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

Monday, 31 December 2007

Out With The Old And In With The Old

2007 eh?

What a year.

I always find it quite a challenge to think back over the previous eleven months. January 2007 seems like such a distant world. The only thing I really remember from that time is the execution of Saddam Hussein. Isn't that tragic? Isn't it sad that I lived through thirty one days of a month and I only remember one horrific moment.

It gets worse. I remember February primarily because of our trip to Eilat - and that's it. Then again, it is a more pleasant memory.

I suppose I should remember this year because it was the last one I lived through before crashing into the ginormous 4 0. It hasn't been an easy annum either. I endured a lot of shit in my last school and although I am much happier, I'm also much more hassled and stressed, trying to keep up with the crushing workload.

I take this all in my stride because I hope that the next academic year will be easier, granted that I will have been in my current post for a full year.

So what do I hope for 2008?

Well, it would be nice to hear of some good news for once.

What with Benazir Bhutto's assassination becoming scarily farcical, Iran racing towards nuclear crazydom (despite America's laughable and highly problematic recent assessment), Israel about to divide Jerusalem if Bush and Olmert have their way and the British Government doing everything in it's power to lose just about every Briton's personal data- things don't look too hot from down here.

Then again, on the plus side, Israel will hit 60 in May and that is a huge cause for celebration.

You could look at the cup/glass and hope for the glint of champagne to appear and fill up that upper half. Then again, I suppose you should be glad for being anywhere near a cup in the first place..

Happy 2008 one and all.

Let's hope it's a year to remember - for all the right reasons.

The Bitter Taste Of Sugar


The European Union on Sunday condemned a Palestinian attempt to smuggle chemicals used to make explosives into Gaza by marking it as humanitarian aid from the European Commission. An EU official called the act detrimental for the Palestinians and said, "If this was an attempt to misuse the name of the EU or European Commission it would be an isolated criminal act and we condemn it."

The comments were made after the IDF released a statement on Sunday saying that a truck carrying 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate, a banned substance that can be used to manufacture explosives and Qassam rockets, was discovered at a border crossing in the West Bank. The IDF statement noted that the chemicals were disguised in sugar bags that were marked as humanitarian aid provided by the EU. A photo of the bags showed a white sack with black print on it reading "EEC 2 Sugar Exported from EU".

The EU official said the bag could not be confused with the proper aid given by the EU because the EU does not export sugar and that their bags carry a 12-star symbol of the EU and the name of the European Commission.


Thursday, 27 December 2007

Power Kills

What is it about the lust for power that made an intelligent person like Benazir Bhutto end her eight year exile in relative safety, ultimately to leave this earth in a pool of her own blood?

It is not as though she didn't know she was living on borrowed time. No sooner had she arrived back in Pakistan, than an attempt was made on her life.

So why stay?

Why risk the most important thing she had?

Was gaining power worth it?

I just can't understand her reasoning for coming back and staying. She could have gone back into exile and called it a day for her political career - I don't think she had would have had a problem finding a job. However, she stayed, knowing she was a target. Its a no-brainer.

So another world leader succumbs to the lethal vanity of power and her death ends up being another statistic to add to the over-bloodied board of political assassinations.

Forget the simplistic adage about power corrupting.
In plain and simple words - it kills.

Movie Review: Enchanted

I'm going to cut to the chase and reveal that I absolutely loved this movie. Rarely has a film lived up to its title, but the entire affair is truly enchanting, from beginning to end.

The acting is fabulous, the songs (especially the Central Park number) captivating, the characterisations....what more can I say except....


Really, please don't miss it - it is a gem.

My Rating


Monday, 24 December 2007

A Message For My Christian Visitors

I would like to wish all my Christian friends and visitors to this site a very spiritual and meaningful Xmas. May you celebrate the day in peace, within the bosom of your family and may your prayers of peace for all mankind, be gracious to the good Lord whom we all look up to for guidance over the next twelve months.

Thank you most sincerely for supporting this site through thick and thin over the last three-and-a-half years.

The Xmas Party

FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 4th November
RE: Christmas Party

I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place
on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the
Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!

We'll have a small band playing traditional carols...please feel free to
sing along. Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time;
however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets.

