29 hours without mentioning that person.
I think I'm cured.
why not a fish
Monday, June 30, 2003
Today the girls finished the school year. They are both excited to be changing schools next year. It's just Bish and I who are sad to be leaving our nice friendly neighborhood community elementary school, where we felt at home and knew everyone.
Today an illegal gas canister in a residential building in the poor South Tel Aviv neighborhood of Shkhunat HaTikva (literally Hope Neighborhood) blew up, causing the whole building to collapse. Six were killed, including a five-year-old girl. Another person is missing, feared buried under the rubble.
Former head of Israel Air Force in the Six day War, Gen. (res.) Moti Hod, responsible for the preemptive air strike that destroyed the air forces of the main Arab enemies and ultimately led to the swift victory in that war, was buried today. He died of an illness at 77.
Sunday, June 29, 2003
I couldn't hold back, could I? I just had to give in to my obsession. I know, I know. I'm a wimp. I'm a weasel. I'm not to be trusted. A word of mine is not a word (no, that doesn't translate very well from Hebrew, does it?).
Amit Duvshani spoke on Reshet Bet radio station this morning. He said he was mainly annoyed with the refusal to employ a person who has served in the IDF. He was upset that Professor Wilkie took absolutely no notice of the professional abilities that he detailed on his CV, apart from the one line that mentioned his having served in the IDF. He said he had no intention of answering Professor Wilkie’s e=mail, or of working for him, should this become possible. He hoped he would be able to find another place to do his Ph.d., elsewhere in Europe or in the USA.
The much missed (but soon to be back?) Gil has sent me the latest about this as appeared in Hebrew Haaretz. Here's the more concise English version. Allison has some fresh news links, too.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Random thoughts brought up by Professor Wilkie's letter. (Don't wait for the point, there is none).
To: "Amit Duvshani"
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: PhD application
Dear Amit Duvshani,
Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this would work. I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because the (the Palestinians) wish to live in their own country.
I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal level, but no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware, I am not the only UK scientist with these views but I'm sure you will find another suitable lab if you look around.
Nuffield Professor of Pathology,
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,
The John Radcliffe,
Oxford OX3 9DS,
My parents grew up in the North of England in the nineteen thirties and forties in what I interpret as a veiled anti-Semitic atmosphere. My mother recalled hearing the Jews being blamed for the war and was called a dirty Jew herself, as a small child. Both my parents had quite a few unpleasant stories to tell. They were not academics. They were not nuclear physicists or something. They were just kids growing up in the war in a tough northern town. I recently heard a family member, still living in that part of the world, rationalizing this, by saying it wasn't just the Jews. It was a religiously diverse city, everyone picked on everyone else. And the minorities were right in the middle.
That makes being called a dirty Jew at the age of five so much easier to bear ("But I'm not dirty. I get washed every day.").
My parents didn't try to rationalize anything. They became active Zionists and then they got up and left. It took them about thirty odd years to do this, but they did it and I'm proud of them for it. It wasn't easy for them here either.
What has this undercurrent (and sometimes over current) of anti-Semitism my parents experienced in Britain as children, during the war and after, got to do with present day discrimination in Britain against Israelis for political reasons? This is a tough one. In Israel it is accepted that we're not going to win the Eurovision Song Contest again, however good the song and the performance, as long as we are perceived as the bad guys. Not that anyone with half a brain could care less about the Eurovision Song Contest, mind you. It's probably the dullest TV event of the year (Although it may have improved. I haven't seen it for about twenty years, so I wouldn't know). It's annoying but there we are. Anti-Semitism? Maybe that's just being paranoid.
However, in his already infamous rejection letter, which arrived in my e-mail box via Naomi Ragen’s mailing list (and that has already been discussed widely on the Blogosphere here, here, here, here, and here, and probably on many other blogs), Professor Wilkie of Oxford makes the equation between Israelis and Jews himself. Says Prof Wilkie "I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust". But the thing is no Israelis were in the Holocaust. Not even one. Because there were no Israelis and no Israel when it took place. Many survivors became Israelis afterwards, but they weren't Israelis when it happened to them. In Professor Wilkie's pathological mind (I'm not being rude, he's a professor of Pathology), it seems, Israelis=Jews=Holocaust survivors.
Am I latching on to a detail here? Am I missing the point? Somehow I find myself terribly offended by the Holocaust sentence, rolled off so glibly and thoughtlessly. You get the feeling the good professor and his friends use this line freely in their stuffy cocktail party chitchat, without really thinking about it's meaning. (I am especially struck by the words "appalling treatment". Appalling Treatment?! What a wonderfully British understatement).
An Israeli writer (I forget who) was once telling the story of the fierce quarrel he had had with the Rabbi over the grave of his recently deceased father. He wrote that it is a well-known fact that the first one to bring up the Holocaust in an argument has lost the argument (and believe you me, the Holocaust comes up at some point in every argument in Israel). He went on to say that although he knew this, he couldn't help himself and brought up the Holocaust anyway. But that was between Jews.
It seems to me incredibly insensitive for a gentile to mention the Holocaust in such a fashion in a letter to an Israeli he doesn't know personally. I see this as proof of Professor Wilkie's ignorance, regardless of his political views (which I respect, however ill-conceived they may be).
When Bish and I were young students we once entertained in our apartment a German visitor that friends had brought around. I remember we were listening to Yehuda Poliker's hit record of the time, Ashes and Dust, in which he came to terms with his parents' Holocaust experiences. The music was good, the lyrics haunting. Of course, our German guest couldn't understand the words and didn't know what she was hearing. Suddenly Bish jumped up and changed sides before side a' was finished (Remember changing sides on records?). I asked him why and he showed me the cover. The next song would have been a song called "The Little Station Treblinka" the words of which included a repetition of the sentence "This is the Station Treblinka". Bish hadn't wanted to embarrass our guest.
Funny that, isn't it? The brusque, obnoxious Israeli had more tact and good manners than a member of the intellectual elite of what is ostensibly the most polite nation in the world.
Update: This is good.
Important update: I have an official response, from one John Williams, esq. of Liverpool, England (fondly referred to elsewhere as Our John): "What Jews must try to realise is that we British are not racist with regard to them but rather that Jews offend our sense of aesthetics. You see, for the elite public school raised Briton, brought up on classical imagery of Lawrence of Arabia, no Jewish man, sweltering in the heat of Tel Aviv, can possibly compete with the cool romanticism of a tented desert dweller swishing about in a gorgeously coloured burnoose, proffering one dates. That the aesthetic appeal of this scene is lost on Jews can be found in the fact that one cannot purchase a decent djelleba in M&S* for love or money."
