Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So much for picking your nose on the street

I just read in the paper that Ra'anana has installed more than 100 surveillance cameras throughout the city to help reduce crime. While I understand that there is good reasons for taking such actions, I couldn't help but think that that is going hinder people's personal freedoms.

A few weeks ago a 13-year-old friend of mine was confronted on a Ra'anana street by a guy who felt the need to expose himself to her. Needless to say, she was upset and unnerved by the expose. I would like to think that I would handle such an incident much better because I am so much older but the truth is, nudity has its place -- but that place in not on the street with strangers. I like to think that if that happened to me, I would laugh in the flasher's face and tell him or her to get lost. Of course, it's easy to have such bravado when it isn't happening to you.

Back to the point. Have the police caught this guy? No. Have they really looked for this guy? I am willing to bet that they have not. Which leads me back to the cameras. Are the police actually going to a) use the information to hunt down criminals and deviants or b) are they simply expecting the cameras to act as a deterrent in their own right? My fear is that the answer is B.

A few years ago another sexual deviant physically attacked a 12-year-old boy in the foyer of his Ra'anana apartment building. Public outrage was high -- at least from the Anglo community. It may have been the same with the Hebrew-speaking community but since I do not follow the hebrew media that carefully, I cannot say with any confidence.

A few weeks later, as I drove by the police station, I noticed a hullaballoo happening outside so I yelled to one of the police officers (this is not unusual behaviour in Israel) to ask whether or not this was the guy who had assaulted the kid. The police officer looked at me as if I was nuts. In an attempt to save face, I then asked him if they were looking for that guy. After another equally vacant stare I realized that I was simply wasting my breath.

Now, on the other hand, if you are a potential terrorist on the run in Israel, the police will get actively involved (along with the army and the Border Police) to hunt you down -- and they will find you. Don't get me wrong ... this is a good thing. A very good thing. But it does not require municipal security cameras. From what I can tell, it does require excellent groundwork and good contacts with a constituency that I am not familiar with. And if it is a potential terrorist on the lose, there is no one I would trust more that the three groups listed above.

However, if some slimeball breaks into your house and steals your valuables, or if someone feels the need to share his or her private parts with you on a city street, you are probably out of luck. And therefore, I think the cameras should go in favour of people having the right to privately pick their noses in public!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cleaning for Passover

It's that time of the year again when participating Jews worldwide start the re-enactment of the exodus from Egypt approximately 3460 years ago. (Note: Do not even think about arguing the math with me. I know that there is more than one theory on the exact date but I don't want to discuss that right now. If you are uncomfortable with my calculation, submit your comments to Wikipedia. They will appreciate them -- I do not.)

We've thrown away lots of old and broken junk that was piling up since last year at this time. My kids have cleaned out their closets -- to their satisfaction, not to mine. We are now entering the below-the-surface, deep cleaning segment of the preparation process.

And once again, in the middle of all this over-the-top preparation, I start wondering the same thing that I wondered last year: What the heck does this have to do with the Exodus?

Let me spare you the few seconds you might have pondered the question. The answer is: nothing; zippo; nada.

While I am not a biblical scholar (Ha. Even the thought of that amuses me.)I do know the basics of the Exodus story. Here's the nutshell version: God speaks to Moses. God tells Moses that he has to free the Israelites who are enslaved in Egypt. Moses is reluctant at best. God doesn't care. Moses agrees to try. Aaron, his brother, agrees to assist him. They ask Pharaoh to free the Israelites. Pharaoh says no. Moses demonstrates the power of his backer (God) with a few plagues. Pharaoh is not impressed. Moses tries a few more plagues. Pharaoh is a little more impressed and looks like he is going to agree. However, he does not. Moses goes bigger and gets Pharaoh's attention. Pharaoh agrees under duress.

And here is where things come back to the preparation issue: Knowing that the last of the plagues are really going to upset Pharaoh, Moses tells the Israelites to get ready quickly because they are going to have to make a fast exit. This turns out to be a very accurate statement.

