Thursday, August 31, 2006

News Flash! Cure for Lesbian Tendencies in Holy Land Central (HLC)

If I weren't laughing about this next one I might be crying.

According to a YNet News story, a Tel Aviv suburb husband worried over his wife's cheating ways - with another woman - was advised by a local rabbi to pour "magic sand" on the lover's doorstep. In that way, the rabbi guaranteed, she'll come running back.

Read the full text here.

It didn't work. Especially when the guy got a bit over-zealous and upon seeing lesbian lover's dresses hanging on a laundry line out back, set them ablaze. She phoned police. He was arrested. In custody pleaded anguish over his wife's cheating ways. Was released.

What a nutter. I think what this guy REALLY needs is some magic potion followed by a special trip to the magic kingdom. Works for me.

over & out

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's All Relative

One thing I need to ask you: Has anyone in your family or among your friends been hurt, killed, directly affected or sent to serve in Lebanon during the recent outbreak? I have to ask because sometimes one child will start talking about something and the floodgates open for the others

Israeli teacher running through checklist of questions during Parent-Teacher conference prior to 1st day of kindergarden

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


During my growing up years, summers were spent at sleep-away camp in Three Rivers, Michigan. A slow paced city with a population count below ten thousand, back then it was characterized by corn fields and its neighboring city Battle Creek - home of Kellogg's world headquarters.

For us pre-pubescents the annual Kellogg's factory tour was a summer highlight: the heavenly smell of toasting Corn Flakes accompanied us as we walked alongside massive vats filled with the stuff of our breakfast dreams and gazed in awe at assembly machinery putting together the variety 6-pack giveaways we were allotted at tour's end.

At the time we camp-goers were being spoon fed kibbutz ideals: Socialism, Cultural Judaism, Progressive Labor Zionism and Social Justice. The camp was Tavor and it was a branch of the international youth group Habonim (now Habonim Dror).

I loved it. Not only was it a month away from parents in a liberal environment that promoted free thought, the power of protest and the importance of being informed but it was also a place where the socialist ideals of egalitarianism and a non-spoiled work ethic were refreshing.

We campers tended the goats and chickens, cleaned the lake and swimming pool, weeded and pruned the vegetable gardens, picked corn from the fields and rotated dining room set up and break-down duties. Part of the share-mentality included handing over any sweets we'd brought along in our trunks because, as the reasoning went, how fair is it for one person to enjoy chocolate if others can't indulge as well?

Camp Tavor and Habonim had a tremendous influence on my ideas and opinions and are probably key reasons for my current choice of dwelling venue.

So as I re-acclimate to Holy Land Central (HLC) after a few months' break, I find my thoughts returning to Tavor.

During the final days of one summer session, we campers were grief-filled over the impending return home. It meant separation from bunk mates and soul mates, a return to the quiet of non-communal dining room clatter and dreaded parental rules.

Jody Gillette, a senior counselor and incidentally, now an HLC resident like myself, sat a group of about 100 of us down for a de-briefing that went something like this:

Look guys, I know you don't want to go home. I know it sucks. And I know that when you get home you basically want to say: Mom, Dad... Fuck off. I want to go back to Camp. (swearing was okay at Tavor) But don't do it. Because if you do, they'll never let you come back. Just try to shut the fuck up and have a good time.

And so, heeding Jody's advice, I am now trying to do the same: STFU&HAGT...ain't easy...nope it sure isn't.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Through A Child's Eyes

More Impressions on Day 3 of our Return to Holy Land Central (HLC) following a 2-month hiatus:

1) It's still bloody hot. Yes, it cooled down slightly and it's even pleasant with windows open post-sundown when the breeze wafts through. But that middle-of-the-day sun-beats-down muggy-heat body slick is everpresent

2) Adjusting back to the mentality here is... an adjustment.
- A complete stranger friend of a friend joining our cafe table the other day unabashedly asked my age and income in one fell swoop.
- The neighboring sweetie-pie lock shop owner commented "That's all?" when I told him the dog died/solar panel blew/cat ran away/apartment was burgled while we were away. And I'm not being facetious. He really is a sweet guy.
- The building contractor in the courtyard downstairs argues into his cellphone with clients each ayem around 7 in forte voce

3) Life here is hella lively. Full of vim and vigor and bounce. Hell, I'm not on vacation - that period of time when friends and family dote eagerly because your appearance is brief - and yet my Dayplanner/BlackBerry/Palm Pilot is buzzing. And this is the norm. I had forgotten.

