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1:05 AM More on the Aid Boat:
An Israeli gunboat late Wednesday intercepted a Lebanese ship carrying medical aid and other supplies bound for Gaza, said the organizer of the Lebanese delivery, Maan Bashour.12:25 AM I couldn't figure out if this is the latest Aguda election video infomercial or a Chinese Kosher take-out warm up video. (You only need to watch about 25 seconds of the 2 minute video...)
"The Brotherhood Ship was fired on by an Israeli military boat 32 kilometers off the coast of Gaza and they were asked to divert course," said Bashour, and added that the ship remains in the water near the coast of Gaza.
11:51 PM Latest Rotter Poll results:
11:38 PM IDF vs. The Aid Ship
Air Force (IAF) crafts circled a Lebanese aid ship making its way to Gaza in an effort to "break the Israeli blockade", Al-Jazeera reported.11:27 PM TzippiMediaSpin of the Day (tm): Mr. Israel Television, Haim Yavin says tonight: Tzippi Livni is on her way to being the election surprise. (source)
The report said Navy ships came close to the Lebanese vessel and fired flares, and that the vessel received radio-broadcasted warnings not to proceed. (ynet/Roee Nahmias)
10:45 PM Tel Aviv -- A fantasy world within delusion.
Tel Aviv blogger Lisa Goldman graces the pages of the UK Guardian website, and declares that Israel's "Blogosphere" is at odds with the majority of Israel's voters.
Assuming the polls are accurate – and they have been quite consistent – Israeli voters are poised to elect a rightwing government in next week's elections. But if bloggers were representative of the mainstream, Israel's next government would probably be a Jewish-Arab coalition of socialists, social democrats and environmentalists.I'm not quite sure who qualifies as a Hebrew Language "prominent" political blogger, but her posted results are similar to those of the equally detached Tel Aviv University poll last week that gave the radical left Meretz party, 27 seats. (Meretz doesn't even have 27 people on their Knesset list).
The disparity between the polls and the blogosphere is quite remarkable – especially in Tel Aviv, Israel's liberal heartland, where the two parties vying for the votes of hipsters and leftist intellectuals are the Green Movement-Meimad, an environmentalist–religious partnership headed by a liberal rabbi; and Hadash, a Jewish-Arab socialist party.
The Hebrew-language blogger Ori Katzir made a survey of 92 prominent political bloggers. According to the final breakdown, the Green Movement-Meimad leads with 30 supporters, while Hadash comes in second with 27. It is the polar opposite of the opinion polls, which show Likud leading and Avigdor Lieberman's hardline Yisrael Beiteinu poised to tie with Labour.
Hadash's rise among liberal-left, urban Jewish voters is particularly interesting. By definition a non-Zionist party that attracted most of its support from Arabs, Hadash traditionally won three or four seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Even in ultra-liberal Tel Aviv, a vote for Hadash was, until these elections, considered a radical vote.
During the IDF cast lead operation, there were tiny, insulated groups from Tel Aviv that demonstrated against IDF "war crimes" in Gaza, demonstrated against the "war", continued to go to Yaalin to throw rocks against IDF troops as part of the weekly radical leftist and anarchist violent protests against the security fence -- and in general, demonstrated their complete and utter disconnection from reality and empathy for Israel's southern residents, who have been under rocket threat for years.
These people demonstrated in the luxury of a rocket-free Tel-Aviv. They had no gumption to demonstrate in Ashkelon or Sderot -- either for fear of getting hit by rockets, or for fear of getting politically lynched by furious residents.
Leftists can declare they own the media as much as they want, which is probably why they got so incensed this past summer that the "First International Jewish Blogger Convention" did not include anarchists, anti-Zionists or Muslims.
10:42 PM Tonight Arabs threw rocks at Israeli motorists in Jerusalem on the French Hill bridge. No injuries, but cars were damaged. (source)
10:39 PM For Hebrew Speakers Only -- battle of pundits. TV debate between Livni supporter Amnon Abromovitch and Ha'aretz's Ari Shavit who penned today's scathing critique of Tzippi Livni.