*M&S being the Jewish owned or partly owned, or at least started by a Jew, Marks and Spencer department store.
I didn't forget to say Shabbat Shalom. I was out sweating it at Youngest's end of year party in Hayarkon Park ("Ladies don't sweat, they perspire").
Update: I am informed by a reader that "Ladies do not perspire. Where I grew up (North Florida), they would tell you that horses sweat. Men perspire. Ladies glisten.
(In the Florida summer, they glisten like pigs.)"
I stand corrected.
Friday, June 27, 2003
This is a fascinating post by the Hasidic Rebel. Sorry I'm a bit late linking to it. There is a lot of complaining in Israel among educators about what the Haredi and Hasidic children are learning at their state subsidized "independent" schools. The claim has been made that if they are not given the opportunity to study secular subjects, such as mathematics and English (Hard to believe, isn't it?), their welfare is being compromised, because they are not being given tools that will allow them to compete in the modern day workplace.
I don't think anyone has dreamt they aren't even being taught the Bible properly.
When Allison told us about ISM's summer camp in Palestine, I went in to the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) website (I'm not linking, find it yourself) and read a bit about their planned activities for the summer and about the things they say about Israel. It's all horribly one-sided, of course. There are quite a few unbelievably blatant and unabashed lies, such as the laughable claim that residents of the "occupied territories" have no freedom of speech. Obviously they haven't been watching much Palestinian TV. (The only thing that Palestinians are not free to say is that they would rather make peace with Israel. If they happen to mention that out loud, they're likely to find themselves dragged through the streets and strung up in the town square, and that's if they're lucky).
Those who read what the ISM has to say about Israeli Arabs, for instance, wouldn't realize that Israeli Arabs are voting citizens with full citizen rights, and that Israeli Arabs have elected representatives in the Israeli legislative body, the Knesset (Okay, there is discrimination, but they make no mention of the fact that this is certainly not legal, open, state discrimination).
Those who read their site would have no way of knowing, for instance, that more than half of the Israeli Jews are actually natives (or descendants of natives) of the Muslim world, not European conquerors and colonizers. And that most of them are here as a result of circumstances not very different than those that made so many unfortunate Palestinians into refugees.
It is sad that people who are indoctrinated with a slanted, one-sided, solely pro-Palestinian view of the conflict here will never get to learn about what Israel really is. They think they already know. Or maybe they just couldn’t care less. Israelis are the big strong rich bullies. They don't have faces.
But when you stop to look at the faces you see a different picture. You see, for one thing, that we have one or two serious issues that have nothing to do with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. But more about that another time.
Bish read an article about Muhammad Darwish, the famous Palestinian poet, recently. He told me that Darwish said something about the Palestinians being prepared to take Tel Aviv, while we could have Ramallah. But the thing is, Tel Aviv was built by the people living in it, as was Ramallah. If we switched, Ramallah would soon start looking like Tel Aviv and vice versa. Israel is not an advanced, relatively modern and western style industrial country because it robbed the Palestinians.
In 1948, the fledgling Israeli state started off with nothing. Less than nothing (Far far less than what the Palestinians were given on a platter in the early nineteen nineties and p#$&ed away, excuse my language). A tiny piece of land wedged in by extremely hostile neighbors (And even the Americans didn’t like us very much in those days). Human resources, you say? What human resources? Half of the hundreds of thousands of refugees that began pouring in came from Arab countries, they knew nothing of western ideas and values; the other half were largely Holocaust survivors, wrecks of human beings who had spent the previous few years in hell or fleeing hell.
So how did we do it? I don't know. With our fingernails? With our desperation? With wisdom learnt on the crumbling streets of Warsaw Ghetto and in the winding alleyways of Fez and Baghdad?
However it came about, the result is that we seem to have done such a good job that now it is quite natural that we are the big strong rich bullies.
Most people I know can't be bothered with all this. They're too busy struggling to put food on the table.
Some deviant got to me by googling "me in a swimsuit". I'm number two. Teehee.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
This is the most interesting design for a blog I've ever seen. I love it.
[BTW, I apologize for deleting the post about the phone technician that got killed. I was over excited and nervous about Eldest's big end of elementary school show when I wrote it (I know this because I was yelling at everyone all afternoon) and Our Sis is my witness that I rushed to post it on the way out. You can read a far more reasonable and thought out post on the subject (as usual) over at Allison's.]
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
We got our salary slips, yesterday. I noticed it was less than usual, but couldn't work out what was missing. Then someone noticed. One of our main benefits was cut. There is talk that they plan to cut most of our other benefits, too. Oh, well. At least I don't get a car from them (as if) that they could take away. Apparently not everyone lost the benefit. The poor souls who earn lower salaries got to keep it. Just hope Bish's business keeps doing okay.
Have you ever sat on the bus in the morning on your way to work and longed to miss your stop and just keep going? Have you ever felt that your workplace, the place you spend the best hours of every day, making a living, is a prison? Have you ever wished to be free, free to not voluntarily incarcerate yourself day after day?
I get these feelings every so often, of dissatisfaction, of yearning to cut loose. How spoiled I am.
At the class I take in South Tel Aviv, once a week, with workers from a large governmental authority, I often hear stories that teach me to appreciate my "prison".
There is a guy there, very loud, very brash, and always ready to tell a vulgar joke or say cruel things to people (or laugh at them behind their backs). Not really my kind of guy. But he has an endearing side, a touching ability to speak openly about himself and his life. He does so without expressing any need to apologize or justify. It's as if he is saying this is who I am. I have nothing I am ashamed of.
One time he told us of his army service, or rather his lack of it. He was recruited as one of what was known as "Raful's boys". Lieutenant General (res.) Rafael Eitan, always referred to as Raful, IDF Chief of Staff during the Lebanon War (and ex-Knesset member. I think he was a government minister as well, a few times, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now), initiated an army program whereby boys from the wrong side of the tracks, formerly more trouble to the army than they were worth, were taken into the army, given a basic education (many were even taught to read and write), and trained in an army skill, often one that could prove useful to them in civilian life, later on. R.T. worked with some of them when he was in the army, and had warm words for their work. Anyway, our guy joined up with this program, but soon he was making problems. He was discharged after three months.
