The time difference between Israel and the East Coast of the United States is seven hours, which means that I woke up yesterday morning to learn that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US forces at some point during the night. This being the age of new media, it’s probably not terribly surprising to anyone that I discovered this bit of news via my Facebook feed (with Lisa Goldman having the dubious distinction of being the bearer of such tidings, since her status update was the first one I read). The news websites confirmed the information that my Facebook friends (and indeed, my Twitter feed as well) were sharing – some rather giddily, and the images I saw on television shortly thereafter showed Americans in front of the White House celebrating and singing.
I didn’t cheer, nor did I jump for joy or break into spontaneous singing of a national anthem. I wasn’t sorry to hear the news, but I also found it distasteful to watch people joyously celebrating someone’s death, and in the same raucous manner that one might celebrate a major sports victory. I can’t share the view of some of my friends who believe his death was wrong, or that he should have been brought to justice instead. I think that sometimes, as disturbing as this type of retribution might be, it may be the most sensible response to a situation whose components defy the most basic elements of logic, reason and humanity that most people hold dear, regardless of nationality, religion or any other circumstances that define who we are as individuals and members of the human race. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
I’ll be the first one to admit that I probably don’t have as much self-confidence as I should, so when I discovered a particular email in my inbox two days ago, the first thing I did (after turning to my husband and telling him in a shaky voice about the email’s contents), I forwarded it to Lisa to ask if it was real.
“Yup, it’s for real,” she said. “Go for it!”
So I did.
For the next week or so, I’ll be filing a series of audio diary entries for a BBC World Service radio show called “The World Today“. I’ve been asked to record two to three-minute entries about life against the backdrop of the situation down south, to talk about what Israelis are thinking and feeling, etc. My first diary entry was broadcast last night/early this morning, and my second one is currently sitting in an inbox in London, waiting to be aired on one of tomorrow’s shows.
BBC World Service has launched a webpage with a number of links to different Israel-Gaza-related stories, and if you scroll down under Wednesday January 7th, you should see my name, with a link to my entry as well as a link to this blog. My entry is followed by a response provided by Gazan business consultant Sami Abdel Shafi, who I hope is managing to keep safe through all of this madness.
I don’t see any place on the World Service webpage (which I imagine will be published everyday) where people can leave comments, so feel free to leave them here (just make sure you understand the rules…) . I’ll post more links as I get them.
Watch this space…
Update: If you leave a comment, please be gentle! This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this before, so I’m not going to sound like a seasoned news reporter.by Liza Rosenberg
I’ve been following the latest brouhaha in the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere with some interest. Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) is sponsoring the upcoming International Jewish Bloggers Convention, due to take place next Wednesday in Jerusalem, and debates are raging about everything from the convention’s target audience to the list of scheduled panelists. Adding fuel to the fire was an article that appeared in the Anglophile section of last Friday’s Haaretz, where the journalist in question seemed more interested in writing a divisive, sensationalist piece that served only to highlight the differences between various local bloggers and create controversy, using predictable quotes and selective background information to reinforce stereotypes.
And he succeeded. The Haaretz article has been used, predictably, as a springboard to attack those bloggers quoted as not being supportive of the conference. Frankly, I have a difficult time understanding what all the hype is about. The NBN agenda is not everyone’s agenda. I may be a Jewish blogger, but only because I’m a blogger who happens to be Jewish. I don’t necessarily blog about Jewish issues, and in the rare instances that I do, it’s most probably because the issue at hand has something to do with Israel. I don’t consider myself to be an aliyah blogger by any stretch of the imagination, and don’t feel anything more than a nominal connection to the realm of the blogosphere known as the Jblogosphere. I’m not interested in the Jewish blogosphere, and while I’m sure I have Jewish readers out there, I don’t consider the Jblogosphere to be my target audience. I never have. When I blog about Israel, it’s to present some aspect of Israeli life to those who don’t know about Israel, not to those who do.
From everything I’ve been reading on the local blogs though, there are definitely people who have a problem with that. At least one blogger has expressed disappointment over Lisa Goldman‘s stance on the conference, based on her quotes in the Haaretz article. Aside from the fact that the journalist obviously selected quotes designed to garner attention (and let’s face it – everyone knows that this is what journalists do), I fail to see the problem of Lisa not being interested in a conference that’s specifically geared towards Jewish blogging. Not everyone who moves here chooses to focus on the aliyah experience. I’ve been here for 17 years and came on my own. Aliyah issues aren’t on my radar, unless they involve my friends, and even then, they’re just someone else’s (often amusing) stories. Like Lisa, I’m far more interested in issues that all Israelis are facing than the issues faced by new immigrants. And also like Lisa, I would much prefer a convention for Israeli bloggers (I can think of at least three blogs written in English by non-Jewish Israelis) than a convention that’s strictly for Jewish bloggers. I’m just not interested.
