The Big Felafel


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the The fights category.

Defend Yourself.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

me in motion. that cinder block never had a chance.

As a kid who grew up in Los Angeles, I learned at a young age that anyone on the street could rob you. I lived in Hollywood, and unlike what most foreigners think, in the 90’s it wasn’t about the stars, but more about homeless people and prostitutes. By the age of seven I knew how to hold my purse over my shoulder (why did I even have a purse?), look out for weirdoes, and never talk to strangers. As you can guess my childhood was anything but normal.

When I moved to Israel, I became more worried about terrorism and less about criminal activities. I started checking buses like I was a Mossad agent, even though I had no idea what I was actually looking for. Jerusalem, despite what you see in the news, gave me a sense of security, unlike that of LA. I forgot about my purse–shoulder attire, realized that all the weirdoes had Messiah syndrome or were loud Americans on the bus, and strangers were Israelis that just wanted to know how much you make.

I let my guard down.

And I was robbed and attacked.

It happened this past March when I was walking home with my son. I saw the guy, and even though my intuition kicked in, I ignored it. He seemed young, wasn’t looking in my direction and kept to himself. He came at me from behind and covered my mouth. My instincts kicked in. My fear kicked in. My mommy powers kicked in. Oh, and did I mention I was seven months pregnant at the time? For some reason I tried to fight him, seeing that he wasn’t pulling out a weapon. My son grabbed at my legs, as the attacked grabbed at my jacket. He eventually got my cell phone (good bye smartphone….24 payments, and I had just paid the last one), and threw us both down the stairs as he ran off. I had screamed for help the whole time, but no one was around, even though it was 4:30pm in the afternoon. I had looked him in the eyes, trying to remember his face. But it took the police a week for the sketch artist to meet with me, so it didn’t do much good.

I still walk around trying to find him. Who cares about the phone—I want him off the streets.

That day my son and I took our first ambulance ride. I thought my water broke in the fight and the fall, but it turns out I just peed myself. It was a hot day and I had a smoothie, and pregnant women aren’t good with bladders anyway. Thanks to Israeli bureaucracy, I am still fighting the ambulance bill, which claims I called them—of course that’s ridiculous since I didn’t have a phone.

Once at the hospital, in the trauma unit, I decided I would never end up there again. I decided I needed to learn how to properly defend myself. I hadn’t listen to my instincts, and I fought like a little girl, lots of bitch-slapping to the face, but no real harm. I knew I would have to wait until after I gave birth, and so I began counting down the days until I could sign up for a class. I also walked around with pepper spray, which helped, but made me feel like I would spray myself.

Finally the day arrived. We organized a self-defense class through El Halev, to be held in our neighborhood, in order to encourage other women to take the course. The class taught me how to listen to my surroundings, and to my intuitions. It gave me the basic tools to fight off an attacker if I need to. We all had the opportunity to hear and bond with each other over similar fears for safety and know we are not alone. We learned that we are strong and we have the power to defend ourselves.

Every woman should take a self-defense course. What happened to me could of course happen to anyone else. I say this from a place of strength and not fear.

Think of self-defense like a supportive bra. Eventually every woman needs it.

In the final class, each one of us had the opportunity to break a cinder block with our bare hands. The first time round it took me three tries to break that bugger in half, but I did. The feeling of strength was so powerful, I begged to break the block again. This time before I broke it, the instructor told me “this one is for the attacker, go get him.” As we were taught in the class, I belted out a loud, “NO!,” and slammed down hard on that block, cutting right through it. Right to my core.

On to Krav Maga…who’s with me?

 

 

 

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Israel and the US: Fake Friends…Dude Accept it!

 Why is the US making such a big deal out of last week’s declaration to build more homes in Jerusalem? Is it because it embarrassed Vice President Biden during his trip in Israel? I mean dude get over it. No, what I believe we have here is more likely a case of Fake Friends. 

Here’s all I’m saying: I have friends that I really like and friends that are in my circle but I’m not so close to. If my ‘fake friend’ in the circle does something that annoys me then it drives me crazy. I can’t stop thinking about it, it changes the whole way I look at the person and makes me want to push them further out of my circle. But if a good friend did the same thing that annoyed me, I really wouldn’t care or make a big deal out of it. They are a good friend and I know them so it really doesn’t affect me and we move on. 

