Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Liza – Queen of the Desert

"Welcome to Jordan and thank you for using UMNIAH GSM network. We wish you
a pleasant stay in Jordan. For customer care inquiries please dial XXXX"
This was the SMS text message that I received on Saturday morning as we drove along a trail known as the Peace Road, running parallel to the Jordanian border, deep in the Arava Desert between Moshav Idan and Moshav Ein Yahav.

As you may have surmised from the cacti photo in the blog header (taken on our porch), we are big fans of the desert. Without fail, whenever we head down south to either the Negev or the Arava, my mind immediately kicks into high gear as I try to come up with a feasible plan for relocating. Such was the case this past weekend, as we made our way through the Arava with various members of Husband's family, stopping here and there to see the sights and to hear absolutely nothing aside from the sounds of our own voices.

The desert in Israel is simply magnificent. While I've never been much of a hiker, there are few sights that I enjoy more than the stark desert landscape, with its ragged-edged mountains and snaking wadis, and as we delve in deeper and deeper, I feel more and more at peace with myself. Suddenly, nothing else matters, and my stress is gone. In fact, here's the text message that I sent to nrg after we arrived at our desert accommodations (with a few minor modifications):

"We're down in the desert. I'm sitting on a sofa outside of our little cottage, drinking coffee and watching the stars come out. It's absolutely incredible. Wish you could see it. Just had to tell someone how amazing it is here. We're right on the border with Jordan, and Husband's cell phone has even switched to a Jordanian network (as mine did the next morning). So incredible here. I don't want to leave."

And it truly was that incredible. We stayed at a little place on Moshav Hatzeva called La Siesta, and as you can see from the pictures, it was absolutely idyllic. We relaxed, we barbecued, we relaxed some more (especially after I downed my own mini-bottle of white wine at breakneck speed), and for the first time in a long time, I almost felt like me again. And, needless to say, I miss that feeling. Exhausted by the rat race and growing increasingly wary of hi-tech, my soul is in dire need of rejuvenation, which will hopefully happen before it's sucked away completely.

Anyway, back to the desert. We left mid-morning on Friday, stopping to drop off the dog with family and pick up one of the nephews, who would act as a playmate for the Little One during the long drive south. Following a brief detour through the bowels of Beersheva, in a fruitless search for a long-closed yet fondly remembered ice cream parlor, we left the world behind us, watching as the buildings were replaced by Bedouin communities and the cars were replaced with camels. Husband had put together an itinerary that ensured we would have a journey of never-ending vistas, and as usual when it comes to all things desert, he did not disappoint. We ooohed at lookout points over the big and small craters, we aaahed over the rock formation that somehow resembles a frog. We held on tight as we wound our way around the hairpin turns along the narrow road that hugs the crater wall, and we dragged the children on foot to admire the views and the solitude of the desert.

Upon arrival at our cottage, I gently placed the napping Little One in the middle of our big bed, and woke him up when dinner was ready. I spent the interim leaning back on the pillows on our patio, looking up at the stars and wishing that I could stay in that position forever. There is no sky like the desert sky at night, with its velvety blackness peppered by millions of sharp pinpoints of light. The desert and the sky seemingly go on forever, and without realizing it, you have become an integral part of this magnificent, awesome setting. The feelings of oneness with the surroundings are total and undeniably soothing, and suddenly, you feel complete and at peace in ways that you have forgotten are even possible. And this is how I felt.

Of course, it certainly helped that the weather was perfect, and unusually warm for this time of year. Winter nights in the desert are quite cold, and somehow, we'd lucked out. Our luck would continue into Saturday, as we saw the desert sights while wearing short-sleeves, and sometimes no sleeves, as Little One felt the need to remove his shirt whenever it got wet, which happened with greater frequency than one might expect. After making our way from one end of the Peace Road to the other (periodically thinking about my Jordanian friend Rami, knowing how much he misses the desert in his native country, and knowing that he would have enjoyed these views just as I did) and stopping briefly to view desert sculptures, we ended up at Park Sapir, where some of the adults prepared lunch while others chased a certain small, topless child over bridges, around a lake and through trees and bushes (who'd have guessed that such little legs could move so fast?! Pant pant...).

