Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Yesterday the Knesset voted on a largely ceremonial motion to continue the drafting of a constitution. The special session was part of a big shindig in which the protocols of the vaadat hukah's meetings on the topic were presented to the Knesset along with background materials and some sort of draft proposal for a constitution. The whole mess is now on the web.

The vaadah's proposal generated a lot of disinformation, so let me tell you a bit about what's in it and what's not.

First of all, it isn't a draft constitution. It is a set of possible alternative formulations on a long list of constitutional issues. Choosing a single option from among the alternatives on each issue and keeping the document coherent will be a long messy process.

You might have heard that the religious parties are opposed to the document on the grounds that it isn't Jewish enough. The truth is that most of the frum politicos now weighing in are just blowing hot air. They didn't take much interest in the process and don't really know what's going on. The Jewish chapter includes alternatives that are not bad at all. (It includes others that are bad. If you compare my earlier ramblings on this topic with some of the alternatives in the Knesset draft, you'll understand that I'm not a disinterested party here.)

The breathtakingly horrendous stuff is elsewhere. There's a chapter on social rights based on a draft by Etti Livni and Yuli Tamir that will, if passed, essentially allow the courts to rewrite the budget. Moreover, there is no provision for changing the incredibly obtuse method of judicial appointments. The best alternative allows a single additional MK on the panel. This topic used to be Miki Eitan's number one crusade; he appears to have wimped out on this one.

I'll have much more to say on this. In the meantime, a very interesting group of (mostly) academics has put together a much better constitution than the vaada did. The Hebrew version is included in the Knesset protocols. The English version was released today as well. Leave your comments about the proposal here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The story of Bereishis is the story of the failure of oldest sons. Yishmael and Esav are bad guys. Reuvain sleeps with his step-mother. Efraim is favored over Menasheh. Then in Shemos, the ultimate punishment is the killing of the first-born sons. Who resents first-born sons that much? You'd think all this was written by a second-born son who'd been abandoned by his mother as an infant or something.

The following (from Arutz Sheva) is dedicated to my favorite police groupie:

Fifteen-year-old Avishag S. of Haifa, who says she is still in pain and now has developed fever, told the following story:"I was in house #6, and the Yassamnikim came in through the window. One of them pulled me up by the ear, while beating me with his club in my stomach. He didn't just hit me; he turned the stick around almost inside me - and then another one kicked me in the back, and then sort of threw me out the window, giving me glass splinters in my leg. That's what they did with all the girls there... " After a few seconds, my stomach began to hurt me terribly, and I just started screaming in pain, all doubled over. An army medic told me I had better go to the clinic, but a Yassamnik didn't let me pass. Only when they brought me a stretcher - because I couldn't walk - did he let me go through." In the clinic, they didn't know exactly what to do, but they saw that there was a real fear of damage to an internal organ - so they called an ambulance. But throughout this time they couldn't give me any painkiller, and so I was yelling in pain the whole time. Once I was in the hospital (Shaarei Tzedek), they gave me an ultrasound and infusions and everything. That's when they finally told me that I was just a millimeter away from having an internal organ damaged, which would have meant a dangerous operation. I was also very worried that my uterus was affected, but in the end, they reassured me on that as well." "I hope that next time, the whole nation will be there - not to attack, but to defend."

It has now been learned that even Magen David Adom (MDA) medical teams were not immune to police attacks. Shalom Galil of Beit El, an experienced medic, told this story: "I was outside house #6, and a Border Guard officer called out, 'Medic! Medic!' So I came and he said that someone was hurt inside the house. I climbed in through the window [the doors were sealed - ed.], and I looked for the patient. Two Border Guard policemen were there and said, 'No one is here, get out,' and they started beating me. At the same time, they pushed me towards the salon, where two other policemen were blocking the way. I screamed that I was an MDA medic, and of course they saw my orange MDA vest, but they didn't care and kept on beating me, until I was finally able to get out."

Another medic, Mordechai Ben-Aros of Kokhav Yaakov, had a similar story: "Most of the MDA personnel were in the first-aid tent, treating the wounded, while we were three paramedics outside in the 'field.' We also had stretcher-carriers and other volunteers, but we were treating the wounded... "At one point, we came to a house, and the commander asked me to go in and deal with those who were hurt. When I went in, with my bright orange vest, there were policemen who recognized me from previous houses - but one of them pushed me into a corner and started screaming at me and did not allow me to go up to the roof and check who was hurt. At the same time, a Yassamnik started hitting me without stopping. I tried to say that the officer had told me to come in, and they said they didn't care and kept on beating me... Afterwards, at another house, they told me to go in to check the wounded, but we chose not to."

In another case, an army officer whose name is known did not allow an ambulance to go from Ofrah to Amona. Another paramedic said that Magen David Adom management instructed its volunteers not to publicize the stories. It was also learned that a woman ambulance driver was taking a wounded policeman to the hospital, and he cursed her and abused her the whole route. A complaint has been filed with the police. Roni Daniel, Channel Two's veteran anchorman, reported from the scene: "The policemen here are raining blows down on the settlers one after the other. The blows are unnecessary, they are hitting just to vent their rage, there is no need for it. The police behavior on the roofs has to be investigated. The violence here is unnecessary."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Here is what really happened in Amona today.

Of all the tens of thousands of structures built in Israel without all required permits (the vast majority by Arabs in Jerusalem and the Negev), the state decided that nine houses on a hill adjacent to Ofra had to be destroyed -- now. The Yesha Council agreed to move the houses within one week to a different location. Olmert rejected the offer because he wanted a confrontation before elections. Every one of the Kadimah lackeys dutifully recited the Talking Points: rule of law, law-breaking settlers, bla bla bla. In short, Olmert thought some settler blood would help his campaign.

And blood there was. It happens that I was well represented at the event. One recipient of my DNA (ROMD1) was camped out at one of the approach points at 2:30 AM. He heard the police commander instructing his troops: "club them on the head, go straight for the head".

In the morning, the kids took up positions in Amona. Some stood on the sidelines shouting. Some were in the houses, some up on the roofs of the houses. The cops on horseback charged the people standing on the side without provocation. As they did so, they whacked at people with their batons. Dozens sustained head injuries as a result and needed to be hospitalized. MK Effie Eitam was knocked unconscious and MK Aryeh Eldad sustained a broken hand. After this the kids began throwing rocks at the cops.

ROMD2 was in the first house from which the protesters were evicted. The police and Border Patrol (MaGaV) came in with batons swinging. People were flung out of windows. ROMD2 was lucky and got whacked only in his legs. He is a volunteer in MDA and bandaged up a kid whose head was split open. Another kid, Yechiam Eyal, had his skull fractured and is now in Hadassah unconscious and on a respirator.

ROMD1 was on the roof of a different house. Despite reports to the contrary, the kids on the roof (at least the ones on his roof) didn't throw rocks at the cops and soldiers. They threw bulbs filled with paint in the direction of the windshield of the D9, the giant bulldozer used to crush houses. Yasamnikim (again anti-semitic Russian goyim, with a few Druze thrown in for variety) fired paint at them and they protected themselves with a door. The Yasamnikim were lifted up to the roof in the shovel of the D9 and proceeded to trample the kids under the door while beating any exposed limbs. ROMD1 was forcibly removed from the roof, together with his buddies, in the shovel of the D9.

Pretty soon, ROMD1 and ROMD2 will be drafted. This experience did wonders for their motivation.