Joint voices

WELCOME! Looking for some intelligent dialog between nationalities - a place for anyone and everyone to speak their mind, and listen to other minds, and maybe some difference, no matter how small, will be made. Welcoming more contributors! the more the better!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

dark humor...

Yeah we got it some new war-inspired advertising too, not as good as Johnny Walker in Beirut but it brings a smile to one's face:

It's an ad for Homeless, a site for online listings (jobs, rentals, etc.. very popular among Tel Aviv house hunters - it's where I got mine!). It says "only good intentions! a public service by Homeless".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tel Aviv protest tent MOVED

Well, was looking forward to going to the Tel Aviv Museum for the protest tent, but thank god I caught up before I left and saw it has moved to Jerusalem (and how on earth will I get there now).

The protest blog has updated some plans they have seen for protest plans in Tel Aviv, though it is yet unclear how organised each protest is (the sources are sketchy):

-Sunday, 27/8/06 - a protest march will leave at 10 a.m. from Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, heading to the Knesset in Jerusalem. It will summit with a protest tent being set up in front of the PM's office. If you're interested in helping out with organisation, e-mail:

-Monday, 28/8/06 - a protest march leaves from State Square (Kikar Hamedina) to Rabin Square, in Tel Aviv. The time is yet unknown.

-Thursday, (24/8/06 ?) - "Personal Responsibility" forum at 19:00 in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, for the resignation of Olmert, Peretz and Halutz.

-Monday, 11/9/06 - A Call for mass demonstration in Rabin Square.

more comic relief!

Ok this has probably has little to do with the current situation in the Middle East, but it's funny as heck :)

Save Papadizi!

(maybe I should start focusing on this struggle, for my own sanity. There's an irony if I ever saw one.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

New dialog opportunities

Well I have to admit the conversation on Beirut Live has somewhat deteriorated lately, and I was beginning to feel a bit stuck as far as dialog goes - and then I found this new forum ME Talks...

Welcoming new Middle Easterners every day!

So it begins

At last, a unified protest in the name of our humanity. This is how an Israeli protest to the situation should be: (up to 1005 signatures in 3 days... just 3,498,996 more to go!)
(a related blog in Hebrew:

The new government disappointed us all, and its beginning to bubble up and out. The Israeli people are finally beginning to truly demand sanity. Let's hope we can save something out of the mess we're heading into, and minimize the damages to come - how soon is too soon? will we make it before Armageddon?

(Someone get that Olmert off Livni's back and let her do what she wants!)

***A protest tent is going up on Tuesday at 16:00, at the Tel Aviv Museum courtyard***

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The writing was on the blog

I wan't in Baalbek last night. I imagine I'll never know for sure if the IDF commando was on to an arms shipment from Iran and/or Syria to Hizballah.

But that doesn't matter anyway.
When Hizballah changes their tune right after a cease fire is agreed upon, and then proceeds to piss on the Lebanese government and its sovereignty (with or without an arms shipment - it was agreed they would disarm, and somehow they got the Lebanese government to agree otherwise - which was a breach of 1701), people just say that we need to find a way to live with Hizballah and get them on a positive track.
When the IDF acts in retaliation of that, it is open season.

So again, tonight, I think of The Couple, and the post I wrote on Thursday. It really wasn't worth the paper.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not worth the paper....

On Sunday night, hours before the cease fire went into effect, The Couple were getting ready for their trip to India. A few of us gathered at a burger place, as The Couple wanted to have a final fix of beef before a 2 month vegetarian drought.
Talk turned to the cease fire at one point. The Guy said: what cease fire? it's all show. That agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.

I didn't say anything - just hoped by the time they got back from India, I would show him he was proven wrong.

But it looks as if he was right on the money.


On another note - remember my Drafting Art post? well here's some of the Ahmedinejad regime's equivalents in the visual arts (illustration and animation respectfully).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The world needs THE AXE EFFECT

Can Axe make our dreams come true???

it ain't over till the fat guy with the turban and glasses sings,7340,L-3291783,00.html

Hizbullah: UN decision doesn't obligate us

Deputy Hizbullah leader Sheikh Naim Qassam told Hizbullah TV station al-Manar that "the UN decision does not obligate us and it does not have weight with us."
"What Israel didn't succeed in taking during war, it will not succeed with diplomacy and politics," added Qassam. (Ali Waked)

The world's hottest new blogger

Well you just don't get better proof of blogging power than this... Blogs have proven themselves so powerful, even the allmighty top dog of Iran just had to get one!

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce to you the newest addition to the blogging community:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The first entry is the heart wrenching tale of young Mahmoud's rise to power. Well, I think that's what it's about, I kinda fell asleep halfway.

When will Nasrallah join the party? :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

some comic relief for day 1 of the cease fire...

This had me rolling on the floor.... I'm a sucker for cynicism.
An open letter from the Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey to Nasrallah:

Jumping on the bandwagon / Sandmonkey

Dear Nasrallah,

I am writing you this letter because I owe you sir an apology: I didn't support you or your blessed organization when this conflict started. Hell, even before that. And for that, sir, I was wrong, and I apologize. From this day forward I am the biggest Hezbollah supporter, ever. I will wear those T-shirts, I will wave your yellow flag, and go to every pro Hezbollah rally and chant with the chanters. I am converted now. You made a believer out of me, with your victory over Israel, which totally destroyed the legend of the Israeli army, just like it was destroyed in 2000 and 73. what a fuckin resilient legend, huh? It's like the Freddy Kreuger of legends. Everytime you kill it, it just keeps coming back. This is why I urge you to destroy it once and for all this time around, and not accept the cease-fire agreement.

You see sir, we in Egypt accepted a cease-fire agreement once in 73, and that is why Israel still exists, as many nasserites and syrians have told me repeatedly. Had we not accepted the cease-fire and continued fighting, we would've eventually liberated all of palestine. But alas, that pussy Sadat and his concern over war cost, the mounting casualty rates and that second army in the Km 101 have cost us that victory. Never again. We should learn from our mistakes sir. Every Newspaper I read in the middle-east and every arab satalite news channel, especially yours, keeps informing me of how much Israelis you are killing, how few men you are losing and how you are accomplishing what no arab country has accomplished and are winning this war against Israel, and you know how the arab media never lies and always tells the truth. What I don't understand is this: if you are winning, why stop now? I say continue fighting, until, god willing, you destroy the accursed zionist entity and liberate Jersualem. I am sure that your army of 5000 fighters and your 10000 rockets can do it. I have faith in you, especially after all the victories you have achieved, like having the israeli army inside of Lebanon again, right where you want them of course, and having your neighborhood in Beirut destroyed, which saved you all the demolition costs it would've cost you for the Hezbollah Paradise Towers project, which will provide every shia family with a luxury High-rise apartment in a premium Bierut location. It was a fantastic business decision I must say. Die with envy Christians and sunnis. You didn't think of that, did ya?

Oh, those christians and sunnis and druze make me sick, with their "support" on one side and their pushing for cease-fire the other side. If they really supported You and Your party, they wouldn't even called for a cease-fire. Everyone knows you don't call for a cease-fire when you are so clearly winning. Those people are defeatists and possibly zionists agents, especially that Jumbalatt. He even looks like a jew, with his nose and his hair and his dislike of Syria. So what if they assassinated his father, huh? Is that enough reason for him to be such a freakin traitor? Hell NO. He should be the first on the butcher's block that one.

