Look at that jobless punim.

The Kadima primaries began this morning and will end in about 40 minutes. We’ll know who gets the prize possession of being Ehud Olmert’s successor (in technicality and not job skill, we hope).

I wonder what he’s got planned as soon as he’s off-duty… Maybe he and Bush will go to Cancun together, smoke cigars.  Buy some property. Who knows.

(ynet)

Tonight's rally for the release of Gilad Shalit.

Amidst the cries for Olmert to quit, be embarrassed and work harder towards the release of the kidnapped soldiers, there was plenty of emotion to go round.

Of course, the major focal point of sentiment came from Noam Shalit’s short but necessary speech to open the rally outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

It’s an absolute shame when fathers have to become politicians. It’s everything wrong.

The state of Israel in 5758.

This is the time of year when the State of Israel has a chance to really look deep into the heart of herself and understand what condition she’s in. It’s the post-Pessach triangle of introspection: yesterday was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and next week are Yom HaZicaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day).

When I was younger, and full of the enthusiasm and energy of Herzl’s Zionism, this triangle was one of my favorite times of the year. Yom HaShoah was the day to remember why we need a state; Yom HaZicaron was the day to remember how we’ve managed to defend the state; Yom Haatzmaut was the day to celebrate how we will continue to flourish in this state.

That was, of course, before I lived in Israel.

The state of the Jewish State is bleak. Actually, it’s quite depressing. I’m tired of hearing all those wonderful accomplishments and inventions done by Israelis; It’s not moving me anymore to see pictures of young European Jews building the kibbutzim. Those are still wonderful things, to be sure. And I do get still get teary-eyed when I sing the words to Hatikvah. But pardon me if I think there are other things we need to go back to focusing on.

On Yom HaShoah I read that Holocaust survivors’ situation is worsening. I wonder why the elderly who starved under German torture are starving under the Israeli government? How are we going to continue keeping our kids’ interested in this piece of Jewish history when we can be so nonchalant towards our grandparents, who are all nearly dead? How are we going to survive ourselves?

On Yom HaZicaron I wonder what our 18-year-old soldiers are really getting killed for. Do the sirens move Ehud Omert? When he is standing with his arms behind his back, eyes low, is he thinking about the soldiers ‘ blood or border security? Is he thinking about how embarrassing it is for us to have him as a prime minister? What is the long-term plan here? How are we going to manage to stay here in Israel? Who will fight our wars in the next 20 years?

And, finally, Yom Haatzmaut this year: turning 60. I’m having a hard time understanding why this number is worth going into debt, pouring millions and millions of shekels into frivolous parties instead of working on social programs in the State’s honor to show off the good soul of the Jewish State. I’m wondering why the government is busy making sure that no one uses the Israel 60th birthday logo without permission instead of worrying over the fact that most non-immigrant Israelis I speak to are completely disenchanted with Independence Day this year. Why celebrate a lie? Why celebrate debt?

Why celebrate the state of the State of Israel this year?

A week of drills to come.

Next week the country is conducting a series of horrible scenario simulations for the purpose of drilling government agencies, the army, government employees and students on how to react in the case of a national emergency.

Civil defense drill starts Sun.; to include mock chemical attack

“The exercise will continue throughout the week, with scenarios that include a simulated hazardous material spill in the Haifa Bay, the rescue of survivors from a collapsed building in the Meron and Nazareth areas and the firing of ground-to-ground missiles equipped with chemical warheads.

During the exercise, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are to conduct situation reviews and to make decisions based on the various scenarios as they unfold.” (Haaretz)

The last line is what actually depresses me about the whole thing.

My reactions to the Winograd report.

No, I haven’t written any thoughts on the Winograd report given the other night. So what do I think, you ask?

I think the question – at this point – is how have I reacted to the Winograd report? I knew what my response would be whether or not I agreed with the outcome. It’s been planned for a while, actually.

My reaction was to take stock piles of old newspapers from the last months of Prime Minister Olmert still being in power, of terrible governing and bad governmental memories, and crumple them up, toss them into boxes, and settle my delicate glassware on the faces of ineffective world leaders.

I think it’s been a pretty healthy response, actually.

*Nudge* The kidnapped soldiers have not been returned.

It’s a year and a half later, and the three kidnapped soldiers from summer 2006 – Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit have not been returned to us.

The Keren Maor Foundation was founded to assist and support the families of these three soldiers, and to raise awareness until they are brought home from their current Hezbollah and Hamas prisons.

They have declared January 2nd to be a day dedicated to reminding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that it is the government’s responsibility to bring back our captured brothers. In the letter below, the foundation asks citizens of Israel to send emails/letters/faxes on that date.

eulmert@knesset.gov.il

Kaplan 3, Jerusalem 91919

02-6546717

If you’d like to contact the organization, be in touch with Ilan Specter, 0524714025 or ilan-ss@nana.co.il. The foundation accepts donations here.

Protest for the Kidnapped Soldiers

On museums and Annapolis – shmalapolis.

Jerusalem is once again hosting חמשושלים, that period when museums go late Thursday nights and restaurants discount themselves for the weekend.We chose to visit the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. I never felt any specific or strong feelings towards Menachem Begin – the sixth prime minister of Israel and former Beitar movement head and Irgun strategizer. The museum always looked so fancy on the outside so we decided, why not?Menachem Begin

It wasn’t until the end of the tour that I realized the symbolism of my Begin education tonight, one of the nights covering the Annapolis ridiculousness going on. If Sharon were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave. They don’t make leaders like that anymore.

Menachem Begin pushed through war so he could get to peace. And that wasn’t consistent; it went back and forth, but at least it went. He did seem to think about what he was doing and who it would help or hurt; in the very least, he had emotions along with brains.

Ehud Olmert puts that to shame. In terms of mistakes and misfits, at least Begin knew when to step down. Begin exuded personality; he laid his beliefs on the table and stood firm, while Olmert is a blank stare of a man. Begin was a fighter for social justice, yet in the present leadership students haven’t been to school since last June.

Leaders today don’t have the kind of experience that creates the potential for… nostalgia. The big guns are dead or – almost dead. Sadat and Begin – these guys had balls. Where are today’s guts? Do good leaders only spring from tragedy?

I’ve purposely chosen to actively ignore the Annapolis goings-on. It’s the first time that I’ve been apathetic towards a ‘chance’. I’m another hard-working exhausted Israeli, tired of vomiting up cliches. I’m slowly paying my due; I made aliyah and live my life here, working hard to stay committed. How is the government completing their end of the bargain?

As a museum, the Begin Center wasn’t all that impressive, but I’m glad I went. I feel a renewed sense of spirit; not necessarily in the backwards American-Zionism way, but just as an Israeli citizen who knows that inspiring leaders have existed in the past and believes that someday – hopefully before more tragedy is done – they will rise again.