Israelis and Palestinians

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Israelis And Palestinians

“If your mother and father are fighting, who do you want to win? No one. You just want the fighting to stop.” Unknown

As with any war, everyone is fighting and no one is listening. The state of Israel  was created by a vote in the United Nations as a safe haven for the Jewish people who suffered from a history of antisemitism followed by the most horrific trauma of the Holocaust. They were given a piece of land the size of New Jersey. From the beginning, the Israelis have been attacked by the Arabs and had to learn to fight and protect themselves. Many of the early settlers were Holocaust survivors and they were not gong to let this happen again. Israelis learned to live in a state of conflict. Every house in Israel has a bomb shelter and a plan of what to do and where to go when attacked. People seem to forget their trauma  when viewing the more recent trauma of the Palestinians. 

How do you negotiate peace with a terrorist organization that wants Israel blown off the face of the earth? How do you negotiate with a terrorist organization that uses their women and children as human shields when Israel counterattacks? The Israelis drop fliers saying they will be bombing a certain terrorist weapon site so the civilians can leave and Hamas tells them to stay. How do you  negotiate with Hamas when it says in their charter “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad”.  Israelis have always been fighting for their lives and they have learned since 1948 to fight well.

Why does Israel constantly have to defend their actions of protecting themselves to the media? Why does every Jew in the world have to defend Israel against the liberal media who loves an underdog? The BF said based on the media he would be on the side of the Palestinians if he hadn’t actually spent time in Israel with me. 

The situation is a mess and the civilian population on both sides want peace. I don’t know what will happen but it doesn’t look good for either side. I do know that if Israel is eradicated, as in World War ll, no country will take the Jews. I believe no country will take the Palestinians either if it goes the other way.

One day i turned on an Israeli TV show in the middle. It was about Palestinian and Israeli college students who lived in the same dorm. Everyone was speaking Hebrew which I don’t speak so I would not know accents. I couldn’t tell who was Israeli and who was Palestinian. They were all going through the same thing at the same time and did not seem different. They had cast people who looked so much alike. You can tell that there is a shared ancient history there.

Pray for Peace and stay safe,

JAZ

To Kill A Mockingbird – Banned Again

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To Kill A Mockingbird – Banned Again

 “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Atticus Finch, Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird  has a long history with censorship.  It is one of the most challenged books in American Literature – from strong language, sex and rape to it makes people uncomfortable and now it is racist. 

The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her Southern hometown in 1936 when she was 8 years old.

Atticus Finch functions as the moral backbone of the story, a person to whom others turn to in times of doubt and trouble. His daughter Scout is the narrator and the story is told through the eyes of an eight year old girl.  Unable to abide the town’s comfortable ingrained racial prejudice, Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man with trumped up charges against him. After losing the trial, Atticus practices empathy and understanding and teaches this to his children Scout and Jem. He never holds a grudge against the people of Maycomb. Atticus accepts all people because he is an expert at “climbing into other people’s skin and walking around. “ 

My son calls him the world’s greatest dad. To Kill A Mockingbird is a book I reread often when faced with a moral dilemma. It has always been a lesson in doing the right thing for no other reason then because it is the right thing to do even if you know the outcome.

The story reflects the time and language of the South during the depression. Yes, as a child It made me uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable for the black people in my class also. I was also uncomfortable reading Anne Frank. Why did people hate us so much? 

Literature is not history. There is this wonderful moment in reading a novel where you think “You feel that way too? I thought that I was the only one.” I relate to Atticus Finch’s moral dilemma, Anne Frank’s fear and resilience, Hamlet’s indecisiveness, Holden Caulfield’s bad atttiude, Celie’s rise from nothing, Florentina’s love (In the Time Of Cholera) and Don Quixote snd Sancho Panza’s friendship. The list goes on and on. 

Having students read about racism is not an act of promoting racism. While some aspects of history can be “uncomfortable” to read, they are also thought-provoking and encourage important discussions on race. it provides students the opportunity to read and analyze the characters on their own terms and develop their own sense of morality.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn and other novels are being considered to be banned in California.  The banning of books sparks serious debate over literary censorship in the classroom. If we continue to ostracize and disallow certain texts to young readers, we are limiting their access to ideas and opinions which vary from our own. If we begin to exclude anything that may “trigger” a specific group, we will be grossly limiting our children’s education.

