The Shaister has moved!
I am extremely impressed.
It's getting quite roomy over here on the wrong side of the blogging tracks. I am sooooooo cool and un-bourgeois. Well, at least I think so.
why not a fish
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
The Shaister has moved!
So they’re taking back the gas masks. We’ve had them since the end of 1990, if I am not mistaken. My girls got their first ones on leaving the hospital, when they were a few days old. Every so often we would get an invitation to come have them “refreshened”. We’d go to the distribution center, which seemed to be somewhere else each time, waited in line, and eventually a young soldier girl would replace parts of the kit, and send us on our way. Just part of life, like going to the dentist. And now we don’t need them any more. Nice.
I don’t think anyone will be sorry to see them go. They’re bulky boxes, which you never wanted to bury too far back in your “boydem” (the Israeli equivalent of an attic – a storage space created by a lowered ceiling usually running along the corridor, with an opening in the bathroom, above the door), just in case you needed to get them out in a hurry.
* * * *
They’ve been feeding us horror stories about what Mordechai Vanunu has got in store for us when he gets out of prison, in two months time. A mate from inside, Yossi Harush, a shady character himself, has been telling Yediot Aharonot that Vanunu has got all sorts of new goodies to tell the world about Israel’s secrets. And that he hates Israel and celebrates every time there’s a terror attack, etc.
If you ask me, the guy’s a fruitcake (Vanunu, not Harush. Okay, maybe Harush too, how would I know?). They should have left him alone back then and it all would have fizzled out by itself. Enjoying the limelight, he would have gabbled on and on, until he finally would have tripped himself up, been caught in discrepancies and then would have swiftly been discredited and discarded (a lot of ‘dis’s for one sentence, don’t you think?). This tends to happen to fruitcakes. Everything shows he’s definitely become more of a fruitcake since he’s been inside, but from what I’ve seen, he doesn’t seem to have been too lucid beforehand, either. The real question is how he passed the personality test to get into Dimona in the first place.
So now he’s become this hero of Loonies International, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, no less. I’ve been trying to work that one out. I read on the Net that he’s Israel’s Nelson Mandela. Yeah, right. His contribution to peace has been what exactly? He certainly hasn’t contributed to peace in the hearts of Israelis, quite the contrary - he’s probably one of the most disliked people in the country.
Well, a nomination is all very well. Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated in1966, by Dr. Martin Luther King, and he didn’t get it. But these are Scandinavians on the committee, who knows what goes on in their minds? They might end up giving it to Dror Feiler; or to whatsername Jaradat.
I’m so fed up of all this double standard.
Listen to Thich Nhat Hanh read his wonderful poem "Call Me By My True Names" (click on bottom left of page). Here is a printed version of the poem. This is what peace is about.
Friday, February 13, 2004
Read the rest of it.
I think what I was trying to say, yesterday, was that because I live in Israel, I don’t have to be concerned about my being Jewish on a daily basis, because being Jewish is not being different. I don’t have to play down my Jewishness to get a job, I don’t feel the need to wear a Magen David (Star of David) to make a statement, or neatly tuck it inside my blouse when it would not be advisable for it to be seen. And I don’t have to worry about that Mel Gibson film, and about how it makes us look bad.
Besides the question of how religious I am, being Jewish is not an issue.
A friend said to me yesterday that her Post-Zionist husband wants to leave the country, claiming, among other things, that it is more dangerous to be a Jew in Israel, at the moment, than anywhere else in the world. Probably true.
But unlike in, say, France, this isn’t the personal problem of Imshin walking down the road in danger of being beaten up by Muslims. My daughters are not Jews at school (and they’re certainly not Dirty Jews). I don’t have to deal with being different in my everyday life. I can delegate the problem of looking after my personal safety, as a Jew, to my representatives in power, who will deal with it with the usual incompetence, but deal with it they will.
It's true - at the moment I am more likely to die for being Jewish in Israel. But the difference is that here I have an army, a police force, and other security organizations, all working night and day to protect me, as a Jew. Sixty years ago, in Poland, my cousins didn't have that, and the descendants of the few of them who mananged to survive don't have it either, in France, today.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Bish touched Goldie Hawn. Really. Here in Israel. It was about twenty years ago, he was a waiter, and she was a customer. Me? I really like Goldie Hawn, but Bish would be the first to tell you I’d rather touch Mel Gibson than Goldie Hawn. And I don’t care if it wasn’t his real posterior in that film (or hers for that matter). By the way, did you know his full name is Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson? Columcille??? How do you pronounce that?
And that’s as deep I’m going to go in a discussion about a Hollywood actor (and director, nearly forgot). He’s an entertainer for goodness sake! The fuss made over these people, and everything they say and do, is so pathetic.
I suppose I should take an interest in that controversial film he made, but I can’t. I won’t go and see it because I don’t go to see any films. I wait for them to come to me. And I somehow doubt this one will be airing on Israeli television. So I don’t have an opinion, sorry.
But John does have an opinion. He says it reminds him of that old joke:
"The Jews killed Christ!"
"But that was 2000 years ago!"
"I know, but I only heard about it today!"
Enough already! (updated)
I’m so fed up of the (was there any/wasn’t there any) WMD discussion. It wasn’t about WMD. It wasn’t even about Saddam being a very nasty tyrant. It was about the big picture. It was about 1991 and the U.S. not sticking around to win the war, and deserting the local opposition. It was about the U.S. and the West coming out of that war, in the eyes of the Arabs, as weak and decadent, and about the Arabs seeing themselves, at last, as a worthy adversary and serious threat to the new sole world leader, in the post-USSR era. And that is what led to the emergence of Islamic terrorism as a real threat to the world as we know it.
