Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Would someone like to work for me? Please?
I sometimes don’t know what to make of the news. They show all these people queuing for Passover food parcels. They describe destitution and hunger. The queues are growing from year to year, the reporters explain. Someone I know who runs a food project tells a similar tale. It’s so sad (I am so lucky to have enough to eat).

But then, why can’t I find an Israeli cleaner? Could all these people really be so poor that they are reduced to charity, but still none of them want to clean houses for a living? I don’t get it.

I know, many of them are old or sick; many of them can’t do any sort of hard manual labor. I know, most have probably worked hard all their lives, poor souls, but just can’t make ends meet on today’s pensions or welfare checks.

But they can’t all be too ill or too old to work. There must be one or two who wouldn’t find it too difficult. It’s not like I’m an unreasonable employer. I would never follow a worker of mine around or behave unpleasantly. I’m generous about wages and I give a nice bonus on holidays. You see, I feel a bit embarrassed about having someone work for me, so I would rather just leave them to get on with it.

I had the most incompetent cleaner, but I never complained, not even once. I reckoned everyone deserved a decent living, even if they were not very good at their chosen profession. A soft touch, that’s me.

So I stare at the screen, watching these people in the big queue, waiting to get their rations. The man who runs the food project has such good, compassionate eyes. He describes the troubles of the people he helps. What a lovely, kind person.

I too feel compassion for the people in this queue, and in many others all over the country, and I often open my purse as does my Bish, but all the time I have a nagging little thought eating away in my brain, “If they would only come to work for me, maybe they wouldn’t need charity.”

“I’m not afraid of hard work.” They tell me on the phone. I am happy. At last! I take the day off work to show them the ropes, and then they don’t show up.

Saturday, March 27, 2004


Today is the second anniversary of the Passover Massacre. Park Hotel, Netanya. 27th March 2002.

So much has changed since then. That was fear, real fear. At that time, there were terrible terrorist attacks every day, every day. I remember that fear, but I don’t feel it now.

Reacting to the Yassin killing the other day, I said: “…the fear is legitimate, I feel it too…” But the truth is, I don’t. Well I do a little, when I dwell on it, but why should I dwell on it? I don’t think about it at all.

I work on a busy main street. When I leave work every afternoon, there is usually a traffic jam outside my workplace. As I cross the street on the clearly marked pedestrian crossing, I have to weave through the waiting vehicles. Every time I cross, I fear one of motorbikes or mopeds that rush past the stopped cars will run me over. I have often thought that I am very likely to end my life crossing that road. Life is full of dangers.

The Palestinians have been doing their utmost to pull off a 9/11-style mega-attack inside pre-1967 Israel for ages now. The fact that it hasn’t happened, and that there haven’t been many “ordinary” massacres in recent months either (you know, the usual stuff – buses, crowded shopping areas, children in their beds…), is not because they’ve been holding back or keeping their big guns for when we kill the little old devil in the wheelchair. It’s because we’ve been killing his deputies from above all the time (read: cruel, illegal targeted killings), it’s because we’ve been catching the would-be suicide bombers at the checkpoints all the time (read: cruel, illegal, oppressive checkpoints), and it’s because we’ve been building a very big protective fence all the time (read: cruel, illegal apartheid wall). The result of all these actions, that undoubtedly make the life of many ordinary Palestinians very, very difficult, is that a barrier has appeared, separating terrorists from victims, keeping the bad guys away from me and mine. As a result, they are finding it increasingly difficult to get through. If once the terrorists could just circumvent checkpoints by sauntering over the fields, for a while now the best they’ve been managing is a few troubled women and children being sent to explode, for lack of any other options. If that isn’t a signal of dire distress (besides a complete and utter lack of morals) then what is?

So you see, I have no particular fear as a result of the Yassin killing. I know my army, my security services and my government, are doing their utmost to protect me. They were before and they are now. I didn’t change anything in my way of life as a result. I went to the mall, I went running with Bish in the park a few times, Eldest went out twice collecting donations door-to-door for some charity or other, I got the bus to work every morning, I walked home every afternoon (thankfully, not getting run over by a motorbike when crossing the road). And I must say, I didn’t notice any less people in the shops, in the cafes or in the streets. On the contrary, it’s two weeks before Pesach (Passover). The shops are packed; the atmosphere in the supermarket is one of frantic activity. It’s all hogwash, silly scaredy-pants propaganda, the Media inventing news. It hasn’t happened.

