Monday, August 16, 2004

I am intrigued, as I believe a lot of Israelis are, by Tali Fahima, a young Israeli woman who was arrested last week on suspicion of aiding Palestinian terrorists. She had apparently been getting a bit too pally with Jenin’s most wanted Palestinian, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commander Zakariya Zubeidi, for the Shabak’s (General Security Service) liking.

She seems to have taken the move from the periphery to the center (from Kiryat Gat to Tel Aviv), and the consequential value and belief switch it can often instigate, way too far. But I really don’t want to get into dime psychology here, or discuss the ‘It must be love, love, love’ angle. This is a hard one to avoid because, based on Fahima’s severe, dry image, hair pulled back, schoolmarm-ish specs, sharp business-like dress code, it is amusing to see the attraction to a man with a definitely thuggish charm. You get the strong impression that Fahima would definitely steer well clear of any man who looked like Zubeidi if he were a Jew, if he were a native of her home Kiryat Gat, a southern-ish development town (she cites his hard-luck story as what differentiates him from the gangster she originally took him for, but I have yet to meet the gangster who doesn’t have a heartbreaking hard-luck story, all true mind you, to help him gain entry into the beds of well-meaning, gullible young ladies).

I am also a bit perplexed by her paradoxical complaint that the unfriendly reaction she has received from the Israeli ‘street’ is proof of the lack of freedom of speech in Israel. I ask myself why she thinks she is the only one who deserves freedom of speech. What about the freedom of speech of people who wish to tell her that they think she is a traitor? (Although they really should have the sense to leave her mother alone. Sadly a lot of people have little or no sense).

Friends point out, on her behalf, that if she had grown up among lefties she would have a strong emotional support system protecting her. This is probably true, but I really do fail to see the relevance.

You see the thing that differentiates Tali Fahima from all the other lefties, going out on a limb for their views, is her background. She comes from a very poor family, even by Kiryat Gat standards. Her mother brought her and her two sisters up on her own, scraping a living as a cleaner, but mainly unemployed. She says she grew up in a very right wing environment and friends from home say she took great pride in her army service. Then two years ago a change came about her.

In Yediot Aharonot this weekend, one of her former bosses explained that they had no choice but to fire her because she was surfing to hostile Palestinian websites from the office computer, and posting comments on them, and refused to cease when asked to (and very rudely, if the account is accurate). Since then she hasn’t been able to get a job. This is unfortunate, she looks like an intelligent girl, if a bit of nutcase, but under the circumstances, I can understand potential bosses seeing her as a liability.

Update: Wise words on this subject, as usual, by Shai, here too.