Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All sorts of stuff

Life has been hectic lately. My parents are coming on Thursday for their annual visit, and we've been busy getting the house ready. Exciting stuff, as not only am I looking forward to seeing them and having them spend time with their grandson, but I'm also looking forward to the items that will be accompanying them, such as a CD with nrg's pictures from Amsterdam (at which point I'll do a post showing all of our best pictures - she took far more than I did, hence the wait), which will reach me via a rather circuitous route (nrg gave the CD to her parents when they were visiting her in Norway, they brought the CD home, my parents picked up the CD, and will bring it with them to me), my new mp3 player, ordered from Amazon, and a variety of toys, books, videos and clothing for the Little One (and even a few articles of clothing for me).

In the event that I can't think of where to take them, I'll be sure to peruse my very own fabulous (and slightly puddle-damaged - my fault!) copy of City Guide Tel Aviv, written by the incredibly talented (not to mention charming!) Lisa Goldman. I'd definitely recommend this book - get it for yourselves, get it as a gift. You won't be sorry! I know I can't wait to try out some of the restaurants that are mentioned, and I've even been to a few of them already, trendsetter that I am.

Since I'm feeling rather scatterbrained at the moment, between the upcoming visitors and work, I'm just going to mention a few more bits and pieces, and then be on my way.

If you take a look at my sidebar (go ahead, I'll wait...), you'll notice a few things. One, I'm reading a new book - A Tale of Two Sisters, by Anna Maxted. I discovered Anna Maxted several years ago, and haven't looked back. She writes brilliantly, and I love the way she has her characters deal with very real problems, instead of the usual chick lit fluff. I've always found myself drawn to writing and to people who write well, and Ms Maxted is no exception. I'd definitely enjoy a friendly chat over lattés in a cafe with this woman.

Two, I've added quite a few blogs to my blogroll in the Further Afoot section. In addition to discovering a number of new (to me, anyway) blogs written by expats, I now check in daily with the hilarious Craigslist Curmudgeon, where our blogger shares some of his (her?) better findings for freelance writing gigs from the infamous Craigslist, as well as the thought-provoking blog Warrior of Light, written by one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho.

And finally, I've recently become a contributor to a site called Brio, which deals with the subject of parenting in a global world. My first post is here, and originally appeared on something something earlier this year. It promises to be an exciting project about a subject that's very close to my heart, so I'll be sure to keep you posted. Check it out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Caught with my umbrella down

I admit it. I have a fault. I know, I know. Be still your beating hearts and all that jazz. You thought I was perfect. Oh, and those of you who know me for real, you can stop snickering now, especially you (you know who you are!). Actually, I have two faults. I do not like to be caught unprepared, and I have a low tolerance threshold for stupidity, ignorance and shallow conversation (does that one count as three faults? I mean, it's not like they're mutually exclusive or anything, and often go hand-in-hand!). For this entry, I'm only going to address the former, as the latter is no less deserving of its own entry, and actually, if I were to combine them, I have a feeling that I'd somehow manage to incriminate myself in a really outstanding way...

When I say that I don't like to be caught unprepared, it means that I don't like surprises. And when I say that I don't like surprises, I mean that I'm actually quite anal about it. Take the weather in Israel, for instance. Once autumn hits, I begin my assessment of the local umbrella situation. I have two – one small red one that fits in my bag quite neatly, and one large stripey, purply one that does not. As soon as there's a mere hint of rain in the air, the little umbrella goes into the bag, and stays there for the duration of the season. The large umbrella is kept by the door, saved for occasions when a forecast of rain is actually announced, at which point the little umbrella is taken out of the bag, shunted aside for one with more firepower. You see, the little one, while being extremely convenient due to its size, is also rather ineffective, due, strangely enough, to the same reason. Given my fifteen minute walk between the train station and my office, the thought of being caught without an umbrella when it rains sends me into a bit of a tailspin. Quite sad, really, but absolutely true. As such, the small one is for emergencies, so that I will always be prepared for unexpected rain shower.

