Friday, November 30, 2012

Poem for Shabbat XVI

The Grammar Lesson

Steve Kowit

A noun's a thing. A verb's the thing it does.
An adjective is what describes the noun.
In "The can of beets is filled with purple fuzz"

of and with are prepositions. The's
an article, a can's a noun,
a noun's a thing. A verb's the thing it does.

A can can roll - or not. What isn't was
or might be, might meaning not yet known.
"Our can of beets is filled with purple fuzz"

is present tense. While words like our and us
are pronouns - i.e. it is moldy, they are icky brown.
A noun's a thing; a verb's the thing it does.

Is is a helping verb. It helps because
filled isn't a full verb. Can's what our owns
in "Our can of beets is filled with purple fuzz."

See? There's almost nothing to it. Just
memorize these rules...or write them down!
A noun's a thing, a verb's the thing it does.
The can of beets is filled with purple fuzz.

(found in Steve Kowit, In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop)

Here We Go...

This is how Tom Janssen, one of my favorite Dutch cartoonists, sees the upgrading of the UN General Assembly granting Palestine non-member status. I think that the desperate ways in which Israel has ben trying to fight this step shows how much the Jewish state realizes it is fighting a losing battle. Still, I don't think that the current government realized how weak its international position has become. And much of that is our own doing, I continue to believe. But of course we have the perfect answer ready: one or two days after it was made known that every one out of five Israelis lives in poverty, Jerusalem announced that thousands more housing units will be built across the Green Line.  Whereas the Palestinians have learnt oh so much from us, from our history, and from our many sources of strenght, we have hardly learnt anything from them, or from our own - and oh so many - mistakes in recent decades. "For spite" ('Davka', in Hebrew) has become the key phrase in Israel's policies, foreign and internal. One of the next steps that are seriously considered by this government - according to sources who are supposed to be in the know - is regime change in Ramallah. It seems that we think that there are still more fights and wars that can and must be lost. Personally, I believe that the whole world is not against us. Most of the world, though, is against some of us, and even more against some of our actions. And I can hardly blame the world for that, because I am just as much against them, since I honestly believe that they ruin us, diplomatically, politically, economically, militarily, and morally.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Poem for Shabbat XV

When, at the beginning of the year, I chose the first 8-10 poems that I wanted to share with my colleagues and with the readers of this weblog, I could not know that the one selected for this week would be so relevant and actual.

Five Roses in the Morning - Stephen Dunn

                    March 16, 2003

On TV the showbiz of war,
so I turn it off
wishing I could turn it off,
and glance at the five white roses
in front of the mirror on the mantel,
looking like ten.
That they were purchased out of love
and are not bloody red
won't change a goddammned thing ---
goddamned things, it seems, multiplying
everyday. Last night
the roses numbered six, but she chose
to wear one in her hair
and she was more beautiful
because she believed she was.
It changed the night, a little.
For us, I mean.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Funny, Found on Facebook II

Funny, Found on Facebook I

PS: I did not post this because of the terror attack in Tel Aviv today. I would not do such a thing, and besides, as far as I know this attack was not a suicide attack.

Tom Janssen on the War II

Shortages in Gaza - "Those hundreds of rockets - are (meant) to demand an end to the blockade".

A brilliant cartoon by Tom Janssen. Brilliant, of course, because I agree with its message ;-)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tom Janssen on the War

Controlepaneel Midden-Oosten = Control Panel Middle East
Wraak = Revenge


The other day our 10-year-old son and I attended a concert by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ronen Borshevsky, who also played the piano in Mozart's 23rd concerto for piano and orchestra. It was the first time our son attended a classical concert, and he loved it. The other compositions that were played were a new and really beautiful concerto for viola and strings by the Israeli composer Uri Bracha (with Avshalom Sarid playing the viola), and Mendelssohn's 9th Symphony, 'the Swiss symphony', which I found on YouTube. As an encore, and - and as he said - to lift the spirit of everybody in these difficult days, Ronen Borshevsky played a very famous piece by Chopin (the name of which I cannot remember, of course, I think it is a waltz). My son and I are looking forward to the next concert.

