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The Day In Israel: Sun Aug 30th, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day

Israel responded to yesterday’s Qassam rocket attack by striking a smuggling tunnel. Yes, I’m sure you’re shocked.

And in more shocking news, the palestinians are lying.

Hamas described the target of the Israeli air strike as “open ground” but witnesses said it was a building with two rooms and a courtyard, which were ravaged by the attack.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

7:55PM: Former NBA player Allan Houston is here in Israel. And unlike the Elders of Moron, he’s actually doing some good and learning in the process.

Chen Kabasa has a pair of New York Knicks shorts. He even went to a Knicks game last Passover.

But for some reason, unclear even to him, when the 17-year-old Sderot resident left his house Thursday to meet former Knicks star Allan Houston, he put on his LA Lakers shorts instead.

Houston, who held a basketball clinic in Sderot on Thursday with about 20 kids from southern Israel, didn’t seem to care about the disloyalty.

He was all business, determined in his task of teaching the young Israelis the fundamentals of shooting a basketball and to encourage them to follow their dreams to play in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem – or maybe even in the NBA like new Sacramento Kings recruit Omri Casspi.

“Hopefully something like this inspires them and creates some joy for the moment,” he told The Jerusalem Post while taking a break from the training session.

A three-time NBA all-star and Olympic gold medal winner, Houston played for three years with the Detroit Pistons before moving to the Knicks as a free agent in 1996. In his nine seasons with the team, he helped take it to the playoffs six times.

His career is best remembered, perhaps, for a game winning shot in the last seconds of Game 5 of the 1999 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Miami Heat, eventually leading the team to advance to that year’s Finals.

Houston, 38, who now works as an assistant to the Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations, is in Israel for a week with his wife Tamara on a mission of civic leaders sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

In addition to meeting with politicians, journalists, and community leaders, Houston had two basketball clinics on his schedule – one in Sderot and another on Sunday in the Arab town of Iksal in the north.

A devout Christian, Houston said he feels this trip has given him a greater understanding of the Bible, which he said has “leaped off the pages for him,” and a better grasp of the significance of Israel for Jews.

In 2001, Houston was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for comments he made during a team prayer meeting about Jews persecuting Jesus, which were quoted in a New York Times magazine article, and which he said were taken out of context.

” The thing that really sticks out to me most on this trip is the Jewish identity and how the Jewish people have held on throughout the years to their faith, their hope, and their identity,” Houston told the Post.

While he said it will take him time to fully appreciate everything he has experienced in Israel, he has made an effort to capture the people and sights around him through recordings on his video camera and posts to Twitter from his iPhone.

“Man this Israel trip is serious. Now leaving Ashkelon where we visited Barzilai Hospital where patients are treated from rocket attacks,” he tweeted on Thursday morning, before heading to Sderot.

Houston was visibly impacted by the words of Shalom HaLevy, a representative of the Sderot municipality who spoke to the group over lunch about life in the shadow of rockets from Gaza.

“It’s hard for me to picture having the experience of waking up and not even knowing when I’m gonna have 15 seconds to run for my life,” Houston said.

He said he hoped the basketball clinic would help the kids, who came not only from Sderot but also Beersheba, Kiryat Gat, Gadera, Ofakim, and some of the kibbutzim in the area, to forget about the political situation for a while and to focus on basketball.

“I would imagine that if this were somebody’s reality every day, that this [clinic] would be something that would take them away from it for a moment,” he said.

“Just to see them laugh, to me, to see their minds off of that for an hour, gives me hope that maybe they will remember it.”

Both Houston and the kids spent a lot of time laughing. At one point, after finishing a drill on shooting, Houston stepped to the three-point line and asked the kids how many baskets they thought he could make in a row.

“Three!” “Four!” “Ten!” the audience shouted. He made sixteen, and the group erupted in applause and smiles after he missed the seventeenth.

“I won’t even tell you what my record is,” Houston said to them.

Before leaving, Houston and the JCRC presented coach Yisrael Baruch with two new NBA regulation basketballs.

In return, Houston received a red and white Maccabi Sderot jersey, which he said he plans to hang up when he gets home.

But in the end, the kids may have gotten the most out of the afternoon.

“I’m leaving here with a big smile and a lot of good basketball tips,” Kabesa said.

“And an autograph and a picture,” he added.

For the record, here’s Houston’s famous series winning shot of Game 5 of the 1999 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Miami Heat.

7:35PM: Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on multiple corruption charges including fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records, receiving illicit benefits and tax evasion.

The former prime minister has now been charged with accepting cash envelopes from American businessman Morris Talansky.

He is also suspected of illegally double-billing charities and a government ministry for the same flights he booked through Rishon Tours, sending them falsified receipts for travel expenses and using the surplus to finance personal and family trips abroad.

The Investments Center affair, which was first reported in Haaretz, concerned allegations that Olmert granted personal favors to his old law partner, Uri Messer, who was acting on behalf of a company, an act which would constitute a conflict of interest, breach of trust, and fraud.

The charges against Olmert include fraud, breach of trust and failure to report income, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

I was thinking about doing a limerick, but I already met my daily quota of 1. Plus the old “bending over for the soap” joke only works well in moderation.

5:22PM: Palestinian terrorists have fired shots at IDF soldiers who were fixing the Gaza border fence.

4:50PM: A limerick.

Fuad Shubaki was that real dope

Who organized a weapon-laden boat

He was caught and convicted

For those he afflicted

Now he better not bend for the soap

1:56PM: This next story illustrates just how deluded the Left really are.

The Israeli Left reacted with dismay over the weekend to the results of a Jerusalem Post-sponsored Smith Research poll published on Friday that found only 4 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that US President Barack Obama’s policies are more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian.


Meretz and Peace Now said the survey indicated that Israelis did not yet realize the potential benefits of the regional peace initiative that Obama was advocating, but they expressed confidence that they eventually would.

Right. That’s what it indicates. It must be a problem with Israelis not realizing what’s good for them, as opposed to the Left not realizing they are completely out of touch with reality.

11:05AM: Like the rest of the world, the Elders of Moron have a blog.

While I find it generally irritating (like the Elders themselves), there is also some unintentional humor.

(hat tip: Soccer Dad)

6:15AM: Israel has slammed an ambiguously worded IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program released Friday, accusing the IAEA of “hiding critical information on Iran’s nuclear progress.”

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said:

“This is a harsh report, but it does not reflect all the information possessed by the IAEA on Iranian efforts to advance its military program, on its continuing efforts to hide and deceive, and on [Iran’s] noncooperation with the IAEA and the demands of the international community.”

“…we’re talking about information that would be far more incriminating for Iran.”

“The 35 member states of the IAEA can’t let [the organization] get away with hiding critical information on the dangers of the Iranian program.”

6:02AM: What is going on with kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit?

a) The German mediator in the talks for his release has presented Hamas with a new, comprehensive proposal to which Hamas would have three days to respond.

b) Chief Hamashole Khaled Meshal is due to arrive in Cairo to approve a deal for his release.

c) There has been limited progress in finalizing a deal for his release.

And the answer is d) All of the above if you are to take notice of all the media reports.

5:54AM: Forget the Elders of Moron. We need more people like these for there to be hope of peace.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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