Yesterday we were discussing how some people who grew up on the same block became criminals, while others didn't, and why this was. He said it had been just a matter of luck for him. And now he was holding down a steady job in a governmental authority, while a lot of the people he grew up with were in prison. Apparently, one of his childhood buddies is an escaped convict, living on the run somewhere in Central or South America.
So here's me with my periodical feelings of discontent at my unfulfilling job; and here's this guy, grateful that he's not dealing on a street corner, dodging the cops. Now you tell me, which one of us has more sense.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Wow! Cool new blog, Accident Dan Man.
Haaretz rang up Bish. Isn't that sweet? They've missed us. I'm so touched.
What did they want? Well, our money of course.
Bish is now considering renewing our subscription. Sadly, I have to agree with his considerations. Infuriating as Haaretz may be, Yediot Aharonot is really not an alternative. Moreover, Bish complains that he doesn't actually get to read it unless he wakes up at the crack of dawn. There is a daily fight over the newspaper at the breakfast table, but he's not even a part of it (neither am I because I leave for work when everyone else is just waking up). It's the girls. They both want to read the news section with their cereal. This means canceling Yediot Aharonot is not an option either. I think Bish should be grateful. At least they allow him to read the sports section. We could have had boys (or sporty girls).
I must confess, I'm bored with Yediot Aharonot. I flip through the news pages. I read the headlines. A teenager fell off the roof after sniffing air conditioner gas (the latest craze); a 102 year old was mugged by a prostitute; and so on and so forth. The whole process takes three minutes and I'm through. Sometimes I actually take the time to read the stories. This usually happens when I'm drying my hair. Drying my hair is even more boring than sensational "news" stories in Yediot (some of which I believe are complete fabrications). There is one excellent news supplement that comes on Friday that is worth reading, but besides that - nothing. I am not at all surprised that the paper's main consumers in my household are an eight year old and a nearly twelve year old. Actually I am surprised. They could do better, but they say they dislike the uninspiring layout, lack of gossip, and general heaviness in Haaretz.
At the moment we're thinking about it. We'll probably end up with both.
Meryl Yourish wrote something really lovely on the occasion of my blogiversary. I'm very moved.
I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head. I must not let all these kind words go to my head.
Okay I'll come clean
For those of you who haven't been following Not a Fish religiously for the past year (Infidels!), I have to explain a few things. It appears yesterday's post might have given the wrong impression.
I was not some weirdo Matilda-esque child protege. English was actually my mother tongue. This is a quite normal state of affairs for children living in industrial towns in the North West of England, although people in the South of England may disagree. I must confess that on my more recent visits to the said industrial town I have also found the natives difficult to understand (no offense intended, John).
One day, when I was nine, these tall people who lived in the same house as me dragged me on to a plane, yelling and kicking. Well actually, they were far more devious than that. They managed to brainwash me into thinking that they were my parents and that coming to live in this God forsaken lunatic asylum with them was a great idea. And, as they say, I never looked back (If you believe that you're more gullible than I was).
So frequenting the British Council Library was not really as weird as it might have sounded yesterday, if you were not privy to this little piece of information.
I did continue to communicate with my parents in English, on a daily basis, if "Pass the salt" and "No, you can't have a motorbike" could actually be seen as communication, till the army sent me to serve Country and King (er President?) in Jerusalem (Shouldn't that be King and Country?). Then I moved to Tel Aviv.
Anyway now Roger L. Simon has put me on his links. On false pretences. I am mortified.
Monday, June 23, 2003
I wish Mum would leave me a voice message. Just a little one. Just once.
In my mind I'm trying to hear that sing song voice she had on voice messages: "Hullo. It's me."
(I've just noticed it's seven months today, Hebrew date)
The language issue (a recurring subject)
When I was in the university, back in the Dark Ages, studying Political Science, we had a compulsory computer course. This consisted of sitting in a classroom and copying down off the blackboard lists of strange words and symbols that, we were told, if typed into a computer in the correct form would create another list of strange words and symbols. If the other list of strange words and symbols turned out to be the correct one, we would pass the course. After class, we used to traipse over to the other side of the university to the little computer center in the basement where we would have to fight for the use of one of the computer terminals. We used to type out our little lists of words and symbols and then we would have to wait for hours for a printout. When we eventually got our printout we had to try and work out if we had got the desired result, if the list that had come out was the one that would help us pass the course. If not, we had to start all over again, fighting for a terminal, typing in our little list, having made some sort of trial and error adjustment, and again waiting for hours for the printout. We often spent the whole day this way. I had no idea at all what I was doing.
Needless to say, this was one of the most repeated courses in the faculty.
Amazingly, not only did I manage to pass the course the first time I took it, which was rare, I even did so with a very good mark. This dumbfounded me. I eventually managed to work it out. The reason was, I reckoned, that unlike most of the other students, I hadn't tried to understand what was going on. I had treated it all as if it was a foreign language (which it was of course). Knowing I was good at languages, I had made believe I was in a foreign country having to get by with a very inadequate knowledge of the language spoken in that country. And it had worked.
This attitude had worked wonders for me on a visit to Paris round about the same period. I have never been propositioned so often in such a short period. I didn't understand a word (I took Arabic not French, remember?) but I knew exactly what they were talking about. The nicest thing was this old guy in the flea market. He gabbled on in Yiddish (of which my knowledge was also sadly limited). I was a shoine meidele and he wanted me to meet his son... (rapid exit by me, big smile on my face).
I was in Paris with two friends who had studied French for years in Tel Aviv's Alliance school. They were so terrified of opening their mouths with their schoolgirl French, that, irony of ironies, I was their spokesperson. I did just fine with my little Berlitz phrasebook. I found the French were delighted that I made the effort. Or was it because I was a shoine meidele? Once I'd stuttered out a sentence or two in French, they were satisfied that I respected their beloved language and were quite happy to switch to English (which they apparently did know, when they chose to).
My life is in Hebrew. At home, at work, with all my friends, Hebrew is my language. I feel uncomfortable speaking English (although this has improved slightly since I've been blogging in English).
Why then do I write so much better in English than in Hebrew?
I think it's partly the fault of the little British Council Library that happened to be right next door to my school as a child in Haifa. I don't think it was open very often. In fact, I think it was only open a few days a week for an hour or so. But when it was open, I was there. I read every children's book in the place. I would wait excitedly for a new batch of books to arrive.
