Sunday, November 28, 2004

I have a new computer!
Well, actually it's Eldest's old one. She's the one with a new one. I'm lowest on the food chain round here. But at least I've finally got XP, oh and MSN Messenger. Up till now the whole family has been talking about me behind my back all the time. At last I can really feel part of the family.

Oh, by the way, we had another flood while I was away being peaceful in the cold and rain of the Galilee, a serious one this time. I'm so pleased I missed it. Even Bish was relieved I wasn't around. I tend to get hysterical when I see my extensive shoe collection under water. I can't believe our landlady came to help him bail out water. So she finally got to see how we really live. I usually tidy up a bit before she comes. Embarrassing.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I’m off to a meditation retreat this weekend, in the north of the country. It will be very cold, it will be very rainy. Hopefully it will also be spiritually uplifting ;-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Blog Break

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Locust
When I was a child I used to be terrified of locust. Not that I’d ever seen any, but I had this horror that they’d come and eat everything and there would be nothing left and we’d all starve to death. The idea of them all swarming everywhere and there being no escape was pretty scary as well. I had a very clear vision in my mind of The Ten Plagues in Egypt, when Pharaoh wouldn't let the People of Israel go.

Locust in the south of Israel

Well now they’re here. But now I know we can handle them and that, unlike the countries they came from, we’ll be able to get rid of them before they do too much damage.

I’m going to Eilat next week, a trip with work. I do hope they’re gone by then. If not, it will be an interesting experience. We could have a barbeque. I hear they’re kosher. They certainly look meaty. Oops, I forgot I was vegetarian!

Update:
I hope I didn't speak too soon. There are reports that some of the locust are as far north as the Dead Sea and there have even been sightings of one or two in Tel Aviv! The people from the Agriculture Ministry are still quite confident that they can handle this, so I'll just take their word for it. They know what they're talking about, unlike the reporters, who have been known to froth up a storm in a teacup over nothing :-P

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I must apologize for ignoring my blog for so long. I am completely and utterly uninterested in current affairs right now. This happens.

I have finally caved in to my daughters’ nagging and have started reading The Princess Diaries.

There is nothing quite as uplifting as reading children’s books. Anyway these are great fun. I’m on the second book right now.

What I can’t understand is how they managed to make such mediocre movies out of them. The first wasn’t bad, but not a patch on the books. The second movie was exceptionally atrocious. Really, it took the word atrocious to new heights. And now I’m reading the books I really can’t understand why she agreed to it, Meg Cabot, that is - the writer. Maybe she had gambling debts she had to pay off in a hurry.

A particularly good thing has come out of the Princess Diaries as far as Eldest is concerned. You see, we had the first three in Hebrew, but Bish bought the fourth in English, by mistake. Seeing as it hasn’t come out in Hebrew yet, Eldest deigned to read it! In English!! This is breaking new ground, you see. Her English is excellent, although she refuses to admit it and refuses to utter a word in English, or READ ANY BOOKS in English. (I know her English is excellent because she understands everything).

It’s slow going, but she’s actually enjoying reading it. She says she doesn’t understand all the words (Duh! Like I understand all the words), but she is reading fluently, and the fact that she’s reading it slowly is nice, because it’s lasting longer.

YIPPEE!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Happy Birthday, Meryl.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Lern yerself Yiddish
So a Goyisher Scouser sends me this. I ask you, what's the world coming to?

Allison has it right. No glee. Relief.

Relief and hope. There is a lot of talk of Egyptian presidents Nasser and Sadat. We are continually reminded that it took Sadat only four months after Nasser died to start making changes. He eventually went on to make peace with Israel. And he meant it, unlike Arafat.

But there’s something else that Uzi Benziman doesn’t mention in that article quoted by Allison. Something you must have noticed. A lot of the posters of Arafat being hoisted up and pasted up in the streets of Ramallah are not images of Arafat the so-called politician, but earlier photographs, of Arafat the terrorist. The Palestinians are giving a message.

Rabin’s heritage was one of peace.

Arafat’s heritage is one of death and destruction.

Israel has not forgotten Munich, or Ma’alot, or Misgav Am. Israel has not forgotten Arafat the brutal baby killer, from the days before he started pretending to be anything else.

And neither, it seems, have the Palestinians. But still we’re hopeful.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Sail with Life
Once upon a time a group of Jews decided they were fed up of waiting for the ruling Turks to improve conditions in the ancient city of Yaffo,
Yaffo
and that the over-population, the bad hygiene, and the squalor were too much for them. They decided to move out.

