Thursday, August 17, 2006

I remain undecided...

...on whether I want to continue this blog or not. I will probably just archive it and start another one, if I have time for it in school.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Being at home

At home, everything is weird.

After an 11-hour flight, everything is weird.

My mom and my boyfriend and my dad are weird. I can't relate to them anymore, but hopefully I will recover.

I think in Hebrew and begin my questions in Hebrew. At restaraunts, I want to order in Hebrew and I want to ask for directions in Hebrew, and at the same time, I am mortally afraid that I will lose Hebrew.

The conflict is no longer an hour and a half away, but a world away. I watch it all the time on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and it seems weird, because it's not the same thing at all. It's a bunch of soldiers marching on screen, so completey detached from everything I know. It's not people talking about the situation anymore, it's not an innate fear that comes up every once in a while. It's clean, sanitary.

Everywhere I go, it's too quiet. Not enough action. Not enough of anything. I forget that they don't sell humus in grocery stores. I have a dream about buying humus and pita in Giant. I feel lonely among people.

It's ridiculously hard to adjust. I miss Galgalatz at work every day and it's not the same when I listen to it online.

We go to a lake. We drive an hour to get there. We are still in the same state, almost in the same area. One hour is the distance from Tel Aviv to Haifa. In another 2.5 hours, you are in Lebanon. In another 2.5 hours here, you are in Pittsburgh, still in Pennsylvania. Everything is so big, so quiet.

But across the ocean, everything is loud and hot and small. And I wish I were there. Not in Tel Aviv, because I've learned that I hate the city, but in Herzliyya, or Ra'anana or somewhere quiet, where I can sit on a porch and think.

Because my thinking has just begun.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lahzor l'baita (To return home)

I am going home in three days. (two, if you don't count today.)

My flight is at 12:05 in the morning on Friday.

And after that, I don't know when I'll be back here. But I know I will. Because from the very beginning, I realized that, for better or worse, something in my mind tied me to this country for life.

HOME.

It's crazy. I just gave my final presentation for the bank for the e-banking division, and it was kind of sad, because I realize I'll never have coworkers this awesome in America. They will never wear jeans to work and text people during meetings and offer me cake for their birthday and just be ISRAELI. Everything will be tense and stressed out, as it is here sometimes, but every day. I will never be able to leave early just because I've finished all my work, or have falafel for lunch. I will never be working in an area that's possibly going to get bombed by Nasralla (maybe it's for the better that way,) and I'll never be closer to current events (unless I decide to check out Haifa and Kiryat Shmona before I leave.)

I'll never be able to go to the beach after work, or realize that, after two months of trying to speak and understand Hebrew, I understood much more than I realize, and feel triumph. There are no Hebrew road signs in America, no Hebrew menus, no Hebrew national anthems, no Hebrew anything. I hope I won't forget the language. And everyone needs to help me practice. If you are reading this, and you speak Hebrew, and you know me, DABER ITI B'IVRIT.

At home, there are no bomb shelters, no suicide bombings, no air raid threats, no refreshing the news every five seconds, no frantic cell phone calls, no adrenaline. At home is Dan. And Mer. And Russell. And everyone else.

But, at home, there is no humus (good humus anyway), no falafel (College Pizza does not count), no Yalla ya nasralla , no Israeli soldiers, no Jerusalem, no Neve Shalom, no nana, no Galilee, no Dead Sea, no right-wing Russian immigrants...wait, there are right-wing Russian immigrants (hi mom), no bookstores that sell the Torah in Russian, no Israeli salad, no Eyal Golan and Idan Yaniv. There is no Kotel Maariv, no small coffee shops, no Israeli fruit stands, no Israel.

At home, there is no Israel, and that is the probelm. But in Israel, there is no America, even though everyone speaks English and there is McDonald's and iced coffee. There is no peace, there is always nervousness. The country is small and surrounded by people who hate it. In America, there are no morbid thoughts, "Where do I need to be if something happens?" "What are my chances of survival if something happens in Tel Aviv?" "Will I be able to call people on my phone, or will the lines be jammed?" "How many suicide bombings are being planned right now?" "Why are there so many helicopters flying over Tel Aviv?" "What does it feel like to sit in a shelter for days in a row?" And then, "I am so naive and stupid for thinking all of these things."