My boyfriend is rereading Hemingway. He said that  Hemingway is casually antisemitic and racist. I have no idea what that means. Further along in the book, he said, “It’s not so casual anymore. He is antisemitic and racist”. Is Hemingway next?

Read safe,

JAZ

More Of The Same

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More Of The Same

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln

if there is one thing that social media has shown me is that despite all our differences, Americans have many shared experiences that we all can relate to. At a time when we seem to be more divided than ever, I thought I’d share a few things that prove that I have more in common with the next person than you might think. If you think about it, you probably do also. 

I wear a size 8 shoe. That is an average size foot for women in America which means I am never far from someone I can borrow shoes from.

Pizza is my favorite food. If i have a rough day and come home to find even my dog is judging me, the comfort food I am going to reach for is pizza. Ninety three per cent of Americans have eaten pizza this month.

If i am angry, I rehearse arguments in my head. I think it might be a common thing to make you feel more prepared about confronting someone and it is definitely better when i imagine myself “winning”.

I worry about offending anyone with body odor or bad breath. I shower every day, use deodorant and brush my teeth as often as possible.  

i hate when I pocket dial someone and they call me back and i have to say I didn’t really want to speak to you.

i am very direct. I usually talk first and think later. Being assertive is generally seen as a good thing in America.

I like denim. I’m still not super comfortable with the double denim look. 

i had a Diet Coke addiction and now I drink it once in a while. I notice the while time is getting shorter. 

i am very careful around police officers. There are too many unstable human beings with guns. If they tell me to pull over and stay in the car, I stay in the car. I look directly at the officer smile and say,”What seems to be the problem, officer?” I never argue or avert eye contact. If you are from another country never offer money. If you are not white, try not to get pulled over. 

I have the right to pursue happiness. Most of us are not happy and our country is a mess because of this. It is actually written down that we can all be out for ourselves and pursue our own happiness. That is what connects us. 

Stay Safe 

JAZ

Am I Prejudiced In America?

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Am I Prejudiced In America?

“People who insist on dividing the world into ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ never contemplate that they may be someone else’s ‘Them’.” Ray Davis

I decided to repost this blog. Our culture is splintering. Racism is out in the open and as it is challenged on one hand, it is championed even more on the other. We are all in this together and until we understand this ourselves, we cannot begin to be healed.

Donald Sterling said he was not a racist after making racial slurs. This made me wonder how you decide if you are a racist. I took some online tests. According to the internet, I am not. But I already knew that.

The more serious question for me as a“tolerant” liberal is, am I prejudiced? And if so against who? There was a period in my life where I would only have pretty friends. Was I vain and shallow or prejudiced against ugly people?  My daughter told someone I would never have a fat dog. Does that make me a bigot where fat dogs are concerned?

In Germany, I loved the beer, sausages, pretzels, art and scenery. But I did find myself looking at groups of older Germans picturing them in Nazi uniforms saying Heil Hitler. Do I discriminate against old Germans?

Growing up in New York City, I was surrounded by different immigrant populations.  I heard many foreign languages daily.   In fact, my friend and I would often converse on the subway in a made up language and watch people try to figure out what we were speaking.  I have lived in LA and Miami so I am very comfortable around Spanish-speaking people. But how would I feel at Anderson Cooper’s family reunion (according to not reliable Wikipedia his ancestors have been here for a long time)?  Does that qualify as a prejudice against non recent immigrants or people who were here before the Civil War?

I think I would probably be fearful visiting a small town in the South or Middle America alone.  Would that make me intolerant toward Americans who don’t live in big cities?

I love intelligence, hate math, like creative types, dislike politicians and hate divorce. Does that make me biased against stupid people, people who leave their families, mathematicians, people with boring jobs and the government?

Many Americans have a bias against the elderly. Was I one of them? My mother once told me that people talked down to old people so I try to be aware of that.  I’m getting older. Now I look at them and think which one am I going to be? I’m definitely nicer now that it concerns me.

What about unconscious prejudice? Those are cultural lessons that we have learned over a lifetime. They can be passed on by mass media, parents, peers and other members of society.

Children as young as three can pick up prejudice without even knowing what it is. When my son was six he brought a New Kids On the Block lunchbox to school. Some of the older kids teased him and called him a faggot. He came home crying. I explained it as a very unkind word to my six-year-old. My three-year old daughter heard all of this. A few days later, an adult friend who she adored said he couldn’t come to her birthday party . She was upset and angry. She thought of the most unkind word she could think of, the one that made her brother cry and she called him a faggot. He happened to have been gay and though I tried to explain it, he never spoke to us again.

