As many of you know, I have been spending a semester (which recently became a year) in Israel at the Hebrew University as my home school, Tulane University in New Orleans, recovers from the damage of Hurricane Katrina.

In light of recent administrative decisions on the part of Tulane, I have been forced to change my plans for an eventual return to New Orleans. And given these aforementioned decisions, I would like to make known in a public forum my deep and abiding feelings for my was-to-be alma mater, Tulane University.

Yes. There have been many reasons for many different people to make aliyah. Zionist fervor, oppression, economic improvement and countless more — but I feel that I may be the first person to be making aliyah out of spite.

You see, Tulane has instituted a mysterious policy wherein every single student is being charged an enormous amount of money for the first, non-existent, semester of the 2005-2006 school year. When I attempted to protest, I received, two weeks later, an extremely rude e-mail telling me, essentially, to get bent. And just two days ago, I got a frantic phone call from my friend Ze’ev, also a Tulane refujew at Hebrew U. He had just discovered that Tulane had fired 240 teachers and cancelled his major – mechanical engineering – as well as most of the other engineering majors and many of the med school programs. And instead of informing the hundreds and hundreds of now-majorless students, they put a vague paragraph on their website stating that Tulane would now only focus on areas in which it had achieved world-class excellence. Apparently religious studies and Tulane’s horrendous football team were more world-class than electrical-fucking-engineering. And in a fantastic display of chutzpah, Tulane told their majorless engineers to come back for spring semester and pay more tuition — and essentially, the engineers have no choice because the deadline for transferring to other schools was a month ago, when they were still under the impression that they would be continuing as normal in January. If they withdraw, they can’t transfer to another school. And Tulane claims to care about its students.

Dissent is brewing among betrayed Tulane students and angry and potentially litigious parents faced with huge bills for semesters that didn’t happen. In a delicious twist, Tulane was put on a warning list for potential investors by Standard & Poor. My prediction? Tulane’s sunk like the Altalena.

So, with this insanity in mind, I’ve decided to bump up my aliyah a couple of years and, inshallah, gain citizenship and finish my degree here, which should theoretically be paid for by the government.

Of course, this educational generosity on behalf of the Israeli government comes with certain…obligations. Two years of certain obligations, to be exact.

Harry (He Knows Things) suggests that I fulfill these certain obligations behind the wheel of a Merkava. As he said in his measured and sage way, “Dude! You get to blow shit up!”

I think Harry might be on to something.

So say hello to the new Michael: bitter former Tulane student, wide-eyed soon-to-be Israeli (okay, okay, I’m way too cynical to be wide-eyed), Hebrew University student and potential blower-up-of-shit.

Actually, call me Mikha’elצ

Michael is my slave name.

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