Following lunch and a tad more chasing, we packed up, collected all children, and headed for home, accompanied for most of the journey by an all-encompassing dust storm that turned the skies and the air a dull shade of brownish gray and making everything look hazy and blurred. The Little One slept, and I daydreamed about moving to the desert. As we say in this neck of the desert, life is something something...

Monday, February 26, 2007

How well do you really know me?

Wow. Not only have I been tagged again, but I've been double-tagged for the same meme – once by Tololy and once by Stefanella (and I hope she's enjoyed doing this meme more than the last one that I tagged her with). Before I get to the meme, though, I just want to toot my own horn a bit and point you towards an interview that I was asked to do for the website ExpatInterviews, which also includes among its many pages interviews with Rami, Beth and Lisa. My interview can be found here, and for any of you expats out there who might be reading this and feel that you have something to offer to other expats or prospective expats, you can either download the interview questionnaire here, or drop an email to Lizza, one of the site owners, and she'll get you started.

And now for the meme. Since one of the tags asked for five things that you probably don't know about me (Tololy's) and the other asked for ten (Stefanella's), I've decided to go with seven, if I can come up with that many. Not that my life is an open book, but there are some things that you will never know about me, if I can help it...

  1. I was born on the day that Robert F. Kennedy was shot.
  2. I was born with several rare birth defects, all of which were surgically corrected.
  3. I used to shoot archery. I had several different types of bows (compound, recurve) and my own set of high-quality arrows. When I was in fifth grade, I beat a sixth-grade girl in a competition and won a 20 pound turkey (it was just before Thanksgiving). I also participated in the 1980 Empire State Games for archery. I was the youngest competitor (I was 12), and came in dead last.
  4. When I was six years old, I wanted to be a boy. I was always being picked last for kickball teams at recess. That stopped when I became better than the boys. I remained a tomboy throughout my youth, though, and have never been a girly girl.
  5. If I get really excited while arguing, I sometimes start to cry and can't control it. On the other hand, at times when it is "acceptable" to cry, I usually can't do it if there are other people around.
  6. I don't do public displays of grief, and can't stand having people feel bad for me. I don't like people to see me when I'm vulnerable, and I've rarely let anyone get close enough to see that.
  7. I've had 12 permanent teeth removed due to spacing issues.

It seems like most people have already been tagged for this one. Hmmm... I'll tag Anglosaxy, Jessica, Life Out East, and Benji.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #12

Several weeks ago, I received one of those "You know you're a seventies child when..." emails, and one of the lines from this incredibly humorous and nostalgic list read, "You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics. And do you want to know something? That's exactly what I thought it was about. I was rather naive in those days, and it simply never would have occurred to me that it might be about something else, thanks to the imagery from the music video.

Many years on, and Liza the Naive has turned into Liza the Jaded Cynic and Liza the Mom (on rare occasions temporarily morphing into Liza the Jaded Cynical Mom), and while I can't remember all the song lyrics I used to sing along to, but I'm willing to bet that more often than not, I missed the hidden meanings. I'm also willing to bet that my mother probably cringed when she heard me singing some of those songs, and not only because I've got a singing voice that can bring mid-sized third-world countries to their knees in pain. Mom understood what I was missing, and quite obviously did nothing to change the status quo.

In addition to missing out on a whole slew of naughty lyrics (and it wouldn't surprise me if I was continuing to misunderstand some of them today), I was also quite innocent with regard to some of the more creative messages being broadcast via the music videos themselves, despite the rather innocuous, harmless lyrics being sung. This would be the case with today's selection for 80s Music Video Sunday, which has been chosen by reader request. Back then, I thought those oversized white T-shirts with the slogan "Choose Life" were the epitome of cool, and I had no idea what this slogan truly meant. Now, I think I'd rather choose death than be seen wearing a shirt so closely identified with a movement with which I disagree so completely, and I find it amusing that back in the day, I didn't even have a clue.

