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Thursday, November 29, 2007

G. I. Jones

19 of the Ninth Month 5768

Here's my Esser Agaroth on today's headlines, announcing U. S. Secretary of State Rice's appointment of Gen. James Jones (ret.) "to supervise PA progress on terrorism."

New U.S. Military Envoy to Supervise PA Progress on Terrorism
Hana Levi Julian, IsraelNN.com)

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appointed a NATO veteran to serve as America's military point man in the Middle East.

It will be the task of General James Jones, a Marine Corps general who retired last February and served until 2006 as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, to monitor activities between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

A 40-year-veteran, Jones headed a panel tasked by the Congress last summer that studied the readiness of Iraq's police and military forces. He will be retaining his present position as president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Energy. (read more...)


Translation: slave to oil

Commentary: Likely to turn the other way,... or cheek, when there is a risk of offending the suppliers of oil to the U. S. Gee. And, who might those be?

And, it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks this....

Dr. Gadi Eshel of Professors for a Strong Israel, however, was unimpressed by Rice's remarks, saying that she has chosen to appoint someone to the post who is "at the very least cold towards Israel."

Eshel pointed out that Jones is involved in cutting business deals with the Gulf States, a major conflict of interest. "But what else can you expect from the State Department?" he said. "It verges on pure anti-Semitism, to appoint such a man to decide whether an act of terror has been committed with the blessing of the Palestinian Authority or not.

"The very fact that another country nominates an individual – and G-d forbid Israel would accept it – to judge whether an act of terror is sufficiently defined as a real act of terror or a negligible breach of the commitment of the PA [to end the violence] – that very fact is so mind-boggling that I cannot see any other definition," he added. (read more...)


And, as if it was to reassure us...

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack... added that he will be working closely with Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator who has been training the PA security forces for more than a year.

Dayton faced harsh criticism by Congress members earlier this year after admitting that Fatah terrorists had obtained American arms. His reputation was also severely damaged when Hamas terrorists overran Gaza last June and routed the Fatah militia he had trained.

At the beginning of this month, 300 of Dayton's PA security troops made their debut in the "terrorist capital" of Samaria, Shechem. Dayton has been supervising their training at an American-funded base in Jericho, with new weapons purchased by the Bush administration.


Yeah. Just what we need, more U. S. troops in Israel to "protect" us. If American troops really wanted to protect us, they should stop trying to "protect" us.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

In One Ear And Out The Other

16 of the Ninth Month 5768

About a week ago I sent the Department of State an article from Israel National News, through its contact page. Here is a snippet of the article by Hana Levi Jullian:

Rice and Ramon Read it Wrong: Israelis Oppose Land Concessions

(IsraelNN.com) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice incorrectly estimated this week that most Israeli citizens are willing to hand over Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority. Rice shared her assessment in a speech to 3,000 delegates at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Tennessee. (Read more....)


This is the e-mail response I received:

Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support
center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

Thank you for contacting the State Department.

Subject
---------------------------------------------------------------
Rice and Ramon Read it Wrong: Israelis Oppose Land Concessions


Discussion Thread
---------------------------------------------------------------
Response (Support Agent) - 11/23/2007 02:40 PM
The Bureau of Public Affairs is in receipt of your message. Please know that all views are welcome and we appreciate the time you took to express your concerns.

Secretary Rice and President Bush are committed to making the world a better place for all Americans and all people.

We encourage you to visit our website at www.state.gov for information on the Secretary and Department publications.

Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of State.


Question Reference #071116-000034
---------------------------------------------------------------
Category Level 1: U.S. Foreign Policy
Date Created: 11/16/2007 06:15 AM
Last Updated: 11/23/2007 02:40 PM
Status: Solved


[---001:000963:20001---]


Yeah, sure, it's silly of me to expect a response to m news article.

It's silly me to expect a response at all. I am sure the State Department gets thousands of e-mails per day.

And, who the heck am I anyway? I'm just an American citizen,...just some two-bit blogger whose Technorati authority has fallen from an all time high of 60, down to 52.

And, CERTAINLY, when the response says "Status: Solved" (in bold), it means that they have sent me an acknowledgment that the very interesting and relevant article I sent to them was received, and not just trying to shove me aside, right?

Really. Why do they bother? Why do I bother?

