Monday, December 31, 2012

The Klezmatics - NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Concert in honor of Rosh HaShanah (2011), posted by NPR Music.

Mary Black - Lay Down Your Weary Tune

This video appears on the DVD "Twenty-Five Years - Twnety-Five Songs".

Mary Black - Song for Ireland

This video appears on the DVD  "Twenty-Five Years - Twenty-Five Songs".

Mary Black - Anachie Gordon

This video appears on the DVD "Twenty-Five Years - Twenty-Five Songs".

Happy New Year

Although I intend to be in bed and asleep within an hour (tomorrow is an ordinary work day for most people in Israel), I am very well aware of the fact that a new year will start at midnight. I wish you and us all a happy and healthy, success- and peaceful 2013. To finish this blogging year I will post four musical videos, all found on YouTube, featuring two of my favorite voices: Mary Black and Lorin Sklamberg (of/with the always amazing Klezmatics, i.e. three out of four of them). Enjoy!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Poem for Shabbat XXb

Don't Tell Me - Shell Silverstein

Please don't tell me I should hug,
Don't tell me I should care.
Don't tell me just how grand I'd feel
If I just learned to share.
Don't say, "It's all right to cry,"
"Be kind," "Be fair," "Be true."
Just let me see YOU do it,
Then I just might do it too. 
(found in Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends)

Poem for Shabbat XXa

Smart - Shel Silverstein

My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three times -- I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickles for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head--
Too proud of me to speak!

(found in Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Minister of Defense (+ Education)

I won't say anything about the rights and wrongs of an academic boycott of Israel (after all, I am not so sure Israel still is a / the only democracy in the Middle East, and I don't want to get into any legal trouble), but I am afraid that this decision will make life much easier for those who promote such a boycott. By the way, I could not help noticing that hardly anybody raises an eyebrow over the fact that the MINISTER OF DEFENSE was the one who ordered an IDF GENERAL to APPROVE UNIVERSITY STATUS to an institute. Don't ask me why, but to my ears that doesn't sound right. In any truly functioning democracy only the Ministry of Education makes decisions about (institutes of) higher education. But then again, as I said, some of us might question the democratic character of this country, at the risk of being called anti-Semites, Jew/self-haters, or worse.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Season's Greetings

If you celebrate Christmas, Festivus, or anything else: Happy Holidays!

To all of you: A happy, healthy, success- and peaceful 2013!

Found on Facebook (cont.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just What We Need Right Now...

..., a staunch supporter of Israel but a harsh critic of its policies." Elsewhere John Kerry is described as supporting Israel but against the settlements. That's precisely the kind of friends and supporters that we need these days. The best of luck, Mr Kerry!

Poem for Shabbat XIX

At the Cancer Clinic - Ted Kooser

She is being helped toward the open door
that leads to the examining rooms
by two young women I take to be her sisters.
Each bends to the weight of an arm
and steps with the straight, tough bearing
of courage. At what must seem to be
a great distance, a nurse holds the door,
smiling and calling encouragement.
How patient she is in the crisp white sails
of her clothes. The sick woman
peers from under her funny knit cap
to watch each foot swing scuffing forward
and take its turn under her weight.
There is no restlessness or impatience
or anger anywhere in sight. Grace
fills the clean mold of this moment
and all the shuffling magazines grow still.

(found in Ted Kooser, Delights and Shadows)

I chose this poem because three years ago, on 22 December 2009, exactly one month before her 66th birthday, my mother passed away. Thank G'd  I was able to be there with her, and with my father and siblings.

Friday, December 21, 2012

(up)Chucking on Hagel

I can imagine that supporters of the current Israeli government have serious doubts about Barack Obama's prospective Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel. To me he seems a man who knows very well where American interests lie (which I think is something that a US Defense Secretary should know), and from what I have read about the man I get the impression that he is a Realpolitiker, who believes that critical and constructive support of Israel is an American interest.  

Chemi Shalev wrote some interesting observations about the aggressive campaign that is being conducted by so-called pro-Israel and other forces against Mr. Hagel. I quote some of the most telling passages:

"Perhaps if Hagel’s critics had seen battle and bloodshed as he had, it would have influenced their outlook on waging war as well, but who knows. Writing poisonous articles on your laptop is also courageous, no?"

"In a speech to the Israel Policy Forum in 2008, Hagel spoke of the need to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and said: “I don’t know of a better role model or an individual to point to than Yitzchak Rabin. What Yitzchak Rabin did, what he represented, what he still represents is hope, that in his memory, in his honor, but for his courage and boldness, we can come back with a Rabin too. It takes leaders on the other side. Sadat, Begin. It will take a unique set of leaders to do this. It’s possible. Leaders change the world.”
Spoken like the true anti-Semite that he is."

