Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Empowered by Democracy

Call me naive and idealistic, but I find that there's something very empowering about the democratic process. Voting excites me, especially here, where there are so many parties to choose from, and a population small enough to feel that you might be able to make a difference, that you can make your vote count.

We went to our polling station this morning, Husband, the Little One, and I, greeting neighbors who were also doing their part for democracy. Until just a few days ago, I was still undecided as to who would get my vote, but in the end, I went with my conscience, and damn, did it feel good! I hadn't been sure if I'd vote for them or not, given that I don't like the party leader, but their platform matches my beliefs perfectly, and once I made my decision, I suddenly felt at peace. Standing behind the partition with my little blue envelope, I didn't even hesitate. I quickly spotted the paper I needed and slid it into the envelope, knowing that my party was getting my vote.

I suppose it may seem strange to get so worked up over the simple act of putting a small piece of paper in an envelope and dropping it into the election box, but I can't help it. I am fulfilling my obligation as a citizen, as a citizen concerned about the directions and decisions that my country will take. It is a privilege to take part in the democratic process, and this was brought home to me once again just last night as I watched the chaos currently taking place in Belarus, where people are willing to put their lives at risk in order to ensure that the democracy takes place. I wonder if I'd be strong enough to do the same if I was in their shoes, and am very grateful that I am not. Grateful that I can vote freely and know that my vote will count for something.

I have a hard time understanding those who are indifferent, those who don't feel the need to vote. Voting is one of the most important obligations a citizen can fulfill, and democracy should never be taken for granted. I could go on about why you should get out there and vote today (assuming, of course, that you are an Israeli living in Israel - for the rest of you, think about it when your turn comes, wherever you are), but instead I'm giving you a link to an article I came across on OneJerusalem.com, which sums it up better than I ever could.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Living in the Past

I am a child of the 80s, a decade of contrasts. On the one hand, outstanding music (if you don’t like it, I don’t care), and on the other, fashion statements and hairstyles that would probably be best forgotten. I was reminded of both yesterday after discovering a wonderful link to hundreds of 80s music videos. I reminisced through viewings of Scritti Politti’s Perfect Way, singing along (quietly) to the Psychedelic Furs, and tapped my toes to And We Danced, by The Hooters, to name but a few. Aaaah, bliss. And of course, such joy is not limited to the music from my coming-of-age years, but also to the movies and the television shows of this gone-but-not-forgotten era. Who could forget such classics as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and virtually every other Brat Pack film? What teenage girl didn’t envy Molly Ringwald for always beating the odds and getting the cute guy at the end? With half the population of the United States running around saying, “Whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?”, and the other half running around trying to figure out the words to “Pass the Dutchie” and “Come On Eileen”, the 80s were glory days indeed.

The 80s were happy, more innocent times, where no one worried about planes being flown into buildings, toxic white powder being sent through the post, or people not being able to accompany their loved ones to the airport gate. We wore our hideously loud, patterned (remember paisley?), oversized shirts with no fear, went preppie (remember the pink and green combo, Izod shirts with the collars up?) with no immediate concerns for our safety. They were good years for growing up. Our parents weren’t afraid to let us be outside after dark during lazy summers, nor were they worried when we wandered around the mall with friends, boys and girls eyeing each other over the 45s in the record store.

Oh, how the times have changed. Here I am, twenty years older and about a hundred years wiser, and to say that I’m troubled by the times in which we live would be an understatement. Today’s youth are far savvier than I could ever hope or want to be, robbed of their innocence at increasingly younger and younger ages. I long for the good old days, before violence became so normal, before drugs became so prevalent, before coffee became so expensive.

And now, it seems I may have to chance to go back, at least in a sense. Without me noticing, it seems that my twenty-year high school reunion has crept up on me, and will be held this summer. To my great fortune (though Husband is clearly less keen), it coincides with our annual trip to the US to visit family and friends, and I find myself greatly looking forward to the reunion events. I look forward to catching up with old friends, and to showing everyone how far I’ve come. I look forward to seeing how people have changed, who they’ve married, how they’re doing. I look forward to showing off my little family. Ever since the reunion was announced, there’s been a flurry of emails between old classmates, and the excitement is steadily growing. One thing that I find kind of scary is how many of them still live in the area where we grew up, how many of them are still friends who regularly spend time together. Some of them are parents of children who go to school together, and even run into each other at school sporting events. Some of them are high school sweethearts, miraculously still together twenty years later, which is just amazing.

