Only In Israel

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Google's troubling choices

In the last several weeks, Charles of LGF, attracted the general attention at Googlenews using "National Vanguard", a nazi site, as a news source.
Since then Googlenews has removed the "National Vanguard" off its newsfeed, but its not the first time they slipped, and I believe that this blog was probably the first one to raise awareness to Google's problematic choice of sources and influenced it in atleast two specific incidents.
The first incident in which a complaint letter on the Indymedia use of the words "zionazi" got it banned from Google (certain branches of it are now back, but they're heavily monitored, and the branch that posted that vile piece hasn't returned to the newsfeed).
The second incident involved an unsuccsefull complaint about the inclusion of Jihadunspun as a newssource.
The third incident involved Google including the Hamas official website as a newssource. I attracted their attention to it, and the site was removed after a few days.
This isn't a "Look at me, I did it first" post, the point here is Google has erred not one time, but numerous times. And the second, more important point would be that Charles' demand for a Google transparency surprised me.
I clearly remember that Google had a list of all the news sources it used, and I have linked to it. It means that on certain stage during the last year or so, they simply removed that list of news sources they're using. The only remaining question is why. What else is hiding in GoogleNews?

Monday, March 28, 2005

A typical Protest - Part II - the violence begins

After the first post caused an uproar describing the way protestors against the fence look to the everyday Israeli, I imagine this one will cause more. Here I'll detail the racist and violent behavior of anti-fence protestors I've personally witnessed.
Every protest, parade or demonstration usually begins at the village's mosque as it's the center of the everyday life. Most protests occur after the festive Friday prayers, but you can get them every day of the week (with the usual exception of Saturday, because no public transportation is available in Israel). The Israeli protestors from more "sane" groups like "Peace Now" or "Women in Black" usually wait on the outskirts on the villages and don't go in. The Anarchists and the ISMers go all the way into the villages. The way to know whether a protest is going to get violent and get out of the village towards the IDF and Police and the fence construction scene is by looking at the cameramen. If you find most of the media standing with you, it's gonna get bad. I don't know how, but somehow, the photographers always know what's the plan for the protest. They wait, sometimes for hours at a time, at the place the parade is headed to. The less media arrives, the less likely it is for the protest to go out of the boundaries of the village. I'm not even sure what drives what, does the media know the plans of the protest organizers, or do they just act on the amount of media out there. I tend to believe it's the first option.
It begins with a few villagers, usually lead by the Imam or the village leaders who start marching with signs inside the village. Nothing violent, nothing bad. A few chants. Some of them are so stupid, I just feel obligated to quote them. There are the usual "Free Palestine", "This wall will fall" and there are few numerical ones, to show the world the protestors aren't as stupid as they seem and actually are capable of counting:
1,2,3,4 Israel NO
5,6,7,8 Palestine YES

Gee that's a tough concept to conceive, eh? Another popular one would be:
2,4,6,8 Israel's an Apartheid state
3,5,7,9 Freedom for Palestine
And yet another "let's count" quote I feel obligated to include:
1,2,3,4 We don't want your racist war
5,6,7,8 Make Palestine a real state
Funny how they keep talking about Palestine but even they realize it's not a "real state".
Once they've shown they learned to count there's room for more creative chants:
Hey Sharon, you will see, Palestine will be free.
Hey Sharon, you should know, we are all the PLO
And my personal favorite: Israel murdered Rachel Corrie, US aid is the story.
Ah, and here I thought the story was her being an idiot who didn't move away.
The closer they get to the Police, the more violent and obscene the chants get, from the all popular "From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free" they get to
We don't care what you'll say, Intifadeh all the way

5,6,7,8 I'm a martyr, I can't wait.
and, the not so prominant, but always fun to hear:
Hamas, Hamas,the Jews to Gas.
Oh yes, non-violence at its best.

A regular protest begins. This is the part where they're still in the village.

