For thirteen years I was a good little girl at work. I did what I was asked, when I was asked, or near enough. I had respect for my superiors. I kept my reservations to myself. When they told me to jump, I whispered politely, embarrassed, red-faced and stuttering, that I didn’t think jumping was in my job description.
Then I became a blogger.
Now I‘m an official pain in the neck. I am loud, argumentative, and have an opinion on every subject under the sun, usually directly opposed to that of my superiors, and I make sure everyone knows it. Funny thing is, no one dares tell me to jump anymore.
This week they sent me on a course. I think they needed a rest.
why not a fish
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Maariv in English. Although the print version has yellow tendencies, this newspaper is far more representative of "Middle Israel" than Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post. I do believe it also has a larger readership than both newspapers put together, although far less than Yediot Aharonot. Its op-ed columns are much more likely to reflect different points of view.
Kol Hakavod, Amnon Dankner!
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Read my update on Rim al-Riyashi (scroll down to the end of the post).
Thank God I live in a modern society in which women are regarded as human beings.
Saturday, January 17, 2004
I’m sorry. She’s not Snow White – she’s the Wicked Queen.
I bet the Wicked Queen had a good reason to be a wicked queen too. I bet the Wicked Queen had suffered a lot as well. I bet the Wicked Queen deserved our pity and compassion no less than the pretty woman with black hair and red lips, who murdered twenty-one people she did not know, some of them babies.
Most people who have committed horrific crimes have had excellent reasons to turn into monsters. Should we excuse and justify them all? Should they all be heroes and inspire moving* pieces of art?
No wonder the ambassador was inflamed. Read this, part of the
Shame on the Swedes, for not being able to distinguish right from wrong.
* Moving in pools of the blood of their victims?
|You're T'Pol. You are very analytical and logical, as any good Vulcan is, but this makes you stick out like a sore thumb. You're cold and calculated, but there's a softer side to you that you tend to keep under wraps.|
Brought to you by redanubis.
I’ve no idea who this is. I’ve never seen the Next Generation or whatever it is they’re calling it these days. Where’s Mr. Spock?
Via Brian Ulrich.
Hectic afternoon. Youngest had a piano recital at six, but would she miss her friend’s birthday party at four? No way Jose. So forget about Shabbat after-lunch siesta, usually holy; rush the young generation to her party; rush home; spend the next half hour looking at the clock; rush out again to yank her out of the party by the ear; rush out yet again with music pages, footstool, coats, food offerings, etc (Oops - forgot flowers for teacher), to the place the recital is being held*, so child wonder (bite your tongue off, Imshin) will have time to sample the unfamiliar piano before it all starts.
And then, sit and kvell. Worth it.
These should be the worst of my troubles ;-)
Is it legal for a Jewish mother to kvell, when the musical talent can only have been inherited from the other side?
* Without a doubt the poshest apartment I have ever stepped foot in. But then, I don't get out much.
Oy, I've just had a major Blogger disaster. For a few minutes the blog was gone. Dead.
Managed to resurrect it somehow, with help of back up from 2002.
Maybe it's time to start investing some time and effort in moving off Blogger after all.
We’re apartment hunting.
Our lease is up soon, and we’ve decided not to extend it. Time for a change. That’s the beauty of renting, especially if you are lucky enough to be able to afford something decent in a nice area. The problem is, of course, that most apartments in the older part of North Tel Aviv are quite small, so you have to put in some effort searching. Last time we were lucky; we took the second place we saw.
We saw something we liked yesterday. We liked the landlord as well, which is important.
Friday, January 16, 2004
Bish noticed a piece of interesting gossip on one of the more popular Israeli current affairs forums. Writes one Nitzan Or, that according to a news item on Arab radio station Monte Carlo, Rim Sallah al-Riashy, the twenty two year old female suicide bomber, married and mother of two from one of the wealthiest families in Gaza, that blew herself up in the border crossing between Gaza and Israel on Wednesday morning, did so because she was five months pregnant from her husband’s cousin and was going to die anyway, to pay for the dishonor she had caused her family. The radio station explained that her husband encouraged her to be a suicide bomber so she would at least save the family’s honor. The Hamas promised to look after her daughters until they were married.
Whatever her reasons (there are rumors that her husband was fed up of her and persuaded her to do it so as to be rid of her), off she went. They say she could have won an Oscar for her tearful performance. She told the soldiers at the border that the metal detector had beeped because she had metal pins in her leg. She cried and begged that she had to get into Israel for medical treatment.
Now the real crippled Palestinians and the real sick Palestinians, who really do need to get treatment in Israel, will pay the price. It will be so much harder for them to get in. It’s the ambulance story all over again. But no one will remember that when the soldiers don’t let people through. They’ll blame the Israelis’ hard heartedness. No one will blame Rim Sallah al-Riashy. She’ll be the Shaheeda, the revered heroine, another number on Palestinian statistics of Palestinians killed in this war by the Israelis (yes, believe it or not, suicide bombers are counted by Palestinians and “peace” organizations as victims of Israeli hostilities).
Read here about Hamas’ aims.
Update (1/18): This story was all over the front page of Yediot Aharonot this morning. And it gets worse - according to the most popular newspaper in Israel, the husband's cousin, and Rim's lover, was in on sending her to explode. He actually gave her the explosive belt.
I can't help thinking that the whole thing might have been a plot to get rid of her after all. The husband was fed up of her, so he sent his cousin to seduce her. Then they had cause to kill her, talking her into doing "the honorable thing" and becoming a shaheeda, while they were at it. How wicked can you get?