I'll tell you why. It's because I feel like I have to do something. I think that's what the State Department knows about Americans, too.

Even with the large amount of issues with which I agree with President Bush, I must admit that there has not been a single U. S. president as arrogant as he is, with regard to pushing Israel around.

Granted, Prime Minister Smolmert (smole means "left" in Hebrew) and Foreign Minister Livni are pretty easy to push around. And the U. S. State Department has traditionally been anti-Israel since its recommendation, under the Truman administration NOT to recognize Israel's independence. But that's not the point.

Well, Jimmy Carter certainly is now, but he's an ex-president. Hmm...actually, more has come out about just how arrogant he was during the "Expulsion From Sinai," you know, what most people refer to as the "Camp David Accords."

Here in Israel we all know what "accords" mean. "Accords" means "according to" those human beings who are in power."

But, I digress....

Neo-Conservatives are a tricky lot. Most conservatives are happy to support them, until they start doing things we don't like. Serves us right, for believing that their "for your own good" approach to foreign policy, really was for our own good.

Criticism just goes in one ear and out the other. "They" know better.

Just for laughs, I'll send Secretary Rice this blog entry. Better yet, I'll give it another shot, and write her another letter:

Secretary Of State Rice Is Mistaken Regarding Israeli Public Opinion


B"H

Dear Mdme. Secretary,

I am writing to call upon you to recant on your statement that that most Israeli citizens are willing to hand over Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority.

This is incorrect.

Israelis are not willing to give up our Biblical homeland, and especially NOT for the establishment of another terror state.

The Arabs, which you call Palestinians, following in the tradition of an ancient Roman misnomer, already have a state. It is called Jordan.

These Arabs refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist. They refuse to acknowledge the Jewish nature of Israel. They continue to reject the historical fact that the First and Second Temples ever existed on the Temple Mount.

Surely, as a Christian, you are appalled by this.

These Arabs continue to deny us the right to pray there, while Muslims pray freely through the State of Israel, and enjoy the protections of their religious rights, brought to them by the Israeli government.

They also continue to say one thing in English, and another in Arabic.

This has been going on for 60 years, employing the western strategies against the west themselves.

Enough is enough.

It is time to give Israel free reign to start dealing with Arabs using Arab-like Arab strategies, like the President has been doing so successfully in Iraq.

There is NO difference between Fatah, Hamas, Hizbollah, Bashir Assad, and Sadam Hussein.

None.

Each day that goes by without acknowledgment of this endangers the existence of Israel.

Which country do you supposed they will target next?

Mdme. Secretary, if you are willing to accept differing views of the Arab world, would you please at least acknowledge that not all opinion polls agree with your assessment of Israelis' willingness, or lack thereof, to relinquish the Jewish Biblical Homeland?

I refuse to believe that you are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people, in order to push forward an agenda which has already been written in stone, whether the American and Israeli public like it or not.

Please remember this, only one thing of any importance has been written in stone. I would like to suggest that you re-evaluate your understanding of that which I speak.

Let me be honest. After all that, I know I cannot count you to do the right thing, and prevent the system

I can only count on the Almighty, may He have mercy on us, and may He grant you the guidance you so desperately need.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ya'aqov Ben-Yehudah
American Citizen,...who votes


Hey, how much do you wanna bet that I will just get another electronically generated response, like the one above?

Yeah, and I'll tell you why: "They" have already made up their minds as to what should and will be done,...for our own good. Anything which is not in line with their perceived, manifest destiny goes in one ear and out the other.

Haveil Havalim #142 Is Up!

15 of the Ninth Month 5768

Haveil Havalim Edition #142 is up on Soccer Dad's Blog.

Please check out this week's edition of the world's leading Jewish and Israeli Blog Carnival!

כל הכבוד, אבא כדורגל, תמשיך הלאה!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Latest On SHA"S

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Wayishlah 5768

Most of you have seen articles about the stubbornness of SHA"S.

Graffiti Declares SHA"S Dividing Jerusalem


Protest Outside Yishai's Home


The SHA"S Party refuses to leave the government, which would help bring it down. I am not sure what the big deal is. Wouldn't Prime Minister "Smolmert" ("Smole" being the Hebrew word for "left") just get Yossi Beilin's YSh"W leftist Mere"tz Party to join, at lest temporarily? Maybe even an Arab Party of two?