This gathering is only for employees!
The Managing Director will make a special announcement at the Party.

Merry Christmas to you and your Family.


FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 5th November
RE: Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees.
We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides
with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on
we're calling it our 'Holiday Party'.
The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians.
There will be no Christmas tree or Christmas carols sung.
We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,


FROM; Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 6th November
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous
requesting a non-drinking table... you didn't sign your name. I'm
happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that
reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore!!!! How am I supposed
to handle this? Somebody? Forget about the gift exchange. No gift
exchange allowed now since the Union officials feel that $10.00 is too much
money and Management believes $10.00 is a little cheap.


FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 7th November
RE: Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th
begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking
during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate
how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim
employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal
until the end of the party - or else package everything up for you to
take home in a little foil doggy bag. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit
farthest from the dessert buffet; pregnant women will get the table closest
to the toilets; Gays are allowed to sit with each other; Lesbians do not
have to sit with gay men; each will have their own table. Yes, there will
be flower arrangements for the gay men's table, too. To the person asking
permission to cross dress - no cross dressing allowed.

We will have booster seats for short people. Low fat food will be
available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the
food. We suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the
food first.

There will be fresh fruits as dessert for Diabetics; the restaurant
cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?!?!?!?!?!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F****** Employees
DATE: 8 November
RE: The ******** Holiday Party.

Vegetarian pricks! I've had it with you people!!! We're going to keep
this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you
can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death", as you so
quaintly put it. You'll get your f****** salad bar, including organic
tomatoes, but you know tomatoes have feeling, too. They scream
when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right
Hope you all have a rotten holiday ! Drink, drive, and die!

The Bitch from HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FROM: John Bishop - Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: 9th November
RE: Pauline Lewis and Holiday Party

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pauline Lewis a speedy
recovery, and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.

In the meantime, Management has decided to cancel our Holiday
Party and instead, give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd December off with
full pay.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

What Kind Of Catholic Will Blair Be?

I'm really not quite sure what to make of Tony Blair's conversion to Roman Catholicism.

On the one hand, I believe it is perfectly within his right to take on whatever religion he wants. At the end of the day, he has the freedom to choose his own spiritual path. Saying that, I very much hope that that he embraces a more modern interpretation of Catholicism - the kind which doesn't blame the Jews for the death of Christ (as per the last two millennia)

I also believe it most uncharitable of people to call him a hypocrite for his past views. Maybe it's my Jewish sensibilities, but we hold that when one moves up the spiritual ladder, as Mr Blair is undoubtedly doing, the rest of us do everything to encourage him/her and at the same time, avoid bringing up past decisions and actions.

Why shoot someone down when they are trying to reach a higher spiritual plane (assuming that their aim is to avoid becoming a fundamentalist and as a result, taking on homicidal intent)?

I wish Mr Blair only success in his new found path. I also hope that he remains level-headed and has the nous to avoid the more contentious elements of his new found religion. He could be the modern of the Roman Catholic church, something that would benefit us all.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Saudi Academic - "Muslim Organisations Must Condemn Terrorism"

I get daily emails from Memri, the Middle East Research Institute, whose raison-d'etre is to provide accurately translated English texts of articles in the Arab media, for the non-Arabic speaking world to read.

Many of their reports provide a fascinating insight into a media that many of us feel secluded from, not least because our Arabic isn't exactly up to scratch. With this in mind, I felt it important to reproduce the email that was sent to me today, so that it receives some more exposure in the blogging world that many of us seem to be inhabiting.

