Archive for the 'Half & Half' Category

23
Mar
10

This Coming Friday

I’ll be relaunching Half & Half on Friday. I’ll have a new address, a new WordPress theme, and some Google ads.

I’ve wanted a new address for a while now, got kinda tired of the wordpress stuck in the the middle, so – I bought a domain. Also, I had some complaints about reading white on a black background, so I’ve got a new theme I’m going to try out (we’ll see if I stick with it…). And since my traffic is up a bit, I’ve decided to see if I can make a buck or two from some ads (hope that doesn’t tick any of you off…).

On Friday I’ll give out the new URL, where you’ll be able to read the special, first anniversary post. Yup, it’s been a year.

So, basically, this is my last post on http://www.shmookty.wordpress.com. Thanks shmookty, it’s been a hell of a ride! ūüôā

P.S. For those of you who didn’t know, “shmookty” is one of the first nicknames we gave our first daughter, Emma.

Advertisements
14
Mar
10

Oh My Gosh

I can’t decide whether I like this song by Efrat Gosh, or not. There’s something very cool about it, and yet extremely annoying at the same time…

But while searching for the video clip, I found out she made not one, not two – but seven different clips for it!

The Hearts:

The Promenade:

At home:

Night time:

Tel Aviv:

Strip club:

The tattoo:

11
Mar
10

I’m Dreaming of a White Intifada

I’m dreaming of a white Intifada

Just like good ‘ole Ghandi used to do

Where the protests in Bil’in

And demos in Na’alin

Do more than a suicide bomber or two

—————————

I’m dreaming of a white Intifada

With every blog post that I write

May your boycotts topple Bibi

And the Right

And may all your Intifadas be white

—————-

Music: Irving Berlin

Lyrics: Ami “Seriously Twisted” Kaufman

11
Mar
10

By George, I think They’ve Got It!

Cross-posted with The Huffington Post

With Bibi Netanyahu turning out to be just another Yitzhak Shamir – the one who doesn’t initiate, doesn’t lead and does nothing to get things moving – the ball has been thrown into the Palestinians’ court. And if we stick with the sports metaphors for a bit, what a pleasure it is to see that someone has stepped up to the plate, on the other side, and has decided not to wait for the Israelis.

But what’s even more impressive is the change of tactics, a change that might actually work. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister serving under Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, is now leading what many around the world are calling the White Intifada: a struggle consisting of weekly non-violent protests against settlements and the separation fence, while striving for a declaration of independence by the summer of 2011. Fayyad, a former economist and technocrat, is also leading the ban on products from the settlements (seen below throwing products into a bonfire) and has shunned the use of Israeli VIP cards given to senior Palestinian figures so as not to be seen as collaborators with the occupation.

2010-03-11-x160.jpg

Overnight, Fayyad has turned from a dull official into a charismatic politician, enough for Shimon Peres to call him the Palestinian Ben Gurion. He’s also done much to rid Palestinian school books of anti-Israeli propoganda, and is getting good grades from everybody, especially the Americans, who are happy with the “yes to peace, no to violence” approach. As Aluf Benn writes:

“He is receiving enthusiastic approval from the U.S. administration as a successful manager. Some 2,600 Palestinian policemen have already graduated from the training course run by U.S. General Keith Dayton in Jordan and are back in the territories, expecting to serve an independent state, not as subordinate agents of an Israeli occupation.”

This new strategy from the Palestinian side was successfully set out in a recent op-ed by Ziad Abu Zayyad, a former minister and PLC member in the Palestinian Authority:

“There is a lesson to be learned here by us Palestinians: We cannot quash the Israeli repression machine with violence, because our violence will be used to justify and legitimize the brutality of the strong against the weak. Furthermore, Palestinians need to take into account the fact that they have allies on the Israeli side who share their rejection of the occupation and of discrimination; it is crucial to reinforce and nurture this relationship with them.

“Disseminating a culture of passive resistance against the oppression and atrocities of the occupation is the most efficacious method for fighting it: It should be promulgated and its circle expanded. It must not remain restricted to pockets of protest here and there, but should become a generalized modus operandi that encompasses all points of contact with the occupation and the settlements, which are trying to gobble up the land and obliterate all features of Palestinian identity. It must be clearly said that nonviolence is morally superior to force.”

