Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Update: we will know Little Girl's fate on friday. He gave her a major kitty enema. She doesn't get any food until the morning. I have to keep trying to get her to go through-out the night.

Topping my day, my washing machine seems to be broken. Came home to incessant beeping noise. Washer, half-full of water has the door light blinking. Try to open the door --won't open. Try to push the door tighter shut so its little sensor will realize that hellloooo the door is shut. No success. It won't do anything until it thinks the door is ok. *scream* There are very needful items locked in water in the washer.
I'm terribly distressed. "Little girl" may die and if so it will be entirely my fault. I found this small animal feeding kit on Sunday that includes a bottle with replaceable nipples. Great, I thought, this will make feeding them so much easier. And they loved it. Unfortunately they loved it too much and the boys in their enthusiasm were not only sucking on it but biting on it too. I didn't think too much about it until I saw that they had bitten the nipple nearly off and it was hanging on by a thread. Ok, no more bottles for the boys --back to the syringe for them. But I thought the bottle would be fine for Little Girl because she had not shown any biting tendencies and wasn't doing well with the syringe feeding. I was wrong and stupid. I tried her with one of the replacement nipples and all seemed fine. Then I noticed that she too was not just sucking but biting on it. I tried to take the bottle from her at that point and it as I did she chomped down hard to keep it from going --the bottle came free but the entire shaft of the nipple disappeared down her throat. She hasn't had a bowel movement since sunday. I was planning to take her in to the vet this morning for a little help with going. Then my mother told me, last night, that the rubber from the nipple is most likely going to cause an intestinal obstruction and, if so, that it will kill her. We went to the vet this morning and he gave her a lot of laxative orally. I was to give her the laxative 4 times a day. I took her out a little while ago to feed her and give it to her but she wouldn't eat at all, just cried. Then, she projectile vomited more food than I would ever have imagined a tiny kitten could hold. I called the vet and he said this is not good. He is coming in early to see her and so she and I will head back to him in about 20 minutes. If she dies it will be my fault. She is the most precious little thing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Funky mental blocks

These are the things you think of when awake in the middle of the night waiting for formula to cool to feed an infant or several hungry infant kittens---

There are words and related groups of words that I cannot for the life of me remember and they are very basic and necessary words (in hebrew --although my english is going quickly as you may have noticed and isn't being replaced!). For instance, I cannot remember, ever, the word for "sad" (it is maybe ahtzuv?) or any other non-happy word. Ok fine, so subconsciously I don't like any unpleasant emotion. I can live with that so long as it is without the unpleasant emotion as well :)

I can't remember any words related to my job or research. Period. Maybe subconsciously I hate my job?

But tell, me, please, why I can't remember fun words and words I use and want to do (but alas can't) all the time, like for instance "to play" or its noun variation "game." Don't even start with the adverbial form. Hmmmm? These are two words I've looked up more than 100 times. And they elude me. Always.

And yet...and YET, I can remember words I might use once in a year in conversation or writing, if that, at first glance. I mean, tell me, when was the last time you said "I think I might le'ehrov (ambush or waylay) someome tomorrow" Yeah, thought so. Yet this word, among many other useless and uncommonly used things are sitting there in my mind in place of all the words I need to use every day. Go figure.

Monday, May 29, 2006

the U.K. teacher's association NAFTHE has voted to boycott all Israeli academics.

The backlash against their McCarthyite policy has started. I've taken this off of the Engage site: "From the comments section at Professor John Palmer's (The University of Western Ontario) blog:

"Acad Ronin:
1) Any idea on how I can get an honorary afiliation with an Israeli univerersity?

2) Henceforth I will require any UK journal that asks me to referee an article (something that happens about once a year) to give me a signed affidavit that the journal does not honor the NATFHE boycott and that the author(s) do not either."

"EclectEcon (mail) (www):
I strongly support both your points.

1. Those who want to join the IAB should e-mail Professor Frankel at

2. I, too, will require such an affidavit and urge everyone else to do so, as well."

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East have issued a strong condemnation: read it here

Me, myself, I'm utterly disgusted. My mantra today is "I will not rant, I will not rave." So consider yourselves spared --at least until tomorrow :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Does anyone know how I would go about setting up a donation button/fund thing on my blog for the spaying and neutering of cats here in Tel Aviv (my neighborhood in particular)? There are approximately 45 adult cats that need to be spayed and neutered just in a one block radius --I know this because I feed them. I have managed to capture and spay 4 since I moved in but my budget hasn't allowed for more. The vet --yeah him -- gives me a half-price rate, --150 shekels per cat (that's about $33 U.S. per cat). There is a program for free spaying through the city but "my" cats have been on the waiting list since last november and we now have at least 5 new litters in the neighborhood, not including the 3 kittens I've taken in and am hand-feeding.

A female cat can have up to 3 litters a year, averaging 4 kittens per litter. Think about it. Think about how many kittens can be spared lives of terrible desperation on the streets just by spaying the prospective mother.

Lisoosh, thank you for the fantastic idea of fund-raising for the kitties! Now, how do I go about doing it? :)

Friday, May 26, 2006

The size of my hand

The size of my hand
Originally uploaded by yaeli_13.