"Saudi Academic:
"Muslim Organizations, Leaders Must Condemn Terrorism – Our Enemies Are Translating Statements of Each and Every [Islamic] Scholar, Imam, and Charity Spokesman"

Articles in the Arab press repeatedly warn about MEMRI's monitoring of the Arab media, and call on the media not only to moderate extremist statements but also to condemn terrorists and their supporters in no uncertain terms. In a recent article in the London Arabic daily Al-Hayat, Saudi academic 'Ali bin Talal Al-Jahni calls on Arab organizations – including the World Muslim League, the Arab League, Islamic universities, and charity funds – and on preachers to harshly condemn terrorist operations. He says that this is especially important in light of the fact that statements by Muslims are translated and publicized by the Western media, particularly by MEMRI.(1)

The following are excerpts:

Articles in the Arab press repeatedly warn about MEMRI's monitoring of the Arab media, and call on the media not only to moderate extremist statements but also to condemn terrorists and their supporters in no uncertain terms. In a recent article in the London Arabic daily Al-Hayat, Saudi academic 'Ali bin Talal Al-Jahni calls on Arab organizations – including the World Muslim League, the Arab League, Islamic universities, and charity funds – and on preachers to harshly condemn terrorist operations. He says that this is especially important in light of the fact that statements by Muslims are translated and publicized by the Western media, particularly by MEMRI.(1)

The following are excerpts:

"Everyone Agrees that Most Muslims Are Not Terrorists... Everyone Also Agrees that... Most Terrorists Have Been Muslims"

"Everyone agrees that most Muslims are not terrorists, but at the same time, everyone also agrees that, for many years now, most terrorists have been Muslims...

The non-Muslim friends of the Arabs and Muslims all over the world, from China and Japan to America and the West, are reprimanding us for letting our enemies lay the blame for terrorism on Islam. They warn that no matter how true the claim that terrorism is not the monopoly of the Muslims, and that the Communists, the Nazis, and [Avraham] Stern's Zionist gangs [also] resorted to [terrorism] – this claim is not going to help us.

"Equally unhelpful is the assertion that Muslim terrorists are [nothing but] a small group of criminals, although this is also true. Nor will it do us any good to argue that, besides terrorism, there is also legitimate resistance to occupation."

"[We Should] Express Our Outrage at the Terrorist Operations that Have Been and Still Are Being Carried Out... in the Name of Islam"

"Indeed, resistance that fails to distinguish between civilians – including children, the elderly, and the sick – and combatants is not legitimate. Such resistance [is nothing but] terrorism. Murdering human beings – even if politicians, both Sunni and Shi'ite, try to excuse it using the slogan of Islam – is forbidden. This was a consensus in all Islamic schools of thought until the arrival of [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini in Iran, and the rise of his supporters in Lebanon and Palestine...

"As stated by our non-Muslim friends, and probably also by the more sensible among us, the only effective [measure] would be to express our outrage, in clear and unambiguous words, at the terrorist operations that have been carried out and that are still being carried out in the name of Islam. However, the rage of an individual who speaks as a journalist or in the name of a newspaper... does not have much impact either. To be effective, rage must reflect the authentic views of organizations, and of those who [preach] from the pulpits of the mosques and [appear] on [various] TV channels.

"The Muslim World League, the Arab League, and Islamic universities must shout out in protest, repeatedly and loudly, every time there is a terrorist operation, and every time a terrorist message is issued; they must voice their fury and disgust at every terrorist act perpetrated in the name of Islam. The mosque preachers have the grave responsibility of condemning terrorism or any attempt to hijack our religion.

"But unfortunately, the reality is that many preachers are preoccupied with narrow political concerns and with speaking out against the enemies of Islam, and fail to realize that the principal enemy of Islam is the terrorists – who threaten, murder, bomb, and blow themselves up in the name of Islam.

"Particular responsibility lies on the shoulders of Islamic charity organizations. In the past, like other charity organizations with noble goals, they were harmed when money from donations was misused [to aid] the Taliban and its supporters. They must acknowledge this fact, confirm that they were indeed taken advantage of... and declare that [they do not even remotely] sympathize [with terrorism], let alone support it. [They must emphasize that this abuse] will not happen again. To show [their sincerity], all charity organizations must, instead of keeping silent, reiterate clearly and without reservation that it is they who have suffered the greatest harm from terrorist operations carried out in the name of Islam.

"Our enemies translate the statements of each and every [Islamic] scholar, imam, or charity organization spokesman, no matter how noble their aims, in order to use them as evidence against us. They are eager to find supplications [inciting against] Jews and infidels, and when they [find them], they rejoice – [for this enables them] to write articles and to discuss them on radio and television programs all over the world. If they do not find explicit statements [against Jews and infidels], they will attempt to discover at least the absence of explicit condemnation of a terrorist act against non-Muslims..."

