Friday, October 20, 2006

See Ya Later

Today is my last day at StandWithUs. Iv'e learned a lot in the two and a half years I've been working here. A lot about the world and working and also a lot about Israel. It sounds cliche but I've also learned a great deal about myself, about my strengths and weakness and how I act in a day-to-day work environment. In many ways this was my first real job in the sense of showing up and going to an office on a completely regular schedule. I'm sure that I'm not completely done with SWU considering I'll be doing some work for them in Israel and also working the student conference in a few weeks, but I don't know if I'll ever be back to a regular everyday schedule here.

Today we had a lunch as sort of a going away gathering for me. It made things real in a whole new way. Sitting there at lunch it really hit me that in about a month I'll be moving to a country where I don't speak the language, don't have a full time job lined up, and where I don't have an actual residence waiting for me. I should be terrified and in many ways I am. However, I know that I need to do this. I need to go and figure out for myself what this Jewish state business is really all about. Maybe its a brialliant idea or maybe its crazy. But its my idea and I'm running with it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Think He Had a Good Time in Israel

If you search YouTube for "Tel Aviv" or "Israel" you're bound at one point to come across some videos of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. One player in particular stands out in those clips and is even the main subject of several of them. Anthony Parker played for Tel Aviv for five seasons and helped them to two championships while helping himself to two MVP awards. He recently signed with the Toronto Raptors but he's still gushing about his former residence.

Now he has an appreciation for a part of the world many find confusing, complex and incomprehensible.

"A lot of my close friends and family have been over to visit and they had one mindset going in but certainly they were completely the opposite leaving," he said.

"It's a shame that that part of the world is portrayed in the news the way it is. You see it as a war zone instead of the beautiful part of the world it is.

He'll even be wearing number 18 as a homage to his fans in Israel.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

UC Irvine is a Crazy Place

I stopped over at Concerned UCI Student today for the second time. I took a good look around today and found it really interesting so I'm adding the site to my blogroll. I've been spending a good deal of time at UCI over the last 20 months working for StandWithUs so I can understand why 'Concerened UCI Student' is ... well ... concerned. In fact I was down there earlier this month filming everybody's favorite Israel hater Amir Abdel Malik Ali. If you want to see the video I'm posting it below. By the way listen till the end to hear a brilliant question from someone in the audience ;).

Concerned also linked to some of the cartoons from the "Iran Holocaust Cartoon Contest". I think these cartoons are the perfect pick-me-up for when your feeling down on a rainy day, so go check them out.

Amir Abdel Malik Ali at UC Irvine:

Monday, October 16, 2006

When Should I Start to Panic

I woke up this morning, flipped on my computer and saw this story: Disaster declared as quake hits Hawaii. Suffice it say, Tafat and I are concerned. Were concerned for the well being of everyone in Hawaii of course, but were also concerned because in about a week were getting on a plane to Hawaii for our Honeymoon. Hopefully, this quake will amount to just a small inconvenience for everyone. Having lived through the '94 "Northridge Earthquake" I know how scary things can get so I hope all is well for everybody over there. I also hope that all is still well for our Honeymoon plans.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Wow, my husband is really into this blog thing and he keeps "asking" me to write something and contribute. I've tried repeatedly to tell him that if I have something that I think you readers would be interested in reading, I'll write! Right now because we're going on our honeymoon in a week and a half and moving to Israel in 5 weeks, I am not working. So, what do I really have to contribute? Life is slow, uneventful (though I'm still enjoying married life and how that feels), and since I don't get out of the house much I don't have too many stories to tell. Life is on hold in a way for me right now. It is funny how much happens to me that I analyze, evaluate, laugh over, learn from, etc. when I work. I had stories upon stories every day. Anyway, until I feel like people are actually interested in reading about my life, I'm not sure I'll be writing much until I move, start working again, and live life.

The Axe is Staying in Madison

Tomorrow the Badgers play the Gophers in Madison for Homecoming. The winner takes home the Paul Bunyan Axe, which has served as the trophy for this rivalry since 1948. I'll be up at 9:00 AM to watch the game and I hopefully won't wake up my wife with all my yelling and screaming. Tonight I'll drink to a victory and in the morning I'll hopefully watch the Badgers get their sixth win of the season. ON WISCONSIN!!

