August 08, 2006

In Transit

I'm on my way to Tel Aviv now.

What do you want to read about that isn't being covered by the media? I can't promise to write about anything in particular, but what's your wish list? Those of you who donate travel expenses through Pay Pal are particularly encouraged to answer in the comments.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 8, 2006 09:43 AM
Comments

Anything like you normally write will surely be great, but I hope you can still find time to tell us what you can about your recent trip to Northern Iraq.

Good luck.

Posted by: Kay at August 8, 2006 09:50 AM

I strongly recommend that you follow your gut instincts. The odds are that you will stumble onto an insightful story.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 8, 2006 09:57 AM

Why are you not going to Lebanon? That would be interesting!

Posted by: Richard at August 8, 2006 09:58 AM

I strongly recommend that you follow your gut instincts. The odds are that you will stumble onto an insightful story.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 8, 2006 10:00 AM

I would love to hear more on the thoughts of the Israeli Arab community on this business.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at August 8, 2006 10:01 AM

I would like to know what arguments the Israelis say to one another about this conflict; also by the same token the Lebanese, if that is possible.

Posted by: Johnny Eck at August 8, 2006 10:29 AM

There is an old saying: "When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one who yelps is the one you hit."
Judging from some of the yelping in the comments lately, I'd say your aim is pretty good! ;)
Take care, come home soon, I'm looking forward to whatever you decide to write about.
BTW: I am not advocating throwing rocks at dogs, PETA people leave me alone..... :)

Posted by: lindsey at August 8, 2006 10:34 AM

Michael said--

What do you want to read about that isn't being covered by the media?

How is morale among the IDF ground forces -- really? How is it going -- really? (This is going to be tough and maybe undoable for an independent journalist at this point in the conflict, I'd guess.)

More do-able:

How is morale among civilians in Haifa -- really? Any thoughts of packing up for the US or whereever? What would it take for that?

Posted by: dougjnn at August 8, 2006 10:44 AM

I apologize if this question has already been done to death in comments of another post...

If you are especially soliciting writing direction from your PayPal patrons, aren't you in effect subjecting your stories to "the ever-popular editing process for paychecks"? To wit, aren't you just writing to a different set of "gatekeepers"?

Posted by: Avery at August 8, 2006 10:55 AM

I'd also like to get the take of the Israeli-Arabs. Do they support Nasrallah?

Posted by: MJ at August 8, 2006 10:56 AM

How the large guest worker force in Israel is handling the war.

Also, how companies like INTEL and MOTOROLA are coping.

Posted by: days condor at August 8, 2006 11:01 AM

Pictures!

I'd like to see some pictures of public bunkers and private bunkers. I'd like to know how this conflict is effecting Israel's social divide. Are poor people staying up north (ie, not evacuating south)? Are there more sephardic up there than ashkenazi?

Why are Israeli Arabs happy about the bombing? Does this confirm all of Israel's worse suspicions?

Posted by: lebanon.profile at August 8, 2006 11:06 AM

You could tell the world why, unlike what is shown in the medias, the Israelis feel satisfaction when they see Lebanese civilians being punished for the rockets.

Posted by: ex-Montreal at August 8, 2006 11:09 AM

Throw in another vote for the arab-isreali perspective on the conflict.

I also second Lebanon.Profile's request for pictures.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 8, 2006 11:23 AM

Mike,

What I would really like to see thats not being covered is an acurate representation of who is winning the ground war. I have heard alot of interesting banter to suggest that Hezbollah is very successful and of course I have heard over and over that is not true. Hezbollah has a very good record versus Israel in the past, they are very skilled on the ground particularly within south Lebanon. I dont know which side to believe at this point. I also dont know how you could get acurate information on that, but lets see what you can do.

Posted by: D.B. Shobrawy at August 8, 2006 11:25 AM

how about israeli's who disagree with the policy currently being dispensed against lebanon . . .