When Wham hit the scene, I was hooked immediately, with their poster even going up on the wall over my bed (before it was taken down and replaced by the a-ha poster, which remained there until my parents moved house just over a year ago. I wore out the cassette, and dutifully did my research in order to learn all that I could about the two artists making up this group. This British duo remained together until 1986, and while George Michael has continued to make music (and headlines), Andrew Ridgeley has chosen to become an environmental activist in his native England, where he is married to one of the members of the talented 80s trio Bananarama.

So, without further adieu, today's music video. This one's for you, Benji...

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go





You put the boom-boom into my heart
You send my soul sky high when your lovin' starts
Jitterbug into my brain
Goes a bang-bang-bang 'til my feet do the same
But something's bugging you
Something ain't right
My best friend told me what you did last night
Left me sleepin' in my bed
I was dreaming, but I should have been with you instead.

Wake me up before you go-go
Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
I don't want to miss it when you hit that high
Wake me up before you go-go
'Cause I'm not plannin' on going solo
Wake me up before you go-go
Take me dancing tonight
I wanna hit that high (yeah, yeah)

You take the grey skies out of my way
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day
Turned a bright spark into a flame
My beats per minute never been the same

'Cause you're my lady, I'm your fool
It makes me crazy when you act so cruel
Come on, baby, let's not fight
We'll go dancing, everything will be all right

Wake me up before you go-go
Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
I don't want to miss it when you hit that high
Wake me up before you go-go
'Cause I'm not plannin' on going solo
Wake me up before you go-go
Take me dancing tonight
I wanna hit that high (yeah, yeah, baby)


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Those worldy Americans

In nations where democracy reigns and leaders are elected by the people, it has been said that the country is given the leadership it deserves. I'd always thought that this was an interesting concept, though was somewhat dubious about whether or not it always held true.

Then I saw the video below, and suffice it to say, I no longer question how George Bush could have been reelected president of the United States. Thanks to friend and commenter Nicole for sending me the clip.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #11

Growing up, I was probably the epitome of teenage angst, except that unlike Molly Ringwald, I rarely got the boy in the end. I was never the cute little flirty type (and felt really stupid every time I tried), and too shy to ever make my feelings known, I took on the role of everybody's good pal – a role that stayed with me throughout high school and most of my university years. I never went to dances that required going with a date, and instead opted for those school and youth group dances where I could go with a group of friends.

Those were good times. Moving from group to group, socializing, catching up, and hitting the dance floor en masse, all the while covertly checking out the other partygoers, looking for potential partners for that headiest of all school dance experiences – the slow dance. One moment, you're out there, bopping along to the likes of Cyndi Lauper or Men without Hats, and the next moment, there's this massive shifting as the slow song comes on, as hundreds of pairs of angst-filled eyes scan the room in hopes of finding a partner, whether it be that pretty girl from third-period geometry class or that cute boy from seventh-period social studies class, or even just someone you've known your whole life, so that you don't have to join the other unfortunates who are slinking off to the refreshment area or the chairs that line the wall.

Sometimes I danced the slow dance and sometimes I didn't, either way, the initial moments were always a nerve-wracking experience. "If I ask him, will he turn me down?" "Oh no, I can't believe he's coming over to ask me to dance." "Uh-oh, no one's asking. Who should I ask? Is there anyone left who I'd even want to ask?" I always envied those folks who were so socially with it that the slow dance presented no problems, and watched in awe as these individuals – seemingly in automatic mode – drifted towards one another, smiling and reaching out as though it were the most natural thing in the world, instead of some hair-raising tribal ritual that you felt compelled to take part in.