Have you noticed that the masses aren’t demonstrating in Gaza? As usual, the real news is what isn’t in the papers. There have been a few tepid sounding demonstrations in other places, but not in Gaza, where he lived, preached, and died. And they reportedly only managed to mobilize a few thousands for demonstrations in the West Bank (it was probably even less than that). The masses would be out on the streets in Gaza in the tens of thousands, if they were so outraged by the killing of their beloved spiritual leader. They’ve managed to get them out of their houses for far less in the past. And it shouldn’t have been a problem yesterday, Friday. People are off work and it’s easy to incite them in the mosques. They didn’t even bother with a riot during Friday prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, even after the Imam was arrested for incitement. I hear they tried to arrange a mass march of the people on Erez Border Crossing at the north of the Gaza Strip, but no one came.

Maybe a lot of Palestinians are secretly relieved to see him go. Maybe they’re fed up and want it to finish already. Maybe they have long ago stopped believing the promises of people like Yassin that Israel is close to breaking point.

At the moment, male Israelis I know are mainly aggravated that the pressure is on for the Basketball EuroLeague Final Four tournament not to take place in Tel Aviv as planned, but in very safe Moscow. And who made the most noise about not coming to Israel? The team from Valencia, Spain, who refused to come for a game against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday. A popular Israeli sports commentator quipped that they didn’t want to come to Israel because there were no direct flights and it meant them having to go through MADRID!

Annoying, yes, but that should be the worst of our problems.

Update: More on these issues by Meryl Yourish, who has a comments option at the moment. She doesn't mean to keep them, so if you have something to say, this is the time.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Shabbat Shalom.
Mum’s birthday.

Always on my mind.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The child stands alone, his hands in the air. The big brown eyes reveal all.

Please. Don’t shoot me. I want to live.

Slowly the robot rolls towards him and drops something shiny and silver. “Pick it up with your left hand”, the voice shouts out, “Keep your right hand high up in the air”. He bends slowly, his right hand straight above him, lest the green-clad figures in the distance, the ones with the guns, think he isn’t complying. He picks up the scissors. The voice shouts to him to cut the gray strap on his left shoulder, the gray strap that holds the big gray explosive belt, which is not unlike the protective metal jackets the green-clad figures are wearing. Please let it not blow up, the child’s eyes say. I want to live. His hand trembles as he cuts the strap.

Please let me not blow up. I’m sorry, ya Mamma. I’m sorry.

Who sends a child to kill and die, for a hundred shekels ($22) and the promise of getting laid in heaven? Who is on the lookout for the slow, unpopular kid, the one the other kids laugh at because he is short and ugly? (Ugly? Can’t they see those beautiful big brown eyes?)

What wickedness is this?

* * * *

Update: I'm hearing that some members of the Western Media are accepting Arab Media claims that this story is some sort of Israeli hoax. How absurd. No one who saw the terror in that poor child's eyes could possibly think such a thing. I heard his mother on the TV. She doesn't seem to think it was a hoax. She seems very angry, and not at the Israelis.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Still alive. Blog Break.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Life In The Slow Cooker Lane or If You Haven’t Had Vegetarian Cholent for Shabbat Lunch You Really Don’t Know Anything About The Blissful Experience Of The Shabbat Afternoon Shloff or Bubble, Bubble, No Toil, No Trouble.

I see it’s time for my Blogger friends to start salivating about the steaks they are going to eat in protest of the violent tactics of a group of animal rights activists. Well, I don’t like aggressive actions, not if they are in aid of saving animals from inhumane treatment and slaughter and not if they are in aid of people who want to enjoy eating them or wearing them, without being harassed.

