All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 31 July 2005

When I Grow Up...

...I don't want to be an astronaut!

Here's the situation. You've got a crew of people up there in space with a damaged shuttle. The last time something like this happened, their predecessors' machine literally disintegrated. I tell you, I really wouldn't like to be amongst those poor souls right now.

In saying that, they are aware of the problem (as opposed to the previous team) and so there's a chance that they can do something to avoid disaster. Can you begin to imagine their feelings as they attempt re-entry? What will be going through their minds? The expression "There but for the grace of G-d go I" comes to mind and I pray that G-d protects them when they come back down, because they're going to seriously need His help in a few days time.

I look forward to having them rejoin us whilst at the same time gasp in disbelief as to why NASA sent these people up without sorting the problem out. Heads are going to roll and well they should.

Saturday, 30 July 2005

The Blog Has Arrived

People, we bloggers are here to stay!
Have a look at this link if you don't believe me.

Friday, 29 July 2005

My Water Babies

The girls have resumed their summer swimming lessons and they are all blooming in the water. Last year, you may recall that Dassi swam a mile! She got another badge today for her backstroke. She has so many badges that one glass frame has now been filled! I can't tell you how impressed I am with her swimming ability. I wish I could swim that proficiently.

Tali is also progressing nicely and really enjoying her time in the water, as is Michal. Today, Shira and I watched all three from the back window of the pool and we had so much fun zipping from one girl to the next, waving at them and seeing if they would wave back (they did).

Give it another year or so and we'll have a fourth water baby trying to earn her wings. Looking at Shira's expression today, I could see that she could hardly wait to get into the water and catch her sisters up. My daughters- the water babies!

Let (Movie) Battle Commence!

We are fast approaching August and this can only mean one thing in CW's calendar (Denton's sitting out for this one. He thinks movies are for pansies) - the publication of the latest Movie and Video Guide (honestly, with the amount of plugs I give to Leonard Maltin and his book, you'd think I'd be getting a commission by now) and of course I've got my pre-ordered copy - All I can say is G-d bless Amazon.

So the annual battle begins. CW picks up the book, reads the preface with growing anticipation and tries to guess how Len (we're on first name terms don't you know) will rate the movie and whether there will be agreement.

More often than not, we do agree. Unlike Mr Maltin, I do not give lectures at the University of Southern California, but dammit, I pay my £3.50 for a movie ticket, so I'm entitled to an opinion aren't I?

So what have we agreed on this year? Well, virtually nothing!
He rates movies out of four stars, whereas I prefer the five star system (I feel it gives a little more leaway) and so far we've been at loggerheads over:

Movie
Meet The Fockers

My Rating
3

Leonard Maltin
½

Movie
Closer 2½

Me
4

LM


Movie
Shark Tale

Me


Leonard Maltin
3


However, we sort of agreed on:

The Aviator, Star Wars and National Treasure (we both gave them similar ratings).

I accept that we are approaching films with different sensibilities and he is considerably older than I, however, I do question some of his more interesting ratings and comments.

The important thing is that, at the end of the day, we both share a love of movies and that's really what counts. Now, onto the 2007 challenge...

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Oh Dear II

Tali's found her Tamagotchi.
Drat!

Movie Review: Madagascar

I took the kids to see Madagascar this afternnon.

I really liked the way Manhatten was animated, particularly the bit in Grand Central, which was nothing short of stunning - I honestly felt that I was standing there on the concourse and surely that is the greatest compliment one can give to a cartoon. As for the rest of the movie, hmmm!

I laughed twice but can't remember the lines (which probably went way above the kids' heads) and actually felt myself dozing off towards the end, during what was supposed to be the most exciting part, so that's not good.

Summing up,the kids had a good time and that's the most important thing. The fact that I was disappointed with the movie shouldn't put you off taking your kids or nephews/nieces to see it.

My Rating


2 (Out of 5)

Spotted On The London Underground

The African Queen Revisited

I'll come clean. I'm a sucker for old Hollywood movies. In fact, about 80% of our burgeoning DVD collection is comprised of old movies.

Why do I like them so much more than the modern stuff? Easy! It's because they have something called "quality" ingrained within virtually every frame. In old Hollywood, they cared about the script, the character development and the finished result.

Am I being unfair to the modern stuff? I don't think so. This doesn't mean that there aren't gems scattered amongst the new crop, but I'm finding it increasingly harder to find quality movies amongst the dross (much of which is mostly entertaining though eminently forgettable) pumped out from the relic that is Hollywood 2005.

I find that the older movies have another ingredient that is lacking from about 99% of the movies you see today - charm. Old movies are filled with it.

Think of The African Queen, Charade, The Quiet Man and Singin' In The Rain....all these movies are so charming and give you so much pleasure as you watch them. The actors and actresses seem to be enjoying themselves and getting a thrill out of wanting to please you, the audience.

Why the tirade? Because last night, I saw The African Queen (1951) on DVD and I was once again enthralled by it. Bogie and Hepburn were so natural, they didn't seem to be acting. The photography was beautiful and the script, a comic delight. I finished off the movie feeling all warm and fuzzy - when did I last get a buzz like that in the cinema?

I suppose it also helped that I feel a certain affinity with the movie, having seen the real African Queen boat that was utilised in the movie, when I was in Florida a few years ago (it was tiny by the way and looks much bigger in the film).

Why can't they drop the overblown special effects and get back to scriptwriting and proper character development? How many years will we have to wait for a romantic comedy that doesn't have to resort to smut to get laughs? Two words: Audience expectation. Modern audiences have become used to the crap they see and forget how great movies really could be if the people behind them actually cared enough to make a difference. Why spend $10 million on a movie when you can spend $250 million?

To be fair, there are still actors and directors who do give a damn. Unfortunately, the major studios and money-men don't want to have anything to with them unless there's a lot of money to be made (would Dude Where's My Car? or Stuck on You have been made in 1951? I very much doubt it).

Please treat yourself and get/rent a copy of The African Queen on DVD or video. Sit back and enjoy. I promise you that it will be the most pleasant 105 minutes of your week.

Oh Dear

Tali's lost her Tamagotchi.
One down, two to go....

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

The Guest Speaker

Today, my university was running an afternoon seminar to introduce new candidates to the PGCE. I was asked to give a little talk about my experiences, so that they could find out what the course was like from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

I agreed to go along and help, keeping in mind that I would also use the opportunity to bring my folders back.

As I drove there and back, I listened to my latest acquisition, the Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album) , which I found at an amazingly cheap price, considering that it usually retails at over £30.

I haven't heard the album in years (and never on CD) and so it was a real treat to hear the crystal clear sounds booming in my ears, as I faced the depressing London traffic. The thought struck me that as gifted as the boys were, I don't think they would have been as successful had they not been blessed with a producer such as Sir George Martin. Had, say Phil Spector or Jeff Lynne done the job instead, would the Beatles still be The Beatles. I think not. Sir George Martin really does deserve the accolade of 'genius' for the production of those songs. If you haven't heard the abum, get a copy, it far out-rates the "Beatles 1" album.

Where was I, Oh yes!