A correction/recommendation:

- In an earlier posting, I advised reading The Devil Wears Prada. HOWEVER, that was following my movie viewing but prior to getting into the book. I retract. The movie was light, lively, very funny and well done. The book is a downer and stahm. Kudos to the film's screenplay adapter who liberally departed from the novel.

- Now reading A Million Little Pieces, James Frey's supposed retelling of severe alcohol and drug addiction and rehab. Supposed because he apparently took liberties with embellishment. Never mind. It's fascinating.

- In the same earlier posting, I neglected to add Jose Saramago's Blindness to my reading recommendation list. Yes, he was among the not-so-pro-Israel group of artists/academics/etc. (including Noam Chomsky) who vociferously objected to Israel's action during this summer's war. But setting politics aside for a moment, the book illustrates his proclivity for the Nobel standard.

About Loss
Children sometimes have unique perspectives on life and the world in which they dwell.

People have asked how Raphael, my 4-year-old, handled the news of losing both pets while away for the summer.

He cried. Of the cat, who Rapha habitually referred to as his sister, he is of the belief that she is outside partying with friends. She may be. Particularly since, while in the backyard conversing hours after landing in HLC, an identical look-alike ran unprompted and enthusiastically toward us upon hearing our voices. It bolted, however, when Raphael ran towards it in greeting. We continue to beckon.

Regarding our dog, I had to explain death. For a 4-year-old, it's a way-out-there concept. When I said that it means she went to sleep and won't wake up again, through tears he stammered: "But I won't get to pet her anymore!" And I told him that there are many, many dogs who need petting in the world. Through the flow he stubbornly insisted: "I don't want to pet any other dog. I want to pet Atticus!"

Otherwise, he has witnessed my emotional displays with curiosity. One day he handed me a Chiquita Banana sticker. "It's a no sadness don't cry sticker, Mommy. Atticus said you should put it on to stay happy." I promptly stuck it on my forehead and wore it in public all day. Someone in Walgreen's asked if I knew it was there. Yes, I replied. It's a no sadness sticker. Rapha was proud. And stunned the first time I broke into sobs with sticker still in place.

Upon returning to Israel, he confided to his father: "She cries a lot"

Last night at dinner he asked when Attie will come back down again to play.

When out in public, he obsessively strokes dogs and cats

Today he fell apart when a dog he wanted to stroke walked away too quickly. "That dog wanted me to pet it and I didn't get to," he cried hysterically. I hugged him tight and reminded there are many, many other dogs to pet.


I promise to blog about other stuff. Give me a moment. slf

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back in HLC

So here we are, Raph & I, two months and ten days later, back in HLC (Holy Land Central) after being in the U.S. for a very L-O-N-G summer.

Initial impressions:

1) It's bloody hot here. Muggy hot. A drip of sweat constantly down the small of the back hot. But I adore the heat. So no problem there.
2) After the polished & gleaming finish of every exterior in the U.S., things here appear dusty, dirty, loosely thrown together. Over coffee today, friends remarked that perhaps that very looseness contributed to tactical military mistakes during this summer's war
3) People are still frazzled and war wary and weary. Most expect it to spark again but on a much grander scale. Including the taxi driver who brought us from the airport yesterday. He said each country has its problems - hurricanes, drugs, poverty - and that Israel's is that of a war zone. Wait and see.

The personal:

It was hard as hell to come back. I didn't want to. Not because my life here in HLC is shite or because I'm having 2nd thoughts about staying. Because after the summer's mishaps on a personal front - apartment burgled, cat ran away, dog of 14-years horribly sick and put to sleep a mere three days prior to our return - I was terrified of walking into the loneliness and emptiness of a post-burgled, animal-free home. I didn't want to leave the comfortable safety net of parents and siblings.


Being in the apartment has been good. Smelling Atticus in her bedding, seeing her collar, calling for our cat Kalikee in hopes of her return and assessing the break-in damage (almost none) has been far easier than my imagination had conjured. I have cried loads and the physical pain of wanting my long-time companion is sometimes overwhelming. But it will be okay. Support from friends, strangers and family all over the world has been incredibly helpful.

And there is a warm cocoon here. Unlike a parents', it envelopes on a broad level providing a sense of it'll be okay no matter what.