They then reach the village boundaries, where it gets serious. Many people now have joined the march, school is out, so lots of teenagers there packing rocks, plus, all the not-so-crazy Israeli activists now joined the flood. They begin moving towards the construction area.
Now, I'm not going to list IDF's way of handling the protests, but I am going to give you a general idea of how it looks: We do not shoot unless we are in mortal danger. I have never, in any protest shot a single live bullet, neither me, nor my fellow soldiers, just rubber coated bullets, fireboms, and tear-gas.
The goal of the protestors is to disrupt the fence construction, this is why Budrus is such a big protest place, the fence is VERY close to the village, and although it passes directly on the Green Line (the 1967 border) this is where most protests against the fence occur. This carries a valuable lesson for the goal of the protestors. Their goal isn't to stop the fence of going off the Green Line, their goal is that the fence won't be created in the first place.
Anyway, as the parade begins moving towards the construction area, we (IDF, Police, Border Police) form a line to stop the protestors from passing to the construction area. This is where it gets violent. First, comes a shower of rocks. Now, I don't know how the hell did Palestinian kids got so good at it. They can hit you accurately from 80-100 meters. Their accuracy is surprising. It's not the kind of stones that give you a couple of bruises, mind you. They use slingshots, with deadly accuracy, a friend of mine was directly hit in the face with a rock. He lost an eye, and that's lucky that no actual brain damage occurred. I actually managed to take away a few slingshots, they're quite hard to operate accurately (atleast with the small amount of time I had to practice) I still keep them at home.
The Israeli forces usually respond with shock grenades and tear-gas, which are both unpleasant, but really aren't that lethal. The moment this begins, the photographers and reporters shift positions: They go to the side of the soldiers and try to shoot as many pictures possible of soldiers shooting teargas grenades, and rubber bullets (which to someone who wasn't in the military would look like a normal rifle firing with a small addition on the barrel) and, as they stand on the soldier's side, they always take shots of the oh-so-poor coughing Palestinians, ISMers and Anarchy scum. Let's say you throw 10-15 shock grenades per protest and have what, 200-300 rocks thrown at you? Just look at the photos the mass media puts out there, how many of them show the soldiers shooting teargas, and how many of them show the rocks hitting them?

A female Border Policewoman fires rubber bullets.
Notice the angle the Photographer takes, he would never stand behind her and take photos of the angry mob she's shooting at.

As the protestors get closer to the soldiers, the rock throwing largely stops. The Palestinians may be accurate, but they wouldn't like endanger hitting their own with rocks, although those cases have also happened.
As the protestors come closer, the cameramen move to their side, to shoot pictures of IDF soldiers shouting at the seemingly innocent protestors. You tell them "This is a closed military zone, you're not allowed to be here, move away", and the answers range from "STOP THE OCCUPATION!!!!" to "You have no authority on this land", the all time favorite "NAZI!!!! NAZI!!!" and the low grunts of the Baboon I've mentioned in part 1. First they begin pushing you, which naturally gets a response as noone should ever be allowed to put their finger on an IDF soldier. Then they start punching you. As I said, I've personally been punched numerous times, and I have to say, for non-violent protestors they punch really good, it's almost as if they practice daily.
Non-violence has absolutely nothing to do with what happens next. It's simply a giant brawl. They punch and hit their way through soldiers, policemen and policewomen, even the girls, Palestinian and foreigners just push, shove, punch, kick, spit and do everything they possibly can. You can't shoot tear gas, because your own will get hit, you can't throw firebombs or shoot rubber bullets for the same reason, the only remaining option is hitting back and cuffing the people you're capable of catching. Conveniently enough this is the exact point the press usually goes to interview the village leaders on the reasons behind the protest. And even if photos of protestors attacking soldiers are taken they rarely get out to the mass media.
The scariest thing in all this isn't all the hitting and punching a-la British soccer fans, the worst thing that can happen, is that amidst all that hitting and punching they try to get your weapon. Now this is amasing, why would NON-VIOLENT protestors try to take away your weapon? Maybe they're covering for something much darker and much more violent than trying to attack a few soldiers, eh? The closest I can say I've seen happen is someone cutting a soldiers' weapons belt and running away with the rifle for 4 meters before getting knocked down by a club to the head. Imagine what would happen if that weapon got to Palestinian hands. How many victims would die in shooting attacks which derive from that.

This is Laila, which I discussed in an earlier post, a moment after she tried taking the weapon away from a soldier.
I've actually been in that protest and seen it with my own eyes.


