The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources
HTA Home Page | E-books | Persian Gulf War | February, 1991

2: February, 1991

<< 1: January, 1991 || TOC

No. 0968. Sunday, 3 Feb 1991.

Date: Fri, 1 Feb 91 13:19 +0200 Subject: Israel -- Friday, 1 February [eds.]

Friday, 1 February

We Look for Patterns

Someone here said that is nothing as old as yesterday's danger. Now, I think that I have found something just as outdated, and much more useless: yesterday's sense of security.

Last night we were again attacked. For the first time, I was not at home. It was at 18:00, already dark for a half hour outside and I was still at work. I actually did not know where the sealed room was; but a colleague quickly directed me to the comfortable, spacious students' laboratory that had been sealed for just such times. At this late hour [suddenly 6 PM has become late], only a dozen of us were there: I was among the first to arrive but others wandered in over the next 10 minutes. Most of us - I among them - had their masks and donned them; someone had remembered to bring a radio [not a transistor model, but luckily there was no problem with the electricity].

We now knew that a direct link from the US spy satellite hovering above Iraq had been set up - to Israel and to the Patriot anti-missile missile batteries. This would increase the warning time from 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. [Before, the data was sent to Australia (!) first; and only then, after decoding, forwarded to us.] Everyone seems much calmer than I feel; but two of us, a man and a young woman, have repeated difficulties with their masks - they take them off and put them on, readjust- ing the straps.

Another two of the dozen - I recognized one face but did not know who he was; he looked Russian to me - had no mask. No one remarked on this. I did not feel secure; I wondered where other members of my family were.

I do not think that I have mentioned that you have to take off your eyeglasses before putting on the masks; a number of the people in the room were clearly effectively blind in. Attempts to put the glasses on over the mask are foiled by arms of the glasses being about one inch short; furthermore, the extra distance from the lens of the eye puts the image a bit out of focus; I tried it i I know. I wear glasses, but manage well enough without them to read the time on my wristwatch, to keep notes.

On the radio we hear translations of the alarm notice - all Israel is requested to enter sealed rooms and put on the anti-poison gas masks - in Russian, English, French and Amharic. Only later, with the arrival of the appropriate translators, did we hear Arabic and Yiddish translations of the announcements.

There is no computer terminal in the sealed room.

18:08 - A confirmed attack is announced: "A missile [or missiles] has been fired at Israel from Western Iraq." 18:11 - The whole country is still required to sit in sealed rooms, wearing masks. 18:13 - Inhabitants of the North - including Haifa, unusually early for that city - and the South were allowed to take off masks and leave the sealed rooms. Is it Greater Tel Aviv again? How many missiles? What damage have they done? Were the Patriots effective? What kind of warhead did the missiles bear? 18:13 - All of Israel, other than the East Central region is now freed, including Tel Aviv. It seems to be the other side of the Green Line again. Mostly Palestinian Arabs with some Jewish settlements, as well. We take off our masks. I am told that I have been tightening the straps of mine too much; my face is slightly purplish, it seems. Some attempts at joking. We wander back to our offices. Some rush, to telephone, to be reassured, to reassure. My wife - at her latest adopted Russian immigrant family's apart- ment - is safe and calls me; she actually remembered, and had her gas mask with her. 18:42 - We hear that there have been no injuries, no damage. Good. No Patriots were fired. What does that mean? This is the second time in a row that no Patriot was fired. Is it for the same reasons? 18:47 - A small part of the country is still confined to sealed rooms, wearing gas masks. It appears that there is diffi- culty finding the missile, determining its nature. It must have landed in the hills. [In the morning we learn that it fell in the western part of the Shomron {Samaria} between Two Arab villages.] A number of false alarms are sounded in various cities; nervous fingers, it seems. I am glad that it has not happen- ed here, in Jerusalem. 19:00 - As suspected, the missile has not been located. 19:23 - Only now, a general all clear is announced.

This is the second attack, one after another, in which a single SCUD is fired and the missile falls far short of its mark. It is hard to believe that the missiles were fired at the Arab population, both because they are not Saddam Hussein's professed enemies - a title he has bestowed on us - and because the effectiveness of the missile is so much greater in areas of larger population. There are certainly no signigicant military installations in the regions of these missile landings. Indeed, we later find out that during the attack Baghdad radio announced [Iraqi General Staff Communique # 33]: "At 19:00 [Baghdad time, which is one hour ahead of us. RW] our units fired Al Husseini [Improved, long distance version of the SCUD. RW] missiles [sic - RW] at Tel Aviv, which rained Arab, Islamic and Iraqi anger on the heads of the Zionists."

There are several possibilities to explain these misfirings. It is possible that there was insufficient time to fully fuel the missiles; they are only fueled after being placed in position. Coalition bombing limits the time that is available for preparation of the missiles for firing, a process that normally takes as much as six hours. Mechanical failure is another possiblity, and may in part result from launching from makeshift launchers, improvised in the face of coalition bombings that have destroyed many of the original launchers.

Why have the Patriots not been fired? We have all become armchair generals, working with limited information. Is it because the SCUDS can be seen by their radar not to be threats? Is it because the missiles fall when they are still out of the range [35 miles] of the Patriots? Is it because there is a problem with the Patriots? The absence of information frustrates us, worries us. Black scenarios are not difficult to find.

We continue to seek patterns. The pattern of no firings during the daytime is still intact. We are not the only ones who have noticed this; schools are being reopened at a much quicker rate than we thought would be possible a few days ago. Yesterday, all Junior High School classes - except in Tel Aviv and Haifa, which will begin to offer these classes on Sunday - have reopened. Teachers who worked furiously to prepare lessons for home study, only to find that these efforts were wasted, are furious and frustrated, not knowing what to expect next. It is a strange situation when it is the government, that ponderous and slow moving mastodon, that is able to show the greatest flexibity, to change plans with ease, with an ear to the winds of changing circumstance.

It is now planned to reopen classes in elementary schools, 1st through 6th grades on Sunday as well. Again all over the country except for Tel Aviv and Haifa, which will follow in one or two days.

Daytime movie houses are also open; no move has been made to reopen them to evening and nighttime showings. Nobody, whose work does not require it, is out of their houses after 19:00. Supermarkets, all-night pharmacies and other businesses close at that time - or earlier.

Now we try out among ourselves the possibility of other patterns. Twice, we have had exactly two consecutive nights without attack. Is that pattern to be relied on? Or is it but a random association? We don't have enough information for a statistical evaluation.

Another pattern is that the firings seem to be undertaken on the hour. As this attack was at 18:00, there was also 2:00 AM, and so on. Can it be that the Iraqi Army command says, "Shoot off a SCUD at Israel at X o'clock, where X is always a whole number, from 1 to 24? Or, would it be from 18:00 [our time] to 03:00, the hours of darkness, if that pattern is correct as well?

And so it goes. Black magic? Perhaps. But we do not have anything better.

We have survived our eigth attack now, 30 SCUDs.

It rains hard now, it is cold outside, the wind is strong, fog covers us. The world is gray. Yes, gray, but still livable.


, No. 0975. Monday, 4 Feb 1991.

Date: Sun, 3 Feb 91 1:54 +0200 Subject: Saturday Night 2 February

Saturday Night 2 Februay

So Much for Patterns

Friday was uneventful; we waited for the attack which we knew would come and it did not. Although we were relieved to be free of the drill - ascent to the sealed room, closing it, putting on the masks, turning on the radio, and waiting, waiting - I felt a distinct disappointment. We had undergone nighttime attacks on the two previous Fridays - the only ones in the war until yesterday, despite Friday being the Islamic Sabbath. No attack on this third consecutive Friday meant no pattern. I did not realize until now how important to me was seeing patterns in the attacks.

I was trying to make order out of the chaos of war; by seeking patterns, I hoped to find rules and laws. Rules and laws that would counter this disturbing and unsettling feeling of uncertainty that was now almost as bad as the thought of being injured or killed. This attempt on my part was doomed to failure, I now see - but it was comforting while the illusion lasted.

I am reminded by writing the previous paragraph of my daughter- in-law's anger at me; she had looked at some of my reports and, when she came with her family to dinner on Friday night, she told me that I was picturing our situation as if we were misfortunates and objects of pity. She resented that, was convinced it was not true; but she had been born here in Israel, had only spent a few years in the States. This was normal for her; not the actual SCUD attacks and the procedures we follow with each attack - they were new. But the idea of being under attack, of having to defend herself - that was part of the turf for her.

Of course she is right. It is just that my background is so very different; I have spent more than half my life abroad, in the bosom of decency and democracy. [Not that I do not feel that I now live in a decent society where democracy prevails; indeed they do, but their geographic limits are so very narrow. Size really makes a difference, not only from the point of view of security, but also psychologically.]

I even left the States before the cities became dangerous at night. [Other than SCUDDs, which I hope are temporary, the cities are still quite safe at night here.] I don't feel that I am one of the downtrodden of the world and I do not want to give that impres- sion. It is just that as an American [originally, and it seems ir- revocably] I am always surprised by evil. My initial response is to deny it; to say it is just not there. I need time to regain my equilibrium in the face of Evil. I lived through 2 1/2 wars as an American and this is my fifth here in Israel. I have had enough experience of the world to ought to have learned; but as an American, I fear, there are some things I can never really learn.

For Americans the distinction between degrees of bad is a very difficult one to make. One bad is perceived as just as bad as any another bad. That appears to be a consequence of the ultimate optimism of the American. The American can and does still believe in a perfect or perfectable world. [To that extent, I am no longer an American.] It was to the Americans that Santayana spoke when he said that one who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

When I speak to Americans about Evil they do not understand; they think that bad is the same as Evil. Until they learn - Will they ever? Can they ever? - they will be trapped by this confusion. Bush, some of them tell me [I really do not know], is bad. I say to them, "Maybe or even Yes. But Saddam Hussein is Evil." And they do not understand me.

There is a world out here that has different guiding principles. You have to listen; some people are not sportsman and do not play by the rules.

Only a few months ago, I was in China. There, a distinguished savant, a member of the Academica Sinica, who has travelled extensively in the West - and is a nice guy, too - told me in deadly seriousness that he knows that the US is preparing to invade mainland China with a force of 10,000,000 soldiers. Does this sound wild to you?

This was not a joke; nothing I could say to this Chinese intel- lectual would convince him that there was no basis for this wild belief. He showed me his relaxed attitude to this anticipated disaster; he joked grimly, telling me that China would make good use of the dead American soldiers that would result from such an invasion as fertilizer.

Well, Saddam Hussein's claim that this is a war between Israel and Islam with the US and its coalition partners doing the fighting for Israel is just as wild. And Saddam Hussein has succeeded in con- vincing many Moslems, including intellectuals, that he is telling the truth. And some Americans as well, I am afraid to report.

My son sent me a newspaper clipping from India where it said, as if everyone knew it as truth, that the US jumped through hoops when- ever Israel called the tune. This is India, not an enemy of the US. This is not cynical lying, not the work of another Goebells, but some- thing much worse. They believe it. Even at the top.

I am just enough not an American to see the difference. And the threat. And to fear the death of people in the name of lies. And the picture I see is sad. But I am enough an American and enough an Israeli - and perhaps enough a Jew, as well - to believe that there can be better. Better, yes; not perfection, but better. And better is good. And to see that it is sometimes worth fighting for a life of truth and meaning in a world that will always partially confuse me. Particularly when I think I have achieved a life of truth and meaning and someone is trying to take it away from me.

