Archive for August, 2009


Have They No Shame?

Hi Guys!

It’s time for some more Cellcom bashing! But this time it’s not about politics, fences and soldiers. No, this time it’s about simple creativity.

So, do me a favor and watch this short, new commercial they put out this week.

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I like it, too. I’m tellin’ ya, those guys at McCann Erickson are soooo creative. They can do anything when they put their minds to it. But I can’t shake this feeling, it reminds me a bit of something I’ve seen before. Hmmmm… I dunno… maybe… THIS?

(This is an amazing clip of a Japanese band, all the people in are its fans. And the songs is kinda catchy, don’t ya think?)

You ever get that feeling, like you just can’t wait for the next Cellcom ad? What will they think of next?!?


My Battle with VSS

The first time I felt something might have been wrong was when Karen got all dressed up to go out for dinner with me. She was looking great, and we were about to celebrate my birthday with a nice Italian meal. Emma was standing right next to me, and as we both admired her mother, I bent down to Emma and said: “Look at your mother, tell her how beautiful she is!”. Emma looked at me in disbelief, almost as if she was saying “Dad, she’s right there. Tell her yourself”.
Karen saw I was distressed, but immediately took my hand, “Ami, it’s nothing. Don’t worry.” But she knew I was extremely worried indeed. It wasn’t the first time. I’ve been speaking to other people through Emma on various occasions. Sometimes to other parents at her kindergarden, with the usual “Emma, look, isn’t Itai nice for giving you his toy?”, or to the cashier at the supermarket “Emma, say thank you to the nice cashier”.
I told Karen “That’s it, I’m going to get this checked. I can’t take it.”
me n emmaNext day, Emma and I went to our family doctor. I told him all the symptoms. Emma started to make some noise and picked up a pen from the doctor’s table. “Emma, put that pen down before the nice doctor gets angry!” The doctor immediately grunted, and leaned back in his chair. “I see this all the time. It’s no big deal. You’ve got VSS”.
“VSS?!?! What’s that?!?! Is it contagious???”
“No, don’t worry. It’s not contagious, and it’s easily cured.”
“OK, but what is it for G-d’s sake??? Emma!!!! Stop it! The nice doctor is telling me how long I have to live, so please calm down!”
“It’s Vicarious Speech Syndrome. You’re talking to other people through your daughter. I have a lot of information, and there are some great support groups for it.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. As I picked up Emma to leave the office, I said “Emma, tell the nice doctor thank you and that we appreciate his help”. I immediately put my hand over my mouth. “Oops. Sorry Doc….”
“No worries. Just go to the support group”.
The next day I took Emma to the group. It was full of young parents like me, with their kids on their knees. The counsellor introduced me and asked all the parents to welcome me to the group. Just then, all the parents yelled their kid’s name and ordered them:”Tell Ami we love him! Go on! Say ‘We love you Ami!'”

Paradise in Rosh Pina

Karen and I usually do our zimmer-vacationing in a small village called Matat, near the Lebanese border. We like it up there, because it’s very secluded. But this time we went up to Rosh Pina, because we wanted to be closer to some restaurants and shopping.
After hours searching the net, and almost giving up, I stumbled upon a little zimmer (cabin) called “Gloria’s Romantic Garden of Eden”. I immediately called up, after seeing the pics on the site, and Gloria answered the phone. She asked if I spoke English, and I told her I was, well, a “Half & Half”, and she yelled out to her husband “Jerald! There’s a nice American boy on the phone who wants to come over!”.
The room is situated at the bottom of their old stone house, with walls so thick you don’t need air-conditioning in the August heat. And boy, was it hot then. The small yet cozy room has everything you need, but one of the perks is the private swimming pool just outside. Most places that have pools have to share it with at least 3 or 4 other zimmers. So this was nice.
But the biggest perk of all are those two Brits, Gloria and Jerald. Gloria makes an amazing breakfast, and you can sit with her forever, listening to her about her life in England, Memphis (yeah, Memphis!), Manhattan, her father who was a chazan, her crazy parties in NY and her close friendship with Nina Simone and Shoshana Damari (with pics to prove it!). Jerald will tell you all about the house, situated smack in the center of the old restored part of the moshava. Menachem Begin himself hid in the house from the British on the 1940’s!
So, this is defenitely a Half & Half zimmer for all my Half & Half readers out there! Enjoy!
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Heep Hope

I’m not a big fan of rap, never have been. Never got too excited about the whole “bling” factor. Although, I do like some artists who seem genuine, like Lauryn Hill (before she went mental) and Outkast. You know, the guys who “keep it real”. The Israeli hip-hop (pronounced “heep-hope” in this part of the world) scene isn’t much to brag about. But there are a few exceptions. One of them being a band I listen to when I jog, and they always manage to make me smile through all the sweat: HaDag Nachash (the fish snake? or is it the snake fish? hmmm…). Wikipedia has some ideas about what the name means.

HaDag Nahash are a band from Jerualem, and what’s cool about them is they talk about everyday life in Israel, about the difficulties, the injustice, the racism and more. No bling, no showing off – just trying to spread the message. Here are a few of my favorites:

This one’s called “We’re not Frayerim (suckers)

Never translated a song before, but let’s try a few lines (no attempt whatsoever to keep the rhyming):

(How much longer?)

In our dreams will we sail like a Mig

And look over the stench from a safe distance

Which is 5 minutes from Kfar Saba

(How much longer?)

