Live from an Israeli bunker

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Friday, September 01, 2006

Christian Zionism or an example of how Israel is screwed

What you think its only about one or two religions? Everybody have an opinion about what gods thinks should happen to Israel, in Israel, and to Israelis apparently. This is just swell:

"The Vatican's envoy in the Holy Land and bishops from three other churches have launched a rare joint attack on the Christian Zionist movement, accusing it of promoting "racial exclusivity and perpetual war."

The "Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" was signed by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian, and by bishops of the Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran and Syrian Orthodox Churches in Jerusalem.

"The Christian Zionist programme provides a world view where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism," said the declaration, accusing Christian Zionists of hurting hopes for Middle East peace.

"We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war," the declaration added."

So a Vatican envoy lead by Palestinian and Syrian Orthodox Christians said they don't like the jooos, and that they don't like other Christians liking them. In reply:

"The three main Christian Zionist groups in Jerusalem said in a statement that they were concerned at the declaration's "inflammatory language" and that it was far from the truth."
- Well, it was inflammatory. But read on.

"Christian Zionists stress Christianity's Jewish roots. Some back the movement to settle the occupied West Bank, the cradle of Jewish civilization, which Palestinians want as part of an independent state." - But what if Jesus wasn't Jewish? We shouldn't get support?

"We pray for peace. But we note with sadness that the present Palestinian government is totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel," the Christian Zionist groups said in their statement, referring to the governing Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

The prospect of Middle East peace talks has looked even more unlikely since Hamas's election victory in January. The group is formally dedicated to destroying Israel.

"The problem in the region is not as simple as the Jerusalem Declaration makes out," the Christian Zionists' statement said.
- Right you are, maybe your not cr..

"Some Christian Zionists believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land will bring about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Some also believe Jews themselves will have to become Christians or perish."
- Wait. WHAT? I thought we were supposed to become Muslim or parish.

All Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims, the bad ones do not.
- Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Muslim leader, philosopher extraordinary.

The two groups of Christians by the way are Orthodox and Protestant. Like nobody saw that rivalry coming.

Not one to editorialize or quote only what I want, you can find all of the article here. It has some more to it then that of course, for example, there are a lot of Christians who support Israel from the States who are not Zionist, 'etc, 'etc. And who am I to criticize those who support us? This really does raise the interesting question of how to react to support from somebody who you don't agree with their reasoning.

You see, just because one group said that Jews are bad because its written in their book and the other group said Jews are good because its written in their book and a third group said that the group that likes Jews doesn't understand their book and are largely lead by former members of the first group.. its all whacked. What if some new versions of their books are discovered which clearly state the opposite? And not to be anti-religious here, but logic dictated by interpretation of religious documents thousands of years old is just, well, not logical.

I think the above just exemplifies how Israel is screwed because of the historic and geographical circumstances, being the cradle of various religions and of strategic importance to so many different interests political and otherwise is just bad luck in my opinion. At times like these I wish we were all eskimos.

Thank you for your support Christian Zionists, but I can only pray to god that the reason for it is the right reason, namely reason. And if your confused, so am I.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Welcome to the Network

Thirty years ago a film was made titled Network. It was written by one of my favorite writers (Paddy Chayefsky), directed by one of my favorite directors (Sidney Lumet), and stared by one of my favorite actors (William Holden). Great movies get better with time, this one may be the best movie of all time.

I've watched it again tonight, sleep avoids me for some reason, and this is just so uncanny, so surreal that I have to share it here.

Howard Beale was a long time anchorman who's life, upon hitting middle age, went downhill. After a streak of bad luck he was fired. This conversation follows, in a bar between him and his best friend Max Schumacher:
"Howard: I'm gonna blow my brains out right on the air... right in the middle of the seven o'clock news.

Max: You'll get a hell of a rating, I'll guarantee that. Fifty share easy.

Howard: You think so?

Max: Sure. We could make a series out of it. "Suicide of the Week." Hell, Why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."

Howard: "Terrorist of the Week. "

Max: They'll love it. Suicides. Assassinations. Mad bombers. Mafia hit men. Automobile smashups. "The Death Hour."
"A great Sunday night show for the whole family." It'd put fucking Disney right off the air."

Sure enough, when Howard next goes on the air (he has two weeks notice to complete) he utters the words: "Tune in next Tuesday. I'm going to shoot myself."

