Sunday, August 31, 2003

I can imagine that a lot of people who wander onto this page probably leave in a hurry, disgusted with this Israeli's preoccupation with Israeli issues (How provincial!), and with the fact that she ignores the Palestinian side of things, and that she seems indifferent to the suffering just a few kilometers to her East. Oh, yes, they probably say, it's all very well for her, worrying about sending her kids to nice schools in wealthy Tel Aviv, but what about the Palestinian children? What about their schooling? What about their miserable lives?

The first thing I have to say about that is that I am living my life, not theirs. If I write about their suffering it will mainly be the fruit of my imagination or things I have read. Before the first Intifada and before the wave of terrorist attacks that hit Tel Aviv in the mid-90's I was in regular contact with Palestinians. Not any more and not as a result of anything I did.

The second thing I have to say is that I am well aware that what happens to the Palestinians, how they live, what they learn in school, if they learn in school, and what their lives are like, has a real affect on my life. I know this, I live my life in awareness of this fact. And I worry about it. I worry about it no less than I worry about the lives and schooling of Israeli children from lower socio-economic strata than myself. There is no getting away from the fact that the lives of our two peoples are intertwined.

A lot of people who don't live in this region are very critical about Israel and its policies, although these things have no affect whatsoever on their personal lives. Some of these people are rather ignorant about some of the basic facts of the conflict. This doesn't bother them particularly or stop them from judging harshly.

Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not to blame for the situation ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza strip find themselves in. I know we are all in this together and Israel has certainly made many mistakes and done cruel things. Many things were done (and are still being done), that could be avoided, or maybe done in a more humane fashion. This is regrettable and should be seriously looked into and fixed. But these things are not representative of the whole picture. When seen out of context they look horrific, but this is not all there is to this.

A lot of people are forgetting something that is central to the conflict, or maybe they never knew, and that is that the Palestinians had a wonderful opportunity, a real, sincere opportunity offered to them by Israel, with the backing of the western world, to build a nation and a state alongside Israel. This was a time when the Left in Israel was strong, creative, persuasive. Something wonderful was happening, we were building the future of this land together. Many Right Wing friends of mine decided to vote with me for the Left, so persuaded were so many of us that we were going in a good direction.

And then buses started blowing up. One of the buses that blew up in the mid-90's was a busy Tel Aviv no. 5 bus, on one of the most central lines in the city. Parking and traffic being what they are in the city, I often prefer to get the no. 5 bus to more or less anywhere I want to go in Tel Aviv. There is a stop right across from my apartment, another by my workplace.

That murderous attack completely shattered my feeling of security in the place I live my life.

But do you know what? It didn't change my belief in the Oslo Accords. Not one little bit. It maybe even strengthened it. So did the many murderous attacks that followed. The change didn't come until September 2000.

So what changed?

What changed was that the Palestinians refused an offer of a lifetime and then ATTACKED us! What changed was the shock of the realization that our yearning for peace and coexistence, and our willingness to compromise and share this land, with joint research and development in education, agriculture, technology, with Israelis shopping in Bidya and Palestinians working in Petach Tikva and holidaying in Herzliya, with this land developing towards becoming an economic heaven for both peoples, was not being reciprocated.

The leadership on the other side was just biding its time, we discovered, waiting for more and more concessions. They had never given up their determination to rule the whole of the Land of Israel, although they had said they had. They had promised that they would never again take up arms against us as a way of solving their differences with us. And we had believed them. And then we offered them to end it all, once and for all. A historic finish to the conflic for all time. They weren't interested. They didn't even ask to think about it. It was just NO.

Because instead of using those years to build a nation, a society, a state, the Palestinian leadership, fresh from their privileged exile in Tunisia, had used them to build a culture of hate. They had sowed, not seeds of understanding and coexistence among the young generation of Palestinians in schools, but seeds of hope that it would not be necessary to make compromises with the hated Zionists after all. They had taught them that the day when they would all be back in Haifa and in Jaffa, and that the Jews would be gone, was getting nearer and nearer with every concession made by the weak, spoilt Israelis.

It's easy to judge from the other side of the world, where the chance of your kid getting blown to smithereens in the local mall are still extremely slim, even in these days of planes being flown into tall buildings as part of a sick game of terror (but for how long?). It's easy to decide who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, when it doesn't touch you, when it makes no difference to your life, when you don't really know all the facts and don't really care to know them.

I don't know how we can resolve this conflict anymore. I thought I knew. This knowledge was such a deep belief for me that it shaped and defined most of my adult life. It was who I was.

It turned out I was a naive, trusting fool. Now, it seems, this conflict can only be solved if my people and I cease to exist. Well, I have no intention of doing anything that would further that end. My only alternative is to be strong, refrain from spending too much time worrying about the situation and just live my life.

So forgive me for not agonizing about the Palestinians all day, every day. I am sorry for them. They have terrible leaders who have been holding them down and leading them astray, and they have no way of getting rid of them. I can't change that. I have my say every four years, sometimes more often than that. I'm sorry the Palestinians don't have the same privilege. On second thoughts, maybe I'm not. They probably wouldn't elect anyone who would want to make peace with us.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Excitement
School bags have been packed. Suitable attire for making the right first impression has been chosen. Both girls start new schools tomorrow. Eldest starts Middle School and Youngest starts Budding Matilda (a.k.a Little Monsters) school. Both got to meet teachers and new classes last week, which slightly lowers the hysteria levels, but we'll still have to see how they get to sleep tonight.

Youngest will now have to get a bus to school. I don't find this particularly amusing, do you? Nor this. Pig. (Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, it just sort of slipped out). Via A Small Victory. Actually, Youngest will be getting a special bus chartered by Tel Aviv municipality and I'm worried about road safety and about how they'll be getting on and off the bus, not about a Palestinian getting on wearing a bomb belt, but the association was automatic.

More on the Ehud and Nava split up over at Allison's, including comments by some Imshin person.

Is it just me or is the e-mail virus situation getting completely out of hand?

Evil Empires
I've started reading Mona Charen's "Useful Idiots". It's slow going, as usual, because I am simultaneously reading an interesting book in Hebrew called "Inquiring of God" by Yair Caspi, which I will probably tell you about sometime. In chapter two, in the section named "The press takes sides", Charen describes the way the American press covered, or should I say "covered", the Vietnam war. It all sounds so very familiar. Reporters with preconceived ideas of what they are about to see, twisting the facts to fit, and inventing American atrocities and brutality where there were none (or far less than insinuated), thus according to Charen. If I didn't see it happening daily with regard to the Palestinian Terror War, I would have found it a bit farfetched, but the similarities are unmistakable. The scary thing is that what the press said back then is still accepted, the world over, as the truth of what happened in Vietnam.

Does this mean our side of things will never be accepted? Does this mean we Israelis are doomed to play the villains for eternity? The North Vietnamese regime, after all, committed untold atrocities when they took over South Vietnam, but no one ever speaks of that. It was the Americans who were, and still are, the accepted baddies of that story.

