What came before that smirk

Update 4/25/11- FYI I am removing the contents of this post due to the highly personal nature of the content.

Why do we think how we do? What shapes our lives?  What can we learn? The following is a series of anecdotes, which in part, explain how I have reached certain opinions. I have received a lot of personal criticism over the last few days. This is my response.

Thanks for reading!

55 thoughts on “What came before that smirk

  1. Truly amazing and inspiring Lily. I hope this article is read by as many people as possible. You really have a unique and wonderful way in looking at things and I’ve always loved the way you write and express yourself and your thoughts.

    Your friend Maher.

  2. Lily,

    You can’t develop a true understanding of this through a series of snapshots or anecdotes. Those are details. You need to see the big picture.

    I can choose a series of snapshots that will show either side in any light I want to. That is what the media does and is partly why people who can not see past this and form their odd opinions. My snapshots can be of buses exploding in the streets of Israel. Suicide bombers. Rockets raining on Sderot. Arab armies attacking Israel from all directions in 1948. Palestinians abused in roadblocks. F16’s taking out a building in Gaza. Hatred preached in a mosque. Hatred preached in a synagogue. Whatever. Those are pieces of the puzzle and you can’t see the big picture through the small pieces. You may not even be able to see the real puzzle pieces due to propaganda, manipulations and forgery.

    To gain some understanding of this conflict you need to consider the history, politics, religion and culture. Find the major forces that are acting on the different players. Assemble enough puzzle pieces that you can see what is going on.

    Think about it.

  3. I do not believe Israel is taking “all feasible precautions,” to avoid civilian casualties.

    And because you have expertise in warfare, counter terror and geopolitics you are able to utter this with complete conviction.

    The fact that hamas fighters do not wear uniforms and intentionally operate out of densely populated locations doesn’t strike you as being politically motivated. Because it wouldn’t make sense for them to try and skew the numbers,now would it.

    The people who fire rockets indiscriminately into land that is not under dispute, who bomb, buses, schools, and supermarkets wouldn’t do such a thing.

    The hamas who kicked Fatah out of Gaza using mob style tactics, who threw people off of buildings and used children as human shields are honorable.

    They would never fight dressed in civilian garb because if they were killed it might look like civilians died and that would create more chaos and confusion.

    • Hello Jack;

      I really don’t mean to intervene and I really don’t think that sarcasm and showing contradiction is the best way to argue a point of view but I’m forced to use it because apparently it’s the way you argue “or at least argued in this post”. Instead of understanding the important message meant by this article, you just found a line you disagree with and tried to criticize her and prove her wrong by it by sarcastically pointing to the fact that she’s not an expert on warfare, counter terror and… But instead of backing your claims by enlightening us with you expertise in these fields, you chose to back it with your statements about Hamas and their war techniques and methods because appearently you have enough expertise in this field :X.

      All I’m asking of you is just to take the time and try to read what she wrote more carefully to understand what she’s actually trying to say. And saying that she believes something is not the same as an expert stating something as a fact. After all, everyone is entitled to his own opinion when they are stated with respect. And I apologize if this sounds offensive to you in anyway because it’s not meant to be.



      • There’s no reason to be proud of ignorance in this modern era of instant communication and unlimited reference material.

        Her statement that 33% isn’t enough of an effort is completely out of bounds. Such a civilian casualty rate is a paragon of excellence for modern armies operating in urban conflict zones.

        Civilians have long been the vast majority of casualties in urban warfare yet the IDF has single-handedly righted that lopsided number even when it means exposing their soldiers to greater risk in order to preserve the lives of hostile populations harboring gunmen intentionally using civilians for cover and not wearing uniforms.

      • Perhaps she should read Moshe Halbertal’s essay, giving a detailed, reasoned critique of the Goldstone report.

        The essay goes into great detail about the specific criticisms the report had of Israel’s tactics, explained the steps Israel has taken to reduce collateral civilian casualties, and asks what alternative methods one should expect, given the way Hamas and Hezbollah respond to every Israeli effort to keep civilians out of harm’s way.

        If you believe in the right of Israeli citizens to live in their hometowns without missiles raining down on them or worries about suicide bombers, even if you only believe in those rights within Israel’s pre-1967 borders, you have to acknowledge that Israel cannot be expected to stand idly by as those missiles rain down and suicide bombers attack.

        If you believe that the only path to peace is to open the borders to Gaza and let its residents come into Israel to work, you should look back a decade to when that was the status quo. Workers regularly crossed the border, until the suicide bombers started taking advantage of the relaxed border crossing rules, smuggling explosives even in laptop computers and ambulances (wonder why the border guards got skeptical of your computer?), in response to which Israel closed the border, ending a period of economic symbiosis.

        I’d be very curious to hear her response to the points raised in the essay. That is, does she not believe that the facts as represented in the essay are correct, or does she disagree with the conclusions? If she disagrees with the conclusions, what alternate methods would she recommend for Israel defending its own citizens, knowing that simply opening the border has already failed.

  4. I agree with Guy, Lily. I don’t mean to insult the valuable knowledge you have gained up to this point in your life, and I definitely do not mean to insult the way you were raised, as that is you and your parents’ choice. However, this mini-uproar you’ve caused in the online media – and the actual events leading up to it – are an irresponsible use of the LIMITED knowledge you have on this issue.

    As an International Affairs student, and one who is clearly very involved in their studies, you should know and understand Israel’s security concerns. Putting aside anything you may think of the Israeli government’s policies in Gaza or anywhere else, you should be able to understand and respect the fact that Israel has no choice but to protect its borders, and that there are strict procedures in doing so. You should have understood that they way you acted was inappopriate for the situation you were in – no matter what you think or how you were raised. It’s very simple. But, you didn’t act this way. Instead, you tried to make a statement which led to very frustrating and painful consequences for you, and then exploited this event to express your political opinions.

    Lily, you are entitled to your own opinions, and I can clearly see the very logical progression of how those opinions were formed. But, I hate to break it to you, taking several Middle East Studies courses, and even a Human Rights in the Middle East course, do not an expert make. You, as a Northeasterns student, should know more than anyone that it is real life experience, rather than classroom learning, that truly educates someone about whatever issue they pursue. I know that you have fully embraced these ideas through your co-op in Egypt, which is why I am disappointed at how you’ve handled this situation. You simply do not have the credential, through classroom study OR experience, to claim that you understand the Israeli government and its policies. You do not. Luckily, there are plenty of people out there who would be more than happy to inform you, me being one of them…. I wish you good luck as you continue your search for justice and peace.

    • Dear Ruthie,

      First and foremost, looking back on Lily’s blog I have never seen her claim to be “an expert” which makes me question why you would attack her on a claim that she never made. Is it not appropriate for a student to share her experience on their blog? I think that Lily is bearing the brunt of feelings and opinions that should be directed towards the individual articles that have picked up her story. Furthermore, the term “expert” really is a relative term. What do you define as an expert? Is it you?

      I think that you are right when you say that it is “real life experience rather than classroom learning, that truly educates someone about whatever issue they pursue,” however I think you fail to realize that you’ve created a bit of a contradiction. Being a friend of Lily’s, I know that the reason why she traveled to both Egypt and then to Israel was to learn more about the situation and to experience it “first-hand”. Wouldn’t that give her at least some credibility?

      That is also to say nothing of the fact that the experience that Lily went through was a real life experience. It is true that Israel has security concerns, but I think this incident is a prime example of how easy it is for someone to be completely mis-identified as a terrorist, or a threat, or what-have-you; which seems to happen all to frequently in our current hyper-security-driven climate. You may disagree but I think that Lily is probably now more of an expert then any of us who haven’t been in her situation.

      Of course everyone has their own opinion and unique perspective, however I think you feel that because Lily doesn’t share your point of view that she is “mis-informed”. It is impossible for everyone to know everything about the Israeli conflict, but I think that Lily does happen to know a good amount. I also think that you jump to conclusions being that you don’t really know how much Lily does or does not know, only what she has thus far shared with us. Does she know the most out of everyone in the world-no. But using that logic then there would only be 1 expert on any given subject in the world.

    • > You should have understood that they way you acted was inappopriate for the situation you were in – no matter what you think or how you were raised. It’s very simple. But, you didn’t act this way. Instead, you tried to make a statement which led to very frustrating and painful consequences for you, and then exploited this event to express your political opinions.

      Lily came to visit Israel. She handed over her papers and her laptop. She responded to questions to the best of her ability. She was cleared to enter as was her stuff. Her laptop was not held as evidence of some attempted terror attack, it was returned to her with three bullet holes. She was sent off to fend for herself with a piece a paper.

      If this happened to you anyplace but Israel, you’d be screaming mad and you’d have your daddy and his attorneys on the phone.

