Too busy to blog.
I wish everyone a happy and enjoyable Seder.
why not a fish
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Diana Moon announces that due to problems at work, she must not only stop
blogging but take down her blog altogether. She will return to blogging as
soon as possible. She wishes to thank all her readers. :-(
Monday, April 14, 2003
War with Iraq? Economic recession? Murderous suicide bombings? Forget it. The main news in Israel these days is the visit of four youthful teen idols, stars of the awful Argentian soap opera RebeldeWay aimed at adolescents, that all parents detest with a vengeance. I told you about Chiquititas a few months ago. This is far worse, but I can't be bothered to elaborate at this late hour.
As I write this, the said teen idols are appearing on the Dudu Topaz (barf) TV show. I can hear squeals of excitement coming from behind Eldest's closed door (we're watching Fox News). I just spoke on the phone to a friend whose son has also sequestered* himself in a room with a TV. As a matter of fact, tens of thousands (at least) of Israel kids all over the country are also staying up late this evening to watch them and I can promise you they are all squealing.
I bought Eldest tickets for the show months ago. She's going on Friday morning with a friend. I'm dropping them off. I hope the traffic won't be too bad. I've been trying to very gently and subtly prepare her for the possibility of disappointment, should she discover that, contrary to high expectations, this is not the greatest experience of her life ("You mightn’t be able to see very well, and there might be a slight problem hearing …"). She is quite reconciled to this. "Oh, I know. They can’t dance, they can’t sing", she tells me, not really realizing the screaming that will be going on all around her. At least she'll be too far away to be trampled on - I didn't actually get her the most expensive tickets. So if they can't dance and they can't sing, why go to a show in which they do just that? (Silly question)
When I was young my passion was the Beatles (Besides being a juvenile delinquent I was also a geek, but that goes without saying, doesn't it? I'm a blogger, for goodness sake). At least the Beatles could sing (Well, with the exception of Ringo, who couldn't even play the drums very well), but on the other hand they hadn't existed as a group for about eight or nine years, by the time I became enamored with them, and there wasn't a hope in hell of any of them coming to Israel (Besides John, maybe, if that's where he ended up). Paul was planning to come in those days, but rumor was he cancelled following his arrest in Japan for possession.
Adolescence is horrible. Could I please go to sleep and wake up with two married daughters with **grandchildren**. Ah, grandchildren. Bliss. Those are the best kind of kids. They’re fond of you; you get to spoil them silly without having to pay the price and best of all, you give them back when you get fed up of them.
Back to reality, today we got an answer about Eldest's middle school. She got in to the one that she wanted. Nice of them to let us know this early. They usually only tell you at the last minute, so if you're not happy you don't really have time to do much about it. Maybe they're only telling the ones who got their first choice, at this point.
* I admit I didn't know this word. Diane suggested it.
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink
I'm so tired I don't know what to do
I'm so tired my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you'd do
You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind
I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get.
Our Sis found Mum's Haroset recipe. Therefore the Haroset Recipe Festival has been cancelled. My apologies to the hundreds of people who slaved over a hot magimix for days to reach the perfect mixture in order to send me their recipe.
I'll post Mum's recipe along with my mother-in-law's some time soon.
This would make a great board game
I happen to have my old school atlas at work. I took it there once, years ago, I forget why, and it's been languishing in the cluttered closet with the old files ever since. It's had quite a few uses over the years, the most notable being a not very efficient footstep. Of course, it's horribly out of date. Looking at it is like stepping back in time. Israel still includes Sinai, if you can believe it, and most of Israel's newer villages and towns are not to be found. Everywhere else has changed too. Europe is unrecognizable; in Africa quite a few states have changed names (and back again). Some pages are adorned with doodles I must have indulged in as a way of escaping particularly sleep inducing geography lessons way back when. And I was highly amused to find, on the last page of the index, carefully written in tiny pencil handwriting, a list of different types of fertile soil. I've always been fascinated by maps, but geography lessons in my day were not very thrilling. As for the list of soil types - I vaguely remember having difficulty memorizing some of the less exciting details that were listed in the study requirements of an exam, which allowed the luxury of open atlases, and that was therefore expected to be that much more difficult. So now you know that I wasn't very studious in my youth. Downright lazy would be more accurate. And you are now in possession of some damaging evidence of my juvenile delinquency.
Fast forward to the present day - when the war in Iraq commenced, the disgraced atlas came out of the closet and it has spent the last fortnight commanding a place of honor on my desk, open on the page romantically named "Countries of the Fertile Crescent". Visitors to my little office have looked at me with compassion and sympathy and have then rushed off to share with relish the sad news of the latest manifestation of Imshin's eccentricity.
This morning before work I read in Yediot Aharonot about Uday Hussein's letters that were uncovered in one of his Baghdad homes. In a letter from 1990, he discusses Saddam’s plans for the creation of a greater Iraq including Kuwait, Arabstan (apparently a part of Iran) and Palestine; Palestine apparently meaning the historical Transjordan including today’s Jordan and the whole of the land of Israel - thus proving what Israel had suspected all along. Hmm, interesting, I thought to myself and hurried off to work, late as usual.
It was only after lunch, which was an uninspiring sandwich eaten hurriedly in my office, because the kitchen and dining room are closed in preparation for Passover, that I remembered Uday's letter and had another peek at the "Fertile Crescent" on the map. These plans of Saddam are not really a new discovery, but I personally hadn't really thought about them much, especially not from Iraq's point of view, before. I was impressed.
The idea of a greater Iraq is a really good one. Not only does it give Iraq far wider access to the Persian Gulf, not to mention the oil, it also gives it access to the Mediterranean Sea. The most fascinating aspect of it, though, is that it effectually cuts up the Arab world into two pieces with Iraq being the sole controller of overland passage between the northern countries and the southern countries. This would give Iraq complete control over most of the commerce in the region, for a start. And there are a lot more advantages I can’t be bothered to organize in my head for writing down (still lazy). It’s a brilliant idea. It’s an exciting vision. If you’re Saddam Hussein that is.
Thank God (and the U.S.A.) that he didn't get around to doing it. I wonder what would have happened if they had timed the invasion of Kuwait better and the U.S. hadn't been available to do something about it.
And I wonder what Israel would have done had Iraq got around to taking over Jordan. He apparently was well on his way to doing just that in 1990. We couldn't have allowed that to happen. We would have had to attack, amidst fierce global condemnation, of course.
The world we live in is a crazy place.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Ari Shavit interviewed Israeli PM Arik Sharon in today's Haaretz. Interesting. Some excerpts:
"Definitely not. It comes from the depth of my soul. Look, we are talking about the cradle of the Jewish people. Our whole history is bound up with these places. Bethlehem, Shiloh, Beit El. And I know that we will have to part with some of these places. There will be a parting from places that are connected to the whole course of our history. As a Jew, this agonizes me. But I have decided to make every effort to reach a settlement. I feel that the rational necessity to reach a settlement is overcoming my feelings."
Have you really accepted the idea of two states for two peoples? Do you really plan to divide western Israel?
"I believe that this is what will happen. One has to view things realistically. Eventually there will be a Palestinian state. I view things first and foremost from our perspective. I do not think that we have to rule over another people and run their lives. I do not think that we have the strength for that. It is a very heavy burden on the public and it raises ethical problems and heavy economic problems."
In the past you talked about a long-term interim agreement. Did you not believe in a permanent solution and an end to the conflict?
"I think opportunities have currently been created that did not exist before. The Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular have been shaken. There is therefore a chance to reach an agreement faster than people think."
Anyone need any duct tape? I've got plenty. Plastic sheeting too.
Where did all this stuff come from? Did all this really come out of our apartment? Emptying the security room is turning out to be a very annoying chore. I think I'll leave the evacuation bags till tomorrow.
Bish is worried about the Syrians now.
