There's always that.

Friend and I discussing how crappy the all-around situation is in Israel right now:

Friend: What we need is all my friends in Israel to take over the government.

Me: You couldn’t pay me. Government is shit. It’s the thing that exists so that someone else out there can rebel against it and make life better.

Friend: You’re a good American.

Israeli Pet Peeve #476: The Hebrew Contest.

This featured pet peeve isn’t limited to being just an Israeli edition; it’s an oleh chadash pet peeve as well and it’s one of my most hated ones of all time. So get ready.

I, by nature, am not a competitive person. I think when I was younger I did have a strong competitive streak and then when I saw other people being competitive, I got turned off, shut it down and never looked back. I just don’t see the reason to get worked up about winning a game. I also don’t like accomplishing things just to win a prize.

Which is why I hate The Hebrew Contest. It goes like this:

Scenario #1: A bunch of olim chadashim are hanging out. One of them invites their Israeli friend. Everyone enters a bid to be the best at speaking Hebrew; to have the best faux accent; to sound like they’ve been here the longest. And everyone sounds ridiculously stupid and sad. And the Israeli is just rolling his eyes, even if they can’t see it. The worst part is, the Israeli has Anglo parents.

Scenario #2: An oleh chadash is hanging out with a bunch of Israelis. He is speaking in his best Hebrew and keeping up with the crew. Yet, despite this, the Israelis insist on speaking in stupid, broken English.

Scenario #3: A bunch of Anglos are hanging out. There are no Israelis in sight. Not a one. The Anglos take turns inserting Hebrew words into their sentences for no apparent reason. “That’s so, like, matiim.” “He’s being so dafka.”

Whether it’s an Israeli or oleh chadash, I don’t care. The point here is not to show off. It’s to communicate. I’m not saying Israelis shouldn’t practice their English; but when we’re in Hebrew land, let’s help the oleh speak the native language. I’m not saying olim shouldn’t speak Hebrew; but please don’t attempt rolling r’s or deep ayins or trying too hard in general.

I understand that when you first get here, you do get this weird language mix up and confuse your tongues. And I also understand that after a while, you forget words in English and so you use the Hebrew one. But let’s not be… dafka, ok?

Let’s be natural. Let’s go with the flow. There is no cash prize for sounding like an idiot.

Topic diving.

About 6 months ago the time to start developing a thesis topic arrived. I’m at my fifth idea after four have been rejected by either my overseeing professor or myself. At this point, I’m even minus an overseeing professor and I have no idea where to turn for assistance.

I will say, though, that my rejection of certain topics has been due to the realization that I’m tired – exhausted – of talking about, writing about, researching about Israel and the Middle East. My first thesis dealt with the relationships between the Israelis and the Palestinians towards themselves; the impact of their respective cultures on their presents and futures. I wrote that in the States, so it was less painful (though it was painful).

When do I get to talk about something else? Research something outside my own realm? I don’t need or want the convenience of being surrounded by Israelis and Palestinians in order to write my paper. I want something else – something far, far away. Something that I can read about without feeling physically ill. Something I can read about without half-glancing away to avoid the helpless feeling.

I think that I will continue to pursue the topic of collective memory and culture, identity and conflict, but I will look to use a different case study. All eyes on Northern Ireland. Sometimes you have to stand outside the conflict in order to see clearly, right? Hopefully this will develop into a worthwhile study, especially considering recent (positive) news in that region.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t get rejected. I think my professors have a penchant for disproportionately focusing on Israel and the Middle East, like everybody else on the planet.

Today's Word: מתיחות

Today’s word is brought to you by my new hip hop class. As mentioned, I started taking dance classes. I learned last Monday that I don’t mix well with organized dance. On Friday I decided to go with something a little bit looser, so I joined a street hip hop class. It was a lot of fun, and I plan to continue it, but I learned a second lesson on Friday.

Since my class I have been in a ridiculous amount of pain, which leads me to believe that I really ought to take pre-class stretching more seriously. In fact, doing sets of מתיחות, stretches, is something I should do everyday since I tend to be a lazy lump who sits in an office chair all day and then once in a while decides to ‘go running.’

So, next time I will be sure למתוח before class. And then I won’t look like an old lady for a week afterward when walking up and down stairs.

Weather report.

Last night, in Jerusalem, we experienced a hot rain. It doesn’t usually rain here in May, and certainly not in a tropical hot rain kind of way.

Today, the sky is yellow. See for yourself:

I hope tomorrow it’ll rain cats and dogs so that we can be rid of that stupid phrase.

Students, leave those teachers alone.

It’s kinda funny that I’m supposed to be studying Conflict Management & Negotiation right now and instead the government, university heads and students are all at battle with each other.

Hmm… What would I say if I could speak my mind?

Anyway. Here’s a photo I took of a hauntingly empty classroom where education is supposed to be happening:

Israeli dancing.

Tonight I learned – nay – was reminded that there’s a reason why my parents didn’t sign me up for a second year of ballet and I dropped out of Israeli dancing class in sixth grade.

I can’t dance.

Well, that’s not true. I can bump and grind and rock out in front of any mirror any day. I can create a buzz on the club dance floor (or in the corner, or on the bar) if I’ve had the right cocktail of coffee and sugar. But I can’t dance in organized forums. Like dance classes. For beginners. It just doesn’t work.

And the funny thing is, this is a chug I could really participate in without needing to be, or pretending to be, 100% Israeli. Though I understand all the Hebrew anyway, dancing is visual, not verbal.

I’ll probably go again. But next time I’ll try to keep the laughing under my breath.

City feature: Haifa

Now that summer is upon us, there’s a new series of jokes going around the cynical Israeli circuit, which revolve around the same punchline:

“So, what are you doing this summer?”
“That depends – when does the war start and end?”

“Hey, feeling like a weekend in a tzimmer?”
“Maybe; but let’s wait for the wartime deals.”

All jokes aside – though it’s hard – I would like to get out to Haifa one of these days. The last time I was there was in 2004 and it was only for one day. It’s a fascinating city in its own rite, totally different than Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. In fact, I remember feeling like I was in a different country altogether. It’s a city of religions, but unlike Jerusalem, it’s calm and peaceful. It’s a city of modernity, but unlike Tel Aviv, it’s laid-back and green.

Here are some photos from that day nearly three years ago – and hopefully I’ll have updated ones fairly soon; before ‘the war’, of course.

haifa port

haifa beach

haifa rocks

haifa bahai

haifa bahai gardens

haifa bahai garden path

Haifa Beit Gefen

haifa view

haifa coexistence walks