I am a vegetarian, but not one who tries to force her beliefs or views on anyone else. To prove this point, I would like to say that I am bringing up (or should I say, being brought up by) two enthusiastic young meat lovers. Their strange idea of heavenly food is R.T.’s Best Chicken Soup In The World (or so I’ve been told) and the fare served at Our Sis’s Famous Garden Barbeques.

In an attempt to accommodate their weird lust for cooked animal flesh, Bish arrived home with a new toy last week – a slow cooker. The idea was that we could stick bits of ex-birds and former mammals (or even the odd deceased aquatic vertebrate) into the cooker in the morning, just before we all left for work and schools, and these sorry creatures would be cooked ready for the girls by the time they got home from school at lunchtime, and would be steaming hot for their enjoyment (ugh!). By the time we arrived home later on, the offensive smells would be long gone.

But, wonder of wonders, the slow cooker is a friend to non-meat-eaters too! We have been having a wonderful time, experimenting with stews, soups and the likes. Those tantalizing cooking smells that habitually steal, uninvited, into our nostrils as we enter the corridor of our floor, no longer sadly disappear as we open the door to our apartment. The smells are actually coming from inside our apartment! There it is welcoming us - a pot filled with bubbling, savory scrumptiousness.

And today was no exception. This slow cooking wonder produced for us, on this Shabbat, the richest, most fragrant, most succulent, most delectable, and (of greatest importance yet) most sleep-inducing, vegetarian cholent, to ever grace Shabbat plates this side of the Jordan River.

[An admission of guilt: I wrote this before actually tasting the said cholent. The smell was driving me completely insane. I was drooling at the mouth like a dog, and I wasn’t the only one - family members could be seen periodically drifting into the kitchen, led by their noses, arms straight in front of them, eyes closed… We ended up eating about an hour before we had planned to. We just couldn’t stand it any more.

What can I say? It was all I had imagined and more. Bish said it was (the Hebrew equivalent of) divine, very appropriate for Shabbat lunch.

And now (yawn) for my shloff.]
Dirty washing
Batya Gur, a successful Israeli writer went all the way to Belgium to tell the people there that Israeli Prime Minister Arik Sharon is a bad person, and to ask them to help get rid of him. I was personally deeply offended by her action. Like him or not, Israeli Prime Minister Arik Sharon is not a cruel despot. He was democratically elected. When he is elected out of office, he will not stage a coup and take over the rule of the country by force. He will go home and someone else will be prime minister, someone who will also be democratically elected by the people. So what is Batya Gur saying exactly, to those people in far away Belgium? Is she saying that the large majority of Israeli people, who voted Prime Minister Arik Sharon into office, are also bad people? What help is she asking for? Does she want Belgium, or the EU, or maybe the UN, to invade Israel, depose Sharon and appoint a puppet leader more to her liking? And why doesn’t she see fit to stand on a soapbox in Rabin Square and say all this to us (maybe using less offensive language to make it easier for us to hear and accept)? Why Belgium? Are we, the Israeli electorate, the people who spend our hard-earned money on her books, so ignorant and primitive, in her eyes, that she sees no point in wasting her breath trying to persuade us?

Let me tell you a little secret, Batya Gur. I am not angry with suicide bombers either. They are my enemies and I will fight them however I can. Anger is irrelevant. But I am angry with you, because you, my sister, empower them and give legitimacy to their actions.
My shame
On the television, they show Spaniards going back into Madrid train stations, twenty four hours after the massacres. Many are in tears, all are somber. Life goes on, don’t we know it. They interview some women of different ages, who express their pain, their fear, their outrage, their bewilderment. I should be moved. I should feel their pain. I should cry in empathy. But I am cold. I am bitter. The loneliness of the guilty victim has made me hard.

And when I realize that, I feel the pain, and the tears come.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Why Spain? I believe it has little to do with Spain’s support of the war in Iraq, and it has a lot more to do with Palestinian Islamic terrorism than anyone in the west seems capable of realizing.

These Muslim fanatics who are striving for world domination are not interested in the modern world. For these people, Spain, or at least the southern part of it, is occupied Muslim land.

