Sunday, January 29, 2006

Meet The Parties

The AACI, in conjunction with the JPost held a meet-the-parties event at the Great Synagogue tonight. Almost all the parties were represented. First a representative from each party spoke and then there was question and answers after. I couldnt stay for the question and answer, but it was very interesting to hear each party represented.
Labor went first. Collete Avital spoke. First she said that Hamas does not recognize Israel, and we will not negotiate with them. Then she went on about their socioeconomic policies. improving the education system, including higher education, fighting poverty, raising minimum wage to $1000/month (currently its about $730/month.), and putting in health reforms. "People are dying because they can't afford medication. Cancer patients wither away in front of us because they dont have the money for treatments. This should be happening in a Jewish State."
NRP spoke with joy about the downfall of Shinui. They went from the third largest party with 15 seats and are now for all intents and purposes disbanded. The NRP joined them in a coalition even though they were attacked for it because they knew someone needed to be there to balance out their hatred of all things religious. Said Shabbat needs to stay a day of rest, with everthing closed except entertainment and cultural things. He said whats inportant isnt just that Hamas is in power, but what brought it to power?
Likud was represented by Knesset Member Naomi Blumenthal. She went on a rant about how bad Kadima is, a party with no platform, how bad disengagement was, how she stood up and cried against Oslo, how bad Kadima is, and to vote for Likud. She said nothing about what Likud stands for, except that they are against disengagement, Kadima, and Oslo.
Yisrael Beytenu was represented by Yuri Shtern. The representative spoke a very accented English and it was very hard for me to understand him. He said Hamas is a death threat to us, the rest I couldnt hear.
Meretz was very interesting. A Charaidi women represented them, saying that there has been a lot of speculation in the news if she is really religious or charaidi, and that is no one's business what her religious affliliation is. She was very articulate. She knew she was in a hostile crowd when she got booed during her introduction for being a part in making the Geneva Accords. She said her number one interest is a Jewish Democratic State. For that to happen we need to fully disnengage from the Palestinians so as not to lose our Jewish identity. We have to think ahead for our children and the future of this state. Jews, as a nation, have been known to be very humanistic. We led the fight for civil rights in America. We have to also grant our neighbors their civil rights. Currently, Hamas does not recognize Israel, and we will not talk to them. But if they change their stance, we can negotiate with t hem also (she got a lot of booes for that as well) . she then pointed out that if we cannot totally cut ourselves off from them. If we cut their electricity, for whatever reason, then patients will die in their hospitals. We have to understand that our futures are tied together.
Moledet was represented by an American, Uri Bank. He said we are a Jewish Democratic State (I think that was the number one repeated line) and that, with all respect to our neighbors, we need to first and foremost protect ourselves. Netanyahu shook hands with Arafat at the White House. We need Moledet, and the whole Ichud Leumi, to stand guard. He also hinted at a possible joining up of Ichud Leumi and NRP. (it's been discussed a lot but hasnt gone anywhere)
Shas had an Ashkanazi lady get up and speak. She picked up a jar of gefilte fish, and said, why is a lady like me, who eats gefilte fish, voting for Shas, the Sephardi party? Because of (and she picked up) chocolate milk in a bag. Then she told a story of how her kid was the only Ashkanazi in a Sephardi school in Be'er Sheva that was veyr poorly run and for fun the kids would throw chocolate milk bags at each other. then Shas opened a school in the neighborhood, and she saw the change in the kids who went there. She was very impressed how these kids went from little anarchists to little tzaddikim. The Shas girls schools all score very well in national tests, the guys school need to be fixed a bit, but they dont do too bad. Also, there is a program for illiterate soldiers, and 98% of them are Sephardi. Shas schools stop that.
Kadima had economist Dan Ben David speak. He said that since the 70's Israel has been in a decline in terms of standard of living, poverty, and social gaps. He has a plan to fix this, which he presented to Labor, but they rejected it, but Kadima is making it part of their platform. Then they went to questions and I left.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Things That Grind My Gear

Here's something that really grinds my gears. I just tried to explain it but I cant get the words out, so I'll present it with a few examples.

1.Yossi Shimi and Baruch are sitting around saying loshon hara. Then Yossi says something about Shimi's friend, and Shimi says, stop saying Loshon hara.

2.Yossi is sleeping in a dorm and wakes up because Shimi and Baruch are fighting outside his room. Yossi goes out of his room and yells about how its gezel shaina (stealing sleep) to wake people.

