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Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

*
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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Thursdays with the Songs of Hal Wingard, z’l

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO–How we shape life and how life shapes us is the theme of the lyrics this week from the collection of Hal Wingard.  To see and hear songs previously published from his collection,  please click here.  (These songs will be added to the collection, once our main server is restored).
#101 — The Shots of Life
#310 — Beneath the Baubab Tree
#320 — Time to Blame 

#310, The Shots of Life

When I was young and orchid bright,
Not yet knowing wrong from right,
I held the youthful point of view:
Nothing I couldn’t do! 

Thus, when my bank account was low,
I’d double work to make it grow;
And when I felt my love-life thwarted,
I’d play the Don Juan as I courted.

            I’d play the Don Juan as. . .I. . .courted.

 Now youth is gone; and at my age
Orchids look like desert sage;
And I’ve revised my point of view:
Many things I cannot do.

I cannot change my changing health
As aging stalks in silent stealth;
And no way now nor in my prime
That I could stop the flow of time.

            That I could stop the flow. . .of. . .time. 

When I was young and starry-eyed,
I felt that if I really tried,
If I really gave my all,
The shots of life were mine to call.

 My starry eyes have lost their glow,
And I have learned what all should know:
The shots of life fall where they fall,
And I don’t call the shots at all.

            I don’t call the shots. . .at. . .all. 

(c) Estate of Hal Wingard, July 10, 1980

#310, Beneath the Baubab Tree
 
A Story from Senegal

(Sung)
Beneath an ancient baubab tree
There sat an elder sage,
Sharing, should a person ask,
The wisdom learned with age.

(Spoken)
One day a youthful passerby
On route from Dokomo
Paused to ask for sage advice,
With facts the sage would know.
 
(Spoken)

 “I’m on my way to Kadama,
You know, the nearby town.
Do all the people living there
Smile, or do they frown?” 

(Spoken)

The sage then asked the passerby
To think for just a while.
“Do folks you left in Dokomo
Frown, or do they smile?” 

(Sung)

“They frown,” the passerby replied.
“They frown the whole day through.”
“In Kadama,” the sage explained,
“You’ll find them frowning, too!”
 
(Spoken)
Another day, another youth
On route from Dokomo
Paused to ask for sage advice,
With facts the sage would know.

(Spoken)

 “I’m on my way to Kadama,
You know, the nearby town.
Do all the people living there
Smile, or do they frown?”
 
(Spoken)

The sage then asked the passerby
To think for just a while.
“Do folks you left in Dokomo
 Frown, or do they smile?”
 
(Sung)

“They smile,” the passerby replied.
“They smile the whole day through.”
“In Kadama,” the sage explained,
“You’ll find them smiling, too!” 

(Sung)
Beneath an ancient baubab tree
There sat an elder sage,
Sharing, should a person ask,
The wisdom learned with age.

(c) 2009 Estate of Hal Wingard; To Lorraine D’Ambruoso, who served as leader of a strand entitled Connaître L’Afrique Francophone! at the 1997 Annual Summer Seminar for Language Teachers, where I heard Daouda Camera, who was born in Senegal, tell the story in French. February 11, 2003 The words, written August 8, 1997, during a wait-over at Los Angeles airport on the way home the day the Seminar ended, are a loose rendition of the original story.

#320, Time to Blame
 
We all know folks who voice complaint
            That time makes life a race,
That time’s so fast they can’t keep up
            To do the tasks they face.

The culprit, though, cannot be time.
            It’s neither fast nor slow,

But rather moves, as rivers do,
            In steady, self-paced flow.

 “Too little time to do so much.”
            That’s what some others claim.

And yet the ration ev’ry day
            For ev’ryone’s the same.

Yes, time exists for us to use
            In work and pleasure, too.

But time, for sure, has never caused
            What we have failed to do.

The question’s not amount of time
            Nor passage fast or slow,

But do we sometimes squander time—
            And who can answer “no”?

(c) Estate of Hal Wingard, January 26, 2006.   Words completed January 17, 1997, in Rancho Cordova