I drove there (without really getting lost this time) and gave a 20 minute talk. I thought it went well, although, in hindsight, I felt that I should have thanked the lecturers there for their support (or would that be arse-licking?) and told all those present that the programme of study had really prepared me for teaching. I had a few people asking questions, which was quite flattering! It also felt funny being treated a member of staff, if only for the afternoon.

When I got home, I found the house in a total mess, but that's another blog, for a different day...

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Attack Of The Tamagotchies

The older girls went to Hamley's yesterday. It is one of the biggest toy shops in the world and all three came back with Tamagotchies.

They have been talking about nothing else since. I have bloody Tamagotchies coming out of my ears. I admit that I originally bought one of the "first batch" back in the late 90's when they were all the craze. Then, you couldn't turn them off and since this one was decidedly unJewish, it didn't make it through the first Shabbat (as I couldn't feed it until after Shabbat was over), so I sensibly gave it away to Dana's maid of honour (who funnily enough teaches in the girls' school)

Wouldn't you know it, but Tamagotchies have become more resilient these days (a bit like a hospital superbug that won't be knocked off by pansy antibiotics) and thus allow you to "pause" them for as long as you like. Irritatingly enough, you can also connect them via infra-red, share presents, play games and...wait for it....get them hitched. Welcome to Tamagotchi Mark II.

Anyway, I digress. Dassi and Tali have been at theirs non-stop since yesterday. Michal was peer-pressured by her sisters into spending her pocket money (and they aren't cheap at over £15 a piece) on a yellow model, even though she clearly wasn't interested in it. As a result, I am now I'm the not-so-proud owner/keeper of the annoying little thing. It keeps on beeping and I guiltily feel the need to care for it, since Michal promised me that she will take it back when she's ready to be responsible for it - assuming she'll want to, in about a year or so. Meanwhile, Dassi keeps on badgering me to "connect" and play games with hers, whilst Tali's had hers confiscated this afternoon, unfortunately only for the night, but hell, we can extend that.

When I called this posting "Attack of the Tamagotchies", I was not at all kidding. Any parents reading this will ask themselves why we agreed to let our kids buy these cursed objects - suffice to say that constant nagging will eventually get through any defense and every parent will understand that. Won't they?

Monday, 25 July 2005

CNN Breaking News II

After digging to a depth of 100 meters last year, Russian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network one thousand years ago.

So, not to be outdone,in the weeks that followed, American scientists dug 200 meters and headlines in the US papers read: "US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical fibers, and have concluded that their ancestors already had advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than the Russians."

One week later, the Israeli newspapers reported the following: "After digging as deep as 5000 meters, Israeli scientists have found absolutely nothing. They have concluded that 5000 years ago, their ancestors were already using wireless technology.

Bye Bye John

Long John Baldry who had a hit with Let The Heartaches Begin has died. I mention this because it was at number one in the charts on the day I was born.

Nice to know that I outlived him.

CNN Breaking News

In an effort to overcome the continuing criticism that he is unsupportive and in fact dismissive of Israel, one of America's closest allies, President Bush today announced that he is converting to Judaism in the hope that this will demonstrate his affinity and empathy with the Israeli people.

Authorities have, however, been unable to handle the millions of applicants who volunteered to be the mohel (circumciser).

The Mayor of Hate

I came across this superb article which best describes why why we despise our obnoxious mayor. I wish I could write this clearly but the guy's a journalist, so I suppose he's had more practice.

The Jerusalem Post, 24 July 2005

Red Ken drags London into the gutter

By ROBIN SHEPHERD

"We are all in the gutter," said Oscar Wilde, "but some of us are looking at the stars."

Then again, some of us are looking straight down into the sewer. Those at least were the sentiments I was moved to express listening to London Mayor Ken Livingstone's recent interview on the BBC about the London bombings. In it he put the blame for those bombings squarely on Israel and the West, whose exploitative and violent policies, he said, had encouraged the killers to act.

Unfortunately, as evidenced by the hugely supportive reaction Livingstone has elicited from the British Left, this latest list of blood libels against Israel, distortions about the West and willful ignorance concerning the true threat posed by Islamo-fascist ideology is entirely representative of a powerful strand of thinking among opinion formers in Britain and the wider West. It would be comforting to say he is a maverick, but he is not.

The substance of Livingstone's remarks will be sadly familiar to anyone remotely acquainted with the fantasies of Western defeatism: The West has exploited the Arabs to "control the flow of oil;" the Americans "recruited and trained" Osama bin Laden; as a matter of policy Israel practises "indiscriminate slaughter" against the Palestinians; the West defames Muslims by unfairly highlighting the views of Islamists who are "totally unrepresentative" of the mainstream.

Speaking of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, Livingstone went on: "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves."

This last passage is extraordinary and worth taking apart in detail to illustrate the kind of mind-set we are dealing with.

THE FIRST clause, of course, is a flat-out lie. As Livingstone must surely know, all citizens of Israel proper, including more than a million Arabs, have the right to vote in Knesset elections. As he must also know, Palestinians living in the territories also have a vote and recently and very publicly used it. They did, after all, elect Mahmoud Abbas as PA chairman.

The second clause is a slippery but highly characteristic deception. The only reason the Palestinians do not run their own affairs is because they have consistently refused to accept statehood alongside Israel.

The third clause contains another lie: Israel does not prevent the Palestinians from working and only stops them from coming to work inside Israel when it is concerned about terrorist attacks.

But, interestingly, note how that clause concludes with the words "for three generations." Here, the mask has slipped.

Three generations (60 years by most definitions of the word "generation") refers back to the inception of Israel itself. Perhaps unwittingly, Livingstone reveals his annihilationist prejudices.

It is not the "occupation" that concerns him, it is the very existence of the Jewish state.
The final part of the passage contains both obscenity and idiocy. It is obscene because, on the basis of the above noted lies and deceptions, it offers Palestinian suicide bombers the excuse of "just cause." Who could really blame them? he effectively says.

It is idiotic because one could easily quote dozens of peoples who have lived under genuine tyrannies but have not responded by strapping themselves up with explosives to blow to pieces as many men, women and children as they can. Did Jews respond to the Holocaust by slaughtering innocent Germans? Did east Europeans respond to Stalinism by blowing up Russian buses?


The problem with this analysis, of course, is that it is pointless, at least in so far as it is aimed at persuading Livingstone and his supporters of their folly. Rational argument, after all, presupposes a commitment to rationality.

Livingstone and his kind do not think, they emote. And the emotion they are most comfortable with is hatred.

They hate the West. They hate Israel. They may even hate themselves. In one of his nastiest outbursts this year, Livingstone likened a Jewish reporter to a "German war criminal." When the reporter, Oliver Finegold, responded that he was Jewish and therefore offended by the slur, Livingstone simply upped the stakes, saying Finegold was acting like a "concentration camp guard."

What more is there to say about such a man? Just this perhaps. Livingstone is not merely a disgrace to the city of London, he is a danger to it. Those of us who are not in denial about the true motivations of the people who aim to harm us know that one of their greatest hopes is that we are really as weak and pathetic as people like Livingstone might suggest. They hope that we will cave in to their murderous tactics. They hope that we will be turned to their point of view, that we will start to see the world and the people in it as they do.

By accepting the narrative of the terrorists Livingstone can only give them heart.