However, it is quite impossible that everybody who is calling for a cease-fire is a zionist traitor. I think the problem is that those people don't have any dignity, or at least have the wrong definition of dignity. Don't be hard on them, god knows I was one of them before I saw the light. I always thought the definition of dignity was that you have a good job, a decent house, could afford your kids a decent living in a peacefull country with a future. What american zionist propaganda. Dignity is getting attacked due to the actions of your leader, to the point of losing everything, and still refusing to hold that leaderaccountable. Dignity is having your entire neighborhood bombed, your children killed, and your only reaction is to dance in the streets like zulu warriors in support of Hezbollah. That's what dignity, pride and honor are all about. I get that now.

But we can help them get it too. Think about it: those people- cursed christian, sunnis and druze-who call for the cease-fire don't have dignity for a very good reason: Their houses are still standing. Hell, more than 80% of the country is still not destroyed. That's a lot of people without dignity oh great ayatollah Nasrallah, and we need to teach it to them. So please, for their own sake, continue bombing Israel from their villages and eventually those zionists will fall into your trap and bomb them as well, giving them instant dignity. Don't worry about any backlash on the short or long run. I mean, look at Nasser: He too entered wars against enemies far stronger than him, and caused the death of thousands of egyptians and the economic destruction of the country for decades to come. Do the people hate him? Noooooo. They love him, because he gave them dignity. Hell, your biggest supporters in Egypt keep comparing you to him, and they love you for reminding them of the dignity they feel whenever arabs die. Thank you for reminding them how it feels like to have dignity. Thank you.

And please, don't listen to those people who talk to you about the mounting lebanese civilian casualties due to Israeli bombing. Those people are idiots. First of all, you can't have an omlet without breaking some eggs. What? They thought liberating Palestine was going to be achieved with no people dying? Helloo, we have to kill 8 million jews to do it, and they are not big fans of getting killed. Deaths are inevitable. But, unlike them, our dead go to Heaven. Instant martyrs. Even the israeli muslims we kill are martyrs, as you said yourself. Those people are the same people who complained about the half a million iraqi children that died from malnutrition and lack of medicine from the sanctions imposed on the glorious regime of Saddam. They don't understand that Saddam gave them Dignity for breakfast, Honor for lunch and Pride for dinner as one Iraqi friend once told me, or that those half a million children are now playing in Heaven, after dying with the dignity that Saddam's rule gave them. But don't get mad at the ignorant my dear sir; they just don't know any better, since they don't understand dignity. Just like those arab leaders of ours, curse their names and faces.

Those so called leaders are all zionist american agents and have absolutely no dignity what so ever, as my nasserite friends have repeatedly told me. And you know what? They are right. A true arab leader, a leader with dignity, should immediatly go to war against Israel the moment they attempt to respond to your glorious and justified acts of resistance. Hell, they should throw all caution to the wind, not care about how unprepared they might be, or how such a war would effect the country economically, or even how many people would die because of it, and like Nike, just do it! A true leader shouldn't care about such trivial things like the welfare of his country or the safety of his people, as long as he engages in wars of dignity and inflicts some damages against the evil nazi zionists. That's what your glorious role model showed them, and the egyptian people have looked around, saw the peace and quiet we have been living in for the past 27 years and screamed: I DON'T WANT THIS HONORLESS PEACE! GIVE ME WAR! GIVE ME DEATH! GIVE ME DIGNITY. You are teaching all arabs what it means to be a leader with dignity, not one of those pansies that govern Egypt, Jordan or the arabIAN Gulf, with all of their sissy talk of peace, development and economic stability. What a bunch of pussies! Seriously! You will show them when you liberate Palestine. Oh yes you will.

And finally, don't listen to all of those poeple who talk about the difference in your army and the israeli army, and how they have superior weapons, like aircrafts and nuclear warheads. Those fools don't understand that you have the most powerful weapon of all: You have GOD ON YOUR SIDE. You even hinted at your special relationship when you omnipotently spoke about how the Israelis were going to attack in 2 months anyway, so it was a good thing to provoke an attack from them now while they were unprepared. Many people wonderd how you knew that, but only I figured it out: God told you. What? Do those people think he placed you as the leader of his party for no reason? HA! Foolish know-nothings! You have a close personal relationship with him. He talks to you and tells you stuff. This is why you don't do any filed fighting anymore, and reserve your energy for those TV appearances. You are in no hurry to die in order to meet him; he comes to you every night. And people wonder why the rest of the planet is in such bad shape: GOD IS BUSY, DAMN IT! He is occupied with making sure his party survives. And despite all that, you have those people who keep asking him for things like a better world, Justice and peace on earth, while he is busy helping you fight his chosen people. Don't people understand what Priorities mean anymore? People today man, I tell you, no manners!

And finally, If those negative defeatists naysayers continue their misguided rhetoric, refusing to believe that God is really on your side and will hand you your victory on a plate of silver, I would like to remind them what your name means. You are called Nasrallah, which means God's Victory. Come on people. Do I have to spell it out for ya? God's victory, waging the war using God's party? You are so gonna win this. It's not even a discussion!

So please, dear great supreme leader Hassan Nasrallah, for all of those reasons, don't accept the cease-fire. Continue fighting, and the gates of Jerusalem are yours to pass through. I will be here, standing right behind you, well, in front of the Television really, but I will be cheering really really hard for every Israeli death you inflict for every 10 death they inflict upon your people. And I will also pray very hard for God to help you out more and hasten the destruction of Israel. I hear they are considering bringing back Bibi as Prime Minister, so it really shouldn't be long now, since he will do most of the damage for you anyway, probably all in God's plan of giving you that victory. He works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? Oh yes. Yes, he sure does. And his victory and total annihilation of the jewish people is nigh and will be on your hands, god willing. Just keep fighting Nasrallah, and keep firing those rockets. I am sure the Israelis will just roll over and play dead any minute now!

Your new supporter and faithful scribe,


Monday, August 14, 2006

With minutes to go - Victim of THE day

Monday morning is unfolding upon us, counting back the minutes till the supposed and much hoped for cease fire. 2 Hizballah drones packed with explosives were shot down tonight - word has it at least one was bound for Tel Aviv. So how is the 'last day' wrapping up? This morning's choice for a victim profile is a soldier:

Uri Grossman, 20 years old, of Mevaseret Zion, near Jerusalem, Israel.

Here is the statement released by Uri's family: "Uri Grossman was born on August 27, 1985. He was supposed to celebrate his 21st birthday in two weeks. Uri studied at the experimental school in Jerusalem. He reached the armored corps and fulfilled his aspiration to be a tank commander. He was about to be released (from the army) in November, travel the world, and then study theater. Friday evening he spoke, from Lebanon, with his parents and sister. He was glad that a decision on a ceasefire was taken. Uri promised that he will be eating the next Shabbat dinner at home. Uri, son to David and Michal and brother to Yonatan and Ruthie, had a fabulous sense of humor and a big soul filled with life and emotion."
Uri died on Saturday, after his tank was hit by an anti-tank missile in southern Lebanon.

Uri Grossman is the son of the respected Israeli author, David Grossman. Just a few days ago, David Grossman joined the internationally-famed writers A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz in a plea to the Israeli government to reach a cease fire agreement. "Out of concern to the future of the State of Israel, to our place here, to our relations with our neighbors, and to our deterrence power that is being eroded by the day, stop the fighting and give negotiations a chance" said Grossman. More on their plea, including video footage of their press conference, can be found here:,7340,L-3290763,00.html. Grossman had also demonstrated against the war with Meretz and Peace Now.

