Monday, August 28, 2006

Let It Be Known

Let it be known outside of Israel that:

1) 1000 of the 5000 meals that were donated by a charity went unaccounted for every day. The worker at the Municipality who was in charge of distribution told local reporters that he was told to put the 1000 meals aside daily and to leave no written record as to having received them.

2) A truck load full of air conditioners that were donated for the poorly-ventilated, sweltering bomb shelters vanished into, well, thin air.

3) Ditto for the TVs that were donated. In contradistinction, the workers of the Municipality (that is, the 17 out of 350 who didn't desert the city entirely) arranged deluxe, "VIP" shelters for themselves, replete with color TV, A/C and Internet.

4) The free days in hotels, including free meals, that were donated by the hotels themselves and were specifically designated for the infirm and elderly first and foremost were, instead, used by workers in the Municipality. As the result of not getting one of those rooms, one woman whose 8-year-old handicapped, wheelchair-bound daughter, who must be kept in sterile conditions, contracted an infection and had to be hospitalized. Some relative of some worker of the City got the room that little girl should have had. No matter, eventually she got a nice room - in the hospital.

5) A huge number of disposable diapers that was donated likewise disappeared. What the hell can someone do with tons of nappies??? As a result of most of the Municipality workers running for the own lives and leaving us here to die, the army sent in a regiment of reserve soldiers to run the city. They did an exemplary job of handling the exigencies, but the potential peril of the precedent of being deserted by the democratically-elected government of the city and being governed almost entirely by high-ranking officers in the army need not be elaborated upon.

Tzfat has been dubbed "The Ignominy of the Galilee" in the national press.

I am LIVID and despite the fact that I have been advised by frightened citizens that if I do not shut up; I run the risk of arrest and possibly being jailed, I will not shut up.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel
New Invention in Honor of Tzfat (Safed)

Tzfat's (Safed's) having been dubbed "The Ignominy of the Galilee" in the national press, is the afflatus for a new gadget I've developed that will prove to be very useful for the residents of Tzfat.

A patent is already pending. So, no one better even think of stealing it.

It is called the Ignominometer.

It is a special cuff to measure the elevation of one's blood pressure in response to the anger as a result of, or the lowering of one's blood pressure in response to the shame of, the various degrees of ignominy which Tzfat is characterized by at any given moment.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel
הממשלה הוכיחה כי היא מיותרת

דורין אלן בל-דותן, צפת

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Government of Israel has Proven Itself to be Superfluous

The local government of the city of Tzfat and, to a far lesser extent, the national government collapsed during the war. The local government of the city of Tzfat was simply non-existent.

Here in Tzfat only 17 of the 350 workers in the Municipality remained in the city.

Reserve soldiers had to be brought in to see to it that the special needs of the city, during a time of war, were taken care of. Were this not a time of war there would be no extenuating circumstances for the army to have to step in and take care of.

That is to say that the supposedly democratic local government of the city of Tzfat deserted us and we were run militarily for a month. The precedent is so potentially dangerous that I need not elaborate.

In their absence the Municipality proved that they are superfluous. We simply do not need them. They are not even parasites. They are superfluous. The worst nightmare of a politician has been realized. They are not only not wanted, they are needed, not in the least.

There are many citizen-run organizations that can easily be modified slightly in order to become the bodies that take care of all of the functions of this city.

Milgam, Inc., the company that provides our water in Tzfat, is not a municipal agency. They are a private company. Our gas is provided by private companies. Although the electric company is a government company; it could be modified to be a worker-run collective with concerted effort.

Instead of the gemachim (charity organizations), of which we have a very respectable number here in Tzfat, being organized to pick up where the government leaves off and, in so doing, perpetuate, rather than alleviate, poverty; they can be modified to be the bodies that care for the various needs of the residents of Tzfat.

