Everything Ends, Everything Starts Again…
Late August in Jerusalem is kind of a bittersweet time. It’s hot and sunny and the weather is always beautiful, but with the holidays rapidly approaching, you know it’s just not going to last. Ariel Beery, Aharon Horowitz of Presentense Magazine and their Pixies closed down the house after spending weeks developing all kinds of innovative projects (1st pic, first row left – notice the Jesus like lighting on Beery…), Taglit-birthright Israel held it’s last mega event with special guests Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon Adelson. Bibi needs another coaching session with his political consultants. He won the summer time Likud primary – some would say because it was held in August and all his opponents were on vacation. But if he wants to win the next election, he needs to gesticulate less with his hands – that’s deemed too ethnic and not leader like. Mrs. Adelson, who is Israeli, was a total babe and addressed the crowd in flawless Hebrew – which was probably lost on the 97% of the attendees who didn’t understand a thing she said. What they did understand was that she and her husband donated $25 million to Taglit-birthright israel this summer so that no one would have to be wait listed. As for Sheldon Adelson, he’s kind of short with a shock of improbably red hair. He walked with the assistance of a cane but he spoke lucidly and vividly about his father who never made it to Israel because he couldn’t afford the trip. Adelson, who grew up on the mean streets of Boston, is not an imposing figure but his success in the Casino industry belies a certain toughness. Let’s put it this way… I would hate to be caught counting cards at any of his establishments. I like this guy. Let’s keep him!
So, hardly was the last summer mega event over when preparations began for the winter Taglit-birthright israel season. Registration for free trips to Israel begins September 5th, but more on that later.
August also seems to be the season for all manner of street fairs. I’ve already discussed the Jewish Agency street fair, but now there were a few random street events, all held Friday afternoon. Bolinat hosted Soulico and MC Carolina who performed to a crowd of water gun toting revelers. Yankees and Blue Hole held a series of Friday afternoon shows where I watched missFlag perform (those guys are everywhere!) as well as Rebel Sun and Coolooloosh and Zvulun Dub Society (2nd row left to right). These shows are great as they force me to prepare early for Shabbat so that I may enjoy a decadently relaxing afternoon in the sun, sipping an Arak Limonada (the official drink of the summer), dancing and chilling with friends.
Of course I also take photos. In doing so I can’t help but think I am documenting the very last of Jerusalem’s secular permanent residents – as if they were endangered species like Manatees. Except instead of bovine water mammals, I am surrounded by more aviator shades than one would find at a Top Gun party, a bunch of Israeli men who think of underwear as an appropriate alternative to bathing suits (as they take a dip in the fountain in front of the stage) and a mess of strikingly beautiful and wildly interesting people (3rd row, left to right – random aviator shade woman, Avigail and Dee who won’t stop following me around and young love!).
Today was the final installment of this series. This summer also saw the departure of several Jerusalemites that I know – off to take a breather in the US (Oh, it’s temporary. We’ll be back. Really. Uh huh.). I know Lori will be back but as for the rest of them, I’m not so sure. But like everything else, every ending is also a new begining. I look forward to the new crop of dreamers and schemers, searchers and lurkers – all those crazy and colorful people that make Jerusalem the unique place that it is. And now the week is about to end. the Sabbath queen beckons for our day of rest – allowing us to charge up for the week to come. Shabbat Shalom!
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Sheldon Adelson is also backing Freedom’s Watch – http://www.freedomswatch.org- whose purpose is to let 60% of Americans know that they are cowards and defeatists for opposing the Iraq War and favoring an end to it. Great work Sheldon!
60% of Americans are cowards? Say, which country recenlty lost a war against a Shi’a paramilitary organization? Was that the U.S., or was that Israel? I can’t remem– Oh that’s right! Hezbollah kicked Israel’s ass in ’06 and retains the ability to hit Tel Aviv with rockets. We may leave Iraq, but we’d never tolerate that shit.
We’re not even leaving Iraq, not if you believe George W. Bush, Rudy Guiliani, or Hillary Clinton.
Didn’t know there were so many military heroes commenting on blogs…
What the hell??? Iraq? OK.
bifff, some people are opposed to the war and some aren’t. Everyone has the right to promote their ideas. Are you suggesting that people should only support lobbying efforts that are already supported by the majority? Politics aside, you have to admit your critique is very weak.
Big_Sheikh: Hezballah hardly won. Israel still does not have it’s kidnapped soldiers back but a few more victories like that and Hizballah won’t have any fighters left. And Israel responded with restraint.
