“Over Netanyahu’s New Israel, the BS light is on”

Bradley Burston

The always excellent Bradley Burston in HaAretz, on the Israeli Knesset’s wave of “Black Flag” legislation designed to severely curtail a long list of democratic freedoms:

With the occupation came the overarching need to ignore, to confabulate, to misdirect. With the occupation came the self-protective urge for marketing, for rebranding, for selective vision, for a shrill form of self-esteem based on the idea that we alone, with our experience, can understand and thus speak the truth.

With the occupation, with the settlements, with the night raids and the administrative detention and the roads just for settlers and the buses just for settlers, with the destruction of Palestinian crops and the expropriation of Palestinian property and the cramping off of Palestinian life, came the need for something bigger than the words for lie and falsehood and deception.

With the occupation came the need for that word. For BS in all its forms. With the occupation came the need for playing the victim, for playing the saint, for playing the pompous preacher, for acting the misunderstood street punk, for denying demography, for fostering segregation, for intimidating the press, for discriminating against Arab citizens while noting that many of them work in high-tech, for building walls high enough that we can’t watch what we ourselves are doing.

“For building walls high enough around that we can’t watch what we ourselves are doing….”

Please read the rest, by clicking here.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

Insufficient memory.

Note: I spent last week dealing the world’s Horrible Things and though they’ve hardly abated, I’ve decided that this week, I won’t write about them. I’ll tweet, or comment elsewhere, but this space will be Horrible-free — except at the end of each post, where there will be a few links to Your Day In Horrible, should you feel the need.


Note the second: Sooo. The day got entirely away from me, in ways so many and varied, that I wouldn’t want to begin to explain where it went. So I won’t! But I’m allowing myself the luxury of re-upping a column I wrote a few years back in the Dallas Morning News about the fact that — resist the truth as I might — I am an irredeemable birdbrain. No — you read the following (about which very little has changed in the intervening years, other than the girl’s need for a binky), and then try to think otherwise of me. I challenge you.

Insufficient memory

(It's forget-me-nots. Get it? Plus: So pretty!)

Recently, I was forced to come to the conclusion that, deny it as I have tried my whole life, I am, inarguably, an airhead.

Ok, I’m an intellectual snob, too, so let’s call me “absent-minded.” Like a professor, only without a teaching position. Or office hours.

I may approach it with humor, but it’s a truth I actually loathe. I’ve spent my life devising and maintaining systems by which to mask the fact of it (from myself primarily, I guess. The world’s probably caught on).

I’ve tried everything from calendars with copious notes, to lists on the door, to (and I mean this literally) keeping a running total in my head of the things I left the house with, so that I don’t leave anything behind. It can become a bit of a mess if I leave the house with something that was intended to be left behind. Like, you know, the dry cleaning.

And yet, in spite of these efforts, I am always forgetting things – objects, plans, dates. Thank God, I have yet to forget people, but my (two) children know I may forget their names. When my son was three years old, if I posed the question “What would Mommy do if she could take her head off?” he would say: “Lose it.”

I will say that, at the very least, this forgetfulness has granted me a deep faith in people. I’ve left my backpack in a cab in Istanbul, my camera in a store in Tel Aviv, and (my personal favorite) my sister-in-law’s pearls in a taxi in Washington, DC. Around the world, people have consistently saved me from myself and returned these items to me, often going out of their way to do so. The kindness of strangers, indeed.

On a recent morning, a stranger – a county official with whom I had an appointment in order to appeal my property taxes, a date you might think I’d want to keep – called to ask where I was. Not to reprimand me for blowing her off, but to suggest with a smile in her voice that perhaps I should make my way down to her offices.

Then, on the way there, I drove nine blocks the wrong direction, because, after living in my town for more than seven years – five of which were spent three blocks up from the address to which I was headed on the same street – I got confused about where the north/south demarcation starts on our grid.

As I started to compose the “I’m so sorry for being even later” in my head, I heard myself thinking “I don’t want to seem so disorganized,” and it hit me: I am. I am just that disorganized.

Anyone who has ever: had her babysitter look for her wallet so that she can get on a plane; left that same wallet at home on her way to a store 40 minutes away; forgotten her debit card in the hands of the gas station attendant, is a complete space-cadet. Bona fide.

When I got pregnant with my son seven years ago, having just moved to a new place, new friends kindly chalked my muddle-headedness up to pregnancy, and then to post-partum, and then to exhaustion. And then a second pregnancy. With two kids running around the house, they now say, who can remember anything? You lose a piece of your brain with each placenta.

I’m happy to leave them their delusions, and I will certainly concede that all of those things have not helped. I will even admit, with some genuine pride, that when it comes to the kids, I’m mostly on top of who needs what and has to go where (even if I don’t, as I say, reliably remember what we’ve called them). It’s my own stuff that goes missing.

Seriously, I take some comfort from that. Because there are days when it feels like all of this means that really, underneath my carefully constructed façade, I’m out of control. One misplaced piece of paper from the unraveling of my entire life.

But if I can keep it together for my children – old What’s-Their-Names – I figure that will have to be enough. Just admit the truth, accept who you are, and move on. I can make it without my coat; my daughter, on the other hand, would be lost without her binky.

Emily L. Hauser is a freelance writer living outside of Chicago. As far as she can remember.