On the way to work this morning I happened to notice a shesek tree full of ripening fruit in one of the gardens I passed. The dictionary tells me this is called loquat in English. It's a very popular tree in Israeli gardens. Our old apartment had three impressive specimens. Every spring when I noticed fruit ripening on our trees I would say to myself that this year we'd take the ladder down and pick some. We never actually got round to it although we lived there for eleven years. The trees and the fruit belonged to all the neighbors in the building, of course, but no one else bothered either. There were always customers for the sweet soft fruit though, besides the birds - the school kids from the ultra-religious boys' school across the road. I often used to come across a red-faced kid with bulging cheeks and pockets, sneaking guiltily out of the garden. I always pretended not to see. Half the fun is the fear of being caught. I should know.
We used to have the most wonderful mulberry tree on my route home from school. In season, we used to climb it and stuff ourselves with as much of the sweet fruit as we could, before the neighbors started shouting. I think most people can tell similar stories. I know Dad can. When I was growing up on Mount Carmel you didn't really have to climb the neighbors' tree to eat. There was a lot of fruit just growing wild, free for the picking. You had the carobs and the sabra fruit (which required certain skillfulness to pick and prepare for eating, otherwise you got the prickles on your fingers and on your tongue) and then there were the tznobarim, the nuts of the pine that my mother-in-law calls by their Ladino name of pinyones and uses in many delicious recipes.
When we used to eat them we didn't need a fancy recipe. All we needed was a lot of pine trees (preferably overshadowing a side walk, otherwise the tznobars got lost among the pine needles, and a big stone with which to break through the hard shell, and we were in for the meal of our lives. Our high school had plenty of pine trees and when I was little Our Sis used to bring me bags full of them, which I would take down to the sidewalk to break open and eat. When I grew up I was amazed to discover you can buy bags of them in the supermarket, shelled and ready to cook. But they're never nearly as succulent and delicious as those I collected myself from the sidewalk as a child.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
I've been asked to make the Haroset for the Passover Seder this year. Sadly, I don't know my mother's Haroset recipe, so I can't make the exact recipe we're used to. I could ask my mother-in-law for hers but although she makes a really really delicious Sephardi version with dates, we're having the Seder with the Ashkenazi side and the appropriate product would probably be appreciated.
I need help!
I hereby announce a Haroset recipe festival on Not a Fish (This was R.T.'s idea). All recipes are welcome: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yemeni and whatever. If you have a nice Haroset recipe you would like to share, please e-mail it to me and I'll do my best to publish it here before Seder night (Remember to tell me if it's OK to post your name or not). The recipe I like best (which will probably be the one that gives ingredients I have in the house already, or, even more likely, the easiest one) will be the one I use. Or maybe I'll use my mother-in-law's recipe in the end. It really is yummy. I'll post it here too, if I remember to ask her for it.
Yes, I have noticed that there are quite a lot of recipes available online, but this sounds like much more fun, doesn't it?
[I do realize I should be writing "my late mother" or "of blessed memory" or something like that, but it sounds too strange, sort of distancing her, when I don't feel she's distant at all]
Hey, Laurence moved.
‘Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
’Who cares for you?’ said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). ‘You're nothing but a pack of cards!’
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Chapter XII
A week ago, it looked like conquering Baghdad was going to take weeks of bloody hell. Amid shouts of “This is just what we said would happen” and the old favorite “Quagmire!”, Israelis suddenly noticed all eyes were on us, glaring menacingly. What? What? It wasn’t us, honest. But someone always has to pay the price, after all. Round up the usual suspect. The Quartet’s nearly forgotten “Road Map” was dug up and dusted off. That’ll do just fine.
Only a week has passed and everything has changed. Only a week, and some are sitting up and taking notice, trying to work out what happened while they were busy dancing to a tune that played only in their heads. France, Germany, Russia, the Arabs, countless misguided western do-gooders (Well, maybe not them, they don’t watch TV, it’s a corrupting influence, especially if it offers any other truth than their own) are all discovering too late that they put all their money on the wrong horse (even though the right one had “Winner” written all over it in flashing neon lights).
This week has seen looting and lawlessness in Iraq. Some have chosen to emphasize this, although experts say it is a regrettable but common phenomenon in war and subsides when things stabilize. But this week has also seen the unbelievably rapid fall of Baghdad which few, if any, in the media foresaw. We saw historic pictures of Saddam’s giant statue being pulled down by Iraqis in the center of Baghdad and of ecstatic Iraqis kissing U.S. soldiers and shouting “Thank you Bush”. You just can’t ignore those powerful pictures. The story they tell is of a nation sighing with relief. This seems to have been played down, though, by various communication media for their own reasons.
Smadar Peri wrote in Yediot Aharonot that Al-Jazeera repeatedly aired a video of a mob in Basra stringing up Baath militants. You won’t be seeing that on your TV screen. Bodies of men swinging from makeshift gallows don’t make for very pleasant viewing.
What will Al-Jazeera viewers make of it all? How will they react to the realization that they believed without questioning the lies they were fed, systematically, culminating in the award-winning performance of one Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who entered history by denying again and again with conviction and talent what was happening right next to him (but whom only the Arabs believed)? Will they learn any lessons? Will they begin questioning other things Al-Jazeera and other Arab media tell them? Or will they continue to sooth the pain of their humility and embarrassment with ridiculous conspiracy theories?
Suddenly, somehow, the Road Map doesn’t seem so threatening anymore. Maybe it’s time, anyway. We’ve really had enough, haven’t we?
A week down the road and it looks like a few more people have realized that things are changing, that the world is going to come out of all this looking different. Maybe, just maybe, the result will be that this sad little country of ours will also come out at the other end of this tunnel of uncertainty looking better than when it went in.
Friday, April 11, 2003
More about the shock in Arab countries in Haaretz
The Arab media are now full of interviews with confused Arabs. The impression is that none of the Arab capitals understands how the "invading forces" were greeted in Baghdad without any difficulties and with cheers, despite all the predictions in the Arab and Western world that the Iraqis would defend their capital with their lives.
Ignorance is not the property of one side
I had a look at this video made by ProtestWarrior.com about a peace rally in San Francisco. Via Grasshoppa. This guy is talking to the demonstrators towards the end of the video and they are saying the most intriguing things. One of the main messages is that the U.S. has no business in Iraq and should butt out. But these "Mind your own business" guys have no problem butting in where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned. One guy explains that a Jewish state should have been established in GERMANY, no less. He must have meant turning Dachau into a state (I can see it now - Population of Jewish state: 0. They all died mysteriously while taking a shower, how strange)
One kook explains how great life in a dictatorship really is. Free this, free that. Hey, I'm convinced. When does the next bus leave? (Funny, I don't see her on the bus. I wonder why).
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Business as usual over here
Two Israeli soldiers were killed today by Palestinians and the IDF killed a top Islamic Jihad terrorist.
Yesterday I forgot to tell you they averted the general strike. We'll probably get it after Passover (They say it was averted because they cut some sort of deal, but I don't believe any of it, it's all a game of politics and interest. A dance of power). The strike wasn't very popular right now, a few days before the Hag (= religious holiday). Like I said, I ignored it and it went away. Maybe I should try this with some other unpleasant issues.
Oh, and I forgot to tell you. I stopped schlepping the gask around with me the day before yesterday (Yes, yes. Even me, last of the Mohicans). They say they're not bringing down the alert, yet, but they say they're letting a lot of reservists go home.
I continue to be intrigued by the surprise shown by Arabs in other Arab countries at what's happening in Iraq. They actually believe the lies their media feed them. Amazing. In Israel the media is held in such low esteem even though it's a free press. In Arab countries a lot of the media are no more than governemnt information outlets and even the independent ones are heavily biased. But still they seem to lap it all up.
A few Israeli experts who follow the Arab media were telling Reshet Bet radio station listeners today that there were already all sorts of conspiracy theories circulating to explain the shameful way Baghdad fell without a fight (for instance, Saddam makes a deal with the Americans, they let him disappear and he lets them into Baghdad...).