A few years ago, I was witness to a meeting between a Vietnamese refugee who had just been granted asylum in the West and a group of Vietnamese who had been living in the West for many years. She spoke very emotionally, mainly in French and in Vietnamese, but also, shortly, in English. She told of a life of terrible hardship that she had endured in Vietnam, and which her fellow countrymen and women continue to endure. The dogs in the West, she said in amazement, were better treated than people in Vietnam.

Should the Palestinians become sole masters of this land, God forbid, we Jews will probably have to endure a fate far worse than that of the South Vietnamese. Should that happen, will we again become, in the eyes of the world, the underdog (and at what terrible price)? Judging by the Vietnamese experience, Israel will remain the villain, regardless, and the facts will be buried. If you tell a lie often enough, as Bish reminded me last night, it becomes the truth.

Last night I watched an interesting film, albeit rather superficial, on National Geographic TV, about the Roman Empire. Although it had nothing to do with the subject of the film, its makers could not help sticking in, ad nauseam, the comparison of the Roman Empire to the so-called present day "American Empire", even going so far as to repeatedly interview a group of anserine American history teachers on a visit to Rome, about the supposedly marked similarities. Funnily enough, they were the only people to talk on the film who were not academic experts on the subject they were discussing. Why was that? Why should the views of a group of unnamed teachers, prophesying the imminent doom of the Wicked "American Empire", be brought alongside learned explanations about Roman road-building skills and the Roman postal system? In the words of the immortal Josh Baskin, I don't get it.

I take comfort in the fact that, according to the film, the Roman Empire lasted for a thousand years. If I can make my own humble comparison, the so-called "American Empire" is just taking its first steps. With any luck, we'll all be long dead and so will all our descendants, before the fall of the so-called "American Empire".

One of the silly history teachers said something on the lines of "America is very nice unless you don't accept its values". What comes to mind, in response to that, is the persecution and vilification my brother-in-law's parents and their family had to endure when they had the gall to express an interest in leaving Rumania for Israel during the nineteen sixties. Apparently the sixties weren't very groovy on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. And that was just if you wanted to leave. If you had a different political view and tried to express it publicly, they gunned you down, if you were lucky. If you weren't, they tortured you first. But hey, it's definitely the Americans who are the villains. No doubt about it.

Okay I'm done lecturing. Time for my yoga.

Friday, August 29, 2003

This unfortunate woman worked as a cleaner in the dorms of a British University. I am quite amazed that they supplied these spoilt, hypocritical ingrates with free cleaning services (as well as free everything else?), but apparently it wasn't out of any sincere care for their well-being but more to make sure they didn't totally wreck their rooms, so they could be used for conferences during the summer (or something like that).

Certainty
Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we write the question "Are you sure?" on a piece of paper and stick it up on the wall where we can see it. I did this. For ages I had this annoying little piece of paper sellotaped onto my computer screen at work. Every so often I would find myself in the middle of a heated discussion about some topic or other. I would be propagating my views with great self-assurance. I am regarded as something of an elder of the tribe at work. There's only one person who's been in my department longer. Everyone else has moved on. I've stayed put, too lazy or too unambitious to look for something else. So people, rather superstitiously, seemed to think that if I'd been there so long, maybe I knew a thing or two; maybe I had something of value to say. Thus I often managed to persuade my listeners that I was right.

At some point during the debate, I would suddenly notice the little piece of paper, and stop mid-sentence. "Am I sure?" Of course, I'm not sure. Can anyone ever be sure?

We bloggers are an arrogant lot.

Are we sure? No, but it's such fun pretending we are.

This e-mail has been making the rounds. DJ suggested I post it. I hope he/she will forgive me for shortening it slightly:


On Tuesday evening, August 19, 2003 a bus was packed with families and their young children, who were returning home from the Kotel. A Palestinian suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew stepped onto the bus and detonated a massive bomb. Words cannot express how tragic the results were. Twenty innocent people were killed and over 110 injured in the barbaric attack, which is now known as "the children's attack".

The Israeli government does not know how to respond. People are already forgetting. Some people are happy that our children have been severed from their heritage.

We will not forget and we will do our best to make sure the world cannot sweep this bloodbath out of view. On a Tuesday evening, September 16, 2003 we will respond. Any of us who can will go to the Kotel. We will strengthen our connection to our heritage and we will humble ourselves and pray. Go for Lilach Kardi, 22, of Jerusalem who was in her ninth month of pregnancy. Go for her unborn child, who will never be able to. Go for Menachem Leibel, 24, of Jerusalem who visited the Western Wall daily. Go for the baby Shmuel Zargari, of Jerusalem. Go for Chava Rechnitzer, of Bnei Brak, a new bride who will never have a child to take to the Kotel. Go for all the children who died and are in hospital.

Go. Remember and help others remember. Go and pray. Go for the victims who cannot. Go and say Tehillim for the victims and their families...


Sorry to go on and on about this, but
I'm still rather dumbfounded about why the teachers backed out of the strike so early. I reckoned they would make us suffer until Sunday morning (first day of school), at least. Ben Shabbat, the previous chairman of the teachers' organization, would have, he was the master menace of all times. Maybe that's why he's now awaiting trial for fraud and bribery, having bought a university degree for money without studying (And that's maybe why it felt like Hannukah to most parents when he was arrested. Oh, it was Hannukah?). Maybe Yossi Wasserman, the new guy, does actually have a conscience. What a refreshing change. There's hope yet. After all, Bish is a politician too, and he's nice. Well, he doesn't actually wield as much power as the head of the biggest teachers organization in the country.

This new blog looks good. Via Meryl Yourish. What's spathic? Sounds like someone with a lithp. I've found the word Spathe with the definition: "A conspicuous bract surrounding or subtending a spadix or other inflorescence."

Huh?

You see this is why I'm provincial. Targeted killings all over the place, Kassam rockets on Ashkelon, Ehud and Nava splitting up (Bish is still in shock) and what am I interested in? The teachers' strike that wasn't.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Imshin making things worse by trying to explain
Okay, so I was rather over the line when attacking Israeli teachers yesterday. I tend to see red when teacher-striking time comes around. At this point in time I couldn’t care less how justified their demands are, I'm so fed up. Since Eldest started state kindergarten nine years ago we have been repeatedly tortured by the teachers at every opportunity. They threaten to strike every few months and they actually strike once or twice a year. My situation is such that now its far less difficult for me to get organized than when the girls were smaller, but these strikes continue to infuriate me.