I have agonized over not being with my pet in her final hours as she suffered and was released. However, I think we humans search for meaning, reasons and clues in our endeavors because if we didn't, life would feel too random or senseless.

I came to the conclusion that I couldn't have been in HLC with Attie when she was put down. I couldn't have separated from her nor could she have separated from me. We were closely attached - she traveled with me all over the world, went to work with me and was at my side most of the time in cafes, shops, at friends' homes, parks, the beach and on vacations throughout the years. This summer was the longest period we'd ever been apart. I don't believe my grief would have allowed me to be a comfort to her at the very end.

In an ironic cosmic twist, less than 24 hours after Attie died, her longtime dog friend Chance -also a Golden Retriever but living in San Francisco - suddenly died of a stroke. Chance's person Jo e-mailed to say she believes Attie wanted him with her. I sure hope so. It makes me feel better to think they're hanging out.

I'll upload a picture from files but until then, follow this link and enjoy.

Over & out for now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Bloggers yesterday referred to the date, August 22 or Iran's deadline for indicating future nuclear intentions, Armageddon Day.

Interesting because I am living a personal hell that spiked yesterday.

I blogged last month that during my current visit to the U.S. my apartment was broken into and our cat ran away. Over the past days I have been grappling with a third nightmare scenario: arranging for Atticus, my canine companion of fourteen years, to be put to sleep while we are still away. We return to Israel on Friday but our vet felt she needed to be immediately put out of the pain of struggling with osteomyelitis. Yesterday Attie was euthanized.

The scope and intensity of my emotions bars me from blogging about it right now. However, a wise Yoga instructor helping me cope with my grief advised not looking back over my shoulder. "The here and now is all we have." Exceedingly difficult.

Peace out

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Allow me to be the first to personally thank France for the 250 troops committed to the future peace-keeping force in Lebanon.

Also, a kudos to Finland for their 250-strong pledge...and let's not forget Italy. Exact numbers are not yet forthcoming but they're sure not to disappoint.

Hmm.. that leaves 14,250 or so open spaces for troops from Malaysia, Pakistan & Indonesia....How comforting.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gay, Porn, Jewish...Go Figure

When I read that New York-based/Russian born, gay porn star Michael Lucas will be performing for Israel's troops at month's end, i was intrigued.

So I hopped on over to his blogsite. And the questions came a'flyin'...He's a pretty cute guy, well groomed and all...However....

What exactly is it that he will be performing? 'Cause it looks like Mr. Lucas is pretty much straight up porn. Is he bringing an, er, um, performance partner with? And if, as the article states, he is entertaining gay troops...well, that won't be a staggering crowd number based on sheer population stats in Israel. Will the straight soldiers be banned from the show?

Oh dullness, where art thou?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eddie & Me

Eddie Izzard -definite article

I wrote about comedian Eddie Izzard last year and because my brother Josh loaned me his definite article DVD a few days ago, I feel compelled to blog Mr. Izzard again. For world history buffs, fans of trivia, physics or general off the wall humor, definitely check him out. I am soooooooo sorry I didn't take up a friend's offer to see Mr. I in San Fran a few years back. Oh well.

Mel & the Jews

Mel & the Jews

My pal Jeff e-mailed me this are pretty damned funny. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I make a concerted effort at keeping apprised of world events. I read blog entries, commentary, newspaper and web articles and analytical content regarding any number of subjects in the news arena each and every day. My focal point, of late, has naturally been the situation in the Middle East being that I live there and all.

Despite my efforts, I am having a difficult time understanding Israeli claims of an Israeli loss in the recent/current Hezbollah crisis. Militarily? Why? Because Hezbollah wasn't completely disbanded and dismantled? How does an organized army - or disorganized, for that matter - go about completely disrupting a rebel force hiding out underground in suburban and urban civilian centers? The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for how long? And where is Bin Laden these days? What would have constituted a victory and at what cost?

And let's not forget, when throwing up comparisons to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, that this is a different era. There were tremendous losses then but now the world is in a different state. The quagmire that is Lebanon has repeatedly proven itself as a regional effort in futility and a death trap for Israel's forces.

So although UN Resolutions have failed in the past and Lebanon's south has proven a fertile breeding ground for extremist factions, what is the alternative? Hit them harder? How and for how long and using what strategy?

