Monday, January 29, 2007

Break from Routine

Every so often, it is good to take a break from the norm. Do something differently or take some time away. Knowing I had a doctors appointment I had to make at 4pm, and other errands and tasks that needed to be completed beforehand, I took a day away from the 6.30am alarm clock and didn't go into work. My 10am wake up came at the same time as news from Eilat filtered through to the news channels.

Three murdered by a suicide bomber.

This evening, I had an email waiting from a friend in the US. A friend in touch with her feelings and knows where she should be living, but has things she wants to finish up before making aliya. The email touched me, there was an expression of love for the land that is ours, there was an expression of desire to be here, and an expression of confusion at the mindless murder that takes place.

We don't always know the reasons why, the when or the how, but one thing I know for sure. We need to look to the day when this sort of thing stops happening. The day when kassam's aren't flying into our boarders from a territory given to a hostile neighbour with no historic claim. The day when the country isn't at risk from aeriel attack and summer vacations can be a relaxing break and not a war.

That day will come, but until then, we must hold our breath and remember where we should be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's a Sad day for Israel

Prime Minister Olmert was partly right in his speech delivered in Herzliya. It is a sad day for Israel. We should all be worried about the country we're living in and the way man is interacting with his neighbour. It's a sad day when Olmert, the Government and the citizens of Israel have forgotten the basic human right of "innocent until proven guilty".
HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called in a speech on Wednesday for President Moshe Katsav to resign over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Citing the attorney-general's threat to indict Katsav, Olmert said: "I have no doubt in my heart the president cannot continue to carry out his duties and that he must leave the presidential residence. This is a sad day for the State of Israel."

I don't know the full story, none of us do, but Katsav has been hung, drawn and quartered before given a chance to clear his name. Perhaps these charges are nothing more than a conspiracy, or exaggerated claims, or he could indeed be guilty, but the lack of respect the country is showing the President of the State of Israel is embarrassing.

When in the public eye, maybe one should step away from the limelight in order to focus on the scandal, clear their name or face the penalty, but Olmert should be offering support and courage to the defendant, until proven guilty, rather than pushing him out of office six months before his term is due to finish.

If Katsav is found guilty, the current barrage of condemnation will surely reach the international media once again, but until that moment, can people try and remember that as of this moment, these accusations have not been proved, and the man standing before us has the right to be considered innocent until the evidence is presented to a court of law who decides otherwise.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1.5 Million Buttons

I just recieved a forwarded email, and I am always pleased to help out when I feel the cause is worthy. A school in Efrat is trying to collect 1.5 million buttons, one to represent every child killed in the Holocaust. To read more, click on the image below.

If you feel this is worthy, please do help them achieve their goal.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shavua Tov

In an effort to make my blog more useful, I have started to add tags to old posts. This will take time, and is far from a priority, but hang on in there, and maybe I will start writing more often too...

Shavua Tov!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Time for Change? Perhaps Overdue.

On a personal level, one of the results of last summer's Disengagement, and this summer's war was a feeling of apathy towards the news and current events. Pre-aliya Yosef was all about the News. I would check teletext during every commercial break to see if anything had happened in the world and would follow news stories like a hawk. Now, I check the news on a daily basis, and reserve comment for the issues I really do care about.

This morning I got up and as per usual, put on Channel 10's morning show to catch the pre-7am view of the world, and the news tickers were rolling. Dan Halutz, Chief of Staff of the IDF during the Second Lebanon War, has resigned.

I don't know all the ins and outs, perhaps no one ever will, but Olmert had been advocating for Haltuz to remain in his role.

Living in a society that changes their government more often than most cars require an MOT, it is with reserved optimism that I feel change could be round the corner. Let's give it a week until Halutz is out of his position and has the chance to tell his side of the story. I am not calling for another round of finger pointing and blame shifting, but the chance to vote for a Prime Minister who isn't under criminal investigation and has support of the citizens of Israel is an opportunity I wouldn't pass up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Best of the Best

To make viewing easier, I have split my Amsterdam photos into three groups. There are the 500+ that are on a DVD in my house, and two online albums. I linked the "Best Of" album yesterday, but I decided to single out my thirty-odd favourite photos.

You can check out both of these albums by following the links below... and do, there are some very good pictures!

The albums are accessible on flicker via the link - and please feel free to leave comments on flickr.

Amsterdam - Jan 07

Five days in Amsterdam and I averaged over 100 photographs a day, I filtered out the best and put them on my flickr account, but here are some of my favourites.






Drug Stores

See it?






Simply Amsterdam

Enjoy, and check out the rest of the album here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Pro's and Con's of the Holy City

Jerusalem may be beautiful, and I do enjoy living here, but more and more often, I have the feeling that I need to get out. Everywhere I turn, I hear English. On Saturday night I went to an Idan Raichel concert, had a great time and enjoyed the live music. Between songs, Idan Raichel shared some stories with the crowed, and there was a circle of laughter, twenty seconds later, there was another after the Anglo's in the audience had the tale translated to them.

Yesterday I was in Rishon L'tzion for lunch, there wasn't an English speaker in site, and the fellow travellers on the Jerusalem - Lod buses I travel on certainly speak mother tongue Hebrew. Sure, most of these people are born Sabra's, and it takes time to learn a new language. I have no qualms with people that make the effort to learn Hebrew, but I that the proportion of non-Hebrew speaking olim hints a lack of effort rather than a true inability.

I wrote about this subject back in 2005, and it still annoys me today.

There is another reason to get out of Jerusalem. Municipal taxes are insane. I paid my arnona bill today, it stood at close to 7000NIS, which is higher than the average salary here. Co-workers of mine in Yafo, Tel Aviv and Modiin pay a third of the taxes those of us in the holy city pay, and once the discount for olim runs dry, that's a very large extra expense. Jerusalem was never going to be my home forever. I have no immediate plans to leave either, but when Arnona is due once again, we'll have to think if it's worth paying an extra $1500 a year to live in the midst of an island of English speakers.

The plus side is the history, the views and the environment. Some of which I was able to capture as I walked through Gan Sacar at 7am the other morning.


Kitchen Window View


Light at the End of the Tunnel

Gan Sacar, Morning View

Check out the rest on my flickr pages.