Given the threats coming out from Syria, Iran and Lebanon that they will launch attacks against Israel if the U.S. or anyone else attacks Syria and given the fact that Assad has used chemical weapons numerous times and not just this latest time against his own people, can anyone with a shred of credibility argue that we should return the Golan Heights and the military advantage that would give them to Syria?
Given the absolute uproar and chaos in literally all of the countries around us, save Jordan, and the deep and implacable rift between the Palestinians themselves (Hamas and Fatah will never be able to make amends beyond the most superficial level and Al Qaeda-supporting factions are arising to challenge them both), no sane person can argue that we should return to the indefensible pre-1967 Auschwitz borders.
We not only have slightly more than half a million Israelis living across the 1948 ‘green line,’ making such a withdrawal logistically impossible, but it would be utter suicide to do so. We cannot give up the hills that would provide the perfect launching spot for crazy people with simple shoulder-launching rockets to take down international aircraft coming into or departing the Ben-Gurion airport. We cannot give up the hills that run all along the narrow strip of coastal land that houses 80% of our population — Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Petakh Tikva, Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon Letzion, Netanya and more of our major population centers would be sitting ducks for any nutburger with access to a rocket, homemade or imported. Nutburgers in this region are a dime a dozen.
It would likewise be utterly stupid to give up the Judean Hills and Judean valley, referred to as Area C of the West Bank. Only 4% of Palestinian Arabs live in this region and it has significant defensive importance. Negotiations with the Palestinians, despite all the surrounding uproar, should go full steam ahead but anything short of defensible borders should not be on the negotiation table.
We are surrounded by people who have no problem killing off thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of their own — Hamas killed more than 1200 Fatah supporters in their over-throw of Gaza, 1000s have been killed in clashes in Egypt, Lebanon’s 3 major factions are in perpetual conflict and tens of thousands were killed in in-fighting in their civil war, and in Syria — well, more than 100,000 have died in the last two years in their civil conflict. If our neighbours are willing to do this to themselves, we cannot afford the slightest chink in our defensive armor.
I keep reading articles in places like the U.K’s Telegraph that there is some sort of full-on panic here with desperate people trying to get gas masks (especially after a street rumour went around that Syria was going to hit us with chemical weapons today or tomorrow). Let’s set the record straight. There is no mass panic happening here. This is what is happening here:
There was a rush Wednesday and yesterday for gas masks in Haifa. Despite the more than two-year campaign to get people to collect their gas masks, folks up north (in the area most likely to need them) have been, until now, the least likely to get them. On Tuesday, less than 30% of folks up north had gas masks –the gas mask saturation in Tel Aviv was 78% (before the crisis) by comparison but probably because of the relative ease of collecting your mask if you live there and it is a pain in the a** to get to a collection point in most other places, especially if you work (for those who don’t have them and think you want them, all of the distribution points will be open for extended hours on Sunday from 10-7). On Wednesday and Thursday, folks up north decided that hey, maybe it would be a good idea (especially after the rumour began to circulate)…then they are surprised and pissed off that they have to wait hours in a line to get them. Duh.
Here, where I live, there is no panic. In fact, I sat outside the gas mask distribution point in my area on a bench yesterday to take a break from the heat and eat my plum and there was not only no queue but not a single person went in to get one in the half hour I sat there. I don’t personally know anyone who didn’t already have one who went to get one this week and the majority of non-olim (e.g. native born) people I know don’t have one for themselves or their kids. I got mine last spring (I’m the only person in the building who has one). That said, I have no idea where it is in the apartment. It was in the cabinet under the kitchen sink until a cat got in there and peed on the case. I put it somewhere cat safe but not memory safe. I’m not fussed enough to try to hunt it down at the moment. If the sirens sound, I’ll take a look for it. Maybe.
We are taking precautions and are on a low level ‘alert.’ They moved an iron dome battery to protect the Tel Aviv (and by extension my) area. We know, of course, that Hezbollah has something like a stash of 70,000 rockets of varying intensity and if the U.S. hits Syria, Lebanon and Hamas are likely to strike at us and maybe also Syria. Iran talks but Iran is not really a threat without nukes. We also know that if Hamas, Hezbollah, and/or Syria hit us in any sort of ‘major’ attack, we will pound the living sh*t out of them. If they do that, we will be able to respond without restraint and then G-d help them. A lot of things have changed since Lebanon II.
Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and insurgents in the Sinai are not existential threats. They are mosquito bites. The only real threat is Iran getting a nuke.
Homemade mashed potatoes that are then frozen into single serving sizes are AWESOME. Remember when I got all those potatoes free? I’d read on the internet that you could freeze mashed potatoes with good success, despite their having been made with milk. I wasn’t sure I bought the idea but gave it a try. I made up a big batch and used an ice cream scooper to make my mini mounds, flash froze them on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then piled them into a ziplock bag. (I’ll post up a picture later). They’ve been sitting in my freezer ever since and last night I got a real craving for mashed potatoes. After nuking one of the little scoops worth on high for two minutes in the microwave, along with a side of frozen broccoli, I gave them a taste. Dude, they tasted like they’d just been freshly made. Awesome creamy consistency, no hint of freezer burn, and full of flavour. Two thumbs up.