What’s Iraq got to do with al-Qaeda and terrorism, you ask? Well, as I see it, even if there were no direct connection, there is the connection of empowerment; of nationalistic pride; of saying “boo” to the big guy and watching him retreat, red-faced, with his tail between his legs; of understanding Western weaknesses and learning to effectively exploit them.
And that’s why taking out Saddam was so essential for the first stages of the global War on Terror (remember the War on Terror?). WMD really wasn’t the issue. So why did they go to such lengths to say that it was? Big mistake.
Haggai has posted the most intriguing comment on the subject. It’s got everything – Hitchcock, Kipling, lions in Scotland. I love it. I have a slight problem with the bottom line, because I personally really do think it was never about WMD. I just can’t understand (and couldn’t understand at the time) why anyone ever said it was. Still, Haggai’s idea is so creative and fascinating, you just have to read it.
Update: Haggai says
With WMD, specifically, I don't think the lack of WMD means that one has to retract their support for the war in retrospect. But it's undoubtedly an important issue, for US credibility and for the future of dealing with these problems with other regimes. When people say things like, the war was a good idea even though we haven't found WMD, there were other reasons to care about more than WMD, etc., I think that's fine, and it's largely what I think anyway. But when people here in the US say that they NEVER cared about WMD AT ALL, that the obvious disconnect between what the administration said going in and what's happened since then doesn't matter at all, and that it doesn't raise serious questions about the specific way in which we went to war, then I really find that troubling. In a movie, OK, it's the MacGuffin, it doesn't matter, but this is real life!
If this is true for children, even very small children, why should anyone think it wouldn’t be true for adults? Governments should have more trust in the collective common sense of their people.
(There are, of course, things that are not for public consumption, for reasons of safety and security. A child should not know the combination of a safe containing weapons, for instance, but it is a good idea that he or she should be aware that there are weapons in that safe, and how to behave around those weapons to make sure that they are not harmed by them.)
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
You know, in the first split second you can't quite grasp it. Is my desk MOVING? And then you start to realize you aren't imagining things, and it's not the rabbi, in the office on the floor above you, moving furniture. Your desk really is moving. Moving?! Shaking like nobody's business! And your computer, and the walls, and the windows, and the floor. And shaking, and shaking, and shaking. They said it was only few seconds but it felt like about two minutes. It went on and on. I actually had time to ring Bish and discuss the situation with his secretary, before she got hysterical and dived under the table (they're on the twelfth floor). You suddenly know exactly what it's like to be living your whole life on the back of a sleeping monster that is just starting to wake up. I mean, if even the ground under your feet isn't stable any more, what the hell is?
And we're still waiting for the big one.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Now, my dad is really well-travelled. Hey Dad, you forgot South Africa and Spain. Fancy forgetting Spain - you had a holiday apartment there! And haven't you been to Taiwan? I'm sure you've been to Taiwan. (And you have technically been to Egypt, although Sinai wasn't Egypt when you were there).
As you can see, my dad has done enough travelling for ten people (and he really has been to Alaska), so I can stay at home.
Last night I dreamt I was humming a tune as I washed the dishes, some old shmaltzy Country and Western. In my dream I was really hit by the two lines of the song I could remember, real haunting tear-jerkers, so this morning when I awoke, I googled them. It seems they don’t exist, not as part of a popular song, anyway.
Maybe I wrote them. Now all I need is to find the rest of the song that goes with them.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Remember Rim al-Riyashi, mother of two, who blew herself and four Israelis up, at the border crossing between Gaza and Israel, taking four Israelis with her? You may also remember that she was allegedly sent on this mission by her charming lover, in cahoots with her equally charming husband, because she had dishonored the family, by sleeping with the charming lover.
Well, according to Yesha News (this is a Hebrew link, read about this source here), Rim al-Riyashi’s lover (although maybe “lover” is the wrong term, how much love could there have been?) was none other than Abd el-Nasser Abu Shoka, Commander of the Hamas Central Command in Gaza, who was killed this weekend. Here’s an Arab source about his death.
Bish says that the story about Abu Shoka being al-Riyashy's infamous lover is all over Israeli current affair forums, posted by people who claim to be quoting Arab sources.
According to the forums, the details of Abu Shoka's killing were as follows: He was in contact with an Israeli Arab through whom he was purchasing uniforms for Hamas “militants”, but in addition to the uniforms he was also given a gift, a relief of the el-Aqza mosque. Unfortunately for him, it seems to have had a bomb in it, which was activated by an aircraft. Boom.
Yesha News also has the el-Aqza mosque relief story, but nothing about the uniforms, or the Israeli Arab. They also say this is from Arab sources, but fail to elaborate.
If all this is true, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Excuse my blood thirst, this doesn’t sound exactly like the-boy-next-door.
The killing of Abu Shoka has been mentioned in a few more places.
I'd like to point out that Abu Shoka's connection to al-Riyashy hasn't been confirmed by any major news sources, yet.
