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Live From The Holy Land

I am in Israel and I'm sorry that I haven't posted during the last few days. But my old Toshiba laptop has collapsed and I bought myself a MacBook Air whose exquisite intricacies I am still trying to master. Here goes:

There are several reasons for my trip now and at least one reason for my not coming to the 60th anniversary festivities at which George Bush was the most notable guest and which was also attended by Henry Kissinger, hundreds of weighty intellectuals, 9 Nobel Laureates, several TNR folk and more than a smattering of celebs. So Barbra Streisand's decision not to come seemed so self-absorbed as to be comic. By the way, Nadine Gordimer finally did come, as I reported she would. Apparently, interviewed by Amos Oz, she made a fool of herself not quite knowing the difference between Fatah and Hamas.

Still, I was not invited. This I attribute to Shimon Peres whose ire I had raised on many occasions and frankly this is because I think him the dreamiest leader of Israel, what with his "balance not bullets" paradigm of speaking and of giving hope.

Of course I've said this and written this. In Israel most of the people are grateful for the fact that he is no longer in real politics and that he has been sidetracked to the symbolic post of president of the state in which, pray God, he will not molest women as his predecessor did.

Leon Wieseltier spoke at the conference that was at the core of the gathering. Perhaps this will be the subject of his Diarist next issue.

Anyway, so why am I here? I've come because Al Gore received from Tel Aviv University the coveted Dan David Prize in recognition of both learned and public efforts in raising "the consciousness of the world to the disastrous effects of global warming" and, of course, I will be talking with all kinds of people about the political and social situation in the country. As I arrived, Channel 10 announced a public opinion survey about how Israel should deal with Hamas. Usually, Israelis err on the dovish side or are more dovish than the government. But while Ehud Olmert's splintered cabinet tries to find some modus vivendi with Hamas, the public itself wants to cripple this enemy and prevent it from doing what Hezbollah did two years ago in the north and continuing what the Gaza murderers have been doing ever since Israel left the Strip.

Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense, told the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz that while Israel is amenable to a ceasefire and to increasing supplies to Gaza, it wouldn't take much for Hamas to trigger a heavy mobilization into the area.