Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jerusalem on the Milky Way

I traveled to Jerusalem today to pick up my government issued press card. I haven't needed it since I returned to Holy Land Central last Fall but then again, I haven't been to Gaza or the West Bank nor have I attended official press conferences, interviewed key government figures and I wasn't here for last summer's war in Lebanon. But the card looks kinda nice dangling off my living room light fixture.

A word about Jerusalem: Who needs a European vacation? I can head on out of Tel Aviv and mosey on up to J-Town when I'm feeling a bit antsy and Voila! I've tarried galaxies afar. The two cities differ radically in style of dress, mannerisms, lay of the land and religious inclinations.

First: It's probably reasonably safe to assert that NO fashion statements will be surging out of the Holy City anytime soon. While the ultra-orthodox have some semblance of coolness with black and white color motifs, what can you expect from a city whose key historical figures ran around in hooded gunny sacks and beige flats?

Second: Hills, views, Jerusalem stone, olive trees...We have the beach but they've got architectural & historical candy.

Third: People speak Yiddish. Young people. Who are ultra-orthodox. Because they consider Hebrew to be a holy language not to be soiled by the mere trifle of common, everyday conversation. It was a shocker hearing someone behind me speak it today. I thought it was German for a few seconds.

Finally: Meeting up with religion is surprising in itself because Tel Aviv is soooo secular. Yeah I know, it sounds crazy coming from Holy Land Central and all. But trust me on this one: When in Jerusalem the sudden exposure to religious majority can be overwhelming and eye-opening.

Good to know I don't have to go far to keep things fresh

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Nothing like a good, old fashioned general strike to grind industry to a halt.

That's the current state of affairs here in Holy Land Central (HLC).

No flights, boats, trains, mail, post offices, customs or tax authority, no passports, driver's licenses, courts or city hall.

Talks are underway to solve what purportedly cost the country NIS 350 million ($82 mill. U.S.) on day one of what may be a several day strike.

I know that as an enterprising, cash-fat aspiring person I should be holding this sort of mass action in disdain. But there's something about shutting down's very powerful.

The ONLY time I recall that happening in the U.S. was on 9/11. That or if snow or wind got too dicey for incoming and outgoing aircraft.

I would like to get my mail and I do have some business to tend to within a government office or two..but what to do?

A visiting friend from Azerbaijan was a bit put off by it all saying that in her country this sort of thing would never happen. In fact, she exclaimed, she has never experienced this sort of thing before. She has clearly never been to France.

"In Azerbaijan the government would either fire the strikers or throw half of them in jail to teach them a lesson," she exclaimed this afternoon. I'd like to see THAT go down in Israel or France.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wish List

Here we go into Christmas Season friends and neighbors. Hold onto your hats! Ho ho ho.

Except over here in Holy Land Central (HLC) there's none of that Americana style build-up, commercialization and shop-till-you drop spirit. We Jewish tribal types, in fact, are only marginally - if at all - aware of Yule; It isn't celebrated, for the most part, this side of the green line. In Bethlehem, parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, yes. Not Tel Aviv.

Nonetheless, I am taking this opportunity to present Stefanella's 2006 Holiday Season Wish List. Why not? As my Buddhist friends say: You have to put it out there for the karma to find you. More simply phrased: If you don't let Santa know, how's he gonna drop it off at your house?

1. Expendable Income - I don't want to stand in the supermarket aisle comparing nutritional value versus cost versus how far a food item can be stretched. In fact, I don't want to think about budgeting at all. I want extra cash. I want to find 100 shekel notes in my jean pockets and casually remark: "Oh that's nice" rather than fretting that such a find might induce a coronary.

2. Day Spa - Sue me for my trespasses. I'm allowed the occasional shee-shee girlish whim. I want to wallow in a jacuzzi and sauna, doze off to the tones of New Age chimes while melting under the nimble kneading of a deep tissue masseur, get a peel and facial and drink freshly churned carrot juice while lounging in a white robe and scanning the latest copy of Vanity Fair.

3. Subscription to Vanity Fair -....come to think of it.

4. Indulge my Offspring - I want to take my son on an elephant ride in India and on African Safari. I want to encourage his artistic slant with visits to the Louvre and the finest oils, ceramics and private lessons money can purchase. I want to be able to say "yes" more often to his requests for toys. I want him to have a carefree life.