I have no idea why the British Council saw fit to spend all that money on the little library in a backwater like Haifa. It could have been for historic reasons. Haifa had been an important town for the British during their stint as a colonizer in these parts. Anyway, if I remember correctly, it closed down a few years later, after I had moved on to high school, which was located elsewhere.
The result of having had such a rich supply of English language reading material was that I got round to reading stuff like Dvora Omer's wonderful books and other Hebrew children's classics, at a much older age than my daughters are reading them today. And I never got round to reading the rubbish, like Kofeeko and Danideen. From the British Council I moved on to various secondhand bookstores in Haifa and later in Jerusalem, during my army service, to supply my English language fix. Then in university I started reading mainly the cheaper and far more available Hebrew and this continued for most of my adult life. That is till Amazon.com appeared, tempting me with its irresistible wares.
It's not that I can't write in Hebrew, it's just that I'm not happy with the standard of the language I use. It's not rich enough to satisfy me. I suppose it could improve with practice, but I envy the ease with which my girls write so beautifully in Hebrew at such a young age. Youngest really bowled us over when she showed us her Torah homework yesterday. She had used such flowery language. No one could have accused us of helping her do her assignment. Neither Bish nor I can write like that.
Mid-year resolution: Read more Hebrew. (I actually bought some books in Hebrew Book Week, and added them to the ever growing pile of books by my bed, which is threatening to take over our bedroom).
[I'm trying to remember what I meant to say when I started this. It will come to me eventually]
Rereading with new eyes
I read this again this morning. It has been quite a while since I last saw it.
I used to feel slightly uncomfortable reading it. Not any more.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
This inspired me to rethink the no comments policy for a minute. Only for a minute.
Kol Hakavod le-Allison
If I understand correctly, Allison came first in that new blog review thing for her lovely post about her visit to the Golan. I'm very proud of her.
I must confess I can never understand how these Blogosphere group things work or what they mean. The Carnival of Vanities, for instance, is a complete mystery to me. But Tiger's comment about Allison's post really shows how important writing about the everyday stuff here in Israel is, for changing people's concepts.
So he didn't get money for supporting Saddam. And I'm meant to think that makes him any less of a monster? What if I think that actually makes him even more of a monster? Mercenaries I can live with.
This guy, by his own admission, was cleverly recruited as an unthinking, brainwashed, staunch PLO supporter even before he was weaned, and was extremely vocal and active in this role all through the very period that the PLO was at the height of its power as a world menace, long before it made any pretense of giving up indiscriminate world-wide murder and mayhem as its official mode of operation. This is a man who has built his career around befriending thugs and tyrants and portraying them as poor little defenseless pussycats.
Okay, I'm through. Was that good enough?
[Phew! That felt great. I've been playing Little Miss Goodie-Two-Shoes for far too long.]
Saturday, June 21, 2003
My cup runneth over
I don't often go abroad. Don't feel like it and anyway I'd rather struggling Israeli tourist people have my money. A few years ago something struck me when I came back from a short trip to Europe. I realized how relieved I always was to be home. The western world is a bit straight laced for me. I love the chaos. I love it that roads aren't perfectly straight. I love it that people are a bit crazy. And bad tempered. And say what they think, instead of giving you a dirty look and leaving you to guess.
I hear a lot of people who come to Israel are put off by the Israelis' brusque manner. Of course, they can't make light of the situation by laughing at it, by making jokes with strangers at the bus stop. They can't disarm clerks, policemen, or security guards with casual familiarity. Not that they don't try. I've seen. But do the people they are talking to really get them? How good is their English really? A longtime resident of Israel I know, who never quite got the hang of Hebrew, once commented that one thing he missed, living in a country of which he was not a native, was being able to make humorous remarks to people. But I can. I can't do it anywhere else, but I can here. I love that this is home.
I love Tel Aviv on Shabbat. I love running errands with Bish on a Friday morning. I love listening to Youngest playing the piano (I see Alisa's Pashosh also plays). I love watching Eldest being an infuriating adolescent and fearlessly doing things at nearly twelve that I didn't dream of doing until I was fifteen and more.
I could go on and on.
Occasionally someone remarks how brave we Israeli bloggers are. Our life is so dangerous and still we laugh. What are they talking about? My life is wonderful. I am the luckiest of people (Tfu tfu tfu. Sorry, it's a reflex). I have enough to eat and drink. I am healthy (Tfu tfu tfu again). The sun shines every day and I am surrounded by love. What more could anyone possibly want? (A guarantee of immortality, you suggest? No, I pass.)
If I get blown up tomorrow, don't reread this post and shake your heads in sorrow. Be happy for me. I may be dead, but the day before I died was a great day. Who could ask for more?
Thank you so much to all the well-wishers on my blogiversary. It turned out to be a good day for my ego (or would that be a bad day for my ego?). Some people wrote very nice things about me on their blogs, notably Allison, Jonathan, Laurence, Lynn B and Geoff. And I got the greatest present from KL.
Friday, June 20, 2003
A call for Israelis to ban Belgian chocolate has been doing the rounds in Israeli e-mail boxes. It is an answer to an advertisement that has been appearing in Belgian newspapers calling for a ban on Israeli goods. Take a look.
[The Hebrew says: "Belgian chocolate has an anti-Semitic taste. The Belgians are calling for a ban on Israeli produce. Don't put their chocolate in your mouth."]
I would like to point out that I am not endorsing the ban, or the Hebrew comment. I'm not crazy about such bans or such generalizations, although I do personally refrain from buying stuff that I associate with people who I feel hate my guts. I also try not to buy toiletries from companies that I hear test their products on animals. I posted the link to the image mainly because I thought the original Belgian advertisement interesting.
Update: Micol wrote to me: "living in belgium i'd have a hard time boycotting belgian things, but i would like to pint out that the nasty boycott israeli products isn't a "belgian" boycott on israeli brands, it's a boycott made by a (worldwide) chain of stores called OXFAM. this boycott isn't new, this oxfam organisation has a store on my campus and they're really really annoying. so we stuck "boycotting israel is boycotting peace. 70% of palestinian GNP comes from economic interactions with israel" stickers on their door, but they don't really care :p "
I made it!
Today is Not a Fish's first blogiversary.
This has probably been the most emotionally intense and aware year of my life.
