how deep are you willing to go? how much do you really care? the sad balancing act

Dearest friends,

Here i am again.

The war is over (for now), the bombs have stopped for the moment.

I am feeling sad, my heart is heavy, i juggle desperation and tentative hope.

I spend many sleepless nights in front of the computer screen looking for answers, for information, for knowledge.
Sometimes i read things that open my eyes.

I read an interview with doctors from Gaza who spoke to Italian journalists and claim the death toll is much lower than Hamas would like the world believe, it is in the hundreds, not the thousands, and mostly youths recruited by Hamas to fight Israel. The doctors say many hospital beds in Gaza now lay empty, which would be impossible if the wounded were in the thousands. This is good news for anyone who cares for human life, who has cried for the suffering of others. And i have cried many tears for those across the border, as i do for my own.

I read about an Israeli student from the south of Israel who single-handedly organized a volunteer operation and managed to raise hundreds of kilos of rice, sugar, flour, oil, clothes, toys, what not, for the innocent victims in Gaza, from throughout Israel, including the bombed south. Let’s hope the trucks reach the needy.

I read that Abu Mazen urges the people of Gaza not to let Hamas turn Gaza into a faction of Iran. This is a brave man whom i believe voices the opinions of many Palestinians today and i hope he will be given the mandate by his people to continue a dialogue with Israel which was started in the past. And let us hope the upcoming elections in Israel will give rise to a government willing to embark on a serious, steadfast journey to peace, where words are followed by actions.

I read an interview with an incredible Spanish woman called Pilar Rahola, which inspired me greatly with her courage. She is a real free thinker. The link is here:

and, i saw a surprising interview on BBC that broke the circle of one-sided reporting that characterises that network (and so many others)

i spent an hour watching lecture by an impressive Lebanese woman who lives in America, on the subject of radical islam. The link is here. It takes a full hour (you can skip the first few minutes of the moderators intro) her personal testimony is staggering and i think her voice, though radical at times, is well worth listening to. If only for the sake of balance.

i have also discovered this link that is thorough, deep and informative regarding the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the list on the front page is mind boggling enough, even before you start following up on the endless sub-links. This is for all those who think they have any understanding of our conflict, and i include myself in this. Think again.

I urge you all, any of you who really care, any of you who consider yourselves real independent thinkers and caring human beings, to take the time to listen, watch, and open your minds and hearts to all that is here and beyond. And please share anything of value that you have learned with me. I am more than willing to broaden my perspective on anything.

i pray every day. I am not religious at all but i pray to WHOEVER IS OUT THERE. I pray that we will now enter a period of DIALOGUE finally, where both sides apologize, recognize and share. I pray we can achieve the goal of 2 states for 2 people, free and independent, democratic and liberal, sharing commerce and culture, building on the ruins of the past.

I for one will continue, to listen and learn, to open my mind and heart, to use my voice, my vote and all that i have at my disposal to fight for equal rights, for dialogue, for joint recognition, respect, co-existence, and inshalla...... peace.

Sending love.

Noa (Achinoam)

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Comment by Milez on March 10, 2009 at 8:39am
"I read an interview with doctors from Gaza who spoke to Italian journalists and claim the death toll is much lower than Hamas would like the world believe, it is in the hundreds, not the thousands, and mostly youths recruited by Hamas to fight Israel. The doctors say many hospital beds in Gaza now lay empty, which would be impossible if the wounded were in the thousands. This is good news for anyone who cares for human life, who has cried for the suffering of others. And i have cried many tears for those across the border, as i do for my own."

Noa, please could you give us a reference for the interview?

This bears zero correspondence with anything credible I have read elsewhere.
Palestinians in Gaza have lived through this. What are you trying to achieve by minimising it? This is not an attempt to reach out to them. It is an attempt to salve the consciences of those who felt compelled to conform to the quite extraordinary levels of Israeli bloodlust.

I have heard Col Richard Kemp interviewed many times over the past few months. This interview is pretty standard fare for him. He is reliable on technical details, such as (to my astonishment) it is legal to use white phosphorous as an anti personnel weapon (though not near built up areas such as UN headquarters). However good he is on technical details, he is abysmal on the legality of the occupation, the blockade and the means used to enforce them. These are unlawful as he undoubtedly knows but never says. (I have never heard him challenged on this either.) Like Noa, he seems to have no difficulty persuading himself that the civilian casualties and extraordinary levels of destruction are unintended consequences rather than the principle component of the deterrent effect Israel was seeking to re-establish.

He says in the course of the interview "I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza." But he has the decency to add "When you look at the number of civilian casualties that have been caused that perhaps doesn't sound too credible, I would accept that."
Yes, I think "doesn't sound too credible" sums it up very well! This is the same IDF which drove rescuers off the wreckage of a building where they had corralled the Samouni family before shelling them. How can anyone claim this is "the most moral army in world" when it leaves dehydrated and starving infants lying in the wreckage with their dead parents? Even if the shelling was another 'mistake' what possible reason could there be for denying rescuers access for DAYS? I don't know which bits of the IDF Col Kemp has "knowledge" of, but it clearly isn't this bit.

When the interviewer challenges him (with reference to the incident just mentioned) he responds "Well, of course I can't really comment on the detail of that, I don't have any of the facts available on that and I've no doubt that any allegations like that will be looked into very seriously by Israel, and of course the Israeli army operate under a strict code of conduct and are answerable to the Israeli government and the Israeli courts ..." Well, that’s a lot of obfuscatory waffle which will be treated by Palestinians with the derision and contempt it deserves. Why couldn’t he just say that denying rescuers access to killed and injured civilians is inhumane and unacceptable? The army, incidentally, is NOT answerable to Israeli courts as they demonstrated by their refusal to allow journalists into Gaza. Probably a wise decision on their part. They may have got some flak for it, but nothing compared to what proper reporting would have exposed.