Following is a transcript of an interview done by PBS' Bill Moyers with David Grossman in 2002, on the show Now with Bill Moyers. He speaks of the Middle East conflict to great length. Please pay special attention to the last words of the interview.

BILL MOYERS: David Grossman lives in Jerusalem where he has seen violence become a daily companion in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. In novels and non-fiction, he writes his compassionate accounts of how people carry on in the midst of chaos. YELLOW WIND, his most famous book, was praised for illuminating "the news and the reality that produces it..." Mr. Grossman was in New York this week to talk about his new novel, BE MY KNIFE and I asked him to stop by to reflect on what's happening back home. Thank you for joining us. I read BE MY KNIFE this week, and I was taken with your language. You take me into a different world; a world I had not been before. But as I read it I was perplexed. Are words futile when bombs and guns and hatred are saying so much?

DAVID GROSSMAN: They must do, and there must be a way for us to shield ourselves and to continue our lives. You see, I think that part of the tragedy that we experience there is that all our energy, imagination, inner life, all are being confiscated by the situation. Everything is being turned towards the boundaries of our identity, towards the contact points between us and our partners, neighbors or enemies. And I'm afraid that we are going to wind up like that armored suits without the person inside, and I insist on giving this person inside what he deserves. And this is the most precious things, you know, the things that make life life.

MOYERS: What happens in these circumstances to the habits of life, to love, to raising children, to just sitting outside and watching people pass by?

GROSSMAN: The main thing is that the soul shrinks in fear. There is a strong need to minimize the surface of the soul that comes in contact with reality, because reality is so brutal. And of course there is a tendency to dichotomize everything, because of the extremity of the situation...

MOYERS: Black and white, good and evil.

GROSSMAN: Black and white, yes, there are no nuances. And even more so, there is a feeling that there is...[SIGHS] well, let's say that the future is very dubious. We have, as Jewish people in Israel, we have an enormous past and a very strong and vital presence. But there is not a real inherent sense of having a future. You know, when I read here in the papers that America is planning its wheat harvest for the year 2025, it sounds perfectly natural and normal. But no sane Israeli will make plans for 10 years ahead from now. When I even say it I feel that kind of pang in my heart as if I violated a taboo by allowing myself too much quantities of future. So it's really there, you know. You feel like you're walking dead men.

MOYERS: What...doesn't fantasy then and language, the language that creates the fantasy in our heads, doesn't language then become even more powerful?

GROSSMAN: Yes, it is, because in such a situation when you feel so paralyzed, so deprived of everything, the ability to create, the ability to see nuances in every situation, and even more than that, the ability to give your own private names to things that the government or the army or the situation tried to impose their names...

MOYERS: Example…give me an example.

GROSSMAN: Well, for example, for many years what Israel had in the West Bank and Gaza was not named occupation for us in Israel. It was not a bon ton to use this term, occupation. And by starting to use this name in books, in interviews, wherever, it came more I think to the public knowledge what we are doing. In the first intifada in '97 Israel was totally caught in surprise because Israel, the official Israel, never told itself that it occupied and oppresses another people. And of course the whole world knew it is an occupation, and the Palestinians felt it in the very cell of their body that they are occupied. Only Israel did not know and was taken by such a surprise.

MOYERS: So what do you do to change the name? If you don't want to call it occupation, what do you call it?

GROSSMAN: Well, there were...there was the whole machinery of fabricating names to the situation, there was the whole false narrative that in a way used words not to describe reality but rather to camouflage it, to protect us the Israelis from the harshness of the situation of what we are doing. And again, I want to make it very clear: we are not alone in this tango, yes, this situation has two partners and each side does or contributes his mistakes to this tragedy. But I am talking from an Israeli point of view and I have very strong interest that we should call things by their right names and because it's useful for us it will help us to uproot ourselves from this situation.

MOYERS: Are not Palestinians doing the same thing? I mean, I've heard Palestinians talk as if they can drive Israel not just out of the occupied territories but out to the sea, that they can once again live as if there were no Jews.


MOYERS: I've heard Palestinians talking about...

GROSSMAN: I hear it all the time, and I think it's good that we should listen to these voices and remember that Israel is living there among very tough neighbors. Yes, it's not...we are not surrounded there by the Salvation Army, you know. And even when we allocate this, as I try to do, we remember the danger that Israel faces all the time and we continue to face even after peace is achieved with the Palestinians. But my point of view is that we shall be much stronger if we shall start to tread the road of peace. And if shall start to finish this everlasting conflict between us and the Palestinians, that our army will not serve as a police of demonstration but rather as an army that had to face very severe problems from Iran and from Iraq.

MOYERS: James Bennet suggested a moment ago that however, a rather hopeless situation because both sides are locked into a mythology of what they can do there. And aren't people like you increasingly marginalized for believing that Palestinians and Jews can coexist?

GROSSMAN: Yes, we are marginalized now, and I can truly understand the people who find it impossible to listen to what we try to allocate, because it's so difficult to believe in ideas about future peace, to believe that there can be some neutrality between us and the Palestinians, mutual respect and trust, while reality is so concrete and so brutal and people are exploding around you. But I think it is the task of leaders to see two steps or three steps ahead and to try to salvage us from our situation. This situation is like kind of a hermetic bubble now, and inside this hermetic bubble there is a certain distorted logic that prevails according to which every side, each side, can justify and explain what it does to the other side. In the bubble it has...I mean, it's very logical. But the question is, how to get out of this bubble, because we are being suffocated in this bubble.

MOYERS: In the meantime there is language and the language of hope. There's a passage in your book that really brought me up sharply when I read it the other night. Would you read this passage? I've marked it there. From BE MY KNIFE.

GROSSMAN: Yes. It is the man telling the woman in the book: "I once thought of teaching my son a private language, isolating him from the speaking world on purpose, lying to him from the moment of his birth so he would believe only in the language I gave him. And it would be a compassionate language. What I mean is, I wanted to take him by the hand and name everything he saw with words that would save him from the inevitable heartaches so that he wouldn't be able to comprehend the existence of, for instance, war. Or that people kill, or that this red here is blood. It's a kind of used up idea, I know, but I love to imagine him crossing through life with an innocent trusting smile — the first truly enlightened child."

MOYERS: An innocent trusting child in the midst of all of that violence. Can fantasy, and that is, fiction, can fantasy shield a child in Israel today from the realities?

GROSSMAN: I'm afraid not. But it serves as a good way to at least in our reality and it can melt the congealness that we all suffer from, and it can offer some other possibilities and nuances in this reality, otherwise we live our life there like victims. Like victims.

MOYERS: Has your own psyche been affected by the suicide bombings? I mean, do you see strangers differently now from how you did see them?

GROSSMAN: Yes, of course. You suspect everyone that you do not know. You do not go to most places now. You calculate every step. All life changed for us there. It's really to live in horror. I know from my Palestinian friends that they experience the same thing. It is so tragic to see how both sides reflect or mirror each other's fears and hatreds. And sometimes I think it's so easy for us to come together. We are that close from points of view of the concessions that have to be made. Everything is so clear to both sides now. Everybody knows exactly what are the borders of the constructions of himself and of the other side. And the only question is, would the two leaders be courageous enough to redeem themselves or to uproot themselves even from their own biography as the late Yitzhak Rabin did towards the end of his life.