Enough with the delusions of grandeur, already. People round this part of the world thnk if they sit about in coffee shops twiddling their beads, things will sort of happen by themselves. Everyone's a makher.
This changes things not only in Iraq
As I started to say yesterday, before joviality took over, in latter years, Saddam was notable, strange as this may seem now, as a symbol of Arab military strength. He was the one who fought the mighty U.S.A and lived to see another day. Arabs living in more benign dictatorships adored him as a great leader, restorer of Arab pride. They were oblivious of the terrible suffering he inflicted on his people.
The so-called “Arab street", misled by Arab intelligentsia (itself egged on by western intelligentsia), made the same mistake about the U.S. that the Palestinians made about Israel. In both cases humaneness and willingness for compromise were interpreted as weakness.
A word of explanation about yesterday’s silliness:
It’s not as if Saddam was about to invade Israel tomorrow, but if the conquest of Kuwait had gone unchallenged things would certainly have gotten very very nasty round here. For one thing, they say he saw himself as another Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon who conquered Jerusalem, in days of old, and exiled the Israelites. The Sallah a Din equation came later, after 1991, in order to gain popularity with Muslim masses.
The word is that in 1990 Saddam was operating in Jordan with a view to doing very unpleasant things to us. Poor old King Hussy of Jordan had little say in this. He wasn’t supportive of Saddam in 1991 because he wanted him to show him how to grow a nice moustache.
And we didn’t destroy Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, to fierce global condemnation and to the horror of the French (they built it), as an act of altruism. It was pure self-preservation.
Saddam truly believed he could outlast sanctions and continue to further his plans, while fooling the West. If it weren’t for 9/11, he would probably have been right.
Sadly, most Arabs would like to destroy Israel. We're right smack in the middle of the historical home of Islam. They can't accept that. The difference is that Saddam thought he could actually pull it off. If we manage to secure peace in this region, it will only be because we have persuaded them all, and the Palestinian leadership first and foremost, that destroying Israel is impossible, even if we show what they perceive as weakness by compromising about land. This is what the current Terror War with the Palestinians is all about. And even then, we will always have to watch our backs, even after peace is a fait accompli.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Oh, look! The French also have a Home Front Command booklet, just like ours. They even have a Hebrew version, isn't that nice?
Except theirs is shorter. All they have to do is...
* Flag of La Republique
In an emergency, cut out white part of flag and wave as invader passes through Arc de Triumphe.”
What on earth are they thinking? (Imshin starts the post feeling sensibly pessimistic)
While it’s heartwarming to see elated, celebrating people, the lawlessness that seems to be prevailing is very disturbing. I was upset to hear US Marines spokesman Capt. Stewart Upton on Reshet Bet radio station’s International Hour saying something to the effect of - People in Iraq are just letting off steam and celebrating, which is something they deserve to do. Yes, looting is regrettable, but understandable and after all they’re just taking back what Saddam took from them all those years. This is not quite accurate. They’ve also been looting private homes, and even hospitals and aid organizations like the UN. He said that the coalition forces have no intention of getting involved. He sounded as if he expected it to sort of fizzle out by itself.
Doesn’t the US military realize it could get far worse?
More from Allison on this.
On the other hand (as the pictures of hysterically happy people start to seep in)
How utterly shocking for the Arab “street” in more moderate Arab states seeing the pictures of jubilant Iraqis. Misled by Arab media, they truly had no idea how much Iraqis actually hated Saddam and suffered under him.
How scary for Arab leaders to see the pictures of the chaos. Will they take heed?
Exciting! (Imshin begins to grasp it)
I wonder how this is grabbing the Palestinians. Saddam was the chief supporter of Palestinian terrorism and symbolized Arab militant strength. Saddam had been the one who fought the US and lived to tell the tale.
What will these mean for the Palestinians?
Maybe, maybe it will do something to their point of view? I feel a glimmer of hope sneaking in…
And on the other other hand (euphoria finally sets in)
Saddam is down! As Ehud Yaari, top Israeli expert on Arab affairs, just put it on Channel 2 news: “Miracles don’t happen just in Hannuka. Sometimes they happen between Purim and Passover.” (For the uninitiated - this may not have been our war, but Saddam was a serious threat to Israel. Israel's annihilation was one goal he was very serious about).
Finally (Imshin succumbs and joins the celebration)
There'll be time enough to be sensible tomorrow.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Yesterday, the Frog spoke to a Baghdadi expatriate relative (by marriage) who couldn't understand why the Germans and the French were supporting Saddam. He was also frustrated and confused about the Arabic language service of the BBC, which he said was dominated by Egyptian Muslim fundamentalists and broadcasts lies about British forces.
He obviously doesn't listen to or watch the English language service. Di zelbe drek, as they say in Chinese (pardon my language).
Bernard Lewis has similar ideas about why they're not dancing in the streets.
A cautionary tale
Last night, a mother in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, asked her (adult) son to get off the computer and go tidy his bed. When he refused she stabbed him to death (Hebrew link).
Bish told the girls about this story but they failed to be impressed.
We're too soft.
Update: Allison has an English link. I didn't mean to belittle the fate of this unfortunate young man, by the way.
General strike starts tomorrow
I'm hoping if I don't think about it it will go away, that's why I haven't been writing about it.
The girls have started their Passover holiday already. The teachers only work half days but they still need a two-week holiday before Passover to clean and prepare the Seder. Their lives are so hard.
I'm not among those striking, by the way.
Update: Histadrut (union) chairman Amir Peretz just said on channel 1 TV that he'll postpone the strike for 24 hours while he negotiates with treasury minister Netanyahu. I don't like him. Peretz that is. If Netanyahu manages to get us out of this economic mess we're in, I may very well vote for him next time around (Did I really just say that? I can't believe I just said that).
Anarchy in Basra
I am extremely worried about what's going on in Basra. Looting is rampant and the British troops don't seem to be attempting to intervene or do anything by way of policing. I hope this is not a sign of things to come. If it is, what we're going to see is complete and utter chaos and anarchy. If it is, my post of yesterday, which I felt was overly pessimistic, may actually have been overly optimistic. These people have lived under Saddam for three decades. Before that the state was also very strong. Like most people in this part of the world, they are used to being forced to behave themselves. British soldiers smiling politely and putting on their funny hats is just not good enough. This can't be how they ran the Empire.
If the coalition forces continue to be so ineffective in their policing of the civilian population, the bloody power struggle will take place under their very noses. The bodies will start piling up. Revenge hasn't even begun. The danger to Iraq, and even to the physical well being of coalition soldiers themselves, could be very great.
I hear the British are going to use a local tribal chief to police. Oy vey. I don't envy the rival tribes.
Monday, April 07, 2003
Not the same at all
Charles J. Stephens points out some major differences between the US war in Vietnam and the war currently being fought in Iraq.
My mother-in-law is a Palestinian
A reader, Ben F. wrote:
I know it's deeply ingrained.
But I don't like it.
The UN's 1947 Partition Plan proposed two Palestinian states for two Palestinian peoples.
The Arab rejection said no, there is only one Palestinian people, the Palestinian Arab people, so there can only be one Palestinian state.
If we call the Arabs simply "Palestinians," do we not concede to them the argument that they are the indigenous people and that the Israeli Jews are not Palestinians, but imperialist colonialist occupiers?
The fact that the Palestinian Arabs call their state Palestine (see 1988 Declaration of Independence) says it all, doesn't it? Nobody ever looked at Judea, Samaria, and Gaza and called it Palestine.
Now I think about it, so was her father. And her father’s father, for that matter, although it wasn’t Palestine back then, it was just a far-flung district of Syria, a particularly derelict corner of the Ottoman Empire. It was the British who created modern “Palestine”.
I personally don’t mind them being Palestinians and us being Israelis, although truth to be told, Ben is right. We are all Palestinians. But not having any real history to speak of, as a people, they need a name, after all. The Palestinians is as good as any other.
