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The Day In Israel: Sunday Aug 29th, 2010

According to Egyptian security sources as reported by the palestinians Ma’an News, Egypt intercepted a shipment of at least 190 anti-aircraft missiles in Sinai – probably destined for Gaza.

gaza smuggling tunnelEgyptian police raided arms depots in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, which held weapons ready to be smuggled into Gaza, Egyptian security sources said.

Sources said three weapons depots were discovered in central Sinai. One cache containing 100 anti-aircraft shells was uncovered in Al-Hasana, and another, containing 90 of the shells, was discovered in Ad-Daqqaq. A third cache, holding 1,500 bullets of various sizes, was found in Nakhl.

Several weapons caches were discovered in cities bordering the southern Gaza Strip. Ten anti-tank landmines were found three kilometers from the border in Rafah, and two stores of machine guns and explosives were discovered in Sheikh Zwayyid.

Egyptian police also seized 50 kilograms of hashish in forests in Rafah, and detained several drug dealers in El-Arish, sources added.

Meanwhile, there are those in the media who would have us believe the only things being smuggled are “happy pills.”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

8:22PM: The palestinians are calling the upcoming World Jewish Congress a “provocation” – because it is being held during Ramadan.

The Islamic-Christian Front for defending Jerusalem says the 14th World Jewish Congress, which is set to be held on Wednesday in Jerusalem, is a blatant provocation to the Arab and Islamic nation as a whole.

“Not only does the [Israeli] occupation not at all care about the feelings of Muslims in Palestine and the world, but now deliberately shows direct prejudice to the religious feelings of the Palestinians and Muslims in general, as evidenced by the conference deliberately held during the holy month of Ramadan,” said Dr. Hassan Khater, Secretary General of the Islamic-Christian Front.

“In these heavy days of black memories against Islamic holy sites, beginning with the forty first anniversary of the burning of Al-Aqsa, the sixteenth anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, the outrageous attack on the Ain Silwan mosque, and preventing worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa, even in the month of Ramadan, comes the brutal Zionist decision,” he added.

The Secretary-General warned that the conference is not a regular conference for global Jewish leaders, but a dangerous meeting to develop a defense strategy for the Israeli state at home and overseas. Several papers on how to go into electronic warfare to defend the Israeli state and confront the wave of doubts over the legitimacy of its existence on the international level will be reviewed among other papers in the conference.

A meeting of Jewish leaders from all parts of the world in the heart of Jerusalem comes at a time when many Muslim leaders and scholars are unable to hold even one serious conference to protect the Holy City, Khater explained.

I wasn’t aware that Jews were obligated to keep Ramadan as well. Go figure.

Mind you, given that the Arabs started a war on our holiest day of Yom Kippur, I’d say we are not even close to being even.

Meanwhile, I have been invited to attend the World Jewish Congress, so will be sure to update you all on any new “brutal Zionist decisions” to come out of it.

8:08PM: A response to terror enabler Lauren Booth’s letter to Israel.

7:56PM: Predictably, the palestinians have picked up on the statement of Rav Ovadia Yosef, attempting to suggest it is indicative of the Israeli government’s views.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Sunday slammed remarks by the spiritual leader of Israel’s leading ultra-Orthodox party, who said the Palestinians should “perish”, saying that it was paramount to incitement to genocide.

Erekat called on the Israeli government to denounce the remarks by Israel’s former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and to take action against racist remarks by other elected officials. He also criticized Israel for allowing the incident to pass without condemnation.

Yosef had said during his weekly Shabbat sermon that the Palestinians, namely Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, should perish from the world. Yosef, a founder of the Shas Party, also described Palestinians as evil, bitter enemies of Israel.

“All these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians,” Yosef had said.

The 89-year-old is a respected religious scholar but is also known for vitriolic comments about Arabs, secular Jews, liberals, women and gays, among others.

“Is this how the Israeli government prepares its public for a peace agreement?” Erekat said, days before Israeli and Palestinian leaders were scheduled to meet in Washington for the launch of renewed direct peace negotiations.