If the gemachim became the organizations and agencies that provide necessaries to all, not merely giving hand-outs to the needy, we would be able to eradicate indigence, as befits Jews. We would all have our needs provided for truly. Imagine no one having to beg for their subsistence. Imagine no one being punished with poverty for the "crime" of being aged, handicapped, widowed, orphaned or unemployable for whatever the reason. We can do better vastly better for ourselves and one another than Bituach Leumi (National Insurance) does for us!

Instead of turning to the city for every need and want big and small be must learn to rely upon ourselves and upon one another. The concept is called Mutual Aid. We trade that which we can provide for that which we need. We become as maximally self-reliant as possible and create a culture of cooperative sharing.

There is nothing that the Municipality is doing for us that we cannot do far more efficiently, promptly, cost-effectively, fairly, caringly and honestly ourselves – and in a far more personalized manner, providing the services such that they fit individual needs and not strapping every citizen to a procrustean bed.

It is high time that the Israeli public was weaned from the co-dependent addiction and sickness of turning to the government only to get nothing but a kick in the teeth and then turning to the government again for comfort because they have been kicked in the teeth....

Since the Municipality of Tzfat was the first in the country to collapse utterly, it devolves upon Tzfat to become the premier model city for self-government on the part of the residents.

We can supplant the Municipality and take over every one of their functions. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and in one another and ORGANIZE.

Let's send the workers of the Municipality of the City of Tzfat on a PERMANENT vacation to Eilat!

Both the Hebrew and the English versions of this essay can be found on the following site:

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat,

Saturday, August 26, 2006

An Encounter with Elliot Skiddel of JAZO

After reading the local Tzfat newspapers this weekend including excerpts from that which appeared about Tzfat in national and other regional newspapers during the war; I am abysmally, unspeakably saddened, but in no wise surprised, by the allegations of the "performance" of the Municipality of Tzfat during the war.

About five years ago, I contacted Project 2000 in Palm Beach, Florida and I told them that it was unwise to send donations to the City of Tzfat without them being carefully monitored.

I told them of the corruption in the Municipality.

I told them how the poor are ignored and downtrodden in this city.

I told them of the nepotism.

I told them about the poverty of the residents of the Ofer Neighborhoood in which eight people leapt to their deaths from the roofs in desperation that cannot be conceptualized by those who have not lived under these conditions.

Elliot Skiddel of JAZO was dispatched to my home. In my utter naivete, I thought that he would give me a fair hearing and would cooperate in my efforts to improve the way in which the City of Tzfat was run. I thought that Project 2000 had sent a sympathetic hear, kind heart and Jewish Soul to meet with me for the purpose of seeing the conditions in the Ofer Neighborhood.

Instead, he entered my very humble Amidar apartment in the notoriously poor Ofer Neighborhood of Tzfat, looked around at the apartment with disdain, apprised me with utter contempt and exaggerated loathing to make sure that I did not miss his opinion of me and proceeded to discount everything I said, all the while with a smug smirk of "I'll make short shrift of this nothing" look on his face.

More than the pain of being personally humiliated, I understood that a chance for improvement in Tzfat was entirely lost and I was crestfallen.

He evidently reported to Project 2000 that my contentions were not to be taken seriously in the least. Evidently, they were satisfied with "a soft answer that turneth away anxiety."

And so the trampling of the poor of Tzfat continued unabated and grew more and more brazen and outrageous.

The tragedy of the children at risk who were given a particularly well-appointed kindergarten, paid for by donations, so that they could be well cared for, well fed and even have a place to sleep at night if the conditions in their homes were not conducive to their well-being is well known to residents of Tzfat. For others, I will tell you that as part of a deal that Tzfat Mayor Yishai Maimon made with ultra-Orthodox elements in Tzfat for votes, the children in the kindergarten that was provided for with donations specifically for children at risk were thrown out into the streets and Charedi children, who were not at risk, were given the kindergarten instead. The children at risk had nowhere to go for quite some time – many weeks, if not months, I do not recall exactly how much time, but I do recall that the sad story was as protracted one. Finally, they were given a downscale kindergarten that could not provide the special services they needed.