MOYERS: But is that possible when...I mean, you talk about the borders, the fact is everyone talks about sooner or later there has to be a settlement in which there's an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. But you think Sharon and Arafat know that, and if they are, are they just fighting a war they know is taking lives unnecessarily because they're going to have to do something the same way, any way, one day?

GROSSMAN: I'm afraid you're right. I'm afraid that these two gentlemen are totally incapable now of, as I said, to uproot themselves from their own personal history, from the myths that they conceive for their respective peoples. Therefore we need someone from the outside. You know, there is a proverb in the Hebrew, the prisoner cannot set himself free from prison. [REPEATS IN HEBREW]. And we need someone from the outside to bring us out of this prison, because we are prisoners of our history, of our trauma, of our psychology.

MOYERS: There is another passage in BE MY KNIFE about seeing the other. Would you read that? I think it's on page 9, Luz is the subject.

GROSSMAN: The Luz, yes.

MOYERS: Just, if you would read that for us.

GROSSMAN: "I once read that our sages of less memory had the idea that we have one tiny bone in the end of the body, it was the end of the spine. They call it the Luz. You can't kill it, it doesn't crumble after death and can't be destroyed by fire. It is from this that we will be recreated at the resurrection. I used to play a little game with myself. I would try to guess the Luz of the people I knew, design the final thing that would be left of them — that indestructible thing from which they will be reborn. And of course I search for my own Luz as well, but nothing within me met all the necessary conditions, so I stopped asking and looking. I gave my Luz up for lost until I saw you in the playground. All of a sudden, that forgotten thought arose from the dead and along with it this sweet and crazy notion came to me that maybe my Luz isn't in me after all but in someone else."

MOYERS: That's a very powerful statement about empathy, about seeing the world through the eyes...the soul of someone else. And I would just imagine that suicide bombers change the way you look at other people, destroy that empathy.

GROSSMAN: No. If they'd done that probably they would have won. I think that this phenomena is horrible.

MOYERS: What leads someone to blow himself up in a cafe on a Saturday night surrounded by teenagers?

GROSSMAN: Probably a lot of incitement, a lot of indoctrination and despair. But I am afraid that a society that encourages such phenomena, a society that idealized those people and do not condemn them from the beginning, this society is going to pay a heavy price for this phenomena. You know, after peace is achieved, the Palestinians will have to live with the consequences of having suicide bombers in that large of scale, because once this horrible [unhuman] possibility is formulated in the national psyche of any society — and we are talking about the Palestinians — it's going to be extremely dangerous. And I think that the moderate Palestinians know it. They know they might be the target of these suicide bombers after they have their state. But to your first question, no, I did not lose my belief in people. You know, there are good people, there are bad people, among us, among the others. And what I tried, and I think what I was telling about in this book and in this special paragraph about the Luz being in somebody...someone else, is to write about the possibility to really expose yourself to the complexity of another human being. We are so shielded and so descended from the radiation and the chaos of another human being. And I think that through writing one is able to peel layer after layer of this cataract that covers our soul and to be able to really feel the other. It's not easy. It takes sometimes, you know, three, four years to write a novel in order to reach to that certain point where you are totally naked in front of the other in any way, in any sense of nakedness.

MOYERS: Is that why you write fiction when the real world is blowing up all around you?

GROSSMAN: I'm writing fiction because this is the only way I have to understand myself and to understand other people. There is a line in this story. Miriam, the woman, writes and the man she tells him that she wants to believe that once, you know, generations before the two of them were born, there was a possibility for him, for Yair, for the man, to choose to be born her not him, as if there was kind of imaginary crossroads. And she says, I want you to be you. What's the point if you will not be you? But I also want you to hesitate a moment before choosing to be only you, and that all your life you will carry in the back of your mind this remorse for not choosing to be me. And I think when one writes one can get to this point of slight remorse. You know, it's very rare in the process of writing, but for a moment you understand what has it been to be another human being. And it's such a sweet reward that I cannot find it any other place.

MOYERS: Well, I'm so glad that there are romantics around. are a romantic. I mean, you see the possibilities in the human experience beyond the realities that crowd in every day.

GROSSMAN: Yes. I'm not naive, you know, I'm not naive, I see all the difficulties. I see all the threats. I see all the corruption that the situation creates in our soul, in the soul of our adversaries. I see it, it is cannot escape it. But at the same time I believe that there is a lot to do yourself. I mean, one...and the people have a lot of room to maneuver in the most arbitrary situations that we are not doomed to be a victim of every situation. And you know, for me the whole idea of having the state of Israel, one that we shall never be victims again, we shall never...we, the Jews, we shall never be depending on the goodwill or the bad will of others. And it is so tragic for me that now when we are such a super power again we are victims of our fear, when we can enable a more courageous solution.

MOYERS: You served in the army.

GROSSMAN: Yes, of course.

MOYERS: Your son served in the army.

GROSSMAN: Served, now, yes.

MOYERS: Is in the army now?


MOYERS: What do you think of those reservists who signed that petition and refused to serve because they felt they were serving in an unjust effort?


MOYERS: What do you think about that?

GROSSMAN: Well, this is a very complicated dilemma for every Israeli because it touches the question of the democracy in Israel and the borders of this democracy. And I'm quite often, I'm being asked by soldiers, by others, should we serve, should we take part in that? And this is one question that I think everyone must make his or her choice about, because it's such a deep dilemma. I know for myself that had I been asked now to go to the territories, I wouldn't have gone. But what I tell you now applies to let's say a month or couple of months before we are talking, because right now, there is a war going on. And right now I think everybody has to serve, because it is in a way disconnected from other questions. It's a war, it''s a horrible moral situation and it's such a situation everyone must unfortunately be there and try to be as moral and as just as he or she can be.

MOYERS: Don't you think the Palestinians at this very moment are saying that to each other and their young people, you must fight now? We've got to be engaged. You've got to go and do your duty too.

GROSSMAN: I think that this is the tragedy, that we are sending, we and the Palestinians, are sending our children to be killed. But you know, excusing ourselves now from the battlefield, it's not...this is not the way to solve the problem. The way is that the leader, our leader will come to their leader and tell him, come on, let's stop murder our young ones, let's start to talk, let's start to negotiate again.

MOYERS: But how do you disentangle two men like Sharon and Arafat who are wrapped in their biographies, as you've said, and victims of their own history and perpetrators of that history repeating itself?

GROSSMAN: Again, I think it's the role of the United States, for example, to put a heavy pressure on both sides and to force them into resumption of negotiation. You know that through all our history in the Middle East there was no one political agreement between Israel and Arab countries that has been achieved without the strong help and pressure of the United States. So if Mr. Bush advocates so devotedly the two ideas — the ideas of fighting terrorism and the idea of helping democracy all over the world — I think by intervening in our conflict he will help both targets.

MOYERS: Last question. The cover of BE MY KNIFE...


MOYERS: The woman. Does she have a future? Is she real, and does she have a future?

GROSSMAN: She is real. Actually, when my Italian publisher, Montadori, they looked for a picture on the cover that would remind, resemble Miriam, they looked for a face of the forties or fifties and they found in an old family archive a picture of this anonymous young woman. Now, when the book was published in Italy, they hang big posters in the bookstores. And the woman at the age of 84 entered the room and she said, here I am. And her name is Molly Falk, and you know, I'll tell you something. I always felt that had she been American, forgive me, she probably would have sued the publisher. Being Italian she says, now, all the world will know how beautiful I was. And she is.

