Sunday, June 18

Israel Radio chief: The Arab world's psy-ops media war against Israel (Video)

Israel Broadcasting Authority Director-General & Chief Editor, Yoni Ben-Menachem charges that Arab nations, led by Iran and the Palestinians are engaged in a psy-ops war against Israel, exploiting the world media. Ben-Menachem talks with Dave Bender about possible Israeli countermeasures.

A soldier's story: Behind the scenes with Israeli artillery (update)

(Update: this feature on an IDF artillery reserve unit's field maneuvers was written a few years back, and reflects a "labor of love" as I was mustering out of the unit after 20-years service. With the current controversy over recent events in Gaza, it is intended to show a close-up and personal side of the Israeli army, rarely reported on outside of Israel, and is intended to balance out recent accounts, especially in the UK - DB)

A recent call-up notice from my army unit once again invited me to join up with brothers - in - arms for exercises somewhere among the dramatic wadis in the sprawling southern Negev Desert.

I was asked to drop everything I was doing at the moment, pick up an oily rifle and a heavy tan duffle bag, and spend some quality time practicing for the big one.

The last few days before leaving for reserve duty are busy: Helping spouses plan the coming stint alone; telephone calls to put off meetings and engagements for work; pulling the dusty military gear down from the crawlspace; wondering what flashlight - radio doodad to buy this time, which novel to stash in the big back pocket of the ammunition-clip webbing.

The last evening at home. Pre-departure tension as I sit alone in the living room, an assortment of camping gear and military odds and ends arrayed on the floor around me; like I'd gone on an L.L. Bean ordering binge - the "Mideast conflict clearance sale" edition. And ritually wondering to myself: "Now, why did I agree to do this again?" And knowing all along I'll probably dump about a third of the cargo back out later near the foot of the bed by my annoyed and formerly-sleeping wife, because everything I really wanted to lug along is just too damn heavy to cram into one backpack.

And finally that last night to softly hold each other in the dark before she is temporarily replaced by a lonely, worn sleeping bag and tools of war.

Old Jaffa Port: Seaside Home

(Dave Bender)

Blue Suede Jews: It's not every day you run into Elvis in Jerusalem

Memphis has Graceland. Vegas has impersonators. And Israel - yes, Israel - has the Elvis Inn, a bizarre desert Mecca for Middle East Elvis enthusiasts. It's the Holy Land, people, and the King has risen.

It's not every day you run into Elvis in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open-air market.

Now, it's not as if I'm some kind of delusional Elvis freak here in the holy city, waving a hand-scrawled sign drawn in black magic markers, babbling on about Mideast war and peace in one breath and Elvis and aliens in the next, but, there I was: noon on Friday and traipsing through the market's bustling main open avenue doing my weekly round of pre-Sabbath shopping when I saw Elvis.

"Shlepping in Memphis," lets call it, grappling with two fistfuls of flimsy plastic bags stretched thin with sweet challahs, peppery Jerusalem kugel, savory hummus and schug, along with the rest of the capital's sweaty humanity eddying around for bargains and baklava, I was making my way home when it happened.

Not ten feet away from a pair of border police officers manning the rickety security portico at the bustling Jaffa Road entrance, as in a vision like so many others — with said visionaries usually gently carted away to the capital's Kfar Shaul mental health facility, unless otherwise elected to the Knesset — there he stood.


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