Tuesday, February 20, 2007

S and the Pollard Protestors

I am beginning to lose count of the number of times I have worked on Secretary of State visits, but I think this was my 8th. At least this time, I got to do something other serve as site officer for whereever the meeting with President Abbas was. This time, I was S/ES liaison, meaning that the site officers and line officers used me as the point of contact for dealing with issues, putting out fires, etc.

The work was a lot more interesting because I got to see what the line was like and whether I think that would be an interesting job to bid on. Looks like the job would be fun but exhausting. Liaison work was tiring enough, because there are only two liaisons, one each from the Consulate and Embassy, and the office has to be manned 24 hours a day. That meant 12 hours a day for the whole visit, and this time she arrived Saturday evening and left this morning. Needless to say, I am very tired.

Last night we got a bit of excitement when some Jonathan Pollard protesters made it to the Secretary's floor, where we all were (except her. She was at a meeting). (Have to wonder how they knew the floor she was on and how they got up there, given all the Israel security around...hmmmm). They didn't get near her room, but they got near enough that we heard them yelling "Free Pollard Now" and "We want Pollard home." Jonathan Pollard, by the way, is an American who spied on the US for Israel. That has made him a national hero here, and people argue he should be released because he was just giving one of America's allies info it would have eventually been given anyway. Plus, they are convinced he did it for ideological reasons because he is Jewish. The truth is he didn't "give" Israel anything, he sold it, and only after Russia turned him down. That's not ideology or zionism or anything else. That is greed. And he belongs just where he is, in jail. Which, by the way, is now where some of the protesters are as well.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Drivers here are really bad

You might remember how I said that people here, because they live in a place where they could die at any moment, really live in the present. So basically, they attend to their needs regardless of the needs of anyone else. It's all about them. So like I have said before, if they need to stop at the 24 hour store and there is no parking, they will stop in the middle of the road. Because it is all about them. And the police won't write a ticket generally, because that would be too much trouble and it is all about them.

When I first heard about the Ha'aretz story below, I assumed the woman was arrested for driving recklessly while having sex in the fast lane. But no. She had stopped in the middle of the fast last. Because it was all about her.

Woman ticketed for having sex with passenger on highway fast lane

By Reuters

Police investigating why a car was blocking traffic in the fast lane of a major highway on Sunday found a couple inside having sex.

A police spokesman said the female driver and her male passenger gave in to their passions without pulling over to the side of the road, causing congestion and leaving other motorists having to swerve to dodge their stationary vehicle.

A patrolman gave the woman a ticket for holding up traffic.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Excavations in the Old City

You have probably heard about this on the news. Now you can watch it online!

Mughrabi Gate excavations webcam

I think a camera on the protestors would be an interesting addition.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Singing Happy Birthday

I went to a friend's last night to celebrate his birthday. We sang happy birthday for him...but being foreign service geeks, we couldn't possibly do it just in English. By the time we finished, we had sung for him in English, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Danish, Georgian (no, not a soutern drawl, that was when I sang in English), Greek and Russian. I think would could have rummaged up a few more, but at that point, he just wanted his cake!

We finally got some sunshine today. It has been pretty rainy lately. This shot is from about Sunday three weeks ago and is the only rainbow I have seen here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Clashes in the Old City

If it hasn't been overridden by the death of Anna Nicole Smith, I am sure you probably saw stories on the news about the protests in the Old City. Basically, the Israelis are excavating near the Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount, and that is a particularly sensitive area for all people here. So as you saw on the news, some 200 Israeli police went into the compund at the Al Aqsa Mosque and there was lots of stone and tear-gas canister throwing. There were no serious injuries and it didn't spread significantly outside of the Old City. I did see about 150 protesters outside the gate yesterday, but they were peaceful, and today while I was out, we came on some Palestinian kids burning garbage and wielding stones. They didn't throw them, maybe because our driver was Palestinian.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to let everyone know that I am safe and everything is quiet here.