August 16

Spent the morning shopping. Shopping? In a shopping center? on Friday morning? how reckless!

And every one was there - because of the coming holidays? the sudden relief in the weather? the let-up from daily terrorist attacks? who knows - we've lost the ability to be rational. we're spending what's left

Actually I've been hearing from individuals here and there that the economic situation is not as terrible as it appears. Not because it is improving, but because it is polarizing more and more. If you have your right foot in boiling water and your left foot in ice, the average will be tepid.... So it is here - the poverty is offset by the improvement of the upper middle class.

Me, I'm on a salary that has remained the same for at least 2 years, despite the fact that the cost of living has gone up about 7% each year.

But I still shop.

Aviv pointed out to me that i recommended Kol Yisrael for objective news and not Indymedia. I haven't been checking into indymedia lately - but i'll do it now and put the address on.

He also says this: god, i know i'm here and your there but i find your diary extremely appologetic (of sharon's policies in the territories.)... do they really make you feel safer?...

I would have to go back and check which day i said something like that. But let me make this assertion now. I will vote for Mitzna because he wants to get out of the territories. I have always wanted out of the territories. If the Palestinian people would get together and assert that they recognize the State of Israel and say - with Marwan Barghuti - 2 States for 2 People - I would be thrilled because that would allow the process to begin.


August 17

Went to see Yossi and Jagger, an antiwar film about a homosexual relationship in the army. Itís pretty graphic about the homosexuality, but what makes it anti-war is the close-up view of real people in a real but unreal situation. How human beings live and love in the situation of war. There wasnít a dry eye in the audience.

Now you would think that in times like these a film about the army would be concerned with ideals, political issues, moral situations. But what really count are the people.


August 18

Souping up our gas masks this week. Bush attacks Saddam. Saddam attacks us. It's simple.

Jerry wrote me a few weeks ago asking me about collective punishment. I think it's in this week's Torah reading - God tells Moses that if one person doesn't obey the laws, every body gets it. So the discussion about collective punishment in the Territories (i broke my rule just now and erased my typo - terrortories) is a bit strange.

But it is right to question it - because individuals have limited freedom and therefore limited responsibility. Look at me. Am I responsible for the situation Israel is in? A little. Enough to get blown up.

I'm also responsible for doing everything I can to keep Israelis awake to the entire situation, to the suffering of the Palestinians, for example. And I'm responsible for letting the non-Israeli know that we're hurting here too - and badly. How? Well for one there is a great shortage of medicines in the hospitals right now. Operations are being postponed - Elective surgery, and more critical surgery as well. people are being urged to stay home. The hospitals owe the drug companies too much money. That's collective punishment too, isnt it.

August 19

We drove up north this afternoon - first stop Beautiful Suzanna in her beautiful house in Zichron overlooking the Arab village of Faradis. She writes about her relationship with this village frequently. Because of a computer meltdown I can't find the letters, but one of them (almost two years ago) is about how the recent 'troubles' ruined her relationship with her neighbors - maybe she'll send me the letter again and i'll post it.

Maybe because we hadn't been anywhere in so long, we looked at the land as tourists - no - we always marvel at this country - its beauty and complexity. We drove nearby Tiberias and amazed at the way the water level has risen, and the sea almost seems to have recovered from the long drought. And at night, when we were driving home from Rosh Pina and missed a turn in the mountains, I kept marvelling over and over at the number of Arab villages that seem to be thriving. Strange - my mind has been filled so long with stories from friends about Arab villages that disappeared in the War of Independence and only the original sabra bushes mark their borders - and stories of government inequalities and injustices to Arab municipalities that I have forgotten another fact - that many Arab towns and villages are thriving and growing beautifully as well. I hope next week I'll go to Nazareth and hear more about this. I certainly need more information.

And why do I say nothing about the beginnings of normalization of the "Gaza and Bethlehem First" project? Do you know the expression "opening a mouth to Satan?" I'm afraid of the evil eye. Afraid if i say anything, put too much focus on it, it will get ruined. Actually Zahal pulled out of Bethlehem today after 3 months - and Jaljullia and a few other place. my fingers are crossed.

August 20

Too much to expect - a soldier was killed by sniper fire near Gaza today. Hamas. Hamas didn't agree to the 'normalization' process anyway. But if we're all not careful they'll screw it up for all of us. So many people on both sides want to live normal lives right now - but all of us have short fuses.

An article in Haaretz yesterday about Israeli Academics abroad and the anti-Israel atmosphere in American Universities ( reminded of stories from friends of the way they were personally harrassed for being Israeli. So much for academic freedom. For years I've been suspicious of the theorists overtaking the humanities - not because they are theorists but because they very often don't base their theories on anything but their own private experiences. Twist one experience from one place and apply it to another. Expand a personal neurosis into a theory... Some professor gives a lecture - with a lot of assurance and a slick smile - and everyone in the audience applauds. I'm the person in the back row who has a little question about the meaning of the single phrase the guy has based his whole theory on. Usually I get a supercilious look and a shrugged-shoulders reaction like my little nit-picking isn't worth bothering with. But my real education comes from two places - biblical study and social sciences. When I studied with Rabbis we would go over and over a sentence to make sure we understood what the possibilities were before we ventured into the commentaries. And to go further - I had to really know what I was talking about before I could offer an argument.

But about the Middle-East, where most of these Academics have never bothered to visit, opinions are formed after brief discussions in the Faculty Lounge. And then these opinions are shoved down the throats of students who are also taught not to question. As Marjorie Perloff said in the Haaretz article, "They aren't looking for facts. They just want to express firm and self-righteous geo-political opinions, and hope to influence someone. There is a large degree of ignorance about the subject. Most of the professors who attack do not know anything about the history of the state of Israel, but they are big experts on theories like Marxism or post-colonialism."

I remember a number of years ago making it to the Modern Language Association convention, and being shocked by the posing at the Marxist cash bar. I shared this shock later with Marjorie Perloff who told me the same thing she said in the Israeli papers - but then we weren't talking about Israel - it was just a general contempt for armchair philosophers pretending they live in a real world.

Oh dear, I'm pontificating again. I'll try to stick to facts myself from now on.

My cousin Svi from Yokneam, has a son, Shalev, 9 years old, who starting singing a song while they were driving around Vermont last month. It turned out he made it up, but it was so striking his grandfather had Shalev record it in a studio before they went back to Israel. It's called "Zehava Don't Be Afraid," and the singer here is comforting a girl named Zehava who has been orphaned. He sent it to me in Hebrew and an English translation - that I'm not going to quote from at length, but in general the refrain tells Zehava that nothing has changed, the sun will still rise,and "the evil's all gone and with it the sorrow." Now think about it - a 9 year old kid away on vacation is so involved and affected by the kinds of things happening at home that he seeks and finds a way to comfort an orphan and forsee a happier future. Not a war song. not a song of revenge or even superiority. just comfort.