Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The server for my new site seems to be down. How unfair is this?! Not only are all the TV and the radio stations about to become nonexistant for 24 hours but I also can't blog! It seems to me that this is some bizarre conspiracy designed to make me actually write that article.

There is a holiday spirit in the air. I ran out to get some bottled water and cigarrettes (of course) this morning and really should have remembered that I should have remembered to do that yesterday instead. People are stocking up on food in the grocery like the stores will be closed for 2 weeks rather than 24 hours. I had to wait nearly a half-hour in the line. Some shops and cafes have already closed and those cafes and restaurants that are still open are filled to brim with people who are off work and doing a bit of relaxing before the big shut-down. Cars are getting fewer on the road but the buses are still running for a bit longer--another hour I believe. Everyone is smiling and in a good mood.

Guess I'll update here and copy over to the new blog when it comes back online (sniff sniff. I feel bereft!)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Redirecting you to my new blog --3, 2, 1 NOW

Please update your links with the new address!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yael has moved to olehgirl.com

I've moved to olehgirl.com --Please come visit me in my new home!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yael moves (blog) house

I guys and gals,

I thought I'd wait til I had the new abode in super spiffy condition before inviting everyone in but it may be awhile before I get it super and certainly spiffy. So I'm going to invite you all in while nothing much is unpacked and the floors are so dirty they are gray and not a nice shade of green or yellow like they very much should be! But, if you'll excuse the mess and the lack of amenities, you are very welcome to come and visit me at my new home: olehgirl.com. Yep, ya just drop the blogspot out of it and there you have it!

Many hugs and hope to welcome you in my new place!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ooo where are the New Year cards?

I am seriously looking forward to the New Year because this coming year (please g-d) has got to be better than the year that has passed for this country. From where I'm sitting, personally, though, this past year has been the best in my life (and the upcoming year is looking kinda, like, hectic and unfun but not to worry, the year after that will really be Krazed with a capital K for me. LOL, so much (blah) to look forward to! :) This past year was a banner year for me because I just completed by first year in this country. So as far as my personal life goes, this year will always be extremely special.

I'm under a huge mega and monstrous pressure at the moment from job(s) and job-related activities. I have a chapter for a book due in 2 days and I haven't even started it. Another is due, er also on the 15th and it is at least started. I sent off one article last week (go me) and one publication came out the other day after I'd nearly forgotten its existence (so old that it has the wrong academic affiliation on it!). Many other things (powerpoints, research-related websites, etc) that I will not bore you with or stress myself anymore by thinking about for the moment.

Tomorrow I have a wedding to attend and I am looking forward to it and not. I like the couple a ton, I love to see them, I am extremely happy they are getting married, I need to lock cats in a room and do a recip dinner for them ...but I have a lot on my plate and I'm not sure how much to make the check out for. I'm not sure how much my bank account can handle but I'm suspecting the gift should be for something like very many shekels (maybe more?) --help me out here folks!?

I attended my first new gimmel class at ulpan today and it went well --she--my fav teacher-- was talking and I was nodding and suddenly realized I was nodding because I clearly understood what she was saying and it wasn't in english (which she doesn't really know and so almost never uses) but it seemed so clear that I thought for a minute it must be in english. That was a cool moment. The whole class was not like that but it was the most understandable I've had to date. I met a really kewl woman from the Ukraine and talked with her a bit (she is better at speaking than me but has also been here 5 years and she isn't much better at speaking) and my friend Katarina who used to work at my fav cafe is also in my class (she speaks amazingly after being here for 8 years but can't read or write well). I also met with a private tutor earlier today to work on speaking but that did not go so well --she charged 80 sheks for the hour and talked to me mostly in english which really uhh defeats the purpose of paying her 80 sheks for talking in hebrew. Not to fear though, I have another private lesson lined up with Yael (70 shekels), and yet another one with Ayala (80 shekels) and will need to line up at least another 8-10 hours per week --yes my bank account, already to the limit of my overdraft is about to get a new and much deeper overdraft --but I think Allison is right and going the private tutor for speaking route is going to be way necessary and naturally, just a couple hours a week is not going to cut it. Especially not when I have to spend so many hours a day reading, writing and thinking in english.