As a Caucasian person, I see racism in America as much better than when I was growing up. But the African-American , Latino, Gay, and Muslim communities say different things. So I listen, read and learn more. I try not to walk in their heads with my dirty feet as Leo Buscaglia would say. I keep traveling. The further out of my comfort zone I go, the more tolerant my world becomes. The tolerance along with education and understanding, is the beginning of acceptance.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Ten Good Things

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Whenever a person I care about dies, I think about that book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. it is a story of a child who has to.find ten good things to say at the funeral of his cat. When someone I love dies, I immediately start thinking of their ten good things. It is a ritual I do and it helps me get through those first few hours. We lost a young family friend recently.

  1. Chelsea was funny. She didn’t always mean to be funny and sometimes it was meant for shock value, but Chelsea could always make me laugh.
  2. She was a great reader and we often talked about our love of books.
  3. She was a good guest. I did have to stay up with her long after my daughter fell asleep at sleepovers, but sleep was never my thing. It was good training for my non sleeping god daughter.
  4. She was kind. I never heard her speak badly about anyone. 
  5. She was quirky, different and had such an interesting view of the world. I’m always attracted to people like that. 
  6. She was always ready to try any new treatment to get some relief from her challenges. 
  7. We both liked theatre, museums and trying new restaurants. One time I took her out to dinner when she was a freshman in college. She acted like she hadn’t had a meal since she got there and I was a foodie. We ordered five main courses and finished them!!!!!!!
  8. Chelsea was very intelligent, creative and fun. 
  9. She always looked perfect but was ready to get down and dirty when it was play time. 
  10. Like the kid in the book, I could only come up with nine things that I wanted to share. I guess the tenth would be that she fought an epic battle against a mind that was filled with depression. 

Your kids are not supposed to die. It goes against the rules of nature. It isn’t supposed to happen but it does and it’s hard.

Fly safe Chelsea,

JAZ

New Normal

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 New Normal

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” Camille Pissarro

No one would describe me as a corona virus optimist, though I do think about traveling next summer. I don’t see face masks, face time or zoom going away any time soon. I hear terms like the great reset for what to do with your life now.  There is no part of our lives that will remain untouched from this virus and quarantine.

There were so many things we took for granted or simply did not notice. Experiences I have when traveling, like drinking a cup of coffee, have never felt the same at home. For the past year we have slowed down. Many of us are no longer on the move. I appreciate being able to do simple things now that i used to take for granted. Here are the first ten things I have done since getting the vaccine that did not seem noteworthy until I couldn’t do them anymore. 

I made a non emergency dentist appointment. I no longer have to be scared of the elevator which is always filled to capacity. 

I had lunch at a friend’s  house inside. We were supposed to meet at the park but it was raining. There was no parking so I ended up nervously using her valet parking. I am terrible at parking so valet is something I miss a lot. We had really bad  takeout food.  It didn’t matter  because we were so happy to do something normal. 

 Friends and family have come over for lunch and a beach walk. – mostly outside but the weather has been cold  so they came in. 

I went for a walk on the Venice Canals with a friend. (I’ve avoided them because the sidewalks are narrow and people around here don’t wear masks). We walked to my favorite Cha Cha Matcha which luckily is still there (as opposed to many other businesses on the street that are gone). I had my first drink in a plastic cup that I did not make myself in almost a year.

We had a birthday lunch and movie for my six year old goddaughter.

 Acupuncture is something I do on a weekly basis  and have not done in a year. !!!!!!! I realize I don’t  need to do it so much but it was great to finally be able to go. 

i had my first outdoor  restaurant lunch at one of my favorite sushi places – Yumi.  I tried to support them during the pandemic and did takeout whenever I could. They were also the last restaurant I went to before the shutdown.

Beauty day – manicure, pedicure, waxing, eyebrows, hair color and blowout. 

I got a new car. I did not feel comfortable to test drive or go around to different places. I hope I like it. 

We are going to a hotel in Santa Barbara for the BF’s birthday next week. It will be dinner not cooked by him  in a restaurant without sweat pants or jeans, massages, and walks on a different beach. We had to cancel the big birthday trip at the beginning of the shut down so this feels hopeful. 

Are you also appreciating the normal things in your life that you used  to take  for granted?