Of course, once we made it through those first few seconds, it was, for the most part, a pleasant experience, as we took our tentative first steps towards adulthood, hoping that our partners couldn't sense our anxiety and enjoying the innocent yet intimate closeness of another human being. Twenty years on, and I treasure the fond memories I have from those times, having clearly filtered out the bad times. I can still remember still remember some of my dance partners, and of course, I can remember most of the songs that, for me, will always make me think of the slow dances of the 80s.

Today's video is the song from my first ever slow dance. The band is Journey, and the song is "Open Arms". So, do you remember your first slow song?

Open Arms

Lying beside you
Here in the dark
Feeling your heartbeat
With mine
Softly you whisper
You're so sincere
How could our love
Be so blind

We sailed on together
We drifted apart
And here you are by my side

So now I come to you
With open arms
Nothing to hide
Believe what I say
So here I am
With open arms
Hoping you'll see
What your love means to me
Open arms

Living without you
Living alone
This empty house seems so cold
Wanting to hold you
Wanting you near
How much I wanted you home

And now that you've come back
Turned night into day
I need you to stay

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mommy-blogger strikes again

Yesterday, I inadvertently introduced the Little One to YouTube, after he walked in on me fiddling with our home computer. In order to keep him from playing with the stapler and drawing on the desk, I quickly typed in the address and ordered him to turn and face the screen. Working our way through various clips of Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the greatly revered Bob the Builder, we discovered that not only could Bob and the gang fix pretty much anything, but they could also probably hold their own on American Idol.

It is strongly recommended that beverages not be consumed while viewing the clip below. With any luck, high-brow, intellectual blogging will return to these pages shortly. In the meantime, you'll just have to put up with more low-brow, mommy-blogger silliness...

Monday, February 12, 2007

More Odds & Ends

Every once in a while I feel the need to do an Odds & Ends post. For some reason that I haven't figured out yet, I tend to shy away from writing short blog entries. That being said, I often find myself running across interesting tidbits of information or brief exchanges with the Little One that are quite bloggable, and yet, on their own, they don't provide quite enough fodder for an entire post. I save the tidbits and exchanges for a rainy day (figuratively speaking, of course, given that it's quite sunny and pleasant outside right now), and post them all at once.

Dispensing with the serious stuff first... I recently read a brilliantly written post on the dismal state of Israeli PR and how one specific individual in the Government Press Office has significantly impacted the working conditions of both foreign and local journalists here in Israel, consequently lending a hand to the way that Israel is often portrayed in the media. I strongly recommend checking out the article, written by the masterful SnoopyTheGoon over at Simply Jews. Reading the article should give those of you not familiar with what seems to be the pervasive attitude of the Israeli leadership and its working methods will finally be able to understand why some of us are grumbling so much.

I hesitated about whether or not to share this next tidbit with you. On the one hand, the natural inclination is to share that which brings you joy. On the other hand, if I let you in on my secret, does this mean that the secret is ruined? As you may have guessed, I've decided to be the bigger person here, and take my chances by spilling the beans. The comments of gratitude that come rolling in (Ha!) will be more than enough to placate me.

Thanks to a dear friend, I have discovered one of the best music sites ever! With a huge selection of hits from the 1950s through the mid-1980s (with more being added all the time), movie and TV theme songs, genres ranging from Country to Classical to Caribbean, you can't help but become addicted if you find yourselves spending your days in front of a computer like I do. If this all sounds good to you, head on over to Tropical Glen, a website containing all that I've mentioned and much, much more. I promise you won't be sorry. Go on, then. I'll wait. Check it out, poke around. Visit the Featured Artist Archive, be sure not to miss the MTV Era. This site is definitely a winner in my book.

