Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Well, those who celebrate it anyway ;)

It's a regular Monday at our household, with IsraeliDad away on reserve duties :(

We will be celebrating tomorrow, with my sister-in-law (she's English turned Israeli and still celebrates Christmas). We've been celebrating every year, pretty much, over the past few years, since I have not one but two English SIL's! My kids are well familiar with Santa and the tree by now. They don't get any presents, but they still enjoy the decorations.

Not much else happening around these parts. I've been busy with work and life, as usual. Got a new project that I'm working on, where I need to be writing lots of texts and tutorials. You can actually join me there if you like, since the site is actually a board -

My goal with Site Nursery is to provide a place for people who are interested in web publishing to come and learn the basics in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. It's about how you can make money from web publishing, which isn't that easy anymore but can still be immensely rewarding (and I don't mean that in the strictly financial sense either). This project is aimed at total beginners, so don't be shy and join in with any questions you may have, or just browse through the tutorials I already listed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Belated Happy Hannuka

Haven't posted for a while. It's the last day of the Hannuka holiday here and we had a busy week with the kids at home, meeting friends and family. Not complaining, all is well, and we enjoyed our social activities, but I didn't have too much computer time.

The kids had a blast lighting candles every night. Here's a picture from the candle lighting of the fourth night. You can see only 4 candles in the Menorah, along with the Shamash (the candle which we use to light the other candles with - you don't count that one, but you leave it, higher up than the others, in the Menorah). We spent the evening with friends, and Ron and Dan has a special guest too! The sweet little girl next to Ron there is my niece Sheeran who stayed over with us that weekend. Note that bawl of Hannuka donuts - wasn't a single one left by the end of the evening (I didn't even have a bite, honestly!)

The next day we took the kids to the movies, all three of them. The car ride was a bit crowded but lots of fun, as we were singing Hanuka songs along the way.

We then went to visit my brother's family, to get little Sheeran back home. I absolutely loved this picture of Ron and Sheeran's little sister, Noah. Yes, Noah is a girl's name in Hebrew (spelled and pronounced differently than the biblical Noah).

A couple of days later, IsraeliDad, Dan and myself went on a day trip with some friends. Ron stayed at home because he wasn't feeling too well (he was fine later on, no worries). We visited an organic goat farm near Jerusalem where they produce local cheeses. They have their own website, it anyone's interested: There's a page in English there, but unfortunately it doesn't have a link to their nice picture gallery.

Here are Dan and ID right before our tour of the farm -

We absolutely loved the little baby goats -

The next destination was the caves of Beit Govrin
where we toured the special bell caves and spent a nice time crawling through the caves. Some of them are fairly large, actually, as you can see here, but they form an intricate network of caves with some nice passages where you squeeze from one cave to another.

These are all manmade caves, dug approximately three thousand years ago and include some neat features like the authentic oil presser within the caves -

Dan had a nice time being quite the tourist there, and there were a couple of times when we had to chase him through the caves to find out where he went to -

We did lots of other stuff during Hanuka too. I have a bunch of pics and movies to download from my camera and will post them soon, I hope.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Pictures! This time from the Carmel Mt. and Golan Heights

These pictures aren't fresh out of the oven, but I thought they were still worth sharing. The first set is of pictures taken last week, during a rainy day we had here. We traveled with our guest, Doris, to shop for souvenirs in the Druze village on the Carmel Mountain, Dalyat El Carmel. We also went up to the Carmelite Monastery there, where we encountered a magnificent full rainbow all over the valley!

Not easy to take good pictures of a rainbow! Trust me, it was very impressive.

We were standing on the roof of the Monastery, which is a great observation point, from which you can see all the way to Nazareth, Haifa and more, if the visibility is good. It was a rainy day though, but as you can see, Dan was making the most of it!

I thought this stature of Elijah the prophet looked quite impressive standing motionless in the wind -

A few days later, the weather cleared and we headed north on a sunny Saturday morning to visit the family (IsraeliDad's brother and his family) in the Golan Heights. For some reason, non-Israelis seem to have this image of the Golan Heights as a war zone. While it most certainly was a war zone in the past (well, during the wars, basically), it's actually probably one of the safest areas to tour in Israel. I couldn't resist taking a snapshot of the "Beware of the Mines" sign though :) Nothing to worry about, they're well fenced and aren't all over the place.