Posted by: david at August 8, 2006 11:28 AM

I'd be interested to hear the viewpoints of my age group (18-24). I often wonder what it's like for people like me out there, especially with all the upheaval. Does life go on as normal? I met a couple of Israeli guys last year (from Tel Aviv, actually, they were over here with their band) but we didn't really talk much about the "situation", it was mostly music and things. I didn't really know how to bring up the subject!

Posted by: Lizzie at August 8, 2006 11:40 AM

Here are some LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL

http://community.adlandpro.com/forums/thread/425545.aspx

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at August 8, 2006 11:49 AM

I'd really like to know what Israelis think about the current U.S. administration, in particular what they think of our handling of the conflict in Lebanon right now.

Posted by: Christopher Ross at August 8, 2006 12:01 PM

This is my first post on michaeltotten.com (though the past 3 months have given me excellent reading); I'm hitting the tip jar. Just don't be doctoring any photos while you're out there. ;)

As dougjnn and Lizzie requested, they are curious about the IDF and the 18-24 age group, which in a sense are interchangeable, since the soldiers currently on the frontlines are overwhelmingly of that age (captains and some reservists are older, obviously).

---

MJT, after spending a month in Israel last summer and having a number of relatives there, a good starting point is to locate 20-somethings on their furloughs back from the front and/or back from a military base (a lot of female soldiers serve in fortified installations like Northern Command headquarters).

As dougjnn mentions, "This is going to be tough and maybe undoable for an independent journalist", which is true up to a point. Active duty soldiers will definitely not talk about military tactics and mappable locations, but they would more readily divulge their daily routines, camaraderie and fears (or lack thereof).

Anderson Cooper and John Roberts touched on these elements when they were embedded over the weekend, but I'm sure you can get more in-depth responses outside of the war zone. If you point them to your blog they will see you are legit (at least, legit to the extent of not misrepresenting them).

You can also ask them what their lives are like when they are not actively engaged with the enemy. Young reservists who have completed their conscripted service (i.e. 21-30 year olds) also have to negotiate with abruptly leaving work or school -- not to mention their girl/boyfriends -- to join their units.

---

So, I'm sure Lisa Goldman can put you in touch with some of her friends' younger siblings. If I was in Israel, some of my cousins currently in the IDF would be of assistance, but during times of crisis it is not easy to make twice-removed introductions when you are living an ocean away. In other words, I currently find out about their welfare through their parents.

Finally, good luck, and stay your open and inquiring self!

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 8, 2006 12:15 PM

I am expecting a few verdicts on food. Maybe nightlife, too, if you have the time.

Posted by: Caveman at August 8, 2006 12:44 PM

Arab-Israeli viewpoint and pictures!

It's also interesting that something like 90% of Israelis (non-Arab, I guess) support this war, even that Mothers peace group you linked to the other day. I'm curious if there is a true fundamental shift in the Israeli psyche.

Posted by: cb at August 8, 2006 12:56 PM

Why is Israel still bombing Beirut? What's left to bomb that is
of strategic value?

Posted by: Jeff Spinner-Halev at August 8, 2006 12:58 PM

Where are the kidnapped soldiers? Or more importantly, what is Israel doing to avoid killing them? They are trying to bomb every Hezbollah bunker so what's to stop them killing their own men? Could Nasrallah be using them as his own personal human shields?

Posted by: David at August 8, 2006 01:07 PM

I would like to hear about the political fall-out from Olmert's inability to destroy Hizballah. Once the cease-fire takes place, what will happen to the current gov't in Israel?

Posted by: Kevin in Dallas at August 8, 2006 01:32 PM

Days Condor, have you read this article about how Intel employees are dealing with the bombings?

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1990071,00.asp

Wi-Fi equipped bomb shelters. It's both cool and sad.

Posted by: Daphne at August 8, 2006 01:40 PM

I can't get out my mind that young, but stress weary, Israeli officer you interviewed at the border in the spring. Any info you could grab as to his whereabouts and condition would be gratefully rec'd. And after that needle in a haystack, tell Lisa G. to stay in Tel Aviv, although that place isn't exactly safe either according to her blog comments. I know, no one can tell her to do anything. Hope her neighborhood bomb shelter finally got swamped out and cleaned up, for you may even find yourself using it. Sure hope not.