5. Teach my Offspring - I want my son to learn that giving back through volunteerism and donation is a responsibility and an honor. That each person can make a difference. That we're all here for a purpose and once you figure yours out, you're in.

6. More Fun - Less thinking, more action. More visiting with friends, less worrying about time constraints and work. More outings, less work. More cultural exposure, less worry over finances.
7. A Thigh-High Pair of Spike-Heeled Boots - to wear around the house with my pretend mini-skirt while singing "..that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over..."

8. Chocolate Truffles and Creme Brulee for the Masses - Well I had to end on a positive note, no?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rape & Women

A few days ago I blogged about waking up to the sound of search helicopters on the hunt for an escaped serial rapist.

He's still on the loose; I've noticed that my women brethren (sic) are feeling discomfort, to put it mildly.

Funny (ha ha) what this type incident brings out in us.

I've never been raped. I've had a flasher or two or three show off personal jewels but no incident was shocking enough to push me towards the psycho-analytical couch. All of a sudden I'm thinking about a violent, angry man on the loose and what could potentially happen to myself, my son, myself in the presence of my son or another woman with children.

I'm cautious, studying faces for signs of the escaped rapist's features, questioning neighbors about the "strange guy" loitering suspiciously outside the apartment building, nervous, wanting this menace to either split the country for a remote planet or be re-captured.

And I'm not alone. Women are talking about him, blogging about him, dropping his name casually in conversation. We're double checking locked doors, looking over shoulders, asking drop-offs to wait until we get inside the house. My 14-year-old babysitter had her father pick her up instead of hailing the usual taxi home. We're all frightened regardless of rationale or reason that tells us this psychopath is probably long gone.

The craziest part? When you break it down to the basic components it's about body parts. This man uses a body part to violate others. Violently, in a frightening manner. It's taboo. And I can't help but wonder what in the hell happened to him.

The burn of it? Although we may have arrived and fancy ourselves living in the modernity of 21st century reality, this is a dividing point where we women remain vulnerable regardless. And people like this rapist know it.

SHIT I hope they catch him soon. For all of us.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bomber for Breakfast?

Woke up this a.m. to the sound of overhead helicopters. Many and for a long time. So I get online to see if a suicide bombing has happened. Nada.

Eat a leisurely breakfast and with kindergarten-skipping Raphael in tow - He's allowed; it's his fifth birthday today, OMG! - stroll downstairs to find half a dozen police officers combing the neighborhood accompanied by aforementioned buzzing helicopters.

I hesitate. My first thought: A suicide bomber is loose in Tel Aviv; They have word and they're searching.

"Is someone loose in the area?" (duh) I ask an officer outside our building. He shakes his head no. Liar. As if the foot patrol is simply getting out and about as part of the new "Get Fit Forces!" physical regime aimed at getting Tel Aviv's police corps in shape. Our neighborhood happens to be THE perfect alternative to hiking trails and the helicopters help maintain that tough guy cover while they sweat it out.

That was 9:30.

Six hours later the copters are still circling. NOW I've found the story online and discover that lo and behold, it's neither fitness or a bomber they're after. Rather a mere serial rapist who escaped police escort while being transported between courthouse hearings. Our apartment is awfully close to the courthouse. Separated by a park, in fact. The same one I suspect Monsieur Rapist cut across to dodge his chaperones.

Let me see...Bomber versus Rapist...How comforting.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Top Image of the Year

Check this out...Courtesy of my friend Treesia. Click to enlarge and read the print to understand why it's considered one of the year's best photos

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Skateboarding in Gaza

Yair Lapid, an Israeli celebrity type who has a regular column on YNet and hosts a prime time television talk show, features a Gaza child-blogger in today's Internet column. Well worth a read.

The child blogger, a skateboard enthusiast, muses over his board fashioned of scrap metal left over from Quassam rockets. He also comments on the quick getaway it provides when fleeing "long ones" although, he says, everyone knows there's nowhere to hide.

The writing is a disturbing mix of child norms - attempting skateboarder tricks, idolizing and obsessing over heroes - and the realities of war - classmates' deaths caused by "long one" hits -that no child should endure.

When writing about attempting to get onto university computers for updates vis a vis the skateboarding world at large, he notes:

I have learned that during times like this when there is nothing to eat and people are dying all the time, it is preferable not even to try because there will always be someone who will get angry at me.

Before Suleiman died, he would say that this is one of the crazy things about living in Gaza: The angrier they get about children that are killed, the worse they behave towards children who are alive.