Your Day in Horrible:

  1. Bradley Burston at HaAretz wrote a heartbreaking column about the uses to which the horrific murder of children have been put in the last week in Israel: “[M]ost of us, on both sides, are people who, despite everything – despite their grief and their rage and their one-sided, blind-eye narrative and their truly unjust history and the guaranteed injustice of any possible solution – actually want the same thing: a future for their children in an independent country living alongside and at peace with the people who are now their enemy. For every child. Both sides. For every child.”
  2. Bullets Stall Youthful Push for Arab Spring – “The Arab Spring is not necessarily over,” writes the New York Times [which will soon be behind a paywall, not that I’m bitter], “but it has run up against dictators willing to use lethal force to preserve their power.”
  3. OH! And another thing the GOP apparently hates (in addition to: workers, women, the Special Olympics, puppies, and the earth itself): Parks. “This week, in an unreleased portion of [Gov] Kasich’s proposed budget, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would be given authority to lease 200,000 acres of state park land for oil and gas exploration.”

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

Where angels fear to tread.

The astute reader will have noticed that this blog (often touted — by others, not by me! — as an “Israel/Palestine blog”) has been very light on the Israel/Palestine stuff of late. Ever since our return from Israel/Palestine, in fact. Well over a month ago.

The long-time reader, however, may have also noticed that I do this periodically — I just check out. Can’t handle it. Choose not to handle it. Take an unplanned and entirely unintended Break From The Insanity.

Indeed, just writing this much has been no barrel of laughs, and I haven’t actually written anything yet.

Here’s the thing: When you’ve been observing, studying, writing about, and living in/with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 30 years (ellaesther – losing her damn mind since 1982! [tm]), you’ve seen a thing or two. You’ve seen it a time or two. You seen it over and fucking over, and even though each time it is, incredibly, unbelievably, incomprehensibly, worse than the other time or two or twenty or three hundred that you’ve seen it? It’s all stuff you’ve seen before, and have, moreover, predicted. Time and time and time and time again (again, again, again). After all these years, it is occasionally, simply, very hard to write about it again (again, again, again).

– Israel’s Prime Minister telling the entire world about how much he wants peace while simultaneously doing everything he can to prevent the Palestinians from getting anything they want and/or need? Check/check.

– Israel creating hell on earth for Palestinians under their control while simultaneously a) denying that it’s hell and b) insisting that it’s the Palestinians’ own damn fault? Check, check, and check.

– Israel doggedly building settlements in the face of massive international opprobrium? Check.

– Israel’s government doing nothing so much as maintaining its own existence? Check.

– Israeli society rejecting out-of-hand anyone who suggests that the occupation is Bad For The Jews? Check.

– Israel roiling with racist hate speech? Check.

– Violence — whether State-sponsored (read: war) or intra-Israeli (read: ideologically motivated murder) — increasingly on the horizon? Check and check.

– Famous (and increasingly irrelevant) politician splitting off from a major party in an attempt to salvage his or her own career? Check.

– The Labor Party shrinking to an ever-smaller sliver of a shadow of its former self? Check.

– Former members of Labor saying some version of “I knew Ben Gurion and you, sir, are no Ben Gurion?” Check.

– The Israeli people writ large complaining about how shit everything is and yet taking active part in seeing that it stays that way? Check (and also: check).

I just – can’t. I cannot. I cannot with this government. I cannot with this people. I cannot with the same old self-deception and self-imposed horror. I cannot bear to bathe in the endless stream of caricatured awful that my beloved country has allowed itself to be reduced to. Perpetuates. Appears to ask for. I just can’t.

So instead, I bring you the one slim ray of hope I have seen emerge from my benighted home in time out of mind: a column by the always, always excellent Bradley Burston.

The other day, the man who recently wrote the chill-inducing, elegiac “When the Messiah comes, Israel will deport him,” wrote the following:

I know you’re out there. I feel for you. The person with the good heart and the generous conscience, for whom Israel has become passion turned quiet shame. A person with genuine compassion for Palestinians, who may at this point seem more understandable, certainly more deserving of sympathy than these people, my friends, your cousins, the Israelis.

I have some idea what it feels like, a powerful, not easily comprehended fondness for Israel, a love which feels of late to have been stomped on, twisted, abused, manipulated, silenced, belittled, ridiculed, and, again and again, betrayed. A person who has begun to think that Israel, this Israel, is a lost cause.

You’re in luck.

In a piece he provocatively titled “Think Israel’s a lost cause? Ten reasons to think again,” Burston argues that “for the first time in a long time, something good, the decency that still somehow informs people here, has a chance of taking wing,” and lists some fairly reasonable reasons for admitting hope back into the heart — including “Avigdor Lieberman may be a lost cause,” and “Greater Israel and settlements are a lost cause,” and “The American Jewish community has begun to speak its true mind.”

I don’t know that he’s right, but I very much hope that he is, and I would encourage you to read the whole thing (why look, here’s another link!) — it’s not long, and it is wise. (And Burston is such a good writer that, generally, developing a Burston habit is a good thing).

Go, read, come back and tell me what you think. Or don’t. Whatevs. I’ll be here, either way.

Stewing in my juices, insisting I’ve run out of patience, hope, and will, even as I continue to obsess and pray for miracles.



Israel/Palestine: The basics.

Israel/Palestine: A reading list.

Israel/Palestine peace advocacy: Places to start.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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