Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old soldiers don't dies ~ in Tel Aviv they don't fade either

If you are at all aware of what it going on in the political life here in Tel Aviv, you surly know about the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War (2006). (NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun). The full final report came out yesterday, although the interim preliminary report came out a long time ago, and it caused the Commander in Chief, Dan Chalutz and the secretary of Defense Amir Peretz to resign, the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had stayed in place. There are many accusations on how the whole political and military organizations handled the attack from Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Of not is the large amount of criticism on the leaders than in any other time in Israel's history. But since the anger over what happened in the war was dissipated over the months, and since Olmert and others are not "going anywhere", business seems to be "as usual".

Final Winograd Report, is it OK to "lose" the war?

Well, the question we are all asking is: "Does this mean that Israel has lost the war?" -/- "Does this mean that Israelis are happy with Olmert?" Good questions, which by reading the daily papers and listening to the radio, most Israelis are fairly clear about. First of all, the "war" was not "lost". The quotes are not a way of evading the point. But Israelis have stopped thinking about the war with terrorism as "won or lost". I could say that for the most part, people see as the "war" with terrorism, in all it's shades and stripes as "a total loss". It is not only a loss of young soldiers and civilians, but a big loss of energy and effort. But most of all a loss of an opportunity to work with Arab countries, specially in the economic and cultural realms. The loss is probably more for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and even Syria and Saudi Arabia. Why? Because these neighboring states are closer geographically, culturally and even economically than any other country which has close relations to Israel. Because of the "Palestinian problems" everybody seems to be pointing to the other side with blames and accusations. I guess everybody is looking for the big "peace leader". Begin, Rabin, Sadat and even Arafat didn't turn out to be the ones. In the mean time, Israeli businesses are installing telecom and Internet systems in Eastern Europe and central Asia. Israeli stocks and investments are done in the US and in Europe. Israeli architects and builders are working hard in Africa. But really no cooperation on anything significant with any Arab country.
Now back to the 'raison d'etre' of the blog, Tel Aviv life and business. The good news again is that most of the business media has not even mentioned the Winograd report. Why? Mostly because it's old news, but also because it makes sense to simply ignore bad news, even if it's historical news. This schizophrenia I wrote about yesterday is what is driving the Israeli business to distance itself from anything even remotely related to the security situation. This is even more true with anything related to business with Arab countries (or companies). So now the Arab world is facing a bigger problem. How to convince Israeli business to lead where the politicians failed? Well, this leadership from the business world happens once in a while, but not here. Take for example at the situation between US business and Cuba, you don't get a good feeling. In the Cuban situation, US businesses, specially tourism, sports (baseball) and agriculture (sugar, tobacco) have been trying to do some sort of business with Cuba, but again, not doing very well. But than again, what are the Cuban to do? Well, this is what it seems to be when thinking about Arab leaders all over the middle east. What are they to do? Well, it is not at all the same situation, because Israeli businesses would probably love to work 100 miles away instead of getting on a plane and working 6,000 miles away. Anyway, these are some thoughts about what is going on here. I personally don't believe that this is "sad" at all. I also don't believe that anyone "lost" the war, but having portions of Lebanese villages and parts of cities bombed to oblivion is not a great sign of anything, specially intelligence, wisdom and compassion. Which is what Israelis think they bring to people all over the world. At least to places which are not Arab. Something to think about, specially if you are an Israeli or an Arab business leader. Read More...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sex in the city - adult performance (skip if you are a little prudish)

Sam-d-man in his younger days could get ready for sex with a great hard-on with the slightest of sexual stimulation. For you seniors we all remember those wonderful days and nights! But don't give up. there is help for all uf us, if we shed our shyness and learn to approach sex like we do politics. Talk about it, don't be embarrassed. You're not the only one. We all have the same problem, that hard-on that just popped-up now needs a little help. Remember you younger guys, sometimes you need a little help too!

Viagra site, not just for Americans

Help is here with three drugs you may purchase at your local Kupat Cholim or drug store, they are Viagra, Leveitra and Cialis. All are somewhat subsidized by the national health service, which is more that can be said about other countries. The only hitch is you need a prescription from your doctor. Don't be so modest or embarrassed to discuss this situation with your doctor. My doctor is a very nice young lady. Sam-d-man swallowed his pride and explained to his doctor the problems I now had in getting a good erection and keeping it 'up'. She quickly checked my medical history and my medication and wrote me a script. THANK YOU DOC!
These medications may have some minor side effects and each are a bid different. Read and follow the directions in the box. Don't be modest, face your situation, talk to your doctor and don't let the doctor put you off. If your doctor doesn't want to talk about sex, get a new doctor. Have good sex - in the city (sam-d-man)

Unofficial Israeli web site selling sexsual performance drugs, just like in America!