I can’t wait to take this trip down memory lane, to remember the good times from my youth (while conveniently forgetting the bad times, of course!), to dance to the songs that we danced to twenty years ago, to laugh about simpler times and long gone bad hair days.

What a long strange trip it’s been…

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

When the ends don't justify the means

I averted my eyes from the television last night, so that I would not have to watch the humiliation of Palestinian prisoners being paraded in front of the cameras in their underwear, hands held high over their heads in surrender. The Israeli military raided the Jericho prison yesterday in order to retrieve those believed responsible for the assassination of former Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Zeevi, as well as Fuad Shobaki, the man allegedly responsible for organizing a shipment of illegal mass weapons to the Palestinian Authority back in 2002. As far as I understand it, the raid was triggered by the newly elected Hamas government’s promise to allow these individuals to go free, despite brokered agreements with international parties, and closely followed the hasty departure of the on-site British and American authorities responsible for ensuring that the agreements were carried out properly.

As usual, I’ve got mixed feelings here. On the one hand, these individuals were most likely mixed up illegal, murderous activities, and should not be given their freedom based on the whims of a new government whose views are not quite in line with those of the previous government. I can’t imagine that the planned release sat well with foreign governments that had possibly hoped that the new Palestinian government would actually act like a government and keep to previously brokered agreements. I’m thinking that it doesn’t really bode well for any kind of talks with those governments that attempt to reach out. Or maybe the foreign governments don’t really give a damn. I don’t know.

There are a number of issues pricking my conscience over this act, though. What could possibly be served by the underwear parade? Granted, these individuals are prisoners, incarcerated for an assortment of illegal activities, I should imagine. However, I cannot understand the need for such humiliation, and in such a public way, no less. Seeing this parade (or not seeing it, for I really couldn’t bear to watch it) and knowing that it was being beamed around the world for all to see made me ashamed to be an Israeli. Capturing Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shobaki, et al. is necessary, and given the nature of the playing field, there will most likely be collateral damage, unfortunately. And now let me play the devil’s advocate here. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there was some reason that it was indeed necessary to relieve these prisoners of their clothes (remember, devil’s advocate talking here). Why the public parade? How will it serve Israel’s interests? How will this scene of humiliation improve our standing in the world? No media pundit am I, but I daresay that it won’t be too helpful, that these images will not portray Israel in a positive light. Any sympathy or understanding we may have received will certainly not be forthcoming, in view of the way in which the action was carried out.

Which brings me to my next conscience-pricking issue. Is this to be the final nail in Mahmoud Abbas’s role as Prime Minister? Can Israel possibly emasculate him any further? Granted, he wasn’t very effective when his own Fatah party was in charge of things, but won’t yesterday’s actions push the Palestinians even further into the arms of Hamas? While he is certainly not blameless with regard to his inability to lead the Palestinians, did the Israeli government not have a hand in creating that inability to lead? By choking their economy and thwarting and rendering him irrelevant in what little he tried to do, it is no wonder that the Palestinian people voted for Hamas. What happened yesterday only affirms this, as we once again marginalized the little that remains of the final shreds of moderation in the current Palestinian political arena. Granted, I'm not sure how this whole affair should have been handled vis a vis Mr Abbas, and maybe there really was no other way to go about it, but it still bothers me to some extent.

And to what end? So that Ehud Olmert could show the Israelis and the world that he won’t be soft on terror? To show the world that he is capable of making his own security-related decisions? I, for one, am not impressed. The ends do not always justify the means, though I suppose I do owe Mr Olmert a debt of gratitude, as he has helped me to conclusively decide that any fleeting thoughts I may have had about voting for him and his Kadima party have been completely eradicated from my brain. A politician who allows people to be humiliated just for the sake of scoring a few points at the polls is not a politician I want to represent me. Not that I have a clue as to who I will vote for – only who I won’t vote for.

So. Who should I vote for and why?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We're Back!

If you're reading this, you know that we've returned. Apparently, Blogger was a bit glitchy over the past few days, resulting in something something suddenly disappearing for about a day. More than a little stressful, and thanks to those of you who sent emails asking what was up. Now I know how many readers we have! :-)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Random thoughts on a Monday...