Go read. It's a reality check.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cafe Security

When suicide bombings became de rigeur inside Israel at the turn of the century, most publicly accessed venues - restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, banks, etc. - began posting security people at entrances. Nowadays, nearly any place you go has someone standing or sitting at the front door wanting to take a peek through your bag or backpack or run a scanner over your body.

Don't worry, U.S. and Western countries you'll get there. It's a matter of time.

But what you won't get at your checkpoints is a certain, oh let's just call it Flair, commonly encountered oer' here yonder in Holy Land Central (HLC). Maybe you'd encounter it in Latin America or Italy or anywhere else I can think to stereotype.

Scene: Entrance to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Dialogue: Moi-Self and Security Guard

Mr. Security: Are you married?
Moi-Self: Why are you asking?
Mr. Security: Because I think you're beautiful.
Moi-Self: Thanks. But yes, I am spoken for**
Mr. Security: Can I check your bag anyway?
Moi-Self: Gee, I'm not sure how to answer

**little white lies sometimes serve the moment

Flattering? Yes. Appropriate? Not really. Do I care? No.

Welcome. Have a Nice Day

Monday, November 20, 2006

Diving for Japanese

Studying Japanese sort of reminds me of Scuba diving.

Years ago I took a course right here in the Med. And nearly dropped out because before getting anywhere near the sexy James Bond stage of tanks, weight belts and clinging wetsuits, the seemingly simple task of removing one's dive mask while underwater must be performed.

Sounds simple but for moi-self it presented a tremendous stumbling block because we humans instinctively draw in a breath through the nose when our masks are removed while down below.

My instructor at the time told me to cut the sh*t out when I said I was quitting. All my diving mates seemed to effortlessly pull off the mask removal bit but I was the loser and I wanted to cut my losses and get out. Mr. Instructor said "no way" and sent me home to practice in the bathtub with a borrowed mask and snorkel.

So I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. And inhaled liters of water and felt an idiot in the bathtub or in the sea when I tried it out in public.

HOWEVER, I triumphed and continued with the course and got over the fear of mask removal AND was one of three classmates - out of ten - to successfully complete the entire course.

Japanese classes at the moment suck: I'm lost and absolutely THE straggler lagging behind.

So much for family/friends' compliments throughout the years: "You have an ear for languages." No. The young and slick uniformed military guy who shows up each week without having done homework and effortlessly spills forth perfectly formed Kanji sentences has an ear. The girl earning her PhD in computerized education methods and studying Japanese because she had a good time in Tokyo is talented.

I'm sitting there hoping that if I practice in the bathtub enough, I'll be able to form a sentence without wearing a mask.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sherwood Forest, Tel Aviv

I generally enjoy complaining about Israel's service industry (sic) and pretty much anything else I can find to complain about. It passes the time and since that's what we're all doing on this great planet, anyhow - passing time until we end up at the same subway stop - why not?

Today I will be forthcoming for a change. It's the beginning of a new week.

On Friday Tel Aviv's municipality decided to put together a cultural event I describe as: "Sherwood Forest meets the Middle East". Lining Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Boulevard were fairy-tale themed stations such as Robin Hood's tree cutting post, the wicked witch cave, Friar Tuck's wooden bridge, Maid Marian's magic dust den, etc.

Actor types dressed in Sherwood Forest regalia roamed while static gnomes, fairies, and princesses decked out in flowing robes with faces a-glitter, perched frozen atop skillfully concealed stilts.

There was avante garde street theater on a par with New York - I kid not - and where the forest ended, a display of locally created functional design works began. Some of that was pretty slick including hanging lamps crafted from plastic soda containers, a coat rack made of bicycle training wheels and a one-man pup tent created for the world's growing numbers of homeless. How they might afford to purchase the tent is another question.

Unfortunately I left my camera at home so I'm unable to share visuals. But put on your Robin Hood feathered caps and play the imaginary game for a moment and I'll bet you can conjure some images. Way to go, municipal powers that be. An afternoon well spent.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Architectural Genius

Conversation with friend of Yore, Tel Aviv cafe:

I had a business for a few years. A cafe. But the building collapsed. We were on the ground floor.
WHAT?!?! Was anyone killed?
Nah. A few were injured though. It was our fault, the collapse. We caused it.
Oh man. I don't know if I want to hear this. What did you guys do?
We removed a few of the center pillars so we'd have more floor space. We should've checked with an engineer before we did it. I guess they were holding up the entire building.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thank God I Wasn't Here

I coffee'd today with an old colleague from the Reuters Jerusalem television days. My friend is still in the t.v. news biz but he now works with a different international network. He is faring well and is successful.

