24 June 2008

24 June 2008

I walked out of the house on the way to work and I couldn't move. Not only was it incredibly hot outside, but there was enough humidity in the air to transport me back to summertime in DC: the inability to breathe outside, the need for constant air conditioning....yet no thunderstorm at the end of the day.

Other bits of DC in this sweltering capital city:


I came across this article via Haaretz. Their reporter who covers American politics and the Jewish community rhaphsodized about it, and after reading the first page, I voraciously read it in one sitting. An excellent read for US History fans, anyone still wondering what an Obama presidency will do/not do for US-Israel relations, and/or those who think lobbysists are the begin-all, end-all for dictating Congressional support for Israel.

-The other evening, as the temperature finally began to recede and the winds from the coast started to pick up, I walked up the street towards the Prime Minister's house. I've been avoiding that part of the street ever since being stopped again by hte police a few weeks back; this time, however, nothing would stop me. Freshly haven, I joined the hundreds of people gathered on the street to mark the two years since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by HAMAS. Hundreds swelled to more than a thousand, casuing the police the close off the street and redirect traffic and at least five bus routes for the rally. While I've been keeping up with the developments surrounding possible deals to release Gilad, as well as a deal with Hizbullah to release Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, it wasn't until the rally that I felt a sense of anger towards the government. It's been two years and in that time the current PM has chosen political suvivability over leadership as his MO, using the redemption of captives (an action on which Jewish tradition places a very high value) to keep himself in office amidst one political scandal after another.
My burgeoning rage was checked by that of Gilad's father, a friend of Ehud, the head of an organization for former POW's, and everyone else who attended.
It was great to be at a rally this important. Check out http://www.habanim.org/en/index_en.html for more info.

The dedication ceremony of the "Bridge of Strings," a bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava at the entrance to town that one day will carry the light rail, turned into yet another example of Jerusalem shying away from its status as an international capital. The Pride Paradce came and went with the usual ultra-Orthodox form of protesting -- setting garbage on fire in their own communities -- but the political machinations that became evident at the dedication ceremony are just too much, all the more reason for me to stay here, create a life, and vote in the upcoming municipal elections. That teenage girls have to cover themselves in quasi-Iranian style, lest they turn on the apparently always-horny ultra-Orthodox man, says as much about the community's apparent lack of self-control as it does about the general decline in Jerusalem's leadership (which arguably capped at Teddy Kollek z"l and has been on a steep downturn since Ehud Olmert).

The sun's setting, the temperature's dropping, the fan's been on for several hours now, and the weekend's bringing a little bit of calm and civility into the city. Even if the tranquility hangs around just for Shabbat, it's a welcome respite.

17 June 2008

17 June 2008

I got stopped again by the police, this time because I was apparently avoiding passing a cop on the sidewalk, which warranted being frisked in public. Somewhere in the ethers of Israeli bureaucracy, there’s a formal complaint that I lodged, written in rudimentary Hebrew and translated from the account I wrote, still shaking form the experience.

Instead of harping on that, I wanted to share an Op-Ed published in Haaretz about Obama and Israeli public opinion: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/992392.html

Just a sample:

"Obama, in other words, represents a change Israelis are not sure we know how to live with after 40 years of talk about our strategic military alliance. He symbolizes America's great power to attract, as opposed to its degraded power to deter. Indeed, he wants to be the face of global integration, from Rio to Jakarta - ironically, the very integration Israeli entrepreneurs excel at. John McCain says he will be the jihadists' worst nightmare. Obama reminds us that the war McCain helped launch has been their dream come true."

For all the complexity and nonsense Israelis have to put with on a daily basis, they like their American foreign policy to be monochromatic, George W. Bush Style: You're either with us or against us. No questions allowed. Combined with a unnerving level of racism, and you have the polinion of most Israelis about Obama.

10 June 2008

9 June 2008

Shavuot was great, as this year it pretty much entailed non-stop eating at a friend's and sleeping in.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have some problems with the YES cable commercials. Recently, a new one was posted that just hit the geopolitical spot. The Israeli Ministry of Transportation, Shaul Mofaz, recently threatened Iran with a preemptive stike on its nuclear facilities. Mofaz, who was born in Iran, was formerly the IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, and is in the running to be the new head of the Kadima party, should PM Ehud Olmert resign.

With this escalation of words, who better than a cable ocmpany to make light of a situation while selling their package of Israel serial dramas?

Synopsis: An Ahmadinejad-lookalike is threatinening Israel with annihilation at a press conference in Farsi, and the audience is upset that if they attack Israel, they'll never see the next episodes of their shows. What results is unrest in the street, sung in Farsi and Hebrew to the classic tune of "Kol Hakavod" from the Israeli West Side Story-remake Kazablan.

Black humor mixed with current events and commercialism. Only the finest for us.