      What, specifically, prior to the destruction of her property was “inappropriate” in Lily’s behavior?

  5. Sounds like her alienation and resentment of Israel is founded on unresolved issues with her father. A shame that innocent Israelis not related to her are now going to suffer from this negative PR stunt when they were just trying to protect their own friends and family from being violently reduced to mere statistics.

  6. Just one more thing, Lily. It’s really important for you to understand that I am not saying you know nothing. But you have to acknowledge that you are missing many pieces of the puzzle, and therefore neither you, nor anyone else who is only involved in this conflict as an observer, should express such extreme opinions.

    As an Israeli-American living in Israel and an International Affairs student, I still, every single day, realize just how little I truly know and understand how the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. I therefore always approach the issue from the perspective of someone open to learning new things, rather than someone analyzing what they already know. Think about that.

    • Dear Ruthie,
      I do not think this situation is so black and white. By living in Israel you experience reality, but only a limited sort. You have strong emotions, fears for your life, your friends and your family. You follow the politics and know every grievance, bombing and critic, but do you really see the situation objectively? Have you spent one night with Jewish relatives and the next with Palestinian friends in the West Bank?
      I understand Israel has security concerns and respect that. To the point of different information. I’ve spent a lot of time reading statistics and reports. –All the numbers are different. You can choose whichever side you want, find evidence to back your opinions and refute your opponents. It’s going to take more than wanting to be “right” or “safe” to find the truth here.
      If a father has the choice to save his two daughters or a whole classroom full of others’ daughters who does he choose? I’m not saying he is wrong if he chooses to save his own kin, just that he is not objective.
      Also you’re very critical of my references to my courses at NU (FYI the Human rights course was the only one I took concerning the Middle East). In my post, only one anecdote focused on my classroom experiences at NU. A lot of what I learned is from reading outside the classroom, living in the Middle East, talking and interacting with people of all backgrounds.
      I feel since you do not agree with my conclusions, you have questioned my sources. Lots of intelligent, informed people have passionate and differing opinions on this inflammatory issue. That is not to say I do not need to learn more. I do. However I believe I am on the right track and more knowledge will not change my fundamental beliefs regarding Israel/Palestine.
      If you want to restrict our discussion to my laptop fiasco, I do not question Israel’s right to closely inspect my luggage or be suspicious of items in my bag. If you read my original post, I’m not overly critical or analytical, I basically report what happened. I do not pretend to be a security expert and do not know whether their actions followed procedure or not. That many people have reacted so strongly to this incident was shocking, telling and a truth of its own on both sides. For my part, I posted my story on my personal blog and then responded to a couple press inquires. I told the truth—any negative press Israel has received is a repercussion of its own actions.
      Lastly, I don’t want to get too personal, but I want to make a point. There are other incidents I could have included among my list of anecdotes. One I find particularly pertinent.
      Last spring I attended an Alan Dershowitz lecture on NU’s campus arranged by Students for Israel, I believe you were president at that time and had a primary role in organizing.
      I was one of very few students in the room who seemed to disagree with him, it seems the others with my views had saved themselves for Noam Chomsky, who came around the same time. When I asked him a simple question about aid getting into Gaza, during Israel’s January blockade, he yelled and avoided my question. Students who did and did not agree with me came up to me after the event and said he was out of line.
      My point: You, I and whoever else can write all we want online. We can call each other names, criticize and accuse of bias.
      I hope we both continue to learn more and strive to see this conflict while letting go of personal prejudices.

      • Hi Lily,

        I don’t want to intrude on your private conversation here 😉

        I think you’re still thinking in terms of snapshots. The Israeli friends and the West Bank friends.

        The question is not the snapshot. No one will argue with that snapshot. The question is how did they get there. There are some Palestinians who are doing very well because they were corrupt and stole money that was meant for helping others. A snapshot in their house would probably look much different. Go back in time a few years or more and all those snapshots look different.

        My argument is that over the years Israelis have been working very hard to achieve security and prosperity. On the other hand the Arab countries and Palestinians have worked very hard to ensure Palestinians get nowhere. Initially they were a pawn in the cold war and more recently they are a pawn in the war of radical muslims against the western civilization.

        Some people will look at your laptop incident in isolation or given their own bias. That does indeed look negative. A strict border security is bound to result in negative stories. That is the price to pay for protecting your citizens. It is basically a choice of your or someone else’s Israeli friends being blown to pieces or someone stops that bomb at the border. In a perfect world no one would think of taking someone’s laptop and turning it into a bomb without their knowledge but this is not a perfect world. A strict border security also leads to abuses of the system though I really don’t think that is what happened here.

        The story could be put in a positive light. Israeli security protected you and your friends from the possibility of a bomb planted in your laptop. Perhaps there were traces of explosives on it or something that looked suspicious in the X-rays. At any rate, their job is to protect people. They could have saved your life. It’s possible they screwed up though…

      • Lily, I think that you are to be commended for your efforts to experience things ‘as they are’ in the region. It is very annoying reading all of the cricitisms from people who claim that you are ‘naive’ or ‘not seeing the whole picture’. From what I understand, that was exactly your point: you do not know everything and went off to learn more for yourself!

        I am Israeli, but I no longer live in Israel and have another citizenship. Through my work I have the occassion to travel to many places throughout the world, including to many muslim countries. I do not know if I would travel to Iran or Lebanon in the present conditions (I have been invited), but I would consider pretty much anywhere else. Obviously I do not announce to everyone that I am Israeli when I travel, but I do not exactly hide this either – my name is a bit of a give-away.

        I was in Abu Dhabi not long ago and had many interesting experiences there. When you have been some place and know people there, it is not so easy to blindly consider them “the enemy.” In my hotel I had breakfast a few times with a Lebanese guy who I met (we were similar ages and had much in common) and we had many fascinating conversations on all kinds of subjects. He made a very good comment about Israel’s status in the region: “if you live in a poor neighbourhood, don’t build a big fancy castle and then expect people not to throw things at it!.” I never told this guy that I was Israeli, but I did tell him that I was Jewish and had been to Israel. We exchanged contact information on his last day there, and he invited me to come visit him in Lebanon – then he added with a knowing wink “although you probably can’t, can you?”.

        I also met a Palestinian refugee who I have known via FB for a while. Both of us were a bit hesitant to meet in person (he had never met a “Jewish person” before to say nothing of an Israeli), but we had a very good meeting. We both learned very much from one another. I challenge anyone to imagine their life as a refugee: you have no travel documents and every choice you make is controlled by others. He spent a good portion of his life in camps in Lebanon dreaming about life on the other side of the fence: so close yet so far out of reach.

        I think that if there were more contacts between people in the region it would be much harder for there to be wars. It is no coincidence that Egypt strongly discourages any Egyptian from having any contact with Israel! I once met an Egyptian medical student in Spain (where Jews and Muslims visit the same historic sites) who was very curious to learn anything he could about Israel. He told me that it was a shame that he could not visit Israel. I told him that he can! He had no idea that it is technically possible, and he would probably be disbarred from his professional society if he did.

        There is no substitute for experience. We should all try to broaden our horizons a bit…

  7. I just began reading your blog and the comments thereon it and felt compelled to respond to Ruthie’s second paragraph posted on Dec. 20th. She hits you up with a bunch of “shoulds” which I find offensive and which lay the groundwork for prejudice and a one-sided approach to the problem. Basically, what I think she is doing is blaming the victim for having been assaulted by the IDF. Those who engage in abuse and domestic violence often abuse the victim, and such seems to be the case here.

    Statements such as “you should be able to understand and respect the fact that Israel has no choice but to protect its borders, and that there are strict procedures in doing so. You should have understood that they way you acted was inappopriate for the situation you were in” give the forces of oppression a pass no matter what they do. I prefer such statements as “Israel should understand and respect the right to disagree with its policies and procedures, and that the use of force in such a situation does nothing but reveal the brutality of its culture and politics to the whole world.”

    • Jim,

      I probably would’ve agreed with you before I lived in the Middle East, but your effete tone would soon change if you were living under constant threat of rocket attacks and real terrorist threats. Yes, those actually exist, and it’s a shame that the previous administration in the U.S. has obscured this concept. I highly doubt that the majority of Israelis believe that their hands are unsullied in this conflict– However, they want to live and be able to defend themselves. War sucks, and I really am skeptical that any of these countries in the Middle East want a viable Palestinian state as much as they Israelis do (though maybe not the current Israeli administration). And by viable, I mean one that is focused on the economic and educational development of their people, as opposed to the eradication of Israel. Believe me, if there were a real Palestinian state, there are more than a few Arab countries that would be very nervous…

      The ironic thing is that the Israelis and Palestinians need each other a lot more than the countries around them do…

  8. Lilly,

    Thanks for this post. I really didn’t know where you were coming from, and actually your video interview from DNE had me a bit enraged at your recklessness– especially the one about how your laptop (and I’m paraphrasing) is now “a symbol of Israeli aggression”. I don’t know if you meant it to come off as it sounded/was edited, but I kind of slapped my hand on my forehead when I saw that. It really got my blood boiling. Reading this blog entry I see that you are genuinely a truth seeker, although I think you are still a bit too quick to make judgements and comments. You still need to spend a LOT more time in the Middle East– and I suggest you spend more time in Israel before going back to Egypt or Jordan or Lebanon (truly a heartbreaking country).