Playing catch up, as people tend to do, I sifted through names of former colleagues and he responded with updates on the where/what they're doing these days/whether they're still in television or not lowdown response to my queries.

When I mentioned a specific Palestinian co-worker/friend from days of yore, I was shocked to learn this person had been barred from entering Israel proper after the 2000 Ramallah lynching.

According to my coffee friend, he and an entire network of West Bank cameramen and journalists were accused of colluding to keep footage of the lynching under wraps so as not to incriminate West Bank residents who took part in the incident.

I am speechless for the moment. And of course I realize there are two sides to any story. And thank god I wasn't here because...well let's just leave it at that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Venus Mars Thing

Compliments of my friend Liz in San Francisco:


"It's not that we 'could be' the weaker sex - we are the weaker sex. Even when men and women have the same disease, we often find that men are more likely to die."
DR. ROBERT TAN, geriatrics specialist in Houston

No Change

Place: Israel's National Opera House
Scene: Box office
Background: Attempting to purchase Tickets to Magic Flute Childrens' Opera Event

Oh sorry, we don't have change for a hundred shekels (approximately $25 U.S.)
You can either pay with a credit card or come back another time
Okay I'm starting to get a little bit angry here. I don't want to come back and I don't want to use a card. I want to get the tickets now with cash. That's why I'm here. You're a bleeding box office! You don't have change?
Would you like us to go get change at the coffee shop?

OMG!!! Breathe in. Breathe out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Way to Go, Big E!

How genius was it for Ehud to publicly congratulate George W. on the "stability" he has brought to the Mid-East in the wake of the Iraq war/ordeal/long-drag-out-fiasco?

Nothing like endearing oneself to the Democrats who now wield power. And nothing to say of the miserable soldiers on the ground in Iraq who want the hell out.

And maybe I missed something in the small print but how does...

- Ahmadinejad's nuclear threat
- daily bombing and anarchy in Iraq
- Extreme poverty, infighting among political factions and routine rocket hits from Gaza
- the summer war in Lebanon

....add up to regional stability?

Silly me. I failed to notice the good will and calm. Group hug.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Extreme Kids

First of all, see my last post? What in the hell was I thinking when I signed up for Japanese? OMG I sat there with my tongue lolling in idiot land as the immersion course immersed right ahead without me. Lord Have Mercy.

On to a different subject. Walking in the park across from our new apartment, Raphael and I happened upon a group of teens practicing skateboard tricks on stone ramps behind the national Opera House.
Rapha motioned for us to sit so we did. We sat there for at least half an hour viewing assorted boys twist, jump, pause mid-air, contort and bank off stone benches. Some wiped out with such force that I groaned audibly, certain an elbow or arm had been broken. No one wore padding or helmets. Apparently uncool.

Rapha grinned. He was in child heaven. I want a skateboard for my birthday. Not a scooter. Don't get me a scooter mom. Get me a skateboard.
Lord it has happened and he's not even five.

When I was "can't see your toes anymore" pregnant with him, I came upon a similar but more intense scenario in a San Francisco park: Boys of all ages amassed for an Extreme Sport biking competition. Kids were literally doing multiple flips and twists in the air on their BMX's. I was terrified and asked a mother in the crowd how she could stomach watching her son compete. She said it wasn't easy.

The San Fran kids had helmets and padding. Would it matter if they wiped out mid-air and landed straight on their heads?

Develop the feminine side, that's what I say. What's wrong with playing quietly with dolls or having tea parties? Hmmm?

My mom's gonna kill me and then get onto the first flight out here. Don't worry ma, Rapha isn't trying on my dresses. Yet. (hee hee)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Domo Arigato

I figured life here in Holy Land Central (HLC) isn't interesting enough. I just finished getting out of boxes after a month's house-search craze and while I run around seeing to official odds and ends in between work assignments I figured: Why not up the ante? After all, if things were slow enough to allow for an indulgent afternoon nap yesterday (shameful) then it's time.

Enter...JAPANESE! Yup, time to learn a new language and not just any language, mind you. If it seems odd to be studying Japanese in these parts, check out this clip from my friend Nominally Challenged's site. Now that'll set your brain a'pondering.

