Yeah, I heard this on the radio, too. It was yesterday's amusing news item of the day. Today's was about the chairman in a Knesset committee meeting who broke his gavel while attempting to restore order. I think they air these stories in the sleepy early afternoon hours to amuse drowsy workers like me and prevent us from nodding off.
why not a fish
Monday, July 14, 2003
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Eliyahu Gurel, a 61 year-old taxi driver from Ramat Gan, has been kidnapped. It is believed he was abducted by Palestinians and is being held near Ramallah. Security forces apparently tracked him to the vicinity with the help of his cell phone. His taxi was abandoned near Jerusalem. I hope he is still alive.
Meditating on Mitzpe Ramon
Yesterday, in the early morning, I decided to go out for walking meditation along the path on the edge of the cliff. I haven't done any walking meditation for ages. It's a very calming practice. I can't do it in the city, but in Mitzpe Ramon I feel quite comfortable to walk along slowly, aware of my breathing and the feel and sound of my feet touching the ground underneath them with every step. I was quite alone, aside from a few people on their way to the nearby synagogue and one or two fellow walkers.
On my way up to the cliff's edge, I noticed a family of ibex further up. Later on I came parallel to them as I walked and brought my attention away from my breathing to look at them. While I was doing so, a car coming along the road, stopped abruptly with screeching brakes and a family of five or six tumbled noisily out, disturbing the early morning calm. They immediately began bustling around the ibex, posing for photographs and, horror of horrors, throwing them bread so they would come nearer to be photographed. I wondered if I should say something to explain to them that it was not a good idea to feed these wild animals, especially not with bread, but I decided it would not do any good. They did not look as if they would be capable of understanding and there would just be an unpleasant exchange, which would make us all miserable and bad tempered.
* * * *
People in Mitzpe Ramon are very excited about the prospect of a legal casino opening in the town. There has been talk of this for years, and they believe it is going to happen very soon. They see it as the answer to the severe unemployment problem in the town. It will bring gamblers and more tourists. They will have to sleep somewhere. They will have to eat.
I fear that in their starry-eyed fantasizing they fail to see the downside of such a development. They ignore the fact that their quiet little town could change in such a way as to make it a far less pleasant place to live in.
Because gambling brings baggage with it, not just jobs for the locals. It brings a seedy side. Now it's not as if there isn't a seedy side to Mitzpe Ramon today. It is a poverty stricken place. It has its drugs and petty crime, but it still has a certain innocence. A casino, even a legal one, will bring with it some really unpleasant characters. It will bring the loan sharks with their violent collectors. It will bring a flourishing sex trade, with its imported whores from the Ukraine and the unsavory characters who enslave them. It will bring foreign workers who will do the work for starvation wages, with the locals finding it hard to compete. And it will bring with it far more people like that family that jumped out of their car yesterday morning and fed bread to the ibex.
I fear the price to the environment will be awful. I doubt the ibex could survive such a change. I fear for the crater.
Mitzpe Ramon may become more affluent, and it may grow and have more jobs to offer its inhabitants, if and when a casino is built. But if it becomes sleazy and crime infested, it will probably lose it's main source of income of today, the "nice" visitors like us (we are nice, and even if we are jailbirds, we're nice jailbirds ;-) ), and like the well-to-do tourists who come to stay at the lovely Ramon Inn and tour the crater, and the other natural and archeological attractions in the area. It could also lose its religious community, including a respected national religious high school Yeshiva and a flourishing Braslav community, which, I believe, are good influences on the town (even if Braslavs tend to be a bit nutty).
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that a legal casino really does save Mitzpe Ramon. I hope that, in the long run, the Mitzpa'im, as they call themselves, will find the casino worth the price. That is if it ever materializes.
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Israelis in Warsaw
Two interesting things:
a. I have readers in Poland. I find this quite exciting, being of Jewish Polish extract myself (besides a great-great-great grandmother, I think, from Holland and a great grandfather from the Ukraine and some others who I think must have been from Germany… Oh, never mind). I actually have a photo of my great grandparents, which according to the inscription on the back was taken in Warsaw in 1906. Great Grandma Zelda is wearing one of those long silk dresses with a corset, like in period films.
b. According to my Polish readers, the latest additions to Warsaw Zoo are elephants Yonni and Ninio, who arrived safely from Ramat Gan (must be from the "Safari") by El Al flight on Friday night. Judging by their names, at least Yonni must be a Sabra.