Can't say why exactly, but I'm starting to get the feeling this isn't going beyond Lebanon. For now. Maybe it's because Iran isn't in as strong a position as I imagined. Sure, they could close off 5% of the world's oil supply, and cause some major economic problems. But that would mean their economy implodes, too, by a lot more than 5%. A stalemate scenario looks more likely as this grinds on.

Unless the Persians are really that ready to risk everything. The way treat their ethnic minorities it could bite them severely if they are weakened by outside forces. Things they have to consider. They may want to wait until their alliances with Russia, China, and whoever else are more solidly in place. I don't see a huge war just over the current ME turmoil, as bad as it is. It stands to reason it would be over oil and energy as global demand outstrips supply and production. Lots of new alliances being developed right now. Keyword China.

Posted by: allan at August 8, 2006 02:00 PM

So that’s all you have to do to declare victory is hide in bunkers and tunnels while civilians take the brunt of the assault – occasionally popping your head up to fire unguided missiles into Northern Israel and take out an occasional tank. Maybe the Israelis should stop giving advance notice of attacks.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 8, 2006 02:05 PM

What I would like to see is some hot pictures of Israeli and Lebonese girls. Prove that there is still some nice things to look at over there. Camo bikinis and preferably holding automatic weapons.

For Christs sake man, yes Im joking.. get some interviews with the lowest ranking soldiers possible. Whats going thru their heads? Does Olmert have Israeli support? Do Israelis view him as a failure?

Posted by: Sal Man at August 8, 2006 02:06 PM

I, too, would like to hear what Arab Israelis think about the conflict. I'd also like to hear what Israelis think of media coverage of the war, particularly in European media. What are their thoughts on Jostein Gaarder, who recently published an article in Norway's Aftenposten opining that Israel has "raped the recognition of the world", that it "has seen its Soweto", and that "it shall have no peace until it lays down its arms." (Sentiments that are not uncommon in Europe presently).

Posted by: anna at August 8, 2006 02:07 PM

Article to which I referred, above.

Posted by: anna at August 8, 2006 02:08 PM

Interview some displaced Israeli northerners who are now camping out by relatives, in schools, kibbutzim, Nitzanim Beach (north of Ashkelon).

Take photos of the damage to our side in the north - it'll be all the more authentic. coming from you.

Posted by: Esther at August 8, 2006 02:11 PM

Do you have any sources inside the Israeli government or the IDF? If so:

1) What were they thinking when Olmert and Peretz chose to go to war over the July 12 raid?

2) Did the govt. think that air power alone would defeat Hezbollah?

3) Is the IDF ever going to launch a full-scale ground attack, or is Israel looking for a way out?

4) Is Gen. Dan Halutz competent?

5) How do the government and the IDF envision things looking in a year or two? How do they prevent Hezbollah from being resupplied?

Have a fruitful and safe time over there.

Posted by: Hal at August 8, 2006 02:19 PM

Me, I'd be most curious to see you spend some time with Israelis from the "settlements" in Judea and Samaria, particularly the ones that have been marked for demolition by the Olmert government, to throw the bone of large judenfrei tracts of Judea and Samarian (and a totally judenfrei Gaza) to the unrelievedly bloodthirsty remaining inhabitants. (Sometime maybe I should let how I feel about that out.)

There's something horribly sad about active duty and reserve soldiers taking up arms, once again, at the orders of a government that's planning to sacrifice their homes on the altar of temporary political expediency, and terrible that, as the majority do just that, they're doing the right thing.

And ditto for families of the Gaza refugees whose fathers and brothers and sons are now back in uniform, yet again.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at August 8, 2006 02:34 PM

Harming Syria, Dream on

Posted by: Fares at August 8, 2006 03:32 PM

I'd like you to get together again with Lisa Goldman. I'd like to know what the "Peace Camp" are thinking these days.