The writer is a political commentator and an adjunct fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington), currently based in central Europe.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

The Victims

The horrendous and tragic killing of an innocent Brazililan by the British Police, on a tube train, has understandably sent shock waves throughout the world.

He approached the underground station, dressed in a heavy winter coat on a warm summer's day and for reasons only known to himself, did not respond to the Police when asked to stop. To make matters worse, he ran away and jumped over the barriers with the police giving chase. We know what happened next.

It's no secret that the Police are very jittery these days and without condoning their actions, I can fully understand why they did what they did. If I had been a policeman, I would have reacted in exactly the same manner.

I see this poor Brazilian as yet another murdered innocent and duly blame the terrorists (if only indirectly) for his death. In his death, the poor man has unwittingly further demonstrated that whether or not we were on those trains or buses when the attacks took place (last week and on 7/7), we are all now victims of terror.

The Three Weeks

Today is the fast of the seventeenth day of the Jewish month of Tammuz and it ushers in the period, in the Jewish calendar known as the The Three Weeks.

These twenty one days are a very sad time for our nation as we remember all the calamities that have befallen us over the millenia. As we go through the period, the laws of mourning become stricter, so that, from the 1st of the Month of Av, we enter The Nine Days
where we are prohibited from doing any that one could consider as "entertainment" or pleasurable such as drinking wine or eating meat or even going swimming.The culmination of the entire period takes place on the ninth of Av, which is the saddest day in our calendar and spookily, the day on which, not only both temples were destroyed but many other terrible atrocities also occurred.

The tradition is that, during this period, G-d does not look favourably on us or anything we do, so we don't want to undertake projects or activities that could be considered to be "risky" or "life altering", such as swimming, or moving house or even going on a holiday. In other words, we try to take on a lower profile in our lives. All weddings are put off until after Tisha B'av (literally the Ninth (Tisha) of Av (B'Av)

As a result, I will not be posting my songs for a while (which will no doubt come as a relief to many of you, who very politely chose not to comment on the recent entries!)

As is the case with orthodoxy, some are more stringent than others. Although I personally do keep some of the laws of the Three Weeks (such as avoiding having a haircut), I don't stop listening to music or going to the cinema until the 1st of Av, when I clamp down on my tendencies to stray from the path and make every effort to get into the spirit of the week-and-a-half of serious mourning. Unlike many of my peers, I don't stop shaving, except for the Fast of Tisha B'av itself.

This is undoubtably a troubling time of year for our people and especially so, in these days of unrest, both in Israel and througout the World. I don't think it will do us any harm to refrain from indulging in the lighter side of life and thinking about matters in a more serious light - and that, to me, is what the Three Weeks should be all about.

Finally

I received this letter in the post today.

"Dear CW,

Congratulations . I am pleased to inform you that following the meeting of the Assessment Board (Secondary PGCE), you have been awarded:

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Secondary) - Pass

As you have also passed all three QTS Skills tests we will be recommending you to the General Teaching Council for the award of Qualified Teacher Status.

I wish you a long and successful career in teaching and look forward to seeing you at the Awards Ceremony on.....

Yours sincerely,

X

Director of Secondary ITT"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I've done it. I have successfully passed my course and am officially known as an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher). This means that I am effectively half way through to becoming a full qualified teacher.

I need to complete my NQT year and if all goes well, by this time next year, I will no longer be a student teacher. The difference is that I am now going to be teaching 90% of the time (on a weekly timetable) and will have a dedicated mentor who will be observing me (I will also be observed by others too) once every half term.

Thank you all so much for your amazing support and encouragement over the least ten months. It hasn't been easy (and from what I hear, the NQT year is even harder!) but I made it through the University course and am looking at the other side.

CW now has a PGCE. Those of you who've been reading my blogs since April last year will know how far I've come and how things have changed in my life.

I want to end by thanking the one person without whom I couldn't have come this far. Dana, my wife, you supported me from day one and I want everyone who reads this blog (including you people in Australia, I know you visit!) how utterly appreciative and grateful I am for your constant and selfless backing. This PGCE is yours just as much as mine.

Let's start enjoying our lives again - the year is over and I'm bringing the dough in - this time for good.

The Teacher's Scribbles are now being posted by someone who is now a newly qualified teacher. Let the games begin!

Saturday, 23 July 2005

When and Why?

I have a really positive blog that I want to get out to you, but I have to post this one first - and I don't want to mix the two totally diverse emotions.

This post is about the inscrutable pain I feel in my heart when I think about the people who have been killed in bombings, particularly those who escaped other attacks, only to succumb to their inevitable fate.

In Israel, I read of numerous people who survived one bus bombing, only to be killed in another. How can one understand this? Why? Why did they die a month, two months, a year later in the same manner? What could they have done that granted them that extra time - only to be eventually killed? What could they have done?

Anat Rosenberg was an Israeli lady who left Israel four year ago because she was afraid of being killed in a bus bombing. She was one of the victims of the London bombs on 7/7
Why? What had this poor woman done to die in London, escaping numerous similar attacks in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa etc? What the hell had this poor 39 year old human being done to "merit" this? What the hell had she done?

English people are now leaving London by the droves. Many are literally leaving to escape the bombs? So why have some now been killed in a terrorist attack in Egypt? Why? Why have these wretched people been picked to be blown up in Egypt instead of in England?

I'm so emotional about this and my heart is crying so loud that I don't even know how to properly express my desperation. I'm a religious man and I have a really strong faith in G-d, but why is He doing this to us? Why is the world being taken over by murderers, so that wherever we go, we are targeted and blown to smithereens?

Where is the light that has been taken away and when will any of us see the sun again?

When when when and why why why?

Friday, 22 July 2005

Get The Message?

Let me introduce myself. My name is CW and I belong to a proud nation called the Jews.

We've survived near annihilation by the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, who all tried to finish us off. They disappeared, yet we're still here.

We lived through the Inquisition and the Nazis and neither destroyed us. They were consumed by their own fire.

Guess what? Our collective memory is phoenomenal. We don't forget. Ever.

This is a message to all of you who try to attack us - Bin Laden, Hamas and all you fat arsed muslim terrorists out there - don't screw with us, because we WILL beat you. We have G-d on our side and you don't. Take note Mr Mayor of London, take note.

Enemies of the Jews, here's our message to you:

We've been around for over five thousand years and we're not going anywhere. You won't beat us - but we will outlive every one of you and your descendants. We will be around when your skeletons have turned to dust.

Get the message?

I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but my dad is a U.S. Citizen. As a result, although I grew up in the UK, I personally identify myself as being American, even though I have not received State approval.

Those of you who have been reading my blogs for a while may recall that my grandmother passed away last September, less than a month after her 100th birthday. She lived on 93rd and West End Avenue, on New York's Upper West Side. I visited her number of times and was last there in January 2002 - I was unfortunately unable to make it to her levaya (funeral).

I have always felt at home in New York. I love the city - the buzz, the pace, generally the atmosphere. When I went there with my parentsa while back, my father took me to the places that he had grown up in. I finally saw the area that moulded and developed him and it made me understand my father all the more as a result. It was a very special trip.

