The Prime Minister makes a PowerPoint

It’s night three of my daughter’s cough and it’s gotten much better. I’m sitting uncomfortably on the Hello Kitty stool next to the crib, with my forefinger making lines in her palm, my phone on ‘play’ in the other hand, and in my left ear, an earbud is loosely holding on.

The prime minister is making a point.

It’s been there all along. The Americans have been briefed. Iran lied, in large Times New Roman font.

A curtain is removed, revealing mischief, and another curtain is removed, revealing added mischief.

Binders and discs of menace. 110,000 shards of threat.

Slide after slide, graphic after graphic. Warhead drawing. Embedded incriminating video. Shabab in Times New Roman. Project Amad in Times New Roman. I wonder who was responsible for cleaning up the slides before they went on stage. I wonder if they felt like I do before my work goes on stage.

On some level, above or behind or despite the Prime Minister’s choicest phrases, we’re all wondering the same thing: how the hell did the Mossad agents on this project get away with this? And which non-Jew will star in the leading role someday?

The theatrical prime minister is making a point. In the age of social media, all he needs is a 90s-era PowerPoint, tens of thousands of documents stolen and smuggled from Iran in one January night, and Times New Roman.

Times New Roman, the universal language in making a point.

And then it’s morning, and I’m walking my daughter to gan, she’s shying away from the big black dog that hangs around the area. Parents are mumbling half-thoughts to their kids. Gates are squeaking open. Car doors slam. The sky is cloudy, the branches on the trees are ever-so swaying.

And looking around me, I remember last nigh. Huh. Just as simple as Times New Roman. We put ourselves out there in Times New Roman.

State of the obvious.

So there’s feature on twitter where it autoplays videos in your feed on mute.

I was scrolling through to pass time and one shows kids after a bombing in Hass. You see these kids urgently rushed to a van to be taken away. They’re crying, they’re calling out. It’s on mute for me.

Maybe that’s why I noticed this, of all things: missing teeth. The boy opens his mouth and I see he’s got that mark of childhood, the tooth gaps. maybe he’s in kindergarten like my daughter. Maybe the girl with the missing front tooth is in second grade, like my son.

Missing teeth is universal. every kid on earth loses their teeth.

But I don’t need to state the obvious… right?

[The video was here.]

A day in the life

7:50 Find out about the breaking news from a friend on Whatsapp

8:05 Make sure to give huz and kid #3 a solid goodbye

8:10 Have sinking feeling about letting your kids go for the day

9:45 Pick up kid #2 for speech therapy, feel excited because it’s bonus kid time

10:45 Drop kid #2 off at gan again, sneak a tighter hug in before they open gate

12:20 Find out one of the men killed is your former workmate’s father

12:20-13:30 Wonder how to get through the day while waiting for funeral details

14:20 Get in your ride to the funeral

15:00-15:50 Congregate with other former colleagues, lament the day

15:50-16:50 Tehillim, eulogies, tears, cries, thoughts

17:00 Back to the office

19:40 Arrive home, kids #1 and #2 still awake in your bed, excited to see you

19:50 Cuddles, good nights, tuckings-in

20:00 Kid #1 is still asking questions, making comments, engaging you in conversation, tracing your glasses, wondering aloud, asking for you to stay and answer, pulling you in for a hug, caressing your face,

because he knows, he just knows.

What do Palestinians think this month? A public opinion poll

A friend of mine at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Jerusalem sent me these findings of a new Palestinian public opinion poll (conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, September 25-27, 2014). Coming a month after the end of the latest Gaza war, and a couple months after pondering what war life was like for Gazans, I thought it might be interesting for all of us to take a look:  

Quick summary – one month after the end of the Gaza War:

  • a drop is found in the level of satisfaction with war achievements, in support for Hamas and Ismail Haniyeh, and in support for an armed intifada;
  • but the public still favors Hamas’ “way” over negotiations,
  • and Hamas and Haniyeh are still more popular than Fatah and Mahmud Abbas

A note for anyone who is already revving to roll their eyes: I took a class in college on polls. A whole semester on polls. Which is basically to say how inaccurate, by their very nature, they mostly are. But that there are whole grains of truth. And we shouldn’t throw out information based on what we think ought to have come out from the survey.