Then there's the second umbrella. Having tragically taken the lives of two attractive, but clearly lesser quality umbrellas last year, both at the same location (crossing over a busy road leading over a highway that lies between two tall buildings, effectively creating a massive wind tunnel), I finally came to my senses. I walked into a store, prepared to pay whatever it took for strength, quality and peace of mind. I walked straight up to the counter and asked for the strongest umbrella they had (which, fortunately, was also quite attractive, for there's no reason to sacrifice aesthetics for quality, is there?). One tidy sum later, and I was testing my new purchase, which indeed proved itself to be quite strong, if not somewhat inconvenient.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," would seem like an appropriate sentiment, as the new umbrella, while triumphantly standing up to even the nastiest of winds, was rather unwieldy, to put it mildly. I became unnecessarily dependent upon the words of our meteorologists, lest I be unprepared when the storms hit. And therein lies the crux of the problem. These folks can't be trusted! For the last two days, I dragged my industrial-strength umbrella to and from work, working on the assumption that it was going to rain. Have you ever tried walking while carrying a large umbrella, a jacket slung over your arm, one laptop in what must be the biggest, bulkiest laptop shoulder bag ever created by man, and a large latté, which you struggle to raise to your lips intermittently, taking careful sips while trying not to spill, as a few drops inevitably manage to escape somehow? Not easy. Let me tell you. If I wasn't so talented, I'm not sure I could pull it off. But did it rain? Of course not! It threatened to, and there were even a few big fat drops of rain on my window yesterday afternoon, but certainly nothing that warranted my drastic umbrella measures. Once again, they got it wrong, and once again, I tripped my up and down the street so that I would be prepared. I think that I would probably be more successful at predicting their success rate than they are at predicting the weather. Then again, I imagine that I will continue to take them at their word, lest I be caught unprepared with my umbrella down.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Almost passing for trendy...

Finally. Finally, after a long, harsh summer, it seems that fall is starting to put in an appearance. The days are no longer oppressively hot, and nights are sublimely chilly – perfectly conducive to getting a good night's sleep. Not to say that I am getting good nights of sleep, as the little one seems to be trying his best to thwart my intentions. But still, I'm used to being perpetually tired, so while a bit frustrating, it's certainly not a tragedy on a grand scale, as grand scales go.

I just wish that the days would start to get cooler! I'm getting tired of wearing the same old clothes day in and day out, and am really looking forward to switching over to the winter wardrobe. I've pulled at the shirts with the ¾ sleeves and begun wearing regular shoes with socks, instead of the sandals that I've worn nearly every day since June. I'll miss my capris, to be sure, but having forgotten a substantial number of pairs of trousers at my parents' house several months ago, once I finally get them back in just a few weeks' time when my parents arrive for their annual visit, it will be almost like having a few new pairs.

Most of all though, I can't wait for jacket weather, and the reason why is this:

Do you remember how I went on and on about the beautiful Nepali fleece-lined jackets I purchased in Amsterdam? That's right, folks. I cannot wait to start wearing this jacket (or its fraternal twin – the purply hooded Nepali fleece-lined jacket) everyday. I love this jacket. I love this jacket! I LOVE THIS JACKET! Do you understand what I'm saying? Am I making myself clear? I love the colors. I love the style. I can almost (though not quite) pass for trendy in this jacket. It was love at first site, in the funky Waterlooplein market, and our excitement over such a find was palpable. Not only was I in love, but my best friend approved of the match. You see, she'd been after me since seeing the contents of my suitcase and the obvious lack of color, and given that she'd also been privy to the descriptions of my clothing purchases in the US (I still don't know how it worked out that a significantly high percentage of the shirts I'd acquired were black, brown, or a swirly combination of the two), she'd taken it upon herself to add a little color to my wardrobe, in addition to the color that she added to my life in general. Searches in some of the shops around the city proved fruitless, but our new find fit the bill perfectly. How excited were we?

But I digress. The jackets. Almost as much as I can't wait to wear mine, I'm also chomping at the bit to dress the little one in his. How awesome is that little jacket? How awesome will we look traipsing about town in our Nepali fleece-lined jackets?! Unfortunately, it seems that the weather is going to remain decent for the foreseeable future, despite the teasingly cool mornings and the tantalizingly chilly evenings. For now, the little one is still wandering around in shorts and sandals, and looking (almost) trendy will have to wait.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Is it considered a bell or a whistle?