This is what the houses in the Kibbutz where our family lives look like. Charming and very peaceful -

A kibbutz is always a great place for kids to hang around. While we were having lunch at the communal dining room, Ron and Dan were just having fun checking the local insects or something.

The good thing about these trips this time of the year as that as soon as we hit the road going back home, the two rascals fall asleep in the car:

And before we part... a major event here this week - Ron lost his firth baby tooth! Congratulations, Sweetie, you're growing up!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Visit to Jerusalem - The Movie

I said I'd post the movie clips I took when visiting Jerusalem last week, so here goes. This is just a quick edit job I did, nothing fancy. Comments are welcome, good or bad, I'm curious to see what people think of this format.

The "movie" depicts parts of our visit to Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where according to tradition, Jesus Christ was laid to rest and was buried.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pictures from Jerusalem

Finally downloaded the pictures from our visit to Jerusalem on Sunday, with Budd and Doris. Some nice pictures, I think, so sharing them here today. Be warned - picture heavy post today. My apologies to those on dial-up!

We started our tour with a panoramic view over the Old City from the observation point at "Armon Ha'Natziv". Check out the golden mosque in the middle - that's the Dome of the Rock.

Another part of Jerusalem from the same place:

IsraeliDad and myself posing ;)

The view from another place, where you can see the desert of Judea (the Dead Sea is in that direction as well)

We visited the Wailing Wall, and this is what it looks like from the women's side (women and men are separated when approaching the Wall.

Inside the Old city, walking in the alleys of the bazaar:

We walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where according to tradition, Jesus was laid to rest and buried. This is us talking at the entrance of the Church. Being a Sunday, the place was full of people, especially pilgrims.

We joined a line of pilgrims inside to see the Tomb of Christ. We had to stand in the line for almost an hour, and eventually Doris and myself entered and were lead by one of the priest into this tiny room. This is what the entrance to the room looks like -

You have to really mind your head as you have to bend over to get inside. Once inside, most people get down to their knees anyway (although I had no problem standing up inside and I'm 5'11''). Inside you have a small space, which you share with 4-5 other people who were let inside on the same round. There's a marble plate, with some candles and dozens of incense lamps hanging from above. Naturally, the people entering are extremely moved. Watching these pilgrims lay their hands on the Tomb of Jesus was quite a sight. Here's a picture of the tomb itself:

I really loved the atmosphere of the church. Something very authentic and medieval about the place. Lots of incense and chanting all the time (it being Sunday afternoon, there were services performed by various Churches, one after the other). Here are a couple of pictures from the Church, where you can hopefully get a sense of the dark medieval feeling -

If you look closely, the monks there are actually carrying light bulbs... so much for medieval authenticity ;)

Outside the church, we strolled through the market some more. It was so colorful and the visuals so enticing, I can't help but share a few pics here:

By the time we walked out of the Old City it was getting dark. I managed to take this pretty picture of the Walls of the City and the Tower of David -

We ended up walking through this lovely arcade, filled with very modern shop, back to the car and back home:

Whew, lots of pictures! If you made it so far, wait for the next post where I plan on sharing a clip or two from our day in Jerusalem. I took some nice movies, inside the church too, where you can hear the chanting and get some more visuals.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Dan!

Our Dan turned 4 and we threw him a little family party here on Saturday. Finally downloaded the pics, and thought I'd share them here. We had brunch on the patio, with about 20 family members and close friends, including two guests from the US, the lovely Budd and Doris.

Some of the guests out in the patio. Note the glorious weather we had (unlike the rain today). That's my mom giving my younger brother a back rub there.

Dan, the birthday boy, checking out the gifts. He got tons of very cool stuff, covering every super hero out there including Sonic the Hedgehog (a favorite of his).