(1) Al-Hayat (London), December 11, 2007. Other articles about MEMRI recently published in the Arab press include an August 13, 2007 article by columnist Sa'ud Kabili in the Saudi daily Al-Watan (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1720, "Saudi Columnists: Centers for Hebrew Studies Are Needed To Deal With Israel," September 21, 2007,; a two-part article by the former editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Ibrahim Al-Nafi', published November 9-10, 2007; and a November 21, 2007 article by 'Atef Al-Ghamri in Al-Ahram. See also a November 17, 2007 interview with Lebanese columnist Jihad Al-Khazen on the British Arabic-language TV channel Al-Hiwar (MEMRI Clip No. 1621, "

I would definitely recommend signing up to the site if you wish to have a full picture of what goes on in the Middle East. This is especially the case if you want to know about the various conflicts that are going on in the region. I guarantee that what you will read will be a damn sight more accurate than the so called "in-depth analysis" provided by the majority of journalists working in the non-Arab speaking world.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

15 Weaks Later

No, the title isn't a misprint.

Imagine you were looking at me right now (a frightful thought I know). If you were, you would see a face that's been through the scholastic wars.

My nose is blocked, my throat went on holiday about a week ago, but was kind enough to leave me with a voice and my eyes are so darkened by their dark southern pockets, that I've started wondering if I'll ever resemble any member of my family.

Yes folks. I've survived the first fifteen weeks (or is that weaks) at my new school.

However, it hasn't been too bad. In fact, at times, I've even had some fun. The work is at times crushing, the kids, often even more so, but I'm kind of addicted to the place. I don't know why I work so damn so hard, but I feel that it's something I just have to do.

Am I making any sense?

I am definitely going to do my best to enjoy this holiday and proverbially chill out. I have a lot of take-home work, but I point-blank refuse to let it get in the way of enjoying my generous "three full weekends" off. Whilst other schools are hitting their Xmas decks on Friday, we have the good grace to quit whilst we're ahead (and the kids aren't as hyper as I'm become accustomed to) and bid adieu to the first term of the 2007-8 academic year, as of 1.00 tomorrow afternoon.

Believe me though, this break hasn't come a second too soon. I need those eye-pockets to sink back into obscurity, at least until the Easter break.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Making A Difference

Firstly, an apology/explanation.

I know that I haven't been posting here for quite a while. I will give you an honest excuse (something that teachers have to believe all the time...) but I really do not have the time during the school term to sit down and start writing blogs. Last week, I was so busy that I didn't check my email for three days.

That said, I haven't and will not forget you guys and gals. Please keep checking back, because I do update this site, albeit less frequently than previously. With the holidays coming up, I plan to write in more often.

To make up for all of this, I present you with the following, text of which you've probably already seen, but I'll stick it on anyway:


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do.. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honour winner.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.... You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr. CEO?"

His jaw dropped, he went silent.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back.
~Charlie Brown

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Absolutely Breathtaking

I'm conducting a totally unscientific (but highly appropriate) experiment.

I want you to put your hand up if you believe that Iran stopped it's nuclear reactor program back in 2003?

You can put your hand down now-if it is raised.

Please put your hand up if you think that the so-called declaration that the Iranians were no longer involved in their missile program, had less to do with concrete fact and more to do with saving the last vestiges of President Bush's rapidly diminishing credibility?

Do you feel sort of silly sitting there scaring at a screen, with your hand in the air? It's OK, you're in good company.

I really don't know what the Americans are up to. If they were hoping to pull off some sort of vanishing trick (e.g. the disappearance of tangible evidence that the program is no longer operational), they should have looked to aping David Copperfield, instead of the late, lamented Tommy Cooper (a British magician who had a knack of botching every trick he attempted - on purpose of course).

Every intelligence agency worth its salt knows what Iran is up to, from MI5 through to the Mossad. Granted, it is true that they don't how far the program has progressed, but, never, in a million years, would they dein to suggest that the Iranians have been pulling the wool over the world's eyes by not even developing their reactors in the first place.

