I arrived in Israel yesterday afternoon around 5:00 p.m. Israel time. One of the things that has always puzzled me about my reaction to flying here is why the amount of time between when I land and the next day always seems absurdly short. I was finally awake enough yesterday to figure it out (after 23 years of flying to and from Israel). Coming from the U.S. east coast to Israel we lose seven hours (because of the difference in time). Yesterday, to my perception, was ridiculously short - only 17 hours long instead of 24. So it wasn't natural suddenly for it to be June 16 instead of June 15. Does that make sense? Well, maybe I'm still not that awake.
A few news items, from the particular to the general:
1) the Jerusalem Pool, an institution in the Emek Refaim neighborhood of Jerusalem (near where I'm staying in Baka), has been threatened with closure by its owners, who want to sell the land to developers who will build a big apartment building plus parking lot in the space. Apparently, however, that plan has been stopped because the owners signed an agreement when they first bought the location that specifies the land can only be used for a pool. The pool was closed over the winter months, requiring regular pool-goers to go to alternate locations, like the Hebrew University pool or the Kibbutz Ramat Rahel pool, both of which are less convenient to people who live in southern Jerusalem. It's open now for swimming, but one can buy only a monthly subscription (instead of the previous yearly ones), and the future of the pool is in doubt.
2) religious news: in the Haredi settlement of Immanuel, parents are fighting an Israeli court ruling that requires the local Bais Yaakov school for girls to admit Ashkenazic and Sephardic students equally. The Israeli Supreme Court ruling came down today that if the parents don't agree to send their daughters to the school, the parents themselves will be sent to jail. For some supportive opinions in the Israeli press, see the translations on False Messiah.
The Israeli high court also decided today to strike down the provision in the state budget that gives income stipends to kollel students (these are married men with children studying in yeshiva), without giving equivalent stipends to students in other educational frameworks, like colleges and universities.
These two court judgments strike at the racism of the Ashkenazic Haredi community and at the support the supposedly secular state gives to the Haredim above all others. The second decision, if it is actually put into practice (and not circumvented by a weak coalition government that needs the Haredi parties to survive) would signal a real revolution in the relationship between the state and the Haredi community, since it would cut off the main support given to men who refuse to work on the pretext that they have to study Torah full time. Instead of taking responsibility for making sure that they can support their families and study Torah, the Haredi community has blackmailed successive Israeli coalition governments into giving these men stipends, at the expense of the secular and religious working public.
3. On the plane here, I read through some articles in the Hebrew Yediot Aharonot about the makeup of the Israeli inquiry commission into the Gaza flotilla fiasco (linked article is from Haaretz - I wasn't able to find the Yediot article). Yediot, which is hardly the most left-wing of Israeli newspapers, wrote scathingly about the three Israelis appointed to the commission, pointing to the age of two of the three (one in his 80s, another in his 90s), and writing about former Supreme Court justice Turkel, aged 75 (who is heading the inquiry panel) that in his court judgments he tended to go very slowly and be deferential to the government.