I simply don't view this as a loss. Politically it was a tremendous gain. The world got a glimpse of fighters hiding behind children and using hospitals as bases, of a people willing to use dead toddlers for public relations gains, of so-called journalists altering war images to garner an edge. And the voices of moderate Lebanese, disgusted with the effects of extremism, reverberated loudly.

I'm not looking to turn this blog site into a free-for-all volley of hatred and insult. So please, don't leave comments about "the Zionists" and refrain from comparing Israelis to Nazis or anything similar. Also, nastiness or hurled insults in my general direction are not welcome. I am posing these questions based upon observation and genuine vexation.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Commentators on NPR's All Things Considered this afternoon remarked that Bush's tone on the day of a proposed Hezbollah-Israel ceasefire seems rather non-conciliatory.

They are right. I'd take that a step further. As Nasrallah's people handed out what amounted to: Welcome home; We won flyers to returning Lebanese exiles and Nasrallah himself declared strategic victory, Bush named Hezbollah responsible for the entire shebang - the death, the conflict, the displaced.

THEN, in the same sentence, Bush placed the reaching-towards-nukes Iran into the evil axis alongside Iraq and Afghanistan - zig-zagging, as it were. Naming Iran but not really naming them. Pointing the long arm but with elbow only. This is the same Iran responsible for arming/building up the Hezbollah. The same axis (Iran excepting, for the moment) the U.S. is currently engaged with in war.

Rhetoric? I hope so. But doubtful. Think about it: We're on day 1 of a U.S./France/UN brokered ceasefire and G.W. is sounding very un-delighted. Whipping up the winds, as it were.

Unless caught off mike by accident/on purpose, U.S. front people are generally careful & calculated regarding public talk.

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Slippery Slope

Holding breath, crossing fingers and hoping upon hope that the Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire and UN Resolution implementation adhere and are sustainable. However, much is left in the wake of 1701 to be resolved and addressed. Timelines, conditions, expectations, shuttle diplomacy, negotiations, security measures, fall-throughs, economic aid, breakthroughs.

As leading Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea comments, One would have to be an eternal optimist to believe the agreement will be enforced as written. Barnea terms the agreement a significant political achievement for both Israel and the U.S. in theory and on paper. He's right. Let's see what happens next. There will undoubtedly be further skirmishing.

In separate commentary, Barnea writes that the latest conflict was characterized by three fronts: The diplomatic front, the Lebanese front and the home front. Israel lost two of three. Surprisingly, the diplomatic front was the gaining sector.

I'm not going anywhere with this other than to piece together some commentary and insight while sitting back watching and waiting. What else to do at this point?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Slime on the Rise

If war or turbulent airport milieus aren't presenting enough excitement, then turn to an eco-story for further hair-raising news.

The LA Times is running a five-part series on the crisis facing the world's seas. The first installment, A Primeval Tide of Toxins, starts out by describing the effects of "fireweed", a sea species that:

...when fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos ...

Frightening, alarming, incredible. Another passage:

In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago.

Jeremy B.C. Jackson, a marine ecologist and paleontologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says we are witnessing "the rise of slime."
For many years, it was assumed that the oceans were too vast for humanity to damage in any lasting way. "Man marks the Earth with ruin," wrote the 19th century poet Lord Byron. "His control stops with the shore."

Read, read, read mein kinder. It's too important to miss.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Please, Pretty Please, With Sugar on Top?

I can't recall ever whatsoever (never) watching a UN Security Council session and walking away pleased. There has always been a crap sensation in the stomach spurred by a sense of being cheated and maligned.

But tonight's Security Council session/unanimous vote was a feel-good. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Kofi Annan, Condoleezza Rice, Greek Foreign Minister Theodora Bakoyannis and the UK's Margaret Beckett. Chinese Ambassador Liu Zhanmin's speech was predictable in its exclusion of Israel's concerns or recognizing Israel as anything but the aggressor (Did I see Condoleezza Rice not sporting a translation headset during his speech?) but Vitaly Churkin's (Russia) address was surprising in its slightly forthcoming acknowledgement of Israel's security needs and civilian losses. Japan's Ambassador Oshima was eloquent and smooth.

In general an overall shift in tenor seems to have taken place. Weeks ago when G. W. was caught on mike suggesting Kofi Annan do something to force Syria's hand in the crisis, it was a semi-faux pas. Tonight, Syria and Iran's roles in the current situation were openly acknowledged and addressed. And France mentioned not once but twice Israel's legitimate right to sustained security. And nearly all speakers talked about a necessary comprehensive solution in the Mid-East that will encompass addressing the dire Palestinian situation.

