Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Anyone seen the King of the Jungle?

We all know that the Gaza is not exactly the most sophisticated place on the planet.
It they would ever twin, I would suggest doing it with Afghanistan or Iraq.
There is not much law and a lot of disorder (an idea for a new reality show? “Outlaw and Disorder”? Oops, forgot, we already have that in the form of incursions in Iraq….)
It seems that not only humans are unsafe – our animal friends are also in danger.
Mid November, four masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles raided the only zoo in the Gaza Strip.
After they handcuffed the guard and locked him up in the cafeteria, the thieves first stole two white and grey parrots that speak a few words in Arabic.
That is in itself a Good Thing - if they would speak Hebrew, they would for sure be bird pie by now.
Then, the thieves moved on to grab two lions. They were successful with one; the other violently resisted and was left alone.

The zoo’s manager Saud al-Shawwa announced a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information that could help find the lion and parrots.
"Thousands of people visit the zoo and they will miss these animals, especially the lion," he said.
"We have different species of animals here and we urge the Palestinian security forces to help us find the stolen animals."
(I wouldn't hold my breath if were him - the Palestinian security force is not exactly known for its efficient operations).
"The whole operation lasted less than 30 minutes," Shawwa added.
"The thieves must have visited the zoo before to examine the place. The zoo was officially opened two months ago."

To me, it looks like an animal abduction gang that was filling an order – the black market for lions is non-existent.
Apart from an attitude problem (lions don’t take very kindly to anything that interrupts their daily routine), they are also expensive in the upkeep.
An adult will easily eat more than 3 kilos meat a day, and we are not talking hamburgers, but prime stuff.
So somewhere in Gaza, Jordan or Egypt, there is a Fat Cat stroking the head of this lion….
I don’t think that the announced reward will bring in any leads – the Fat Cat will for sure multiply this amount as hush money if necessary.
Let’s hope that our lion gets a good treatment; if not, it can always cross the bother and enjoy matzot during Pesach in an Israeli zoo…..

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Job Interview from Hell

We all had them – job interview from hell that leaves you drained, upset and second guessing yourself.
Once you land a job, you are too busy recalling what you went through.

So for all you (potential) jobseekers, when you feel like you had the worst interview in history – read the following stories and smile. And whatever you do, don’t doubt yourself!

In 2004, I went for my third job interview at an Israeli biotech company in New Jersey.

I met their female, Chinese Vice President half a year ago, and she told me then that they were looking for someone like me. “Bingo!” I thought.

I went on my second interview a month before, but was turned away from the office since the VP (aptly named “Asia”) was out of the country on business.

I double-checked this time, and was informed that they were waiting for me. So far, so good….

My b-f drove me to my job interview and told me not to worry about him and take as much time as I needed. (A prince among men, non?)

I went in at 11 am and stumbled out at 12.30am. The interview was a disaster.

Asia started by informing me that she is an excellent boss who never stabs people in the back.

Furthermore, when she is unhappy, she will give her employees hell, but not in front of others.

“I am very loyal to my people, you see” she said.

Needless to say, I did not see; my laser eye correction in 2000 must be less successful than I thought…

She told me that the present position is for a Director, but that she will appoint him/her as a manager, so she “can place another person over his/her head if I am unhappy”…

She also told me: “you are single, no kids? Excellent! You can work long hours!”

She went on telling me that I have to work “at least twice as hard as I did before”.

Since I work an average of 10 hours a day, it would mean that I have to forfeit sleep, eat and other such unnecessary activities to meet her demands……

I asked about the financial situation of her company. The investment round only generated $1M. which is peanuts for a technology-driven company . They are under pressure to be commercial ASAP.

We did not discus salary, but she told me that all employees received a salary cut of 20%….She said that nobody left the company, despite the salary cuts.

I wondered if that was because they are chained to the wall and cannot physically leave….I decided not the ask.