War is bad, but it is sometimes necessary. Discrimination is an out word these days [The out word of my youth was "rationalization".]. I understand the reasons for the disfavor that has fallen on use of this word, but it is still a pity to lose so fine a word. After all, discrimination [as is rationalization] is a higher function of the brain. And it takes discrimination to tell the difference between a bad person and an Evil person. Just as it does to tell the differ- ence between just any war and a necessary and justifiable one, as this one is.

So, I apologize to my daughter-in-law. But not to Saddam Hussein.


But I was talking about losing faith in patterns. As I am beginning to now.

On Saturday night, after beginning this report, we had another alarm. And at 20:27! Another pattern, ever so tenuous, down the drain. In this case the pattern of attacks on the hour is the victim of fact destroying Werman's feeble efforts at finding patterns.

20:27 - This time, I heard the siren outside, or rather my wife did. I ran to the TV, saw the familiar medallion announcing - in various languages - the alarm. I took my mother and ascended the stairs, where we were joined by my wife in the sealed room. Closing the room, adjusting the tape on the door, placing the wet towel at the foot of the door, donning our masks, turning on the radio, checking my mother's mask - all this is now pretty much routine. No different than brushing your teeth. [How my daughter-in-law will hate that sentence!] And busy with the routine, I have no time for fright or pessimistic thought or even serious worry. Translations in English and Amharic. Later there will also be Russian, French and Yiddish. 20:33 - We learn from the radio that this is a real attack and that all Israel is asked to don masks in sealed rooms. Nahman Shai tells us that we do now have more warning time than previously. I once again attempt to get onto the IRC net through my computer to find out what is happening in other cities but the IRC server in Israel is down. I try to connect up through an IRC server in the States - this will allow me to find out who is on line in other cities in Israel and "talk" to them almost instantaneously - but without success. 20:40 - Instructions about how to handle heating up of the incubators that all three year olds and younger enter during these attacks. If you have a fan in the room, to blow it at the filter of the incuba- tor; if not, to put cold, wet rags on the incubator without cover- ing the filter. Check the infant to see if he/she is pale or having difficulties breathing. If yes, check that the door is properly sealed and - only then - take the infant out for one or two minutes, until he/she seems better and then replace the infant n the incuba- tor. 20:43 - Just as in the last two attacks, all of Israel is released from masks and sealed rooms except for Shomron [Samaria], in the occupied territories. 20:45 - We are told that the was a single missile fired from Western Iraq and that it had fallen in the region where people were still in masks and sealed rooms. 20:57 - The southern half of that region is also released. 20:59 - We hear that there are no known casualties or damage to property. 21:03 - An all clear announcement is given on the radio; we are told that the all clear siren will not be blown. Why? Could it be that too many people mistake it for another attack?


I am tired and subjects I wanted to write about will have to wait until tommorrow. If nothing happens to push them further away.


, No. 0994. Wednesday, 6 Feb 1991.

Date: Sun, 3 Feb 91 18:34 +0200 From: <>

Sunday, 3 February

Where is the Left?

I was sending off yesterday's report to various friends and to nets where they are reprinted. [From letters I learn that there are other nets which are reprinting my letters, some have informed me - even asked permission; others have not bothered.] And to those who have written and told me that they had difficulty in obtaining the material but wanted it. It was actually after 1 AM this morning when I began to send out the copies. My tardiness resulted from a number of factors; these included the fact that I am an observant Jew and do not write or use a computer terminal between sundown Friday and sundown Satur- day, in fact do no work at all in that 25 hours. [When I tried to explain this to my hosts during my recent trip to China, they obligingly decided to lock me in my room for that period. I ex- plained to them that this was not necessary, that I could walk around within the city. Reasoning logically they argued that I should be able to ride in a car, for after all riding in a car is even less work than walking. A number of other interesting confusions arose from their never having had to deal with Jewish mores and religion, but this is neither the time nor the place to expand upon them.] - thus, I was delayed by the wait for the exit of the Sabbath and then, later, there was the attack that I have already reported. That had to be survived and recorded and added to the report. As I said, it was after 1 AM and then we had another attack, the second this night.

1:37 - I hear the radio broadcast [I have been calling a battery operated radio a transistor radio; this is a direct trans- lation from the Hebrew and, as a reader pointed out, is incorrect.] interrupted by the sisma [code slogan that indicates that a certain group has to go into action. All of Israel now recognizes this sisma, which clearly is a signal to the operators of the local sirens to turn on their sirens. It may also activate other groups [Patriots? Not likely. They seem to have, just as the General Staff does, direct access to the sightings reported by the US spy satellite over Iraq.] but that is not obvious to us. In fact, some 30 seconds later, the siren is heard clearly. I note that this and the last attack both took place on or about the half-hour. But I must avoid this silly game of looking for patterns, looking for meaning. A friend writes that my search for patterns is a product of a Western out- look; that, to understand Saddam Hussein better, I should study Chaos, of which he is a prime example. My wife, mother and I are joined in the sealed room by our son, who arrived from the Far East on Friday afternoon, and his girl friend who is visiting. His second attack; and he has here less than 12 hours. 1:43 - Nahman Shai tells us that this is a real attack and not a false alarm; all of Israel is requested to enter the poison gas-free rooms and don their masks. 1:45 - He tells us that one SCUD has been fired and landed in Israel, that the situation is similar to the last attack, five hours earlier. 1:53 - We are all released from the sealed rooms except those living in the Shomron [Samaria] and in greater Tel Aviv. 1:57 - Those living in Tel Aviv are also released. 1:58 - Only those in the northern part of Samaria have to remain in their rooms. The same pattern as in the earlier attack.

My son's girl friend has to call her mother to tell her that she is safe; other calls. Some confusion. I forget to note when the general all-clear is given - on the radio, again no siren is used. Once again this compulsion to record, to tell takes hold of me; I do not go to sleep until after 3:30 AM.


The last four SCUDS have fallen short of the coastal population centers which have been the targets of Iraq's missile attacks. The missiles have all landed in the Shomron, or Sameria, in the occupied territories where mostly Palestinian Arabs live as well as far few Jewish settlers. The Palestinian Arab's are bewildered by these events. A short lived sport popular in the first week, climbing to the roofs of houses and cheering encouragement to the missiles pass- ing to the west, on their way to the Jewish population centers, is no longer so common. The Palestinian Arabs have made a great emotional investment in Saddam Hussein, whom they see as a possible savior, the only effective Arab leader on the scene sympathetic to them - as well as strong enough to make the hated and - in their eyes - treacherous west back down. They find both reasonable explanations for the rain of missiles on their territories - either it is deliberate or the Iraqis are screwing up - unacceptable.

The Palestinian Arabs note that the Patriot anti-missile missiles have not been used against these last four SCUDs, and feel that this is the result of a deliberate decision on the part of the Jews whom they perceive as wanting to exterminate them. [They are not impressed by the argument that the Patriots only have an effect- ive range against missiles of about 5 miles; that the concentration of Patriot batteries near the the large cities does not allow inter- ception of these SCUDs which fall out of range.]

Some Palestinian Arabs even claim that the missiles are actually fired by the Israelis, and aimed at them. Good heros are hard to find; and apparently even harder to give up.


Like most modern countries, the literary establishment in Israel is one of the strongholds of the non-Communist left. So complete is their control of the literary magazines, the media - in this book hungry country [After all, we are the people of the book.], all the newspapers, even those directed at the least serious reader, have serious literary supplements in every Friday [weekend] issues and expanded editions for the holidays - and the formation of the lit- erary taste and opinion in this country, that when David Shahar, a novelist associated with the right politically, won a major liter- ary prize for the best novel translated into French several years ago, the almost universal response was "David Who?"

Shahar, who had already published three novels as well as collections of short stories, was a virtual unkown here as a result of his systematic exclusion from the eyes of readers [It is quite common here for the better known novelists to publish chapters or smaller parts of work in progress in the literary journals and in the holiday editions of newspaper literary sections. Shahar was forced to publish through Hadar, a small, little known press also run by a right winger, a former operations officer of one of the separatist, right wing groups [Etzel, Lehi, The Stern Gang] that operated during the waning days of the British mandate in Palestine. Nor was he reviewed: as a right winger, he was simply did not exist.

[I am pleased to say that Shahar, following a continued and repeated success in France - and a split with his right wing publisher (Shahar is still politically on the right) - is now published by the largest publisher in the country, the Histadrut's - the overall labor organization, closely identified with the Labor Party - organ, Am Oved. Shahar's long series, tracing a group of interesting and colorful characters in Jerusalem from the 30's on, through a series - Is it six now? Or seven? - of novels that have continued to have great success in France and moderate success here. Only one of his novels has been translated into English - as far as I know - "His Majesty's Agent". This novel - not part of the series - is a romping, pornographic roman a clef which is probably not too meaningful for American readers, except for a broad, cruel parody at the beginning, a portrait of a famous American Jewish literary figure who allegedly attempted, unsuccess- fully, to prevent publication of the translation. In my opinion, the third [I think] novel in the series, "The Day of the Countess," is the finest novel written in Hebrew in the past 50 years and is world class.]

Two successful novelists - both deserving of their reputations - in the camp of the Left, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, have been out- spoken in their support, both here and abroad, of dealing directly with the PLO. [There are subtle differences in their political postures, but these are not relevant to the present discussion.] They are both clearly embarrassed by the PLO's support of Saddam Hussein and have backed off, to different degrees, in their support of that terrorist organization [My words, their implied criticism.]. I do not think that either rejects - even after all this - the option of dealing with the PLO and even entering formal negotiations with them - on the basis that there is no alternative. But the latest difficulty they find themselves in is their inability to make common cause with their leftist brothers, especially in Europe, from whom they formerly drew support and sympathy. They see their European leftist friends leading the peace demonstrations against the war in the Persian Gulf and happily marching in the first rows - and are confused and disappointed, isolated and betrayed.

It appears that Oz and Yehoshua are shocked by the inability of their former colleagues to distinguish between war and war. They no longer can understand how anyone can be against all wars, no matter how Evil the nature of the war. For Jews, even on the left, and for Israelis especially - we have the questionable fortune of being re- minded, time after time - Hitler's war is too close, its purpose too unbelievable. But Hitler's war gives us a criterion with which to measure other wars. Panama, Nicaragua, the Falklands, Granada fail that critierion. Saddam Hussein who is willing to rape Kuwait and cynically blame Israel, to fire missiles on civilian populations who are not at war with him, to murder 5000 Kurds with poison gas - this Saddam Hussein passes that critierion. This - for all right thinking people - must be a war worth fighting.

The Israel left is in a very difficult position. They no longer find they are supported by their counterparts elsewhere who can not see the different nature of this war. Moreover, their willingness to sacrifice so much - to give the Palestinians the state they want - is at least partially meant to find favor in the eyes of their leftist fellows. Perhaps the realization that their leftist fellows are will- ing to see them and their families die - in the name of "Justice" - is just too much for them.