Monday, January 12, 2004
More of the same
I’ve finished the short version of the report of the recommendations of the Orr Judicial Commission of Inquiry (Hebrew link). I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was particularly moved by paragraph 55, in the final note (my very humble translation):
At the same time, the Commission pointed out, the Jewish majority must remember that the state is not exclusively Jewish, but also democratic, and as such – as has been said above – equality is one of the central bricks in the constitutional structure of the state, and the prohibition of discrimination applies to all the citizens of the state. The majority must understand that the events that turned the Arabs into a minority were a national disaster for them, and that their integration into the State of Israel involved them making painful sacrifices. It must respect their identity, culture, and language. The Commission stated the possibility of expressing in public life what is common to all the population, by adding appropriate state events and symbols. It stressed the need to find ways to strengthen the Arab citizens’ feelings of belonging and connection to the state, without adversely affecting these citizens’ affinity to their culture and to their community.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
So much to read, so little time.
Coinciding with the article about Yaron Whatever-His-Name-Is’s lynching by Israeli Arabs during the October 2000 riots that I wrote about yesterday, I just happen to be gradually reading the shorter version of the report of the recommendations of the Orr Judicial Commission of Inquiry. You’ll remember that the Commission's mission was to investigate the riots of Israeli Arabs in October 2000, and the killing of thirteen people by the Police, during these riots. The report is very interesting. I can’t find an English link to it. This is the shorter version in Hebrew. I tend to agree with Yitzhak Herzog, who writes in today’s Jerusalem Post and in Yediot Aharonot, that Israeli children, Jewish and Arab, should be studying the report in school. He suggests ”that the Arab students learn about the gravity of the rioting, how the Arab population was drawn into acts of unnecessary violence, and the seriousness of the damage caused to Jewish-Arab relations” and that “The Jewish students, for their part ... study the committee's brilliant analysis of the processes that led to those riots and the urgent need to change our attitude to minorities in Israel.”
I’m going to give the full report a shot after I’ve finished the shorter version. I want to study “the committee's brilliant analysis of the processes that led to those riots” myself.
Herzog goes on to say that “The Or Committee Report presents the discrimination against and distress of Israeli Arabs in a very painful manner. The clear conclusion emerges that the government and the country have two alternative courses of action: The first is to do nothing and bury their heads in the sand, leading to more Arab alienation, frustration, and a disastrous rift between the two nations in this country.
The second alternative is to vigorously integrate Israeli Arabs into all layers of Israeli society in order to reduce the friction”.
I hope we adopt the second alternative.
On the other hand, I am very ashamed to admit that I am currently struggling with a nasty little devil in that keeps whispering in my ear that if the Palestinian state is going to be Judenrein...
I can't even say it, no less write it. But I'm thinking it. God forgive me.
I can hear police car sirens and a helicopter. It's because of that right-wing demonstration Adrian was kindly warning me of, the day before yesterday. I had wanted to say that I thought it was planned for Monday, but apparently they moved it forward, because today is clear and tomorrow rain is expected.
The Police were blocking off the northern end of Ibn Gvirol Road when I went past before.
A favorite pastime of mine, when I used to live a bit nearer to Rabin Square, was to gauge the turnout at demonstrations according to the effect on the parking situation in my little road. And I loved watching the people walking along on their way there and back, quietly excited and determined, with their banners and scarves and flags. Now I live a bit further away and I admit I miss all the action.
Lynn B. has links to discussions about Benny Morris: Allison, Solomon, Judith Weiss, Roger Simon, and ”Tom Paine”. I thought I'd interview my Haaretz-reading friend from work on how she felt about the Benny Morris interview. She hadn't read it. But she promised to. I fear I might have slightly influenced her by giving her a short rundown on Benny Morris. She didn't recognize the name initially, but it started to ring a bell for her when I said "New Historians" and "Post-Zionism".
No, I don't think Yaron Whatever-His-Name-Is is a very nice person either.
But even self-centered, attention-grabbing, ungrateful bastards don't deserve to be lynched. And you didn't have to read the rest of the article. He was fucked up to start off with. Now he is extremely fucked up.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Not a Fish - A CAT.
Just move your mouse so the cursor moves around the cat's body, and it will play with you (the cat not the cursor).
A gift from Our Sis for all you Cat Bloggers.
When you read that someone was lightly wounded in an attack, what does this mean, exactly?
This weekend, Yediot Aharonot’s local supplement “Tel Aviv” has the story of a local stand-up comedian called Yaron Breld. Or is it Berld, or Barald or Bralad or Barlad? You can never tell because there are no vowels, so you have to work it out for yourself. (One of the first things I did when I met Bish was to correct his pronunciation of some of the names in Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”, whole passages of which he knew by heart. I recently read somewhere that Israeli kids are comparatively slow readers because of the vowel thing). Anyway, Yaron Whatever-His-Name-Is is described as the craziest stand-up comedian who does the most outrageous things on stage, which I am far too embarrassed to repeat here. Thing is, he apparently used to be this thin, athletic, good-looking, tight-assed jerk, who ran a model agency, went out with beautiful women, wore designer clothes and thought he was God’s gift (you know the type), and now he’s fat, dirty, smelly, never changes his clothes, and couldn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about him (as long as he can make them laugh). So what happened?
What happened was that he and his father were lynched, driving home through the neighboring (Israeli) Arab town, one night in October 2000.
An excerpt of the article (My translation):
We suddenly saw cars stopping at the side of the road and turning round. I asked my father to go back, but he wouldn’t listen to me. I begged him, “Dad, go back”, but nothing would work. He listened to the policemen. While driving we started to see burning tires and bricks on the road, really scary. My father slowed down, and we suddenly saw 400 people, I’m not exaggerating, 400 people, running towards us. Molotov bottles, burning tires, crowbars. I am shouting at my father “Turn round! Turn round!”, but just as he was starting to turn round - boom! A brick came through the windscreen at his head. Dad lost consciousness and his ear was nearly pulled off, but for the 400 people surrounding us it was just the beginning.