Oh, and further to my previous post, you may have noticed that I've started using YouTube clips. I still haven't decided if I like the whole clip idea in my blog entries, but it is kind of funky, so we'll see how it goes. I just added a clip to the Blogging Meme post. Go on. Check it out...

And, I've also updated my profile, so you might want to check that out as well.

Ch... Ch... Ch... Changes...

A little pizazz

Well, as y'all can see, I've begun to add a few "bells and whistles" to the blog design. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I can't seem to update to Blogger Beta just yet. In the meantime, I thought I'd take some time to fiddle around with the HTML code itself, which doesn't scare me, but is always a bit of a hassle, and not nearly as much fun as playing around with a WYSIWYG editor.

The first thing you've probably noticed are the pictures at the top, both taken by me. The picture on the left shows just a few of the cacti that we have on our porch. My husband is a serious collector of cacti, and we've got more than 100 different types! We've probably got the only two year-old kid who can count the word "cacti" as being among his first words, and we taught him early on that "cacti=ouch", so he stays away (most of the time!). I took this picture Friday morning, as the threatening clouds were rolling in. The second picture is, of course, the little one, and it was taken several months ago in the US, during a visit to a county fair while visiting some of our closest friends. The little guy was absolutely pooped after running, jumping, and sliding around in the multitude of inflatable castle-type things, and almost fell asleep on the fair's train ride, while our friends' six year-old son kept him from nodding off. He ended up sleeping for the next several hours while we hung out a bit more at the fair, said our goodbyes, and headed for home, waking up just before the final rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike (or was it the Garden State Parkway? I can't remember...).

Enough about the pictures...

I've also added a little feature in the right column, to let everyone know what book I'm presently reading. I'm having a fantastic time with the current selection, The Road to McCarthy, by Pete McCarthy. Several years ago, I read Mr McCarthy's other book, McCarthy's Bar, and loved it. When I came across The Road to McCarthy in the American Book Center in Amsterdam, I didn't even hesitate, pulling it from the shelf straight away and adding it to the other books I'd found. Needless to say, I haven't been disappointed, as this book is just as hilarious as the first one (I'm sure people are looking at me on the train as I suddenly start shaking with silent laughter over and over again, with each turn of the page). I was terribly saddened, however, to discover while reading this book (Via Mr McCarthy's website), that Pete McCarthy had tragically passed away from cancer back in 2004, and that this event had somehow gotten past me. In any event, I can't recommend these books enough.

Anyway, the jazzing up process has begun, so tell me what you think so far! I know it's not much yet, but I reckon it's not a bad start.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blogging Meme

I've been tagged for the blogging meme not once, but twice! Thanks to everyone's favorite local Brits Anglosaxy and TAFKA PP, I'm blogging about blogging.

Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?

I like the contents, but if I was satisfied with the look, would I have written this post? BTW, for those of you who haven't taken a moment to share your opinions on that post, it's not too late! Let me know what you think!

Does your family know about your blog?


Can you tell your friends about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

Quite a few of them know about and are even regular readers. It's not a secret, though admittedly, I don't run around the office telling everyone about it, but that says more about my feelings vis a vis my company than it does about the privacy thing. With few exceptions, I don't tend to write about the private personal stuff, as I'm actually a pretty private person, and can probably count on one hand the number of people who know about the nitty gritty aspects of my life.

Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog? Or do you try to discover new blogs?

I try for the latter, but time constraints mean that it's not always possible. I do, however, have a number of regular reads written by bloggers who have probably never even visited my blog, let alone commented.

Did your blog positively affect your mind? Give an example.

That would depend on the day. Overall, I'd probably have to say yes, but there are definitely days when I ask myself why I'm writing and whether I derive more joy or frustration from it. I can't give (won't give, would be more accurate) a concrete example, but one thing I will say is that at times, the blog as positively affected my self-confidence, as I slowly come to realize (still working on it!) that maybe my writing is as good as my parents always said it was...