This year I sat with my mother and held her hand as her body gradually betrayed her (Or was it her holding my hand?). And we said our goodbyes. This year my mother left that treacherous body of hers and I watched it being lowered into its resting place and being covered with soil. I have struggled to internalize and understand my new relationship with her, for she is still with me in a very real way, maybe even more than before.
I don't know how this process would have unfolded had I not been observing it and experiencing it with the help of this new mode of expression I have found through blogging. The words have always been whirling round my head for as long as I can remember, but I never knew I could string them together as meaningful sentences, and I never knew how insightful this practice could prove to be.
In the year that has past, there has hardly been a day that I haven't thus strung words together and put most of them on display for others to read, something I never would have believed I would ever dare to do. I have learnt that if I am feeling very strong emotions, I can look at them, understand them, and deal with them, by writing about them. This is a wonderful gift.
Everyone who has visited Not a Fish, linked to me, written me an e-mail or a comment (when I still had them) or "just" read what I had to say (and I am still amazed that anyone should want to) is a part of this. I am deeply grateful to you all. You have enriched my life in a way I find hard to describe.
All my life, I think, I have spent learning about, and trying to deal with, my weaknesses and shortcomings. This year I have been learning, maybe for the first time, about my strengths and abilities.
This was my very first post, written a year ago. Little more than a link (Sorry, I didn't know how to link directly to a post back then) and a quote, it is still relevant. I think it sort of sums up this whole year for me. Thank you, Diane.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Silflay Hraka. New URL. Adjust.
Mothers and daughters
Just over a year ago, Hen Keinan's baby daughter, Sinai and Hen's mother, Ruth Peled, were killed in a terrorist attack in Kfar Saba. Less than a month later, Pnina Eizenman also lost her five-year-old daughter, Gal, and her mother, Noah Alon, to a similar attack, this time in Jerusalem. Both Hen and Pnina have recently given birth.
* * * *
Last night a seven year old girl, Noam Leibovitch, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist that shot at the car she was riding in along a new intercity toll road with her family, on the way home from a wedding. Her three-year-old sister was critically wounded. Allison is worth reading. I don't actually feel as she does, because I ride buses (mainly Tel Aviv's infamous no. 5 bus) and live and work in a quite central part of Tel Aviv. Too many human bombs have blown up near where I live, and in places that me and mine frequent (and Dad and R.T. live in Netanya) for me to believe that we are all anything more than plain lucky.
Oh, and don't miss Allison's previous post about the Golan. Our Sis likes going cherry picking too.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Oh, yes. Definitely. Read my mind.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Me unskillfully interviewing the girls, having just woken up from an unplanned nap (me not the girls)
This afternoon I lay myself down on these Indian mattresses things we have on the living room carpet, just for a few minutes, while I waited for the plumber (This is not going where you think it is. You should be ashamed of yourself!). It's the building's plumber, not mine. He has to do something with the building's pipes that run through my apartment. An hour later I woke up to find he hadn't arrived. It goes without saying that when we made this date I forgot to take his phone number. I'm very busy all this week and his not turning up is very inconvenient, because he'll probably just arrive some other time, when we least want him. In the waking up fuzzy brain mode these thoughts hazily passed through my mind.
Then I started thinking about the debate about Israeli kids hating Arabs that went on here in response to this, which I only discovered because Jonathan Edelstein linked to me and it turned up on my sitemeter. I've been thinking I should write about it, but it's such a tiresome subject.
I donned my serious journalist hat (just kidding, I don't have a serious journalist hat and even if I did my girls wouldn't be taken in for a second) and asked Eldest (nearly 12) if she hated the Arabs (I'm not sure if I asked about the Arabs or just Arabs). She said she hated Arabs who kill us and Arabs who want to fight us and want to kill us and want to throw us out of here. She said she didn't hate Arabs who want peace. She said that not all Arabs want to fight us and kill us. Then she said that on second thoughts maybe they do. She continued to develop this line of thought, in a far more eloquent fashion than I have managed to recreate, demonstrating her understanding of the complexity of the question. I think the bottom line was that she didn't hate Arabs; she hated people who wanted to harm us. Eldest is a very gentle child. I felt no real hatred in her voice or manner. I doubt if she is capable of a burning hatred. She was very matter of fact about it, checking her views in a serious grown up manner (I often think she is far more mature than I am). Then she asked in a giggly voice if this was for the blog. I asked her if it was okay for me to publish it and she said it was.
Then I asked Youngest (8) if she hated the Arabs. She asked me indignantly what sort of question that was. Then she said that if it was for my blog she refused to answer. Clever kid.
So there you are. Never underestimate people just because they are shorter and younger than you. And don't jump to hasty conclusions based on silly newspaper articles.
Being a mother in Israel with two reasonably sociable daughters, I know one or two or a few dozen (at least) Israeli kids, other than my own, quite well, and I am quite secure in my assertion that the newspaper article quoted in Ampersand's post is one of the silliest I've read in a while. The title of the article - "Psychological Study of the Mentality of Jewish Children" is particularly silly. Even in this hazy, post-afternoon nap fuzzy brain state I am in, I fail to see how serious bloggers, or even silly bloggers, could read such tripe and take it seriously.
And now, if you don't mind, those Indian mattresses things are beckoning. I say flow with the haziness. When hazy, nap some more.
You can quote me on that.
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Aawww. Paw wittoow fing.
Via Beneath Buddha's Eyes
Please note that the paw wittoow fing is actually not looking at the big bad gun. This can only mean two things: a. The photo is a fake (gasp!). b. There is another big bad gun to the left of the one in the picture, just out of frame. What do you reckon?
Another observation: Either the big bad gun is being held by a left handed big bad person or they've printed the photo the wrong way round. Does this strengthen theory a or theory b, I wonder?
They always seem to catch you mid-track while you're cheerfully going about your business, don't they, these terrorist attacks? Actually there is a good way to look at this. It probably means you are usually cheerfully going about your business, so you are usually cheerful. Being stopped mid-track gives you an opportunity to see this. Unless it's you or yours being blown up.
I've been having this niggling feeling for the last few weeks about the Road Map and the rewarding terrorism thing, that I haven't wanted to put into words. I still don't, really. I'd rather just be swept along with events and hope the guys upstairs are devious and conniving enough bastards to ultimately be able to make sure the ship doesn't sink.