Also, this post has nothing to do with either of your comments! Talk about off topic. I bring you babes and you want to talk about war???
Sarah: Your comments are always welcome.
My the point of my post was the contrast your glowing assesment of Sheldon Adelson with evidence that he is contributing to the coarsening of poltical discourse in America. You may think he’s a hero because he pays for kids to Israel. I think he’s damaging our country and advancing views, which, if enacted, will lead to only more waste of American blood and treasure.
Maybe you think its ok to call 6 out of 10 Americans cowards because they want to bring an end to the war. Maybe you think its true. I don’t think its true and I don’t think its ok.
I think it is a cynical manipulation of the American electorate, desperately designed to conjur up some additional political capital for George Bush so he can continue to pursue his disaterous policies in Iraq for the rest of his term, all so he can avoid a withdrawl of troops during his Presidency. It doesn’t matter that American troops will continue to die in an unwinnable situation. After all, who cares about them when George Bush et al have to shape the historical narrative?
Therefore, I don’t think Sheldon Adelson (or anybody) should give money to Freedom Watch. Is that a weak critique?
But you’re right. My post was totally off topic and i shall leave it at that. Sorry I couldn’t resist.
ck, here’s some more babes.
Thanks xisnotx. I hope you don’t mind that I modified your comment and embedded the link into your text. That having been said, we are now segueing to birthright unplugged. Honestly, does it even matter what I write about??
So… birthright unplugged. Taglit-birthright israel brought in over 25,000 participants this summer. Birthright unplugged? What did the news story say? A dozen? So there you have it. No one gives a shit about what Hannah Mermelstein has to offer.
And I am not talking about peace and understanding. I’m all for that. I have taken folks into the West Bank with me nd we have had great interaction with Palestinians (we’re even facebook friends now!). But Mermelstein’s group is a tad one-sided, blaming everything on the Israelis while encouraging anti-Israel boycotts and urging gay trip participants to hide their sexual orientations from Palestinians that they meet.
Babe-a-licious indeed. Thanks again x!
You bet your ass I’ll be back…
CK, I looked at the source code for embedding and I’ll try to do that in the future, thanks.
Not gonna accept that posting a CNN clip about Birthright and Birthright Unplugged when you’re talking about Birthright is some out-of-left field nonsequitor. I also figured as a big Birthright dude, you’d find it of interest to see how CNN is presenting Birthright in a segment along with BU.
As for the numbers game, of course Birthright’s got the advantage when Shelly is providing the fundage.
As for one-sidedness, note the following:
“Shira Tevah has taken both tours, after befriending Israeli soldiers on her original birthright tour, she told us about an incident she witnessed afterwards on the unplugged tour that changed her view.
SHIRA TEVAH, TOURIST, BIRTHRIGHT UNPLUGGED: The soldiers were just really, really aggressive. And he said to her, you know, unless you move away from the border, I’ll (BLEEP) kill those kids. It’s your choice.”
In case you missed it, BU also made Newsweek this Summer. Who cares what Mermelstein says? Apparently CNN and Newsweek. More on one-sidedness:
“Nova McGiffert, 24, an Austin, Texas, social worker who traveled on both Birthright and Birthright Unplugged last winter, says the latter drove home what she called the devastating results of an Israeli occupation. ‘During Unplugged, all of my nightmares came true about the realities of the situation,’ she says.”
Lastly, I don’t get your beef with the gay thing.
xisnotx wrote: Not gonna accept that posting a CNN clip about Birthright and Birthright Unplugged when youâ€™re talking about Birthright is some out-of-left field nonsequitor.
Point taken. You are in fact on topic.
xisnotx continued: As for the numbers game, of course Birthrightâ€™s got the advantage when Shelly is providing the fundage.
Well, Birthright Unplugged is kinda parasitic no? Meant to get participants into Israel on Taglit’s coin and then getting them to participate in their program for only another $350. That’s not a ton of cash – you’d think with close to 30,000 Taglit kids in the country, Unplugged would be able to get more than just a dozen to go on their tour this summer. But they didn’t. Hence, the funding issue is irrelevant – the overwhelmingly vast majority of Taglit participants simply don’t give a crap about what Mermelstein has to say.