Hi there, we're back
We've decided to give up our apartment in Mitzpe Ramon (again). We're very sad. I'm too tired to explain right now.
The edge of the crater was full of wild ibex. You could walk right up to them. They are used to humans.
Here's one guy who was lunching on our garden as we left back for Tel Aviv.
Friday, July 11, 2003
We're off to Mitzpe Ramon for the weekend. Shabbat Shalom.
Maybe we'll pop into the latest national popular heroine, Vicki Knafo, although I believe she will be staying in Jerusalem for a while, campaigning for the rights of single parents. This week she walked all the way from her home in Mitzpe Ramon to Jerusalem to meet with Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
Are you Jewish?
Lisa Katz helps you settle the question once and for all, according to Orthodox Judaism.
The fat is in the pan.
According to Haaretz, Arafat is out to get Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). And according to Ynet (Hebrew link), the bodyguards of Palestinian Minister for Security Muhammad Dahlan, foiled an alleged attempt on his life last night in the streets of Gaza by Hamas operatives, following his meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Haaretz has the story too, I see. The Palestinians are saying it was a misunderstanding. Yeah, right.
Oy, do we know how to pick our neighbors, or what?
Swapping goon stories, this is John's hilarious account of his run-in with the law.
In his case it was a matter of mistaken identity, or something like that. I'm the real jailbird. The parking fine issue is a painful one for all who dwell and work in Tel Aviv. I think it has sort of worked itself out in recent years, though. The parking fines in question are from the old days when the muncipality was particularly nasty. One of the fines is actually for parking in the street under my apartment, where I am supposed to be allowed to park. Incredible, isn't it? I don't remember getting it, but I can imagine myself taking it off my windscreen and stomping on it in anger.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Is there something wrong with me?
I have no complaint with blogger. Everyone tells me I should have, but I don't. Everyone tries to lure me to better blogging thingemabobs, but I'm quite happy where I am. And I like my little puppies. I spent a few days blogsitting with MT. Allison had promised I would be hooked. I sat in front of my monitor day after day, excitedly waiting for it. Nothing happened. So I have come to the conclusion that I obviously don't get something very crucial about blogging. I am a blogging retard.
Lisa Katz's About Judaism has a lot of links and information about Israel and Judaism.
And now for some real news
The First Lady of Gotham is BACK!
This is actually quite scary. Should I see it as proof that blogging really is the modern day heroin? Will I never be free?
Look who's home. Hi there, I'm glad to hear you had a good time.
Imshin the jailbird
Have I had an exciting afternoon! I have just been the victim of Tel Aviv municipality's terror and extortion tactics. You wouldn't believe it. Those b@$%@&ds sent their goons round to intimidate the girls and me.
They claim that we owe them money for long forgotten car fines (from between the years 1996 - 1998, for a car I sold long ago and forgot all about). The first we heard of this was a couple of months ago when I received notice that my car was to be confiscated (I'm not sure what the legal term for this is in English). Understandably bewildered and dismayed, I rang Bish in hysterics. Lawyers were involved and negotiation commenced, initially to find out what exactly we owed them and why they hadn't bothered to notify us of this before taking such a drastic step. Later on we agreed to pay our debts, which amounted to something in the region of $1000 as a result of exorbitant interest. Then they informed us that, after we had paid this, they would have more surprises in store for us. Here we said "No no no! Please inform us now of all your monetary demands of us and let us settle our full debt right now." This, they seemed to think, was too much to ask for, and therefore - the goons.
I was completely flabbergasted when they turned up on my doorstep. Later our lawyer told us he had just received a letter listing the rest of our debts with an apology for it taking such a long time. This meant, in effect, that they had accepted our (quite reasonable) demands, and he really couldn't understand why they had resorted to such tactics. Of course, conveniently for them, the goons arrived after the municipality offices had closed for the evening, so we had no one to complain to.