My mom made him a collection of toy cars and dinosaurs, all in a large box with a hole cut into it. He had to keep reaching with his hand inside and took out more and more toys. Both boys loved it, as you can see ;)

As per the birthday boy's request, IsraeliDad made him a cake with Tails on it (Tails is another character from his favorite tv show - Sonic the Hedgehog...):

The small buffet, which included my famous spinach and broccoli quiche, potato salad, artichoke salad, local pastries called bourekas (filled with potato mash), cheeses and specialty breads, vine leaves filled with rice, a big green salad and a plate of vegetable sticks... Later on, another huge salad and a pot of stew were added as well. Yup... way too much food!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Our New Lawn

We've put in a new lawn a few weeks ago, and finally we're allowed to actually step on it! Thought I'd share a few pictures here :)

Doesn't look like a very large lawn there, I know lol. It really isn't a big lawn, but it is a bit larger than that patch on the other sides ;) I just really liked the pics because the kids were so excited about mowing the grass. So, here's a better view of the house and lawn -

I think the green really adds. Makes the house look very "suburban" to me, if that makes sense. Not a bad thing either... Feeling quite suburban this week anyway, lots of work, taking care of the kids, nothing very exciting happening...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Out with the Kids

Not a long post today, just sharing a couple of videos from our digital camera. Out on the town with the kids.

First one was taken on Thursday. We went to Netanya, where my mom lives, to watch the fireworks. The fireworks show was this publicity stunt pulled by a major cell phone company in Israel in honor of their 3 millionth customer. They said they would "light up" the sky all over Israel, in cities and towns across the country at exactly the same time. Our kids absolutely love fireworks, so we decided to go. Just before the fireworks began, we strolled in the park and watched some roller skaters.

The second video is mostly for Hebrew speakers. It's about a minute long interview with Ron and Dan, over a kiddie airplane at the mall. Dan there is explaining how they're flying to Africa to save the eskimoes (yes, he means the Inuits, still using the non-PC terms here...). Ron is talking about the problem with fuel and they both end up parachuting out of the plane.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back to Posting!

Finally, my summer hiatus is over :D

Yes, I did take longer than I said I would, but my husband says I'm excellent at finding excuses, so here's mine. We had the holidays here, right after the summer vacation. By holidays, I mean Rosh Hashana (New Year's) followed closely by Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (No idea if it has a name in English, but it's one long holiday with 8 days off school for the kids!).

I took a few more weeks to bounce back into normal life, get my work projects in order and so on, and here I am, back to posting!

Not even sure where to pick it up... One thing I should say right ahead, I pretty much distanced myself from most things political. I hardly keep track of the news these days, and I definitely stay away from political boards. Not even sure why, I think I OD'ed on politics last year, and maybe I need a break.

I think I'll make this post with lots of pictures, really, just show what life here looks like these days and mention some of our activities. Let's start with the two in-house rascals, Ron and Dan.

They both started new kindergartens this year. Ron is at the kindergarten which belongs to the democratic school in Pardes Hana. A new school, set up this year, promoting the values of democracy in theory and in practice. I'll elaborate about it in some future post. Dan, the younger fella, is at a local Hari Krishna kindergarten. Yes, that's the Indian sect. There is a group of Israeli Hari Krishna followers living not too far from our town and they set up a kindergarten in a nearby kibbutz. They don't preach or teach their religion or philosophy there. They simply provide a wonderful kindergarten, peaceful and loving, where the kids practice yoga as well as play. Dan absolutely loves the place, and so do we!

As you can see in this picture, they're both very cheerful and happy to model their new Superman shirts and respective Batman and Spiderman shoes. We have reached the age of Super Heros, so Superman, Batman and Spiderman are practically family members these days.

As for DH and me, we're doing well and focusing on promoting the home business and working out. Working out is a huge theme in our lives these days. I've taken up running and am doing a good job with it. I started from being able to run maybe 200 meters and am now at just over 3 kilometers, working my way up to 5km! I also lost quite a bit of weight, about 15kg (just over 30lbs), in the past 4-5 months. I won't say I'm slim yet, but I'm definitely much much more fit. We've also started what we hope will turn into a new tradition of weekend hikes. Last Friday we went to a nearby nature reserve. There and back, it was a good 15km hike, and we didn't take it too slowly either. Net walking time must have been around 3 hours. It was lots of fun though! So, here's a couple of pictures from that trip -

That's it for now, hope to be posting more regularly from now on. Thanks to all of those who stuck around!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Hiatus

I am so out of touch with current events in the region, or in the world, and enjoying it so far! Just a quick update on our lives here. Let's see, it's hot but air conditioning works just fine, all over our home and in the car too, so it's tolerable. I am taking time off the swimming pool due to an ear infection and a slight cold too. I skipped my exercise twice this week because of that, but overall I think I did pretty well, considering I am not too well.