It was the Romans who first called this land Palestine after the Philistines, the great enemies of the Israelites of old (remember Samson and Delilah?), who used to live around Gaza and Ashkelon way (although the modern day Palestinians are not their descendants). The Romans did this as part of their effort to put down those rebellious, obstinate Jews (sounds familiar). Why should I take for myself a name that was devised to humiliate my forefathers?
The Palestinians may want the whole of "Palestine". Well, they're not having it! They'll have to either learn to share or do without.
This is how things work: If you have a business, you have to share your income with the neighborhood tough guys. If you don’t, you no longer have a business, if you’re lucky. If you try to resist or to get outside help, you no longer have a life or, at least, not one worth living. Call it income tax if you will, only you don’t get it back by way of education, sewage or roads. You do get to see it driving around the neighborhood as a flashy new car. Often you find that your business is no longer your business. You have become the employee of the neighborhood tough guys. Lucky you. Only now, when they go down, you go down.
This is life.
Those few of us who were born incredibly fortunate and happen to live in a nice neighborhood, in a nice orderly western democracy, with law abiding neighbors and a powerful and independent judicial system, don’t know about this. We are so used to power being used moderately that we have come to believe that our safety and well-being are something we deserve, something we have coming to us. We don’t know we are just plain lucky. We don’t realize we were dealt an unbelievably good hand.
And so, in our ignorance, we get really upset when we discover that some people don’t get to live as we do. We get upset and we feel guilty. We don’t really know why this has happened and we tend to blame the wrong people. We completely misread the circumstances.
When a neighborhood tough guy is finally caught and removed, this way or the other, the neighborhood doesn’t sigh with relief. People know from bitter experience and plain common sense that the uncertainty that follows is just as dangerous, if not far more, than the reign of the deposed bully. Now there is likely to be a very violent period while the scramble is on to fill the void. If you just want a quiet life, this is a time for vigilance and caution. This is the time to stay down. On the other hand, if it’s power you want, if you see yourself as a possible heir, as the next tough guy, and you have reason to believe you might be successful in achieving this goal, now is the time for you to build your power base. And, of course, rid the neighborhood of your enemies or potential enemies.
Whoever you are and whatever your intentions, this is not a time for dancing in the streets. This is a time for warily and carefully evaluating the situation.
Show me people dancing in the streets of Iraq and I will show you people who, if they lived in any western country, would be riding the bus, right now, on their way to their Psychiatric day wards, their faces and bodies bloated from the medicines they take to alleviate their psychoses.
Because any sane Iraqi, or at least, not a very stupid Iraqi, knows that the Americans won’t be staying. Democracy? Why that’s just the void until another strongman takes over (maybe with the help of the Americans). Ask anyone.
[I hope I’m wrong, but this is how things work]
Saturday, April 05, 2003
Talking about Jewish .... There's a new TV channel on satellite. A religious channel. I spent part of the evening watching it. I enjoyed it. There's something fresh about it. There was a nice travel program called "The Wandering Jew" with Jacky Levy, one of the cooler religious guys in the media, who showed us round Rome from a Jewish perspective (from kosher restaurants to the Arch of Titus and beyond). Then there was a talk show sort of thing with this ultra-religious guy and a dummy that looked just like him. It was fascinating. I'll maybe tell you about it some other time.
I am not in any way what could be called an observant Jew. I do not spend Shabbat as my religious brethren would have me spend it. I do not pray. I do not go to a synagogue. I do not read the weekly portion of the Torah, although I did one year, not for religious reasons, but because it was an interesting, enriching experience. In some mysterious, magical way, the weekly Torah portion was always extremely relevant to the week's events. Maybe I'll start doing it again, sometime. I eat kosher because I am a vegetarian, not because of my faith. I don't partake in most of the Jewish ritual that would define me as "religious". In Israel the boundaries are quite clear. You are either religious, or you are not.
However, I light candles every Shabbat eve. Why do I do this? I'm not sure. Is it because it makes my secular Shabbat special? Is it because my mother and my grandmothers and my great-grandmothers did it?
I am a Jew because I was born a Jew, not out of conviction. But as such, my Jewishness is at the very core of my being. It's more than a religion.
Down the centuries, all you had to do, ostensibly, was to change your religion, to revoke your Jewishness and you could change your destiny. But could you really? Spinoza did it, and he was still regarded a Jew, although shunned by his people. Dizraeli did it and he is probably remembered to this day a lot because he was a Jew. The Inquisition helped people purge themselves of their Jewishness even after they had turned their back on it.
And there were the Nazis. For them there was no escape, no absolution, no mercy for those that had committed the terrible crime of being born a Jew.
It was different in Islam, I'm told. The Muslims wholeheartedly welcomed those who had seen the light. Now, I hear, we are monkeys and pigs. Should we convert, do we cease to be monkeys and pigs? How does this happen, exactly?
My Jewishness is more than a time and a place and a ritual.
Is it right to define oneself as others would define one? Maybe not, but isn't this often the case? A mother is a mother because her children make her one, not because she feels like a mother.
I could keep quiet about my identity, pretend to be something else, "play it down". I know people who do that, people who don't live in Israel. I once met a very sweet American girl whose family had been doing that for so long that she really didn’t know anything at all about Judaism. For her being Jewish was synonymous to being a nice person. That was more or less it. I live in Israel. I don't have to feel apologetic about being Jewish. I can be nice just for the sake of it, not to prove anything. Even better, I can be not nice without feeling I am somehow damaging all Jews everywhere.
I don't want to be religious, but I still want to sing at the top of my voice and bang on the table at the Passover Seder for all to hear. No, not Next Year in Jerusalem - This Year in Jerusalem! We have ceased waiting for the miracle. We have made it happen ourselves.
I have read elsewhere that Israel is not necessary. That America is the place where Jews can be free and safe. Well I don't know about that. My green card hasn't yet arrived in the mail, and even if it does, I doubt I'll make use of it. This is my home. This year I will sing at the top of my voice and bang on the table and so will my neighbors on all sides.
Ah yes, about your neighbors, I hear you say. What about the other ones, the ones that won't be sitting down to the Seder table to sing about freedom?
What about them?
I've written quite a lot about my neighbors. Round about Yom Kippur, I wrote this:
I did reserve duty in the Gaza Strip (pretty unusual for women at the time) and got a good look at Rafah, Han Younes and Gaza City. The result was that I suddenly understood the demographic problem. Round about the same time, I was shocked to see a 12 year-old Palestinian boy washing the floor of a Tel Aviv restaurant at one o'clock at night, and it wasn't even summer. A young Palestinian construction worker confided in me that his deep ambition was to be a policeman, but that they didn't have a police force.
My feeling that something had to change intensified during the first Intifada. When the opportunity arose for Palestinian self-rule which was to gradually become (as I saw it) Palestinian sovereignty in the territories, I was all for it.
The feeling was euphoric. No more shame. We were finally doing the right thing. At last we would be able to be on equal footing with the people we share this country with. It felt like the Messiah had come.
* * * * * *
This time around I have no feelings of shame or embarrassment. I have compassion for the Palestinians' suffering. I'm sorry about innocent Palestinians being killed. I feel for their families. I wish it could be different, but I feel no guilt.
They had their chance and messed up big-time. The blame is theirs, not ours.
Go away and leave me alone. Go back to your orderly world of good guys and bad guys and simplistic ideas of justice for the world's oppressed. You may mean well, but your good intentions could very well leave my family and myself homeless and defenseless, if we're lucky enough to live that long. Not that that would bother you. We had it coming after all, especially my seven year-old.
I am too weary to care what people like you think, or have to say, anymore.
I don't know how personally involved you are in this conflict or how the outcome will affect your life. For me, the Palestinians are not some faraway victims of heartless oppression; nor are they symbols of an heroic struggle for world peace and justice; they are not an exotic people fighting a wicked, cruel colonial power that is out to annihilate them, either.
The Palestinians are my neighbors, and I am fond of them, as one is (or should be) of one's neighbors. I am sorry that they are suffering and I am prepared for painful compromise, as one is (or should be) with one's neighbors.
