Sunday, November 27, 2011

Learning to fly...

I'm not even gonna try to say something eloquent to excuse the lack of updates on this blog. Suffice to say I've been busy, primarily with my day time work at Webpals as Content Writer, but lately also with setting up websites to drive traffic to a friends online shop for Swedish Snus, and hence trying to get a better grip on SEO as well as website building. If any one should want to ponder the results so far you find them here and here respectively. So far this latter engagement has only cost me money, but then again, if a few thousand Israelis could get it into their heads to quit smoking, it might be worth it. Other than that.

* Politics here in the Middle East has been a complete mess for almost a year, and commenting on it would require full time dedication. Suffice to say they started handing out gas masks to government employees. Everything is pointing to war, but there are many theories as to when, why and who. Even western media has started writing about what I pointed out half a year ago - nothing changed in Egypt except that the thin veil of civil government was removed. The military stayed in power.

* Dating seem to be a punishment for our sins, and I spend a lot of time consoling those that engage in it. My own efforts aren't really bearing fruit either....

* The crazy begging female junkie who is usually very happy and social had a fit of anger yesterday as I walked through the hood. And one of the refugees had a tantrum about how he would "kill all the whites and Jews". It was early though, so I wasn't in the mood to argue.

* Spent shabbes in bed, KO:d by a cold from hell.

* It's winter, which means rain and cold mornings and evenings. I have however discovered that the train is a more pleasant way of traveling 3 hours a day to work than are the constantly overcrowded buses.

* Im trying to quit smoking. How it feels? See pic above....

* Hopefully to be updated sooner next time around. Chodesh tov.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rewind and fast forward, snapshots of a busy month

So I haven't updated the blog for some time and the reason is simple. I landed a job and started working a month ago, and as I live in Beer Sheva and work in Tel Aviv I spend almost all my spare time, 4 hours a day, on buses. It's driving me slightly insane but I'll be moving to Bat Yam in a month or two. Below please find a few action points, each of which would deserve their own posts. In the best of worlds they might get them, bit in the meantime, here we go.

* Woke up to the sad new today that the grand son of the great Baba Sali, Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira, had been murdered here in Beer Sheva, just three blocks away in his Yeshiva. He was one of the country´s most important Mizrachi Rabbis, as well as my Ravs neighbor and my Rabbanits Rabbi. I went over to my Rav and talked for a while. The Rabbanit looked as she had been crying all night. Sad times.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Zicrono LiBracha.

* I went to Sweden for a while. Horrible weather and I got homesick for Israel almost immediately. But it was very nice to see my parents, my sisters and my grandma.

* I'm reading Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion, an anti-religious book trying to prove the non-existance of God. Mr Dawkin's is an Evolutionary biologist, and I don't doubt his expertise in his field. However, evolution has little to say about the existence of the divine, and hence Dawkins goes on to dabble in three unrelated disciplines: Philosophy, Statistics and Insults. And the only one he understands is Insults.

* I'm working at Webpals as an affiliate marketing content writer. It's a lot of fun and it's a very nice company with very nice co-workers. Basically we do affiliate marketing for casino web sites.

* My walk to work from the central bus station takes me through the worst neighborhood in Tel Aviv, a rundown maze of Sudanese refugees, strip clubs, sex stores, prostitute drug addicts and their customers, pimps and drug dealers. I´ve gotten used to it by now, but it's not a pretty sight.

* A racist madman har murdered 67 kids in Norway. It took Muslim-haters and Israel-haters about 2 days before they started making politics of the tragedy. The Norwegian ambassador took the opportunity to defend Hamas in an Interwiew, claiming that they - as opposed to Anders Breivik, may he burn in hell - was fighting for a noble cause. He should have his head examined. And seriously: What does this have to do with the ME conflict at all? If the ambassadors shoelace snaps, is this also the fault of the diabolical Jews?

* I need to find time to work on my Hebrew. Even though most Israelis in TA speak English, Israeli society is in Hebrew only. And living outside of society is a lonely place.

Shabat shalom!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Houston, we have a job (and an airplane ticket)

So it's Friday and Shabat will kick in in a couple of hours and seeing as it's been at least a month since my last post I thought I'd say a word or two about the past, rather busy, month.

* Summer has started. That means in Beer Sheva, that it's around 35 Celsius during the day and that the temperature difference between night and day is getting smaller and smaller, and that a fan in the room is once again a prerequisite for successful sleeping.

* Some Palestinian leaders are beginning to question the "Let's get a state in September via UN" strategy. No shit, Sherlock. Irrespective of what happens in the vote, it will indeed be diplomatically embarrassing for Israel, seeing as the latest US Administration has ushered in an impressive "Let's Hate The Jews" feel to international politics. But then what? Israel is embarrassed for a month or two, and after that the Palestinians still have no state, they have corrupt Fatah and terrorist Hamas, and they are painted into a corner by their own refusal to participate in peace negotiations. They will be stuck with no options, unless they are going to opt for another Terror War against Israelis civilians.