I'm delighted to report that my parents will be going to the US in late October. The best news is that both Dassi and I will be tagging along. To be more precise, they will be going at that time so that Dassi and I can go with (we're both off school).

I'm really excited about the trip. The raison-d'ĂȘtre is to see my Grandmother's headstone, so no doubt the experience will be tinged with some sadness.Most of all, I see this as an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my eldest daughter. Hadassah and I are quite similar in nature and as result, our personalities clash. Often.

I'm hoping that our time together will allow us to build on our relationship, without the presence of the other kids. There will be strained moments as there are always are, but I really do want us to come back as a stronger father and daughter unit.

I don't know yet how the holiday plans will pan out, but just the thoughts of taking my daughter to the US fills me with such excitement, I want to go now!

As I said at the start, I'm an American and I can't wait to get back "Home" (aside from my ultimate home, which is Israel).

Thursday, 21 July 2005

On A Lighter Note...

Problem Resolution In The Workplace

The Bus Journey Home

Another Thursday and another attack on the transportation system in London - thankfully though, this was on a much smaller scale and no-one has been hurt.

This afternoon, I board the bus taking me home from school. It is the same type of vehicle that has been attacked on both occasions. I go upstairs and sit a row from the front, next the window. Two stops down, a man walks up the stairs lugging a holdall. He has darkish complexion - he could be middle-eastern? I can't tell. He sits next to me.

I look at him and I look at the bag. What if it is holding a bomb? I wouldn't stand a chance would I? I try to reason in my mind that he's probably harmless but I find myself jumping to extraordinary conclusions.

What if?

I take the decision to go downstairs and find myself a seat next to a largish lady. The innocent man gets off about two stations later. I feel bad for having suspected him in the first place.

Further on, a mother gets on with her two young children. They are holding balloons. She sits in front of us and about three minutes later, one of the balloons suddenly pops. The woman next to me nearly jumps out of her skin. I reassure her that it was only a balloon.

I get off the bus a little while later, relieved yet slightly shaken by the experiences I've had since initially boarding.

And now, I finally understand what Israelis have been living with for the last eleven years. Guess what? I'm scared - very very scared. The trusted London bus, so renowned around the world is no longer my friend and I miss our relationship more than I can describe.

London 2005 is not a city I know any more.

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Goodbye CW, Hello Denton Farmer

I'd like to introduce you to my alter-ego, Denton Farmer.

Denton's a hard boiled private eye in the mould of Philip Marlowe. He has nothing to do with teaching, but I've always harboured a desire to write novels utilising him as the chief protagonist. He's someone I created a while back and am still hoping to write about one day.

Let me describe Denton to you. He's about 45, 5' 11, clean shaven and square jawed, with warm brown eyes. He's married to his job and world-weary. He inhabits a Dashell Hammett/Raymond Chandler existence, where nothing is quite as it seems. He has seen too much in his relatively short life-time, but every time he's about to quit the racket, he gets suckered into another case - usually when a gorgeous broad turns up in his ramshackle office.

Essentially, Denton's a good hearted guy who falls for sob-stories and that's why he gets himself involved way above his head. And I mean way above his head.

I will forthwith sign off my posts with his name. If he appears on your Comments page, please treat him respectfully. He may not be a teacher, but he's earned his stripes, trying to make the world a better place for the rest of us.

Ok Denton, I've done the honours.
The rest is up to you, buddy.

The Sweet Taste of Satisfaction

After eleven months, I am absolutely thrilled to report that I have received my first paycheck! Ladies and Gentlemen, CW is now a paid teacher.

I balked at how much has been taken off (see, I knew the feeling wouldn't last long)in tax and stuff but no matter, I have the payslip in my possession and a rather scary smile on my face. It's official, my student days are over and I am once again a part of the workforce.

I probably won't feel this good again (unless the amounts increase considerably) so I will enjoy the feeling of knowing that next month, I will be getting paid for doing absolutely nothing.

Isn't it great being a teacher around this time of year? (smug expression glued to face).

London Bombings - French Reaction

This was sent to me:

"AP and Reuters reported that the French Government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "run" to "hide." The only two higher levels in France are "surrender" and "collaborate."

The raise was precipitated by the recent fire which destroyed one of France's white flag factories virtually disabling their military.

Additional reports indicate that the French now have numerous small arms for sale, the quality of these firearms is near perfect, having never been fired and only dropped once."

hee hee hee.

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

This One's For You, Kiki

This posting is dedicated to my old friend Kiki, who's going through a tough time right now. She's the one who got me into this blogging thing and I owe her a debt of gratitude, so please go over to her site and leave a message of support.

She needs some real cheering up, so c'mon people let's get to it. Operation Kiki is now underway - go and get her spirits sky-high!

Kiki, we all love ya, hope you feel brighter really really really soon.

The Big Debate

A friend of mine spotted a picture of a girl in a photographic magazine he subscribes to. He says she looks like Michal. We've been debating it and haven't come to a unified decision.

What do you think?
















Which one is the real Michal?

Monday, 18 July 2005

The One With The M&M's

I was prepared for the worst.

Today, I was put down to teach three out of four lessons - in fact, virtually the same lesson to all the three Year 7 classes.

Imagine the situation. This is the last week of term and the kids are in no mood to learn. They want to mess around, surf the net, play games. Am I mad, trying to teach them Excel spreadsheets?

I made a deal with them. "You do the work and once you've finished and I'm satisfied that you've done your best, I will let you go onto the internet." The kids in all three classes bought into it and as a result, four days before the end of the school year, I had kids producing work, some of it quite good.

I would like to say that today was without faults, but, let's not forget that I'm a teacher and perfect work-days don't ever happen (or maybe they do and I haven't experienced them).

I was talking to one class, standing at the front of the room, using the interactive whiteboard when an M&M was flung across the class, narrowly missing me and hitting the board. Fortunately, neither I nor the board were damaged. But I was furious (and I'm sure the board wasn't too happy either, but I didn't get it's opinion).

I singled out the kid, sitting at the back and asked him what was going on (I actually felt like burying his crappy little head into the wall, but that's not what we are supposed to do, however strong the urge) and he had the nerve to answer:
"I thought you were hungry".

The boy's luck must have been on his side because there was another teacher in the room, who took him out as I glared like never before. After he came back in (which I don't think should have happened), I got the other kids onto a task and told him that if he ever threw something, anything at me again, I would refuse to teach him - full stop. Whether or not that meant anything to him doesn't matter because the very fact that I told him this, is something that I would never tell a kid on principle. I will teach any kid, however challenging butI draw the line at having things thrown at me.

At the end of the lesson, I wrote an incident report and told the other teachers what I had said to him. They all agreed with my course of action. He was put on detention but couldn't turn up as he was on another detention.

I saw him at the end of the day and in a calm manner, tried to find out why he had felt the need to throw something at me. He told me that he wasn't aiming to hit me, only the board. Suffice to say, I wasn't impressed. This, coming from a 12 year old kid. If he keeps this behaviour up, he'll be out on his arse in a few years time.

I know that teachers have had worse things thrown at them, but this being the first time, I was a little shaken by the incident. Suffice to say that this kid will not be lobbing anything my way again, not if he wants to remain in school on a permanent basis.

