafel dinner with me at the corner, I did not go around closing windows and locking them, did I.

We were gone for about half an hour.  In fact, the excursion was extended by about 10 minutes because I insisted that the falafel place up the street also served schwarma (which I prefer) and the boys said it didn’t.  So we walked up a few blocks, confirmed that the boys were absolute right and returned to the falafel place nearest home. 

Exiting the lift, I stopped short at the open door to the flat.  Didn’t I lock the door? I asked the boys, who assured me that I did.  Trusting their young memories, I stepped into the flat to see every kitchen cupboard door open.

I stood in the hallway with my jaw hanging.  Wait here, said the bigger grandson (a champion MMA fighter because he’s larger than all his less courageous age-suitable opponents, who decline to fight him).  I never had the sense to say Don’t go in, let’s call the cops from here, but there was no one else in the flat. 

After awhile the police wandered by to see why we rang.  The boys asked, Why did you take so long to get here?  Well, there were two other robberies, one at #16—we’re at #20—and one on the street behind us, all unpleasantly recent, like our own.  We later found out that there are now organised gangs of criminals who drive into our town at sunset, burgle a series of flats and leave directly.

But I’ll tell you what I’m beginning to understand: Criminal profiling.  In the weeks that followed the break-in, instead of dwelling on my losses, I began to think about how this invasion was carried out.

Most notable was the window entry into the main bedroom, which is on the street side.  Interesting choice, because there are windows which open onto the shaded driveway side.

However, there is a building element—a narrow bar about 25 cm square—which goes from under the balcony to under the main bedroom and though the invaders could easily be seen by neighbours leaving/entering the building, why would anyone look up?  So, climbing onto the roof of a handily parked car, the thieves must have swung up onto the bar, kneeled on the window sill (knee marks can still be seen), slid back the shutters (which didn’t lock) and the window (which didn’t lock either) and entered the room.  There is about a hand-space between safety and knocking over a fragile lamp. The invader must have been quite slim.  According to the police, s/he opened the front door to an accomplice, then locked it against any other entry.

They did virtually no damage, despite my having to spend a week making order in the flat after they left.  The only damage I noted was a tiny loop in my empty jewel case, torn in the haste to grab anything that might be of value.  It had held a 1950s collar pin which will probably come back into style someday—remember them?  Awkward and uncomfortable, they went into the collar, under the tie and back out through the collar.  But apart from that, anything that once held jewellery was left behind, empty, unzipped and unharmed—ready for another lifetime of collecting valuables.  No way.

Some cupboards were rifled, a few drawers opened, not wasting time on closing them.  One drawer, known to be sticky, was kicked out of whack.  I often felt like doing that too.

My closet, the mother lode, no hanging space, just shelves.  Except for the one shelf that held cosmetic articles left completely untouched, the contents of every other shelf had been swept onto the floor, a space of not quite a square meter.  I try to imagine the sequence:  Top shelf first?  Unlikely shelves last?  Delve, then shove? 

Every box was opened and dumped.  The contents of my MEMORABILIA box, which held mostly papers, were scattered liberally.  No Latin students in attendance.

Cash, put aside in different places for different purposes, was gone.  They found it all.  The kitchen freezer, a popular location for hiding stuff, seemed untouched.  How did they know there was no reason to unload it? 

When I contemplated the missing jewellery I wondered:  Is there a small, portable metal detector available on the market?  Their skills were admirable.  It’s as though they knew where I kept the important stuff and all other effort at finding it was pro forma.

Gotta admit, I’m angry.  My pearl ring—too big after I’d lost some weight, but a real favourite—gone.  They could have left me something...

On the other hand, the feeling of relief was undeniable.  Not having to worry about this happening, to start with, then the freedom of not carrying my jewels from pillar to post any further. 

The home alarm system is being installed as we speak.   

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Israel Bashing, Lyons Lying and Antisemitic Denialism


Can I say I have never liked John Lyons, the long time resident anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, antisemitic denying journalist at The Australian?   I don't think it is just what he writes that revolts me. There is something about his face. There is something about him that raises hairs and sends a shiver down the spine.  As I have read pretty much everything he has written in quite a few years I am certain he does not give a damn whether I like him or not. He would reckon he has done his jobWe should be grateful for small mercies I suppose. At least at The Australian there is only the one. At ABC/Fairfax they drop from the trees like coconuts.

In this morning's The Weekend Australian there is perhaps the most mendacious attack on Israel and Australian Jews I have ever read. You need to read his piece before reading on.  This is something you have to do yourself.  For saying that, I have not a shadow of doubt that Lyons would accuse me of accusing him of being an antisemite. That is the way people like Lyons operate. They want to dismiss criticism of them with what can only be described as the pre-emptive offensive denial. We have all seen this. The denial of something that has not been alleged. They always do that.  