* After a couple of job interviews I have finally landed a job at an Internet Marketing Agency that does affiliate marketing for the Gambling Industry. Yes!! Even though gambling may not be the most interesting product, the company comes through as very serious and all the people I met with have been really nice. I'm really looking forward to be working as part of a team instead of as a freelancer, the latter getting a bit lonely at times. I'm also looking forward to being able to get my own apartment. The job is in Tel Aviv, but seeing as that is not my favorite city, I'll be looking to move to Ashdod or Bat Jam, where the atmosphere is a bit more laid back. Hopefully I can get a 2 room apt so I can have guests over!

* Seeing as I landed a job, I felt financially secure enough to buy an airplane ticket to Sweden. So I'll be arriving June 19 and going back June 30. I'm very much looking forward to seeing my grandma and the rest of the family and friends! And Stockholm that is incredibly beautiful in summer....

So long and shabat shalom...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Snapshots and time...

This Shabbes Doron The Vibe came over for a visit. He's found a job in Tel Aviv cleaning homes and stairs, and seem happy not to have to deal with telemarketing. It seems a lot of telemarketers demand of their callers to claim to be calling from the US. Apparently they assume that the hatred for Israel is of such proportions that people will refuse to by prescription meds without prescriptions from an Israeli company. Prescription meds without prescriptions? Yep, that was the last gig he looked into and I fail to understand how this can be legal. Who knows.


In any case my plan was to get up reasonably early to clean up the apartment that had turned into a rather disgusting mess with Dorons absence (he was the cleaner here, sort of...). But the previous night I couldn't fall asleep and woke up from Doron banging on the door around 3 PM. Panic! I ran down to Supersol and managed to get in just before they closed to buy food. Meanwhile Doron started cleaning the apartment, and I started cooking. We ended up having a very nice Shabbes meal, talking, eating and drinking whine. I also snapped some pictures before we went to Shul for Kabbalat Shabat.

Other news in short:

* Hamas and the PLO is in the process of forming a unity government. Anyone who were in doubt about Mahmud Abbas peace intentions should be set straight by now. Unless they belong to the faction to which facts are the same as whatever aligns smoothly with their ideology. Wish there were fewer of that band, both on the left and on the right.

* I'm officially broke. This is not the greatest problem in the world, I've bee there many times before. It simply means I'm getting closer and closer to that factory job. No biggie.

* Unfortunately I'm not the only one who is broke here. So is my Rabbi who has 10 children to support and mortgages on a house to pay. He's been working the last 25 years at a Talmud Torah teaching Gemara. Sadly, this is a Satmer Yeshiva, and hence they refuse to accept support from the government. And so with the Stock Market breakdown in the US, all the rich Satmerim who used to support them are having problems and are focusing their support to US institutions. A result of this mess is that my Rabbi has worked without salary for 8 months. If any rich Jew reads this and wishes to do a mitzvah, give me a holler!

* I received a request to write copy from an interfaith institution in Jerusalem on a freelance basis. I responded and named my price and haven't heard from them since. Quite possibly the price I mentioned was too high, I have no idea what is the typical copy rates in Israel.

* Spent yesterday finishing the the English copy for I'm happy with the result and hoping it will go up soon, seeing as most English copy I've done has been confidential business correspondence and hence useless for my portfolio.

* A friend of mine has separated from his wife. It sort of makes me feel old. You're 25ish and you see your friends rosy cheeked and in love. Then you're 30ish and you go to their weddings and brits and name-giving ceremonies. And now at 40ish you see them separate and getting divorced. Meanwhile you are still trying to find someone to fall in love with. I'm not complaining and I don't feel sorry for myself. It's just a sense of the wise Brazilians call "Saudadji", a bittersweet melancholy, of the passage of time.

* I've been telling people I'm writing a crime novel. Guess I better make an effort to get passed the first page;-)

* Tonight is Yom Haatzmaut, Israel's birthday. Me and Quentin are going to a party by invote of someone I never even met, and Anglo organization in Beer Sheva. Then we're off to see the fireworks over the city. Should be fun. Happy birthday Israel!!

So long.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Will copywrite for food...

So a miscalculation on my part led me last night to realize that I'm all but broke, and that I need to find a job pronto. Obviously this is easier said than done. Being an immigrant with still fairly poor command of the native language, my options aren't that great. It's a humbling experience. I have, of course, applied for every copywriting position for English language copy I've found, and there are quite a few. So far though, with one exception, no one has come back to me, probably because of my lacking Hebrew. For even if the writing language is English, the working language is not.

The exception? Well a Forex web site of a company in Hertzeliah asked me to provide them with a writing sample. I did some quick research on the company – – and it took me some two hours to determine that their forex trading web site is basically a scam. The web is replete with complaints from people who hasn't been able to get their money back from them, either because they wanted to cut their losses or because they wanted to withdraw their profits. They're also in the habit of spamming forex discussion forums with comments and five star reviews and fake testimonies of their fantastic reliability. And the fantastic awards claim to have won are talked about on a plethora of web sites. Ehh...only problem is that they are the only ones to ever have won these awards, ever...My research also showed that the whole Forex-Over-Internet business seems highly doubtful at best. Israel is host to some 20 of these companies, which seem to be a result of the responsibility for regulating their activity have fallen between the chairs of two different government offices. In any case, just as I didn't move to Israel to live half my life in Jönköping (see previous post), I didn't come here to indulge in unethical business practices and scams, however profitable this may be. Other news in short:

Grandmother extraordinaire...
* Seeing as I'm almost broke, I went to Etgar College, an organization that helps Olim Chadashim to find employment. They said they would try to find a factory work to me. It seems then, I went to Israel to rejoin the working class. Like I said, it's a humbling experience. Which is fine, having nothing I have to do is driving me slightly nuts. The will also translate my CV into Hebrew. Good people, them.