What does the number of visitors to your blog mean? Do you use a traffic counter?

I do use a traffic counter, and most of the time, I don't like what I see! Hence the thoughts about updating the look and feel as I try to come up with ideas to increase readership. I do enjoy seeing where my visitors come from though, and judging from the stats I seem to have regular readers in from many far-flung corners of the earth, and people just stopping by from all over the place as well.

Did you imagine how other bloggers look like?

I think I always sort of sub-consciously create an image in my head of how people I communicate with regularly but don't actually meet look like. I have a friend in Europe who I "met" in an online forum, and when we actually met in real life, she looked nothing like what I had pictured!

Do you think blogging has any real benefit?

Sure! People blog for many reasons and people read these blogs for other, different reasons. I blog because I need the creative outlet, and ideally, I'd like to make a career from the kind of writing that I do. Also, I think blogging under circumstances fills a void, putting a human face on issues reported in the MSM, with the recent war being a classic example.

Do you think that the blogsphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

Nope, I believe that the two "worlds" complement each other, allowing us to perhaps get a bit more out of life than we would have without the blogosphere. I also believe that the blogosphere is a microcosm of the "real" world, with the Israeli blogosphere being a perfect example, given the diversity of opinions and the propensity to "share" them with others. Sometimes, when people outside of Israel ask me what Israelis are saying about this or that, I suggest that they check out our blogosphere, as it accurately reflects what people are thinking and saying here.

Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?

To be honest, I don't really read blogs that are strictly political. Lots of daily life blogs from the Middle East delve into politics as well, and while I do read some of them, there are others that I just can't stomach, even if I might enjoy the non-political stuff.

Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

That would depend on the criticism and how it's given. If someone criticizes my blog simply because I'm Jewish and live in Israel, while it's certainly within their rights, it's not useful at all - just a waste of time and space. Constructive criticism can be a good thing. In general though, if you don't like my blog, for whatever reason, well no one is pointing a gun to your head, forcing you to keep reading.

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog if you died?

I like the idea of a good friend writing a nice, final entry/tribute. And, following the post that I wrote about in my last post, I've decided that I want the epitaph on my headstone to read, "She was feisty in a positive way...", so if any of you happen to be around when it happens, please convey that message to the necessary individuals.

Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

I'd have to say Anglosaxy, given that he's the one who got me started in blogging not once, but twice! He convinced me to start my previous blog, and then convinced me to do this blog with him (though we all know how that ended up). He's helped me with nearly every aspect of this blog, and there are rarely days that go by when I'm not bugging him about something blog-related.

If I can choose a second blogger, I'd have to say Lisa, given her unwavering support and confidence in me as a writer, as well as the amazing friendship we've built, which came about as a direct result of our blogging. The fact that she knows the best place in Tel Aviv for smoked salmon is simply an added bonus...

Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you?

Probably Lisa, at least in some ways. We share a lot of the same frustrations and ideals. And we'll always have smoked salmon...

Name a song you want to listen to?

I never tire of hearing Mr Jones and Me by the Counting Crows or The Light is Always Green by The Housemartins. Besides those two, I could probably come up with a very long list of songs that I love.

Hmmm... Who to tag, who to tag?

Beth, Rami, Emah S (seeing as she always tags me!), Ra'anana Ramblings

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"She gets feisty in a positive way..."

My pal over at Anglosaxy sent me a link to a post written by a relatively new blogger who is clearly very astute. Be sure to check out my muse for some interesting reading, and in the meantime, I've included the more salient points from his/her original post right here.

"First up, Anglosaxy is a site by a Brit who lives in Israel. I found this site very uplifting to read more so during the insurgency period of time when I had no clue of what was happening in that part of the world and was not too bothered with looking up what the newspapers had to say about it. I've given up on the reports that come out from newspapers with regards to political warfare since the movie on the fake war came out - I think it was called Shoot the Dog. I've complimented this site with Something Something, another one of the sites from Israel. I have a feeling this site's author is a journo by profession as the writing is articulate and precise, with honesty
thrown in on most occasions and sincerity sprinkled around in times of moderate contemplation. The author's opinion gives me the impression that at times when the going gets tough, she gets feisty in a positive way."