The Shaister has some good things to say in reaction to what I had to say, and I actually quite agree with most of it. So I apologize to all those teachers, used to be teachers, married to teachers and want to be teachers (??!) out there who took offense (those of you who didn't send me hate-mail, anyway). Yes, Shai, I do think you could say we're the kind of parents and kids that teachers like. We respect the authority of the school and the teachers and do not think we know how to do it better; we do not ring up to complain every night; we do not threaten with lawsuits (We had such a mother in Eldest's class at one point, believe it or not); and we contribute quite a lot to class and school projects, without trying to take over and run things. This is maybe one of the reasons I feel hurt every year, or should I say three or four times a year, when the Teacher Association flippantly takes advantage of its power.

I believe that people being able to strike is not just a right. It also gives them a responsibility. That responsibility is to be aware of the price other people have to pay for their striking and take into account. Mothers not fortunate enough to be teachers could lose their jobs as a result. Other mothers could (and do) find it harder and harder to get jobs at all. Yes, teachers have it tough. I'm not being cynical, I couldn't be a teacher. But at least they have jobs, good, steady ones. A lot of people can't say that these days. The pay may not be great, but a lot of people work far harder and get paid less. And they wouldn't dare behave like the teachers, because they know they'd find themselves out on the street. Maybe the teachers should be a bit more grateful for what they do have.

It just so happens that this time around it really was a case of the little boy crying wolf. The strike is off. The teachers now reckon they have a case for the High Court of Appeals with regard to the pay cut that some of them are facing. They apparently couldn't check this out before they started threatening and needlessly worrying parents. It has become such automatic behavior for them, it seems first they threaten with a strike and then they check the facts. Very educational. Or is it "Do as I say, not as I do"?

Maybe they're just weaseling out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

More Islamist terrorism, this time in India. Too terrible. There is talk of this lot being connected to Hamas and Al Qaeda. Funny, I thought Palestinian terrorism, being justified, was unrelated to other terrorism.

I see our security forces are trying to down as many terrorists as possible. They're going to "retaliate" by killing children and babies anyway, so at least let's get rid of as many as possible right now. If we wait for the PA to do it, we'll have a long wait. I'm sorry that an innocent man died, and a donkey too.

Ehud and Nava Barak have separated. Bish took it badly. You'll remember he is Barak's sole remaining fan. Now we have only to speculate, after 34 years of being the good supportive wife of an absent soldier and later politician, bringing up the girls on her own (well, I wouldn't stand for it), did Nava realize that she didn't really like him all that much once she was lumped at home with him all the time? Or is it quite the opposite? He is making sounds of staging a comeback – you know the score, he's lost weight, he's suddenly got an opinion on every subject under the sun, and he's being interviewed all the time, he's started talking about being a reserve soldier and that he'll come back if he's needed. We went through all this a year and a half ago with Bibi Netanyahu. This is a bit like a summer rerun. But no one would be devastated if Bibi dropped Sarah. No one can stand her. Nava is another matter. Which brings me back to supposition no. 2. How does this sound? Having tasted the good life (A husband at home and a normal family life, something hitherto unknown to the long-suffering Nava), she has at long last put her foot down. "It's me or politics, choose, one or the other." Barak, never the sentimental one shows Nava the door. Typical.

Or maybe she's met someone better looking. Or maybe he has.

Enough gossiping. Bish rather sees him as a role model. I hope he doesn't get any ideas.

I'm so busy doing nothing. I love it. I'm far too busy too blog. I hope my two and a half weeks off work last forever. Well, maybe not. I suppose I'll get bored eventually. Meantime, I'm having fun. So are the girls. Ima doesn't come home tired and grouchy and she has energy to do all fun things. And lets them do fun things without getting (as) annoyed about the mess.

As usual the teachers are threatening to strike and not start teaching on Sunday. They are, of course, exhausted following a harrowing two months at home with their kids (The rest of us have to spend a fortune on childcare during this time and/or use up valuable vacation days. We don’t get four months of vacations a year, and a paid sabbatical (every seven years, is it?) like the teachers, what can you do?). Those of you who have been reading Not a Fish for a while will know that the strike threat is regular and happens every year (at least). It's outrageous, of course, but the teachers don't seem to realize that it backfires, because it serves to further increase, if this is possible, the lack of respect the teachers skillfully manage to elicit in both parents and students. These days they are so despised by all, that the Education Ministry is trying desperate measures this year in an attempt to regain some of the respect that the teachers are obviously not capable of evoking by themselves. We’re told that students will be required to stand when teachers enter the classroom, for instance, something we used to do back in my day, but which was dropped apparently somewhere along the line (except in religious schools). The current situation makes this no more than a sad joke.

Both my girls are starting new schools this year. Eldest met her new class and class teacher this week. She seems quite happy. Today Youngest met hers. Youngest seems to have a wonderful teacher (I haven't met Eldest’s yet). The thing is that there are some great teachers out there, but they tend to get lost in a sea of mediocrity. It's mainly luck if your kids get to be taught by them. Increasing Youngest's chances of getting decent teachers is one of the reasons we are moving her to the special class she has been accepted into. The worst are the old teachers who should retire but whom they can't get rid of because they have tenure. So they give them some old subject to teach and hope they don't do too much damage. This creates crazy situations such as aging computer teachers pathetically trying to teach children who know far more than them.

And now they expect students to stand in honor of such teachers? And I can guess that these will be the teachers who will enforce this most strictly, naturally.

Starting new schools means that both girls are quite excited, and postponing the first day is rather unfair. It is especially cruel for the little ones just starting school this year for the first time, like Allison’s son.

Monday, August 25, 2003

I have been asked about my wall references. In yesterday's post about Jerusalem I was referring to the Western Wall, the remains of what used to be part of the outer wall of the Second Temple. In Hebrew the Western Wall is called the Kotel, literally "the wall", short for "HaKotel HaMa'arvi" - the Western Wall. Calling it the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall, or whatever just seems too awkward and unnatural. When you say "the Kotel", everyone knows what you are talking about, mainly because kotel is a sort of posh word for a wall. In everyday Hebrew a wall is called "keer".

In a previous post (from Wednesday, sorry archives are screwy again) I was talking about building the wall. That time I was referring to the Security Fence. Sorry about the mix up.

New blog by Tal. ISM Central

Sunday, August 24, 2003

We did walk through the market in the old city after all. We even bought things there. We didn't eat at Abu Shukri's, though (thank you, Lynn, for the reminder). We also strolled through the alleys of the Jewish quarter at night, ending up at the Wall. The wall, what energy it has. I always cry at the wall. I knew the best time to go to the wall was at night, especially in the summer. I was there at night once, when I was a kid, with a scouts' trip. It was winter and it started raining. All the women who were there praying scuttled into that little room on the right. I wasn't bothered by the rain and was delighted to have the place to myself, a rare treat indeed. Yes, nighttime is definitely the time to go to the wall.

Later, when we had met up with Bish again (men and women have to split up when you go up close), we looked up to the sky and Bish pointed out Mars. The open area in front of the Wall is brightly lit at night and you can't see any stars in the sky. But Mars could clearly be seen shining brightly in the sky above us. Bish explained that the planet is extraordinarily close to Earth at the moment and that was why it was shining so brightly and was visible even through the bright spotlights*.