Then we heard of a similar situation with the children of Public School Mamlakhti Gimmel, in the poor southern part of the city, being transferred to Mamlakhti Aleph so that Charedi children can get their school. Again, this is the result of one of Maimon's dirty political deals with the Charedim to get their votes.

Now we hear of the travesties that, allegedly, occurred during the war.

While I do not, nay cannot, blame Elliot Skiddel directly for what the Municipality has done since he reported to Project 2000 that that which I wrote them is of no moment; I do blame him indirectly.

Had he not made me out to be an inconsequential crank to Project 2000 five years ago; had they sent their own people here to inspect to see if my contentions were true - that which transpired in Tzfat thereafter would have been obviated.

Skiddel, by all means, regard me with contempt because I am poor and represent the truth I tell to Project 2000 as lies "because you can". I wouldn't want to have either your salary or your conscience, that is assuming that you are man enough to realize and admit that had you extended a hand of cooperation to me five years ago, there may have been far few less people who suffered horrifically in this town.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The OTHER Aftermath of the War

With a heavy heart there are matters, which have come to light in the aftermath of the war, that I must share with the "outside world".

I feel it is incumbent upon me to share this information because there were donation drives for Israelis in a number of countries. The donors would probably be interested in knowing that it is becoming increasingly apparent that not all of their money got where it was intended to go, most likely.

If you or your colleagues are journalists and are willing to do honest investigative reporting and to write up the conclusions of whatever you/they might find up as an expose - please, be my guest.

I grew accustomed over the decades to being used, abused, cheated and shunted aside by the government, national and local, in Israel. Their treatment of the Palestinians is documented in the world press. Their matter-of-fact maltreatment of the citizenry is not known. It is assumed that we Israelis enjoy the benefits of living in a country that is considered relatively wealthy and technologically advanced. In fact, not much trickles down. The gap between the richest and the poorest here is second to NONE in the "Western" world. Yes, that includes the US.

I could live with it - until now. Now, when the smoke is clearing from the missiles, we are seeing increasingly clearly how our government betrayed us, probably diverted donations that were intended for the weakest and infirm among us that come from those who love and support Israel and used the situation to better themselves in all manners.

I have, then, no choice but to display some of our dirty laundry.

Please be so kind as to read what I wrote on the following link:

Having become convinced that we were in fact cheated of days of R&R, and I still know not what else, I wrote the following as a follow-up:

Let Your Familes and Friends Know About About the OTHER Aftermath of the War!

I'd like to make a couple of suggestions to those who feel that their needs were neglected by the Municipality during the war or that they did not get what was coming to them to increase their chances of surviving the war or simply making living on the direct line of fire, under siege, for 34 days more bearable.

First, Ilan Shohat, a member of the Tzfat Municipality who is in the opposition and vociferously opposed to Mayor Yishai Maimon, has published a request to receive any and all reports of neglect or incompetence. He assures your anonymity. You can reach him at: or by calling Edva at
050-7193475 or Gili at 050-6579899.

However, I'd like to mention that Ilan is a seasoned politician and is no doubt making political capital on Maimon's failings. Were he Mayor, as he clearly would like to be as evinced from the fact that in his rather short career as a politician he has racked up quite a reputation for climbing over others whom he betrays and tramples under foot; I am sure that he would be no better than his predecessors.

I would, in addition to contacting him, do some things that will, no doubt, be vastly more effective:

Contact everyone you know in the United States and tell them about the problems, about the maltreatment on the part of the Municipality of Tzfat. We all have relatives who expressed their love and panic for us during the war. Let them know how we were being cheated and bamboozled, unbeknownst to us because the local papers in town weren't operating, except for a temporary one run by the Municipality that told us only what the Municipality wanted us to know.

Include the major national and regional Jewish newspapers in your contact list. Ask them to carry out investigations and write up exposes. The world needs to know about the suffering we endured at the hands of our Municipality, which has been praised for its actions by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Tell them about the questions that have arisen as to whether the food that was intended for residents who remained in Tzfat was distributed fairly, correctly and that we received all that was intended for us.