I have 7 cats in the apartment but it seems like only 6 because Mitzi is spending so much time under the bed. She is coming out only for food and litter-box duties and that is not good. The other cats really intimidate her. Little new orange kitty, as yet and hopefully remaining without a name in my house, is also terrified of the other cats and tries to sit on me constantly. She is definitely a relative of Gingi (I think they must have had the same father, honestly) because her personality is so similar and also her habits --she has the same "I need to nurse on the tip of your finger" thing that he has and has not lost even though he is getting very big for such baby activities. I thought he was doing that because he was a "bottle baby" but seems to not be the case!

Somewhere the New Year cards are hiding in my apartment and must be written and sent. Where are they?!

Israeli-Arabs: Human dignity is a primary value in Israel

Israeli-Arabs protested in front of the Egyptian embassy today, calling out for Egypt to "Learn from Israel what human dignity means. Human dignity is a primary value in Israel." They were protesting the bus accident in the Sinai that killed 12 Arab-Israeli tourists. Egypt refused to allow our (Israel's) ambulances and medical personnel that were standing by just a few miles away to come to the scene to aid the victims and to evacuate them to Israeli hospitals despite the fact that they were not equipped to deal with the scope of the accident nor had a hospital in the vicinity to which critcally injured patients could be taken. At least one victim died simply because evacuating him from the scene to a place where he could receive medical care took them so long and the clinic injured patients were taken to did not have even the most basic equipment for emergency needs (e.g. blood supplies, operating room or equipment, beds --it was a walk-in clinic for everyday minor illnesses). Rather than in ambulances with medics, the victims were taken from the scene on the backs of vegetable trucks.

I posted about it here
as it was happening. We had ambulances, hospitals and helicopters ready to spring into action. One of the things I didn't post about because it became moot when Egypt wouldn't allow us to get our injured citizens, is the blood drive that started immediately upon the news that the accident had happened. Israelis --Arabs, Jews, and Christians -- flocked to donate blood that hospitals assumed would be needed for the victims. It of course went unused for them when we could not bring them home. Grrrrrrr.

To add insult to injury, the negligent bus driver whose reckless driving caused the accident has just been sentenced to a mere 12 months.

Arab-israelis are mad and so are the rest of us Israelis!

In other news regarding Egypt, Egyptian officials are worried about a terrorist cell composed of Palestinians who have sneaked into Egypt from Gaza and who are planning a major attack in the Sinai. Palestinian terrorists within Hamas were responsible for training, financing, and helping to carry out previous attacks in Egypt, including the 2004 Taba bombing which killed 34 and injured 171 people and the more recent triple-bombing in Dhahab in the spring of this year.
Some analysts in Israel long have warned of Palestinian anti-Egyptian sentiment, pointing in particular to Hamas, which was founded in 1987 as a military offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seeks the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime and the creation of an Islamic theocracy throughout the Middle East.

What a balagan!

Hi guys and gals,

When I got home from a meeting tonight I discovered that blogger had had some sort of major stroke when it came to my blog today and my old template was totally destroyed. All my links went bye-bye, all my formatting. If you dropped by you probably saw a lot of nonesense characters and nothing else.

I've got a temporary "blogger fix" up with the posts restored. I was thinking of making a move to something a little better and hopefully more reliable than blogger at any rate within a few months but tonight an amazingly awesome guy (Go Jewlicious!!) snagged me online as I was trying to figure out what to do about the balagan my blog had somehow become and said "yo, let's move you now!" Well the move is not quite complete but hopefully by tomorrow night or Thursday at the latest I will be fully set up in my new home. I'll continue to update here until I'm fully set up there and then will throw the grand "welcome to my new home" party and you are all invited :)

And sheesh, had news, pics, and a new kitten --now almost fully vetted save for being fixed cos she is too small for that yet --(Noooooooooooooooooo, but er yes) to tell you about. Will have to wait til tomorrow though because moving, even virtual, houses is very tiring!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

One Arab's Apology

I thought the whole thing was good enough to post. This op-ed from the New York Post:
September 12, 2006 -- WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.

The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.

Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.

Yes, our extremists and our culture.

Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.