Let’s cut the crap and call Israel and the US what they really are: Fake Friends. The US is always bashing Israel for making minor mistakes and even when we admit to the mistake, try to fix the mistake and move on there seems to be an endless amount of repercussions even leading to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren stating that our relations are the worst in 35 years. This sounds like a case of fake friends and not just bad relations. 

Case in point: Hey didn’t the Palestinians just fire kassam rockets into Israel this past week? Why yes they did. And where was the US- were they condemning their actions and telling them how this destroys any chance for peace and the process? Well I certainly didn’t read about it in the news and it hasn’t been coming out of Hilary Clinton’s mouth or Obama’s so I’m guessing they’re ok with it. 

And that is because the US is playing favorites in their friend circle. I get it and it’s clear, Israel is a fake friend. You don’t want us to prosper, you don’t want us to build homes and you get us in trouble for doing the most minor of mistakes while the other side has blatantly begun violent attacks from kassam rockets to rioting in the Old City, a classic beginning-of-the-Intifada move. 

I think good relations or bad relations, what does it really matter? As a fake friend you will always remain inside the circle and when you are needed then you edge closer to the juicy middle where you are appreciated but just know you will always do something to piss off your fake friend and end up on the outskirts again. That’s not diplomacy it’s just obvious. 

If Israel and the US were Facebook friends, then we would need to create a status called fake friends (to tell you the truth this should already be an option since I clearly have ‘friends’ that I never talk to, like ever). 

Israel needs to accept this status and go with it. Let’s focus on our better friends, the ones that like us, even if they are few and far a part (and I can’t think of any right now). Let’s hang out with them, have slumber parties, girl talk, bake and roast marshmallows. And as for the US let’s keep our distance, and continue to build homes for our people, protect our children and enjoy the fruits of our country’s success. Cause if we don’t, no one will.


A Post to Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat: Did Your Landlord Raise the Rent Too?

apartment-drawingThis is an open letter to Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat, the city council and young frustrated Jerusalem citizens who have waited for change long enough.

Dear Mayor Barkat,
What’s up? I’m sure you’re busy, but this is an urgent matter which affects the young population of Jerusalem. Six months ago you were elected into office promising great change for the city. But when it comes to your commitment to the young people of Jerusalem and the disastrous housing problem, you have yet to make a dent, submit a proposal or take action on the matter.

Once again, I know you are the mayor and dealing with a full plate, but I can’t help but feel neglected. And I am not alone. I also point my neglected finger at the party Hitorerut-Yerushalmim (Wake up-Jerusalem) that also made unfulfilled promises to young voters.

Although the economic situation is running on an empty tank of gas, landlords across Jerusalem continue to raise the price of rent. Almost every person I know has been informed by their landlord that their rent will be going up at least 10%. So, while your apartment ages and becomes more rundown you find yourself paying more to live there. Fair? No. Is our city council and mayor aware of the situation? Yes.

Mayor Barkat today is the day to make change. Why are there no proper consumer rights organizations to protect you from corrupt landlords? Why is their no proposition making its way to the Knesset floor demanding rent control? The stories I have heard from rent raising to threats of being kicked out, are endless yet there seems to be no beginning to your fight against this fraud.

There was so much talk about affordable housing before election day but come the day after and the day after that, I have yet to hear another word about it. While Israel and the international community debate about construction in settlements and outposts, no judgment is made on the housing catastrophe in the country’s capital.

Is asking for rent control such a far fetched concept? Isn’t it you who wants and needs people to stay put in your city? Students and young families belong in the heart of the country and are the key to the revitalization of this city, but you have yet to try to open the locked — bolted — doors. Soon the only doors left will be those of vacant apartments where the rent became more than a couple could budget, or a landlord that yelled at his tenants too many times or simply homes that are unsuitable to live in — leaving the young to move out of the city and out of their dreams.

Do not become like all the other politicians, representing their interests before concerning themselves with their citizens’ fears. Give the next generation what they rightly deserve, a home for the future at a reasonable price.