I managed to escape from the car, but the mob was on my father, rocking the car and throwing bricks. I’m standing helplessly, watching them try to murder my father, not knowing what to do. I grabbed a rock and ran over to try and help him, shouting: “Leave my dad alone! Leave my dad alone!” And suddenly – boom! A brick hit my face. My jaw was shattered. All my teeth flew out. I even swallowed some of them. And then Arabs came from the direction of Moshav Sdei Hemed. One of them was carrying a hunting rifle, and he shot at them to drive them away. Our attackers thought we were dead anyway, so they left us.”
“The Arabs that came from the direction of Moshav Sdei Hemed dragged us to the moshav. My father was nearly dead anyway, he’d had about a hundred rocks thrown at him. I thought they were going to kill us. But they called ambulances and actually saved our lives.”
It’s strange. On the one hand, Arabs from Jaljuliya want to murder you, and on the other, two Arabs save you.
“You are right, it’s strange. But don’t misunderstand it, it’s not that the Arabs that saved us liked us, they just hated those from Jaljuliya and that’s why they were on our side. I promise you that if it was those who saved us who were doing the lynching, the Arabs from Jaljuliya would have saved us.”
Yaron and his father were hospitalized with wounds all over their bodies. “You can’t understand what excruciating pain I endured,” Breld says. “On the news they always say that there are wounded - badly, medium and light. They said that it was a miracle that I was only lightly wounded. I want people to understand what lightly wounded means: No lips, no teeth, shattered jaw, excruciating pain, and I’m just lightly wounded.”
Breld was in hospital for weeks. His jaw was restored, his lips sown up, and his teeth were replaced with implants in a long and painful process. His father took longer to heal, months.
When did you realize what had happened to you?
”Only when I reached the hospital. I still hadn’t really grasped what I’d been through. I thought I was in a nightmare, that it wasn’t reality. Slowly, I began to understand that my life had been saved. I’d looked death in the eye, and not just any death – death by stoning.”
What did you feel in those moments?
”When I was being attacked by those 400 people with covered faces, I began feeling a deep chill. I was afraid that my father was dead all the time. You can’t explain the feeling – it’s a nightmare, it’s a film you can’t change. And what did we want, after all? To get home. The funniest thing was that the doctor that took care of me was an Arab, and the hospital was full of Arabs that were wounded in the October riots by security forces. Israeli Arabs tried to murder me, an Israeli Arab is treating me, and in the beds beside me lie Arabs wounded in the riots.”
And besides the physical damage?
”There is also the psychological damage. I have nightmares about Arabs. I can see the picture of the 400 people with covered faces in front of me all the time, I’ve got shakes and twitches, but I thank God that my father and I survived, that’s most important.”
Is there anger?
”Yes, and I hate them. Before the event I was center, now I’m far right. You have to understand, the people who did the lynch were my acquaintances from Jaljuliya. Before it happened I was in Jaljuliya a lot - I sold my car there, I took my car there to be fixed, I went there to fill in Lotto and Toto (state-organized gambling on results of soccer games – I.J.), I even had a credit account at the store there, really chummy. And suddenly they’ve got their faces covered and madness in their eyes, rocking our car “hey hop, hey hop.” Do you get it? I can’t grasp it. A week ago I’m buying at the store there in credit, sending Lotto and Toto with them, and today they’re trying to kill me. I can’t grasp it.”
And since then, more than three years onwards, have you passed through Jaljuliya? It’s an Israeli Arab village, after all.
”No way. Since the event, I haven’t been near, and I don’t want any contact. I haven’t even paid my debt to the store.”
Not long after
Friday, January 09, 2004
It does get better. I find that now that the first year is behind me, along with the first Yahrzeit, I am more reconciled, more at peace. Time is helping me heal after all.
You may have noticed that the Israeli IndyMedia has been offline for a while, for a much-needed renovation. Of course, I strongly suspect the real reason they disappeared in such a hurry was the complaint lodged against them for publishing inciting material. They actually sort of own up to this in a way, because what you see when you reach them these days is their official reaction to the Police investigation.
Important to read: Ari Shavit interviews Benny Morris in Haaretz. Read it all, right to the end. Prepare to be shocked. Read with an open mind.
* * * *
Talking about Haaretz, have you heard that Editor-in-Chief Hanoch Marmari has resigned over a dispute with owner Amos Schocken about moving the Economics Department? The resignation is not about national politics, but it is well known that Marmari advocates a more balanced approach than his further left leaning boss. They were discussing possible replacements for Marmari on the Reshet Bet radio station and one of the names that was mentioned, albeit not very seriously, was Orit Shohat, well-known for her extreme left-wing views.
Someone joked that if she's editor, she and Schocken and her refusenik husband will be the only ones left reading the paper.
* * * *
Later: Mind you, in previous publications, Morris claimed to have failed to find quite well documented information regarding public utterances of Arab leaders in 1948, calling for Arabs living in the Land of Israel to leave temporarily, while they got rid of the Jews for them (and this is his main claim to fame). So I'm not sure if we should trust his fact finding this time around. Or anything else he says, for that matter, whatever side he's now on.
On second thoughts, regarding the dangers we face, let’s not forget what Avi Dichter, head of the Shabak (General Security Service, often referred to, outside of Israel, as the Shin Bet), had to say about some of those small groups of Jews and the threat they pose us all:
"For the State of Israel and the Jewish people in the Diaspora, Jewish terrorism is liable to create a substantial strategic threat and to turn the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a confrontation between 13 million Jews and 1 billion Muslims across the world," he said.
