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.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Watching the 2017 Super Bowl

As noted on this Blog last year, I passed up the Super Bowl, what with the 10-hour time disconnect and my obligations the next day.

This year was different.  I got to watch it.  As noted in the prior posting to this Blog, I had a gig that ran through the end of January and that had prospects of an extension. Well, the gig was extended to the end of March.  One of the Vice Presidents of the company is an American and a football fan, so he made arrangements in the next town over (where he lives) for a company Super Bowl get-together.  Employing the legal fiction that the event held in the back room of the establishment was a private party, he was able to skirt the alcoholic beverage control ordinances and bring a few cases of beer, which the proprietor of the establishment obligingly put into his chiller before game time.

The company VP, as host of the event, was only too happy to nod and wink as members of the public joined in, and as the proprietor opened the track partitions separating the back room from the main dining area.

Approximate body count:  About 85 people total; 40 Americans, 15 Anglos from other places, 15 Israelis, and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, 15 from Former Soviet Union.  Of course, we gave the Russians grief about the Putin Super Bowl Ring incident.

Last year, I ducked out of the Super Bowl on account of my work obligations the next day.  This year, the company VP told us that he himself would not arrive at work until about 1:00 PM Israel time.  I arrived at about 1:45 PM, and the VP had yet to show.

Tomorrow we all play catch-up at work.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Here and There

Business has taken me Here and There since last posting.  "Here" refers to places inside the Land of Israel (i.e., Tel Aviv and a few day trips to the Holy City of Jerusalem).  "There" refers to outside the Land of Israel, specifically, an overnight in Zürich, where I had a meeting.  Good thing I didn't jettison my winter coat when I came to Israel, because the temperatures in Zürich hovered around the freezing point.


The trip to Switzerland was all paid for by my current employer, the Israeli affiliate of a British concern, with whom I am engaged as a consultant on an independent contractor basis.  The gig runs at least until the end of January, and possibly longer.


Everyone is reading about all of the strife occurring in Israel, and about how Obama is taking pains to inflict pains upon Israel, and how the French people are doing likewise in Paris.  Be assured, however, that the Israeli high-tech business is moving forward like never before.  All of those boycotts have failed.  Too many people in too many countries are too dependent upon Israeli products, technology, and know-how, and have been cultivating commercial and technological relations with us (including countries which, 40 years ago, would have had nothing to do with Israel).


Perhaps there will be another trip to somewhere "There" in the future, either with my current gig or a future one.  Perhaps it will be to the USA, or elsewhere "There."  But one thing is certain:  It sure feels good when the plane lands again on Israeli soil.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rain, Politics, and Business

Well, we got our rain here, and plenty of it so far.  2 weeks the streets in my town, sloped as they are, were like rivers.  [Tel Aviv, being mostly flat, was not quite so affected, though the Yarkon and Ayalon Rivers have swelled up.].

This is good news.  The water supply, in the aquifer and elsewhere (including and especially Lake Kineret (known to some as the Sea of Galilee, which is now below the level we all want it to be), could use the boost.

Meanwhile, the Trump election is the word on the street.  There is much enthusiasm in my town; in Tel Aviv, which has a higher leftist population, not so much.  My attitude is one of wait and see; no politician has EVER kept ALL of his/her promises, and while I have much cause for optimism over Donald Trump, I am not going full tilt over his new administration unless and until he delivers.

Meanwhile, I am working with various people on various back-story projects to news items you likely will (or have already) read in the news media.  On one hand, it is getting interesting; on the other hand the work is very routine and uneventful.  Not as much domestic traveling as I did 2 months ago, but the possibility of a jaunt to a European city looms for the future.  I will, of course, keep this Blog updated in that regard.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Praying for Rain


Before relocating here to Israel, neither my wife nor I were ever as busy as we now are.  I have been going back and forth to various places, including Beersheva, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and, of course, the Holy City of Jerusalem. 

Looks as though my prior posting called it correctly --  The security situation in Israel has been intentionally enhanced.  At that large mall in Tel Aviv, in addition to walking through the usual metal detectors, they are now using scanner wands on those who walk through to enter the mall.

A former client of mine who came here almost 20 years ago has just received his carry permit, and is carrying.  His son is now in an army combat unit, and, of course, is now carrying his weapon.

