Monday, April 24, 2006

There's A Lot To Learn From Cartoons

There are a few shows I watch on a regular or semi-regular basis. One of them is South Park. For the most part, I find South Park to be brilliant. They take real issues, throw in some crudeness, and using the worst graphics make some of the best points. They had a two part episode that aired recently that truly brings out this point. In the episodes, all of America was freaking out because Family Guy was going to air an episode with the prophet mohhamed. To make a long story short, Family Guy aired the episode, showing mohhamed, and as revenge, muslim TV showed Jesus defacating on George Bush and the American flag. In the actual episode of South Park, comedy central wouldnt allow them to show Mohhamed, so at that point where (stay with me) on South Park they were watching Family Guy and Mohammed appeared, the screen went black and said "Comedy Central wont allow us to air this part. Mohhamad gives Peter a hat." But later in the episode Comedy Central had no problem airing Jesus crapping on George W and on America. Brilliantly showing the hypocrisy that we live in today. Comedy Central has no problem airing god as a flying pink elephant, Jesus on a regular basis, nonstop anti-semitic, anti black, anti gay slurs, anti-whatever-else-is-out-there-ness, but they wont show Mohhammed. In the episode, Cartman wants the Family Guy episode not to be shown, ostensibly because its offensive to muslims, but really it's because he hates Family Guy and says that once the Muslims can get a show removed that they dont like, then so can everyone else, and in the end Family Guy will be forced off the air. Kyle argues that the epsiode should be shown for the same reason, because once you allow one group to supress something, you open the door to everyone else to get away with what they dont like.
I thought about this as I walked past a paint-splotched ad the other day. Ads with pictures of women, not necessarily imoodestly dressed, get paint thrown at them at a regular basis. This happens very often, but I have yet to hear of anyone getting arrested for it. The people that do that sicken me. The city (or Egged, whoever own the bus stop ad spots) should put a provocative ad, and then either put up a hidden camera, or have someone waiting there to ambush people that throw the paint. By allowing this to go on, we're encouraging the attitude that "I don't agree with it, so I can destroy it". Its this same attitude that allows people to burn garbage bins in the street, costing the city tens of thousands of dollars, because they think someone was jailed unfairly. These Jews are scarily close to Islamic fundamentalists, and need to be stopped now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'll Have 3 Matzot To Go

It's over. Seven days of not eating bread, which somehow transformed to seven days of not eating beans, corn, chummus, and anything else that falls under the category of "legumes" is now over. I have yet to exercise my right to eat leavened food, but just knowing that I can makes me calm. Chummus has really been my main crave. two days of Chag and Shabbat, with no chummus? That's hard stuff. I went on a pretty cool walk this Chol Hamoed in the old city. I wandered the Arab shuk, ended up by Sha'ar Prachim, and then climbed to the top of the old city wall. There are a few Jewish families living in a compound there, right near the gate, and behind them is the old city wall. So I climbed to the ramparts and walked above the old city around in a big circle til I got to Temple Mount. The view was incredible, looking both inside the walls and out at Har Hazeitim and the other mountains that are over there. The ramparts ended there, and the guards dont let Jews on the Mount, so I had to go back through the city. I took the first street I saw, which happened to be the Via Delorosa, and traced Jesus' walk of the cross. I got up to station 8 and then found the Jewish Quarter. It was an awesome walk I'll hopefully do again soon.
Many restaurants didn't open this year, they all did repairs instead. I was hungry one night and went to town with Menachem. We couldnt find a single appetizing place to eat. There was chinese being served outside that looked liked a soup kitchen, cafes that only had salads, and every place else was for legumes eaters only. We ended up getting potato chips and coke and then we went to the mall for food. We ended up going to a movie and didnt get food til around 1AM when we found a shwarma place that the schwarma was "legume-y" but the chicken wasnt. Another night I went to the mall with MyShan and had soup and fried haloumi cheese. That's good cheese. They served the soup with matza instead of bread. That seemed a bit weird to me.
We are off in our search for chametz. Hopefully pizza. Happy Mimuna to everyone