So, my question is, if you are leaving your hovel in a hurry and you don't have much time to prepare, how thorough a cleaning job can you do or would you do? And why would you clean at all? The whole point was that this was supposed to be a one-way journey. The Israelites were not going on vacation for a few weeks. They were leaving Egypt because life for them there was hell. What would be the point of leaving the place neat and tidy (and free of crumbs)? Were they trying to leave it nice for the next set of slaves who were going to inhabit the ghetto?

It doesn't make any sense. And therefore, neither does the overstated cleaning that many of us undertake in the weeks leading up to Passover/Pesach.

Every year I say "next year I am not going to clean like this." And every following year, I do it again ... and issue the same threat for the upcoming year. The irony is that over the course of many years, I too have become an Israelite slave to the cleaning and preparation for the holiday that celebrates Jewish emancipation.

So next year, I am going to free myself! (Well, every slave has a dream.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of this anti-Israel position?

This well-know graphic was just used as part of an Israel Apartheid Week campaign -- by the Anti-Israel supporters. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this graphic makes precisely the opposite point as far as I can tell. Could someone please tell me if I am going crazy or if it is the world that's losing its mind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hockey Night in Israel

I wish this blog had sound because there is no way to get the true effect of this posting without the immediately recognizable (to Canadians) Hockey Night In Canada music playing in the background. Okay, for those of you who know the tune, just hum it in your head while you read. For those of you who don't know the tune, I am sure you can google it. (As I was looking for the link information on the internet, I noticed that it is referred to as Canada's Second National Anthem.)

Okay, back to the point.

This past week Canada found itself -- once again -- facing off against its greatest hockey enemy: Team USA. (While Canadians can tolerate a lot of things American, hockey competence is not one of them.) Now, you may have noticed that for a minute there I was sounding like the old me. The Canadian me. The one who took hockey seriously -- at least during such historical moments as a confrontation for Olympic gold. However, as I have spent the last year and a few months telling you all, I am no longer that Canadian person. Well, not completely.

And my husband -- yes, the same one who so desperately wanted to move to Israel -- is, in this one particular instance, torn between his Canadian past and his Israeli present. Strangely enough, he isn't the only one. This past week, with a little digging, you could easily have found pockets of Canadian hockey fans sitting around televisions throughout Israel totally oblivious to the fact that hockey is no longer part of their lives. Israel is soccer country. And maybe even basketball. But trust me, the only time hockey rises to the surface in the State of Israel is when someone schleps a bunch of retired NHLers to Metullah for a goodwill, fund raising series at the Canada Center in Metullah. (Metullah, for those of you who don't know, is so far north that its next door neighbours are Lebanese nationals.)

If that isn't clear enough, let me put it this way. There are three rinks in Israel and only one of them has skateable ice. Don't challenge me here -- I have been skating since I was two or three. I know my ice.

But what I apparently didn't know was the strength of the pull of hockey and the lifelong commitment that its fans carry.

I have to admit that I was very happy to hear that Canada, despite its sloppy start, was going to play the Americans for the gold medal. It must be innate; the thought of the Americans winning hockey gold is still enough to give me nightmares. It is simply intolerable. That said, I am no more likely to stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch a hockey game then I am to mosey over to Kalkilya for a cock fight.

This apparently put me in the minority. And it raises the question of divided loyalties. I know governments raise this feeble argument now and again that all Jews have divided loyalties between their countries of citizenship and Israel. I doubt there is an ounce of truth to that theory (someone out there has totally overestimated most Jews), but I suspect the results would be different if anyone took the time to test Canadian-Israeli Jews' hockey loyalty. That would be a different story.

A little story before I wrap up. A few weeks ago Darryl Sitler and Paul Henderson were in Israel for some hockey reason. (I refuse to explain who these men are because if you don't know, you don't deserve to know.) I desperately wanted to meet Paul Henderson first, because he was the hero/saviour in a very important moment of my childhood (sort of like "where were you when Kennedy was shot"? but happier), second, he was only 25 minutes from my house, and third, because unfortunately he has leukemia and this may have been my last chance to meet him. That said, we couldn't go to Tel Aviv to meet them because we had a previous commitment that really was more important. That said, on nights like the one last week WHEN CANADA CONFIRMED ONCE AGAIN ITS HOCKEY GREATNESS AGAINST THOSE STUPID AMERICAN WANNABEES, I was truly sad that there is no Hockey Night in Israel.