If you read my hebrew blog yesterday morning you know that the extremely loud and piteous crying of tiny beastlets somewhere outside my apartment kept waking me up all night. I finally got up at 5 a.m. to try to find the source. I looked for about 45 minutes but was unable to find the kitten or kittens making it. I came back upstairs, fixed some coffee and ....the crying started again. So a couple of hours later, right before I left for work I decided to take one more look.

This time I tracked the noise to behind the wall of a Gan. One sharp-faced and sharp-tongued woman was standing there and she informed me that someone had dumped these kittens off without their mother. I asked if they were going to feed and care for them as they were obviously starving and just as obviously they are too small to eat anything other than mother's milk or a supplement and she informed that no and that she didn't want anyone else feeding them as well. Another woman was there and while the witch was talking she went inside and got a small saucer of milk for them. The mean and nasty woman informed me that I could take them then or take them in the evening but if they were still there in the morning she was going to "put them out of their misery."

I couldn't take them then as I was now about to miss my train. But when I got home I immediately went back. There had been 5 kittens in the morning. I could only find 3. It is my hope that a parent or two of the children at the gan took home the others. Well, I'd prefer not to think of the other possibilities.

So now, here they are. Tiny, vulnerable, heart-breaking. Adorable and sweet. They need a home. I can't keep six cats. If you know anyone....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In response to a direct request from a dear friend-- who obviously just loves to see me getting riled up-- I'm going to share my 2 cents on the completely idiotic (oops am I giving away my opinion already?) ruling of our lovely orthodox rabbis about conversions that take place outside of Israel. There's actually a really good post about this from someone in the orthodox corner who is also in the same shocked and offended category as me over on Life in Israel.

For those of you who haven't been following this little soap opera the bare bones of the matter is this: any and all conversions (we are talking orthodox here cos they don't recognize anything but orthodox conversions anyway) that take place outside of Israel will not be recognized as valid whatsoever if they are not conducted, personally, by any one of 50 "you have the stamp of approval on your forehead" rabbis. Now, they are planning to let more rabbits, er rabbis, get their foreheads stamped but only after they jump through a lot of hoops and eat their lettuce in the correct fashion as decreed by the head honchos here. They are also not recognizing converstions authorized, but not personally carried out from start to finish, by one of the very big and respected head honcho orthodox rabbits in the U.S. who has a bona-fide stamp on his forehead already. This is causing rather muted shock and horror in the galut (all that there land outside of this here holy of holy places).

So what does this mean? Well for different people it has different ramifications. For instance, if you are someone wishing to convert reform or conservative it means absolutely zip --you ain't a Jew in their eyes already so who cares what dumb rules they come up? Except for the fact that, while you can make aliyah and while the State of Israel will allow you to be considered a citizen and an adopted member of the jewish race/nation/genetic blobs of inter-bred DNA that we are, you won't be able to get married here in Holy Land Central and you are going to have some burial issues (i.e., they won't let you into the exclusive Jewish section of dust-becomers). But this is already the case and this new ruling doesn't change anything. So you should already be wishing a pox upon their houses.

If you are wanting to convert in the Orthodox stream, however, welcome to the outcasts of the reform and conservative converts cos now you too, dear hearts, can go ahead and convert but not be recognized by the head honchos who have far too much say over everyone else's lives. Unless of course you happen to live close enough to one of the 50 kosher rabbits in the entire world outside of Israel and can get them to convert you. Or, unless you are willing to convert once so you can make Aliyah in order to go through the whole loooooooonnnnnnnnggggggg pain the neck process of re-converting here once you arrive. Of course for you guys and gals there are many more issues besides marriage and where you'll be buried when you croak --what about school for your kids (forget it, they can't get into any of the religious schools), what about your kids getting married and on and on. You are in a bind. Start screaming now. The orthodox rabbis outside of Israel too should be screaming loud and long --after all they are being told that they aren't respectable and holy and kosher enough to do diddly squat.

Oh yeah, and there's the divorce thing. Orthodox folks have to not only get divorced in the government's eyes but they also have to get divorced in rabbinic eyes too and get something called a Get (not always easy, lemme tell you --sometimes impossible). So these non-israeli rabbis can't issue Gets any longer. Not only that, from what I understand, the issue is retroactive and so any Gets that were gotten if not gotten by 1 of the 50 are eerrrrrrr not valid. So hey you, yeah I know you were married and had 7 kids and then got a Get that is now gone but in the meantime remarried and had 7 more kids with the new spouse. Yeah, you. You aren't divorced. And you aren't remarried. You are living in sin. Your newest 7 darlings are shhhh momzerim (bastards). Oy va voy.

The main deal here is that this is a decision by a power-hungry bunch of rabbis (er rather a tiny exclusive club) who make stupid decisions in order to gain and maintain the power that they have. If you've ever read Watership Down, these guys are General Woundwort and his Owsla. It has nothing to do G-d or religion or anything else but power. So, now they are roundly hated by the secular people who live here, hated by the reform, by the conservative, by all converts without the special stamp of approval, and increasingly by the people in their own camp who live outside of this country. Kol ha'kavod, guys.

Yo, orthodox people not in Holy Land Central: I'd suggest coming up with a Hazel and Fiver and Bigwig real quick --and a Kehaar if you can find one!

