Friday, May 27, 2005

Things that require investigation

I just can’t deal with the water here:

1) It tastes different
2) It has lime stone in it, which builds up on the kettles, which means that whenever you have a cup of tea, there are little white bits floating in it
3) It has wrecked my complexion
4) It makes my hands dry and I have to put on hand cream all the time, and also my feet, my toes have started to go wrinkly.
5) It doesn’t clean clothes properly
6) It wrecks people’s teeth
7) It causes pre-mature ageing (wrinkles)
8) It makes my hair fall out and eyelashes
9) I have started to wake up late and I think this is because of the water
10) It takes forever to boil

But I love the taxi drivers:

Even if they do rip me off constantly. They always ask me out, and offer to take me home with them, which is flattering, perhaps I will marry a Taxi driver. They always stop for me whenever I cross the road the wrong way because they drive on the opposite side and I look the wrong way when I cross – which has happened on multiple occasions….it’s almost a political statement that Israel has to follow America on this issue and stick to the right of the road.

Fashionista corner:

Trivia: The way to spot an Aussie in Israel is that the guys are wearing Mooks T-shirts and the girls are wearing metallicus tops.

For those who were on my year away with me, I will now continue my shiurim on Israeli fashion, the only subject not covered in yeshivot:

1) I have conceded that it is ok to wear socks with Naot, only because otherwise they smell.
2) I have a conundrum though with the latest material being used to make shirts and dresses, that is appearing everywhere. It is striped, and the stripes are made of a crushed material, and the rest of the material is not, which gives off the overall impression that you are wearing clothes which have not been ironed. Note this is different to if you wear crush material where the whole material is of a crushed nature. At the moment I think it is a fashion faux pas to wear these clothes, and it requires further investigation.
3) It can not stress the importance enough of having a special tiyul (hiking) outfit. This has to be separate and different from normal clothing, so that at any moment on the hike you can jump into the waterfalls, clamber up the rocks, climb in caves and not care. Otherwise if you’re wearing anything half decent it will prevent you from doing this, and jumping into waterfalls is the whole point of hiking in 40 degree heat. Tiyulim are currently the only situation in which the material discussed in point 2 is permissible.
4) Wearing orange at the moment is questionable, due to the political statement that will be made. As people who are against the disengagement are wearing orange T-shirts, headbands, bracelets, underwear and face paint. Unless you are happy to have people stop you in the street and argue about the disengagement, then do not wear orange.

Catching Buses:

It came to my attention this week, when I semi-forced a girl I know to catch a bus, that a lot of people do not catch buses, for safety reasons. I hadn’t really majorly thought about it just because everyone who lives here, i.e. Israeli’s are all catching buses, the buses are still running, there is a security guard who checks people when they get on and it’s the most convenient inexpensive way to travel. If you are living here on everyday basis it sort of makes sense. I had a conversation with someone who belongs to the camp of people who only catch taxi’s and her reasons for not catching buses are twofold. One she does not want to die on a bus, but admits that she could be walking next to the bus when it blows up and also die, but at least she had not put herself on the bus knowing that increases her risk and second, her parents have put the restriction on her. If you ask people who drive a car about their position on this issue, they seem to evade the answer, by saying ‘I have a car so I don’t need to catch a bus’, which is true but doesn’t commit them to the ideological stance that everyone seems to be categorising people into unconsciously. The phrase ‘Do you catch buses?’ has become a litmus test for people’s views.

The latter reason is the most common for not catching buses; that people have promised their family that they would not get on a bus, I can not argue with this, if it is not your decision and the decision has been made for you, then there is nothing more to say on the issue and it is closed. If my parents asked me not to catch buses, I would respect them and not do it.

However the former reason doesn’t seem to sit well with me I guess because once you are already living in Israel you are putting yourself at risk and I think you need to reconcile yourself with that issue. As morbid as it sounds, I think that the way in which we are happy to die is a large consideration in the thought process of whether or not to catch a bus and even a deciding factor. A risk analysis of the reality of the situation should be undertaken: it requires investigation. There is a financial factor for certain – buses are cheaper, taxi’s are more expensive, and if you have no financial issues, then I think this changes your decision making process, either it doesn’t matter, or whenever you go out it becomes expensive to leave your house – and I know some people as a consequence do not go out as often. Last Shabbat at lunch the mother of the family I went to explained that she used to work for a health insurance company which was in the middle of town and students on their year away would not be able to come into town to collect their health insurance card because of restrictions of travel. Yes it makes sense not to increase your risk of dying by not putting yourself directly in a situation where a common outcome is death, but the situation also needs analysis…is out of the ordinary and avoidable or a consequence of everyday life and unavoidable? – I think the only logical conclusion is either it is your time or not.

By saying that I catch buses, I didn’t realize I was making such a large statement about my feelings about living here, but I guess, you are most often defined by your actions and I am happy to be quoted as saying that if you are going to live here then I see a level of hypocrisy in not catching buses.
Ideology aside, I love catching the bus, just to see all the different people and watch them with their sh

Monday, May 09, 2005

Israel at the moment

People are asking me what it is like in Israel at the moment. There are two ways of going about answering this question. One is to comment on the current political climate and my perception of it and the other is to give you a feeling of my personal everyday challenges living here….I will do both:

The situation here politically at the moment, everyone is talking about the ‘hitnadkut’ the withdrawal from Gaza. Walking around in Jerusalem, you can see orange signs everywhere. People wear on their wrists the same bangle that is in yellow, to support Lance Armstrong, but in orange in support of not withdrawing from gush katif. Many religious Zionists are not going to be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in opposition to the government’s position, and Natan Sharansky has resigned from the Knesset. Everyday there are more and more trips being advertised to go to Gush Katif and visit – for the last time, which means to some extent people are accepting the reality of a withdrawal. In Tel Aviv there is no orange to be seen.

Speaking to a friend who used to serve there in the army, he says that the residents there have no respect for soldiers and pull their own guns out against the tzahal – Jews fighting Jews, and everyone fears the violence that will occur. It is important to remember that the government supported settling in these regions and is now saying they will no longer protect people who live there. So I guess ‘settlers’ there have every right to be mad at the government for ‘unsettling’ them, after they have dedicated their lives to building a homeland in that area. It must be very disconcerting to see your dream fall apart.

It presents a crisis to the Israeli Government who stand for the protection of Jewish people everywhere, and how they define this ideal, when considering the safety of its inhabitants and negotiation of borders.

On the day to day, I have not seen so many people walking around the centre of town for 5 years. For Yom Hashoah last week, I spent part of my day learning questions and answers people would ask their Rabbi’s while in ghettos and camps. One of them was ‘Can we take the clothes of dead people that have blood on them to wear them?’ The reason for asking this question is that when a Jew dies he should be buried with every part of his body in tact, so it is problematic to take away clothes that have their blood on away as this would mean that they would not be buried completely. It also demonstrates the dire situation these people were in, that they needed to wear the clothes of dead people to keep warm. The motivating factor, for asking this question is they want to do what is right, according to Jewish law, in order to survive. They were trying to survive.

Here I see people catching the bus, begging on the street, working in Hi-tech and making a lot of money, protecting borders, lying on the beach, eating in yummy restaurants and studying the religion of an ancient civilization. People, surviving.

P.S. They have painted the walls of Apple Pizza and it is an offence to graffiti on them.