Riding in the car the other morning, Little One and I are talking and laughing. Suddenly, his face gets all serious, and he looks at me and says, "Mommy, tell me a secret." I look him in the eyes and whisper, "I love you, Little One." Then it's my turn. "Little One, tell me a secret." He looks me in the eyes and whispers solemnly, "I want ice cream."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #10

In previous posts, I've mentioned how interesting I find it when certain songs or artists are immensely popular on one side of the Atlantic, while that same artist has, for whatever reason, not achieved any level of status whatsoever on the other side of the ocean. While this is often true for songs sung in English, I would hasten to guess that it would be even more accurate with regard to songs sung in other languages. While the times may be changing (especially with regard to Spanish-language music, which has always maintained a certain degree of popularity in regions with high numbers of Spanish speakers like South Florida, parts of Southern California, New York City, parts of Texas, and so on), Americans have generally shown little interest in songs not sung in English. Some artists have even recorded two (or more) versions of certain songs – one in their native language and one in English, most likely to help them break into the American market. I'll be profiling at least two of them in the future, so the only clue I'll give you now about these artists is that the non-English versions of their songs are in German.

Today's song is different. As far as I know, there is no English-language version, and I don't remember ever hearing it while growing up in the US. Recorded in 1988, it was terribly popular here in Israel, and given that the song is in French, I'm guessing that it was quite popular throughout much of Europe. The artist who recorded today's song began her ascent to stardom as a teenager in the early sixties in France. In 1965, our young artist, representing Luxembourg, took first place in the Eurovision song contest with the catchy tune "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" and the video of that performance can be found here. Many Israelis tend to become rather giddy when it comes to Eurovision, waxing nostalgically about previous competitions and entries from Israel and abroad, and it was thanks to one of the many Eurovision-related television productions that I discovered "Poupée de cire, poupée de son", and thanks to a bit of detective work, I succeeded in uncovering the connection between that song and today's song, which all Israelis of a certain age seem to be quite fond of. Being of that same age, I took an immediate liking to the song, and its video has been bookmarked on my computer for some time now. So now, without further ado, I present you with today's 80s music video, recorded by France Gall, as a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella, elle l'a
France Gall (Music and lyrics by Michel Berger)

C'est comme une gaieté
Comme un sourire
Quelque chose dans la voix
Qui paraît nous dire "viens"
Qui nous fait sentir étrangement bien
C'est comme toute l'histoire
Du peuple noir
Qui se balance
Entre l'amour et l'désespoir
Quelque chose qui danse en toi
Si tu l'as, tu l'as
Ella, elle l'a
Ce je n'sais quoi
Que d'autres n'ont pas
Qui nous met dans un drôle d'état
Ella, elle l'a Ella, elle l'a Ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou, cette drôle de voix
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou, cette drôle de joie
Ce donne du ciel qui la rend belle
Ella, elle l'a Ella, elle l'a
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Ella, elle l'a Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Elle a ce tout petit supplément d'âme
Cet indéfinissable charme
Cette petite flamme
Tape sur des tonneaux
Sur des pianos
Sur tout ce que dieu peut te mettre entre les mains
Montre ton rire ou ton chagrin
Mais que tu n'aies rien, que tu sois roi
Que tu cherches encore les pouvoirs qui dorment en toi
Tu vois ça ne s'achète pas
Quand tu l'as tu l'as
Ella, elle l'a
Ce je n'sais quoi
Que d'autres n'ont pas
Qui nous met dans un drôle d'état
Ella, elle l'a Ella, elle l'a ...
And in English (albeit unofficial, courtesy of The Honorable)
Ella, Elle L'a - Ella, She Has It

It's like a joyfulness
like a smile
something in the voice
that seems to tell us, "Come,"
that makes us feels curiously well

It's like the entire history
of the black nation
that teeters
between love and despair;
something that dances within you
If you have it, you have it

Ella, she has it
What, I don't quite know
Something that others don't have,
that puts us in a funny state
Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it
Ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou, this funny voice
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou, this funny joy
this gift from the sky that makes her beautiful

Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou
Ella, she has it
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou

She has this little flicker of spirit
this undefinable charm
this tiny flame

Bang on drums
on pianos
on anything that God can put between your hands
Show your laughter or your sorrow
May you own nothing, may you be king
may you still search for the powers that sleep within you
You see that that cannot be bought
When you have it, you have it

Ella, she has it
What, I don't quite know
Something that others don't have
That puts us in a funny state
Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A contract with myself...