We were amazed that the hotel was full to bursting point with families. We could hardly get a table for breakfast on the first morning. The tourist spots were nearly empty though. I expected to queue at the Israel Museum on a Friday morning, but there was hardly anyone there. It was a pleasure. And we got a 50% reduction on all tickets to museums and other places you have to pay to get in because we were staying in a Jerusalem hotel. This was a special offer to attract people to Jerusalem this summer. Judging by the amount of guests in the hotel, it had worked. Maybe they weren’t rushing out to see the sites though, seeing it was just two days after the terrorist attack.

Another good idea (yours truly excelled herself in the planning and execution) – Haas Promenade, Armon HaNatziv at sunset. Beautiful.

At no point in our trip did we feel in any way uncomfortable or uneasy. It broke a barrier both Bish and I have, as diehard Tel Avivi's, with regard to Jerusalem. We’ll be back!

*Today, back in Tel Aviv, Youngest and I went to the Planetarium in the Eretz Yisrael Museum, where we heard an explanation about the universe, including our solar system, and Youngest could see pictures of Mars close up.

E-mail I received from one Avi Flax:


Below is a letter I sent today to the San Francisco Chronicle at
letters@sfchronicle.com.

Editor:

I am writing to protest a piece that appeared on sfgate.com today entitled
"Israel has a long history of attempts to kill leaders of violent groups":

This "article", by an unnamed AP writer, presents out of context only one
side of a very two-sided situation. It also cites numbers from unspecified
"Palestinian medical officials," and it categorizes anyone killed while
resisting arrest as assassinated. No attempt is made to allow Israeli
rebuttal of these Palestinian claims, which are presented as accepted fact.

In the name of honesty, please print a retraction of this "article" and
insist that the AP restore some level of responsibility and balance to
their writing and to journalism as a whole.

Avi Flax


Thursday, August 21, 2003

Off to Jerusalem for the weekend. See ya. (Our weekend ends on Saturday so I'll probably be blogging again by Satrurday night, Sunday at the latest).

A thought: Maybe, if all the other guests have flown the nest, we'll be able to bargain for better rooms.

Little Shmuel Zargari, just eleven months old, was buried in Jerusalem yesterday. None of the members of his nucleus family attended the funeral, although he had a mother and a father and five brothers and sisters. But they were all wounded on the bus, some badly, and were in hospital while he was being laid to rest. They're still there. All except one brother, who was released yesterday.

It's not easy to see the pictures of the funerals of tiny babies. In Israel, Jews are not buried in coffins. They are wrapped in shrouds and covered with prayer shawls. Their bodies are trundled along to the burial sites on trolleys, with the mourners following. The bodies of babies and children make very small bundles on the trolleys.

The front page of Yediot Aharonot today has the photo of a tiny, bandaged baby, her face covered with horrible sores, lying on a hospital bed, surrounded by white plastic tubes. She seems to be sleeping peacefully. Maybe she is heavily sedated, poor little mite. She is five-month-old Shoshana Natanzon. Her sister, Tehila, just three-years-old, was among those murdered. There is a picture of her as well, ever so cute, smiling from under a straw hat that is too big for her. There's nothing like a photo of a cute, smiling kid, is there? We are programmed to react to such a photo with compassion. That's just the way we are made. It is difficult to grasp that the sweet little child, smiling up at you from the page, died a horrible, bloody death just a day and a half ago.

The picture of the American baby, Shmuel Taubenfeld, three months old, killed along with his mother, has the same effect. What a lovely little mischievous smile. You can't help smiling back.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I admit I'm jealous to see a relatively fresh Israeli blogger that has so much to say. I'm all out of words. I don't have an opinion about what should be done. Read Gil too. A caring person, who doesn't have a stake in all of this, says to me "Build the wall". But the wall that is really going up, big and strong, is the one in our hearts. Do you remember when that guy what's-his-name Van Kremschnitt something-or-other told us to build a wall so high that even the birds couldn't fly over? So up it goes.

Today I took the train to Netanya and back with the girls. Youngest had never taken a train. It was fun. In the middle we had lunch with Dad. It was like taking a train abroad. Clean, efficient, comfortable. Last time I took a train in Israel it was an old noisy, smelly affair from the British Mandate. It was desperately slow, the seats were uncomfortable, there was no air-conditioning, it rattled and the bathroom was a disgrace. Ah, but the view from the window. It rattled its way up to Jerusalem through breathtaking mountains and woods. It ended its trip in the picturesque little Jerusalem train station, dating back to I don't know when. The train doesn't go up to Jerusalem anymore, but the double-decker suburb train that serves commuters to Tel Aviv is quite impressive. Youngsters can complain all they like. Those of us who remember what train travel in Israel used to be, can only enjoy the experience.

Thus the wall. I will have a nice summer vacation with my girls. I will sit and watch the terrible pictures, all of them, right till the end. I won't look away. And then I will go to the beach, I will go out to buy the girls new sneakers, I will put Gaia on the CD and dance around the salon with Youngest.

And today
The UK Guardian, uncharacteristically, manages to be quite sympathetic-ish in its report about the attack. It actually blames the Palestinian suicide bomber for shattering the peace process (what peace process? It was never more than a shaky, volatile three-month cease-fire) and not the infantile victims. I disliked the emphasis it made on the fact that the bus was full of orthodox Jews (this was mentioned three times, in case anyone should miss it), as if it made any difference.

The inevitable question, as always, is how a grown man climbs on to a bus full of small children and babies and blows himself up in their midst. This is quite an easy one, actually. Because if he doesn't see them as human beings worthy of life in the first place, and has such lack of respect for his own life that he sees death as an exalted goal, we can't really judge him with the same values as we would ourselves, can we?

For us the murderous attack immediately raised an uneasy question. On Thursday, Bish, the girls and I are going up to Jerusalem to spend the weekend there at a hotel. Years of troubles have created a situation whereby the girls no longer remember Jerusalem. We just never go. I decided that we have to go. It's high time, regardless. We have to give them the opportunity to experience the magic of this place, drink in the smell, touch the stones of the Kotel. They have to know Jerusalem, although ours will be a watered down version. We'll stay mainly in the west of the city. We won't sit on Ben Yehuda Street or in Nahalat Shiva. They certainly won't get to experience my favorite in my youth – the old city (not the Jewish quarter). When I was a teenager we used to roam the alleys of the old city freely, eating hummous in Abu-something-or-other's (forgot the name), buying Rahat Lokoum (Turkish Delight) and Armenian bells.

Bish was the first to voice our unease. Let's not go, he said, while we were watching the pictures of children and babies being evacuated to ambulances. He's not crazy about the idea anyway.