When asking “where I see myself in 2 years” she informed me that she loves to hear a candidate telling her that he/she wants her job. I looked at her nose, expecting it to grow like Pinocchio’s, but no such luck.

She also talked about the Israeli CEO as a “wonderful, caring, honest man” in a dreamy voice, looking at the ceiling with a smile around her lips - which gave me some clue about the dynamics in this company.

Her plan is simple: appoint a tandem consisting of a Marketing Director and a Business Development Director. Their successes are hers, the failures are theirs (and “off with their heads” as the Queen said in Alice in Wonderland).

She then went on criticizing and second guessing all my qualifications, wondering if I was really “up to the job” and that she had “some reservations” about my being able to write materials.

This did not stop her from making notes of all my suggestions and opinions that I am pretty sure she happily implemented afterwards.

She polished it off my informing me that she had given me 1,5 hours (and not the standard 30 minutes) since I came in vain the previous time, thus nifty making me feel responsible for it.

Her parting shot was the best: “I am interviewing 30 other people, but keep in touch, I expect questions from you by email”. (Sure, and please hold your breath until I do!)

I stumble out of the building, emotionally drained. B-f was very supportive (he always is!) and gave some colorful feedback harboring on character assassination. (Asia’s, not mine).

B-f knows me well, so he treated me to a wonderful lunch (salmon in a cream/mushroom sauce on a bed of wild rise with cooked asparagus + a glass of excellent dry white wine) to cheer me up. Guess what? It did the trick!

Needless to say, I never heard anything back, not even a polite “thank you, no thank you” email........

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Do you speak Peretzenglish?

Israel’s newly elected
Labor Party Chairman, Amir Peretz, delivered his first speech in English. Recipients were donors of the Rabin Center.
Peretz fumbled his way through the speech, unable to pronounce several words.
In the end, he skipped complicated sentences.

For his lack of English, Peretz has been harshly attacked in the media.
In itself, this is grossly unfair.
Union leader (yes, only in Israel can you be the leader of one of the biggest political parties and potentially prime minister and still serve as the powerful chairman of the Union) worked his way up from a poor immigrant background to the powerhouse he is today.
I definitely do not agree with his views (I strongly believe that he will be disastrous as a PM), but I give him a lot of credit for that.

“How can a guy like that talk to the President of the USA?” his critics asked.
Well, easily, I would think.

Let's face it -
George W. Bush makes a habit of slaughtering his native tongue.
They even coined a phrase for his many gaffes: Bushlexia.

A loyal Bush Watcher coined this phrase describing it as “a combination of dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, apraxia, illiteracy, ignorance, laziness, passive-aggressiveness, inappropriate humor, and an arrogant attitude of privilege.”
So I don’t see why Amir and Georgie cannot communicate in simple basic English sentences.

So what if Amir misuses a word or doesn’t know how to pronounce it?
Just look at the following quote of the current Prez:
"Israel has got responsibilities," Mr. Bush said.
"Israel must deal with the settlements.
Israel must make sure there's a continuous territory that Palestinians call home."
(The White House, which late in the day produced a transcript of Mr. Bush's remarks, put the word "contiguous" in parentheses after "continuous," to indicate that "contiguous" was what Mr. Bush had meant.) --
New York Times, 06.04.03

This is not the only "
misquote" of GWB - what to think of the following?
"Too many good docs are getting out of the business.
Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." —Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

You see my point? Let’s first wait for a US president with proper language skills before we criticize non-Anglo politicians….
And at least Peretz is fluent in two languages (Hebrew and Moroccan Arabic), in contrast to the
43rd President of the USA who personifies the old joke: “what do you call someone who only speaks one language? American!”

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Et tu, Hila?

