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!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Redirecting you to my new blog --3, 2, 1 NOW

Please update your links with the new address!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yael has moved to

I've moved to --Please come visit me in my new home!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yael moves (blog) house

I guys and gals,

I thought I'd wait til I had the new abode in super spiffy condition before inviting everyone in but it may be awhile before I get it super and certainly spiffy. So I'm going to invite you all in while nothing much is unpacked and the floors are so dirty they are gray and not a nice shade of green or yellow like they very much should be! But, if you'll excuse the mess and the lack of amenities, you are very welcome to come and visit me at my new home: Yep, ya just drop the blogspot out of it and there you have it!

Many hugs and hope to welcome you in my new place!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ooo where are the New Year cards?

I am seriously looking forward to the New Year because this coming year (please g-d) has got to be better than the year that has passed for this country. From where I'm sitting, personally, though, this past year has been the best in my life (and the upcoming year is looking kinda, like, hectic and unfun but not to worry, the year after that will really be Krazed with a capital K for me. LOL, so much (blah) to look forward to! :) This past year was a banner year for me because I just completed by first year in this country. So as far as my personal life goes, this year will always be extremely special.

I'm under a huge mega and monstrous pressure at the moment from job(s) and job-related activities. I have a chapter for a book due in 2 days and I haven't even started it. Another is due, er also on the 15th and it is at least started. I sent off one article last week (go me) and one publication came out the other day after I'd nearly forgotten its existence (so old that it has the wrong academic affiliation on it!). Many other things (powerpoints, research-related websites, etc) that I will not bore you with or stress myself anymore by thinking about for the moment.

Tomorrow I have a wedding to attend and I am looking forward to it and not. I like the couple a ton, I love to see them, I am extremely happy they are getting married, I need to lock cats in a room and do a recip dinner for them ...but I have a lot on my plate and I'm not sure how much to make the check out for. I'm not sure how much my bank account can handle but I'm suspecting the gift should be for something like very many shekels (maybe more?) --help me out here folks!?

I attended my first new gimmel class at ulpan today and it went well --she--my fav teacher-- was talking and I was nodding and suddenly realized I was nodding because I clearly understood what she was saying and it wasn't in english (which she doesn't really know and so almost never uses) but it seemed so clear that I thought for a minute it must be in english. That was a cool moment. The whole class was not like that but it was the most understandable I've had to date. I met a really kewl woman from the Ukraine and talked with her a bit (she is better at speaking than me but has also been here 5 years and she isn't much better at speaking) and my friend Katarina who used to work at my fav cafe is also in my class (she speaks amazingly after being here for 8 years but can't read or write well). I also met with a private tutor earlier today to work on speaking but that did not go so well --she charged 80 sheks for the hour and talked to me mostly in english which really uhh defeats the purpose of paying her 80 sheks for talking in hebrew. Not to fear though, I have another private lesson lined up with Yael (70 shekels), and yet another one with Ayala (80 shekels) and will need to line up at least another 8-10 hours per week --yes my bank account, already to the limit of my overdraft is about to get a new and much deeper overdraft --but I think Allison is right and going the private tutor for speaking route is going to be way necessary and naturally, just a couple hours a week is not going to cut it. Especially not when I have to spend so many hours a day reading, writing and thinking in english.

I have 7 cats in the apartment but it seems like only 6 because Mitzi is spending so much time under the bed. She is coming out only for food and litter-box duties and that is not good. The other cats really intimidate her. Little new orange kitty, as yet and hopefully remaining without a name in my house, is also terrified of the other cats and tries to sit on me constantly. She is definitely a relative of Gingi (I think they must have had the same father, honestly) because her personality is so similar and also her habits --she has the same "I need to nurse on the tip of your finger" thing that he has and has not lost even though he is getting very big for such baby activities. I thought he was doing that because he was a "bottle baby" but seems to not be the case!

Somewhere the New Year cards are hiding in my apartment and must be written and sent. Where are they?!

Israeli-Arabs: Human dignity is a primary value in Israel

Israeli-Arabs protested in front of the Egyptian embassy today, calling out for Egypt to "Learn from Israel what human dignity means. Human dignity is a primary value in Israel." They were protesting the bus accident in the Sinai that killed 12 Arab-Israeli tourists. Egypt refused to allow our (Israel's) ambulances and medical personnel that were standing by just a few miles away to come to the scene to aid the victims and to evacuate them to Israeli hospitals despite the fact that they were not equipped to deal with the scope of the accident nor had a hospital in the vicinity to which critcally injured patients could be taken. At least one victim died simply because evacuating him from the scene to a place where he could receive medical care took them so long and the clinic injured patients were taken to did not have even the most basic equipment for emergency needs (e.g. blood supplies, operating room or equipment, beds --it was a walk-in clinic for everyday minor illnesses). Rather than in ambulances with medics, the victims were taken from the scene on the backs of vegetable trucks.

