Use your head

It’s unusual for Haaretz to feature a piece on a proposal for a new law, without using words like “fascist”, “anti-democratic”, “stifling free speech”, or whatever buzz words of self hate happen to be in vogue with their writing personnel. But today is an exception: Continue reading

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It’s a long way to Tel Aviv

It took an hour and a quarter to drive to Tel Aviv from Ra’anana last night. There did not seem to be any special reason for this exceptionally bad traffic, which made it worse. On the down side, it meant Martin and I had less time in the big city. On the plus side, we had a nice long chat in the car, and the air conditioning was working.

The main point of the excursion was to introduce Martin to one of the better quality music stores in town, and though he was happy to browse, he refrained from making any further injections of financial stimulus to the Israeli economy.

Then we had dinner at a meaty restaurant near Sarah-Lee’s flat, and she joined us later on for a drink and some of our chips.

We finished off the evening with a walk and a voyage of discovery. The walk took us past Habima – Israel’s National Theatre Company and its brand new home premises – which was the subject of recent (failed) boycott attempt. You may get an idea from the snapshots in this post that it is a wonderful building. Hopefully, one day my Hebrew will be good enough that I’ll be able to attend a performance and understand it! (As I dislike the theatre – as a concept and form of entertainment – I should stress this is not something I am losing sleep over. But it would still be nice.)

As for the voyage of discovery, that was the return journey home: I missed the turnoff, and ended up doing one big circle to get back to the right road, and give Martin a free tour of parts of Israel he would otherwise not have seen!

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Rock the nakba

The whole editorial in today’s Jerusalem Post, about the ‘Nakba Day’ memorial event held at Tel Aviv University,is well worth reading, but I want to highlight the concluding paragraphs as more than just food for thought:

As for the participants in the Nakba Day commemorations, would it be too much to ask that along with the mourning over the “catastrophe”, they recognize some of the good as well?

If the Palestinians had succeeded in snuffing out Israel at its very inception there would almost certainly not be an institute of higher learning like Tel Aviv University – not just in Israel but in the entire region – that accepts all students regardless of race, religion or gender and fosters an atmosphere of free expression. Just something to ponder on Nakba Day.

For the sake of completeness, I also want to remind you about the furore over the Nakba Law, passed in March 2011. At the time there were allegations of it removing Israel’s democratic standing, and being a bar on freedom of expression. Those objections were utter garbage, and those who made them should have the balls to stand up and admit it. The law, simply, prevents Israel funding activities which are anti-Israel. And as the Tel Aviv University event shows, if people want to put on anti-Israel events, they are free to do so – just at their own expense. That, I submit, is exactly right. (No pun intended.)

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Chess update

After three games of the World Chess Championship, Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand are tied. (If they are still even after twelve matches, there is a tie break.)

I guess Boris will be the happier of the two players; he has shown that he is up to the challenge of competing at this lofty level, withstood two games as black, and is level on points. And, although Boris was in real danger of losing in the last game, he held his nerve and passed that most serious test of his resolve.

In short, all to play for!

Game White Black Opening Result
1 Anand Gelfand Gruenfeld ½ – ½
2 Gelfand Anand Semi-Slav ½ – ½
3 Anand Gelfand Neo-Gruenfeld ½ – ½

World Chess Championship Official Site

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Lost and found

Here’s a travel tip for anyone visiting Israel: do not leave your baggage unattended. When you remember it, and return to collect it, you run the risk of seeing something like this: Continue reading

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Back in the saddle


After too long out of the saddle, at last I got out on my bike tonight for a good run. It was a nice ride, with pleasant company in a warm – but not too warm – evening, nicely topped off by a long, uphill finish. And then that ridiculously self-satisfying sensation of being bathed in my own sweat… Yuk? No. Magic!

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