In Yediot Aharonot’s news weekend supplement today, Ariella Ringel Hoffman says that Dichter and the Shabak are very worried that these people will try to commit a mega-terrorist attack such as destroying the mosques on the Temple Mount (or murdering another Israeli PM). Ringel Hoffman quotes an unnamed Shabak operative who calls these people real anarchists (unlike the left wing activists, who called themselves anarchists, that tried to dismantle the security fence two weeks ago and then complained that the army had not dealt with them according to IDF regulations pertaining to arresting suspects), in that these people do not accept authority at all and feel they have nothing to lose, because perpetrating a world changing event (such as blowing up the Temple Mount, God forbid) will serve to bring the redemption nearer.
Okay, so now explain to me why these people are not in prison. If administrative imprisonment without trial (according to emergency regulations) is deemed necessary in order to deal with Palestinian terrorists, it should be okay for these dangerous individuals.
This fills me with fear too.
Belated explanation: I’m not talking about the guys that just got fifteen year sentences for trying to blow up a Palestinian girls’ school. I’m talking about the rest of them who are currently lying low.
Ah, a really interesting blog by yet another crazy goyishke (I assume?) British Expat living in Israel (What the hell is wrong with these people?). Don’t miss his riveting explanation of why he’s here. Makes me sorry I don’t need an English teacher. I wonder what he’s like with opinionated, unruly eight year olds? Ow! Eight and three quarters, sorry.
After a week or so of silence, during which I didn’t even open my computer, Bish told me I lacked discipline.
Of course I lack discipline. That goes without saying. But I don’t think that’s why I haven’t been writing, or watching the news, or reading the newspaper.
Sometimes an inner conflict causes one to shut down.
The good thing about blogging is that you really can’t ignore things, even if you can’t be bothered with them. They pop up and you have to deal with them. Sometimes dealing with them means you have to take a breather and not think about them for a while. There is always the danger you might not come back.
Part of the reason I write this blog is a healthy survival instinct. Lacking a more active modus operandi for Fight or Flight, I blog to conquer my fear. I am told that my country, my home, has no right to exist, and that fills me with fear. I am told that its chances of surviving are slim, and that fills me with fear. I read a book about the hold religious fanatics, whose main wish is to destroy everything I hold dear, have on Palestinian society, and that fills me with fear.
But what do I write that will help? And what do I not write? What do I do with my criticism for things that are being done by my leaders that are wrong, when the reasons for them are right? These are things that should be written in Hebrew. Saying them in English just serves to make things worse, because, read out of context, they could be used by our enemies, exaggerated, inflated, and twisted.
It’s not that I am overestimating my ability to effect or influence anything, mind you. A few hundred mainly friendly readers don’t change anything besides helping to lull my feelings of guilt at my inactivity. If I have nothing hopeful or positive to say, surely I should just shut up. What is the point of telling people overseas that I think the army, the Prime Minister and so on, should be doing certain things differently? And about my growing unease in the face of the behavior of said PM’s sons and said PM’s political party? And about my displeasure at the State’s continuing ineptitude in dealing with small groups of Jews trying to force their agenda on us in the disputed territories? These are still issues that, while frustrating me intensely, are dwarfed by the dangers posed to us by those who will stop at nothing to make us go away, however long it takes them.
But enough of all that heavy stuff. I'm back from my eight days of detoxing now. I've even dared to open my mail box. It wasn't too bad, considering. Last night I was at a Bat Mitzva, busy mingling with a half finished glass of wine in my hand, when I suddenly remembered that I was on antibiotics, the type that don't mix with alcohol. Result: I had the worst time, most of it spent in the toilet, had to leave early, and now I’ve got the hangover from hell.
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Now this is what I call Ping Pong.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Happy New Year
I hope 2004 is a good year for everyone.
[I'm not really into celebrating the Christian New Year, myself. As far as I can remember, I've never celebrated it. A lot of Israelis regard it as an excuse to party, but then I've never been much of a party-goer.]
Shai tells of the state of high alert in Tel Aviv this afternoon. Bish says that he could see a lot of security forces out of the window of his twelfth story office. They caught some Palestinians, with no explosives, but they're not telling what it was all about.
I took Youngest to the Yarkon River, regardless. We ended up on the trampolines in the Sportek on the northern bank. Great fun. On the way there we had to make a detour; Police sappers were dismantling a suspicious object on a bus on our route.
Update: Yediot Aharonot says they were car thieves. Whatever.
Peace activists marched on a segment of wire security fence from the Palestinian side, on Friday, and commenced attempting, peacefully and non-violently, to tear it down, aided by wire cutters. When one of the soldiers guarding the fence eventually opened fire and badly wounded one of them, they were astounded, absolutely flabbergasted. Couldn’t the soldiers see they weren’t Palestinians? Yes, it seems to have been the demonstrators, some of whom we could clearly see on TV newsreels with faces covered like Palestinians or wearing Palestinian-style kaffiyot, and their supporters, who brought up this complaint first, and not the soldiers, as Yishay (from his excellent vantage point in London) asserts. As far as the soldiers were concerned, the demonstrators looked like any other dangerous, hostile mob. There is now wide spread indignation in the Israeli Left, and in some corners of the Israeli Media, at the soldiers’ unfathomable, and even criminal, lack of racial discrimination.
I am not defending the shooting, mind you. The soldier could very well have been in breach of the regulations for opening fire, as far as I am aware of them (but I could be wrong), and if this is the case, the officer who gave the order will very likely get the book thrown at him, even though he probably wasn’t really to blame. He didn’t have any other means at his disposal, did he? Why didn’t the army supply him with one of those nice crowd-dispersing vehicles that spray uncontrollable, violent demonstrators with liquid (Preferably mixed with ink in an easily distinguishable color such as shocking pink, or phosphoric orange), for instance? Methinks such a vehicle would have been effective even against a far more hostile mob, had the water pressure been strong enough, unless the rioters started actually shooting at the soldiers (Hmm, there’s a thought: I wonder if drenching a bomb belt renders it ineffective).