Will we keep our eyes shut

To what’s happening right beneath our noses

We’ll get another beer from the fridge

And keep surfing the channels

Chorus: (And we’ll do reserve duty)

We’ll pay the taxes

(And we’ll stand in the traffic jams)

Nobody screws with us

(We’re definitely, definitely, defenitely not frayerim)

Here’s another clip, “The Number Song”, and this one has English subtitles:

One of my favorites is “Here I come”, which if you saw “Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, you might already be familiar with it. It talks about a guy debating on where to live, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Should he stay in Jerusalem, where all his friends are, where the hummus is good, where the weather is nice, or should he got toSoddom and Gommora and have some fun with the Tel Avivi women?

And here’s one by a guy named Mookie. Not really a rap song, but a nice tune about his relationship with God.

I’m not afraid of you

Just want to meet you

I have no doubt of you

You of me and me of you


This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Three of Us

Well, it looks like Bibi passed the Knesset’s summer session in flying colors. Moments before the final curtain, in the grand finale he managed to run a tight ship and pass two bills into law that were dear to him: the Israel Lands Authority Reform, and the Mofaz Law.
Both pieces of legislation are bad news. The first bill proposes reform that will basically hand over lands owned by the Israeli government into private hands, where (let’s face it) citizen’s rights and environmental issues never really take pride of place.
The second bill is a pathetic attempt by Bibi to ease the process for a possible break-up of Kadima in the not-so-distant future. The Mofaz Law will reduce the number of MKs required to split from a faction from one-third to seven in the case of parties totaling over 21 members. I won’t go into explaining why this law is ridiculous, but here’s a good piece to understand why.
But instead of being the usual Bibi-basher that I have become (or always was?), let’s just sit and think for a second: Could this actually be a good thing?
Let me explain:
Shimon_and_SharonA few years ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who couldn’t get anything done in his Likud party, decided to break away and form Kadima. This was known as the Big Bang of Israeli politics. Kadima joined top figures from the Likud and Labor (most notably Shimon Peres) to form a centrist party that would finally let the Bulldozer do his stuff, unhindered. Unfortunately just a few months later, the seemingly industructable Sharon slipped into a coma and we got three-and-a-half years of Olmert instead.
But just like the Big Bang of our universe (which apparently is still expanding), our own little bang is not over either. The process has yet to be completed. Kadima never became the big party it hoped to be (mainly thanks to Olmert), and the Likud and Labor also lost their strength. In effect, the Israeli political system has entered a stalemate it has never seen before, with the electorate spread out over so many parties, and many voters feeling they can ideologically vote for almost any party seeing as how the differences between them are so small.galaxy460x276
Probably the most interesting development lately in the Big Bang in Israel is Bibi’s speech in Bar Ilan University, where he accepted the foundation of a Palestinian state (with his own conditions, of course. But still…) Bibi’s acceptance of the two-state solution has dealt a death blow to Kadima and to all the parties left of it. In a way, it was a death blow to the right as well. Because if all major parties, both left and right, agree to the two state solution, then what’s left to differentiate between them? It seems like the only difference between them is not about ending the occupation anymore, but in how many years. 5, 10, 15?
Certainly the estimated arrival time at the final goal isn’t enough of a criteria to differentiate between three major parties. On all the other issues, well… there’s just not much of a difference. This week, by voting with Bibi on the land reform, Labor has shown it basically has no unique ideology left in its bones. And Kadima? You tell me, does anyone really know what Kadima’s agenda is?
My point is, that this political map is too small for all three. Either Kadima or Labor will have to disappear. Someone will have to raise the guantlet and show true opposition to the Likud, a real left wing would have to arise in the Knesset, one which hasn’t existed for years now.
Which brings me to my point: What if the Mofaz Law actually does just that? If eventually, Mofaz and six others left Kadima, it would slowly disappear into oblivion. Maybe that would be a good thing. Or what if there was a split in Labor, which seems particularly likely after the approval this week of the land reform law which angered many of its members? Maybe this could finally kill off Labor?
Whichever one it is, it doesn’t matter. One of them has to go. And the one that stays has to show a clear agenda that is different from the Likud’s. But this time, the point where the two big parties that are left diverge won’t be the  security-dipolmatic issue. That line is now so blurred it no longer exists. No, this time it has to be about social issues, about the environment, about the economy (stupid!). And this time, it has to be about leadership.
I used to like Amram Mitzna, the former Haifa mayor, who ran against Ariel Sharon and lost when he led Labor into the elections. Sure, he had some drawbacks (show me a poitician who doesn’t), but he just seemed like an honest guy, who really wanted to do some good. He was ahead of his time. For the past three years, Mitzna has been living in Yeruham, as a sort of temporary mayor, to get things fixed up in a municipality that needed help. Now that’s what I call Zionism. Leaving your wife for 4 days a week to go run a small town in the desert. He was recently interviewed by Haaretz (a good read) and said something interesting about the future of Israeli politics: 
Haaretz: What will it take to make you say, “Friends, I am coming back”?
Mitzna: “I imagine that the day will come, in another year-and-a-half or more, when Israeli society will long to see honest, credible people heading it, people with proven executive capability. My estimate is that in the next elections there will be enough votes to get between 30 and 40 seats that will support a leadership direction like that, without decisive importance being attached to the diplomatic-security sphere.
“After Netanyahu’s ‘two states’ the question is no longer whether you are left or right. Until the Oslo Accords the policy debate was over what the solution consisted of but, in the years after Oslo, the real debate is how to get there. Nowadays everyone understands that the Geneva Initiative is the solution, that we will leave the Golan Heights, depart from most of Judea and Samaria and that Jerusalem will be divided. The question is how to get there.”
I hope Mitzna is right. Because if he is, it could mean the end of this Big Bang already. And it could be the beginning to ending the occupation, and to becoming a much more normal, healthy country.
And if he thinks he can lead the way, hey, I just might give him a second chance.

August 2009
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