Geinig II

Gevonden op de website van Tom Janssen.

Geinig I

Gevonden op de website van Tom Janssen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Love This Picture

Amidst all the sadness of the war in Gaza and Israel, here is something that made me smile. I found the picture here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

War Comments VII

War Comments VI

War Comments V

PS: My 'relationship' with Mrs Meir is one of love/admiration and hate/severe criticism. I admire her dedication and much of her work, but I also think that she is a founding mother of the "There is no one to talk to on the other side(s)" mantra, a mantra that I believe to be absolutely untrue. Nevertheless, at this time of war I certainly subscribe to this quote by her.

War Comments IV

War Comments III

War Comments II

War Comments I

Unlike Lisa Goldman, my friend on Facebook (and in reality, more or less: we met a few times several years ago and got along very well, and we agree on many, many things; I haven't spoken or mailed with her for quite a while now, for no particular reason besides both of us having busy lives of our own; I am sorry that she does not live in Israel anymore, we desperately need more people like her here), I cannot afford to stay neutral right now. As much as I can't stand the current Israeli government, as much as I criticize much of what Israel has been doing (and not doing) in the last two decades, as much as I think that a different policy of Israel regarding the Palestinian Authority and the settlements would make it much, much easier for the Jewish state to wage its wars (and would avoid some if not most of those wars altogether), as much as I believe that there is a way for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side without constantly threatening and killing each other and making each other's lives miserable (which is not necessarily the same as peace: for true peace more willingness is needed on both sides, and there is not enough such willingness on either side), as much as I am convinced that electoral and other political motives play a central role in Israel's decision-making process regarding this war (see for instance the articles by Tamar Gozansky, Nehemia Shtrasler, and Yoel Marcus, all in Haaretz), as much as I think that Israe's PR sucks, and as much as I feel sorrow and pity when I see dead and wounded Palestinian children, I do think that Israel could and can not allow Hamas and the other terrorist organizations to terrorize hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens for weeks, months, and years without expecting any Israeli response. Superficial statements about the proportionality of that response are hypocritical and only serve the terrorists. My main solidarity right now concerns the people of Israel's South (which under the current circumstances means about half of the country), and I fully support the IDF and the IAF, who do their important work under very difficult circumstances. I also fully condemn the sickening bloodthirstiness that can be found online and elswhere, among 'supporters' of both Israel and the Gazans, and hope (against hope) and pray that this war will soon be over, that people on both sides of the border will live in peace and quiet soon, and that this war will be our and their last one (and I don't mean that in an apocalyptic manner).

I will now post - in random order - a few postings and pictures that I found on my Facebook wall. They were all posted by my Facebook friends.

PS: To all those who want to know how my family and I are: We are fine, thank you. Like you, we follow the events and developments mainly through the media. Unlike most of you, we are prepared for the worst, though: the so-called safety room in our house is ready, just in case (water, food, gas masks, books, games, etc.; the room is our sons' bedroom). You never know, Hezbollah might decide to show its 'solidarity' with its murderous colleagues in Gaza, and there is still another war going on in Syria, which could affect us as well. If nothing really crazy happens, this weekend I will go a concert by the Haifa Symphony Orchestra with our 10-year-old son, his first ever classical concert. I hope that soon the people of Beer Sheva and other cities in the south will be able to resume their daily lives as well. And I hope the same for the people of Gaza.

Poems for Shabbat XIV B

In addition to the poem that I had already selected for this week (see the previous posting), I added one that somehow suits my mood these days, with the war going on in Israel, in and south of Tel Aviv, and Gaza.

Boy at the Window - Richard Wilbur (1921-)

Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.