A friend of mine, who lives quite near to the Israeli side of that particular part of the fence, in a town that has had its fair share of terrorist attacks in recent years, said he would have been quite happy to volunteer to go operate the water thing on them, even though he was dismissed from reserve duty years ago, for reasons of age. He sees the fence as providing direct protection for him and his family. And he was not the only one I spoke to who was angry about the demonstrators’ actions, and less than sympathetic about their being shot at, legal or not.
If we’re on the subject of protective fences, top Israeli journalist, Nahum Barne’a, who cannot be suspected of being even slightly right wing by any measure, pointed out an interesting twist in this particular story, in Monday’s Yediot Aharonot (Sorry, no link. For some reason, I couldn’t find the opinion page in Ynet). Gil Na’amati, the young man who was wounded during the riot (that’s what Barne’a calls it) alongside the Fence in the West Bank on Friday, lives in Kibbutz Re’im in the Northern Negev. His father, Uri Na’amati, holds the position of Head of Eshkol Regional Council. Every week or two, Barne’a tells us, Palestinians attempt to get across the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel and are regularly shot at by IDF soldiers. This happens just a few kilometers from the home of the Na’amati family. Barne’a says that while the fence crossers in Gaza are not all terrorists, and many of them are laborers seeking work, the young people at the fence in the West Bank were a bunch of provokers, wearing their Jewishness as a flak jacket, and looking for a confrontation with the army at all costs.
Nevertheless, Barne’a claims, the members of Kibbutz Re’im have never demonstrated against the fence that divides between them and the Gaza Strip nor against the shooting at people who try to cross it. Most of them, he presumes, see the fence as a blessing. And, as far as he can recall, the head of the regional council has never complained either. He says that it is understandable that he is complaining now that his son has been wounded by the soldiers’ shots, but that “the sound of wailing and weeping coming from others in the Left smells of racism, hypocrisy and favoritism”.
Today there was more fence-connected violence. Read about it at Tal's.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Today, round about lunchtime, I was walking along a busy well-to-do North Tel Aviv street, full of fancy restaurants and cafes, with two of my work buddies, when I saw a man put his hand into a trash can, take out a half-eaten bun, and proceed to eat it.
I had some other things I wanted to say, but that has sort of shut me up for a while. Things are bad and getting worse.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Two books broke my heart when I was teeny. The first was Black Beauty, which upset me so much I couldn’t finish it (and therefore missed the happy ending). The other was Beatrix Potter’s Pigling Bland. The idea that he had to leave his mother and never see her again was unbearable to me.
No one thought to take me to see Bambi, thank goodness. That would have finished me off. I remember watching it as an adult with Eldest and crying my eyes out. I explained to her in a choked voice that his mother had died and that now he would live with his father. Eldest was far more accepting of this than I was.
Anne Cunningham (new URL, adjust your links):
A lotus flower
For dear Sheema, who has lost her mother, and shares her sorrow with such gentleness.
Not what it seems
I am currently reading a book published in 1999 by Shaul Mishal, a professor of Political Science in Tel Aviv University, who was a great favorite of mine when I was studying there (this will gain me a few raised eyebrows from other former students of his, because he wasn’t the most exciting of lecturers, to say the least). The book is about the Hamas (The link is to the English version. I am reading it in Hebrew). It’s about as exciting as his lectures used to be, so I doubt I’ll be reading more than a few chapters, but there was a sentence I liked in the first chapter (my translation):
Pim feels bad about having maybe started a blog war, almost single-handedly. Quite the contrary! You instigated a dialogue - between two opposing points of view, for one thing, and also between Imshin and herself, for another. That can’t be bad. And I’m also pleased that Yishay started blogging again as a result.
Yishay Mor wrote a lovely response (scroll down, permalink not working – 12/26 2:11 am) to my post. He is a nice guy.
Problem is it’s not the nice guys who dictate how things will be in the world. It’s the not nice guys. It’s the guys filled with anger and hatred and venom. One of the messages of the particular stream of Buddhism I practiced was that if I were a nice guy, my very niceness would have a good affect on people I met, on the world. This is a wonderful idea. I would love for it to work. But it doesn’t. The sheep always get gobbled up by the wolves. Always. It is a fundamental truth. They will never dwell together. The prophet Isaiah used this allegory (11;6) to portray his vision specifically because it was not, and could never be, possible in the world as we know it.
I wish I had kept on meditating in my office during the late shift. I didn’t. I couldn’t. And now the poison penetrates me.
There are people one would rather not be in contact with, but sometimes there is little or no control over this. And it is difficult to protect oneself, not to mention the dismaying inability to spread anything positive.
And here am I saying to people like Yishay don’t give up, don’t move aside out of exhaustion and despair, when it’s me who needs to heed that message.
We’re not so different. The main difference between us is in the solution we have found for ourselves.
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Just east of Tel Aviv: Under the Geha bridge on Jabotinsky Street, between Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak. Three murdered, sixteen wounded. A suicide bomber. He was apparently trying to get on a bus. Luckily he didn't succeed.
An apology: I purposefully didn’t spell out the name of my refusenik from yesterday’s post. This was very rude. I’m not even sure why I did it. It’s been bothering me and I wish to make amends. Yishay Mor. There.
* * * *
Fact: Young soldiers often behave cruelly and inhumanely at checkpoints. Proffered solution: Cancel checkpoints.
If our front door proves ineffective in stopping burglars (and it’s ugly, as well), do we decide to remove it altogether? Or do we take steps to improve its effectiveness (and give it a new coat of paint)?