One of my correspondents points out to me that the Hadassah-Hebrew University Hospital in Jerusalem - generally thought to be the best hospital in the Middle East -has been designated as a "first stop" for allied casualties from the Gulf War. Until now, a US Army - hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany was the "first stop". It would be interesting to see if any of the Arab members of the coalition allow their wounded to be taken to Israel. Probably the designation of Hadassah is for West- erners, only.


Another correspondesnt forwards to me the following "interesting piece of trivia": The name PATRIOT is in fact, an acronym:

P hased A rray T racking R adar I ntercept O n T arget

And I can add that the H2 and H3 staging areas for SCUD missiles in western Iraq were originally the Haifa 2 and Haifa 3 pumping sta- tions of the Iraq Petroleum Company which was British owned and until 1948 served thes stations served to pump oil from the Kirkuk oil fields to the refineries in Haifa.


, No. 1000. Thursday, 7 Feb 1991.

Date: Mon, 4 Feb 91 16:45 +0200 From: <> Subject: Back to School; Censors

Monday, 4 February

Back to School; Censors

We had no alarm last night. The relief from attack was appreciated [Should I thank Saddam Hussein?] and relaxing. I did not quite believe, even at the moment of falling asleep. Waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Schools continue to reopen. The ninth grade is now open in Tel Aviv and Haifa; elsewhere, the first to twelfth are open. But in Tel Aviv many of the classes are still only half filled - at least in the more affluent neighborhoods. There has been a conspicuous flight from Tel Aviv; hotels and guest houses in other cities such as Jerusalem and Eilat and more remote places such as the Kibbutzim are filled with Tel Aviv escapees. Even those without money who have friends or family elsewhere take advantage of this and leave the threatened city. The number of commuters who drive into Tel Aviv every morning has increased greatly, another sign of flight from the city. Interesting consequences of the flight include a marked increase [20-25%] in the number of births in Siroka Hospital in Beer Sheva and Jerusalem hospitals also report obvious increases in birth rate.

The Mayor of Tel Aviv, an ex-Army colonel of obvious charm and popularity, Shlomo [Chich] Lahat, responded to the flight of Tel Aviv strongly and called the refugees "deserters". This strong reaction has produced much comment, both positive and negative. The City of Tel Aviv produced a car sticker saying, "I Stayed in Tel Aviv" which also has been a source of controversy. When a Tel Aviv car carrying such a sticker is seen in Jerusalem - perhaps on business - it elicits snickers. A number of Tel Avivians, in an effort to show that they have remained in the city, have hung Israeli flags from the windows of their apartments and houses. To spare feelings, maternity patients in Siroka Hospital - in thus-far-safe Beer Sheva - are no longer asked where they come from. In fact, escapees who now commute to Tel Aviv daily and sleep out of the city [all attacks have been after dark] are called, with gentle humor, out-patients.

The movement away from Tel Aviv is now - slowly - reversing itself and families are returning to the city. Both the cost of living away from home and the failure of SCUDs to land in the city this past week contribute to the reurbanization of the city.

The psychological effects of the attacks still occupy us and are subjects of radio discussions among psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and lay people as well as featuring in personal con- versations. A friend tells me that his neighbor's four year old son reported that "My bulbul [The most common children's word here for penis] is a Patriot missile with a chemical warhead."


My remarks about censorship appear to have incensed - or at least worried - some of my readers. In fact we were treated here yesterday to an American TV program devoted to the "sins" of Israeli censorship of the media. One broadcaster was actually required - not to stay alive or avoid banishment, but to maintain his press card - to announce that he had broken censorship rules - as the result of ignorance of the rules, he added - and to apologize.

I know - and have seen - the censorship rules prepared by the office of the Army Spokesman [Nahman Shai]. They are clear and are distributed with every press card. But the playing of games, includ- ing that of the innocent, is standard practice for newsmen. [I am from the pre-newspeople generation; my intention is both sexes and all intermediate variations, even Kantian non-people, as I sometimes perceive certain newsmen - particularly those who have made a full time vocation of Israel-bashing.] When the CNN correspondent whom I described as tricking the Israeli Army censor by revealing - while asking in a live broadcast if he is allowed to mention - that the area bombed by SCUDs that night was a residential district, did so with pride at his own resourcefulness. The possibility that - by revealing this information - he was endangering lives was of no interest or of only secondary interest to him. These are acts of malicious and selfish self-aggrandizement, under the hypocritical guise of "free speech." All this took place under censorship; what limits could we, should we expect in its absence? None?

I am aware of responsible journalism and have even witnessed. it in action. But these are rare and remarkable activities that are more anecdotal than frequent. And as praiseworthy as responsible journalism is, the more frequent lack of responsibility shown by reporters is reprehensible and may even be the direct cause of deaths of innocents.

Israel is chided and castigated for imposing censorship on reporters. We say that we are not willing to risk lives for the titillation of TV audiences. Do you really think that your vicari- ous involvement in our suffering is an expression of the value of free speech? So it sounds - at least from this point in space and history.

What of censorship in Iraq? Why is that not the subject of a TV expose? Peter Arnett's cooked, strained and digested interview of Saddam Hussein is shown throughout the world as if this were unrestricted reporting. And he is pretty much the only reporter there. No reporting at all and what there is completely staged. But that is Iraq, we are told, and you are Israel. We are - or should be - used to being judged by a double standard, a much higher one for us, a much lower one for our opponents. But it still gets under our skins.

Americans are convinced that freedom of speech is an unlimited virtue. They are cynical about their government and do not believe it is as innocent or idealistic as it claims. And that the truth, as exposed by motivated and glory hunting [Isn't that the American dream in a capsule?] reporters, is an unequivocal virtue. Perhaps. But free speech has its limits. First of all, free speech may also allow the spread and acceptance of lies, defamation, and character assassination. But there is a free market place for ideas - This from the very same people who are against any other form of free market, by the way. - and the good [They would not use that word, as it is not part of their vocabularies; they would probably talk about verifiable.] ideas will rise and the bad ones sink. But is there really a free market place for ideas and for "truth?" If the reporter who apologized had - by his report - been responsible for the death of innocent citizens of Israel, what good would his apology done them?

The limits of free speech are not obvious but they should be understood. First of all, they exist. No person should be allowed to cause death or damage by such speech. Libel law is a now a joke; no one can possibly win a libel case these days. But the public is aware of this and the caveat is - or should be - obvious to anyone who enters public life. But what if someone in a crowded place starts screaming "Fire!" and causes a stampede, resulting in wounded and even dead? Is that, too, to be allowed? Of course not. And that situation is quite similar to some of the reporting I have seen from here. It places lives in jeopardy and cannot be either excused or allowed.

Another form of free speech that must be curbed and denied is that which incites to overthrow governments which advocate free speech. Such speech is dangerous in that it wishes to eliminate free speech. Arnett's broadcast of Saddam could - with- out stretching the point too finely - be included in that category. Once again, we can not say that Arnett or the networks were unaware of the dangers. Did not Ted Kopel go the same route with Saddam Hussein? And later apologize for being duped and used? That was before the war. Apologies of that sort in the time of war are less than pathetic, they tend to ridicule the value of human life.

Censorship has a long and not completely dishonorable history, even in the US. The "Ulysses" court case - whose decision is reprinted in many editions - would not have been of interest in the absence of censorship. And American history did not begin in 1933. It was possible to free the slaves at a time when censorship was accepted as a norm. True, Americans now have Penthouse and hard porn movies. I don't; I am not sure that the quality of life - another interesting and perhaps dangerous new Americanism - I experience is inferior to that of those who enjoy them.

Finally, war is not a normal situation. And this war. Standards of behavior that are unacceptable in normal times are every day events in war, not the least killing people and destroying property. Our priorities are different, a state of emergency exists and everything - or at least most other things - else must take a temporary [hopefully brief] back seat to the priority of preserving our country, our way of life, and the lives and properties of our citizens. Even reporters.


The threat of a poison gas attack is still upon us; it seems very real to us. We know that there are at least 10-12 SCUD missile launchers still functioning. Saddam Hussein may be becoming desperate. We do not know. Nerve gas was released in the bombing of a chemical works in Iraq. We are not quiet.


, No. 1017. Tuesday, 12 Feb 1991.

(1) Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 17:42 +0200 (216 lines) From: <> Subject: A New Order

(2) Date: Fri, 8 Feb 91 15:49 +0200 (232 lines) From: <> Subject: Ready for the Ground Battle

(1) -------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 17:42 +0200 From: <> Subject: A New Order

Thursday, 7 February

A New Order

It is raining hard again, thundering as well. There were no missiles again last night but the sensitized Tel Avivians were startled and even frightened at midnight by the thunder, thinking it was another attack. Here in Jerusalem, we can afford the luxury of first checking the source of the noise, for we don't really believe - but we are not sure - that the sudden boom signals an attack. There is no attack. This was the fourth night in a row without any attack.

For several days now, Jordan's Crown Prince, Hassan, the brother of King Hussein, has been giving TV interviews condemning the US and coalition indifference to Jordan's plight. The signs were clear, the signal given to the West to bail out Jordan, but there was no response.

Jordan was already in desperate financial straits before the onset of the Persian Gulf crisis; the two waves of refugees that have swarmed across the border from Iraq - the first with the capture and ravaging of Kuwait in the late summer, the second now with the bombing of Iraq - has placed a tremendous additional economic burden on Jordan. In addition, two-thirds of Jordan's oil supply came from Iraq and oil shortages present in Iraq following the coalition bombings are also apparent in Jordan.

Moreover, Jordan has been dealing with Iraq despite the sanctions and boycott of that country for the past five months, providing produce. [And even Israeli farm products, as West Bank farmers - whose trucks change their licence plates as soon as they cross the Adam Bridge from Israel to Jordan - drove their produce to Iraq, as they formerly did to Kuwait.] Indeed, the Jordanian port of Aqaba has served during the period of the sanctions as Iraq's only outlet to the sea; trucks carrying containers from steamers arriving in Aqaba - none ever searched by US and coalition vessels patrolling the Red Sea - left Aqaba before the war at the rate of one every five minutes.

More than half of Jordan's residents are Palestinians, many still living in refugee camps set up in 1948 [Fleeing from embattled Israel at the urging of their own leaders]. These, as do their fellow Palestinians elsewhere, see Saddam Hussein as a possible savior, as a Salladin who will lead the Arabs to a victory over the West, and particularly to the dismantling of Israel. It is no surprise that they support Saddam Hussein overwhelmingly; they see the present war exactly as Saddam Hussein has tried to sell it to the Arab/Muslim world, as a battle between the good Arabs and the evil Israeli's [Their placards add "Israelis = Jews," so there will be no doubt.], with the US and its allies doing the fighting for Israel.

Scud missiles fly over Jordan on their way from Iraq to Jordan. It has been rumored that some of these may actually have been fired from mobile launchers driven to Jordan. Now, a new rumor has it that the last missile fired at Israel actually fell in Jordanian territory. Jordan knows that any Israeli retaliation on Iraq will involve Israel aircraft flying through Jordanian airspace; the Jordanians are pretty much helpless to prevent this, their airforce and anti-aircraft defenses are just not up to stopping the Israeli planes.

Thus, it was not a great surprise to me that King Hussein, in a dramatic speech yesterday, allied himself with the Iraqi in a war of the Arab nations to keep the Imperialistic forces of the West out of the Arab subcontinent, where their purpose is - says King Hussein - to subjugate and humiliate the Arabs and thereby control Arab resources and propagate Western influence.

