Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Updates from the Big HLC March 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:13 am

Because I so infrequently venture out, I’m providing a “news glean” this fine and fair Thursday morning in HLC (Holy Land Central). I’ll provide a few links to other people’s efforts and thoughts because at the moment none of mine are original or exciting.

Before getting started, however, allow me to note that the weather here is absolutely gorgeous. Evenings are a tad cool for my tastes but daytimes are warming up to beach temperate, the orange blossom and jasmine are sending off the gift of fragrance wafted in through the window each day and the masses are out and about milling and cafe sitting.

If you’re headed this way for Passover or Easter from, say, Toronto where at this very moment the temp is 1 degree C or 30-something Fahrenheit (ARE YOU KIDDING??) then you won’t be disappointed. Shed those togs, mes petits choux…

For insight and election commentary it’s well worth taking a stroll over to Allison’s blog. Her passion, thorough reading habits and background as a D.C. journalist come shining through. It helps to know a bit about the players and issues before going but it’s not essential. Also, check out veteran journalist Bradley Burston’s take on jihad tactics as a unifying force for Israelis.

This commentary opens a window for the view on occupation from a Palestinian-American comedian/journalist’s backyard. It’s a bit ranty for my tastes and some of the phraseology is a tad ghetto i.e. big mouthed, loser Arab leaders… but it’s an interesting read.

And LEST things get too serious over here at the Drive-Thru, check out this picture. What in the hell has happened to the Jackson clan? And how did LaToya’s PR agent allow her to venture into the public domain looking like that? And why is it that this family keeps running into overzealous plastic surgeons?

Over and out.


The End & Beginning March 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 7:00 am

Israeli election results are in and the big surprises are the Likud’s demise, a pop-up-out-of-left-field pro-senior rights party and the far right Russian-led Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home). The lead victors are newly-formed Kadima and Labor who will coalesce. Read this colorful commentary for an overview.

I’m relieved that it’s over but couldn’t help but notice that as election returns were rolling in last night, the freshly approved Hamas government took time out of their busy schedules to knock off a bit of rhetoric:

The Koran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and death for the sake of God is our highest aspiration …leading Hamas lawmaker Hamed Bitawi

Charming. And I returned to HLC (Holy Land Central) – referred to by P.J. O’Rourke in Holidays in Hell as “God’s Monkey House” – because….???

Back to this side of the Green Line (which is, by the way, who I voted for: Green Party i.e. environment. They did horribly which is a damned shame)… Now comes the work of rolling up the sleeves and forming a government. I write that as if I’m wearing my power suit and tie and about to head into a coalition meeting in five minutes. They’ll form the government in Jerusalem. I’ll go the kitchen and fix myself a sandwich and another cup of coffee.

Stay tuned…And don’t forget to watch the Total Solar Eclipse! 2 a.m. San Francisco time, noon Tel Aviv local and 5 a.m. on the right coast. Watch via live feed on this site and get info from NASA here.


Vote Update March 28, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 12:14 pm

Apathy Shmapathy…After a very quiet breakfast with Rapha sans political discussion at neighboring cafe tables, we walked to my polling station at a local elementary school. Seated in plastic lawn chairs outside one of the designated voting booth classrooms were a dozen and a half people. You’re all waiting to vote? I asked. One balding, forty-something with arms folded across his chest answered: No. We have an appointment with the doctor.

I laughed too. And split. Later on this. The place was swimming with people waiting to see the doctor. I’ll come back when everyone’s feeling a bit better.


Elections Elections, Step Right Up!

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:42 am

The whole election blase attitude: yawn yawn, who cares, oh it’s that day already? But I’m getting my nails done… is almost like the whole Gen X, Y, Z Whatever chic. So I’ll be the first to break the mold.

It’s exciting. In a subtle sort of way.

How can it not be, really?

First of all, it says something when most of the country has the day off. Perhaps it says that this is a socialist country that hops on the vacation day bandwagon whenever possible. Think: France and holidays and strikes. But I don’t think so. I’m imagining my friend George back in San Fran, a fairly allergic to work type, explaining to her boss: But today is election day. I can’t come to work! Uhhhh ..No.