Up to a point.
If my neighbors interpret my generosity and openness to compromise as weakness; if based on that interpretation, my neighbors try to force me to accept their demands at gun point; if my neighbors try to terrorize me out of my home (and I'm not talking about the territories) - they will find that I have ceased being a "nice" neighbor. They will find that I am just as determined and resilient as they are, if not more. They will find that I will never give in to their extortion.
I truly believed we could live side by side in peace and equality, sharing and growing together. I still hope (more than anything) that the Palestinians will put down their arms and cease their violence, and then we can once again renew our difficult but not impossible historical attempt at working out our differences peacefully.
Until that time, we are at war.
This war is not some sort of sick game we play for our enjoyment, as you seem to think. The soldiers in this war are protecting their homes and families (nearly all in pre-1967 Israel). And they know it. They know only too well, that if they don't catch (and if necessary kill) that suicide bomber, hiding in that alley, surrounded by women and children, it could very well be their eleven year-old sister on her way to school in Hadera or in Netanya or in Tel Aviv who is blown to smithereens next. What would you do in their place?
Friday, April 04, 2003
Who switched all the mirrors with life size photos of a bimbo with red tinted blow-dried hair?
I now remember why I've avoided hairdressing salons all these years. You can easily die of boredom, for one thing. I wonder how often they come back to find that the woman with her head in the sink, waiting for her blonde dye to take, has to be carted out?
I spent half an hour with my head thus, staring at Fashion TV. This would have been bearable if I had had my glasses on. As it was I could just make out if the creature on the screen was male or female and the color of the garment it was wearing. I could more or less see which body parts were revealed, but not well enough to enjoy the experience.
The next hour I spent staring at a blurred version of the red tint bimbo, while her hair was being cut (for about three seconds, by the boss. What's wrong with the kid who cut Eldest's hair? I can hear the cash machine clinging in my head.) and blow-dried (for ages by the kid). All this time I'm trying to work out if I've ruined my very expensive new glasses by sitting on them.
Now all this surely can't interest anyone, but I did promise an answer to a reader about some pretty heavy questions about religion and "The Situation". And now I have to ask myself - Is the bimbo up to it? Or is she just a mass of flowing auburn locks (Good grief, Imshin, what are you talking about? It's not that spectacular. And it's actually not all that red, either. And what's with the sexist remark?).
Well, this is all something for me to look into over the Shabbat, which I will spend mourning years of carefree hippi-ness, washed down the drain of the hairdresser's sink, along with the leftovers of the red tint mixture.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
Who are you and what did you do with Eldest?
Well, I’ve nearly done it. I’m well on my way to growing up. I have an appointment at the hairdresser’s for tomorrow at three. A hairdresser hasn’t touched my hair since Youngest was born. I don’t like having my hair messed with. So it’s rather long. Caveman style. Very cool. When it got too long I would always find someone at work to snip off the ends. But now the white hairs are getting a bit much and I really am getting a bit old for the wild look. Time to start acting my age.
It wasn’t actually my idea. Eldest started demanding to have her hair styled. I did try to discourage her but she was adamant. What can I do? She’s an adolescent. I don’t know any hairdressers, I told her, hoping that would be the end of it, but she went off and found one herself. I couldn’t deny that her friend T. and her mother both have very nice hair. It took another week for me to come by the phone number. This evening we went and did it. And what do you know? It was fun. Eldest looks great and she’s over the moon. And they were very nice there.
Tomorrow’s my turn. Oh, dear.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Asparagirl fisks an anti-Zionist beautifully.
There is always something exciting about the Hamsins of early spring. Last week was rainy and cold and wintery. Today the Hamsin desert wind, or Sharav in Hebrew (Hamsin is Arabic), began to bring the heat and the dryness of the desert right into the city. Summer in Tel Aviv is very humid and sticky. The Sharav is dry and dusty. When I'm walking outside during a spring time Sharav, I like to imagine it's still cold and wintery and I am the lucky one, all wrapped up in a warm, dry blanket. I can do this, because in the springtime, the sun is not yet as fierce and unforgiving as in the summer, however hot the wind may be.
The beginning of the Sharav can be deceptive. My friends in the next office came to work wearing light clothes; everyone knew the Sharav was coming. They laughed at me when they saw I had come in suede boots, even though I was wearing a thin skirt and summery blouse. But our offices face north and they soon began complaining that they were cold. If you keep the windows closed during a Sharav, the cool weather gets trapped inside.
The feeling of excitement that the Sharav wind brings with it is symbolic. This is a season of new beginning. One of the many paradoxes in Jewish tradition is that although we celebrate Rosh HaShana, the New Year, in the month of Tishrei, which falls in September or October, the month of Nisan, which falls in March or April, is actually the first month. Nisan is the month of the wheat harvest and this is when we celebrate Passover, the festival of emerging from slavery to freedom.
When the wind changes and the Sharav breaks it will be time to start cleaning the houses for Passover. There's no point starting before because the sand and the dust get into everything. Maybe I'll actually get round to doing it this year.
Thought that war was balmy
So he threw away his gun
Now he's having much more fun
(Recited from memory).
I loved it when I was a kid, but it didn't make me a pacifist. Even as a child I could see it didn't make much sense.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
I'm feeling uncomfortable about yesterday's post. I'd like to point out that Youngest is more interested than most kids her age in current affairs and in stuff like the Holocaust. I don't remember having a conversation like that with Eldest when she was in second grade.
This doesn't mean other kids are ignorant of the Holocaust. Round Yom HaShoah all school kids learn about it, in a manner suitable to their ages.
Last year, when Eldest was in the fifth grade, her class was responsible for the Yom HaShoah ceremony at school. In preparation, they were shown movies, read books and had a Holocaust Survivor, the grandfather of one of the students, come to talk to them.
In high school a lot of the kids go to Poland to visit extermination camps. My nephew went a few months ago.
Monday, March 31, 2003
Following the terrorist attack in Haifa that killed 17, including 9 kids, at the beginning of this month (Was it really less than four weeks ago?) Allison wrote that "Most Israelis believe in letting their kids in on the brutal realities of life here from an extremely young age". She didn't have comments on her blog at the time, and she was yet to publish an e-mail. I had quite a lot to say about this statement at the time, but I didn't. I somehow couldn't manage to organize my thoughts into a post to publish here. I was upset about the attack.
Next month is Yom HaShoah (Holocaust memorial day), Youngest reminds me, when I notice she is reading "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl". She tried to read it following Yom HaShoah last year, but it was still too difficult for her. Now she can't put it down. She'll be eight next month. I couldn't have read it when I was her age, but then she's far more intelligent than I am (and fully aware of it, unfortunately).
It's much better than an ordinary diary in which the writer says today I did such and such, she informs me. Anne Frank writes about all sorts of things that are happening to other people and in the world, she says, and not just about herself. Then she asks me how to pronounce the name Margot (Anne's sister). The book is without the dots and little lines that serve as vowels in Hebrew, as is the case in all books and printed texts besides poetry, ancient scriptures and those aimed at small children (like Youngest is meant to be).
When I was Youngest's age I didn't know about the Holocaust. It wasn't that I didn't know about the Nazis or World War II or that Germans had killed Jews or about concentration camps. I just wasn't aware of anything systematic. I had no idea of the scale. I certainly didn't know any details. I didn't know about The Holocaust. I was eight, for goodness sake!
This lack of knowledge was because I wasn't living in Israel yet. It was not down to anything lacking in my education. I attended a Jewish school and lived a very Jewish life. My parents were Zionist activists. It probably just wasn't thought to be appropriate that eight year olds should know too much about it.
When we made Aliyah, my first Yom HaShoah was quite a shock for me, and it took me a while to grasp it all. At first I was convinced the Nazis somehow managed to kill six million Jews all on one day - on Yom HaShoah.
Children in Israel grow up with the Holocaust. It's just as much a part of life as terrorist attacks.
