Friday night Shabbat chase

January 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, coexistence, Crime, General, Israeliness, Life 

Citizen bike patrols aren't only for the US.

Citizen bike patrols aren’t only for the US.

Interesting Friday night Shabbat meal last night. We were invited to friends in a neighborhood of the town that has been on the receiving end of a rash of break-ins recently.

The police surmised that Beduin robbers have been scaling the hills outside the city and finding vacated apartments and houses in the religiously observant area whose inhabitants are dining elsewhere for the evening. They quickly cut the window bars, sneak in and make off with what they can carry – laptops, phones, jewelry.

Some of the neighbors have started a patrol, especially on Friday nights, to look out into the desert and spy any coming intruders. Our host is one of the coordinators and just as we were digging into the scrumptious desert, his walkie-talkie went off.

Evidently, the resident on patrol had seen someone actually coming up the hill, scaling the fence and heading toward a home in the neighborhood. Faster than you can swallow a bite of brownie, our host was out the door, on his bicycle and headed toward the scene.

When he returned 20 minutes later, he filled us in on the case. He and his partner arrived at the home that the lookout had indicated seemed to be the target. Closing in on the front door, he pulled his gun and prepared to try the door. To his surprise, it wasn’t locked, so he decided to burst in, expecting to find a crime in full frontal action.

Instead he found a dozen family members and friends finishing their Shabbat meal, somewhat taken aback by their neighbor barging in with a pointed gun.

After leaving the surprised family to finish their Shabbat meal, the search team spent a few more minutes outside in the dark, looking for clues, eventually concluding that the intruder must have been scared off.

Back at home, the host shared the story and we all got a good laugh out of it. And we even saved him some brownies.

Does Israel need friends like Wayne LaPierre?

December 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, Crime, education, General, Israeliness, News, Politics, Social Justice, tv 

The front page of the New York Daily News on Wayne LaPierre.

The front page of the New York Daily News on Wayne LaPierre.

We Israelis love it when people love us – when they look to us as the innovators and recognize that we’re often leading the way in so many fields. But in the case of the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre’s, whoah… not so fast.

The NRA’s executive vie president’s heartily endorsed Israel’s school safety measures, including placing armed guards in front of schools, during a Meet the Press interview. However, Israeli officials and security experts immediately distanced themselves from the praise.

“Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing,” LaPierre said “They said, ‘We’re going to stop it,’ and they put armed security at every school, and they have not had a problem since then.”

That rather inaccurate, and simplistic view of Israel’s situation prompted a round of distancing comments, including one from the Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, who told The New York Daily News that the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States.

“We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism,” said Palmor.

“What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. “It would be better not to drag Israel into what is an internal American discussion,” he added.

That assessment was backed up by Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer, who told the Daily News: “There is no comparison between maniacs with psychological problems opening fire at random to kill innocent people and trained terrorists trying to murder Israeli children.”

The fact is that despite its unwarranted reputation as a ‘wild West’ haven for free-rein guns, in recent years, restrictions on gun ownership in Israel have been tightened, not relaxed.: While most Israelis are trained to use guns for self-defense during their time in the IDF, the weapons cannot be purchased as recreational tools or for personal protection without going through an extraordinarily strict process of background checks – both medical and criminal – as well as a competence test, a three-month waiting period and Public Security Ministry approval.

So, while we certainly appreciate praise and being cited as a model to follow, in this case, LaPierre’s rather backhanded compliment is better off politely declined. On the other hand, we wouldn’t want to make him angry. No telling what an angry man with a gun could do.

Jewish attacks on Arabs – terror by any name

The scene in Jerusalem’s Zion Square after an Arab youth was beaten by a gang of Jewish teens.

These are not easy summer days in Israel. There’s something rotten and the stink is becoming impossible to ignore or sweep away.

Over the weekend, there were at least two horrifying incidents of Israeli Jews apparently attacking Arabs because of who they were. In the first, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a vehicle near the West Bank settlement of Bay Ayin carrying six members of a Palestinian family. The car caught on fire, the car overturned and now one of the passengers is in a coma and another is in critical condition.