Oh pleez, pleez, pleez adopt this, vote favorably, all parties play nice, stop fighting, return prisoners, negotiate and stop the war. It feels like the opening of a door to an outer courtyard where things could be very, very positive. Amen. Hallelujah.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Mother #1: Call me a pig but when my son grows up I hope he'll move away. Go to university abroad or be a refusenik and sit in jail. I don't care. I don't want him in the army. He's all I've got.

Mother #2: I'm with you. Since my 7-year-old has been verbal I've been drilling into him that he's not to go into the army. Or if he does, he can sell candy to the other soldiers or play the piano as an entertainer. I don't care as long as it's not combat.

Conversation between two Israeli mothers

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Oil per Gallon Costs

Crude oil is at about $76.5 per barrel what with the Mid-East situation, Nigeria unrest and news of BP shutting down production on the United States' top oil field a few days ago. You wouldn't know that, however, from this picture.

Nope, it's not the used car lot at Sam's SUV Stop & Shop. It's the car park at the swimming pool where my son is currently taking lessons..

Our Toyota 4-door Sedan (not pictured) was one of 2 among 22 parked vehicles not in the SUV, mini-van or van category.
Mull that one over while watching the evening news...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Summer Pix

Henceforth, The Stefanella Drive Thru Summer 2006 Recommended Reading List:

- Dispatches From the Edge Anderson Cooper. Currently on the NY Times bestseller list. A smooth read of Cooper's background, venture into journalism, impressions of his experiences and personal tribulations while covering war zones worldwide. The writing alternates between loose and detached and painfully personal. FYI: He grew up in an esteemed family where private party guests included Andy Warhol and Truman Capote

- Summer Crossing, Truman Capote. I didn't read his other famous novels and have never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's but felt it my duty to at least browse a little something of his. WELL worth it. His writing is sumptuous, colorful, juicy and full

- My Life in France, Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme. Just starting this one so I can't give a solid nada or nod. So far, however, Ms. Child's memoirs recapturing her self-launch into French cookery are evocative and appetizing

- The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger. I'm still on the library waitlist for this one. Impatient, I opted for the film which was fresh, funny and illuminating vis a vis the fashion industry. Meryl Streep was fab. Can't wait to read the book. Rumors flew a few years back that it is based upon true life experiences of a former Vogue employee

Short and sweet. Still have the latest Harry Potter to get through!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


What infinite energies are wasted steeling oneself against crisis that seldom comes: the strength to move mountains; and yet it is perhaps this very waste, this torturous wait for things that never happen, which prepares the way and allows one to accept with sinister serenity the beast at last in view...Truman Capote, Summer Crossing

Getting ready for our return to Tel Aviv I've been wolfing down information and news via blogs, e-mail exchange, IM conversations, radio, telephone talk and copious reading of online & print news.

At times it feels like things might abate and then everything plummets to new depths.

I found today's Y-Net article about soldiers freezing sperm before going into battle, however, quite interesting. Apparently several dozen have opted to do so thus far and if the status quo continues, the numbers will probably increase. Modern solutions for modern times during modern day warfare.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Honor System

Eberhard Farm, Lebanon Ohio...The Honor System

Imaginative Architecture, Hyde Park, Cincinnati

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Going Home

In a few short weeks Rapha & I return home to Holy Land Central (HLC) after spending the summer here in the U.S. of A., more commonly known as Capitalism Central (CC).

Our two months here have been filled with activity, leisure, indulgence, entertainment, visits with family & friends, outings and travel - non-stressful and relaxing, to say the least.

We head back into uncertainty, turmoil, stress and aggro....and our home, more family & friends, pets, a new school year and work and social obligations and events.

To write that the current situation doesn't concern me or to play it off as a "we'll conduct our business as usual" would be to trivialize and falsify for the benefit of appearance. Despite the we go on with life as we always did message sent out on many HLC blogs, the underlying tone and obsession with news and the situation conveys a quite different communique. It is not life as normal. Even though I've been there in the past for turmoil, it's different each time. And now, I'm responsible for someone else's well being.

Yes, I'm worried. About escalated violence, a broadened campaign, the general mood of the country and the ultimate impact of it all on myself, and more importantly, Raphael.