Oh, it's my birthday today! I guess that's newsworthy enough :D We're not doing anything special for it though. We had a great time today, visiting the local Hari Krishna folks in their kindergarten. They had an open day and invited us over. We spent a while doing crafts and Ron and me made this cute miniature raft with a little man made of clay sitting there and sailing away. Everyone was really impressed with it, until they found out it was done by a 35 years old and not a 5 years old :D

By the way, I am only 35 in earth years. I have decided to switch to Martian years from now on. A year on Mars has 686 days in it. Which I think makes me about 17 years old. Being a Martian has the added benefit of reducing my weight to a third of what it is here on earth. In other words, I am really an anorexic. I just have issues with the local G force on this blue planet here ;)

Gotta run now, time to feed the little earthlings here!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Long Days of Summer

Putting politics aside for a while. It's almost too hot to think this week. We try to stay indoors (where it's air conditioned) but life requires us to leave the house every now and again, sigh.

Actually, IsraeliDad and myself stick to our workout routine quite well, I think! It's alternating between gym practice and the swimming pool still! We also take the kids to the pool as often as possible (2-3 times a week), so there's some added swimming practice for us there as well.

Sun, sea and fun. Enjoy summertime everyone!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Visions for the Future

I have been entangled in a couple of interesting debates in online forums/groups about the vision for the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict. One person has very eloquently presented us with a picture of future Israel as a bi-national state from the sea to the Jordan, inclusive of all its citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. On another board, an Arab member mentioned he does not see a distinction between Israel before 1967 and after - it is all occupied land for him and he will fight to have it all released and turned into a pluralistic democratic state with equal rights to all.

The idea of the bi-national state is one that has been on my mind since Khaled's visit. I never felt comfortable with it, and had a difficult time pinpointing why. In theory, it has this ring of a wonderful utopian idea. The easy answer to its promoters was, "it's just not going to work". The Israelis aren't ready, the Palestinians aren't ready - no way for it to work on the ground. I have been thinking more about it, and here are some more thoughts - by no means final. They do touch deeper strata though, at least to me.

They go back to what makes this my home.

This is my home because I am part of this unique cultural phenomenon of the Israeli Zionist Jewish State. Lots of adjectives and they all count.

I know that for many Arabs, Zionism (and maybe Israeli too) sounds like a cuss word... to get this out of the way: I am not any more proud of some things done in the name of Zionism, then they are proud of any single thing done in the name of Islam or the Arab nation. Yet, just like they are still proud of their heritage as a whole, I do consider myself a proud Zionist and a proud Israeli.

Values that I hold dear and see as part of Zionism include secularism (even atheism), science, pluralism, socialism (another dirty word to some...), enterprise, improvisation, activism and many more. These represent Zionist Israel to me. This, along with a rich culture of music, writing, art, movies that simply doesn't exist elsewhere. It's not a Jewish culture, although it has strong Jewish roots, obviously. It's a mix of things that I will leave to people like profession Oz Almog to analyse, as he does it so much better than me. I will say that though - it's a non-minority culture, and in that sense it is different from Diaspora Jewish culture.

Granted, there is a constant internal struggle in Israel to maintain that identity. Like many other societies, Israel's is ever changing. I belong to the part that wants to push (back?) towards a secular, science oriented, socialistic, compassionate, humanistic and democratic Zionist State.

In my vision of Israel, essentially the vision of the Israeli Zionist left wing, there will be no racism, no discrimination based on religion or ethnic group. In my vision, Israel withdraws from the West Bank and the Golan Heights and lives alongside with its friendly neighbors, with close ties of cooperation in the fields of science, industry, economy, health and culture. The only question that remains in my mind is, do we have partners for that vision on the other side of the border. The jury is still out on that one, as far as I'm concerned.

My point is, I don't want a bi-national state if it means I lose my identity. I don't want to be "a Jew" in a non-Jewish state either. Judaism is very much part of the national character of my country, and I want to retain that cultural uniqueness. Moreover, as a Jew, I do not want to be a minority in my country. If you offer me a solution which means I become an ethnic minority again, you are in essence indeed throwing me into to the sea, because it will no longer matter whether I live here or in Europe or America.