As of today, we're still going. Tomorrow is a long way away. Who knows?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

There are first reports of a blast on a bus in Jerusalem. It sounds like a big one. They're already talking about fatalities.

Update 21:35: First pictures. The bus, coming from the Western Wall, was full of kids. It was one of those big double buses and it was full.

Update 22:20: At least 18 murdered, over 100 injured, 13 of them critically. Many of the murdered were small children it seems.

Never look back.
The trip to Haifa with the girls was fun, but a bit weird for me. I thought I'd find it difficult to find my way round, but it was as if I'd never left. I didn't have a map and I was sure I'd get lost. But the car just seemed to take me to wherever I wanted to go. Everything looked strangely familiar, like it had all appeared in some vivid dream I once had, the kind you never forget. At the same time, it all felt like I was seeing it for the first time. I left Haifa twenty years ago. I never lived there as an adult.

The weirdest was the drive down Carmeliya, my old neighborhood. I haven't really been there since I was nineteen. R.T. had an apartment there about twelve years ago for a while, so I passed through a few times. Did I really live here? Didn't this street used to be one-way? Is that the supermarket? Was it always that teeny? Oh, look they built a roundabout. What's that horrible monstrosity they built on the empty plot where I used to pick Sabres fruits?

Our old apartment building, once the most impressive on our street, looked shabby and ugly, desperately in need of a renovation.

The truth is I didn't go back to the old neighborhood. The old neighborhood doesn't exist. But looking at it as a visiting stranger, I think it could have been a nice place for some kid to grow up in, back in the seventies. And it was, actually. Half of the buildings that now sport peeling yellowing plaster were not there back then. There were just empty lots, each with its very own private pine tree wood, perfect for climbing, building tree-houses, and learning about Mount Carmel's natural flora.

It's strange for me to think that people I used to know are still living there, in the same apartments. I wonder if they realize how much their surroundings have changed. Or maybe they haven't. Maybe it’s me that has changed. I've moved on and I've been too busy to look back. And maybe I've been happy enough with my life to not need to wallow in nostalgia.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Shark Blog is the very deserving Site of the Week on Israpundit. Stefan says really nice things about me there among other things, for some strange reason. Isn't that sweet?

And I'm on vacation from work as of today, till 3rd September. I've got lots of exciting activities planned for the girls and Bish, when he can get off. For instance, today the girls and I spent two hours and a quarter in the Consular Section of the British Embassy, (but then they went off for a real fun day with Our Sis). I am proud to announce that Misrad Hapnim, the Israeli Interior Ministry, at least the very busy North Tel Aviv branch near me, is way way more efficient, as far as serving the public is concerned, than the British Consular Section in Tel Aviv, although the clerk in the British Embassy is really lovely, helpful, and patient (but why on her own on a busy morning?).

Tomorrow the girls and I are off to Haifa as tourists. We'll see the sites, including the house I grew up in. I'm not sure they're interested in that particular tourist attraction, but they'll see it anyway. I haven't been in my old neighborhood for over ten years. I'm curious to see how small it got.

Oh, and top of the news here, in case you were wondering, is the latest Arik Sharon corruption affair (yawn).

Sunday, August 17, 2003

The most interesting bit of news round here lately: Israeli fighter planes flew low over Assad's summer palace in Syria last week. He must have gotten the subtle hint because Hizbullah seems to have cooled it on the northern border. I wonder why Yediot Aharonot print version saw fit to bury the item on page 18.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I thought in Britain it was GREY and in the U.S.A. it was GRAY. Was I wrong? (Sorry about changing the subject).

BTW: There was something I wanted to say about kvelling too, but I was sidetracked by a film on TV and now it's late. Another time.

Tempting
Go see Laurence's tipjar. This man is seriously unhinged.

Not fair
Lynn B. sent me over to The Death Clock and I thought I was sure to be told I would live forever, especially now my diet has been such a success and I'm skinny and gorgeous and planning to write a book about my revolutionary dieting method and make millions. Alas, they wanted my weight in lbs. and my height in inches and feet. Sorry, no can do. These are foreign concepts for me. Hey, wait a minute...think think... can't fill in the form...think think...maybe that means I will live forever, after all. Yippee!

Don't be downcast, if you are brighter than me, you can do the conversion (that is if you don't usually deal with strange things like lbs and the likes) and find out how long you've got, statistically speaking, you lowly mortal you!

Update (I thunk thunk again. Us skinny and gorgeous gals have to think much more just to stay in the same place): Pity Idi Amin died so soon (see below), I could have tried out my diet on him. I'm calling it The Eat Less Diet. Whatever you do, don't try John's diet. Mine is far superior.

I see Idi Amin Dada, ex-tyrant of Uganda, went to meet his maker while we were in Mitzpe Ramon this weekend. You'll remember we also had an axe to grind with him, here in Israel. He lived to the ripe old age of 80, and died comfortably in a Saudi hospital, unlike hundreds of thousands of his countrymen whom he slaughtered, many by reportedly feeding them to the crocodiles (Hebrew link), and unlike our own seventy-three-year-old Dora Bloch who was dragged from her hospital bed in Entebbe, and brutally murdered, following Operation Entebbe. Charming man.

Electricity
To readers from any of the cities that were blacked out (if I have any, and in the hope that you are back with electricity and are able to read this), I hope you and your families are all safe and well. I'm sorry you had to endure such an experience.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Something I've noticed lately.
I keep seeing English speaking kids with American accents accompanied by what looks like Israeli grandparents. They're everywhere, at the beach, in stores, in the apartment across the way. Seeing them shopping in stores amazes me most. They are buying clothes, specs, and whatnot in Israel because…? It can't be cheaper, surely. Could it possibly be perceived as cooler? I find this difficult to fathom. Last week at the beach when we were in the sea jumping over the breaking waves, Youngest, affectionately known as "The Fog Horn" was screaming at the top of her voice with every approaching wave. I was trying to get her to stop this to no avail. My ears weren't enjoying the sensation. A little girl near us, one of the aforementioned American grandchildren, hitherto quietly behaving herself, noticed this and, obviously thinking this was the way to go about things in this part of the world (not far from the truth actually), commenced screaming as well, while looking at Youngest with those trusting "lets be friends" eyes kids have (and adults don't). Youngest completely ignored her. Of course she did, she was too busy deafening her long-suffering mother.

I wonder why I never noticed this summer influx of descendants of ex-Israelis-gone-to-seek-their-fortune-overseas before. Maybe they haven't been for a while because of the Terror War and now that they're daring to return they're all the more noticeable.

I made Hillel's Beit Cafe. Cool.