(found in Garrison Keillor (ed.), Good Poems, and in Richard Wilbur, Collected Poems 1943-2004)

Poems for Shabbat XIV A

"What Does Poetry Save You From?" - Linda Pastan (1932- )

From the pale silence
of morning and the din
of afternoon.

From the flight into darkness
of those I continue
to love.

From my inarticulate body
and the syllables
that clog in my mouth.

From having to say
"nothing," when a stranger
asks me what I do.

From my worst sins.
From the failure
of any other absolution.

(found in Linda Pastan, Queen of a Rainy Country (2006))

Friday, November 16, 2012

Well said

As much as we should rally behind our soldiers and support the citizens who have been suffering from 'the situation' for months and years, we cannot ignore the political reality that is part of (and partly the reason of) that situation. Nehemia Shtrasler realizes that better than anyone else, it seems. He says it like it is, I'm afraid. You have to register to read the whole article.

Dom, dommer, idioot

De Telegraaf, toch al zelden of nooit uitblinkend in intelligente koppen, slaat werkelijk alles met deze onzinnige kop: "Oorlog lijkt kwestie van tijd". Wat denkt die halfbakken 'correspondent' van die 'krant' daar in 'zijn' stad (Tel Aviv) dat er de laatste dagen (en de weken en maanden die daaraan voorafgingen) in en om Gaza aan de gang is? Als dat geen oorlog is dan weet ik het niet meer. Zou hij zelf een keer de moeite genomen hebben om naar Ashdot, Ashkelon, Sderot, Ofakim, Beer Sheva, Netivot, etc. of naar een van de kibbutzim of moshavim in de 'grensstrook' (de raketten van Hamas, de Islamitische Jihad en de andere terroristen reiken inmiddels al tot Tel Aviv en Jeruzalem) af te reizen, en te kijken wat daar gebeurt? Die mensen leven al jarenlang in een werkelijkheid die mij en mijn gezin zes jaar geleden na een week onze biezen deed pakken en voor vijf weken naar Nederland deed vluchten. Om van de dagelijkse werkelijkheid van de arme bewoners van Gaza maar niet te spreken. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Joep Bertrams over Media en Werkelijkheid


"10-11-12: De manier waarop nieuws wordt weergegeven bepaalt de perceptie van de ontvanger (n.a.v. berichtgeving Telegraaf over zorgpremie)"
Spotprent gevonden op de website van Joep Bertrams
Blijkbaar kun je ook op 3000+ kilometer afstand een redelijk juiste indruk krijgen van plaatselijke berichtgeving. Mijn indrukken waren zo te zien meer dan een verwrongen, bevooroordeelde interpretatie van de berichtgeving over de plannen rond de zorgpremie.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tom Janssen over Mark Rutte

Spotprent gevonden op de website van Tom Janssen.

Tom Janssen on the USA and China

Spot the differences...

America: The people wants me!!              China: The people gets me!

Cartoon found on the website of Dutch cartoonist Tom Janssen.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Poems for Shabbat XIII

For this week I chose two short poems by Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976).
Shabbat shalom.

Te Deum
Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.
Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.


Not the five feet of water to your chin
but the inch above the tip of your nose.

(found in The Poems of Charles Reznikoff 1918-1975)


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tom Janssen over de zorgpremie

Een in mijn ogen zeer treffend commentaar van de hand van Tom Janssen.


Twee uitstekende 'weerwoorden' op de hysterische campagne die o.a. door de Telegraaf wordt gevoerd naar aanleiding van het plan van de nieuwe regering voor een inkomensafhankelijke zorgpremie: in de Volkskrant en in Trouw.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Hello, who is this? - It's me again!

I found this (quite funny, IHMO) joke on the FB page of Liza Rosenberg.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem...

Israel's government following the election results in the US.
Cartoon found on the website of Ha'Aretz.

And the winner is...