I've been tagged by Beth to make a contract with myself about writing. When I noticed that she'd tagged me, I was really hoping that she was referring to a different Liza, because I knew that writing such a contract would force me to think about issues I prefer to keep safely tucked at the back of my mind instead of at the forefront, where I'd feel pressured to take a plunge that, to some extent, scares me. Anyway, my contract is as follows...

"I, Liza R, pledge to be the best writer that I can be. I promise to do my best
to believe in myself, my talent, and the compliments and kind words of those who
believe in me (none of which comes easily). I will do my best to accept the
possibility that my writing is as good as people keep saying it is, and will try
not to doubt myself so much. I will work harder to take my writing to new levels
and wider audiences, asking for help when necessary. I will make serious
attempts to market my work, and do my best to create opportunities in pursuit of
my dream to be a "real" writer. I will continue to use my skills to help others,
and will continue to use my writing to promote ideas and issues about which I am
passionate. I will do my best to rise to any writing challenges placed before
me, and will try not to let self-doubt get in the way of facing such

Beth, I hope you don't mind that I added your bit about asking for help. It's definitely not my strong suit either, as I noted in your comments section.

Now I'm tagging Rami, Lisa, Stefanella, Allison and anyone else who fancies him/herself to be a writer.

Monday, February 05, 2007

An eggstra special conviction

In an entry that I wrote back in September 2005, I briefly described the long, painful journey we took in order to bring our son into the world. I won't rehash it all now, but I will tell you that one of the paths we chose involved three failed rounds of egg donation treatment. Legislation in Israel regarding egg donation is changing, and to be honest, I'm not sure where things stand these days. When we elected to go down that road several years ago, however, the laws stated that only women who were undergoing fertility treatment could donate eggs. There were no donor banks like those that exist for sperm donation, and women who were not undergoing fertility treatment themselves could not volunteer to donate eggs. As a result of these policies, there was a shortage of donated eggs. Understandably, many women undergoing treatment found it difficult to give up something that had taken so much to obtain, and I didn't blame them for wanting to do the maximum ensure success, for not wanting to sacrifice the few chances they had.

There were other issues as well. I wondered about the quality of the eggs being donated, given that they were coming from women who were themselves having trouble conceiving, a problem that can stem from a multitude of factors, whether they be age-related, genetic, or simply a question of the woman's ability to produce good-quality ova. I also wondered how donors and recipients were matched, as I naively wanted a donor who had similar physical features to ours. We continued to make the rounds of various specialists to discuss our options, and while I don't remember much of what was said, the one thing I do remember is that the waiting list for receiving donated eggs was very long, and it could take more than a year until we reached the top of the list.

And then in 2000, the scandal broke. A senior gynecologist and fertility specialist was accused of giving several of his patients who were undergoing fertility treatment dangerously high doses of hormones so that they would produce very large amounts of eggs. Each of the women had previously agreed to donate some of their eggs, and the doctor was accused of harvesting the eggs in order to sell them to other infertile women. Needless to say, the (already low) number of women who were prepared to donate eggs plummeted, while demand for such eggs did not. Many Israeli fertility clinics halted egg donation procedures in the wake of the scandal, and any remaining thoughts we had of having the procedure performed in Israel via our health maintenance fund disappeared. There were almost no eggs available, nor would there be any available in the foreseeable future. This one doctor and his cohorts had single-handedly destroyed the egg donation option in Israel. Women had previously considered donating their eggs were no longer interested, terrified by the knowledge that an unscrupulous doctor had endangered the health and the lives of his patients undergoing the same procedure.