They set about building the world’s first Hebrew city for two thousand years or so, Tel Aviv. This morning’s bike ride took us through the narrow alleyways of that first neighborhood, built on the outskirts of Yaffo.
Shabazi

Shabazi

Shabazi

Shabazi

Shabazi

These days it’s a trendy neigborhood right in the center of the business part of Tel Aviv.
Shabazi

We came back via the beach and the Yarkon River.
Cats on south bank of the Yarkon River

This is my all time favorite, a sign advertising boat hire on the Yarkon River.
Shootoo
‘Shootoo etzel Hayim, hahana’a kiflayim’ or in other words – ‘Sail with Hayim (a Hebrew name meaning life), twice the enjoyment’. In Hebrew it rhymes.

And that’s all I have to say right now about the passing of Arafat.

Afterthought: Thank you Mark.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Ooh ooh ooh, guess who I just saw on channel 1 news – Rinat! Our Rinat! She was in some room with a load of politicians, probably some Knesset committee or other (We were just in the middle of a minor family crisis so I wasn’t really listening).

Okay, I know she works for the Knesset Channel so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’ve never watched the Knesset channel.

Rinat certainly stood out among all those balding inflated egos. You can’t mistake her fresh, bubbling personality.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I know how you feel. I’ve been down that path
When I was young, I was often excited and intrigued by the strangeness of having experienced Israel both as a foreign visitor, a tourist, and then, by contrast, as an Israeli, as a local.

I visited Israel twice as a small child, before we made Aliya. The country left a deep impression on me. I had sensed something fresh and vibrant that I loved.

There was an apartment building that was being built as we drove up Sea Road in Haifa in the taxi. The sound of the workers hammering; the bright summer sun; the wind in my face through the open windows of the taxi, still with no air-conditioning back then; the strong smell of the natural Mount Carmel vegetation. I was intoxicated.

When we came to live in Haifa a few years later, I was already filled with love for the place. For years I tried to relive that first drive up the mountain, and identify the exact apartment building that I had witnessed being constructed.

What I was really trying to recapture was a moment filled with excitement and freshness and happiness. It was one of those rare magical moments, a moment of love and awareness.

* * * * * *

I recognize the sentiments expressed by those opposed to Bush, crushed by his success at the polls. I recognize the frustration, anger, and sadness they feel, faced as they are with the stupidity and ignorance of people for not voting for the right candidate. I’ve been there myself.

In our case, not only had they elected the wrong guy, they had done it just a few months after someone from their side had murdered our prime minister.

We couldn’t help thinking, like the prophet Elijah who said to King Ahab, all those years ago in this very same land, “Hast thou killed and also taken possession?” (Kings I, 21, 19)

They had murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, they had murdered peace, and now they were electing into office the very man who had stood up on that balcony above Zion Square in Jerusalem, as the crowds below him held up banners of PM Rabin in an SS uniform.

Can you imagine the bitterness and bewilderment, not to mention the fear for the future?

It is a privilege to have been in the position to see things from more than one angle.

I have been a tourist in Israel, experiencing the country as a foreigner; and I have been as a native Israeli, the smells and sights so familiar, so ordinary, my previous life as a non-Israeli fading into a hazy memory.

I confess to having harbored a secret frustration that democracy gives the same vote to me as to ignoramuses and imbeciles who cannot be made to see sense; who are not controlled by the same moral values as I am.

And I have come to see how arrogant and foolish and narrow-minded I can be, thinking that I know better, thinking that I have the mandate on common sense and on knowing what's right.

“Are you sure”, Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh urges us to ask ourselves at all times.

I know that if I answer yes, I am lying to myself. It’s just that, far too often, I forget to ask.

Friday, November 05, 2004

FYI
I've been having some problems with my e-mail yesterday and today, so I may not have received your e-mails, if you sent any.

It’s not over till the fat lady sings

Suha Arafat

Word on the street in Israel is that Suha is keeping him alive till she can get her fleshy paws on every last cent.

According to that most excellent of Israeli daily publications, Yediot Aharonot, Suha and Muhammad Rashid, Arafat's financial advisor, are the only ones who know the numbers of the bank accounts where the dying ra'is keeps his fortune, at least three hundred million dollars, according to Forbes, much of it purloined from the Palestinian people.

That's why Suha rushed over to Ramallah, like a bat out of hell, to take over the handling of the dying husband she hasn't bothered visiting for three years, and swiftly had him moved to her territory, Paris. She wasn't taking any chances of him mumbling the account numbers to anyone else.

According to Yediot, Rashid and Suha each know about different bank accounts. Suha and Rashid don't like each other very much.

It's like American daytime TV, without the good-looking actors.