“While the PLO is ready to resume negotiations in seriousness and good faith, a member of the Israeli government is calling for our destruction,” Erekat said. “It is an insult to all our efforts to advance the negotiations process.”

Erekat called on Israel “do more about peace and stop spreading hatred” and said Yosef’s comments could be placed within the larger context of Israel’s “policy against a Palestinian state” such as settlement expansion, home demolitions, among other things.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday distanced himself from Yosef’s remarks, but stopped short of a condemnation. “Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s remarks do not reflect Netanyahu’s views, nor do they reflect the stance of the Israeli government,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

“Israel plans to take part in peace negotiations out of a desire to advance toward a peace agreement with the Palestinians that will end the conflict and ensure peace, security and good neighborly relations between the two peoples,” the statement continued.

Propaganda expert Erekat is once again showing his adeptness at turnspeak and exaggeration.

Erekat is employing turnspeak – defined as “a cognitive technique of propaganda where you attack someone and then turn it around 180 degrees and claim they attacked you” – since it is the palestinians who are constantly inciting hatred against Jews and Israel, and it is their leadership who are leading the effort. The palestinian leadership have also never negotiated in seriousness and good faith, and constantly called for our destruction. It is these very things that Erekat is now accusing Israel.

As for exaggeration, Ovadia Yosef’s comments – as offensive as they may be to many – were not tantamount to calls for genocide. He was not asking people to carry out his wishes, but rather expressing his desire that G-d should strike the palestinians.

3:00PM: This is the Jerusalem Post’s generic error page.

No joke.

jpost error

Thanks to Shy Guy for the heads up.

1:35PM: Gilad Shalit has turned 24, his 5th birthday in captivity.

1:00PM: Cartoon of the day:

obama cartoonHat tip: Daniel

11:30AM: Israeli model/entertainer Noa Tishby proves she’s not just a pretty face.

“We’ve been living with terrorism for years,” Noa Tishby says. “We know the mentality. We know what radical Islam is about. We understand it. But so many people don’t.”

It’s easy for young, beautiful actresses in a town of young, beautiful people to blend into a crowd—but Tishby stands out as a proud Israeli woman, speaking with a passionate intelligence about the country she loves.

“I’m coming at this from a different world, a different view—not from politics, but from a straightforward understanding about the way things are,” Tishby says.

Even as a young teenager in Israel, Tishby adored the process of creation. A star at a young age for her singing voice and her acting talent, Tishby was always interested in the production side of creating and telling stories, not just what happened on the stage.

“I still remember calling up the local press people and saying ‘hi, this is Noa, you don’t know me, but I want to talk to you about our show,’” she says. “It’s different in the entertainment industry here in the States, but in some ways, it’s still the same.”

Tishby has become a groundbreaking exporter, adapting successful entertainment from Israel to the U.S. market. Besides her acting roles on television and the bigscreen, she’s a co-executive producer of the first Israeli television show to become an American TV series: the award-winning drama In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne and populated with a host of superb character actors (it began as BeTipul in Israel). Her production company, Noa’s Arc, owns the rights to several shows in Israel and the United States, and is focused on projects that feed into that export spirit—including one of the first musicals she was in as a child, on the life of King David (a hit in Israel, it ran for twelve years).

Yet what sets Tishby apart is not just her unique career track, but her straightforward and outspoken views on international politics and the Middle East—views that she shares via her columns for The Huffington Post and on her blog.

In the current celebrity culture, Tishby knows this openness about her views can come as a surprise to people.

“I’m not an expert,” Tishby says, “I’m just saying what I think and what I know from experience, what I grew up with and hope others will understand.”

Tishby says that while many of her friends consider themselves knowledgeable about the world they live in – “they really are educated people,” she adds – but have little knowledge of the truth about Israel and the reality of life in the Middle East. She tells the story of another young woman in the industry who was surprised she didn’t have to wear a head-covering.