This is a new kind of language coming out of the West Bank, and this new attitude and leadership from the Palestinian side is already bearing fruit on the diplomatic front. The foreign ministers of France and Spain, in a joint article recently published in Le Monde, called to expedite the establishment of a Palestinian state and complete its recognition by October 2011.

Fayyad and the White Intifada are the most refreshing and genuine attempt lately to get things moving in the right direction. As opposed to Israel’s long-standing policy of dunking its head in the sand, we’re finally seeing some true wisdom from the Palestinian side: mainly, that violence only makes Israelis react with more violence. The Fatah in the West Bank saw exactly where the violent struggle of the Hamas led to: the deadly Operation Cast Lead. Their biggest achievement since then has only been the Goldstone report, contested by many and supported by few.

The Europeans seem ready for a declaration in 2011. Will the U.S. be wise enough to not miss this train?

P.S. Just a few more words on Biden

There’s not much else to say about Israel announcing the construction of more housing units in East Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit. All the usual phrases have already been used: slap in the face, humiliation and so on.

As an Israeli, this is infuriating. The excuses make it even worse. When Netanyahu says that the “timing of the announcement was horrible”, what exactly was he thinking? That there’s a GOOD time to announce building in East Jerusalem? And what’s even worse than that, are the excuses along the lines of I wasn’t aware of the announcement”. A prime minister shouldn’t be too proud to show that he’s not exactly running a tight ship, to say the least.

But the most disappointing, maddening part of this was Biden’s light slap on Israel’s wrist. That’s all? We’re going to get away with it? Again?!?!

If I was an American watching Biden’s little reprimand on TV, I’d be mad at Israel – but even more embarrassed with the overwhelming weakness shown by the U.S. Vice President and the administration he represents.

07
Mar
10

If it Ain’t Right(wing), It’s Wrong

One of the most common slogans used by Israeli left-wingers is “the occupation corrupts”. Meaning, it corrupts Israeli society –¬†and even more importantly, it corrupts Israeli democracy.

But the damage that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has done in its first year is so overwhelming, one can only wonder what will happen if he’s lucky enough to stay in power for a full four-year term.

When Netanyahu was elected, everyone knew that peace would have to wait a few more years. The right-wing government he formed sent out the message loud and clear: the Palestinian people are of no importance whatsoever. The Iranian nuclear program is what’s on our¬†agenda.¬†¬†
But no one could foresee that a message was also being sent out on a daily basis to those inside his own country who try to voice a different opinion to that of the government.
In Israel, if you’re a Haredi demonstrating on the streets against opening a parking lot on the Sabbath – you’re OK. Police will watch¬†from afar.
If you’re a right-winger demonstrating on the streets against a settlement freeze – you’re OK. Police will watch¬†from afar.
But think twice before you go to Sheikh Jarrah, you lefty. You traitor. Better watch your back before you decide to take to the streets against evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

And if you’re a foreigner, careful. We’ll have you deported if you’re not on our side.

Oh, and you lefties, you high falutin’ intellectuals better not create any “art” that doesn’t conform to the official propaganda of the ruling body.
I’ve subtitled the following video clip, an excellent item shown about a month ago on Channel 10. It shows how Israeli moviemakers are having it tough these days, if they’re not in line with the government’s stance.
This a very good piece, and it probably would not have been shown on the more popular Channel 2. They wouldn’t have the guts to endanger their ratings. Channel 10 news is known to take a few more chances, to ask questions that aren’t always asked. And although the reporter Talya Peled Keynan tries to play the devil’s advocate, she’s brave enough to¬†come out against what she sees as an attack on freedom of speech.
One of the most difficult parts to watch in this clip is an excerpt from a movie called “Checkpoints”, where an Israeli soldier questions a Palestinian family on their way to Nablus. The family is sick, and needs to see a doctor. The soldier, probably 19 years old, doesn’t believe them. The occupation has turned this young man into a doctor at a checkpoint, analyzing Palestinian patients.
I sympathize with both parties. With the family going through a humiliating interrogation. And I can also understand the young lad. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, there probably isn’t a day that goes by where he doesn’t ask himself: “Did I just let a suicide bomber through?”. The pressure is unbelievable.¬†

He doesn’t believe anything –¬†or anyone – anymore. The occupation has corrupted him.

06
Mar
10

The Green Prince

This has got to be one of the most interesting stories I’ve read in a long time.