Azzuri also goes on to mention two of my other favorite blogs - Rami's Wall and Shenanigans, which are written by two of my favorite bloggers, both of whom, I also consider to be friends, thanks to the wonderful world of blogging, chat and email. But, you'll have to go check out my muse if you want to see what he/she has to say about them. After all, if I put the entire post here, you won't feel the need to give him/her any traffic, and we all remember what it's like to be newbies in the blogosphere, so go on... Check it out...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blogger Beta - Should I or Shouldn't I?

Okay, it's been brought to my attention by several well-meaning friends (both of whom I love dearly, lest they suspect that I'm taking the piss, which I'm not, at least not this time - they'll know it when I am!) that it might not be a bad idea to jazz up my blog a bit, give it a little more pizazz, if you will. I'm inclined to agree, but to be honest, I'm afraid to take the plunge. Not that it couldn't do with a little color and excitement, but I also don't want to detract from the high quality of the writing :-).

One of the first things I'm thinking of doing is switching to Blogger Beta, but I've heard that it might be buggy. I like the design options that it provides, but I'm concerned that the negatives might outweigh the positives.

So, people who've switched to the Beta, can you tell me whether or not you're happy with it, why or why not, yada yada yada? People who don't know what I'm talking about, tell me what you'd like to see on the blog, whether it's about the content or the look, I want to hear what you've got to say!

The Jews of Lebanon

I'm always on the lookout for interesting new blogs, especially if they touch upon subjects that are dear to my heart. During today's daily blog read, while scrolling through Blogging the Middle East, I found a gem.

The Jews of Lebanon strives to "reestablish a connection between Lebanese of the Jewish faith around the world with their country of Lebanon." More than just a blog, it also includes photo galleries and information about Lebanese-Jewish sites worldwide, in addition to photos and maps showing different aspects of Jewish life in Lebanon today. One of the things that I find most interesting, is that the blog was created by a non-Jewish Lebanese university student named Aaron, and you can read more about his intentions here.

I've always been interested in Jewish communities around the world, especially those in Arab countries. Of those, I am fascinated by those Jewish communities that still exist today in Arab countries. We periodically receive news and information regarding the Jewish community in Iran (where, incidentally, my husband was born, hence my affinity for many things Persian, especially the food!), but in general, little is known about the Jewish communities in some of the other neighboring countries. This is why I am so excited to have found The Jews of Lebanon, and am grateful that Lebanon is a country that allows such freedom of expression - a rarity in this part of the world.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Those Goofy French...

Aaah, the Wonderful World of Disney. Just the thought of it all things Disney bring a smile to my face, whether it be the Mickey Mouse Club (and I'm not talking about the 90s version with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. No sirree bob. I'm referring to the real deal, with original 50s cast members like Annette Funicello and Cubby O'Brien), Disney World, the innocence of Snow White (gold star for anyone who can name all seven dwarves – no cheating!) or Fantasia. Who doesn't remember the words to the Mickey Mouse Club theme song?

I never get tired of going to Disney World, despite my, ahem, advanced age, and can't wait to take my son there. We'll go on rides like It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and so on. We'll walk down Main Street, popping into shops, undoubtedly buying monogrammed mouse ears and other useless paraphernalia, and maybe catch a parade.

And of course, if we have the opportunity, we will mingle with Disney characters, following the well-traveled route of gathering autographs, and inevitably capturing all such interactions on film. I am guessing such photo opps will be the usual side-by-side, arms-about-one-another poses, and will not come anywhere close to what was captured on film in a EuroDisney dressing room...

According to Reuters,

"The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday said it took "appropriate action" against employees at its Paris theme park who were caught simulating sex while dressed as Disney characters in a digital video that has received wide attention on the Internet.

Disney would not say whether it had dismissed any of the costumed employees featured in the grainy video, which appears to have been shot with a hidden camera at a backstage dressing room at Disneyland Resort Paris.