Tell them about the donated air conditioners that were intended for the bomb shelters that were stolen. I do not claim the Municipality did this certainly. But, I am compelled to ask: Did they do everything possible to ensure that it would not occur?

Tell them about the fact that there have been complaints by ordinary citizens who stayed in Tzfat during that they were never sent for days of R&R, while relatives, friends and supporters of members of the Municipality were sent for free vacations in hotels for 3 – 5 days.

Let them know that Tzfat has a long and ugly history of misappropriation of donations.

It is high time to tell them about the money that was donated for an especially well-appointed kindergarten specifically for children at risk, so that they could get all the care they needed day and night if need be, who were thrown out so that room could be made for the children of those that Yishai Maimon had promised the kindergarten to for votes. Tell them that after many long weeks without a kindergarten at all those children were given a downscale kindergarten that did not provide places for them to sleep when being at home presented a risk and a threat to them.

Tell them that the children from the poor neighborhoods in Tzfat are being thrown out of their lovely neighborhood school and into a far older, smaller, less well-equipped one so that Mayor Yishai Maimon can make good on the dirty deal he made with the ultra-Orthodox to get their votes by displacing children from needy homes from their school and replacing them with children from the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. That public grade school is the only promise of a better future for the children of the poorest neighborhoods in Tzfat, which I know intimately because I live in the most notorious one of those neighborhoods. Oh, yes. They will go to school, but under cramped and disadvantaged conditions – as the Municipality thinks befits the poor of this town.

Let them know about the rampant nepotism in this town. Tell them it is no new phenomenon that those connected to the politicians in the Municipality get everything while the residents of this town get nothing. It has simply become unconscionable now that it has become clear that the politicians didn't miss a beat to better themselves even while some 600 rockets fell on Tzfat.

Ask your family and friends in your native countries to let everyone know who made donations that they intended for ordinary Israeli citizen under 34 days of siege that some of those donations seem to have been, um, diverted. Ask for investigations into this matter to be carried out by the donors themselves because, as the local Tzfat paper "Chadash B'Galil" says: "A Complaint Has Not Yet Been Lodged at the Police Station Concerning Irregularities in the Disbursement of Donations During the War" (issue 762 (1068) of 18/8/06, page 20). So, it devolves on the people who gave money to investigate where it went.

Let them know that it is not wise to put money and other donations in the hands of politicians. Tell them they must have agents here who see to it that the money and donations gets to where it should.

Let the Municipality know that you've contacted those who care about you in the US. Let them know you are not afraid.

Let them know that they cannot build their political careers and pad their nests by risking out lives!!!

Having made the above suggestions to the residents of Tzfat and the Upper Galilee on our Yahoo! groups, it behooves me to follow my own advice. Consider yourselves likewise informed.

A profoundly sad and betrayed Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Edition No. 1068 of "Chadash B'Galil"

one of our local newspapers is chock-full of reasons not to live in Tzfat (Safed).

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reactions to "Sun Worship Oblisk"

This is too much. Please see the message below on the Tzfat forum and the responses to it. I am dordot2001. See my responses too.

I can't believe anyone is so primitive as to get bent out of shape about a stone monument.

It's not even clear that it is a "sun worship oblisk".

And if it is: It's a cultural and historical curiosity. So WHAT???

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cease Fire?

This war was an horrendous experience, right up to the bitter end. At 6:45 this morning, just 1/4 hour before the cease fire was to go into effect, I smelled a waft of gas.

That happens for one of two reasons. Either one of the jets is slightly open on my stove, or, much more frequently, the gas truck has been sent and they are filling the gas tanks of the building.

I checked the gas jets on my stove. They were closed properly. So, I felt a moment's relief that the gas is just being refilled.

Then the siren went off.

The thought that a rocket might fall anywhere in our vicinity at that moment when the gas truck's hose was fitted into our building's main gas line sent me into another wave of shock/fear.

The only comfort was that I was alone in the house. If the building blew no one else in the family would be harmed.