There's also enough there for someone of a different mindset to find a path to enlightenment and peace. Still, Rushdie had it right back in 2001: This does have to do with Islam. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic in the name of God is still a Christian, at least in his interpretation, and saying otherwise doesn't negate the fact that he has spent a goodly amount of time figuring out his version of the one true and right thing to do.

The men who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11 in all likelihood died saying prayers to Allah, and that by itself is one of the most horrific things to me about that day.

And, while my grandparents never waged a jihad, their attitudes toward Jews weren't that much different than Mohammed Atta's. No, they didn't support the Holocaust, but they did believe that Jews were trouble in many different ways, and those sorts of beliefs were passed on to me before I'd ever actually met a Jew.

I'm sorry for that, for ever believing that anything that my grandparents or other relatives had to say about Jews or Israel, for that matter, had any real resemblance to truth. It took me years to realize that I'd been conned into believing the generalizations and stereotypes that millions around the Arab world buy into: that Jews, America and Israel are our main problem.

One look at the average Arab regime should alert us to the fact that the problem, dear Achmed, lies not overseas or next door in Tel Aviv, but in the brutal, corrupt despots that we have bred from country to country in the Mideast, across the span of history. That history and its corresponding economic devastation is the main reason I reside on New York City's West Bank - New Jersey - not the one near Jerusalem. On my worst day, I'm happy about that fact. I'd rather be here than there, and experience the freedom and boundless opportunities that were mostly unknown to so many generations of my family in the Mideast.

For as long as I live, the image of those towers falling, as I watched in horror and disbelief from the corner of 40th and Fifth, will be for me my Pearl Harbor, for in that instant I recognized that not only was our city under attack - so was our freedom.

It still is. And will continue to be for years to come. And the threat is not from within, but from Islamic fascists who desperately want to destroy the freedom and opportunities that millions the world over still seek.

Five years after that awful day, it's time for all Arab-Americans, and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - against these tyrants until their plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.

Emilio Karim Dabul is a freelance writer and PR consultant living in New Jersey.

Breaking news--U.S. embassy under attack in Damascus

Syrian forces have sealed off the area. Smoke and fire coming from embassy. Sounds of heavy gunfire.

Updates to come. Reload for them.

11:05 --reports of sound of a large explosion in area of embassy. U.S. embassy guard has reported embassy under attack. British ambassador in Syria saying heard gunshots and sirens just outside the embassy, doesn't think embassy is on fire but isn't sure. No one knows yet who is attacking.

11:10 --witnesses say two armed men attacked embassy but attack repelled. Car bomb also reported being detonated outside embassy but unconfirmed.

11:20 --Syrian guard killed. No reports of U.S. casualties.

11:25 --witness says saw one Syrian guard killed in carbomb explosion, at least one other Syrian guard guarding the embassy seriously wounded.

11:27 --witness says he sees a large number of children are coming out of the embassy right now, crying and shocked.

12:10 --four attackers killed, one wounded and arrested. They detonated one car bomb, another explosives loaded car was captured. Appears the incident is now contained.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering what was lost September 11 2001

Below is a picture someone took from an apartment located not too far from where I used to live. My view was so much better.



From September 1998 to October 2002 I lived in what can only be described as a dream apartment in New York City. It was right on Washington Square at the corner of Washington Square West and West 4th. It had a beautiful awning above the entrance and a host of doormen to make your comings and goings pleasant. The apartment itself was gigantic with two large bedrooms, two large baths, a kitchen the size of my current bedroom, a stately entryway, a living room nearly as big as my entire apartment today (and bigger than my subsequent apartments in NYC) and a working fireplace. The best thing about that apartment though, was the view.

I lived on the 7th floor in a corner apartment with views to the south and to the west. The view toward New Jersey was somewhat blocked by the steeple and carapices of the church next door. The view to the south was wholly unobstructed as my apartment was just above the roofline of all the surrounding buildings extending down to the financial district. A large window took up the entire southern wall of the living room giving a most perfect view: the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood tall. The view was so spectacular that the sofa was placed with its back to the tv set to give a direct line of sight across the room and out of the window. The TV just could not compete with that view.

