Sympathy for Jordan, a political surprise and rallying for Rabin's memory

This week’s post focuses on reactions in the Israeli blogosphere to three events: the suicide bombings in Amman; the election of Amir Peretz as head of the Labour Party; and the rally in Tel Aviv that marked 10 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. There is also a roundup of interesting and/or amusing posts on various miscellaneous subjects at the end.

The Amman bombings

Israeli bloggers who wrote about the suicide bombings in Amman did so mostly in order to condemn the act and express sympathy for Jordan.

She of SomethingSomething writes: “This latest attack, this time targeting the people of Jordan, has served to show that these fanatics will stop at nothing, and no one is immune. My hope is that this will finally act as a wake up call to those who have remained silent in the face of such acts.”

Bert of Dutchblog Israel posts a photo of the couple at whose wedding one of the bombings took place. He quotes the bridegroom: “This has nothing to do with Islam.”

On my own blog, I mentioned that I stayed at the Radisson SAS, which was one of the three hotels that was bombed, when I visited Amman. The bombings actually occurred on the same night I attended the screening of a film about Palestinian suicide bombers in Tel Aviv. It’s called Paradise Now, and I mention the film, which is directed by and stars Israeli Arabs, in my post.

Yaakov Kirshen, who for more than two decades drew political cartoons for the Jerusalem Post, posts a cartoon he drew about the bombings. He also mentions his astonishment upon discovering a news report that some Jordanians are blaming Israel for the attacks, which were carried out by Iraqis. He includes a link to the report in his post.

Rally for the memory of Yitzhak Rabin

On Saturday, November 12, an estimated 200,000 Israelis attended the 10th anniversary memorial for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv’s central square – now called Rabin Square.
The star of the night was Bill Clinton, who gave a short but moving speech that drew tremendous applaud from the crowd. There is a video link to Clinton’s speech on this CNN report.

Chayyeisarah has this to say: “Regarding the media reports that run every year asking “what have we learned from Rabin's death?” and answering: “nothing,” I say: Yes, we have. The specter of Rabin's assassination was present throughout all the rallies protesting the Gaza disengagement last spring and summer, and certainly throughout the disengagement himself. I do not know whether it is fair to say that events would have progressed more violently had Rabin never been assassinated by a right-wing Jew, but I do think it's fair to say that the assassination was one important factor in the fact that things went as non-violently as they did. The religious right-wing should get credit where credit is due.”

Shai has some great photos of the rally, and also includes his take on the speeches that were given. Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, a member of the Likud party and an opponent of the Oslo Accords, spoke at the rally in order, she said, to condemn those who try to achieve political goals by violence.

As Shai notes: “You can be outraged by the murder and despise the fact that someone tried to change the government in Israel with bullets rather than ballots, but at the same time not think that Oslo was such a hot idea. Which is what Livni was trying to say.”

Bert, who watched the rally on television, echoes Shai when he writes: One of the best speeches was given by Justice Minister Tsipi Livni. She stressed that she did not agree with Rabin or vote for him but that the murderer of Rabin killed the Prime Minister of Israel, the state in which she lives, and that his bullets were aimed at this country's democracy, at all of us.

In a follow-up post, Bert reflects on the Oslo Accords: “There were many faults in the process's planning and implementation, faults for which not only Arafat but also the Israeli and American governments were to blame. Still, it is obvious that the best way out of the mess that Palestinians and Israelis find themselves in will be through some sort of agreement. ”

Other Israeli bloggers who write about their impressions of the rally are Stephanie Freid of Stefanella, here, and Yael Kaynan of Olehgirl, here.

Amir Peretz elected as head of the Labour Party

Quite a few people were surprised by the election of Amir Peretz as head of the Labour Party. Peretz was born in Morocco, raised in an Israeli development town and is best known to Israelis as the leader of the Histadrut – Israel’s largest labour union. This is a marked contrast with former leaders of the Labour party – all of whom were Ashkenazi and many of whom (including Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin) were former army generals. Peretz beat 82 year-old Shimon Peres – who, despite a long career in politics, has never won an election.

Shai thinks that Peretz will be good for Labour, but bad for Israel. “Peretz ran on a platform of “social responsibility,” which in real terms means old-school statist socialism: more government control of industry, much higher taxes, much more welfare. A lot of us feel this is a good way to kill Israel’s economic growth. However, it’s healthy for a democracy to have this kind of choice, so I congratulate Peretz on his victory.”

Bert also has some reservations about Peretz: “If this is a revolution I am not sure if it is a good one. The party needed to be shaken up a bit, but the question is whether Peretz was the ideal man to do that. He symbolizes much of the less positive sides of the Histadrut labor union, not only as an employer, but also as an apparatus through which it is relatively easy to further one's political career.”

She of SomethingSomething is not very enthusiastic about Peretz, either. She this to say about Shimon Peres, who ran against Peretz. “Part of me believes that the time has come for Mr Peres to leave the crumbling world of the Labor party and focus his efforts elsewhere, as there must be many areas and realms in which his talents would receive the proper appreciation, given that he has been so dreadfully underappreciated in Israeli politics throughout his career.”

Jeffrey Woolf , university professor who blogs at My Obertidicta, simply says that Peretz scares him, and links to this article by right-wing columnist Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post to explain why.

On the other hand, the folks at Jewish Voices for Peace think that Peretz is a good thing. “It would be foolish to see Peretz’s victory as anything other than a very positive development, not only for Israeli politics, but also for hopes for an end to the occupation and a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.”


Rachel Jaskow of Elms in the Yard. Writes about the discovery in Israel of old Turkish railway lines from the Ottoman Empire. The railway tracks are engraved with a blessing from the Sultan.

Rebecca of has a post in which she links to a humorous (because it's supposed to be serious) Israeli version of a hip hop video. “I love Israelis,” she writes. “They try very hard. And they are cute.”

Ari Miller of Ari Lives in Israel writes a tongue-in-cheek (and hilarious) post about why why aliya (the Hebrew term for Jewish immigration to Israel) seemed like a good idea at the time.

And Layla of Jewlicious snapped some close up photos of Hillary Clinton during her recent visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.


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