Under duress, I was forced to write them a delayed check for the amount in question. The threat was if I didn't fork out, they would send over a policeman, who would break down my door. Needless to say, the goon stayed out in the corridor, on the other side of the chain, although I did pass him out a glass of water, a folding chair and today's newspaper (Yediot Aharonot, of course, not Haaretz which we have started to receive again as well, I'm not that cruel), while I tried to work things out. After gaining entry by violent means to my humble castle, I was informed gleefully by the goon, they would then proceed to liberate it of some of its clutter. The goon then dangled a piece of paper in my face (through the crack in the door), luring me with the enticing offer to just write him a check and he would immediately call off the hounds. Multiple phone calls to Bish and to the lawyer ensued, with Bish shouting, "Let them break down the door! Let them take the TV, see if I care! I will not be intimidated!"
Now, our TV just happens to be a 43", and it weighs 165 lbs. I visualized the goons having to schlep that thing out in this heat and I suddenly saw the humorous side of it all. From this point on I started to enjoy myself. After all, I don't watch much TV and last time it was being fixed we had a lovely time, listening to music, talking... The comical aspect peaked when Youngest's piano teacher arrived and the event developed, from this point on, to the gay sounds of Maykapar's Little Commander.
Egg on my face: Now I think on, I'm pretty sure it's a 34" not a 43" (I'm hopeless with these things). It's still heavy, anyway. (43" what was I thinking? Where would I stick a 43", exactly?).
Oh, and a reader informs me that while "confiscated" is fine, the correct term is "impounded". I had seen this word in the dictionary but I wasn't sure.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Happy Blogiversary to Frank of IMAO. Doesn't time fly?
Because of the importance of the matter to Israel-USA relations, and because a lot of people seem to find it difficult to grasp, I will spell it out:
I-T W-A-S A M-I-S-T-A-K-E.
We're sorry. We didn't mean it. These things sometimes happen during wartime. It was very unfortunate and we feel for the families of those who were killed. But we didn't do it on purpose. We didn't know we were attacking an American ship (We may be crazy but we're not that crazy).
Now give it a rest. Please.
Lynn B. has this too.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Last night a man infiltrated the home of sixty five year old Mazal Afari in Kfar Yavetz, an Israeli village near Netanya. He proceeded to blow himself up, killing Mazal, injuring her three grandchildren and another person, and causing serious damage to the house. The Jenin branch of the Islamic Jihad has proudly owned up to this act of barbarism.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Eldest and her friend brought home a Hugh Grant DVD. Not thinking, I foolishly told them what I thought of him. There was a stunned silence. "You can't stand Hugh Grant?! (What sort of weirdo are you?)"
"Well, erm, it's...not...exactly that I...er... can't stand him. It's more that I sort of... it's not ...well, it's just that he's not... really... my type, sort of thing." (Aaaaaagh! I'm turning into Hugh Grant in my old age. This is a nightmare).
Sunday, July 06, 2003
A belated response to the Berlusconi thing
I must admit I was quite shocked at Berlusconi's vulgar and ugly behavior (even if he could very well be the only friend we have among Western European leaders, whatever Tony Blair says). But Nelson Ascher seems to have been less embarrassed by it. He seems to have been especially incensed by what he refers to as the hypocritical reaction.
I know this was a very rude thing for Nelson to say. But when you think about it, it is far ruder for them to call us Nazis, all things considered, isn't it? Or maybe rude isn't the right word for it.
One day, when I was about eighteen, I was going up the steps that lead from Haifa's "Carmelit" underground station in the Central Carmel up to street level, when I saw a pair of strange looking sandals coming down the steps towards me. I now know that these were Birkenstocks. I have since been the owner of many a pair of the Israeli version of this unsightly but extremely comfortable style of footwear. But at the time I vaguely thought to myself "Must be German" and looked up to see what the rest of the owner of the whitish toes enclosed in the aforementioned sandals looked like. He looked German. Nice, though. I can't remember if he sported a goatee. Did they have goatees back then in the early eighties? Or am I wondering this because if this had happened today he definitely would have been the goatee type? Anyway he smiled, I smiled and we passed each other and continued on our separate ways. Me up, him down. Then I did something I still find hard to believe, as I was far more bashful in those days. I sat down on the bench just at the top of the steps and waited. And lo and behold, two minutes later, he came back up.
We sat and talked. He was nice. He was a pacifist. He had come to Israel as part of his national service, instead of going into the army. He was part of a project aimed at making peace between Jews and Arabs. He had been staying in an Arab village. In the Galilee I think it was. Now he was in Haifa. I don't recall why.