    As a non-jew and non Israeli who lived in Israel for several years, I can tell you that I really was taken aback by my initial encounters with Israeli security. However, after experiencing a horrible explosion that rocked the city I lived in (I will not disclose it because I really don’t want my identity known– Arab and Middle Eastern countries (heh there’s only one non-Arab middle eastern country– and I’m not talking about Israel) have gotten quite good at their filtering and due to the nature of my work, I don’t want to put any lives at stake), the horror of seeing bus bombings, and restaurant bombings, and CONSTANT rocket attacks, I quickly came to understand the purpose behind their very close scrutiny and line of questioning. It still stung that I would immediately get stopped if I were not with my wife.

    As for Israel itself, with all of its flaws, and yes, racism (no way in hell most Arabs or Jewish Israelis would endure the ostracism from their respective communities if they intermarried for instance…) is a strong democracy where you can speak your mind, regardless of your background. Being at any border crossing, however, you do have to be respectful and unfortunately, on your toes. They are trained to sense any hesitation or inconsistency in your story and may often ask you the same question two or three times, and even send you to another person to be asked the same questions two or three times just to double check your reaction.

    Surprisingly, MY encounters with Israeli customs agents at airports has been more positive than customs agents in the U.S. The Israeli’s were logical and seemed to know what they were doing (even though most of them were kids!), while the Homeland Security people really didn’t seem all too bright or able to use common sense (it has gotten a little better over the years). At Taba, well, the scrutiny is probably 100x more than at an airport. It doesn’t surprise me that your laptop was shot. Not that I think they should’ve done it, but a single white woman with a Jewish surname who knows next to nothing about Judaism would be an immediate red flag…

    And just to get something off my chest in response to some rather ignorant posters: Yes, shooting a suspicious package from range or in controlled conditions is EXACTLY how you disarm a bomb without risking anyone’s life. I suspect that her luggage was left in a zone where they could mechanically pick up the package and move it to a diffusing area (often done with a robot, or from long range with a sharpshooter). Usually they tell you to remove any laptop so that it can be chemically swabbed, so someone must’ve dropped the ball.

    • Dear Mark;

      I know you were addressing Lily in your post but I hope you don’t mind me intervening and commenting a little on your post. I think I could tell from your post that you’re an open minded intelligent intellectual but I can also see that you’re looking at this conflict from only one point of view which is from the Israeli side because of the facts that you mentioned in your comment like living there for several years. But you said in your post that Israelis live under CONSTANT rocket attacks and that it’s a truly heartbreaking country and you mentioned buses and restaurants bombings. Well I would respectfully suggest that you don’t focus on the word CONSTANT when you talk about rocket attacks because the last rocket attack on Israel was quite a while ago and even then Hamas was able to launch rockets for only few days because of their limited resources. The usage of rockets that can reach Israeli cities started in 2002 “with really primitive small rockets and mortars that most of the time exploded in open uninhabited fields” and not until 2008 that Hamas actually started using more advanced rockets that they fired on villages and small cities near the border. These are facts that I can’t deny or ignore and I can never say that Palestinians have never launched rockets against Israeli towns because I would be lying. But these rockets are looked at from the Palestinian point of view “Not all Palestinians think this way and neither do I” are the only way to try to resist and fight the occupation with whatever resources these organizations like Hamas have. And because of the Palestinian lack of fire power and technologies that allow them to target their rockets and at military bases, they do what they can by firing them at any Israeli target in order to show that resistance is not dead “I won’t even go into the legitimacy of these thoughts”. Also taking it from a different perspective, all these rockets launched from 2002 until our current day haven’t killed nearly as much civilians as the ones killed in 3 weeks in Gaza last year. And if you want to go into the matter of “Suicide bombing” and bombing in civilian places, again this was a desperate technique adopted by some Palestinians who wanted to show their love for Palestine by sacrificing their lives in order to show some resistance against the occupation “I’m not trying to justify these bombing but just trying to make you understand the mentality behind them which is a mentality of resistance of occupation not one of killing innocent civilians” and these bombings have stopped a long time ago and even were opposed by many people on the Palestinian side “I think the last major bombing occurred in 2005”. So all I’m respectfully asking of you is not to mention these things like they are events and facts that happen on a daily basis in Israel and leave the image of a terrified community living in constant fear of being eliminated by Palestinian ICBMs and under the mercy of Palestinian F16s “Not meaning to be sarcastic about it”.

      On the other hand, like the advice you gave to Lily in your post, in order to be able to understand the conflict in a more general way and try to get the overall picture, I think maybe you should try to live in Gaza or the West Bank in Jenine or Nablus or Toolkarem so that you can see the suffering on the other side of the Israeli built Apartheid wall and even just try moving between the cities of the West Bank and see how much people suffer ON A DAILY BASIS just to get to their schools or to the university. I’m don’t even want to talk about the bombing and airstrikes because it’s going to take me a real long time but I just want to tell you that you witnessed one bombing that terrified you and you don’t want to say in which city, I would like to tell you that I lived my whole life in Ramallah, one of the least attacked Palestinian cities “if not the absolute least city attacked by the Israeli forces” and I’ve witnessed tens “and I don’t want to say hundred in order not to seem exaggerating even though I think I did witness hundreds” of bombings and airstrikes on my city without mentioning what used to be constant invasion of the city by armored forces to capture wanted Palestinian activists, but I can’t deny that it has been two years since Ramallah witnessed the last attack “unlike other cities still subject to attacks until these days”. I was actually once caught between the rocks and stones of the Palestinian youths and the firearm of an Israeli special force when they came into a building I was in to capture a wanted man. I have hundreds of stories like this one so don’t even start telling me that Israel is a “Truly heartbreaking country”.

      With all respect and hopes that peace might someday find the light I leave you with an imagery I hope you stop and think about. If a little girl is being raped by a man much stronger and bigger than she is, and the only way that she can defend herself is by hitting him between the legs, would she really stop and think whether it’s acceptable or not to do so because hitting him between the legs is not a decent way of fighting???

      Peace and love, Maher.

      • Maher,

        I feel you’re a reasonable person but I have to reply to your post with some corrections and opinion.

        The last rocket attack was on Dec 17th, 4 days ago:

        Overall thousands (over 3000) of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel:

        I don’t doubt that you and your friends have suffered from Israel’s actions. I do think that in most cases those actions were valid self defense. The reason we don’t see as many bombings in Israel (and I’m sure there were some past 2005) is because of the (forceful) actions taken by Israel to prevent them from happening. Not because there is less will on the other side. (Probably less of those “activists”)

        In my opinion the Palestinian attacks on Israel have a larger “terrorizing” impact because they are random. Israel may be using a lot more force but generally has some specific target, i.e. it doesn’t just randomly drop bombs on population centers. So don’t play down the emotional toll on Israeli’s even if from your viewpoint it looks like you’re facing a super power. Counting the number of people that were killed by the rockets is not relevant. Each of these rockets was fire with the desire to kill a lot of people but because Israel has an early warning system and bomb shelters that intent did not come to fruition. Also, whoever could leave the places that were within range did so.

        Your statement about kicking between the legs is perfectly reasonable but if you’re just kicking a big man between the legs because you don’t like him don’t be surprised when he pounds you down into pulp. Israel may have uprooted people from their houses in the past and made their life terrible but that does not justify suicide bombings and rocket attacks. I.e. blowing yourself up with unrelated people because your grandfather was thrown out of his house does not constitute self defense. It also clearly does not help protect the Palestinians in any way shape or form.

        If you can explain the Gaza story from the day that Israel dismantled the settlements and withdrew in a way that makes any sense from a Palestinian perspective I’d be happy to hear that. It just seems that the people (or leaders) in Gaza have no interest at all in improving their situation.

        I’m 100% sure that if *all* Palestinians put down their arms/bombs/explosives and never again fire a shot or a rocket at Israel they will have a peaceful existence in the west bank and Gaza. Unfortunately that is not enough for a lot of people.