"In any case, Chuck Hagel is an ultra-Zionist, a Jew-lover, an AIPAC lackey and a potential honorary president of the Emergency Committee for Israel in comparison to John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and more recently, a campaign manager and spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney."

PS: I learnt the word "upchuck" this week, while reading David Baldacci's The Innocent.

Sad(dening) but True

Professor Sternhell gives quite an accurate analysis of the frustrating situation of Israeli politics (you probably have to login or register to read the whole article).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Told You So

I have been saying for many years that Bibi's political career has always depended on the help of outsiders, including Hamas (see here, for example). Of course, I know that that wisdom is not mine exclusively, but still, I could not help thinking "Told You So" when I read what Avner Shalev wrote for Haaretz this weekend. His conclusion:

"Hamas needs Netanyahu. Hamas needs to thank our prime minister for his faithful service and for weakening its main rival, Mahmoud Abbas - which would result in the West Bank being surrendered to Hamas on a silver platter. If only Hamas members could participate in our upcoming elections, clearly they would vote Likud-Beiteinu. The other parties threaten to destroy them, or to talk with their rivals. Only Netanyahu does not disappoint. Only Netanyahu is reliable. If you vote Bibi, you vote Hamas."

Impressive, Moving, and Convincing

Whenever I look at the pictures of and read about the youngest victims of the mass murder at the Connecticut elementary school I can't help thinking of our youngest son, who also started first grade a few months ago. Now that we know that the young, apparently mentally ill murderer probably learnt how to shoot from his mother, who was an avid weapons collector, and that the weapons he used were legally owned by his mother, it would be inconceivable not to talk about stricter gun laws in the US after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Still, of all that I have read about that massacre, what struck me the most is this impressive, moving, and convincing article, in which a mother points at an aspect of this crime that has not yet received the attention that it deserves. What immediately had me reading the piece was its title: "I am Adam Lanza's Mother".

Friday, December 14, 2012

Poem for Shabbat XVIII

Surprise - Jane Kenyon

He suggests pancakes at the local diner,
followed by a walk in search of mayflowers,
while friends convene at the house
bearing casseroles and a cake, their cars
pulled close along the sandy shoulders
of the road, where tender ferns unfurl
in the ditches, and this year's budding leaves
push last year's spectral leaves from the tips
of the twigs of the ash trees. The gathering
itself is not what astounds her, but the casual
accomplishment with which he has lied.

(found in Jane Kenyon, Collected Poems)

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I just saw and heard a telephone interview with the young woman who killed the Palestinian teen who threatened her and her colleagues in Hebron yesterday. Her full name was given. I am sure she handled according to the regulations and did the right thing under the given circumstances, but if I were her I would start looking for a body guard, and - not less important - a good lawyer, and not travel abroad (Holland and The Hague in particular) in the near future. Haven't we learnt anything from the frivolous and not so frivolous lawsuits that have been filed against politicians, soldiers, and other Israelis in recent years? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Move on

I found this one on the page of one of my Facebook friends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In the meantime, in the holiest of lands...

As you could see in the two previous postings, things are not really good in Egypt and in Id. This does not mean that it's all roses in the Holy Land. Politically, I don't remember - in the thirty years that I have been following events and developments in and around Israel - a more hopeless situation than the one that we find ourselves in today. And much of that situation cannot be blamed (anymore, and exclusively) on 'the other side(s)'. But don't say anything slightly critical about Israel today or about the current government (which could very well be a blessing compared to the next one), unless you want to be branded as an anti-Zionist, a self-hating traitor, or worse. To get a glimpse of how things are (and get) done in Israel anno 2012-2013, read this article. And yes, of course I still know and believe that Israel is the most democratic country in the Near and Middle East. On the other hand, if I were not a Zionist, I would almost say "In the region of the blind..."

Ganders and geese

Cartoon found on the website of John Hart Studios.

Tom Janssen on Egypt

The Ten Plagues of Egypt 
(dictatuur = dictatorship)

Cartoon found on the website of Tom Janssen.

Tom Janssen on Palestine and Israel

Cartoon found on the website of Tom Janssen.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Poem for Shabbat XVII

Go Gentle - Linda Pastan

You have grown wings of pain
and flap around the bed like a wounded gull
calling for water, calling for tea, for grapes
whose skins you cannot penetrate.
Remember when you taught me
how to swim? Let go, you said,
the lake will hold you up.
I long to say, Father let go
and death will hold you up.
Outside the fall goes on without us.
How easily the leaves give in,
I hear them on the last breath of wind,
passing this disappearing place. 
(found in Aspects of Eve and in Carnival Evening)