I dunno.

What I do know is this. I saw this plain, black no white poster around the neighbor of Meqor Barukh (east of Ge'ulah) the other day. An English translation is below.

למכירה עיר בירה במרכז הארץ כולל קודשי ישראל מכיר מוזל של כסא בממשלה.

לפרטים
02-6662252

לא בשבת 1967

For Sale: A capital city, in the middle of the Land םf Israel, including all of its sanctity at the reduced price of a seat in the government.

For details
02-6662252

Not on Shabbath 1967


I'd say that sums it up pretty nicely.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Tree Grows In Amsterdam

14 of the Ninth Month 5768

Anne Frank's TreeThere has been a lot of buzz going around lately about the tree Anne Frank HY"D (May HaShem avenge her blood) used to see through her window, while in hiding from the Nazis YSh"W. Here's a report, which is as good as any I suppose, from the AP.

So, now, here's my Esser Agaroth:

Inside the U. S. Holocaust Museum, Washington, DCMaybe saving her tree is important, if it is possible. However, if this tree cannot be cured of its fungal blight, and is going to infect the other trees in the area, then chop it down.

Take lots of photos, invite painters in for one last "portrait sitting," and then chop it down.

Trees are important; remembering IS important. But, this tree cannot be aloud to remain standing at the expense of the surrounding, healthy trees.

If protecting the lives of trees is important, even the life of the singular "Anne Frank's Tree," then what about human life?

Remembering the Holocaust and its victims is important. But, should remembering the fallen be placed ahead of protecting the living?

Should remembering fallen Jews take precedence over protecting living Jews?

Outside the U. S. Holocaust Museum, Washington, DCJust think of how much could be accomplished with even one fourth of the money spent on elaborate museums and memorials, in order to stop the current threats to the Jewish People.

I'll let individuals decide for themselves what that money could be used for. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Food, housing, and care for poor and elderly Jews
Yes, even in the US, these Jews exist.

Helping the [real] Jews get out of the former Soviet Union
Poor Jews who don't have train fare to make to the Jewish Agency in Moscow or Kiev or wherever are stuck. Whereas active recruiting of non-Jews, who may or may not have a Jewish grandparent, continues, per Israeli government policy.

and of course...

Combating Intermarriage
This is what I call the "Silent Holocaust." (I await the onslaught of hate mail for my employment of this expression.) Statistics already demonstrate its effects. The Jewish population in the Israel increases, while the Jewish population in the U. S. decreases. I wish that I could say this is due to mass immigration to Israel. But, I cannot.

and in case you haven't been paying attention...

Combating Terrorism
Arabs continue to shoot and bomb and manipulate the West in an effort to wipe Israel off the map. I say "Israel" here, because Jews are still too deep in denial about the Arabs' true objectives. (For those Jews who are not too deep in denial: It isn't Israel the Arabs want to wipe off the map; it's YOU!)

By the way, the photo of the qassam rocket was not taken in S'deroth. The photo is from a school in Ashqelon!

and do you really think that Jews are safe even in the U. S.?

Check this out: Shwastika Epidemic in the United States.

What's the point of remembering atrocities against the Jewish People IF we do not do enough to prevent the next atrocities from occurring?

If enough is not done, then there won't be any Jews left to visit your museums, or to appreciate a tree growing in Amsterdam.

May God forbid.


*******************

Here are a few more posts on this issue:

Debbie Schlussel
The Eye of the Storm

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tefillath Havineinu

12 of the Ninth Month 5768

According to the Talmud Yershalmi, one may say Tefillath Havineinu during the rainy season.

תלמוד ירושלמי
דף לד,א פרק ד הלכה ג גמרא

הביננו רצה תשובתנו סלח לנו גואלנו רפא חליינו ברך שנותינו אמר ר' חגי אם היו גשמים אומרים גשמי ברכה אם היו טללים אומרים בטללי ברכה כי מפוזרים אתה מקבץ ותועין עליך לשפוט ועל הרשעים תשית ידך וישמחו כל חוסי בך בבנין עירך ובחידוש בית מקדשך ובצמח דוד עבדך כי טרם נקרא אתה תענה כאמור והיה טרם יקראו ואני אענה עוד הם מדברים ואני אשמע ברוך אתה ה' שומע תפילה ואומר ג' ברכות ראשונות וג' ברכות אחרונות ואומר ברוך ה' כי שמע קול תחנוני


