Monday, March 26, 2012

The Migron Migraine

Israel’s High Court of Justice yesterday unanimously rejected a compromise deal between the government and the residents of Migron, which would have delayed for another three and a half years the dismantling of their settlement, which was built on private Palestinian lands. An earlier court decision had called for the settlement’s dismantling by April 1st; now the court has called for Migron to be demolished by August 1st.

Migron is the largest “outpost” in the West Bank and home to fifty families. It is located on a hilltop northeast of Jerusalem. The Peace Now organization defines “outposts” as “settlements that have been built in the West Bank without Israeli government authorization, in violation of Israeli law.” This is hard to understand as the government has invested millions of shekels in Migron’s development and in its protection by the army.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swings & Heartaches by Lilly of the West

It’s a bit strange that one has to go all the way to Bulgaria to meet up with a music band that can faithfully perform bluegrass and country music. It was in Bulgaria that we met Lilly Drumeva, the singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, music arranger, manager and record producer of the Bulgarian group Lilly of the West. "Swings & Heartaches" is the group’s recently released ninth album.

We first met Lilly at a concert staged at a studio in Sofia in November 2009 which aired on Bulgarian National Radio. The performance was recorded for the Bulgarian Golden Radio Fund and was accompanied by an announcer giving the history of bluegrass and country music. The introductions were in Bulgarian, but the songs were a highly enjoyable mixture of country, folk, bluegrass and original compositions, most of them performed in English.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Two Wars of Gaza

Life is anything but normal in Israel’s south. School has been canceled, public gatherings have been limited, and the sirens sound repeatedly. Since Friday, some 200 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, striking cars and buildings in large population centers like Beer Sheva and Ashdod, and reaching as far north as Gadera. Luckily, there has been no loss of life, thanks in part to the success of the Israel Defense Forces’ Iron Dome air defense system, which has intercepted a large percentage of the Palestinian rockets.

Israel is currently fighting two wars in Gaza. One is, quite obviously, against the members of terrorist organizations who don’t hesitate to fire at Israel’s citizens wherever they may be. Israeli forces respond by targeting the rocket launch sites. Some 25 terrorists have been killed but some Palestinian citizens have lost their lives as well. There is no indication when this latest cycle of violence will end.

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Becoming a Grandfather, a Second Time

How is it possible to fall in love at first sight with someone before you’ve had a chance to see her? How can you cherish in your heart a newborn baby who has not yet been named? How can one take pride and joy in a birth without being responsible for it?

The miracle of life is so precious and never ceases to amaze. Yesterday, my second granddaughter arrived in this world, and from what I’ve seen of her, she’s a pretty talented kid. Her parents must still finalize her name but already she’s proven quite capable of breathing oxygen and nursing on her mother’s milk. And she’s pretty photogenic as well.