Just a few random issues that I've been dealing with lately...

The concept of having to watch what you say around your kids was really brought home to me recently. While fiddling with the home computer one morning, it suddenly froze up. Fearing that I’d just lost all my work, I swore, emphatically repeating the same word three times. Suddenly, a small voice next to me called out, “Puck! Puck! Puck!” and giggled. Sigh…
How depressing that everyone seems to be in agreement that the best thing to come out of the Israeli elections will be a day off on election day…
I met up with two new friends last week, one is a journalist and the other a professor. We were discussing our careers – the benefits and perks, etc. The journalist mentioned that she gets kidnapping insurance. “That’s interesting,” I remarked. “You get kidnapping insurance, and I get dental.” Hmmm… Whose career is more exciting, do you think?
Why couldn’t I be good with numbers instead of writing (going on the assumption, of course, that I am, indeed good at writing. I know I am because my father told me! Hi Dad!)? Then I could find a job I enjoy that pays well, instead of the job I don’t enjoy that pays well or the job I know I’d enjoy, but I also know that the pay is serious crap. The sad truth is that I suck at anything having to do with numbers – can’t add to save my life, nor can I figure out my own part of the restaurant bill. As far as figuring out the tip, well, let’s just not go there, okay?
Can anyone recommend a hotel in Amsterdam? A friend and I are planning a girls' weekend away, and I've spent hours upon hours poring over websites. Some hotels look better than others, but if anyone has any specific recommendations, we'd love to hear! We're looking for a small hotel, preferably non-smoking, within walking distance of most major sites, and definitely not expensive.
Now that I’ve been given an opportunity to do some real freelancing, I can’t think of a damn thing to write about (which may be evident, given the way this blog entry is going)! This could very well be my shortest blog entry ever! What the hell am I going to write about?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tagged again...

Looks like I've been tagged again! Thanks Emah S - I owe you one... :-)

Here we go!

A: Don't know - it only shows a number.

A: Karma Chameleon (slave to the 80s that I am!)

A: sleeping and coughing

A: "N is fine. K has ear infection and is home now..."

A: Ours.

A: Grey

A: I don't remember the last movie I saw in the theater, but I watched "Grease" on TV a few weeks ago.

A: Cell phone, Cheerios, tissues

A: Light brown and maroon

A: none - I'm wearing pajamas

Q: What is your favorite part of the chicken?
A: thigh and leg

Q: What's your favorite town/city?
A: Hmmm... There are several - London, Sarasota, Boston, Tel Aviv

Q:I can't wait to (til)...?
A: Take a vacation!!!!

Q: When was the last time you saw your mom?
A: End of October

Q: When was the last time you saw your dad?
A: End of October

Q: When was the last time you talked to them?
A: On the phone, last Friday. I chatted online with my dad at least once this week.

Q: What did you have for dinner LAST NIGHT?
A: Spring chicken with rice. Yum!

Q: How long have you been at your current job?
A: 5 months, and I'm already ready for a change!

Q: Look to your left. What's there?
A: A desk and bookshelves.

Q: Who is the last person you spent over $50 on?
A: Myself, when I bought my monthly train pass.

Q: Whats the last piece of clothing you borrowed from someone?
A: I borrowed my husband's jacket when I took the dog for a walk this morning.

Q: What website(s) do you visit the most during the day?
A: Haaretz, email.

Q: Do you have an air freshener in your car?
A: I don't have a car! Well actually, I do, but my husband uses it. No air freshener.

Q: Do you have plants in your room?
A: No, but we've got more than 100 types of cacti on our porch. Does that count?

Q: Does anything hurt on your body right now?
A: My throat hurts a little, and the usual aches and pains from sharing a bed with one husband, one child and one dog.

Q: What city was your last taxi cab ride in?
A: Tel Aviv

Q: Do you own a camera phone?
A: no

Q: What's your favorite Starbucks drink?
A: Iced caramel machiatto

Q: Recent time you were really upset?
A: Yesterday afternoon, while reading a certain blog...

Q: Have you been in love with anyone?
A: yup, still am--with my husband, and of course my little one!

Q: Who do you think will repost this?
A: ?????????

Let's see... Who to tag? Who to tag? Ok. Tololy (or her Evil Twin), Yael, Bobby, and Squarepeg.