Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Who's the terrorist now?

Those bloody fanatics are at it again. "National Home", the radical right-wing organization at the forefront of the battle against the disengagement and responsible for most of the "civil disobedience" that we've been seeing (they make the Yesha Council look like a centrist group) have disrupted traffic and put innocent lives in danger this morning by spreading oil and nails on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway, sort of like an opening act for the planned afternoon event of blocking major intersections across the country at rush hour later today.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm in favor of the disengagement. Strongly in favor. However, I'm also human, and I can respect that it will not be easy for these people who have invested all of their lives in building their homes and communities, creating livelihoods and families, suddenly having to start from scratch. It is natural for them to be upset, as anyone being forced to uproot would be. The government is compensating them for their pain and hardship during this period, as it should. I can even understand those who are hiding their heads in the sand, trying to avoid the inevitable. What I cannot understand or accept are those who believe that their violent acts of opposition (and they are indeed violent) will somehow change destiny, or curry public opinion in their favor. Demonstrations in front of government offices are one thing. Turning a highway into a hazardous obstacle course is simply violence for violence' sake, and nothing more.

I see these youths on television, and it just makes me sick to watch. Complete disrespect and disdain for soldiers and others in positions of authority, and this pales in comparison to their treatment of and attitude towards the local Palestinian population. Obstructing traffic and endangering people on the roads, looking for all the world as if it's a big game. Their smiles and singing as they wreak havoc says it all. Their actions make them no better than the terrorists who blow themselves up in Israeli population centers, preying on innocent victims whose only mistake is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, to further the comparison, all you have to do is watch the interviews with the parents, praising their children for standing up and fighting for their beliefs, no matter who gets hurt. What has happened to Israeli society, when parents have pride in their 12 year-old daughters for getting themselves thrown in jail for breaking the law, when mothers stand on the front lines, using their babies as shields? When did we teach our youths that it is okay to hurl verbal and physical abuse at young soldiers, whose only "crime" is serving the state, and often protecting those very same abusers? Who are the real terrorists in this story? We cannot let them get away with their actions. We cannot let their madness win, for then, we will truly be in trouble.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Pull up a seat

In celebration of Israeli work practices (though I would have to admit that the following episode could happen anywhere) I thought I'd share a highlight.

[ 'She' has told me to watch my language, because some of our elders may be reading this, but be warned, I might not be able to control myself. ]

Yesterday, my company decided to treat its workers to some new ergonomic seating. Cue a gaggle of sample chairs on my floor, accompanied by a gaggle of workers keen to wiggle their asses as far into each chair as possible. I'm not an ergonomics expert, but I have my doubts as to the health benefits of a bright purple chair. And when Fat Irit, all 300kg of her, wiggled her ample ass into one of those seats, I'm sure the whole concept of ergonomics went flying out of the window. Quite literally.

OK, so where did you say I place my left buttock...?

Anyway, what has got me fucking mad is the three forms requiring completion, one for EACH chair. I'm up to my eyeballs in work and yet I have to invest time in this pointless task. Every single worker in the company has to fill out these forms, each 3 pages in length. "Can't I just have that nice, comfy chair, over there in the corner?" "Nope, we want you to really appreciate that we're appreciating you serfs." "Ah, OK, so give me the forms, the ones with the ridiculous questions". "Ah, you mean questions like these...":

"Would you recommend this chair to your best friend?" What the fuck would Mike the mechanic want with one of these?
"Do you feel that the chair's texture spoils you and supports you at the same time?" Oh yes, my pummeled buttocks have reported back to me that they feel rejuvenated and are now ready to put in some overtime.

Welcome to the world of Israeli management. Plenty more of this kind of stuff to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Just peachy, thanks...

It seems you can't go anywhere these days without hearing about the upcoming disengagement. Everybody's talking about it, and passions are running high on both sides. One of the more unusual aspects is the implication associated with the color orange. All of a sudden, the simple act of getting dressed in the morning has turned into a complex ideological issue. What to do? Relegate that favorite orange top to a pile in the back of the closet, with hopes that it will still be in style once all is said and done? Wear it and either hope that nobody notices, or prepare for the inevitable barrage of questions as to where your allegiances lie? Decisions decisions.

My friend T has a creative solution. When I chided her as to her choice of trouser color, she did her best to convince me that they weren't actually orange, but rather peach. I didn't buy it, and neither did the other people who queried her on the same issue. If this is how she chooses to deal with the issue, well, I can hardly fault her. What's a girl to do when her favorite clothing color has suddenly become the pariah of the crayon box? Well, I did a quick comparison between orange and peach and, well, sorry T, but you're wearing orange. Though maybe it was closer to bittersweet, but peach, it definitely was not.

I am not an orange person. Never have been, and given what it currently represents, I don't see myself becoming an orange person at any time in the near future. Don't know what I'll do if the settlers suddenly decide to adopt forest (hunter) green, black, indigo, or any other shade of blue. Of course, my non-existent dilemma pales in comparison to that of the cellular phone company Orange, which has a large client base here. Perhaps they should change their name to Peach...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Of Trains and Men (and the lessons they fail to learn)...

I am a train commuter. We are a growing breed here in Israel, but when I first started taking the train, just over 4 1/2 years ago, we were still something of a novelty. While searching for my current job, I vowed that I would do everything I could to find a position that allowed me to commute by train. My previous job (which is probably deserving of its very own blog, as some of you know...) was a mere 40 minutes' drive during non-rush hour traffic. During rush hour, it became a nightmare, sometimes taking more than 90 minutes. Officially, I left because of the commute (the real reasons belong in the aforementioned, as yet unwritten blog), and I swore never to undertake a similar commute again.

But I digress.

When everything goes according to plan, train travel is great. I get on, grab a seat, stick my face in a book (just finishing up a reread of Marian Keyes' "Under the Duvet" while I wait for my recent Amazon order to arrive) and pull it out again when they announce my stop. Aside from the brief burst of energy required to move through the obstacle course of soldiers, civilians and a veritable plethora of bags to get off the train (in the face of all the impatient commuters so desperate to get on the train that they don't actually let you off first), then sprint to the other side of the station before everybody else (dodging equally harried commuters moving in both directions) in order to secure a spot on the shuttle bus, I arrive at work in a relatively relaxed state - no traffic frazzle, no near misses on the roads. Ditto for the ride home, when all I want to do is chill out after a stressful day at the office.

Yesterday, for hundreds of poor souls, everything did not go according to plan. Shortly before 6pm, a full train heading South plowed into a truck that was crossing the train tracks, killing eight people and injuring 195. Cars derailed from the tracks, some completely destroyed. When did I hear about this tragic accident? As I got on the shuttle bus after work, heading to the train station. We all looked at each other, silently wondering how this was going to affect our own commutes, and thankful that it wasn't our train. I even received an email from a friend who wrote that he rides that train home everyday, yet yesterday, he decided to work from home - a decision that may have saved his life.

They were saying on the news last night that the truck driver (who was among the dead) had been on the road for more hours than was permissible by law, and that the company he worked for had been under investigation by the police for allowing its drivers to work extended shifts. How typical of the Israeli fondness for bending rules and cutting corners! I am constantly amazed by the ease with which so many of the citizens of my adopted country ignore rules and regulations. It's practically a national sport, and nothing is done to change this dangerous attitude. Sure, there is talk, committees are inevitably formed (and occasionally, they even meet), conclusions may be drawn, and everything continues as before, essentially spitting on the graves of the victims whose lives were lost due to these callous acts of greed and ignorance. Whether it be a collapsed wedding hall in Jerusalem, a collapsed bridge over very troubled waters in Tel Aviv, or train-truck collision in the Negev, I fear that Israelis will never learn the lessons of these easily avoidable tragedies, and it is only a matter of time until we will be forced to mourn the next group of innocent victims.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The future PM?

I like to think of myself as occupying middle ground in Israeli politics. It's not uncommon for many Anglos to take the 'right' route and go all nationalistic, while a few head 'leftwards'. I take an interest, doesn't everybody in this country, but it's not my be all and end all. It's sure not going to play too much of a role in my postings. Though as life in this country often evolves around politics and manipulating, lying, cheating, hanging-on-to-their-seats-at-all-costs politicians, there may come a time when us something somethings lose it and bore you rigid with a rant or two.

Like today, for example. The guys over at Labor (think Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud 'Ben Kenobe' Barak) are currently in the buildup to new primaries, where the next head of the party will be elected. I'm finding it very hard to believe that the guy in the pic below, Amir Peretz, is heading for a possible shock victory. He's currently just behind the eternal loser Shimon Peres and his momentum is building. Apart from that dead hamster above his lip, can't anyone else see him for the camera-hugging, loud-mouthed opportunist that he appears to be?
Ahh, just figured it. He has an orange flag in his office, to give him a bit of 'right appeal'...