Something that should be understood
Part of a very interesting debate on Tal's blog, includes Tal's remark "It's a bit surreal that we're discussing it in terms of "who started it?". ie. since attacks on civilians are supposed to be crimes against humanity etc."
And again (and again and again):
Killing civilians, indiscriminately, en masse, cannot ever be regarded as an appropriate or acceptable response to the killing of a soldier, freedom fighter, warrior, terrorist (call him or her what you will) nor innocents who were regrettably killed by mistake, or even by lack of caution or negligence, as a result of their physical proximity to this person (an occurrence that far greater steps should be made to avoid). Until this is understood, deeply understood, really understand (with no "Yes, but..."s) by Palestinians and their supporters in the West, no peace is possible in this country.

Why do we have to repeat this again and again? Shouldn't it go without saying?

Life's funny like that
Here's me bitching about my lack of air-conditioning (fixed), which actually wasn't so bad, because my apartment is quite breezy even on the hottest day, and here comes that big power cut in the US to show, once again, that there is always someone worse off than me. Another thing it made me appreciate is that I live and work, and my girls go to school, in the same area. So should anything happen, I'm nearly always in walking (or running) distance of all members of my immediate family (siblings and parent not included, sadly). This is one reason I prefer living in the central part of Tel Aviv proper, and not in one of the quieter, cleaner suburbs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

It's effing hot. My brain is effing addled. Otherwise I wouldn't dream of using such language. Or linking to this. Don't look at me like that, Bish found it (here).

Today was Tu B'Av, the Jewish day of lovers. White clad maidens no longer run around among the vines these days, it's far too hot anyway, but there were plenty of nice shmaltzy love songs on the radio all day. ABBA did very well. So did The Carpenters. And Youngest stuck yellow Post-Its all over the apartment with "Love Day" messages.

Airconditioner on the blink
Am in no condition to blog. Am in no condition to do anything.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Well I'm back from running after Youngest's bicycle. She's learning to ride. I'm getting some exercise. Of course, in Israel everyone you meet while doing this has suggestions about the better way to teach your kid to ride a bike. They're not really interested to know this is the third child you are teaching and you do actually know what you're doing (I taught Eldest and Eldest's friend, much to Eldest's friend's mother's relief). The only problem is I always seem to do this in the summer, meaning it is hot and humid.

Hudna log – final entry
Two suicide attacks this morning, one in Rosh Ha'ayin and one in Ariel. Two murdered and about 13 - 15 wounded. That's it as far as I'm concerned. The false ceasefire farce is over. Israeli security forces were thwarting attacks all along and had a lot of information about planned attacks. Also a lot of attacks were taking place, they just didn't manage to injure or kill very many, so it was convenient to ignore.

Update: Tal discusses and explains correctly that the Hudna farce will continue and we will be blamed for all, as usual.

Hebrew speaking Ear??! Honestly! Why do I write these strange things?

Monday, August 11, 2003

Actually, he wasn't yet 16. His birthday would have been in a fortnight's time. He looks even younger than 15 in the photo. The anti-aircraft missiles were not aimed at any aircrafts, because none were in the air when the attack took place. Even the Guardian reluctantly mentions this, in their usual style of hinting that they don't believe anything the Israelis say. The Guardian doesn't bother to point out that the Hizbullah also sometimes aims at civilian aircrafts on the Israeli side of the border. They couldn't do that. It would make Israel look like it was in the right. This way they can make it look, as usual, like it was Israel's fault that a kid in a not very affluent border town (to put it mildly) got killed while busy working at his summer job.

In today's Yediot Aharonot (print), Sever Plotzker (I just love that name, it's so wonderfully weird, even to a Hebrew speaking ear) points to Hizbullah's irrelevance since Israel got out of Southern Lebanon. He says that they have lost not only their reason for being (getting Israel out of South Lebanon) but also their advantage as guerilla fighters. They have grown in size (by enlisting large numbers of unemployed youths [and by acquiring large amounts of ammunition with the help of their patrons from among Arab sovereign states]) and thus have become more vulnerable to attack. He says they often organize Nazi-style parades in South Lebanon towns and villages, these days. When they were fighting Israel, he points out, they didn't parade. Now, although they try to sell themselves as supporting and aiding the Palestinian national struggle, in effect all they have to offer their followers is a Humeini style Islamic revolution. This isn't very popular in the Arab world these days, he says, and in Iran it is downright unpopular.

Maybe it's time to hold their Syrian patrons accountable, before they kill more children.

Gil has more on this issue. [I would also like to point out (re Gil) that working on your tan can give you skin cancer and make you age prematurely. Sorry. Couldn't help it. I know it's none of my business]

Saturday, August 09, 2003

If I wrote long posts discussing that Hustler guy running for governor of California against The Kindergarten Cop, would that make me less provincial, do you think?

Mediterranean/city stuff
One of the reasons I haven't been writing much lately is, believe it or not, the lack of a computer chair. You see Youngest's computer chair broke and she borrowed mine. When I took it back, it was also broken. I don't know what she does with them, jumps up and down on them or something. I like to sit high on a computer chair or typing is uncomfortable for me, so I find an ordinary kitchen chair too low. At the moment I am perched on two cushions on the chair usually used by the piano teacher. I am not very comfortable at all.

Another reason is that we have been enjoying the summer.

Thursday we had an interesting time at the "Metzitzim" beach I told you about (I'll link as soon as I can get the archives working. Grrrr). After a while there we noticed that the police boat we could see over by the windbreaker wasn't going anywhere and then we noticed that there were a few policemen on the beach questioning a young lady in a bikini. When it grew dark, we went to have supper in the restaurant on the beach, which is nice because you sit with your feet in the warm sand on low chairs. Then we noticed two helicopters in the sky lighting up the sea with strong projectors, certainly not a regular occurrence. They looked as if they were searching for something in the water. We wondered if this was terror related and should we get the hell out of there, but everyone else seemed quite happy. A large group was congregating in one corner of the beach among dozens of Chinese lanterns that someone had lovingly prepared, and the restaurant chairs and tables around us in the sand were all occupied. Families were enjoying a last evening dip in the sea before heading home. Surely if there was some sort of danger for us we would have been evacuated.

Later, around midnight, Bish noticed an update on the Internet about a man that had gone missing in the sea in the morning, and this was obviously who they were looking for. Apparently there had been divers searching for him in the water too, but we couldn't see that from the shore, of course.

Tel Aviv is very much a coastal town. I may choose to ignore this most of the time, but sometimes the pull of the Mediterranean proves too strong and I have no choice but to succumb. I love the sea (although I am Not a Fish) and it has always played an important part in my life. However, I used to think the Tel Aviv beach area was sordid and nasty and I was annoyed that the seafront, the soul of the city as I saw it, was allowed to reach such a state. I sadly avoided it for years. Of late the municipality has been trying to make amends.

And I have come to the recognition that beauty is not always pretty. (My thanks to Oriah Mountain Dreamer for turning that sentiment into words so beautifully).