        Hoping for peace,

      • Hello Guy;

        Well what can I say, thanks for proving many of my mentioned points and even some points I didn’t mention. First of all thanks for being so reasonable and for providing evidences supporting your claims unlike other people from both sides who just state lies as facts and either provide false evidence or don’t even bother to state any. Haaretz is very known and dignified Israeli newspaper and I’m sure that what was mentioned about the firing of rockets this week was true, but if you read the article until the end you’ll find neither Hamas nor any of its allies declared responsibility for the firing of these rockets “That as usual didn’t pose any threat what so ever to Israel or any of its cities because it exploded in an open field”. It is also mentioned in the same article that you used as evidence that Hamas and her allies has declared a ceasefire and stopped firing rockets so that you won’t say that they stopped firing rockets because of the tight Israeli security and procedures to stop them. So these rockets were probably fired by a rogue group of people “I can’t state that for sure”.

        The other point of mine that you proved is the fact about the rockets and their insignificance and that they present, as they are viewed at by the Israeli Ministry of Defense according to the reference you relied on in your post: “more a psychological than physical threat.” Also according to the same reference you relied on, the over 3000 terrifying rockets killed a total number of 15 Israeli by the end of December 2008. Another thing I would like to respectfully say meaning no offence to you, but anytime I’m trying to make a point and support if with facts I make sure I never use Wikipedia as a reference for its lack of credibility “Not saying that the facts in the article are wrong but just questioning the credibility of Wikipedia as a reference.”

        Another point of mine that you’ve proven in your response is that Israelis most of the time look at things from their own perspective and think they get the whole picture “Not saying that most Palestinians actually try to get the Israeli point of view because they don’t”. On what bases do you say that it’s not terrorizing and genuinely horrifying to see your own city being destroyed by Apache helicopters and F16 launched 5 tons rockets. On what bases do you claim that the Israeli army “use a lot more force but generally has some specific target” and say that this make it less terrorizing and scary for people “Basing my response on the fact that your statement is accurate when I believe it not to be in most cases” and how can a kid know these things and feel secured and safe when he hears and feels the earthshaking effect of Israel’s smart bombs. And if these attacks are so accurate, why then there are so many civilian casualties mostly among kids and women. The facts say that there have been more civilian deaths among the Palestinian side more that there have been injuries and deaths combined on the Israeli side “Not counting freaking out as an injury”. I really want to know on what do you base your opinion that it’s not as terrorizing in Palestine as it is in Israel, did you come and live in the West Bank or Gaza and saw F16s bombing all over the place? I didn’t and can never say that Israelis are not in terror or are not suffering because I’ve never been there and can’t say that with all certainty the way you mentioned your opinions as undisputed facts “And if I ever implied that I deny any suffering then I apologize”.

        Another thing you say like it’s a determined fact is that bombings in Israel stopped because of “the (forceful) actions taken by Israel to prevent them from happening” and not because there’s less will on the Palestinian side. Do you say this based on statistics and studies or personal experience in the Palestinian street, public and political opinions? I think you should know that these bombings mainly stopped because of the vast opposition against them and because most people recognized that these bombings are harming Palestinians and the Palestinian image more than they harm Israel like you mentioned about them: “It also clearly does not help protect the Palestinians in any way shape or form”. Also I would like to add as a personal opinion that no matter what Israeli forces do, all they can accomplish is to reduce but they can never stop these bombings if the Palestinian street was still determined and convinced by them “The last statement was a personal opinion NOT A FACT”.

        Well I finally came to your comment about the statement of the kicking between the legs which can help me prove my unstated point about Israel “hope it doesn’t come out as stereotyping or generalization because I don’t mean it to”. The point you helped me prove is the fact that Israelis are raised on the collective memory and mentality of always thinking like a victim and act like a victim and according to a famous caught “lie, and if they don’t believe you lie, and if they don’t believe you lie until you believe it yourself”. It’s like our friend the big strong guy who is raping the girl has convinced himself that this little girl is his right and has convinced nearly everyone around him that she is his right and his possession. This poor girl has nobody left to defend her so when she tries to defend herself through unusual and unapproved methods, everyone looks at this as an unprovoked and unjustified move that she should be punished for so they overlook it when the big guy beats her “Sorry if this response sounds too provoking, just trying to make a point” . Do you really believe that the rockets and the bombing and all this war and casualties and destruction brought to this whole area is caused by an unprovoked actions by the Palestinians. Do you think that Palestinians just woke up someday and decided to start a war with Israel and try to kill them all? It is neither realistic nor accurate. Hamas, for example, didn’t just decide to start firing rockets at Israeli cities. It came after a long series of provocations and suffering caused by Israel like maintaining a siege on Gaza after they won the elections there and the constant assassinations of their leaders among many other reasons. So again, stop believing all the lies “or maybe it’s more suitable to say half-truths” that you were raised up on and start trying to see it from both perspectives. Because only in that way a solution can be found and peace can be obtained, not by always blaming the other side and thinking that your side presents the innocent victim that wants peace and stability.

        I know my response got a little too long but bare with me these few last words. In your final comment you said that: “I’m 100% sure that if *all* Palestinians put down their arms/bombs/explosives and never again fire a shot or a rocket at Israel they will have a peaceful existence in the west bank and Gaza. Unfortunately that is not enough for a lot of people”. But if you look just a little further back in the past you’ll see that it was Israel who most of the time started the first spark like in 2000 and like in 1989. Even if you want to look to a time when Palestinian resistance in Palestine nearly didn’t exist between 1929 until 1992 which presents the return of the Palestinian authorities, even then, Palestinians were always the subject of the aggressive use of force and brutality of the Israeli’s iron fist which struck in many Palestinians massacres whether as an official Israeli force or as Israeli mobs like Hagana mobs which Sharron was a part of. I’m talking about massacres like Qana and Sabra and Shatella and Kofor Qasem and many others. I just hope you don’t deny these massacres and I’m not going to provide proves for these massacres right now and if you need some just address me again.

        Peace, Maher.

    • Maher,

      As I said, I fully acknowledge and believe your suffering.

      I also believe that half truths, disinformation and lies are an obstacle to peace and we should eliminate them which is why I felt obliged to correct you on the facts of your posting. I am glad you agree with my corrections. I understand Wikipedia can be an unreliable source but it is an easily accessible one and very frequently it is correct.

      To clarify the facts a bit more and in light of your latest posting. The state of Israel was created in 1948 therefore your statement that Palestinians were abused by Israel between 1929 and 1992 is incorrect. I won’t bother providing a reference. Another important fact is that until 1968 the west bank was under Jordanian control and the Gaza strip under Egyptian control. I hope we are in agreement so far.

      You say that “Palestinian resistance in Palestine nearly didn’t exist until 1992” however the PLO was founded in May 1964 with the objective of freeing Palestine through an armed struggle (See: http://www.cyberus.ca/~baker/covenant.htm ). I was born in 1968 and let me tell you that I’ve seen an endless number of attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinians up to 1992. I can provide a list and references if you dispute that.

      As far as I know, the Palestinians in Sabra and Shateela were killed by Lebanese Christians. Israel’s role was in failing to prevent this and/or intervene. I have limited knowledge of the other historical events you mention so I’ll just say I’m sorry for any loss of lives that may have occurred.

      I can not prove the suicide bombings stopped because of Israel’s actions but there was definitely a correlation between Israel’s re-taking of the west bank cities, the building of a border fence around Gaza and the building of a wall to block access to the west bank and the decrease in bombings. I’m certainly happy to hear the Palestinian street opposed those bombings. Too bad it took so many dead and injured.

      I also think your discussion of Gaza is not completely correct. The Hamas took power in Gaza by force. The bottom line is that the Palestinians in Gaza were given a big opportunity to do something for themselves and they completely blew it. We can go back to newspaper archives and do a play by play but I’m a bit too tired for this now. Did Israel always act justly or smartly during this entire period? Probably not.

      Before the first intifada many Palestinians used to work in Israel and Israelis used to go shopping in Palestinian cities. I do agree however that Palestinians were taken advantage of, discriminated against, and did not enjoy many basic rights because they lived on occupied territory and were subject to military law. They did enjoy a better existence though than many people on this planet do (not trying to justify the injustice, just trying to put things in proportion). The problem is the way they tried to address the problem by using force. This leads us back to the rape analogy which I think is incorrect. I don’t think any Palestinian city was ever bombed by fighter jets between 1968 and 1992, please correct me if that’s wrong. I also lived through the bus bombings of the Oslo agreement where whenever Israel handed over areas for the Palestians to manage all it got in return was terror.

      I can only repeat my belief that *today* (not in 1929 or 1992) if *all* Palestinians denounced the armed struggle and gave up their weapons (e.g. the IRA in Ireland) they would have their own state and a peaceful existence.

      Lets hope for some peace…

      • Here is another thought Maher as we’re very close to the end of 2009. As much as the past is important it is more important to look at the future.