Sof sof (finally), I don't know what conclusions I can make about my internship and my time in Israel in general. I may post about it after I get home, I may write an essay that I will post on my website, I may just do nothing at all and if you ask me, I'll give you some conclusions. For now, I just want to get on the plane and sleep a deep sleep that ends only when I am home, in my bed.

Until then,
L'hitraot.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Thoughts

Not much time to report everything that's been going on lately. don't worry, you'll be hearing all about it. Just a few observations.

  • Today in the bathroom, I heard a woman talking on her cell phone. IN THE STALL.
  • You know you've been in Israel too long when you can sing and know every song on the radio
  • You know you've been in Israel too long when someone says "excuse me" and you are startled by why they could be saying that
  • I have the Yalla Ya Nasralla song stuck in my head:http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=87386
  • I am meeting my friend Ronen for lunch today! He goes to Penn State with me, but he's Israeli and Spanish. He's awesome.
  • We have our presentation tonight in front of the CEO, plus 30 other important bank people and I've been appointed to speak. Gulp.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Frustration

The last couple days I have been in an extremely pensive mood, mostly resulting from reading A LOT of online news articles and commentary. I feel mostly pensive because most people are starting to hate Israel, big invader, puppet of the US, etc. and because I can't really do anything to help. At least I don't know. I've given blood, but I don't think it's enough. I've contacted a lot of people I know here, including some I don't, like various blogs I've been reading in America whose bloggers are from Israel. I need another way to help. Even if it's to visit people in shelters and be like, "Hey, what's up? Hang in there , guys. Israel is proud of you."

I only have 11 days left here. It's a scary thought. I really want to do something while I'm still here, but between being stuck at work and coming home and not really knowing what to do, I feel trapped.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My thoughts

Usually, I don't get into political arguments with people. Or at least I try not to, because I end up looking stupid and I don't have enough information to back up my facts. And I'm not a successful arguer. But in this case, it is imperative to state my opinion.

Israel is fighting terrorism, and the world doesn't realize it. I am tired of seeing anti-Israel messages on talkback forums, on news websites, and hearing about it from people back home, but especially from Israelis who stand by the thousands in anti-war protests. What are you protesting? For the big bad IDF to stop operations? Who started this war? Wasn't it the terrorists who kidnapped two (plus one, all of whom we are still waiting for and thinking about) soldiers? What is the army supposed to do? Sit on its hands, like it's been doing for the last six years, waiting for more terrorist bases to build up in Southern Lebanon? Sure, we can do that. Would that be a proportionate response? What would appease everyone? A scenario in where Israel tried to bargain, plead, beg on its knees for the soldiers, and continue to let Hezbolla continue?

Sure, we could do that. But I am tried of being paranoid. In only two months of being here, I have experienced people that I know or that I know through friends being drafted into reserves, seeing waiters turn into soldiers in restaraunts,see the strain on peoples' faces, lie awake at night, paranoid at every noise that goes on under my window, and think and think about people sitting in shelters all day long.

And also of constantly calculating how small the country is-if there is a suicide alert in Kfar Saba, how long would it take the bomber to get to Tel Aviv? If there are rockets in Nahariya, how long would it take them to reach Netanya? If there are terrorists in Gaza, how long would it take them to get past Ashdod? All the time, calculations, looking at the map, seeing how small and narrow and surrounded our little country is, and how, for anyone, there is no where to go, but just to sit it out.

I am here for only two more weeks. And I have already built up a psychological tolerance to any sirens that might sound, to the pangs of panic that sometimes build up, to the fact that Hamas wants to open a third front in the middle of Israel, to everything. And it's sad.

Maybe I have been rambling for a while, but my point is this. Actuall I have two. The first is:
I saw it on a post somehwere, and it says "you can't negotiate with people who want to kill you." And it is absolutely true. And I wish the army best of luck and I applaud what they are doing.

And the second is that, if you are for Israel, speak up about it. We need some good PR right now. Post a comment on a blog. Write something to your local paper. Tell your friends. PR is of the essence. Spread the facts. Spread the truth.