To be fair to Khaled's idea, he did also talk about a con-federation or EU kind of model, where each part retains its own cultural and ethnic character, but there's economic cooperation, right of passage to all and so on. That solution I can live with, but not the bi-national state one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Local Version of Hope

The more I interact with people online, learning to see this conflict from various perspectives, the more I realize how difficult it is. I mean, it's complex enough to try and see it from the Israeli perspective... learning what it looks like through the eyes of other people is truly enlightening in that respect. I think that cultural exchanges can be a good way of letting others see what it's like on our side. Well, maybe. Or it might just confuse you more ;)

Enough blabbing, I'll try and keep this one short(er). I want to share a song today, a popular rap song, no less by a rapper named "Subliminal". Plays on the Israeli radio stations daily, at least on the one I listen to - Galgalatz, a military radio station that has little to do with the military and is mostly involved with fighting traffic accidents (one of those things you need live here to understand, I guess).

Here are the lyrics, in my own simplistic translation - my apologies to the writers, it does sounds better in Hebrew, especially with the music. Video clip will be embedded below, if I can get it to work. Please don't take these are representing my own personal political views. To me, more than anything, this song shows the confusion in Israeli society. The mix of wanting peace, wanting to remain militarily strong and secure, getting sick of wars and death, and just ending up being confused but still hopeful. The name of the song is "Hope", which is also the name of the Zionist national anthem: HaTikva, literally meaning "The Hope".

I saw how they went
Too many of them never returned
Friends said goodbye, homes were broken,
Tears were shed by families,
Young people, flowers that will never bloom,
The hope (HaTikva) in our minds, love in our souls,
The dream in our spirit, so forever we shall continue.

Gone is the silence, sounds of war again,
Another soldier returns wrapped up in the national flag,
Blood and a tear absorbed in the soil,
Another shocked mother, left only with a picture,
I lock the hope in my heart, a strong people won't break,
Because the SOB who will stop Israel wasn't born yet.

Give me the hope to accept what there is not,
The strength to change what there is.

Let us continue, life is ahead,
It's not too late, tomorrow is a brand new day,
The dream will die if we lose the hope,
So reach your hands for love.

You promised us a dove, we see an eagle in the sky,
Brother, the poisonous stinging nettle is not the olive branch,
Living like a dream, everyone talking about peace,
but they keep shooting, pulling the trigger,
In a world of terror attacks, innocent people still talk,
Living in an illusion of justice, they increase the gap in the people.

Going thruogh daily madness to survive,
Don't want to live to fight,
The Sub fights to live,
Planting hope, setting in roots,
Protecting the dream with my body, to stop it from shattering,
Enough, enough of pain, enough of drama
It's been over a year that the land bleeds and not sleeps, and why

Give me the hope to accept what there is not,
The courage to try and fix it.

Let us continue, life is ahead...

God, give me the hope to accept what there is not,
Give me the strength to change what there is,
Give me the courage to try and fix the world.

Sounds confused and ambivalent? It does to me, but in that I think it is not a bad reflection of Israeli society at this point in time. Anyway, here's the video, if I can manage to embed it here -

Monday, June 18, 2007

OD'ing on Politics and a little story

I have been spending way too much time lately on political boards and email groups... sigh, about to take a break, I think, or hope, before I seriously OD on it all.

It is soooo frustrating too. I feel like I'm this sort of bridge between people from both sides of the fence, and it's not a nice feeling, it sometimes includes feeling stepped over ;) I come back to IsraeliDad and other Israelis here, recounting things I hear on the boards from Arab fellow posters. I get bombarded with accusations to the other sides... I go to the boards, and get bombarded back with accusations about Israel... Here's the interesting bit, the people I talk to here, and the people I "talk" to online, are the pro-peace ones, on both sides. The moderates. Very upsetting, I mean, if we can't get the moderates to see eye to eye, then how on earth are we going to get to a stable agreement that will somehow put the extremists at bay?

