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Bookstore on every corner?

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That's what they told me. Because here's how it works. Israel is said to be the Jewish state and since Jews are the most intellectual and moral and wonderful people in the history of the world - whether they be Torah observant or not - anything you want Israel to be it must be. But we Torah observant Jews - I'm not talking about the "Religious" Zionists now - know that Jews without Torah are the biggest pains in the neck on earth and are not the most wonderful people who ever lived. And so Israel doesn't have a bookstore on every corner. In fact, it hardly has any bookstores at all. There's one small chain that contains as many toys and games as books in its tiny stores and nearly zero books in English. Just a few trash novels. Jerusalem has a used book store or two, but it's quite a hike to get there. Israel doesn't have libraries. There's no, public library in every town. You don't realize as an American how spoiled you are when it comes

Jerusalem stone

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Doesn't that sound wonderful, after all it has the word Jerusalem in it?  Actually, it's terrible, this city covered in beige. You can lose your mind from the blandness of it all. Beit Shemesh also has a rule, all buildings must be in Jerusalem stone. Everything the same, the same color. That's some democracy. Every building must conform to a government mandate not for safety but for color.  You look out on the city and just feel boredom. It has the aura of Soviet housing.  I'm told that Chabad built a few 770 replicas in Jerusalem and has to pay a million shekels a year in fines. I can't confirm but it wouldn't surprise me. Nothing surprises me here except the rare act of common sense. 

Who moves to Israel?

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Zios told me that it's the most idealistic people. Actually, it's the craziest people, and usually the most arrogant too. It's not normal to relocate your family from the greatest democracy and most affluent society in history to a war zone. And so the people who move here are not normal. There is something genuinely crazy about them. They are fanatical, possessed, single-minded, and stupid really. This is nearly the rule. Many of them are violent. I have been literally choked by a crazed Zios. Many of them throw tantrums for all kinds of crazy reasons, because they thought you cut them in line (even though Israel doesn't have lines), because you said anything critical of the state or society, because you expressed the view that not everybody should move here, etc. And there's much arrogance too. You see it in some many ways, from this feeling of superiority that they are the ones to have made this so-called idealistic move, when it's really a foolish move. That

Not so frum anymore

We see this all the time with olim who in America were right-wing YU or yeshiva light. They come to Israel and find that the Haredim are too much for them. So they go DT. A few years later you hear, did you see their kids, they barely look frum anymore. I know about a dozen cases like this, some people that I know very well. Once you start falling, it's hard to stop. For young people, it's nearly impossible.  And shockingly some of the parents continue to be so excited about living in Israel that they don't even notice. Living in Israel has become their religion. It replaced mitzvos. So you go from trying to capture this optional mitzvah to losing all the required mitzvos.  Oh, the yetzer hara is powerful. 

Where does Tel Aviv rate?

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  Tel Aviv is supposed to be Israel's big modern city. I have been there 100 times. I would say that there are 100 cities in America that blow it away. I'm talking skyscrapers, restaurants, apartment buildings, historic architecture, culture. Tel Aviv barely has any of that. It's really a dumpy place. There's so little culture there. You won't find classic theater. I was talking to a guy who runs a small cultural center in one of Israel's other dumpy cities. He had never heard of Strindberg or O'Neil.  Try to find a classical music performance in Israel. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra puts on pop music shows.  This is from the schedule of the Israeli philharmonic. Harry Potter.  Here's more.  Motown and Scooby Do. Beethoven anyone?  Compare to the Chicago Symphony. They call it the Philharmonic orchestra in Israel. In normal countries, those consist of 80-100 players. In Israel, usually you get about a dozen musicians, never a full orchestra. Here

More from those Israeli police

Two stories I heard today. A man was arrested at a protest. The police hung him by handcuffs, threw questions at him, and slapped him in the face if he didn't answer. They then threatened to bring in a screen and play dirty videos. He said he'd kill himself if they did that. So they through him in solitary confinement for two weeks. I know a guy who knows the guy. Another story, bochur is arrested for avoiding the draft. They took him in for 'interrogation', which you realize is some form of torture. The interrogator held up a hammer and asked which finger he should break, holding the hammer above each finger. The interrogator then squeezed the bochur's nose severely. I know this bochur. All of this comes with being denied food, water, bathroom, being woken up in the middle of the night.  Both of these happened this week.  This is the state of Israel, the place that is supposed to be a safe haven for Jews.  

Nonsense from Nefesh B'Nefesh

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So here's what I'm talking about, here's some copy from a NBN ad: "Mediterranean beaches, the Carmel mountains, career, culture & community.  Can I have it all?  Try Aliyah to Northern Israel!" That's the way they sell aliyah, like you are an orchestra conductor moving to Tuscany. This kind of talk makes me nauseous not just because it isn't Jewish but because you won't get those things moving to Israel. This borders on lying.  Or at least it's quite a stretch. There are mountains; although I wouldn't recommend random hikes because there could be terrorists lurking out there, Heaven forbid. There are terrorist incidents here every week. The phrase Carmel Mountains in conjunction with Mediterranean suggests Tuscany.  There's a whole culture in Tuscany, a culture of ease and laughter and lovely cottages and wine and funny Italians and vineyards. Israel has some mountains, but no cottages and no ease and no laughter and no funny people. It