Well Kat, you did ask....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam, visiting Israel, says, "'Hamas' terror is not a reaction to the occupation. Israel's right to exist is today the international criterion for distinguishing between the terrorist camp and the camp of life."

"On one side, there is the Hamas government, Iran, fundamentalist Islam and even parts of the extreme left and right in Europe." On the other side, he says, are Western countries and "supporters of the right to live." The West, he believes, has consistently failed to grasp its situation: It does not understand that it is under attack, and it is trying to conduct a dialogue with the Muslims attacking it." The rest of the article can be found here

Magdi Allam is the winner of the Dan David prize for his "exceptional journalistic work and commitment to freedom of the press."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I am in love. No, not with a boy, alas (alas!). But the next best thing, I suppose --the IDC. I am really so excited about the new program there and my part in building it. The meeting that I had today was just fantastic. I found out that a colleague and collaborator of mine (our first paper together just came out about a week ago) is going to be onboard in 2007 and so I am really excited. Imagine, having a colleague in-house who knows what you are talking about, does fantastic work himself, and ideas, ideas, ideas to be shared and pursued. Can you say small slice of heaven? I am going to have a beeaauuutiful lab. It is a beautiful campus. the new building is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. There are so many exciting things happening there.

I have an "out" with teaching in hebrew --if I totally can't manage it, I can do the courses in english next year. But I don't want to. If I can't manage to do this in hebrew I will never forgive myself. I will feel like such a failure. And I refuse to fail. I hate losing. I'm a bad loser. I am going to teach those classes in hebrew if it kills me. and it just might, heh.

I met with the dean and got kinda (heh) a double-compliment. When N. introduced me to her he did so with a "I think you've met once before." "Of course," she responded, "how could I forget someone who looks like she's 13 and yet has the CV of someone who is 80." Well now, I look (finally, finally) like I'm in my twenties. It has been at least 3 years since I was brought the children's menu when sitting down in a restaurant (they don't have these in Israel) and nearly 9 months since being carded when buying alcohol or cigarettes (they don't do that here either *grin*).

Next year is going to be so much fun!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It is 10 p.m. and I just got home from Beer Sheva. In exactly 7 hours I will leave my house for...Beer Sheva. That's right, we have an 8 a.m. meeting scheduled to go many many hours tomorrow. Now, out of the meeting participants 4 of us live in Tel Aviv and the other 2 live in Jerusalem ...can someone tell me why it is we are meeting at this ung-dly hour a zillion miles away from where any and all of us reside?! I mean, hellooooo?

We had the first part (the first two hours of it) of the faculty meeting today. In hebrew. Can i say my brain hurts. And it hurts even though I didn't understand more than 1 word in every 30 or so. We haven't gotten to all those technical phrases about matriculation and university procedures and all that jazz in ulpan (and I doubt we ever will) so I just kinda sat there going eehhhhhhhhhh beseder. Tomorrow will likely be more of the same.

I had another two hours of hebrew (well mixed with english) with two of my students on the train home. It actually made the ride seem much shorter and I learned quite a few phrases and idioms and words.

Gearing up for a busy (argh argh) busy week next week. Saturday is one of my very good friend's birthday and hence party on the beach --oo la. On Sunday I meet with folks at the IDC about courses next year. On Monday and Tuesday I am back and forth to Jerusalem for a conference on Peace in the Middle East (yes, I'll take an order of that, please, do fries come on the side?) I'm looking forward to it a lot. One of the keynote speakers will be Sari Nusseibeh of Al Quds University. On Wednesday I have an 40 page article due in or I may not live to ever attend another conference --uh I have the title page written :) (I have several other articles past due but no one is threatening me on those yet so they are hanging out on the back burner. Maybe the journals and book authors I owe them to will forget...:) And then class again on Thursday.

I love my life here. I hate being so busy but I also kind of like it. I must be a masochist at heart.

P.S. Thought I might just collapse into bed but my neighbor is home. No he isn't having an extremely loud and passionate night but he is being loud. He is doing what he does on the nights that he doesn't manage to score --playing his drums at high volume.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Regular readers of my blog and many other israeli blogs (see post listing them 3 down from this one) now know that Egypt has arrested the well-known, pro-democracy blogger Alaa along with dozens of others who were engaged in a peaceful, wholly non-violent, protest. The police in Egypt have jailed them for several weeks now and there is no end in sight for their imprisonment. The Sandmonkey has written an excellent piece about this in The Guardian under the pen name Sam Adam (because they wouldn't let him use Sandmonkey). Go read it :) Yes, the moo bossy cow is at it again :)

Last night there was a fantastic fireworks show put on in Tel Aviv, attended by 300,000 people. I wasn't one of them. I was sick yesterday and had to settle for catching glimpses of the green, red, yellow, and purple showers of sparks from my window. Most of them didn't manage to rise above the dratted Hilton Hotel which was so inconveniently in the way.

Let me just say something about Jewish ingenuity. On Monday night, after hearing the fantastic talk by participants in the Warsaw Rising (the Polish Uprising of 1944) and getting to meet one of my life heroes, I went to a bonfire-on-the-beach celebration set up by some religious something or other with several friends, one of whom belongs to this religious something or other group. It was to be a secular "you can wear your jeans" event so the rest of us all agreed to go. When we got there we saw no bonfire. Lots of people, big stack of wood, no fire.