MOYERS: So you imagined Miriam, they found a picture to go on the cover, and an 84 year old woman comes in and said, that's me.

GROSSMAN: That's me.

MOYERS: There is a future.

GROSSMAN: There is a future. Yes. I hope we shall not have to wait until 84, but…

MOYERS: In terms of imagining the future, I mean, Palestinian children use books that have maps in them which show Palestine without Israel. They're exposed to families and leaders who honor suicide bombers. And there are Jewish kids who are taught that the West Bank in Gaza are part of the biblical land of Israel and that to give them up would be a sin. With children learning these things now, how can you imagine a better future?

GROSSMAN: First...the first thing that we should do when we have this peace treaty between us and the Palestinians is to change the study programs, is to change the textbooks, is to teach both peoples from childhood to live in life live life of mutuality, of respecting the other. It is very difficult. It will be like teaching them a totally new language, because you see, we were born to these wars, to this violence. It is engraved in our genes. We forgot totally this language. We have only the emotional dictionary of hatred. And this must be changed, and therefore I do not believe that we shall see a real internalized change in the nearest future. It will take many generations to start to purify us on this poison of 100 years of killing each other.

MOYERS: You're going home soon, in the next 24 hours. Have you talked to your family?

GROSSMAN: All the time.

MOYERS: Is...are they safe?

GROSSMAN: Yes, they are safe.


GROSSMAN: But nobody is really safe there, of course. They are safe for the time being.

MOYERS: Thank you, David Grossman. And thank you for BE MY KNIFE, a fascinating novel and a great active imagination. Thank you very much, David Grossman.

GROSSMAN: Thank you, Bill.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Drafting Art

Well, I'm back home in Tel Aviv. I started writing this yesterday at dawn, watching the sun come up, it was beautiful. There was news of a possible breakthrough with the diplomatic talks, and there was suddenly a different feeling - maybe a little bit of hope. And tonight, coming home from dinner, 3 a.m. and a cease fire has been agreed upon. Things are still very sensitive towards the actual end of the fighting, but we're beginning to see some real room for real hope. Please, let this be the end.

So I will shift the focus to something optimistic now. This morning I turn to the arts - which is really a very personal choice. First of all, check out the following site, it is an online petition against the war and an art gallery.

Second of all, I want to share some interesting stuff from my own back yard so to speak. I study Visual Communications at the HIT (Holon Institute of Technology) School of Design. It closed it's annual graduate exhibition yesterday. There was some great stuff there, I love my school and I was very proud to see how it keeps improving and producing extraordinary talents. Most of all I was happy to see how many of the works dealt with social and political issues - there was definitely a general theme of true awareness and outreach to what is happening around us, in many aspects. It was a nice change from some of the other schools' exhibitions, where the focus was mainly on very personal issues, felt kinda disconnected from reality. Here are a few choice works that are relevant to the current situation:

Tsachi Maylatt: Objects inspired by IDF culture (Industrial Design)
The project examined the influence of IDF culture on civilian culture. The project looked at different perspectives - once through the eyes of a soldier, once through the eyes of the designer who designs from his personal experiences and uses the military as a conceptual and figurative inspiration, from a critical angle as well as a humorous one. Here are some examples:

Sharon Kariv: Humor Inspired Objects (Industrial Design)
Sharon tried seeing how much she could inject humor into everyday objects. She came up with an amazing amount of amazing products. One of them was this bag, that is 'intended to save time at the security checks at the entrances to public places' (in Israel, everywhere you go, they have security guards at the door that check you and inside your belongings for weapons):

Hila Sher: The Aesthetics of Terror (Visual Communications)
A chilling project. "Terror has become a routine act in our lives. The horror images have become a familiar sight. Since terror has become so routine, it becomes a material. I took images typical of terror and designed embroidered patterns on lingerie."

Neta Socher: Campaign for the bilingual school "Hand in hand school - bridge over the wadi" (Visual Communications)

Lilach Shatil: New Middle East (Visual Communications)
Creation of a hebrew font inspired by Arabic traditional font.

Lilach also did a project of a three language sign system for Tel Aviv University.

Adi Zilbershten: Asahar - Borderless Train (Visual Communications)
"A utopian project with a grip in reality. Asahar (Crescent) is an Israeli train that exists in the future, when a new period begins in the Middle East. The countries of the region are in a state of peace and the borders between them are open. The Sahar performs international rides to the Fertile Crescent countries and serves as an important tool in meeting people and cultures. The railway lines are: Haifa - Tripoli, Haifa - Damascus, Haifa - Medina, Haifa - Cairo. The same lines that existed in the past come to life again with Asahar."
Special attention should be given to this one, guys.. it is startling to think they work on these projects for the entire year before - as with all the others, this product concept and identity project was completed before the war ever began. Notice all the lines leave from Haifa... the irony is beyond words.

Efrat Toov: OneOf (Visual Communications)
"OneOf is a line of OneOf a kind, hand-made products, whose purpose is to bring into public awareness the violations of children's basic rights around the world. In order to show real children behind the statistics, each doll is unique, with his or her own name and story. OneOf helps by spreading knowledge and information, and by donating to help children in need through human rights organizations."


Quick note to end: Following up on the forest destruction post I put on Bash's blog, Matt from the Jewish National Fund has asked I link to an article by the NY Times, to help JNF's fundraising efforts to provide emergency equipment. Here is the link:
JNF's blog about the campaign is:



Staying sane!!!

Between a Rocket and a Hard Place: Truth: An Integral Perspective

This excellent article got me back on the sane track, I veered off it there for a second, a must read for all bloggers/commentors out there. Thanks Carmel!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No one goes untouched, and some promised answers

My uncle's best friend lost his eldest son yesterday in the Kfar Giladi attack. My parents knew the family well. Dad attended the funeral today. No Israeli family will go untouched by this war - they never do.
So far in my immediate family the stories are touching but not tragic, thank god, knock on wood. One of my cousin had just proposed to his girlfriend and then was drafted up north. On Friday I was the designated photographer at my nephew's 4th birthday. This is another cousin's son - her husband managed to get a 24 hour leave from his post, he was drafted north earlier this week. Let's hope they get to take that vacation they cancelled (they meant to fly at the end of this week), soon.

My apologies for the slight delays in my blogging plans as I'm at my parents' since yesterday with a slight illness, so tonight I'm writing a 20 minute drive north-east from Tel Aviv. Grandma called frightened before, there are many war planes circling this area (gran lives a few blocks away). But so far it seems we are safe.

And tonight? Lebanon has agreed to send troops to its southern border. Supposedly Hizballah has agreed. Are these signs of hope? signs of promise? the possibility of a cease fire actually being accepted? I remain careful so far. I will believe it only when I see it.

