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God Bliss

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We have a weekend home in the sweetest little town in Israel Nahariya. This small, northern town caresses the Mediterranean at a particularly picturesque location, and from our balcony we can watch the sailboats skimming along the placid sea. In the early morning, we see the fishing boats go out, a spotter aloft in the prow scanning the azure waters for fishy schools below, and in the evening we take drinks on that balcony (verbena tea for me) and watch the sun lower itself from a swirly pink sky and sizzle out in the sea. And then the dog has her last outing for the day, and we settle down to dinner and a good movie on TV.

It could be bliss.

Last night I watched a popular TV satire called "A Wonderful Country", reprising Israel's good deeds in sending a field hospital and PR team to Haiti. PR team? Yes, and well worth it, with the Israeli doctors saving lives and delivering babies enough to warrant many press releases. "Good job, good job, Israelis!" gush the patients. From under the rubble, one Hatian peers out and moans, "It was almost worth having an earthquake to meet all you wonderful folks from Israel."

It's hard work transforming international public opinion after the Israeli bombardment of Gaza one year ago, which played out so poorly in the Goldstone Report and European capitals. But in Israel, there's no need to shift public opinion at all, after that very popular war. "What blockade? There's no blockade of Gaza," said my cousins in Jerusalem, who are as well informed as most Israelis. If you place a million people under siege and the local media are not there to cover it, does the siege exist?

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Gila Svirsky, an Israeli peace and human rights activist, has headed some of the major peace and human rights organizations in Israel. She has been a member of Women in Black since its inception, and co-founded the Coalition of Women for Peace, (more...)
 
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