3. Yossi goes to Eilat and his Rabbi finds out about it. His Rabbi tells him that there isn't any Mehadrin food in eilat. Yossi responds that there is, and lists a few restaurants. His Rabbi then responds that you cant say a bracha there because of all the pritzut(lewdness).

In example 1, Shimi's issue isnt Loshon Hara, its that theyre talking about his friend. He didnt have a problem with Loshon hara a second before that. Example 2, if Yossi really cared so much, he would have told them not to fight. His issue isnt that they are stealing, its that they woke him up. Example 3, the Rabbi doesnt like that Yossi went to Eilat. It has nothing to do with mehadrin or brachot, since even if the Rabbi knew there was a mehadrin place in Eilat that required tzniut clothing to enter, he still wouldnt want yossi going there.

All these cases are people using religion as an excuse instead of saying the truth. Which is a paradox, since if they were so religious they wouldnt be lying. If something bothers you, either speak up or don't, but dont use religion as a crutch to avoid your real issues.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Who Needs the Onion?

Here's your daily dose from Al Jazeera

"The PA security chief blamed Israel for "Hamas' victory," saying the collapse of the peace process, rampant corruption and lawlessness have convinced the bulk of the Palestinian people that voting for Fatah is futile."

I don't want this blog to be one of those blogs that just quotes the news, but these articles are just too good.
I like it more when they explain how their corruption and lawlessness is Israel's fault, but I guess we'll have to figure that out ourselves. Oh, I know! Maybe because we allowed them to rule themselves? Is this security chief's way of admitting that was a mistake? Probably not, but it's a nice thought.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Dont Get It

For a few weeks now, everyone that wants to be heard has been saying that if Hamas wins the election, then all negotiations are off. The White House has issued a statement that they wont deal wth Hamas. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel 'cannot allow' the radical Islamist faction Hamas, in its current form, to become part of the Palestinian Authority.
Why would we negotiate with Fatah, a terrorist organization that became a political terrorist organization, and not Hamas? That seems a bit hypocritical to me. No one truly believes that the PLO stopped using terror once they became a political organization. Arafat hadn't even offically "renounced" terror when he spoke at the U.N. So why the big deal now that Hamas is stepping in? Why not let them become a political terrorist organization too?
It doesn't really matter because the reality is that Hamas has around a third of the votes, and we will negotiate with them, because we always negotiate with terrorists.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Good For a Laugh

From AlJazeera
Hamas has accused Fatah of waging a smear campaign against it, including accusing the movement of seeking to install a "Taliban-like regime".

Fatah also distributed leaflets - some signed by fictitious groups - vilifying Hamas.

Hamas spokesmen accused Fatah of "moral bankruptcy".

Samir al-Qadi, a Hamas candidate running in the Hebron district, said: "We will not stoop to this level of indecency. We call on our opponents to refrain from mendacity, vilification and black propaganda."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Culture Shock

Although I learn in an open environment, of religious and not religous, boy and girl, I'm still very insulated from what goes on out there. Today I was relaxing with two religious guys and a not religious girl. The girl has lived with her boyfriend for 4 years, but has no plans to marry him. They have an apartment together, share a car, a bank account, but she sees no reason to marry him until they want to have kids, and thought I was crazy for getting married so early! The part that really culture shocked me was that her mother told her that she CANT get married until she lives with her boyfriend for a few years!! She said its impossible to really know someone until you live with them, so how can you make a lifelong commitment without really being sure of what you're getting? I tried to explain that when you date you make sure the other person isnt completely crazy, but once you get to the point that you love the other person, you don't have a problem with their idiosyncrasies, everything can be dealt with, but she wasnt buying it at all. I didnt get why if she was confident enough that this was the guy, that they shared money and a car, etc, why wouldnt she marry him. Then it was time to class and I left. I don't know whats actually gained by having these intercultural dialogues, it's not like we're going to convince the other person they're wrong, but at least it gave me something to blog about

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gotta Love Arutz7

I'm not sure if this article had a typo, the Israeli police are really cracking down, or Arutz7 is trying to spice up the story a bit.

Court Forbids Police to Hold 14-Year-Old Hevron Girl
17:56 Jan 19, '06 / 19 Tevet 5766

( A Jerusalem court Thursday afternoon rejected a request by police to hold 14-year-old Yiska Federman in jail under administrative detention. Police claim the Hevron girl pushed a policeman, but the judge said the charge does not warrant killing her. He ordered her to be unconditionally released.