Hila Cohen is a judge who was convicted in the summer of 2005 for tampering with court documents. She forged minutes of meetings with defense counsel that never took place and also destroyed court documents. Instead of firing her on the spot, the court sentenced her to be reassigned to another court and to a severe reprimand.
This created an uproar, and Cohen was asked to resign, which she flatly refused.
Proceedings to dismiss Cohen were submitted to the judges selection committee to make the lady leave. The committee is expected to do just that on December 1.
But Hila is not a woman to avoid a good fight, so she announced that she wants to launch a counter investigation of Justice Minister Tsipi Livni.
She wrote a letter to Livni , asking to question the Justice Ministry and other senior officials, including the Justice Ministry commissioner for complaints against judges.

She also demands that "defense witnesses" will be heard and that she can "counter investigate."
She justified this as follows:
"in a legal inquiry it is inappropriate that a judge who is being asked to conclude her tenure cannot investigate the people who have proposed her dismissal."

OK, so if this flies, we can all start investigating the performance of our bosses when we are being laid-off……
I don’t know how Hila Cohen got appointed and I haven’t got a clue what her credentials are, but she is for sure creative!

She is not the only one taking creative licenses with the law.
Omri Sharon, son of PM
Ariel Sharon, was convicted of falsifying corporate documents and perjury, among other offenses, which in the overwhelming majority of cases constitute crimes of moral turpitude. This is relevant, since Omri is a Member of Knesset (MK).
According to the Basic Law on
The Knesset, an MK may not continue to serve in his position if his final conviction pertains to crimes of moral turpitude.
A court hearing a MK’s case - at its own initiative, or in keeping with a request from the attorney general - can determine whether the offenses in question constitute crimes of moral turpitude.
In the case of Omri (who struck a plea bargain) that part has not been finalized.
Obviously, being convicted is not as important as gluing yourself to your parliamentary seat.
The State Prosecution will ask the court to rule that the offenses for which Sharon was convicted do indeed constitute crimes of moral turpitude.
But even when successful, Omri has the right to appeal that part of the verdict, effectively dragging it on for years and calmly remaining an active MK member, representing the people of Israel.

Oh irony –
Israel has a wonderful political and court system with too many unscrupulous people abusing it.
It makes you almost pine for the times of
King Solomon…Oh Shlomo, were are thou?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Esther is coming to town

Madonna, the poster girl for Berg’s version of Kabbalah, is planning to visit Israel during the Hanukkah holiday.
Madonna, who refers to herself as "Esther" is planning to visit Israel during the upcoming Chanukkah holiday.
She wants to seek the blessing of Israel's leading Kabbalist -
Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri.
(First off, considering her new name, it would be more fitting for her to visit Israel during
This is the second time that Madonna asked to be blessed; the previous time (in 2004) the rabbi refused even to meet her.

This time around, Madonna’s managers apparently also contacted the rabbi's associates, including the rav’s grandson Yossi Kaduri, to try and set up a meeting between the pop singer and the rabbi.
You see, mother-of-two Madonna wants to have another child but first wants to receive Kaduri’s blessing.
(I am not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China, but I applaud her motherly instincts).

All in all, I am quite puzzled.
For starters, it just doesn’t make sense.
Madonna is Catholic, so it would make more sense for her to visit the
(The new one seems like a decent bloke, so give it a shot, Madge).
Furthermore, someone has to explain to her that just using the name Esther doesn’t make her Jewish. If I would get a dollar for every non-Jewish girl called Esther, I could buy myself some serious real estate. (
The Hamptons spring to mind).
It’s nice that she has a spiritual life, but her version of Kabbalah is not exactly mainstream.
I cannot blame organizations such as the
International Society for Sephardic Progress to go into a hissy fit and urge Kaduri to shun her.