The base price for these prescriptions is about 350 to 500 shekels (eight pills). The pharmacy will adjust the retail price according to your health plan. If you belong to an upgraded plan they will probably discount these drugs about 50%. check your insurance with your health plan before you make the purchase.


Does Wall Street care about Abu Mazen?

or Does The Marker Care About Terrorism?

I have been reading The Marker, Ha'Aretz's business paper for a month now. It comes to my door, and it is starting to drum into me the business vs. political schizophrenia in Israel. This is something that in the US and Europe is taken for granted. There is a strict separation of economic to political worlds. But in Israel, until a few years ago, this was not the case. Every time anything happened it was blamed on the "security situation" ~ a key term meaning: "the terrorist attack last night is scaring off investors... tourists... foreign companies..." Well, it seems that this is not the case any more. Maybe it's the fact that foreigners have been coming here for a long time and have shown Israeli business that some things are beyond their control so they need to do something else. At one time Israeli businesses compared terrorism in Israel to the drug trafficking in the US and South America. But they noticed that large US corporations never really talked about how drugs affect them. It may cause a robbery at some 7-11 stores or lower the Real Estate value in some neighbourhoods. But that is no reason to mix business and politics. It may be that Israelis have noticed that if you don't talk about "security issues" you start thinking more about what you can really do with what you have.
The Marker, Israel's #1 business paper, no mention of "security"
In some respects this shows the maturity of Israel business. But in other respect this is also a shift of Israeli business to more global standards. It seems to me that up to the early 1990's most of the influence in Israeli business came from the US. This was before the Russian immigration which brought a million people to Israel and the smaller and steady immigration of Jews from UK, Australia, Canada and France the last decade. These changes in the population and the acceptance of Israel in Europe has changed the business in Israel dramatically. Today, the influence from US companies and government is still strong, but business here is much more independent and connected to Europe and Asia. There are probably more Russian speaking professionals in position of power and influence than native English speakers ten years ago. Slowly this shift is starting to show up in the media. It is also showing up in the way Israeli companies think about doing business outside of the country. One excellent example is the building and architecture sector. For a long time, most of the building and design by Israeli firms was done exclusively in Israel and Africa. But the last few years, Israeli builders and architects are looking more to eastern Europe and central Asia. This is mostly because of the available architects and builders with culture and language skills relevant to these markets. There are even a few large companies owned or run by Russian immigrants who started out at the bottom and made it to upper management. For the most part this is good news for Israelis, dependence on a single country like the US has it's risks and this is something that Israel has gone through before. For the US it means less influence on Israeli business and indirectly on politics. This is a change, and it seems like Israelis and others are going along without too much difficulty. It is also good news to US companies with strong international influence. In Tel Aviv today you can find more culturally Russian workers than anywhere except Moscow. Which means, that American business can come to Tel Aviv and run or support business operations in Eastern Europe. Which is probably as good as running an operation in Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, or Budapest. At least that is the opinion of most Israelis. Anyway, there are lots of interesting observations in how Israel is changing it's business stance. So keep your eyes open at companies which are building their markets in other places, specially to the north and the east of here. Read More...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Life in the city: M.A.S.H. sports bar on Dizengoff

Happy bar owner with sports figures... go figure, but cute ;~)' So you can't find a ticket to the football game or affort the plane ticket to go to your favorite English Premier League game??? Too bad     ;-(   --   --   WAIT a second... I have an answer for you. Get up and to to 275 Dizengoff Street (Tel: 03-605-1007) to the M.A.S.H. Sports Bar (MASH stands for More Alcohol Served Here).

At the MASH you will find many compatriots. It's not quite like being there, but its' as close as you'll ever get without getting on a plane. The MASH has a real sports bar atmosphere, dark and cool when the action is slow, hot and noisy when the game is going full bore. When the game is good, you will find English, American or even Russian / Ukrainian fans screaming and jumping like the best of them. This is one place where you can cheer and boo just like you were in the stadium and barely get noticed. You may even find an opposing team fan who is a great noise sparring partner. Don't worry, it's all in good fun, no real head bashing or beer mug throwing here at all. They tend to carry all the big games that make sense. Specially football (British meaning, soccer for you Americans) and basketball. But you can also request any other event if you have a group, they may even put your 'American Football' game on a side screen or the main projection screen if no local sport team is playing somewhere. You would be amazed how many games and Israeli + a tourist fan can come up with! No kidding, some times of the year it's non-stop from about 6PM to when you wish to go home. Oh, another thing about Israeli bars, they will "close the kitchen" at 2:00AM but you can stay to see the game if you are making enough noise and buying beer. MASH mascaraed as a timid bar...
Also, the MASH has lovely servers which will provide any alcoholic drink or bar food item. They have a decent selection if beers, ales and mixed drinks. The M.A.S.H. will also take care of your hunger with burgers, hot dogs, schnitzel, french fries, onion rings and a complete English Breakfast (served hot anytime).
... come cheer your team, enjoy the booze and have a nosh at the M.A.S.H. // sam-d (back on the blog, in T"A) Read More...