Meanwhile, enter a young producer hungry for her shot at success:
"Diana: This is really terrific footage. We can get a movie of the week out of it, maybe even a series.

Man: A series? What are we talking about?

Diana: We've got a bunch of hobgoblin radicals, the Ecumenical Liberation Army... who go around taking home movies of themselves robbing banks. Maybe they'll take movies of themselves kidnapping heiresses, hijacking 747s, bombing bridges, assassinating ambassadors. We'd open each week's segment with their authentic footage... hire writers to write a story behind that footage, and we've got a series.

Man II: A series about a bunch of bank-robbing guerrillas?

Barbara: What will we call it, the "Mao Tse-Tung Hour"?

Diana: Why not? They've got "Strike Force," "Task Force," "SWAT." Why not Che Guevara and his own little "Mod Squad?"

These words hung in the air for me. Are the hobgoblins not Hezbollah? Isn't this exactly what the media has been doing? SWAT, they have COPS now instead.

All of a sudden the words Max said cynically become all too real. After Diana finds out that Howard threatened to shot himself on the air you can guess what happened. He becomes a TV phenomenon, a news anchor that in his own words "ran out of bullshit", a news anchor who cracked up and started telling the truth.

Click to watch VideoAnnouncer: And starring the Mad Prophet of the Airways, Howard Beale!

Howard: Edward George Ruddy died today!

Edward George Ruddy was the chairman of the board of the Union Broadcasting Systems
and he died at 11:00 this morning of a heart condition. Woe is us! We're in a lot of trouble! So, a rich little man with white hair died. What does that got to do with the price of rice, right? And why is that woe to us?

Because you people... and 62 million other Americans are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books. Because less than 15 percent of you read newspapers. Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is a whole and entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube! This tube is the Gospel. The ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers. This tube is the most awesome goddamn force in the whole godless world... and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people!

And that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communication Corporation of America. There's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackettn sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the 20th floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome, goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network!

So you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth.
Television's a goddamned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats.. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the truth, go to God. Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer in Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, look at your watch, at the end of the hour he'll win! We'll tell you any shit you want to hear! We deal in illusions. None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night. You're all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know.
You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, eat like the tube, raise your children like the tube, even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing! We are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off in the middle of this sentence. Turn them off!"

The producer, realizing that she was unto something (60 million viewers after all) goes ahead and cuts a deal with a communist woman to give her one hour of airtime to use as propaganda her for her party's political views (who don't really interest anyone) in exchange for more of the above mentioned footage, weekly. Not talking to the terrorists directly but using her as a go between and protecting themselves with the 1st amendment, the right of free speech, and their privilege not to disclose their sources. All in the name of ratings.

So many parallels, so many similarities. During the movie you hear about Arab countries wanting to raise the prices of oil and the civil war in Lebanon is briefly mentioned as a backhand remark. I even think I heard the word Iran. Some things never change. But Howard goes on:

Click to watch Video"We all know that the Arabs control $16 billion in this country. They own a chunk of Fifth Avenue, 20 downtown pieces of Boston, a part of the port of New Orleans, an industrial park in Salt Lake City. They own big hunks of the Atlanta Hilton the Arizona Land and Cattle Company the Security National Bank in California the Bank of the Commonwealth in Detroit. They control Aramco, so that puts them into Exxon, Texaco and Mobil Oil. They're all over!

New Jersey, Louisville, St. Louis, Missouri. And that's only what we know about. There's more we don't know about. Because all of those Arab petrol dollars are washed through Switzerland and Canada and the biggest banks in this country. For example, what we don't know about is this CCA deal and all the other CCA deals. Right now the Arabs have screwed us out of enough American dollars to come right back and with our own money buy General Motors, IBM, ITT, AT&T,Du Pont, U.S. Steel and 20 other American companies. Hell, they already own half of England!

Listen to me. Listen to me, goddamn it! The Arabs are simply buying us. There's only one thing that can stop them! You! You! So I want you to get up now. I want you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the phone. I want you to get up from your chairs, go to the phone, get in your cars, drive into the Western Union offices in town. I want you to send a telegram to the White House. Oh, my God - By midnight tonight I want a million telegrams in the White House! I want them wading knee-deep in telegrams at the White House. I want you to get up right now and write a telegram to President Ford saying "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore! I don't want the banks selling my country to the Arabs!"