In just a bit, I’m going to be teaching the kids next door a bit about gardening. I’ve got some flower seeds for them to plant, a dahlia for them to transplant, and I bought a batch of green onions so I can show them how they can re-grow the onions they get from the store. I’ve become really good friends with their parents (these are the guys who watered the garden for me when I was in Texas) and they want the children to learn where food comes from and the value of growing things. Yesterday little Immanuela (she’s 5) came running up to me, Dodah Yael (Aunt Yael) look, look! She was so excited about having gotten her ears pierced. They are really adorable. In October, I’m going to help them grow their own little pot of lettuce and am going to make them their own little fall vegetable patch. I’ve been trying to find a child’s size watering can but so far without success. I thought it would be a nice New Year’s gift to give them a kid’s gardening set (kid tools and some seeds inside the watering can). I’ve already gotten them a little first reader’s picture book with cute animals planting a garden, featuring a mouse, hedgehog, bunny, bird, bee, cat and dog and it was a big success as a bedtime story it seems.
On Sunday evening we’ve got a garden cook-out planned but I may have to pass on it because the air-conditioner installers are supposed to come on Sunday at some point and I’ve no idea how long it will take them to install it (they have to make a huge hole in the wall between the window and ceiling to put it in and then take out the small unit under the window and seal that hole — sounds like it might take quite a while). I’ve got to be on cat-control while they are doing everything.
This is a nightmare. I went down to put out food for the garden kitties and to water the plants just before sunset. The little black cat is doing better but her tail is still in a terrible shape. I was so worried about her yesterday that I just sort of noted that the little mother of the two baby kittens did not come up. With the kittens here, she is usually very consistent. I noticed her absence again this evening, however, and was really starting to worry. Then after my last attempt at trapping the black kitty failed and I was getting ready to go in at dusk, up she came. I was relieved to see her …until I saw that her tail is completely gone. It has been cut off at the base of her body. Gone. Completely and utterly gone. It was already so dark I couldn’t see the extent of the injury other than that there is no more tail there at all.
I’ve just gotten done contacting Let the Animals Live to let them know what is going on and hopefully to get some help here. We’ve got to find out who is doing this but I’ve also got to find a way to protect these little cats in the meantime. I put in a police report. I’ve also just talked with my cat sitter and she is going to call in a police report as well, given that her hebrew is much better than mine and I’m not sure the policewoman I spoke with really understood the issue.
I’m just sitting here counting who came up and who didn’t tonight. The black garden kitty, the two babies who thankfully don’t venture out of the yard yet, the big black male who is always beaten up despite being able to easily menace the rest of my more tame crew, the orange and white male, the grey and white now tail-less mother cat…but both the solid orange male and the other grey and white (not sure if it is a girl or a boy but it is spayed) did not come up. The solid orange male often does not appear but the grey and white is usually here and was here yesterday and so now I am extremely worried for it.
People I am so upset I don’t know what to do with myself. The black outside cat that was abandoned by her owners here a couple of years ago and that I have been caring for was missing for several days. She came up just a few minutes ago when I was putting out some food for the baby kitties and her and a few more that come up to feed in the garden. She came up but there was something wrong.
First, she wouldn’t come close to me and ordinarily she is all about winding around my legs and wanting pet. She did let me finally come up to her carrying food in my hand but when I reached out to pet her she hissed and struck at me and then ran some ways off. That is when I saw her tail.
Someone tied a string or something along those lines around her tail. At the base, the hair has been totally ripped off to leave a raw, bleeding section several inches long. You can see where hair was ripped off further down the tail in spiraling loops where the string was wrapped. While she was eating, she kept flinching and jumping and I was able to get close enough to see why …she has ants crawling all over the raw section of her tail. I tried to get her into a carrier to take her to the vet but could not get her inside. I am going to try again in a little while.
What sort of a sick son of a bitch could do this to a sweet and friendly little cat?
On Thursday and Friday the cats were running about the place like lunatics with the change in barometric pressure bringing us some cooler temperatures, though it is starting to heat back up today it feels like but that might just be the low-grade fever I’m running. One thing the cooler couple of days did was to make the hot flashes I experience stand out. When you are already really really really hot you almost don’t notice you are having a hot flash. When you go from being pleasantly cool to spontaneous combustion, it really stands out. Very annoying.
The other thing the weather shift did was to bring on a summer cold. Yesterday I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. (Today I feel like the truck ran over me a second time.) I’d had big planting plans for the garden, a lot of grading planned, cleaning and organizing and tossing/donating of stuff but I spent most of yesterday sacked out on the couch with several cats perched on me. Exhausted, achey, with a blinding headache and sore throat and cough starting. I did manage to sort through three boxes of my books and carry out for donation about 60 of them and 10 dvd movies. The rest of the books are now strewn across my living room floor. They had been in some nice neat stacks waiting for me to get a new box to put them in but the cats seemed to think they made perfect perching and jumping on and off of places and so now…oy.
The cold has gone into my ears and so my balance is quite off today. I’m going to mostly rest until I have to go into Tel Aviv this afternoon for a student meeting. I’ve canceled the tutoring sessions I’d scheduled for this evening and tomorrow.
Our Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully intercepted rockets fired from Lebanon at the Western Galilee region.
Different media outlets in Lebanon have reported that two grad grade rockets were launched at Israel from the Al Kalila region in Tyre district in southern Lebanon. Our media is now reporting it was 4 and all intercepted without incident.
Rock on Iron Dome. This is really pointing up the crunch that Islamists are feeling in the region. Hezbollah wants to try to distract folks by lighting up a battle with us. You know, stop the infighting and rally against the Jooos, as well as distract the international community from focusing on little things like 1300 dead in Syria in a chemical weapons attack, closing in on 1,000 in Egypt, and increasing violence and mayhem in Lebanon. They are hoping that the Zionists will injure someone’s big toe in a response so that the international media and leaders can do what they do best: Rail against Israel and forget about Christian and Muslim-on-Muslim massive death happening in Arab countries.