Four more years for Mr Obama and Mr Biden. Congratulations!
(the picture I found here)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

US Elections


On the FB page of my wife's cousin I found this picture, apparently an advertisement of a Tel Aviv supermarket. The Hebrew letters in red say "So close".

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ben-Yishai on Obama and Israel

I tend to agree with what Ron Ben-Yishai writes here.

Dream on!

Thank God we can always rely on the Palestinian majority to reject any step that might bring
an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians closer. That way we can continue to claim that it is they, not we, who don't want peace. After all, peace is all that we want, isn't it?

One thing I do not get, though. If we are so sure of ourselves, of our national rights, and of our strength, why should we be afraid of any of the Palestinians' dreams? Let them dream! We only have to make sure that they can keep on dreaming, and that their dream(s) never will become reality. The longer we hold on to our own impossible dream - that of Greater Israel, which for many is a nightmare - the greater the chances become for the Palestinians to realize their dream. Only be stopping to invest across the Green Line, by establishing clear and secure borders, by strengthening our economy/society/military (education!), and by building powerful political and military coalitions, will Israel be able to make sure that the dream of a Greater Palestine remains just that, a dream.

This is why

If you ever wondered why Israel finds itself in such a difficult situation (besides the obvious explanations: the whole world hates us, we are surrounded by savages, we are softies, all those refugees and foreign workers, etc ;-)), have a look at the following two articles in The Times of Israel: this one (on the Foreign Ministry), and this one (on the military and Iran). Both articles make clear how politicians (try to) run the show, with the professionals and experts playing second fiddle, no matter how crucial the issue at hand. Even in the US - that is my personal impression - the opinions and expertise of professionals are appreciated and used more than in Israel.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Peace partners

And once again Israel's rightwing government (which for now and probably also after 22 January represents this country's majority) shows that it prefers Hamas over any other alternative. Lieberman, Nethanyahu and Haniyeh speak the same language, in which the three main words are "All - Or - Nothing". You won't be surprised when I tell you that I tend to agree with President Peres. No, Mr Abbas is not Israel's best friend, and he might even be a sly and deceitful Jew-hater (I don't know, I am just paraphrasing things that I have heard and read about him), but he is the only more or less sane option and potential partner Israel has if it is interested in a negotiated solution, as it has claimed for so long it is. But it isn't. Just as Hamas is not interested in such a solution. And why should Israel be interested? So there is a threat of war every other month, and people in the south are being attacked on a daily basis (but they will continue to vote for the status quo), and the whole world is against us, and we are dependent on foreign charities to feed our poor, etc. etc. Who cares, as long as most of us can live their lives in relative peace and quiet, and only a minority of Israelis pays the price for that indifference and for the total lack of leadership here?
As long as there is no Palestinian who would qualify for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization, Israel will continue to claim that there is no partner for peace. That is true, at least when we look in Jerusalem and Gaza. About Ramallah I am not so sure, I think there is some peace potential there. Not peace as in paradise on earth, hugging and kissing each other, forgive and forget, but peace as in clearly defined borders and agreements between two states, true leaders taking care of their people's real interests, two nations living side by side, caring for their children and children's children, without the constant threat of war.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Joep Bertrams on Sandy and Obama


Cartoon found on the website of Joep Bertrams.

Like (I think) Joep Bertrams, but unlike many people here in Israel, I keep my fingers crossed and hope for a victory for Barack Obama on Tuesday. It is not that I am overly impressed with the man's record so far, but a) he received the worst possible economic and diplomatic inheritance from his predecessor (whose views on economics and diplomacy are similar to those of Mr Romney), which gave him an enormous disadvantage from the beginning; b) I don't buy the BS of those who say that he is an enemy of the Jewish state; au contraire, I want an American President who doesn't stop reminding the Israeli government that continuing its settlement policies hurts Israeli as much as American interests, and even hope that Obama becomes a bit more assertive on this issue if he is reelected; and c) when I look at the supporters of either of the two sides, I like Obama's much more than Romney's; or - paraphrasing the words of a Dutch comedian, who during the public discourse in the Netherlands in the 1980s on whether or not the US should be allowed to station nuclear weapons in Holland said that he was against, because "Have you seen who is in favor?" - "Have you seen some of those who are against Obama?". It's Scarlett Johansson vs Meat Loaf, basically ;-)

Tom Janssen on EU's Nobel Prize

Europese = European; Unie = Union

The cartoon was found on the website of Tom Janssen.

