Archives for January 2008

Israel’s Lebanon Disaster

Michael Oren’s piece in the Wall Street Journal Israel’s Lebanon Disaster is worth reading. The following is an excerpt:

“I had fought in war before but had never seen such intensive fire — tracer bullets, rockets, artillery shells — nor been assigned a more horrific detail. My unit was escorting the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed on the last night of the Second Lebanon War, a few hours before the U.N. cease-fire agreement took effect. None of us understood the purpose of this last-minute offensive or, indeed, many of the government’s disastrous decisions during the war. We agreed that the burden of these failures would be borne by our leaders, military and civilians alike.

Now, a year and a half later, veterans of the war are demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accept responsibility for its conduct — or risk unraveling the consensus on which Israel’s survival depends.

The war began on July 12, 2006, when Hezbollah gunmen ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing eight and kidnapping two. Mr. Olmert’s response, a large-scale campaign intended to crush Hezbollah and secure the soldiers’ release, was supported by most Israelis until serious mismanagement of the war surfaced. While receiving inadequate or faulty equipment — my rifle literally fell apart in my hands — Israeli forces were denied permission to invade Southern Lebanon and neutralize the katyusha rockets that were pummeling Israeli cities. Instead, Israeli jets bombed the Lebanese routes through which Syria resupplied Hezbollah and destroyed the organization’s Beirut headquarters.

These attacks obliterated much of Hezbollah’s infrastructure and killed a fourth of its fighters, but they also laid waste to a large part of Lebanon, killing civilians and squandering Israel’s initial international backing. Hundreds of rockets, meanwhile, continued to smash into northern Israel, displacing a half-million civilians. Only on Aug. 13, after a month of fighting and with a U.N. ceasefire already approved, did the government authorize a ground offensive into Lebanon. The operation achieved nothing, either militarily or diplomatically, and cost the lives of 33 Israeli troops.

In another country, perhaps, such blunders might result in the resignation of senior officers but not necessarily elected officials. In Israel, though, no one is above blame. Accountability for decision making is a tenet of the Zionist ethos on which the Jewish state is based and, unlike most nations, Israel has a citizens’ army in which the great majority — politicians included — serve. Most uniquely, Israel confronts daily security dangers and long-term threats to its existence. Israelis can neither condone nor afford a prime minister who passes the buck to their army or shirks the onus of defense. The person who sends us into battle cannot escape responsibility for our fate.”

Meir and Begin resigned but Olmert ignores their example. At what point will he accept responsibilty for his actions.

Spontaneous Subway Dancing

Things like this always happen to me whenever I use public transportation.

THIS is the moment a group of Thrill seekers hiJack-son a London tube train.

Passengers were left open-mouthed when a group of commuters – including a suited man – got up from their seats and performed the dance featured in Michael Jackson’s music video for hit Thriller.

Want to watch? Click here.

Middle Age Depression- I Am Not Satisified

It was still dark outside when my alarm went off. I grumbled, hit snooze and unsuccessfully tried to return to the dream in which I still had six pack abs, a fast car and a girlfriend who didn’t let me sleep.

That guy didn’t get up before 6 A.M. because he was just getting home. And if by chance he was home and awake then it was probably because he was preparing to go fishing or on some other vacation.

He didn’t groan when he woke up because his back hurt or he had a kink in his neck. But then again he didn’t live in a house, have real furniture or a full refrigerator. And he probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to this article:

Middle age is truly depressing, says study

A global study on happiness shows middle age is truly miserable, although an Australian researcher says this is not necessarily so.

A study using data from around 80 countries has found happiness is greatest in youth and old age with depression being most common among men and women in their forties

“In a remarkably regular way throughout the world people slide down a U-shaped level of happiness and mental health throughout their lives,” says researcher Professor Andrew Oswald at Warwick University in the UK.

“Some people suffer more than others but in our data the average effect is large.”

The study is published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Let me clarify a few things. I am pushing 40, but still have a while to get there. On the whole I have excellent genes. My grandparents are about to turn 94. My great-grandmothers lived into their nineties and I feel young. So by my unscientific approach I figure that it is going to take another ten years before I am really middle aged.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling restless. My life is good, but it is not what I want it to be. There is so much to be done, so many goals, so many objectives that haven’t been met.

1. Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from all men, as it is written (Psalm 119:99) “I have gained understanding from all my teachers.” Who is mighty? He who subdues his passions, as it is written (Proverbs 16:32) “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.”

Who is rich? He who rejoices in his portion, as it is written (Psalm 128:2) “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.”

I have always appreciated that. The sentiment of being content with what you have is sensible, reasonable, rational even. But, I am a man of serious passion. The fire burns inside me. It always has and I cannot foresee a time when it does not.

In truth I am not all troubled by my inability to rest. The drive is part of what enables me to withstand the hard times. There are days that I just put my head down and trudge on through the muck.

Even with a good attitude there are some things that are harder to accept. The thinning hair isn’t something that makes me jump for joy. It is not horrible, but it is not great. The new aches and pains aren’t particularly welcome. They aren’t friends of mine. They’re like rockstar groupies. I don’t really want them to hang around but they come with the territory.

Later tonight I plan to sit down and review the list of things that I want to accomplish. It is time to take a look at my roadmap and see if I am going in the right direction. Am I doing the things that I need to do to make my dreams come true or am I just treading water.

I know what I need and what I want. One way or another….

Penis Talk Revisited

School

You may recall that my post His Penis Is In The Wrong Place in which I explained my daughter’s concern about the Noggin moose and his non-existent penis. It is a short post so if you haven’t read it go take a look. We’ll wait for you.

C’mon, hurry up. The rest of the group is waiting. Geez, Shmata Queen do you always have to read everything twice. Wait, I’ll answer that. Yes!

Anyway, this past Chanukah my lovely girl received both Barbie and Ken dolls, not to mention Barbie’s hot pink car. That leads me to my second off tangent comment. Every time I see that thing it reminds me of Angeleyne. If you don’t know who she is you never set foot in LA in the 80’s.

Now back to our story. This past weekend my lovely girl comes to me and we have the following conversation:

Daughter: “Father, I have need of your assistance.”
Jack: “Daughter, how might I help thee? Dost thou need some new shiny raiments to adorn thy body. It is not as if thy mother, grandmother and aunts have failed to keep thee supplied with more attire than can fit in Rapunzel’s castle.”

Ok, that is far too goofy. Essentially she looked at me and asked what happened to Ken’s penis. In many cases I would have turned the tables and asked her what she thought happened. In fact I really wanted to ask her what she thought. It probably would have made great blog fodder.

Instead I explained that Ken didn’t have a penis. That wasn’t good enough for her. She wanted to know why not. Did someone steal his penis.

Because I have a juvenile sense of humor the thought of a stolen penis cracked me up. I imagined something like this being broadcast over the police band radio: “1-Adam 12, 1-Adam 12. Be on the lookout for a stolen penis. Said genitals were taken….”you get the point.

In response to her question I said that Ken wasn’t made with a penis. This still wasn’t good enough. She wanted to know why G-d didn’t give Ken a penis. Was he bad. Was he mean. Did he get in trouble. Are some boys born without a penis and did I know that her classmate Mark was bad, but he has a penis.

As soon as I heard that Mark had a penis I grabbed her seven year-old brother and used a napkin to scratch out a hit on the kid. He may be 3.5, but you know how boys are. Later on we’re going to boost a big wheel or a Razr scooter, whichever one we can find first. And then I’ll send the big boy in.

In spite of the rapid fire approach of these questions I persevered and strove to explain that sometimes toys are not made with genitals. Of course all this did was lead to a new round of questions about why toys don’t have genitals and did I know that Joseph has a penis too.

By now chunks of hair are sliding down the slide of my head and in moments I am going to look as if I am undergoing medical treatment or some odd form of torture. “Dear girl” I say, “why do you know that these boys have a penis?”

With a big smirk and a toss of her hair she tells me that every boy has a penis. And now I see that I am the subject of the mischievous sense of humor of a 3.5 year-old girl who has already figured out how to manipulate her father.

So I smirk back at her and say that one day she’ll find out what I learned from having 1,980,873 sisters. And just when I think that I have won she wraps her arms around my neck, looks at me with those deep brown eyes and says “I love you daddy.”

Oy, I am in trouble.

The Vader Sessions