OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate


Peace in the Middle East has always been illusive.  For years, the US and the UN have tried to proctor peace treaties between Israel and her surrounding neighbors, and while  the best of intentions are had, so far we have failed.

With the falling economy, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current situation in Gaza is particularly worrisome.  The situation is tense and complicated, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  The Israeli’s and the Palestinians see the current predicament so differently that if one didn’t know better they could be speaking about different situations entirely.

The Israeli’s pulled out of Gaza over a year ago, however they maintained control of the borders.  The Palestinians claim that Israeli border control effectively sealed off the area, denying Gaza inhabitants necessities such as food, medicine, etc.  Thus Hamas (who controls Gaza) broke the cease fire and began firing rockets into Israel.  Israel retaliated first with air-strikes and most recently with a ground assault.

Anyone watching the coverage has to be questioning Israel.  The death toll on the Palestinian side is mounting quickly and the images of a desiccated and war torn Gaza juxtaposed against those of a green and intact Israel are stark – to say the least.  As a Jew, I feel a special tie to Israel.  I have family and friends who live there, and I think it extremely important that Israel remain safe and intact.  The country is a symbol and a haven to Jews all over the world, and I fully support its right to protect itself.  However, there must be a middle ground. Israel must be diplomatic in dealing with her surrounding neighbors.  The hold on the land and the feelings around who it belongs to run so deep (on both sides) that I often wonder if peace can ever be reached.

What is the end goal here? The demolition of Hamas? The reoccupation of Gaza? A re-instatement of the cease fire?  I would feel better about supporting Israel if I knew what their end goal was.  I think that both sides need to take a step back and come to the table.  If they are truly concerned about their citizens and their country’s safety they will sit down and try to negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to them both.  Neither side can have all their demands met, but the fighting must stop.  The world and the region cannot take another war right now.


{July 4, 2008}   Time for a vacation?

Summer brings upon us a general desire to kick back, relax and take it easy. That’s why it’s called summer vacation! Technically I guess only students and teachers get a “real” summer vacation, but the rest of us can dream right? Or at least take a week or so to get away from it all and enjoy the season.

This year, with the economy being in the toilet you might think a vacation is out of the picture. I mean after all, the dollar is now so low I fear we may soon have to dig for it. Luckily there is another way to get away, see another country and really broaden your horizons. How? VOLUNTEER VACATIONS… that’s how.

There are now a number of companies that offer cheaper travel options in exchange for your volunteer service. There is truly something for everyone, from cleaning up the amazon trail to working on a kibbutz in Israel.

This is awesome! The fact that you are guaranteed an eye opening experience coupled with the opportunity to give back makes the vacation extra special. Sure beats sitting on a beach huh?

For more info on volunteer vacations click here.

What do Israel, Chris Dodd and rude people have in common you ask? Well, the answer is that these 3 terms pretty much sum up my day yesterday. Lets just start from the beginning:

Earlier this week my mother called to let me know that because she gave money to the UJA she was invited to a concert in celebration of Israel’s 60th birthday. Whats more is her donation had elevated her to VIP status and she wanted to bring me with her. Stupidly, I was excited, a free concert “woohoo!” sounds fun right? I said sure and made a plan to schlep up to Connecticut on Sunday to attend. I am all for Israel and am thrilled that it has turned 60, however next time someone invites you to a concert you might want to get some details before you commit yourself.

I knew we were off to a bad start the minute we pulled in, flashed our VIP pass and were told there was no more room in the VIP lot. I didn’t much care as walking 5 extra feet didn’t seem so bad but my parents were incensed… “this is disgusting,” is how my father chose to describe it…. apparently he REALLY hates walking (actually he hates excersize of any kind).

I wouldn’t so much describe the event as a concert because there was no musician (though there was music coming out of a speaker system and the promise of a jewish childrens choir). We made our way to the “VIP Tent” which held the promise of free food and perhaps some fun, but alas I had set my hopes too high. Sure there was food, for anyone brave enough to eat it, but there was definitely no fun to be found and no visible VIP’s. This was turning out to look like a hoax… seriously I thought maybe I was being punked! No VIP should ever have to use a port-a-potty.

I should state now, that I am not accustomed to VIP status and had high hopes for relaxing in lavish VIP lifestyle… maybe one day I will get that chance but yesterday was most certainly not that day.

Just when I thought all hopes were lost I spotted a familiar face across the tent. Yup, you guessed it Connecticut’s very own failed Democratic Presidential nominee Chris Dodd! I am a pretty big political follower and this was by far the most exciting thing that had happened all day so I decided I would go say hello… you know, have my brush with greatness. Well let me tell you Senator Dodd may be many things but nice and attentive he is not. He limply shook my hand (a bad sign since my mother always says never trust someone who shakes like a fish), smiled and dismissed me in all of 1 minute. Senator Dodd you are ON NOTICE! What a let down.

Well after about 30 minutes in what seemed like VIP hell we decided to say hello to some “friend” of my parents and then sneak out. Well we went over to this “friend,” who my parents hadn’t seen in 24 years and I was introduced. The conversation went something like this:

HIM: Wow I haven’t seen you in like 25 years! Your my son’s age, he has a marvelous girlfriend.

ME: Oh yeah. awkward laughter (and a glance at his son who may have a marvelous girlfriend but really did not score in the looks department…)

HIM: So what do you do

ME: Well I freelance all over the place for a bunch of Newsmedia companies

HIM: Oh what do you make, do they pay you a lot?

… I am just going to interject here to say WHAT??!!! I am sorry but that is so RUDE. I mean since when do you meet someone and within 2 minutes of being introduced ask them their salary? Did this guy just get off the gauche express? Wow what an asshole!

Thank g-d that we left right after that but not before some guy accosted us on our way out and requested that we go and make a birthday card for Israel, containing “a special message.” Well my special message is this: “Israel is a country… and countries don’t read birthday cards and even if Israel could read she’d probably just want a really expensive and large present, you know like Peace”

et cetera