Yours truly,
Molly, a concerned young citizen of Jerusalem


Yom Hazikaron: Remember those that have fallen and those that lift us up

Israelis mark Holocaust Memorial Day in JerusalemAs we celebrate our fallen soldiers throughout the many wars and plights for the state of Israel, it’s important to remember, on this day of remembrance, not only our fallen soldiers but our everyday heroes as well.

As a new immigrant, the move to Israel is more turbulent than just the plane ride. In fact, that may be the easiest part. It’s like you are suddenly playing the board game of life, but you keep landing on the squares that screw you. You jump from bureaucratic offices stumbling through conversations in Hebrew and not understanding a word, to trying to open a bank account, contract a cell phone and maybe even get internet. All the while you are crying, pulling out your hair and wondering what the hell you are doing here.

So maybe you didn’t cry as much as me (my tears could fix the water drought!). And maybe you didn’t pull out as much hair (with the right tools I could create my very own shaitel – wig). And just maybe you are more of a Zionist than me, so you didn’t want to pack your bags and take the next plane back. But I know you have fought many a battle with one of the above mentioned. I know you have had small victories and bigger defeats. I know the man has gotten you down.

But do not give up. Do not lose faith. And do not move back. We are here to make a difference. Each one of us will find his or her calling. I now know mine is to fight for consumer rights in Israel. My battle with Pelefone is over and I am the victor. Me! Me! Me!

pelephoneIn a previous post I wrote two months ago I told you about my ensuing battle with Pelephone. My complaints seemed simple enough: stop charging me for internet since I don’t use it or want it. And where is my contract because I never agreed to pay NIS 50 for this phone! My complaints were met with yelling matches between the customer service agents who do not believe the customer is right and managers who would rather belittle you then admit their faults. I was angry and deflated like a shriveled balloon. But somehow rather than exploding I came to my senses and decided to fight for my rights

I searched the web for consumer rights organizations and filed complaints. I demanded Pelefone for my contract and told them I would sue if I was not heard. I wrote my post and through the gift of social media, found support and help from strangers that have also struggled like me. And finally I found my Israel Israeli that could give me the confidence and will to fight until the end.

Everyone needs an Israel Israeli on their side. Israel Israeli is the person that comes into your life just when you are about to throw in the towel. He or she will not only encourage you to fight, but to fight hard. And they will even get on the phone and speak on your behalf, write letters and give you a high five for the small triumphs along the way. They will be there for you and never ask for more than a thank you for their efforts on your behalf. They will never give up. They will restore your faith. And you will not want to move back.

My fight with Pelefone is a not just a victory for me but a victory for all new immigrants who don’t believe the system works. Ok, so most of the time it doesn’t, but if you just commit to the fight and hold on to your Israel Israeli then you have a chance.

At the beginning of my battle with Pelefone, the manager told me I would never be able to cancel my internet charges. Not only have I successfully cancelled them, but Pelefone is refunding the last several months of charges. Also, my fight against paying NIS 50 a month for a phone that I remembered the customer service agent telling me would cost NIS 15—which at the time was a big deal for me since I was paying NIS 5 a month before that—was an accomplishment. Since Pelefone does not keep contracts (a standard practice for all cell phone companies) they had no proof of the original agreement. They told me they had given me a copy, which they did not, and said it was my responsibility to keep it safe. And what about them? Why didn’t they properly file a hard copy of the agreement? Well, after several letters, emails and phone calls (all with the help of my Israel Israeli) I stand before you today the proud owner of a phone that I now pay NIS 15 for!

Get empowered! Get help! And get an Israel Israeli! If you have issues, write them here and you will find that others will come to your aid. And since I believe this is my calling, I too will help you (and hopefully my Israel Israeli will be by my side).

Just like the heroes on the battlefield, there are also our everyday heroes that make a difference when it comes to the field of life. I thank my Israel Israeli for giving me the strength and knowledge to fight and win my rights as a consumer. I thank all those that have let me cut in line at the supermarket, slowed down their car to let me cross the street, gave me directions when I was lost, or just smiled when there was no reason to even make eye contact. Our country has survived because of the fallen soldiers that died for our right to live and because of our everyday heroes that give us the strength to battle on.


