Nothing to see here, just a little election therapy.

Me? I’m slow to anger. Usually. When bad things are on their way, I tend to peek around the corner to find the good somewhere. And then as I pass around the corner, it hits me like a ton of… Bibis winning an election on a platform of fear.

Unlike me, usually, I was pretty cynical the months leading up to Israel’s latest election. For all the people who really believed there was a chance for some fresh government, I smiled politely. Either way, Bibi would be prime minister again – and the fact is, the right wing numbers are just significantly larger than the center or left. The question would be, what would the drama be around coalition building?

And, disappointingly enough, there was no drama. We went to bed expecting to wake up to drama and we woke up to same old.

So here’s why I’m angry.

There’s so much more to Bibi – to any human – than one-dimensional fear mongering. Deep down inside the man – hell, inside Likud – there are more issues than just security.

I’m angry because we are not just Israel, the defensive state. We’re not just a bunch of riot police with shields in the air. Underneath our riot gear, we are going to work every day – well, most of us. We are buying groceries at the supermarket, calculating how to make it work. We are choosing charities to donate to; there are just so many people in need. We are wondering why our taxes are this high, and how could the economy be a little more balanced.

We debate how religious this state is vs how democratic. We debate where we can be both. We debate whether our kids will go to the army. We debate who should be getting secular education.

We debate.

There are a lot of dimensions to us.

And every year that we get fed that Iran is attacking us next year, is another year we are not solving our army/national service problem. Another year we haven’t sorted out our housing issues. Another year there are still groups of people here who don’t have all their rights realized.

Tell me, who is going to fight Bibi’s wars in ten, fifteen years? How and when are we going to solve our scalablity problem with regard to our demographics?

So here we are, electing a government based on fear, conflict, the Other. Again. There is nothing creative, refreshing, imaginative, out-of-the-box about the latest coalition being built.

I’d argue we’ve regressed.

And because the anger is setting in, I’m starting to twist uncomfortably in my chair. And rant at people. So I wrote it all here.

I just want to look forward to the next debate, if anyone who is not afraid to move forward, to be creative, to consider something new – can get a word in.

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.

Video marketing: so you *can* teach an old man new tricks

I watched a lot of videos tonight. And they all made me happy. But none so happy as this: Ex-President of Israel (and ex-every other job) Shimon Peres goes job hunting.

I’m extra happy there are subtitles so you can enjoy if you’re not from around here.

Welcome to the wartime TMI challenge

Is there a word for the despair one feels at no longer knowing who or what to believe?

It gets worse with every conflict: social media. A platform initially designed for sharing college memories and life milestones became a place for arresting my sense of truth.

Over the years, I’ve come to follow more and more people with worldviews and backgrounds that drastically differ from mine. I like it; it keeps me centered. It makes me feel just uncomfortable enough to keep on my toes, just insecure enough that I’m constantly sharpening my own truth.

At the beginning of this latest Gaza conflict I ditched traditional news sources, opting for scanning headlines with an occasional click, and instead followed dozens of new people on social media: Gazans, Arabs from around the world, journalists from a spectrum of news sources (mostly based in Gaza), and others. I had already been following extreme right and left wing Israeli voices for years.

Problem #1: It turns out, when you’re reading everything with a grain of salt, you end up absorbing some pretty bad-tasting discomfort.

The discomfort has turned into pain over the last weeks. And its sting gets sharper as I’ve watched a sudden rise in non-political friends fill my Facebook newsfeed with urgent, sensationalist, pleading headline after headline after headline (which I made a policy a couple weeks back to never ever click).

Problem #2: Everyone is sharing the same thing, regurgitating it to the same audience.

And people get fed their own homegrown-grade of bombastic propaganda. There seems to be no place to go to seek facts if you are following remotely. We can’t trust anyone else, so we can only continue to share our own hearsay.

Problem #3: Everything… but everything… sounds like propaganda now.

Every time I open Twitter – which is less often these days – I’m greeted with DEAD CHILDREN and antisemitic cartoons and RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF and NOWHERE TO GO and digit-heavy infographics and HUMAN SHIELDS and so on.

And no matter how much of a basis in truth and experience and fact each piece of content contains, whether you’d tag it ‘pro-Israel’ or ‘pro-Gazan’ or ‘pro-human’, the wrapping and the sharing and the repeating ends up downgrading its meaning.

