Thursday, May 29, 2008

G-d Bless America

A little pet peeve...ok this is going to turn into a rant. As my lecturer insinuated today, I have an accent, however what he was wrong about was the source of my accent. I hate it when people think that I am American, and not because I hate America, rather because I don't like it that people are unable to expand their minds to consider that perhaps there are other English speaking countries that people might potentially come from.

Yeah I know it is the most powerful country in the world, however this doesn't mean that it should be the default standard for the world. I don't like it, how it appears here in Israel, to be the number one comparison for the Western world. "Well in America....", a statement mostly made by non-Americans. There is an invisible pedestal somewhere here that has infiltrated Israeli society and placed America 'up there'. America is the benchmark, it is the Mr Jones, it is the place that Israeli's stereotype as being Rich, wealthy, bountiful and full of opportunities - in short - The Promised Land.

Maybe it's because there is a lot of American support, maybe it's because NY is only 10 hours away and there are a lot of Americn Tourists, maybe it's because a lot of investments, charity and aid comes from America, maybe it's purely because the American presence here, maybe it's because of TV - the drug of a nation -

Sitting in classes, I am learning about the state of health here and around the world. Again, America is the comparison. From what I can make out about their Medicare/ Medicare Aid or what ever and England's NHS, I really dont understand why the Australian health care system is never mentioned, because despite it's own faults, at least everyone is entitled to basic cover, it sounds so much better....but...."In America....". Then the lecturer breaks out into Canadian jokes, because I guess if you are not from America, like him, you must be from Canada and that is truly 2nd class. I seriously wonder if he could even pin point Australia on a map.

I said to a class mate of mine, I think that if everyone knew how things were done in Australia there would be this mass migration there, to which her response was 'yeah, but it's at the end of the world.". I guess so. The world's best kept secret.... the thing is though, she sort of keeps it that way. Tucked in there Down Under, not really making a noise, maybe that sunburnt country is best left alone, untouched and America can have all the glory and criticism.

I just find it interesting, the sweeping statements often made by people who are trying to compare Israel with the rest of the world, but what comes out is 'America'.
I might just have to go and visit to see what all this fuss is about...that's right...nearly 28 years without ever visiting "The City", to most people here that statement sounds like I come from some back end of Asia...oh yeah...I do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There's a hole in my road, dear liza, dear liza...

As I am bumping down the roads around Jerusalem I catch myself pontificating, do I have flat tyres or are the roads just full of potholes??? I actually get out of my car and do a once over...nah the roads here are just shit...yet another symptom of how much attention gets given to something that is not war over here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Going Green

I have been made aware recently about all the "Green" developments around Israel. I often used to complain about the lack of re-cycling here and how I miss having 5 bins for organic/ plastic + glass/ aluminium/ paper and general garbage. It's good to know though that Israel is concerned with all this stuff and is in some ways 'pioneering', which is one of my favourite words to associate with Israel.

So I wanted to bring your attention to this great blog: which will keep you in touch with green stuff happening in Israel...I think it's really cool...and I have met one of the contributers...does that make me cool? Probably not, but it's worth a try...happy reading!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Books and Movies

Last week I attended the first International writers festival in Jerusalem. I went to a session with Etgar Keret, Jonothan Safran Foer and Nathan Enlgander. Jonathan safran FOer had lots of interesting things to say about the process of writing, for example, he writes becasue he loves art - in general, and writing is the form of art that he can express himslef, if he could paint he would paint, but he can't. He continued, everyone probably ahs a bout 10 novels of material in them, it's just a question of what you do with that amterial, does it wach through you or do you write it down?

They had an interesting discussion about the difference between an "Israeli" and "Jewish" writer. Etgar Keret suggested it had something to do with identity, that 'diaspora' Jewry has issues with identifying and establishing an identity as a Jew in a secular environment, and hence they have to do things to create an identity, or hide it...the whole "Kavalier and Clay"/ superhero notion of being two things at once. WHereas in Israel you are Jewish all the time. No hiding. No need to identify yourself as different - here we are all the same - the super-jew with their army.

I thought about this in terms of religion. Religion is definitely a way of maintaining identity in the "diaspora" and once you are in Israel and everyone (ok the majority) is Jewish, does the push to keep religion lessen or deepen because of that? You are no longer special becasue you keep all these different customs because everyone is doing it...establishing your identity takes on a different meaning...

LAst night I went to an evening of early film in "Palestine" early 1900's. It was fun to see all the clips of Israel under the Ottoman/ British rule...everyone was dancing, and ploughing the land, this was the signature meaning to being Israeli - working the land, planting orchards and building houses and schools. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing all these "pioneers", even if the film was choreographed.

Living in Israel now, am I ploughing proverbial fields? Am I living the "Jewish" dream?
Am I "Israeli" yet? Things that cross my mind from time to time...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Turkish Delight and other stuff

In Turkey, everyone wants to know where you are from. So I had taken on a habit of asking everyone that you encounter...where are you from??

Back in Israel, in line at the Israeli passport check. An Arab-Israeli goes to me "Where are you from?" I reply back cheekily..." I am from Israel..where are you from?" which he replies" No you do not look Israeli!... I am from you know Azza? It no longer is now Tel-Aviv Ilit". In other part of greater Tel-Aviv...I found this viewpoint...literally straight from the source striking.
Back home...walking past my neighbour...Shlomo Ben Shlomo...I pointed out to him that my flag is bigger than which he responded...Yes, but he has 3!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Asserting Independance

I have a few 'Israel' moments to relate...

I was in Tel Aviv recently and I noticed the municipality were starting to put up Israeli flags for the upcoming memorial and celebration days. I decided that I wanted one, I asked if I could have one with a sweet smile and I was rewarded for my efforts. Yesterday I proudly hung my flag on my 'mirpeset' (balcony), and it is now swaying in the wind....

I have now finished semester one exams and I am on holiday!!!! In order to get my degree, I also have to get an exemption from hebrew, which means passing through a series of levels of classes and exams. I had received a failure for this semester and I was really upset about yesterday, after my last exam, I trotted off to the office to contest my results...I was told this was the Israeli thing to do.

I entered with a prepared speech, I sat down opposite the co-ordinator. She asked me my name, checked me up on the computer and replies "You passed." I was in shock...she presses a few buttons and presto..I am in the final level! Feeling a bit taken a back, because I was all fired up to give a speech after I spent the past two weeks moping about that I did not pass the exam...I said to her everything that I had prepared to say anyway, her response"It's good that you came in to check".

It's good that i came in to check because even though I had followed the system, received my grade which was a fail (the pass mark was 75), the information was still not all there....and until you yourself (independantly) confirm it is for doesn't mean anything...yet again, i felt as though I had no idea what was going on...but this time I guess for the good!

As Israel is aboutto celebrate her 60th birthday, and I also am nearing mine...It's nice to recognise what we have acheived...the importance of achieving things by yourself...but also recognising the people that help contribute along the way to amke it all happen....