The CCA deal he's talking about is part of the movie plot where the Western World Funding Corporation are buying the large company he's working for "the most awesome, goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world", and that they are buying it on behalf of the Saudis, secretly. This has in fact already happened in a sense.

Look at the places he mentioned. Howard turned out to really be a prophet. How strange it is that a 30 year old movie can be so relevant, can resonate so well, with the situation today.

But unfortunately this is real life, we don't have Beale's with a 60 million audience to tell the truth too. In fact many people are in denial, or just not interested to hear about it. Like he said, if we want the truth (and we do want it, don't we?) "Go to yourselves!", go to the blogosphere, tell people who don't know better, and just for laughs send the White house a telegram.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An attack is inevitable

I've talked about this before, but not extensively. I think this is a good time to dwell deeper into this seeing how everybody moved forward after the UK terror plot that was foiled. It didn't happen, but it could have. Unfortunately, I think it will inevitably happen in the future. Before we go over why its inevitable, let me explain why its currently even possible.

The picture above is of the US, and it's two boarding countries; Canada and Mexico.
The United States has a coastline of over 12,000 miles (almost 20,000KM). The red line is it's border with Mexico (~2000 miles, ~3000KM), the yellow is it's border with Canada which is three times it's size. Ladies and gentleman, the borders are big. HUGE.

Let's start with the Mexico border. It's guarded by the National Guard, It is estimated that over a million people cross the border illegally each year. Now, no offense to my Mexican readers but this just not good. Issues of illegal immigrants crossing over for jobs is beyond the scope of this blog, but from a purely security point of view this is nothing short of a disaster. Never mind the drug and weapon smugglers or the people who die in the attempt, this is an easy way for terrorists to gain entry into the country.

Is it possible to control such a border? Absolutely. In the 90's the army was sent for a time to control the border, by all accounts it was a successful attempt. What people are looking into now is a fence, and the fence should work. It has been done before on a smaller scale with success rates of over 90%. A 2,000 mile, fence that would cover all of it would cost roughly $1.5 - 3 billion and be completed in 6 months. See for yourself in this except from The Colbert Report (just about as accurate as other main stream news sources, but much more entertaining).

It's doable, it worked for Israel and it will work for the United States but for some reason it's not being done. Not fast enough at least. So supposedly this border which is crossed over 350 million times a year and leaves over a million illegal immigrants in the country will come under control sometime in the not distant future.

Let's turn our attention to the north, the United States-Canada border. A border which is three times longer then the one with Mexico and is dubbed as: "the world's longest undefended border". I can't help but have the urge to smack my forehead here.

The sheer promiscuity, for lack of a better word, of that border I witnessed first hand on my trip there. Crossing over by bus we stopped at the border for a customs check, stamp passport, finger print, picture. There were no metal detectors, nobody was searched or checked at all. But that's just the checkpoint, the border is so vast that taking an SUV and finding some remote unmonitored crossing is a piece of cake.

But it gets worse:
"This official U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting station is on the border between Manitoba, a Canadian province, and Minnesota, and relies on the honor system. Yes, the U.S. government is counting on all people who cross into Angle Inlet, Minnesota, to report themselves via telephone. There are no permanent customs or immigration officials who work at the checkpoint."
- Anderson Cooper. Read it all, you'll be amazed.

Using the honor system on a border which is three times longer then the one with Mexico, or any border really post 9/11, is ludicrous.

The black line is the combined coast lines of the United States and Canada. Canada has by far the longest coast line in the word at over 240,000KM. I think its pretty obvious that if a terrorist wanted to gain entry into the United States today he could get in (some of the 9/11 terrorists used fake documents and didn't even have to sneak in). Couple that with the lack of gun control and the picture is not pretty.

"Alright, alright, this is quite scary. But if its so possible why hasn't it happened already then?" - Therein lays the meat of the matter, so to speak.

Some would say that it's already happening. But thats not exactly right.

September 11 took the lives of less then 0.0001% of the US population. They cant destroy and kill all of America, that wasn't what it was all about. It was meant to terrorize, scare, and provoke. Just because a terrorist can sneak into America, buy a gun, and kill half a dozen people or so, doesn't mean its worth the effort in their eyes. Thousands of people are murdered in the States every year anyway, its not scary enough.