As far as I can see, there is just so much mistrust on both sides. So many mis-perceptions, based on some fact and plenty of interpretations (derived from the initial mistrust). Here's a story I sometimes read to my kids here. The short, very short version of it, it is beautifully written in Hebrew by a well-known Israeli author here, Ephraim Sidon. The story is called "Uzo and Muzo from the village of Kakaruzo".

Uzo and Muzo were two loving brothers that grew up together in their peaceful village. One day they fight over some silly thing. First words, then some punches, and they solemnly declare they will never speak to each other again. What's more, they build a wall, right in the middle of the house. They no longer see each other ever since. When they bring their brides home, they are asked about the wall and reply saying a terribly person lives on the other side, and to never ever as much as look over the wall. Same tale is told to their sons, who in their turn tell it to their own sons and so on. As generations pass, the tale gets darker. The person is gradually transformed to a horrible man eating monster that lives on the other side of the wall. Nobody dare take a look, it's too risky.

Then one day, a young child from one of the sides gets really curious. His mom goes out for a while, and he can no longer resist temptation. He desperately wants to take just a quick look at the horrible monster. He pulls up a ladder and climbs up to take a look at the other side of the wall. Lo and behold! On the other side he sees a little girl! He calls out to her, anxious, telling her to hurry up, climb over back to the right side of the wall! The monster could come back and get her any minute! The little girl is just as shocked to see him, telling him to stop playing around and hurry down to her side - doesn't he know there's a terrible man eating monster on the side of the wall from where he just showed up?

After some frantic calls, they finally realize the amazing truth. There is no monster! On both sides there are only people! Amazed at the revelation, the little boy goes down on the girl's side and comes to visit her family. Her dad faints right into the soup when he learns the boy is "from the other side". Finally, they all head up towards the wall. Meantime, on the boy's side, his family are looking for him, realizing in terror that he has crossed over... The two families meet on top of the wall. Within days, after learning the truth, the wall is brought down and people on both sides are united. The little boy and girl end up marrying btw. And as the families sit together, they shake their heads in amazement at how stupid they were all these years, not to realize it's only people just like them on the other side of the wall.

Nice story, don't you think? I'll stop with that for now. Been meaning to post this one for a while. I think about it often when I keep crossing the wall in the virtual realms of the Internet, trying to convince people on both sides that there is no monster on the other side...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is there such a thing as EVIL in politics?

Wow, I haven't posted in five days. It seems longer from here, I swear. Been working out like crazy, almost everyday, and spending the rest of the day either sleeping it off or the regular family/work routine.

I did find some time (not too much) for some political banter via emails and boards. Something occurred to me that I thought was worth posting about. I see the word "evil" used in connection with the current American government and it bothers me. Now, to make it clear, I am not a supporter of the current American President. I think he's done a lot of damage to the Middle East and probably elsewhere as well. However, can a government, any government (even the neo-cons!) be evil?

I can actually see how individuals can be evil. I am not talking about doing something that is hurtful, violent, "bad", but actually being evil. It's a psycho-pathological issue to me. Some people take joy in hurting others and exist for that end. Fortunately, they are uncommon and when they act by their sick drives they are hopefully locked away in some mental institution where they belong.

But whole governments/regimes/countries/societies? I think some people use the phrase "evil" too lightly there. What bothers me the most is that these are the exact words used by Bush and co. The "Evil Axis" is comprised of "Evil" countries and entities. According to them, some countries are evil in those very simplistic biblical (or comics - take your choice) terminology. Apparently, to the neo-cons, Iran is "Evil", Syria is "Evil", the Hezbulla is definitely "Evil", not to mention Dr Evil himself - Osama Bin Ladden who leads a whole secret evil empire from his hiding place.

I think that coloring any group of people as evil is wrong. I think Bush and co. are wrong to be doing this. By the same token, I think some of my leftie friends are wrong for coloring the American government as "evil". Governments are usually stupid, not evil. Maybe I spent too many years within "the establishment" lol, but I absolutely will not accept the conspiratorial theories of a group of people sitting together and thinking up "evil" plans. It just doesn't work like that. They may do horrible things, for sure, but they have some logic in which these actions are meant to serve some kind of good. The same is true for Al Kaida even. It's even true, dare I say it, for the Nazi regime.

