Both contributors to this web log passed away in June 2011.
Below is the eulogy we wrote back then.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Both contributors to this web log passed away in June 2011.
We mourn the passing of Joe Hochstein, who died this June 26, and of Ami Isseroff, who died only a few days later, on June 29.
Joe and Ami at Ami's place in 2009
Ami was the guy who set up MidEast Web in 2000 and Zionism and Israel Information Center in 2005, and their associated Yahoo news and discussion groups, and Joe has been a co-moderator for most of this time. The goal of MidEast Web was to bring Jews and Arabs together and to work on mutual understanding; the goal of Zionism and Israel Info Center was to defend the legitimacy of Israel and Zionism.
Both men were born in the United States and made aliyah, Ami in the 1960s and Joe in the 1980s. Both were firm believers in Israel and in the quest for peace in the Middle East, and came to pursue their dreams and to help make the country a better place.
Ami started out working on a kibbutz in the late 1960s to bring his socialist ideas into practice, but after a while became frustrated with the lack of intellectual challenge; after a day's hard work in the fields, his fellow kibbutzniks were not inclined to engage in discussions on socialist and Zionist ideals and the state of the world. So Ami went on to study psychology and achieved a doctorate, met his wife and started a family. He eventually got a job at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot as a very skilled computer programmer, and a nighttime career as an internet activist and a very illuminating thinker and productive writer on the web, inspiring many with his views on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Joe already had a career behind him as an established journalist and publisher of the award-winning Washington-based newspaper The Jewish Week, when, as a widower with three children, he came to Israel in 1983, realizing a long-held dream. Then Joe's son Marcus, who had made aliyah before him, was killed in an ambush by Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1985. Despite this, in a memorial ceremony in 1986 Joe expressed his and others' commitment to Israel: "Jewish history is being made today, here in Israel. Our loved ones played their role in it; we can give it further meaning."
Joe himself survived an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 1996.
In the 1990s, during the Oslo peace process, Ami became involved in Jewish-Arab dialog and peace activities. In 1998 he started the PEACE group together with Jordanian Ameen Hannoun, and soon they recruited dozens of participants.
Next to dialogue meetings, they started several projects on the rapidly expanding worldwide web, like the Peace Dialogue site and the PeaceWatch column; the latter was hosted on fellow peace activist Robert Rosenberg's Ariga website and was maintained by Ami until 2007.
In August 2000, initiator Yehoshua Zamir, Hope Flowers school founder Hussein Issa, Ami and many others launched MidEast Web for Coexistence, "an NGO for advancing education for coexistence and dialogue in the Middle East". Ami as webmaster filled the website almost singlehandedly with an impressive number of background articles, documents and insightful analyses about the Israeli-Arab conflict. His remarkable intellect, productivity and passion are evident throughout these pages.
In December 2000 they started the MEW Dialog Yahoo group, followed in January 2001 by the MEW News group and in October 2002 by the MEW Background group. In December 2002 they added the Middle East Web Log on MidEast Web. By then, Joseph Hochstein had joined the website and e-mail groups, bringing his knowledge, thoughtfulness and many years of experience as a publisher and editor to MidEast Web, mostly providing quiet advice in the background, pointing out important facts and viewpoints and setting straight historical errors.
Joseph Hochstein in 2008
When the hope for a solution to the conflict dwindled during the second intifada, many lost their faith in the MidEast Web project and drifted away. Ami, Joe and a handful of others remained active, but Ami recognized the dangers of the increasing international campaigns to delegitimize Israel and Zionism. In 2005, after helping to set up Zionism on the Web, he started another major website, Zionism and Israel Information Center, and new affiliated Yahoo groups to defend Zionism and Israel against these vicious attacks. He recruited us and later Joe Hochstein to aid in this effort.
On "ZIIC" Ami repeated his amazing MidEast Web work and wrote article after article about all aspects of Zionism and its history and meaning, making it one of the best and comprehensive websites on the subject. He started the ZioNation blog to provide his comments and invited others to join, and offered Ratna a separate blog in Dutch.
Although their characters were quite different, Joe and Ami highly respected each other's work and benefited from each other's knowledge and insights. They co-authored the blog Israel Like This As If for some years, where especially Joe placed stories about his everyday experiences living in Tel Aviv.