Early yesterday evening, we found ourselves in the old Yaffo (Jaffa) port, walking along the front, enjoying the sight of the ramshackle fishing boats. Being Friday night, neither the Arab nor the Jewish fisherman were working, but the fishy smell lingered on the stacks of fishing nets piled up here and there. The fish restaurants were just beginning to prepare the evening meals. I told the girls stories about how life used to be in Yaffo in the olden days and tried to give them an idea of what the little port used to be like when it served as the main entrance point to the country for those coming from overseas, be they merchants, crusaders or other conquerors; Christian pilgrims, nineteenth century British or American tourists or East European Jewish pioneers.

We sat on the rocks of the windbreaker on the far side of the quay and watched the red sun sinking slowly into the sea. Two men in the water below us were catching waves onto a rock. Looked dangerous to me, the waves were so fierce, but Bish said he used to do it all the time as a kid in Bat-Yam, just to the south of Yaffo.

Not being fish eaters, we didn't stop at any of the fish restaurants in the port. They tend to be touristy and expensive anyway. Instead we walked north along the seafront promenade until we reached the row of restaurants just south of the meeting point between Tel Aviv and Yaffo. We ate at Tarrabin restaurant. You may remember there was a terrorist attack there last month and a young guy was killed (Hebrew link with photos from Tel Aviv police site). Last night there were no signs of what had happened and there were quite a few people eating there, besides us. You couldn't miss the security guard, though. He looked ex-K.G.B., what we call a fridge (big and solid). If I remember correctly, the security guard wasn't very effective during the attack. They are obviously trying to make amends now. The fridge didn't detract from the laid back atmosphere at all. The lighting was low and we sat on low sofas around low wooden tables. Every table had a nargila (hookah) on it. It seemed so strange to imagine someone trying to kill people in a place like that. So out of character. Maybe the dim lighting was why he chose it over the adjacent places, which were more brightly lighted, especially the one to the south, which was very trendy.

The memory of the recent past didn't seem to bother anyone though. I wonder if anyone even thought about it. It was still quite early and the tables were full of parents with small children. We soon forgot about it too. This is as it should be, as Mary Poppins would say.

Tonight will also find us at a birthday celebration in a restaurant on the cliff overlooking the sea in the south of Jaffa.

It's the pull of the Mediterranean. There is no point trying to resist it, especially in the summer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Jennifer Tocker has a gorgeous looking blog, not-knitting related. Why was I not aware of this?

Counting blessings or More mood swings ( I had my hair done this morning. Women will understand why this is such an upper. Men needn't bother try to understand).
We often hear that people today are more violent than in the past because of what they watch on television and what they watched on television when they were children. They say it's the breakdown of family values. They say parents no longer discipline their children. They say people live in despair. They say a lot of things. People tend to say too much.

I find it all absurd.

One hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago the world was a far more cruel and dangerous place to live in. Far less people, relatively, lived in safety and security, and if they did, it was usually at the price of their personal freedom. Murders, rapes, beatings, lootings, these were everyday events that far more people probably got to witness with their own eyes, every so often, sometimes more often than not. Surely a much larger percentage of the world's population fell victim to them. Now we watch them on TV, and are horrified. How could this be happening? We are used to seeing violence only in movies. Make-believe violence. People don't really do things like that do they?

Once we would have gone out of our homes and seen it right on our doorsteps, with our own eyes, real-time, or worse, it could have taken place in our very homes.

Not that this doesn't happen today, in many places, maybe in most places. But there are large areas of the world in which people are relatively safe and free. This is unprecedented in the history of the human race. It is wonderful. We should be rejoicing in the streets. No, you are right, it isn't enough. The suffering around the world is still unbearable. But you could hardly say it was increasing compared to the way things once were, unless you are talking about absolute figures and that's only because of the huge increase in the world's human population.

Human beings were always a nasty lot. This is nothing new. (Remember Vlad the Impaler?)

I am a thirty eight year old woman. Tfu tfu tfu, I have never been raped, beaten up, mutilated, sexually harassed, forced into slavery, mugged (and quite a few other unpleasant things I can't think of right now). I have been living for sixteen years with a man who does not regard me as his possession but as his best friend and equal. I have enough to eat, thank God. I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with two lovely daughters, and I also have the good fortune to be able to choose not to have any more children. I have a secure job, working with quite nice people and this makes me self-sufficient. I don't make a fortune, but I know my daughters and I will not starve should anything happen to my man (tfu tfu tfu).

All of these things would have been impossible, unheard of, and would actually have seemed preposterous, had I been living three hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, one hundred years ago. For many poor souls my life is still something they dare not dream of. How can I take it for granted? How can anyone take it for granted?

Must we always focus only on the bad and the sad? Maybe I'm spoilt beyond words and should crawl into a hole in the ground with shame at my good fortune. But I can't. I want to shout out for all to hear: My life is good. I have been so lucky.

Tfu tfu tfu ;-)

I believe that if I live in happy awareness of my good fortune, I will be much better equipped to contribute to the world and to those less fortunate than me than if I were consumed with guilt and shame that I have so much while so many others have so little.

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday Dia-hane
Happy Birthday to you

A-a-and

For she's a jolly good fellow
For she's a jolly good fellow
For she's a jolly good fe-he-llow
(If British sing:) And so say all of us.
(If American sing:) Which nobody can deny.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Hudna log
This afternoon I took the girls to buy some things for school. New bags, pencil cases, notebooks, pens and pencils. The girls are very happy. Mum always used to like buying the girls' school bags. They used to go to stay with her and Dad for a few days and come back with their shiny new bags.

It was eight months last week. Life goes on, but the ache in my heart doesn't seem to be lessening.

The Hayoun family from the Jerusalem suburb of Har Gilo was on the way home from a summer trip to Sinai. They were nearly home after the long drive, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on them. The mother was badly wounded. Her nine-year-old daughter was also injured. Yasser Arafat's Fatah has taken responsibility.

An American tourist has gone missing now. A 19 year-old student, Eliezer Zusia Klockhoft.

More attacks are planned, according to Israeli intelligence.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Duh




take the antisocial test.

and go to mewing.net. because laura's feeling social.

So I've been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames", 2001.

On page 52 I read:


Whenever the energy of anger comes up, we often want to express it to punish the person whom we believe to be the source of our suffering. This is the habit energy in us. When we suffer, we always blame the other person for having made us suffer. We do not realize that anger is, first of all, our business. We are primarily responsible for our anger, but we believe naively that if we can say something or do something to punish the other person, we will suffer less. This kind of belief should be uprooted. Because whatever you do or say in a state of anger will only cause more damage in the relationship. Instead, we should try not to do anything or say anything when we are angry.

When you say something really unkind, when you do something in retaliation, your anger increases. You make the other person suffer, and he will try hard to say or do something back to get relief from his suffering. That is how the conflict escalates.

So wise. So true.

Punishing the other person is self-punishment. That is true in every circumstance. Every time the United States Army tries to punish Iraq, not only does Iraq suffer, but the U.S. also suffers...