Jordan was caught in a pincer with little room to maneuver; its dependence on Iraq, its largely pro-Saddam population and the lack of desperately needed economic aid from the west, together, tipped the scales in favor of a pro-Iraqi stance.

The Americans have already announced that they will be responsible for rebuilding Iraq after the war is over. Shades of "The Mouse that Roared." Just as Germany and Japan were helped - with US aid - to regain their pre- World War II status and to achieve even greater economic power than they ever had. And now allowed to enjoy the envious status of reluctant economic supporters - without participating in the military actions or casualties - of the coalition efforts. This is, of course, particularly disturbing in the case of Germany which supplied encouragement funds to German firms that aided in the building of the Iraqi war machine, and supplied the technical know-how that may now be responsible for the lives of US and coalition soldiers as well as Israeli citizens.

With the possibility of being "rebuilt" by the US after the war now a tangible option, perhaps there is every reason in the world for the Jordanians to side against the US and its allies.

King Hassan of Morocco, a member of the coalition, has also joined in the general Arab/Muslim support of Saddam Hussein, calling him a modern Salladin who will restore vanished glories of the Arab Nation. The 300,000 participants in the pro-Saddam rally in Fez this week probably helped convince him of the wisdom of this action. This is indeed strange, with a US ally extolling the allies' chief enemy and villian.

Continuing the line of topsy-turvey results that might be expected after an Allied victory is the announcement by Secretary of State Baker that after the war is over the Middle East will have to undergo changes to guarantee its stability and to undo injustice.

Is this announcement meant to bring hope to the Kurds dispersed and persecuted in Iraq and Iran and barely tolerated in southern Turkey? Not at all, it is another reference to pushing a Palestinian State down Israel's already gagging throat. For clearly - by Mouse- that-Roared logic - the PLO which sides with Saddam Hussein is to be rewarded, while Israel, which has been a good little nation, showing "admirable" restraint at US urging, is to be punished.

Is that clear, now?

In the discussion of a general Middle East settlement after the war, the phrase, "A New Order" [in the Middle East] has been articulated. Use of this expression must reflect the height of insensitivity, worthy of some special award. It is not enough that Israel is again being threatened with poison gas attacks with the Nazi use of Zyklon B to exterminate the Jews still fresh in our memory, but now we are treated to a rebirth of another Nazi relic, "The New Order." And directed at us - again.

Mayor Dinkins of New York City has joined the new pilgrimage, to the Patriot launchers. Carrying the obligatory gas mask - I wish that Israelis were as conscientious about carry their's as our visitors are - he is interviewed at one of the launcher sites in the Tel Aviv area. He praises us, our restraint, calmness, fortitude. [Will he tell that to Farakan? To Jesse Jackson?] He proves his political astuteness by asking one of the American soldiers in the Patriot crew if it is true that they deliberately withheld fire from Scuds that appeared destined to land in areas populated by Arabs. The GI breaks into a broad smile and says "Hell, no!"

They are all coming now, German, Italian, Czech parliamentarians, American sexologists [Dr. Ruth], Afro- American congressmen who tell us that the Black Caucus's record is 100% behind bills supporting Israel. They all visit the Patriots - our new tourist attraction. Israelis are not allowed near the batteries; fathers take their sons to seem them from afar, explain them, they are now "ours."

I wonder if the Afro-American visitors have seen our Ethiopian immigrants, who - on the average - are much darker [Too dark? Too Jewish?] than the visitors. At any rate, they have nothing to say about them. I gather that the limited support that they give us - and we welcome even that in the face of widespread Afro-American anti- Jewish feeling - cannot be compromised by excess, by admitting that we are also black, and that being black does not seem to be an issue here.


There is another group of Black Hebrews - that is what they call themselves - here, mostly living in the town, Dimona, better known for other things. They are here as converts to a new religion/new-old people with their own prophet. Originating in Chicago, they have come on tourist visas and stayed on. They claim that they are the true Hebrews and that we, the Jewish Israelis, are usurpers who will be thrown out one day. There were some attempts years back to deport them; they are here illegally and are generally a financial burden where they live. But the fear of negative responses among Afro-Americans and other black nationalists stopped that.

This has not stopped the Farakans of America from inciting blacks to anti-semitism; nor the Bishop Tutus and Nelson Mendelas for siding with the PLO against us.

The Black Hebrews are, for the time being, only an unobtrusive Fifth Column.


We still tell jokes. Here is a recent one:

They are selling building lots in H2 now. They are only 7 minutes - by missile - from Tel Aviv.



(2) --------------------------------------------------------------238--- Date: Fri, 8 Feb 91 15:49 +0200 From: <> Subject: Ready for the Ground Battle

Friday, 8 February

Ready for the Ground Battle

For the fifth night we had no attack; at 02:00 we heard that a Scud was fired at Saudi Arabia and that two Patriots were fired to intercept it. We do not know if any damage was done. We are both worried and relieved. We act as if there is no longer any threat; we are convinced that a chemical attack is in the winds.

Movies are to open tonight for the first time - there are already daytime showings. But only 50% occupancy of each movie theater will be allowed. [We continue to worry about crowds, about the danger of mass casualties, of stampedes produced by panic.]

All schools will return to normal schedules. Government scandals and investigations which occupied our interest before the war are finding their way back into the newspapers. The price of electricity is lower; it was raised with the booming oil prices that first characterized the Persian Gulf crisis. Everything is normal, except for the sight of people carrying gas masks, in Tel Aviv more than in Jerusalem.

But we also hear of new weapons in Saddam Hussein's armamentarium, weapons that he has been saving, weapons that threaten us, that can kill us. We know that he would like nothing better than to make a successful strike in the heart of the "settlers". ["Settlers" is a term used by the PLO for Jews who have moved beyond the Green Line, into territory captured by Jordan and held by them until 1967, when their attempt to share in the spoils of an Arab war against Israel was rewarded by a loss of these territories. But it is clear that Radio Baghdad means something else when they talk about "settlers", they are talking about the "settlers" of Haifa and the "settlers of Tel Aviv; they mean all Jews in Israel.]

Saddam Hussein has thrown down the gauntlet, it is all Arabs and Muslim, with he himself at their head, against Jews; he has invited all Arabs and Muslims [Saddam Hussein has made strong overtures to his one-time irrevocable enemy, Iran, to join in the "Holy" objective.] to join him; a groundswell of Arab public opinion in his favor threatens the cohesiveness of the coalition. Will the Arab nations in the coalition - particularly Morocco, Egypt and Syria - be able to withstand the pro-Saddam surge of support in the streets of these countries?

Although the bombing of Iraqi military targets as well as supply and communication lines in Iraq and Kuwait has been very successful, it would appear that there is yet more to bomb, more to soften up. This form of warfare has the advantage - with coalition airplanes the only ones in the sky - of involving relatively few coalition casualties. But the threat of dissolution of the coalition appears to be sufficiently worrying to advance the timing of the ground battle. Secretary of Defense Cheney and Chief of Staff General Powell are in the Gulf to obtain an up-to-date evaluation of the situation before beginning the ground phase of the war - earlier than might be best from a purely military viewpoint.

If beginning the ground war has become an urgent matter for the US, so too has galvanizing Arab/Muslim support for him become to Saddam Hussein. With the name Israel a red flag in front of the bull for Arabs/Muslims, what better way is there for him to achieve this support than to show that he is capable of hurting - or even more - Israel? We know this and wait; we have already prepared as best we can. We have interceptor airplanes in the skies at all times; Patriot anti-missile missiles are in position. We have distributed anti-poison masks and related equipment; we have prepared sealed rooms - we know how to use them.

We hear that Saddam Hussein has other weapons that threaten us, weapons that he has not yet used. Russian SS-12 missiles were supposed to have been destroyed in 1988, following a disarmament agreement with the US. But now we hear that some were distributed before that among Russia's allies, including Iraq, before the public destruction of these weapons; these missiles were not destroyed. The SS-12 is a missile of much higher accuracy and longer range than the relatively crude Scuds which have been used to date. Their range of 950 kilometers [about 570 miles] is more than enough to reach Israel.

Another weapon that we might have to worry about is the giant cannon. This device was brought to the attention of the world when Israeli pressure forced various European nations to seize "pipes" of enormous size, that were actually components - parts of the barrel - of the cannon. Now we hear that 3 such cannon, with a range of 750 kilometers [450 miles], far enough to reach Israel's cities, did reach Iraq.

Even the best air defense can not guarantee that not a single plane will get through. We fear an air attack as even one plane reaching Tel Aviv or Haifa with a chemical weapon would be disastrous to us.

We go on as if life is returning to normal. But we know better.


A military pilot suggested - after examining the pictures of damaged Baghdad shown on TV - that a large portion of the damage shown is the result of Iraqi anti-aircraft [AA] activity and not the aftermath of allied attacks at all. He pointed out that, in the video footage shown of Baghdad at night, coalition aircraft are all but unseen - mostly flying at high altitude - while streams of Iraqi tracer bullets and rockets fill the sky, apparently hitting nothing. On the principle of that which goes up must come back down, much of the damage is probably caused by Iraqi air-aircraft installations themselves, concentrated as they are through the city of Baghdad, in the most densely populated regions. Many of the major military targets are indeed near the center of Baghdad. With the breakdown of communications that has been the result of the heavy coalition bombing, the AA batteries no longer have the benefit of coordinating radar - most large radar units have already been knocked out - while the radars of individual guided anti-aircraft missiles have to contend with coalition jamming and incoming fire. These added sources of inaccuracy will add to the number of returned "friendly" missiles.

Even visible guidance of the AA fire is difficult; the only visible parts of the attacking aircraft at night are the aircraft engines, which are not easy to identify in a sky full of tracer bullets and AA missile rocket engines.

Coalition planes are equipped with sophisticated evasion mechanisms which are programmed to neutralize the radars or heat-sensors of the AA missiles. [According to legend {?}, good pilots can still escape missiles by sudden evasion tactics, resulting in wasted missiles falling to earth.] When the planes come in low, the AA guns fire up, hoping to produce some damage by luck alone. On low runs, the AA missile radars frequently do not have time to lock-on to the planes or to arm properly. This was already proven in the American raid on Libya, where the Libyan gunners fired many AA miles that either had no radar lock-on or passed the attacking aircraft before the warheads had armed themselves. These missiles fell back to earth in Tripoli, producing considerable damage.

AA missile warheads generally detonate only when they are quite close to a plane - or another sizable target such as an Iraqi building. **********************

A correspondent sees an unexpected - and encouraging if true - phenomenon taking place in the US as everyone senses that the ground war is approaching; he calls it "a great healing." He perceives the Unites States now acting as a United nation, even as an angry - righteously angry - nation, for the first time in twenty years. As an example he cites a congressman's response to Secretary of State Baker's comments about rebuilding Iraq after the war; Baker was told that this would not occur " this lifetime!"