Now for some answers to some comments I got on this blog (was going to answer by talkback in each post, but it's been too long so I bunched everything together on this post). First of all, thanks again for all the support, we all need it- all thos brazilians out there reading, you guys are awsome, obrigada! :)

To Carlos from Brazil:
1/4 of the population is homeless is about right. 2 million Israelis live in the north of the country, out of a population of 7 million. That is even more than a quarter. In the past 3 weeks, almost a month now, many have fled south. They are refugees, either staying with friends, family or strangers volunteering shelter in their homes (listings have opened up on papers and internet advertising sources) or at hotels. Those who cannot afford a hotel and have not found another solution are staying in refugee tent camps around the country or in schools the municipalities have opened up (it is summer vacation). Many cannot afford staying at hotels as the war progresses. And there are those who have no acquaintances in the south, and cannot even afford the commute. Kiryat Shmona is a pretty poor town, as are many Northern towns and villages - especially since much of their income is based on the summer tourism which is now gone. I know of one family of 8 who simply doesn't have the money for the bus ride. The goverment fails to properly take care of everyone, as always. Those people have not left their bomb shelters since the war began. They have been sharing the small, closed up, underground spaces with other families, hardly ever seeing daylight for almost a month. They are lacking in basics like clean water and diapers - one of the major diaper factories is in Nahariya and therefore shutdown now - and are relying on volunteer supplies. They do not know when they we'll see their homes again. Everyone I know up north has come here.
The following video, though biased, shows much of what life has become for the northerners: Just ignore the narration as it is quite biased and even gets its facts wrong, but the rest is authentic.

As for the real cause of this war... well these days everything is blurred. But no, it is not just about the soldiers. You see, to the Israelis, the soldiers are not an isolated incident. It is just another in a long line of terrorism incidents we suffer here for many years - the soldier Gilad Shalit abducted in Gaza just days before (it is impossible to ignore the connection), rocket attacks in on southern towns and up north, suicide bombers, it goes as far back as the soldiers abducted in 2000 just months after the IDF ended its 18 year occupation of southern Lebanon. To Israelis, it is a war against never-ending terrorism. An escalation of a war we are already in, for a long time. It is about being unwilling to put up with it anymore. It is about putting a stop to it once and for all. Maybe it's not working, maybe we're going about it in the wrong way - but that is the intent. We had no choice but to do something, we just couldn't let things go on the way they were before. It is about sending a message, that this form of 'resistance' is unacceptable. I also imagine there are bigger forces at work here. I have a feeling the real conducters of this war, backstage, are the U.S and Iran, who are playing out their disagreements on the backs of their smaller allies - the Israelis for the U.S, Hizballah for Iran. Of course, this is speculation. For Israelis, it is not about revenge, and it's not about punishing civilians - it's about not trusting anyone else to do the work, to physically eliminate those terrorising our civilians. Again - as for the means we are going about it and the results, that is debatable - but the intent is protection of Israeli civilians.
Israel doesn't just want Hizballah to stop bombing now - it wants Hizballah to stop bombing forever, and to stop aiding other terrorist groups like Hamas, who are attacking civilians in the streets of Israeli towns, and to deter Hamas. It wants to try and fight terrorism. It is about the same thing the Lebanese are protesting now- the killing of civilians. There is a video that could perhaps best explain what many Israelis see when they hear the word Hizballah, what Hizballah, Hamas, Syria and Iran is to most of us. I warn you that it is a very gruesome video, very difficult to watch, it ranks right up there in the shock value meter with any Qana visuals - it is very very graphic, totally uncensored. This is the link, enter at your own risk:

How can it stop? I don't know. I for one would have loved to see a Lebanese and Israeli collaborative effort against Hizballah, Syria and Iran, but that's an unrealistic utopia I guess.

In regards to your previous posts (if that is you, with Luiza and Rafael), well I would love to get a translation of the comment in portugese - my knowledge of the language is very minimal, I think I got the general idea but I would appreciate a translation, thanks!
There's not actually much phone/net trouble here, even up north, it's more electricity problems. In central and southern Israel life is going on fairly as normal, the rockets haven't gotten here so far (except on the border with the Gaza strip where there are Qasam rockets, but that has been going on for ages) so everything's still intact. In Tel Aviv people keep going to the beach, going out to eat, going out at night - we have no other choice. Right now attacks here are mostly a constant threat, and the threat is something that we are used to, it is part of everyday life. So now the threat is not just suicide bombers, it is an also Iranian missile. Ok. We live with terrorism the same way we live with culture, nightlife, eating, drinking, breathing. How do you have fun with war in the background? when you live your whole life that way, when this is all you know, how else would you live?

In any case, your english is more than fine, and you are not annoying! please keep writing. And most of all, spread the word. The more people who know there is more to this war than IDF and Hizbullah, that there are mostly just a lot of ordinary people, just like you, that just want to live their lives in peace, the better - we need as many people listening to us, the Lebanese and Israeli civilians, not to the politicians.

To ma (from Lebanon?):
Dave's story is just one story of many. I try to choose one at a time. I'm not looking for all the stories, I am looking for some, and that is better than nothing. Victims are not just numbers and if you know some stories, you begin to realize these are humans dying out there, and you realize how awful this war is. So please - if you have names and stories of Lebanese victims, please forward to me. This blog is protesting the innocent victims of this war, and they are on both sides of the border fence. It is not about what nationality are those who die, it is about the fact that they die.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Wanted: Peace March

As Lilu previously suggested, it's time that we at least start with a joint Lebanese - Israeli peace march. We could have it advertised on the radio, make flyers, and do an SMS campaign.

It would surely be a historic day for peace..

Any other ideas???


Here are my thoughts (was gonna post it as a comment but hey, why not just add to the post?):

Well we would have to start out by agreeing on a day and time, and start asking and spreading the word - not just in Lebanon and Israel, everywhere. Maybe appeal to peace organisations, present the idea - it is most likely to happen as a peaceful protest that will be taking place simply at the same time in several different places, using the same slogans.But maybe the most important thing we need is to make sure the protest is the same - against the deaths of all civilians, Israeli and Lebanese, and this is what is written on the signs.. is it this even possible in Lebanon? would this be legal? would people not be arrested if they spoke out in favor of Israelis?

Maybe there could just be like a silent march, without signs, maybe just pictures - everyone, one each side, holding pictures of both Israeli and Lebanese victims, don't even need names, just photos and candles. No one yelling, no one shouting, no one speaking even, just walking or standing, wearing white maybe - just showing solidarity. Reminding the world and our leaders that there is more to this than violence and aggression, more than Hizballah and IDF, that the most important thing here are the innocent ordinary people who just want to live their lives in peace and are taking the fire, the silent majority. If we show solidarity in this, regardless of nationality, this would have a strong impact.

I'd say the upcoming days would be a good timing, towards the ceasefire.



Friday, August 04, 2006

And I just know that previous post will come back to haunt me.

Will they or won't they?

Nasrallah said if Beirut was bombed again, he would bomb Tel Aviv. A senior IDF officer said if Tel Aviv was bombed, they would bomb national infrastructre in Lebanon.

Beirut was bombed tonight.

So are we doomed or what?

*tomorrow I will try to personally answer you readers' comments, promise...*

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Victim of the Day

Have been neglecting this section of the blog, I initally meant to run it everyday. Must get back to it immediately.



David Lalchuck, 52, of Kibbutz Sa'ar, north of Nahariya, Israel.

Dave immigrated to Israel from Boston about 20 years ago. He married a girl from Nahariya and the couple had 2 daughters. He had a degree in economics and loved agriculture. The family joined the kibbutz about 15 years ago. Since fighting began, he stayed alone in the kibbutz while his wife and daughters fled south. "Everyone left the kibbutz including my family, I'm staying to guard the place. Our fortress" he said yesterday to a neighbour. Dave was directly hit while riding his bicycle down a kibbutz path. A friend speculated he was out during a siren alarm trying to get a dog he recently adopted to a safe place. He was an avid animal lover, and he was always called whenever an abandoned animal was found in the kibbutz. His beloved dog Doc was found with him. The dog refused to leave the side of his owner's body.