10:34 PM Updated Election Poll -- Mishal Cham, Channel 2 TV:
Yisrael Beiteinu 19
Aguda/Yahadut HaTorah 6
Bayit Yehudi/NRP/Mafdal 3
National Union 2
Hash party 1
9:06 PM Interesting Headline Report at Rotter (totally unconfirmed)
8:58 PM "Brotherhood Ship" detained. (source)
TRIPOLI, February 4, 2009 (MENASSAT) — On Monday, the ship Brotherhood (al-Oukhouwa) was packed and ready to set off on its journey to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. Among the passengers boarding the ship in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli were 85 journalists, activists and doctors of different nationalities, including Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Jordanian, French, Malaysian, and Canadian.There are additional, unconfirmed reports that IDF troops bordered the ship. (source)
Chartered by the Free Gaza Movement, the aid ship was loaded with medical supplies, food, clothing and toys for Gaza.
But before the Brotherhood could take off, and despite previous approval, the ship was stopped by the Lebanese authorities. The reason given was that Lebanese law bans passengers from traveling in cargo ships.
Participants and organizers immediately began discussing what next steps to take. Organizers wanted to leave with the aid and plan another trip for the participants, while the majority of journalists preferred to see a passenger ship brought to accompany the aid ship.
6:05 PM South Afrika to boycott "Apartheid Israel Cargo Ships"
Trade union giant Cosatu has vowed to close South African ports to ships bearing goods from "apartheid Israel" - starting with a refusal to offload a vessel which will be docking in Durban on Sunday.5:52 PM World Pressure on Vatican: NY Times reports: Responding to global outrage, especially in Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany, the Vatican for the first time on Wednesday called on a recently rehabilitated bishop to take back his statements denying the Holocaust.
It will be the second time Cosatu's affiliate, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), refuses to unload goods destined for, or from countries, the labour unions have labelled rogue states: Israel, Zimbabwe and Swaziland among them. Unions describe these countries as "dictatorial and oppressive".
Source: South Afrika Daily News.
Late last month, the pope revoked the excommunication of four schismatic bishops, including British-born Richard Williamson, who in an interview broadcast last month denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.
Was this announcement a reaction to today's earlier story?
Israel's Foreign Ministry announced that "the State of Israel views the Vatican's decision to rehabilitate the Holocaust denying British Bishop Rickard Williamson with sorrow and concern".5:03 PM Ynet: An IDF investigation into the shelling of the home of Gaza doctor Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish during Operation Cast Lead revealed an IDF tank fired two shells at the house after fire was opened at troops from a nearby area and figures were spotted aiming fire at the Golani forces operating in the area.
In the announcement, the Foreign Ministry continued to say, "The Holy See's acceptance of the Holocaust denier into the Church offends every Jew in Israel and the world, and desecrates the memories of those killed in the Holocaust." Earlier the Vatican announced it had demanded the controversial bishop recant his statements and that Pope Benedict was unaware of Williamson's claims at the time of his decision to rehabilitate him.
So what exactly did the doctor expect? That Hamas could freely fire from his home at IDF troops, and they wouldn't respond?
4:52 PM IDF Spokesman to release official findings today about the deaths of Dr. Ayyash's 3 daughters in Gaza. Will post as quickly as it becomes available.
3:06 PM What's on Livni's head? Ynet wonders as well...
"I had to rub my eyes three times when I saw the white rug Tzipi Livni placed on her head when meeting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef last week. The inexplicable garment reminded me of a lace curtain from the 1950s. Where did she get this piece? Where was her stylist? Whey wasn’t there anyone out there who could buy her a reasonable hat?Read the rest of about Orthodox dress codes here.
Yet Livni is not alone. I often see photos of secular politicians who head out for a quick visit in the ultra-Orthodox community or encounter seculars who find themselves at an Orthodox family event or a meeting with a senior rabbi and I cannot believe my eyes.
I see serious people putting on strange and delusional combinations of clothing: Women wearing kerchiefs that look like they belong to Polish villagers; shiny white kippas made of satin-like fabrics and looking like a pyramid on top of a man’s coiffure; and skirts that were taken out of the attic or borrowed from an old Purim costume.
(The photo above, from Reuters, is what Livni wore to the funeral of MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz on January 26, 2009)
2:00 PM Son of Top Hamas Leader leaves Islam, talks about life of terror.
1:48 PM Additional mortar rocket launched at Israel in the Eshkol/Western Negev region. No injuries or damage. (Ceasefire holding strong)
1:31 PM Reports that Color Red rocket warning system sounds in a Western Gaza community, and that a mortar shell landed in an open area. No reports of injuries or damage.
1:29 PM Alleged unexploded IDF munitions in Gaza from the Cast-Lead operation.
