Today it rained in Jerusalem for the first time since I’ve been here! Yay, water for the plants and trees! We got the full show thunder and lightening show tonight. Hopefully more rain is on the way.
I was at the shuk this evening after a long period of not going and I started to feel a few drops of rain. I was thankful that Eric was home to bring everything on the Mirpeset, including the laundry, indoors. At my favorite cheese shop, I came across some beer that I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was in the U.S. Sometimes I miss things like good beer (but I don’t really drink much most of the time) real ziplock bags, Banana Republic clothes (yes I’m sorry I know they are sweatshop made). Before my parents come here, I am certainly asking them to bring a small list of items–but don’t worry Mom and Dad I won’t weigh you down! I think that microbreweries are starting to take root here, but I have to do some research (which will, ahem, require me to sample).
I’ve read a few interesting articles about Israel today. The run of the mill Israeli-Palestinian conflict articles don’t always interest me for blog material because I feel as if everybody is writing/talking about that anyway. (Yeah I’m sure you’re following this upcoming peace summit in Annapolis. Is anybody really taking the event seriously or bracing for another disappointment?) I’d rather draw your attention to other aspects of Israeli political, social and cultural life.
Here’s a good example: According to an Israeli environmental organization, “Israel is the biggest polluter in the eastern Mediterranean, dumping over 140 tons of heavy metals into the sea every year with government approval” http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/913917.html. There don’t seem to be as many governmental mechanisms to reduce pollution and enforce environmental regulations here. Air pollution is a big problem and it is not strictly regulated (just drive from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and you’ll know what I mean). One environmental group is trying to get a Clean Air Act passed. (You should realize that the U.S. passed their first Clean Air Act in 1970).
To be fair, this country has had to develop itself in a very short time, and one of the unintended consequences of this development has been pollution. Also, I think the ideological focus has concentrated mostly on developing the country no matter what the environmental cost. Additionally, other issues such as the country’s security have distracted the country from less pressing domestic issues. But I think its time the country gave more attention to these issues because they can and will impact its future economic health and the actual health of its population (not to mention that pollution is yucky).
Here’s another update on the issue of dividing Jerusalem: According to Haaretz, Peres claims that the government will not divide the city: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/913989.html
And finally, the U.S. has questioned Israel’s intention’s to expropriate Palestinian lands for a road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Supposedly, building the road on this land will free up other land for a long-planned construction of an Israeli residential and industrial block between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. Developing this so-called E1 region would cut the West Bank in two and sever East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. I think developing this region is counterintuitive and it could harm future negotiations for a two-state solution. Furthermore, why should Israel raise people’s hopes and encourage them to move to an area that might be given back? The organization that I was active in back in the U.S. has applauded the U.S. efforts to get a closer look at this expropriation proposal.
By the way, I’m loving it here even if I do like to incorporate articles that critcize Israel. But hey I’m a liberal, what do you want from me? I love so many things about living here such as walking along Negba Street towards Emek Refaim past the houses and their quirky gardens which give off sweet flowery scents. I laugh everytime I hear the cats singing–or wailing is more like it–in the early morning. I love that I can eat some amazing pizza at a pizzeria located right down the block, and I look forward to sampling the different baked goods here. I am excited by figuring out what a Hebrew word means by looking at its root–except if it’s an English word like “optimi” which means optimist. But then I love the Hebraization of English words like Emailim, which is the plural of Email.
I really love my classes at Pardes and having the chance to spend my entire mornings learning. Tomorrow I’ll write more in depth about one or two of my classes. I’m looking forward to our first Tiyul to the Negev where I will again have an opportunity to take several hundred photos and insist that you look through each an every one of them :)Taking classes, waking up early, along with my volunteer time with ICCI are definitely wearing me out. Although I still want to take advantage of my time here, so I’m also studying Hebrew 2x a week and taking a trope class on Megillat Esther. We’ll see if I can keep up!
Good night and check back later!