Last night, I'm helping Youngest wash her hair and she asks one of those questions I dread answering. No, not about the birds and the bees, those I can handle.
This is maybe the place to explain that Youngest is one of those kids that regularly embarrass their teachers by asking questions they can't answer. I often have to consult a dictionary or an encyclopedia, before answering her, as well (or if I'm feeling even lazier than usual: "Ask Abba" (=Dad)).
I should have looked up yesterday's first question before answering and then it wouldn’t have gone where it did. But we're in the shower, aren't we?
How did Anne Frank die?
Oy vey. I know where this is going. This is not a child who will make do with a general answer, certainly not with an evasive one. Not that I would dream of giving her anything but a proper answer, it's just a difficult subject to talk about, especially with an eight year old (next month).
I think she died in Bergen Belsen, an extermination camp, I say.
Of course, I don't remember that she actually died of typhoid, silly me, and I begin to tell her how people were killed in Nazi extermination camps. A discussion of gas showers, forced labor, Zyclone B gas, the selection process (and more) follows. She knows the basics (she already knows about the gas showers, for a start), now she wants a bit more information. Each detail is examined and questioned and elaborations are asked for. I'm not enjoying the conversation. In fact, I'm feeling slightly nauseous, trying to think how and when to cut off the stream of questions. What will be too much? Then she wants to know about other extermination methods. I tell her about mass shootings. She wants to understand it all properly and I find myself explaining exactly why gas showers are more effective than guns. I'm feeling a bit woozy. I'm tired and the bathroom is full of steam. She wants to hear more. Tell me about more extermination methods, she demands, but, by this point, hair washing and shower are finished, and I am depressed and feeling guilty. I've traumatized the child, she'll have nightmares, I think, as I send her off to put on her pyjamas, relieved that we didn't get round to death marches, beatings, starvation, scientific experiments...
Worried about what has just transpired (it's not even as if I allow the girls to watch violent programs on TV), I go and discuss it in whispers with Bish in the living room. I needn't have whispered. Youngest has already been drawn back into Anne Frank's secret hidden world behind the bookcase. Bish is exasperatingly unconcerned, as always. Worse, he's pleased. Youngest, he says, is so bright it gives him hope for the future of society.
Tfu tfu tfu. I'd rather she was less interested in these sorts of things and more interested in little girls' things, the sillier the better, at least until she grows up a bit.
It suddenly strikes me that she didn't ask any why's.
She's definitely much more of a "what?" child. When will the "why?" come? I wonder. Maybe the "what?" stage is actually easier, even though it makes me feel so uncomfortable.
She didn't have any nightmares. She's a very matter-of -fact girl. She took it all in her stride. If it had been Eldest it would have been a different matter. But then, it wouldn't have been Eldest, would it?
Today I asked her if I could tell you all of this. She thought about it for a bit and then agreed, for a price. The price? A kiss and a hug.
Avishai Raviv, former agent of the Shabak (Israeli General Security Service, called the Shin Bet, by foreigners, for some reason, historical I think), was acquitted today of charges of "of failing to prevent the assassination of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, despite knowing that Yigal Amir was plotting to kill him". According to Ynet (Hebrew), the judges said that Raviv had no clue as to what Yigal Amir was planning to do and had no motive to withold such information from his Shabak controllers.
I got bored with this affair years ago, but the Raviv case was a very high profile affair in Israel, with certain elements on the right pushing very hard for him to be brought to justice, and the Shabak opposing his indictment. Exposing an intelligence source, especially a live one, can be very harmful for any intelligence gathering organization. Putting a live source on trial is even worse.
Let me guess: Tomorrow the headline in Yediot Aharonot will probably be something ridiculously sensational, on the lines of - "Shampania Hofshi" (Champagne is free or Free Champagne). Champaign was Avishai Raviv's Shabak code name, ostensibly because of his expensive tastes.
I'm relieved with the outcome. This was a witch hunt. And it was dangerous for the Shabak and its ability to effectively gather intelligence.
A few words by Diane on Rachel Corrie:
These actions should be barred in the territories. Jurjen kindly points out that the usual security precautions (having a pointman shoo away people from the 'dozer) in the Disputed Territories is difficult because of the risk of sniping. Yes, so don't allow this cat-and-mouse to start at all. Go in there and secure the area and then bring on the 'dozers. If anyone breaks through, arrest and deport them.
Oh, and as Jurjen correctly points out, use of human shields is illegal. That means that the ISM volunteers are lawbreakers, and should be expelled from the territories for that reason alone. They should then be expelled from Israel and barred from entering the country
Sunday, March 30, 2003
IRAQI HISTORY VS. AMERICAN IDEALISM
Ofra Bengio and Bruce Maddy-Weitzman of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies discuss democracy for Iraq:
It looks like phones are down in Baghdad
The big picture
I hear certain Sky News junkies are getting fed up with this war. They miss the sports news at twenty past the hour, every hour. The war coverage on the 24 hour news channels is dreary, isn’t it?
Catherine Bennett discussed this in a rather amusing article in the UK Guardian on Thursday. She makes an interesting point:
Do my eyes deceive me? Could this be possible? Is she really suggesting that reporters in the field cannot actually understand what is happening? Could it really be that they are not able to grasp the big picture? I am shocked. This is revolutionary! Think of the implications!
Because if this is true for this Iraq war it could be true for other conflicts, couldn’t it? Maybe foreign reporters covering Jenin and Ramallah so objectively are just as clueless as the guys currently tagging along after the US forces or looking out of their hotel windows in Baghdad.
And if it’s true for professional, seasoned journalists, do you think it could possibly be true for ideological peace activists who arrive with preconditioned perceptions of what they are to find? Maybe they don’t understand what they are seeing and hearing and experiencing.
For instance, maybe they don't know what the bulldozers are doing and why. Maybe they don't realize (what every soldier and construction worker knows) that a bulldozer driver has extremely limited vision. Maybe this is how they come to be harboring a murderer and hiding weapons (Via Meryl Yourish).
Could it possibly be?
During the one o'clock news they suddenly said they had received a report of a blast in busy Herzl Street in Netanya in a cafe in Haatzmaut Square. Another suicide terrorist attack. Knowing Dad often spends his mornings with his pals in such a cafe, I immediately called him up on his cell phone. He had left ten minutes before and he hadn't heard any blast, but while we were talking an ambulance could be heard rushing past. Then the other phone in the office rang and I said to myself that will be Bish. But it wasn't. It was the girls. They'd just got home from school. Youngest wanted to tell me about a quarrel she'd got into about recycling the water bottles, Eldest wanted to tell me that they'd started preparations for the end of the year show they're putting on. It was difficult making the switch, tearing myself away from the radio. I knew that Dad was fine and R.T. doesn't have lunch there, as far as I know, therefore it was of course more important to listen to the stories the girls wanted to tell me about their day than to hear an update about the attack, but it was difficult to concentrate on what they were saying. I didn't tell them about the attack. What for?
No one was killed today (besides the suicidal murderer), thankfully, but sometimes we forget that living with the injuries can be very difficult. Just Friday, on the evening weekend news, I forget which channel, they brought the story of the Netanya Park Hotel waitresses injured in the Passover Massacre a year ago. One of them, such a pretty, sunny girl with a lovely smile, was in a wheel chair. She was telling her friends how she went to the mall by herself. Our Sis and I took Mum to a mall, a few months before she died, and I can tell you it's not always easy to maneuver a wheelchair into some of the shops even when you're pushing the chair and not sitting in it. This must be one determined and plucky girl to do this all by herself.
No one having been killed today, this attack will not interest anyone outside Israel, of course. It's quite understandable. There's a war going on.
Reshet Bet radio station said Forty-five were injured, one of them, a soldier, critically. They say he was the guy who stopped the terrorist from getting into the cafe and killing many.
Dan Scemama, Israeli TV channel 1 reporter, one of those indignant Israeli journalists who were held as spies and treated rather badly by the US military, spoke on Reshet Bet radio station this morning.