Now on to some of the most interesting numbers:

  • Haniyeh would win a majority of votes if elections were held today; that said, don’t be surprised if it happens tomorrow. A majority of 69% wants elections to take place within few to six months from today.
  • I found this unexpected: 29% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, a larger percentage of 35% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear.
  • Peace process: 53% support the two-state solution and 46% oppose it. A month ago, 49% supported it and 50% opposed it.

Nothing in the following list is surprising, in the sense that Gazans care more about their own lives than West Bank residents care about Gazans’ lives:

  • Percentage of satisfaction with war achievements compared to the human and material losses sustained by the Gaza Strip drops from 59% a month ago to 49% in this poll. 50% [overall] are currently dissatisfied with the achievements. In the Gaza Strip, 59% are dissatisfied with war achievements.  
  • Despite that, an overwhelming majority of 80% supports the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel if the siege and blockade are not ended. Support for launching rockets drops in the Gaza Strip to 72%.
  • A majority of 57% believes that launching rockets from populated areas in the Gaza Strip is justified and 39% say it is unjustified. Among Gazans, belief that it is justified to launch rockets from populated areas drops to 48% while increasing in the West Bank to 62%.
  • And because life is eternally confusing, 57% believe that massive popular demonstrations could contribute to ending the Israeli occupation, while…
  • A larger majority of 81% favors Hamas way of resisting occupation.

And finally: Palestinians – they’re just like us! edition:

  • “Finally, findings show that a majority of the public has not heard about Abbas’ plan to seek a deadline for ending Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state. A majority of those who have heard about it do support it despite the fact that a majority expects the plan to fail.”

There’re more info to check out in the original document. Go for it.

Israeli children and artistic expression: A war story in pictures

Note: We did not ask our five-year-old to draw anything. We didn’t know what he had been up to when at around 7 this morning he came up to us holding a picture he drew.

Turns out, it’s not a story about a disabled boy who has divorced parents.

“Why are there two houses?”
“One is our house, and one is the miklat.”
“And which one is he going to?”
“The miklat. There is sirens.”
“Why is the sky black?”
“It’s night.”
“Who is this? Is it you?”
“I don’t know yet.”

“You see this? <points to yellow in the sky> I wanted so this will be a star because it’s night.”
“Oh yeah?”
“But now it’s a rocket.”

————————————————————

“This is me and you on a boat in the sea, and that’s <muffled, sounds like Abba> cracking open the sky.”

“That’s what? Abba?”

“No, labba.”

“What’s  labba?”

“Labba is טילים (missiles).”

————————————————————

“Hey, what’s that?”

“What?”

“That symbol you drew.”

“I dunno.”

“Where’d you see it?”

“On Bebe’s shirt.”

“It means shalom – peace.”

“I’m drawing an x on it.”

“Why?!”

“Because I want.”

The facts about Gaza that we’re not saying

For the last few days I’ve had this lump in my throat, blocking me from saying something I feel but haven’t been able to articulate.

Do you know what I feel when the window’s been shut, the door is locked, and I’ve sat down on the floor of our safe room?

I feel incredibly lucky.

Lucky to have a roof over my head, lucky to have a government watching over my safety, as much as the means churn my guts. Lucky there are laws that buildings must be built with safe rooms now. Lucky that I can get to mine within single-digit seconds, let alone that I actually have 90 of them. Lucky that I know once the door is closed, chances are pretty much 100% – based on my location and building structure – that we will be totally fine.

It’s horrible that there are thousands of eighth and ninth graders in the south of Israel who have never known a different life than constant trauma. There are no words to adequately sum up that situation. It’s horrible they haven’t always been given proper support from our government – that they’ve had to push for it throughout the years. It’s horrible that things only get really serious when the rockets creep out towards the center.

Here’s the part I’m having the specific trouble with.

Israel – the entire Jewish world, in fact – is still pushing through a very low time. A roller coaster that ended up crashing after the highs and lows – when we found the bodies of the three kidnapped teens. We supposedly felt unified, we felt as one, we felt each other’s pain, and for just a few minutes, forgot the clothes we were wearing, the type of headgear we may or may not don, we let it go in order to cry together.

Then it got worse.

Our national pride – our infinite price on life – was stabbed right through its core, when at least three young individuals took an innocent Jerusalem Arab boy’s life in their hands, in a way unfathomable. We wrung our hands, we cried out in pain, we condemned and we distanced.

And now… now we’re combating Hamas in Gaza. Again. For the third time in six years. It’s complicated. Of course it’s complicated. In so many directions, it’s complicated. The rockets that are targeted over here, the rockets that are targeted over there. The history, the context, the instability.