Some video footage is available here:,7340,L-3285385,00.html

Tisha B'Av - Deja Vu

Today is Tisha B'Av - the 9th day of the Jewish Av month. This is a holy date for Jews, marking the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Jews. The practicing Jews fast, and everything shuts down for the day.
I'm very secular, so these days don't do much for me - but the atmosphere is always different and somber and affects everyone. So maybe because of Tisha B'Av, maybe because of all the overwhelming new exposure we got here (visitors have doubled since yesterday), maybe because in the past 2 days I've uncomfortably felt like maybe my post in gone in a direction I didn't want it to go. I never meant to start spiralling down the one sided blame game too and I think maybe I have been, a little. So tonight I just wanna tell you about my day.

I woke up to miss a job interview. So I went back home. Bought a set of drawers for storage, and went to visit a friend in a shop I used to work in. Things were good there - no one from the staff has been drafted yet, and three Northerners were there buying a backpack for one of them who was going abroad. I also ran into a guy I went to high school with and haven't seen in ages. My friend told me her boyfriend was drafted, but he was going to refuse for moral reasons. He was unwilling to participate in the fight. My friend said it slightly bothered her - that he was refusing to serve at a time like this. I told her I thought he was brave, and that he would go to military jail for it. She said she wasn't worried, he had his ways to get out of things like that.
I went to sit on the beach for a while. Needed to have a day away from the news reports, from the blogging wars, from all the wars. To forget for a second, to breathe and recompose. I was there for an hour or so. The beach is always a good place for it, if you can ignore the helicopters going by all the time, and you do. You just get used to them. Shot that picture I posted earlier - a group of soldiers on a day leave stopped by the beach, in combat uniform.. a couple of them went into the sea for a swim and left their weapons to be guarded by their friends, and I just couldn't help but be overcome with the symbolism of that frame, so I had to shoot it. I don't know that I was allowed, but they didn't notice. That picture is such a metaphor for Israeli life, especially during this time.
I went home. Got a call from a friend I travelled with once, haven't spoken with him in 6 months. He is yet to be drafted - he said his soldiers (he is an officer) keep calling to ask to participate. He thinks this will be over in 2 weeks. I said I wasn't sure, and he called me a pessimist. I invited him to visit me sometime now his university exams are over and he's coming back to live at his parents' - I hope he'll make use of the invitation soon, I haven't seen him in ages. It was nice to hear from him.
Went to have a coffee afterwards with my flatmate and drop by the grocery store. Huge lines there, everything was closing early today. Got home. Watched a DVD. Logged on here and found some wonderful responses. Am grateful for them.
Logged on to the news sites - Ynet is stating "the return of the Security Belt". Got horrible deja vu from that name. Bad memories from high school days, when graduates from my school were dropping like flies in the "security belt", and the first days of my own army service, which were the last days of that belt. They were bloody days. That definition is cursed. This can't be good.
Finally caught up on the day's events. Or should I say the day's events caught up with me. Can't avoid 'em even when you try. Heavy day of fire today. Rocket range is growing further south. A father of two was killed by a katyusha while riding his bike. Immediately made me think of what Bash told me yesterday, that he went to get his bike fixed in expectance of gas shortage. He said it was not just the gas that was running out. Guys and bikes.

DEBKAFile is now reporting that the Syrian army is gathering at the border.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tel Aviv Beach, August 2nd 2006

A moment of thanks

I just wanted to take a moment and thank all the readers. . word is getting out (even made a few papers) and support is growing, and its good to hear. So to all the readers around the world - la gente d'Espana, los Brazileros especially Edwiges and classes
702, 703,704, 705, 801, 802, 803 of the Escola Municipal Menezes Cortes in Rio, the folks in Lebanon and of course here in Israel, everyone -

Thank you for listening!

Keep talking

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Video Library

Are you bored tonight? well, entertain yourself with various video footage, from various sources, on various topics..

First, As promised, here is what I managed to get on video during the July 29th anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv. Sorry for the quality, again, I was filming while walking... I have 2 more clips that I will post as soon as they finish uploading.

1. The demonstrators are shouting: "Yes yes for peace, no no to war" and "the occupation is a disaster, peace is the solution"

2. "Stop the war"

3. More "stop the war"


Action section:

1. On the scene of the missile attack on the neighbourhood of Bat Galim in Haifa, shot by Israel Glaser and Omer Zengut.

2. Inside the bomb shelter - in Spanish.

Finally - a different sort of video, courtesy of the IDF spokesperson. It is also some food for thought.

They've got their s#*t together

Jewish dot com

The chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, has organised a worldwide prayer for the wellbeing of the IDF soldiers and the return of the three kidnapped soldiers, through the internet... ahh the wonders of 21st century technology... prayer will take place this evening at 19:00 Jerusalem time (sunset).

Blood Brothers

*for Tzur and Shabi, Yoni and Roey*

Here is a translation of an article published this weekend in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper:

Blood Brothers / Tsadok Yehezkely and Yossi Yehoshua

The bodies were laying in the back room of that damned house in Bint Jbeil. 8 bodies, their faces covered. Across the wall, in the other room, the group of fighters sat silent. It was a burdened silence.

These were perhaps their most difficult moments, the heaviest mission on the longest day in the lives of the youngsters of company C: guarding the silent bodies that only a few hours ago were their friends and commanders. Roey the deputy battalion commander, and Alex the deputy company commander, and Asi Namer, their immigrant from Australia. And Amihai the platoon commander, Idan and Ohad, and the two Shimons. No one thought to shed a tear. Not now. Definitely not in public. This is how they were raised. That in Golani you don't cry. Surely not when the battle is yet to be over.

The moments continued and stretched for what seemed like eternity. A few were anxious for darkness to fall over the village so the dead friends could be taken out of here. Brought home. It was as if someone decided to put them to the greatest test. Except now they knew they had to stay ready in case the battle started again, that Hizballah fighters will try to charge again to get a soldier. Dead or alive.

Outside, in the open square, between houses and a mosque, more evidence of the bloody battle that went on here from dawn to noon were strewn about. 12 bodies of Hizbullah fighters. 5 other bodies were laying behind the mosque. They too were intended for evacuation that night to the Israeli border, but these bodies were left outside on purpose. For the fighters of the bruised and bleeding 51st battalion they were a sort of crucial proof that despite the heavy price - there were no doubts how this battle ended on that nightmare of a Wednesday, and how the campaign for the village will ultimately end. "For us it's like rain. We got wet, but they got soaked. We took some, but they took more" said Colonel Ofek Buchris when darkness came down on Bint Jbeil. "And the moment will come when we will put an end to them".

It sounds simplistic at first, even numb, almost outrageous. But on that difficult night, in the Golani command room situated just a few kilometres from the battlefield, Buchris' words reflected a deep sense of confidence and determination. In his eyes this is the only perspective a fighting soldier can have in the midst of war. And if anyone can say these things and mean them, it is Buchris, Golani's mythical fighter.

Buchris is one that has been there already, that can put things in perspective. He was there, leading that 51st battalion during Operation Homat Magen, when 5 of his soldiers died in the terrible battle for the Jenin refugee camp. "We didn't give up then and we didn't give up now" said Buchris, who was injured twice himself. The first time he came through and came back. The second time he was very badly hit, and from that injury he also returned to the army.