A lot of talking, less listening.

I can only imagine how all this leads to misunderstandings of other realities for people not actively seeking truths outside their own.

Clearly, I asked for it. Maybe I’m listening too hard. And clearly, I live one of many many angles of truth here. So when seeking understanding of other truths, how far do I go? How sick do I make myself in the process? How morally compromised do I become? How depressed do I let it make me? The actions taken to erase my name, the actions taken in my name to save my name, the danger, the sadness, the collateral damage, the short term strategy, the long term goals…

Problem #4: Because each of our experiences is by definition one-of-a-kind, every person reading this will read it differently, to his/her own tune, to his/her own meaning.

Are we ever really hearing each other then?

All I have left to say is… if being a member of a population at war doesn’t enable me to learn anything new, to think harder, I consider myself a failed human.

The 4th kidnapped boy: that’s called disgust – go ahead and feel it.

Four kidnapped boys

Disgust. There are a lot of things to be utterly disgusted with around here. I feel disgust constantly. It’s usually aimed at opinions that differ from mine; minute triggers related to lifestyles that differ from mine; ways of communicating I don’t agree with.

Shame. That is something I feel less often, but it does come up. There’s plenty of shame where you seek it. Things are not perfect. Things are not even great. But on the whole, they tend not to veer toward inhuman.

Silence. That’s something I cannot tolerate, especially among people so quick to accuse, to blast, to take down. You can’t cry foul and then turn away when it’s one of your own who has brought shame to each and every one of us – across the entire world.

Jews don’t murder? Jews aren’t terrorists?

And how about those times I’ve heard some of my peers joke, or actually call, for revenge, for showing who’s boss, for exerting our right, for taking it into our own hands?

Words actually do kill, when spoken enough, when combined to form an attitude, when condensed into a plan, when sparked into action.

These Jews who kidnapped and murdered – burned alive – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir are a stain on all of our souls, no matter what we believe, express, do or not do.

People we considered brothers – whether we agreed with them or not, dressed like them or not – took up revenge against the kidnapping and brutal killing of innocents with the kidnapping and brutal killing of another innocent.

We need to face these horrific facts. There are now four grieving families across our land, in addition to countless others who have grieved, are grieving, and will, inevitably, grieve.

To those who are keeping silent in this case – it’s warranted to weed out the cold blooded among us. To separate them. It’s our responsibility to stare down shame in the face and pluck it from among us.

It’s absolutely natural and necessary to feel washed over in sickness at this news.

Anything that happened before this doesn’t matter. This is not who we are.

If we want to truly continue the much-lauded legacy of unity our three kidnapped boys granted us in their untimely and cruel deaths, we must stand together in condemning the very same of yet another.

Never normal.

image

Living here is not normal.

Life here pushes through – the normal, the stubborn, the ups, the downs – the not normal, the horror, the grief, the methods, the madness.

Life here is limbo. Life here is business as usual. Life here is waiting. Life here is death.

Life here is moving on. Life here is no tear wasted. Life here is blessing god despite death. Life here is worshipping life.

Life here, after the worst is realized, is never normal again.

Life here will live on despite that.

ברוך דיין האמת.

What’s more complicated than kidnapped teens, baby heart surgery, and life in Israel?

Day 10.

My god. This country. What is more complicated than this goddamn country?

This is a news segment on Channel 10 [Hebrew] profiling a father of a Makor Chaim schoolmate of the two 16-year-old kidnapped boys. He is also Dr. Dudi Mishali, a 20-year Tel HaShomer baby heart surgeon. He opens the chests of infants to cure them of heart conditions.

He does this for any baby that comes through hospital doors. That includes Jewish babies, Israeli Arab babies, Palestinian Arab babies, refugee babies.

So the father of a schoolmate has to contend with the fact that he’s now operating on the 4 month old of Arab Hevron residents while his son’s schoolmates are likely being held captive – assumed alive – somewhere in the very same area.

The parents are terrified of what will be with their baby. The parents are… parents. Like Dudi. Like the three sets of parents waiting to hear the fate of their kidnapped children.

Of course he operates. Of course he goes about his business. Of course it tears him apart that this is the way he has to work right now.

Who – who – can look at a child and not save his life?

But he, and his wife, raise painful points, torturous questions.

This video is uncomfortable.

It’s kind of just life here at the worst of times.

Watch the video.