Most of all, I hope you'll keep your head down and not get too cocky in the war zone. Keep alive.

Posted by: Jeff at August 8, 2006 04:23 PM

I'd like MORE words; even short little throw away scraps on all you're thinking. Different things, a montage, as well as synthesis when you work on it.

Leb.Prof had great questions...pictures, bunkers, social divide, Arab Israelis, different Jewish types (add secular & Marxist & Kibbutz).

I'd also be VERY interested in romances between Jews and Arabs/ Muslims. My own view is that more Romeo & Juliet stories are needed, "Guess who's coming to Dinner" surprises, before there will be peace between Israel and Arabs around.

Unfortunately, I think Israel is ready to fight, to die, to kill, and even to kill innocents, in order to win -- in order to force Hezbollah to disarm. But I'm afraid they won't succeed.

Please be safe.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at August 8, 2006 04:37 PM

I would like to know whether people in Israel believe the Israely government and army are blundering through this war or whether they are acting according to a careful plan to maximize the time they have to destroy Hez. Do people in Israel think the IDF should punish Syria for this war?

Posted by: dav at August 8, 2006 08:02 PM

I can tell how mums of israeli soldiers at the front are feeling. I'm working with 3 of them. They don't sleep at night. That more or less tells it all. For the rest is life going as usual in the Tel-Aviv area. You wouldn't notice there's a war if not for the news and the overall sad feeling that yet another war is here. Nightlife, restaurants, work... all regular. Sometimes it seems like Tel-Aviv is another country from the one fighting this war: the north.

But one thing is exactly the same everywhere: we all support, admire and care for our soldiers. They're all our sons.
Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at August 8, 2006 08:26 PM

i'd very much like to know what israelis think the long-term outlook is: has the hezbollah war made them think that no real peace is possible in the next 50 years? and what happens when there is the possibility that the rockets landing are tipped with nuclear warheads?

anyway, be safe.

Posted by: stephan at August 8, 2006 08:36 PM

One more vote for the Arab Israeli perspective. do they blame Hezbollah for the attacks which hit them, or their own government? If the former, are they irritated enough to volunteer for the IDF to help fight back -- assuming that the Israelis would take them, of course.

Posted by: wj at August 8, 2006 08:47 PM

If you get a chance, talk to the Debka folks and let us know more about what gives with that intriguing web site.

Also, I heard a report that in at least some Israeli Arab villages they don't have bomb shelters. Is this true? If so, why?

Posted by: John Moore at August 8, 2006 08:47 PM

john,
bomb shelters are designed into every home. most of the arab homes were/are build without permit, therefore they dont conform to the legal requirement.

Posted by: redaktor at August 8, 2006 09:45 PM

Redaktor,

It's only since the Gulf War that it's been a requirement for new buildings to have safe rooms for apartments - older buildings don't have them, rather may have a collective shelter in the basement, or people may have to go across the street or down the street to a public shelter. Only one apartment that I've ever lived in in Jerusalem has had a safe room in it.

Posted by: Rebecca at August 8, 2006 10:03 PM

Mike,
I wish you a safe and rewarding trip. My vote would be to gather as much feedback from as many Israeli walks of life as possible. Are they hopeful? pessemestic? How has the war affected them personally? If they are opposed to the war, what would be their alternative?
As other commentors have already mentioned, we've seen photos of Lebonese babes but not Israelis. Keep it balanced. It also would be helpful if you published the GPS coordinates of Nasrallah.
Good Luck!

Posted by: John Wenning at August 8, 2006 10:11 PM

I can't get out my mind that young, but stress weary, Israeli officer you interviewed at the border in the spring.

I also recall a discussion between a soldier (officer?) and a civilian on the wisdom of pulling out of Lebanon- IIRC, the soldier thought it was a good idea, the civilian didn't.

An update on what their current views are, and why, would be informative.