Every morning I collected my coffee and sat looking out at the towers as I planned my day. Night-time, however, was the best. The twins would be lit up with alternating bands of lighted and darkened floors. A grouping of 4 here, 6 there, only 2 above that, then 5, sometimes just a single office or set of offices on a floor, making a patchwork quilt of sparkles. It reminded me of my lightbright set I loved to play with as a child. I used to sit and wonder why were these floors were lit up and others dark...were these the floors on which young computer scientists and financial analysts worked far into the night to get ahead or maybe the cleaners were busy on these floors getting things ready for the next day? I used to sit lost in thought wondering about the lives of those who worked there. Sometimes a light in an office would suddenly go dark, sometimes an entire floor, but always there were many that were lit. Beside the twins the big red neon Travelers Umbrella completed the scene.

After the terrorist attacks, the vibrant light-filled towers were no more. The view from that window now looked out on an alien landscape --just low buildings and no skyline. And you couldn't really see those low buildings anymore because such a layer of thick, brown dust covered the window that you could barely make out the building across the street. When I moved from that apartment in October of 2002, the window cleaners had not yet reached my floor.

The terrorist attack left not just a hole in my view but a hole in my heart. And now I am left to think of the vibrant people, the industrious young analysts, the hardworking managers, the cleaners and all the others who used to work in all those offices that at night made brightly coloured bands of light and who disappeared along with the towers. That hole is much bigger than the towers themselves.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The power of dressing datiah (religiously)

Something I've noticed: when you dress in the long skirts and three-quarters length blouses that the religious girls wear people treat you nicer. They are more polite. They open doors for you, speak to you more gently, and sort of give you an all-around better treatment.

I dressed very datiah today but also stylishly so :) I wore the new 20 shek skirt from the shuk and this really fantastic silky top that is coloured a unique shade somewhere between rose and coral and that is cut in a 1940s style. It got handed down to me via my mother who wore it like 20 years ago and everytime I wear it people come up and ask "where did you get that shirt?!" Heh, I wish I knew where she got it and how I could get some more of them in the same style because it is truely awesome.

So armed with the cool and classy outfit I headed off the tres important meeting. If everyday this week goes like today has started off then this week will be as good as last week was not. I feel loved and valued. The class I'm teaching with the impossible syllabus reconciliation need (remember me breaking my head over that thing?) has been reconciled in a very favourable way --I was told they want me to go back to my syllabus and just do what I was going to do with it initially. Yay! (Hmmm now I have to figure out what exactly I was going to do :). I am definitely going to have to make a choice about the future but the choice has pretty much been made pretty easy after the meeting today. I mentioned a while back that the psych department wanted me half time. The Comm department is not happy about that because they want me full time but are willing to share me because the P of the U asked them to. Given that, however, they still want me full time and so want to work out a way where I can work a job and a half there --full time in the comm (8 courses) plus 4-5 courses in psych. Ooo la, money!! I got to see my super cool office and it has a really pretty view. It is more than twice the size of my office at NYU and I had what was considered to be a big office there (meaning larger than a closet, cos it was NYC). My office at the other place is also very nice (though not quite so big).

I need to get to work on powerpoints and then translate them into hebrew. they want me to put both english and the hebrew translation on each slide that I use to teach with in order to improve the kids' english. I can speak in english. Yes!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

More media shenanigans

The Sandmonkey brings to light another case of the media lying to the public. The media ran a series of pictures of a young boy crying with his "dead" mother in his arms (Lebanon of course). It hit all the news sources and the pictures of him and his mother were used in protests all over the place. So what is the problem?

The mother did not die in his arms. In fact, the mother did not die period.

She was wounded but she did not die. Now if the media had presented this as a young boy crying in grief over his wounded mother there would be no problem. But, in fact, they claimed that he was crying because his mother had just tragically died in his arms. The photographers ignored the amubulance arriving to take her to hospital and the medics working on her to stabilize her. They ignored the fact that she was alive. They did not at any time follow-up to say "oops she was wounded but managed to survive." No, they left her in the public's mind as being dead and this child motherless and orphaned.

Trust the media? No way.
But happily, despite the media's wish that it were not so, this young boy and his mother are together, happy and healthy now.