And, of course, there is the wildfire situation.  If the fires are not soon controlled, it likely will present a political crisis for the governing coalition, and Bibi Netanyahu will have to do something physical and visible.

We have already begun to ask G-d for rain in our daily prayers.  Bibi is not very religious, but I do believe that he is praying for rain as we enter the rainy season here.



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Saturday, November 12, 2016

I am interested -- and concerned

[The Mozilla browser USED TO BE my browser of choice, but since its latest update it is refusing to allow me access to various websites, including Blogspot.com.  In the name of enhanced security, it has turned itself into a useless piece of excrement.]

The American presidential election is huge here in Israel, possible the most important election in the country's history.  The Jerusalem Post, Israel's English language rag, has nothing but election recaps, election analyses, and foreign policy predictions.  The only things that are not election related are the weather and the sports (Israelis are very big on American, British and EU sports).

Basically, Israelis are very pleased with the results (with the exception of the leftist pockets in the Tel Aviv area, not too far from where I am located).  Even in Tel Aviv there is optimism over Donald Trump's victory.

Thursday evening my wife and I were walking down the street in our town.  We passed a sidewalk café frequented largely (but not exclusively) by American expats, and joined some of our friends who had just taken their seats at a table.  The conversation, of course, was about the election.

The concerns in Israel are whether Trump will be able to deliver on his promises to Israel, and, as always, the security situation here.

These days I am in Tel Aviv at least twice per week.  During the past two weeks I saw some subtle tightenings in security measures, including but not limited to more thorough backpack searches and a more visible presence of uniformed military, including at the largest shopping mall in Tel Aviv, where I have occasion to do lunch and/or shop on my Tel Aviv days.  I saw more people carrying at my shul this Shabbat, including some who are not law enforcement officers (including EMTs).  One of these non-LEOs is in my study group.  I asked him if there was any reason for special concern of late; of course he is very tight-lipped about such things, but he grinned and told me that it never hurts to be aware of one's surroundings.

Similarly, my wife has picked up some signals of enhanced security at the hospital where she is employed, including a colleague whose army reserve training exercise got revised to an earlier date.

I have a full schedule in the coming weeks.  Situational awareness will be a high priority.


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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Agudath Israel in Cyberspace

Been away from posting for a while, what with the holidays and business and family things.

I have been trying, with varying success, to avoid discussion of the great farce known as the 2016 Presidential Election.

In more than a few postings past, I have speculated not so much whether as when the Agudath Israel of America will hop aboard the internet train.  The Agudath Israel is a loosely-organized advocacy group that purports to advance the interest of the insular religious Jewish community.  I have had past occasion to interact with the AI, and hold many of its officials and functionaries in very high esteem.

But there are various factions within AI, including many which remain totally and absolutely against the use of the internet.  For a while, it looked as though such factions would prevail in the internal debate within AI.  It seems, however, that the practical heads within AI have prevailed (mostly).

It has come to my attention that the upcoming 2016 AI Convention has a website.  Moreover, for all intents and purposes, AI itself now has its own website, albeit under the name "Lefkowitz Leadership Initiative"; that way they can have an official website without having an official website.

My wife and I caught some flak here in Israel not too long ago for using our smartphones; we were with some of my wife's 2nd and 3rd cousins in Bnei Brak, a largely insular community (which is more dependent upon non-religious and non-Jewish help and money than it cares to admit).  In the social groups my wife's cousins frequent, people are ostracized for possessing smartphones, which are considered to be a bad influence.  What stopped the flak was when my wife showed how she can use her smartphone to access vital medical information and facts to treat patients, including patients with conditions related to my wife's subspecialty.

Exit question:  If you were offered $100,000 to remain in a cabin in the woods for 3 months without any telephone, television, radio, or internet access, would you go for it?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yom Kippur 5777

[At this time I shall have no words regarding the e-l-e-c-t-i-o-n, other than to say that I have already mailed in my absentee ballot.].

Yom Kippur will soon be upon us.  As always, I ask forgiveness from those I may have wronged, and grant forgiveness to those who ask it in sincerity.

Everyone have an Easy Fast! 

חתימה טובה!

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