This was written, and I thought posted, on 3 December 2007. But for some reason, it's been reverted to draft format. So, I'm reposting.
Once again, I find myself in the grips of the "people plan and God laughs" paradigm. This morning, I woke up (on time!) and emerged (not tired!) from my apartment at just the right time to get to school.
You know when you leave your apartment, and you've forgotten something, and you do a cost-benefit analysis of whether or not you really need that water bottle / notebook / scarf? Well, as I emerged from my apartment's driveway, I realized I'd forgotten my sunglasses (which proves my point that if you put stuff away where it belongs, then you're never going to FIND it.). I paused, and looked at my watch. 9:08. Hmmm. Do I walk back up two flights of stairs and get my sunglasses from their neatly closed case in my closet? Or do I save the time and just deal for the day? I decided to deal.
I was promptly rewarded for my saved time when I turned the corner to see my bus taking off for Hebrew U without me. Figures. I sat in the bright sunlight, cursing Murphy's Law, squinting down the street for the next 4א. I studied vocabulary (I know, I'm so studious!) from the time that the bus picked me up until we pulled up to the bus entrance at Hebrew U.
I'd read an article earlier this week about the strikes (yes, plural) and how they were going for all parties involved. The high school teachers' strike is going to extend to lower schools. The Professors' strike was going to be counteracted by the Hebrew U student union by - get excited - shutting down the University! Shutting down the university, you should know, NEVER includes the International school.
And the University was SHUT. Students in neon green shirts (the stamp of the student union), most of whom are former soldiers, stood in front of locked gates and barricades. "THE UNIVERSITY IS CLOSED!" screamed the signs in Hebrew. And it's easy to lock down the university, since this is a high-security country. It's not like shutting down the University of Florida. It's more like shutting down JTS by merely blocking the front doors.
Nothing says "come to an agreement and end the strike" like keeping students AND teachers off campus. It's like saying "I know you have been on a forced half-vacation. Today, let's make it a full vacation!" Excuse me while I run and make things right...suuuure. (Michelle voices similar opinions on her aliyah blog.)
These are up all over school. I took a picture of these two when I finally got to school. I need an Israeli to translate this poster, although I know most of the words: "We Need Education To The ____, Not Education ____." I'm pretty sure those missing words are important. Who can help me out here?
I did what any able-bodied student would do: Ani Halachti B'Regel / אני הלכתי ברגל / I walked by leg/foot (literally). I walked all the way around the university. Now, if the bus had pulled into the regular stop on campus, instead of letting us off outside of the barricades, then I would've been on time for class. But walking around the perimeter of the university takes time (about 20 minutes), and I was hurting for my sunglasses. I followed the Bezalel (art school - they're not on strike) students to the proverbial back door - a gate behind the University. After quasi-enjoying (running late ruined the fun for me) the vista surrounding Hebrew U, including desert mountains, Arab villages and Jordan in the distance, I made the last leg of the walk (an uphill punishment walk) to the lovely International School Building, which included a shameful, backdoor (ok, gate) entrance (how DARE you try to LEARN today). A protesting student tried to hand me a flyer written in Hebrew. I somewhat mournfully, somewhat scornfully said, "I can't understand that" and I think he genuinely felt badly for me. Maybe that one guy realized today that the International students are just little pawns in their shutting-school plan.
I'm a little unclear as to why I find myself fighting to get onto a campus with this many stupid, disgusting, horrible wild cats. (Can you tell I dislike cats?)
The first half hour of Hebrew class was a discussion of teacher salaries, as classmates trickled into the room. Did you know that teachers in the states get paid way more than teachers in many countries? I got a fresh perspective on what it means to get paid a good, liveable salary. Teaching in Israel (even after 40 years) is close in salary to entry-level publishing. It's a total joke.
Living in Israel is learning about strikes. Israeli teachers and professors, when it comes down to it, deserve better compensation. Israeli students deserve the highest-quality teachers and professors that their country has to offer. I realize (as my classmates from three different continents pointed out) that tuition in the USA is ridiculously high. But somewhere between a $120,000 undergraduate education and a maybe $6,000 education lies the answer. Charge the Israelis a little more for their education...maybe then everybody will be a little more successful, a little happier and able to live, and, like most of my friends, they can pay off school loans with their hard-earned money at their university-graduate job.
It's time to go make the effort, so to speak, of walking up the stairs to grab the sunglasses. Because while it may cost you time and money, in the end, you'll be much more comfortable and better able to approach your daily life. And you'll be happy that you fixed the problem.