Thus the nusah for the middle brakhah would be:


הביננו רצה תשובתנו סלח לנו גואלנו רפא חליינו ברך שנותינו

חורף: בגשמי ברכה
קיץ: בטללי ברכה

כי מפוזרים אתה מקבץ ותועין עליך לשפוט ועל הרשעים תשית ידך וישמחו כל חוסי בך בבנין עירך ובחידוש בית מקדשך ובצמח דוד עבדך כי טרם נקרא אתה תענה כאמור והיה טרם יקראו ואני אענה עוד הם מדברים ואני אשמע ברוך אתה ה' שומע תפילה

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crescent News Network

10 of the Ninth Month 5768

I was reading Debbie Schlussel tonight, one of the few writers I read on a daily basis, when something caught my eye. Debbie wrote a piece on one of the, shall we say, extremely unhelpful people in the universe she's been tracking, Julie Meyers, nominee to head the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]. In the process she referenced CNN, referring to it as the "Crescent News Network."

CNN LIESFor a minute there, I thought it was hysterically funny, and clever. Then I realized how frighteningly true it was. It's no hidush (nothing new) to us in Israel, who when flipping the channels catch CNN at their deceit. No, it's not laziness, but deceit, thus the popularity of the bumper sticker (left). I, myself, have literally watched CNN report on events in Israel inaccurately, events I experienced personally, painting an Islamic-friendly, Israeli-bashing picture of things. Well, "inaccurate" would be a profound understatement.

CNN HELPSDuring the Second Lebanon War, I came up with another idea for a bumper sticker (right). Some of CNN's "errors" seemed to be just too convenient. I'm not accusing them of anything, of course. I'm only speaking hypothetically. (eyes rolling).

It's 3:00 in the morning, I'm unemployed, and the money is running out. I'm reading Debbie Schlussel. What else would I be doing? Getting some sleep, so that I can get up at a decent hour and pound the pavement?

No. Why should I do that? I'd rather doctor CNN's logo, using only Graphic Converter, Debbie's clever reference, and my imagination.


CNN: Crescent News Network


Here's the original logo for comparison:


CNN

For all I know something like this has already been done. But, I had fun making it anyway. Feel free to spread it around the Web. And, please make sure to credit me. I'm actually not interested in credit for credit's sake. I'm hoping that by my cleverness (or hutzpah) I will merit employment. Even getting sued may drum up some shameless publicity for myself, which could lead to a job. (Oh, and CNN, I don't have any money, so don't waste your time.)

My resume may be viewed at:

Ya'aqov Ben-Yehudah's Resume

Oh, and, by the way, it turns out that there already is a "Crescent News Network." But, that's OK. We can start calling IT CNN for short.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Christian Missionary Who Didn't Ruin My Day

9 of the Ninth Month 5768

Last summer I reported an experience describing how One Christian Missionary Can Ruin My Day.

The other day, I encountered more Christian missionaries, but I handled it much differently than the last time.

Last time, I encountered a large group. This time I encountered only two.

Last time, it was in the middle of Shuq, Mahaneh Yehudah, the huge open market in Jerusalem. This time it was on the beach in Yaffo.

How I ended up on the beach in Yaffo in the first place is another blog post for another time.

But, the reason I handled this recent encounter differently was not because the situation was different. I just did not feel that I was very effective last time. So, rather than repeat the same strategy, I decided to try a different approach.

Since my college days, I have been very concerned about the threat posed by Christian missionaries. Back in the 1980's at UCLA, I was glad to have the opportunity to meet Rabbi Ben-Tsion Kravitz, founder of Jews For Judaism, who was actually doing something combating this threat.

I attended a couple of his lectures, and found them fancinating. However, as a college student with a much lower level of maturity than the average 19-year-old, my priorities were set elsewhere, instead of volunteering to help. I was content knowing that someone else was doing something about this threat.

Years later, a high motivation to "deal" with missionaries notwithstanding, I have little experience in doing so. It does not matter how knowledgeable one is of Torah, nor how skilled one is in debate. Over the years, I have learned that approaching missionaries involves much more that the employment of these two, valuable abilities.