"The behavior shown on the video is unacceptable and inexcusable," Disney said in a statement.

"The video was taken in the backstage area not accessible to guests. Appropriate action has been taken to deal with the cast members involved."

The video shows Minnie Mouse struggling to free herself as she is grabbed from behind by Goofy and then a giant snowman.

Later, Mickey Mouse simulates sex with the snowman and Goofy does the same with either Chip or Dale, the chipmunks, as laughter is heard on the tape."

Aaaah... Those goofy French...

Friday, October 13, 2006

My life is a sitcom...

Not usually prone to blogging about family life with great frequency, and certainly not wanting to fall into the mommy blogger rut, what happened this afternoon was just to good to keep to myself. You just can't make this stuff up!

There we were, sitting at the table having Friday afternoon lunch (which, barring unforeseen circumstances, is pretty much the only meal during the week in which I invest - today was fish for the adults and chicken for the little one, with rice for everyone). The little one suddenly, ahem, passes wind.

Husband: Little One, what was that?
Little One: Mommy.

Obviously, this little exchange was followed by raucous husband laughter and much protestation on my part. Several moments later, Husband turns to the little one again.

Husband: Who farted before?
Little One: Mommy.

Mommy: Little One, who farted?
Little One: Mommy. Daddy.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Living with the little one

I've spent a decent chunk of my son's short life waiting to see the next thing he'd do. We anxiously awaited smiles, signs of recognition, rolling over, sitting up, walking, etc. I can still remember the tears of joy that spontaneously sprung from my eyes when he said "Mommy" for the first time, or the way I felt that my heart would explode when we went walking while holding hands. Most of all, more than anything, I waited for him to talk. I wanted to hear what he had to say, I wanted to find out if he had a sense of humor, I wanted to know his take on things. Needless to say, I haven't been disappointed. He makes me laugh every day, and I'm touched when he shows tender concern. Here are just a few scenes from our life.

Several weeks ago, we went out to eat along the promenade in Tel Aviv. The husband and I had fish, while the little one ate our chips/french fries. At one point, my husband reached over and took a french fry from my plate. The little one whirled around and said to his father accusingly, "you took chips from Mommy's plate!" He turned back to me, stroked my head to "comfort" me, then turned back to my husband, took his hand and said, "make nice to Mommy," clearly wanting his father to apologize.

The little one likes to sing and dance (sadly, he's not terribly good at either), and for a while, he was really into the song "I like to move it", from the film "Madagascar". His renditions were always rather quirky, as whenever I'd hear him singing it, I knew that I'd find him either completely naked or standing on something that he should not have been standing on (a table, the car), jumping up and down (not unlike the characters shown in the link to the song, above) while calling out, "I like to move it move it! I like to move it move it! I like to. MOVE IT!" Once, after a bath, he ran out to the patio naked, jumped into his empty kiddie pool, sat down and started playing the harmonica, which of course, preceded a naked rendition of the song. Never a dull moment in our house.

We keep a fan outside on the patio for barbecuing (my genius husband realized that he could save himself a lot of work by using a fan to fan the flames instead of going the typical Israeli route of kneeling next to the grill while madly waving pieces of cardboard over the fire). One afternoon, the little one plugged the fan into a hole in the barbecue stand. Just at that moment, the wind picked up, and needless to say, he was very surprised when the fan started to spin. My sense of humor being what it is, I chose not to explain about the wind, and instead let him think that plugging the fan into the barbecue would indeed activate the fan. After all, if there's no entertainment value, what's the point, really?

After a morning of snuggling in our bed, the little one decides he's had enough and wants to go watch television in the living room. He climbs across me, and as he's sliding with his back across my chest says, "There's nipples under my back!"

Husband: Little One, what are you doing?
Little One: I'm farting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Birthday wishes

Well, I can't remember the words to the Coco's birthday song (not that I ever knew them all in the first place...), so I hope this will do. On the plus side, it's not nearly as embarrassing as being serenaded by all those waiters, is it? ;-)

Happy birthday to you...
Happy birthday to you...
Happy birthday dear NRG...
Happy birthday to you!