We went through two egg donation cycles abroad – one in London and one in Madrid. We considered cycling in the US, but the costs and the logistics were prohibitive, and we discovered that we could work with top-rated European clinics for much less than the cost of average US clinics. Each treatment cycle required two trips to Europe, not to mention the incredible amount of work that was necessary to coordinate schedules, reproductive cycles, flights (including one flight to Madrid on three days' notice) and accommodations. Research of the various medications was also required, in order to ensure that I would be able to purchase in Israel the drugs that were being prescribed in Europe. Time off had to be arranged from work – sometimes on very short notice.

And in the end, both cycles failed. We managed to do a third cycle in Israel that involved sending sperm to Romania to fertilize eggs provided by an anonymous Romanian donor, then having the fertilized eggs frozen and flown back to Israel for transfer. While legal, it was still rather murky, and involved quite a bit of hassle with our HMO, as we would have to pay out of our own pockets, but they might be willing to reimburse for part of the amount. The Romanian option came as a solution for women who for one reason or another could not seek out private treatment abroad as we had done. There were several similar options involving Romania, Poland, and Greece (and probably other countries where legislation is vague and treatment is inexpensive), and many of them involved some level of partnership and cooperation between fertility specialists in Israel and the foreign clinics. Some involved one or both partners flying abroad, others involved only the transfer of frozen sperm and fertilized ova between the two countries (as we had done). An entire industry was cropping up to fill the great hole that was created primarily as a result of the scandal in 2000.

I believe that Israeli legislation is being changed in order to allow any woman to donate eggs. Passing such a law would be a positive step that will allow great numbers of Israeli women to pursue dreams of creating a family, filling a painful void that cannot possibly be fully understood by someone who has never been in that situation. In the meantime, I felt great satisfaction this morning when I read this article. Seven years after the scandal first broke, Dr. Zion Ben-Raphael has been convicted by a Health Ministry disciplinary panel of "conduct unbecoming a doctor and violating patients rights laws", and will hopefully be appropriately punished for his actions. I'm not sure what punishment would be considered sufficient in light of all the damage he caused – damage to the credibility of an entire industry, and damage to the hopes of thousands of Israeli women in need of donor eggs, but punishment for the guilty parties coupled with an increased level of public awareness and changes to existing legislation will hopefully create an environment where the obstacles along the often painful journey to parenthood can be minimized as much as possible, no matter what kind of treatment is needed in order to complete the journey.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #9

For many people of my generation, the 1980s were synonymous with the term "Brat Pack". Our teenage years were defined by such John Hughes classics like "The Breakfast Club", "Sixteen Candles", and "Pretty in Pink". Members of the Brat Pack were our cultural icons, from Andrew McCarthy to Ally Sheedy, from Rob Lowe to Jon Cryer, we emulated their styles and adopted their vocabulary, we identified with their trials and tribulations, and cheered when Molly Ringwald got the guy.

In addition to the angst-ridden movies themselves, these screen gems produced a myriad of classic songs, including hits from the Psychedelic Furs, OMD, Modern English, and so on. Without a doubt though, the song that most symbolizes the Brat Pack genre of movies would have to be "Don't you Forget about Me", by Scottish rock band Simple Minds – the theme song from "The Breakfast Club". Just hearing it takes me back to the first time I saw that movie. If I remember correctly, it was rated "R", which means restricted to those age 17 and over, and we wondered whether the theater would allow us entry, as we were mix of American and foreign exchange students – all underage. So long ago. I believe that move theater isn't even there anymore, which is a shame, given how many memories it holds.

Anyway, in the spirit of the Brat Pack, before we get to today's video, pop on over to the Brat Pack site and find out which Brat Packer you are. As you can see below, I'm Samantha...