This week is Hebrew Book Week in Israel. There are book fairs in every town and books are sold everywhere for big discounts. There is always a frenzy of book buying. I read a statistic that, on average, Israelis buy five and a half books a year. This made me smile. I probably buy five and a half books a week. Not that I get round to reading them all, and most of them are for the girls anyway. This statistic is actually rather sad, because given people like me, and there are a lot of us, although just as many take books out of their local libraries (we do too), and considering that the religious and the Russian immigrants are big book buying groups, it means a lot of people never ever buy a book. Not even a cookery book.
They were selling books in the supermarket and I noticed they had Agatha Christies. Now all through my teens I was an Agatha Christie nut. I gobbled her books up. I had this standing bet with myself that I should guess whodunit by page thirty and I got quite good at this. So I've been looking around to find some for Eldest, thinking it's about time to get her acquainted, her being such an avid reader.
Buying books in the supermarket is problematic. The chance they are going to get home not smeared by some foodstuff or other or just with all the pages bent is slim, not to mention having to schlep them along with all the other stuff you have to schlep anyway. But I couldn't fight it. I scooped up a copy of every Christie on offer in the place. There were six in all, and bigger and heavier than their English language counterparts. When I got to the checkout the cashier in the next register along noticed I had all those books and flipped. She was just so excited and she went on and on about what a good deal it was and how much more expensive they were at the book fair and what great books they were. I was half way home and she was still shouting after me, "They're classics, I tell you, absolute classics". Well, okay. At least she reads.
Eldest, a very polite child who seemed very grateful to get them, hasn't given them a second look, not to mention actually reading them. Grrrrr. I just know she'd love them and wouldn't be able to put them down once she started on the first. Bish was delighted, though, and said he must read them all again. Apparently he was also hooked as a teenager.
The book fair in Tel Aviv always used to be in Kikar Rabin, which was great because it meant we could walk (no chance to find parking). Now they've moved it to the park. It must be for security reasons, Kikar Rabin is more difficult to enclose, or maybe to ease up on the traffic congestion and parking problems. I was once meant to start a yoga course on Book Week in a yoga center a few blocks away from Kikar Rabin. It was late evening and I naively came in the car. I drove round and round and round, amid droves of crazed book buyers also searching for parking and in the end gave up and went home.
They now plan to renovate Kikar Rabin and add a big car park underneath. So the environmentalists are staging this big public struggle against it. Beats me. I think a car park underneath Kikar Rabin would be great. The environmentalist mustn't live in Tel Aviv.
Friday, June 13, 2003
A man who must have cared about the fate of the Jews living in Israel went to great lengths to bring a great spiritual leader here so he could teach Israelis how to live in peace within ourselves, in the hope that this would ultimately help us make peace with our neighbors. Following the visit of this great spiritual leader, this man assisted the creation of local groups that continued to cultivate this inner peace and spent much of his valuable time and his hard-earned money on this endeavor.
A few years later, some of the people who were thus attempting to incorporate peace into their lives were sitting in a room with this man. He was talking to them about peace and stuff. Somehow, the words slipped out of his mouth. "I am not a Zionist". There was a gasp of surprise among the hearers. They were not accustomed to hearing such utterances. Especially not from such a very Jewish looking American (Canadian actually); especially when he had just been telling of his personal history, fleeing Nazi occupied Poland and starving in Siberia; especially when he was investing so much in a mostly Zionist group of people. Somehow it didn't add up.
What did he mean "not a Zionist"? Did he mean he believed we had no right to be in Israel in the first place? Did he mean we should now give up our sovereignty and accept Arab rule? Did he mean his dear old aunt in Kfar Saba should be turned out of her home in her eighties? And if he believed all these things, why was he spending so much of his energy and resources on helping us solve our conflicts?
Roots are one thing, Michael, but life is in the here and the now, as you very well know. Hebrew is live and kicking (literally?). Yiddish is dying. And that's okay. Sad maybe, but okay (This acceptance has taken me a while to reach). Your mother tongue has little use in today's world, because Hitler managed to destroy the world it thrived in. Maybe it would have died out anyway.
I feel offended that you, a person I like and admire so much, Michael, do not believe that Jews should have a homeland in the Historic land of Israel. Because that's what "not a Zionist" means, doesn't it? That or you don't care this way or that, which is obviously not the case.
So I am offended. That's my problem. I'll survive. Something else to look into and learn from.
I never got round to asking what you meant exactly by "not a Zionist" and here I am, judging, which is not fair, especially as you can't answer.
I ask myself if you are not expecting too much of people? Are you not reaching for the moon? Are you not offering us up as the proverbial sacrificial lamb? In a perfect world, countries and nations would not be necessary. The world is hardly perfect. Why is it we Jews who are expected to do without and suffer the consequences? (And not just any Jews - the unlucky ones (?) who didn't get to the "Goldene Medina" where the Jews were, for the large part, accepted as just another ethnic group of immigrants, like everyone else).
Thursday, June 12, 2003
A few weeks ago, someone asked me about books that had special meaning for me. A funny thing happened. Although I read a fair amount and I can now think of quite a few books that had a great impact on my life, the only book I could think of while we were talking was Roald Dahl's Matilda. The book automatically flashed into my mind when he asked. Why davka this book? For those unfamiliar with it, it is a children's book about a little girl with exceptional abilities who has a mediocre family, to put it mildly, and has to deal with some difficult situations (again, mildly put), when they put her in an awful school with a particularly sadistic headmistress. As usual with Roald Dahl, everything is greatly exaggerated and hilarious. It is probably the most adorable book ever written. I first read it at the tender age of 35, when I was ill in bed with severe pneumonia. Adult books all seemed so depressing and I had no choice but to raid the girls' bookcases. By the time I had recovered, I had reread most of my childhood favorites. And Matilda, which I read twice. (There is a very cute movie with Danny DeVito and his real life wife whatshername. You know, the one from Cheers).
So what's with this book that touched me so much? Besides it's being pure magic, of course. I think it's that we are all Matilda, every one of us. We are all special and unique and have exceptional powers and abilities. Life is about handling mediocrity and stupidity and poison and tragedy and not letting them overcome us and pull us down.
Yesterday afternoon I posted my cheerful morning jottings and then went to get something from the bedroom. The radio was on and someone was talking about a bus, which looked like it had been blown up. Back in the living room, I put on the TV and checked my mail. There was an e-mail from Barbara, who I have corresponded with occasionally in recent months, telling me that her mother had died. This morning I got to the office late, having enrolled Youngest in her special class for budding Matildas (yes, we were persuaded that it was a good idea), only to hear the sad news about a friend's brother who hanged himself yesterday.
