Wednesday, January 30, 2008

3/8s of a Snow Day!

I can clearly remember the last time I had a snow day. During the winter of 2000, a severe snow storm forced SUNY Binghamton to cancel classes for 2 days. Being a typical college kid, I spent most of the days either playing beer pong or tackle football. Ahhh, the joys of being a 20 year old kid!

Fast forward 7 years later ... I awoke at 5:55am to get ready for sha'charit (morning services) and as I looked outside ... Snow, and for Jerusalem, a lot of it.

After I got back from sha'charit, I told Tals of the whitened ground. She jumped up, checked the window and jumped straight back into bed. Her work day was already over. I was naturally hoping for the same thing. The odds were definitely in my favor as with every snow fall, Jerusalem typically goes into shock and struggles to deal with the weather conditions. So as expected, public transport was not working with these few centimeters and I quickly typed an e-mail to my boss explaining the predicament.

After a couple of hours at home, the snow showers became rain and the bosses in Europe wanted Aaron & I in the office. With the taxi service finally working, we both got to work around 13:15. Our side of the 5th floor was dark. We were the only people on the floor. What a bunch of dedicated friarim!


I need to starting learning Ladino. If anyone knows of a place in Jerusalem that gives lessons, be private or in a classroom setting, please let me know. Thanks in advance

Monday, January 28, 2008

Don't know how lucky you are ... Back in Israel?

This should make most Israeli Beatles fans very happy ...

Israel said planning to apologize to ex-Beatles for '65 concert ban

More than four decades after Israeli officials banned the Beatles from appearing at a scheduled 1965 concert, Israel is to extend the band an official apology on onday, and invite surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to take part in celebrations of the nation's 60th anniversary this year, Army Radio reported.

It said Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor would present the apology to slain Beatle John Lennon's sister Julia Bairdat at the Beatles museum in their hometown of Liverpool.

Letters of apology are to be sent to McCartney and Starr as well as relatives of late band members John Lennon and George Harrison, it said.

The Beatles had been booked to appear in Israel, but government officials refused to grant the necessary permits, citing concerns that the tousled-haired British band and its strident, amplified music could corrupt the morals of Israeli youth.

The never-used tickets for the concert have long been a prized souvenir among Israeli fans of the group.

In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel confirmed that Prosor would meet Baird and invite her to Israel for the gala marking Israel's founding in May, 1948. But he said he had no knowledge of any letter of apology or of invitations to Paul and Ringo to perform.

What could have been ...

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Congratulations to Andy Ram & Yoni Erlich, the 2008 Australian Open double champions!

You've done our country proud!

For more on their victory:

English: Click here
Hebrew: Click here

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bush's Resignation Letter

Great piece courtesy of Matsonian:

Another great email from Michael Genung.

If Bush resigned today, this is what his speech would be.....

Normally, I start these things out by saying "My Fellow Americans." Not doing it this time. If the polls are any indication, I don't know who more than half of you are anymore. I do know something terrible has happened, and that you're really not fellow Americans any longer.

I'll cut right to the chase here: I quit. Now before anyone gets all in a lather about me quitting to avoid impeachment, or to avoid prosecution or something, let me assure you: There's been no breaking of laws or impeachable offenses in this office.

The reason I'm quitting is simple. I'm fed up with you people. I'm fed up because you have no understanding of what's really going on in the world. Or of what's going on in this once-great nation of ours. And the majority of you are too damned lazy to do your homework and figure it out.

Let's start local. You've been sold a bill of goods by politicians and the news media. Polls show that the majority of you think the economy is in the tank. And that's despite record numbers of homeowners, including record numbers of MINORITY homeowners. And while we're mentioning minorities, I'll point out that minority business ownership is at an all-time high. Our unemployment rate is as low as it
ever was during the Clinton administration. I've mentioned all those things before, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in.

Despite the shock to our economy of 9/11, the stock market has rebounded to record levels and more Americans than ever are participating in these markets. Meanwhile, all you can do is whine about gas prices, and most of you are too damn stupid to realize that gas prices are high because there's increased demand in other parts of
the world, and because a small handful of noisy idiots are more worried about polar bears and beach front property than your economic security.

We face real threats in the world. Don't give me this "blood for oil" thing. If I were trading blood for oil I would've already seized Iraq's oil fields and let the rest of the country go to hell. And don't give me this 'Bush Lied; People Died' crap either.

If I were the liar you morons take me for, I could've easily had chemical weapons planted in Iraq so they could be 'discovered.' Instead, I owned up to the fact that the intelligence was faulty.

Let me remind you that the rest of the world thought Saddam had the goods, same as me. Let me also remind you that regime change in Iraq was official US policy before I came into office. Some guy named 'Clinton' established that policy. Bet you didn't know that, did you?

You idiots need to understand that we face a unique enemy. Back during the cold war, there were two major competing political and economic models squaring off. We won that war, but we did so because fundamentally, the Communists wanted to survive, just as we do. We were simply able to out spend and out-tech them.

That's not the case this time. The soldiers of our new enemy don't care if they survive. In fact, they want to die. That'd be fine, as long as they weren't also committed to taking as many of you with them as they can. But they are. They want to kill you , and the bastards are all over the globe.

You should be grateful that they haven't gotten any more of us here in the United States since September 11. But you're not. That's because you've got no idea how hard a small number of intelligence, military, law enforcement, and homeland security people have worked to make sure of that. When this whole mess started, I warned you that this would be a long and difficult fight. I'm disappointed how many of you people think a long and difficult fight amounts to a single season of 'Survivor.'