Hmmmm. It seems there is a law now prohibiting bonfires on the beach with the exception of one stretch of sand and we were not on that stretch of sand. But, barbecues are allowed and you can light your fire in the little metal pans that people use here for that purpose. Aha. So someone in the group had the fantastic idea of laying out 6 or so of these metal barbecue tins all next to one another, piling the wood on top of them and saying --hey, it is technically not a bonfire but one really really big barbecue! We had our bonfire!! Alas, we starved. Well, I starved. The others had had the good sense to eat something prior to coming. The 35 sheks we honour system paid for the theoretical food ahh, well, it was a nice fire!

Monday, May 15, 2006

I met Simcha Rotem!!

I met Simcha Rotem, I shook his hand and told him he was the biggest hero of my childhood and still. He kissed me on the cheek. If I die tomorrow I swear, I will die happy. Wow. Blog more later --off to bonfire for Lag B'Omar!!!

The blogging campaign to tell Egypt to free Alaa is beginning to hit the news. Worldnews has an article about it and if you check out the end, they put in a pointer to our own Lisa's blog to find more information on how to take part. Wooo Lisa, you go girl!!

David Hirsh replies to Steven Rose - Vote No to the Blacklist

The moo bossy cow sez please circulate widely! :
David Hirsh replies to Steven Rose - Vote No to the Blacklist

Jacqueline Rose, at a conference last September became exasperated by patient logical arguments against boycotting Israeli academics. In the end she fell back on the desperate exclamation, "We have to do something!"

Never mind that a blacklist of Israeli academics will do nothing to help Palestinians or Palestinian universities. Never mind that a blacklist will do nothing to help unite all those who oppose the Israeli occupation in a campaign for a free and democratic Palestine. Never mind that the proposal to draw up a blacklist of Israeli Jewish academics, and no other academics in the world, fails every conceivable test of consistency.

In his recent Comment Is Free piece, Steven Rose, it seems, can do no better than his namesake Jacqueline. He argues that staying silent about the occupation of the West Bank, and the daily Israeli violence that is necessary to sustain it, is one option. The only other option is that academics should draw up a blacklist of Israeli Jewish colleagues and refuse to debate with them, refuse to invite them to conferences, refuse to engage in joint research with them; Israeli Jews must be excluded from the global academic community.

That is the false choice he offers. Either stay silent or boycott Israeli academics.

Perhaps Steven Rose has been playing tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum for too long with Melanie Philips on the Moral Maze. Melanie says Israel never does anything wrong; Steven denounces Israel as a "racist apartheid state".

But this issue is too important to decide in the manner of a Radio 4 game show.

We should neither stay silent about Israel's systematic violence, nor should we be satisfied by the counter-productive, passive, moralistic gesture politics of the academic boycott.

The President of Birzeit University, Nabeel Kassis, was in Britain last October telling how hard conditions were for academics and students under the occupation. He asked for our support, he demanded an end to the Israeli occupation, he asked for UK pressure on the Israeli government; he did not call for a boycott of fellow academics. Some serious and brave UK academics teach part of the year in Birzeit. That is positive support, that is solidarity. Some UK academics bring Israeli and Palestinian students to the UK, build bridges and educate young people. Some people in Britain send books, material support and equipment to Palestinian universities. That too is solidarity; solidarity rather than denunciation; solidarity rather than weaving fantasies of a simple world where there are only goodies and baddies.

The President of Al Quds University in East Jerusalem, Sari Nusseibeh speaks clearly and eloquently against the campaign to boycott his Jewish colleagues on the other side of his city. Nusseibeh asks for academics to come to Al Quds to teach, to help, to show solidarity. Nusseibeh asks for help for the Al Quds medical school that is short of funds, expertise and specifically dialysis machines. Al Quds university needs books. Don't stay silent, don't boycott Israeli Jews, do something to help Palestinians.

Steven Rose recycles a number of libels and half-truths from last year's failed and rejected boycott campaign in the AUT but he is smart enough to leave out the specifics this year. Last year when his campaign accused Haifa University of being a racist institution, this sorry package of libels nearly bankrupted our union; when the boycott campaign falsely accused the Hebrew University of building its new dorm block on occupied land it exposed AUT to an equally serious libel threat. Israeli higher education is not segregated. Both Haifa University and Hebrew University have about 20 per cent Arab students and have significant numbers of Arab faculty members. This is a rate of inclusion of minorities that would shame many elite British institutions.

Another of Steven Rose's misrepresentations is that "Israeli academics as a community - with some brave exceptions - are at best silent and at worst open in their advocacy" on Israel's immoral and illegal acts. The truth is that the universities are spaces in Israel where conflict is persued through words and ideas rather than guns and bombs. They are amongst the most anti-racist spaces in Israel, spaces where ideas for peace are forged, taught and practised. Some academics will indeed be right wing, some may be profoundly reactionary. That is the nature of an open, democratic and free education system. It is a system that also guarantees a safe tenured chair for the extreme anti-Zionist Ilan Pappe, even when he calls upon the world to boycott his own colleagues and his own institution. This is a list of hundreds of Israeli academics - hardly Rose's "brave exceptions" - that publicly support those of their students who refuse to serve in the Israeli army in the occupied territories. The Oslo peace process, destroyed by Israeli and Arab extremists, was forged by links between Israeli and Palestinian academics.