So, when I encountered missionaries this time around, seeking a different strategy, I simply contacted someone who had more experience than I.

I got on the phone to 144, Israel's "411" telephone information, and obtained the number for Yad leAchim, which by the way is:

02-5371003

Or call toll-free:

Israel

1-800-620-640


U. S.
(800) 709-2005


Canada (Toll)
(514) 276-1185


"Re'uven" (not his real name), the man on the phone, was very courteous. I explained that I was witnessing two women walk along the beach handing out literature, and talking to sunbathers, and that I did not know what would be most effective for me to do.

He suggested that I get a piece of their literature, and ask him what they were doing, then call him back.

I walked down to the beach, and did just that, addressing them in English. I said "that looks interesting. May I have one?' They obliged. I asked them if they had a website. They said no, but pointed to the mailing address on the back of the brochure they were handing out.

I thanked them. But even though I was taking a new approach, I still could not help getting in my digs, calmly letting them know that what they are doing is forbidden, and why, and that they "would be contacted."

Silly perhaps, but some habits are just too hard to break.

I got back on the phone with "Re'uven," and provided him with the name and address on the literature. He recognized the name immediately. He said that they were aware of their activities, and that they have not been terribly successful.

I recognized the Hebrew literature as well. This was the same organization, Ohavei Tzion. I encountered in the Shuq in Jerusalem. I told "Re'uven" that I was glad they were aware of this organization's activities, and I wanted to make sure to report them whenever I saw them, as well as to follow any particular strategy Yad LeAchim had.

We thanked each other, and said goodbye. Thanks to Rabbi Kravitz, the seed was planted 20 years ago. I was provided with awareness of the missionary threat, and with hope that there was something that could be done. Thanks to Yad LeAchim, I have a practical and easily accessible resource for how to deal with the threat.

Frustrated as I am with Christian missionaries, and with the Israeli government allowing their activities to continue, I no longer have to let them ruin my day.


********************


Jews For Judaism may be contacted by phone, e-mail, and regular mail. They have branches all over North America, and in South Africa, and will be happy to assist you. View their contact information by clicking here.

Please also see Rabbi Kravitz's recent article, posted on Israel National News, Evangelicals: Knights in Shining Armor or Trojan Horse?. It will help clarify the role and motivation of Christian Zionists.

Star Trek XI

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Wayesse 5768

And, now for something completely different...

Chris PineThe casting of the major roles for the the new Star Trek film has been completed, with the casting of Chris Pine as the young Star Fleet Cadet, James T. Kirk.

William Shatner as Capt. KirkThe 11th installment of the Star Trek films will take us back to Captain Kirk's Star Fleet Academy days, and recount the story of how he meets his future Enterprise crew: Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scottie, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov.

Karl Urban as EomerIn addition to Chris Pine, th cast will include actors such as Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy. Urban should look familiar to you. He played Eomer in the second and third installments of the Lord Of The Rings films.

Zachary QuintoAnother actor who should look familiar is Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock. Quinto plays the role of Sylar on the hit TV series "Heroes," and before that had a role on "24."

And, this just in, Wynona Rider has been slated to play Amanda, Spock's human mother.

Only one major casting question remains, who will play Capt. Christopher Pike, the captain of the USS Enterprise sometime after Jonathan Archer and before James T. Kirk.

Personally, I am also curious to know if Nurse Christine Chapel, the character created by Majel Barret, the late Gene Roddenberry's widow will appear in Star Trek XI.

Now that the casting is almost complete, I am starting to get a little nervous. i hoe that there is a method to their casting. I hope they have Star Trek mavens (Trekkers), like myself, on board, people who actually know the details of the Star Trek Series and films. They can help keep this film consistent with previously established story lines.

For example, Dr. McCoy is much older than the rest of the crew, and should have graduated already, stuff like that.

I have a felling that this film will either be really good, or really suck.

OK. We now return you to your regularly scheduled, right-wing, Israeli blog....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Tax Office

5 of the Ninth Month 5768

The tax office seemed to be the easiest office of the Israeli government to deal with.

I first encountered it three years into my "journey," as I like to call it.

Up until then, I was either exempt from taxes or my taxes were taken care of automatically. The first time people have to go to the tax office is when they have more than one source of income.