Friday, April 14, 2006

Second Day Yom Tov

While half my family was in shul or getting ready for their fourth yom tov meal, I went to Tel Aviv. Shany had a class to go to, so I had 3 hours to kill wandering Tel Aviv. If I had to describe Tel Aviv in one word, it would be balagan. Especially after the conformity of all the building in Jerusalem, seeing every buiding there a different color was slightly unsettling. Also, every block there was a house or two that was renewed, and looked very modern, except it was surrounded on all sides by decrepit buildings. Dizengoff Mall, which semed to be a major marker in the city, is built on a slope, the first floor kind of blending into the second and third. I wanted to walk from Azrieli Mall to Dizengoff, so I asked people where it was. Nobody knew. Finally a cab driver looked at me like I was crazy and told me the direction but said its too far to walk. It too 15 minutes to walk it, and it was straight down one long street. How do these peopl live in Tel Aviv and not know where things are? I went to the beach, enjoying the cold water on the hot day. Then I went over to Nachalat Binyamin and Shenkin, an outdoor market and the "hot spot" street next to it. There was an art fair going on, which I thought of buying things, but didn't. Then I went back to Azrielli where Shany was, and we ate Kosher for Pesach BurgeRanch. Now we are up north with the rest of the Israeli part of the family getting ready for Shabbat. All in all, a great first day Chol Hamoed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

Nothing says Pesach like that sick smell of burning plastic that hovers over the entire neighborhood as every few buildings has a little bonfire going on and everyone comes by and throws their chametz in plastic bags into the fire. Going outside is like going into a bar. I went out for 15 minutes and I smell like smoke.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ripped Apart

One of the chief Rabbi's of Israel has been investigated for bribery and other allegations I can't recall. The Attorney General finished his investigation, announced he wasn't going to indict the Rabbi, but the Rabbi should step down anyway. This weekend in the paper he was ripped to pieces. How can such a person represent our country spiritually, what kind of a Rabbi is he, etc, etc. But he was never given a chance to defend himself. The attorney general found a way to destroy the man without allowing him to defend himself. Even in our not so democratic country there is still supposed to be some form of "innocent until proven guilty", isnt there?

There was a great quote that came out of this story, although it was used sarcastically in the article to further degrade the Rabbi. Apparently he was given a place to stay before Pesach a few years ago but instead stayed in a hotel at the taxpayers expense. When asked why, he said he didn't have enough time to clean the house. Then the reported quoted R' Aviner, one of the leading Dati Leumi Rabbis as saying,
"It shouldn't take more than a day to clean the whole house, including the kitchen. Anything more than that is a stringency. Each room shouldnt take more than an hour, and the kitchen two to three hours. Not only is there increased tension between husband and wife, but we show our children a very negative example by shouting at them... The husband and children are trembling in fear in some corner and eating while the mother glares at them like a drill sergeant. Is this preparation for Pesach!? No, it is a reign of terror, with the mother as Pharaoh presiding."
While I feel the Rabbi has been horribly mistreated, at least something good came from it all. I learned yet another piece of brilliance from R' Aviner.