Afterthought: I forgot to point out that Israel denies any connection to Abu Shoka's death, so maybe the al-Aqza story is just that - a story.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Those pesky Jews, they even invented Tree Hugging (updated)
Today, besides celebrating the Shabbat, which we do every week, we also celebrate the New Year for the Trees, Tu b’Shvat. It’s a fun day, although better when it falls during the week. It’s time for planting trees, not a pastime observant Jews can engage in on a Shabbat. It’s also a time for eating dried fruits, and an interesting mixture always appears in the stores, in addition to the usual stuff. My all time favorite is dried quince, absolutely delicious, but horribly fattening. The smaller school kids have a field day on Tu b’Shvat, literally. They go out and plant trees. This year the reluctant teachers managed to weasel out of it, because it’s on a Shabbat. Youngest staggered home with three plants the other day. They were selling them at school. I’ve no idea how she managed to juggle three, but they arrived intact, a cyclamen, a violet and another one, Youngest said it’s called “primula”, but I can’t find that in the dictionary.
In recent years there has been an effort to get people to have a Tu b'Shvat Seder, like the Passover Seder. I think the idea is that it's something everyone can relate to - religious, secular, left, right and center - trees, nature, nice stuff. It’s apparently quite an ancient tradition, dating back to the elders of Tzfat (the town of Safed in the Upper Galilee) in the sixteenth century or something. I tried to do it with my family a few years ago, having edited out some of the Naomi Shemer songs. Even I have my limits. Well the table looked lovely, the fruit and nuts looked delectable, all organized on plates in three layers according to the Seder, but no one had any patience for reading and singing. They just ate and disappeared. So that was that. I should try it again now that Youngest is older. I think she’ll appreciate it. She's the only one who loves lighting the Shabbat candles with me.
Anyway, a belated Shabbat Shalom and I hope you are all enjoying Tu b'Shvat (even if you're not Jewish it's a good opportunity to look around and enjoy nature). And, of course, Hag Same'ach (a happy holiday) to all the trees.
Update: Ah, John to the rescue. Primula.
Update 2: Our Sis says I should be ashamed of myself - primula is the posh(=scientific) name for the primrose. Oh well, she was the one who took biology in high school. I am quite happy looking at a flower and saying "Isn't that a lovely flower?" I have no interest in knowing what it's called. I'm not completely ignorant though, I can tell the difference between an anemone and a poppy.
Lynn has a nice Tu b'Shvat post.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
This gives a rather distorted impression.
It's meant to be countries I've visited.
create your own visited country map
(Click for bigger image)
But if I’ve been to, like, three of the United States on the East Coast, during a fortnight when I was fourteen, it doesn't mean I’ve been to all of the United States, including Alaska. And what’s that group of islands north of Scandinavia? I’m pretty sure I've never been there.
I'd be interested in seeing Jonathan's map.
Via Silflay Hraka
Here we go.
Anti-Sharon Graffiti was painted last night on the glass windows of Habimah Theatre in Tel Aviv.
Ruminating further about the Gaza thing, I’m feeling a bit uneasy. Yes, we want to get out of that hellhole, but is this the time? Says Zev, on Allison’s comments:
What the government should be doing is hitting the terrorists with everything it has, without worrying about what the world will think and without worrying about so-called "innocents." A government's first duty is to defend its citizens; Israel has been remiss in this. They should stop retaliating, and get proactive. Once we've won the war, that will be the time to talk about pulling out of Gaza. Not before.
Think about the logistics, think about tearful soldier girls dragging screaming and struggling women out of their homes, while jubilant Palestinians celebrate on the surrounding sand dunes. Does this sound healthy to you?
Monday, February 02, 2004
Well, well, well!
While I was struggling to stay awake in those sleepy after-lunch hours during which work should not be allowed, things were happening. Luckily for us, Allison was wide awake and not missing a trick. So Sharon has announced that he intends to move most of the Jews out of the Gaza Strip. Seventeen settlements he says. He doesn’t say when this is going to happen and you have to ask yourself how long he’s going to last in power what with all these corruption allegations. Will he have time to do it?
I’m in favor, but only on the condition that they do it right, so it’s not seen as giving in to terror.
Have I ever told you about the time I did reserve duty in the Gaza Strip? I don’t think I have.
It was the summer of ’87, just a few months before the Intifada started. During my bout there, I finally got the demographic problem.
Rafah horrified me. I’d never seen so many people in my life, just standing about, hanging around, in the streets and alleyways. It looked like prison. And to make things worse, the town was cut in half by a border. Half the town was in Israel, the other half in Egypt. The Egyptian side didn’t look any better than the Israeli side, by the way. We drove along the border in a jeep. I believe you can’t do that today, unless you’re in a heavily armed vehicle, and even then it’s very dangerous. That’s the border they tunnel under to smuggle arms in.
Gaza City shocked me. What a hole! I was used to the West Bank and was particularly partial to Ramallah, which I used to think was a very beautiful city. I haven’t been there for many years, so I don’t know what it looks like today, and I’m not going to check it out. I could very well get lynched. But in the old days, I used to love those big stone houses with their lovely big windows. There was a proud, affluent feel to Ramallah.
Gaza and Rafah looked nothing like that. Gaza and Rafah looked like what I imagined the poorest parts of Africa to be like. I came back a strong supporter of the Peace Now camp.
I also came back with a decided dislike for the Jewish religious settlers I encountered and for what I experienced as the weird, sterile, pretty little Jewish island they were trying to build there, right in the middle of a sea of wretchedness and intense hostility, as if it didn’t exist, as if the area was completely uninhabited, and not one of the most densely populated, miserable, poverty-stricken cesspools in the world.