Just like Palestine.
Shabbat Shalom
Zeev Schiff in Haaretz:

Israelis can empathize with the horror and anguish experienced Thursday by residents of Madrid. The irony is that the Spanish media has for the last several years shown "understanding" for Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians in public places, on buses and in railway stations, and has even justified such attacks. But no political demand, however justified it might be, justifies such acts of mass murder.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I saw a child on the television, the other day, a girl recuperating from a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. The bus she had been riding, on her way to school, blew up. She was fatally wounded, but somehow managed to pull through and survive.

She looked just like Eldest, same age, same build, same gentle tone of voice. She said that after the blast the man next to her didn’t have any legs. He said to her, “Little girl, there has been a terrorist attack. Run away, save yourself.” She said it was like the miracle of Purim, in which we celebrate the Jewish people being saved from destruction. This was her miracle – she didn’t die.

* * * *

She looked like Eldest. She probably looked like a lot of children. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother sitting there, watching her, and crying.

Today something horrific happened in Spain. When will people wake up? When will people understand that there can be no justification for terrorism?

Please listen. This is an epidemic. It may seem far away from you now, but it will reach you eventually, wherever you are. If you do nothing to stop it now, you are bringing it nearer. Before you know it, the little girl on the television will be speaking your language, will be someone you know.

Monday, March 08, 2004

In what is probably old fuzzy brain here's most monumental blunder to date, I made a sincere effort NOT to forget my sister's birthday. I did all the appropriate things, only to discover, to my embarrassment, that it was a MONTH EARLY! I sincerely apologize to Our Sis, and to all family members who probably momentarily thought that it was they, not I, who had got it wrong.

All this just adds to a feeling that has been increasing recently, and you've probably noticed, that I need a break.

Blogging will be suspended until further notice.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to Our Sis! Happy Birthday to you!

Friday, March 05, 2004

Happy Blogoversary To Allison! Until 120, my dear.

I can't believe it's only a year since you started your blog. You seem to have been around forever (Oy, that doesn't sound very nice, does it? I keep putting my foot into it. The other day in the dining room at work, someone moved in his chair so I could pass behind him and I told him he was thinner than he looked. Big mouth).
Let the festivities begin!
Well, two girls have been sent off to school in all of their Purim splendor, one yellow and fluffy and the other, purple and gorgeous (and wearing a very expensive black velvet dress of mine that I’ve never worn). Purim is on Sunday, but there is a school vacation so they strut their stuff (literally, in the case of the yellow and fluffy one) today.

I think I was more excited than they were this morning. I was so nervous I couldn’t plait Youngest’s hair properly. ‘Now don’t be nervous,’ she tried to sooth me, ‘Think that it isn’t Purim at all, just an ordinary day, like any other’. Why is it I have two daughters who are both so much more sensible than I am?

And I couldn’t get the camera to work. Of course, it’s fine now. Grrrrr.

Purim always has this feeling of hilarity. I popped into the supermarket and the guys in the fruit and vegetable department had funny hats on. As I was leaving, one of the younger and livelier cashiers was trying to get all the other ones to put on colorful wigs. This cashier highly amused me last week, as I was going through her cash registry, by letting me (and the whole store) listen to her animated conversation with the girl next to her about thongs and sex. As I left the store I noticed the head cashier call her over and reprimand her for talking about sex in front of the customers.

I bought a gorgeous wig in Amsterdam, when I was there. It was pretty expensive, but the guy I bought it off was speaking Arabic, so I wasn’t embarrassed to haggle about the price, and got it for less. Anyway, I can’t find it now. How aggravating. Not that I’ve got any hot parties to go to, and I won’t wear it to work on Sunday because I sit alone and it’s a bit pathetic to be sitting all alone in a small office with a fancy wig, isn’t it?

On second thoughts, WTF? (Pardon my awful language. It’s down to Purim, of course) I think I will wear it, if I find it.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

A kingdom in Uganda is suing the UK in the International Court in the Hague for atrocities allegedly committed in the colonial period. I’m waiting for the Congo to sue Belgium next, preferably in the Belgian court.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I have just finished watching an Iranian film called The Color of Paradise. I cried continuously from the moving opening scene right up to the credits at the end. This is the most wonderful, wonderful film.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Hey, Allison is due for congrats - third one on the way.
Police Alert.
There’s a terrorist on the loose in South Tel Aviv. How nice for us.