 Stay safe,

JAZ

 

To The Vaccine

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To The Vaccine

“There is no glory in illness. There is no meaning to it.” John Greene

It is safe to say that 2020 was a year like no other. In the early days of the virus, information was changing daily. At first, I too was on the fence when I learned the vaccine was going to be fast tracked. I try to take a more natural approach to health care. But as my father used to say about religion, we are people of science. I was tired of the quarantine and too at risk to take the surprisingly cavalier approach to Covid that many of my fellow humans did. I was getting the vaccine.

 The rollout of the vaccine was not easy in Los Angeles. There were stories of people paying lots of money to get them. The next group after health care workers were seniors who struggled with disappointment and frustration as the website crashed, vaccines ran out and appointments filled up quickly. It was much worse than trying to get Hamilton tickets. Vaccinate@la.com was a mess. I heard stories of people in other states who had actually  been sent appointments or called as opposed to filling out the same forms over and over only to be told that there were no appointments.

At one point the city stopped giving them. I could not get one. My friend had two appointments. I decided to try and use her extra one. It was at Dodger Stadium which at the moment is the world’s largest vaccination site. It is a drive through and you never leave your car. The BF waited five and a half hours for his vaccine two weeks before. I went very early in the morning and was nervous. I had made sure that they sometimes accepted walk ins and had a way to register in person. There was momentary confusion about the appointment not being in my name, but eventually they let me have it. I was in and out in forty minutes. 

I’m not sure if we are ground breakers or guinea pigs but the only thing I felt as the first shot went into my arm, was grateful.  The historical significance of that moment was not lost on me either. I found myself quite emotional thinking about all those who have died of COVID-19 and how many more lives around the world will be lost until the vaccine is available to everyone.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Taking A Break

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“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” Douglas Pagels

Today I faced a difficult decision. I need to take a month long break from blogging. Decisions don’t happen automatically. If you blog, you know that taking a month off could be brutal for your audience and traffic. People get used to reading it and then they don’t.

I wanted to write a travel blog and though blogging through the pandemic has been helpful, it isn’t what I want to write about – or live through. Well, I do want to live through it. I get excited about writing and researching trip ideas. I love telling the stories of my travels. I like thinking of my life experiences in stories.

But I feel with no new trips, (not even to the mall) my ideas are getting stale. Though my dog is an endless-source of fascination for me, I’m sure you are not that interested in hearing about us. You must be feeling as bored with my dinners at home every night for ten months as I am (though they are always delicious). Memories of trips are fine but I have covered those.

I think in a month we will have a better idea of where we are in this pandemic. With our new COVID plan and a new president the future looks better. I hope you will be here when I return. Thank you so much for reading .

Stay safe,

JAZ

 Ten More Foreign Films

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 Ten More Foreign Films

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of out better selves?”  Mad Max George Miller James McCausland

After ten months of isolating, most of us have exhausted the list of films and TV shows we wanted to watch if we had the time. Lately foreign TV shows and films with beautiful photography are a way of traveling for me. Here  are some that I have watched or rewatched that you might like. Most can be found on Amazon Prime.

Shoplifters  Japan

Winning the Palm D-or at Cannes is more prestigious in some circles than the Academy Award. Shoplifters is a quiet story which asks the question  what is a family?  This family lives together in a poor section of Tokyo relying on the grandmother’s pension and shoplifting to survive. As the film unfolds, secrets are revealed and your conventions of morality are tested.  This is my personal favorite of all the films.

Parasite Korea

I rewatched Parasite.  If you have not seen it, I think it is brilliant. It is a mix of black comedy, classic thriller and drama. There are twists and turns at every corner. Parasite tells the story of the Kim family.  Struggling to make ends meet, the Kims decide to con a wealthy, unassuming family into hiring them in various household positions while posing as completely unrelated, highly qualified individuals. The very best films are those that become more and more impressive the longer you think about them and Parasite is an intelligent and layered narrative masterpiece. The Academy got it right this time. 

No Chile

No is a true story of the ad campaign that helped persuade Chileans to cast their ballots against the dictator General. Augusto Pinochet. After eight years, due to international pressure to legitimize his government, Pinochet allows a referendum on whether he will be allowed another eight years in office. This movie dramatizes the “No” campaign devised by young advertising executive René Saavedra, played by Gael García Bernal. This young media type apparently proposed to take their resistance to tyranny and sell it like some Pepsi alternative to Pinochet’s Coke. It is a fascinating and heartfelt study of democracy.  