One day, we had the afternoon off, and we went to the beach - a Jewish holiday resort that was being built at the time by Palestinian workers, near Neve Dekalim. It was very eerie. We were completely on our own there, a handful of soldiers, armed to the teeth. A strange kind of recreation indeed. It felt horrible.
Years later, I remember my satisfaction watching on TV about the development in Gaza City under the PA. They showed modern high-rise apartment buildings, they showed restaurants on the seafront, they showed families enjoying themselves on the beach. The people looked more satisfied. I thought it was great.
But apparently only rich American-Palestinian entrepreneurs and Arafat’s cronies could afford such luxuries. The rest of Gaza was just the same as always, poor and miserable, only now, unlike before, because of the crazy increase in terrorism coming out of PA areas, most of the men were no longer allowed to go to work inside Israel. So in fact, in spite of the appearance of an improvement, things were actually far worse. Ordinary Gazans certainly weren’t seeing any of the money that was being poured in.
* * * * *
As far as I know, we have no ancient historic connections to the Gaza Strip. In biblical times it was home to our archenemies, the Philistines. Even today, only about 7500 Jews want to live there, and as many soldiers have to risk their lives defending them.
Yes, I wholeheartedly support getting out of there. But not like we got out of Lebanon. Not in a way that could be interpreted as a reward for terrorism. Not if it is interpreted as weakness and serves to feed the sick Palestinian propensity for murder and mayhem. We have to be very careful how we go about this.
Update: More discussion about this - The Head Heeb, Segacs's, Brian Ulrich.
Sunday, February 01, 2004
I’m still reading the full report of recommendations of the Orr Commission that investigated the riots of Israeli Arabs in October 2000. I’m up to the part describing the social and economic background that is seen by the commission as one of the causes of the riots. It’s a pity I don’t have it in English, because I’m sure Jonathan and Diane would find it interesting. There is a very detailed and interesting rundown of the inequality of Israeli Arabs, but nothing about mixed marriages so far, Diane, although there is a passage about inequality in allocation of funds by the Ministry for Religious Affairs, that (until very, very recently) was responsible for marriages (don’t shoot, I’m only the messenger). Since I hear this ministry is currently being liquidated, and was widely regarded as mainly a funnel through which various religious politicians allocated handouts to non-productive ultra-religious groups affiliated to them, anyway, I rather see it as a good thing that there was inequality here. The Arabs can be proud of not taking part in that particular corrupt undertaking. I think that if anyone checked, they’d probably find that secular Jews were also discriminated against by this ministry. Good riddance to it.
But inequality there was and is. Some of it is unjustifiable; some is understandable, but still hard to accept. Reading about it is making me think more about the Turkish-Greek solution. Maybe in the long run there will be no solution besides separation of both peoples, a large segment of Israeli Arabs included. This could be made possible by swapping large Jewish settlement concentrations on the border between the Territories and pre-’67 Israel, with large Israeli Arab town concentrations (Taybeh, Tira, Umm el-Fahm, etc.) also near the Green Line. I don’t see how anything else can work. The problem, of course, is that Israeli Arabs don’t want to be part of the Palestinian entity, and who can blame them? They may have it bad compared to the Jews in Israel, but they still have it infinitely better than Arabs in any Arab countries, not to mention the PA. One can only dream that one day a decent Palestinian leadership will miraculously appear and lead its people to prosperity and happiness, and Israeli Arabs will actually want to be a part of that. Hopefully, this will come to pass before pigs learn to fly. Neither Arabs nor Jews eat pigs so maybe we have a chance.
Update: Jonathan has posted some very interesting thoughts about affirmative action in Israel.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Starhawk’s quote of the day (Jan. 25):
MEMRI’s got the list of the beneficiaries of Saddam’s oil vouchers, as published in Al-Mada, an Iraqi newspaper. Guess who is head of the list. You got it – George Galloway. No surprises there. He got 1 million barrels. I wonder where he put them all.
He’s in good company.
An excerpt from the article:
"Since then, rumors were abound about vouchers that Saddam gave to certain Arab and foreign dignitaries, providing them with crude oil in exchange for their support to the regime in a period of international isolation, and as a way to finance the campaign to lift the economic sanctions against it and to whitewash its image.
"However, the regime itself tarnished the moral and humane ethics of the international campaign to lift the unjust sanctions, because by the end of the day the sanctions did not harm it [the regime], but harmed our poor people and the middle class. We saw that whenever the international campaign to lift the sanctions got closer to its goals, the regime – by its behavior and insolence – shoved it again into a dark tunnel, and at the same time turned our country into a free-for-all richly loaded dining table, awaiting a stream of hearty eaters and obedient servants.”
I know I should be giving a nice summary of all the other dignitaries who were in on the feast, but I can't be bothered. Go read for yourself and make your own nice and amusing summaries on your blogs.
My old pal Igor thinks that if Arafat or Rajoub just smile sweetly at me, one more time, I’ll be running straight back into their arms, ditsy Yafat Nefesh ("beautiful soul"=bleeding heart liberal) that I am. Well, I’m not that ditsy, or Yafat Nefesh!
So I was wrong. So take me out and shoot me!