Nothing happened. There was no barrage that I could hear, see, feel or smell. It was one of those sirens that go of "by mistake" that are at once so relieving and so infuriating because they scare the hell out of you for no reason.

I want this to be over desperately. I hope it is over. I've had as much as my nerves can take, but I know that so long as Hezbullah is not disarmed it's not over.

I hope that we can hunt down the heads of the organization and arrange their 72 virgins for them without another one of our soldiers or civilians being lost.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat (Safed), Israel

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I went out to the grocery store to buy a few items this morning. When I got to the curb I saw army van after army van interspersed with army police cars passing, one after the other. I had to wait quite a while for them all to pass. They were traveling in the direction of the main highway.

At first I was positive about seeing them. I thought that a "big fish" had been caught and that they were on their way to finish a mission.

When I got to the grocery store I asked the owner what the procession was. He saw that there was a note of positivity in my face. He looked at me squarely and said: "Coffins".

I somehow managed to buy what I had to, having gone into a state of shock. I returned home and I told my husband what I had experienced. For the first time since the beginning of the war; I broke down in hysterical tears. My husband came over to me to comfort me.

That picture doesn't leave me. I can't get it out of my mind. I've been sleeping a good part of the day and I had a rather long angina attack. The pain ran into my arm and my jaw even though I am now on medications to stave off a heart attack.

I can stand the danger that I'm in, but I can't stand to think about the boys and men that are dead, wounded and, especially, missing.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Miracles Keep on Happening

The other day there was (yet another) barrage of missiles in our immediate vicinity - by vicinity I mean within a range of 150-200feet.

Two of the rockets fell behind our building into the wadi behind our building. The missiles that fall into the wadis and in the surrounding forresthave caused an ecological disaster. The forestry in Tzfat has been set back 50 years. The fires they set pose a constant threat to the lives of fire fighters who rush from one blaze to another. But that was not the worst of it.

I heard that another missile fell somewhere on the other, front, side of the building complex. I live in the middle building of a three-building complex. One rocket has already fallen in front of one of the building next to mine. It fell in the middle of the road, exploded and caused a car that was parked next to it to explode sympathetically.

This time the rocket fell near the building on the other side of me. It fell near where the gas tanks that supply the building are situated - but it didn't blow up. It just fell.

Had it exploded and the ball bearings packed within it scattered there is every chance that the gas tanks would have blown up along with it and that the fireball would have traveled through the system of gas pipes leading into every apartment in that building. The building would have been gone - and perhaps ours too. The gas tanks in our building would have ignited and exploded in turn, taking the third of the buildings with it. Each of the buildings houses 90 families.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I had been keeping a running record of some of what has been going in in Tzfat during this was on the following thread:

However, the "contributors" to the ICQ forum are so peurile and obnoxious that I can no longer grace that forum with serious writing.

I will, henceforth, keep a blog of what goes down in Tzfat on this blog:

I have a neighbor who lives in the next building over in our building complex.

Whenever a bomb falls too close for comfort she calls me to make sure that nothing happened to my building.

Well, on Shabbat afternoon a bomb dropped right in front of her building. Another in the same barrage fell behind my building.

It's now awhile after the end of Shabbat Shabbat. My husband Dan and I just got back from going to see where it fell. It landed smack dab in the middle of the road that leads off the main highway. If it had been a weekday...

They removed the shell and plugged the huge hole it left, apparently temporarily with what looks like plain dirt, until proper materials are available. It happened, after all, on Shabbat when almost no one is working.

The rocket melted the asphalt upon impact and splatterings of molten asphalt are on the road and elsewhere.

It broke the sides of the concrete sidewalks on both sides of the street.

A car that was parked on the side of the road was ignited sympathetically and exploded. It's totally gutted.

Windows shattered in my friends' building, I am told.

A utility pole not more than 15 feet away was, miraculously, left untouched and intact.

We did not see ball bearings strewn around. Many rockets are packed with ball bearings.

Compared to what could have happened we got away very lucky - again.

It was awful, but miracles abound. Anyone experiences this and does not believe in miracles is wholly unrealistic and in denial.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel