Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

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I LOVE This Country

May 11, 2008

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Warning: This post could make you vomit due to it’s elevated level of cheesiness.

I am completely in love with Israel and my friends right now. I’m sure it will pass within a few days when some idiot flicks me off on the freeway or calls me a puta (yes, that actually happens here too), but for the next few days, I will remain in an elevated state of elation, due to the amazing long weekend I just had.

Wednesday was Israel’s Memorial Day, and it was immediately followed by Israel’s 60th Independence Day. On Wednesday night, the entire country was out celebrating at numerous events around the country. I stayed in my town because an amazing band, Kaveret, was reuniting for the evening, and a couple of my friends came over (video of them singing Yoya is here). After the show we played TAKI until 330 am (basically the Israeli version of Uno) which you can play online here.

It doesn’t matter what incredible things I did over those 4 days, including almost fainting after donating blood (though I’d like to mention I attended the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof at the Cameri and it was incredible – y’all should go if you’re in Israel!).

Because of this corny state in which I am at the moment, I’d like to share with you why I love Israel so much.

I love that your friends have no problem picking up other friends of yours who they’ve never met, and by the time they reach your apartment, they are having deeper and more personal conversations than you’ve had with half your friends. They’ve probably added each other on Facebook before they even got out of the car.

I love that you can’t possibly go through a holiday without being invited to a million people’s houses for dinner/lunch/parties. Having one dinner/lunch/party is not an excuse to miss another one. You can’t eat too much food.

I love how I studied Spanish for years in Texas, but I only became fluent after moving to Israel and getting addicted to Argentinean telenovelas (soap operas).

I love how Israeli children are fluent in basic Spanish because of kiddie novelas from Argentina and Mexico like Chiquititas, Rebelde Way, Amy La Nina de la Mochila Azul, and Patito Feo.

I love that you don’t worry about not having Friday night plans on Friday afternoon – no one else has made them yet either. Just wait till 9 – you’ll be turning people down.

I love than if you try to plan ahead people yell at you “I don’t know what I’m doing the day after tomorrow – it’s too far away!”

I love that anywhere you go there is history. Even if you don’t know it.

I love that you can visit almost any place written in the Bible. Learn it and go there (props to Jerusalem class from Young Judaea Year Course 1996-1997!)

I love that you can walk through the Old City (during the quieter times) and see people and sites from all religions and forget there is a conflict going on.

I love the fact that sometimes Shuk Hacarmel feels like it’s been invaded by the US (and ditto for Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem).

I love that you can’t possibly meet an Israeli and not have mutual acquaintances. If you don’t figure it out when you meet, add each other on Facebook – you’ll be surprised. Read this hilarious post by my friend Benji about this.

I love how, regardless of how religious or secular you are, traffic literally stops on the freeway on Holocaust Memorial Day and Israeli Memorial Day to remember those who have fallen and perished.

I love seeing garbage men with Tzitziot hanging out.

I love how, when people come from overseas, you suddenly realize how much you know about the history of each little rock in the country.

I love how everyone recognizes the names of almost every terror victim and kidnapped soldier (older ones too).

I love how Israelis are so close to their families, and will do anything for their mom’s cooking.

I love how the way to a man’s heart is through his mother – not your cooking.

I love how I don’t feel the need to look over my shoulder when I’m walking down a dark street alone.

I love how my biggest fear is my car being towed in Tel Aviv.

I love how random acts of crime are barely existent.

I love how you can sit at a wedding at table with 12 people and everyone be from different countries.

I love that I don’t feel the need to be religious in order to feel Jewish.

I love the “Careful – Camels Crossing” signs on the way to the Dead Sea and Eilat.

I love how when people over the world say “Mi casa es su casa” (my home is you home), in Israel they mean it – and feel it, too.

I love how I can call a friend an hour away and tell her I’m coming to visit – when I’m already on the way.

I love how Israel is the size of New Jersey, and is #2 in hi tech in the world (and I’m part of it!) Per capita, Israel has the largest number of start-ups in the world.

I love how Israel has the highest per-capita number of scientific papers than any other country in the world – and by a large margin: 109 per 10,000 people.

I love how, outside of the US and Canada, Israel has the largest number of companies listed on NASDAQ.

I love how Israel, at 24% of the workforce, is only behind the USA and Holland in people who hold university degrees.

I love that Israel goes on humanitarian missions and offers aid to any country that has had a natural disaster (or unnatural…) – even if they refuse the help. Israel’s search and rescue teams are among the best in the world (and my dad was among them!)

I love that Israelis can think of stupid groups on Facebook like “The organization for the mercy killing of those who translate movie titles into Hebrew,” “The movement against those who eat tangerines on buses,” “Call the new 2 sheqel coin Shnekel” (which totally worked) and “I want an entire episode of Survivor Israel of Noam in his underwear.”