You know, the other day I was telling a friend at work, a right-wing guy who was eventually persuaded to vote for Ehud Barak, about Efraim Karsh’s "The Oslo War: A Tale of Self-Delusion" (Hebrew link), and he said he remembered watching Benny Begin (son of) in the Knesset saying exactly the things Karsh says in his paper, when it was still relevant, when it was still possible to stop it before too much harm was done, waving the reports with the evidence in the air, and my friend said he remembered thinking, “What’s he talking about? Why doesn’t he just shut up and go home.” And this was a right-wing guy, the son of Herutniks, the grandson of Revisionists, early settlers of the Emek (the Jezreel Valley). It wasn’t just the bleeding hearts that were swept away by Oslo, Igor.
Well Benny Begin did go home. He was probably the most honest, upright, decent politician we had and we knew this, but we still wouldn’t listen. Now he’s researching earthquakes or whatever it is Geologists do.
It turns out there were eleven murdered in the no. 19 bus terrorist attack last week.
A wall so high
I’ve finished reading Efraim Karsh’s "The Oslo War: A Tale of Self-Delusion" (Hebrew link). I really want to find it in English. I think it’s important for everyone to read it, all of it. I’ve written to BESA and await their answer.
As I read Karsh, it crossed my mind that one of the reasons that so many left-wing Israelis refuse to “get” the Terror War and see it for what it is, or realize the true aims of Arafat and the Palestinian leadership (the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state on its ruins) is that it is too terrible. They must have their hope for peace or they have nothing. This realization of the Palestinian leadership’s true aims rocked my own belief system so severely that I was in shock for about a year and a half, starting around October 2000. By the time I snapped out of it, my mother was dying of cancer. And we were celebrating our last Pesach Seder Night with her. It was 27th March 2002, the night of the Park Hotel Massacre.
My mother lived for another eight months. On her deathbed, her mind and clarity already irreversibly damaged by the morphine, we watched the pictures on TV of ambulances and rescue teams dealing with yet another murderous attack, one of many, many that had taken place since the Park Hotel. I noticed my mother shake her head in sorrow. She hardly understood what was going on around her anymore, and she herself had only a few more days of life in her, but she seemed to understand the pictures on the screen only too well.
You may not see the connection of my mother’s illness and death to all of this, but I do. For me, the last months of my mother’s life and this Terror War will be forever interconnected. For during those months (most of them spent blogging with a vengeance) I learnt more about life than in the thirty-seven years before them. About life, about death, about what is important.
We still want peace with our neighbors, more than anything. We're still prepared to pay a price for peace, even a heavy one. But if there is no peace to be had, we’ll do without it. Strong and tough. Stronger and tougher. Strongest and toughest.
What was it that Martin Van Kreveld said? “A wall so high that not even the birds can fly over it”? So be it.
(Steven Den Beste is even quite optimistic about it.)
Friday, January 30, 2004
By Chezi Goldberg
The scene: 7:30 a.m. Israel time, Sunday December 2, 2001 --- Eight hours after the triple terror attack at Jerusalem's popular Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall.
He walked into shul, synagogue. I nodded my acknowledgement, as I always do. He made some strange gesture, which I didn't comprehend. I continued praying.
A few minutes later, he walked over to me and said: "Didn't you hear?"
"Hear about what?" I replied.
He grew impatient, almost frustrated. "Didn't you HEAR?"
I understood that he was talking about last night's terror attack on Ben Yehuda Mall, a trendy night spot frequented not only by Israelis, but also Western tourists.
I assumed that he obviously was intimating that someone we knew was hurt or killed.
I replied: "About who?"
He looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. "About who? About everyone who was attacked last night."
I nodded. "Yes, of course I heard."
"Then why aren't YOU crying?"
His words shot through me like a spear piercing my heart. Our sages teach that "Words that come from the heart, enter the heart." He was right, of course. Why wasn't I crying?
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
He pointed around the shul. "Why aren't all of my friends crying?"
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
"Shouldn't we all be crying?"
I could not answer. I had nothing to say.
What has happened to all of us, myself included? We have turned to stone. Some would call it "numbness." Some would call it "collective national shock." Some would say that we all have suffered never-ending trauma and it has affected our senses.
Frankly, the excuses are worthless. All the reasons in the world don't justify our distance from the real pain that is burning in our midst.
When an attack happens, in the heat of the moment, we frantically check to see if someone we know has been hurt or killed. And then, if we find out that "our friends and family are safe," we sigh a deep sigh of relief, grunt and grumble about the latest tragic event and then, we continue with our robotic motions and go on with our lives.
We have not lost our minds, my friends. We have lost our hearts.
And that is why we keep on losing our lives.
When I left shul, my friend said to me with tears dripping from his bloodshot Eyes: "I heard once that the Torah teaches that for every tear that drops from our eyes, another drop of blood is saved."
We are living in a time of absolute madness. It is obvious what is going on around us and yet, we detach ourselves and keep running on automatic in our daily lives.
Last night, when it was only ten people who were known killed and just 200 injured, even MSNBC.com referred to the triple terror attack as a "slaughter." (More tragedy, it turns out, awaited us a few hours later.)
And yet, we are not crying.
I know a woman who lost sensitivity in her fingers. When she approaches fire, she doesn't feel the pain. That puts her in a very dangerous position because she might be unaware she is burning herself.
If we are being hurt and we don't feel it, then we are in a very risky position. A devastating three pronged suicide attack on Jerusalem's most popular thoroughfare should evoke a cry of pain and suffering from all of us, should it not? Unless of course, we have lost our senses.
And if we have lost our senses, then what hope is there?
When our enemies pound us and we don't react because we no longer feel the pain, we are truly in a dangerous and precarious position in the battle and struggle to survive.