Friday, January 18, 2008

We are back... + fashion race in the city

Nana's (a portal for blogs and discussions) fashion section (
Hello again. I have been out for a while, mostly trying to figure out what would work by reading and researching other blogs. I also tried to read what popular blogs and writers say. It seems to me that besides being controversial people try write interesting material for a specific group. Writing about Tel Aviv, specially the "things" (i.e. stores, events, food, buildings) tend to interest only people who want to know something else. When I wrote about places to shop, there seem to be interest from tourists and foreign Real Estate investors (American & Canadians). When I wrote about the gym on Iben Gvirol seems like young Americans wanted to know the difference between one place and another, not just that specific gym. A blog is not like a newspaper. Even with a few contributors, focus seems to be more useful to readers than wide coverage. Sometimes as a blog writer, we forget that in a newspaper there are tens or even hundreds of writers! But the benefit of a blog is the personal viewpoint and the interest of the writer. I am not saying that in the NY Times the food editor does not like going out to eat as much as I do. Maybe he does and maybe he is even better at writing about it. But he is not in Tel Aviv and does not eat a mix of flavors and cuisines like people here now. Hopefully you don't need the writing at the level of a NY Times editor or writer to enjoy what is going on in Tel Aviv.

So what's next?

I am going to write about what I see. Not just the "things" but the behaviour of the people. I think this is more interesting, specially since it's very different than other places. Some of the differences I think have to do with the blend of cultures. It's very hard to describe, but it's fantastic! is a popular fashion destination.
Walking down the street in central Tel Aviv is a mix of fashions that one would not see in most big cities. Certainly not in New York, LA or even Milan. First of all, the population in Israel varies from recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Jews from Iran and Ethiopia. Second of all, Israel also has second and third generation Israelis from all over the world. Literally! the population in Israel has background from everywhere. Third, the is a wide gap in social, economic and religious background. All these blended together is thrown onto a new culture of fashion consumerism and a geographic location not exactly European or Asian or even African. At the traditional European fashion corner you will find most of the brands from the big fashion houses in Italy and France. At another corner is the American contingent, from Levi's jeans to Ralph Lauren upscale designs. Than add a little corner of Arab/middle-eastern influenced designs, specially for women (I would also add the Indian/Sri Lanka/Pakistani influence here). Finally, there is the encompassing everything Asian "knock-off" but not exactly. By that I mean fashion which is an attempt to clone every other known brand but with a twist. A large amount of clothing and accessories find their way from China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and a few other small South-East Asian countries.
How does that translate to everyday fashion? Well, it's hard to explain, but it's a great idea for a project of photographing people on the street. For the most part, Israeli women love to mix styles from all around the world, so a women dressed in traditional European design will add a colorful scarf or jewelry from India without thinking about it.
In the marketing and retailing front, Israeli merchants are a mix of western influence and local names. The three large malls in Tel Aviv (Azrieli, Dizengoff and Ramat Aviv) play a large role in the access of western fashion to the public. This includes stores who sell under the international tags and local fashion names. In the smaller stores and boutiques there are more specialized names. The new port area has a small number of specialty boutiques, specially with Italian and French fashion. The port area is trying to become the new upscale fashion shopping area. There are even roumors that the city itself in the form of regulation enforcement is helping this effort somewhat (rumors that bars are being asked to 'quiet down' and not become a center for nightlife). On Bugrashov street there are smaller shops with odd and more specialized fashion. This street you will find the newer, 'younger' names like the first Israeli Crumpler bag store. I hope this is a new start for my writing. Which started out in a desire to explain the fierce "fashon race" that is running rampant in Tel Aviv. It seems to me like what was happening in the US and Europe in the 1980's and 1990's. When the big designers lured people to buy more cloths at higher prices. Which in turn stimulated stores to open up fancier and bigger stores and eventually "boutique chains". Specialty chains that target a certain style and population (i.e. The Gap, The Limited in the US). Well, if you want to hear about other things 'in the air' in Tel Aviv, drop me a line. Thanks, Ami Read More...