Take the Which Character Am I? Quiz

Don't You Forget About Me
Simple Minds

Won't you come see about me
I'll be alone, dancing --- you know it Baby
Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving me everything inside and out
Love's strange --- so real in the dark
Think of the tender things
That we were working on
Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, Baby

Don't you forget about me
Don't, don't, don't, don't
Don't you forget about me
Will you stand above me
Look my way, never love me
Rain keeps falling
Rain keeps falling
Down, down, down
Will you recognize me
Call my name or walk on by
Rain keeps falling
Rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

Don't you try and pretend
It's my beginning
We'll win in the end
I won't harm you
Or touch your defenses
Vanity, insecurity

Don't you forget about me
I'll be alone, dancing --- you know it, Baby
Going to take you apart
I'll put us back together at heart, Baby
Don't you forget about me
Don't, don't, don't, don't
Don't you forget about me

As you walk on by
Will you call my name
As you walk on by
Will you call my name
When you walk away

Oh, will you walk away
Will walk away
Oh, call my name
Will you call my name

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What kind of republic are we?

Until recently, I was under the impression that Israel was something of a banana republic, but it appears I was off the mark. Sure, the term that comes to mind these days can potentially resemble a banana (if one stretches their imagination just a little...) in shape, but that's where the similarity ends, I'm afraid. With all the excitement generated by our temporarily incapacitated president and our former justice minister, it would seem that Israel has turned into something far more sinister than a banana republic – we are now officially a penile republic.

Following the news these days is like passing a car accident on the highway – you don't want to look, you know it's going to be horrible, but you just can't help yourself. Between the president's frightening display of emotion during his press conference last week to Haim Ramon being found guilty of indecent behavior yesterday, the usual disregard and contempt for the law that many of our politicians show on a regular basis has taken on a far more disgusting quality. Seriously, what is it with these men in power? Given the increasing levels of public awareness regarding sexual harassment issues, it is utterly shocking that these individuals and others of their ilk have the audacity to behave as they do. I'm not even going to address the alleged "misdeeds" of the president – I wouldn't know where to begin, and they have been covered ad nauseum everywhere else. I will say that I was disappointed that he resorted to the race card, insinuating that one of the primary reasons that he was being "targeted" was due to his background as a Persian immigrant, which was a pathetic attempt to downplay the incredibly grave charges made against him.

And then there is the case of Haim Ramon, Israel's former Justice Minister. I was never a big fan of his before this whole episode came to light, and needless to say, I now find him revolting. I still haven't decided what I think about this whole trial, but words escape me when I hear what he has to say about the incident at hand. The only thing that keeps running through my mind is, "he should know better". He should know better than to perpetrate such an act. He should know enough to control himself. He should know better than to make lecherous advances on a young woman less than half his age, especially given his position as a politician (justice minister, no less!) and hers as a soldier. He should know better, given that he appears to be in a committed relationship with another woman (why she's chosen to stay with him is beyond me). And now let's play devil's advocate for a second. Let's say that there is a tiny kernel of truth in his version, and that the young woman in question was, as he put it, "flirting", or that she was the instigator. He should have stopped it dead. He should have known that allowing it to continue was wrong. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the kiss, the point is that it should never have happened. It should never have been allowed to happen.

It is more than a little disturbing when a former justice minister opts for the "she wanted it" defense, when he allows his desires to cloud his judgment, and deludes himself into thinking that what he is doing is acceptable, when in fact nothing can be farther from the truth. With power comes responsibility, and as justice minister, it was Ramon's responsibility to ensure that he did not use the powers given to him to act inappropriately. He failed in that responsibility. He failed as a public figure and as a man. And for that, his deeds should not go unnoticed or unpunished. Precisely because of who he is and what he symbolizes, his case should be used an example. People must be made to realize that actions have consequences and that responsibility supersedes desire. Oh, and it doesn't matter what she's wearing, it doesn't matter if she's flirting. If she doesn't say yes, that means the answer is no. You'd think that in this day and age, that would already be understood, but clearly, if an Israeli justice minister, a president, various politicians, military personnel and other public figures here don't get it, we've still got a long way to go in getting the message out.