Perhaps, my friends, we are being foolish to really believe that the nations of the world should be upset about the continuous murder and slaughter of Jews --- if we ourselves are not crying about it. Am I my brother's keeper?
The most effective way for us to stop the carnage in our midst is to wake up and to react to it from our hearts. How can we DEMAND that the Creator stop the tragedy when most of us react like robots when tragedy strikes?
If WE don't cry about what is happening around us, who will?
If YOU don't cry about what is happening around us, who will?
If I don't cry about what is happening to us, who will?
Maybe our salvation from this horrific mess will come only after WE tune into our emotions and cry and scream about it.
As King Solomon said, "There is a time for everything under the sun." Now is the time for crying.
May He protect each and every one of us from our enemies so that we will not have to cry in the future.
Chezi Goldberg, a social worker who specialized in helping American immigrant children at risk, and father of seven, was killed in yesterday’s terrorist attack.
Re Jenny Tonge
A hedgehog asks
Because if my child/mother/father/sister/brother/husband/
wife/friend and so on had been blown into tiny pieces while engaged in the deeply offensive and provocative act of taking a bus to school or work, I'd be pretty desperate. If my family or friends had been shot down in cold blood carrying out such oppressive actions as lighting their Shabbat candles, or reading a bedtime story to their kids, I'd be pretty desperate too. If most of the world said my country (and therefore I) had no right to exist, and the UN, who had voted for my country's creation did little or nothing to stem the tide of hatred, I'd be pretty desperate. Yet Israel's every act of self-defence is decried as oppression by such 'liberals' as Dr Tonge (and I vote for her party. Hooray for CK for showing her the door). Individual Israelis have resorted to violence. And Israel punishes them with the full force of the law. Israel doesn't believe that her citizens' desperation excuses violent or criminal acts.
Better late (I wanted John's approval before I used this but he seems not to be getting my e-mails):
John Williams’ son went to a football (soccer) match on Saturday. Liverpool FC (Football Club) was playing Newcastle in the FA Cup (UK Football Association Cup Tournament). The programme (program) included a statement from Louise Ellman, a local Member of Parliament, about the importance of commemorating the Holocaust, about the fourth British National Holocaust Memorial Day, which was to be held a few days later, on Tuesday, 27th January, and about the ills of racism, hatred, and prejudice.
You can see it here, as kindly scanned by John.
Okay, okay, you say impatiently, but who won? I wonder how many of the football fans read further than the title.
You may remember that Labour MP Louise Ellman attacked British Muslim leaders, in Parliament last month, for their open support of terrorism. The British Muslims in question were not amused. Harry’s Marcus discussed it at the time.
Also Melanie Phillips informed us, on the 27th, that
Thursday, January 29, 2004
You can click through to see the video of this morning’s terrorist attack from the Israeli Foreign Ministry site. It’s really horrible. I decided to force myself to watch it, but it was too much for me. I think everyone should have access to it though. Spread it about.
Ron stays young
I saw an interview with a friend of Ron Arad, someone who was in pilots’ course with him. Middle aged guy.
In our mind, Ron remains young, but if he comes home, he’ll be middle aged too. A life missed. Too painful to think about.
In the meantime, my heart is with the families of Benny Avraham, Omar Sawayid, and Adi Avitan. One ordeal is over, another is just starting - now they begin the difficult work of grieving. At least they now know that their sons didn’t suffer in captivity.
My heart is also with Elhanan Tannenbaum and his family. Whatever he did, and the police are probably questioning him about that as I write this, he didn’t deserve three years as a captive of the Hizbullah. No one deserves that. Well, maybe Hitler. Or (now that I’m reading the horrors Efraim Karsh spells out) Arafat.
Moreover, Tannenbaum will have to cope with what I sense is a quite negative attitude towards him in Israeli society, which will probably be intensified should he be indicted for crimes he is suspected of.
Lately I’ve been listening to Randy Newman a lot. I find myself feeling increasingly gleeful about Political Science. I do know it’s satire, but the satire is lost on me right now.
They all hate us anyhow; let’s drop the big one now.
Jerusalem: A bus. 10 murdered. Around 50 injured.
Today was not a Political Science day. Today was a God’s Song day.
For if the children of Israel were to multiply
Why must any of the children die?
So he asked the Lord
And the Lord said:
Man means nothing, he means less to me
Than the lowliest cactus flower
Or the humblest yucca tree
He chases round this desert
’cause he thinks that’s where I’ll be
That’s why I love mankind
I recoil in horror fro the foulness of thee
From the squalor and the filth and the misery
How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
That’s why I love mankind
The Christians and the Jews were having a jamboree
The Buddhists and the Hindus joined on satellite TV
They picked their four greatest priests
And they began to speak
They said, Lord, a plague is on the world
Lord, no man is free
The temples that we built to you
Have tumbled into the sea
Lord, if you won’t take care of us
Won’t you please, please let us be?
And the Lord said
And the Lord said
I burn down your cities-how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You all must be crazy to put your faith in me
That’s why I love mankind
You really need me
That’s why I love mankind
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
The prisoner swap got the okay from our High Court of Justice.
Fantasy time: The night before last, I woke up round 2 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. You know how thoughts get distorted in the wee hours? It suddenly crossed my mind that maybe there was a connection between the timing of this Hizbullah deal and the talk about the US planning to target Hizbullah.
Hizbullah, running scared, desperately needs accomplishments to show the Arabs, while at the same time may want to suck up to the West without it seeming like that to the Arabs, so as to maybe halt US offensive; the Israelis, may be worried that if they don’t do the deal now, there might not be any Hizbullah to negotiate with, not to mention prisoners or even bodies. Although I don't see why Israel should be so keen on the deal, as I've said before.
Or maybe it’s the other way round and the publication of the US planning to target Hizbullah was a ploy by someone or other to put pressure on one of the sides (or both) in order to get this deal going.
Most likely I was just imagining things, trying too hard to make sense, and seeing conspiracies were they are not to be found.
Just some hazy nighttime musings.
The apartheid analogy therefore promotes an inaccurate understanding not only of the causes of the conflict but of the factors that keep it going. It also unreasonably narrows the range of possible solutions, given that compromise between nationalisms is morally and politically possible while compromise with racism is neither. If the apartheid analogy is accepted, then the Palestinians cannot legitimately be asked to make concessions in return for peace and statehood - a position which gives aid and comfort to Palestinian maximalists but does little to advance the cause of peace. In a conflict as politically sensitive and morally complex as this one, such analogies are profoundly unhelpful.
It was not that they were such good liars, they actually weren’t at all coy about their true aims, even if they neglected to share them with us in English and in Hebrew, keeping it for their own audiences, in Arabic, it was more that we wanted to believe them so very much. We wanted peace so desperately that we didn’t want to see that the Palestinian leadership was taking us for a royal ride. I’ve been reading "The Oslo War: A Tale of Self-Delusion", by Dr Efraim Karsh (Hebrew link). I can’t find it in English, but here are some reviews and here is something Karsh wrote, along the same lines (and here is his book about Arafat, with editorial and reader reviews).
So far I’ve read the introduction and part of the first chapter, and it’s depressing the hell out of me. The sad thing is, it’s nothing new. I knew all this, but chose to ignore it all. We all did. We were such suckers. It was all there, staring us in the face, and we decided to ignore it. We just didn’t want to know. I can feel my face reddening with embarrassment as I recall arguments I had with right wing friends who spread out the evidence clearly for me to see, and I refused to listen. They were right and I was wrong. But my point of view was in power, and we were had, taken for a ride, conned. And, oh, so willingly. Never did a gang of swindlers have such compliant, enthusiastic fools for victims.
I can clearly remember watching Arafat, freshly arrived in Gaza, standing on a balcony and saying horrible, hateful, inciting things to a cheering crowd, and I remember feeling very humiliated and worried at the time. Don’t worry, everyone said, the Palestinian people will soon be having such a ball, they’ll just love their independence and newfound affluence so much, that it will have to work. So I didn’t worry. More fool me.
Because it didn’t work, did it? Those bastards stole all the money and what they didn’t they spent on arms and on teaching hatred. Terrorist organizations flourished. No independence for the Palestinians. No affluence. (And no peace for us). Conned by their leaders. Again. And so were we.
The crazy thing is that we’re still the bad guys at the end of it all. It’s us that are the Zionazi hate mongers. It’s us that are the danger to World Peace.
Even some Israelis still don’t get it.
How can we possibly make people understand, when we ourselves, couldn’t, wouldn’t see it for so long? We only saw it when it came crashing down on us, literally.
How can we possibly make people understand, when these are people who don’t have access to the facts that we did have access to; when these are people who, on the most part, only have access to the clever lies, to the devious disinformation, to the unabashed distortion of history.
With little chance of persuading the world that we are the underdog here, that we are the endangered species, that we’re not paranoid, they really are after us, what choice do we have but to be strong and tough, stronger and tougher, strongest and toughest? We have no choice, and that’s the sad truth.
There’s no peace on the horizon.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
From the Jerusalem Post’s Letters to the Editor:
An integral part was the use of an aria from Bach's Cantata No. 199, Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut (My Heart Swims in Blood), which had been "arranged" (read: "distorted") by Feiler and went on and on in a loop at the site.
Since I thought I recognized my recording (BIS 801) through the mess, I called Feiler up to ask whence he got the music he was using. The answer was that he had no idea since he had tanked down the music from the Internet. I asked him to try to check up on it and get back to me. He refused.
The Swedish Copyright Act clearly states that the rightholders - in this case the record company and performing artist, since Bach is in the public domain - have the exclusive right to decide about the work recorded. No one else has the right to copy, arrange and/or make publicly available such a work without the rightholders' prior consent. Not only did Feiler not seek any such permission, he didn't even care enough to know whose recording, with what artists, he had stolen, mutilated and unlawfully exhibited; odd behavior from someone who so vehemently defends his own "art."
I therefore went to the Swedish police and brought charges against Feiler for his theft, and against the Museum of National Antiquities for playing unauthorized music on its premises. The museum, after consultation with its lawyers, had to give in and closed down the music part of the installation as of January 22. Rumours are Feiler is now searching high and low for a recording older than 50 years, so he can stamp on the artists' droit moral with impunity.
ROBERT VON BAHR
It looks like the prisoner swap deal is on again. Here are the details.
I still don’t like the sound of it. It's very worrying. I’ve discussed this before. I’ve also spoken in the past of the detrimental effect a previous unwise swap deal had on the region. I still believe it ultimately led to the so-called first Intifada, (I call it the second Intifada, the first being the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, while what is now being called the second Intifada is not an Intifada at all, it’s a war, the Terror War).