Why Japanese? Friends have asked.

I think it's a good language for the future and business and yes Cantonese may have been a wiser choice but of all the Asian cultures I was exposed to in San Francisco - the city demographic is nearly 50% Asian - Japanese appealed to me most.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Sayonara (what a geek)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Theft in Broad Daylight

Noorster, a hugely talented, clever writer, randomly e-mailed this little quote today and because I'm exhausted and feeling hugely un-original, I am grifting and posting it here as any shameless and lazy thief of my caliber might do:

"A couple of years ago I was sitting in the Kodak Theatre with my acceptance speech in my pocket, waiting to get up and say that I was the first openly gay actor to win an Oscar. Unfortunately, that was the year the blacks won." - Ian McKellen

Note to Ian: The P.C. terminology is African Americans

Note to readers: A few years back when Sir Ian served as Grand Martial of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, he came RIGHT UP to my friend Axel who stood beside me and shook his hand. Axel is gorgeous, by the way. Drop dead gorgeous. I was in awe: "GANDALF WAS MILLIMETERS AWAY! HE TOUCHED YOU!! IT WAS GANDALF, AXEL!!" Axel was like: Yeah. Great. Cool Steph. Chill Out.

Oh well...Tomorrow's the Jerusalem gay rally in lieu of the gay parade. It'll be like a mass gathering in a contained space like those indoor pre-Christmas arts and crafts fairs held at churches. I suspect rally attire will be a tad flashier than what one might encounter at the church sale, however. Bummer the whole thing. But then again, who wants razor blades and human feces thrown at them?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Quote Worthy

(after long sigh)...It's so great to be away from my family!
Columnist and father of five covering the UN Conference on Desertification, The Negev Desert Israel

No, I didn't bring my swimsuit. I'll go into the hotel pool with workout shorts and a tee-shirt. What do I care? I'm from New York
Journalist covering UN Conference on Desertification, the Negev Desert Israel

No, sweetheart. No ice cream today.
But Mom, ice cream is your most favorite thing!
Five year old Raphael attempting to sway

Do you want that with non-fat milk?
You are NEVER allowed to ask a client that question. That's right up there with "are you pregnant?"
Conversation with barrista, Tel Aviv cafe.

The Vast Desert

Sorry for being out-of-pocket. I was off doing what I do for a living which is covering stuff to write about.

This particular "stuff" was a UN Conference on Desertification in Israel's Negev Desert. It was hosted by a leading Israeli research institute responsible for bringing us drip irrigation, desert fish farming, algae cultivation, and cutting edge solar harnessing techniques.

There were loads of experts and scientists from all over the place - Mongolia, Uganda (I guess we're over the whole Entebbe thing, huh?), Mexico, Australia, Khazakistan (sans Sasha Baron Cohen), one Jordanian (his six colleagues were denied Visas) and a leading Palestinian Authority environmentalist who said Israel and Palestinian eco-types have been meeting behind the scenes for ages. The Arab World, regardless of dryland status, went unrepresented. Science and environment don't cancel out politics.

Because the group was pro-earth, nice extras included a moonlit hike through a desert canyon and visits to Nabatean and Byzantine remains to gauge how civilizations in the BCE and first few centuries AD captured and stored water and constructed communities.

Conclusions? I don't know enough to draw any. But the idea of cultivating what's already in place i.e. using desert floor water tables for fish farming or encouraging eco-tourism is good. Conflict is bad (duh). Future wars may be over water, not oil.

Over and out. Enjoy the pickies from the archeological visit.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Straight to the Airport

I did the butt-insky thing at a cafe yesterday. Listened to a conversation at a nearby table and interjected with an "I hope you don't mind but I overheard your conversation and.."

They: a man and woman in their 50's-ish. He: American. She: Israeli. He: Complaining about work and quality ethic in Israel. She: Listening attentively.

My butt-in was to ask how long he has been in Holy Land Central (HLC), how he deals with the frustrations and to share my fresh from the oven refrigerator story.

From upstate New York, he's been here six years. How he deals:

I use the F*ck You method. Say I'm swimming laps at the pool and I collide with another swimmer. Even if they're in the wrong, they'll begin hurling accusations immediately. Always on the offensive. So I've learned that instead of waiting for the assault, I immediately yell: "F*ck You!" at the other person. Back home I'd be booted from the pool or someone would call security or something. Here, it gets a dialogue going.