My fourth year in Israel, I had more than one job. I was teaching junior high school, as well as adult, night school. This is often the case with with teachers in Israel, at least when starting out. It is necessary to find two, sometimes three, part-time jobs in order to put together the equivalent of one full-time position.

By the way, two offices in the center of the country are located here:


Jerusalem
Israeli Tax Authority
Finance Ministry
Kanfei Nesharim Street 66
02-6545111

Giv'at Sha'ul, almost to Har-Nof
Greater Tel-Aviv Area
Income & Property Tax Dept.
Finance Ministry
Menachem Begin Way 125
03-7633333

Just south of the Azrieli Center


The process is fairly easy. Make sure to have the most recent pay stubs from all of your sources of income, tlushim in Hebrew. If you left a job in the middle of the year, you must make sure to have a letter from each previous employer, stating the final date of your employment. This will serve as "proof" that you are no longer employed there.

As always, don't forget your Te'udat Zehut (Israeli ID card). Bring your Te'udat Oleh (Immigrant ID & rights booklet) as well. You may be entitled to a tax break or even an exemption, depending on how long you have been in the country.

In the event you live in a development area, make sure you bring in proof of residence, either a Ishur Toshav or a Ishur Megurar. The address displayed on your ID card is not sufficient. This will entitle you to an additional tax credit. These days development areas are located only in the Negev Desert or the Gallilee. But double check.

Always xerox your tlushim and other documents. You will need to show the originals to the clerk, provide xerox copies. This is the general rule for government offices in Israel.

As soon as you are employed by more than one institution, you must make certain to go into your local tax office and report it. Otherwise you will find that the first paycheck you receive from your new employer will be 50 percent of what you thought it would be.

The tax authority automatically takes 50 percent out in tax, unless you show up with the documents to show that should be paying less than that. Most importantly, the deadline for taking care of this process in December 31, not April 15 of the following year. Meet this deadline, unless you want to go through the much longer and involved process of requesting a tax return from a past tax year.

In case you don't go in right away, don't worry. You should receive any over payments you may have made in your next paycheck. This includes any moneys owed to you after the readjustment of your tax rate.

This is the extent of my experience. If you have more complex situations, such as income from abroad, dividends, capital gains, interest from savings accoutants, etc., it would be well worth your while to consult an accountant. There are plenty of accountants who are certified both in Israel and in the U. S. {or Canada), who can advise you as to how to jungle your particular circumstances.

JANGLO [Jerusalem Anglo Protexia]
E-Group is a good place to ask other English-speaking immigrants for recommendations of accountants, or for anything else for that matter.

U. S. Tax Filing

And speaking of taxes, my first year in Israel, I knew I was expecting a huge U. S. tax refund. So, I wanted to make sure to file my U. S. tax forms. First I made sure the have my W-2 forms forwarded to Israel. I found it easy to renew my U. S. mail-forwarding order (which only lasts three months, I think). I had brought extra forms from the U. S. Nowadays, you can get can print them out from the U. S. Postal Service Website.

I was able to pick up my Federal tax forms at the U. S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv. Nowadays, they can be downloaded from the Internal Revenue Service website. You may even choose to e-file your taxes. U. S. tax returns are delivered to Israel by courier, and then sent our through regular Israeli mail. Generally, checks drawn on foreign banks take a couple of weeks to clear. My tax return was cleared by my bank immediately, as it was easily identified as a U. S. government check. For some reason, though, I strongly suspect that this is not the rule, but the exception, and may have even been a mistake on the part of my teller. After 10 years, it still sounds too good to be true.

And, of course, do not forget to avoid the bank on Sundays and U. S. [or you other country of origin's] holidays. Most Israeli banks will not process your checks when the bans they are drawn from are closed.

It may seem like a lot of information to remember. Still, though, the Israeli tax office was a pretty straight forward experience for me. Please post your comments with your experience here.

b'Hatzlahah

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Changing Accent

4 of the Ninth Month 5768

I don't really care for those quizzes floating around the Internet. But this one about American accents caught my attention on Treppenwitz.

What does it have to do with aliyah?

After being in Israel for 10 years, I have lost my Southern Californian accent. Well, according to all of the New Yorkers, Midwesterners, New Englanders, and Texans I know in Israel, I haven't. Americans I meet for the first time can tell that I am "not from New York." That's the best guess they can make as t where I am from. They cannot usually say with 100 percent confidence that I am from California, let alone Southern California. (There's more one than one Californian accent, folks!)

