Thursday, August 18, 2011

American Revolution Part Deux

Americans have every reason to be pissed off.

The economy, to put it frankly, has gone to shit.

The political system is completely broken.

In light of recent developments in the Middle East, I'm wondering why and how Americans have become so docile?

Are car and shampoo commercials really that mind numbing?

At the risk of this blog getting the FBI's attention, I want to know what would it take for people to start protesting here.

And once we're on the streets, what central idea can all Americans realistically get behind?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Join Protest in Israel

1. Save money on air conditioning
2. Sleeping in tent is the only way I can afford to live in Tel Aviv!
3. Subconscious national effort to prove belonging in rebellious Middle East
4. Misplaced Frustrations about the Peace Process
5. Lots of attractive people and cheaper than admission to nightclub

Did i miss anything?

Here's my take on the protests

This, on the other hand, is something worth protesting.

How is it possible that in this day and age we can allow 600,000 people (mostly children) to die of hunger in Somalia?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tel Aviv Housing Protest Satirical?

This video seem to capture the vibe from the Tel Aviv July 14th Housing Protests.

I know it's summer and it's nice to be outside in tents, but does anyone else get a sense of satire with all this?

I mean, nobody forced anyone to pay high rent in Tel Aviv.

What are your views?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Pura Vida Model for the Middle East

On my first trip to Costa Rica, while looking down on the verdant, hilly terrain from the airplane, I couldn’t help but give it the nickname, “Broccoli Land.” It is simply the greenest place I have ever seen.

I have been to this magical places 5 times now, and with good reason. Upon arrival, an ethereal spirit takes over my being and instead of answering questions in the affirmative or negative, I simply answer, Pura Vida.

“Pura Vida” is a phrase unique to Costa Rica. It literally translates from Spanish to mean “Pure Life,” in Costa Rica, but can be used as a general greeting, or to say “your welcome.” Saying it instantly relaxes you. Go on. Try it.

My plan in Costa Rica generally doesn’t vary much. I leave the built-up capital San Jose as quickly as possible, making my way to an unspoiled beach on the Pacific where I explore tide pools, eat fresh ceviche and surf until it’s time to go home.

This trip was a bit different because I came straight from Israel and Palestine, where I have been living for the past 8 years. To sojourn from a land cramped with soldiers, checkpoints, and restrictions to a tropical paradise with no army, few rules, and plenty of open space, is a surreal juxtaposition.

One day, while waiting for the tides to come in and deliver another session of perfect head high surf, an armed man approached me. He brandished a two-foot long, razor sharp machete that could easily lop off a human head. My entire body stiffened, but the man walked right by me, making a beeline for a palm tree.

“I look for the big, green ones, with a little brown on the edges. Those are the sweet ones,” he said after offering me my very own coconut with a perfectly sliced, round hole on top for drinking.

Clearly, I had some adjusting to do.

Costa Rica's One Man Army (Or Coconut Hunter)

Despite having WiFi access in my beachside house, I decided to cut myself off from all forms of social media and especially Middle East news, reading only the Tico Times, Central America’s leading English language daily paper. This week’s headline: “New Large Crab Species Found in Costa Rica. What a refreshing change.

It’s no wonder that, if you buy into all the studies conducted to measure that abstract notion we call “happiness,” Costa Ricans are generally ranked the happiest people on earth.

While close, Costa Rica is no Garden of Eden. There are drug lords, shantytowns, human traffickers, pesticide-laden produce, and gringos run amok in unsustainable development.

But these are minor problems compared to those faced by the Middle Eastern countries, where fascism, terrorism, nuclear war, lack of human rights, and inter-tribal conflicts pose much more sinister threats. Middle Easterners tend to live each day as if it may be their last. Costa Ricans, on the other hand, seem to live as if they will never die. I believe the latter approach is better, and more sustainable.

I’m not sure what will come out of the Arab Spring. Hopefully, the protesters who sparked the Revolutions will shape their societies into democratic, pluralistic societies.

My fear is that while the revolutionaries know exactly what they're up against, they don't exactly what they're fighting for. They need a model, a vision, a dream. So why not the “Pura Vida Model”?

Costa Rica has Blacks, Whites, Indians and everything in between, but little racial strife. The literacy rate hovers above 95%. There is freedom of religion. Journalists can write freely. There are no serious international disputes with its neighbors.

Costa Rica disproves all the central tenets of international relations, the ones taught to Western politicians in their formative years, grounded in the most cynical interpretations of human nature.
The concepts of "realpolitik" and the "tragedy of the commons" don't hold water in Costa Rica like they do in the Middle East.

So here’s my brief, idealistic, coconut-milk inspired vision for the Middle East of the future: First the people will democratically elect responsible leaders. Then, these leaders will build robust, diverse economies, leveraged by the greatest resource of all; the Generation X'ers who powered the revolutions in the first place.

I'm talking about the 60% of the Middle East below the age of 30. Instead of arming them, we will educate them!

They will invent things, create internet companies, and shape industries that have nothing to to with defense.

They clearly understand the the inner workings of Twitter and Facebook better than M-16's and scud missiles.

We all know natural resources are more scarce in the Middle East, but there is an abundance of great historical sites and unique natural treasures in the region, like the Dead Sea and Nile River. There is world-class surfing in Morocco, snow skiing in Iran, kite-surfing in the Gulf, and the most amazing scuba diving I’ve ever done in my life in the Red Sea in Egypt. Let's re-brand the Middle East as the eco-tourism capital of the world!

Ok, I'm getting carried away. But in order to get from point a to point b, one must have a vision of what point b will look like, so why not dream big?

Getting there will be complicated, time consuming, and dangerous.

Godspeed, revolutionaries.

You will know victory is yours when your tweets resemble those from the Tico Times.

Here's the latest: Destructive beetle intercepted in pineapple shipment from Costa Rica to U.S.

Pura Vida!

-Jaron Gilinsky, July, 2011