Ok, that was my politicizing for now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thought on Aliyah and Mint Tea

As my days here are dwindling, well, not dwindling quite yet, but seriously decreasing, I am plagued by a number of thoughts. These include, whether Nasralla is indeed capable of launching rockets further than Haifa ( http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3281439,00.html), how else I can make an impact on Israel, and how I can transport falafel back to the United States, listed in order of increasing importance.

Yesterday, I bought some Zionist propaganda posters from the 1950s. I really like propoganda, and I have no clue why. I have a lot of it in my room in college. Now I have some Hebrew ones to add. Yesterday, also, when I was walking home from work, I think I saw a K-9 training unit, like the one whose officers we met a couple weeks ago. They were all in plain clothes though, but they had maybe 10-15 German Shepherds near the mall that were severly muzzled and they were just standing around with them near a car. Some children came up to pet them. Only in Israel, only in Israel.


Later in the night, we met up with Talia, who is living in her brother's apartment in Tel Aviv this week, so she doesn't have to commute from Kfar Saba. We were talking about the north, and I wish I could go up to the North to see what is going on. I feel like I always see things in the media, but not ever live. Obviously, you are not big fans of this. But I feel like I'm not doing anything again, just taking, taking, taking from Israel. Giving blood made me feel better, but not enough. I suspect the only thing that will make me feel like I'm contributing will be participating in a paratrooper raid of Bing Jbeil; but for now, I will have to find some way to help out. I'm thinking of doing Table to Table, http://www.tabletotable.org.il/?gclid=CPalwLPrroYCFRJ-Vgod0ECnAg , which drops off food at certain points in Tel Aviv to take to the north. Maybe I can buy some toys for children and drop it off, along with an encouraging note. I know if I were in a shelter right now I would want some warm falafel and a note from someone saying "you are awesome! Keep defending the homefront! More falafel to come later!"

So I will get back to you. But I want to do something big. As I mentioned before, I will also volunteer with the army, to provide any moral support that the soldiers might need.

Other conclusions I've come to: I don't know Israel nearly enough, and I think I am getting the wrong perspective of Israel. I live in the biggest city; that would be like finding out the US by living only in Manhattan. I really think that skews my vision. Sometimes I'll get glimpses of palms or of the beach, and I'll remember how I felt about Israel when I was here the last two times. A feeling of complete love, of peace, a feeling of belonging, such a strong and deep feeling that I can't even explain it. It's the same feeling I get whenever I see Israeli flags in America (although probably not anymore, since we've had an overkill of those since the war started). It's how I think Zionists feel about Israel, when they see past its problems. It is the pure Israel that gets blocked out for me by the everyday noise of just going to work, being treated rudely at the grocery store, not knowing enough Hebrew, feeling lost, feeling out of place. Although I've been feeling less of that lately, and there are some moments when I just think I fit in. The first month was the hardest, and the second month is easier. And the third and fourth would be too, if I were here for them.

The more I think about aliyah, the more strange it seems to me; leaving America for a totally different country. It seems really crazy. And the more I think about the real process, the more distant the idealism that I felt before fades away: getting used to the tax system, never having the ability to even remotely influence or experience the weight that is American policy, feeling trapped by the glass ceiling that is Israel's promotion system, feeling trapped by the smallness of the country and not enough opportunities to advance. etc. But then I think about the things I am giving up: the ability to say to people who have opinions about Israel "i am here. you have no right to say anything, because you are not voting. I am making a statement by living here.", the ability to contribute and volunteer all I want, I guess those are the most important things that bother me about not living in Israel. The fact that, once I leave, I will not be able to say anything for or against it, because I have no right to. Just like right now, American Jews, British Jews, etc, that have opinions about the war sound silly to me because they are not here. They cannot know how they would act. This is why I can't really ridicule yerida (the opposite of aliyah, immigration outside of Israel,) because I don't know if I would do the same. I get very nervous, and I don't think I could keep up the same level of pressure. I just can't say. I will also miss the food. Oh, how I will miss the food. I can tell you exactly what I will miss: Atala hummus, coke in glass bottles, mint in my tea and lemonade, salad at every meal, including breakfast, and falafel. Ahhh.


That's it for now.
I will write more about work later (maybe.)