Update: Alert has been cancelled.

Monday, March 01, 2004

News Flash!
We're not moving. It's final, we've just signed a new lease.


[Oh, and
something really good happened at work today. I finally put in writing something I've been complaining about verbally for months and presto! all solved - like magic. I got exactly what I wanted.

Things definitely are working out for the best (thank you, John). Maybe it's this warm weather.]

Who would Hollywood get to play Tennenbaum? Steve Buscemi? I love that guy. He’s too good for Tennenbaum.

Many years ago, a good friend of my mother’s was riding an elevator in a building in Leeds, England, with a man she could have sworn she knew from somewhere. “Don’t I know you?” She asked. His answer was, “I’m Cary Grant”.

Yesterday was one of those days. I got home at six in the evening, falling off my feet with exhaustion. The week before Purim tends to be hectic, what with costumes to prepare and early events. It’s not that I had so much to do yesterday, but it was hot and I was wearing the most uncomfortable shoes. By the time I got home my feet were killing me.

In the evening, when Bish went out to see the basketball game at a friend’s home, instead of going straight to bed, which was what my body was telling me to do, I plonked myself down in front of the TV and zapped. I watched the last hour or so of the Count of Monte Cristo with Jim Caviezel. What are people talking about? I think he’s the perfect Jesus Christ. I believe early Jews looked more like present day Turks than Osama Bin Ladens.

After that I caught the beginning of North by NorthWest. There was Hitchcock missing the bus. Wait a minute, Hitchcock missing the bus? Was I dreaming? Yes, there he was, as clear as the day is long. Now this must seem to you a strange thing for me to emphasize, so I’d better explain. I must have seen North by NorthWest dozens of times, but I’ve never seen the bit at the beginning of the film where director Alfred Hitchcock is seen reaching a bus just as the doors are closing and the bus is driving away, leaving Hitchcock standing there. Don’t ask me why I’ve never seen it. I know it happens, I know when. I just never seem to catch it. I’m always on the phone, in the toilet, making the coffee, switch over to the channel after it has happened, or I’m just not watching very closely. “How could you have missed it?” Yes, well. It’s not that it is very important. I suppose I could have rented the video or DVD if it was all that critical for my mental health or personal growth, and run the opening scene again and again till I saw it. But what fun would that be? And it really isn’t all that important, is it? Just a very minor irritation, like…er…having the bus drive off just as you are reaching the bus stop.

Well anyway, yesterday I got to see it. Now I can die happy. After that exciting moment (Sadly, a lonely experience, the girls were in bed. Not that they would have appreciated it anyway, I don’t think they’ve heard of Cary Grant or Hitchcock or even of Mount Rushmore), I lasted out till the scene in which Cary Grant is drunk in the car on the dark cliff road, about to go over the edge. Then I fell asleep. Strange place to fall asleep, I know, but I really didn’t need to see the rest of the film. I’d seen what I came to see, as they say. I usually watch it right through because I just love that Frank Lloyd Wright-style villa on the top of Mount Rushmore (at least it looks like it is in the film). Now that would be nice to live in. A bit out of my price range though, I suspect.

It’s looking like what we knew about the freed captive of the Hizbullah, Elhanan Tennenbaum, the drug deal story, is the truth after all. No cloak and dagger treason, no million dollars in a Swiss bank, just plain old greed and weakness of character. He’s looking more and more pathetic as time goes on. He says he lied about what he was doing in Lebanon (he had said that he’d gone to look for missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad and do some private business at the same time), because he was ashamed. Well, he should be ashamed. And now everyone knows his true worth. That’s probably the worst punishment there is, for a man like that. The worst punishment, and maybe also the best thing to happen to him, in the long run - to be completely and totally stripped of his pride.

Update: Now if you actually want some NEWS about Tennebaum, and not just my loose ramblings, you might try Allison.