After writing this post I saw this story on ESPN: "Hazing, booze, sex led to Wisconsin band probation." Intrigued, I read on.

UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley said a band member was pressured into shaving his head in a hazing incident and other members danced seminude during the band's trip to the Sept. 23 University of Michigan football game.

"It has become increasingly clear that certain types of sexualized and hazing behavior are an ingrained part of the band's culture," Wiley said Thursday. "We will not provide an ongoing venue for this inappropriate and demeaning behavior."

So let me get this straight, Chancellor Wiley is shocked by booze and sex at UW? This of course begs the question, has Chancellor Wiley ever actually set foot in Madison?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Inside Iraq

Sandmonkey linked to one of the most chilling blog posts I've ever seen. Check out these threat letters that are popping up all over Iraq. When the Bush Administration was selling the war I bought in to the idea of bringing democracy to Iraq. I still believe that is a realistic goal and should be the objective in Iraq. However, I never considered the possibility of civil war - which is what's going on right now on some level. These letters demonstrate the extent of the hatred in that country.

Fascinating Brittish News Doc

Honest Reporting has put up a British News Documentary by David Aaronovitch. This piece is a breath of fresh air in many ways. Aaronovitch, claims to show liberal and progressive thinkers who a) don't blame Israel for all the worlds problems and b) take the threats of extremism and terror seriously. It's refreshing that there are liberal thinkers out there who are taking an honest look at the problems facing the world today. I was raised in a fairly liberal environment, and though I consider myself permanently planted in the center, it's important to me to have some common ground with individuals on the left of the political spectrum.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Will The Real Video iPod Please Stand Up

engadget is reporting that Apple is preparing to release the often discussed and most anticipated true Video iPod. Not only that but it will also have wireless connectivity. As always my take on Apple rumors is 'who the hell knows.' But like engadget I'm betting that Apple still has something up their sleeve and we'll hear from Jobs and Co before the year is out.

Hat Tip Mac Rumors

My Car Just Keeps On Chuggin

Well its been about two-weeks since I first noticed smoke rising from the hood of my car. Somehow my car just keeps on going despite its problems. When i had Steve our mechanic look at the car he said I would have to add fluids every two weeks or so, because there was some sort of leak in the car. The very next day the oil gauge in my car dropped down to zero and when I checked the oil level of my car it was basically at zero. Of course my car is so old and messed up that it's not even worth it to fix the problem anymore. So my plan was basically to keep adding oil until the car crapped out. Somehow this has worked so far and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will last just a few more weeks until we move. If anyone wants a 96 Jeep Cherokee with 120,000 miles, no radio, suspension problems, transmission problems, a temperamental radiator and some kind of mystery oil leak leave a comment and we can talk. (But the leather seats are still lovely)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Whither the Golan?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the Israeli news sites about the future of the Golan Heights. Ever since the conclusion of the Hezbollah war, this piece of territory seems to keep popping up in the agenda in way that it hasn't for some time. A few weeks after the war the possibility of returning the territory to Syria was raised by a minister from the ruling Kadima party. After that it seemed like everyone was throwing in their two cents on the subject. So being one to always follow a crowd its my turn to weigh in.

I remember when I visited Israel on Birthright in 2004 they shlepped us up north to visit the Galilee and the Golan. At Kibbutz Misgav Am the fowl mouthed security coordinator explained that the Golan would be the next item on the agenda. This always seemed non-sensical to me because I assumed it wouldn't come up on the agenda until the Palestinian issue was resolved, which of course could take until the next millennia.

However, lo and behold Ha'aretz publishes an article calling for Israel to withdraw to the International border. This article amazed not because of the position it argued, which in itself is not at all radical or original. But rather that the author believed that the Israeli public would accept a withdrawal from the Golan in the near future.

