The main part of our trip was to Jerusalem, where I met my new nephew and organized a workshop about new developments in the polynomial method.
- The vote on UN resolution 2334 was held while I was there but nobody I talked to seemed really focused on it. One Israeli businessman told me “the Arabs won’t destroy Israel, Netanyahu won’t destroy Israel, the only thing that can destroy Israel is the residue of Bolshevism.” Then he told me things about taxes that curled my hair. Apparently if you do work for person X, and bill them for 100,000 shekels, you owe taxes on the 100,000 shekels, whether or not person X pays you! They go bankrupt or just stiff you, you’re screwed. If you go to the tax agency to say “how can I pay taxes on income I didn’t get” they say “the problem is between you and person X, go sue them if you need that money.”
- Tomer Schlank told me my accent was really good! I don’t speak Hebrew, by the way. But I’m actually very good at imitating accents, which is a problem, because when I carefully think about what I’m going to say (in Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, whatever) and then say it, I can sometimes fool the person I’m talking to into thinking I’m going to understand their response. Fortunately, I’m also very good at the blank look.
- My kids really wanted to go to the science museum and I was reluctant — there are science museums all over the world! — but I relented and actually it was kind of great. Culturally interesting, first of all, because the place was completely packed with Orthodox families; it was Hanukkah, a rare time when kids are off school but it’s not chag, which makes it massive go time for kid-oriented activities in Jerusalem. I was happy for my kids to experience that feeling of immersion in a crowd that was on the one hand Jewish but on the other hand quite culturally alien, in a way that secular cosmopolitan schwarma Israel really isn’t. As for the museum itself: “Games in Light and Shadow” was a really charming exhibit, sort of a cross between interactive science and a walk-through art space a la Meow Wolf.
- Sadly, we didn’t make it back to Cafe Itamar this time. But we did return to Morduch. I know it’s a tourist destination but in this case the tourists have it right, the Iraqi Jewish food there is incredible. Get the kubbe soup, get the hummus basar. This would be the best food I ate in Israel were it not for my Mizrachi machetunim in Afula. So it might be the best food you can eat in Israel.