As bloggers, we all have our own opinions and agendas. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have begun to blog in the first place. My agenda is me – my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences – I don’t think that’s too unreasonable. NBN also has its own agenda, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. What is wrong is when people are bashed for their agendas, or more accurately, for having agendas that don’t mesh with the party line. One commenter (who seems to be connected with the convention’s organization) on the aforementioned blog stated “as to ONE of the agendas of this convention… this convention is hosted by NBN, and what of? They have an agenda, just like most bloggers have. If you don’t like it, then don’t make Aliyah.” So, if I don’t agree with NBN’s agenda, I shouldn’t be in Israel? Rather harsh, no? If this comment is representative of the convention agenda, it looks like I’m better off not attending. Somehow, I don’t think I’d be very welcome.by Liza Rosenberg
After years of whining about debating whether to take the plunge into writing, an opportunity has presented itself, an opportunity that will allow me to test the waters in a relatively safe manner, guaranteeing a relatively steady income , while at the same time leaving me with enough hours on the side to take on other projects and try to sell stories. For the time being, I’m not giving up the day job, as they’ve agreed to my request to switch from full-time hours to part-time hours – a move that makes sense for both sides, given the dearth of work I’ve had lately.
I’m very excited! And slightly nauseous. This has been a huge, scary decision for me, and I’m taking it very seriously. I’ve started a database for story ideas, signed up for various online groups and mailing lists, and queried my writer friends (especially Beth, Lisa and Stephanie) whenever I’ve had questions and concerns about freelancing (I owe you guys so much!). I’ve read through my very own copy of 2008 Writer’s Market, and my first issue of The Writer (recommended by Beth) should reach my mailbox sometime in the next three to four weeks. And again, at Beth’s suggestion (that woman is a treasure trove of information – if you’re a writer, be sure to check out her writing blog, Hell or High Water. It’s totally fabulous!), I got myself a copy of The Renegade Writer, as well as the follow-up book, Query Letters that Rock, both written by Diana Burrell and Linda Formichelli.
Wow! These books (and the women who wrote them) are amazing! I know I can write (what with various friends taking turns at beating it into my head over the years and all), and I made the decision to jump into freelancing before reading these books, but as I wrote in my last post, I feel like I’m lacking with regard to the technical aspects of this profession. These two books cover all the issues that kept me awake at night (at least with regard to writing; they didn’t do much for my concerns about the Little One starting at a new pre-school in the fall, or the fact that I just can’t seem to stay away from Oreo cookies lately…), not to mention many that I hadn’t yet thought of. I finished the first book, and I’m about halfway through the second, and the informative, entertaining tone makes me want to drop everything else and just write. I love their hip (yes, I’m still using that word – sue me!), humorous style, and their tips and hints for getting ahead in the world of freelancing by using and bending the rules has me chomping at the bit to forge ahead, to finally make a serious attempt to work doing something I love.
I want to be a renegade writer.by Liza Rosenberg
I’ve fallen into freelance writing in much the same way that I fell into technical writing. While the writing itself comes easily, I sometimes rely on my more experienced writer friends for information about various technical aspects of freelancing, especially the all-important query/pitch. Today’s question was addressed to Lisa, who gets an A+ for creativity, if not clarity. I have to be honest – I’m still not sure I know what her answer is…
Liza: Do you remember that story about my friend’s sister? My friend asked if I could write up a piece in English about her sister’s case and related issues. I contacted another friend who works for a certain publication, and she said I’d have to pitch it to the editor. Any tips or suggestions that you can offer would definitely be appreciated.
Lisa: Keep the pitch short and pithy. Three paragraphs, with three lines each, should do it:
First para – outline the story. Example: On June 2, 1984, the naked body of a well-known socialite was found in Central Park, just 3 minutes’ walk from her Fifth Avenue residence. Twenty-four years later, a man whose DNA matches that of blood found at the crime scene was discovered in Boston, Massachusetts. It soon emerged that he was a popular professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and that his blood sample accidentally turned up in a crime lab after he allowed one of his students to practice drawing blood by using his arm.
Second para – sketch background. Yasmine Levy, a half-Chinese, half-Jewish teenager whose father made his money with a chain of Glatt Kosher Szechuan Chinese restaurants, was a model student who had recently been accepted to Juilliard. She was her parents’ only child. Her violent death shocked Manhattan, but despite massive publicity no-one was ever arrested for her murder.
Third – closing platitudes: number of words you’d like to write, when you’d like to submit it, looking forward to her response, etc.
Liza: You’ve got quite an imagination…
I think the professor was actually the socialite, and she faked her own death because she knew that her family would never accept the fact that she’d always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body or the fact she wanted to help people in a meaningful way by teaching medicine (following a stint at a desolate medical clinic in Southeast Africa), and would therefore never be able to lead the life that she truly wanted to live.
As for Yasmine, she was murdered by a hitman, after a contract was taken out on her life by her father’s biggest rival, half-Jewish, half-Chinese businessman Shao Ling Goldfarb, because he believed that Yasmine’s father had stolen his secret recipe for shmaltz fried rice…
Lisa: I think we should write this email exchange as a blog post.by Liza Rosenberg