Friday, June 29, 2007
THERE IS NO JUSTICE
I had the great luck to have to leave my house very early this morning so that I only had time to take in my newspapers but not the time to read them. Because when I arrived home this afternoon and finally had time to look at the papers the rest of my day was ruined.
Our former President - Moshe Katsav - read his name and weep - was allowed to plea bargain. He admitted to "indecent assault" - and "resigned" .
And our "esteemed" Attorney General - Meni Mazuz - facilitated this travesty of justice.
What has happened to us as a nation? Where is our sense of values? Where is our sense of justice? I won't go into all the whys and wherefores of the case against Mr. Katsav - you have all read them ad nauseum.
Why was Ofer Glazer ( the husband of Shari Arison) sent to prison for much the same charges? Why was Haim Ramon indicted for sexual harrassment - not rape? What about Yitzhak Mordechai?
And why was Moshe Katzav - who will plead guilty for "forcible assault" - a crime which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison - allowed to have the prosecution seek only a suspended sentence plus payment of compensation????
We should be ashamed of ourselves. No - on second thought - I am not ashamed of myself - I am ashamed of my government.
Following is a quote from the front page of today's HAARETZ: "The most astounding part of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's press conference yesterday was his statement that the prosecution had enough evidence to justify indicting President Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape - a serious crime bearing a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison. If so, the plea bargain that Mazuz signed appears extremely unreasonable."
Unreasonable? It is downright idiotic. There is great outrage in the country and calls for Mazuz to resign. I concur. It was said that going ahead with Mr. Katsav's trial would lead to great division in the country and the lowering of respect for us in the eyes of the world. Hogwash. ##@&*^^@!!!
When I go abroad I am always careful to defend Israel's actions. How can I possibly defend this utter and total miscarriage of justice?
To the women who stood up to Mr. Katsav and had the courage to accuse him of unspeakable acts - I apologize to you on behalf of an Attorney General who is completely lacking in courage and common decency.
But wait - we are in for more fun and games. We will soon be served by a President - Shimon Peres - who, by his own admission, knew about Mr. Katsav's sexual proclivities and chose to remain silent.
There is something wrong with this picture.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
THE WAY WE WERE
My husband was great friends with Elias Freij - the then-mayor of Bethlehem - and his son, George Freij. We used to drive to Betlehem where my husband would pass the afternoon sitting and drinking endless cups of sweet, thick coffee with Elias and George and I would take my little plastic shopping basket and wander down to Milk Street where the grocery sold all sorts of things that weren't then imported into Israel - Philadelphia Cream Cheese and tinned tuna. Not any more.
I used to go to East Jerusalem to have my car repaired at Mr. Rizek's place. He was arguably the only absolutely straight and honest car mechanic I ever met. While my car was sitting at Mr. Rizek's I would walk around the corner to the City Grocery to shop and then cross the street to the family-owned florist to buy my flowers. Not any more.
This evening was a bitter-sweet reminder of what was and what could be again - if only.....
My friends, Yoav and Ernesto, invited me to a concert at the American Colony Hotel this evening. The concert was one of a series sponsored by the Austrian Music Encounter called "Sounding Jerusalem" - all taking place in various Arab sections of Israel - East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jericho, Beit Hanina, Bethlehem....and there we were - Jew and Arab alike enjoying the classical music concert. The way it used to be.
During intermission Ernesto struck up a conversation with a young Arab man, Mohammad, who is an artist and the Cultural Page Editor of Al-Quds - a daily Arab newspaper. A charming and cultured young man whose family is from Jaffa. As we were going out to dinner afterward we invited him to come along - and Dalia, a friend of Yoav's and Ernesto's, who is here from Miami to attend a conference joined us, too.
So there we sat around a table in the garden of the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem - one Israeli Arab, two American/Israelis, one German/Israeli and one Cuban/non-Jew - our very own United Nations.
And as I can't write anything without mentioning food - let me tell you the food and service were wonderful. We all shared fresh and delicious "meze" (those little plates of salad ubiquitous on Arab tables - but these were particularly outstanding), brains in a lemon sauce, stuffed spleen, kebabs, good wine, cold fresh watermelon and Turkish coffee. In the interest of being totally honest - only Ernesto and I ate the brains and spleen (that's stuffed miltz to those of you from Ashkenazi homes) - the rest turned up their collective noses. They don't know what they missed.
That's the way it used to be - that's the way I want it to be again - Jews - Arabs - non-Jews - sitting together as friends with no thought of ethnic background or origin. With no discussion of politics - not becuse we made any kind of decision not to discuss politics - there was just so much else to talk about. Will we ever be the way we were?