* The Vibe packed up and left last week, and it's sort of empty here after his leaving. Not to mention that the apartment is a mess. Spleener-dude was the tidy guy around here. He's even gotten himself a gig cleaning houses in TA, when he's not busy hitting the light switch of his clients. He is coming here for Shabbes tomorrow. Good stuff.

* We are in the middle of the Omer Count between Pesach and Shavuot. To remember the 24 000 of Rabbi Akiva's students who died from a plague during this time, it's the custom to take upon us some laws of mourning. One of those it to not cut you hair or beard until LaD BaOmer (the 34th day of the Omer count) for Sephardim and one day earlier for Ashkenazim. And what can be said? My hair is getting long and a lot of it is grey. Then again, I got to look like 30 for 10 years, so I'm not complaining:-)

* Hamas and Fatah has signed a unity deal. How long it will hold and if it will equate more or fewer rockets over Beer Sheva remains to be seen.

* My beloved grandmother has moved out to her house in Öland, the Island where also my father lives. And for the first time I really miss Sweden, or a small part of what Sweden is to me, rather. Like my family and cousins and uncles and grandmother.

In any case, going forward I will also attack Swedish newspapers. What they are publishing concerning Israel is mostly a joke, not only because their Pro-Palestinian bias, but even more so because of their lacking knowledge of the country, and even more, lacking interest. It is quite possible that this is the way they want it. But I'll give it my best shot. I'm not eager to join Quentin in the potato processing plant....

So long.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Action points and shout-outs

* The Vibe has found an apartment in Tel Aviv and is – it seems – moving out tomorrow. He´s also found a job as a telemarketer, pushing dugs if I understood correctly. He doesn't seem too happy about the telemarketing thing, but he´s looking forward to the move. In the meantime he and Roger have constructed a web page where you can elicit his services and buy his books, so if you feel you need to throw your inner light switch, you can visit him below.

* Me personally, I am going to miss him very much. Although somewhat skeptical about his vibrating spleen (or Light Activation as he prefers to call it), he has been a fantastic friend and a real Mensch.

* Speaking of web sites, my eminent and beloved friend Nano has started a company with a few other Creative Pros named Brickit. They are specializing in the creation of mobile apps for iPhones, Android and other Smart Phones and Handhelds. Yours truly has written the copy for their web site (English version is in the tube), and should you ever need a Super Professional Digital Developer Agency, they come very highly recommended:

* Seeing as we will be one tenant short in the apartment, rather than risking that the Merkaz puts a drinking, pig eating 20-year old Russian in the vacant room, we have asked an American guy named Chaim to move in. Chances are he'll take it, as his present flat mate is weirdo who puts pictures of dead people up in the common room, and goes to pray by the grave site of "The Tzadick" Baruch Goldstein, a really nice guy who gunned down 29 praying Arabs in Hebron in 1994...

* Jochanan and his beautiful family have moved to Jerushalaim, where he will be studying at Ohr Sameach, a religious Yeshiva school. As a vet of the Iraq war, the US Army will pay for the tuition and he will graduate with a Master in Jewish Studies. I'm happy for him, but I miss them.

A happy jerusalemite
* It's been Pesach here for the last 7 days, the holiday celebrating the Exodus out of Egypt. No bread for 7 days. Tomorrow it's Mimuna, the Moroccan festival celebrating the return of bread.

* It's time to leave the shielded reality that is the Merkaz. I've started to look for work but unfortunately so far I've come up with zilsch. Sooner or later I'll find something, but in the meantime, if you need a world class copywriter (ahem..), please contact me via my home page below.
* I did get one job offer, installing and testing software for medical equipment. Unfortunately I'd spend 50% of the time in....Jönköping. A small Swedish town in the bible belt, with not a single Jew in sight. I thought about it for one second and then said thanks, but no lone Shabbes on a hotel in that town and I'd be in tears...

*  Daniel four fingers has met a girl! Hopefully she'll kick him in the butt hard enough to get his thumb out of it and start doing something constructive with his life.

* Last night some stupid kid was running his 125 MC and doing burnouts in the street outside. At 1.30 AM. I screamed from the window to SHUT UP, at which he honked his horn. I flipped and grabbed an orange and threw it out the window 4 stories up, towards the sound. Apparently he got the message cause he speeded away. I'm seriously fed up with the late night motor fests the kids are having outside. Apparently I'm becoming a grumpy old geezer...

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring in Beer Sheva

The funny guy will tell you there are only two seasons in southern Israel: Green and Brown. While this may be hyperbole, summer definitely belong to the brown season. So I thought I'd go out and document the Green season, a bit late but still. The results you'll find in the below pics. Enjoy.

Jews, Oil and the Arabs no one care about

”You know, I think Assad is going to fall”, my old Kurdish friend tells me over Skype last night. ”Something is happening although nobody knows exactly what. You need to understand that just a few months ago, no Syrian even here, in the diaspora, dared to say anything against Bashar Assad. That is how scared everyone was.”

Now he tells me that in a village in Kurdish Syria, a group of elders had visited the secret police, asking them to take down a statue of Bashar Assad, for as they had said: ”The youngsters are so angry we can't control them, it's better you do it.”

The blood baths this passed weekend at funerals in Syria, with security forces killing around 17 civilians, again puts the finger on the double standards of the West's involvement the Arab Spring and it's revolutions. The Syrian diaspora is watching in disbelief how Nato has intervened militarily on behalf of a disorganized and Al-Qaeda linked Libyan opposition to overthrow a dictator who has spent the last 10 years aligning himself with Western interests, while staying ominously silent when Bashar Assad, a Terror Sponsor par excellence and an aggressive enemy of the West, is committing the same kind of atrocities that got Muammar Gaddafi into war with Nato.

A lot have been said about this seeming contradiction, most eloquently by Caroline B. Glick in Jerusalem Post. In short, The West has no sound reason to intervene in Libya, seeing as the risk that a new government taking over after Khadaffi will be worse, for the West as well as for the Libyans,  is paramount. In Syria on the other hand, it can't get worse. Basher Assad's regime is already a puppet for Iranian influence in the Arab world, a gun runner for Hizballah and Hamas, and the prime destabilizer of Lebanon. So intervening there should make sense, right? And another plus is the fact that Syria has a sizable Kurdish population, who are traditionally Pro-West. So how should we understand the US and Nato involvement in Libya and it's utter reluctance to help the Syrian revolution along?

”The silence in the West concerning the Syrian blood bath has finally made me understand that the Western Lefties and Liberals don't care at all about the Arab people”, my friend says, ”they only care about the fight against Israel”. His statement contains a partial answer to the conundrum, or as another Kurdish friend framed the same conclusion: "God, I wish Israel would occupy Kurdistan." Bingo.

The Left couldn't care less about Arabs. Not even about Palestinians. Jordanians and Syrians and Kuwaitis have killed many more Palestinians than Israel ever did. There are around 350 000 000 Arabs in the world, but all the worlds Humanitarians, Liberals and Lefties only care about the 4 million in the West Bank and Gaza, and for those fighting Israel. As for Libya, it obviously no longer is a force in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syria on the other hand is a weapon pointed at the heart of Israel, something that clearly helps moderating Left and Liberal demands for an intervention there.

But there is another point I've strangely enough haven't seen in this discussion in mainstream media outlets, which is the answer to the obvious question: ”How much oil does Syria have"? The answer: Not a lot. Libya on the other hand has the 17th largest oil reserve in the world, twice as big as that of the US. And foreign interests in Libyan oil are huge.

So it would seem that the Arabs the West care about, militarily, politically and intellectually, are those who are either fighting Israel, live in the territories, or have a lot of oil. But I hope I'm wrong, because this conclusion doesn't spell a great future for the Arab spring.

Friday, April 8, 2011

3 AM: Breakup times, new blogs and a typeface conundrum...

Insomnia has been the name of the fame lately. Blurry nights and blurrier days. People tell me I should cave in to the stillnochts. But I don't know. I still doubt it's really a chemical issue, I guess. Currently I'm indulging in nostalgia by way of a Youtube Safari into the golden age of Swedish Hip Hop. Should you wonder what was created under this short period that lasted from around 1994-1998, I recommend having a look at "Blend Dom", by Latin Kings, the group that ushered in said Golden Age.

Other than that I spent the last couple of minutes trying to change the font of my last post, a pome that may not be for eternity, but at the time fairly well captured my thoughts on the emptiness of putting yourself at the center of the world at ever instant. And I can't get this poem to read out in the predefined typeface of this blog, no matter how many times I paste it back and forth from my trusted text editor BBedit. It remains in some screwed up version of Helvetica Bold. Weird is only half of it.

In any case It's been a while since my last update so instead of sleeping I thought I'd through out some action points, a concentrate of the last few weeks. Here we go:

* Purim came and went. I was supposed to go to Raanana for a traditional Purim with the Silbermans, but came the day, I was far to hungover from the previous nights Purim celebrations at the Rabbi to even consider spending 4 hours on a bus back and forth.

* Quentin got a job in a potato processing factory. That may sound high tech but what it actually means is that they bring the industrially harvested potatoes on big trucks, along with soil, stones, branches, worms and the occasional bones from departed animals, and dump all this on big conveyor belts, from which Quentin and his co-slaves are support to sort out the edible stuff an dump the rest. After which they stack the potatoes in large trays, clean them and pack them. All this work is manual and it's 12 hours a day, 68 hours a week, with an hourly salary of 4 bucks. Basically it's a sweatshop exploiting new immigrants.

*The Vibe is finding more and more clients and is spending a lot of time going to and from Tel Aviv, last time around he was at some alternative conference, handing out flyers to interested people and making new contacts. He is looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv, and once there he'll probably get rich in a heartbeat. Half on that town is stressed out of their mind and all of them are alternative, beach-tennis playing hipsters. He should make a killing.

* A new bag of Russians arrived here and some of them started a very loud fight the other day. Fortunately they were too drunk to actually achieve much more that a lot of ruckus.

* It's a sense of breakup here. The Vibe is as mentioned looking to take his Vibrating Spleen to a more appreciative market. Quentin is working around the clock, and me...well I've started to look for work. Living here is sort of a sheltered work shop and I'm starting to get tired of it. Tired of the Cubans who plays Salsa at moron volume ever Shabat, tired of the angry Russians and the tired parents who send their kids out to run riot everywhere because they cant stand having them around in the small apartments. It's time to leave this sheltered existence, to find a place of my own to stay, and most of all to start working. Beside I don't have much choice, I'm starting to run out of money. Who knows, if I don't get lucky I might end up with Quentin and the other minions, sorting potatoes around the clock. I will miss the people here though, and most of all my flat mates. But there is a season for everything. The time for this period of our lives will soon be up.

* The cashiers at Supersol are still inefficient beyond belief. But I no longer think much about it. I've even gotten used to the worthless bus drivers and the omnipresent bureaucratic incompetence. Guess I'm slowly becoming Israeli.

* I started a new blog. About copywriting. If that sounds like you cup of tea, drop by at

* The Rabbis set me up on a shidduch (date, sort of). I came by the Rabbis house 2 weeks ago and the Rabbi said he had dreamt about me and this girl. So some back and forth with his wife, him and the Rabbanit put me in a car and drove to the other side of town. Then they told me to wait in the car while they went in and talked to the girls mother. They were gone for about half an hour. Then they came out and told me I was welcome to come in. And so I sit there for half an hour listening to the mother rambling about her dead husband, crying and blowing her nose and showing me a stream of pictures of him and other family members, while the "girl" (a heavyset woman with the charisma of a wrestler), was sitting on a chair a few meters away. All of this in a mix of Hebrew and Moroccan. I hardly understood a word. I did however understand that it was a Rabbinical and Ultra-Orthodox family, and that the "girl" hadn't even finished high school. It as the twilight zone revisited. Fortunately she must have decided against me cause I never heard another word about it.

Well, I guess that sort of sums it up. Now it's 4 AM and I'll see if I can get a couple of hours sleep before it's time for Shul. Laila tov.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And looking back at you...

to be selfish is to be by your self
at your self and for your self and
by your self

tailoring every one
to your self
measuring every one
to your self for your self

and no matter how many admirers
you may acquire cajole or attract


every object

that passes
before you

with your self

in the end

being selfish is being lonely


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rude wake up call...

Last night I fell asleep around 2 AM. At 4.30 I awoke because someone was banging hard on my door. Drowsily I lifted my head.
"What the hell?"
"Air raid siren"", Quentin yelled, "missile incoming!"
We rushed out in the kitchen and sat down by the walls, while the sirens kept on wailing. Then the siren stopped and we both watched in amazement as Doron came out of his room, busy getting dressed.
"Sit down!"
Doron looked perplexed. Silence. Silence. Then a thunderous boom that shook the building. From Quentin banging on my door it may have taken some 40 seconds, but it felt more like 5 minutes. Doron looked slightly bewildered at us and then he sat down by the other wall. After the rocket had landed. After a little while we got up and looked through the window. The rocket had landed just 200 meters south of us after flying over our building, and exploded on the street where my synagogue is located. Had it flown 3 more meters it would have hit an apartment building. We saw the smoke billowing up. After a while I went back to sleep and managed to sleep through the second air raid siren a few hours later. This rocket landed farther away in an empty area in the city. It's some 46 kilometers from Gaza to here. The rockets that reach that far are not manufactured in some auto shop. They are made in Iran.

In the afternoon I went over to the Immigrants Office and spent 20 minutes watching as my case officer listlessly clicked away on her computer, every now and then letting away a sigh as if the weight of the world rested on her shoulders. It seems I'm getting unemployment. When I got out of her office everyone was congregating around the TV set in the corridor. A planted bomb had gone off outside the central bus station in Jerusalem, killing - so far - 1 person and wounding around 40. So I bicycled home and managed to get hold of my friends in Jerusalem and BH no one was hurt.

So instead of spending their money on helping their people, Hamas chooses to spend them on weapons. All of it, more or less. Leaving the task of supporting the population in Gaza to Israel and different international aid organizations. And this we do. Israel is supplying Gaza with electricity. Israel is supplying Gaza with gas. Israel is allowing thousands of tons of produce to flow into Gaza. And what do Gaza supply us with? Missiles.

Meanwhile Egypt is supplying Gaza with smuggled weapons and Jihadists and nothing more. And what is the outside worlds take on this? That we are laying siege to the poor Gazans. We have turned it into the greatest open air prison in the world. Right. Well, that took a few years of missile rain over southern Israel, topped off with a coup d'état were Hamas terrorists murdered a whole bunch of PA policemen. And all of this after Israel had pulled out every single soldier from Gaza, and after the Palestinians had destroyed hundreds of millions worth of agricultural equipment and hot houses bought and paid from the settlers by the World Bank. But of course. It's all our fault.