Hey everyone - feel free to leave birthday wishes for our birthday girl in the comments section, or if you prefer something more personal, send cards to her at the email address here on the blog and I'll be sure to forward whatever I get. The sillier the better, and you get bonus points for creativity.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

To thine own self be true?

Lately I’ve been thinking about my responsibilities as a blogger in general, and more specifically, as an English-language Israeli blogger. It is important to make the distinction here between English-language Israeli bloggers and Hebrew-language Israeli bloggers, as while the latter write for domestic consumption, the former, quite obviously, are allowing their thoughts to be known on a much wider scale. Through our blogs, we are presenting the world with pictures of Israel that they might not ordinarily have access to, and for better or worse, this is an exceptional accomplishment whose importance in the arena of world opinion should not be negated or minimized.

Blogging about Israel can be tricky. It isn’t always easy to write about a country whose very existence is often questioned, and I’ve discovered that I must carefully study nearly every word I write in order to ensure that my intended point is coming across. Even so, I’ve found that in the end, people will see what they want to see, and it may indeed be a far cry from the original meaning. People are always looking for the hidden meaning, always looking to trip you up. If you are critical of one group, they will surely let you know it, sparing no feelings while engaging in harsh, often personal, attacks. And it is quite amazing, really, how many people I’ve managed to irritate through my writing. There is clearly something about Israel that brings people to the very brink of sanity, where passions become enflamed to the point of combustion. It doesn’t matter where on the spectrum you are, there will always be someone to your right or to your left who will find fault in your words, and thus find it imperative to knock you down. It’s astonishing to witness the reaction when the subject of Israel is brought up, and it amazes me to see how many people have chosen the Arab-Israeli conflict as their cause celebre. For Jews and Arabs, I can see the attraction, but what is it about Israel that makes Irish academics feel the need to boycott Israeli universities? What have they to do with me and the country in which I live? Why do people feel this burning need to single out Israel as the focus of their scorn, when there are so many equally if not more tragic situations occurring in many parts of the world? I’m not trying to minimize the gravity of the situation here, but surely, there must be universities to boycott in other countries. One only needs to read this piece in order to put Israel’s role as an aggressor into some semblance of perspective.

And where does this leave me, an Israeli leftist blogger, as I wrestle with my convictions on a daily basis, as my unwavering love for my country is sorely tested by a dysfunctional government and its questionable policies? Ultimately, as a blogger I write for myself, exercising my mind and my skills, at times working through my frustrations, and often capturing my mood of the moment, whether it be happy or sad, angry or contemplative. Ultimately, I am responsible only to myself and my ability to look myself in the mirror each morning. Unfortunately, the situation is not so black and white, given the speed at which information moves around the world these days, and one must consider the greater implications of one’s words. Jostein Gaarder (remember him?) paid a price for failing to make this consideration, when he assumed that by writing in Norwegian for a Norwegian newspaper, that his words would not make it out of Norway and would only reach their intended audience of Norwegian citizens.

One cannot foresee in advance where words will go, or which words will make it to which reader. It is this point that leads me to the crux of the matter. What factors must I take into account when writing an entry? If I am being critical of Israel, must I take care to be balanced or less critical, for fear that the piece will end up in the “wrong” hands, so to speak? Should I be worried about people who might use my words against my people and my country, twisting the meaning to suit their own needs, using my writings as ammunition against Israel or the Jews? Quite frankly, I just don’t know. I am not comfortable with the thought of drawing a line for myself in the sand, a line that I will not allow myself to cross, especially when I believe in what I write. I do not write for those who hate, and do not relish the thought of having to consider their intentions. They will do as they wish, and I cannot control the tools that they use to further their hatred. In this day and age, anything is possible, and there will inevitably always be people who will seek out the bad in things that are good. Should we be hesitant about making medical advances for fear that people will use the advances for less than ethical means? In cases where the good outweighs the bad, I think it is important for people to take bold steps, despite the potential pitfalls, otherwise we are simply running in place. We cannot move forward if we do not take chances, if we do not make leaps of faith in hopes that the eventual outcome will be a positive one.