This war caught him on the way to taking the position of commander of the Western brigade, stationed on the Lebanese border. In the meantime he is the sector's Special Ops officer, and ever since Golani got heavily involved - he and the brigade commander Colonel Tamir Yedai (who was also twice injured in the past) have become figures the soldiers look to in time of crisis. Drawing encouragement. Relying on advice.

A few hours before entering Bint Jbeil on Sunday night, some of the battalion's young platoon commanders came to Buchris for tips from the veteran fighter. "What's up guys, scared?" Buchris smiled with understanding. "Of course we're scared", they confessed, but immediately clarified: "But willing to pay the price."

This is a possible explanation for the massive gap between the shaken reaction on the homefront to Golani's day of horror in Bint Jbeil, and the silent, painful restraint expressed at the Golani command room and the fighters themselves in the field beyond the hill. When the flood of commentaries and dark forecasts was debated on TV, they were pertinantly dealing with planning the evacuation of the bodies and the continuation of the campaign.

The atmosphere was not one of depression. Some soldiers sat playing backgammon, and the oldest reservist, Avi Batito, made black coffee for the minister Gideon Ezra who came to visit and found the time to suggest he maintain his health and get rid of the cigarettes. Only afterwards did he go to prepare the stretchers for the bodies that would be evacuated at dawn. "Brother", he said, "tears you will see only at the funerals. Not here."

"It is not a failure and not a dark day, not a crisis and not a disaster" Buchris says, responding with disgust to some of the definitions that were given to the battle. "There was a clash between us and them. This is war. Not a volleyball game". And here is the point: these soldiers, especially their commanders, knew well what they were getting into. There were no delusions. Especially not since 5 soldiers from Egoz, the brigade's elite unit, were killed in a missile ambush at the neighbouring village last week.

"In Gaza, you work knowing you can't get hit by anything worse than a bullet, and if you go into a house nothing will happen to you. Here you are not sure of anything", said the officers that took part in the fighting of the past few days. "They are much better than them (the Palestinians), much more skilled, much more ready and better equipped."

After the tough battle of Bint Jbeil no one dared to blame faulty planning or shaky intelligence. To the contrary. Mid-day Sunday the commanders of the forces that were going into Bint Jbeil assembled for a set of orders. All the darkest forecasts there are were raised in this briefing.Whoever was there and didn't fall asleep from exahustion couldn't have been surprised from black Wednesday. "We were told and warned", said an officer that attended the briefing. "We were told that they were very highly skilled in fighting and they were waiting for us. Most importantly: we were to remember that there was no way of surprise from our part. That we were going straight into the lion's jaw. But there was no choice, because we are fighting for our home. I, at least, came out feeling my chances of a safe return were fifty fifty at best."

The toughest battle of this war began with a whimper, shortly before 5 a.m.

"Run-in", the voice on the brigade radio network said. "Injured soldier". The voice reporting from the field sounded calm. It is what he should have done. But it didn't reflect the holy terror that began minutes earlier around a house on the hill on the Eastern outskirts of Bint Jbeil.

"Fire and shouting, fire and shouting", described Israel Friedler, a company commander with the 51st battalion moving towards another house 100 meters away. Whoever was closer, at the heart of the action, described it as "awful fire. an inferno. Everything - and from all sides".

To Friedler's fortune, it wasn't his company that was caught in the ambush. A matter of pure chance. A roulette. Just hours before, the battalion comander handed out the last missions of the night. The idea was to get hold of some houses that were strategically located and gave better control of the village houses. It was to be the final act of a succesful night, before the fighters settle in to rest. In reality it was going into a planned trap.

But even at that point, at the height of distress and suprise, there was no loss of control. The firing was answered with firing. Grenades were thrown and exploded within the force, and those that survived threw back. The distance between the soldiers and their enemies was just a few meters. "We could see them", said one of the fighter almost with a sigh of relief. Finally, the elusive enemy, face to face. "You find yourself acting automatically, as if on instinct", said Ram Boneh.

This testimony is repeated by everyone. Boneh didn't even notice his arm was hit by shrapnel and it was bleeding. In those moments, he learned something of himself. It was in that moment that the fear that accompanied him and his friends was gone. "There was no time to be scared" said Boneh. Had he found a split second to understand what was happening, he might have lost his life. But these impulses that were embeded into these soldiers in a year and a half of training anf joint operations also took the biggest toll. Out of the 8 casualties, most lost their lives trying to rescue the injured and even the bodies of soldiers that died before them.

"What was driving all of us", one of the injured soldiers would say later, "is that Hizbullah would take one of our soldiers. Injured or dead. It didn't matter." Colonel Buchris says: "it was clear to us they didn't just want to kill. They were charging because they wanted a soldier." That fear, as well as the order to pay any price to prevent Hizbullah from coming out of this battle with an Israeli soldier - stood at the base of this bloody fight. Whoever took part in it describes a sort of primitive battle almost unpercievable in terms of modern warfare led by guided missiles and smart bombs. Whoever came out tells of a feeling of "life or death". A fight for survival in its most basic form. It's either me or you.

So primal in its essence was the fight, so lacking in technology and tactics, that the company continued in action even when it lost its commanders one by one. The battalion's deputy commander Roey Klein, followed by deputy company commander Lieutenant Alex Schwartzman, followed by the platoon commander Amihai Merhavia. Without them, the job fell to the battalion commander Yaniv Asor and junior commanders. "We essentially lost almost the entire chain of command" said one Golani officer in the shock that settled in hours after the battle, when they just started making sense of it. At the heart of the chaos, command of company C was given to an officer that was just pulled out of company commanders course. He will graduate form the course in another time. At the moment the company is his.

Evacuating the injured to the helicopters was probably the prize action of the entire battle. Sayeret Golani soldiers transferred one by one under fire to the heli pad, a few hundred meters from the battlefield, which would later recieve the awful definition "annihilation zone" by the commanders.

There was very little emotion in this battle. Cries of pain, yes. Tears, paralysis and terror - no. "Emotions are irrelevant", Buchris would later say with the pride of a commander that has lived through a similar horror and now saw his replacements emerge from a similar experience. Bruised and battered, but not beaten.

In the command room - the bomb shelter of a village that became a super modern war room - dealing with emotions was the most difficult. On a massive black and white screen the entire village was seen through the eyes of the MRPV. The running figures, tiny white specks, were very visible. The radio became frequented with reports. "Flower" (injured) and another "flower" and finally "oleander" (casualty) and another and another. These officers sat there watching gravely, their eyes focused on the small figures on the screen, every now and then falling. Only the guesses remain. Who fell. Us or them. "It's the most difficult feeling there is", said the deputy brigade commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Alian. "You wanna be there more than anything".

At the end of the battle, on Wednesday night, brigade commander Yedai decided to get to his wounded force in Bint Jbeil. He wanted to hug. To give a warm word. At dawn, shortly before the sun rose on the hills, he led the stretcher march to the foot of the hills. Stretcher by stretcher, carried by the soldiers of the 51st battalion. They insisted on it. It would be the only way they would carry the bodies of their friends to the "Puma", the armored personnel carrier. "It looked like a funeral march", thought company commander Friedler, a 26 year old immigrant from Brazil, who himself was injured in the fight, "a funeral march in Lebanon".