        How about having no attacks on Israel during 2010? Zero missiles shot, smuggled or built. Zero bombings. Zero shooting. Zero dead. Zero injured. Zero arms purchased. Zero hate. Zero racism. Zero threats. Even if Israel provokes you swallow your pride, blog about it, protest without violence. Think Nelson Mandella, Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Michael Collins. Give the world an example? I dare you…

      • Hello Guy,

        I’ve been following your discussion with Maher, and if you don’t mind I would like to intervene and comment on some of the facts and opinions mentioned, but due to the large number of them, let me start by arguing your comment: “I can only repeat my belief that *today* (not in 1929 or 1992) if *all* Palestinians denounced the armed struggle and gave up their weapons (e.g. the IRA in Ireland) they would have their own state and a peaceful existence”.

        Though maybe not all Palestinians have done so (referring to Gaza), but Palestinians in the West Bank did! There haven’t been any kind of armed resistance in the West Bank for over a year or two against the Israeli army, no attacks on settlements and no bombings in Israel from Palestinians in the WB. What good did that do them? Israel’s response was to not only to continue, but to increase the building of settlements, to confiscate more and more lands, to presistently try to annex East Jerusalem from the West Bank, increase hostility against Arab inhabitants of East Jerusalem, increased and repetitive attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinain farms and villages under the Israeli army’s protection (the most recent was the burning of a Mosque in a Palestinian village by settlers a week or two ago), continous arrests of Palestinians, continous humiliation on checkpoints, and a lot of things that started either before or after Palestinians started using force ( I’m talking about this Intifada particularly) and yet continue eventhough Palestinians laid arms in the West Bank.

        For your belief to become reality, Sir, Israel needs to show signs of good faith as a response to this move by Palestinians (or a large portion of them), and by signs of good faith please realize that allowing for some economic development to happen without presistently trying to destroy it does not count as one! the small economic development that happened in the West Bank recently happened INSPITE of Israel not because of her. MAYBE once real progress is achieved in the West Bank, the Palestinians in Gaza will see a point in laying down their arms!

        I hope I’d get the chance to comment on more aspects, sorry for the long comment 🙂

      • Well Reem, to emphasize your point, since you posted less than 24 hours ago the Arabs of the West Bank killed a rabbi driving a minivan with his wife and children in it, they put a 14 year old Jewish boy in the hospital with serious head injuries after ‘throwing rocks’ (actually Arab men using powerful slingshots loaded with chunks of concrete but the media image of Arab kids throwing rocks at tanks makes better anti-Jewish propaganda) and with a molotov cocktail the Arabs firebombed a 4 year old Jewish girl sitting in a car .

        That’s the Arab response to Israel’s good-will gestures (this was the biggest Christmas season in Bethlehem of the decade)

      • Reem,

        If you just go to the reference I provided above you will see that there was actually Palestinian violence during this period in the West Bank, here are some samples:
        Oct 23, 2008 – Avraham Ozeri, 86, was stabbed to death near his home in Gilo, Jerusalem, by an Arab terrorist from the Arab village of Tekoa near Bethlehem.

        Mar 15, 2009 – Two police officers – Senior Warrant Officer Yehezkel Ramzarkar, 50, of Maale Ephraim, and Warrant Officer David Rabinowitz, 42, of Ariel – were killed in a shooting attack near Massua in the northern Jordan Valley.

        Apr 2, 2009 – Shlomo Nativ, 13, was killed by an axe-wielding terrorist in his community of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion.

        May 9, 2009 – Gregory Rabinowitz, 56, of Ashdod was kidnapped and strangled to death by three West Bank Palestinians near Gan Yavne.

        There are more.

        Just this week we had an incident on road soon after Israel removed the roadblock from it:

        But they were probably a “rogue” group as Maher puts it.

        I will agree there was definitely a decline in violence which is a good thing and as Maher attested to there was a significant decline in violence from the Israeli side. In my opinion some significant amount of this decline is a result of Israel’s efforts to prevent it.

        One of the major issues throughout this entire conflict is that while it is clear many Palestinians support peace there is always one or other “rogue” group who keeps up the violent struggle. When Israel makes a decision, e.g. withdrawing from Gaza, it sends the army to forcefully remove the people who object to the decision. Similarly the withdrawal from Sinai. So while it is very clear that a lot of Israelis object to the peace process Israel so far has had the means of ensuring the governments policy is implemented. It is not so clear this will continue in the future and I hope the window of opportunity there has not closed.

      • By the way, my opinion is that settlements should be dismantled and are a historic mistake. There is probably some disagreement on what is actually a settlement but that’s a different discussion. There are also some situations where something like a land swap is probably the win win solution. Again, it’s a different discussion on the details. There should also be guaranteed safe access for Jews to any Jewish holy place and if there is ever a Palestinian state I believe Jews should have the right to reside there and enjoy the same rights as any other religion.

        The attack on the mosque and other violent actions by settlers are illegal, terrible and *some* individuals who happen to be settlers (not all by any means) are racist wackos. You should know that Israel uses some of the same techniques (detention without trials etc.) against some of those extremists as it does against Palestinians, we can argue if that is a good thing or not.

        Things like roadblocks, military control of Palestinian areas, arrests of people involved in violence, or any other security measures should remain, in my opinion, until there is a clear indication that reducing them would not increase the risk to Israelis. So we’re basically back to my call to Palestinians as a group to denounce and cease the armed struggle and ensure that is enforced on any splinter or rogue group.

      • Sorry for being so lengthy but I want to add a bit more color.

        A lot of the settlers are people who simply could not afford to live anywhere else. The reason they got where they are is because the government was offering incentives and the price was cheap. There are also many who have been living in the same place for dozens of years now. Some who were born there.

        So this issue needs to be dealt with a lot of compassion and the morality of the situation is not clear. Do any of those people enjoy some squatters rights? I don’t know. Clearly forcefully throwing those people out of their homes and grazing them with bulldozers is not always a just solution. The land swap option I mention above could be a solution to some of these issues if Palestinians were flexible enough to accept other land in return to land that was taken from them rather than seeking some sort of revenge.

  9. Lily,

    I am born of a Jewish father (Israeli) and a Catholic mother (Spanish), so I have a rough understanding of what you feel towards Judaism. Certainly, my Catholic heritage has allowed me to view the situation in the Middle East much more objectively (although, recently I have developed quite radical opinions on the matter—see: “Zionism’s Losing Battle”). However, I have an active life within the “realm of Judaism”, to the degree that I frequently practice the sabbath with the Jewish side of the family (even if, personally, I do not consider myself Jewish). I have also developed a personal alliance with the Israeli people, although I do not necessarily believe in the Israeli State and I am absolutely opposed to the idea of Zionism.

    As long as Israel continues to wage war in Palestine, there will be no peace in the Middle East. I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal on an Israeli effort to build the infrastructure in Palestine, nearest to the Israeli border, and like I argue in my previously linked article I think that is a step in the right direction.

    In any case, I just wanted to offer some light humor. Your post inspired me to share my own personal experience with airport security. I didn’t lose my laptop, but I could have lost my dignity! See: Commando versus Airport Security

    • Jonathan,

      Thanks for stating you are absolutely imposed to the idea of Zionism. It is important to establish a context for discussion and a lot of people criticizing Israel often try to hide where they’re coming from. Zionism is about Israel as a homeland/safe haven for the Jewish people and some people are opposed to that.

      Within that context, the only (realistic) right thing that Israel could do is for all its Jewish residents to pack up and go away. So arguing about whether some action is right or wrong loses its meaning.

      Belief systems are hard to argue with from a logical perspective but I’ll give it a shot anyways.

      Are there any moral values you are basing your opposition on? If you apply those same values to other countries do you find they have a right to exist? I challenge you to provide a list of criteria for “right to existence” that would exclude just Israel from that club. Alternatively, let’s start by trying to dismantle the other countries that don’t meet those criteria.

      Not too long ago Jewish people were killed by the millions in Europe and not a single country in the world would accept them and offer them safety. That includes people who were half Jewish or even people whose great-grandfather was Jewish. Anti antisemitism is still out there and it only takes that much to reignite it.

      To conclude I want to reverse your conclusion: As long as war is waged on Israel there will be no peace in the Middle East. It’s a nicer way of saying the same thing 😉 and saying nothing.

  10. Hi Lily,

    You are a very thoughtful person. I grew up in Israel and through the period of the bus bombings and I must say that even though it was a terrifying experience to open the news and see those exploded buses, life was otherwise pretty normal during that time nevertheless.