Also, any election is about fresh beginnings and renewed hope and that is always exciting. Perhaps THIS new party will do what no other party has done before. Maybe we’ll have peace. Maybe this other party over here will finally patch up holes in the economy. Maybe there won’t be any more bombings. Maybe things will work out with Hamas and there’ll be negotiations and an agreement and the army will be disbanded and everyone will have olive groves for backyards forever.

Yes it’s naive and childish. But why not indulge fantasy for a day before the difficult tasks of forming alliances, brokering deals and ironing out our futures begins anew?

I’ll drink my morning coffee to that while the neighbors’ televisions blare stereo drone of talking heads. And I’ll hum while surfing friends’ blogs and news sites buzzing with tidbits surrounding the big day AND I’ll butt into political conversations with gusto when Rapha and I venture to our favorite cafe for breakfast before heading to the polling station.

It’s un-chic and I’m admitting it: It’s exciting to be voting here again after a decade. And yes, I know who I’m casting for and no, I’m still not saying.


Almost Elections March 27, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:55 am

Tomorrow is the big day, fah la la la la, la la la la. (Who cares? fah la la la la, la la la la)…

While waiting in line for the health insurance office staff to get around to actually helping people rather than gossiping about the upcoming staff meeting and the television program on the overhead monitor, I was privy to this conversation:

You see! The weather girl just said it’s going to rain on election day!
Why not? Even god is crying over having to go to the polls every two years

Election day is no-school or work day here in HLC (Holy Land Central) so people will vote and then go shopping, out for picnics (the weather is gorgeous!) to the beach or back home to their computers where they will dully catch up on deadlines and cross out “to do’s” on ever burgeoning lists.

My vote? It changes every day. Just this morning I was talking to a friend who swayed me in a different direction. Mum’s the word but it will be left of center.

And because deadlines loom two quick notes:

1) Wanna get freaked out? Check out the documentary The Future of Food. It came on the scene in 2005 and is considered a “must-see” by the SF Chronicle AND my video store guy. Some of the DNA and genetics sequences get bogged down and I sort of wish the filmmakers had some different shots to work with rather than the recurring (and recurring and recurring) one of the canola fields…But the gist is the gist. Note to self: Find out Israel’s policy on genetically modified food, food labeling and genetically modified food trade policy with U.S.

2) Read the book The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s reminiscent of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird vis a vis civil rights, the young Southern girl narrator’s voice and the style… vivid, poignant, gorgeous and heart-string pulling. You can almost smell the peach groves, hear the chirping crickets and feel the ice cold plunge of bare feet into the creekbed. I started it on the 1/2 hour bus ride to Modiin yesterday morning and am halfway through.

**A wee share: To Kill A Mockingbird is my all time favorite book. Saw the film when I was nine or ten and it left an indelible impression**



Another Word.. March 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:39 am

For those who have followed the ordeal since it began earlier this month, I feel it’s only fair to update regarding events which have transpired since I last blogged about it all.

Aside from the story appearing in the mainstream Hebrew & English press and on numerous websites and blogs, I have received e-mails and calls of support and inquiry from people wanting to take action, vent or write about the issue. One of the contacts came from a network television producer in the U.S.

This morning, webster Doug Fox of e-mailed to inform that editors of the magazine in question have removed the Website’s list of dance companies by country originally showing Israel as absent. For the full text on it, read here.

Doug was encouraged by this move and his tone was upbeat. I’m not as optimistic.

But he did make a point worth noting about the speed with which the blog world banded together in protest over the issue. That is definitely worth looking at and thinking about in today’s world of global connectivity.


Trivia March 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:30 am

A few notable stats from the online press…

– There’s been a 15% increase in return of Israelis to the “Mutterland”- 5,700 in 2005 compared with 4,000 in 2003. The driving force behind the migration? Feeling at home here in HLC (Holy Land Central). 88% feel more at home in HLC compared with 44% who feel more comfy in their adopted country of choice.

