About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel,” Ari
Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to
join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two
sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two
countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point
- counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part
of our lives.
Middle East Mirage
Absurdity of Existence
War: Outside the Walls of the Temple Mount
Holy War: The Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount
Delegitimization from Within
Slaughter of Israel
Would Stand By Israel
Well Coordinated Attack
& Speak Out
Bunch These Jewish People
They Burned Books
Indicators of Our Time
Candles of Darkness
December 1, 2009
Palestine, Stand Proud Israel
for Israel, But Why?
Blaming the Messenger
for Our Country, Fighting for our Lives
Middle East Mirage
August 23, 2010
The overall picture is frightening: Iran activates a nuclear reactor with
Russia’s help. The USA is engaging in a new silent diplomacy to appease those
who are worried: "We still have another year.”
Ignoring the real threat to the entire free world, the USA is busy elsewhere. On
the American President’s agenda is his vision for Peace in the Middle East. He,
the Nobel Laureate, has achieved such greatness in such short time that brining
peace to an area that does not want it should not be a challenge.
Why engage in the impossible that demands true character, leadership qualities
and courage when it is possible to so easily push Israel to the corner,
attempting to direct it like a puppet?
The USA has invited the Palestinians for "direct talks” with Israel, intending
to shove down Israel’s throat a peace agreement that only the Israelis want; the
Palestinians want nothing less than the elimination of the Jewish State.
Israelis, so accustomed to America’s support, have been brutally attacked during
President Obama’s first year in Office. The half a year before the mid-term
elections in the USA is a short period of regrouping, since the Jewish Vote in
the USA is crucial in maintaining the Democratic Party’s control of Congress. It
is time of so-called "reconciliation” and reverting to pre-Obama support of
Israel. A Middle Eastern mirage of another kind.
Once the fate of the election is known, the President will attack Israel with
vengeance that no one will be able to abate. The President is determined to
bring peace to the Middle East, even if the patient dies during the operation.
For those who are skeptical, turn to the transparent and worthwhile nature of
the bringing about a healthcare reform, just pray you do not need to see a
doctor anytime soon.
Israel indeed is aware of what is to follow in a short few months. While
seemingly engaging in the song-and-dance routine, is she secretly preparing to
the looming threats and the changing theater?
Allow me to describe what one sees in Israel in late summer 2010. This is my
As the work of the Turkey Commission examining the Maritime Incident of May
31st, 2010, continues, Israel has learned that soldiers (not those from the
elite commando unit who boarded the Mavi Marmara and were almost lynched
to death) and civilians allegedly swindled items from the ship.
A few days ago, a female reserve soldier posted pictures of her with handcuffed
and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on Facebook. She expressed surprise at all
the international attention created by these photos.
The IDF Spokesperson published its utter disbelief and disgust at the pictures
and advertised the IDF Spirit, a document each soldier carries with one’s
Is one to surmise that the above behavior is singular and based on individuals
who do not represent a more prevailing condition? Or is there something deeper,
more disturbing, in the current culture of behavior?
Exactly two weeks ago, a document was leaked to the news media about possible
tactics to get a desired general appointed as the new Chief of General Staff of
the IDF. For two weeks, the country was embroiled in a police investigation,
generals called to give testimony, and non-stop speculations by various
reporters and media or image consultants.
All dirty laundry (including spotlessly clean uniforms) was washed in public,
based on innuendo and speculation. There was little substance, so mountains were
created by non-stop talk.
Among those interviewed less than a handful stood solidly by the current Chief
of Staff. How easy to tarnish the reputation of a person who gave more than
three decades to his country. Despite an official determination that neither he
nor his boss, the Minister of Defense, is involved and that other generals were
not part of this fiasco, they are now all tainted.
What I did not like in particular was that no one stood and spoke on behalf of
the Chief of Staff, as if everyone expected something to happen. Then they could
say, "We told you so,” or jump on the other side and say, "How could this happen
under his watch?” In my mind, they chose the easy way out in taking a "wait and
see” approach, not obligating or exposing their own potential involvement.