Something grated. I appreciated the sentiment behind his actions. I admired his wish to maybe do something to make amends. But something about it seemed wrong. I felt patronized. A German comes here with the presumption to make peace between Jews and Arabs. A German?
I felt guilty that this was going through my head. He really was nice. He believed in what he was doing. He was a good guy.
I didn't share any of this with him and we sat and chatted for quite a while. We even spoke on the phone later. But I knew I couldn't take it any further. There was too much invisible tension in the air between us. Maybe he didn't see it, or maybe he chose to ignore it, or overcome it, as part of his quest. But I could see it, wouldn't ignore it, and didn't want to overcome it.
And maybe it's just as well, because my parents probably would have killed me.
I've been meaning to link to these guys for a while. Avraham promises to discuss Harry Potter when he finishes it. I hope he doesn't say who dies. If he does I'll probably have to ferret him out and SHOOT HIM. He's half way through. I'm only on page 95. Somehow I've been too busy to really get into it, what with Eldest's big bash last night and things. I hear the party was great, by the way. I didn't go. I know when I'm not welcome. I sent Bish down once an hour just to see they were all still alive. There was a full size D.J. (luckily she had a co-host so it wasn't all that expensive), so I guess if things were getting really out of hand I would have heard about it. Bish says the low point was when the boys started stuffing lemon flavor wafers into the fans, which we had borrowed from all and sundry (Not your fan, Our Sis, lucky you. For some reason they didn't touch yours).
Talking about Harry Potter and who's up to which page, R.T. was on a train in England a few days ago and he said the whole train was reading guess what? And I mean everyone, old, young, middle aged. Even a few children. And the only discussions going on where about what page everyone was on.
Is this a crazy story or what?
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Ya Habibi, Ya Eini (his words not mine)
Guess who is back.
The latest on Professor Wilkie
His case has been referred to his university's disciplinary panel. "Professor Wilkie now has 28 days to give a written response to the allegations. He is charged with bringing the university into disrepute."
I do think it is unfair to expect him to give a written response, seeing as up till now he puts his foot in it every time he attempts to write anything.
Andrew dear, in the unlikely chance of your reading this, please take a little advice from a brusque, obnoxious female Israeli army veteran (which according to you automatically means I am also a violent and morally deficient person): Whatever you do, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WRITE IT YOURSELF!
At one period, before this Terror War, known as the second Intifada, a name that is unacceptable to me, I used to visit the West Bank settlement of Elqana on a regular basis. This is a very lovely village just on the other side of the Green Line, near the town of Rosh Ha'Ayin, the unofficial capital of Yemenite Jews in Israel (which is on "our" side of the Green line). Funnily enough, my regular visits were part of my Buddhist meditation practice. We had what's known as a "Floating Sangha", a Sangha being basically a community of practice (It's actually much more than that, but I won't get into that right now). This meant that we met each week at someone else’s home.
Yossi was our only religious member. The Jerusalem group had many religious members, but Tel Aviv had one. It may sound strange to you that a Buddhist group should have Jewish religious members, but this particular stream was low on ritual. Yossi said the practice enriched his Jewish religious practice.
The first time Yossi suggested we meet at his home in Elqana, he was met with polite, but uneasy and embarrassed opposition. People told him that they were worried about traveling through the West Bank at night. I wondered how much of their unease was political, not wanting to go to a settlement, however mainstream. I confess part of my unease was political. But this was a Buddhist group. We practiced acceptance and understanding. The next meeting was not in Elqana, but Yossi persisted and eventually I found myself one dark evening uneasily driving my car along the high road that leads to the Jewish West Bank town of Ariel. After Rosh Ha'Ayin I came to a checkpoint. The soldiers glanced at me and waved me on. Now I knew I was in the Israeli controlled part of the West Bank. When I was a child, we used to travel the West bank freely. I had heard of the green Line but I was never sure exactly where it was and what it meant until I was well into my teens. Nowadays you know when you are in the West Bank, even where there are no checkpoints.
Further on I came to a bend in the road. There seemed to be an Arab village there and scores of young Arab men were lining the road for some reason. It was very scary, but I just drove on, praying I didn't run anyone over and was soon relieved to see the signposts for Elqana.