We can and should question their world view and argue against it. But I think we shouldn't take the easy route out and label them as "evil" or "bad" guys. The world is more complicated than that and life just isn't a comics book... Trying to put yourself in the other side's position, trying to learn their logic, however thwarted it may seem to you, is the only way to move forward with some sort of bridge building process. It's the only way to somehow get the other side to change its views, at least soften them, and prevent more bloodshed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dona Nobis Pacem

I was invited to join in a special bloggers initiative where bloggers from all over the world will be posting with the same title today: Dona Nobis Pacem, which means "Give Us Peace".

I am not sure who is supposed to give it to us, and I have a feeling a little bit of activism might be needed along the way, but I liked the gesture, so I am raising my banner today to "Dona Nobis Pacem".

Thanks Mimi for asking me to join in!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Israelis

Saw this in the "morning e-papers" - Israel is Our Home

This article brings the story of the children of foreign workers, born and bred in Israel to non-Jewish parents who came to this country as illegal (or sometimes legal) workers. People from countries like Nigeria, Thailand, and the Philippines. From the article:
Recently the Ministry of Interior ran a campaign granting citizenship to the children of foreign workers. To be eligible, the ministry

stated, they had to be under the age of 18, and must have arrived in Israel before the age of 14. They need to have resided in Israel for at least five years and their parents must be in the country legally. The ministry expected 12 000 families to storm the offices asking for permanent citizenship, but only 800 families applied. Almost half of the applications were denied.
I've been meaning to say a word or two about the Israeli Law of Return for a while now, and this is a good chance to say it. I think it's appalling. I think it's terrible that someone can get into this country, get an automatic citizenship plus benefits just because he is Jewish. He doesn't even have to be a believing Jew, or share any beliefs or ideals with me - all that it takes for him to prove his "Jewishness" is some documents showing that his mother, or even his mother's mother were Jewish. That's about it. He can be a no good criminal with zero morals and the worst character imaginable with a record of God knows what, and he will be entered, given a citizenship, courses in Hebrew, money and grants.

Then you have these wonderful people from the Philippines or Nigeria. We all know them - they work in Israel. My grandfather has a (legal) caregiver from the Philippines. We used to have a wonderful guy from Nigeria working for us in housekeeping back when we used to live in Tel Aviv. Wonderful people, both of them. I would preferred to see them receive citizenship here, and be able to live a respectable life. I don't care if they are Jewish or not. All I ask is for them to learn and then commit themselves to the core values of this country, the way I see them. To the the Declaration of Independence (our closest equivalent to a constitution in many respects) which says that Israel
"will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;"

Anyone who is willing to sign on to that is more than welcome to share this country with me. I don't care if they are Christian, Muslim or Jewish. I do expect them to accept the other parts of the Declaration, the ones dealing with the unique Jewish identity of this country, but that, in my opinion should not be too difficult to live with. Just like immigrants from all over the world live with "With God We Trust" on the American dollar (be them atheists or pagan), or with Sunday being the holy day on any Western country. There are unique cultural characteristics to every country. Israel differs from many by taking hers from Judaism rather than from other religions. This should not mean enforcing any religion on anyone, just living with cultural characteristics that should never be allowed to infringe on basic human rights. If you can live with that, I for one would welcome you here for generations to come.

So, for what it's worth, I strongly believe the Ministry of Interior should stop putting up hurdles in front of these people. If they wish to join us and share our lives here, we should welcome them, Jewish or not. We should feel secure enough within this country's Jewish identity element by now - I think I am - to allow others to join in and help us create a richer, more culturally and ethnically diverse society.

On a more personal note -
We had a lovely weekend here (yes, alas, it is over by Sunday morning). Swimming in the pool on Friday morning, playing a session of multi-player computer games in the evening (the grownups, yes, not the kids), then just taking it easy through out Saturday (which means some work hours for me but that's ok) and then a movie in the end - The third part of Pirates of the Caribbeans. Can't say we care for the movie too much... It was way too long (I was tired to begin with), too many sub-plots and too much "weirdness" all in all. Then again, comfy seats and popcorn, so not too bad either.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shutting Down

Just a short note to let everyone know that the forums we started on in the summer are about to be shut down completely. I sent out an email to all registered users, but thought I might as well post it here.