Posted by: rosignol at August 8, 2006 10:59 PM
Those of you who donate travel expenses through Pay Pal are particularly encouraged to answer in the comments.
Posted by: Rubin at August 8, 2006 11:15 PM

Don't spend too much time specifically on Israeli Arabs as far as I'm concerned. I seem to read that enough elsewhere. I'd much rather hear from un-pre-selected, on-the-street Tel Aviv citizens, of all backgrounds, ages, etc.

Tell us how Israelis are really doing -- when I was there two months ago, the thing that blew me away was the incredibly heartfelt Israeli smile, the resilience. I have to imagine that is getting worn down. What do Israelis really think the near future holds? What do they feel about the wider repercussions in the terms of regional and international politics? Are they actually counting on the Euros to be responsible about this?

And of real interest -- how does this affect Israelis' attitudes towards IDF? About groups who are exempt, about people who manage to evade conscription, etc.?

Thanks -- be safe -- be curious!

Posted by: Pam at August 8, 2006 11:20 PM

rebecca,
safe rooms are not bomb shelters. safe rooms are meant to be sealed rooms against a chemical attack. bomb shelters have been a requirement since the 60's.

Posted by: redaktor at August 8, 2006 11:35 PM

I concur with those who've expressed curiosity about the domestic Israeli political implications.
Are Israelis mad as Hell their government is widely perceived as losing (or at least, not winning) the war? Is it becoming clear that Arab-Israelis are a fifth column?

Posted by: L at August 9, 2006 12:43 AM

One thing to add to the others here: what do Lebanese (if you can find some to talk to, I know you won't be in Lebanon) think about the Adnan Hajj/Green Helmet Guy phenomenon. The pics are fine and bloggers have too much free time? Fake-but-accurate? Unhelpful propaganda? Typical Arab rumor-mongering? Never heard of it and don't care?

Thanks and be safe!

Posted by: Stacy at August 9, 2006 05:12 AM

Ditto the requests to hear from Arab Israelis. And while you sure can't get into Lebanon right now, is there any chance you might utilize some of your contacts with the now-dead Cedar Revolution to get their take on the future of the country?

Posted by: Ryan at August 9, 2006 08:32 AM

Everyone here seems to agree, let's have real unscripted news from everyone who's actually being affected ... we're all interested in everything other than the official line.

I'd like to know if any of the Israelis you talk to feel like they're getting a different picture from the Internet, especially the Lebanese blogs, than they're getting from their own media, and whether this makes a difference to them. It's quite possible they're so afraid for themselves that "the only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese" but it would be nice to know otherwise. Also if they feel that any perceived success with Hezbollah must not be allowed to occur for fear it will embolden the Palestinians.

Posted by: Diana at August 9, 2006 09:39 AM

For an under-reported perspective, see if you can track down some former members of the SLA (South Lebanese Army) currently residing in Israel. I'm sure they will make for interesting conversations - hearing from you about your recent experiences in their homeland, and giving you their opinion about the conflict. They would know, like few others (apart from the IDF itself) what it is like to fight Hezbollah, especially in South Lebanon (obviously). It would also be interesting to learn their viewpoint on the actions of the Israeli and Lebanese governments, aside from the tactical military analysis of IDF vs. Hizbullah. The personal stories should also be fascinating.

Posted by: Michael at August 9, 2006 09:42 AM

Concur with Hal's questions.
Have the Israelis been seeing this war as inevitable?
Why did it start when it did--ie was the kidnapping just the last straw, or was it tied to the G8 meeting, or something else?
Do Israelis feel the US is applying pressure; if so, do they feel the pressure for a cease fire or towards further fighting?

Posted by: ChrisD at August 11, 2006 05:45 AM

I'm late on this, but I'd be very interested in hearing thoughts from Israeli Druze, as Druze live in Israel and Lebanon. Btw, I just bought Reason to read your article yesterday. Great article!

Posted by: Selkie at August 11, 2006 02:28 PM
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