It's good the girl didnt do anything more than push the cop or she'd be in big trouble!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Saddest Thing

Are there any difference between these kids? One picture is Israeli kids, one Palestinian. Both will do anything for the land they want, both take the teachings of their religion and twist it into something hateful-and both are throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. What are these Israeli kids trying to prove? They seem no better then the enemy they fight against. The Paestinians also started with rocks, til they got guns. What are these kids going to do next? Thankfully, they represent a very small minority, but its a minority that needs to be immediately controlled before they take this any further.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Needing to Rant

There is an argument going on here and here about the killing of innocent civilians. Chardal ranted about how Western Morals cause us to put our (Israeli) lives at risk and the Torah way is to kill their (Palestinian) civilians if it protects ours. Dovbear countered with a sarcastic "blessing" "that we can be free to kill, maim and, God-willing, mutilate, some brown-skinned, civillian Arabs." This lasted all day and ended with Chardal banning DovBear from commenting on his blog.
Usually I read people's blogs to see other viewpoints. I dont need to read peope reinforcing what I already know. (Although it is nice to see another source or another argument to defend my views). But I was beyond shocked at what I read, of the opinion Orthodox Jews in America have towards their brethren here. I'm not going to start quoting Rishonim or Gemara, since whatever you are going to say you can find something to support you. But some common sense!? Do you look at Israeli soldiers the same way you look at a stratego board? Sure you have to lose a few here or there, but who cares as long as you capture their flag? Do you know any soldiers? Would you send your brother/son to die, but tell him "you're important to me, but not as important as the people over there. Sure they're standing next to a terrorist. But I would rather you die then them getting hurt." Do you not realize that every time we try not to hurt their civilians, we kill our soldiers?
You read posts like this and yell "bloodthirsty killers! twisting the Torah to justify your murderous ways!"But you clearly don't understand. We are not saying we want to kill, we are saying "there is a time to kill". And that time is when our lives at risk. But since your life isn't at risk, sitting at your home in NY, you dont worry about suicide bombers or rockets, or gunmen shooting on your main streets, then you dont care. You look at Israel from your "objective" eyes, the way you would look at Serbia, or Chechnya. You act like these aren't your people here. Your rulebook says soldiers should never kill civilians. Not for once do you realize that this isnt a regular battlefield for you. These are you brothers defending your land. Which other nationality would say that they would rather their own family die then another? Yet you say that Jewish blood isn't so important to you. You even have the audacity to say you "respect those soldiers that died instead of hurting enemy civilians". I respect that they put their lives on the line for our country, but I am disgusted that our country doesnt put itself on the line for them. That our country sacrifices these men so as not to look bad in the eyes of the world. Nothing should be worth more to you then a Jewish life. Nothing! And even if it sounds so un-PC, so not American, that is part of being a Jew. But you deny this. You dont look at him as a Jew should look at another Jew, you look at him through your ""moral" eyes of what you feel is right and wrong.
And I understand why. You have no real connection here. Except for the three mumblings a day about returning to Jerusalem, you are purely American with a Jewish mother. How can I expect you to understand what we are fighting for here if you've never sweated for this land. Never sacrificed. Never went through the army, never left your job, your home, given up on the chance to make that fortune, and come here. This land is only appreciated through sacrifice. So you can continue to sit there and judge us. I used to think of your opinion as a fellow Jew, and it hurt, but now I realize that your opinion is of a pure American, who also happens to be Jewish.

Time Well Spent?

I dont know how I got to this site but I just spent an hour wasting my time taking some of the dumbest tests possible (Whats your Pimp name? [Dr. Money]) I think this test really labelled me right.
The Movie Of Your Life Is A Black Comedy

In your life, things are so twisted that you just have to laugh.
You may end up insane, but you'll have fun on the way to the asylum.

Your best movie matches: Being John Malkovich, The Royal Tenenbaums, American Psycho

Anyways, my Mom is coming in town tomorrow and I think I'm going to go to the aiport and meet her.

Friday, January 06, 2006

You're a Drunk and a Liar and a Thief!