Aside from that, it was a relatively good day. I doubt I'll come out smiling tomorrow - it's one day nearer to the holidays!

Sunday, 17 July 2005

Good Riddance

I'm happy to report that the miserable shit who was prime minister of this country in the early 1970's has finally snuffed it. Yes folks, Ted Heath is finally dead.

I hate the man. During the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Israel was close to annihilation and fighting for their very survival, Golda Meir begged the UK to give the country some arms to defend themselves. That anti-semitic sonofabitch refused because he was "afraid of what the Arabs might do". He didn't give a damn about the survival of Israel and my people and frankly, I don't give a damn about him.

With G-d's help, we managed to win without him and as a bonus, he got his come-uppance soon after when the Oil Crisis shut this country down. Within a year, he was also kicked out of No 10 by a victorious Harold Wilson - a true friend of the Jews.

He subsequently used every opportunity at his disposal to criticize Israel but was totally discredited by Margaret Thatcher who showed him up to be the pompous buffoon that he really was.

It's not often that I rub my hands with glee when someone dies, but I am feeling quite smug tonight. I hope the bastard goes straight to hell - he doesn't deserve any better.

This Week's Song: The Mistake

Like many people, I too went through a musical journey as I was growing up. My songs took in various influences, from show tunes (such as Rogers and Hammerstein) through to the early Beatles. On the way, I hitched my horse to the Dylan Saloon. I haven't really left there since.

The Mistake was my attempt to write a Dylanesque song - unfortunately without the subtlety of the Master, but using the folk style (i.e. rhythmic meter) that he started his career with - the difference being that he became the legend he is, whilst I pursued other interests!

This is my very humble tribute to him.

The Mistake

In the streets of a city,
A man walks each day,
With a bag in his hand
And a scowl on his face.

And he walks to the subway
And pays the tube fair,
One hand in his pocket,
The other in his hair.

And he gets on the train
With a ticket in his hand,
Looking at the people
Trying not to stand.

When he gets to his stop,
He waits for the doors,
That open to his life
And close for his cause.

And he gets off the train,
He makes for the stairs,
The exit from the tube
And to who knows where?

And he gives in his ticket,
He walks to the light,
Waiting at the entrance,
Seeing what a sight.

And he walks out of there
With his bag still intact,
His face still as sad,
His pride's hit the sack.

And he gets to the flat,
Going in the lift,
Pressing number three,
Up there in a gist.

And he gets to the top,
He takes out his key.
He opens the flat,
He looks but doesn't see.

And he unlocks the door,
To the bedroom inside,
He looks at the man,
He looks at his bride.

With a flash of the hand,
And whip of the wrist,
He jumps on the bed,
And knocks him with a fist.

But the foe is too fast
For our hero it may seem,
He jumps off the bed
And runs from the scene.

How did he fail this time,
What did he do?

How could he fail this time,
What could he do?

Robert Aldrich

Who?

As you might know, I'm quite a film buff and this is something that I've inherited from my dad. From a very early age, I showed a worrying interest in most things cinema, to the extent that I have (or had) quite a collection of books on the movies - actors/actresses, the studios, movies themselves etc.

I thought a while back about whom I would consider to be my all-time favourite director. I can't really give a rational reason for this waste-of-time exercise, but as you know, we movie buffs need to spend considerable hours understanding why we like to be "movie buffs"...sort of gives a rasion-d'etre to this anorakish hobby.

I thought of the greats - Hitchcock (he'd be second on my list), Spielberg, Howard Hawks, William Wyler, Woody Allen, Orson Welles (ok,The Third Man is genius, even though it was directed by Carol Reed), Robert Altman (I liked The Player) and then, Robert Aldrich.

Aldrich won. You probably don't know who he is, but if I mention three movies that he made, you will say "Oh, him!"

Robert Aldrich directed, amongst others:

"The Dirty Dozen"
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
and the original "Flight of the Phoenix."

The three movies have one thing in common - they are all very character driven and he manages to breathe life into the characters like few other directors. His films are tough, funny, exciting and very watchable and yes admittedly, probably more aimed at the male members of the audience.

Q: When did I pick Mr Alrich as my "favourite"?
A: After seeing the superb "Kiss Me Deadly" - a tough, mean, violent sonofabitch of a movie if ever there was one. Basically, your classic Robert Aldrich offering.

So here's the deal people, I've given you my choice, I now want to hear whom you consider to head your list of favourite director. I don't care which country he/she comes from, but I'd like to know if anyone out there holds Mr Alrich in the same esteem as I do.

Take One, Scene One....

Priceless.

Shira will be two at the end of August (quite literally as her birthday's on the 31st).

At present, she has a very limited vocabulary, however the words she does know, she utters with such conviction that you really cling onto each syllable as though it were a precious gem.

A case in point was the conversation we had this morning.

Me: "Shira, I LOVE you" (with emphasis on the word love)

Shira: "Really?" (said with a great deal of conviction and followed by a cheeky smile) .

Think of the Barclaycard advert, with the final "Priceless" comment and that's how I would describe her reaction and reply.

It was truly priceless.

Friday, 15 July 2005

Proud Daddy Moment

My girls received their school reports this afternoon. Dana told me to read Dassi's with my sunglasses on. She wasn't kidding - it was glowing.

Tali's and Michal's were nearly as strong.
Jeez, I never got reports like that.

Well done girls, you've made your old man very very very proud.

Hot, Sticky, Yeuch!

Yeah yeah, I know that I shouldn't complain...but I am.

I've spent most of the week avoiding teaching as I can't take being stuck in a sauna-like classroom with 30 or so other sticky bodies and over-heated computers. The school, like many others, doesn't have any sort of air-conditioning and the heat in the rooms I am (meant to be) in, is virtually unbearable.

So I've been slacking, I'm afraid. My tutor has noticed and gingerly asked me if I would be doing any teaching next week. Since I'm dead bored most of the time, I really don't have an excuse. All I can hope for, is that the weather gets a little cooler (not bloody likely in the middle of July), as least until next Friday.

After then, let it boil (well, maybe not exactly boil) because I will be immediately jumping into a cold shower!

Thursday, 14 July 2005

What An Honour!

I have just received an email from my university lecturer, telling me that I have scored a "1" (i.e. the highest mark) in my last assignment and that I have achieved an assignment average of 1.5 - he wrote that my result was "the highest in our class and I am almost certain, the highest across all subjects".

Wow! I've never been top of the class before, let alone (possibly) top of the year and I do feel extraordinarily honoured. As those of you who have followed my entries throughout the year will know, it has not been an easy period - but it's great to see that the efforts I made to get the work done, have brought on such rewarding results (quite literally!)

I can't quite believe it!!!

Movie Review: War Of The Worlds

I don't quite know what I expected from this movie. I am a big fan of Spielberg and have, like most people, seen the majority of his films (although I missed out on The Terminal).

Where do I start?

In short, War of the Worlds is, I suppose by it's nature, a dark movie. There are no light moments or rather, these are so overshadowed by the seriousness of the material that you don't really remember them.