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Shimon Peres was elected President of Israel. Can you imagine? At the age of 83 the man finally won an election. And already he's vowing to change the presidency to a more political position. Doesn't the man realize that all we want is some peace and quiet on that front? Just some nice ceremonies - accept foreign Ambassadors' credentials - have an open-house once a year - and dye-maspeek (enough already). Anyway - we won't have to worry about him running for a second term!!
Ehud Barak is now our new Minister of Defense - exactly what we need! At least he's better than that incompetent, Amir Peretz, who views the world through binoculars with the lens-cap still on. I still think we should have appointed Shaul Mofaz - but nobody asked me. Barak has his own agenda - he wants to be Prime Minister - again. This is his stepping-stone to that office. Will he be good for us? Only time will tell. But I probably won't vote for him.
Gaza is falling apart - Hamas and Fatah are killing each other - and everyone else who gets in their way.
And where are our leaders? Olmert and Livni are travelling the world - why should they stay here when they can be safely out of the fray?
But with all this mess in the country - there was still a ray of sunshine in my life last week - I saw MAMMA MIA! - for the second time mind you. The first time was in London when it opened a few years ago. Once again - it was wonderful - I enjoyed it just as much this time around.
As the show was all in English - for an Israeli audience who speaks Hebrew - there were large screens on each side of the stage which had - well, you can't call them super-titles or sub-titles - so I guess you have to call them side-titles - translations of all the dialogue and songs. Perhaps the dialogue part was necessary - but as for the words to the songs - the Israelis knew all the words to all the songs. How do I know? The audience burst into song with each new number. It was a lovely experience.
And at the end of the show - as one we all rose to our feet and began to dance along with the cast. It was such a fun evening - I don't think ABBA had any idea that their songs would have such a lasting impact on so many millions of people around the world. I checked on the internet and there are performances going on now in such far-flung places as Hong Kong, Spain, London, New York, Japan, Sweden and about twenty other countries.
If you get a chance to see the show - do! Be a Dancing Queen and Take A Chance On Me!
Thursday, June 07, 2007
This past week I came across two of the most chutzpahdik actions I have ever encountered. One concerned me - the other didn't.
Last Saturday Bubbie - Marallyn's mother - was at home spending a nice restful day when all of a sudden all the electricity in her flat went off. The television stopped working - no lights - no refrigerator - no nothing. She checked - there was electricity in the hallway - so it wasn't a building problem. Her electricity simply stopped.
So what did she do? She called Marallyn, of course. And Marallyn - caring daughter that she is - and Reuevn (Marallyn's husband - an electrical contractor) jumped into the car and drove to Bubbie's house to solve the problem.
And what was the problem? Someone's main fuse obviously blew. What do you do on a Saturday when all the shops are closed? Steal a fuse from someone else's fuse box and put it in your own fuse box. And that is why she suddenly had no electricity. Chutzpah!!
Saturday seemed to be the day for chutzpah. On Saturday night my friends who were visiting from London (Pearl & Stewart and Joe) and I went out to dinner. We went to a restaurant downtown - where there is a serious dearth of parking spaces. Stewart was driving - a rental car - with the name of the car company plastered on the side door. Very obviously a rented car. Great luck - I spotted several spaces up the street from the restaurant. Why several spaces? Because they are "nechay" spots - handicapped parking. BUT - if you read the signs carefully it clearly states that it is "nechay" parking only during certain hours and certain days. Saturday nights are free - so to speak. We parked - and just to be sure - I walked back to the sign to read it again. Yup - free.
We had a lovely dinner - got back in the car and drove home. The next morning Pearl rang me and said - "You gave Stewart bad advice - he got a ticket for 500 shekels." Was I upset? I was extremely upset!! I told her what the sign said and advised her not to pay the ticket but to write to the police (there is an address on the ticket) and explain that we were in a legal spot.
In Israel you can pay your tickets at the Post Office. So off they went to the Post Office. And guess what? The ticket wasn't theirs. The driver of a car parked illegally across the street on the sidewalk got a ticket - folded it up into a little tiny square - and put it under Stewart's windscreen wipers - so that we never noticed it.
Stewart doesn't read Hebrew. Well - he "davens" (prays) - but those words don't help you in real life - so he never noticed that not only did the ticket not have his registration number - it also was issued for parking on the sidewalk - which we didn't. I suppose that the other driver saw a rental car and came up with the brilliant idea of putting his ticket on Stewart's car. Real chutzpah!
Aren't we Israeli's clever?