Yesterday I categorized him, rather hastily, as an arrogant fool before I actually heard his full version. Now that I have heard him speak on the subject I would like to apologize and correct the wrong impression my words from yesterday may have made. He is not an arrogant fool; he is an extremely foolish arrogant fool. And he doesn't come over as very bright either (He went on and on about his terrible traumatic experience in such detail that he spent about two whole minutes telling incredulous listeners about the family of ants he and his friends adopted while in captivity. At this point my friends in the next office switched radio station in disgust). My sources (scroll down to my comment) tell me that Scemama is not necessarily held in very high regard among some of his professional colleagues either.
The Frog wondered yesterday, if this incident would maybe change Israeli perceptions of the war. I hardly think that will be the case. After all, Israelis don't have much respect for the Israeli media, as we clearly saw during the recent Israeli election campaign. From random conversations I have had about this affair, it seems I'm not the only one who thinks these Israeli and Portuguese journalists were just a bunch of idiots. Scemama was the butt of many a joke at work today. Boaz Bismut, the other Israeli journalist, I notice, seems more sensible. He got the middle page spread in today’s Yediot Aharonot. But it's Scemama who seems to be running around ranting and raving and losing more and more credibility with each interview he gives.
Update: Channel 2 just showed Boaz Bismut ranting on French TV (no less) in perfect French about the despicable treatment they got, yada yada yada. GRRRRRRRRR.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
Dog log - the final chapter
We came home from our Shabbat lunch (Yes, we took our gas masks - I've decided to call them gasks for short) to find Sancho had finished off the remnants of that vanilla cake that had been sitting in the kitchen waiting (patiently) for someone so very much in need of something sweet as to not notice it was revolting. Of course, the crumbs were embedded (such a useful word) in the carpet and the cardboard cake box was in shreds all over the living room. But at least Sancho was happy at last. The girls got to take him out for a last walk ("I'm holding the leash!" "No, I'm holding the leash!" "But you held it last time!"...), before regrettably taking their leave of Sancho and going off to play with friends (Who am I kidding? They hardly said goodbye to him, or to us for that matter, in their hurry to be gone).
Sancho was delighted to see his folks, when they came for him. And there ends our dog story. Not to be continued.
The truth dawns on yet more human shields:
No wonder these "anti-war" characters also believe every preposterous lie the Palestinians tell them. They're just plain ignorant.
These two idiot Israeli journalists are frothing at the mouth with indignation at their alleged mistreatment by American troops in Iraq, even though they had no official authorization to be there. What on earth did they expect? Garlands? Kisses? This is a battlefield, for goodness sake!
We get just as annoyed with the foreign journalists in our battlefields, although I must admit, we seem to give foreign journalists far more freedom in the field than the Americans (or the Iraqis, of course) are doing, for all their complaining about us.
I'm glad this happened because it means that if real spies or terrorists come along, posing as journalists, they will be sussed out.
The Bamba issue
Okay, now listen! I've thought about it and I have just one thing to say. Bamba is a national asset, see? My girls might not be crazy about it but that doesn't mean I'll sit back and see it knocked all over the Blogosphere. So just you and you, watch it! Our leaders made a great patriotic decision in pronouncing it a vital product and that it's production continue undisturbed in times of emergency, and thus proved that they really do care about little people after all. Think of all the relieved parents and children all over the country who were losing sleep worrying what they would do if their supply dried up. So there'll be no more badmouthing Bamba if you don't mind.
I'm glad we've cleared that up.
Update: Laurence is my Bamba brother.
Second update: Go check out Allison's hilarious take on Bamba. It seems I've made her bad books, though. I can't say I didn't earn it.
Some of you may be asking what happened to my decision not to post on Shabbat. Well, last weekend I had so many visitors to Not a Fish it felt downright inhospitable not to entertain them all. This week it's not as hectic as last week but still far more than usual.
Miki took offense that I spelt out her name but not the dog's. She's right of course, the dog is Sancho, but you won't beat his folks' names out of me, even with threats of Saddam's shredding machine. Well, maybe.
It's quite nice having a four-legged friend here. His mood improved somewhat once he realized we weren't cruel and wicked and we knew to give him food and water and take him for walkies. Walkies is quite nice, meditative, but we're already making deals ("If you take him now, I'll take him in the morning") so I can see one of our own would not be such a good idea. Youngest is hesitantly stroking him, he can sense her insecurity and keeps clear of her. That's maybe the best reason for having one of our own. Eldest, who was most excited about having him here and who is forever asking for a dog or a cat, ignores him completely.
I've discussed Shabbat lunch with Our Sis, and she agrees it would be best not to bring Sancho. Not because he would fight with little old T. .. er.. Tiggy, but because he might ruin Our Sis' pride and joy, her beautiful award-winning garden (It hasn't actually won any awards yet, but it should).
Friday, March 28, 2003
Ynet update: Haifa firefighters have been battling for the last hour to rescue a goat that fell down a well in a Haifa neighborhood.
I can always count on readers to offer explanations. James Begent informs me that "an esquire is an old term for the rank below a knight. In modern use it's more of a term of respect, since the meaning doesn't apply any more. People like the bank will use it to be obsequious."
There you go.
Mr. Begent, esq. also says on his bloggy sort of site: "I believe there is no meaning or purpose in anything. All effort is futile. All desire is empty. Buddha was nearly right but when you die you rot in the ground. God is Santa Claus for adults. Humans are monkeys. Life was an accident. I like burning things, especially hackers. I like complexity and abstraction as they distract me from the futility of human existence".
Hmmm. Cheerful. I tend to agree (except about burning hackers, but this is probably some computer jargon witticism that I am not acquainted with).
Update: More input from yet another reader - "We lawyers in the U.S. often have Esq. after our names." Aha!
S. has arrived with his bowl, toy cat, little ball and a very long face, which is getting longer all the time. Poor thing, he thinks he's been abandoned. Miki has asked for more details about him. Well he's a mongrel, part Alsatian, I think, about two years old.
This is not England, you nitwits! What did you expect? That they stand tidily in line and wait for their turn? This is not proof that they are hungry, this is proof that they are Middle Easterners. If you're giving out something for free, of course the whole town will turn up, of course there will be a scramble! If you don't organize queues and be tough in regulating them, there won't be any.
And don't forget this is the cradle of commerce - You'll be seeing those cartons of goodies offered for sale in the market tomorrow, more likely than not!
We're having a real dog to stay for the weekend. No, I'm not being rude about my guest, it really is a dog. The girls are very excited. Don't worry, Our sis, I won't bring him for Shabbat lunch, he's about twice T.'s size but she is still likely to devour him, with all her age. He's a bit of a simpleton.
Yes, go ahead, why don't you, and boycott Israeli research and products.
The war rushes past and we are left, thankfully, standing at the edge watching.
Gil points out that Israel didn't start deporting Palestinians as some anti-Israeli activists claimed we would (duh). These claims were preposterous, of course, and exhibited unbelievable ignorance of what is happening here (again duh). Gil also points out that you won't find any of these prophets of doom owning up that they were wrong (triple duh), but then they're too busy shouting stupid senseless slogans elsewhere, aren’t they? They'll be back, when other channels of expressing their foolishness and ignorance dry up. Actually they already are back, lying about by Bank Leumi in NYC, staging a... a... Die-In??! (Talk about time warps). Yeah, I can't stand Bank Leumi either, that so-called pillar of Israeli economy, (I'll tell you how they tried to put one over me and my Bat-Mitzva savings when I was eighteen another time) but I've got better things to do (sleep comes to mind, but maybe I'll put that on hold and go practice my considerable shooting skills so I'll be ready when the time is ripe for world domination hahahahahaha). Funny thing is, I saw this Die-In thing on TV and because I wasn't really listening (my mind kind of switches off when they start talking about so-called peace demonstrations - bo-o-oring), assumed it was against the war with Iraq. I didn't even notice it was about the rights of people to throw themselves in front of bulldozers in the south of the Gaza strip. It just shows - timing is everything. You have to know when to demonstrate about what, if you want to get across.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Saddam playing games.