He attributes this unity and determination, at least partly, to accumulated hate for the Arabs that has grown in the US since the Iranians - who are perceived as Arabs - held the Americans hostage in 1979. The humiliating failure of the rescue attempt added to the wounded pride [the other major source of unity, probably of more importance] of American withdrawal from Vietnam [which is a source of very mixed feelings in America: all negative on the left and in the media {witness the rash of negative movies}; negative only in the area of wounded pride for an ignominious involvement and withdrawal on the side of the right and the silent majority] . According to this view, Saddam Hussein just turned out to be a convenient focus for the smouldering hate and frustration already present. Of course it was important that he be evil, opposed to the US, and Arab. But he was "just unlucky enough to be in the gunsights when we lost our collective temper."

A number of congressmen have called for the use of hard radiation nuclear missiles on Iraq prior to beginning the ground battle.


King Hussein of Jordan has come down squarely on the side of Saddam Hussein. In his speech declaring his commitment to the Arab cause, the King denounced each Arab nation in the coalition, one by one. Except for one. He failed to denounce Syria. Since Iraqi oil - which provided two-thirds of the source for Jordan before the war - is no longer available, Syria has become the only supplier of oil to Jordan. Syria, a member of the coalition, but no lover of Israel, finds nothing wrong in supplying Jordan, the ally of Syria's declared enemy with oil. Business as usual. And, what's more, Syria may yet change its mind, with President Assad coming down on the side of Saddam Hussein.

The Middle East. An interesting place, yes?


Doctors tell us that we should forget about Saddam Hussein; forgetting him will help us relax.

I think that forgetting about doctors will help us relax more. At the beginning of the war medical advice, particularly psychological tips for handling the problems of children helped. Even hearing about some of the psycho-physical [psycho-Semitic?] symptoms was interesting; its nice to know that you were not the only one suffering with problems urinating, etc. But enough is enough. People - doctors particularly - never seem to know when enough is enough. We are tired of hearing about physical symptoms that are the products of anxiety.

Let's talk about something more pleasant! Even Saddam Hussein.


Today, a full page portrait of of General Schwartzkopf in the newspapers; it is a cigarette add. "Be a man and smoke N......"

Sunday, 10 Feb 1991.

Tuesday, 5 February


Another night without an attack. We are waiting. Last night was the second night in a row without an attack. Since the onset of the war, we have not had more than two consecutive nights with- out an attack. Does this mean that there will be one tonight? We do not know. The attacks this past week have been ineffective, with Scuds [I have been corrected, not SCUDs] landing short of their marks, in uninhabited regions. Is this a reflection of reduced capacity of the Iraqis to fire missiles in the wake of the one per minute sorties of the coalition? Or bad weather, too? Today it is sunny and cold here; is that a reason to be concerned? We live in a vacuum, an information void that renders us impotent when our overwhelming desire is to know, to understand - a desire that is grows from day to day.

There clearly has been a general relaxation here; it is now quite obvious. As I walk through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying my gas mask with me, I am clearly in a minority. Relatively few people are now carrying masks; only a few days ago almost everyone carried his mask with him.

Two motifs can be clearly identified in the Israeli character to explain the relaxation. One is the macho impulse, to be a "gever," a real man [or woman, the masculine word serves both sexes in modern Hebrew]. The other is not to be a "fryer", a sucker. [I think the word, not Hebrew in origin, is derived from the German "frei", or free. How did free degenerate to a pejorative? It seems that the term referred to a person so free as not to think as the crowd did; it still does refer to someone who is not a member of the herd, but what was originally intended as a compliment has become, by an interesting but not unnatural transition, state of being to be avoided.]

I have spoken of the psychological impact of wearing gas masks, especially on children. I would like to report on the responses of my three oldest grandchildren, 8, 5 1/2, and 5. Adi, the oldest, was least affected. She refused to leave her home until school began again for her grade, and now seems unaffected. Anat, the 5 1/2 year old, still will not go back to school, is much more restrained and quiet than usual. When asked why she did not want to go back to school, Anati answered, "Because I do not want to die."

Yochai needs the proximity of his gas mask and his own sealed room. He appeared completely normal when my wife took him home from his improvised kindergarten [no more than five children, per instructions] - until she saw that they had forgotten to take his gas mask. When he understood this, and on the way back to get the mask, he became uncontrollably disturbed, his behavior bordering on hysteria, until the mask was retrieved. He will no longer eat in my house although he loves my wife's cooking; he insists on being near his own sealed room; ours will not do. He makes a papier mache model of a child, with a gas mask.

None of these children live in a city that has been attacked yet.

I am not so much afraid as I am angry.

An educational spin-off of the present emergency. Elementary school teachers were asked to prepare worksheets for pupil use and to meet, one hour to each group, the next day with small groups - no more than five in a group - of pupils to go over the work. This approach, a solution to an emergency situation, has proven not only successful but is seen by many educators as an improvement over the classroom centered activities practiced until now. [A cousin, Samuel "Tami" Baskin, formerly of Antioch College, years ago introduced a similar method of instruction for college and university students, called - I think - Office Universities, where students were given office space and access to reading materials, long term assignments with occasional consultation with teachers. He would be interested to hear that it works for children as well. He has a son now living in Jerusalem, working in Tel Aviv.]

The problems of the deaf and the blind are particularly apparent in the time of alarms. The deaf cannot hear the siren or radio and TV announcements and the blind are subject to the stress of having to find their way, seal their poison-gas proof rooms and then there is their dependence on seeing-eye dogs. Some thought has been given to these problems, with sensitivity to the added strain placed on relatives and neighbors of these disabled people. The deaf have now been provided with buzzers whose vibrations indicate the beginning and end of an alarm. There are plans, not yet implemented to add words to the TV screen announcements that report the progress of the alert, important to all of us or using signers to spell out the announcements. The blind now have a muzzle-based mask for their dogs, a benefit to all large dog owners.

Terrorist attacks, promised by both Saddam Hussein and the PLO, have begun here. It is interesting that even here, in the land of Israel, the common enemy, that the attacks are directed not against us, Israel, but against members of the coalition. The British Airways office in East [mostly Arabic] Jerusalem was trashed last night; windows broken, gasoline poured inside and ignited. No injuries. Just property damage. The phenomenon has been reported elsewhere. It will increase.


Some more on censorship. Is an interview with Saddam Hussein just distasteful? Or broadcasting to the world scenes orchestrated by Iraqi propagandists of the problems with a children's hospital whose electrical supply has been compromised by the coalition bomb- ings? I am not sure that it is not much worse than that.

Why is it necessary to broadcast these things? Does it add to our insight into the conflict or just pluck on untuned emotional strings in us? What cynicism dictates the production of these film clips?

Do not the Iraqis share responsibility [Share? In fact, they are primarily responsible.] for the plight of the infants by their unprovoked invasion of, rape of and annexation of Kuwait? Why does no one ask if the incubators shown - out of use because electric power supply is unreliable following coalition bombings - are the very same incubators stolen from Kuwaiti hospitals? After throwing out the babies in them? What motivates the TV producers to show them? Is it really concern for justice or fair play? Pardon me if I doubt that.

My impulse is to say, "Shame. Shame." to the TV producer who showed that clip.

"Peter Arnett's reports from Baghdad" writes a correspondent, " - as well as all reports from Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Pentagon - are clearly labelled "cleared by Iraqi/Israeli/U.S. military/what- ever censors." But is there no difference between these? Do you think that everybody understands the difference?

I am told that I missed seeing a BBC Newsnight program that examined censorship in Iraq a week ago. This program pointed out that scenes of damage to civilian population areas were cuts of previous footage. It also showed a Japanese crew in Iraq interview- ing what purported to be an ordinary civilian complaining about bomb damage; he was being prompted by a military person standing off camera.

Am I the only one who missed seeing that program? I doubt it, just as I doubt that the TV producers who play this faked footage missed the BBC expose. But, in the name of Freedom of the Press, they continue to play the released material with the very same [Fair?] censorship disclosure used for Israeli/Allied film clips.

There is a difference.

It is also possible not to broadcast "cooked" news.

I am sometimes amused by the rows of distinguished reporters listening to Pete William's briefing in the Pentagon [Wolf Blitzer, who sits in the front row, left, used to be a Jerusalem Post re- porter and is the author of a rather unsympathetic book on Jonathan Pollard. His "authoritative" reports on CNN have gained him some fame in this war. Does he really have news to report, other than the managed news passed along to him?]. This scene is repeated in Saudi Arabia where the daily military report is given out, just so much and no more. The reporters take notes assiduously, aware of their own role as players in this TV drama. They ask questions. When Pete Williams or Captain Harrington do not want to answer they say so or say that they will get the information and come back with it. They don't, as a rule. They only let out what they want. This is not censored, but it certainly is managed - and TV producers have the effrontery to show this management as news, itself. Ah, well.


I gather that my remarks about increased birthrates in hospitals outside of Tel Aviv were unclear and misunderstood. This increase does not reflect an increase in premature births but rather tells us about expectant mothers in Tel Aviv who have decided to give birth away from their threatened city.


An advertisement in the newspaper yesterday:

Black- Brown Yorkshire Terrier Lost Answers to the name "Bonnie" On Jabotinsky Street, Tel Aviv -> The honest finder will be rewarded <- Tel: 03-393360

Has the smart dog joined others who decided that Tel Aviv is not the most safe place these days? Not even for dogs.

Wednesday, 6 February

After Three Quiet Nights

It is sunny and warmer than yesterday; it was pleasant to walk through the renewed-by-the-rains grass on the campus of the University. There was something spring like in the heavy lethargic feeling that accom- panied me in my walk. But something is wrong.

It is not spring, not here, not anywhere, not even in the Southern Hemisphere where everything, including the direction that flushing water swirls, is backwards. You can't even get orientated from the stars in the night sky there. And here we have gone through a third night without an alarm, three in a row. We feel this both as a blessing and as a threat. What does this chaotic mind, this Saddam Hussein, have in store for us?

Until now, we have not had three consecutive quiet nights since the Scud attacks started. Does it mean that Saddam Hussein's missile launchers have really been ef- fectively inactivated by the massive coalition bombings? Or have these same bombings so distracted him that we are no longer [or at least not for the time being] on his agenda? Perhaps he has killed all the officers respons- ible for sending missiles at us for their failures - the last five falling short of their marks, landing impotently in uninhabited areas? He is capable of killing his of- ficers; his past record shows that. It was Saddam Hussein who, when urged by one of his cabinet members during the Iraq-Iran conflict to abdicate - as a ruse, only - and when the conflict was settled to resume power, walked up to that devious but unfortunate minister and executed him [for his deviousness? for his unloyalty?] by shooting him through the head. Saddam Hussein does not use decapita- tion as his neighbor, Saudi Arabia, still does, but dead is dead.

Or, as we fear, is he saving up something for us, even possibly waiting for us to put up our guard? For Saddam Hussein has a long unsettled account with us, ever since we bombed and destroyed his nuclear weapon capa- bility in the June 1981 raid on the French built Tamuz reactor in Ossirick. Well, destroyed the reactor if not his capability, but at least we set him back 10 years. He has never paid us back for that and we know that he has neither forgotten nor forgiven us for that slap in his face. His impotence against our attack and his inability to pay us back in like coin has strengthened his hatred for us, his enmity to us - a hatred and enmity which can only have grown over the years, for our demon- strating as we have his weakness and vulnerability - not the most desirable qualities for a self-announced savior of Arab pride, for a new Salladin.