And our Madge doesn’t exactly have what we call neshamah.
Remarks such as "It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party (instead of the Kabbalah Center)," only show that she doesn’t have an inking about Jewish sensitivities.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire Madonna for the marketing genius she is, but I would like to suggest the following.
Once in Israel, I would like her to give a concert, free of charge, and invite her fans and admirers from both sides of the (security) fence.
Let Israelis and Palestinians together belt out songs and make dance moves.
It might not be a Kabbalah blessing, but it would for sure be a true

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

JAP meets Sabra

For those of you watching the dating/reality show “
Of all the girls in the world” the best episode up till now was the one broadcasted last Sunday on Channel 3.
It showed us all the difference between the Israeli and JAP lifestyle.
To update you - the elimination race is still going on. The three finalists were flown to New York to meet the parents.
First we have Neta, a sweet Israeli girl who, IMHO, would be desperately unhappy outside of Israel.
Then there is Marie, a 21-year old perky Canadian, who comes across as a diva in the making. Last but not least – Bulgarian Maria.
Non-Jewish Maria (Jewish father, Catholic mother) is very much a woman, statuesque, with an air of mystery about her.
In New York, the girls are staying in bachelor Ari’s not-so-impressive- apartment.
I would have put my foot down and asked for a single room in the
Millennium Hotel.
They were whisked off to an olam to meet the family. Oy!
All of them made a good impression: the mother liked Marie, the father Maria and the sister Neta. So much for consensus. Ari’s family came across as slightly dysfunctional.
Ari’s father was blatantly fawning over Maria gushing what a beautiful woman she is.
The mother announced that she is the perfect mother-in-law, because "I keep my mouth zipped shut and my wallet zipped open." Mmmm, so much for the Jewish Values that Ari keeps bringing up. Sister Charlene knows how to act for the cameras. She plays the vixen part with relish and could give Joan Collins a run for her money.
Charlene invited each girl to her place for a separate check session.
The first victim was sweet Neta, who was schlepped to a manicure/pedicure place.
When Charlene found out that she never had a pedicure before, she nearly fainted and drowned in her footbath.
She asked Neta about working, emphasizing that she herself is a stay-at-home Mum.
Neta answered truthfully that she would like to work and cut down on it once she has children. Charlene looked shocked.
Obviously, she doesn’t get two things:
a) staying home with the kids is a luxury Israeli women don’t have (except for the affluent ones);
b) educated women like to work in their chosen field of expertise. I wonder if Charl Dear ever visited Israel or has any Israeli friends.
After summing up the visit, Charlene informed Ari that she had a problem with Neta not being "a traditional woman such as Mum and myself."
Marie was the second victim, and was cordially invited to step into the high design kitchen to make "sesame schnitzels with noodles."
"Noodles" in the States is called "pasta" in Canada and Europe (being a collective noun), so Marie asked if she was talking about spaghetti. Charlene gave her an affirmative nod with a "don’t try my patience" look.
Marie did her best, honestly saying that she didn’t know if she was heading for the chuppah yet. "I see myself having a serious relationship that might lead to marriage," she said, which in my book is a very mature and sensible statement for a 21-year old.
Charlene kept emphasizing to Marie and Ari that she (Marie) is very young, and that there is a 13-year-old age gap with 34-year old Ari.
The last victim was Maria, who had a really tough time.
Charlene took her to a boutique were she tried on her outfit for her son’s Bar Mitsva.
It consisted of a knee length black frock with a short sleeved glittery jacket – not exactly a proper outfit for an Orthodox shul. Maria said that she liked the outfit.
Charlene changed into a white evening halter dress with a slit halfway up her tights.
Charl posed "
Alexis Carrington of Dynasty"- style and asked poor Maria (who lied through her teeth that she liked this outfit as well) what she would wear at an Orthodox Jewish wedding.
"A dress" she answered, "with sleeves."
Charlene was not happy about this answer and told Ari that she didn’t think that Maria has any neshomme. Ari promptly dumped Maria stating: "I have a problem with your honesty."
Considering how he is portrayed in the show, this gives new meaning to the world chutzpa.
So now we are down to two: sweet Sabra Neta and perky JAP Marie.
Who will win? I predict neither.
No matter who will be chosen, Ari will not settle down with anyone.
His best option: let Charl select a woman for him, and marry her after the approval of the parent unit.
It’s a pity Charlene doesn’t work – she has the makings of a great