Israel has 2 memorial days. one a week ago (see the date) for the Holocaust, and one today, for the soldiers that died on duty. It used to be the soldiers who died in the wars, but that wasn't pc enough. So now it includes soldiers who shot themselves while playing with their guns, etc. But enough cynicism.

Oh, what the hell, let's have some more cynicism: here's the deal: on Holocaust memorial day, there is a 2-minute siren at 10:00 in the morning. Everyone stands up and pays their respects. so no matter what you're doing at that time, you stop it, stand up, and be silent for 2 minutes, with only the siren blazing all of the country, from Metulla to Eilat, as we fondly say in Israel. On memorial day (today) there are two sirens. There's a minute-long one at 20:00 at the eve of the day (Jewish, and thus Israeli holidays and such are from dusk till dusk). Then there's a 2-minute-long siren at 11:00 the following morning (i.e. just about right now). I can understand the rationale behind it, but I do think they're overdoing it with the 2 sirens today. Nevermind. 2 points I wish to make:

One: I would love to see tourists' faces as this siren blasts away, when they are unaware of it. Especially a tourist, say, on a bus in the middle of Tel Aviv, in the middle of a junction during a green light. The bus driver stops and everyone stands up. It must be so bloody surreal. Imagine that - all traffic stops. People stand up, lower their heads, and are silent for 2 minutes.

Two: Children. 4-year old children in pre-kindergarten stand up. They already know what's going on. Do they? Why are they standing up? They're not paying their respects. I agree it's important to have a memorial day, especially in a country such as Israel, where our existence is not so obvious and wavers on a thin line. But it does make you wonder. After the siren yesterday, I talked with my girlfriend on the phone. She asked what I was doing doing the siren. I told her I was at home, alone, locating an article on the net. She said, "But you did stand up, didn't you?"

Why stand up? I'm alone. It only makes sense to stand up when there are people around, whether you're paying respect or not. It's the social thing. So i said to her, "Why? it's only social conditioning. There's no other reason to stand up when you're alone."

"I never thought about it like that, you have a point", she said. I think she sat through today's siren.

When I was in high-school I used to get into massive amounts of trouble over the whole memorial day thing.

I was a bit of a goth, which means I wore black and black only. Problem! You're suppose to show up wearing the national colours on memorial day - blue bottoms, white top. Since I'm not exactly a morning person, I would always forget about the clothes thing until it was too late and a teacher was already yelling at me.

In my penultimate year in high-school, I was just hiding out in the library after the periodic bollocking on Holocaust memorial day, listening to my walkman and trying to keep out of trouble, when I noticed a worried librarian hovering over me with a questioning face.

Now there are a few things that need to be said about my school at this point. It was very progressive. And very liberal. Very anti-religious and very left wing in its political outlook. It made rebelling a bit difficult because there wasn't much left to rebel against. It was that kind of place.

So anyway, I take the earphones out of my ears and the librarian (whom I've always been afraid of) goes "Why didn't you stand at the siren? It had just sounded". Now, I had two options: admit that a teacher yelling at me upset me so much that I was brooding in solitude (bad) or come up with an on-the-fly political opinion (good). Guess which one I chose. I don't remember what I told her, exactly, but it earned me looks of polite horror mixed with admiration from the hushed population of the library, at which point I lost my nerve and bolted.

The following year, the weight of expectation on me was too heavy to endure. I cut class and went to the University grounds next door to swig soda in the sun and smoke.

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