From my experience with Israeli society there is one issue that seems to unify Israelis of all political spectrums, and that is there determination never to give up the Golan. The attachment to the land is to strong and the distrust of the Syrians is to great for most Israelis to even begin to think about leaving. Furthermore, there is so little incentive for Israel to withdraw that its amazing this could even scratch the surface of the political radar. There's a good reason there is an Israeli saying "Another Lefty With the Golan." Or as my honorary Israeli mother would say "Over My Dead Body"

What I really think Israel needs to do, is to give Syria alternatives to regaining the Golan. Whether the alternative is economic or political I believe it exists. Jews and Israeli's only need to be creative enough to discover it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CAMERA: Lebanon Casualty Figures Flawed

CAMERA, which is a great media watchdog organization, has a fascinating analyses of how the media reported the casualties from the recent Israel - Hezbollah war. Throughout the conflict the claims of casualties on both sides were radically different. Hezbollah has reported it lost approximately 80 fighters, while Israel is simultaneously claiming it killed 600 fighters.

This issue is too important to be given a cursory examination, which is what most of the media has done. CAMERA's breakdown points out some of the most blatant inconsistencies in the media's coverage of the issue, and sheds some light on what the real picture may look like.

Right now there are way too many people who think that Israel simply bombed Lebanon into the stone-age and yet couldn't manage to weaken Hezbollah in any way. This false perception is dangerous not because of the damage it does to Israel's reputation, but rather because it allows a false picture of a critically important world conflict to masquerade as the truth.

Excerpts from CAMERA's report:

Regardless, the accumulated evidence from various sources exposes as a deception Hezbollah’s claims to have lost 68 or 74 fighters .

Israel’s claim to have killed 500-600 Hezbollah fighters, meanwhile, is buttressed by the government’s partial list of names of Hezbollah fighters who died through Aug. 6, and is corroborated in some media reports.

These different assessments suggest that Hezbollah losses may have been comparable in number to the civilian losses in Lebanon. Allegations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International–organizations often criticized for their disproportionate and deceptive focus on Israel–that Israel used indiscriminate force and even targeted civilians should be viewed warily in light of this evidence. And when casualty figures and breakdowns cited by news organizations are based on figures supplied by Hezbollah, Lebanese officials, or Israeli officials, those claims should be meticulously investigated for inconsistencies, and should not be reported as accepted fact.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Prime Rib and Yom Kippur

After watching one of my "Good Eats" DVD's I couldn't let go of the idea of cooking a Prime Rib. Well not actually a Prime Rib but a Standing Rib Roast which is essentially the same thing only with out the Prime label. I had the idea stuck in my head and couldn't let it go. At first I thought about preparing it for Shabbat dinner but I couldn't get out of work with enough time to prepare it.

So in the end we decided that the Rib Roast would make for an excellent Erev Yom Kippur meal. It appealed to the idea of starting the fast with one last hurrah - a fabulous piece of meat. I woke up early on Sunday to get over to Ventura Kosher Meat ( which I think is the best Kosher Butcher in LA by far) to ensure I got what I wanted. I picked up a nice roast and headed home confident that all was well. I knew I was missing one critical tool but I figured it would be easy to pick. Alton Brown had used an electronic probe thermometer to cook his roast on the DVD, and I figured it would be easy to find one at any major store. Being the net geek that I am I looked online first to see where I could pick one up, but couldn't find a store that carried one. This was a mistake, cause if I had simply called the store I was planning to go to in the first place they could have told me they had exactly what I was looking for.

The unfortunate result was several minutes of me yelling at my mothers oven because the probe thermometer it came with didn't work the way I wanted it to. The poor dog was literally shaking in fear because of my temper tantrum. Eventually the probe spontaneously started working and I was able to cook the roast essentially the way I wanted to. I had to cook at a higher temperature because I was up against a deadline, but I was still happy with the results. This time was a good learning experience and I 'm confident that next time will run smoothly with the exact results I want. Of course, a Standing Rib Roast isn't exactly cheap so I'd better think of a good reason to cook it again.

The odd thing was I ended up thinking about the roast during various parts of Yom Kippur services, but not out of hunger. I was sitting in Shul thinking about the ways I could perfect the cooking process of the roast. I really need to learn how to channel all this food thinking in a more effective way.