    You are curious about the intellectual side of religion – I strongly recommend listening to Crash Course on Jewish History by Rabbi Ken Spiro – he gives you a very fascinating overview from the beginning Jewish until today, and he answers many of the intellectual questions people have. It should definitely close many of the gaps you and other people have about Jews and Judaism. http://www.simpletoremember.com/authors/a/crash-course-jewish-history-mp3s/

  11. So just what are you saying Jonathan. You’re not a Jew, you don’t believe in Zionism. Indeed, you declare your ideas to be radical. But you want to claim a “active life” in the “realm of Judiasm” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    But of course, this non-faith, non-people, non-state, which you’re a part of, is the crux to the entire Middle East.

    It is amazing how so many people who aren’t a part of us, decide just what we shouldn’t be.

    After reading your manifesto, I think you miss the point of Israel entirely as well as misjudge its history.

    Try starting with the idea that idea of Zion is an intrinsic part of Judaism and has been central to Jews as a single people throughout history.

    Add into that mix the idea that for roughly 2,000 years we have been on the doormat of the main civilizations in Europe and the Middle East. The idea that we should have a home of our own is hardly unique or that our interest in Israel is something recent.

    As for the ‘militarization’ of Israel, you need to realize just why Israel has felt a requirement to build such a defense force. As for the economic disparity, please try checking the per-capita GDP of not just Israel vs. the Palestinians, but the rest of the countries in the region. While you are contemplating that figure, please realize that the Palestinian GDP reflects their decision to initiate a war with Israel back in 2000. Prior to that, the Palestinian GDP was much different.

  12. Well Lily,

    I think you’ve succeeded in confirming that you have no connection to Jews or Judaism whatsoever.

    I’m not sure what ‘culture’ you picked up from the latkes but it hasn’t carried over into your sense of being.

    Based on reading these snippets, it almost seems that the ‘smirk’ was a confirmation by you that you’re not one of ‘those people’.

    Those “outcasts, scapegoats, viewed as greedy and manipulating intellectuals” from that “terrifying place and wish my family would leave.”

    You have never studied the conflict in-depth in school or discussed it with my parents. You have only heard about violence, terror and senseless death.

    … I do not feel Jewish. I have never attended Hebrew school, gone to synagogue or prayed in a religious way. I want the descendents of “these people…”

    Contrast that with your thoughts

    “I cannot imagine leaving after such a short stint–There is so much I want to see and learn. I want to be more than a tourist; I will live and work in a society different than my own.”

    You end with “I believe minds can change with accurate information and analysis.”

    But just what do you know? Where has your information come from? Latkes? The idea that there is anti-Semitism because those “others” are “encroaching” on to your turf?

    You claim to be “wordly” and yet cannot fathom that “she (the Israeli woman-borderguard my age) has left Israel, what she has learned about the outside world and what she has seen”.

    What has she seen Lily? What has she learned? Maybe that her role helps protect her family, her neighbors, her friends.

    You stated you were worried for your family, that Israel was a dangerous place. This woman, her job, is to help prevent that violence. For all your claimed worldliness, you didn’t even understand that.

    More than that, in all your blogs, you have yet to state any of those honest and searching discussions that you have repeatedly had in Egypt, Syria, and the Gulf, with any Israeli, or any Jew. You don’t know “us”.

    Hence, the smirk.

  13. “In my high school there are often anti-Semitic slurs. Part of it is ignorance, part likely frustration at Kiryas Joel encroaching into our neighborhoods.”

    There is a common thread that runs through your story back home and the questions you are dealing with now on this blog. In a sense, your neighborhood is very similar to the neighborhood Israel lives in. In both neighborhoods there are anti-Semitic (meaning: anti-Jewish) slurs (in Israel’s case – killing), and in both they stem part from ignorance, and part from the Jews encroaching on their neighborhoods.

    The point I’m trying to make: the root cause of this whole conflict is a certain hate/discomfort people seem to feel towards Jews – whether it is the neighbors of Kiryas Yoel in New York, USA or Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East. Otherwise, who would care that their neighborhoods are expanding? If people you loved expanded into your neighborhood or joined it – you would welcome them with open arms – would you not?

    This is not new – the same hatred has there been there for milennia, and one should ask why…

    One attempt at answering this question and that made sense to me is found here: http://international.aish.com/seminars/whythejews/

    • You’re being too generous when estimating the motives of such a mindset. Her antagonism towards Israel stems from the wildly inaccurate assumption that wiping Israel off the map would in turn radically decrease the manifestations of Antisemitism; that if Israel disappeared then the bigots would follow suit and not be so loud, if only Judaism had less visibility.

      If that were the case she’d be far less likely to have those uncomfortable encounters she briefly touched upon– imagine yourself in her shoes, a person with Jewish ancestry seeking to fit in on campus, roundly denouncing Israel as is expected of the open-minded intellectual.

      Then picture the pain and conflict in our individual that is ‘uncomfortable’ with Jews when the tables are turned and she is the victim of like-minded Antisemites! Life would be so much easier for her if she could erase the Jewish half of her, but with that being impossible Israel is a suitable, alternative sacrifice.

  14. Lily, you make some very interesting comments in this post. And I want to make you ponder about two of them.
    The first one is about your experience:
    “I read how around 40 children are killed…
    I read 33 percent of the Gazans killed….
    I do not believe Israel is taking “all feasible precautions”…
    I am outraged just as thoroughly by Israel’s…”
    You read, you don’t believe Israel, and you are outraged.

    Let’s go on to the second comment:
    “They tell me they think America is controlled by Jews and Zionists…
    They tell me September 11th was caused by Jews…
    Of course I disagree. I am horrified they harbor such ideas and theories…
    I believe minds can change with accurate information and analysis.”

    Do you wonder where the Egyptians you talked to get their ideas and theories? As a person who lives in the US you are afraid of how inaccurate and horrible their portrayal of the US is? You KNOW they are wrong.
    They probably got their information the same way you did: They read. Or perhaps they watched, or heard, or whatever – and I bet they are as outraged about what they read, at least as much as you where when you read about Israel.

    So what I wish to ask you is quite simple: do you believe that all the information you digested from the media is accurate and real? Perhaps you were mislead by the media (who’s main interest is to reach more readers and therefore needs to be dramatic), and perhaps the media were in turn mislead by their own sources (who always have a political agenda, as do most conflict researchers on both sides).

    So here is my point: when I read what you write about Israel, as a person who’s familiar with the conflict from first hand I am horrified you harbor such ideas and theories – just as you were when you heard what the Egyptians think about how the Jews control the US.

    You think believe minds can change with accurate information and analysis? Start with yourself: question everything you read and ask yourself if the portrayal you get is the actual facts, or just something someone want you to think.

  15. Thank you Lily. I don’t think you owed this post to anyone but I found it genuine, lovely, and familiar. I am sorry so many people think you should be attacked for sharing your impressions and opinions.

    When I read your original post about your interrogation, I understood the smirk and remembered doing it myself. In August of 1986, I was pulled out of line at Ben Gurion where I was trying to board my flight back to the U.S. after spending the summer studying law in Israel. I had been warned this might happen as I, like you, met the Anne Marie Murphy profile. I was a young woman traveling alone. Since Anne Marie Murphy had been arrested only a few months earlier, I understood and had even left additional time. I was asked a predictable list of questions about who I was (a law student), how long had I been in Israel (two months), whether I was Jewish (yes), whether I had a boyfriend (yes), was he Jewish (yes), where was he (waiting for me in the States), had anyone else packed my backpack (no). Still, no one had asked me to open my pack. Then the stamps in my passport were examined. Other than my Israeli stamp, there were only two: Nicaragua and Egypt. I was taken further away from the line and several superiors were called over. Now I was starting to get nervous that I might miss my flight. I had given them the contact information for the professor for whom I had worked while I studied in Israel and a brochure for the company that ran the hiking trip I took in the Sinai (the explanation for the Egyptian stamp – I can’t remember what I said about the Nicaraguan stamp). In those days before cell phones, contacting someone who could vouch for me wasn’t an option even if it had been considered. I was then ordered to write down the name, address, and phone number of everyone I had spoken to while I was in Israel. I couldn’t have done it even if I had wanted to. Everyone I had spoken to in two months?? I explained as calmly as I could that I didn’t remember everyone I had spoken to and hadn’t known most of their addresses and phone numbers in the first place. Now I was exhausted, hot, thirsty, frustrated, and afraid. And still no one had searched my backpack. Then one of the soldiers said, “We don’t believe you were studying law here. Why would an American study law in Israel?” And then I smirked. I didn’t plan it. But I smirked.

    In my case the smirk led to some discussions among the men who were in charge of me and finally a decision – a very young man was ordered to search my backpack and then to let me on the plane.

    I am a Jew but I am not a Zionist. It is a position I do not think is problematic and one I do not need to justify to anyone. My opinions about Israel would not have been uncovered in this interrogation. I wasn’t even asked about them. That is why I smirked – the incredulity about my studying law in Israel startled me. What had been said to me was an admission about Israeli law that the person making the remark didn’t even understand. And it was just so stupid.