Saddam Hussein is still motivated by his need to galvanize Arab and Muslim support to his cause. Motiv- ated to hit us hard. Although his efforts to date with the Scuds have not been as successful as he may have wished, he has had some success. Popular support for his cause, perceived as an Arab or Muslim fighting the Imperialistic West intent on turning the Arab world and its resources to its needs, has spread through the Arab/ Muslim world, even among members of the coalition. 300,000 supporters parading for Saddam Hussein in Morocco join similar but smaller rallies in Egypt and Jordan. Volunteers for his army are being recruited in Pakistan and Indonesia. Iraq is perceived as suffering only for its being Arab and standing in the way of Western ag- gression.

We understand the phenomenon here, in Israel. We have watched the PLO turn the Israel-Palestine story upside down. The unsuccessful Arab attempts to oust us from our country are said to be and then understood as and finally remembered as Israel's stealing the country from the Palestinians. Just so, Saddam Hussein's unpro- voked invasion of Kuwait, its subsequent rape and annexa- tion are now forgotten and only the US lead invasion of the Arab subcontinent is seen, understood and remembered as proof of Imperialistic Western designs on Arab hegemony and oil.

Israel is still a crucial element for Saddam Hussein in galvanizing Arab/Muslim support and forcing Arab nations to withdraw from the coalition, where only the US and Britain appear to be fully committed. Even the threatened Saudis feel the pressure of ground-swell support for Saddam Hussein. He who ravages Israel, the symbol of Western intrusion into the Arab subcontinent, has the best chance to rally this support, and thus to pull apart the coalition.

We know that Saddam Hussein has poison gas; his own citizens have been poisoned by it. He has already used it to kill 5000 helpless Kurds and in battle against the Iranians. There is good reason to believe that he also has the armamentarium of biological warfare at his dis- posal. He hints that he has nuclear weapons but all we know of is that Iraq had functioning reactors; he has never tested such a weapon. These are the three threats that most concern us. And we wait. And wonder. And question. And speculate. And try to return to normal routines - as much as possible.


The need for information is compelling. Those re- mote from the battles need it, and spur the media on to provide it, at almost any cost. We who are closer, need information even more, we hunger for it, we thirst for it. We watch TV while keeping the radio on in the background and a third ear peeled to the possible sound of a siren. And we buy more newspapers than ever before - and we are a newspaper buying country even in peaceful times. Not a few people read as many as three or four different news- papers each day. And many more join them in buying the Friday [weekend] editions.

During an alarm, this need becomes acute. The Israeli wife of one of the foreign ambassadors tells that during an attack her husband insists that she translate every word broadcast. We can understand that. Most wives and children of diplomats were evacuated. A notable ex- ception is the wife of the Egyptian Ambassador, neither Israeli nor Jewish. She insists on remaining in Tel Aviv during the attacks, sharing our fortune and mis- fortunes. The example of Mrs. Bassioni is reassuring; it suggests to us that peace with the Arab world is possible.


Dr. Ruth Westheimer, sexologist and American TV personality is visiting us. She is a holocaust survivor and lived here for some time. Her Hebrew is still quite good and she explains her visit as both professional, to study conditions under stress, and personal, "In 1945, the only country that would agree to accept me was Palestine/ Israel. My family was killed in Auschwitz, now I must be here."

She expresses her views about sex problems during a war. If there are problems, the added stress will only make them worse. On the other hand, she admits, the prob- lems may be dwarfed by the real danger.

In a TV interview, she said that it was better if sex were deferred until after the conflict. The interviewer interjected, "I have a friend...", his point being that the need was great and sex could be relaxing and reassuring. Dr. Ruth, as she is called, said that in such a case the sealed room with its negative connotations should never be used. In fact, it was advisable not to have sex at night. "Do it in the daytime, send your children to the neighbors - Israelis are so cooperative and helpful, especially in emergencies."


We cannot, as a modern Western society, function with- out opinion polls. And so the latest poll shows that 60% of us believes that the war will be prolonged. 80% of us are for the government's policy of restraint, but 83% feel that Israel must respond immediately if unconventional war measures [chemical, biological or nuclear] are used against us. 57% of us complain of feeling "down." 7% are actually elated.

For 19% of us - the most common response - the hardest part of the current situaton is worry about members of the family. For another 18%, a close second, it is the uncertainty that bothered most. Other responses were much less common. 8% were not bothered at all [presumably the same people].

As to leaving home in face of the threat, 35% of resi- dents of Tel Aviv and 16% of Haifa residents said they already had left or were ready to leave home for safer parts if the attacks continue.


Jerusalem's cafes are again filling up, at least during the daytime. These popular refuges are doing a good business, with their cafe hafuch [cappuccino; that name is reserved here for expresso cof- fee served with whipped cream and cinnamon] and rich cakes. I over- heard the following conversation at the next table:

He: You are a non-reactor. She: Yes, a nuclear non-reactor.



Saturday Night, 9 February

Another Attack; We Prepare to Rejoice

Last night, Friday, was our Sabbath. After the Kiddush, the blessing made on drinking wine - we use a sweet red wine that is probably not familiar to those who have never tried it although I remember that is was not only cherished by Jews in my days in the US, but also by alcoholics who called it "Sneaky Pete" even though it was sold as "Old Rabbinical" or "Magen David" - we had an uneventful and delicious Sabbath meal, beginning with the soft bread we call hala, and then a lemon chicken soup on which delicious dumplings made of chopped turkey breast floated gently. This was followed by slicing a whole turkey and eight of us ate the dark and white meat, according to our preferences, with a casserole of sweet potatoes and pineapple and a large salad. After tea and cake we said grace. Then my oldest son and his wife and two children walked home carrying their three gas masks and an incubator for the 2 1/2 year old with them.

The classical music station of the radio, The Voice of Music, has been my salvation since the war began, providing both a point of stability for me in these terrible times and a source of the familiar and the pleasurable. It is good to know that even in times of concern and distraction there is pleasure to be had in old familiar friends and activities. For the first few days of the attacks on us, this station joined the others as they all broadcast together, usually with popular or rock music only between announcements of attacks and war news. What a change from normal times! From times when four brief news announcements were the only interruptions in 18 hours of broadcasting a good selection of classic music. After the first week of attacks, The Voice of Music was returned to the air in its own right, only joining the other stations at the time of an attack. This was understood as a move to normalcy.

With observant Jews who neither turn on electrical appliances or turn them off on the Sabbath [25 hours from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday] in mind, The Voice of Music was sacrificed last night. In normal times, such a decision would have produced a vocal and indignant protest from the anti- religious here, who appear to be every bit as as religious in their anti-religiosity as are the religious in their faith. But these are not normal times and - for the most part - old battles have been put aside, to be fought again - once the danger is over. I did think with some compassion for the non-religious who this night had neither the flavor of the Sabbath meal nor the consolation of good music. At least I had one, the one that I had chosen.

The Voice of Music was to remain silent all Friday night and Saturday until sundown - unless an alarm was to be given. The station was indeed silent when I went to sleep, rather early - as I usually do on Friday nights. I slept well until I was awakened Saturday morning at 02:39 by the siren blasting in my ears - it was the radio. Only a minute later was the siren heard outside. We were somewhat confused and a bit slow getting to the sealed room; we were a bit out of practice after five consecutive nights without any alarm. [Later we would remember that this was the third attack on four Friday nights since the war began.]

Five of us sat in the room, listening to the radio, readjusting our gas masks, asking each other how he/she was [2 men, 3 women]. Five is a maximum number for comfort in this room - not that we think of comfort; we have managed with as many as nine without difficulty.

The reports were quite slow in coming, as if the radio services in the time of attack had also gotten slightly rusty; it seems so natural to forget, to want to forget. It took more than 10 minutes before Nahman Shai confirmed that there had been an attack, that one missile had been fired [the 31st directed at Israel out of 59 Scuds fired], that it had landed and that all Israel was confined to the sealed rooms, in their gas masks. Some five minutes later we were told that it was now safe for all those not living in Greater Tel Aviv and the Shomron [Samaria] to remove their masks and leave the sealed rooms. We were included in this partial all-clear and we removed our masks but remained in the sealed room to hear more; we felt the need to know more. Moreover, the radio was still active, broadcasting - for the most part - rather loud and distracting [definitely not classical] music. Sleep would not be easy.

Some five minutes later, an all clear notice was given for the entire country. The weapon was conventional; no poison gas, no biological warhead. [We do not even allow ourselves to think about nuclear warheads.] No siren was sounded. There is usually a siren that announces the introduction of the Sabbath; this has been cancelled since the beginning of the war to prevent confusion and panic. There is also a siren - a continuous blast instead of the rising-falling shriek of the attack warning - that is meant to indicate the all-clear. Following negative experiences with this signal and the multitude of false alarms that result from confusion and wrought nerves, this signal has not been used either for more than a week. The only siren to be heard now is the signal for a real attack.

We no longer hear translations of the announcements - other than one, directing all listeners who need or want translations to listen to Channel A - the intellectual, and mostly talk station - which is now set aside during attacks for translations in the languages commonly heard here.

Sleep does not seem possible until we know more. Nahman Shai reports that there is damage from the missile, but does not say where or how much. And are there wounded? Dead, God forbid? His voice seems to reflect nervousness; I comment on this and others agree. Only my wife thinks that what we hear as nervousness may be nothing more than distortion in the quality of the sound resulting from problems with the portable phone he is clearly using. He is at the scene of the missile landing; we can hear noise of activity and people giving orders and calling to one another. He has never sounded nervous before. It must be pretty bad.

Forty-five minutes go by before we are told that a Scud miss has landed in the center of the country, that there is damage and that there wounded. Twenty five wounded, two fairly seriously, but without danger to their lives; 300 apartments are damaged, with many rendered homeless.

Eyewitness reports are heard. It appears that two Patriot anti-missile missiles were fired at the Scud and that there was an explosion as one or both of them hit the missile. It seems that fragments of the missile [missiles? How much does the Patriot contribute to all this?] landed in two adjacent streets and on the roofs of houses nearby. One young man who witnessed the Patriots hitting the Scud while bringing his girl friend home says that the time between the siren and the Patriot hit was less than one minute. If this is true, what has happened to the five minute warning we were promised?

If we are right in thinking that the missile has landed in greater Tel Aviv, which lies along the Mediterranean coast, and was downed by a Patriot, there a difficult question that has to be asked. If no Patriot were fired wouldn't this missile have continued on into the sea, not producing any damage? Are the Patriots that are protecting us the very cause of the damage we are suffering?

At least no dead, only two badly wounded and their lives are not in danger - one we know had a shattered knee and had to undergo an emergency operation. We are somewhat relieved; it could have been much worse. Meanwhile the radio becomes silent; the station has reverted to its pre-attack status.

We go to sleep, more tired than we thought we were.


This morning we go to synagogue for Sabbath prayers. It is the Sabbath before the New Moon, which will be on Thursday and Friday of next week and we recite the special prayer for the New Moon. We say,

"May it be thy will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, to grant us this new month for happiness and and blessing. O grant us long life, a life of peace and well-being, a life of blessing and sustenance, a life of physical soundness, a life of piety and dread of sin, a life free from shame and disgrace, a life of abundance and honor, a life marked by our love for Tora and our fear of Heaven, a life in which the wishes of our heart for happiness shall be fulfilled.

Amen, sela."

