Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yom HaZikaron

In Israel, today was Yom HaZikaron, the literal translation of which is "Memorial Day" and, as that implies, is a day to remember the sacrifices of all of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen/women who gave their lives in defense of the nation.  That it occurs immediately before Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) has great poignancy.

One great tradition of Yom HaZikharon is that 11:00 AM, the sirens all sound and everyone stops what they are doing and stands at attention.  Drivers pull their cars to the sides of the road and get out so that they can stand at attention.

Today I was at a meeting on the sixth floor of a building.  Through the window I could see a tree-pruning crew at work on the street below.  When the sirens sounded, they brought down the man in the cherry-picker, who joined his co-workers as they stood at attention by their truck, some holding their chain saws in hand.

Today, wife was accompanying a group of medical students on some hospital rounds.  When the 11:00 siren sounded, the patient at whose bedside they happened to be, a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, insisted upon getting out of his bed and standing at attention with everyone else.

At many businesses it was "white shirt day," and many places had special ceremonies to commemorate Yom HaZikaron.  Businesses closed at 1:00 PM, by which time I had begun my trek back home.

In Israel it is unthinkable to stage a recreational event such as a golf tournament on Yom HaZikaron.  The Israelis are serious about remembering their war dead.  Israel's military casualty count now stands at 23,477.  Israel's population is about 8.5 million.  The United States population is more than 40 times that of Israel.  Go do the arithmetic!

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Power Corrupts; Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

We had a wonderful Pesach Seder with some old (and some new) friends in the Holy City of Jerusalem.  For us, it was a celebration of our liberation.

One person who may well be viewing it from a different perspective is former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon  Silver (of whom I posted here on 22 January 2015 ) .  He faces sentencing in about 2 weeks for his bribery conviction on bribery charges.

In his heyday, Shelly Silver alone could determine which bills were put up for a vote in the New York State Assembly.  The common street wisdom was that Shelly Silver looked out for the best interests of the religious Jewish community (of which I was a member when I lived in New York State, and of which I remain a member here in Israel), and that if a few pieces of another kind of silver ended up in his pocket, well, that could be overlooked.

I, for one, did not and still do not buy into that line of reasoning.  If anything, Shelly should be held to a higher standard;  it ultimately serves the Jewish community's best interests to have a just and sound-working government.

It therefore is, in a sense, somewhat perplexing that so many letters of support from so many quarters are coming in to beseech Judge Caprioni for leniency when she sentences Shelly.  After all, certain groups in New York and American can thank Shelly for allowing the same-gender marriage bill to pass the New York State Legislature.

Understand that I do not personally concern myself with the living arrangements entered into by consenting adults, but continue to be vehemently opposed to according same-gender arrangements all of the same legal status and benefits on par with one-man-one-woman marriage.  The governmental approval of same-gender marriage has opened the door to the polygamous marriages practiced by many Muslims, and imperils American values.

[And speaking of intimate personal relationships, the U.S. Attorney's office has put forward evidence, for consideration in imposing sentence, of Shelly's alleged extramarital affairs for the purpose of debunking the notion that Shelly Silver is a scrupulous person, bribery conviction notwithstanding (I have not read the evidence, and accordingly, proffer no opinion and place not bets one way or the other as to whether he has or has not been cheating on his wife).

Actually, I sort of do understand why so many have stepped forward to speak up for Shelly Silver.  He has done much for those who have greased his palm, and those who have shmeered him are not ingrates.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

THIS Year in Jerusalem

Posting on this Blog from 14 April 2015:  "And while our planned residence is not in direct proximity to the Holy City of Jerusalem, there is a good chance that one or more of our friends there will invite us for the Passover Seder next year.  If so, then the aspiration of Next Year in Jerusalem will become a reality for us."

I am pleased, and most grateful, to report that such seems now to be in the making.  Some old friends of my wife's family, who came to Israel almost 30 years ago, have invited us to stay with them for the first day (which begins at sundown the night before of Pesach (it is celebrated only one day inside the Land of Israel, but that's a whole separate ball of wax).  They live in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

We obviously are looking forward to it.

As mentioned in the posting from last year, "Next Year in Jerusalem" are the concluding words of the Passover Seder meal  ("L'Shana HaBa'a B'Yerushalayim" in Hebrew). 

We will still say "L'Shana HaBa'a B'Yerushalayim" on behalf of those who have yet to physically present themselves in the Holy City of Jerusalem this year, but for us it will be This Year in Jerusalem.

"HaShana HaZot B'Yerushalayim."

Though our seder invite spares me and (mostly) my wife from lots of holiday preparations, there still is much to be done for the entire holiday, inasmuch as the other days we plan to be based out of our apartment, and need to remove all the fermented grain from the premises (including, but not limited to, bread, beer, and whiskey).  Aside from such matters, this week promises to be quite busy, what with some scheduled meetings in Tel Aviv, plus at least one locally in my own town.

In case I don't get around to posting before, we wish everyone a Happy and Kosher Passover, including the obligatory "L'Shana HaBa'a B'Yerushalayim"

לשנה הבאה בירושלים

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sharing the Cost, Sharing the Burden

Inasmuch as we need to keep our options for the next few years open, my wife and I are no longer homeowners, at least for the moment.  Our son lined us up a rental apartment prior to our arrival in Israel, and a friend of ours recommended his lawyer to us; it has proven to be a very good recommendation. Our landlord is a American whose plans to have his son live in the apartment went bust when the son's wife got indicted for some undisclosed offense (I get the sense that it involved drugs), the marriage began to fall apart, and the child custody and visitation arrangements effectively preclude the landlord's son from leaving the area of his residence, much less the United States.

The landlord wants what the lease agreement refers to as "commercial silence," in return for which the monthly rental is reduced by 300 shekel per month as long as we do not contact the landlord and our postdated "head checks" clear when the landlord's attorney deposits them every month.  As is standard for Israel apartment rentals, the tenant is required to pay, in addition to rent and utilities, the common building charges assessed to the landlord.

Our apartment building had a major elevator failure, necessitating costly repairs which, in turn, necessitated a supposed one-time call of 725 shekel (this is in addition to the 275 shekel per month we pay as ordinary building maintenance fee).

To be sure, we do get what we pay for.  The building is well maintained, including outside landscaping. 

Before we first came here, more than one friend/relative asked us why we didn't buy or rent a single family house.  Had we done so, we would not have the advantage of 31 additional contributors to bear the financial load of our general building repairs (not that too many single family homes here have elevators, but they all have roofs, etc.).

Last evening, I learned that the building superintendent has engaged counsel (who lives in the building down the street) to try to recover what is now being spent to fix the elevator.  Whatever is recovered will be returned to the tenants, whether in cash or as a credit against future monthly maintenance fees.  The new counsel informs me that our chances of some sort of recovery look quite promising.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Terror Sprouting in Belgium

I write this post as the story from Belgium is still unfolding.  It will not have anything resembling a happy ending.  There are all types of paybacks involved here, not the least of which is that to the excesses of King Leopold, but neither is the Europeans' welcome of the "refugee" jihadist invaders.

The events in Belgium, and what is now happening in Europe, are the natural and logical result of Europe's own follies.  The Europeans still can't directly acknowledge what is happening, and cannot learn from their past mistakes.  They have persisted in condemning and denigrating Israel in order to curry favor with the Muslim invaders.  This tactic has long been counterproductive.

The Jewish people are the canaries in the mineshaft.  The world should have listened to Israel years ago, instead of directing its energies towards Israel-bashing.  There now is hell to be paid for the past inattention and scoffing.

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