I found similar forums at
They are fairly active, whereas Metalks has been closed for public posting for a while now. So, seeing as there was no point in keeping it online, I'll be taking it offline permanently soon enough. If you want to take a final look before it disappears, head over today or tomorrow. It will probably not be with us come Saturday :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Keeping My Head Above the Water

Or rather, getting it into the water, actually.

I had my first swimming lesson today! I wasn't even sure if I could be taught how to swim. Actually, I'm still not sure! I am not very athletic and have some issues with multi-tasking different parts of my body... I decided to take up swimming, or try to, as part of an ongoing weight loss effort. IsraeliDad had this theory that swimming would be safer for me, and I would be less inclined to hurt myself while swimming. Well, that remains to be seen. So far, after one single lesson, I already feel pain all over!

I actually made some progress with making the right moves. I surprised myself by getting along fine with the whole "head under water" issue even. The main problem at this point is this: I manage to push myself into the pool and start my swim, get through the first set of moves, with my head still underwater.

Then comes the scary part. After you have performed one set of movements with your legs first and arms next, you're supposed to elegantly lift your head above the water surface, not too high, open your mouth in a swift burst of air to prevent water from dribbling in, then take in air and submerse your head again for the next set.

Well, by the time I get to the point when I'm allowed to take my head out of the water, I am very much in need of oxygen. I don't think I am looking very elegant at that moment either. My main focus is on getting some air in and I lift my head way too high for it. My body then responds by sinking lower into the water, and my head tends to follow (they are attached after all!). Of course, I had totally forgot bout that sophisticated mouth opening thing and have quite a lot of chlorine enriched water in my mouth by now. By the time my head sinks back in, I am choking and totally forget about my next set of movements anyway.... I usually just come to a halt, stopping in the middle of the pool, getting some precious air into the system while coughing some water out. I am not at all sure an objective observer would call my current style of swimming elegant, or even effective :p

My good friend Steve told me that the most important thing in swimming is not to panic. Well, I'm sorry, but when I can't breathe, I tend to panic, I guess. I'm not even sure if it's panic per se. I'm too busy thinking about oxygen to define my exact state of mind at that exact moment.

Anyway, my instructor has not given up hope. I think she thought I did well, and as I said, I think I did do fairly well, at least compared to what I had initially feared - that I wouldn't be able to keep my head under water and blow those bubbles.

Well, they say we all originated from swimming creatures and it's just a matter of allowing your body time to remember. I am counting on that and going for the full swimming adventure. We're about to get a membership to a good swimming pool in a nearby kibbutz and start practicing tomorrow morning!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Been a Busy Weekend and some more

Whew, lovely and busy weekend over here. Thursday evening we got a phone call from IsraeliDad's eldest brother. He was having a great time with guests from abroad who were heading south, and suggested that we meet them. We always like meeting new people from different countries, so we jumped at the offer.

The next day two lovely couples arrived - Karen and Graham from New Zealand and Tom and Liz from Canada. All four of them sailing around the world in their yachts, no less. They were on shore for a change, touring Israel by car and getting to see places. They had set anchor in the Ashkelon harbor, where they met another one of hubby's brothers - who lives on a boat himself, along with his Missus. He apparently told them that no tour of Israel would be complete without meeting our zany family ;)

We had a wonderful time with our guests. As they arrived on Friday, we sat by the bonfire and just talked for hours. Fascinating people, with cool tales from their travels around the world. They were interested in our take on "the situation" in the Middle East, but I have to say, it was certainly refreshing to talk to people who were very neutral all in all. Their interest was purely intellectual, and it was obvious that they were not emotionally invested in this conflict. Nice to see that our problems here are not the focus of every person on the globe :p

The next day, we had a nice Israeli breakfast outside, in the shade of our oak trees. Then out we went, with guests and kids and visited the beautiful Ceasaria. Beautifully reconstructed, the place is truly a gem, showing you the history of the place, and through it of the whole region.

Signing off for tonight, it has been a long day, away from home (had to go to Tel Aviv on business), and I very nearly had a migraine (have to blog about it in my migraine blog too!). Here are some pictures from the weekend -

Breakfast outdoors

The ancient harbor of Ceasaria (destroyed in earthquakes over a thousand years ago)

Walking in the ruined (and reconstructed Ceasaria)