Now this is usually the most violence used out there, but that's not always the case. In Budrus, Specifically, where the construction work is lower than the village, molotov coctails are often thrown. I remember a case where two foreign activists and a Palestinian were caught hiding 4 ready molotov coctails under a rock, probably for future use. They got arrested and I'm not sure what happened to them, though as usual the international media remained silent.
The fighting comes and goes in waves. After you've pushed the protestors back to where they don't endanger the construction, they gather power and try it a new. Usualy, during that period, the protestors try to lure the soldiers into coming close enough for them to begin rock throwing again. Saying stuff like "soldier, you're not a man, come're" (which sounds HILARIOUS when said in Hebrew with an Arab accent). Or "Oh soldier, I'll f--k your mother" (you really should hear they shout that with an Arabic accent to see just how funny that is). Sometimes they get personal, I have no idea how they learned the names of the Border Police personnel around, but they tend to call them out by name, especially one pretty female fighter who they all like to call out to attack with rocks.
After 3-4 repeats like that the interest disappears, and more importantly, the press goes away. The police have already arrested the most violent people, cuffed them and sat them in the side or taken them away. And generally the demonstrators lose motivation, so slowly the villagers begin leaving, returning for their everyday life, then the Anarchists go away, and somehow, the last to remain are always the foreigners. It almost seems like they're there to make more trouble than Palestinians themselves.
This slow rock throwing here and there can last for hours at a time, and usually continues till nightfall. When the last kids and foreigners get tired of it gets quiet. Another protest is over.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Welcome All

I just returned from the military and was quite surprised to discover just how popular the blog got while I was away. Apparently I got linked by JewSchool, and by Honestreporting.com's blog, Backspin.
Thank you all for your attention to this "under the radar" (as Jewschool refered to it) blog. And don't you worry, Part II is on its way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pancake Corrie returns.

After trying her luck as a human speedbump and getting faxed back home to her parents, the ghost of Rachel Corrie just doesn't let go. Her parents decided to sue Israel's government for the death of their daughter. You see, it's Israel's fault their daughter walked into a warzone, stood in front of a terrorist's house, in a place in which in armored D9 driver would in no way see her, refused to move away and got mushed.
I wonder what the claim would be, did Israel force Corrie to be an idiot? Did we force her to stand in front of a running bulldozer? Or maybe, it's our fault that she came to gaza to preach hatered and teaching little kids of the delicate art of burning American flags.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The family of Rachel Corrie, a U.S. activist killed in Gaza while trying to stop an Israeli army bulldozer from destroying a Palestinian home, filed suit in Israel on Tuesday for damages, an Israeli news Web Site said.

The Internet site of the Haaretz newspaper reported that Corrie's family was seeking $324,000 from the Israeli government and army over her death two years ago.

I seriously can't wait to see the arguments raised in that trial.

UPDATE:
Just wait, that isn't the last from the Corrie's. IDF isn't the only ones they sued, they also sued Caterpillar.
And next on the news, parents of a man who comitted suicide sue the railway company and the wagon's maker for murder.

Only in Israel, indeed.

This is a first. After having an Arab beauty queen an Arab minister, we now have an Arab chariman of a government ministry.

JERUSALEM - Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz made a surprising announcement Monday, nominating an Arab-Israeli to the post of Interior Ministry director general.
Should Jaffa resident Oscar Abu-Razek’s nomination be approved, he would become the first Arab ever to head a government ministry. Currently, he serves as the Tax Authority’s deputy director.

I guess it would be a bad time to ask how many jews hold high positions in Arab countries, right?
Another story which got covered greatly on the Israeli TV but got ZERO international coverage is that of a Jordanian boy named Yitzhak Rabin. You see, the boy was born on the day the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel was signed, and that's why he was named after Rabin. His family got threatened by militants in Jordan, and they fleed to Israel. There was talk of deporting them, but then the Interior Minister intefered and gave them a permanenet visa. Man, I'm begging to like this Ophir Pines.
If anyone sees this story mentioned anywhere online, post it in the comments.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A typical protest Part I - on the way to a protest.