But sooner or later somebody needs to deal with the real culprit of all this mess, the Mullahs Iran. They are the ones exporting missiles and weapons via Iran and Egypt to Hamas and Hizballah. They are the ones supplying them with know-how and money, and who are financing their "social work". They are the ones who are doing their best to co-opt the revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world at the moment, in an effort to steer them clear of liberal democratic development and the chance of becoming democratic nations, and towards as much Islamist and Shiite influence as possible. I hope they will fail utterly, more democratic Arab world would hopefully spell a better future for everyone in the Middle East.

I'm hoping things will calm down on the Gaza front. The intelligence available suggests that Hamas doesn't want a full scale confrontation at the moment. Then again, they keep letting Islamic Jihad and their other cronies run wild, things could quickly escalate out of control. In which case living in the south of Israel might become very interesting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fistfights, President Obama and Antisemites...

Few things will lighten up your Shabat evening like getting cracked over the head with a chair. Twice.

The evening started out as usual, with me and Quentin lighting the candles and heading off for Kabalat Shabat at the nearby Kippa Shul (The "dome" above it has the form of a Kippah, hence the name). After services we went over to the eminent Rav Nissim and had a nice shabbes dinner with signing and eating and a great atmosphere as per usual, nothing peculiar except that crazy Pavlova (see earlier post on the subject) was in attendance for the first time in a couple of months (the Rav had enough of his constant insulting and fight mongering with the other guests and asked him to stop coming). In any case, he behaved and around 10 PM we split for home, planning to make a quick visit to Peters birthday party.

Peter is a well-mannered English gentleman of 57 who made aliya about a year ago. He is also a fencing Master, busy teaching his students how to handles sables and other weapons in the art of fencing. When we arrived the party was at full throttle. We ended up having a few drinks and a good time. Present at the party was also Noddy, and unbenowst to me be – so I was later informed – he spent a large part of his evening aggressively prodding some of the other members into drinking more booze. Apparently he was particularly aggressive and obnoxious in pursuing this agenda with Dave, a South-African electrician my age, a very nice person with a bit of a temper and more muscles on his right arm than on Noddy's entire body. I'm not certain how Noddy had thought that idea through....Which brings us to the chair.

I found myself in an animated discussion with Peter when I hear an angry scream and turn around to see Dave lifting a chair over his head and Noddy backing away from him looking everything but calm and happy. And so I somehow managed to get between Noddy and the chair just in time to get whacked over the head with it. Twice.  The rest of the evening turned into tears, accusations and drunken discussions, neither of which wanton saving for posteriority, and ended around 3 AM. I got away with a minor bump on my head a pair of glasses that will need some adjustment to sit straight again.

I ended up sleeping the whole Shabbbes day away, and when I awoke after Shabbes had gone out, I Was informed by our papers that the US President thinks that Israel shouldn't be afraid of recent changes in the Middle East, and I quote: "All the forces that we see building in Egypt are the forces that should be naturally aligned with the US, [and] should be aligned with Israel." Really?

Did President Obama miss what his own Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton said this last Tuesday, about Iran's push to influence the outcome of the uprisings in the Arab world? “Either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach,” Clinton said. And how would the President assess the fact that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi drew over 1 million Egyptians when he held a speech at the Tahrir Square? Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in 2009 expressed his view on Shoah in the following way:

”Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption...The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them...Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

These are hardly the forces building that will "naturally realign" themselves with the US, even less so with Israel...

I'm all for democracy, and like President Obama I'm hoping that the Jihadists and haters will not be able to co-opt the Arab Revolutions. But Israel has very good reason to be apprehensive of the final outcome of these changes, that also include Hizballahs takeover in Lebanon, and the risk of a Shiite, Iran-friendly revolution in Bahrein. So for Obama to tell Israel to be "optimistic" from the comfort of the White House oval office, long before the dust has settled and democracy has won the day, come across as misinformed at best, and slightly ludicrous at worst.

Speaking of antisemitism. Lately it seems a lot of famous peeps (Charlie Sheen, John Galliano, Julian Assange, above)  have felt an irresistible urge to vent their preposterous views on us Jews. And I can't help asking myself: Have these people never met any Jews? How do they think that the Jewish people, whose members usually can't agree with themselves, let alone with other tribe members, could possibly set up a World Wide Conspiracy? My home Synagogue in Stockholm has, since 25 years ago, 12 empty frames painted on the side walls, meant to contain symbols of the 12 tribes. Now, why are they empty? Because a huge argument erupted as to which symbols should be painted, and who should do the painting.....In the end nothing was painted in the frames and that was that. World conspiracy - fat chance...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

C/O Night

The United States of America
what do I care
about your super malls and
deserted dusty desert highways
the lonely light of a homesick highway
electra glide patrolman

draws a lonely golden creek between the mountains
your war on terror communism and drugs
lost and won and lost again
and stars and bars and drunks and stripes
on your shoulders and around
and your single
mothers working the split shift at Norms

your suffocating suburbs with their rows and rows and rows of homes
your working class in black and white and your heroes in technicolor
apollo, vietnam and saginaw and

dead presidents, money on your mind

your great lakes who took a thousand sailors to her depths
the new jersey turnpike, winter dawning
of walden or Kafka or mice of men or saviors in ryes or

bright lights big city
flakes of ash and soot and snow still falling through your dreams
there is a girl in new york city that paul simon called the human
i call her blue
for the the color on her door, Delancey street, the number varies
it only opens with the secret codeword of my heart and there it is

i enter as a thief would enter - quietly
for a second I can see her lonely
lost in thought behind her typewriter
the antique wooden swivel chair creaks black hair, green earrings, blue jeans
black eyes straight in mine she says
across the ocean of our
ruins, pointless conversations, business cards and
banging them pinball machines
of our failures, victories and dreams:

You do, you know. Care, I mean.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All Singles Day...