And here’s a non-surprising stat: 81% enjoyed job satisfaction on foreign turf while only 51% are feeling it here…

– More numbers. Only 12% of Israelis are frequent flyers (!!!) Perhaps this is why job satisfaction is lagging?

Frozen solid: Members of the 10-person traveling peace delegation Breaking the Ice were turned back at the Libyan border after crossing the Sahara Desert – a 5500 km (3400 mile) endeavor – because two delegation members are Israeli and Libya doesn’t recognize Israel. So the Israelis were invisible and it’s against code to allow invisible people across the border…
Other delegates are Palestinian, North American, Afghani, Iranian and Iraqi…Read all about it. Cool in the warmest way possible was the team’s decision to forego Libya in deference to their imaginary mates.

Lest original content be lacking, a photograph depicting the consequences of billowing curtain combined with curious kitten


Kissy Face March 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:00 am

I don’t really get out all that much. In fact, I sit at home all the live-long day reading assorted literature, a task for which I am compensated generously. This is why instead of blogging about real world events like the avian virus strain in Israel, elections in a week, Hamas’ newly appointed cabinet, Milosevic’s death and burial, Ecuador’s state of emergency and the newly crowned “Miss Israel”, I continue to dish up tidbits from a certain book written by a certain former U.S. Secretary of State.

Today’s offer regards kissing. I laughed so hard at the playground reading this entry yesterday – I do get out occasionally but only in short increments and only with written permission from a physician – that the other parents cautiously guided their children away from my general direction.

Maddie writes about mastering the art of “diplomatic kissing” in greeting, a job requirement that gets complicated by the fact that in some countries they kiss on the left, others on the right, some on both and some – like Botswana – four times.

Ms. Albright:
As for Arafat, he could only be described as dogged and unpredictable. Sometimes he would do one cheek, sometimes two, and at times both cheeks, the forehead, and the hand. He also tried to kiss President Clinton, who towered above him, so Arafat ended up laying his head beneath the President’s chin.

So about that mysterious blood disease…


My Man Mati March 19, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:12 pm

I’m talking to my ma on the phone and she mentions that her non-denomina-ffiliated hairdresser in Cincinnati is going to see..Mat..Matt..Matt..

Matisyahu? I offer.

You know him?

Well yeah, ma. He’s sorta like huge in the Hassidic messianic rapper hall of fame. Not that I’m messianically inclined, Hassidic, a rapper or visit the hall of fame.

Oh…she says, pondering it all for a minute. Because my hairdresser says he’s playing Bogart’s and it’s completely sold out. My hairdresser knows all the words to his songs. He asked me what mashiach means. I won’t get to see Mat..Mat..What’s his name again? But imagine that. You know who he is.

Ma, I say. I knew who he was before I moved ‘oer here yonder across the pond. He was on television. Just now in January he was on Letterman. Ma, he was on MTV. Not that I saw the Letterman gig or the MTV bit but these things have a way of making the rounds.

Patty didn’t manage to nab any tickets to the sold-out show but she’s gonna head on over to Tower or Virgin and pick herself up a Matisyahu CD for the car.

And so it was that a Torahstafarian bridged the generation gap between Patty and Steph. Schoingemacht.


TGI Saturday March 18, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 1:35 pm

10 days to Israeli elections…ho hum. Because I will probably not be providing information I defer to those who will: Lisa’s posting at The Guardian’s newsblog or Shai’s or this ad campaign video about lessening the religious grip.

My pal Jeff the journalist gave me a very interesting schpiel last night covering economics, politics, foreign policy and domestic social reform vis a vis the parties and election. He told who he will probably vote for by process of eliminating the parties distasteful to him. He also informed that where at one time it was okay to ask people who they were casting for, it’s no longer cool.

But you know what? It’s Saturday and the weather is beautiful. So enjoy a second-hand glimpse of Tel Aviv’s Saturday beach flockers…