Thursday, January 31, 2013


(Originally published in The Times of Israel)

Last week was an interesting and eventful week for Israel, but, then, they all seem to fit that description.  It was also a fun and satisfying week for me. 

I was walking back from the post office last Monday.  One tends to go to the post office a lot more frequently in Israel because it is the place where one makes a variety of payments to the government, and at least this one seems to do that quite a bit. 

Between the post office and my apartment building is, among other things, the Israel Bar Association, which hosts seminars and  meetings for lawyers and law students.  Gathered on the steps for what appeared to be a break were about 30 young people,  Among them were young Arab women in fashionable head coverings and designer jeans, Orthodox Jews with men wearing kippot (head covers), and an assortment of other people in a variety of colors, sizes, and garb. 

I thought once again of the difference between the Israel I have come to know and the Israel portrayed in the world's mainstream media.  I thought the same thing a few days later as a young Arab woman, also wearing a fashionable head scarf, worked the cash register in my line at the supermarket and spoke Hebrew that was obviously a lot better than mine. 

 Tuesday of last week was an all-star day.  My daughter, her boyfriend, and I drove up to the north of the country on Monday night.  We were among the first in line Tuesday morning at Israel's only ski resort.  Mt. Hermon is on the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. One can only imagine what might be raining down from the Heights on Israel today had it returned the Heights to the Syrian regime.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Great Pepper Caper and Other Stories

(Originally Published in The Times of Israel))

In what could be the greatest Middle East debacle since I reported on the Saudi Arabian pencils and panties scandal at this time last year, it has now been disclosed by Challah Hu Akbar, writing in the Elder of Ziyon blog, that three kinds of Israeli peppers were discovered on the shelves of Spinneys, one of Lebanon's largest retailers.

Heads are sure to roll. Things do not get much more embarrassing in the Boycott Israel/Hate the Jews world than to have wholesome food from your neighboring Zionist entity show up on your shelves. God forbid, it could be a Zionist conspiracy to supply nutrition to your population.

Not to worry. The man who discovered the offending peppers on the shelves of the Spinneys in Sidon contacted local authorities, who called the Lebanese Army. Apparently things are so calm and under control in Lebanon that the Army was able to bring in military intelligence and the police to go to work on this high-priority case.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Having just finished the season of miracles, I thought I would report on  a few miracles I experienced about a week or so ago.  I had lost my car registration, so I went to one of the Israeli Ministry of Transportation offices here in Jerusalem to see if I could get a replacement.  The Ministry of Transportation here provides the services of a Department of Motor Vehicles in the U.S.

Israel's bureaucracy is famous for being, well, bureaucratic.  Historically and sometimes still today it can be frustrating, seemingly uncaring, rude, and basically not easy.  Add in language challenges and impatient clerks, not to mention impatient citizens jockeying for position in line.  Speaking of lines, they weren't really part of Israeli culture until about 20 years ago.  Theoretically, yes.  In reality, no.

 Some wise advice I received as my wife and I started our path toward citizenship was to always consider your first visit to an office an exploratory, information-gathering expedition, not one likely to result in achieving your objective.  We were told to consider it an opportunity to get through some pages in your book. 

Truth be told, our experience has not been that bad.  At times, it has been surprisingly easy and pleasant.  Israeli bureaucracies, along with restaurants and service industries in general, have improved immensely in the last few years.  Still, given DMV's generally, this was an encounter I was not looking forward to.