Checkpoints are bad, but right now they are necessary for the security of Israeli citizens. Until the day comes when they can safely be cancelled, they must be improved. How? By teaching the nineteen year olds that man them to behave more humanely. By utilizing conscientious, mature army commanders like Yishay Mor to be there with them as guides. Not hysterical, screeching, hostile peace activists, but people they can relate to and respect, fighters like themselves, with military authority, sent by the army for this specific role (I know military, hierarchic organizations well enough to understand that this has to come from inside, and from above, with a lot of emphasis put on educating officers and commanders that are not officers to ensure that they understand and support the move).
And this could work in other missions, not only at checkpoints - during searches in people’s homes, for example.
I can well understand the exhaustion of people like Yishay, but if they really care, how can they give up? How can they step aside? There are things they can do. We need them. Here, not addressing young people in Dublin.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY CHRISTIAN READERS AND FELLOW BLOGGERS.
I went to see what I posted last year. I still love it, so here it is again:
King John's Christmas
by A.A. Milne
King John was not a good man-
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came upon him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare.
Or passed with noses in the air-
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.
King John was not a good man,
And no good friends had he.
He stayed in every afternoon,
But no one came to tea.
And, round about December,
The cards upon his shelf
Which wished him lots of Christmas cheer,
And fortune in the coming year,
Were never from his near and dear,
But only from himself.
King John was not a good man,
Yet had his hopes and fears.
They’d given him no present now
For years and years and years.
But every year at Christmas,
While minstrels stood about,
Collecting tribute from the young
For all the songs they might have sung,
He stole away upstairs and hung
A hopeful stocking out.
King John was not a good man,
He lived his life aloof;
Alone he thought a message out
While climbing up the roof.
He wrote it down and propped it
Against the chimney stack:
TO ALL AND SUNDRY - NEAR AND FAR -
F. CHRISTMAS IN PARTICULAR.-
And signed it not 'Johannes R.'
But very humbly, 'Jack.'
'I want some crackers,
And I want some candy;
I think a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I don’t mind oranges,
I do like nuts!
And I SHOULD like a pocket-knife
That really cuts.
And, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!'
King John was not a good man
He wrote this message out,
And gat him to his room again,
Descending by the spout.
And all that night he lay there,
A prey to hopes and fears.
'I think that’s him a-coming now,'
(Anxiety bedewed his brow.)
'He’ll bring one present, anyhow-
The first I’ve had in years.'
'Forget about the crackers,
And forget about the candy;
I’m sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don’t like oranges,
I don’t want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!'
King John was not a good man
Next morning when the sun
Rose up to tell a waiting world
That Christmas had begun,
And people seized their stockings,
And opened them with glee,
And crackers, toys and games appeared,
And lips with sticky sweets were smeared,
King John said grimly: 'As I feared,
Nothing again for me!'
'I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts.
I haven’t go a pocket-knife -
Not one that cuts.
And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red india-rubber ball!'
King John stood by the window,
And frowned to see below
The happy bands of boys and girls
All playing in the snow.
A while he stood there watching,
And envying them all-
When through the window big and red
There hurtled by his royal head,
And bounced and fell upon the bed,
An india-rubber ball!
AND OH, FATHER CHRISTMAS,
MY BLESSINGS ON YOU FALL
FOR BRINGING HIM
A BIG, RED,
Refuseniks – Chapter 3
(For those who haven’t read the previous chapters: Chapter 1; Chapter 2)
I seem to have seriously aggravated a refusenik. He takes offense at my calling him a “supposedly enlightened, self-appointed Don Quixote-type who feels superior and therefore above the law” without taking the time to get to know him and hear what he has to say. So I read what he had to say, on his blog and at an Amnesty youth and student conference in Dublin, March 2003, and was once again reminded of a piece of wisdom of Meryl’s: Do not blog when angry (And if we’re on the subject, Bish tells me not to forget this other little gem: Do not shop for food when hungry). The difference between his blog post and the speech he gave in Dublin is amazing. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same person. This is what anger does to us. The guy in Dublin I can relate to. I don’t agree with him, but I can relate, and respect.
I think our refusenik friend (the blog one) may have read my post rather hurriedly and skipped my personal ramblings about floating embroidered velvet. Had he read it carefully he would have realized that I regard myself as no less a “supposedly enlightened, self-appointed Don Quixote-type” than him. Maybe even more. Even in my post-embroidered velvet version. I even ridicule my own feelings of superiority. It seems he hasn’t taken the time to get to know me and my motives, either.
People like myself may be regarded as mainstream in our little puddle, but we are widely regarded as dangerous monsters in the big wide ocean. In that ocean, it is the refuseniks that are the accepted ones, the good guys, the acclaimed heroes. The things I said yesterday about influencing middle Israel are all very well, but I suspect the refuseniks, not each one personally, not our friend here, but on an organizational level, are far more interested in the effect their actions are having outside of Israel. Our friend has actually supplied proof of this (Why doesn’t he supply the translation of the speech he gave in the Youth Center in Dimona development town? Oh, he never gave one?).
So here I am, a little puddle creature, daring to fare the rough seas of the ocean, their ocean, where it is they, not I, that rule the waves and the deep alike. You see, I am quite aware that my Don Quixote days didn’t end when I hung up my meditation cushion (I’ve got it down since, but I’m lapsing again). I do see the futility of spending all this time and energy writing this blog. I know I’m having no affect whatsoever on the tidal waves of hatred and anger, justified or otherwise, crashing onto Israel’s shores from all four quarters of the earth.
I know I will never persuade any refuseniks of this, but in my view, however noble their motives, their actions are contributing considerably to those tidal waves.