So it's that silly day again. We've all seen the movies and heard the cheesy song about the boy/girl who doesn't get a card in the high school mailbox or posted flowers or whatever is the Godot of this day. It's a cultural cliche even for all us peeps who were lucky enough to have seen light outside The Home of Fly-over states and bad posturing. In the end, the girl get's the boy or vice versa. Here in Israel it's two hours left of this florist-invented day and I haven't gotten a single lousy binary FB salute or digital bouquet of flowers. Reason to believe my admireresses can be counted by the dozen minus twelve.

Makes me think of a conversation I had the other day, when one of my friends in this my new homeland came for a visit. For whatever reason we started talking about the notorious "Shidduch Crisis" in the religious Jewish community – meaning the fact that a large crowd of religious singles nowadays tend to stay single forever, until the "girls" find themselves in their late 30's or early 40's and the ""boys stay singe until they have no reasonable chance of attracting a fertile "girl", and until both have at least one friend who is a grandparent. Anyway we had our share of Israeli Stock Brandy, and he looked me in the eye and said with the absolute gaze of the middle aged halfway drunk:

"Listen man, you and I are men right?, and we tend to talk about things in a general perspective, you know. But, listen. On a personal level. When you find yourself googling your ex girlfriends, or looking up their new boyfriends twitter pages to get a clue, right, you are pretty pathetic right? And you do this bullshit even though she, during your relationship, mistook your bed for that of a bunch of other guys..horrible. And so turns out she has left the continent to go to France, or she has met mr. Right and they are planning their rehearsal dinner or whatever? Or she's knocked up and in seventh heaven, crazy and out shopping for strollers and stuff?

Well. Ok. So then, you kick them off your facebook page, and remove their addresses from your e-mail app. And you try to focus on that novel you should have written by now, or that job you landed or being a good Jew or whatever. And you move on. And then after two years you can't help but googling her again, even though you are really over her. And so you find out that she's met a goyishe boyfriend, or has joined Jews For Jesuses or is studying to become a dentist. And you feel nothing, you know? You've even lost your ex. And all that is left after work is having too many drinks with your equally lost flat mate and watching dumb US Romcoms....  And I kind of you get much lonelier that that? It's a weird thing, you know."

I have to admit that the above is what I recollect of a fairly long monologue, but it's the gist of it. I don't remember what I answered, I quite honestly was embarrassed. I'm not one for spilling the beans and I usually shy away from intimate conversation. But I can't help wonder what Valentines day is about... It's not like a there's a "I'm White, Male and Successful And not an Unemployed Looser Day", is there?

But  then again. It also makes me think of the fantastic story as told by the political idiot and fantastic Singer-Songwriter Steve Earl, a story about a 20-something hitch-hiker he pick's up who has a burning desire see New York City.  The older alter ego reminisce about his own trip to NYC and the complete failure it was, an how all the Big-Town pretty girls ignored him. So he thinks he has to warn the young man. But then, just when he is about to open his mouth to warn him, he changes his mind, and realizes: "but then I knew I'd just be jealous if I didn't wish him well. Slipped the kid a twenty saying Billy give'm hell""

In the end, though, having someone may not be as difficult as being alone, but as far as I (very) faintly remember, it's a struggle as well, and we all need as much love and support we can get. Whether the strength to find someone anew or the courage and innocence to find someone new. So to all you couples struggling with everyday lives, boredom and mortgages; and to all you singles trying to keep the faith alive in the face of the opposition of added years and added fears:

This is my twenty. Give'm hell.

Headlines.... now back on track, but now the darn images won't display:-(

Instead of doing homework, I found a new way of procrastinating - re-designing my blog! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Birthday rant

I was going to write something witty about today being my birthday, but all that came out was everything but. It came out more like the lyrics of a Country song, so I ditched it. Suffice to say that according to the Gregorian calendar I'm a year older, and Jochanan was kind enough to invite me to a sushi place in the "Old City" which to my astonishment actually served OK sushi. So we had sushi and debated the Middle East future in light of the Egyptian revolution, and to a slightly lesser degree, the Hizballah takeover in Lebanon. In short he took a slightly gloomier view than me, in the short run I don't believe the consequences  for Israel will be disastrous. In the long run it might mean war, but as J.M. Keynes so eloquently put it, "In the long run we're all dead". For the time being I hope Egypt manages to get some sort of democracy going, and that the Old Guard don't decide to start murdering people as soon as the media limelight goes elsewhere.

It's been raining quite a lot in Beer Sheva lately, even pouring down at times, and a nice result is that the dessert town turns green and start blooming all around.