    Hang in there.

    • Jake,

      Just so people can understand what you’re talking about:

      I certainly wouldn’t expect a border guard to be an expert in law in the same way that I wouldn’t expect a lawyer to be an expert on border security and identifying terrorists. Isn’t American law quite different than Israeli law though?

      Not being a security expert myself I can only speculate that during this sort of interrogation the security person would try to challenge the story provided and find inconsistencies in it. It sounds like a reasonable thing to do. Perhaps something like a cross examination. It was probably your smirk that actually convinced them you were legit. I’m sure if the situation was reversed you might have asked some stupid questions as well. It’s an amusing anecdote but why don’t you share with us what you think about Israeli law?

      I can understand when people say Israel has no right to exist and within that context it has no right to anything. If we assume Israel has a right to exist I can’t see why the measures that Israel takes to protect itself from attacks are unreasonable. It is quite obvious that there are a huge number of threats. It seems that for the most part the measures taken are reasonably proportional to the threats.

      The way your story, and Lily’s, is interpreted is highly context dependent. By eliminating the context you are, knowingly or not, engaging in propaganda. I see it as very similar to quoting out of context or lack of disclosure in finance. I realize it is impossible to include the entire 5000 year context but I expect some visible effort. e.g. it would be useful to mention that bombs have been found in laptops and that that use of firearms mounted on bomb robots to disarm bombs is a generally accepted method. 15 minutes of research on the Internet can find that. Therefore at least some of the criticism directed at Lily is in my opinion correct.

      Bonus points for mentioning you are not a Zionist though so the readers know where you’re coming from (assuming they understand the meaning of the term). More points for mentioning the proximity to the Anne-Marie case. You’re doing way better than most comments 😉

      I’m (secular) Jewish, Israeli, and I support the right of Israel to exist and defend itself though I think some of its actions are really moronic.

      • Guy, I think I gave the context of my interrogation as completely as my memory of it allows. I do remember thinking at the time that asking me to write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone I had spoken to could endanger people I had met and would not predict whether I was a threat to the aircraft better than actually searching my backpack, which they were *not* doing.

        As for Lily, I doubt one need spend even fifteen minutes on the Internet to know that a bomb might be found in a laptop. However, I don’t believe that all laptops are shot at the border of any country. I think that if Israel indeed shoots all laptops at border crossings, there should at least be a sign or some notice so that people do not attempt to bring laptops with them.

        My thoughts on Israeli law are irrelevant in this discussion. The person insisting my story about studying law was implausible seemed to be saying that Israel had no law worth studying or perhaps no law school worth studying in.

        I must disagree with you concerning proportional response. White phosphorus is not a proportional response to anything. Its use can not be justified.

      • Whoa Jake, hold your horses,

        How did we get to white phosphorus? I was discussing border security and my assertion is that the border security procedures you and Lily were subjected to are not completely unreasonable given the threat. It seems you agree? Let’s leave the other proportional use of force discussions for another day.

        Why is the border’s guard opinion of Israeli law schools so important? For the purpose of this discussion I’ll agree with your conclusion that the border guard thought no Israeli law school was worth studying at. Why should I care? Do you go to border guards for advise about where to pursue your academic education?

        Israel has millions of people traveling to it every year. I would imagine that a lot of them carry laptops. Certainly if every laptop was shot we would have heard something about that. While it seems clear to you that laptops may contain bombs it seems most of the people posting comments to this blog are not that smart. So unlike what the article and a lot of the comments insinuate Israel has a very low rate of error. Does this make sense?

        I agree there should be a sign stating your belongings may be searched, confiscated and/or destroyed. Perhaps there is one. This is true of any border crossing and any airport anywhere in the world. Likewise your luggage can be lost if you’re flying. There are also over 1000 laptops stolen in US airports every week. Be careful out there 😉 Did you know that a US border guard can seize your laptop without giving any reason?

        So my point stands that the border security procedures, including Lily’s experience, are not unreasonable with respect to the threat. That said, even though the procedures are reasonable a bit more diplomacy and thought could certainly make for a much better experience and Israel needs to understand the importance of visitors having a positive experience.


  16. I am merely staying with the discussion, Guy. I understood your reference to steps Israel takes to protect itself to extend beyond border security.

    I did not think that my interrogation in 1986 was appropriate. I anticipated being profiled but that does not mean I thought it was appropriate. And indeed the quality of Israeli law schools was irrelevant, which was why I smirked.

    We will never know whether Lily’s laptop was shot because there was a reasonable (or any) suspicion that there was a threat. The point I am making is that she should not be blamed for her laptop being shot merely because she smirked and she should not be attacked for expressing political views I consider reasonable.

  17. Hi Jake,

    Fair enough. You felt it was not appropriate. I have no problem with that.

    As you say we will probably never know for sure why Lily’s laptop was shot.

    I don’t think its Lily’s fault her laptop was shot and I fully support her right to express any political view. What I don’t like is the use of this incident by her and (mostly) others as support for their political views or agenda and the mixing of views and facts. Given the facts I think the Israeli authorities actions should at least be given the benefit of the doubt.


  18. lily,

    Don’t you agree that Israel’s self-defense operations (such as “cast lead”) are, in general, an arab (“palestinian”, egyptian, syrian, iranian etc…) interest?

    I mean, the lack of those operations is what gave hamas and hizballah it’s popularity, whom interest is their own people suffering. if Israel can succeed in making terror un worth-while, there will be no terror, thus no operations against it, so everybody live!

    operations like “cast lead” didn’t only save israeli lives, it saved palestians also!

  19. A brilliant read Lily, thoroughly enjoyed it. I have just discovered this blog, and glad that I have! RSS subscribed, hope to read some more posts soon.

    @ Eran R:
    “operations like “cast lead” didn’t only save israeli lives, it saved palestians also!” – Seriously? There was approximately 1,300 Palestinians dead, a third of which women and children as a result of operation Cast Lead. How has this operation saved Palestinians?

    • because extreme groups like hamas, which nowadays most people on gaza support them, are not only bad for usa, europe, isreal etc. they are even worse for their own people! for “palestinians” and for arabs.

      if in, lets say, 50 years, “palestinians” will be a peaceful nation, they will find a partner instantly, and could settle in Jordan’s and egypt’s territories (since those countries are not intersted in them) as a nation (new one) and then, they won’t remember Israel as what pevented their current prosparrity, but hamas.

      hamas was beaten badly on “cast lead”. It’s our obligation to the “palestinians” to help them get some sense by defeating hamas (the same with syria and hizballah). it’s the only way for peace to be achieved, the only way for the “palestinians” to live without fear. we can’t let them drown in ilusions, thinking that terror can bring them those things! (and 72 virgins lol)

  20. I actually feel sorry for you as it is really quite clear you have absolutely no integrity or insight. My family are/were Egyptian Jews who (like all of the Egyptian Jews) underwent expulsion from Egypt with theft of their entire property – In 1967, my uncle and many others were arrested solely on basis of their religion and imprisoned for 3 years. Learn a little about how minorities are really treated in Egypt and other Islamic countries. Try talking to the Copts (there are no Jews left in Egypt). Try to contrast the experience of religious minorities in Israel (Sunni, Druze, Baha’i, Christian) with those in Egypt. I do not agree with everything that Israel does, but there is simply no comparison between a country with an independent judiciary & guaranteed rights for all religions and any of the so-called “Islamic republics” – Yes, you speak some Arabic (as do many, many people), but you are an ignorant American – as bad as any hillbilly or rightwinger = a shallow coed who has not the faintest idea that she is a PR tool for people who have zero respect for religious or political freedoms. Some simple questions: How long has Mubarak been leader and how did he attain power? Can you build or even repair a church in Egypt?

  21. Lily,

    I was one of the people who criticised you for that Anti-Israeli remark two weeks ago. I wanted to thank you for this recent entry. It was a great and insightful read.

    Liv, Melbourne, Australia

  22. “I read how around 40 children are killed when Israeli mortar hits a United Nations school building.”

    You do realize this never happened, right? (First, Israel didn’t hit the school building, it struck at a Hamas position near the school building,though this was misreported at first, and second, 40 children weren’t killed).

  23. Here’s one of many articles noting that the UN later acknowledged that Israel DID NOT hit a school.


    40 or so people, not children, were killed in the relevant incident.

    Perhaps a good lesson for an aspiring journalist–don’t believe everything you read, especially not reports from a war zone where propaganda is flying, and especially not from sources, like the U.N. in Gaza, which are known to be partisans in the conflict.

  24. Amazing, you read a couple of articles on the Middle East and you have it all figured out. Israel is nasty all the rest are the good guys. Educated Egyptians that you meet spout off about Jews owning the media, Jews were responsible for 9/11. Ah, you say, we disagreed and then went for coffee.