Tom Janssen on Lance Armstrong

"I wash my hands off this matter" (in Dutch: I wash my hands in innocence)

(UCI = Union cycliste internationale, the International Cycling Union)

Both cartoons were found on the website of Tom Janssen.

TJ over Rutte 2

Gevonden op de website van Tom Janssen.

TJ over GL

Gevonden op de website van Tom Janssen.

Recommended games

For use at home and at school my wife and I bought several card games that are produced by Wildcard Cames Ltd. in the UK. This morning we received Mapominoes (Europe and the Americas), Arithmanix, and Backpacker. We have already played Mapominoes Europe and Arithmanix, and my wife, our children, and a friend of the family are playing the latter at this very moment. Both games are brilliant. It was obvious from the info and the pictures on the websites that they are educational, but they are also fun to play, and very competitive. Highly recommended (and not very expensive, with more than reasonable H&S costs). And no, I am not sponsored by Wildcard, I just wanted to share something that I am really enthusiastic about.


Alhoewel deze recreatie deel uitmaakt van een op mij nogal populistisch overkomende campagne, met de Telegraaf als gangmaker, vond ik haar wel geinig genoeg om hier te posten.

Poem for Shabbat XII

The school year started already two months ago, but only recently - after the High Holidays - did I restart sending a poem to my colleagues every week. From today onwards, until the end of the school year (excluding holidays), I will post the week's poem on this blog as well. Each poem I choose from one of the poetry books in my steadily growing collection.

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why - 
Edna St.  Vincent Millay (1892-1950)  
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.
(found in David Lehman (ed.), The Oxford Book of American Poetry) 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Alex Klein en de Paniekzaaiers

Ik volg het dagelijkse Nederlandse nieuws de laatste paar weken enkel via de koppen van de websites van diverse dagbladen, voor meer heb ik even geen tijd. Als je de Telegraaf mag geloven staat heel Nederland op zijn achterste benen vanwege de inkomensafhankelijke zorgpremie, die onderdeel uitmaakt van het regeerakkoord. Dat onderwerp komt hier en daar ook voor op de pagina's van andere kranten, maar natuurlijk veel minder paniekerig en hetzerig. Hoe belangrijk dit onderwerp wel niet is blijkt uit de inhoud van de nieuwsflits-video op de site van de Telegraaf: "Rijken zullen Nederland ontvluchten" (aldus Alex Klein - volgens de krant econoom, maar googel zijn naam maar eens en je ziet dat de waarheid ingewikkelder is, iets waar ze bij de krant van wakkergeschreewd Nederland nog steeds geen weet van hebben); "Potloodventer verstoort huwelijk"; "Hobbit als stewardess".

PS: Later vandaag las ik een uitstekende column van Elma Drayer. Om het volgende commentaar daaronder moest ik wel glimlachen: "De Telegraaf weet te melden dat 'de laatste restjes luxe de hardwerkende Nederlander worden ontnomen'...Moet je eens kijken hoeveel terreinwagens, fourwheeldrives of hoe die ondingen ook mogen heten [tanks?] er in dit land rondrijden. Die heb je echt niet voor 'slechts 9.995 euro inclusief extra's ', die dingen kosten vele tienduizenden euro's. De 'hardwerkende Nederlander' is een verwend zeurderig kind en moet zich, evenals de Telegraaf, schamen, maar ja, dat moet die krant al zeventig jaar..."