Shirah’s comment is ludicrous, implying that Israeli soldiers routinely and arbitrarily murder Palestinian children. They don’t by the way. The Israeli soldier who made that comment was just being an asshole. I mean, have you been to Israel lately? In fact, have you been to the territories lately? I have and I encourage others to visit as well, just not with a group of politically biased dumbasses if you want to actually learn something useful.
As for the gay thing, one thing self-styled progressives hardly ever mention is that their darling Palestinians are hardly what one would call gay-friendly, nor do they share any of their otherwise progressive values. Just sayin’ it’s curious is all. BU has to mention it on their Web site so that gay people participating in the Unplugged tour can go back into the closet for fear of offending their otherwise hospitable Palestinian hosts.
Bottom line, BU is an irrelevant blip. But again, thanks for the link…
I’m curious, CK, what do you think Mermelstein is failing to tell BU participants?
As for Shira’s comment, you make it out to be some random blood libel. are you accusing her of making it up? If I were a Palestinian mother seeing that I wouldnt be able to dismiss it so casually. Kids do get shot by soldiers.
Which progressive values do you think Palestinians don’t share? Would that include moving from a comfortable home in the US, joining an army that walls in ancient villages, while it threatens the villagers’ kids with guns? Would that include violently repressing the villagers’ non-violent protests when their land is taken?(let me guess — the soldiers in that video are just being assholes) What do you tell Birthright participants about such villages– that their denizens don’t share our progressive values? Maybe the Haredim who illegally build houses on the village’s land will teach the Palis to be more gay-friendly.
This week at the Yankees and Blue Hole show, Los Caparos and Reggaestan (who I saw at the Jerusalem Beer Festival and definitely want to see again). People who don’t know where that is, go to Rechov Moshe Yoel Salamon and look for the sign for the Blue Hole, go into the alley which looks like it leads nowhere, but soon opens into a big open space.
There’s no time on the announcements, but it generally starts at 3-ish with a not very loud band (I think the neighbors complained it was ruining their afternoon naps), the main show runs from 4 to 5-ish.
My only complaint about the lemon and arak is that last week they ran out and by the time someone ran to get more lemon drink the band was playing and it was too loud to ask the barman how long it would take the slush machine to freeze. They didn’t run out of beer.
There may be one more Friday of this event, not sure. When it started, they said it would run “until the holidays”.
There’s also a 3 day festival at the Jerusalem Theatre this week. Sorry, the program is only in Hebrew.
xisnotx asked: Iâ€™m curious, CK, what do you think Mermelstein is failing to tell BU participants?
A nuanced and balanced perspective.
xisnotx also asked: As for Shiraâ€™s comment, you make it out to be some random blood libel. are you accusing her of making it up?
Blood libel? Geez! No I’m not accusing her of making it up. But the implication is that Soldiers randomly and arbitrarily shoot children. They don’t.
xisnotx declared: f I were a Palestinian mother seeing that I wouldnt be able to dismiss it so casually. Kids do get shot by soldiers.
But Shira is not a Palestinian mother is she? Conversely, Palestinian Mothers have cheered when their children have martyred themselves in suicide bombing operations that target Jewish Mothers, their children and other civilians. Is it not understandable that Israelis feel the need to take all necessary measures to defend themselves against such activities? Who is at fault for the inconvenience of all those checkpoints? Is it the Israelis who love nothing better than to annoy Palestinians? Or is it those Palestinians who feel suicide bombings are a great way of achieving their national aspirations?
xisnotx asked: Which progressive values do you think Palestinians donâ€™t share?
Well let’s see – there’s gay, lesbian and transgendered rights, abortion rights, egalitarianism and women’s rights, pluralism, religious freedom… stuff like that.
Birthright participants on my trips get a balanced view. And are encouraged to do further research and not take my word on anything. As for the Bilin video, notice that the guy that got shot by a rubber bullet was Israeli? None of the border guards in the video seemed American and they did tell the protesters that they were entering a closed military area and to turn back. I don’t know about you, but when armed security forces tell me to turn back, I don’t yell at them and call them dogs. I turn back.
CK- you raise many points that deserve a reply, and I’ll try to get to it. for now,I’m curious to see how you react to a similar example:
“Birthright” Students Cancel Tour to Hebron After Threats by Birthright Staffer
“The Magnes Zionist has learned that a group of participants on the current Birthright tour, which ended today, cancelled their plans to tour Hebron on Friday, after they were threatened by a Birthright staffer. The staffer said that if they went to Hebron on the tour, arranged by the Bnei Avraham organization, they would lose retroactively funding for their trip.”
Avigail is fine.