Yossi's home was lovely. It was a very Jewish home, full of beautiful Judaica and artwork depicting Jewish life. I always especially enjoyed the many meetings we held in Yossi's home after that first one. From Yossi I learnt to not be so judgmental of people whose views I oppose. On one occasion he shared with us his feelings of being deserted and betrayed by PM Yitzhak Rabin, during the early Oslo years leading up to the assassination of PM Rabin. In my euphoria at the outbreak of peace with the Palestinians at the time, I personally had chosen to take little notice of Rabin's impatient and rather harsh treatment of the settlers.
Sometime later, Yossi drifted away from our little group, as I did myself soon after. I doubt anyone of us Tel Avivis would have traveled to Elqana at night after September 2000.
* * * *
I once discovered that someone had linked to me, calling me sassy. Being a very shy person in "real life" I found this amusing. I have now noticed that this same person finds me "irritatingly provincial". I guess this is because I make no attempt at offering any solutions as far as the big picture is concerned and have no use for grand theories. All I have to offer is the world as it passes by my window. I have never seen, with my own eyes, Israeli soldiers beating up Palestinians at checkpoints. My eyes have never witnessed the sight of human bodies strewn all over the street after being blow up by a suicide bomber. All the grand theories that I have ever believed in have been proved wrong, including the paradoxical grand theory that grand theories are inherently a waste of time and should be avoided. Life has proved to be too complex to tidily organize into neat ideologies.
Of course, provinciality is always relative. Calling someone provincial can be interpreted as the ultimate defense against an outlook that differs from your own, a more polite version of the Israeli left’s common claim that Israelis who vote for right wing parties are either halfwits, or certifiable.
I don't write about Palestinians, or how they feel or what they are experiencing. How can I write about these things when I have no opportunity of learning about them first hand? I read about what is happening to the Palestinians in the paper, just like you. I don't write about Jewish settlers in the territories either, although I have more opportunity to meet them. I only know what's happening to me. If this is provincial I am quite happy to be provincial, even irritatingly provincial. I'll take it as a compliment.
Avoiding dealing with Holocaust denial
John Williams has been discussing the question of Holocaust denial with me. I find myself at a loss to react. How do I feel about Holocaust denial? I'm not very good at putting over a philosophical point at the best of times, but now that I'm on a diet I think my brain has completely shut down. This is obviously why emaciated fashion models are often regarded as (How can I put this in the least offensive way?) not very bright. It's obviously the lack of sufficient carbohydrates reaching the uppermost part of their bodies (and now mine too). Gives you a sort of airy, fluffy feeling. Not unpleasant, but not conducive to developing complex philosophical theory, either.
But I digress (I love writing that).
I can't handle Holocaust denial. It's too big, too scary. Moreover I don't know any Holocaust deniers personally, which makes me feel a bit removed from the whole issue. Of course, I do know plenty of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with the second generation, the offspring of the survivors.
Lately I've been noticing things about this second generation, my contemporaries. Maybe it's because we've got to the age in which our life experiences begin to affect our facial expressions, the shape of wrinkles appearing on our faces serving as windows into our soul. Or maybe it’s because writing forces me to look more deeply at things I've been seeing for years.
Is my childhood friend's cancer an inheritance of her parent's suffering in Poland in the war? Why does my tough, no nonsense friend at work never seem to get round to translating that letter in Polish she has in her possession, written by her grandparents to her father, before they sent him out the back way, to an unknown destiny, when the Nazis came knocking on their door (although she professes a sincere interest in learning about the letter's content)? Will my forty-year-old acquaintance and his older brothers ever be able to break away from their domineering (Holocaust survivor) mother, and begin families of their own?
Maybe these thoughts mean nothing. Maybe these are just anecdotes, coincidences. Maybe most second generation are just the same as everyone else and I'm just looking at them differently because I know something about them and look for the effect.
The Holocaust is central to life in Israel. Some (such as Professor Wilkie) seem to see Israel's preoccupation with the Holocaust as some sort of manipulation. They are apparently unaware that people in Israel, and, I believe, throughout the Jewish world, are still trying to come to terms, to grasp, to understand the meaning, or the lack of it, and to learn to live with the feeling of loss that somehow persists. This task of ours is surely hard enough. On top of it all, how can we possibly cope with people who, we are told, are denying it ever happened, or are diminishing its scale?
Update: More on this by Nelson Ascher.