This "for entertainment purposes only" quiz, which I took twice with the same results, seems to confirm my suspicions.

What American accent do you have?
(Best version so far)


Neutral

You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you're just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don't really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Test Results

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I suppose that it's all YOUR faults. When I do speak English, which has been quite a bit the last couple of years, it's with New Yorker, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, everyone except Californians. I am in periodic contact with only one Californian. He hasn't lost his yet. But mine seems to be beyond the point of no return. When I bumped into a fellow Southern Californian seven years ago, he and I immediately fell into heavy accents peppered with regional lingo, so much so that the guy from the East Coast listening to us had no clue as to what we were talking about.

No more. Last year when college friends of mine from Los Angeles came to Israel in celebration of their son's bar-misswah, they told me that my changed accent was the first thing they noticed about me. Apparently, they weren't going to say anything about it. I was the one to bring it up, asking them to confirm my suspicions. It wasn't anything positive or negative, just something that was immediately apparent to them.

Fortunately, these friends speak Hebrew, so I did not have to monitor my word choice constantly. Like many immigrants in Israel, my native tongue is no longer "pure," having been infiltrated with a great deal of Hebrew. But that's another post for another time.

Of course, my accent isn't the only thing which has changed. I mention it solely as one of the many marks of change I happened to have noticed in myself. Living in Israel, making a home in Israel has been, and continues to be, a transformative experience.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Minor Mishap

26 of the Eighth Month 5768

DivuhitMany of us in the Shomron (Samaria) have an emergency communications systems involving beepers with a display screen, at least those of us in the smaller towns. Our "divuhit"* (pictured left 12% of actual size), which hangs on the wall in the salon (living room), went off this afternoon. No big deal. It's just annoying, mostly because I have to get up and turn it off.

Since infiltrations by Arab marauders into our town are not so common these days, thanks to our guard dogs, and security patrols, the beeper is often used to inform us of parents day in the Kindergarten, youth group activities commencing any moment now, and if you were planning on going to so-and-so's wedding in B'nei Braq, then you had better get on the bus already, which is leaving with or without you.

So, as I was saying, the divuhit went off this afternoon. The message displayed was:

"Return to your normal routine. You may now leave your houses."


Um,...What?! Did I miss something? I was home all day. Where was the message telling us to stay inside in the first place?

I found this to be very disturbing, as this is the language used after a security alert has been investigated, and the situation has been rendered under control.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, it went off again. This time the message was:

"The message before last was sent out while there was a glitch in the system. Sorry.
-The Dispatcher"


And, no, the dispatcher is not one of our local security personnel. You guessed it. The dispatcher is attached to the army.

Look. These things happen. We like to think that we are pretty tough out here, and for the most part, we actually are. We are always cautious, but can also roll with the punches, which invariably come.

And so, I could not stop myself from seeing the humor in the situation, as a friend of mine reminded me the image of Gilda Radner's z"l character from Saturday Night Live, Emily Litella, saying, "Never mind."

It has been one of my goals to encourage Jews, in particular North American Jews, to make aliyah. I guess I am not doing a very good job of it right now. Am I?

I am not so sure. These little mishaps are part of the adventure called "life in Israel." Living in the middle of the Shomron is not for every one. Every town, city, and region in Israel has its own personality. You have to look around, and find the right place for you. And you have to understand that wherever you decide to live, you will experience some kind of minor mishaps from time to time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Five Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Blogging

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Hayyei Sarah 5768

Once again I was left out, and had to "steal" a meme.
I stole it from TNSPR569 who tagged by Batya.


Five Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Blogging


*Of course, since I stole this, I don't have to follow the rules. For better or worse, I have more than five things I should be doing instead of blogging.

8. Cleaning my bedroom

7. Washing dishes

6. Doing laundry (without I washing machine, I might add!)

5. Looking for a free, TV show streaming site now that TV-Links seems to be out of commission.

4. Looking for a wife

3. Learning

2. Getting a life

and the number one thing I should be doing instead of blogging is:

1. Getting a Friggin' Job!

*That's fracking for you BSG fans.

Well, I don't thin I'll tag anyone. But, If you decide to answer this one, then please leave me a shameless plug about in a comment below!
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