This guy, incidentally, is a therapist. That's my kind of Jungian theory!

One more share from Mr. F. You:

When asked why he's here, he pointed to his companion. And added:

But if heaven forbid she goes before me, it's straight from the cemetery to the airport.

Nothing like letting it all hang out, eh?

They've invited me 'round for dinner. I'm expecting a lot of laughs.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fridge Tales

Getting out of boxes and acclimating to the new apartment with Raphael is great. We actually had time to kick a soccer ball in the park the other night and this morning I accidentally slept until 8 a.m. ! (Slovenly. I'm slipping)

A share from the depths of moving Hell:

Purchased a fridge and washing machine from a discount warehouse chain store (Machsanei Chashmal for the locals) and upon delivery the two transporters:

1) arrived three hours late without apology - at 10 p.m., I exaggerate not
2) dropped the washing machine while mounting the stairs
3) took my utility room door off the hinges to move washing machine in and neglected to re hinge
4) announced it would cost an extra $40 to fit the fridge through the kitchen entrance - they would have to remove fridge doors

I threw a fit, ranted, raved (as is my style) refusing to pay a surplus charge. I demanded they bring it through for free in lieu of their late arrival. They refused. Their boss threatened to come to my apartment and...(?) I told them to take it all back to the warehouse. They left the washer.

The next day my rant continued over the phone. The company people backed their movers and put the blame on me. "Why didn't you refuse the washer? Why didn't you call and cancel when you saw they were running late?" etc. Typical. Typical. Typical. Offense as a defense.

Of course they would take that attitude. The place has a no refund/no return policy. I'm such a dork for not seeing that teensy weensy clause. Nor did I see the other clause stipulating an add-on fee for removing doors to install over sized items.

I asked them to re-deliver the fridge and leave it in my apartment entrance. A friend would come and help me - no surplus charge.

They delivered, departed and I stood contemplating the fridge. And gained instant wisdom. Using my Phillips I removed a jutting grill and then gingerly wheeled it through the kitchen door without removing doors, unhinging or paying add-no fees. It took two minutes. Bloody liar thieves.

Unbelievable, you say? Typical for what I refer to as the "old school", mobbed up type businesses here that operate as if they're in the shuk. The newer, younger companies - phone and mobile upstarts competing with the old school cobwebs - are diligent and service oriented.

My father asks why I stay. I have asked myself the same during this move and believe you me, when he suggested I move back and leave this hassle it was tempting as hell. In the face of adversity it's always an option.

I guess I stay because of recall. Life is difficult and messy and problematic. But I have recall here. I vividly remember what happens each day because of the vibrancy and hue of the mess. I am alive and living life in a very full way.

Does this mean I need hassle and struggle to feel alive? A question for the couch

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gay Versus Religion

Here in Holy Land Central (HLC), a storm's a' brewin over the impending Gay Pride Parade to be held in Jerusalem November 10.

According to local news reports, ultra religious Jews, Muslims and right wing groups are threatening to sabotage the parade with eggs and razor blades (!) thrown from rooftops and rabbis are calling for a "holy war" (do they mean jihad per chance?) against parade-goers.

The rhetoric increases across the divide each day and police are on high alert for THE BIG DAY. Last year, a few parade celebrants were stabbed when an ultra-orthodox Jew went on a stabbing rampage.

So call me silly but:

- I GET that we're in Holy Land Central and that religious implications up the ante and all. But coming from San Fran I view things in a slightly different light. What exactly should the gay population do? Pretend to be straight and go back into the closet? C'mon. That creates insanity and all sorts of unwanted side effects not to mention twisted and sordid behavior.

- Aren't the religious among us considered "out there" by mainstreamers? Does that mean we should throw razor blades from rooftops at those sporting long beards, side locks, skullcaps and wigs or donning long sleeves and fur-lined hats in 100-degree heat? Call me hippie child but we're all god's kids no matter what gender our partner happens to be. Amen.

- Speaking of the big "G", how god-like is throwing razor blades from rooftops anyhow?

Tolerance is tolerance is tolerance. I'm inclined to mosey on up to J-Town to check it out the day of. Then again, maybe not. Once you've witnessed 6-inch stiletto heels and hair big enough to make John Waters proud, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Dykes on Bikes and the gay fire and police brigades making their way down Market Street on extravagant floats, all else sort of pales.