Last year there were debates in the universities up and down the UK in which academics seriously considered proposals for a boycott of their Israeli colleagues. Not one AUT branch backed the boycott. Not one. This year there have been only one or two discussions at NATFHE branches; the current proposals to draw up a blacklist of Israelis are pushed by a small coterie of activists who have not been mandated by the academics they claim to represent. The NATFHE Israel boycotters never bothered to ask their members what they think.

And make no mistake, a blacklist is what is proposed. "Conference invites members to consider... the appropriateness of a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves" from "Israeli apartheid policies...". It is another half-truth in Steven Rose's piece when he claims that this is a boycott of Israeli institutions rather than individual academics. This boycott would be directed against Israeli Jewish individuals. Arab and Christian academics at Israeli institutions would be exempted under the political test. A handful of anti-Zionist Jews who chose to jump through the hoops held up by the boycott campaign would be exempted. Jews would be challenged to demonstrate their political cleanliness. An academic boycott would mean that UK based academic journals would refuse to publish papers from Israelis researching or teaching in Israel. Israelis would be excluded from academic conferences. Israelis would be disbarred from taking parts in joint projects with UK academics. Israeli Jews that refused to identify themselves as anti-Zionists would be punished for the actions of their government in a way that no other academic on the planet is punished - at least by people claiming to be antiracists and on the left.

What does Steven Rose mean when he says that "the academic boycott movement is growing as a personal moral and political act"? He means that he has given up the campaign for a collective, democratic, openly organised and regulated boycott by our trade unions and he is now satisfied by encouraging secret squalid little acts of discrimination against Israeli Jews. Mona Baker, an academic in Manchester, sacked her "friends" Dr Miriam Shlesinger and Professor Gideon Toury from the editorial board of an academic journal because they worked for Israeli universities. Both have long track records of publicly campaigning against racism and human rights abuses. Is Rose claiming that there is a growing number of similar individual exclusions that are being carried out in secret? This is the antithesis of the proud, open and public tradition of solidarity in the trade union movement. But it is exactly what his website is encouraging when it suggests that people email for advice on how to discriminate against Israelis "by private actions without wishing to be publicly identified." (Click on "Advice" after entering the BRICUP website.)

AUT and NATFHE are currently at the sharp end of a dispute. When the government demanded fees from our students it did so by arguing that this was the only way to pay university staff properly. So we are currently refusing to take part in examinations in order to insist that some of that money goes into our salaries. We don't know how long it will hold or whether we will win. We need unity. The "academic Intifada" does not bring unity to our unions and it does not help us to win this important dispute. Some academics are less willing than they might have been to take a lead from our unions because they think that AUT and NATFHE are posturing, Israel-hating organisations rather than real trade unions in which we collectively defend ourselves. The Israeli academic union is supporting us in this dispute.

The campaign for our unions to boycott Israel does damage to our unity and our strength. If this proposal was passed in NATFHE, it would do damage to the current dispute and it would put into doubt the merger of the two academic unions. Many members would simply resign in order to have nothing to do with the squalid policy. Some AUT members would resort to breaking up the unity of the new union.

Not only is our union damagingly split by this moralistic and posturing gesture politics, so is the Palestine Solidarity movement in general. There ought to be a strong and united movement around the world to campaign for a free and democratic Palestine. Most decent people are alienated from the movement that exists by the feeling that it hates Israel more than it loves Palestine. We need to build on the basis of a new kind of language - we need to argue for peace and mutual recognition, not for war against the "oppressors". The boycott campaign gives up on building a Middle East peace movement and replaces it with a lame and symbolic politics of despair and anger.

Steven Rose refers to the election of the Jew-hating, woman-enslaving, gay-murdering, democracy-drowning socialist-loathing Hamas as an act of "audacity". Where are his political bearings as a socialist and as a democrat? Hamas promised war against Israel but is unable either to fight or to win such a war. Instead it sits and watches the people who voted for it suffer. It refuses to renounce its principle that Israel must be made into an Islamic state; it refuses to renounce its view that Jews are responsible for every evil that has ever happened in the world; it responds to the murder of Israelis at a falafel bar by applauding it as a 'martyrdom operation'; and it blames everyone else for the misery of Palestinians.

Steven Rose would not live under a Jihadi Islamist government but he thinks that it was an audacious decision for Palestine. There is a significant stream of contemporary 'anti-imperialism' that routinely adopts this imperialist double-standard: liberty, womens' emancipation and human rights are 'western' inventions, good enough for 'us', but not important for 'the other'. Europe, Israel and the US now have an obligation to make sure that the Palestinians do not starve - and they should take that obligation seriously. Israel needs to withdraw its troops and its settlers from the West Bank and Palestine needs to stop attacking Israelis and to recognise Israel's right to exist. But Steven Rose's faux support for Hamas should make it clear to us where his priorities lie. He is more interested in a collective punishment for Israelis than in doing something positive that might work towards a decent future for Palestine.