For the record Lyons has never been accused of antisemitism by any Australian Jewish group or to my knowledge any Jewish person. This has however been strongly inferred by Greg Sheridan, also of The Australian, about an ABC 4 Corners program that Lyons fronted in a very rare joint venture between News Limited and the ABC.  Sheridan is probably the finest Australian journalist of his generation and as it happens an observant Catholic.

Lyons is an antisemitic pre-emptive denier. The world is full of them. It is about time they stood up for what they believe. Seriously, what do they believe is the best out come for the Israel/Arab conflict?

Lyons has numerous questions that he demands of the Israelis but has not a shred of respect for what is asked of him. People like him never have. Here are just a few questions for him.

  • Why is it that in the many years of writing about this relatively minor conflict, in terms of lives lost and land at issue,  you have never mentioned Arab Muslim violent antagonism to Israel as the Jewish state as perhaps something that might be close to  the root of the problem? Not even once?
  • Do you accept that the Jewish state is a legitimate expression of the general human aspiration and within any reasonable definition of human rights at this point in time and space? Yes or no? If yes, why have you never said so?
  • When you complain about the treatment of "Palestinian" "children" why is that you never mention the truth that Arab Muslim kids in Judea and Samaria, what you call the West Bank, are the safest Arab kids in the Middle East outside of Israel? You boast about how close you are to the scene. In terms of freedom from violence, war and oppressive cultural structures and access to health, education, housing and free social services, these kids you cry for get it better than all the rest. Surely you must have observed this? Why have you never written about it?
  • Do you seriously expect anyone but the most disgusting racist to believe that IDF soldiers strung an Arab Muslim kid from a "cross like structure" while "interrogating" him? Do you believe this evil and deeply untrue slander? Have you any idea of the meaning of the phrase "blood libel"? Do you accept that you are a retailer of blood libels by not even making the slightest effort to verify these mangy lies before writing about them as if this has in all of history ever happened?  
  • Do you accept the truth that the overwhelming majority of Israelis would cede land for peace in an instant if they could be confident it was a genuine deal? You must know this fact. Why do you never mention it?
  •  Do you have any idea how Arab kids are treated in the rest of the Arab world?  Not to mention the women. Can you explain please that when pontificating on the moral standards of other countries you have never once mentioned the vile bigoted racist sexist treatment that prevails over the Arab/Muslim world, and Iran, that might fairly be engaged in the struggle for human progress and civilisation?
  • Why are you so insistent that the "settlements" are "illegal" when in fact the overwhelming consensus of informed legal opinion is that they are not:"? 
  • Do you believe that a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is an obstacle to peace? Why?
  • What are you afraid of when you ignore all of these things and instead attack the Jews? Do you think the Jews are a threat to you?
  • What would you have Israel do? Withdraw unilaterally to the the Green Line? Out with it please. What do you want the Jews of Israel and Australia to do in the face of all this medieval ideology which most of all afflicts the Arab world ? Out with it please. Be specific.   

cross posted Israel Thrives
                    Jews Downunder      

Hard to put it any better than this


I've seen this before but I post it again for those who still wonder what this whole thing is about.

Hat tip Shirlee

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Message to the Offended From Pat Condell


The Australian debate over 18 C and the clash between basic values such as freedom of expression and the need to protect minorities from public vilification is not as black and white as either side would like you to think especially in a world where racist antisemitic politicians such George Galloway will threaten at the drop of a hat to sue you for pointing out that he is a racist antisemite. Or where full time antisemitic clergymen such as Stephen Sizer who harbour a medieval abhorrence to Jewish sovereignty anywhere but especially in Israel will call the police if someone suggests that his form of theological antisemitism is nothing more than Dark Ages bigotry deeply embedded in the extremist religious mind be it Christian or Muslim.

Nor is it anything new.

But the legal right to not be offended? No deal. That's where I part company. A day doesn't go past when I'm not deeply offended.  Often several times a day. I'd never be out of the courts.

Pat Condell on the subject and some references on what is going on in Britain where to burn a Koran is a crime that will lead to real jail time but to burn a Bible is nothing more than the lawful public expression of a point of view.

Britain: Islamists create climate of fear to curb free speech

Katy Perry video scrubbed after Muslim petition

Muslim groups seek to censor satire at the Daily Mail

University Islamic Society tries to stop talk because speaker didn't condemn Maajid Nawaz

Anything for the Muslim vote. MP condemns Maajid Nawaz for posting cartoon

Ex-soldier jailed for burning Koran

Convicted as a criminal for tearing a book

Nigerian Islamists kill 59 children in attack on school. No petitions, no Muslim outrage