Update from Tel Aviv
Just a quick firsthand account of the situation here for friends in the business. I am now in my studio with the monitors on all the major networks, the “missile shields” down, (well – they’re sort of like thick steel shutters) and wanted to paint a few quick, clear pictures for you.
Today as you are probably aware the conflict escalated with at least one bus bombing downtown. I was quite near there at the time and everyone sort of detoured their way around that area while emergency personnel rushed in. One has to be extremely careful after a blast as it is common terrorist practice to plant secondary bombs in order to take out people rushing in to help the wounded. As of this moment, suspects in today’s attack “may still be” at large, so we are staying off the streets.
You should know that there is a general code of communication here whereby it is taboo to discuss, disseminate, or broadcast specific information regarding missile landings, bomb effects, etc. This is of course due to the fact that this information can be used to aid enemy targeting and ranging, to say nothing of propaganda efforts. Speaking of which, Hamas’ efforts in this regard are slipping a little. According to a Fox report moments ago: “Solid evidence now reveals how Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have been deliberately placing their civilian population in mortal danger, choreographing a number of seemingly gory scenes, as well as releasing images from other conflicts, such as Iraq and Syria, and passing them off as dead Gazan civilians killed by Israeli missiles.”
The intentional greying of specifics for one reason or another may be one reason why mainstream media reports are dodgy on the situation here. The other reason, of course, is that many mainstream media reporters are flocking to Gaza where they can be fed information by those with whom many – not all – seem to sympathize. Israel explicitly and incessantly warns journalists in Gaza to stay away, physically, from Hamas operatives. We hear it all the time locally. This advice, tragically, has not been heeded: a fact largely ignored in recent, absurdly irresponsible comments in the press about “Israel targeting journalists.”
Press people: THIS IS WAR. STAY AWAY, PHYSICALLY, FROM HAMAS OPERATIVES. Stay away from them. Report what you want but do your talking on the phone.
A less unpleasant vignette, aside: Israel is an intensely family-focused culture, and the high regard and affection for children here transcends all imaginable cultural and ethnic divisions. One notices this regularly in restaurants, for instance, where kids are treated like royalty. (My French friends / clients invariably contrast this with the situation in Paris, wherein families with children are often begrudgingly seated in the back corners of bistros.) In the time after today’s blast, I noticed parents of all stripes – Orthodox, secular, Arab Israelis, Ethiopians, European types, the new Sudanese refugees – discussing the situation, the locations of bomb shelters, offering each other transportation, playing with the children, etc. And – everyone is pitching in to help older folks do just about everything.
Life goes on. That’s the motto here. Friday’s “main event” in my circle was a sailboat race and we decided to go on with it with about 40 yachts in the fleet. I was on shore with the race committee at the moment one rocket landed. When the sirens went off, everyone hit the deck, in this case, literally. I will not say where it landed, or how close it was, but I witnessed the explosion at the moment of impact. Nobody was hurt in this instance, but it was quite something. It is public information, whether or not reported, that in certain types of rockets, Hamas has replaced part of the off-the-shelf explosive payload in their smaller rockets with additional fuel capacity in order to achieve the range required for a Tel Aviv hit. You may draw your own conclusions from that.
As you probably know, Israel demands a cessation of Hamas rocket attacks as prerequisite for a cease-fire. Hamas representatives have said, whether or not it is true, that they are holding longer-range rockets in reserve. They are also promising more homicide-bomber attacks if a cease-fire cannot be reached. I know this, and more, by the way, because I was with my friend Aaron Klein when his source confirmed it. If you want the best news on the situation here, I strongly advise you to add his reports and updates (WABC radio, WND, kleinonline.com) to your media diet. He is totally plugged in – so much so it is almost shocking.
I was here during the “disengagement” from Gush Katif / Gaza, by the way, and visited that lovely, prosperous, and productive town in the days before and during the evacuation of the Jews. (The reason I describe the town is because its buildings, streets, businesses, parks, and manicured lawns reminded me of Scottsdale or Santa Fe – whereas to see it depicted in the mainstream media one would have thought it consisted of a bunch of wacky zealots on a mound of dirt.) I gave an NRB Prayer Breakfast speech about the disengagement experience which you can see on YouTube if you are interested. What I would like to point out is that that land was given away to Gaza for “peace,” and yet only days after the Israelis were yanked from their homes, farms, and synagogues, those same places were peppered with rocket launchers aimed at Israel – the same ones we face today. “Land for peace” seems as dark and murderous a prospect on this day as it was in the time of Chamberlain and Hitler.
Rockets have been landing daily, from Gaza, on Israeli towns like Sderot for years. Every day, or almost every day, for years. Now they are landing on Tel Aviv, so the news is more difficult for the mainstream media to ignore. But the facts, however you choose to interpret them, are the same. Israel has been under attack from the moment of its inception.
We are well. The people here are highly focused and extremely resilient. Let’s all hope and pray for a speedy and enduring solution to this terrible situation and for minimal loss of life and carnage here and for those who presently suffer under Hamas.
Best to all,