The New Moon will introduce the Jewish lunar month of Adar, which is the sixth or twelth month of our calendar. [We have more than one way to count the months.] Adar is the month of Purim, the Festival of Lots described in the Book of Esther, which takes place on the 14th of Adar, 3 weeks from now. It is the most joyful and abandoned of Jewish holidays - one with-it Rabbi even suggested that all Jews should turn on to celebrate the holiday, a suggestion that has not been generally adapted - and is filled with games, farcical dramas written for the occasion. Even forbidden card games are allowed and one is commanded to drink until you can know longer tell good from evil, a practice that seems to be followed only by the most religious and the most anti-religious.

Jews are commanded to celebrate all the month of Adar - in moderation. And we try to, but it is difficult, these days, to contemplate joy, let alone abandonment. The very religious tell us, "Nonsense! A holiday is a holiday." They have faith; we will try to have as much. We will try to forget that there is much to worry about.


Today I noticed the first blooming of the narcissuses in my garden, an early sign of spring. The rain in the streets dried slowly in the cold sun; the yellow and white blooms appear delicate and virginal, thin and upright in the cold, daring to show their faces.

Sunday, 10 February


It is a warm, sunny, spring-like day; a light sweater is all I need to go out. More than a day has gone by since the last attack - I still think about it.

Even though there are others in the sealed room with you during an attack, and you talk and try to share and at the same time listen to the radio together, you are left alone there. And you feel a heaviness slowly creeping over you - I remember the stories about what it is like to freeze to death in the snow, and it seems very much like that, a sort of dying - you feel the inevitability of the situation, the helplessness. And you remember that, although what you are doing what is best for the case of a chemical attack, the huddling in the sealed room is always accompanied by the knowledge that you are not really very safe against a conventional attack.

I speak to a friend from Tel Aviv; he tells me that on Saturday morning [02:45 AM] they first heard the Patriot missiles being fired and, only after that, a boom, the noise of the explosion. The Patriots, he tells me, have a mechanical sound to them, like turning on a noisy appliance, while the fall of the Scud has a full sound to it. He tells me there was approximately 5 minutes from the siren until they heard the noises. He does not really know which to prefer, the 2-3 minute advance warning that they had at the beginning or the LONG wait of 5 minutes before hearing the fall of the missile that they now have. He says "That wait is eternal!" Sitting in the sealed room, huddled on the floor (we have been told not to sit against external walls, so we have started to sit on the floor, sometimes with a blanket on and still feeling perfectly naked!) and waiting for the minutes to pass, endless minutes. [He reports that he jumps when he hears alarms that are not really there and that at such times he finds his heart racing. Strangely, this reaction is absent during real attacks.]

The Mayor of Tel Aviv, General [ret.; not a Colonel, as I previously reported] Shlomo Lahat no longer speaks of "deserters" although it is clear that he still disapproves of Tel Avivians who have left the city, which he calls "The Front." This remark has produced many reactions, mostly negative. Some estimates suggest that as many as 40% - or even more - of Tel Aviv residents slept out of the city during the first wave of attacks. Today we learn that some of the inhabitants of the area where the last missile fell were not in their houses at the time, perhaps accounting for the fact that there were not more casualties. Who is right?

Lahat has also confessed to being one of the Tel Avivians who run to his roof to see the "fireworks." Nahman Shai last week spoke of those who did so as "crazy." Rooftops have become a major battlefield in this war; there are the Palestinians who cheer the Scuds on and the Jews consumed [thus far only figuratively] by curiosity.

We are curious. Shai tells us over and over again not to come out of our homes to see the "action." The spectators do come, however, and appear to interfere - hopefully not too much - with the rescue operations. In the last attack four people were arrested as looters [store windows were smashed] - apparently on the basis of being strangers. They were all released when they were identified as being guests of residents of the neighborhood struck. Apparently some people are now staying in the dangerous areas in order to be part of the "action." It takes all kinds, someone once said.

We are concerned about looting; it would be a sign of the degeneration of our society, a degeneration that would not be acceptable to our self-image. Thus far there has been only rare cases; one looter who was caught was given a quick and heavy jail sentence.

It is a beautiful day and we walk; we pass a hospital and the reality of the situation we are in again hits me: in preparation for a gas attack, there are rows of showers installed outside the hospital and so many stretchers! The showers, the showers remind me of the past, of what we have suffered. Showers that once were a disguise for poison gas and are now meant to treat the effects of poison gas.

I am told that on a Friday night TV live entertainment show a group of American soldiers operating the Patriot missiles launchers appeared. They say that they are overwhelmed by the welcome they are getting. The announcer asks "Who is manning the missiles while you are there?" They reassure the audience, saying that there are other trustworthy soldiers keeping an eye on affairs, in their place.

The soldiers have improvised a song and they sing it. Some experts from that song:

"I am a scud-buster, baby."

"Saddam, Saddam watch out what you do, I am a Patriot soldier".

In these times, that will do.

Depression seems to be both a phenomenon that concerns us - it still is not prominent - and is the source of jokes. Thus, apparently there are 3 types of people these days: 1) Those who are depressed because the war is over; 2) Those who are depressed because the war is not over; 3) Those who are depressed because they do not know if the war is over or not.


Israel has an old account with US TV which does not get better with time. We do not enjoy the treatment we get; we feel that TV treatment of us to be not only unfair but also hostile. Some of it is of such low level as to be ridiculous but there is much that is invidious and hateful.

For those who believe that there is never any justification for censorship, my words will have no meaning. We, who feel that our lives are on the line, disagree. Too often, the motivation for wanting to publish censored material is not to expose corruption, but to get a good story. It does not make any difference, say the "civil libertarians", the chance of exposing dirty dealings is so important that anything is worth it. We differ, we say that the possibility of saving lives takes precedence over every other consideration. And so the argument goes on, neither side happy with the other's views.

We find that those who live most in danger, those who have the most to lose are not less disgusted than others at corruption or cover-up; but we do have a different order of preferences in our world. Life for the Jew - unlike others who believe that another world awaits them, one that makes up for loss of life - is the prime value. Nothing else takes precedence. This view does not make us cowards either; our soldiers have shown that time after time. And we are all soldiers here; we all serve. Every soldier is trained in rescue exercises; we all know that if we are wounded we will not be left on the battle field. That helps; it helps to know that human life is the prime consideration and I pity the civil libertarian who does not know that. His life is less valuable than it should be, as are the lives of others around him.

When Noam Chomsky, a distinguished linguist, can write an introduction to a vile neo-Nazi book in the name of free speech, I - for one - pity the man. Use of the slogan "free speech" does not justify this action; indeed it is not only in bad taste, it endangers lives. And as such it must be condemned.

George Orwell pointed out that arguments for free speech only have meaning within a democracy; when dealing with our imperfect world, he pointed out, totalitarian governments use these arguments to further their cause, to kill and to repress.

If war is a special state, one in which lives are more on the line that in other situations - as it indeed is - and if, as we believe, lives are the primary value - doubting that there is democracy either in Heaven or in Hell - then democracy, or at least some of its attributes and characteristics must take a back seat. For the duration, as we used to say. How much of a back seat? How lenient can we be? As little as possible.

At the beginning of the Lebanese war, TV crews who found themselves free to cover almost everything were frustrated by having to pass their material through the hands of an Israeli Army censor before getting permission to release the material. The censored material - for the most part - did not consist of what most civil libertarians would call attempts at cover-up but was material that was seen by our censors as having security and strategic value that they were not ready to release. There is no doubt, that here - as in all cases of censorship - politically motivated decisions were also made and that material that showed screw ups was usually disallowed.

The American TV producers - clever folks they indeed are - decided on a method to pay Israel back by withholding the coin they felt Israel most wanted. What could be better, when Israel was motivated by a desire for good publicity [How simple minded clever people can really be! Did they not see that there were other motives in Israeli censorship than robbing them of good TV footage?], than to plaster a label over every frame shown from the Israeli side, announcing that the material is censored? And this they did, as punishment.

They never mentioned that their access to news on the other side was limited. This form of censorship does not count; there is no good footage here, there is no footage at all. Here, nothing is being withheld from viewers; there is nothing. And so, it does not count.

Now, footage from Israel, from Saudi Arabia and from Iraq are all treated to the same label, relatively inconspicuous, at the bottom of the screen. And usually with a vocal reminder, at least in the cases of Israel and Iraq, that the material is censored.

Are the situations the same? Not at all. But the treatment is. The cover of NEWSWEEK [not TV, but the same principle applies] showed a Patriot missile launcher, an impressive photograph, with one of the most identifiable structures in Israel clearly shown in the background. The Israeli censors were greatly disturbed at this and withdrew the credentials of the head of NEWSWEEK's office here. TV footage of Patriot missile launchers in Israel is quite common. Has anyone seen one frame of a Patriot launcher in Saudi Arabia?

Peter Arnett continues to broadcast from Iraq - perhaps I am a bit oversensitive if I think that his record as an Israel-basher has made him more acceptable there - and his interview with Ramsey Clark [Is he still alive? And seeing them together! I never realized how short Arnett was.] is interrupted by shots of hospital scenes showing wounded children. Who would allow that in Israel? Every TV producer would refuse to accept that from us. And rightfully so. For this is pure propaganda, cynical manipulation of the TV.

And what is Clark doing in Iraq? And Boston cardiologist Philip Lown before him? They are civil libertarians. That is why. What if American lives are on the line?

Here we would call it treason. Vive la difference.

Wednesday, 13 Feb 1991.

Date: Tue, 12 Feb 1991 11:52 EST From: D_DAVIS@HVRFORD.BITNET Subject: The War: A Palestinian View

I have read the many postings from Isreal since the outbreak of Desert Storm with both concern for the civilians who are subjected to the terrible stress of sudden air raid warnings and destruction of neighborhoods and a growing anxiety about the fate of the Palestinians in the West Bank.

The following transcription of a fax message is forwarded with the permission of Jennifer Bing-Canar, the addressee:

RAMALLAH FRIENDS SCHOOLS P.O. Box 66 Ramallah, West Bank Via Israel (Tel. 972-2-956230, same for fax 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.) To: Jennifer & John Bing-Canar Fax #: 00-1-312-427-4171 From: Khalil Mahshi

Date: 25 January, 1991

1 - I hope that you are both well and that the movement against the crazy war is growing.

2 - Unfortunately, I, and many others, have been proven wrong regarding our earlier feelings that war in the Gulf would not take place.

Here, we have been living a situation of extreme alert since the beginning of war. Moreover, we have been under continuous curfew for the past nine days. The army has lifted the curfew twice, each time for three hours, to buy food. The streets were full of people hurrying to empty the grocery stores. I think next time the curfew is lifted for a short period we will not find food in shops.

Other than Jerusalem, the vast majority of people in the West Bank and Gaza have no gas masks. Fortunately, the four Iraqi rocket attacks on Israel so far have not carried chemical heads. Moreover, we have no sirens to warn us of attacks. We keep watching Israel TV and radio to know when we should enter the rooms we have sealed for chemical attacks. So, we have developed a system of interdependence. We take shifts in sleeping. We alert others by phone and are alerted by others. So far, we have been safe and doing well. We have Suheir's parents staying with us. To help each other psychologically, we have been doing some things together, like playing cards and other games. Obviously, the kids are enjoying my unusual and extended presence at home.

