Summertime Blues turn into School Daze

August 31, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, education, General, Israeliness, Life, News 

The country as a whole made it through the summer of 2011 – one that will be remembered for a number of events:

- the tent city social uprising of protesters demanding fundamental changes to the way our society works.

- the arrest and indictment of Margalit Tsanani, the popular singer and TV star, for recruiting mobsters to threaten her manager, and for shady dealings on the Kochav Nolad (Star is Born) reality show.

Margalit Tsanani

- the infiltration and terror attack in and around Eilat leaving many victims, and raising tension on the Southern border.

And, of course, as we enter September, we have so many things to look forward to: threats of more potential attacks from Sinai, the whole Palestinian statehood question due to be presented at the UN, the future of relations with Turkey after the release of the Palmer Report on the Mavi Marmara incident, the results of the revolutions taking place in Syria and Libya, and the one issue that overshadows all the rest – the burgeoning Iranian nuclear threat.

But most Israelis will still be smiling when they wake up on September 1st. Because it means that school is back in session, and our kids are finally leaving the house after a two-month break in which many of us barely kept our sanity trying to keep them busy. Life is good.

DJ saved my life

While East Coast Americans were hunkering down as Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc along the eastern sea board, in Tel Aviv, high school students were gathering at the famed Haoman 17 nightclub for a back to school dance party.

Internationally known Israeli DJ Yinon Yahel was spinning the discs inside, and 1,000 teens crammed the club for one of their last free nights ahead of the school year which begins on Thursday.

Unbeknownst to them, however, right outside a drama was unfolding, as a terrorist, rammed a stolen taxi into the police barrier right outside the club. He then emerged from the taxi and went on a stabbing spree, injuring seven people, five Border Police officers, a security guard and one civilian.

The suspect was tackled, taken into custody, and brought to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon in light condition. Inside the club, Yahel was informed about a terror attack outside the club shortly after it happened, but was asked by management to keep playing.

“The management came and told me that there was an attack outside the club, but told me to keep playing and not to say anything, so that people wouldn’t panic. Everyone was inside by then so they didn’t seem to know what was going on,” Yahel told The Jerusalem Post.

An hour later, around 3 a.m. when the attacker had been subdued and the scene restored to order, the club was finally ordered evacuated and the teens sent home.

For the 33-year-old Yahel, who performs at some of the top clubs around the world, and is an in-demand remix specialist for dance artists ranging from Kristine W and Deborah Cox to Christina Aguilera and P Diddy, it wasn’t a typical evening.

When I talked to him last year for a story, he said that his music usually brings people together, regardless of their origin.

“I get Palestinians and Lebanese attending my shows and coming up to me to talk. In a club, we’re all just people,” he said.

Sunday night in Tel Aviv, his music almost became the backdrop for a horror movie, one that was thankfully averted. While the club goers interviewed by the Post made light of the situation after the fact when they found out about, it’s likely bound to be a back to school event they’ll never forget.

Foto Friday – Tibor Jager’s wild babies

It is a well-known fact that the Internet is made of cats and this little critter is Israel’s newest contribution to the never-ending online feline cute-fest. Renana is a Sand Cat, born last month at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan (also known as the Safari) and she is a miracle baby because Sand Cats have become in extinct in this region.

According to the Zooborns website, “This is Safari Zoo’s first successful Sand Cat birth and it is hoped this kitten will join Israel’s Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild.”

Sand-kitty Renana and her mother Rotem were photographed by Tibor Jager, as part of an ongoing photographic series about baby wild animals and their mothers.

A graduate of the New York Institute of Photography and winner of national and international photography contests, whose photos have been published in Israel and abroad, Jager’s images capture moments of communication that transcend language and species.

The expression of sheer bliss on an infant chimp’s face…

The she-wolf patiently nursing her hungry cubs…

A young Oryx seeking reassurance…

As a lover of both animals and photography, Jager says that above all, he loves to combine his two passions. “In my photographs, I try to capture unique moments that reveal the soul of the subject, wishing to convey to the viewer the love, respect, and responsibility for the surrounding environment, hoping that this will contribute to a better world.”