Honeyland  Macedonia

Honeyland is a documentary about a wild beekeeper in Northern Macedonia. Hatidze lives in an abandoned village with her frail mother and no electricity or running water. It is beautifully shot and for whatever reason you can watch this poor, caring, optimistic, brave woman and her bees for hours.  Lucky for the filmmakers, during the three years of filming, a family moves in next door  which adds more drama. The story tells of the delicate balance between humans and nature and should not be missed. 

Timbuktu Mauritania

 Timbuktu is a poetic response to the jihadist occupation of the title city and its imposition of Sharia law. It is the story of a city shattered by  bigotry and violence. At the center of this is the tragic story of one family: a herdsman, Kidane, his wife, Satima , and their 12-year-old daughter. Kidane angrily confronts a fisherman who has killed his cow with terrible results. There are beautiful, visual moments that give us scenes from the life of a traumatized nation. It is a difficult film to watch because it depicts a future that no one wants to see. 

Aquarius Brazil

Aquarius revolves around the story of Clara a retired music critic who is the last remaining tenant in her beautiful beachfront apartment building in Recife. She refuses to be evicted by the company who now owns and wants to demolish the building no matter what they do to her. Clara is a woman who refuses to be confined by age or circumstance and I think this is Sonia Braga’s best role since Kiss Of the Spider Woman. The film is a story of past and present with social and personal conflicts seamlessly intertwined. I loved this character.

Force Majeure Sweden

An avalanche erupts during a middle class ski break in the Alps. The father seems to only be looking out for himself not his wife and kids which emphasizes the marriage problems. Mid Life Crisis mountain man and his young hippy girlfriend arriive which reflects on their relationship. It  is a dramedy about how we cant control nature or our lives and is being remade into an American film called Downhill.  I recommend the original.

Ash Is Purest White  China

Ash is Purest White is a love story between Qiao and Bin in an ever changing China. It is their on again off again love story which would make her a victim but she ends up being strong and true to herself. It is a bit long but the photography, history  and poetic aspect of the film is beautiful, The character of Qiao, is  played in a spectacular performance by Tao Zhao.

White Material France

Amid turmoil and racial conflict in an undisclosed African country, a French woman fights for her coffee crop and her life. The film explores colonialism and its lingering effects and the poisonous nature of violence. No matter how much Maria  played beautifully,  by Isabelle Huppert believes she is African, or that her son is African, she will always be an outsider because of the cultural, historical, and racial issues that exist between her and the locals. Her identity and the “white material” of her life are what the rebel army is hoping to eradicate. It is a haunting, unromantic portrayal of the land and the people who inhabit it. 

Il Divo Italy

Il Divo” tells the shocking story of Giulio Andreotti, an Italian senator and later Prime Minister who many believe was behind the murder of several journalists, mafia members, and fellow political figures. It is a great performance by Toni Servillo. It tells an abundance of information that we as Americans probably don’t know but it doesn’t matter because the purpose seems to be just to show the scope of Andreotti’s power and evil. It is weirdly  both strange and mesmerizing. (if this one doesn’t show up, click on watch this video on you tube)

Stay safe,

JAZ

Where The F Is That Waiter And  Other Things I Haven’t Said In Ten Months

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Where The F Is That Waiter And  Other Things I Haven’t Said In Ten Months

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things. “ Frank A. Clark

Remember what normal  used to sound like. Here are some things I have not said in ten months.

I think our seats are right over here,.

Can you believe this traffic?

Check please.

There’s this new place I want to try for brunch. 

Can we meet for a coffee and talk?

The plane is late.

Airport security hates me.

Are you packed? 

I’m getting my hair blown out. 

Where’s my passport?

I’ll pick up milk on my way home.

I will be in Beverly Hills today – Do you want to have lunch?

The gym is so crowded.

See you in class.

i have acupuncture at 2:00. 

Did you shut your phone off?

The movie starts in five minutes.

I’m going to the spa.

I’m at the nail salon.

One large popcorn no butter.

Do you have change for the valet? 

Where do you feel like eating tonight?

Let”s grab drinks. 

Can we meet for a coffee and talk? 

Does this look good on me?

Here, taste this.

I want to see that new exhibit at MOCA before the ballet.

When can we have dinner?

I’ll  pay cash.

I hate the mall.  

Where’s the restroom?

Sorry, I’m germaphobic.

Stay safe,

JAZ