July 28, 2007

Learn your maps!

Films. Mixed feelings and a good surprise.

The way After the Wedding started, it could have been anything. I actually thought it would be a Danish "Chabrol" movie, lashing out at the bourgeoisie and their dirty secrets hidden behind the façade of respectability, with a touch of Lars von Trier and his Dogme 95 for the filming style. It turned out on that, unlike in Chabrol, all the characters were full of generous feelings, and for that matter, it was quite refreshing. The image did have quite a lot of shaky "camera on the shoulder" and similar effects whose scarcity I favor, but which were appropriately used for what the director,Susanne Bier, wanted to show: excess of emotion. Overall, I thought the quality was there (acting, image, scenario) but everything was in excess (generous feelings, emotion, effects and the number of reels, if you see what I mean.)

Meduzot (מדוזות), on the other hand, was a very good surprise. I was under the impression that the acting performance was not really to the international standards of a great movie, but the film was saved by the originality of its scenario and the simple, refreshing touch of symbolism. I enjoyed the potpourri of references to Israeli culture and society problems.

Politics. I was told by someone who is familiar with Palestinian politics - and is not biased towards Israel, on the contrary trying to help the Palestinians - that the "two state solution" is now an illusion, due to the number of Israeli citizens (read "settlers" if you prefer) living in the West Bank. Although it is just one opinion, and I didn't even have the opportunity to explore it fully yet, it certainly changes everything. Indeed, I've been asking myself what a country split between the West Bank and Gaza would be, and the way the separation barrier is beeing built (see the latest map on B'Tselem's website), even the West Bank doesn't make sense. Of course the separation barrier can be pulled down, but the Israelis can't resign themselves to abandoning their claims on the West Bank.

See also B'Tselem's map of forbidden and restricted roads in the West Bank, it's fascinating. The ones, I'm ashamed to say, that I used several times, are the 404/45/443 from Jerusalem to Modi'in and roads number 1 & 90 from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Actually, I chose to drive through the road to Modi'in only once, to show it to visiting friends: it's a shortcut to the area of Tel Aviv and the North but otherwise, I don't need to use that road, I am ready to take the slower and busier historical road. (Shared taxis and other drivers are not ready...) On the other hand, there is no question that the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea comes in handy to go to the Dead Sea, Massada, Ein Gedi and Eilat instead of driving all around Judea.

Fun. Sea is fun. Speaking Hebrew non-stop for 24 hours is fun - difficult but gratifying.

July 25, 2007

Road number 9 opens...

Who cares?

I don't but all the commuters from Tel Aviv and other places in the "Merkaz" who come to work in Jerusalem do. Everyone knows that bigger roads are not a solution to congestion because it's only a matter of months or years before the new bigger roads are locked by traffic again at rush hours. But in Israel, we (?) are good at technology and infrastructures, we like building them, we think they are the solution to all problems (am I thinking of a famous Wall?)

Anyway, at "Sivuv Motsa", you can fork off the road and access through tunnels the Begin Highway (I like the highway as much as the person, though it saves about 30 minutes of my morning commute by cab) to the neighborhoods North of Jerusalem like Har Hotzvim, Ramot or Pisgat Zeev and continue East to places where you shouldn't go because they are occupied territories, like Maale Adumim. Or you can go South on that same highway but it's more of a deviation.

Reality is boring

From my silence you might have inferred that I'm in love. Nothing's quite farther from reality... unfortunately!

Films. The Golden Doors, Control and most recently Ratatouille. Since the first two were respectively good and excellent, I'll talk about the third. A bunch of clichés on France, the hackneyed parody of a character split between his ambition and his background: originality was scarce and a lot of good gags were needed to keep this movie afloat. The race on Paris' Quais de Seine between an evil cook on a Vespa and a clever rat holding a precious will in his jaws stood out as a good caricature of races in The Bourne Identity and the like, I liked that. But Les Triplettes de Belleville were borrowed heavily from; Being John Malkovich paved the way for the idea of a human puppet; Paris is inconsistent, with a 1960s or early 70s feel like Bertolucci has recreated in The dreamers and a motorbike from the 90s!
In my opinion, Ratatouille doesn't reach the levels of Ice Age, Monsters, Inc. or Toy Story 2 -- far from that. Therefore, don't lose your time with it and when you have a chance, take a deep breath and dive into the world of Ian Curtis with Anton Corbijn's Control. Photography, sound track and acting are all staggering.

Back in Bethlehem. Given a choice to try Jericho on a particularly hot day and visit again Bethlehem, I chose friendly Bethlehem. Next time.

News. Strikes, corruption, scandals: nothing worth mentioning, business as usual.

Society. Usually, the more religious the Jews, the younger they get married, and pressure grows on unmarried boys and girls when they exceed the age at which all their friends got married. Indeed, pressure from the family and the rabbis is one thing, but attending all your friend's weddings and being left alone is also a good incentive.
But - shame on them - they found the solution! Who is "they"? They call themselves "The Swamp" (ha-bitzah). Who says "shame on them"? Not I. To be honest, I have not researched the subject thoroughly enough to write a full report, but this is what I understood. Those who dwell in "The Swamp" are in their 30s and 40s, they are not married and they stick together, to escape the bad influence of those baby-burdened, conventional, former friends! They live in my neighborhood, and they can be easily be spotted: they are those walking with food on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, to go and eat at the place of a "member". If only it were a secret society like and they attacked nurseries at night it would be fun... but no so it's not worth my joining them!

Link. If you read French and want to see the other side of reality, have a look at my friend Cheyenne's blog on Israel, Judaism, Palestine, the Shoah, French politics and more. I had a good laugh and discovered that reality, after all, is not so boring.

July 24, 2007

To apologize for the last post...

I wanted to post some pictures but I'm desperately short of them... I really have to get back to taking pictures, even if it requires to go digital like everyone has done long ago ;-)
This one is blurred, but you can guess it's your most humble, most obedient servant, experimenting with the Dead Sea's famous mud...

I like that one too!

error: request for member ‘c_str’ in ‘iter. __gnu_cxx::__normal_iterator<_Iterator, _Container>::operator* [with _Iterator = Heliostat**, _Container = std::vector<Heliostat*, std::allocator<Heliostat*> >]()->Heliostat::name()’, which is of non-class type ‘const char*’

July 14, 2007

Sof sof (finally) a picture!

At Ein Gedi, after a dip in the David spring (Wadi/Nahal David)... In the back, the Dead Sea.

July 09, 2007


I was on the verge of important steps which I would have wrote about of course, had they materialized:

- I was supposed to get an apartment and it didn't happen
- I was supposed to get my Israeli ID yesterday and it didn't happen
- I was supposed to get the driving license for small motorbikes and it didn't happen

The apartment is the sore point because I was just silly and didn't focus on the search seriously enough. I'm not set up yet and it's absurd, after four months in Israel and after settling in work for over two months...

The other two disappointments stemmed from my beloved administration: the Ministry of Interior went on strike yesterday, the day of my appointment, planned six weeks ahead; and the Licensing Authority refused to let me take the motorbike test before I take fifteen lessons, although they had promised to...

That's life, health and work are good, so I say in French "Il n'y a pas mort d'homme."

Keep walking.