Monday, April 03, 2006


One of the worst parts about living in a country that is constantly under attack is that you get used to it. Thursday night a couple picked up people waiting to hitchhike, unknowingly also picking up a palestinian terrorist who then killed them and two others that were also hitchhiking. If that doesnt really make headlines in world news, that doesnt shock me. But that here, 4 citizens are killed, murdered because they went out of their way to help people, and it only made page 6 in the paper (Maariv)?!?You could almost feel the aggravation of the editor that he had to give up one of his precious stories about the election to fit in a little blurb about it. Where is the public outcry? I waited all day Friday to hear the official response from our acting Prime Minister. I'm still waiting. Maybe Olmert didn't get to page 6 in the paper. Or maybe he's just "too tired of fighting" and he's decided to let this one go. I took an aimless walk this afternoon just thinking about this attack. What are we doing to prevent these attacks? What is the proper protocol to follow when one realizes there's a terrorist in his car. Is there a proper protocol? Is there a number you can dial or a certain worded text message that would alert the police that someone is in immediate danger without them having to talk on the phone? There should be. It might not have helped in this case but it can certainly help in case of a carjacking/kidnapping, like what happened today.
There's two dominant thoughts in business, the American way and the Japanese way. The American way is to avoid problems or cover them up. Instead of risking falling low on supplies, you buy tons of extra supplies and you'll for sure have when you'll need, but you never deal with the issue of why you're falling short. The Japanese way is to go back to the root of the problem. If you're running low in supplies, find out exactly why. Does it have to do with old machinery? Fix the machines. Unhappy workers? Then find out why they're unhappy and solve that problem.
Our way of fighting terrorism seems to be more about covering up the problem then dealing with it. Instead of asking ourselves, what could lead someone, and not just one person but hundreds of people, to kill themselves in order to kill us, we just build a wall. And we have plans to evacuate more than half the settlements. Or we assassinate their leaders, raid their villages and confiscate their weapons. But what does any of this accomplish? The wall? there are so many ways to break through it. Sure, it may stop lots of attempts at attacks. But it doesnt stop their desire to kill us, so they will find a way through it. There will always be Palestinians going to our hospitals, working in Israel, cargo trucks going through, the wall can't stop all the bombers. Evacuating territories is a joke. We evacuated Gaza, and now they can get Katyushas from Egypt without us stopping them. If the entire fight was over the West Bank, then there would be a plan. We evacuate the West Bank, they get what they want, we get the rest, and everyone is happy. But we know they want the whole thing. So what do we think is going to happen when we give them a small piece of the pie. They're going to say thank you and be happy? It's such a half-assed plan it's ridiculous. The last "win-the-war-quick" solution we have is to assassinate their leaders. I can't count the amount of times I've read that "the Israeli army shot a missile that killed Machmoud/Idbrahim/Abdul, the head of the Hamas/Fatah/Islamic Jihad cell in Shechem/Rammalla/Jenin". Proabably about as many times as I've read "suicide bomber kills Israelis." Sure, it feels good to know that we've killed another terorist-except that every time we shoot one down, his brother/son/sister/neighbor gets fed up and becomes a bomber. So what does any of this accomplish. It's time we stopped and realized there is no "get-out-of-war-quick" card. We need to find out what are the root causes of this terror, follow it back as far as we can, and then learn how to deal with it properly. Until then, with all our big walls and army, we will be waiting every day, even if its quiet for months or even years, just waiting for the next one to happen.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Lesser Of Two Evils?

There are two parties vying to make the coalition and become the ruling party til the next election; Kadima and Labor. I really don't know which scares me more. Kadima's main platform is withdrawing from the West Bank. (Since we withdrew from Gaza, they elected Hamas to be their leaders, daily have been shooting rockets at us, and now have started shooting Katyushas. The people who were evacuated are for the most part jobless, homeless, with little or no help coming from the government that threw them out. After such a "success story", who wouldn't support another withdrawal?) In addition, Kadima is being run by Olmert, a man strongly disliked in Jerusalem where he was mayor (at least by my in-laws and everyone they know), a man who has said he used to be right wing til his leftist wife wore him down (direct quote from an article in Maariv), a man who has said he is "tired of fighting and tired of being courageous". How could a man who is tired of being couragous become our Prime Minister? On the other hand, his coalition will almost definitely have to include a right wing party, probably Shas or UTJ, and if they don't entirely sell out (which is very possible) Olmert won't be able to fulfill his dream of self destruction. The government could then continue running as it is now, with a strong hand against terrorists (while everyone complains how we dont do anything, we are in the middle of bombing the hell out of Gaza, we've closed down Shechem, and Thank God we have been catching suicide bombers before they can do any harm almost every day [with the exclusion of the bombing on Thursday night, more on that later]), with further privatization of governement companies, and getting rid of more monopolies.
The other possible leader is Amir Peretz. In terms of withdrawal, the Labor party is against the concept of one-sided withdrawal, and wont negotiate with Hamas (at least not yet), so meantime that is not an issue. They will probably evacuate most small outposts, but any elected government would have to do that. Peretz's platform was purely a social one. Socialist to be exact. You know, that failed experiment that disencourages competition, lowers motivation, doesnt think that doctors should earn more than burger-flippers? Which I guess is expected from a man that finished his education at high school. the scarier part is that his coalition would consist of Shas (more exponential benefits for every child), Pensioners (more money for pensioners) , maybe UTJ (more money for yeshivot and kollel people) , all of which are parties looking for more socialist benefits. Which of course translates into higher taxes. And raises the question, why get a job when you can make more on welfare? This is also the same man that was in charge of the strikes that struck this country over the past years, sometimes totally crippling it. Most notorious was a strike right before Sukkot that shut down the airport. God forbid that tourists should come here for the holiday and spent their dirty capitalist money! It might even help the economy! The only positive part of him being Prime Minister is that it stops Olmert. Then Kadima may fall apart, since the only common denominator amongst its candidates is a need for power. But that may just be wishful thinking.
Point of this all is, there's no coalition I support, and I'm just going to wait for the next elections and hope whoever is in charge now doesnt do irreparable damage.