What was very special about both Ami and Joe is that they combined their Zionism and love for Israel with a progressive viewpoint and the quest for peace and understanding of the other side. Unlike many peace activists they, especially Ami, were staunch defenders of Israel and its right to exist and defend itself, but unlike many pro-Israel activists they never lost the will and hope to reach peace with the Palestinians and Arabs. Both men came from the political left and remained faithful to these basic views, Joe also being active for the Tel Aviv chapter of Meretz.
They also shared an eagerness to unravel the facts behind media reports and claims from both sides in the conflict. The truth was the basis for all positions, even if inconvenient for Israel, like what happened in Deir Yassin, which got Ami a lot of angry responses from other Zionists. They were not blind to Israel's own faults, but neither to the many faults of the Palestinian leadership, which was ultimately unwilling to really compromise for peace.
As for us personally, Joe and Ami were our first friends in Israel, and we visited them every time we were there in the last six years. MidEast Web, Zionism Israel Info Center and their news and discussion groups were what got us involved with the country and the conflict. They taught us much of what we know about Israel and the conflict.
As educated men they were interested in and well informed of a wide variety of subjects, from history to culture, from philosophy to nature. There was always plenty to talk about and to learn from them, and to enjoy. We remember Ami also for his humor, his and his wife Ruth's hospitality, and Joe for the dinners at his place or sharing a good falafel in the streets of Tel Aviv.
We will sorely miss them both, personally and as political allies and guides. Israel won't be the same without these friends.
Ami Isseroff in 2007
We express our sympathy with the families of both Joe and Ami for their very great loss. Ami reached the age of 65, and leaves behind a wife and three children. Joe reached the age of 77, and leaves behind two children and eight grandchildren.
Ratna & Wouter, the Netherlands
Ami's family has indicated that donations to commemorate Ami are welcome to any hospital in Israel. Rehovot's Kaplan Medical Center has an American Friends group and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, July 22, 2010
It's time to take my leave from this blog. You could say that it's long past time, since I have been inactive here for more than two years.
My last post here was a comparison of New York with Israel, dated June 11, 2008. I am responsible for posts signed with my name through that date. Posts that appeared at this blog between then and this note of farewell should not be charged to my account.
Read more »
Friday, June 26, 2009
In a blogicle called "Not realizing which team he is on," Treppenwitz explains that he censored his five year old son's "inappropriate" TV watching activities, and his son did not understand that he is on the opposite "team" and was supposed to object. Cops and robbers.
As Halfowitz, I have a different point of view. In the first place, I don't see quite how to apply this idea to rasing kids in Israel. Let's say you're an Israeli kid. So one minute you are watching a parentally approved non-violent 100% kosher TV program and the announcer comes on and says "This is an emergency. Israel is undergoing a missile attack. Please stay calm and enter your sealed rooms." Another time, the broadcast is interrupted to announce that Yigal Amir murdered the Prime Minister. Another time, you turn on the TV and Zaka people are busy collecting body parts after a suicide attack, or you learn that the President is accused of being a rapist. So what are you going to think if Mommy and Daddy tell you not to watch "The Shield" because it has explicit sex and violence? "Like, where are they living?"
Ultraorthodox Jews created a kosher search engine to keep the world out of the Internet. It's called Koogle. From what I can see, it works fine. Any English language search term I entered returned "Page not found." World guaranteed to be shut out, totally.
Does reality have an effect? Is it harmful to your mental health? Is TV the same as reality? Can we shut out the world and is it worth it? I am not too sure that watching explicit TV programing in childhood is the explanation for the existence of ultra orthodox pedophiles for example. I don't have scientific data to support my ideas, admittedly, just my own experiences.