While the above are all related to the conduct of the IDF and its personnel,
other equally alarming things are happening in Israel. This morning, after weeks
of speculations, the police arrested a Rabbi, a major religious figure, for
writing in a book various interpretations of when it might be permissible to
"Thou Shall Not Kill” is one of the Ten Commandments. However, there are
instances in the Torah when killing is permitted. Most would say, "That was
then, but we live in the 21st Century.” Is a discussion in a religious book
about religious interpretations a call to kill?
Since anything to do with religion and love of country in Israel today is by
default classified as "extreme right,” the book was immediately characterized as
a call to action or incitement. Rabbis through the religious spectrum
convened yesterday in Jerusalem to express support in the ability of Rabbis to
render religious judgment and opinions. It was clarified, though, that the
overall support of freedom of religious expression does not automatically extend
to the validity of the conclusions presented in the book. They are subject to
It has become very easy to classify issues with which one disagrees as "right
wing” and thus equate it with "wrong,” "bad,” "prohibited” and "deserving of
This is Israel from within. Yet, those of us soldiers on Israel’s Public
Diplomacy Front recognize immediately these labels as a mean utilized to
delegitimize the Jewish state. Jews are using the very same tactics against
a portion of the Jewish people in Israel. Who will then save Israel from
Incitement is only religious pronunciation as it relates to the "right wing” or
"religious right” in Israel. A call by a major author to a minority to
repeatedly break the law is viewed as "humane” and necessary. An explicit call
to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel are apparently appropriate,
when done by a member of the Israeli Academia.
Thus, when the head of the Political Science Department at Ben Gurion University
in the Negev determines that Israel is an Apartheid State, he does so out of
concern for his two teenage boys.
Since politics is his area of expertise, his pronunciation that ISRAEL IS
APARTHEID gains greater weight than when former President Carter made similar
allegations. Add to it a call in the OpEd pages of the LA Times to BOYCOTT
ISRAEL, and one must wonder if this is not a call to action against the very
essence of the Jewish State and her institutions.
To those of us on the front lines, there is no greater incitement than Prof.
Neve Gordon’s accusations. The President of his university, Prof. Rivka Carmi,
spoke against such a boycott.
A year has passed, and Prof. Gordon was since promoted. The Department he heads
has displayed a clear anti-Israel bias, extreme-left faculty, teaching, training
and brainwashing of their students, equipping them with tools to fight Israel
A non-political student group "Im Tirzu” (If You Will) sent a letter to the
President of the University, presenting these facts and statistics, and called
for change. They will also present these same facts to the University’s major
Under the guise of "Academic Freedom” everything is permitted, as long as
"everything” encompasses any and all things harmful to Israel.
Although hundreds of thousands of Israelis are overseas for vacation, is there
anyone aware a war is raging over Israel’s very existence in the world? Is
anyone concerned Israel is being delegitimized to the point where anything bad
is permitted to happen to Jews, Israelis and Israel? Are Israelis and Israel
willing to pay the price for inaction? Alternatively, are they willing to pay
the political and often personal price for doing the right thing?
Israel, it seems, is following in the footsteps of the United States where no
one is responsible for anything. No one is held accountable for future harmful
actions. But most worrisome, no one is willing to take the necessary, painful
We have reached an abyss, and we are about to drown. Is this acute enough for
anyone to change his or her behavior or expectations? No need to worry, just
label me a "right wing extremist” or better yet, "a settler,” and the world will
become rosy once more.
There are bigger issues that pose an immediate and very serious threat to
Israel. These may include, but are not limited to, he-who-brands-himself the
Missing Imam, the new nuclear reactor becoming fully operational in Iran, the
radical shift in Turkey, until recently a friend and partner of Israel, to very
real changes that may take place in Egypt, Syria or Lebanon.
In face of these tsunamis threatening to wash the shores of Israel like the
Great Flood, Israel has focused her attention on a once informant of its General
Security Services, a religious person whose interrogation has become the topic
of discussion during the past few weeks.
Focusing on those to whom the media and others affix the label "right wing
extremist” will not make the real threats to Israel’s existence disappear or
evendiminish. Instead, it will divert Israel’s attention from the real work that
needs to be done in favor of what may otherwise be classified – for lack of a
better word – as "mirages in the Middle East.”