Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Shana Tovah!

Happy New Year!

This blog is in Eilat, getting sunburnt by the pool, a cold beer in one hand and the Small Noisy One making friends with other people's children (and being looked after by Other Children's Parents, hopefully)...

See you next week!

Friday, 26 September 2008

It's raining.

I love the sweet musty smell that lingers after the first few rains of the year. The sharp fresh tang hanging in the air, after the long, hot, humid, sometimes fetid, summer.

I don't think it has rained here since the beginning of April. I love the sun, don't get me wrong; but there's nothing like the occasional sting of raindrops against the face...

All through the spring and early summer, the newspapers here were reporting about the critical water shortage, with the Kinneret - the Sea of Galilee, dropping to unprecedented levels. If it passes a predetermined red line, the newspapers reported breathlessly, the nation will be plunged into a crisis.

And so it came to pass. And nothing happened. Chastened by their apocalyptic predicitons failing to pass, the journalists sidled off to sensationalise something else. And Israelis continue to hose their 4X4's down...

(Don't be deceived by the last line - I'm no environmentalist. But I am often bemused by the proliferation of gas-guzzling motor cars and water wastage schemes in this country, given the dependence upon oil and the absence of natural water deposits that plague the country and to some extent influence its political relations with the neighbours...)

Paul McCartney performed in Tel Aviv last night. Didn't go - tickets cost too much. Instead, I went for a nice little encounter with the writer Matt Benyon Rees. Detective novels are not really to my taste, but after the entertaining evening - enlivened even further by an eccentric fellow who kept piping up that the real Palestinians are the Jews, that the Palestinians are actually the Amalekites and that eventually, Gog and Magog...ah, forget it - I'll certainly be checking his books out. I drove back home through literally deserted streets. Everyone in The Bubble, it seems, had gone to sing along to 'Live and Let Die'...

Thumbs Aloft!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

My excuse for not updating my blog...

Is that it is hot. To hot to think, to write, to do anything productive. (Even read, which is a problem since I earn a significant part of my minuscule income from reading)

This also presupposes the obviously disputable fact that this blog is productive. Like any other public outpouring of random ramblings, it quite clearly cannot be deemed to so, but it does clear the mind from time to time and allows me to concentrate on more pressing things, so that helps a little.

Mrs Goy - or the Feminist Mrs Goy, as I've taken to calling her - observed the other day that with Tzipi's triumph in the Kadima primaries, Israel now has a woman at the head of each of the three arms of Government - Dalia Itzik is the Speaker of the Knesset, and Dorit Beinisch at the Supreme Court.

I'm guessing she thinks that this is a good thing.

I didn't have the heart to point out that, in any case, Tricky Udi is still loitering in the corridors of power, resignation or not. I tell you, they'll have to cart the man away in chains.

Mr Mofaz, whom I blogged about previously, seemed on the verge of tears when he conceded victory to Tzipi. He apparently wants to 'take time out from Politics'. If that is anything like Mr Barak's 'lost weekend' away from the political scene, I imagine that he'll be back in five years or so, well connected, newly minted and itching to cause mischief. If I were Mrs Mofaz, I'd watch out...


I had lunch with my father in law last Friday, in a nice family restaurant in Ramat Aviv Gimmel. Tucked in a corner, apparently eating, conversing with a companion and chatting on his mobile all at the same time, was Abraham Hirschson. Mr Hirschson was Minister of Finance until not very long ago, when he was obliged to resign after being accused of all sorts of naughtiness involving money belonging to the National Workers Labour Federation (don't these people ever learn: never fuck with trade union money), and a charity involved with holocaust survivors from Poland. He resigned from office last July, and recently the Attorney General announced that he was to be formally charged with ' breach of trust, aggravated fraud, theft, forgery of corporate documents and money laundering'. A bit of a mouthful that.

He has an elegantly sculpted beard and sideburns arrangement, somewhat at odds with the old denim and polo shirt he was sporting. Me, I've never trusted men with kempt beards (nor women neither, come to think of it). I was briefly tempted to ask him whether his lunch was being paid for by the Histradut, the general trade union body, but thought better of it. Stones and glasshouses and all that...

Funny, when Mr Hirschson started to get into difficulties, people accused Tricky Udi of being exceptionally naive for appointing someone with antecedents as crooked as Hirschson to the post. Little did we know then...


Completely non-Goy related: Two of my favourite writers, the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the music critic Alex Ross, have just been awarded MacArthur Foundation 'Genius' Grants. The lucky bastards. Congratulations to both.


One writer whom I believe came very close to genius, David Foster Wallace died last week, at the age of 46. As a fiction writer, his output was sometimes uneven, but his observational journalism was, in my opinion, unparalleled. His capacity to place an event, no matter how apparently banal and trite, within its precise, informed social context is unmatched. His facility for words, and experimentation with form, syntax and the accepted rules of grammatical expression defy description.

I mention all this because he wrote an interesting, engaging and honest profile of John McCain, (MK I), for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1999, I think. Given McCain's transformation from the straight talker who abjured the dirty political tricks of his then rival, George W. Bush, to...well, a classic pol, really, it seemed apt that the New York Review of Books decided to republish Wallace's profile, slightly elongated, in book form a couple of months ago.

Israel and Israelis are obsessed with November's election - the phrase, 'but will it be good for the Jews' never seemed so apt - and although I am by no means an Obama groupie (at least, not any more, as the Feminist Mrs Goy reminds me), I think that any Israeli with dual American nationality contemplating voting for McCain would do well to read this account of what he once was first, and then decide whether they prefer the old him, the new him, or are simply confused by a man who has mutated so grotesquely, almost overnight.

Rest in peace, DFW

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Acerbic Agony Aunt

This came through an email list I subscribe to this morning:

Hi All,

Can anyone tell me, especially anyone in the Iriya, why my child
receives free Arabic lessons (just started this year kita daled) and
we have to pay for English lessons which are much more useful and

Answer: Because the last time I checked, Arabic was an official language of Israel, and English wasn't?

Okay, I am being a little tetchy here. Perhaps English is a little more relevant, but I would argue that Arabic is more useful, in this country, today.

Particularly if you're an aspiring Mossadnik or Shabbaknik. (Tongue wedged firmly in cheek)

Right, off to deal with the cause of my techiness. An employer who fails to accept that freelance work ought to be paid for, promptly and in full. But that's another matter altogether...

Have a good day.

Note - This is a passive-aggressive way of dealing with the question, I accept. The correspondent is never going to read this. But I'm too much of a coward to reply her, either directly or on the message board...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

This blog has been away

On holiday, to the two other cities he thinks of as home - London and Lagos.

Normal (irregular) service will recommence, shortly...