By the way, Ehud Ya'ari, top Israeli commentator on Arab affairs, said on Israeli TV channel 2 evening news tonight that Yassir Arafat died yesterday lunchtime, and that since then everything we've been hearing has been politics.

Update: Ah, a commenter on Silent Running enlightens us:


Accessing those swiss numbered accounts is a new ball game since the swiss had to change the rules a year or so ago. Even if you are co signatory you can no longer access without swiss inheritance documents. However whilst the holder is alive you can transfer pretty easily. So I guess the "coma" situation will assist the transfers. Otherwise the swiss banks will get another windfall like they did 60 years ago.

Kindly brought to my attention by Alisa.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Anti-Israel bias on BBC? Unheard of! Unthinkable!
A few days ago, John Williams wrote:


I have just watched the most anti Israeli programme I have ever seen on British television. It was on the BBC at prime time and goes by the title of 'Spooks'. The plot concerned the attempts of a right wing Israeli group who murdered a peace negotiator in order to stop any two state agreement. Although there were passing references to the idea that the right wing group, the November committee who advocated a greater Israel, were hated by the more liberal Israelis the whole script was an excuse to attack all Israelis who,

Deliberately murder peace activists who stand in the way of bulldozers

Cease to be human when they don IDF uniform, all except the refuseniks that is

The November committee employed a code when dealing with perceived enemies - Nablus stood for surveillance - Bethlehem stood for threats and intimidation - Jenin stood for assassination. I might have the order for the first two mixed up but Jenin = targeted murder.

I could barely believe the level of bias.

John suggested we check who was behind this episode and where they stood politically. He’ll make a serious writer of me yet. Didn't come up with much though.

Bish is much better than me at doing that. He would have found their whole life story down to what they wrote on the door of the loo (john) in high school.

So the writer was Ben Richards. I can only suppose it is the same person who wrote these books and who, according to this, was obsessed with Salvador Allende as a child. Okey dokey.

Creator of the series was one David Wolstencroft
Director Cilla Ware
Producer Andrew Woodhead

Executive Producer Jane Featherstone commented about the series: "We felt it was important to look at the use of intelligence as a political tool, at how politicians attempt to influence the security services.” Okey dokey.

How about the use of entertainment program(me)s on British state funded TV as a political tool?

Naaaah.

How do I, as one of those nasty Israelis, feel about this?

Tired mainly.

Later:
Mind you, what can you expect? I mean, just look at this (not that one has anything to do with the other)

Mirror front page

These people are raving lunatics. It's just incredible, isn't it?

Via Harry's Place and Eric the Unread.

Still later:
An answer:

Why is it so hard to imagine that not everyone thinks like you? Are these people so arrogant, so self-smug that they truly believe their way is the only way?


US presidential elections
Well, it’s over. That’s a relief. Can we all be friends again now?

Obviously not.

BBC and Sky News reporters were so somber yesterday. I swear one Sky News reporter was near to tears.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The obligatory don’t-worry-I’m-still-here post
Three murdered in Shuk HaCarmel; about thirty wounded, that’s if you don’t include the sixteen year-old perpetrator. As I see it, his PFLP operators murdered him.

When Eldest was little we used to take her to Shuk HaCarmel (Carmel Market) quite a lot. She used to love it. When Bish took her, she would ride high above everyone on his shoulders, looking at the stalls, at the busy shoppers rushing this way and that, at the people selling stuff, shouting and singing about their merchandise to attract buyers.

When she came with me, we used to finish the grocery part as quickly as possible and make our way through to the Nahlat Binyamin pedestrian whatsitcalled, where we would watch the vendors setting up their stalls for the popular Friday creative fair. We used to buy fresh pita with labane from the Bedouin women and find a nice spot on a bench, preferably near the Russian string quartet.

One time, Eldest was tired. She put her head on my lap and stretched out on the bench, not noticing that her legs were pushing at the scooter that was parked at the end of the bench. There was a great crash as the scooter toppled over. Thankfully, the rather rough-looking owner of the scooter, who was working in a nearby store and who rushed over, was nice about it.

Then there was a pigua (terror attack) in Shuk Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem, sometime in the mid-nineties, one of those ‘Victims of Peace’ piguim. We still believed in that back then. After that we never took Eldest to the shuk any more.

Now she’s older, she wants to go. She reckons she can get more clothes there for less. I have had bad experience with clothes from the shuk. You pay less, but the clothes don’t last long enough to be handed down to the next child, so not so cheap in the long run. But my daughter has a businesswoman streak in her (she didn’t get that from her parents, must have come down sideways from her Aunt Our Sis), and impressive organizational abilities (she is the only one who can get me off my behind to DO anything) so I suppose we’ll be going there some time soon.

We weren’t there this morning though, thank God.