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Monday, January 21, 2013

So many choices

 Going to work in the US at the end of December meant that I would miss the last few weeks of my ulpan and the final exam.  I made arrangements to join in for the final weeks/exam with a different group that was just a few weeks behind us.  I started with them last week.  A different cast of characters but with a lot in common.  Most of the class is again from "Russia".  One such student is a man who appears to be in his late 50's and wears a shirt and tie every day.  I had previously seen him in the hallways and assumed he worked at the school.   There is a man from Iran who is the husband of the woman from my previous class.  Another woman from Iran told me that she is not an immigrant but rather a tourist, explaining that she will be going back.  I asked her where the government of Iran thinks she is right now and she told me "Turkey".  I also asked if she was scared to go back.  Interestingly the gentleman from Iran was listening to us and as she was answering "yes" he was saying "no" that there wasn't anything to be frightened about.  I would really like to ask her more before the class wraps up.

This class has a few students from South America, who speak Spanish and English.  We also have a Romanian dentist.  What the call is to these Romanian (non-Jewish) dentists to come to Israel I am not certain.  However, when this dentist told me that she has a saying "white teeth, black heart" I made a mental note to avoid Romanian dentists if possible.  I'd say my dentists have always had a bit of a different approach.

Back of the Egged bus

Note the box with two Hebrew letters--seem to have some historical significance but nothing relevant.  Anyway, every party has different letters.

On the way home, I tried to get a few shots of the billboards that are all around.  Elections are tomorrow and it is a national holiday.  No school and no ulpan.   Lately it seems we're just talking politics.  There are so many issues that Israel has to contend with that frankly it is a wonder anything happens at all.  Plus, there is a parliamentary system here and since you need a majority in order to run the government, the largest party (which never gets a majority on its own) forms a coalition with other, smaller parties after the elections in order to run the government.  That means a lot of horse-trading and compromise up front to get their support, so in the end you don't really get what you voted for.   So you have to find the party with the platform you like but then also try to anticipate what will be given up if certain mergers occur.

Apparently, we will cast a paper ballot.  At first it sounded quaint but a friend from England pointed out to us that fraud is a lot more difficult with paper ballots than a computerized system.  Really with the whole "hanging chad" thing so fresh in our memories I don't feel we have much room to talk about primitive voting systems.  I am pretty excited to vote even if I don't quite have it all down.  As a neighbor told me:  The United States is a large country with only two choices (sorry, Ross Perot) and Israel is a tiny, tiny country with many choices.  I suppose that is how it goes.

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