I have decided that, since three days, the home situation allows me to resume doing some work for the School and on other matters. The atmosphere has become more relaxed and the rest of the family members feel more safe and less tense. Therefore, I am writing to thank you and to raise two concerns with you.

3 - The first concern is a general one: the curfew imposed by the Israel army on the West Bank and Gaza. The army claims that it is imposing it because they are afraid that we will take to the streets in support of Iraq. Now that all indications are that the war is going to be long we do not know how long the curfew would be.

People need to work, produce, earn an income, provide services, communicate, get out of their houses - in short live as normal a life as possible. The Israeli authorities should not be allowed to hold the whole Palestinian population under their military rule prisoners, hostages, or under house arrest for the rest of the period of the crazy war in the Gulf. We all should try to do something about it. If this goes on, we will be further imoverished and forced into ignorance. It is a slow massacre.

4 - Besides the general situation, my special concern is education and the Ramallah Friends Schools. You know that we have been struggling to overcome the big gap which has been created in levels of education in the West Bank since the beginning of the intifada because of the lengthy closures of schools imposed by the army. This extended curfew will just add to our educational problem. It will add, as well, the financial crisis that some educational institutions, like the Ramallah Friends Schools, have been facing. It seems that the financial collapse of such institutions is becoming more imminent under the present and the near-future circumstances unless something serious is done about this matter. I hope that you can raise these issues within AFSC and with Quakers at large and other NGOs. We have to think of ways to secure more protection for the Palestinians under occupation and to raise more relief/emergency assistance/money to help us survive.


K. Mahshi

, No. 1033. Thursday, 14 Feb 1991. Date: Tue, 12 Feb 1991 21:53 MST From: Subject: Re: 4.1017 Israeli Diaries: Werman (2/448)

Bob Werman's diaries are a useful insight into one aspect of the Middle East "situation" ( a word I hear so often on the media). Have we no sources for an Israeli Arab or Palestinian insight into the same situation? Werman does not talk to us of the curfew on the Palestinians, of progress in the distribution of gasmasks to Palestinians (when, if ever, will mothers be able to have gasmasks to put on their childrem? how long must they live in fear that they will have to face the appalling choice of putting on their gasmask and watching their child die, or of not puting it on and dying with their children?), of the lack of food, medicine, and the means of livelihood. I do not expect him to: he need not be an apologist for his nation. But if there ARE no Arab/Palestinian sources, why is that? And I understand Werman's increasing anti-American sentiments -- many of us share his cynicism. But it saddens me to see reason slipping away in intelligent people, for without many of them on all sides we shall never escape from the tragedies our leaders create for us. Liz Hamp-Lyons 13 Feb 91 10:36 EST From: Malcolm Hayward <MHAYWARD@IUPCP6.BITNET> Subject: On the War, or Where Did Compassion Go?

Well, I guess one person's information is another's propaganda. George Lakoff's balanced and articulate statement has incurred the wrath (not too strong a word) of Harwell, Kessler, Copold, and Judy. Let me see if I've got some of the arguments straight.

1. It's okay to kill Iraqi civilians because that's a "predictable side-effect." So if a hundred civilians are huddled in a shelter hit by a missile, the fact that this is a probable result takes away any of the guilt that I should feel (that any citizen on the Allied side should feel) at this act of terror.

2. It's okay to kill Iraqi soldiers--no matter that they were conscripted, no matter whether they are 17 or 70, no matter that they like any of us each carry their own universe of cause and reason, spirit and emotion, allegiances and aspirations. No matter that they are after all each and everyone humans and thus worthy of as much as we can do to help them realize themselves fully as humans.

3. It's better to be associated with pilots who think of their targets as insects rather than people--as long as they are on our side. And the moral issues that this raises are really not serious--suitable material for psychologists to write novels about, but something for us to really be concerned about? Certainly not.

4. The esteemed Israeli government, democratically elected and all, is not at all racist, is equally concerned with the future of all its citizens, Arab as well as Jew, is showing the kind of great restraint and responsibility that it has showed in the past (curfews, a lack of gas masks, the intifada, Southern Lebanon, the West Bank . . . notwithstanding).

I could go on, but to tell you the truth, I am heart-sick enough already. How much of one's humanity must one lose before such arguments start to ring true?

Here's a small note from the home front: the Chancellor of the State System of Higher Education in Pennsylvania asked each of the schools in the system to furnish a list of all faculty and students of "Arabian and Israeli nationality." The list will be kept "confidential," it says. I'm not real sure what "Arabian nationality" means--any guesses? I'm also not real sure what one would do with such a list. Again, any guesses?

Malcolm Hayward MHayward@IUP Department of English Phone: 412-357-2322 Indiana, PA 15705 Date: Thu, 14 Feb 91 08:15:27 EST From: Germaine Warkentin <> Subject: On the War

Please don't stop the contributions on the war! The addition of a message from the West Bank today was welcome. The war is indeed closely related to the central concerns of a seminar with the name "Humanist", otherwise the name has a very different significance from the one I and many others think it bears. "Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto" is an ancient saying (Terence, I think), but a good one to keep in mind just now. Germaine. Date: Thu, 14 Feb 91 09:23:00 PST From: Michael_Kessler.Hum@mailgate Subject: War, Propaganda, etc.

I cannot let Bob Werman's diaries pass without comment. It is to some degree difficult, since he can at least claim to be directly involved, and claim that I, sitting across the ocean, simply cannot comprehend the situation. To the degree that he reports mood and feelings directly related the missile attacks, I defer to his experience, but as Judy Koren points out, at least one claim can be countered with another "better" eye witness report. The further he moves from Jerusalem, the more arguable points there are. Some of them may only be figures of speech, but for some, those figures of speech may be fightin' words. For example, he refers to Israeli farm products reaching Iraq. To my knowledge, the West Bank is not recognized as part of Israel by most nations in the world, including the United States. I do not think that the politics of terminology can be avoided, so at least we should be aware of it. (Note: for the Francophones, a better article than George Lakoff's on Metaphor and War is Roland Barthes' "Grammaire Africaine" in _Mythologies_, written probably before the outbreak of the Algerian war. However, since it was written for _Le Monde_, it might not pass muster as a scholarly article, and of course, political bias is included. This particular article is not available in the translation of _Mythologies_). Propaganda is propaganda. We might like ours, the other side theirs, and a disinterested listener might feel that either one gives him a queasy stomach. I do not see how any of us can make heads or tails from the news that comes from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Shall I believe American reports who in the past have confused corn meal with cocaine, bee pollen with poison gas residue, and West European financed runways (built with the help of Cuban engineers) with secret strategic airfields aimed at the heart of the U.S.? (Mea culpa, I am exaggerating U.S. claims in regard to Grenada). Thus the U.S. claims to have bombed a chemical factory, but the Bay Guardian (a local "oppositional" paper) reports that other American papers (the New York Post via the Village Voice) quote a Nestle spokesman in Switzerland to the effect that they keep an eye on the competition, and yes, it was an infant formula plant. Based on objectivity, I would have to believe the Nestle spokesman (assuming that he really said was is being reported), and one might also wonder if Swiss industrial spying might not be more effective than spying by American military intelligence. Of course, in the grand total of this war, that factory will be insignificant, and will probably be forgotten. The same article reports a New York Newsday article that an Army War College team (whatever that means), has come to the conclusion that the gassing of the Kurds may have been carried out by the Iranians, which leads one to ask why Saddam Hussein did not trumpet that fact. Since we are not in Iraq, let us use our imagination. Herb Caen (a local columnist--no military expert but he knows the geography of his city) pointed out that if an enemy decided to take out the freeways, telephone exchanges, docks and railroads, government buildings and military installations in San Francisco, there would have to be severe damage (and casualties) on non- strategic areas. He posited this before we read the regular news reports that smart bombs have an estimated 60% rate of accuracy. Let any reader imagine a major city in his country struck "surgically" (should surgeons sue for defamation of character?) by bombs (Paris? Rome? Montreal? New York?). I am only imagining, but I think that it is perhaps more accurate than thinking that most damages to civilian quarters are due to "anti- aircraft fallout." If you support the war, it does make you feel better that your side is not the direct cause of civilian casualties. In the more general discussion, Bob Werman makes assumptions that are off the mark. If anything, from the comments I have received in the past from Europeans friends, Americans are seen as righteous and absolute (naive is the usual encapsulating term). Americans might not have recognized the evil of Saddam Hussein, but the possibility of evil does exist for the American (one generalization is worth another). On the other hand, since Saddam Hussein was equated with Hitler long before we went to war (since August?), I think that the recognition of Evil is not an issue. If we wanted to recognize evil, we have had the opportunity to do it. Of course, the government also plays a role in the recognition of evil. Who, after all, recognized the (therefore not evil) Pol Pot regime (in exile) until very recently? My impression is that there is a great deal of rhetoric in the term "evil". Within the western culture (the only one I have experienced) how can we not be against Evil, and therefore how can we question the war effort? My answer to that is a personal one:

My father was "un bon Aryen" ;-) (three years in KZ and Zuchthaus, in that order, between 1933 and 1937), as were quite a few of his friends (would Steve Copold deny the accuracy of their position because it was a distinctly minority opinion?). He recognized the evil of Hitler and his followers in the 20's, claimed that the destruction of the Jews could be foreseen, although at other times he claimed that no one believed the reports that started coming out of the BBC during the war--it was all government propaganda on the level of the German atrocities in Belgium during W.W.I (memory plays strange tricks). At some point between the declaration of war and the fall of France, he was interned and then asked to join the French Foreign Legion to fight against Hitler. He refused and, with others, tried to convince the vacillating ones not to join (about 15% success rate according to him). Nor did he join the Resistance, although my mother claims that he did as much sheer idiocy (her opinion) as some who were in it, or claimed to have been in it once liberated. His position was political, not pacifist, although in practice he was a pacifist. (Political pacifism existed also in the U.S., c.f. Naeve's _A Field of Broken Stones_). Wars are declared and carried out by governments, and are therefore suspect (discours indirect libre). I grew up with that deep suspicion of officialdom, authority and any form of group allegiance. I bought off my "droit d'option" because I had no intention of going to Algeria in the early sixties, and my father offered to finance any displacement to Canada in that same decade if that ever came to pass. In other words, I have a visceral reaction to war, and it may very well be that any argument I present is predicated on that reaction. To what degree are all our arguments related to the present dependent on our predispositions? How should we take that into account? At the very least, I would not question the "bonne volonte" of any participant in this discussion. I could raise questions about other elements of Bob Werman's presentation, e.g. the issue of security and censorship, but that would add too much bulk. I'm only trying to indicate that none of us is a _Voyageur sans bagages_, nor can any of us be certain of the information we receive. Judy Koren's greater circumspection when making comments is much appreciated. Another impression I get from his diaries is that he supposes the destruction of Saddam Hussein. I see him taking the last remaining jet to Iran. Moreover, who is to say that the 100 ayatollahs that probably are created in the Arab world by the destruction of Saddam Hussein will be an improvement in terms of our (deliberately ambiguous possessive adjective) relationship to that world? Will the peace that will surely follow be only the continuation of war by other means? A not unrelated but rhetorical question: why is anger in the U.S. legitimate, but not in the Arab world?

<< 1: January, 1991 || TOC