I love that Israelis also have important groups on Facebook, immortalizing celebs and non-celebs who have passed (Tair Rada and Poli Poliakov), helping each other find jobs, preserving correct grammar, and Demanding Holocaust victims live in dignity.”

I love that Israelis also have cultural groups on Facebook, such as the Kipi Ben Kipod group, the group for those who are here and want to be there (Sesame Street), the Benny Goren ruined my childhood group (he writes the math books), and chocolate milk in a bag (don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!)

I love how, while having the qualifications for a job is an absolute necessity, knowing someone on the inside always helps – and is almost just as important. Israel has a Haver Mevi Haver mentality – a friend brings a friend.

I love that my 2.5 year old nephew says everything in Hebrew AND English just to make sure his point gets across (I want an egg. Beitza. I want cake. Uga.)

I love that people are going to make of me for writing this post, but they know they feel the same way.

I love that I didn’t want to move to Israel and did so because of family pressure – and I can’t imagine my life not being here.

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Israel Dispatches Help, Humanitarian Aid to Myanmar (Burma)

May 7, 2008

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Following last weekend’s deadly cyclone in Myanmar, which has left at least 22,500 dead, the IsrAid organization, which sends help to foreign countries in need, will be sending to Myanmar a highly trained search-and-rescue team and a 10-member team of doctors and nurses. The teams will bring with them crucial supplies, including plastic sheeting, food, household appliances and water filters.

The Foreign Ministry will be sending an initial $100,000 aid package comprising medicine and medical equipment to Myanmar in the next few days. The emergency aid relief is a combined effort with the Jewish Joint Organization. However, Israel is planning to send additional aid to Myanmar soon.

This is not the first time Israel has offered humanitarian aid to foreign countries. Israel always offers its help after natural disasters, even though, at time, its offer is declined. Other times, such as the Tsunami several years ago, earthquakes in Turkey, the Congo, and Vietnam.

Israel also takes medical care both of foreigners, such as Iraqis, and Palestinians.

To those of you who think Israel is taking care of everyone but the Palestinians, Israel has never stopped giving humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, even in light of the terrorist attacks that constantly occur at the crossings whose sole purposes are to pass humanitarian aid into Gaza.

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A Different Kind of Memorial Day

May 6, 2008

I knew it was going to happen. I predicted it last week. Just like on Holocaust Memorial Day, regardless of when I leave work or home, I am always on the freeway when the siren goes off.

Some background for those of you who don’t know about Israel’s memorial day. It couldn’t be more different than the American memorial day. While in the US, Memorial Day is actually a weekend for sales and movie premieres, in Israel Memorial Day is a very somber day.

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Gets Me Every Time – Holocast Memorial Day

May 1, 2008

Let me preface this post by saying that I have been here for almost 7 years this time around, and I lived in Israel for 6 years as a kid. Even though I’m used to it, and even though it’s nothing new, and even though I always know it’s coming, it never fails to get me every time.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, a day commemorating the 6 million Jews (and 6 million others, such as gays, mentally ill, Gypsies, etc.) who were ruthlessly exterminated by the Nazis in WW2.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day (last night), all businesses in the country are closed. EVERYTHING. No restaurants, no movie theaters, nothing. And I think it’s great. Sure, I would’ve liked to have my ballet class last night, but the fact the entire country shuts down in memory of those who were murdered to me is amazing.

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An Israeli Apartheid – Debunked. Part 2 – History of Israeli Equality Laws

April 28, 2008

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This is part 2 of my series debunking the myth of an Israeli apartheid.

An Israeli Apartheid – Debunked. Part 1 – Definitions and History

History of Israeli Equality Laws

Long before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders, among them David Ben Gurion who would become the first prime minister of Israel, consciously made the decision to try to avoid the situation in South Africa as much as possible. Ben Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934:

We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland. (Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War.)

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An Israeli Aparheid – Debunked. Part 1 – Definitions and History

April 27, 2008

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There were quite a few comments on my recent post (most of which I could not allow to be posted, not because I disagree, but because of the language/ill-wishing in them). I actually posted a couple of replies to some of the comments I did allow, but there was so much to it I decided to write a post about it. Since there is a lot of ground to cover, I will post it in parts.

I am including some of what I wrote in the comments – feel free to read the comments in their entirety here.
I’d like to begin by saying that by NO means am I saying Israel is perfect and without its problems and faults. Neither is the US (Abu Gharib, anyone?)

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Ethical Question: Let Pregnant Woman Through Border Crossings?

April 14, 2008

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In itself, the answer is yes. Why wouldn’t you let a pregnant woman go through your borders to a hospital? Imagine the following situation:

You are an 18-year-old soldier commanding a checkpoint in Israel. An ambulance arrives, and inside is a woman who is seemingly pregnant. The woman appears to be in pain and her husband is also highly anxious. But you have been warned about an ambulance bearing a pregnant woman who is not really pregnant.

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