I’m a bit tired of this argument and had meant to stop now, and not bring it up again, it is the Sixth Candle of Hannuka and Christmas Eve, after all (There must be some positive floaty energy in that), but I just wanted to mention one more thing. My friend, the refusenik, in his anger, said something in his post that I found extremely unfair, especially coming as it did from one who, just a sentence or two beforehand, admonished me for generalizing and judging him, without first getting to know him and his motives. He said “The mainstream, and we both know it, doesn't know one side of a gun barrel from another. Most able Israeli males don't have to bother about refusal, because if they do any service at all, it’s a 9-5 in Tel Aviv.” He is saying that those who oppose refuseniks are those who do not bear the equal share of the load, with regard to army reserve duty. Well, I don’t know it. This is a gross generalization and besides sounding suspiciously bigoted, it just doesn’t stand up. I personally know far too many people whose lives contradict it. Besides, I thought we were talking of people who were refusing for conscientious and political reasons. I am aware that there are many who object to having to do so much reserve duty, while so many others are exempt. But that is an entirely different matter. I know of a lot of people who complain that they find the burden of their reserve duty unbearable, independently employed people, for instance. Not only their lives, but also their civilian livelihoods, are put on the line with every call up notice. But they wouldn’t dream of refusing to serve for conscientious reasons. It is very wrong and extremely misleading to connect these two issues.
Later: Said refusenik has contributed a recipe for making your own Hummous. All is forgiven.
Update: More on this - Zeev Schiff in Haaretz.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
An Amish Hannukiya. For the collection.
Smothering him with love
Lynn has all the story about Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher’s being attacked by Palestinians on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem yesterday (So has Dave). He came to worship there, had shoes flung at him and had to be hospitalized.
"Traitor! Collaborator!" they screamed at him, with some of them pelting him with their shoes, both inside and outside the mosque.
"I'm going to choke, I'm going to choke," a panicked-looking Maher was heard saying, according to witnesses, as one of the shoes – which by Muslim tradition are taken off at the entrance to mosques – apparently hit him in the face.
Striking someone with a shoe is considered a great sign of Muslim insult.
His words, not mine. Why don’t we have diplomats like that?
Here is photo of him drinking in all that Palestinian affection and interest.
I think the people who dare to do that are heroes and my counter is only a sign of support. I wish I could do more for them.
Once I was a very committed JuBu. I floated round my workplace serenely, adorned head to toe in embroidered velvet, quite secure in my belief that my having meditated peacefully in the office during the late shift the night before had released the negative energies in the room for ever more. I couldn’t quite grasp why everyone began yelling and shouting as usual, when they arrived in the morning. Couldn’t they feel the change?
It wasn’t that my floaty quality was unpopular. I was fondly referred to as the Flower Child and people came to me for advice about alternative medicine, a subject which not only bored me, but about which I was completely ignorant.
It gradually dawned on me that the main effect my spiritual practice had on my workplace was that I was increasingly socially isolated, and not because I was being shunned, quite the contrary, but by my own choice. You see, if you believe that you are on some sort of special path, and no one else is, then you tend to feel a bit superior. You are the only one who has seen the light. That this is completely false is beyond your comprehension. The end result is that, in many instances of your life, you have no one to talk to, at least, not in the same language. It goes without saying that no one else will be affected by your self-perceived personal growth, or in any way benefit from it, besides seeing you as a bit of a weirdo.
Refuseniks truly believe that they are doing the right thing, the brave thing, following their consciences. But besides their personal feelings of gratification and self-righteousness, the immediate results of their brave acts and their reward for their isolation, what real good are they doing?
They are setting themselves apart, separating themselves from the people, and therefore losing their ability to influence. People who live in a society have a responsibility to others in that society, and not only to their consciences. No man is an island and all that. The hard thing is not refusing to man a checkpoint. The hard thing is standing in that checkpoint, day after day, week after week, and behaving humanely. And making sure everyone else behaves humanely. And then, on finishing your army reserve duty, going home and using your power as a citizen in a free democracy, to demonstrate, to write letters, to meet with Knesset members and government ministers, to try to interest the media in your point of view. In short, to try to change peoples views as an equal, as a peer, and not as some supposedly enlightened, self-appointed Don Quixote-type who feels superior and therefore above the law.
Another thing that foreign supporters of IDF refuseniks don’t seem to realize is that legitimizing left-wing refusal also legitimizes right-wing refusal. If it’s okay to refuse to guard settlements in the disputed territories, its also okay to refuse to forcibly dismantle them, when the time comes. Supporting refuseniks could very well be tantamount to supporting a future bloody civil war in Israel (God forbid). Surely, well meaning foreign supporters of peace in this region could not want that.
The Head Heeb has posted a most fascinating contribution to the Hannuka debate on the Maccabees. He is certainly far more knowledgeable than I am on the subject. That holds true for most subjects we discuss. I am flattered that he still reads what I have to say and sees fit to respond.
He still maintains he probably would have been opposed to the Maccabees had he lived back then. Based on his learned arguments I’m even more convinced than before that he wouldn’t have. But who knows? Had he lived back then, and been a Jew in Judaea, he could very possibly have been a lowly, uneducated farmer, or even worse - a woman!
Monday, December 22, 2003
A rare treat
The Frog has spoken.
I must be psychic. I haven't checked his blog for ages. I just popped in and lo and behold - he posted just an hour and a half ago.
The first time I saw Paris
In the summer of 1986 I cashed in my Bat Mitzva winnings and took a plane to Europe. On that trip I visited England, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. But the focal point of my trip was Paris.
I got off the train in Paris at five o’clock in the morning. The first thing I saw was an elderly drunk lady, being brutally hauled out of the station and thrown into a police van. Then I went to the toilets, where I encountered the most elegantly dressed lavatory attendant you have ever seen.
I had a great time there. I knew my way around in no time, and even managed to get along with the Parisians with my non-existing French. I couldn’t hide behind my shyness there, you see. That’s the beauty of travel. I had a little Berlitz phrasebook. Once they could see I was making an effort to speak French, it turned out they could speak English after all. The friends I met up with, veterans of the Alliance school in Tel Aviv, did know French, but were far too self-conscious to use it. So I was the mouthpiece, funnily enough. Not knowing French turned out to have its advantages. I couldn’t understand what some of the men on the street were saying to me. I could tell it wasn’t very nice.