I have to say that nothing quite matched the thrill of the first set piece, where the aliens invade. It is truly jaw-dropping, in the same vein (if not as horrific) as the beach invasion at the start of Saving Private Ryan. Tom Cruise demonstrates that age is definitely an advantage when it comes to the quality of his acting. He really is convincing in the title role of Spielberg's typical "Average Joe" character - think Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Funnily enough, this movie was quite reminiscent of Close Encounters. I would even go on to describe it as the observse to that movie. Whereas Close Encounters was relatively light/reverantial towards aliens, War of the Worlds portrays them (as per the book) in a nighmarish manner. Similarly, the scene where the probe looks for the humans in the confines of the shack, brought to my mind at least, the scene in Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs were scouting out the kitchen.

I wouldn't call War of the Worlds entertaining. Saying that, It is thrilling in places and Cruise is very believable (I really related to him as he strove to maintain his composure whilst driving the car at the same time as having to deal with his hysterical daughter, sat in the back seat), so it's definitely worth a look.

This is Spielberg at his darkest. Go see, but don't take the kids because you'll regret it - it's not for them.

Recommended

My Rating (out of 5)

3 1/2

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

The Difference?

A few days ago, the British Police disclosed the identity of the first victim of last Thursday's terror attack. She was Mrs Susan Levy whose smiling picture could be seen throughout the media for the next few days.

Mrs Levy, as you will surmise from her surname was Jewish and a few "what ifs" have come to my mind.

What if Mrs Cohen had not been on that tragic underground train and instead (at the exactly the same time as the bomb exploded) found herself, like many other British Jews, checking in at the EL-AL desk in Heathrow, looking forward to boarding her flight to Israel for a two week holiday?

What if Mrs Cohen had arrived in Israel a few hours later (and it would have been much later, considering that Heathrow Airport was in turmoil immediately after the incidents) and made her way to one of the hotels in Netanya, so popularly frequented by the British crowds?

What if Mrs Cohen had decided to do a little shopping yesterday afternoon in the local mall....and ended up being one of the victims of the suicide attack that took place there?

What if?

How would the story be reported then? On which page would her smaller-sized picture be displayed? After all, the attack had happened there , not here and so it was a"different" situation?

Do you get my point?

The British police are virtually screaming out that last Thursday's attack was the first suicide bombing on British soil. Can someone please tell me the difference between both incidents because I sure as hell can't work it out?

People, these attacks, on two different continents were carried out by the same enemy. There is NO difference whatsoever in the outcome. You can give whatever reason you want for either attack but the end result is EXACTLY the same - innocent individuals like you or I are being murdered by savages who use religion as an excuse to slaughter.

The thing is - there is no excuse and ultimately, there is no difference whatsoever in either attack. Terrorism is terrorism, whether in London or Netanya and I wish the double standards so beloved by Politicians, the Media and your average citizen would be addressed.

Wake up everybody.

For everyone's sake, wake up.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

We Are Now RSS Accessible


For those of you who use RSS readers, I have now made this site more accessible to you.

To get the code for your reader, please click on
at the bottom of the left hand column.

Toothless Tali

A major milestone in Talia's life took place last night - she lost her first tooth.

This is not bad going, considering that she's six years and nearly five months old. Rest assured, the tooth fairy was on hand to dish out the dough.

Mazel Tov Tali!

Monday, 11 July 2005

The Mystery of the Stuffed Tissue

This morning we found Shira (nearly two) in her cot, with a tissue stuffed right up one of her nostrils.

Michal (aged four) immediately pointed the finger of blame at Dassi (nearly eight) who proclaimed her innocence with a dramatic "I was framed by Michal!" pronouncement.

Meanwhile, the purpetrayer of this evil deed remains at large, although I suspect that the guilty party may be none other than Shira herself, who was mischievously trying to get her hapless sisters into serious trouble...

Sunday, 10 July 2005

This Week's Song: Hope

I thought that it would be appropriate to upload this particular song in light of what happened only three days ago on the streets of London. I wrote it back in 1988 and it's still a philosophy that I strongly hold by. You need to have hope in life, otherwise you might as well curl up and wither away.

Hope

When you look at the world
And see your love,
You think of a spell
That's been cast from up above.

You cry to the clouds,
You cry to the sky,
But the distance you can't travel
Makes a tear leave the eyes.

Finding out the truth
Is harder to achieve,

When the dream you wish for
Is one you must believe.

You cry to the sky,
You cry to the sky,
But the distance you can't travcl
Brings the tears to our eyes.

Chorus

Pray with all your heart
Your dreams will come true in time,
For all the hope you need
Is just by your side.

When you look at the world
And cross that stream,
You break that spell,
You find your dream.

You smile at the clouds,
You wink at the sky,
For the distance you have travelled,
Makes the tears leave the eyes.

Chorus

Friday, 8 July 2005

Thursday, 7 July 2005

7/7 2005

All the teachers were asked to go to the staff room at lunch time for a meeting.
It turned out that as there were only three buses still running, there would be a serious problem in the kids being able to travel home (since the majority were travelling on bus routes that had been cancelled). We were also told that, understandably, we had to stay in school until the kids got out safely. The deputy head even offered to put up teachers who could not get home in her own house.

We were asked to get the kids into their form rooms and use mobiles or landlines to contact their parents about picking them up. The teachers needed to speak to the parents first, to find out how they wanted their kids to get home. It goes without saying that some parents could not be contacted and there were a lot of scared, hyperactive kids walking around school.

A long line of parents queued outside the school waiting for their children to come out. I had to write notes for the front office, to confirm that I had spoken to a parent, otherwise the student wasn't allowed out of school.

I was facing the prospect of having to walk home as my bus route had also been cancelled, but fortunately, a fellow teacher offered to give me a lift.

It has been a black, black day and the worst part is that we have yet to discover the full extent of the horror. Over the next few days, heartbreaking stories will fill the news and our minds, and many of us will feel uneasy as we board the buses to and from work.

Welcome to London, the new terror capital of the world.

Will the British Public Wake Up?

When I heard that buses and trains had been attacked, my immediate reaction was "terrorist attack = AL Queda." I got some strange looks around the staff room. I also think it was deliberately timed to coincide with the start of the G8 Summit to send a message to the leaders that Al Queda is more important than anything else going on in the world and to focus the world on "The Base".

I received an email from Tel Aviv to check if we're ok. Talk about situations changing around. Usually, the traffic goes the other way. The only thing I can say to the people around me is "welcome to MY world".

This is only the beginning. London has now become the latest terrorist target. Will the stupid, naive British public finally realise who the hell they are dealing with?

Yes folks, we had to go into Iraq and Afganistan and kill the terrorists. You cannot negotiate with these savages.

Yes folks, Israel has to finish off the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist cells because this is the ONLY way to defeat them.

I cry for those who've died but pray that the stupid stupid liberal left finally get out of politics and let the British Government do something, ANYTHING for Chrissakes to finish off the bloodthirsty terrorists.

Pulling out of Iraq will not do it. We need to get in there and destroy every single cave until we get hold of Bin Laden and his Nazis and cut their f******g heads off.

OH MY G-D

EXPLOSIONS HAVE RIPPED APART TWO BUSES IN CENTRAL LONDON AND THERE HAVE BEEN EXPLOSIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND TRAINS. THERE ARE MULTIPLE CASUALTIES.

