Sunday, December 22, 2002

I'm not sure why you liked the Ari Shavit article so much, Diane. I found it rather slanted. Tomy Lapid is a big threat to all the secular parties right now. Polls show he's going to do extremely well, and it's open season on him from all quarters, right, left and center (Maybe not center, because he's perceived, I think, as the center). All and sundry are doing their utmost to de-legitimize him and portray him as a racist. The gloves are off. It's quite easy because he is completely un-PC, king of the provocative one-liner, which is most of his charm for potential voters. He comes over as completely on the level, even if what he has to say is hard to stomach, and up till now appears to have kept his promises to his voters, a rare phenomenon indeed in Israeli politics.

The "how many Mizrahim have you got?” line, is a cheap shot. Personally, I'm fed up to the back teeth of it. I'm fed up of token women and token Mizrahim and token gays and token Arabs. Meretz seems quite obsessive about making sure every last minority is represented. Affirmative action gone haywire. Has everyone forgotten that people would appreciate representatives with actual abilities? The women who got into the Likud list are frankly shameful. What's the point of having women to represent me if they have no proven qualifications (besides knowing who to pay off)? No, it’s worse than that. Having unsuitable women in Knesset could even have long term adverse affects, in maybe showing that sexists and religious nuts are right, and that women really are unsuitable as national leaders.

I don’t like the European thing that comes over in the article one bit, but I’m also fed up of hearing, morning, noon and night, how downtrodden and deprived the Mizrahim were and are, when I’m completely surrounded, in my private life (What am I talking about? Since when do I have a public life?), by people who prove the complete opposite.

I found the Ari Shavit article particularly misleading for the foreign reader, who reads it out of the context of the rest of the input the Israeli reader is getting from the media. The Israeli reader knows Lapid extremely well, as the article suggests, from his days as a TV star on a hot current affairs program. A lot of other details could also be misleading for those unacquainted with the nuances. For instance, to the uninitiated his wife "Shula" comes over as a little home-keeper, quite in keeping with the right-wing bigot impression the article is pushing. It is not necessary to tell the Israeli reader, however, that his wife, Shulamit Lapid, is in fact one of Israel's foremost novelists. His son is also very popular as a newspaper columnist and TV interviewer, whose recent divorce from his also famous wife was widely speculated about and he himself wrote about it in his column. In fact, they are probably one of the most high profile families in the country.

All this is superfluous for the Israeli reader, so Shavit tries to scrape up some little known facts (everyone knows Lapid's a holocaust survivor) to try to keep the reader's interest and maybe give us some new angles to explain his personality. In Israel we call it “psychologia bigrush”. Would that be translated as “dime psychology”, I wonder?

Let us not forget that everyone has a vested interest, even Ari Shavit. Our not necessarily knowing what it is, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Reading Haaretz, I often think the writers themselves are not aware of how strongly their personal views come across, but maybe that’s just me being naive now.