The fact that to protect ourselves, we cause A LOT of collateral damage.

While I do believe the IDF embraces a military culture that tries harder than others to preserve life… to use intelligent targeting, to warn civilians – and I do believe Hamas puts its own people on the line to make its grisly point…

We’re just not acknowledging it enough. We are not ok with this. We are not ok with trying our best and it still causing loss of life. We must not be complacent about it. If “murder is murder is murder”, so too, life is life is life.

And as I watch the rocket reports happen live over social media among my peers – meaning those as lucky as I am, scattered across Israel, absorbing the terror and the sadness and the frustration in each individual’s own way – all I can think is, everything about this discussion is us, us, us.

Rockets explode over our homes. Debris is caught on Tel Aviv streets. Posting what we were doing when the siren sounded (again). Posting what our kids thought. Posting what other people should think. Posting with humor, a nationalistic characteristic to get through the pain. Posting repeated hasbara – what some might call, without irony, ‘truthful propaganda.’

Stats. Infographics. Diagrams of missiles. What the IDF is doing next. How much we all appreciate the Iron Dome technology. What we should be doing next. What we shouldn’t. What we feel. What we don’t feel.

I don’t think we have to take away from all of that – especially the stress and pain at watching our friends and family get called down to the front line – in order to recognize this next point.

Gazans… ordinary Gazans – who do exist – Gazans… have none of it.

No Iron Dome.

No government that actually cares truly to make their nation function.

No safe rooms.

No privacy.

The fact is… no matter what propaganda, theories, or the truth we don’t know yet dictates –

Innocents are dying.

But Hamas takes its own citizens hostage!

Children are dying.

But Hamas uses them as human shields!

But an entire people – yes, a group that lives together and dies together deserves to be called, and very much is, a people – an entire people is being tortured by multiple forces, pulling at them this way and that.

And I’m not saying we have to spend hours arguing over whose fault that is. I’m not saying it’s one way or another. I’m not trying to get into a political shit swamp because if I cared for that, I might post hasbara after hasbara after hasbara… on Twitter.

I’m saying in the name of our collective value for life, in the name of our fortunate circumstances that our leaders do care for our safety, in the name of existing as beings on this Earth,

that surely – surely – among the infographics, the op/eds, the ‘fuck you Hamas’, the hashtags, the rocket outcry – we ought to take a moment or two or million and grieve over what’s become of our, of their, humanity.

On sheep in wartime

While driving back from Beit Shemesh, where I dropped off Tzur Hadassah’s contribution to the collection of toys and food for kids and soldiers stuck in shelters and bases in the south…

I saw this scene and it took my breath away. The sound of hundreds of hooves crunching against the grass; watching hundreds of sheep and goats moving together in the same direction; for some reason it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while.

Life will go on, with or without our conflicts, our mess, our perspectives, our hate.

I’d rather be a part of it.

Meat counter convo liz: So I guess I’m that person now

Standing at the meat counter in the local supermarket.

Guy to meat counter girl: “Yeah, everything is crazy, how are you doing?”

Meat counter girl: “It’s so scary!”

Me: “Hey, at least we know exactly when it’ll hit, it’s been evenings and that’s it.”

Guy: “It’ll be quiet till tonight, till they’ve eaten and organized after Ramadam fast.”

Me: orders chicken

Guy: [in english] “Maybe I’ll just go back”

Me: [taken by surprise] politely smiles

Guy: “You’re from the States?”

Me: “Yeah. You?”

Guy: “Yeah. I dunno. What is this? I think it’s time to just go back.”

Me: “What are you nuts?!”

Guy: “What do you mean, this life isn’t normal. This isn’t normal.”

Me: “What do you mean – America is crazy! Did you hear what just happened on July 4 weekend in Chicago?!”

Guy: “No…”

Me: “There were 82 people shot! 14 died!”

Guy: “Muslims?!”

Me: “No, nothing like that! Anybody! That’s the thing! Here we know our enemy, there it could be any crazy guy off the street!”

Guy: “Yeah, but this…”

Me: “No way, you couldn’t pay me… I’d rather know who my enemy is, we can prepare… There, everything is crime, anyone can take out a gun…”

And while we agreed in the end that perhaps, if we were to leave, Australia would be a fine choice…

…I couldn’t believe, with 100% meaning everything I said, without thinking about what I was saying, I had just been that person.