We got our first electricity bill for our new apartment. It is sent out bi-monthly. I looked at how much we were being charged and I was floored. It was a few hundered shek more then our bill used to be in our old apartment! After a few minutes of heavy panicking, it suddenly hit me. How can they know how much my electricity bill is, if the meter is in my apartment?? So I went over to the meter, and it was nowhere near what they had billed me for!! MyShan, being much better at arguing with bill people then I am, called them up. First the lady starts yelling at her, telling Shan she doesnt know how to read the bill. After a few minute of fierce argument, the lady finally calmed down and listened to what we had to say. Then she checked the record, and turns out, when the meter-reader came by, noone was home, so he came up with an estimate how much he thought it should be. She didnt say if the estimate was based on how much the neigbors are paying, with their 3 or 4 kids, or on the last bill to this apartment, when we didnt even live here, but whatever. So we told her the actual meter reading, and she said theyd send out a new bill. Even after hearing all the stories, I was still so shocked at the level of dishonesty in such a major corporation.
Our bill is still pretty high even after fixing it, so we started seeing what makes the meter run faster. Firstly, the dud makes the meter run so fast, it must cost a shek a minute to turn it on. Next is the light that is a dimmer (halogen maybe?) Nothing else by itself really makes it run, but with three lights on, radio on, oven, fridge, microwave, computer, phone plugged in, it is moving at a slow but steady pace. Maybe this month we'll try cold showers and flashlights and see how well we do...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Refuah Shleimah!

I was just about to sign offline when I saw the headlines. First Prime Minister Sharon felt "weak" but was completely in control. Then they said he had a "minor" stroke. Now they said he had significant stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage, and is on a respirator. I hope and pray that he has a full recovery, decides to retire, and lives out the rest of his many more years as a happy citizen.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mission Accomplished

I started my diet on Monday mainly because when I put my pants on, I felt my belt was getting tight. I have now made it three days on fruits, vegetables, and tuna, and my pants got loose enough that I had to move down to the next notch on the belt. I know a fruit veg tuna diet isnt healthy, but my point wasnt to change my lifestyle and become a healthier person, just to have my pants fit better. Now that I've accomplished that goal, I can go back to eating like a normal person. I would keep going with the diet but I really miss food. My new goal is to eat more vegetables during the day, have schwarma for lunch and not dinner, and never eat more then 3 slices of pizza in one seating.
I did learn something on this diet. Most probably due to extreme lightheadness, I got off the bus at Bar Ilan yesterday and realized I didnt have my phone on me. I instantly panicked, but then I calmed down since I left it on the 400 bus going to Bnei Brak. I may disagree with most things Charaidi, but if I lose something, I know I have the best chance of getting it back if its on a Charaidi bus. I went into an office and called it, the guy who answered told me he was going to Bnei Brak and staying there, but a lady was going back to Jerusalem later that day, and he asked where I would like to pick it up. So I had him give it to the lady, and then I walked over to her house in Har Nof and picked it up. She was a Frenchi-Israeli, which is almost disappointing having to acknowledge that not all Frenchies are bad people.

Monday, January 02, 2006

All About Food

I was flipping through different blogs and I found one I thought was really funny. the food I eat.
Since August, every day, theres a list of breakfast lunch and dinner. Such dedication! Some interesting entries are 5/6 hawaiian pizza for dinner, 2.5 pancakes for dinner, and 1 corned beef and swiss cheese grilled sandwich, fries, milkshake, 3 apples for lunch. Also, I like how this fellow went for long periods of time eating pizza every day.

Today I started a diet. I feel my belt getting tighter, and decided instead of opening it up one more notch, I'm going to fight. My last diet was a one-meal-a-day diet. I started off eating a schwarma around 3PM, and it filled me until the next day around 3, when I had another schwarma. Then I slowly cut it down so I had one slice of pizza for an entire day, then a bureka. Then I went a whole day without eating and decided that I miss food. Eating is a fun activity like swimming or throwing darts. So since then I've been eating and now it's time to diet again. This diet is a fruit and vegetable and tuna fish diet. So far I've lasted one day and I feel like passing out. My goal is to make it til thursday when we have a lunch date with friends. I do feel guilty that I bought chumus and deli and bread to make sandwiches for school, and if I dont eat them they'll go bad. So this diet might not last so long.

Speaking of schwarma, I think the best schwarma is Halo Taiman. It's a relatively new place that opened up next to the Yellow gas station by the city entrance where a burger ranch used to be. There has been one in bnei brak for a long time and they finally came to jerusalem. It's much more expensive then schwarma in the city center, at I think 27 shek for a laffa and 21 for a pita, but cheaper then Massov or Korus Center One. They have a choice of Hodu or Egel. The pittot are small, but the laffas are big and they fill them very well. The scam with the city center schwarma is that they only cost 15 shek for a laffa, but they are tiny laffot. Also one of the main places in town doesnt cover the vegetables and chummus and stuff so you dont know what is falling in there.