Instead, you've grown impatient. You're incapable of seeing things through the long lens of history, the way our enemies do. You think that wars should last a few months, a few years, tops.

Making matters worse, you actively support those who help the enemy. Every time you buy the New York Times, every time you send a donation to a cut-and-run Democrat's political campaign, well, dang it, you might just as well FedEx a grenade launcher to a Jihadist. It amounts to the same thing.

In this day and age, it's easy enough to find the truth. It's all over the Internet. It just isn't on the pages of the New York Times or on NBC News. But even if it were, I doubt you'd be any smarter. Most of you would rather watch American Idol.

I could say more about your expectations that the government will always be there to bail you out, even if you're too stupid to leave a city that's below sea level and has a hurricane approaching.

I could say more about your insane belief that government, not your own wallet, is where the money comes from. But I've come to the conclusion that were I to do so, it would sail right over your heads.

So I quit. I'm going back to Crawford. I've got an energy-efficient house down there (Al Gore could only dream) and the capability to be fully self-sufficient. No one ever heard of Crawford before I got elected, and as soon as I'm done here pretty much no one will ever hear of it again. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to die of old age before the last pillars of America fall.

Oh, and by the way, Cheney's quitting too. That means Pelosi is your new President. You asked for it. Watch what she does carefully, because I still have a glimmer of hope that there are just enough of you remaining who are smart enough to turn this thing around in 2008.

So that's it. God bless what's left of America. Some of you know what I mean. The rest of you, kiss off.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The 1st Tryout

Thursday night was the first practice for the Israeli-Palestinian AFL team and needless to say, it was an experience. As the tryout begun, one of the organizers started explaining things in Hebrew, an Arabic translator followed in Arabic. With every drill, be it simple warm ups or how to kick the ball properly, the same format followed. At first, it was obvious there was slight discomfort. Communication is never easy when a common language is not shared - however, as the drills continued, the ice started to crack. Be it with helping each other on the drills, or asking simple questions about names and hometowns, we started talking and laughing together with the inevitable sport follies. By the time the scrimmage came along, the early 'seeds' of good teamwork were already visible. The try out went well for me. There were a lot of good athletes on display and I look forward to the challenge of making this team.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Opportunity of a Lifetime

"A conceited fool has no desire for understanding; but only wants to express his own view"
Proverbs 18:2

As a 20 year old college student, Zionism was a small part of my identity. I had left Israel as a 9 year old and my attachment to the country was strong, but I saw no future with my mind solely focused on the 'American Dream'. This all changed in September 2000 with Ariel Sharon's now famous visit to the Temple Mount. With a planned intifada erupting shortly afterwards in Israel, anti-semitic activities started rearing their ugly head at SUNY Binghamton, my university. Swastikas were chalked near our library and in one disgusting instance, sketched with feces in a bathroom. The plaza in front of the library became a regular place to find anti-Zionist & anti-semitic chalkings, with "Barak=Hitler" & "Israel=Nazi Germany" the two common ones. Other activities included Mezuzot being ripped off the doorposts of various homes. I was furious and with very little action taken by our university, I started channeling my anger towards understanding why this was happening & how I could combat it myself. I became extremely interested in Zionist literature, reading every book I could find by the founders and developers of the now 'named' movement. The more I read and learned, the more I became convinced that the only rational possible 'next step' in life would be a return home and a combat stint in the IDF.

These events would become be a critical turning point in my life. It changed my aspirations and dreams. Gone were the days of dollar signs in every dream, to be replaced by a strong desire to plant my roots in Israel. Looking back on this stage, the 'sour' point was surely my spouting of hateful rhetoric. During one such instance, I told one of my sister's friends that Israel should kill all the Arabs. Although I told her I wasn't being serious, I've recently learned that this girl with Arabic roots took it to heart and started investigating her own history. Within a few months, this once disinterested girl had become a Palestinian activist on her campus. Her new beliefs and methods of expressing them dented her relationship with my sister. I had become a perfect example of the cycle, albeit a non-violent one, that commentators always discuss in their analysis of the Middle East. While today I still hold right wing views with regards to the security situation, I've mellowed down a lot. I no longer hold feelings of hatred to a whole population based on the actions of a radical minority. I still feel very strongly about defending Israel's right to be here, but I've learned to express it in a responsible manner.

... which brings me to a fantastic opportunity which has been presented to me by Danny Brill, a friend of mine since I finished my stint in the IDF in November 2004. I've been offered a chance to try out for the Peres Peace Center Israeli-Palestinian AFL team, which will play in the international tournament in Melbourne in late August & early September. While at first I was not keen on the idea (due to some issues with Peres), after thinking about it long and hard (& with the wife's prodding), I decided to give the try outs a shot. Since the only active contact I've had with Palestinians has been through the army, I thought this was a great chance to finally interact with my neighbors. Befriending them, even if it's only for the try outs (and if I make it further, the practices & the tournament), will allow me to better understand their takes on whatever we discuss, and knowing me, that will be a lot of different subjects! Besides that aspect, I would love the opportunity to represent Israel & also see Australia for the first time.

Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Oh go away W!

After almost 7 years in office, George Bush is coming to visit Israel. Now normally it wouldn't bother me in the slightest, but this visit is causing Jerusalem residents major headaches. Besides the exhorbitant costs to ensure the man is safe over the next 3 days (25,000 USD an HOUR), Jerusalem will shut down some of her major roads & bus routes. Yah, it's a pain, a real pain. So in closing, next time a US president comes over, let's make sure he stays in Tel Aviv ...