I posted about it here
as it was happening. We had ambulances, hospitals and helicopters ready to spring into action. One of the things I didn't post about because it became moot when Egypt wouldn't allow us to get our injured citizens, is the blood drive that started immediately upon the news that the accident had happened. Israelis --Arabs, Jews, and Christians -- flocked to donate blood that hospitals assumed would be needed for the victims. It of course went unused for them when we could not bring them home. Grrrrrrr.

To add insult to injury, the negligent bus driver whose reckless driving caused the accident has just been sentenced to a mere 12 months.

Arab-israelis are mad and so are the rest of us Israelis!

In other news regarding Egypt, Egyptian officials are worried about a terrorist cell composed of Palestinians who have sneaked into Egypt from Gaza and who are planning a major attack in the Sinai. Palestinian terrorists within Hamas were responsible for training, financing, and helping to carry out previous attacks in Egypt, including the 2004 Taba bombing which killed 34 and injured 171 people and the more recent triple-bombing in Dhahab in the spring of this year.
Some analysts in Israel long have warned of Palestinian anti-Egyptian sentiment, pointing in particular to Hamas, which was founded in 1987 as a military offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seeks the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime and the creation of an Islamic theocracy throughout the Middle East.

What a balagan!

Hi guys and gals,

When I got home from a meeting tonight I discovered that blogger had had some sort of major stroke when it came to my blog today and my old template was totally destroyed. All my links went bye-bye, all my formatting. If you dropped by you probably saw a lot of nonesense characters and nothing else.

I've got a temporary "blogger fix" up with the posts restored. I was thinking of making a move to something a little better and hopefully more reliable than blogger at any rate within a few months but tonight an amazingly awesome guy (Go Jewlicious!!) snagged me online as I was trying to figure out what to do about the balagan my blog had somehow become and said "yo, let's move you now!" Well the move is not quite complete but hopefully by tomorrow night or Thursday at the latest I will be fully set up in my new home. I'll continue to update here until I'm fully set up there and then will throw the grand "welcome to my new home" party and you are all invited :)

And sheesh, had news, pics, and a new kitten --now almost fully vetted save for being fixed cos she is too small for that yet --(Noooooooooooooooooo, but er yes) to tell you about. Will have to wait til tomorrow though because moving, even virtual, houses is very tiring!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

One Arab's Apology

I thought the whole thing was good enough to post. This op-ed from the New York Post:
September 12, 2006 -- WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.

The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.

Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.

Yes, our extremists and our culture.

Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.

There's also enough there for someone of a different mindset to find a path to enlightenment and peace. Still, Rushdie had it right back in 2001: This does have to do with Islam. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic in the name of God is still a Christian, at least in his interpretation, and saying otherwise doesn't negate the fact that he has spent a goodly amount of time figuring out his version of the one true and right thing to do.

The men who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11 in all likelihood died saying prayers to Allah, and that by itself is one of the most horrific things to me about that day.

And, while my grandparents never waged a jihad, their attitudes toward Jews weren't that much different than Mohammed Atta's. No, they didn't support the Holocaust, but they did believe that Jews were trouble in many different ways, and those sorts of beliefs were passed on to me before I'd ever actually met a Jew.

I'm sorry for that, for ever believing that anything that my grandparents or other relatives had to say about Jews or Israel, for that matter, had any real resemblance to truth. It took me years to realize that I'd been conned into believing the generalizations and stereotypes that millions around the Arab world buy into: that Jews, America and Israel are our main problem.

One look at the average Arab regime should alert us to the fact that the problem, dear Achmed, lies not overseas or next door in Tel Aviv, but in the brutal, corrupt despots that we have bred from country to country in the Mideast, across the span of history. That history and its corresponding economic devastation is the main reason I reside on New York City's West Bank - New Jersey - not the one near Jerusalem. On my worst day, I'm happy about that fact. I'd rather be here than there, and experience the freedom and boundless opportunities that were mostly unknown to so many generations of my family in the Mideast.

For as long as I live, the image of those towers falling, as I watched in horror and disbelief from the corner of 40th and Fifth, will be for me my Pearl Harbor, for in that instant I recognized that not only was our city under attack - so was our freedom.

It still is. And will continue to be for years to come. And the threat is not from within, but from Islamic fascists who desperately want to destroy the freedom and opportunities that millions the world over still seek.

Five years after that awful day, it's time for all Arab-Americans, and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - against these tyrants until their plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.

Emilio Karim Dabul is a freelance writer and PR consultant living in New Jersey.

Breaking news--U.S. embassy under attack in Damascus

Syrian forces have sealed off the area. Smoke and fire coming from embassy. Sounds of heavy gunfire.

Updates to come. Reload for them.

11:05 --reports of sound of a large explosion in area of embassy. U.S. embassy guard has reported embassy under attack. British ambassador in Syria saying heard gunshots and sirens just outside the embassy, doesn't think embassy is on fire but isn't sure. No one knows yet who is attacking.

11:10 --witnesses say two armed men attacked embassy but attack repelled. Car bomb also reported being detonated outside embassy but unconfirmed.

11:20 --Syrian guard killed. No reports of U.S. casualties.

11:25 --witness says saw one Syrian guard killed in carbomb explosion, at least one other Syrian guard guarding the embassy seriously wounded.

11:27 --witness says he sees a large number of children are coming out of the embassy right now, crying and shocked.

12:10 --four attackers killed, one wounded and arrested. They detonated one car bomb, another explosives loaded car was captured. Appears the incident is now contained.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering what was lost September 11 2001

Below is a picture someone took from an apartment located not too far from where I used to live. My view was so much better.

From September 1998 to October 2002 I lived in what can only be described as a dream apartment in New York City. It was right on Washington Square at the corner of Washington Square West and West 4th. It had a beautiful awning above the entrance and a host of doormen to make your comings and goings pleasant. The apartment itself was gigantic with two large bedrooms, two large baths, a kitchen the size of my current bedroom, a stately entryway, a living room nearly as big as my entire apartment today (and bigger than my subsequent apartments in NYC) and a working fireplace. The best thing about that apartment though, was the view.

I lived on the 7th floor in a corner apartment with views to the south and to the west. The view toward New Jersey was somewhat blocked by the steeple and carapices of the church next door. The view to the south was wholly unobstructed as my apartment was just above the roofline of all the surrounding buildings extending down to the financial district. A large window took up the entire southern wall of the living room giving a most perfect view: the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood tall. The view was so spectacular that the sofa was placed with its back to the tv set to give a direct line of sight across the room and out of the window. The TV just could not compete with that view.

Every morning I collected my coffee and sat looking out at the towers as I planned my day. Night-time, however, was the best. The twins would be lit up with alternating bands of lighted and darkened floors. A grouping of 4 here, 6 there, only 2 above that, then 5, sometimes just a single office or set of offices on a floor, making a patchwork quilt of sparkles. It reminded me of my lightbright set I loved to play with as a child. I used to sit and wonder why were these floors were lit up and others dark...were these the floors on which young computer scientists and financial analysts worked far into the night to get ahead or maybe the cleaners were busy on these floors getting things ready for the next day? I used to sit lost in thought wondering about the lives of those who worked there. Sometimes a light in an office would suddenly go dark, sometimes an entire floor, but always there were many that were lit. Beside the twins the big red neon Travelers Umbrella completed the scene.

After the terrorist attacks, the vibrant light-filled towers were no more. The view from that window now looked out on an alien landscape --just low buildings and no skyline. And you couldn't really see those low buildings anymore because such a layer of thick, brown dust covered the window that you could barely make out the building across the street. When I moved from that apartment in October of 2002, the window cleaners had not yet reached my floor.

The terrorist attack left not just a hole in my view but a hole in my heart. And now I am left to think of the vibrant people, the industrious young analysts, the hardworking managers, the cleaners and all the others who used to work in all those offices that at night made brightly coloured bands of light and who disappeared along with the towers. That hole is much bigger than the towers themselves.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The power of dressing datiah (religiously)

Something I've noticed: when you dress in the long skirts and three-quarters length blouses that the religious girls wear people treat you nicer. They are more polite. They open doors for you, speak to you more gently, and sort of give you an all-around better treatment.

I dressed very datiah today but also stylishly so :) I wore the new 20 shek skirt from the shuk and this really fantastic silky top that is coloured a unique shade somewhere between rose and coral and that is cut in a 1940s style. It got handed down to me via my mother who wore it like 20 years ago and everytime I wear it people come up and ask "where did you get that shirt?!" Heh, I wish I knew where she got it and how I could get some more of them in the same style because it is truely awesome.

So armed with the cool and classy outfit I headed off the tres important meeting. If everyday this week goes like today has started off then this week will be as good as last week was not. I feel loved and valued. The class I'm teaching with the impossible syllabus reconciliation need (remember me breaking my head over that thing?) has been reconciled in a very favourable way --I was told they want me to go back to my syllabus and just do what I was going to do with it initially. Yay! (Hmmm now I have to figure out what exactly I was going to do :). I am definitely going to have to make a choice about the future but the choice has pretty much been made pretty easy after the meeting today. I mentioned a while back that the psych department wanted me half time. The Comm department is not happy about that because they want me full time but are willing to share me because the P of the U asked them to. Given that, however, they still want me full time and so want to work out a way where I can work a job and a half there --full time in the comm (8 courses) plus 4-5 courses in psych. Ooo la, money!! I got to see my super cool office and it has a really pretty view. It is more than twice the size of my office at NYU and I had what was considered to be a big office there (meaning larger than a closet, cos it was NYC). My office at the other place is also very nice (though not quite so big).

I need to get to work on powerpoints and then translate them into hebrew. they want me to put both english and the hebrew translation on each slide that I use to teach with in order to improve the kids' english. I can speak in english. Yes!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

More media shenanigans

The Sandmonkey brings to light another case of the media lying to the public. The media ran a series of pictures of a young boy crying with his "dead" mother in his arms (Lebanon of course). It hit all the news sources and the pictures of him and his mother were used in protests all over the place. So what is the problem?

The mother did not die in his arms. In fact, the mother did not die period.

She was wounded but she did not die. Now if the media had presented this as a young boy crying in grief over his wounded mother there would be no problem. But, in fact, they claimed that he was crying because his mother had just tragically died in his arms. The photographers ignored the amubulance arriving to take her to hospital and the medics working on her to stabilize her. They ignored the fact that she was alive. They did not at any time follow-up to say "oops she was wounded but managed to survive." No, they left her in the public's mind as being dead and this child motherless and orphaned.

Trust the media? No way.
But happily, despite the media's wish that it were not so, this young boy and his mother are together, happy and healthy now.

Saudia Arabia bans owning pets

Claiming that pets are an evil western influence, the religious police have banned the sale of dogs and cats in Saudia Arabia.

"The ban distressed cat and dog lovers. Some have wondered why the religious police are focusing on this issue when the country has far more important challenges, such as terrorism and unemployment."

Ya know some people just have nothing better to do in their lives than to try to come up with ways to make other people's lives miserable...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thank G-d it is Friday

After an exceptionally bad week, the pinnacle of which was last night (yes the post was deleted --thanks A for the suggestion, though at this point I'm seriously considering other career options at any rate so I'm not sure I care) I had a very nice day. I met with my little cousin for lunch, treating him to the best kosher hummus place in town, which just happens to be down the street from where I live. He's been in ulpan for a month and speaks nearly as well as I do and far more confidently. I've been consoling myself, however, with the fact that he attended an intensive hebrew and jewish studies after-school program for years for modern orthodox kids (since he was 7) and so he does have a bit of an advantage. Still! He is a really neat kid though and very mature for his age and so it was fun to spend time with him.

After he managed to eat more food than I ever imagined a human being could consume (and somehow remain rail thin as he is!) and I ate enough to wish to just be rolled home, I decided that home was not so good if I was going to roll and that maybe a bit of a walk was in order. So we walked down to the beach and then along the tyelet, discussing his plans and future, politics and past, and suddenly lo, there we were nearly to Allenby street. Since I was due to stuff my face at stop #2 of the day in just an hour we parted ways with him going home and me heading to the shuk. I again had an hour to kill and was still in need of the (how is this possible?) elusive brown skirt.

I found the perfect brown skirt in a shop not too far from the shuk but it was also beyond my price range (60 sheks is just criminal I tell you! As an American or any other tourist 60 sheks is simply small change and the extreme deal of the universe--$13.34 cents to be exact in U.S. dollars --especially when it comes to not just a skirt but a skirt that is fully lined. As an Israeli, on an Israeli salary and with an Israeli overdraft it is in the realm of criminality :). I did, however, find a very nice little number that was beige, and beige lined, and _and_ with dark taupe over-lining that ties at the front --thus making a third layer triangle effect(with lace at the bottom) at the shuk for a mere 30 sheks. I bargained and pleaded my way down to 20 sheks, pointing out the small tear in the underlining close to the zipper and the (squint to see) missing stitches close to the tie on the taupe at the waist. I also found a shirt for 3 shekels (66 cents).

I will wear the skirt on sunday to a meeting that I will probably want to rant and rave about but probably will not publicly. I will wear the shirt around and about and especially if I ever find the time to return to salsa classes :)

Then it was on to the second face-stuffing of the day. You really have to love fridays! I had good company. I got to see some folks I didn't expect to see but in December will hopefully be seeing tons and tons of if they get the deal on the apartment and switch towns; I talked knitting, life, the universe and everything else with the hostess (and one of the kewlest folks I've been privileged to know so far here!). Then I really did roll myself home and have been working ever since walking in the door and feeding a horde of hungry cats within and another horde of hungry cats without.

Mitzi, by the way, heard the rattling of food being parcelled out to the others and ran all the way out to the kitchen! She is on a special wet food but I let her have a bit of the kibbles the kittens eat (much tastier than the "old-cat" kibbles Buffy and Mischa theoretically get) since she was so brave. Then I fed her the W/D wet off in the bedroom and had to fight off the kittens who are not brave but bad (BAD, I tell you, having knocked over the sole surviving plant in the apartment today while I was gone)and who want the wet food and any food any other cat might think about eating.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

To a good home...

A very good friend of mine sent me this and I had to share:

She noted "This would be no choice at all for Yaeli...she would choose the kitten. ;)"
LOL, she might be right...:)

The schnitzel man

So last night while I was on the search for the brown skirt I encountered a very cool sight. Coming out of a side entrance from Dizengoff Center I saw a cluster of maybe 18 cats all milling around on the little strip of green with some of them being quite verbal. Seeing large quantities of street cats milling around is, sadly, not a very unusual sight here. But these cats were gathered together for a reason. And these cats did not have the guant, haunted and hunted look of the average street cat. I didn't notice at first the balding man in his early 50s with the bicycle and small set of newspapers in front basket. The cats were certainly noticing and, as more streaked across the street to join the throng I took a glance back to my left. From a large plastic trashbag this man was pulling out big handfuls of long strips of cooked meat and carefully laying them in piles on equally carefully laid out newspaper on the ground. The cats were in ecstacy. I had to go back several steps in order to tell this mensch thank you for his good deed.

We had a short and pleasant exchange as he continued to unfold sheets of newsprint and lay them carefully on the ground before depositing more piles of food. "I do this every evening," he told me, "I feed these and three other groups. Every evening and good quality food, they are getting schnitzel." He was obviously proud of what he was doing and also obviously very happy that someone noticed and bothered to thank him for his good deed. It turns out that he works in a butcher shop and every evening he brings home the meat that, while still good, is past the point where it can legally be put out for customers the next day. He takes it home, cooks it, puts it in a large plastic bag, gathers up the day's newspapers he's finished reading and heads out to feed the cats. He started with just feeding a mother and her kittens close to his home but soon the other strays in the neighborhood started arriving. Then he started noticing the other needy cats on his route to work and day by day their plight bothered him more and more as he saw how "his little group" were now he has his cat route. This modest, quiet, hardworking man is a Mensch with a very capital M.

So today I went to sign my lease. At the office the lawyer started trying to change around the agreement even as I was putting my initials on the first page. "Well you know since you are paying with checks every month I am concerned and feel that you need to double the guarantee you have with the bank." Me, "no." He continues in this vein and so I put down the pen, looked at him and said, "Apartments in Beer Sheva are an eighth of the cost, they are four times as big, my university will cover 80% of my rent if I live there, and they are plentifully available. I am willing to sign this agreement as it is or move to Beer Sheva. Which will it be?" Un_f*ing-believable. Of course he backed down, I signed, she signed. Then I was stuck having coffee with the landlady and hearing about how lonely she is. At that point I was very uncharitably thinking, "there is a reason for that" but I do feel sorry for her. She spent half the time in the office with the lawyer trying to get him to do something to prosecute the people in her building who are trying to stop her from feeding the cats outside and who have been taking up the food as soon as she puts it down, dumping out the water she leaves for them and who planted wall-to-wall cactuses on the grounds to keep the cats away. So she is a pain in the tachat but she does have a good heart.

Before the lawyer meeting I did a ton of email and slogged through two thesis proposals making changes and suggestions. Sadly I have many more to go through and they all need attending to pretty much immediately. Along with all the data analyses I still have lined up for the students not to mention getting my hands on the data they collected via a website and for which my admin access doesn't work. they need the data to finish their papers by the end of this month. All the kids affected are calling and writing. Ahhhhhh.

From the lawyer and coffee meeting I had an hour to kill before meeting up with some kewl-o bloggers who have become very good friends. I really need a brown skirt along the tiered prairie style that is quite "in" now because it can function well professionally and just kicking around, they are fantastically cool in this heat (I'm pretty much living in skirts) but ze brown can go right through the winter, and it is perfect for wearing when I have to go to J-town and don't wish to be spit upon by a Haredi lunatic. [Note: obviously not all haredim are lunatics but having been spit upon by one that was I'm taking no chances] Alas, I did not find a brown skirt (at least not within my budget) but did find a great white one on sale for 29 sheks and a pair of white pants with the wide legs but cropped at calf-length for the same price and talked the guy down to giving me the pair for 40 sheks. Can't beat that with a stick!

Then it was off to a relaxing, fun and funny evening. LOL, and there are some reminders you don't like to get. So I'm telling the story of my childhood flirtation with mormonism and how the mormon missionaries nearly got me by claiming close friendship with Donny Osmond and the three little whippersnappers at the table pipe up with confused looks...Donny who? Lisa and I exchanged looks and moaned at the same time "Oh my g-d I feel so old!" Well, ha, we don't look old, so there.

And sadly Lisoosh, I am not three people. I only wish I were three people (especially if one of 'em was whippersnapper age *grin*) because I get so very little done of the huge mountain of things that need to get done and that people are constantly screaming for and about. LOL, I'd also like to get three people's salaries hmmmmmmm have they got that cloning thing down yet....? :)

P.S. Mitzi ventured out of the "office" and into the bedroom last night. Sadly she woke me up when she shrieked and hissed when a small kitten decided to check out who this strange creature was coming past the bed. Then, because she'd climbing under the bed and up between a box and the mattress I couldn't get back in the bed (without squishing her) and had to wait a half an hour for her to emerge and shoot back to the safety of the office. She is getting braver though!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And the answer is...

An excellent article that appeared in The Irish Times begins:
Conflicts in the Middle East frequently pose awkward questions. Rory Miller and Alan Shatter ask some more ...

Now that a ceasefire in Lebanon has been agreed there will, no doubt, be numerous inquests and questions asked about the month-long Lebanon war. So here's some we would like to ask.

Which country invaded its neighbour in mid-2006 in order to, as they put it, “crush” Islamists threatening regional stability?

Which country killed an estimated 500 people in a week when its artillery began bombarding its long-time guerrilla enemy in late July 2006, causing mass displacement and suffering?

If you think the answer is Israel, you guessed wrong.
So nu find out what the answer is and read the rest of this extremely good article!

Monday, September 04, 2006

One of those weeks

I should just have stayed in bed after Shabbat. I thought yesterday was bad but today managed to be worse. If tomorrow continues this trend I am just going to climb back into bed and stay there til next week.

So my Internet connection went down. At 7 a.m. when I got up to begin frantically finishing the syllabi that needed to be sent off it was already down. This meant I could not work on the syllabi nor send them anywhere. I figured it was the regular hot modem problem and so unplugged it for awhile while I had coffee, fed cats, and then called to pay my electric bill. I was so impressed with myself that this time it only took me 15 minutes to figure out the phone menu and then explain what I needed to do and do it b'ivrit. This happy feeling did not last long.

The internet was well and truely down and so I began the process of figuring out what was wrong. I tried all the standard things and quickly discovered I needed to call someone. The question was just who was at fault --Bezeq with whom I have the phone service or 012 with with whom I have the Internet service. I started with Bezeq. It took me much longer to make my way through their menu, get a person, get put on hold ...and then get disconnected. Twice. Finally I reached someone who kept on the line with me. Of course they spoke no english. My techie hebrew is practically nil but after about an hour of us trying different things he tells me that nu, it is obviously 012s problem. So on to 012. 012 has an english menu and I nearly fainted with happiness to reach someone who could talk tech b'englit. Only they couldn't really. After trying a bunch of different things he passed me off to another helper who was truely awesome and spoke fantastic english. But, we discovered, another hour later that it appeared the problem was at Bezeq.

Hadn't I been there before?! So back to Bezeq. This time I got a guy who definitely spoke no english and who quickly informed me that "Well, Aya, it doesn't work because your service has been disconnected." WHAT? Why has it been disconnected and it's Yael. "Well, Aya, you owe us 1307 shekels and so we disconnected you." Wait, wait, wait. I am on the automated payment plan. I am also not Aya. I am Yael. I should owe you zip. He re-checks things. You started your service in January I started in November. He hmmms and then says that Aya somebody or another requested the automated payments to stop and so they stopped many months ago and I now owe them a wad of cash. It is a good thing I was calling on the cell or I would have strangled myself on the phone cord in frustration. I won't go into the bitching I did at that point. I can say that frustration or no my hebrew degenerates as exhaustion kicks in and I did not bitch nearly as effectively as I would have liked. The upshot is that Aya's phone number and mine are a digit off or something and so when she called they applied accidentally to my account. So ok, I owe the money. Great I can break the payments over a period of 6 months. Happiness is. I whip out the brand new "you can make tashlomim payments on this puppy" card that I just picked up yesterday at the bank and give him the info. I set it up so I am also back on automated payments as well. Great yes? BUT you have to call 012 because since we disconnected you they have to do something also to reconnect you. Ahhhhhhhh.

012 it again. They check. Something is still not right over at Bezeq. Super kewl 012 guy #2 keeps me on the line and calls Bezeq and talks to girl who speaks no english. He translates back that my card has rejected the payments. How can my card have rejected the payments? It is brand new! It hasn't had a chance to hit its limit which is 4000 sheks above the cost of this wad of cash that was supposed to go on it. She then calls the card company but they won't tell her why they are denying it. So, nearly in tears at this point, I say fine put it all on the "take me directly out of the account right now in one lump" card. She does. Then he does something on his end and I am theoretically good to go. In fact, I check and we are up and running.

I leap into the shower and take 5 minutes to get ready and then run out of the house to go and meet with Andrew from Ireland with whom I am supposed to meet at 1. It is 12:30 and, save the 5 minute shower, I had been on the phone since 8 a.m. I still have to hit the bank first for cash (ha, like there is any left --sad thing to be in your overdraft on day 3 of the month) and to find out what is up with this card. I run in and there is someone with the woman who gave me the card and another woman waiting. the woman waiting sees me hovering and notes that she is next. I am Israeli now. I smile, shrug and say "I just have a quick question, they gave me a card earlier and it doesn't work." Then before the woman can do anything and as the guy is starting to get his things together I wave the card and plead "it doesn't work!" Of course I'm instructed to sit down ahead the other woman who complains but is waved away. YES. We attempt to call Bezeq to see if we can get the payment changed to this card as she sits and listens but she accidentally calls the electric company. We discover this after sitting there listening to the instructions to please have savlanut (patience) for 5 minutes. I was hmm I paid them today too. Then she gets bezeq but unfortunately I don't have the bill with the phone number on it. We hang up. I am to come back tomorrow with the bill and we will go through this again and find out what is up with the card.

I meet with Andrew, rush to another meeting right after, come home Internet. 45 minutes later we discover that somebody noted that the first payment had not gone through and disconnected me not realizing that it had already been paid...dear g-d, give me savlanut or a very large stick.

Between then and now I have been frantically working on the syllabi and ignoring the 14 calls from students who are no doubt pissed off that I haven't sent them any of the things I said I would send them (data analyses, comments on proposals, comments on life in general, you name it and they wanted it and I stupidly told them all they'd have it by today). Well, ahem. They can just get some savlanut themselves.

Ya win some ya ...wait until tomorrow to win

Many thanks for all the kol ha'kavods on dealing with the landlady and the landlady's lawyer. Here are how things stand so far (we'll see how they still stand on Wednesday...): my rent is not going up, I can pay monthly, and (because the bank wouldn't give it to me til after I sign the contract at any rate) I can wait to extend the bank guarantee until after I sign the contract. She is not fixing anything. Alas. But on the other hand, the shekel to dollar ratio has, of course, changed since I first paid out the rent and if I were to pay the U.S. rate in shekels today my rent actually would go up by about 20 bucks a month compared to where it was --so they are going to divide the amount of shekels I paid last year by 12 and that is what I am paying each month. So I actually do kinda save :)

It is strange that I can go for weeks without having a yell-out with anyone and then will have an entire day of everyone being entirely unreasonable and so yelling and kvetching my lungs out. Today was one of those days. My bank assistant, who is usually all sun-shiny smiles and very nice to me was in a black mood. She did smile nicely at me at the beginning (though I saw her expression between me and the previous customer and knew she was no happy camper). Smiles disappeared nearly instantaneously once she discovered I wanted to do more than just pick up my checks and new credit card. We then had the argument over the bank guarantee which she wouldn't do without the new contract. I was telling her he wouldn't give me the new damn contract without the guarantee. I was obviously sitting here in a catch-22. Her answer: so move to another apartment. So then I called the lawyer sitting right there in front of her and she was saying "no I am not talking to him" but I didn't need her to talk to him I just said look this woman is being unreasonable and refusing to give me the guarantee without the contract...she yelled a few things in my direction that I didn't understand but maybe he did because he backed down and said "he trusted me" to get the guarantee after the contract.

About 2 minutes later while signing all the things I needed to sign to pick up said checks and credit card, the lawyer called back and made the offer of the exchange rate deal. So, since I was sitting right there in the bank I thought I'd better check to make sure he was giving me the straight story and actually offering me something nice (rather than screwing me over and actually making me pay more) and so asked the today-not-nice bank assistant to check the rates for me. This time she was nice and, while he could hear every word she checked for me and lambasted lawyers as crooks, sheisters and worse. She confirmed, however, it was a good deal. When I left the bank she was screaming like a banshee at a co-worker about another co-worker and I'm assuming this other co-worker was why she was not her usually nice self.

So then I had another encounter with a usually nice person who was, uh, not. From the bank I went to the ulpan to sign up for classes. It was afternoon and so there was the usually nice secretary (as opposed to the wicked witch of the west who works in the mornings). She was also not having a good day. At that point, neither was I.

Gila was supposed to be teaching a daled class in the evenings. They scrapped the daled and she is teaching Gimel again. Ok, so yofi, so long as I am in her class I'm happy. But I also want to take a lower level course so I can speak and not be intimidated. Here is where the third yelling match of the day occurred. I tell the secretary I want to take a Bet class also. She tells me no, I'm too advanced. I tell her obviously I'm not too advanced because I can't speak to save my life. She tells me I speak just fine. I argue that no I don't. She argues that yes I do and haven't made a single mistake since I walked through the door. I argue that it is only because I'm having a really bad day and am too upset to think. She says that makes no sense because if I was too upset I'd be making mistakes. I argue that no when I am upset I seem to have no problems but I am usually not upset and so have many problems and so put me in the damn Bet class. Just_write_down_my_name. She argues again that I speak just fine and then says "and anyway the Bet and the Gimmel are at the same time and so you'd have to choose and I won't put you in the Bet."

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Like she couldn't have told me this before. So very carefully and through clenched teeth I tell her fine put me in whatever class meets on the other two evenings of the week (these would, of course, be alephs and aleph pluses). Gasp and shock "Oh mamash lo." Fine. I left with my little gimmel card. Tomorrow in the morning I am going to go in and see the bona-fide wicked witch and get her to sign me up for an aleph plus. HA. I will win, yes I will.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I am supposed to renew my rental contract on Wednesday for another year. The lawyer just called and said that since I want to pay by the month (you know like a normal person) instead of in cash up front for the whole year that the rent is going to be an additional $50 a month. He tried to give me some song and dance about how I was getting a discount by having paid in advance and I called bullshit on that because I am paying what it was advertised for. He tried to tell me that paying the full year in advance was the norm and I called bullshit on that too. I got very Israeli agressive and yelled and bitched about everything from the broken refridgerator to the broken air conditioners and broken oven and told him fine, I'd be glad to move out and moving out is not a problem for me in the least so let's just cancel the meeting for Wednesday ...He did not expect that. He suggested I call Chava and talk to her. I did. She said oh because she loves me so much she's willing to keep it the same...she is talking to the lawyer. I am going to call him back. If it stays the same, fine I will stay here (I really really don't want to move but I ain't telling them that). So we'll see what happens...

The Rally for Our Kidnapped Soldiers

Waiting for the rally to beginWaiting for the rally to begin. It started about 45 minutes late. We got there right on time (7:30) and easily made our way to the very front. Hordes of people were hanging out in cafes and such waiting for it to start before coming, however, as when the first speaker, Rabbi Meir Lau (the youngest child survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp) began to speak a veritable flood of people began streaming up Ibn Givrol into the Square and packing the broad avenues around it. We at the front were soon packed in like sardines. All the pictures below, save the last were taken prior to the start because I'm short and I was too squished to get good ones during the speeches and the musicians who performed in honour of Gilad, Eldad and Ehud. I should note that Ron Arad was also not forgotten in the calls for the release of the soldiers.
Not forsaking our soldiersNot forsaking our soldiers. Return the boys to our bordersThis little boy holds a sign reading "Return the boys to our borders"Religious and secular united for this causeThe religious and the secular were united for this cause A show of unityWe made our way toward the back of the square as the rally was nearing its end and I took a picture forward of the stage and crowd. A show of unity.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

In the midst of battle, surrounded by terrorists: Video

If you haven't seen this video yet, it is seriously worth a watch. Lisa of On the Face has this 25 minute video of the Nahal brigade as it goes into a village at night and encounters terrorists from Hezbollah there. The journalist who took the video was imbedded with the unit and you can see how difficult the conditions are for the Israeli soldiers --the terrorists are hiding in a house filled with ammunition and explosives and worse, the terrorists are dressed in full Israeli uniforms. As members of the unit go into the house they are unaware that "anyone is home" until they are attacked inside. It is one of the most nerve-wracking 25 minutes I've spent as I was watching this.

If you want to see what our soldiers were facing in Lebanon, watch this video!

(And as Lisa points out, all these are young men in their late 20s and early 30s who are reservists called up from their civilian life --in other words, they are civilians who have been called up in an emergency situation).

Friday, September 01, 2006

What a day!

I have to much to write about and am so tired! So tomorrow I'll fill everyone in on the big rally held tonight to show support for and to demand the release of our kidnapped soldiers. I'll have a bunch of pictures too if any of them came out. I love my little digital camera but it doesn't deal with night scenes but some of them should have come out (hope hope!). They announced on the stage that there were 50,000 people in attendance --I think it was less than that, more like around 40-45,000 but then again it is hard to tell when you are "in the crowd."

I dealt with students non-stop this morning (am seriously thinking of changing my cell phone number or getting a second cell phone). Then I finally got myself over to the hospital administrative place to pay my 35 shekels to get a copy of the forms that I need to get the form 17 before I get sued. Actually, I am already being sued. To stop the suing process. Heh. Remember waaaaayyy back last October when I broke my collarbone falling down the stairs and had the great medical experience? Then remember when they called me in like March, told me I needed to go get form 17 and left me with a number to call back in case of problems? And then how after hours waiting to get the form I was told I needed additional forms and the number they gave me was bogus and I then spent (quite literally) 3-4 hours a day for nearly a week trying to find out how to get (and what to get) the papers I needed to get the form 17....before finally giving up. I figured they'd call me back. Instead they sent a letter telling me I'm being sued. Happily they also gave information about exactly what I needed and (miracle of miracles!) exactly where to go to get it. Unhappily, they don't actually keep the hours they claim...But today they were where they said they would be, they were nice (yes, actually really quite nice, with each of the 3 people who'd helped me get to the person who really helped me stopping me on my way out, asking was everything ok and wishing me a good week. Made me feel bad for all the evil thoughts I'd sent in their direction on Sunday when I got there and found they'd changed their hours in the week since they'd sent the letter... heh.

Picked up more food for Mitzi. Discovered a new addiction --iced (frozeny) coffee from Aroma Cafe. Then came home and worked some Miss Clairol magic cos I'd been missing Miss Clairol since early June and there ain't nothing worse than a half-blonde. Then to the pre-rally meet-up with some extremely kewl bloggers (more on that tomorrow as well), the rally, and then getting fed an amazing meal in an apartment (of a set of the bloggers) that left my tongue hanging on the ground. I mean people, they even have a dishwasher (meaning they have room for a dishwasher!!)and their apartment is like twice the size of mine, walk-in closet, right close to Dizengoff Center, with a jacuzzi built in, HUGE kitchen, beeeaaauuuutiful (and they have seriously excellent taste with the furnishings) and less than $100 more than what I pay. I have to say though that the people in the apartment were even kewler than the apartment itself.

Me, I came home to find what used to be a newly unwrapped paper towel roll er scattered through my apartment in pieces the size of practically microscopic. (Michie, yes, Matan is indeed the devil himself still! And he now has little assistants --cos trust me this was no one-cat job!)

And finally, in an article reported by YNET several experts who are representatives of armoured vehicle makers took a look at the photos of the supposed hit on the Reuters news van by an Israeli missile and cast their ruling:
experts from Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing and First Defense International Group, both armored vehicle manufacturers, told the Confederate Yankee blog that photographs of the damaged jeep were not consistent with the Reuters claim.
Read the Ynet article here and the Confederate Yankee post here.

And there really is a very good article over on Confederate Yankee looking at Joe Kennedy's relationship with Hitler's Third Reich and his views titled "Not the way we remember it".
More tomorrow with pics!