Monday, January 06, 2003

Seeing as I've started posting again as a result of yesterday's murderous attack, I might as well stick around. OK, OK, I admit it. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take a break for more than five days. I’m hooked. I’m an addict. It could be worse you know, it could be gambling or heroin (God forbid, tfu tfu tfu).

Cutting short a holiday in Israel is not unusual. Sadly, for many people I know, it's the rule rather than the exception.

In 2000, Succot fell in mid October. Bish had wanted to do a Vipassana course (ten days of meditation in complete silence, with no contact with the outside world), in the Arava, for a long time, but it was very difficult to organize. Bish is self-employed and it's virtually impossible for him to take time off work (hence the importance of our weekends in Mitzpe Ramon). Moreover, I have to be at work at 7 o'clock every morning, long before the girls leave for school. Bish is the one who sees them off to school in the morning. The Succot holiday (in which I work half days, the girls are on holiday and tend to sleep late in the mornings and business is slow in Bish's office) was therefore the perfect time for him to do this course. We entered him in the course months in advance, to make sure he had a place. Now the course was a few days away. I think we had even packed his bag.

So much has happened since it's hard to remember what was happening here in October 2000. Israeli Arabs were rioting violently all over the country, and blocking roads. The northern part of the country was actually cut off from the rest of the country for regular people some of the time. Even parts of Yaffo (Jaffa), in the southern part of Tel Aviv, were closed for a while, meaning you couldn't reach Bat-Yam by going through Yaffo (unheard of for anyone but those who remembered the 1948 war). All this was in addition to the terrible violence in the territories. The feeling was decidedly apocalyptic. All out war with the surrounding Arab countries seemed to be a step away.

Bish decided not to go to his long-awaited course. He didn't want to leave the girls and me alone and go to a place where, unless someone had died, we wouldn't be able to contact him. He hasn't had the opportunity to go since, although he hasn't given up hope.

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Our Sis and Dad have been wondering if I caught anything on my very short fishing holiday. Well, I did catch two little fishies, and one of them I'm throwing straight back. My comments.

While I greatly appreciate 99% of the feedback I get here, and the lovely friends whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise, I dread reading the 1% that I find unpleasant and unsettling.

One kindly soul suggested that if I can't stand the heat I should get out of the kitchen. Well, this is my kitchen, and although everyone is welcome to come and taste the broth, I think it's only fair that it should be my decision whom I choose to invite in to join me with the actual cooking. So my comments will have to be disabled for the time being, until I get over my lack of courage. Please feel free to e-mail me, though.

I agree that this is collective punishment of the worst kind, but this is just the way it's going to be for a while.

The second little fishy that came up in my net is the realization that I need a weekly break from blogging. From now on, I will try not to post on Shabbat, save to report terrorist attacks.

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Some interesting things floated past my dinghy while I was out fishing.

One of them was an amusing article about Shinui, written by an utterly hysterical Orit Shohat, which appeared on Friday in Haaretz's secondary growth, the once popular Tel Aviv weekly, Ha’ir, which in 2002 became so left wing as to render it unreadable.

Here is a little taste (my humble translation, no link - they don’t seem to have an online edition):

“Democracy isn’t a particularly efficient method of administration, but its advantage is that it allows to change the government. The moment a state loses its democratic instinct, that compels the citizens to bring down a failing government and try another one in its stead, the whole process can be forfeited in advance. We don’t need elections to vote for a party advocating waiting. The Shinui party, that promises not to create a change in government but to support another national unity government, heralds the loss of hope and the civil eclipse that has come upon us.”.

Well, I must say I had a good laugh about the “democratic instinct” she mentions. I hadn’t been aware of that particular instinct. I was also amused at the ease with which she writes off the democratic process when faced with the unpleasant reality that most of the electorate does not plan to vote for the party of her choice.

The Israeli (mainly leftie) Media’s frantic attempts to de-legitimize Shinui continue unfettered, probably unwittingly serving to enhance the party’s value as a protest vote. Yoel Marcus also discussed the Shinui issue, in Haaretz on Friday. He actually sounds quite calm, not nearly as hysterical as Orit Shohat. I think he's also off the mark, but that's nothing unusual.

The only article about Shinui I read that didn't seem to be an emotional reaction to the threat Shinui poses the left is Ilan Shahar's. He is Haaretz's expert on ultra-religious affairs and describes the animosity between Shinui and Shas as a reflection of important questions about Israel's identity. These are questions that the larger parties prefer to evade, although the Israeli public finds them crucially important.

Another thing that caught my eye floating along with the driftwood was the refuseniks day in court, last week. I heard one of the leaders of the IDF reservists who refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for reasons of conscience, David Zonshein, speaking on the radio, on his way back to military prison, following the decision of the High Court of Justice to reject the petition submitted by him and seven of his fellow refuseniks. I’d say he is facing a brilliant political career. He masterfully managed to twist the rejection of their petition to look like a great success for him and his fellow refuseniks. When they began their campaign at the beginning of 2002, the refuseniks were certain that they would soon gain wide popular support and start a public movement like the one instigated by “Four Mothers” that eventually brought about Israel’s retreat form Lebanon. According to a story in Haaretz a week or two ago (sorry, it’s archived), they are quite flabbergasted that this hasn’t happened.

I liked Mideast: On Target’s analysis of this affair.

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I think this passage by Eric Hoffer in "The True Believer", is one very appropriate explanation of why the excellent, talented and educated leaders of the Israeli left are not succeeding in convincing anyone but the diehard lefties in Israel, these days:

"In a more or less free society, the leader can retain his hold on the people only when he has blind faith in their wisdom and goodness. A second-rate leader possessed of this faith will outlast a first-rate leader who is without it. This means that in a free society the leader follows the people even as he leads them. He must, as someone said, find out where the people are going so that he may lead them. When the leader in a free society becomes contemptuous of the people, he sooner or later proceeds on the false and fatal theory that all men are fools, and eventually blunders into defeat." (pg. 119)

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The Frog is back and he’s very amusing about Mitzna, although I do not appreciate his derogative tone about my childhood home, which has sadly been taken over by Mayor Mitzna and his pals the mighty developers (or so I’m told).