As well as punishing Israelis, the boycott has the added bonus of exonorating 'us'. It is a 'not in my name' policy. It appeals to people who have an impossible need to feel themselves to be morally pure even though they live in a dirty world of complexity, conflict and injustice. They want to be able to feel that the corruption of the existing world is not their responsibility. Choosing to punish Israeli academics does not commit them to doing the hard work of changing the world, of building bridges, of making links; it does not take up any time or effort; it saves them from a feeling of complicity in the bad things that go on in the world. The fact that it does worse than nothing for Palestine is neither here nor there.

Steven Rose is contemptuous of those who disagree with him: those fellow academics, trade unionists, socialists, liberals and Jews who oppose his blacklist. He delegitimises any opposition with the buzzword of the moment, 'Israel lobby'; he characterises those who disagree with him as "pathetic groupuscules of Zionist fellow travellers". How seamlessly Rose slips into the language of the McCarthyite blacklist. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that academics know how to spot a lousy argument. Instead, he smears those that oppose him as a "lobby", convinced that his own case is so devastating that his defeat can only be explained by the intervention of an unstopposable and demonic conspiracy.

Rose says that "to achieve peace with justice must be the goal" but his proposal hinders both peace and justice. His proposal does nothing positive, it splits people campaigning against the occupation, it divides those fighting for peace and justice, it licenses a visceral hatred of Israel, it legitimates discrimination against Israelis and it hinders solidarity with the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements. It also damages our unions and our current dispute. I hope that delegates reject motion 198c at NATFHE conference.

David Hirsh
Lecturer in Sociology,
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Egypt Let That Blogger Go --Free Alaa!

Lisa of On the Face has excellent coverage of the arrest and imprisonment of well-known and pro-democracy blogger Alaa by the Egyptian government as well as links to how you can help to secure his freedom. Check out her blog! I'm stealing repeating a couple of things she notes below because they are important:

A bloggers' campaign has been set up to get Egypt to free Alaa here

Global Voices Online manager suggests engaging in a Google Bomb, meaning you link the word Egypt to the Free Alaa! blog as many times as possible, and you will help push it higher on the rank of Google searches for Egypt. In other words, people searching for information on Egypt will find the link to the Free Alaa! blog. See every time I mentioned the word Egypt above I linked it to the Free Alaa website. You can do it too.

***From The Sandmonkey's site: "We finally have the automatic interactive petition up (Thanks to the Hamsa people), which by signing, gets automatically sent out to Egypt's US ambassador, the egyptian Prime minister, and the egyptian minister of interior. All you have to do is click here , write your name and e-mail and press send. It's that easy! The Sandmonkey has some very disturbing pictures (makes you really want to get active!) of the police brutality of the protestors today in Egypt. And he has a very nice post about Israelis and Arabs, Americans and Europeans all coming together for a common cause.***

Let's get the Israeli blogosphere in full swing to tell the Egyptian government to Let That Blogger Go!

Israeli bloggers taking part in the Let That Blogger Go campaign so far are:
Shalom Israel
Dry Bones
Moving on Up
Westbank Blog
Dutchblog Israel
The Mad Bad Crazee Life of Me
The Muqata
Something Something
Abba Gav
On the Face
Me :) and on the hebrew blog
Do a major mitzvah, good Israeli hasbara, take part and I'll keep a running list of participants here :) You also can list your blog entry and country you are representing on the wiki set up by Mary Joyce or, if you don't know how to wiki, let me know and I'll put the link up for you. C'mon Hasbara!

I've been in contact with the head of Engage and have been asked to pass on this information from Jon Pike, one of the members of the executive board. Please take a gander.

In personal news I have no gas for my stove. Actually, I haven't had any since like last Thursday night. I couldn't figure out why --everyone else in the building I talked with had happy little stoves. I didn't know who to call. Then my neighbor who has been away for like a month (I knew he wasn't there only because I haven't had to turn my tv up to full volume in the evenings --he's slept with at least half the population of Tel Aviv and quite loudly too!) knocked on my door and gave me a little slip of paper that was in his mailbox when he returned. It should have gone into my mailbox. It was dated April 10th and said that because I was not here for them to do some safety check my gas was going to be cut off within 48 hours. Well their 48 hours lasted nearly a month and they got the wrong mailbox. Ahhhh Israeli efficiency. So I guess I need to call at some point today and scream for them to put it back on and test whatever they need to test and all that jazz so I can cook my pasta tonight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Free speech, academic freedom under attack --get active folks

First news of note (and this is the most important because it is the most immediate and most dangerous to life and limb): 48 pro-democracy activists in Egypt including 6 bloggers (the most famous of whom is the very first Egyptian Bloggers, Alaa) have been arrested. Here is a quote about the issue from The Sandmonkey
"Currently there are about 48 detained , 6 of them are bloggers, and 3 of them are women.The most known of them is Alaa, which makes him the posterboy of this campaign, but getting them out is equally as important. Egypt has less than 830 bloggers all in all, and 6 are so far gone, and amongst them one of Egypt's most highly profiled one. This is by no means a co-incidence. The Government agents handpicked them from amongst the protesters and they knew who they were. They have been wanting to get Alaa for a long time now, precisely because he is high profile, and because he helps organizes the protests and spread the information through the aggregator he runs. With him gone, Aggregator could shut down without his maintenance, the other bloggers get too scared to be active and find no way to organize and reach one other. It's of vital importance that he gets released ASAP."

This is rocking the Egyptian blogosphere and should be rocking the blogosphere and news media well beyond Egypt's borders! Go to the Sandmonkey's blog and find out what you can do to help!

Next, the AUT is at it again. The two major teachers' unions in the UK are merging and, after their attempt to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities failed last year they are now attempting to make an academic boycott of all Israeli universities, all Israeli academics and Israeli students. Ha'aretz has the heads-up article here. I blogged about the boycott last year here.I'm going to be contacting the organizers of Engage again (the folks who organized and led the fight against the first boycott attempt) and see if I can find out more and what actions we, as academics, and we as world citizens, can do to fight against the stifling of academic freedom. Will keep everyone updated as I get more info.

Now off to take the small kitten (finally!!) for his castration.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Oy va voy there are some days that aren't worth getting up for and this was almost one of them. I went to bed at 4, after working on a paper, and had to get up at 6 to make the meeting in Jerusalem. Can I just say that Yossi Vardi is an extremely nice, intelligent, and warm person. Absolutely not what I would have expected in that he did not behave in the least like one would expect a major entrepreneur, someone who is extremely wealthy, well-respected, and basically famous to behave. Meeting and talking with him was the bright spot of my day. He is so down to earth, and so unassuming. We gave him a ride in the kinda disaster area within car that we'd driven to Jerusalem in to drop him off for giving a talk at the Knesset after our meeting. He didn't have a problem with squeezing into a car with at least half of Israel's "recycle me" products scattered on the various "you might could put your foot there" surfaces.

Thankfully, the "don't steal me cos I don't start with a key" feature worked from the meeting spot to dropping him off. It shortly thereafter didn't work. We pulled over at Abu Gosh because we thought we had a flat tire (turns out it was just the road that was bad). We stopped the car and turned it off to inspect things. Great, nothing wrong. Back in the car and...the "immobilizer" was more than doing its job --we were immobilized alright. We played musical car for the next hour plus. You do this by getting into the boiling hot car, shutting the doors --windows needing to be rolled up, and trying the de-immobilize routine again and again. Every 3rd or 4th try we'd get out of the car, shut the doors for about one minute trying to convince it that ok now we are getting in and you should do your starting job right about....NOW. But no. So out and in and in and out we went. Sit on the side of the road hoping it might forget that it obviously thought we were trying to steal said car --hey look, it has been 10 minutes, obviously we are new people and yes, we have the code. What finally worked was calling the immobilizer people and leaving a desperate message "we are about to sweat to death on the side of the road so call us back NOW." Two seconds (he had just clicked the phone shut) the car mysteriously started. No idea why but we were quite happy it did. The immobilizer people never did call us back.

So I got home just in time to rush to the meeting with a student who never showed up.

I got back to find the small kitten had attacked my computer and eaten or otherwise done away with the "u" on my keyboard. Hmmm the computer is still under warranty (though goodness knows where the warranty papers are) and so maybe IBM will give me a hebrew-english keyboard? I'd fall down and kiss their little feets.

Then I went down and checked my mail and found a notice saying "YO, your extremely sweet, nice, lonely, but senile landlady has not paid the electric and so we are going to cut off your service TODAY. So call and pay (almost 900 shekels)miyad!!" So I call 103 and followed the directions they gave as far as I could figure out and in every possible combination and could never get beyond the direction menu when not disconnecting myself either on purpose or by accident--dial 03 star 10330 if you are in Tel Aviv --uh but this doesn't work in any form or fashion. Finally, after an hour of pulling my hair out, having to recharge my phone, and nearly deciding candlelight for the rest of my life might not be so bad, I called information and pleaded for a direct number. Now they had left a direct number on the slip but uh, it was a fax machine and nearly broke my eardrum. Then after a half-hour wait I finally got a real live human bean who helped me by happily decimating my bank account. But, let there be light I said and there was and is.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

My watch has stopped. Of course, being that it is shabbat tomorrow this means I am going to spend the next day having no idea what time it is. And I have a very early morning meeting on Sunday. Maybe I can find a place open tomorrow night that can replace watch batteries --I now have 4 (as cheap as you can get) watches sans batteries. My watches tend to die on me in the most inopportune places --airports, foreign countries (shabbat eve) and so forth --and hence I now have 4 emergency-bought watches that I don't really like, are ugly, and the bands falling apart and, of course, none with working batteries any longer. The deal is, once I buy a super cheap and ugly emergency watch I promptly forget to go and get replacement batteries for any of the other ones. Intelligent yes?

The last couple of days have been totally random, as my friend Michie would say, and so this will be a kind of a random post. Yesterday I had a meeting which ran late and caused me to miss a train which made me miss a meeting. Work was a balagan on so many levels but I'll only discuss one of them and that is that I had to cancel my class because the powerpoint projector wouldn't work on any of the computers available and what they needed to see to understand was on the powerpoint. I tried the explain how to code a survey in php to them last week and they all (but the boys) freaked out. So this week was supposed to be a more soothing, ok look see this is how you do it and this is what the gobbeldy gook you are writing will appear on the Internet kind of class. But no. Then, somewhere between the classroom where I had my train ticket and the train station my ticket disappeared into thin air. Grr. Had to buy another one and those things are not cheap.

I had a very nice relaxing afternoon after dealing with students on the phone and via email all morning. Got to see friends and eat really good soup :) Then i got home to a zillion more emails to handle and to make a list of all the things I need to do tomorrow. Hmmm, it seems totally doable if tomorrow were in maybe September and I had from now until then...

On Sunday after my meeting in Jerusalem I'm going to be mailing stuff off to my mother and to several friends in the States. Mostly stuff I promised to send off months ago. Sunday it will happen however. Everything is in its little box or envelope and ready to go. Sunday I also call to set up volunteering with the abused children who have been removed from their homes and now live in Bayit Acheret. It is not a completely altruistic act here --I'm hoping my hebrew will improve through this endeavour. They help me, I help them and everyone is a bit better off :).

There is really cool music playing outside my apartment right now from a car stopped at the traffic light. Sounds like it is in my apartment. At least it is, oh well darn, the light seems to have changed...hey come back! :)

Thank you to whoever added Tosia Altman into the wikipedia.

And thank you to Gili, who posted a great name on my hebrew website for the new website I'm putting together. It is a winner :) I'm hoping it will be ready to go up and be operative in the Fall. It has to wait until I've gotten another website up and running for which I have, hopefully, funding to get up and running. I should know about the funding thing by next weekend (I hope).

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Yom haAtzmaut --Independence Day!

Hag Sameach!This is the sign lighting up Rabin Square tonight, reading "Happy Holiday to Israel."

It was a happy and joyous day, indeed, filled with sun, good food, great music, and fantastic friends. This morning I took a walk along the beach and saw all the many, as in hundreds!, of sailboats in all colours and sizes zipping around. It turns out it was a special sailing event in honour of Yom Atzmaut. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me and when I got back home I discovered I could still see all the boats in the little slice of the ocean I get from my kitchen window. I took a picture but, sadly, because it focused on the bars outside the window all the boats came out blurry --bah, so I didn't upload it. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was really a pretty sight!

Then it was off to Miriam's for a barbecue. Miriam lives in a little house hidden away in the middle of Tel Aviv (you'd never guess there was a little house there from the street!) and next to her house is her little garden, beautifully filled with flowers. I always think of it as "the secret garden" --kind of like the garden from the book of the same name which was one of my favourites as a child.

SavtaDotty was already there with her puppy Jenny when I arrived Israeli-late. But I wasn't the most Israeli of us as I was, at 20 minutes late, the almost-first to arrive. Then I got a surprise when a woman walked into the secret garden and I saw that it was Suzanne from my ulpan class! How did she is a small country folks and everyone really does know almost everyone! Then Danny and Gucci, the winning scrabble team from last friday, arrived, followed by Noorster.

An Independence Day FeastMusic from the CD Am Yisrael Chai was playing and we sat down to enjoy the first courses while the salmon steaks were grilling. The flowers in the bowl of potato salad are from her garden and they are edible!

And here is what all was on the grills (the grills are disposable ones!) DSCF0369

I'll leave you with a picture of my flag that I proudly hung outside my window yesterday --the one way up at the top of the building. My flag. My country. My heart is so full. DSCF0358

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Yom HaShoah, Yom Yizkor: the sense of home

So many things to blog about and so few pictures. There are pictures but a certain person (ahem Sarah!) didn't send them to me after convincing me we could use her camera rather than going home to get mine. Grumble, grumble.

So yesterday I had ulpan and I was excited to find that I understood 99% and knew all but one of the "new" words (actually, the deal is I'm still confused as to whether you can use lhshtacnea and mshucna interchangeably or not, as they both mean "to be convinced/persuaded"). My understanding seems to have jumped like double but I still have trouble doing much speaking, especially when it comes to conjugating those verbs on the fly in the correct person --like aren't you all guys and a you in the future and in imperative? :)

We got out of ulpan at few minutes early so we could all walk down to Ben Yehuda and wait for the siren to sound at 8 p.m. last night and stand at attention. The siren sounded for another 2 minutes this morning at 11:00 and I just can't get over how moving it is for me. I have cried more in the last week than I have in the last 8 years together.

And it is a strange kind of tears I've been shedding, not entirely sad, although the occasions are sad ones. There is sadness and grief and a sense of terrible loss. Mixed with that are tears that are almost euphoric, strange to say, brought on by a sense of connectedness to the land, to my country, to the stranger standing next to me who is sharing and feeling as I am in just that moment. The euphoria of belonging to a Jewish State, to our long history, to our endurance and survival beyond all odds, to being part of the present and the future while so integrally tied to the past. Sarah and I went to the ceremony at Rabin Square last night and one of the speakers summed it up in words in a way, "we are all one family." And I felt that. I've felt that every day since I got here, having never had that sensation before (not even when visiting here) but this past week with our communal grieving and communal respect and honouring of the past and of those whose lives were sacrificed in the Holocaust, through terror attacks, and in the line of duty for our country, that feeling has intensified a thousand fold. The sense of loss is deeper but so is the sense of joy and comraderie and belonging. And tomorrow the commemoration of an event so happy that it hurts, the day of our nation's independence.

The sense of home.