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Benny Morris again
Lynn points us to Benny Morris’ reaction to the indignant letters of protest that Haaretz published following his Ari Shavit interview of a fortnight ago. He claims that his seven-hour interview with Shavit was compressed into two pages in a manner that did not do him justice, and makes some very interesting points about the conflict. Another must read.
Seven-hour interview?! Sounds like torture to me.
A few people have asked me about my impression of the “Snow White” piece as brilliant. It’s hard to give a verbal description of an emotional impression, but I’ll try.
My first encounter of Feiler’s piece was in the form of a verbal description of it. I didn’t see it straight away, but when I read that he had equated Jaradat with Snow White I was immediately struck by the image. I could envision the photograph clearly in my mind. Of course! Snow White! Why hadn’t I seen that before?
That photograph of Jaradat is a very striking one. There is something unreal about it, unnatural. It’s not only strange visually - the unnatural coloring, the bright red lips, white face and jet-black hair/scarf, but also in the conflicting message it conveys - the curious contrast between the modest scarf of an obedient daughter of Islam and the slutty, inviting red lips.
Have you ever thought about why the Wicked Queen should see fit to banish the young princess? The Queen was queen, after all, because she was married to the girl’s father, the King. Could she have possibly seen the child as a threat to her relationship with the King? Was there something incestuous going on? Maybe Snow White was not so snow white after all?
That’s as far as my impression of the actual interpretation of Jaradat as Snow White. Once I got round to actually seeing a photo, and later a video of the piece, I was impressed with the powerful image of all that bright red water. This is, again, an unreal, unnatural image. Blood is red only until it coagulates. Then it is black. And a real pool of blood would not be evenly red. It would be patchy.
The red of the water in the pool complements the red of Jaradat’s lips. Water is a symbol of femininity, red water – even more so. The image is about strong, sexual femininity. The boat doesn’t fit in with this image of strength. It is weakness, lack of control. Nothing about Jaradat conveys weakness.
But this isn’t Jaradat’s blood, the discharge of her menstrual cycle, is it? It’s the blood of her victims, maybe also of her brothers, all mixed together, to create a clear, beautiful sheet of red. Terrible. Horrifying. Monstrous. Snow White the monster.
How deep is the pool? I find myself asking myself.
* * * *
I have more to say, but I’m tired of it. The bottom line, first emotional gut reactions aside, is that it justifies terrorism. It's horrible and it makes me feel sick.
Judith says it’s frozen over anyway. Hmmm.
She also links to a Jpost article that calls Ambassador Mazel’s act a work of political art. Hmmm.
Friday, January 23, 2004
So I said last word, so sue me.
Interesting comment on the Snow White affair by Anders Carlberg, president of the Jewish community of Goteborg, Sweden, and vice president of Swedish Israel Information, an independent pro-Israel lobbying group.
We’re having the the weirdest storm. One minute it’s pouring, the next we’re in the middle of a fierce sandstorm. Whatever it is, anything that isn’t tied down seems to be flying away. We had to tie our plants to the edge of the rail. I took Youngest out to her ride to school before, and it seemed like every stray plastic bag in Tel Aviv was whirling around in the sky above us. Talking about man-made art, brilliant as it may be – it can never come close to amazing and surprising us as much as the ego-free art supplied by nature.
Someone called Oscar, on the Hebrew Rotter forum, suggested we take a look at the live camera on the Ayalon Highway, that cuts through Tel Aviv, and see how the wind is shaking the camera. Cool.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
A last reluctant word about Snow White.
The truth is I think the piece is brilliant. In all honesty, I must admit that, if I were not emotionally involved, I would love it.
But I am emotionally involved and it makes me feel sick. I can’t love it because for me it is too cruel, too filled with cold spite. If something is brilliant, it isn’t automatically right.
It seems to me that, sometimes, maybe, artists and other very talented people have become so full of themselves that they have lost the ability of self-censorship. Maybe they feel that if it came out of them, and it is brilliant, it must be okay, it must be right. Maybe it is. But if it provokes anger, violence, and resentment then maybe it isn't.
And yet, isn’t the goal of art to hit us where it hurts?
Surely though, if he wanted to touch us, to make a difference, he should have made an effort to exhibit his piece in what he calls the Apartheid State, and not in the safety and security of a distant land, where most people find it easy to see his point of view, because they are not emotionally involved; because it’s not their children whose lives are on the line every time they get on a bus, or go to a mall; because they haven’t had to use their army for the last two hundred years, and don’t really understand what it means to live in a state of continuous conflict; because no one questions the legitimacy of their very existence or sees it as a source of grave danger to the world.
Nice Irish blog: Tallrite Blog. Not only is the blogger in question called Tony, a name I am fond of, it’s educational too. I was especially enriched by his discussion of his unscientific beer mat. I hate to sound like I’m stereotyping, but why am I not surprised to read about beer mats on an Irish blog? I dare you to find a post about beer mats on Not a Fish archives. Hint: Not only am I Not a Fish, I don’t drink like a fish either (groan).
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Sweden again (so much easier than talking about Sharon’s corruption)
Karen Alkalay-Gut’s Tel Aviv Diary continues to be poignant. Read her interesting comment on the Zvi Mazel (Israeli Ambassador to Sweden) affair:
and life is life and art is only art. So let's get a grip on what's important here - Mazel might be a philistine but he didn't hurt anyone. i don't think there was as much moral dissection of the terrorist as there has been about him.
Should the Ambassador have done it? I think to myself. No, it had the opposite affect of that desired.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
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.
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.