I have been in the IDF for a while now, and more than half of my service is behind me. I've served in some of the worst protest scenes against the fence, most of which you hear on the news. It's too hard and legnthly to describe every protest I've been to, as there is probably more than a dozen of such. But I will try to describe some characteristics most of those protests share.
First of all there are the signs. The protests are scheduled, and signs and stickers often show up on Palestinian cars, buildings and roadsigns, giving the date and hour of the next protest. On the day of the protest the flow of people begins. First comes the press. You immideatly see a rise in the number of cars which have "TV" or "Press" written on them. There are so many you can't imagine, if it's a major protest, there could be up to 50 different reporters, not counting their crews. I've been to a few demonstrations, where the number of reporters was bigger than the number of protesters.
Then the freaks start showing up. First come the Israeli anarchists. Living freakshows every one of them. They look like a bad accident between too much hair, and not enough soap. Now look here, before the army, I had lots of hair, but I swear to god, I did not look like that. These kids look like they're in highschool, or draft dodgers who sold some lame excuse to the military or just refused to serve in the IDF. They arrive by public transport to the nearest settlement (leaving nasty graffiti like "IDF nazis" ETC calling on soldiers to refuse) and walk their way to IDF checkpoints. This is where the mess begins. As illegal protests usually take place in closed military zones, we know not to allow people in, they usually run and ignore the soldiers or try their way to walk around the checkpoint (in sections where the barrier hasn't been built yet) to the closest arab village and hitchhike, or catch a Palestinian taxi from there. Yes, that's right, Israelis volunatarily walking into villages every wall of which has HAMAS sprayed on it, to catch a taxi. It takes guts to do something like that. Guts or stupidity. My bet is on the second option.
The look they have is one of spoiled kids. Checking their ID's, most of them come from northern Tel Aviv, or subrubia, and although their look of choice is one of a hobo who have never heard the words "shampoo" or "deodorant", they appear to have quite an expensive choice of shoes, various CD players, ETC. The funny thing here is this: I've never seen any Israeli Arabs on those protests. I guess they know which company to keep better than rich spoiled Israelis.
There's no use of actualy talking or having a conversation with that kind. For people who believe in anarchy, they seem to have a preset thinking, and preset responses for any question asked.
Then the Internationals begin arriving. Usualy the internationals come from the arab villages. They travel via Palestinian controlled roads, and not via the mixed Israeli and Palestinian roads which are secured by the IDF. But in certain incidents, like travelling from large Palestinian town to another, they have no alternative route but to pass on a mixed road. This usually happens to those heading to Budrus or Bil'in. Also, it's sometimes easier to get to the work site from the Israeli side of the barrier rather than the Palestinian one.


A regular collection of pro-Palestinian protestors. This is a fine
example of the "freaks" I was describing.

These people come from all over the place, from Norway to the USA, from Sweden to Brasil. Usually they say they're tourists going to Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv (depending on the place of the demonstration). These people are usualy the ones who will later incite the violence, and slowly, you learn to recognize them. You basicly learn to know who's who. You learn to recognize Huwaida Arraf, and Adam Shapiro (who I haven't seen in a while, he might've got deported or jailed but I shouldn't get my hopes too high), Laila and ofcourse Lazer: A beast of a man with the looks and intelligence of an average mountain gorilla which discovered the wonders of hairdye and bandanas but obviously not those of having daily showers. Coming to think of it, he rarely speaks, usualy it's just various forms of grunts. I can't say there are too many of them, they make much more noise than their numbers, and usualy re the leaders of the protests. Chasing them around is outright impossible, no matter how many times you stop them from crossing, they'll always find a way in.
Then there's the fringe groups, which may or may not show up. "Women in black", which is probably the only truly non-violent organisation out there, and various leftist groups like "Gush Shalom" or "Peace Now".
And ofcourse, last but not least are the Palestinians themselves. Usualy kids and students, but sometimes mature men and women. They don't have to cross checkpoints, they just come straight from the villages and towns they live in to the protest site.
It's rare for many Israelis to arrive to a protest, usualy those are just Palestinians and a few Internationals.
Once these people cross, you know trouble is on its way. It's just a matter of time, till the first reports of disturbance begin.