Don’t Get Angry – Get Empowered about Consumer Rights in Israel!

As new immigrants, part of our induction into Israeli society is new rights, discounts, a bit of money and lots of customer service fights – whether it be at the bank, over the phone or just waiting in line. Most of us know about the money and rights part, but the fighting for basic consumer rights is something that even after you do it, even after several times of doing it, even after learning your lesson and never doing it again- you still feel surprised, annoyed and stressed out from each experience.

Most immigrants will tell you that after a while you just get used to the new way of customer service and accept it. You try not to let things get under your skin because you’ll go nuts. And besides, the bureaucratic system is the way it is and no one is going to change that.

Friends and fellow immigrants, change is not only for Obama, the time for consumer rights to exist in Israel has come. Or at least for me it has, and I’m on your team, so whether you like it or not, we are about to fight the battle of consumer rights culture in Israel.

Two weeks ago, I went to Pelephone headquarters in Jerusalem to fight a NIS 17 monthly internet charge that they added to my phone bill. After waiting almost a half hour for a customer service representative, I was told that I had to pay the fee according to their new rule which they state is: Any phone that can access internet will pay an access charge for internet. So what does this mean? Well, even though I feel that having internet at work and at home is enough for me and I would rather spend the NIS 17 a month on chocolate bars, that’s just too bad because I am forced to pay the fee.

This ridiculous charge is added on to another outrageous charge that I only found out about while fighting the internet issue; which is, that I am still paying for a phone that broke months ago. Yes, it turns out that if your phone breaks and you get a new phone, you still have to pay for the old, broken phone as well as your new phone. And, even if I went to another cell phone company, since clearly I hate Pelefone at this point, it wouldn’t matter because I would have to continue to pay for the two phones, so they still get my money.

After arguing and even using tears as a weapon (didn’t work), I left angrier then I have ever been, and that is hard to do. I wanted to leave Israel and never come back. Yes, I am used to fighting with customer service. And yes, I am aware that there is no customer service in Israel. But that does not explain or justify charges for a product I don’t want.

Once the anger subsided and I thought about the situation it occurred to me that this was actually happening for a great reason. I am not going to get pooped on any longer. I am going to fight for consumer rights because they can and do exist…somewhere. If I allow the internet fee to continue today, then tomorrow it’s a TV fee on my phone for NIS 100 (and that obviously includes the TV tax, another point of anger). And that trend does exist, how else could you explain the internet tax in the first place?

I have already informed Pelephone that I plan to sue them or start a class action suit. While they believe that I am angry, I’m not sure how much they believe in my fight. I am writing this post to ensure that I plan to fight this until the end. And I don’t know exactly what the end is. It could be reversing the forced internet fee for all Pelephone customers or all cell phone holders in general (since this fee exists with several companies). The end may be a fight for consumer rights against big companies, monopolies and the general bureaucratic system. But no matter what I am fighting it.

And I already have support. Through my research, Janglo posts and joining consumer rights groups that I never knew existed; I have found helpful people that unfortunately have also gone through this awful process. They have given me their contact info and advice and for that I thank them.

I have created a list below (please feel free to add), of ways to fight your own battles. And keep in mind, don’t get angry, get empowered. We can only create change if we believe change will come.

Consumer Rights Organizations, Councils, Groups and more:

The Israel Consumer Council:76 Mzah St., Tel Aviv 65789; Tel: 03-560-4671/72

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor – Department of Consumer Affairs: Yitzchak Kimchi, Esq. is in charge. His number is: 02- 6662590 His assistant: 02- 6662593 and 02-6662596

The Israeli Council for Consumerism: Fax number: 03- 6241035

Jerusalem Consumers Rights:  02-666-2034

Websites and online resources:

Groups:


Is Fighting Worth the Peace?

So this isn’t my usual post, but it isn’t the usual story here in Israel. I wrote this to shed light on the fighting tactics in Hebron, rather than discuss the obvious reasons of the fight…

Israeli Police Evacuate Settlers From Disputed Hebron HouseStone throwing. Civilian rebellions. Riots. This is the Hebron the world has come to know in the past weeks. However, my words come from a source about the first Intifada, the Palestinian uprising that took place over 20 years ago. Forget why each group is fighting and instead focus on the methods they use. The method of violence. And the method works.