    I found it interesting that in one of your blogs you use the term Inshalllah. Are you playing at being Muslim?

    Do us all a favor, go ahead with your Muslim journey, I am sure you will find it quite enlightening, especially how women are treated. Israel can do quite well with or without you.

  25. Clearly, Lily is like many Jews or half Jews that have no clue or connection to their culture or history. Oh, she tries to show her cress by the fact that she ate latkes and read Night.

    Under the Nazis however, she would have been loaded onto the cattle cars together with the Ultra Orthodox. In Entebbe, the terrorists would have seperated her with the other Jews, and if not for the IDF rescue, who knows.

    Someone noted that she is trying to learn, is trying to have an open mind. Nonsense, she already made up her mind. Agreeing with comments that we Israelis shoot children every day. Spouting faulty data about casualties during Cast Lead. Of course, she had nothing to say about 8 years of rockets fired from Gaza.

  26. This is all very confusing and contradictory. You talk about your mother finding solace in a church as if you lean this way. You don’t seem to believe in religion so do you really buy that some guy named Jesus Christ is the savior of the world? You say you don’t know much about Judaism. Since you are half Jewish, why not investigate at least from intellectual perspective which seems to be the method you are most comfortable approaching this topic. It is a lot less about blind faith like Catholicism, for example. It is one of the world’s oldest religions and has endured for a reason. Unlike the educated Egyptians you met in Cairo telling you the Jews are money grubbing people who control the world, you won’t meet too many Jews around the world who will condemn an entire people based on their racial or religious makeup. Maybe if you knew more about the faith you yourself are descended from, you might gain some valuable knowledge as to why this is. I would suggest that you read Bernard Lewis http://www.princeton.edu/~nes/faculty_lewis.html for a contextual perspective- he is a well respected historian who writes about Judaism, Islam, Jews in muslim countries among other middle eastern topics.

    • Hi…

      I have not read the entry in a while, but apparently i was not clear in it–I do not recall mentioning my mother finding solace in a church. While I am interested in religion from an intellectual standpoint, and regret my lack of education regarding Judaism, (I”m working on that!). I am quite comfortable in my personal beliefs and not searching for any type of religion to adhere.

      I don’t want to argue…but this comment ” you won’t meet too many Jews around the world who will condemn an entire people based on their racial or religious makeup” I find slightly ridiculous. Tell Palestinians secluded in the West bank of Gaza. Children whose grandparents were kicked out in 1948, that, that had nothing to do with their religion or Arab race.

      While I appreciate your intentions of sharing educational information and engaging in dialogue, I do not have much respect for Bernard Lewis. Have you ever come across this critique of his work? Though strong-worded in places, I think there is a lot to it… http://www.counterpunch.org/alam06282003.html

  27. Question: do you think Americans are racist because Americans drove Native Americans off their land and herded them onto reservations? Should America cease to exist because it has this racist black mark in its history? I guarantee if you go onto any reservation you will hear some Indians talking about the racist white man. Next question. What if Indians in Buffalo or Atlantic City started shooting rockets into New Jersey and New York? There are a lot of places in downtown Syracuse that have apartment buildings and stores on them that the local tribes question their provenance. There was an article about this just a few years ago. Should New York give them back? What if the Native Americans start firebombing? So the Native American disenfranchisment happened in the 19th century. Some Palestinians were forcibly removed by Israelis less than a hundred years ago. Does proximity in time make it different to you?
    Most nations have this in their history, albeit not so recent. So native Ukranians were displaced from Germany, the Germans lost Alsace Lorraine in a war. Should they get it back now? It used to be part of Germany after all. Should the Ukranians have land claims in Germany? The Israelis who displaced Palestinians didn’t care that they were Muslim or Arab per se, but that they were in the way. Harsh as that sentence may sound, let’s consider the context under which that happened. In WWII/the Holocaust, Jews were exterminated simply because they were Jewish. The Germans wound up in most of Europe and shipped Jews out to concentration camps (Bulgaria and Denmark, exceptions) The French, of the weak backbone, were particularly complicit. The US wouldn’t accept many of them during the war and actually turned back ships with Jewish refugees and sent them back to Germany to be slaughtered. (Rent the Voyage of the Damned some day). After the war, the Europeans were like, hmmm, what do we do with these displaced persons and survivors of concentration camps? Where should they go? Where can we put them? The British, as did the Zionists, certainly championed the idea of sending Jews to their ancient homeland.

    Cue some Middle East history- nations and boundaries in the Levant were not particularly fixed and Western style nation states were an imported 20th century construct on the region. This is not to diminish Palestinian suffering or justify the current conditions of the Palestinian people or to completely provide a moral justification for taking people out of their homes and the events of 1948. Who else do the Palestians have to blame for the way things played out and their current conditions? Most of the Palestinian homeland is in fact in Jordan, but Jordan played both sides against the middle and was more than happy to herd Palestinians into the West Bank and kick them out of Jordan- all the more to further overcrowding in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, ensure the continuation of Palestinian misery and keep the population poor so it could be a continual bete-noir in Israel’s side. So no, I do not believe that Jews and even Israeli Jews condemn Palestinians on the basis that they worship Allah which is the premise under discussion. When you situate what happened, how it happened and why it happened and what is continually happening in its historical context, buying into the premise that Jews are racist (a favorite phrase amongst the European professorial class) is a failure of the shoe on the other foot test. Fast forward to today- no question, remaining an occupier degrades the psyche, morality and culture of the occupier. Same for the occupied. That said, the grievances of the Palestinians you mentioned- with all do respect to their recent memory, they are not getting land back on the West side of that wall that their grandparents used to live in. You probably know some Jews whose grandparents were thrown out of their homes in Germany or refuseniks who weren’t allowed to earn a living in the former Soviet Union. Should Holocaust survivors now be entitled to the houses their grandparents used to live in in Europe or the businesses their families used to own? The general consensus is NO. Should the Palestinians have a homeland? YES. Should they have the right to return to land owned by their grandparents? Absolutely not. Are Germans who live in houses today that Jews used to live in necessarily racist people? Should people who live there today voluntarily move out of their homes and give them to Jews? Do the Palestinians suggest that Jordanians are racist for throwing them out of their homeland there? Is it not ridiculous that the Jordanians are not deemed racist and ethnocentrist they way Jews are for displacing Palestinians? Did the Jordanians do this because of the Palestinians’ race and religion? I think (hope) you would agree the answer is no.

  28. Your exact words in describing the aftermath of the boy who got hit by a train are “In the days that follow I watch her and others find solace in the church”……
    anyway, the critique you site is by shahid alam, a professor at the university you attend, has flaws. So he states “Lewis can write “objectively” about the Arab’s “ingrained” opposition to Israel without ever telling his readers that Israel is an imperialist creation, and an expansionist, colonial-settler state that was founded on terror, wars, and ethnic cleansing”. That pretty much defines the birth of most nations, certainly the U.S- Native Americans, et al- if you read my last note which perhaps you opted not to print because you didn’t like the line of reasoning or perhaps you haven’t gotten to it yet. Which states do you think do not have that in their history? So here is the thing- today, 2010, does that mean that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist?. Do you suggest that it should be dismantled? The Palestinian insistence that they have the “right of return” to their grandparents homes is not a valid claim for resolution of the current crisis. You take that argument they give you and don’t question it all- hence my question as to whether you thought Jews were entitled to their grandparents houses that were taken in Nazi Germany or Native Americans being entitled to lands that were taken from them by the American “colonial settler state”.
    I may not be drawing the correct conclusion from your thought process, but it seems to be that you think that Israel should not exist and should be taken apart and returned to Palestinians to rectify past harms. Shahid’s continuous use of the term Zionist is provocative– do we still call American’s conquerors and colonialists? He really sounds hung up on the fact that he believes Israel is an illegitimate entity that has no right to exist. So the question now is, moving forward from this point in time, do you think that believing that Israel is illegitimate is a belief system that will lead to a resolution in the conflict there? Shahid makes some points about historical highlights in Islamic culture that Lewis left out, deemphasized or failed to highlight. Islamic culture contributed many things to world civilization. Intellectually honest academics will dismantle each others arguments. What I find intellectually dishonest is a wholesale dismissal of Miller’s attempts to explain some flaws in nations that are Islamic-based (I don’t know the P.C. way to describe places like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc) Obviously Jordan and Egypt are more stable (though you still see instability in those states- honor killings, failure to treat minorities properly, some autocracy)- but consider that most Islamic states treated minorities poorly, have a lot of autocracy and in the modern age failed to separate church and state. Have you read some Lewis or just the critique of Lewis? Dismissing someone wholesale because another academic you read first that you like doesn’ t like him may be premature.

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