Monday, December 22, 2008

I need your help - articles, pictures, opinions, promotion, topics...

White water rafting
Sorry for not keeping up with this blog. I simply got too busy with 'real' work (tech biz dev & contracting) ~ which is getting hard to find as a freelancer. Also it has been hard to block out the bad press about the economy here in Israel and all over the world.

Israel is such a small economy, that when the world turns into a turbulent sea, we are the little rubber raft with a few surviving packed paddlers screaming and stroking little oars. The question here is: "does it help to scream?" -- If you were in therapy and miss the couch of "Dr. Friedman" than screaming probably helps. If you have a sensitive neighbor downstairs with a 3 month old baby, you should probably take up a less public form of anger management.


There are lots of great things going on in Tel Aviv. Nothing has stopped here and actually we are probably much better off than most of the western economies. But things are still very slow on the business side. But I think that there are plenty of people who like the stories here and can help. We are getting 1,500 to 2,500 real readers a month. Statistics are steady and sometimes with a good story are up. Ssssooo --

Please send in stories, pictures, reference to articles, opinions...

Just follow the format and tone of the articles here (there are 130+ examples).

Let's see where this goes :-)       T H A N K S ! !

AmiV @ TLV

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jerusalem quiet and busy -- why worry about life?

Jerusalem city
If you go to Jerusalem walk around where the locals are walking. Visit the shook (open market), take a walk along the main streets. They are old and narrow and crowded and a little noisy. But not too noise and very little shouting and pushing. I go to Jerusalem about once a week and just realized the difference in the people. They seem to be always going somewhere with a purpose. Not a purpose of buying groceries or picking socks for the kids. A purpose bigger than that. Then I noticed a middle aged man standing at a bus stop reading from a big "religious book". One of these large books the size of an encyclopedia volume with simple black cover and simple Hebrew lettering. I wanted to ask him about his life or what he was reading, but did not want to intrude. So I pretended to be lost and asked directions to a distant part of town, Talpiot, 'which bus goes there'. He quickly looked at me and gave me the bus numbers and the alternatives of how to get there. He noticed that I was not from Jerusalem, not just the question for direction, probably the dress and the accent and the somewhat look of being in a foreign place. So he asked me if I am lost but I was not really lost. I said quickly, looks like in Jerusalem everybody knows where he is going.

He answered right away: "we are not lost like the people in Tel Aviv". I think he meant "we are not searching like the secular people anywhere else". Suddenly it made sense. These people are already where they want to be. Most people wherever they are think that they need to get somewhere different (better?). They need more respect, a better tittle at work, a better home, job, car, wife... you name it... they need to GET SOMEWHERE to be SOMEBODY. But for the religious Jews in Jerusalem they ARE where they should be. The next stop on this train is somewhere not on this earth, so Jerusalem IS the last stop! So as far as where they live, there is no other place they need to go. So that would explain the feeling of comfort with the city. Jerusalem itself is not exactly a pretty place. It is certainly not very well kept and clean or even organized. There is always construction, the old and now new areas are crowded, there is always movement. Someone is always going somewhere and they are in front, beside, or behind you. But that does not feel like anywhere else, it's just busy and quiet.

On the way back I tried to imagine what Tel Aviv would be like if everyone felt like they are where they are suppose to be. Than I tried to imagine New York City and San Francisco. It just didn't make sense. Everywhere you go there are people who simply make you feel like you are not suppose to be there, that you need to go somewhere else. Some cities do have their prototypical residents. New Yorkers always tell you that it's the greatest city on earth, Parisians don't have to tell you, they just give you that look. But in Jerusalem they just go about living it. Nobody is really welcoming and helpful or even courteous. They simply give you the feeling that this is "THE PLACE". Read More...

More computers not getting along with politicians

Likud primaries extended until 1:00 AM. Delays in the voting stations due to the computerized voting machines. The machines work fine, the voters take longer time and there are just not enough computerized voting stations. Is computerized voting not really ready for prime time? A G A I N ?

Today the Likud party in Israel is having it's primaries. The primaries will determine who will represent the party on the Knesset (house of representatives). Remember the Labor party's two day delay? (just few days ago?) In the Labor's case the computers "crashed" completely. In the Likud primary they simply did not have enough voting "booths". The booths are computer touch screens with pictures of the candidates. They identify a voter with his/her identity number (mispar zehut) which makes voting safer and simpler. For the first time, voters can vote anywhere in Israel. If you are on vacation in Eilat and registered in Haifa, no problem. With all this hi-tech in the political world, the politician's common sense has taken a back seat. Likud got their computers to work, so people did come and wanted to vote in large numbers. But they forgot one thing, when people show up at the voting booth, most times they don't "just vote" (right away). Voters tend to dilly-dally, think again, take their time... so what's the problem? Well, when you have cardboard boxes with a slot, NO PROBLEM. The line gets long, people start making noises of "what's the heck is going on up there..." You can go the corner of the room, get another box, put in another voting station, you are set.