I've started a new Ulpan and I'm finally starting to get my head around the passive verbs. Just wish my teacher wasn't the Energizer Bunny she is. She's around 55ish and jumps around like a happy puppet, flashing off hyper smiles and going with any wild association that happen to fly through her head. She absolutely love teaching and her pedagogic style is that of Bugs Bunny. On Meth. In short she is driving me insane.

What else?

* The Vibe is looking more and more like a Guru for each day. Lately he has started wearing a white scarf as sort of a skirt over his also other-wise all-white outfit. And he is slowly building up a following for his Vibrating Spleen. Just now he came back from TA having made almost 500 shekels off his sessions. He might be the next Big Thing. He might be the new black. Or white.

* The Vibe is by the way very excited it's my birthday and keeps asking me what my plans are for my birthday. He's finding it difficult to accept my answer that I have none. Right now he's locked himself up in his room with one of his Vibration followers. Sorry, clients.

* A muslim Nazi keeps sending me pictures of Adolf Hitler, Goebbels, Quran and Gospel quotes and general rantings of how and why I shall burn in hell. On Facebook, where else? In order not to get blocked, this ingenious prat makes up new profiles for each batch. What the hell you want from me man? Get a life!

* My friend Frederick has finally gotten around to the next chapter in his comic strip creation career, by means of teaming up with a cartoonist that pics his scripts, and the two have now successfully premiered their Internet comic strip Biff Zongo, a strange blend of bad-taste, high-brow, below-waist, elitist white trash screwball comedy. Not for the feeble minded, though.

* Last night I dreamt a consortium had sent up a satellite with a great big disk on it, with which they would be able to cause solar eclipses by shutting out the rays of our nearest star, wherever and whenever they wanted. Basically they meant to make sunshine a commodity to market like any commodity. No money, no sunshine. India doesn't want to cough up the dough? - NO SUN FOR YOU. Remember where you read it first.

Anyway. Below a picture of myself, the author, at age 41.00. That's all for now. So long.

Party on, Wayne.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pics and points of view

So it's been little over a month since I last updated this blog and the reason is quite simple: it's been a rough month, but I won't delve into the sad specifics, suffice to say it's tough to change language, country, city and culture, and that when the novelty wears off, it gets tougher. Being single for protracted periods of time doesn't help much wither. Today I was supposed to go to Ramat Beit Shemesh to spend Shabbes with a friend, but unfortunately Egged had decided to runt their last bus there at 14.00, so I had to cancel. Below, please find some pics and action points.

* I did manage to get to Tzfat about a month ago, and it was a very pleasant stay in an environment very different from the one in Beer Sheva. I stayed at the Chabad run Ascent hostel – clean, friendly and cheap and I dearly recommend it for anyone interested in spending some time in Tzfat. Tzfat is located in the Galilee, high up in the mountains, on a mountain top, and it usually snows in winter. When I was there it was very cool and windy. It offers a fantastic panorama of the surrounding environs.

Blue is the typical color of Tzfat, and you will see it everywhere you turn - in Synagogues, houses and streets. The people of Tzfat is an eclectic mix of different Ortodox Jews and loudmouthed American Tourist Groups, mostly college aged kids arriving on tour buses and bustling around for a few hours, usually leaving around sunset. Tsfat is also home to a large artist community, and hence you will see a breed of people here that you won't find anywhere else – the religious Bohemian, dressed in an old color stained leather jacket, jeans, Dr. Martins and long, dangling peyot.

In Tzfat you will also find the below Sephardic Abyhav Synagogue,  which in my view is the most beautiful Synagogue in the world, traditionally richly decorated with painted details in vivid colors.

Among the many paintings in the dome of Abyhav is one of the Dome of the Rock mosque, which strikes you as sort of nice in these times of religious and ethnical strife. The text under the mosque reads "Place of the Holy Temple".

The most famous of Tzfats Rabbis was Ari Hakadosh, and he has two Synagogues called up after him. The one where he actually prayed is the Sephardic Ari Hakadosh Shul, which nowadays unfortunately is only open on Shabbes. The below one is the Ashkenazi Ari Hakadosh Shul, which by the way is the most beautiful Ashkenazi Shul I ever seen.

The Ari also constructed a Mikveh, and legend has it that anyone who bathes in this ice-cold cave Mikveh is guaranteed to make full Teshuva (repentance) during his lifetime. Below yours truly after a morning dip.

The last day I went to pray at the Ari's grave site, which like many tombs in Tzfat is painted blue. Saying the prayers at his grave I felt like caught up in a very strong electric field. It was a strong religious experience.

Some time after my stay in Tzfat I went on a blind date in Jerusalem. We had a nice time even though we won't be seeing each other again. Just in front of the Central bus station they've dug up a 100 meter deep crater, which I assume will some time house the station for the new tram. 

And a few more examples of the adventurous and often fascinating Beer Sheva architecure....

* I started the process to switch my drivers license to an Israeli one. In doing so I will have to take a few driving lessons. Which is funny considering Israelis can't drive at all.

* The cashiers at my local Supersol is breaking new records in how much time the can waste on every single customer. More generally it is strange that a people with so little patience as the Israelis have, have created a society that demand so very much of it.

* Winter has finally arrived which means that night temperatures are really low and daytime varies between 15 and 25.