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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Meanwhile in the Old Quarter of Tel Aviv...

Talking about crazy Jewish girls, Shefita. She is Rotem Shefi, a Tel Aviv creature who used to sing in Coffee Bialik. Tel Aviv was, from its very beginning, full of interesting people. I am very familiar with the neighborhood and the street. I arrived in Tel Aviv in the early seventies, bought a couple of bottles of whisky in the duty free and took up residence in a cheap dilapidated Allenby Str. hotel. Drunk as I was, got mesmerized by Hungarian sweet whipped cream confections and crazy Hungarian Jewish girls, all of which had long disappeared from  Budapest and the world, and got stuck here forever.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Katie Goes To Haiti

Katie Acker was one of the pioneers of American feminism. As all of them, she too died a horrible death alone. Critic Pewterbreath wrote about her book:
This book made me feel like someone's mother. My goodness Kathy make me nervous about Haiti. I lived in Haiti, and I know that's a very very bad place to hitchhike, sleep with random people, wander to towns that you don't know. . .and the like. I half expected her to get hurt or killed. I suppose she did fine, but still--what a tense read for me!
Katie, born into a good German-Jewish New York family, rejected normalcy and went slumming in the African hellhole of Haiti. She must have been very strong - as most Jewish girls are - because she emerged unscathed. It occurred to me that having a daughter like Katie is God's punishment for her parents for abandoning Orthodox Judaism. Unfortunately, I don't believe that Reform is sin and there is no tit-for-tat divine punishment.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Wall Street Rules

Minuchin, a second generation Goldman Sachs partner, is America's new Treasury Secretary. Just when everybody expected America to become even more socialist, Wall Street takes over. All that noise that entertained us about Black Lives, gender issues, etc. proved to be just noise. The real issue is money.

The treasurer of Kever Benjamin City was, for a whole generation, a Minuchin. When he retired he left a reputation for honesty but no papers - he managed the City's accounts on pitkeles (small pieces of paper) - in yiddish. I met his son, a civil engineer. No chemistry, I forget why.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Spencer tells a Jewish joke

An American businessman who emigrated to Israel shortly after its founding. On his arrival, he orders a telephone, and waits for weeks without a response. At length he applies in person to the telephone company, and is shown into the office of an official who explains that there is a two-year waiting list, and no way to jump the queue. "Do you mean there is no hope?," the American asks. "It is forbidden for a Jew to say there is no hope!," thunders the official. "No chance, maybe." Hope transcends probability.

His 2008 article is a bit dated: Israel's fertility now stands over 3 and suicide rate - I don't know. Since suicide is forbidden and the family ostracized in Judaism, statistics may be  unreliable. Also, suicide rate is linked to alcoholism and other addictions, and the repression of sexual deviations, and in that area we are an exceptionally healthy society. A dozen conscripts kill themselves in the Army, mostly Ethiopians.

Climatic Anormality in Israel

We are in the middle of the rainy season in Israel, yet no rain at all. The Water Authority's Planning Dept. is mulling an additional desalination plant in the North to replenish the Kinneret. Only ten years that I am not with them and already the personnel has changed, I know no one and had never heard of them. The new generation has no sentimental attachment to historical projects, for them they always existed. It is a strange feeling to see unknown "youngsters" owning the water establishment that once was ours.

Since we get most of drinking water from the sea, no one is alarmed by the drought and the media does not care. As always, all the knowledge is in America: NASA has published several important studies, such as the above map showing the unprecedented drought in the Mediterranean. Two dark spots show the drying up of Egypt, where some 100 million Arabs live. The strip from Haifa to Aleppo is dry, as is North Africa and Southern Europe. Agriculture is becoming impossible and economic disruptions are inevitable.

Israel is increasingly dependent on technology to survive. As an old man, I have doubts about the reliability of machines and feel that our prosperity is fragile. In my rational mind I know that municipal water supply and health services, etc. did not fail even in the worst chaos of WWII and that civilization is robust. Dubai, Singapore, Saudia, etc. are totally dependent on technology and could not survive if the pumps stop pumping, yet no one feels they are fragile. Israel is built on sand, yet for one hundred years did not stop growing. In my rational mind I know that the new generation - strange as they appear to this old Jew - will be able to operate the mechanical world we built as well as we did.Yet in my irrational mind I feel uneasy watching them and understanding that, how to say it, I am not there, I am out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ortam Sachar

Ortam Sachar is a contract builder and owes billion shekels that cannot pay. It is broke. You may wonder why building companies are going broke one after another when apartment prices went up 9% this year alone.

Ortam's bonds are theoretically paying 1100% p.a. and are selling at 0.12 shekel (theoretical worth 1.03). Last week I bought some and lost 30% but today they are talking about selling the company or dismembering it, and went up 6%. The workers prefer the second option since their salaries would be paid by the National Insurance, vs. if the company is sold, no one is sure to receive anything.

Bondholders looked at the group that submitted an offer to buy and operate the company, and did not like them. They are unknown second generation Mizrahi Jews that fought their way up from the slums. I like them, always thought that Mizrahi Jews are harder and more courageous than we are. Pic. Amir Nahum, former CEO.  The question in my mind is if to buy more bonds in the hope that they will pay more than 12% I'll be paying for them.

Soros would not hesitate.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tzur Itzhak Project

This morning I went to Tzur Itzhak, twenty minutes drive from Kever Benjamin. I am familiar with the area since working with TAHAL in the early seventies. Road 444 runs parallel to the border line, and my driver - a wounded Palmach fighter - loved to frighten me driving through dangerous shortcuts. TAHAL engineers did not drive so the company provided cars with PTS drivers.

Tzur Itzhak is one of seven towns planned by Ariel Sharon sitting on the former border with Jordan. The first to be built was Kochav Ya'ir, where plots were sold to Army officers. Tzur Itzhak remained a mark on Arik's maps for 30 years. Thus my surprise to see the vision of a shining white city on the top of the hill, overlooking Taybe and Kalkiliya - two flat slums with minarets. A tower houses "my" supermarket (see pic). The person laying on the floor is a typical construction worker of Palestinian extraction, waiting for the caravan to pass with his enemy's corpse.

Arik was a true visionary. He saw what no one saw nor dared to believe.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Flint Water as Insult

Flint Water has become a concept, a meme, an insult.

Demonstrating that football fans are deplorable  ("Barstool"?) but not stupid.

How to lose elections and feel superior

Amira Hess, from the Israeli Labor Party, finds reasons why the burning of Jewish homes by Arab terrorists is justified. Writing in HaAretz, she says that Park Canada near Jerusalem had a different (Arabic) name a hundred years ago, so it is only right that it should be destroyed and returned to its pre-occupation status of desert.  Burning down a Jewish neighborhood in Haifa is OK since it is known that Haifa was once an Arab town. I wonder how many votes she lost for the Labor Party with her self-hate-filled imbecility? Is she campaigning for Kahana Jr?