I have contemplated the obvious, as parents do: What would it take for me to grab Rapha & head out of HLC? A ground campaign inside of Israel, air or rocket strikes on Tel Aviv, a large scale war...??? Impossible to know until we're there.

Already, however, I'm feeling the upped ante. While listening to a radio report yesterday in the car, I screamed curses at the top of my lungs hearing Syria's Ambassador to the United States feign a victim's stance to the NPR interviewer.

During yoga class this morning, I was unable to let go of thoughts of THE SITUATION looming ever closer. Despite a yogic teaching emphasizing presence in the moment, my thoughts scattered wildly.

The class, ironically, was held at a studio in Lebanon...Ohio. Historically Lebanon is famous for being home to astronaut John Glenn, for the 70's filming there of the movie Harper Valley PTA and for its early 1800's inn visited by 12 U.S. presidents.

The town's epicenter is filled with tiny specialty shops criss-crossed by a series of tracks traversed by passenger and freight trains chugging through. Corn fields hug miles-long stretches of the 2-lane Route 42 leading into town and magnificent 19th century mansions dot the city limits.

After class I stopped at a roadside Sweet Corn stand and found, instead of humans, a tractor trailer brimming with ears of Silver Queen still in husks. A bucket on the passenger seat marked "Baker's Dozen: $4.00 for 14" held assorted change, singles and five dollar bills. Silence. Not a soul in sight. The honor system. I dispensed my cash and carefully chose fourteen.

While munching one of the fresh purchases back home, I checked e-mail. One from my friend Susie. "Shelters in the Central Area" was printed in the Subject line. Inside was a listing of public bomb shelters in Tel Aviv, Raanana, Jaffa, Kfar Saba, etc.

Reality is seeping in.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


1/2 a day later, I am somewhat horrified by my previous trivial entry, today's latest considering. However, Syria's seeming willingness to broker is semi-encouraging...

(No offensive Virgin Mary White House exhibits, though)
Oh yeah...and happy belated 25th birthday, MTV ....for the millionth time, will you PLEASE get your feet off of the coffee table?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Reading various analysts today, it's interesting to see the "Syria Card" repeating itself. The suggestion that an attempt be made to drive a wedge between Iran & Syria in an effort to foster stability.

I listened intently to today's Terry Gross interview with Thomas Friedman. Friedman, NY Times' foreign affairs columnist, multiple Pulitzer Prize winner and author of From Beirut To Jerusalem and The World is Flat, is known for left-leaning views included advocacy of a peaceful compromise between Palestinians and Israelis.

When the current crisis started nearly three weeks ago, Friedman headed to Lebanon, Israel and Syria for a first-hand view. He commented on Syria as a landbridge connecting the Iran/Hizbollah weapons gateway and the backroom for Gaza's Hamas.

He went to the region to assess whether or not there may be room for swaying Syria away from the Iran alliance and ushering leadership towards ties with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

He came away feeling it's a very long shot but that it could happen. The current non-existent relationship with the U.S. would have to be patched and incentives offered.

When referring to Hizbollah, he openly scorned Nasrallah's claims of victory over Israel, saying: (paraphrase) Israel has more companies on the Nasdaq than any other country outside the U.S. and Canada and you can't make a lightbulb and you won? He also liberally paraphrased the late Golda Meir who said: We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us. Take a listen to the full interview ..

And incidentally, I heard the first ever interview of its type w/Lebanese Christians saying Hizbollah took up posts between and surrounding their residential, suburban homes - without their permission - and fired rockets at Israel. The crying woman on tape said she feared telling them to beat it.

Bloody Rollercoaster Ride...

...and I'm not even there.

Viewing the UN Security Council Session, hearing Lebanon's acting Foreign Minister Tareq Mitri seemingly plead for support, my heart ached.

Then hearing Israel's Ambassador Danny Gillerman pose the question of how long Israel should be expected to endure cross border raids & katyusha attacks despite withdrawal 6 years ago, my spine straightened as a level of understanding and comradery rushed in.

Things are hot again and each time the temps warm up a sense of foreboding grows stronger. Syria's military on high alert. Iran eschewing, at least verbally, the latest UN resolution calling for a halt to nuclear development... & then Cuba's Castro, in power for nearly 5 decades, goes and puts his brother Raul in charge of the military, government and country at large while he goes under the knife to fix an intestinal problem.

Criminy! Nothing like a little instability (where there never was any to begin with, let's be frank), hmmmm?