Uh oh.

I'm beginning to remember why I left my Buddhist practice community.

...Every time Iraq tries to punish the U.S., the U.S. suffers, but Iraq also suffers...

Now who's being naive?

…The same is true everywhere; between the Israeli and Palestinian...

Okay, enough! It is NOT the same. Thich Nhat Hanh is completely ignoring a little matter of self-preservation. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is not some lover's tiff. This is such an unbelievable oversimplification of a complex issue.

As an Israeli I am not angry with the Palestinians. I am far too busy trying to defend myself and make sure I survive. I am angry with the Europeans and left-wing Americans who refuse to accept that Israel is in real danger of annihilation in this region and has a right to defend its citizens and itself from those who would destroy it, by whatever means. I am even angrier with those Europeans and left-wing Americans who refuse to accept Israel's right to exist at all. And most of all, I am angry with myself for being taken in by the Palestinians' promises in the early nineteen nineties that they really meant to put down their arms for all times and negotiate a peaceful compromise with us that would allow us all to live here side by side in peace (Although this doesn't mean I don't think we should keep trying. We should, but carefully).

But, to slightly rephrase something I said earlier on today, I have a few anger issues nearer to home, before I can take on the biggies.

I can't believe I'm fisking my spiritual teacher here. Is that a big no-no or what? Luckily he has mastered the compassion thing. Unlike me.

By the way, I'm still reading the book. It's really a lovely book, very helpful on a personal basis. He hasn't got into bigger issues again, so far (I'm on page 90). But he should steer clear of dabbling in world politics. He couldn't bring peace to Vietnam, where they were more likely to understand his teachings. Why should he think he could make a difference elsewhere?

Is abducting soldiers and other Israeli youngsters signaling a new phase in the Palestinian armed struggle, now that blowing up buses has provoked some international criticism?

How does this fit in with the ceasefire, exactly?

Another young girl has gone missing, 18-year-old Dana Bennet from Tiberias. I hope she turns up safe and sound. You'll remember Oleg Sheichat wasn't so lucky last week. Apparently there was an unsuccessful attempt to abduct a soldier on Thursday, as well.

Of course, Dana Bennet could have been abducted by a sicko, and not by terrorists.

The thing with Buddhism is that when contemplating compassion, you always get to the Holocaust sooner or later.

Can a normal, peace loving person really reach a place of understanding and brotherly (or sisterly) love for Dr. Mengele? Should he/she? (Is a phenomenal success in doing so what brought so many nice, peace-loving people the world over to feel compassion for some other dears, Saddam Hussein and his offspring, at the expense of all other Iraqis? (Ooh, quicksand! Get out, Imshin! Get out! Don't mention Iraq or you've had it)).

Bish says there is really no problem, because it's all a question of levels of awareness. Some people will think nothing of eating their best friends (without salt, as we say in Hebrew); some stop short at friends but would happily devour all else, the annoying neighbors downstairs included; others are greatly compassionate towards their own people but feel nothing but aggression for other nations; there are also those who will (and do) eat any non-humans of all shapes and sizes put in front of them; others would rather not eat puppies and little kitties and other cute little furry animals, thank you very much, nor horrible, revolting creepy crawlies, but don't have any qualms about eating animals that don't fit into these categories; and then there are those weirdoes who feel uncomfortable eating lettuce, but hey, they have to eat something (Bish and me belong to this group of nutcases, more or less, but we're not missionary types so you needn't feel threatened).

You see the question is where you draw your line of humane/inhumane behavior, so says Bish.

So it was with the Nazis. Most of us normal folk (??!), when finding our place of abode completely overrun by cockroaches, bring in those nasty exterminators with their offensive smelling spray stuff. Well, as a large percentage of Germans seem to have seen it in the nineteen thirties, Germany was being overrun by Jewish, and other, subhuman vermin. What could they do? They brought in those Nazi exterminators. With their Zyklon B gas. (Imshin, you really are getting pathetic).

Still finding it hard to feel compassion for them? Yeah, me too.

The next step is to start imagining Dr. Mengele as a poor little kid being beaten by his dad. I don't know if this has any historical truth in it, but in those days I imagine most German kids got knocked around quite a bit by their doting parents, as did most kids round the world. For educational reasons, of course. (Hopefully this has improved a tiny bit since???). Not a very beneficial method for creating nice, love-filled, compassionate adults. Of course, not all kids who are beaten to a pulp grow up to do horrific experiments on human subjects. Or take part in the methodical mass murder of millions of human beings for ideological reasons, for that matter. In fact most don’t. The level of awareness explanation is still far stronger, in my mind, than one involving sad, loveless childhoods.

I'm still not much closer to feeling compassion for Dr. Mengele and the "hevr'e" (that would be translated loosely from modern Hebrew slang of fifty years ago or so as "the gang"). Anyway, I have a few compassion issues nearer to home, before I can take on the real biggies.

Oh, by the way, as a vegetarian, I would like to point out that I have read in a few places that, contrary to popular belief, Adolf Hitler was actually not a vegetarian. He apparently had a passion for Bavarian sausages and caviar, not exactly regular vegetarian fare.

[As you can see, things are pretty okay over here, if I'm back to contemplating my Buddhist sensibilities].

Friday, August 01, 2003

I got spam from someone who wants me to buy a Maserati from him, isn’t that sweet?

What do you say? It looks like this is the only color they offer. Not crazy about it. I see it's a steal at 99,000 euro, before Israeli customs. At that price you'd think they could offer it in rose pink.

How would it look all covered in muck, inside and out, which is the natural state of all my cars, do you think? Last time I washed my current car, for instance, was a day before the last sandstorm. There just didn't seem much point after that. It's like making the bed, such a waste of energy. I'm actually quite proud of this permanent reminder of the yellow desert wind, every time I get into my once white chariot.

By the way, I reckon if he can send me spam, I can steal his photo.

Is it just me or is #5 really not that good?
It could be me, you know. I've been through a few life experiences since I read #4. Could it possibly be that I have grown up at last????

Naaah. I still love blowing soap bubbles, so it can't be that.

I've just finished it. It took ages. I've never read a Harry Potter so slowly, but then it's the first time I've read it in English. Up till now I've always read the Hebrew versions. But this was only really a slight problem in the first few pages, till I worked out the different names of the magical creatures. The book just didn't manage to grab me. You know the point where you can't put a book down? When you begin neglecting the kids and sneaking it into work? (No? Well you're obviously a better person than me). Well anyway, this time it didn't happen. Maybe the wait for it was too long. Maybe I'm more aware of the manipulation (there you are – blogging has forever spoilt my ability to enjoy light reading). Unlike with previous books, I don't feel like reading it again; I'm not waiting for #6 (although I'm sure I'll read it when it comes out) and I don't feel disappointed and unfulfilled with my life as a Muggle.

In short – I'm FREE (Yippee).