Our kids always watched whatever they liked. The oldest son watched Oedipus Rex at age three on the public broadcasting channel when we were in US. He explained to Ruth what it was about pretty well, and added that it was not nice at all. I think it was the only channel we got at the time. All three kids watched lots of "good stuff" of all kinds including people "doing it," people killing each other in very creative ways, and everything from nonsense and kiddie shows to an explicit homosexual series that was too much for me. They watched, at different periods and in the same periods, the Smurfs, the Muppets, Michal Yannai's kiddie show, Incredible Hulk, action flicks and series, Stephen Segal, Mel Gibson, Texas Ranger, Pamela Anderson, lots of cleavage stuff and people getting blown to bits. Generally they were only interested in junk suitable to they own age, with aberrant tendencies to watch works of art. They endlessly played Dungeons and Dragons too. which is supposed to be a good stimulant to evil behavior. .
I would like to report that our offspring are all homicidal, thieving, devil worshiping, drug addicted sex maniacs locked away in Ma'asiyahu prison with former Treasury Minister Hirschson and MK Benizri and President Katsav and others like them, just to prove the theories of the censorship advocates. Unfortunately, the three evil malefactors are not in jail yet I think, and our kids didn't turn out that way. The "boys" are grad students in chemistry and engineering and the "girl" is finishing the army. Maybe their futures in politics are ruined. Maybe Katsav and Benizri didn't get to watch enough junk on TV when they were kids. That is what comes of a deprived childhood.
As for me, when I was a kid in U.S.A. they didn't have "inappropriate" shows on TV or if they did, I was too dumb to know about it or to understand what was going on. If I wanted sexually explicit content and senseless violence I had to read the Bible I guess. The closest we could get on TV was Sheena Queen of the Jungle. I remember reading with shock that some group labeled the content as "inappropriate." After that, I made a point of watching it..Mostly, we watched cartoons, "Father Knows Best" and "The Nelsons" which were probably a lot worse for developing psyches than Oedipus Rex.
One type of program I always watched together with my kids when they were kids, were series about crooked cops. In those shows there are two teams, but you can never quite figure out which is the good team. That type of show is really dangerous I guess, because it introduces MORAL RELATIVISM. Still, naybe it is better if in families, everyone tries to stay on the same team, rather than playing cops vs junkies and murderers. Maybe people who play those games with their parents as cops, get to identify with the team of the bad guys.
If there is less sin defined, perhaps there is less sinning. With fewer rules but important ones, it is easier to keep kids, ultraorthodox teachers and politicians from doing the things that are really harmful and wrong. If no fruit are forbidden except those that are physically harmful, perhaps we eat the ones that taste best and we develop a taste for what is right.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Henglish is the language you get when you directly translate Hebrew into English. For example, the title of this Web log "Like this, As If" is translated from the Hebrew "Kazeh, Ke'ilu." That in turn is translated from the English slang, "so, like" as in "Jill Hennessy is so, like, foxy." (Well she is, isn't she?) So Kazeh Ke'ilu is Engbrew, the complement of Henglish.
Henglish has many comic constructions, such as "The situation is on the face." It is a direct translation of the Hebrew, "Hamatzav al hapanim," which it generally is. Usually, educated people who speak Henglish do it for laughs. The Jerusalem Post however, is not necessarily to be counted among the educated. As I noted in Why Gilad Shalit is not free, here's how they quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak's remarks about Gilad Shalit:
The best minds are sitting on the matter. In Hebrew "Hamo'hot hachi tovim yoshvim al hainyan." But in English, it conjures up Mr. Barak, with his ample sitting department, sitting on a big file marked "Gilad Schalit." And maybe some other ample "minds" are also sitting on it. No wonder Schalit is not freed yet, the Israeli government doesn't know the difference between its mind and its sitting department! Or maybe that's just the Jerusalem Post.
Too bad they don't have Jill Hennessy or Bar Raphaeli sitting on the problem - they have such lovely minds for sitting.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A travel article in Smithsonian magazine contains some perceptive points about what life in Israel is like. The article isn't about Israel, though. It discusses the behavior of New Yorkers.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
It is memorial day, and we are waiting for the start of a ceremony for the war dead in Ma'alot, a small Israeli city near the Lebanon border. We already know more or less what the speakers will say. They talk every year about the heartrending loss of young soldiers' lives as the price of protecting the country.
'Like this, as if' is a literal translation of Hebrew slang, 'kahzeh ke'ilu.' This Hebrew expression is a literal translation of 'so, like,' as in 'It was so, like, cool.' A weblog translating Israeli life into English.
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