I am fed up with hearing repeated assertions that Hamas uses its own people as human shields. Is this meant to excuse the gruesome levels of civilian casualties? These 'human shields' are Hamas' ELECTORS. Of course the IDF would prefer Hamas fighters to stand in the middle of a field with a big sign saying "AIM HERE"! It may come as a surprise, but they are attempting to defend their community and its dignity at colossal personal risk, and they do so in the terrain they know well that maximises their advantage, not Israel’s, viz where they live and work (those few that can).

I spent several months living on a refugee camp in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and one thing I learnt was that the IDF varies enormously between units, and considerably within units. It is a fairly trivial matter for anyone who wishes to avoid front line service, so any soldier Palestinians encounter is someone who has NOT exercised that choice. In none of the above am I trying to suggest that the IDF is composed entirely or even mainly of sadistic brutes, but they are a disproportionate component. There is little or no attempt to restrain them and they have effectively free rein. This is aggravated by the use of loosely defined oral orders. That is what led to My Lai, and unlike Noa and Col Blimp I see plenty of evidence of the same thing in Gaza.

What no one here seems ready to acknowledge is that all this, the rocketing and the appalling carnage in Gaza, all this could have been avoided if Israel had respected the cease fire or accepted its renewal. Hamas does not want to fire the rockets. It wants the blockade ended. It wants Palestinian prisoners released. It wants lots of things, but it does not WANT to fire the rockets. It is worth bearing in mind that all the rockets and mortars ever fired have killed a comparable number of Israelis to the number of members of the Samouni family killed in one single incident. Israelis are going to have to accept that they cannot choose their interlocutors. I'm sure Palestinians aren't mad keen on negotiating with Avigdor Lieberman, but they don't get to choose their interlocutors either.

If anyone really wants to understand why Palestinians think, act and vote the way they do then find an organisation like Machsom Watch, B’tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights or Physicians for Human Rights and spend some time volunteering for them.

Myron Joshua said (to Noa): "You and I, as Israelis, will continue to search for the evidence that will strengthen our collective self perception." This reflects many of the contributions to Ipeace generally, and Israeli society’s central problem.

Though I disagree very strongly with Noa, I would like to echo the thanks of others above to her for expressing her thoughts and feelings.
Comment by Steve Ornstein on January 31, 2009 at 8:33pm
I find it very disturbing to read Ruach saying the Noa is stepping into dangerous territory. This is her feelings and thoughts about the war. She has very right to express herself without fear and threats. Her music reflects her deep compassion and heartfelt love for her country and her desire for peace. Spend sometime listening to her wonderful and beautiful music.

Noa, Stay strong as a force for peace. We need you to continue to be a force for truth. It is also very risky when you "dare" to share your perspective on this war with the eyes of an Israeli mother. Few will tolerate your unwillingness to see it any other way. God bless you and I pray that one day "the world will be as one".
Comment by Clicia Pavan on January 29, 2009 at 1:01am
Noa make their music their instrument for peace, let God speak to your heart
If each of you the new generation do it ..
The war loses strength, talk of peace in times of war, one day the story will give you the answers that demand
Clicia Pavan
Comment by myron joshua on January 28, 2009 at 12:55am

Of course we Israelis must justify the war..because too many continue to be silent to Hamas and Iranian rejectionism, threats and rearmament.

Palestinians are victims..not only of Occupation but of the cycle of violence perpetuated by people of ill will.
Comment by myron joshua on January 28, 2009 at 12:47am

Like you, i may feel somewhat at ease that the BBC (not known for leaning towards Israel in the past, to say the least) has been sensitive to the complexities of the situation. I am sure this does not blunt your feelings of anguish over the death and destruction.

But, I do not think addressing these issues is what is necessary now. There are too many here at Ipeace, who continue to engage in weighing the evidence of the past, rather than look to the future. I know the future is important for you. That is why you wanted to participate in the Concert for Aid to Gaza..Sadly, narrow minded "lovers of peace" refused your outstretched hand.

You and I, as Israelis, will continue to search for the evidence that will strengthen our collective self perception..This is valid (as long as we keep our ears open to criticism as well). I thank G-d for this self perception which is actually the internalization of values that we cherish. But, as i pray in i shall do this search in silence..often a painful silence, wary that i might be fooling myself.

I understand why you feel it is necessary to publicize your findings. You believe that others should also examine their sources..their perceptions. But in most cases our glasses will not fit their noses.

I share your frustration, as i have been reading some posts even hear on Ipeace.. at the ease in which people want to paint the picture with the broad brush. When they did so out of anguish during the fighting, it was understandable.

Now that there is a chance to a cease getting negotiations moving ahead with a new US is a shame that the same choir continues to sing the old songs in unison....Maybe it is too early for them to get aboard. In the meantime, forces of violence are brewing..and sadly the pot has already boiled over.

Again, I am with you and Miri Awad, who reaction to the efforts of silencing your duet says it all..
I am in favor of life; I want to live here and for everyone to live here together. I do not presume to influence politics. I have enough of being anti. I want to be for.

Being in favor of life..means looking to the future. It means calling on our leadership AND on Palestinian leadership to change their attitudes. We can debate our past actions forever..but all grant that we need a change of attitude to get us into real dialogue.

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