12:42 PM "Objective" Gaza doctor who slammed Israel for cast-lead operation, expressed support for al-Qaeda's September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
"If the US government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, the oppressed has a moral right to attack the US with the weapons they may create as well. Dead civilians are the same whether they are Americans, Palestinians or Iraqis."
When asked if he supported a terrorist attack against the US he answered: "Terror is a poor weapon, but my answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned."
During the Gaza operation Gilbert gave dozens of interviews to leading television networks such as ABC, CNN, al-Jazeera and Sky News. Wearing a white robe and standing at a corridor of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the doctor reported of the IDF's "deliberate attacks" against women and children. He also blamed Israel for waging "an all-out war against Gaza civilians." (source)
12:38 PM Important Video Shown on Israel TV -- Fatah vs. Hamas vs. Fatah, and how Israel is the least of the Palestinians problems.
11:56 AM More on IDF newlywed solider, Aharon Karov, from ynetnews
"Physically he can do just about everything, but he is still very weak and hasn't regained his strength yet," his father, Rabbi Ze'ev Karov said. "He can walk and move all his limbs, although movement is limited in his left arm, which has 300 pieces of shrapnel imbedded in it."11:03 AM With elections around the corner this coming Tuesday, Israel's political scene is heating up, and Kadima the current ruling party in Israel's government is rather annoyed at all the bad press they've been getting.
"This morning he put on his tefillin (phylacteries) by himself, I wanted to let him but he wouldn't let me. He has to communicate for now with his hands and his eyes, because his oral cavity was injured.
"He has amazing, tremendous will power," Rabbi Karov added. "Several times he asked me, through sign language, if his legs were okay. He tried to get up but couldn't, and I explained to him that his muscles were lax. But he is so motivated, and he's aware of his condition.
Aharon's doctors also agree his rapid recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Trauma Unit chief at Beilinson, Professor Pierre Zinger: "When he was brought in everyone was pessimistic and thought his hours were numbered. The injuries were very bad, but in the end there was no injury to the brain."
Another doctor who came to say goodbye was Dr. Steve Jackson, the neurosurgeon who operated on Karov immediately after his injury. "Things were extremely bad, I told the family he serious head trauma. They all cried, his wife too, and I told her: 'God willing, I'll yet circumcise your son,' and then she smiled."Jackson, a major in the Golani Brigade, saluted Karov as they said goodbye
Keren Noybach on Channel B Israel radio interviewed their military correspondent Yoav Limor who reported that Tzippi Livni's advisor, Lior Chorev yelled at him and other media people last week that they "aren't doing enough" to help Livni in the election.
Noybach added that yesterday she received furious phone calls from Kadima representatives that she dared to criticize Livni's campaign. (source)
This dovetails with more and more media outlets publicly expressing their disgust with Kadima and Tzippi Livni. Ari Shavit in Haaretz delivers a scathing report on Tzippi Livni's character flaws:
Livni is short-tempered. Her more serious critics believe she has an attention deficit. She is incapable of delving into the details of a document or of sustaining an extended discussion. She does not stay with a topic until it has been completely clarified. Her thinking is not clear and she cannot distinguish the wheat from the chaff. Unlike Netanyahu and Barak, who can get to the bottom of an issue and discuss it in all its complexity, Livni tends to oversimplify, to go for the schematic. One of the most respected figures in the country says she is opinionated and superficial.Combined with Walla's (Hebrew) op-ed piece: "Anyone by Kadima", you have to wonder who these people are that continue to claim they will vote for Kadima and Tzippi Livni.
Nor is there any disputing a second flaw of Livni's: She finds it very hard to make decisions. Even with noncritical decisions she deliberates, wavers, delays and changes her opinion over and over. Some people believe the combination of inexperience and lack of confidence paralyzes Livni. They think the foreign minister is incapable of deciding whether to launch a strike against Iran. Livni does not have the spine, levelheadedness and internal calm necessary to take the most critical decisions.
Her third flaw is her total lack of emotional intelligence. Livni neither understands people nor likes them. That is why she has no inner circle of confidants. With the exception of her husband, Naftali Spitzer, she has no trusted partners. Many people who made personal sacrifices on her behalf feel betrayed. Unlike Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, Livni lacks personal warmth or charm. Few top Kadima figures like or believe her. In the party's inner circles she is thought of as lacking leadership. The most common comment is that she simply doesn't have it. Her ability to lead after the election is in doubt.
I'll be posting more about Israel's political landscape in the coming days, and here's a worthwhile read from "WestBankMama" on why she's voting Likud, and not for the sectoral, smaller parties.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד