Friday, April 28, 2006

Israeli Soldiers

The other night Jon and I went to see the new Israeli soldiers get sworn into the army.

This is after the soldiers finish weeks of basic training which includes intensive physical work on essentially no sleep. The basic training is finished off by a long hike (I can't remember the exact distance) where they all end up at the Kotel. The swearing in includes some speeches, the acquiring of rifles, and a Tanach (Bible).

If you were ever considering joining the Israeli army before, then going to this will certainly push you over the brink. The enthusiasm and comradery, coupled with the support by everyone's family, causes that warm Zionist feeling inside to really heat up, as the hundreds of people at the Wall take part in a personal and national milestone.

Entering the Kotel area, hundreds of soldiers

Soldiers dancing and celebrating before the ceremony

Picture taking

Two soldiers

Beginning of the ceremony

Officer going around making sure everyone's uniform is on straight, in a friendly way.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Time will tell

I have a problem.

I must look knowledgable/unassuming, because everytime I walk in Israel (which is pretty much everyday) several people stop their cars, pull over, roll down their windows and ask me for directions.

Today on the way back from the Kotel (that's another story all together as to why I was there) three cars stopped and asked me how to reach their destinations. One even asked me where she could get something good to eat in Jerusalem.

And its a problem, because I only know enough Hebrew to understand what they are saying, but not enough to actually sound like I know what I'm talking about. I end up just telling them something simple like "ehh, go straight, then right." Which isn't incredibly helpful.

I guess I am so flattered that they ask me in Hebrew, that I forget that I can probably just answer them in English. I just hate getting that disappointed look in their faces when they find out I'm just an American, possibly a tourist, and most likely don't really know that much about Jerusalem, especially a good place for a genuine Israeli to eat. But the truth is that I know Jerusalem like the back of my hand, and am able to suggest many tasty places to eat.

Oh well, at least I don't look like a tourist as much anymore - and anyone who has been here for an extended period of time knows that's something that is very important in how you are treated here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ohhh Mamoud, how I love youd

According to Haaretz, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Israel does not not have a right to exist...... ???? Jeeez, quit flip-flopping.

"Some 60 years has passed since the end of World War II, why should the people of Germany and Palestine pay now for a war in which the current generation was not involved," Ahmadinejad told a press conference. We say that this fake regime cannot not logically continue to live," he said.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Passover in the Tzafon

Some distant family friends invited my family up north for a seder the other night. I went with out any expectations but was certainly pleased with the experience.

On the way there from Raanana we sat through traffic in Umm Al-Fahm (not exactly the safest place to be stuck) for about 3 hours. We decided the Arabs all made a deliberate effort to go for a drive that day just to increase the amount of traffic - possibly the new face of the Intifada. Basically, it took way longer than it should have.

We began the evening at Moshav Sharona, in the mountains over-looking the Kinneret. After waiting around for a couple of hours we went to the seder. It took place at Kibbutz Kinneret, with a seating arrangement of about 50 people (this was a private seder separate from the massive seder of a few hundred people in the kibbutz dining hall). Not only was it the biggest seder I've ever attended, it was also the most enthusiastic one. In addition to the yelling and singing, musical instruments kept showing up in peoples' hands. It even got to the point where someone would bang on a gong after naming each plague.

Between the electric key-board and the tamberines, it was certainly my favorite seder. But it wasn't only entertaining, it was also extremely comfortable and familiar. The way in which these people were able to make us feel like part of their family was unprecedented. My expectations of an awkward interaction that tends to be interwoven with a language barrior were proven wrong by the family's warmth and openness.

It started at about 8PM and lasted until 3AM. And despite how long it was, I didn't see one yawn or sleeping teenager. Even the 90 year old grandmother was there until the end.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Beautiful views from Nimrod's castle up in the Galil/Golan(?) on Pesach.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well articulated by Yair Lapid

The Full Article
(click here)

"It’s not a particularly good feeling. I would prefer to live in a world where people who are very different know how to get along, to reconcile differences and close gaps, how to smile and to be tolerant when faced with the other’s craziness. But alas, that is not the world that I live in, and neither do you.

As a way of avoiding this oppressive reality, the left and the right have invented their own brands of Palestinians. The right has invented the Palestinians that in the end will be forced to surrender to our spiritual superiority. In a duel of faith and commitment, the Palestinians will break, if only because their God is weaker than our God.

The left, for its part, has invented Palestinians who deep inside are just like us. We’ll just talk to them for a bit longer and before you know it, they’ll adopt liberal values, download U2 songs to their iPods, support women’s lib and become a democratic, Western society yearning for peace.


One of the problems of the convergence [West Bank disengagement] – how shall I put this – is that it’s really boring. It lacks the fiery dogma of faith expounded by the religious Zionists. Nor does it contain the magnanimous hope that characterizes the peace bloc. Instead, we have a cold, technical, uninspired solution.

The barrier is the continuation of the security guard at the entrance to the shopping mall. It’s job – to tell 3 million Palestinians to “open your bags please.” We know, sadly, that this will not stop terror but in most cases, the bomb will explode elsewhere and fewer people will die."