What seemed strangest to me about Paris on that first visit, something that really baffled me, was what I didn’t see, because it wasn’t there: Probably the most important building in Paris, the city’s most significant symbol – the Bastille. I just couldn’t grasp its absence, even though I was aware of the historical facts, having read all the right historical novels.
Today, older and more aware of the vengeful and destructive nature of man, I am far more surprised that the Russian revolutionaries had the wisdom and foresight to prevent the destruction of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
Yesterday I met a co-worker in the corridor who told me in passing that he’d just come back from a few days in my homeland, my Moledet (which literally translates as birth land). My homeland? I asked, not understanding. He apparently meant he had been in London. It was crazy, he said. A few days before Christmas, you never saw so many people, you couldn’t move. But I was hardly hearing. I was transformed back to a fourth grade classroom in another century. The teacher Tziona was explaining to a perplexed nine year old that even though she was born somewhere else, this was her real Moledet.
I am struck by the thought that I haven’t been to London for seventeen years. And even that last trip seventeen years ago wasn’t all that marvelous. That’s when we discovered Bish was allergic to aspirin. We were in St. Paul’s Cathedral of all places, and I had given him an aspirin because he had complained of a headache or something. I suddenly noticed his lips were bloated to twice their normal size and the rest of him was covered in red blotches. This had happened once before, at home, but we’d thought it was because of the fish we’d just eaten (we weren’t vegetarians back then). We rushed to nearby St. Barts hospital, and ended up spending most of our time in London in our hotel room, Bish in bed, half alive, me watching TV.
No, London is certainly not my Moledet, that's for sure.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Now Moe has a beautiful Hannukiyah.
Dragan Antulov of Draxblog fame on comparing the war in Iraq to previous conflicts:
This is why.
I really wanted to write about this, but as I said, I’m a bit under the weather. Luckily Meryl saw it too: A brother and sister meet again after 65 years. They last saw each other when he was eleven and she was five. Each had thought everyone else in the family had perished in the Holocaust and that they were the only one that had survived.
All these years lived apart, a whole life gone by separately, without them finding each other. This breaks my heart. At least they have been reunited now.
There are so many stories like it in Israel. Meryl says it best.
Dave at Israellycool interviewed me. How cool can you get? (er... Israellycool? Groan)
So I have achieved celebrity status at last. Now do I have to start carrying a big stick around to wallop Paparazzi photographers with? (R.T., can I borrow your cricket bat?)
I was planning to e-mail Yesh Gvul as soon as I got home from work today (no Hannuka vacation for me, sadly) to inquire about the source of the number on their counter (“Where are the names, dammit?”). I’m feeling a bit fluey today so luckily a kindly person beat me to it, and e-mailed me the link to the page that explains that this is actually a fusion of a few refusenik lists. Read all about it here. I don’t really think this is a good enough explanation and I wonder what some of the actual signatories would make of it. You see it mixes up different kinds of refusals. Some refuse to do army duty at all; some are willing to do their duty protecting their country, but only within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel; others limit their refusal to certain missions that they interpret as amoral. So you see sticking them all together is extremely misleading and renders the number on the counter completely meaningless, in my view.
I think well intentioned but partially informed people who stick counters on their sites, with apparently meaningless numbers of supposed IDF refuseniks, are missing something. They seem to think that if their counter shows an increase in numbers, then refusing is becoming more socially acceptable in Israel, along with a growing opposition in Israel to this government and its policies. But this is just not the case. Not that everyone is crazy about this government, mind you, but the Israeli Left is still seen as far less attractive. I do suspect the drop in Sharon’s popularity has much more to do with suspicions about his corruption, and that of his sons, than to dissatisfaction with his government’s policies, even if such dissatisfaction does exist (and it does, to a point), and is on the rise (and it is, again, to a point).
So what does linking to said counters accomplish in aid of furthering World Peace in Our Time? Beats me. As far as I’m concerned, it just means the linker is less interested in what regular Israelis think, feel, and fear, and has regard mainly for those that in Israel are widely regarded as hallucinatory kooks if not outright traitors (not that this is necessarily what I personally think, but it is hardly an uncommon sentiment). Refusal to serve in the army at all, or specifically in the territories, or on certain missions that they dislike, still an extremely marginal phenomenon (most of the infamous “refusenik” pilots, for instance, were not even in active combat service, rendering their so-called refusal quite meaningless in operational terms), is seen by many as an act that serves to strengthen Palestinian incentive to perpetrate murderous acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. As if choosing not to participate in the protection of those civilians is not bad enough. This is still not regarded as a legitimate mode of protest, even by most moderate left wing Israelis, I believe.
Pim, however, (who looks very lovely in her photo, by the way) has linked not only to said meaningless counter, but to my blog as well, meaning she is interested in a more mainstream Israeli point of view. I am grateful for this, and pleasantly surprised (I am once again reminded that I constantly have to work on my prejudices). I would like to apologize, in advance, to her and to any of her readers who wander over here, if some of the things I say are less than pleasant for them to read. But she should know that she’s far more likely to hear views similar to mine on the street in Israel than what she might or might not have been reading over at the Yesh Gvul site. (I’m not being arrogant, quite the contrary. The things I say are nothing special).
If you really want to do your little bit to further peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and not just be seen to have trendy opinions, you have to try to really understand the problem with an open mind. This can be achieved, hopefully, by studying different aspects and complexities of both sides, and not just the suitably palatable margins.
And that goes for Israel sympathizers, as well.
(Does this mean I have to read Gideon Levy? No! No! Don’t make me do it! I’ll do anything…)