“There’s just a complete lack of knowledge there,” Tishby says. “Before I came to the states, I thought ‘of course the world knows how modern we are here, why wouldn’t they?’ I assumed it was obvious… Instead, I found a disappointing number of people think of it as all one big mush. Afghanistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, as if it’s all the same… It’s a lack of understanding about how progressive Israel is, and how much human suffering and cruelty there is under the systems of nations whose views some people reflexively support.”

Tishby is a progressive, avowedly so—but her frustration with the media’s acceptance of spoon-fed storylines has led her to be more outspoken about her views.

“Again and again, we see this double standard. Davutoglu calls the flotilla their 9/11,” Tishby said. “But how many Kurds did the Turk kill in the last few years?”

On a recent trip to Gaza, Tishby was surprised to find that one group of friends who share her views had no knowledge of Gilad Shalit.

“He’s been rotting with Hamas for four years, he’s held in complete confinement, he’s kidnapped, not even a prisoner of war, with no visitors from the United Nations and no contact from the outside world,” said Tishby. “And yet people want to talk to me about the Geneva Conventions?”

Tishby’s frustrations regarding the coverage of the flotilla incident are still palpable—she thinks it exemplifies how Israel works and how the enemies of Israel are thinking and adapting to the new media environment.

“Not all the people on the flotilla knew how they were going to be used, but the leadership certainly did,” said Tishby. “Those images and videos were pushed online almost immediately, used to define the incident.”

She strongly believes there needs to be a more sophisticated response not just from Israel but among her supporters to push back against these storylines and keep people informed of the truth.

“Within Israel, I think people don’t see how skewed the view is outside. Israel is being looked at with a magnifying glass. When Israel responds, it’s very deliberate, but that also slows things down,” Tishby said. “We need to create a nexus of information. Distributing that information real-time, will take a great deal of work—I think something along those lines needs to exists, and needs to be something that’s accessible around the world, moving at the speed people need today.”

Tishby favors a two state solution, and feels the progress in Ramallah is real. She points to Vice President Joe Biden’s recent appearance on Charlie Rose, where he said the current conflict “would end tomorrow if Hamas agreed to form a government with the Palestinian Authority on the conditions the international community has set up.”

“He’s a centrist, and I think he understands this,” said Tishby. “And he couldn’t be more right. I wish more people understood what is obvious to Israelis—that the sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah is connected intrinsically with the sponsorship of Al Qaeda, the bombings in Bali, Madrid, London, Tel Aviv—they never make the connection.”

Others have urged Tishby to consider taking up her own political career, but she says that’s not in the offing—for now.

“Being in the entertainment industry, being an actress and producer, altering people’s views—not just on politics, or Israel—is something that moves me,” said Tishby. “I’m taking this road for now, and later on, who knows?”

Tishby does think that there are still ways to tell this story to the American people. She is working on projects that can tell this story in innovative ways, bringing the truth about her experience and the experiences of other Israelis into American lives not through the news headlines but through the storytelling of Hollywood.

Her aim is not necessarily to convince the viewer of Israel’s rightness—“ I do not support the Israeli government all the time, I think we should do whatever it takes to have a peace agreement , stop the settlements immediately and make tough decisions. Of course no nation is right about everything,” but she wants to cause many people to reexamine the way they think about Israel, to learn more and decide for themselves.

“Israel is on the front line of a global conflict, a war that pits a medieval approach to human rights, an authoritarian way of controlling how we live, against societies built on the freedom of men and women,” Tishby says. “My issue is not with people who decide to support or not support Israel—it’s with people who are aligning themselves with people who, if the political left really looked at what they are doing, stand for nothing in common with their aims. All I am trying to do is to get people to reexamine the reality of what’s happening, to reconsider their preconceptions, and to see the truth—it’s not always black and white.”

That is not to say that I agree with all of her views, but it is obvious to me that she has a better understanding of the conflict than most.

9:15AM: Tell us how you really feel, Rabbi.

Senior Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in his weekly lecture on Saturday night, said that he hope Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and the people he represents would disappear. “May Abu Mazen and all those evil people be utterly destroyed. May G-d strike them, and the evil Palestinians, with a plague,” he said.


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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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