Planes exploding over the atlantic, or crashing into buildings or over populated cities, now thats scary. The UK plot was foiled, the next one is probably not far behind, is America ready?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Best footage of this war I have seen - Must Watch

Video removed - watch it here instead.

"Itai Anghel accompanied regiment 931 of the Nahal Brigade (infantry) to a battle that took place on the night of August 6-7 in Houleh, a Hezbollah-controlled village in Lebanon that is about 3 kilometres north of the border with Israel. Anghel documents the fierce battle that took place using a camera equipped with a night vision lens.

With the exception of the officers - Avi Dahan and Biche - all the soldiers are reservists in their 20's and 30's who did their three-year mandatory army service (ages 18-21) in the unit; in other words, they are civilians who responded to emergency call up notices." - Via On the Face.

That is, hands down, the most impressive footage I have seen from this conflict. I don't want to give it away, watch it all the action gets quite intense but I will reveal this: at one point Hezbollah fighters are discovered who were wearing IDF uniforms. First I hear of that tactic on their part, and it doesn't seem widespread but this is interesting to say the least.

A little less reporting a little more talking please

Breaking news: No news to break.
Well that's not accurate, the president might be corrupt and basketball, football (soccer) and other sporting events may or may not be hosted in Israel for a while. Again. Turkey has explosions, UK had a terror plot with 10 planes, but apparently Israel is not safe for sports anymore (again). It's all nonsense of course, but who cares about sports really. Sure, this will furthermore hurt the tourist industry, and sure this is yet another effect of terrorism, but its not new, not breaking and not news.

The war is over. I don't personally agree with that sentiment (I heard a newscaster utter here today) and there is a lot to write about and do. But breaking news, live, right now? There is none. The excitement, the frantic unfolding of events, it's over.

What's a Bunker Blogger (obviously not in a bunker anymore, but the name stays and I'll tell you why in the future) to write about from day to day? His thoughts. This is a blog after all, I tried for it to not be in the common way, but when the news stop-a-flowing a writer must dig down into the bottom of the barrel and present his personal musings. I apologize in advance.

Breaking news: (oh the irony) In yesterdays blast in Turkey an Israeli family was present, the wife injured. I've just watched an interview with the husband in perfect hebrew and calmness telling his experience and how "it" followed him there from home. Can't help but feel that somebody from here would handle this so much better then if they were from elsewhere. If you were planning a trip to Turkey have a guide that speaks the language and be careful about where you go.

Back to my musings. Before I get my own round of interviews started I'd like to share a feeling that I sometimes have. If this is a sure sign of schizophrenia we I don't care. I sometimes like to hold fictional conversations in my head, there I said it.

This might range from Woody Allen discussing my latest screenplays with me (he has some comments but generally he is very impressed usually) or Nietzsche telling me how right I am. But at times like these it usually turns to interviews that I'd very much like to conduct but am unable to (at the moment at least, anything is possible, long live the blogosphere, 'etc). During the Rome Summit I had wild fantasies of asking Siniora why after they drove out Syria they didn't drive out Hezbollah as well. "It cost your predecessor his life, and he was well aware of the danger he was putting himself in, we had it happen as well, the Americans at one point had in the past had it happen. Historic times call upon leaders to do historic things. What are you doing for your country Mr. Siniora? Your country was able to drive Syria out but not Hezbollah? If you were unable to, why did you not ask for assistance from the UN? Syria was driven out with the support and pressure from the international community. Why have you not been in contact with Israel's PM even once?" - it was a lot more eloquent in my head at the time, believe me.

I'm getting that feeling again. Olmert visited the north, including Haifa, and said the following: "..the claims that the North of the country collapsed are false, those who's hearts bled for the North for the most part sat in coffee shops in Tel-Aviv talking about how bad the situation is." The second part is probably very true in a way, the first is complete nonsense. And so here goes.

BB: "Mr. Olmert thank you very much for sparing the time to take this interview."
Olmert: "Don't mention it."
BB: "You've said some interesting things today. In your opinion the North wasn't damaged?"
Olmert: "The North held firm and is fine now, it didn't collapse, were on the right track to-"
BB: "It did hold firm, but I don't I don't think upon your visit you realized what the damage was and is. The Hezbollah doesn't have guided missiles, it points and shoots and has no control where it might hit. You don't see condensed areas of damage, a rocket here, a rocket there, one-two dead at a time, without a pattern. Going thru the cities, thru Haifa and farther to the North, the effect is not fully seen. But the fact is that we had a million people living in bunkers for a month, not being able to work, not being able to do much of anything. Shopping for food was a danger, in fact people were hit because of that, the personal damages, you just don't see it."