Friday, June 17, 2005

I've got the news blues

Well, here it is, Friday afternoon. I've promised He that I would make an entry over the weekend, and this may be my only opportunity to do so, given that I usually spend my waking hours at home chasing after the little one, who is tremendously enjoying showing off his new walking skills (which, when mixed with his drawer and shelf "reorganization" skills, make me a busy Mommy indeed). What brought about this little window of freedom, you ask? Simple. When the Husband mentioned that he had to go to a work-related social gathering, I casually recommended that he take the little one along, and he agreed (as I knew he would). So, here I am, blogging instead of doing what I'd really like to be doing - either showering (it's just really hot and gross here today!) or napping. Aah well, I suppose I'll have other chances to do both, though perhaps not in the near future.

I'm also wasting precious weekend newspaper-reading time. I'm a news junkie, which doesn't always mesh with my parental responsibilities. Once upon a time, before the little one came along, Fridays meant one thing - sitting for hours at a time, going through the weekend papers as if my life depended on it. Rare was the Friday that I went to bed before I'd finished reading. These days, I'm lucky if I'll have today's paper read before next Friday's paper comes out. And, if I can't get it done on the weekend, I'm usually left to resort to sad tactics like leaving one section in the bathroom, another one in my bag to read on the way to and from work. You get the picture. It takes me three months to read a book, because my only reading time is on the train (20 minutes each way, plus station waiting time), and I'm often forced to cast the book aside in order to finish the newspaper. The system usually works pretty well, until a magazine unexpectedly pops up and thoroughly gums up the works. Last week, I was unexpectedly handed a magazine, and though I was pleased (hey, it was Mad Magazine! who wouldn't be pleased?!), I started to panic, knowing that I would fall behind. Then I started to panic even more, when I realized that I'm turning into my father (minus the obvious gender differences, of course, given that I am She). I've decided to assume that it's genetic, thus shifting all responsibility for this demented little mindset from myself onto my paternal ancestor.

I love the little one. I love him to bits. He's my pride and joy, and I treasure nearly every moment we spend together (could do with a few less moments during the middle of the night). I'm even doing my very best to pass on my love of reading to him, and so far, it seems to be working. I just wish he'd be more agreeable to having the newspaper read to him (meaning, not trying to shred it into tiny, bite-sized pieces) instead of books that require me to moo, bark, meow, etc. at regular intervals, over, and over, and over again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Driving me mad

"O Yeh!!" [ pumps arm in celebratory fashion ]

Don't you just love it when the cops pull over those drivers who moments ago were ripping past you on the hard shoulder of the Ayalon (freeway)? OK, so you might have uttered the odd expletive (in my case, it was "Fucker!" and "Manyak!" (which sounds suspiciously like 'maniac' but packs so much more punch in Hebrew)) as he/she roared past and you were still wondering whether it might have been wiser to walk to work, but, as they say, what goes around.

It's those precious few seconds when I get this hankering to be a policeman. Uh-huh, one of the boys in blue, a copper, the filth, part of the fuzz, a pig. I have this secret fantasy where I pull out my flashing blue light, fix it to my roof and sound the "woooooo" of my siren. This would of course happen immediately after being overtaken on the inside lane, sliced almost in two at any intersection, blocked by a fucker who has yet to use his indicator this year, etc, etc. The list is endless. Countless opportunities to practise my "Who loves ya baby" line.

Oh, by the way, this is He writing, just in case you were wondering. There'll be a bit more bitching about driving in this country because it's something that drives us all mad, especially us Anglos. Please raise your hand if you're an Anglo and driving doesn't bother you. Yeh, exactly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

She and He ARE something something...

He's got an attitude and a penchant for drink. She's sleep-deprived and caffeine-dependent. Together, they're something something – a translation of the Israeli term "mashehu-mashehu" (say it with us – we know you can), which is used to describe something pretty damned impressive (like this blog, for instance). This brand new blog to hit the blogosphere will make you laugh. It will make you mad. Most of all, it will make you think.

Welcome to something something, a blog about life in Israel – day-to-day trials and tribulations, joy, sorrow, politics (for what is Israel without politics? Actually, it would be a damn sight better than it is now, we imagine). As two "Anglos" living somewhere in Israel (two separate somewheres, to be exact), we aim to entertain, to provoke, to educate. Let's make one thing clear, though. We do not aim to please. If you're looking for some rah-rah rose-colored glasses view of Israel, well, we're sorry, but you've come to the wrong place. Not to say that life in Israel can't be great, because it certainly can be, at times. However, we're here to tell it like we see it, which is not necessarily how you'd like it to be. We invite you to share in our lives, "meet" our growing families, hear about our days, our nights (think babies!), and our opinions (and shit, do we have plenty of those).

Stick with us, and we promise to show you a good time. It's gonna be something something…