Jager’s photos also illustrate a charming children’s book, More Than All The Rest, My Mother Loves Me The Best by author Sagit Horowitz.

More fascinating and moving pictures of baby animals and their mothers, as well as other works, may be found on Jager’s website.

Summer in the city

It's even empty on Jaffa Road...

There’s a lot going on around us right now. There’s a sense of despair about what is happening down south (a friend posted that now when one orders a coffee at a Beersheva cafe, the check is brought with the coffee in case you have to duck and run from a rocket), how Egypt is reacting, what will our reaction be and what does it all mean? It’s creeping up here as well, with a terrorist scare last night in Jerusalem, as Brian posted, and concern about everyone down south.

And on another front, it’s the end of August, which means juggling childcare and work, dealing with the August heat, and heading on vacation for others. But the best part about the end of the Israeli summer, is that thousands of Israelis are away. They’re traveling abroad — more than 35% of Israelis travel abroad during the two-month summer, according to the Tourism Ministry — thousands are up north, and many are still down south, where hotels are still full, thanks to the Red Sea Jazz Festival and the Israeli tendency for life to go on.

That means that around here, the place is empty. There’s no traffic, not on streets, roads or major highways (at least in the center). The bank? Empty this morning, even at 9:30 am when you usually have to wait half an hour to speak to someone. No one in the supermarket, or the post office, either. Sure, head to the vacation-y places in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, such as the zoo, the Chutzot Hayotzer Crafts Festival, the recently christened light rail, the beach or the Tel Aviv port, and you’ll find plenty of people milling around.

But in the environs of home and the local ‘hood, everything is fairly peaceful and quiet. It’s almost like being on vacation.

A tranquil calm in the North, war in the South

August 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, coexistence, General, Israeliness, Life, News, War 

Wading in the Zaki River in the Golan while rockets rain down on the South.

It wouldn’t be summer without a military skirmish in Israel. And this one looks like it could blossom into a doozy.

Funny thing is, that while one part of the country is under siege with rockets raining down, and buses being shot up, other areas are full of tranquility. We had just started a four-day vacation in the North on Thursday, just east of the Kinneret in a beautiful bed & breakfast chalet inside a Golan moshav. Late in the afternoon, we got a call from a friend just checking if our daughter (serving in the IDF along the Egyptian border) was alright.

A little perplexed, I thanked the friend for his concern, then asked why he was interested. He then explained about the terror attacks near Eilat, which we were oblivious to. We quickly got off the call and tried to contact our daughter, but only got her voice mail.

Nothing to get alarmed about, we said, she’s usually on exercises in areas that don’t get cell phone reception. Meanwhile, we tuned into the news on the radio, detailing the awful events of Thursday, getting brought up to date during a time we were supposed to be getting away from it all.

A couple hours later, soldier daughter called to say she was fine, nowhere’s near the violence and leading her recruits in various exercises. We spent the next few days – while the rockets were landing on Beersheva, and other southern points, rafting in the Jordan River, take a jeep trip through the trails and rivers of the Golan and chilling at the amazing pool of Moshav Ramot, with a breathtaking view of the Kinneret and surrounding mountains.

Unless you deliberately tuned into the news, you wouldn’t have known that people were losing their lives a couple hundred kilometers away. That’s Israel for you.

I’m not sure how what’s unfolding down south is being portrayed in the world media ( likely something like “Both Israel and Palestinian actions are escalating the situation along the Israeli borders with Gaza and Egypt”), but anyone with half a mind should and does realize that there’s no equivalency here – moral or otherwise.

Terrorists started this thing all by themselves with no provocation (other than Israel’s existence) and Israel is only doing what any sovereign country would do to protect its citizens. But for some reason, we always end up sharing half – if not more – of the blame for the violence. Returning from the Golan to the reality of another war-filled August in Israel, it was a stark wake up call that the vacation was over.

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