On March 19, 2007, according to the Hebron website, Beit HaShalom (The House of Peace) was purchased by the Jewish community to house hundreds of Hebron and Kiryat Arba residents, yeshiva students, youth and adults. The house was purchased from its previous Arab owner through a Jordanian office. And they have the legal documents to prove it. Continue reading this entry »


Another Lesson Learned: Just be a Crybaby

When you are an American attempting to live in Israel life can feel like a smashed banana. It is a feeling of knowing that something beautifully bright and ripe can turn into a mushy dark shriveled mess. And that is exactly how I feel when I lose a battle in Israel.These battles that new immigrants are sometimes forced to learn become vital lessons for survival in Israel. I would like to share my lesson with you in hopes that you can gain something from my horrible experience, without having to actually experience it.

Lesson 239: Don’t be a Tough Guy…Just be a Cry Baby

My parents taught me to always stand up for myself. However, it is difficult to keep that goal in Israel. Whether it is at the municipality, tax authority, social services or at the bank, it seems like everyone is out to screw me.

Case in point is my most recent battle with Bank Leumi. In November my improv group performed for a Jewish Agency Internship group. We were told we would be paid as long as we provided an invoice to the sponsor of the night’s event, Bank Leumi. We gave the invoice to the Jewish Agency before the show and they informed us it would be passed along to Bank Leumi and we should be paid two weeks after the show.

Of course you and I both know that two weeks came and went and we were not paid. After another two weeks I was in contact with the Jewish Agency to check up on our payment. And that is when I went from ripe banana to black mush. I was bounced back and forth between the Jewish Agency, Bank Leumi and our bank, Discount, for the next two months. First the Jewish Agency said we still needed an accountant number and then Bank Leumi told us that we needed another document. When we would go to Bank Discount they insisted we had already given the proper information and it was ridiculous for Bank Leumi (or any client) to insist for more info in order to pay us. Continue reading this entry »


Is the cost of living in Israel going up?

SuperSol Deal

Every time I go to the supermarket (usually Super Sol Deal) and nervously approach the soymilk, unsure of how much it will cost, it turns out that sure enough the price is higher than the previous week. Same with cheese, charif, teas, wine, and I’m sure plenty of other stuff. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can even spot a higher sticker price slapped on over the previous one, the cheaper one sticking out just enough to taunt you and say haha. My salary isn’t tied to the escalating price of soy milk and tea and I have a feeling that other people’s aren’t either- so how do people afford to feed their families?

dollar exchange rate

I really don’t know much about how the economy works, but my own logic would say that since the dollar is so low (~3.7) , prices would stay the same since people are getting less for their dollar and our economy is pretty strong. Recently however, I heard it explained so eloquently, “In Israel, the prices go up in a good economy and the prices go up in a bad economy. ” So true.

Let’s go back to discussing Super Sol or shall I say ShuferSal, which is how it’s spelled on their website and sounds quite ridiculous. It turns out that SuperSol Deal has been fined for ‘price gouging’ or manipulating and cheating their customers. Continue reading this entry »


Did anybody else notice this wacky bus story?

Although I don’t usually focus on news stories, this one particularly caught my eye. (See full article below or at Jpost)

It appears that a man was neglected by Egged at a Kiryat Ye’arim station. Awww… Next thing you know, that guy is getting 18,000 shekels from Egged! Still feel sorry for him?

Is Israel turning into America? Will people be suing Cafe Hillel over too-hot coffee that accidentally spilled in their lap? I find this story unbelievable for so many reasons. Let’s try to break down why. Continue reading this entry »


You don’t make friends with salad

I am the kinda person who likes to eat a good Shabbat meal. You’re probably like that too. I really enjoy when the challah is warm off the hot plate and table is filled with lots of different salatim, inviting you in for the warm feast that will stretch your stomach to new limits.One of my favorite parts of Israel is the food and more specifically the salatim- matbuha (the red stuff that looks like salsa), eggplant made in every color and flavor, hummus, techina, hilbe (Yemenite) and whatever else you got. Continue reading this entry »