My wife had to go to the shop yesterday with the manager of our local store. The store had been given instructions to stock up on basics – water, rice, and other staples. Why? In case there are ‘repercussions’ following the Palestinian bid for State recognition at the UN this week.
Our privileged position on the top of a Galilean hill, overlooking the large Jewish city of Carmiel and the Arab villages of Majd Al Krum, Ba’ne, and Dir El Assad, is sometimes seen as something of a strategic liability. Were our neighbors to ‘rise up’, we’d be rather isolated on the top of our picturesque hill.
I didn’t really care all that much about Daphne Leef.
I knew that she’d been the person to plant the first tent on Rothschild Boulevard, and I knew that she was one of the people identified as a ‘leader’ of this amorphous yet ever-growing protest movement.
My understanding of the protests was that they had occurred spontaneously, and while its heart was consistent, its demands were constantly evolving. It was, and mostly continues to be, an open source kind of protest. As an open source protest, I was less concerned about the personal history of its leaders. I read various position papers from the various groups involved, and developed my own – positive – view of their general aims.
Israel’s complexity, and the nature of the world’s response to it, is in danger of defeating us as a community.
How can we say when a fiery piece of theater is “anti-Semitic”, and when it is simply “courageous and challenging”? How do we know when a documentary film is “uplifting and inspirational”, and when “white-washing propaganda”? Where can we identify the dangerous enemy of Israel, and where the confused kid who could do with reading a book or two? Where the starry-eyed supporter of all things blue-and-white, and where the McCarthyite in the making?
Had an interesting ride in a taxi the other day.
My driver had spent twenty years in Sweden, before returning here a couple of years ago. Not a particularly observant Muslim (he talked about being drunk a couple of times), he mentioned his first response to the Danish cartoon of Mohammed a few years back.
Dear Mr. Waters,
I was deeply disappointed to learn that you have decided to build a wall between yourself and your Israeli fans. We love you here in Israel. Surely, you must know that from the warm reception you received when you performed here five years ago at the Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom.
What you may not realize is that most Israelis believe in a two-state solution. But this vision is not as easy to turn into a reality as you may think. Instead of recognizing the situation’s complexity, you have joined the campaign to boycott Israel, appointing yourself as a judge in a conflict between Middle Eastern tribes. (How British of you!)
It looks like Israel’s slogan, “the only democracy in the Middle East,” will need to soon be replaced. Successful in the corridors of Washington and in much of American public opinion, this claim – with all its truth about life within the Green Line – didn’t work in some corners of the world when it was viewed in the context of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Israel’s democracy is messy. Personally, I have strong feelings about Israel not really being a secular democracy and I am pained by the infringements on civil rights that stem from Israeli law not allowing for state marriages that are not performed by its official very right-wing Orthodox rabbinate.
It would be silly for us to think we might have any lasting insight to offer on the dynamic and volatile happenings throughout the Arab world, and in particular in Egypt.
I’m feeling sad that the weather on the East coast prevented me from attending the performance of Return to Haifa at TheaterJ in Washington DC. The Cameri production of the theatrical adaption of Kanafani’s novella has been receiving wonderful reviews – I’ve never seen the show, but read the script.
Sitting, as I am, in a cold snowy hotel room in New York instead of in the audience at the show, I’m just left to reflect on two things.
1. TheaterJ and its supportive home at DCJCC continues to light a torch for serious examination of Israel in Jewish cultural life. Ari Roth, the artistic director of the Theater, is often condemned for his distinctly left-leaning politics, rather than praised for his deep belief in the centrality of Israel to the Jewish world. As he himself pointed out: “The deepest, most complicated issues about how we identify as Jews and how we see our role as those who celebrate our people and culture, and how we do battle with our heritage, are all wrapped up in engaging and identifying with Israel… It’s a huge component of who we are: Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, not Rockville, not northwest D.C., not the Upper West Side. Israel is our center and we all have a little piece of it in our history.” The man is a thoughtful and committed Zionist!
It rained today, and that’s great.
For someone who grew up in England, that’s a bizarre statement to make. When it rains in England – which it does most of the time, most of the year – it’s yet another dreary wet day, another reason to be miserable and moan about the bloody weather. But in Israel, it’s totally different. This is a country that is short of water, and desperately needs its meager rains.
This means that in Israel, you can’t be miserable about rain. When it rains, it’s fantastic. It actually lifts your spirits: the absolute opposite effect of British rain. During the winter months, there’s a palpable sense of public joy when it does rain. Rain makes people happy. Rain makes the country happy.