I'd like to say it's my lack of imagination that's responsible for me not having an imaginary answer from Olmert to my question. Then again I lack a question mark there as well, don't I?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Things you didn't see

The above was emailed to me as a powerpoint presentation, I took the liberty of uploading it to youtube. This is what life was like in Israel for a month.

About 30 minutes by train from where I am the city of Nahariya is located. During the conflict this city of 50,000 turned into a ghost town, it was easily within range of rockets and repeatedly targeted by rockets. Most residents left, the trains stopped arriving so far for fear of being hurt.

Of course some people couldn't (or in rarer cases wouldn't) leave.

In Nahariya a hospital was hit, in Haifa the hospital had daily close calls.

Both cities are now back to normal, over the next week I'll be showing you both, ideally visiting locations that were hit and talking to people. You'll get to see first hand how war effects Israelis (I'll give you a hint, once its all over were shaken for a little while but not stirred. The "bounce back" as I like to call it will be interesting to see).

Or you can go watch CNN.

Notes: For more pictures click on the title of this post, CNN please don't sue me.

At least one Palestinian is not crazy

Excuse the provocative title, but this has never happened before and I'm intrigued. The spokesman of the Palestinian government has criticized the people, this is the first time a senior figure (with ties to Hamas no less) isn't blaming Israel or the IDF but rather calls for soul searching on their own part.

"After the withdrawal we hoped for a bright future, we thought we were reaping the fruits of our sacrifices. But I'm asking myself today - why did the occupation return? The wise and the critics will say the occupation is responsible. I'm not here today to defend the occupation, but I'd like us to stand by our mistakes, mistakes we are used to always blame on others.

The anarchy, the needless killing, the robbing of land, thugs on the streets, traffic disorder - is the occupation responsible for all of these? We got used to blame our own sins on others and trumpet the conspiracy theory which limited our minds.

When Israel withdrew it's forces a year a go as part of the disengagement plan, there were high expectations that prosperity and growth will follow and end poverty and hardship. It didn't take long for things to grow worse and for that hope to dissolve.

Following Israel's withdrawal many Palestinians hoped that positive forces will take the place of the Israeli army and bring order, instead anarchy captured the void and now hardly a day goes by without a criminal murder occurring or squaring of off debts between families and rival organizations [Ed note: think Sopranos but an order of magnitude or two worse]"

Well there you have it folks, from the horses mouth, hopefully this wasn't a temporary burst of lucidity or that he won't be swiftly assassinated (like over a dozen Lebanese politicians who opposed Hezbollah for example).

Speaking of Hezbollah, rearming and movement activities have been spotted, returning with the refugees and civilians. The arming activity is obviously meant against the IDF but also against the Lebanese army, which is interesting because UNIFIL announced that they won't prevent the Hezbollah from rearming because its the Lebanese army's job. Are we going to see clashes between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army? Is this a prelude to a civil war? It's too early to tell.

Just to leave you with a note about the UNIFIL, the extensive tunnel network that the Hezbollah built is being systematically destroyed by the IDF (what they control and are able to find in time), the footage I've seen is nothing short of amazing, they have sinks and showers there and solid concrete walls and stairs for miles and miles. Many of which are right next to UN outposts. I find it hard to believe that the people posted there were oblivious to this.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bunker Blog is heading home

I'm writing this from the airport, finally heading home. I had a very interesting trip and met enough people to warrant quite a few posts, but the real work will just start once I get back. The above photo was taken with my Macbook, I hear Vlogs are all the rage, in fact I was planning on doing one in the UN but my interviewee was understandably busy (guess who it was). In the following weeks you can expect a number of these, I have a few interesting things coming up.

I've met a number of security personnel here, huge looking guys in army uniforms with guns (one of them a policeman), unfortunately they refused to be shown or answer many questions but basically they are there to reassure the public. It's a show of force. I'll see if I can get one of them to spill the beans.

Regular updates to resume soon.