They are all Matildas. They are all stars shining bright in the dark night sky. The poor victims of the bus bomb, the perpetrator, all those killed in Gaza, innocent and guilty, Barbara's mother, my friend's brother. Each special and unique. Every one of them in possession of magical powers and extraordinary abilities.
So why is it that there is no happy ending? How come Matilda only manages to outshine mediocrity, stupidity and evil in a piece of beautifully written children's fiction?
I don't know what I'm talking about any more. It must be this awful cold I've got and this splitting headache that will not allow me to rest.
Someone told me recently that Roald Dahl had held anti-Semitic beliefs.
Update: Dan the Accident Man, in response:
"though i've never read the book, i've heard about it and think you're right
on the money as far as comparing us all, "guilty or innocent" to a
"matilda". i had a few thoughts regarding a "happy ending" and since your
story inspired them, i thought i'd run them by you...
consider an actor, possibly out of work for some time, who one day attends
the best play he's ever seen. never before has he been so affected on so
many levels. never before has he experienced a play that took him through
the full range of his emotions (and even formed new ones). and the
ending...he never would have expected such an ending. he is forever changed.
so here he is, in a state of total elation. he immediatley decides that he
MUST be a part of this production. he must have a part, any part: whether it
be the lead role, hero or villian, or just a small member of the supporting
cast. it doesn't matter to him: the play is the thing, right?
being a talented actor, he naturally gets his part (not important which
part) and as he's performing, the play begins to lose a little of it's
luster on him. now, being behind the scenes, the everyday trudgery of stage
life causes him to forget the wonder he experienced when he first witnessed
this thing. he begins to wonder "this is not what i expected! why did i ever
choose to be a part of this?"
what he is not seeing is that the play is still a great one. and his part is
still a great one. he, as a part of this thing, is having tremendous impacts
on those that witness it. what he is not seeing is that he is doing the
"Great Work" of inspiring, elightening, scaring, shocking, and moving these
audience members to action, introspection and change in their own lives.
it is not until years later, perhaps seeing his play made into a made for tv
movie, that he remembers how much he loves this story. and now that love is
made even greater by knowing that he was a part of it. he helped make it
so don't be too discouraged when you don't see the "happy ending". at some
point, this "play" too will be a memory. and i don't think we'll be as
concerned then with "outcomes" as we will be with the stories that led to
those "outcomes". in any good play/book/film, when a character has, say a
ton of lumber and stones fall on top of them, we don't applaud the lumber
and stones, we applaud when we see that hand come reaching out of the
rubble, refusing to give in to the power of the crap that's fallen on them.
lumber and stones and crap and bombs and hijackings, as well as medicine and
books and churches/temples/synogogues/mosques, are all props...objects. WE
are the subjects. we are the great ones who will use these things to make
the story a great one.
and at the cast party afterwards, villians and heroes will still buy the
drinks for one another. at that point, we know the actor, not just the
character they played. no hard feelings. after all, it was just a play!"
From his mouth to God's ear, as they say.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
I hate myself for what I wrote yesterday. I was so flippant about terrorist attacks happening on a monthly not daily basis now.
Swiftly I am mocked by reality. A bus in Central Jerusalem. 16 murdered, over 70 wounded, many in critical condition.
I'm all bunged up with my cold and feeling completely numb. The only feelings seeping through the numbness are not nice ones.
Every minute I am updating the number of those murdered as more and more of the wounded slip through the hands of the medical teams trying to save them in the hospitals.
Recidivist apology seeker (and other ramblings)
So today I swallowed my pride and went to seek forgiveness from my boss for my recent obnoxious behavior. Luckily he has known me for years, is quite fond of me (I think) and realizes my drawbacks (one of which is my being slightly unhinged). One of the blessings of working for the government is that your salary doesn't come out of your direct boss's pocket (Or his boss's either, for that matter). Bish always says I wouldn't last five minutes working for him, but I've been holding out quite well as a lowly civil servant for thirteen and a half years, obnoxious behavior and all.
I think I'm hooked on saying I'm sorry, so I pick fights so as to feed my addiction. The girls are used to it already. I yell, I say I'm sorry; I yell, I say I'm sorry. I think they quite like me nevertheless. Maybe it boosts their ego to know that they are so much better adjusted than I am. So fortunate that Bish's genes are more dominant than mine. Bish, by the way, is the only one who has succeeded in taming me to date, but it didn't come easy for him either. (Okay I realize a dependency on forever asking for the clemency of others is not actually the reason for my being a bad tempered pain in the neck, but there is a limit to what I am prepared to reveal on this blog).
Anyway, I celebrated the tension meltdown in my workplace with a very spicy toasted cheese sandwich. I asked Malka, the long-suffering vendor in our little kiosky place, to pile on the hot stuff, hoping it would have a positive effect on this awful cold I've got. It didn't. It just burnt my tongue and sent me running for those yummy lemon flavor B-12 tablets I take (I know, pretty pathetic).
Then a friend took me to her pharmacy and made me get a special potion the pharmacist there makes. Well talk about miracle cures, one swig and I felt much better. By the way, this will be my last post. I remembered too late that he had said one drop, not one swig. At least I'll die healthy - and forgiven.
The UK Guardian's David Aaronovitch on the blatant lies about the looting of Baghdad Museum, and how eager western academics and journalists were to believe it.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
We took a shot at Rantissi today. He was wounded and, sadly, so were a lot of other people.
Everyone is jumping around indignantly, as if he were a poor little lamb and not the big bad wolf.
My interest in current affairs fluctuates with my feeling of existential danger. It is something like the heightened awareness and alert of the antelope when it senses the lioness waiting, ready to pounce, in the bushes. Once the lioness has pounced on some other hapless beast, or has moved away to some other hunting ground, the antelope also becomes less wary.
Thus, in the latter years of Oslo, I felt secure enough to spend much of my time sitting cross-legged on the floor with my eyes closed, watching my breath, barely aware of what was going on around me on a national and international level. This period of tranquility came to an abrupt and violent end in September 2000.