The Palestinians got fed up of waiting for Saddam's Scud missiles.
Take that, you France you. And let that be a lesson to you.
Lovingly sent by Our Sis.
The lowest of the low
A Palestinian youth was sent by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah to Jerusalem two months ago to perpetrate a suicide bombing. He changed his mind and was apprehended by Israeli forces after having dumped the explosives. Recently he confessed to his interrogators that the target had been a boarding school, a home for children that have been removed from severely abusive families. We have a few such homes in the Tel Aviv area too, actually quite near us. A boy that lives in one of them studies in Eldest’s class at school (the kids live in the homes but attend regular schools) and my sister-in-law works in another. The youth, a seventeen year-old from the village of Al Hader, “said he had decided not to go ahead with the attack after he realized that many children would be hurt.”
Thank you, Tal, for the link to the boarding school.
Back when my dad was an English esquire (I’ve no idea what that is, but he used to get letters addressed to him with esq. on the end of his name. Being an inquisitive child I had to know what it was, but no one really gave me an answer that quite satisfied me) he was regularly bashed on the head by nasty people* and robbed (we lived in the North). Each time this happened, he got a nice article in the local paper, but not once did they spell his name right!
*People less fortunate than us who wished to even things up a bit and in the process give my dad the benefit of a few days rest in hospital and more stitches in his head (and you still wonder why he brought his family to live in this wilderness?).
To whom it may concern: I am Imshin IMSHIN as in I.M.S.H.I.N., not Ishmin nor אישמין. Thank you, Harry.
The teachers have started their sanctions. School started at nine o'clock today, instead of eight o'clock. The new government economic plan calls for the dismissal of 6000 teachers. I don't know if they plan to give early retirement to some of the older, burnt-out teachers, or sack the younger ones, but I can think of one or two teachers in my girls' school that I would not be heartbroken if I didn’t see teaching next year.
I find it very difficult to feel empathy for the teachers' plight. They may not make very much money, but they don't work very much either (they boast a twenty four hour week, nearly half the national amount, and they work eight months a year, and that's on a year they don't go on too many strikes, and don't tell me they have all those exams to mark after school hours, I won't be impressed). Some teachers make a small fortune supplementing their salaries with unreported private tutoring. Besides pocketing (stealing?) what they should be paying as income tax for this, as I see it, this practice gives them incentive to be bad teachers in school in the morning (no fear of being sacked, they have job permanence). If little Adi can't understand what Shula the math teacher is talking about, her parents will be forced to fork out for private tuition (and it's very expensive). What a coincidence, Shula just happens to know of a very good teacher who could be of assistance... and what do you know, the very good teacher also has some students who need help. Maybe Shula would be so kind... A very profitable arrangement. I think it's not as straight forward as that, these days (have teachers of late grown some shame or is it the Education Ministry making a feeble attempt at curbing the phenomenon?), but that's how it worked in my day. And I suppose the logic hasn't really changed. Of course, many parents can't afford this blood letting, so this creates a situation whereby only the relatively reasonably-salaried can afford a decent education for their offspring (so much for free and equal schooling for all). So, no, I don't have much empathy for teachers, although we've been very lucky with the girls' class teachers in recent years (Why should I feel lucky? Don't our children deserve good teachers? Must it be a matter of potluck?).
The teachers’ sanctions will probably soon mature into a full-blown strike. This is a real torment for parents who aren't as fortunate as the teachers with their unparalleled work conditions and actually have to put in a full day's work all year round (give or take a bit for what's known as "Shabbatot ve hagim" - Saturdays and religious holidays). Let's hope the teachers manage to muster up some uncharacteristic restraint and wait till the end of the war in Iraq before they commence with their fun and games.
*I would like to point out that most teachers I know personally are lovely people, dedicated to their vocation. I am very happy with my girls’ school on the whole, and haven’t really got much of an axe to grind. But being a full-time working mother, The Teachers, as a powerful political group, continue to p$#s me off no end.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Sixty nine today
Last year Seder Night fell on the twenty seventh of March, the day after your birthday. So Seder Night was your birthday celebration too. You had been diagnosed just three weeks before and, without talking about it, we were all determined that this would be the best Seder Night ever. And it was.
We sang and were happy like there was no tomorrow. No, we sang and were happy because there was no tomorrow. And you sat there so fragile and delicate, like a rare flower of great beauty to be protected and adored.
Then you started to get tired. You and Dad were already preparing to go home, when Bish had a look on the Internet and told us the news about the terrible terrorist attack in the Park Hotel, the one that came to be known as the Passover Massacre, just down the road from your apartment.
This year, I won’t be ringing you up in the morning to sing “Happy Birthday” on the phone. I’ll never be ringing you up to sing “Happy Birthday” again. But I’ll be singing to you in my heart all day long, because you are always with me.
Happy Birthday Mum. I love you.
I've been regretting the post quoting Guy Bechor ever since I wrote it. I should have gone with my gutt feeling that I didn't really know what I was talking about, and kept my reflections to myself in that case, but what's done is done. I quoted Dr. Bechor as saying that Iraqi Shiites are undereducated. I do remember him saying that but I may have misunderstood his meaning. A reader wishes to point out that "Shiites are the intellectuals (and artists,) in Iraq and they are not undereducated but Sunnis are the ruling class". My apologies.
This reminds of the Jewish community of Iraq, which is now non-existent. The whole community, more or less, moved to Israel as one, once it became evident that staying in Iraq would be too dangerous. In many cases this meant leaving behind much wealth, for a life of years of squalor and degradation in tents in transition camps in the fledgling Israel. They were also intellectuals and artists (I think mainly musicians) but more or less devoid of political power. Many have done very well in Israel and they are prominent in Israeli politics, academia and art, not to mention in business and in the communications media.
I wrote something of my feelings on this, here. And here are more old posts of mine and Diane's, with links, on the subject.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
I'm watching US soldiers frisking men who are surrendering to them, on Fox News. Maybe they should ask them to pull up their shirts first. It's only a matter of time before someone "surrenders" wearing an explosive belt.
A. The weather: Very cold and very wet. I really don't want to go to my class this evening, but I have no choice. The course, when I finish it, will add slightly to my salary, which the government is probably voting to cut as we speak.
B. "Tzabar Salads" have come out with a product they call "Lebanese Green Tehina". It's yummy.
Update to A.: My class is in a tough South Tel Aviv neighborhood. My co-students are mainly blue collar. I was surprised and pleased to see that nearly half had gas masks with them. It seems proles (real ones) have more sense after all.
I’s a good girl, I is
When my betters tell me to take my gas mask with me, even if they themselves do not (“Do as I say, not as I do”?), I do it, especially if it seems to me to be quite a sensible thing to do. And when Diane tells me to read Lilek's Bleat, I do that too.
(This doesn’t mean I’ll put my hand in the fire if I am thus instructed. We heat by air conditioning.)
I wanted to tell you yesterday about the evacuation of Hill 26 near Hebron, but for some reason I couldn’t find a decent link and then I forgot about it. Well, now I’ve found a decent-ish link (I’ve been making an effort to steer clear of Haaretz’s heavily politicized news pages, but sometimes there just isn’t any other option in English). So here it is: They evacuated Hill 26.
Having reportedly spent an unprecedented fortune on hotel rooms, equipment, roof space and whatever else is necessary for gleefully updating the world when the Iraqis give us our due/show us what's for/beat the s#$t out of us (or whatever), most members of the foreign press have now left Israel, according to Israeli TV. Good riddance, vultures.
By the time the chemical missiles get here, and my feeling that the Iraqis will put in the greatest effort to make sure that happens, when the time is ripe, is increasing, I fear the only ones still schlepping our gas masks around will be Bish and me and Allison and my mother-in-law. How about you, Our Sis? At least most of the kids are still taking them to school.