Hello Everyone! Today I am guest authoring for the Israeli blogs…a section of the Middle East that doesn't get covered very much here at Global Voices. It isn't because we aren't interested…we are, and it isn't because the Israeli blogs aren't fun and fascinating…because they are (and I will show you shortly). It is because we lack an author who wants to share this wonderful section of the blogosphere with us. In fact there are lots of areas of the world that we aren't able to cover on Global Voices because we need volunteer authors to step in and help tell the stories that are out there. Would you like to join our team? Would you like to find more ways to join the conversation? Contact us!
But for now, let's return to the Israeli Blogs. I intend to give you a small smattering of content, ranging from fun to politics, from everyday life to special occasions. Starting with some fun…did you know that pot is “not kosher” for Passover?
So much for using marijuana as Karpas. Yes, it’s leafy and yes, it’s green. But apparently, hemp seeds are not kosher for Passover. That is, if you’re Ashkenazi. The seeds belong to a limbo category of growing things called “kitniyot,” so if your seder has beans and rice, feel free to put the “Yes I Can” in cannabis this Festival of Freedom.
Or have you heard about Israeli backpackers in India?
A popular joke amongst Israelis traveling in India goes like this:
An Indian asks an Israeli backpacker, “So how many Israelis are there?” The backpacker answers “Around 7 million.” The Indian then asks, “And how many in Israel?”
Around 50,000 Israelis visit India each year – mostly backpackers, a large proportion of whom are on a gap year between the end of their army service and the beginning of the rest of their lives. They comprise only a minuscule proportion of the total number of foreign visitors to India each year, but Israelis are the only ones who have a tendency to travel in packs, and to cluster in certain places. In Delhi they stay at the Hare Rama, one of the grottiest guesthouses in Pahar Ganj, a seedy area near the train station. In Goa there is Tel Aviv Beach, and during the summer Israelis stay in spots around Himachal Pradesh (HP), most notably in a little village called Bhagsu Nag, near Dharamsala.
The presence of Hebrew-speaking backpackers is so overwhelming in these places that they have come to resemble little Israeli colonies in India.
In the Israeli Blogs there is a level of commonality that all bloggers can relate to:
Just in case anyone out there might be entertaining the idea of starting their own blog I feel that in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that keeping up treppenwitz hasn't always been all beer and skittles.
There have been countless times when cantankerous commentors and tiresome trolls have nearly sapped me of my will to continue. And every few months I look in the rear-view mirror and wonder if I even have anything left worth saying.
But every so often this thing called treppenwitz opens a new door or provides a personal connection that I didn't think possible. And just when I am asking myself why I bother doing this, I get a surprise of… if not beer and skittles… then at least cookies and cream
And of course, there is always something new to be learned…or rather more details to discover:
There are several options in Israel for young men graduating from high school. This is all very new to me and some of it I may even have wrong. But for what I understand, every Israeli boy (and girl), when he turns 18, is obligated to serve in the Israeli army. Their choices are:
1) go directly into the army and serve three years.
2) get a postponement and study in yeshiva for 1 to 3 years. Hesder Yeshiva allows the boys to learn more and do less army service, Mechina programs allows the boys to learn up to one and a half years and then do 3 years of army service.
3) do sherut leumi (which is what most girls do), which is national volunteer service.
Those are the 3 choices as I understand them. Every Hesder yeshiva is different, as is every Mechina. Hesder yeshivas are know to have much more serious learning than the Mechina programs. And as I understand it, The Hesder programs are more textual based, while the Mechina programs are more spiritually/practically based.
In my recent research into this new area for me, I was delighted at the political commentary…. from this about anti-Israeli bias:
Today’s lesson in media bias: Watch a wire service outright lie to its readers. First up, the Saudi peace initiative, which is essentially dead in the water due to the Arabs insistence that Israel agree to it before they can then begin to make changes to things they find objectionable. (And right now is a good time for a “WTF? You want me to sign the agreement and THEN say I don’t like it? WTF?”)
To this wonderful piece (with accompanying YouTube video) about the UN's lack of resolve on human rights issues:
Although it sounds like a delicious idea, I do not believe that urging Israel and the US to leave the United Nations in a good idea. However, it is imperative that the public understand, when the UN denounces Israel for human rights violations, that that is how the human rights council enjoys spending its time. This does not mean that Israel never violates anyone's human rights, rather that the UN is not a reliable observer of the human rights “scene.” The current council includes Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia — all known for their unbiased treatment of Jews and outstanding records in Human Rights, eh? (She asks rhetorically) In the next two years, Human Rights Council will include Pakistan and Cuba. Libya has sat on this council. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
There are two sad results of this mess. First is that millions of people around the world are suffering badly under their governments, and the UN is not twitching an eyebrow on their behalfs.
It seems that anti Arab sentiments are on the rise in Israel. This according to a recent poll on whether or not the state should back Arab migration. Of 500 Israeli Jews polled, the results showed 50% were in favour of encouraged migration.
I find it amazing that there is no attempt made to hide these feelings. Israel is constantly denying that it is a racist state or a state that is implementing apartheid, but here is proof that those very policies are supported by half of the population.
It is a very sad commentary on the situation here and shows how much work is left to be done in this country to reverse this trend before it completely overtakes us.
Racism must be defeated through education.
Well if you have made it to the end of this article, I hope that you are as interested in this section of the blogosphere as I am. I hope that if you are an Israeli blogger that you have been inspired to be an author, and do a better job of this weblog round-up than I. In any case, if you want to see more…let us know!