Friday, July 04, 2003
Happy Fourth of July to all American readers of Not a Fish. And thank you, United States of America, for being a friend to Israel.
By the way, I'll be throwing a Fourth of July party over at Allison's. You're all invited. (Don't worry, she'll never know. She's in VENICE and she's left me to look after the place. How naive these American Israelis are...)
Update: Maybe not so naive. She didn't leave me a password. Party's off. Tomorrow night Eldest is having a party (unrelated to US Independence Day) in our air raid shelter, though. If you don't mind mixing with a few dozen twelve-year-olds (who also happen to be brusque, obnoxious Israelis) you could crash that (Masochist).
Update update: Got the password from Matt of Blogmosis. Let the festivities commence!
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Can we start feeling optimistic yet?
Mohammad Dahlan was interviewed on Israeli channel 1 (TV) this evening. He said that the Palestinians were committed (Hebrew link) to not returning to the routine of violence that we've been seeing. So why are we hearing about almost continuous attacks on Israeli cars and settlements in the territories? And why was the Sharon region subjected to a standstill traffic jam for hours yesterday while security forces searched for terrorists?
Channel 1 also reported this evening that the Lebanese radio station "Nur" has announced that the bodies of three Israeli soldiers have been dug up near the Lebanese village of Hamra, near Sultan Yaakoub, and will be sent for DNA testing. You know what everyone is thinking, don't you? Everyone is thinking that these could be the bodies of the three soldiers taken captive in the Sultan Yaakoub battle, Yehuda Katz, Tzvi Feldman and Zecharia Baumel, in 1982, during the Lebanon war. You can read more about these MIA's here. Of course, there are also Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Suwad who were abducted by the Hezbollah in October 2000. Their fate is also unknown.
This is good.
Tel Aviv's impressive Bauhaus collection has been added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. I hope this will mean they have to make more of an effort to look after these buildings. I'm very fond of them and proud of Tel Aviv being the first and only Bauhaus city in the world (if I am not mistaken). They do get run down though. Do you think UNESCO will fork out for their upkeep and renovation?
Free Azam Azam!
There is talk (at least according to one of the Israeli TV newsreels this evening) that Egypt may possibly be releasing Azam Azam at long last. Azam Azam is an Israeli Druze who was working in Egypt in an Israeli company when he was arrested in 1996 or 1997, I think, on charges of espionage for Israel and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor, although Israel has continued to deny he was being operated as a spy. I hope he is freed soon. Poor guy. His brother was saying on the radio this morning that he is currently refusing to accept any visits (Hebrew link), even from family members, as a protest at what he perceives as the lack of action by Israel on his behalf.
I know someone who once spent a few days in an Egyptian prison. His story was so horrifying I can't imagine anyone surviving seven years in such a hellhole.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
It has arrived!
Now please be quiet, all of you. I'm trying to read here.
Thank you, R.T., the best brother in the world, for sending it to me.
Jewsweek's Benyamin Cohen on the Professor Wilkie drama.
And a New York Mama reader sent me this additional w-mail she got from the Prof:
"- Additional comments by Andrew Wilkie (not part of the "official" statement from OU)
Can I please make it clear that Amit Duvshani was not an applicant for a funded post but contacted me as a preliminary enquiry. My stance was based on his service in the Israeli army and the violence that potentially entails. I would feel uncomfortable working closely with someone who had been through that, which you may not respect but I hope you can understand. The same would apply (to a greater extent, actually) for a palestinian terrorist (although I haven't heard of one applying for a PhD). But my email was hastily written (clearly entirely my fault), and has been widely misinterpreted as a lot of worse things. I am deeply sorry about this and retract what I said, which was caused by too personal and emotional a response to the terrible situation in Israel.
In addition to the official statement (above) issued by Oxford University, I understand that Amit's application will be taken forward if he so wishes. I have been in contact with him to apologise, not just for my original email but also for causing his name to become so publicly prominent.
I hope you can forgive me. My stance (which I do not retract) is anti-violence, whether by jewish, palestinian or any other people.
Please pass this message on if appropriate.
I would like to point out that I did my mandatory army service as well, for two horrible years, and I wasn't violent to anyone. I sat in an office. Honest. Maybe he'll take me (Please, Mr. Professor Sir?). I don't know anything about mollecular what-nots but surely that is of no concern seeing as it's the army thing that seems to matter most.
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.