When I began this blog, a year ago at the end of this month, I was one very insecure antelope, finding myself surrounded by a whole pack of hungry lionesses. At that time I was hungrily devouring any news item I could find that could possibly alleviate some of my fears, about Israel's instability and lack of international support. That's how I came across blogs, especially pro-Israeli blogs, and started one of my own.
Thanks mainly to the unceasing efforts of the Israeli security forces, the situation is much better now. Terrorist attacks are monthly, not daily, occurrences (at least in most of pre-1967 Israel, where I spend my life). I have little faith that anything will come of the Road Map, but it does give a sort of hopeful feeling, even if I do suspect this is false (Bish is very optimistic, for what it's worth, but he always is). As a result, I have drifted away from the news stations on the radio and TV, my interest in which was rather obssessive and hardly healthy, and back to music, movies, books. I feel safe enough to do so, and that is surely a good thing. I'm not in the lotus position yet, but that could happen. I ask myself where I should be taking Not a Fish now, and I have no answer.
So I'll just keep on chattering.
Monday, June 09, 2003
The end of the school year is getting nearer and I'm busy being a mother (for a change?). Eldest is forever at rehearsals for the end of year show they are putting on. To help fund it, they opened a kiosk in school in recess on Fridays. A fortnight ago I went to help, expecting the worst. It wasn't half as bad as I feared. Actually it was sweet. The little ones were very cute. One first grader tried to buy a candy that cost 1 shekel with 10 agorot (The equivalent would be trying to buy something that costs one dollar with ten cents).
Eldest moves to middle school next year. She had to give in some curriculum preferences this week, and I was pleased to see that my attempted brainwashing with regard to languages was a success. She chose Arabic over French (phew).
We have to make some choices with regard to Youngest, as well, this year. On Thursday and Friday we are to visit a school that houses a special class Youngest has been invited to join. A difficult decision. Should we take her out of her "natural environment" and a pleasant, friendly, and quite adequate academically, community school that I can see from my window, in favor of a more challenging option that she will have to be bused to? Hopefully we'll be wiser at the end of the week.
My basic belief is that school's main function is as a place where you learn to live in society; therefore I'm not really in favor of "special" schools that separate between kids on the basis of their abilities (although I must say we all sighed with relief when two boys with sever behavioral problems were taken out of Eldest's class after first grade and sent somewhere else). This is also why I find home schooling problematic as a concept. However, we often find that Youngest is the exception to the rule, in more ways than one.
Apparently, more boys than girls are accepted to these programs (There are various theories to explain this. Some more PC than others) and, as a result, few of the girls accepted wish to participate. I rang to see why I hadn't been contacted and the secretary initially missed a letter in Youngest's name, giving her a boy's name. When I corrected her, and she understood Youngest was a girl, her whole attitude changed completely ("Would it be okay if I kissed your feet?") and ever since, in ensuing conversations with the school counsellor, I have had the distinct feeling we are being wooed. Teehee. I wonder what Youngest will make of the pitch we will probably be served up with on Thursday and Friday.
(written yesterday - blogger wasn't working)
As peace gets nearer (4 dead; 4 wounded)
A (Jewish) Buddhist friend said, in that sunny voice, that peace is near. And I said we've heard that before and realized how bitter I sounded.
Is there any wonder I have little to say?
What would I vote if there was a referendum tomorrow on the question of the Road Map and the Aqaba understandings? In favor, very likely. I'm a sucker for peace agreements.
Update: Dan (whose blog is a fun accident waiting to happen) wrote: "your (jewish) buddhist friend is right. buddhists tend to see life on a grander scale. the problem is, the closer you get to real-life, here and now reality, the harder it is to maintain a zen perspective. you are only one person. what is the best you can do but keep peace in your heart? that and communicate your vision of peace to as many people as you can. i sound like a friggin' infomercial, don't i?"
The thing is I'm all out of vision, Dan. I had plenty of it last time around. I was one of those euphoric starry-eyed nitwits, dancing around as if the Messiah was at the gates of Jerusalem on his white donkey. It turned out it was just that my specs were dirty. Now they are squeaky clean and I don't see any Messiah's out there. (Just kidding, my specs are never squeaky clean).
So now my support of any peace talks is more of the stark reality pessimism type.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
I'm a bit introspective these days. That means I'm boring the socks off the three and a half poor souls who occasionally wander into my Hebrew blog, but getting very little written in English.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Old guy with signs
Once upon a time my maternity leave was over and the nanny we had employed for baby Youngest turned out to be a terrible mistake, so for lack of other options at that late date, and having already returned to work, I put Youngest into a day care center just a bit too far from home and work, in a congested business area of Tel Aviv. That year I was forever in a rush. I had to have her at the day care center at seven every morning, while Bish took Eldest to her day care center, a bit nearer to our home, and thus I could get to work on time. To get to work, I used to have to rush like a maniac along a main Tel Aviv boulevard, minutes before rush hour would have had me stuck in traffic and I would be horribly late.
The old guy was there at the junction, every morning, come rain or shine, long before I drove past, with his scruffy gray beard and his big homemade signs. Every day, they were a bit shabbier, those signs of his, a bit dirtier. I suppose the same could be said for his lungs, but that didn't seem to deter him. The first time I saw him I wanted to stop the car and give him a good shake. Couldn't he see how wrong he was? No, Oslo wasn't a disaster for the people of Israel! What an idea! Oslo was the dawn of a new, better future for all of us! Why couldn't he see that? Why couldn't he open his heart to our Palestinian neighbors and accept compromise?
But I didn't stop the car. I never stopped the car. I was in a hurry. Remember? (Good excuse). I didn't even roll down the window and shout to him how I felt about his relentless one-man demonstration. I just sat in my car at the junction, waiting for the red light to change, day after day, watching him turn himself and his signs to greet whichever traffic had the green, waiting for my turn to sail past him. Gradually, my annoyance at his mistaken views was replaced by a grudging admiration of his perseverance and dogged determination. I didn't accept his views, but I came to respect the way he expressed them.
If I remember correctly, he disappeared from the junction, for a while at least, following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. I think I saw him again, once, when Bibi Netanyahu was in office, and about to retreat from large parts of Hebron. But by that time, Youngest had moved to the day care center nearer home and I no longer drove past that junction in the mornings.
Things have changed quite a bit since then, have they not?
I hadn't thought about him for years, until his image suddenly flashed through my mind this morning, when I heard on the radio about the demonstrations the Israeli Right are planning, to express their opposition to the Road Map.