That same day, just after midnight in Jerusalem’s Zion Square – the heart of the Israeli capital – at least a dozen Jewish teenagers attacked a 17-year-old Arab resident of a village near Jerusalem, repeatedly kicking him after he was already unconscious.

The attack took place just after midnight on Thursday night in Zion Square. Eyewitnesses said approximately two dozen Jewish teenagers surrounded Julani and began beating him, continuing to kick him even after he fell unconscious to the ground. His life was saved by a paramedic, and he’s now in critical but stable condition. One of the youths who was arrested for the attack told the police that he expressed no remorse for the attack and that he hoped the victim would die.
Two isolated incidents, perhaps. But how many times have liberal, enlightened Israelis heard their neighbors, co-workers, auto mechanics or reserve duty buddies spout anti-Arab sentiments and brushed it off as “that’s just Yaki being Yaki…”

And how many times have liberal, enlightened new immigrants from North America arrived in Israel, and immediately begin talking about “the Arabs” and how “they’re not human” or “we should kick them all out.”

Unfortunately, I’ve heard all those sentiments far too many times, and they are an ugly part of the fabric of Israel. Vice-premier Moshe Ya’alon said after the weekend attacks that they were “totally unacceptable and outrageous” and attributed them to the moral and educational failure that goes against Jewish ethics and values.
He’s not far off, and if we don’t do something soon about the widespread mentality that, yes, places Jews in a superior plane than Arabs, then we indeed will have no moral ground to stand on when we express outrage over the brutal terror attacks that are perpertrated against Israelis by Arab terorrists.

An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth will have truly taken hold, and we’ll all sink into the quicksand together. Now is the time for zero tolerance for any real or perceived racist remarks. Tomorrow will be too late.

Holy holyland Batman, Olmert is innocent!

Ehud Olmert celebrates the verdict yesterday (Pool photo)

I wish I would put my money where my mouth is sometimes. Around the time Ehud Olmert was indicted in the Holyland case – only the most recent in a string of high-profile charges against him from his days when he was mayor of Jerusalem, and later Industry and Trade minister – I remember telling someone (if it’s you, please come forward and corroborate) that Olmert would never go to jail for any of the offenses he was being accused of.

Of course, I wasn’t willing to bet on it. Which is too bad, because it looks like I’d be cleaning up. The former prime minister was acquitted Tuesday on two of three cases against him – alleged double-billing with the Rishon Tours travel agency, accepting thousands of dollars in cash envelopes from New York businessman Morris Talansky and granting illegal favors to his former associate, attorney Uri Messer.

He was convicted in the latter of breach of trust, for which it would be highly unlikely that he would be sentenced to jail time.

I didn’t have any inside information, just the hunch that Olmert, a shrewd attorney himself before entering politics, would never put himself in a position in which a court of law would beyond reasonable doubt would find him guilty of such charges. I’m not saying there wasn’t any wrongdoing on his part, but if there was, it was once or two removed by the time it got to him.

Now, the only case remaining against the person who clearly has some teflon in his DNA is the Holyland affair, in which real estate developers allegedly paid tens of millions of shekels to public employees and elected officials including Olmert to advance the Holyland building project in Jerusalem.

This time, I may be ready to go out on a limb and say Olmert will once again walk free. Any takers?

Israel: Where Security Companies Reign

June 29, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Crime, Technology 

Israel and the US may be to blame for the latest Flame virus that attacked Iranian computers, but the same people who have the minds to build those nasty viruses and malware also have the power to protect you.

While I purposefully buy Apple laptops to stay outside the virus attack cat and mouse game, it is probably just a matter of time until cyber attackers start launching their programming vengeance on Mac OS systems too –– especially since iPhone and Apple tablet sales are astronomical. Millions of people are using them, making them a more likely target for attack.

There will always be those big anti-virus companies out there to protect you –– one of them is none other than an Israeli brainchild: Check Point developed the modern firewall (see my feature on the icons of Israeli high tech here), but they also deliver a powerful range of cyber security solutions for businesses, banks and even the civilian computer user. Read more

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