I know the train route well as I travelled it on my journey to uni. The bomb went off during the rush hour and I could have well been on one of those trains had this happened a month ago.

I'm speechless.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

London's Win Is My Loss.

I can barely conceal my overwhelming enthusiasm for the IOC's decision to award the city I live in, management of the 2012 Olympic Games.

I'm not going to harp on about why I'm so against the decision, suffice to point you to the blog I posted back in June.

So now I have to spend the next seven years listening to endless debates and counter-debates as to how prepared/unprepared this city is and whether anything at all will change. It makes you almost wish you were listening to some gossip about the Royal Family instead (I said almost).

One positive outcome is that we beat the French (once again) and if I think about it from that angle, I can come to the conclusion that hosting the games not be such a bad thing after all.

Guess what....I'm already beginning to feel better!

Tuesday, 5 July 2005

The Sports Day That Wasn't

From the outset, I could have never guessed that the day would pan out the way it did.

I wanted to wear shorts and a T-Shirt. After all, it was the school sports day, why should I go in formal work-dress? Dana convinced me to change my mind and the only compromise was the wearing of trainers.

She was right, but for the wrong reasons. I found myself freezing my nuts off in the sports stadium, being made responsible for maintaining order at the the sandpit, the one that was to be used for the triple jump. I say freezing because the weather was atrocious. It started off sunny and quickly spiralled into a cold, grey morning, with a cool wind to boot. I spent two-and-a-half hours there watching kids "practice" their jumps. I can't even being to describe how thrilling the experience was.

I don't know who skipped school more, the teachers or students. Strangely enough, there were a phenomenal number of teachers who called in sick. They seemed fine yesterday....

Mid morning, we headed back to the track and were told to take the Year 7's and 8's into the adjacent field for football matches. So there I was, frozen to the core, standing in a field with tens of kids.

And then the heavens opened. So now, I was now cold and wet.
Bloody Fantastic.

The afternoon session was cancelled as we made our way back to school and shambles ensued. The final lesson didn't happen and the kids spent the remainder of the day in their form rooms.

The sports teacher proudly told me that we would be finishing off the "day" in September.
Oh joy, I can hardly wait.

Welcome to the wierd and wonderful world of teaching, CW.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Crossing the Rubicon

At 6.33 p.m, this evening, I created a little bit of personal history. I purchased my first music download.

Yes, folks, I paid a whole 99 pence (just over a $) to have a copy of....

Can you guess? Which artist would be the first to get me to part with my money (forget the amount, it's the principal we're talking about here)?

Quiz over. I downloaded Paul McCartney (who else?) and U2's blistering live version of Sgt. Pepper that opened Live8, but two days ago. It was worth the gargantuan amount. Since then, I have burned it to CD, copied it onto my phone and generally wrung as much value as I could out of my investment.

Go on, say it. I know that I'm pathetic but yet, strangely proud to confess that my first ever paid-for download (yup, I'm labouring the point) consisted of a Beatles classic no less. I'm already saving up another amount to purchase the last bit, with the Beatles songs (Drive My Car, Hey Jude, Long and Winding Road) if Sir Bob decides to spoil us Beatles' fruitcakes. I mean fans.

I have crossed the latest frontier in technology. I am therefore deserving to now call myself a 2005 man.

I have finally arrived.

July 4th Greetings

Happy Independance Day to all the U.S. visitors.
I hope your day seriously rocks!

Battle Scarred

I've survived my first day of teaching at the new school.

Who would have thought that seventh and eighth grade students could be so vile mannered, thuggish and generally repulsive in their behaviour? And I'm only referring to the good ones.

Seriously though, it was pretty challenging at times and I did end up by calling two separate parents to complain about their little darlings (it's a school policy to call the parents if the kids are obnoxious) but then again, the mum's did say they would "talk" to their little angels.
Waste of time there then.

I'm being perfectly realistic here in stating that I had an almost impossible job. I was covering for another teacher (the one I'm replacing) and it is three weeks before the end of the year, so what else could I expect? Next term, those little beasts are mine, to mould and perfect - I almost feel a Dr Evil cackle coming on - but in September, I think I'll be in a better position to get through to them. The kids are worn out. They want out for summer and who can blame them?

Inevitably, all lessons from henceforth for all teachers are exercises in babysitting because the kids sure as hell don't want to learn and the teachers themselves can't be that bothered to take a stringent line, whatever management is fruitlessly advocating.

I've come through the day, wiser and ready for battle, but to be honest, I'd rather be sunning myself on a far away beach.

Funnily enough, I imagine that's what the kids are also thinking about. Let's just hope it's a different beach on a separate continent.

All About Me

ALL ABOUT ME

I can run,
Say “done”,
Eat,
Beat,

Touch my feet

Sing,
Ding,
Swim,
Look at my hair all day,
Play,
I can lie,
Jump high.

I love exploring,
I can be a bit annoying,
Sometimes I hear my dad snoring.

I can watch,
But not speak Dutch,
I love to watch TV,
But hate the name Evie.

So I have told you about me,
So ta ta ,
I must go down for tea.


BY HADASSAH (aged 7 and ¾)

Sunday, 3 July 2005

This Week's Song: A Piece of Peace

Back in 1989, I described how I felt about the concept of peace and the song is dedicated to John Lennon. I also think we should Give Peace a Chance - but not at any price.

I've had to compress the file quite a bit so the quality is not great and for this I apologise in advance.

A Piece Of Peace

I do believe in Peace,
Peace.
Just a bit of it.
Like Gandhi,
Like King,
Like Lennon.
But I ain't gonna cry for it.
I ain't gonna die for it.
I'm just gonna pray for it.
Pray for it.

I'm not alone,
When I search for the key
To the armoury,
Yes the armoury.
I'm trying to save us all,
To rescue our fate
From the killers of the globe,
The blood on their guns is not paint.

Chorus:

Look at the people.
They are searching for an answer,
Oh an answer,
For the people of today.
Asking "What is peace?"

I wanna know,
Yes I wanna see
The signatures
On the pact of peace.
"Drop all arms,
Make Peace forever.
Drop all guns,
Make peace forever
Forever."

Chorus X2

I do believe in Peace,
Peace. Just a bit of it.
Like Gandhi,
Like King,
Like Lennon.
But I ain't gonna cry for it.
I ain't gonna die for it.
I'm just gonna pray for it.
Pray for it.

A piece of peace.

The Other Side

These are the contents of an email I received today, which I would like to share with you. I appreciate that it is lengthy, but please try to read it all the way to the end.

"Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss is a 21 year old Palestinian woman, who lives in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza strip.

In January 2005 she suffered burns in a cooking accident in her home. She was admitted for treatment to the Soroka hospital in the Israeli town of Beer Sheva. She became an outpatient and was issued by the Israeli authorities with a special pass entitling her to cross into Israel to receive medical treatment.

On 21 June 2005 she was arrested at the Erez crossing point, on her way out of Gaza and to Soroka, wearing 10 kgs of explosives in her underwear. On Israeli TV she admitted that she had planned to explode the bomb in the hospital where she was being treated. She stated that she had been recruited by the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, and added that she had wanted to target as many children as possible (BBC worldwide website, 21 June 2005; Jerusalem Post 22 June; Israeli press statements, various).

