Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bye Sderot

My flight to England (where I'm going to study this upcoming semester) boards in 10 minutes. I've officially left Sderot for now (much to my parent's happiness), but there's no doubt in my mind, I will be back.

I dreamt last night of Qassams; thought I heard a boom as I woke up. The alerts in the airport as you wait for security sound like the alert before the "Tzevah Adom" sounds. I wonder how long it will take for me to forget the daily booms and alerts that were apart of my life for the last month. I wonder, will I ever?

Sderot will always be with me in my heart, and it should be for you too. My plight to help the people down there has only begun, for now I'm ready to engage the world, to spread the word of the constant horror and terror of life in Sderot.

In the coming week, I'm starting a blog with a Palestinian student at George Mason University (20 minutes from GW, my university in the states) workings as a freelance journalist in Nablus and Tehran for the next six months. We will discuss our opinions regarding our opinions of current events in the Middle East. Should be feisty, should be interesting, wouldn't you say.

I'll update you when the time comes.

That's all for now. Got to get to my flight.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hip-Hop Superstar

Today I went to the hip-hop dance class for 10-12 year olds in Sderot. Not only was I the only high school graduate in the class (besides the teacher), I was the only boy.

As many of my good friends at home - including my wonderful 18 year-old sister, Gaby - are hip-hop stars, I was pretty familiar with the dance moves. See below – I’m rocking out (focus on the last 15 seconds, really see the extent of my skills).

The dance studio looks like it could be from L.A. Mirrors, rails on the side of the room (for ballet?), hardwood floors, a sweet stereo – it’s got it all. I could see Britney in the 90’s using this facitily to practice her moves before the Oopps I Did it Again music video.

In the studio, an alarm goes off when “Tzevah Adom” occurs, and the class runs to the shelter near by. That withstanding, dance class seems to be the greatest escape from the constant sound of “Tzevah Adom” and the daily landing of Qassam rockets into the city. You’re completely isolated from the terrifying reality that is daily life in Sderot.

The teacher, Maytal Siani, studies hip-hop in a major studio in Tel Aviv. She, however, lives with her family in Sderot, where she grew up to love dance, and is currently giving back to the current generation of kids growing up who don’t know life without Qassams.

For one hour a day, twice a week, these girls come to learn the basics of hip-hop dance. In Sderot, young girls are learning to dance to the sound of Beyonce, Justin, 50 Cent and all the other greatest musical artists of our time.

I wonder if Hamas permits hip-hop classes to dance to American hip-hop…actually, I don’t think hip-hop’s made it to Gaza yet – now that’s a humanitarian crisis if you ask me. But what do I know? I was just on CNN (laugh with me).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Regards from Gaza!

Today I met Nicol Alchazov, a Russian immigrant to Sderot over 13 years ago. She was in the firefighters unit in the army, and upon her withdrawal, was admitted to be tested to be the first firewoman in Israel (that year Israel decided women could be firefighters). According to Nicol, two of the four women had what they call in Israel - "protexia" (connections) - so she didn't get the job.

A few years after the army, she became a manager in a textiles factory in Sderot. One of the owners of the factory is Palestinian and the other is Jewish. Before the disengagement, seven of the workers there were Palestinian. Nicol made friends with the Palestinian workers and still keeps in touch with one today.

Here's what's really interesting:

The Palestinian owner's brother - who lives in Gaza - calls Nicol to see how she's doing on days when lots of Qassams land in Sderot.

How crazy is that? Someone from Gaza calls a friend in Sderot to see how she's doing from the rockets fired a few villages from him...insane!

I asked Nicol to call her friend in Gaza to see if it's okay with him if I give him a call to see what's up. Wouldn't that be cool - talk to someone in Gaza. No, I haven't become a crazy lefty. I just think it would be pretty sweet to make a friend in Gaza, wouldn't you?