This act of breathtaking stupidity, because I really can't think of another way of describing it, has given that fruitcake in Iran the green light to go ahead and do whatever he wants (coupled with a sickening show of arrogance) on the nuclear front. The Israelis can hardly believe that their greatest ally would carry out this sort of reckless manoeuvre, right at the critical moment where Iran will reach the point of no return in their obsession to go nuclear.

Of course, you could say that I really don't know what I'm saying and that the Americans are absolutely correct in their assumption.

For once, I will admit that I hope you're right, because if I am proved correct, we are all in for a very rocky time - all thanks to that moronic imbecile in the White House.

If I'm wrong, I apologise and look forward to Herr Ahmedinejad joining the small roster of responsible, lunatic statesmen.

Qaddafi and Chavez will be so proud of him.

Monday, 3 December 2007

For Those Of You With Short Memory Spans...

I have decided to make life a smidgen easier for you.

If you have difficulty remembering the URL or web address of this site, you can type in and you'll get here just as quick.

The choice is yours. or

Now don't say I don't spoil you.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

40 Reasons To Love This Birthday

I really didn't know what the day had in store. Before Shabbat (the Sabbath) came in, she gave me my birthday present, an incredible JVC digital camcorder, which I can't wait to use (and which I spent the Sabbath day reading about in the instruction manual).

We were invited to a very special evening at the local synagogue, where the youth movement my daughters attend on Shabbat, Bnei Akiva, were holding a Friday night dinner. All went well until I popped out and came back to be greeted by the host asking if anyone was celebrating their birthday on the next day and when inevitably, my name came up, 150 people sang me Happy Birthday. I refused to tell them how old I was (despite everyone there knowing).

The spectacle was repeated on a smaller scale in the little kids service that I helped to run this morning. I still didn't let on to my age, singing ("you already know") to the familiar refrain.

All well and good. Dana had a special surprise when I came home. I found the kitchen table covered in minuscule "40" shaped confetti and I was told that this was the only surprise of the day, since she'd booked us into a restaurant for the dinner. It was to be just the two of us.
No surprise party then.

The babysitter came at about 7.00 and we got dressed up - I even wore my old university tie. We made our way to the restaurant and parked outside a friend's house. I couldn't quite understand why the neighbours who lived directly opposite us were going into the house too.

Anyway, we went in and our friends greeted us in the hallway. I was told that we had stopped over as they had a small gift to give me. As you can appreciate, I won't ever say to 'no' to a present, so it wasn't too hard to convince me to go in there in the first place.

They opened the door to the kitchen and there, in the adjoining dining room was a sea of faces, somewhat reminiscent of the Sgt Pepper album cover. Their vocal "surprise" boomed out and I was truly gobsmacked. There, in the room lay the patchwork of my 40 years of life on this earth, my parents, friends, cousins, past and present - you name it. At least 40 people (hence the title of this entry).

It turns out that Dana had been planning this evening since April and even Dassi knew about it. I honestly didn't twig what was going on. Everyone had brought some food and the spread was breathtaking. It was such a wonderful and memorable evening. I moved around, trying to chat with everyone and ended up by the piano playing songs (Beatles' of course) with my old friend M, who was one of the Best Men at our wedding.

It makes you feel very humbled when so many people take the time to come to your party and share in your celebration. I don't know how I could ever repay them or express how moved I was to see them there, but I think they must have realised by my reaction.

If that wasn't enough, the presents I got were truly splendorous and ranged from generous HMV tokens to a series of original cells from the Yellow Submarine film - the like of which I've seen but never had the privilege to own.

Saying that, if I hadn't received a single gift, it wouldn't have mattered. The image I have of all these faces lined up next to each other in a single room is one that I never want to forget. It was a truly magical moment.

If you were there and you're reading this, thank you so much for being part of my celebrations and making me feel that much better about hitting the big 4 0

If you weren't, I hope this description has managed to convey how unforgettable this evening has been to me. To have your friends and family there like that smiling and enjoying a special moment in your life is like the BarclayCard advertisement states, priceless.

Dana deserves all the praise for giving me the nicest birthday present I've ever received - this evening. Thank you so so so much. xxx