Avi Issacharof of Haaretz reveals that Mosab Hassan Yosef, the son of the leader of Hamas in the West Bank, was actually an Israeli agent working for the Shin Bet.

Apparently, the guy saved hundreds of lives and basically gave the Shabak access to the highest levels of Hamas.

The article is an excellent read, but Channel 2 did an interview with the guy last night (in English) – and pictures, of course, are worth a thousand words.

Take a look:

01
Mar
10

Just Some Random Thoughts

Not long ago Karen and I were watching a documentary where famous people in Israel spoke of their childhood. One guy remembered how mad he was about playing gogoim during recess. 
I specifically remember that part, because I was mad about gogoim, too, when I was in grade school. 
And it got me thinking like an old geezer. You know, those guys who tell you “When I was your age I walked to school in three feet of snow! Barefoot!”.¬†
I thought how innocent, how primitive it was – in the cutest and coolest way possible – that I was fascinated with a game, whose main objective was to collect as many apricot pits you can.
I can vaguely remember asking my parents back then to buy more apricots so I would have more ammo for the game. Although, they say they don’t remember it having any influence on my bowel movements. Maybe because I just opened ’em up, took out the pit and chucked the fruit. Shame, Israeli apricots rule (that is, unless they’re imported these days).
My friends and I would carry empty shoe boxes with holes of different sizes we carved out in them, and during recess we would aim hard (usually the one-eye-closed, tongue-out, right-foot-in-the-air stance worked best) and try to dunk those pits in the holes. The smaller the whole, the more pits we would get from our mates.
That was me back then.
The apricot-pit-chucker.
————————————————————————————————–

The Whole-Wide-World

Ehud Banai is my favorite artist. Not only in Israel – in the whole-wide-world. Well, maybe along with Stevie Wonder. But still…
For those who don’t know him, I would call him Israel’s Bob Dylan: Not a great voice, but a genius when it comes to songwriting and lyrics.
There are more than a few songs of Banai that can literally move me to tears.
Unlike those cheap, untalented singers claiming to be “Mediterranean”, no one accomplishes fusion between East and West better than Banai, playing Arab chords on his electric guitar.
One song that seems to do it even more for me lately, as the father of two gorgeous girls, is a lesser known single from 1996, “I will bring you”.
What shall I bring, My little girl
What shall I bring you, As a gift
What shall I bring, My little girl
What shall I bring you, As a gift
I will bring you a lover’s song
I will bring you Star-light
I will bring you Wind from the sea
I will bring you The whole world
I will bring you Children’s laughter
To scare off all your fears
I will bring you, in both my hands
I will bring you my whole life

I will draw the journey to you into a picture

And I will bring it to you, as a gift

I will write the journey to you as a song

And I will bring it to you, one bright morning

————————————————————————————————–

Shoulder-length Hair

Another song I love of Banai is Haknafe Metuka (The Knafe is Sweet, knafe being an Arab desert).

There’s a line in there that always gets to me, because I remember who he was talking about. He was talking about guys like me, age 18, growing our hair after high school and before our military service, before they were going to chop it all off. Some last moments of rebellion.
Who is sitting today, for hours
Taking it all in
‘Till this whole shuk
Looks like a hallucination
I buy some coffee, and olive oil
A wanderer for one day
Hair down to my shoulders
Draft notice in my hand
————————————————————————————————–

Home

I used to say to my buddy Shai: “How can I ever leave this country, when I know that the moment I hear Ehud Banai while abroad, I’ll break down and cry knowing I made the wrong decision?”
The sounds of Banai’s guitar, Yair Dalal picking on his ud, and even the grand orchestra accompanying that booming voice of Um Kultum as she belts “Inti Omri” – all those strum on different and special chords in my gut.
I realize that just as much as I am a product of the Western Israel and American parents – a guy who loves his cheeseburger and his rock n’ roll – I am also a product of this land I grew up in, the Middle East.
I curse in one of the oldest languages around, I make my kid a pita with hummus for a mid-day snack, at kindergarden she eats chopped vegetables with tahini.
It has nothing to do with the occupation-shmockupation. It has nothing to do with the religion that I have no connection to. It has nothing to do with the fact that I sometimes believe there is no hope for this place.
It’s only about characteristics ingrained in me and in my children.
It’s who I am.