Likud web site with news about the extended hours of the votes

In the case of the computerized system, which actually worked fine, there were just not enough voting station. Apparently the computer designers assumed that each voter will take 3 minutes to complete his/her voting. Maybe because of the new, modern, fancy systems, maybe because of the issues involved, maybe because the turn out was high, maybe, maybe, maybe... people took longer, much MUCH LONGER. In some cases reports of 15 minutes per voter was the modus operendi. That made the lines starting at 5 PM much longer and some people turned around and went home. But the election committee decided to remedy the problem. First they thought of opening the voting stations tomorrow. I think that keeping everything on hold for another day was too complicated. Even with computers the party's voting organization was probably not ready for this unforeseeable disruption.

Sticker calling for unified voice in the city of Jerusalem - did it work for Likid?

In Jerusalem a phone company fiber optic cable was cut due to construction, so voting was shut down for two hours. In addition, voters in Jerusalem came out in high numbers. For the first time in years orthodox lined up along Muslim and secular Jews. Likud used this as a sign of success of their message and maybe the overall push to come back against the other parties.

The moral of the story: You can vote with computers, for real! Computers are here for elections in Israel. They may not be here for "the real thing" (national general elections). The national elections may not be with computers this time but certainly will be here for the next primary elections in the coming term. Maybe Israeli computer companies will be the big computerized election providers to the world ~ or maybe . . .

AmiV from Tel Aviv (@the White City)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Avodah (Labor) party is going for primary elections

Amir Peretz giving a speech recently

The Israeli Labor party (Ha'Avodah) was suppose to have primary elections today (Tuesday, Dec-2nd) but they were delayed until Thursday. A friend received an SMS message today informing him of the delay. If you are reading this from the US or the UK or from any western civilized country your first impulsive thought is Shakespeare's often quoted saying: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" (errr state of Israel). Why would anyone delay an election by 2 days ON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION? With the political history here in Israel and the current situation it seems that nobody has asked this question. In Israel the question of "can you do it" is more often ask than "should you do it". Clearly in Israel you can delay one party's primaries election by two days and notify party members by sending SMS messages. This part is possible and I don't know how many people are not going to show up on Thursday or even complained today after arriving at a voting site and fining "nothing".

memorial poster to the 10th anniversary to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination

The delay I think is more of reflection of the vacuum in ideology and purpose in the leadership. There are big issues facing Israel as a state and as a nation. People in hard times need a leader, and in most times Israel had that leader. They say that leaders are made in hard times, that was the story of Yitzhak Rabin. In 1967's six day war he was a young chief of staff in the Israeli army. There is still an historical debate on who actually "won the war". Was it a political decision to attack first or was it Rabin's and the military. But for the most part Rabin emerged as the winning general and that has started a long tradition of military chiefs running the country. Rabin eventually started the peace effort with Yassir Arafat and the PLO. Than with much reluctance and a big push from Bill Clinton actually signed an agreement with Arafat and shook his hand on the lawn of the white house. That was called leadership and despite what has become of these decisions since than, Rabin is still regarded as a leader. Like all the memorable leaders in Israel he made difficult decisions and took action. This is what Israelis call leadership. In other countries there are famous speeches and ideas. Lincoln and Martin Luther King had their short memorable mottoes. So did Churchill during WWII (the only thing to fear is fear itself). These sayings have become standards the world over translated to every imaginable language and stickered on bumpers in the most distant corner of the globe. But here in Israel we don't have the "I have a dream" or "of the people, by the people, for the people" (remember that he talked about government!). There are a few sound bytes that usually come from scratchy radio recordings. Ben Gurion's proclamation of the Israeli state, the reporting of soldiers and the army's chief Rabbi at the western wall come to mind. But in Israel what happened counts not what was said.

But sadly I have to report that in the labor party non-election of today nothing was said and nothing happened. Is this bad news or just a slow news day from Jerusalem? Well, maybe? There is another way to look at this. Maybe there is a leader in the labor party who is waiting for the right moment to move up or to give a speech. After all Barak Obama came into the national American stage just that way. Even governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made his "coming out speech" in the democratic national convention. Why are these American politicians even mentioned in an article on the Israeli labor party non-election? Because now the Israeli political parties are starting to import political advisers from the US. The Israeli general election is coming up in two months. You can already see billboards with Tzipi Livni's serious face staring out, no words, just the face. That's all I have to report from a non-election day and a quiet Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We are still looking out for a new leader not just a politician /// from Tel Aviv, AmiV Read More...