The following ‘open letter’ was published on 24 June 2005 in the Jerusalem Post, responding to this attempted attack. The letter is by Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish who is an obstetrician and gynaecologist from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza strip, who works at Soroka hospital.


An Open Letter by a Gaza doctor
published in The Jerusalem Post


As a Palestinian doctor who has worked at Soroka hospital in Beersheva for eight years, I was outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt by Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss.


On Monday she was caught at the Erez crossing from the Gaza strip wearing explosives stitched to her underwear and admitted that her goal was to kill dozens of people at the hospital including as many children as possible.

I conduct research at the hospital’s Genetic Institute, and Soroka has become my home away from home. I have built warm professional relations with my colleagues in the obstetrics and gynaecology department and other units.

I make a point, whenever I’m at the hospital, of visiting Palestinian patients. I also schedule appointments for other Gaza residents, and even bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip.

I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and other medical staff at Soroka hospital. They show compassion, sympathy and kindness. I was therefore extremely shocked and upset to hear that Wafa Biss, from the Jabalya refugee camp, was wired with explosives to blow herself up at Soroka, a place where she had been treated with kindness and mercy.

On the very day she planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent medical treatment to Soroka. Wafa was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Biss feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment?

As for Biss herself, she should have been a messenger for peace among her people, and should have been bringing flowers and appreciation to the Soroka doctors for healing her burns. Instead, she targeted the very people who treated her with such compassion. Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada.

To plan an operation of this kind against a hospital is an act of evil. Children, women, patients, doctors and nurses were the target. Is this a reward for kindness? Is this an advertisement for Islam, a religion which respects and sanctifies human life? This is aggression and a violation of humanity.

What are we going to say if Israel now clamps down on Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment inside Israel? All of us know that we are suffering from collective punishments imposed by the Israelis. We now risk imposing additional suffering on Palestinians in need of medical care.

Soroka is a hospital that has opened its doors to treat Palestinians without discrimination, offering the best care available. I want to tell my friends and colleagues at Soroka that all the Gaza residents I have spoken to have expressed their condemnation for this evil and brainless act. At a time when we badly need to build bridges of trust and tolerance, Soroka is the only door left open when other hospitals are closed to Gaza residents.

We should all denounce any attempts to attack hospitals and harm their patients. The Biss family members have, themselves, issued a statement condemning the use of their daughter. I hope that despite this incident Soroka hospital will continue to be an oasis of peace and coexistence. That is the correct message to defeat the enemies of peace."


As far as I'm concerned, this is yet another example of what really happens in Israel. The world's media does it's best to paint the country in the blackest of colours. The very fact that this story was virtually ignored in all reports, amply demonstrates the shocking bias that is ever-present therein.

I strongly believe that both the Israelis and Palestinians would sort their problems out much more quickly were the rest of the world (i.e. both Media and the politicians) to leave them both alone.

A message to media editors - either report the whole story or butt out. We don't need your meddling.

Saturday, 2 July 2005

Some Great Jewish Jokes

Many years ago, when Moshe was a young boy, he found a mezuzah on the wall of a deserted house near his street. As there was still time before he had to get home for his supper, he pulled it off the wall and opened it.

Inside, he found a piece of old paper on which were written the words that he would never forget: "Please help me. I'm being held prisoner in a mezuzah factory."

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There was an advert in the Jewish Examiner that read:
"Wife wanted. Please reply to Box Number 856". Five thousand replies were received, all saying: "You can have mine".
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A German comes to London and stays with Solly and his family. The first morning, they all have breakfast together and eat bagels. The German exclaims "Wow! We don't have bagels like this in Germany." To which Solly stands up and yells "And whose fault is that?"
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And last but not least....
Hymie muttered a few words in the Synagogue and found himself married. A year later, he muttered a few words in his sleep and found himself divorced.
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Have a great week people!

Friday, 1 July 2005

Judenrein.

A road sign leading to the Jewish Settlements in Gaza.


As I've written before, I truly believe that we have no choice but to quit Gaza. I don't however gain any pleasure whatsoever in seeing the unedifying spectacle of Israeli police (the majority of whom are Jewish) forcibly removing their brethren from the area, in all effect, making it Judenrein - Jew Free.

Please don't think that I am in any way whatsoever comparing the Israeli Police to the Nazis, who also were tasked to clean the area of Jews. My intentions could not be further from this vile idea and yes, the situation here is incomparable. I mention this because a number of right-wingers are jumping onto the so called bandwagon and coming up with some appalling comparisons to use against their fellow Jews - which are unforgivable.

I think that I understand the emotions involved (as much as someone who is not in the immediate area can comprehend) and feel deeply for the Settlers. However, I hope that they can ensure that this terrible process (i.e. the disengagement) is carried out in the most sensitive and efficient way as possible. The quicker it gets done and dusted with, the less the chance that the children involved will be branded with emotional scars that may never leave them.

I am not looking forward to the next month or so.

As an extremely proud member of a people who are supposed to be a "light to the Nations", I can't bear to think of the glee our enemies will gain from seeing us rip one another apart, before the world's media. We must all stand together, as proud Jews and bear the pain, shoulder to shoulder. The Settlers and Police are our brethren and we cannot afford to take sides.

Let's just hope that it is all over very quickly and that no-one gets hurt. Gaza is not worth any pain. After we leave, as far as I'm concerned, Gaza and its inhabitants can rot in their own own putridness.

The Employed Teacher

I find it hard to fathom but I'm into my second twenty-four hour period as an employed person. I guess this means that my halycon days as a student are now at an end (hah! I talk as though I'd never been anything else but a student).

I does feel good to be getting some financial remuneration for my hard work, but I can't help but miss the benefits (mostly financial) that I received as a student. I suppose these misplaced loyalties will disappear as soon as I get my first paycheck - thirty agonising days from now) and realise how sweet it feels to be "in the money" once again, although the inevitable depression from realising how much is taken in tax obviously sours the experience.

I shouldn't complain. I finish work in three weeks time and get paid for doing almost nothing over the summer. I guess this is one of the great perks of being a teacher. I can however testify that by mis-September, I'll be so exhausted that the word "summer" will be but a reminiscence of a period "long, long ago".

The June Reunion

We've just come back from a wonderful evening. A second cousin got married today and we were invited to the the dinner (though unfortunately, we couldn't make the wedding).

I don't remember the last time so many members of our family spent an evening together under one roof. It was amazing to see my first cousins sitting in one direction, my uncle and aunt in another - and knowing that there were cousins present who had come specially from Israel, America etc to be there. These included the Rabbi who married us (who is a brother-in-law of the bridegroom) and whom we haven't seen for nearly ten years. He is extremely dear to both of us.

The only fly in the ointment was that my parents weren't present, as they were flying back from holiday this evening. They would have absolutely loved it.

I just wanted to share this special evening with you. As a family man, I really love gatherings like this. Unfortunately, there are always those who can't aren't able to come for one reason or another - which makes this unforgettable evening so very special.

I'm going to sleep now, with a rosy glow about me.
I want to savour the memory. Aren't family gatherings (when they work) the best thing ever?