Friday, August 3, 2018

Israel forgets: being Jewish means more than not running buses on the Sabbath


Pro-Israel demonstration, Chicago 2004
     Now that's the Israel I know and love.
     I've gotten in the habit of pretty much ignoring what goes on in the Promised Land. Everything there is a problem (Promised to whom?) particularly as its government continues the rightward slide toward nationalism so poisoning our own country.
     While America, under the leadership of Donald Trump, is trying to be great again by harassing refugees and flipping the bird to immigrants, Israel joins the fun by reminding its non-Jewish residents of the Jewish state, officially by a new "Nation-State" law, that they don't belong, don't run things and never will.
     Is that helpful? To insecure nationalists, sure. To those trying to nudge Israel toward a viable future in the 21st century, not so much.
     A full-time job, opposing that slide in our own country. To keep our own religious fanatics from trying to turn the supposedly neutral government into an auxiliary of their church, in league with the least religious, least moral president since ... well, ever.
     Given that, why bother with Israel? Because by seeing how Israelis combat their problems gives us a hint how to cope with our own.
     So — talk about burying the lede — what's the good news out of Israel that has me smiling?
     A thousand Israelis took part in a mass Arabic lesson at Habima Square in Tel Aviv Monday night, to protest to the new Nation-State Law which, among other ominous rumblings, downgraded the status of the Arabic language because, well, nationalists like to stick their thumb in the eyes of those they consider beneath them. It's makes them feel better about themselves, which is what nationalism is all about: dressing up in the shiny uniform of your own people, strutting about and pretending to be magnificent.

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11 comments:

  1. There must be some good sense lurking in the corridors of power, given that Netanyahu and Trump haven't gotten to expressing their nationalism by wearing military uniforms...yet.

    john

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  2. Fine column, Neil. And you're dead on about manifestations of multiculturism driving the nationalist Right crazy. Why else would they get so hysterical about, say, an all-female reboot of Ghostbusters?

    I'll never forget how a trustee on the board of a lily-white suburb--it might even have been Northbrook--got his shorts in a knot over a graphic for a village vehicle sticker that depicted a group of children. He was upset because one or two of the kids weren't white. He expressed it with the usual crap about "multiculturalism being shoved down our throats." If you're that invested in your "white heritage" that you can't stand even a drawing of someone who's ethnically different, there's very little hope for you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, that was Wilmette. A trustee and many residents where upset about diversity being shoved down their throats. If I recall correctly the Village permitted people to cut out the portion of the sticker they didn't like as long as the serial number remained visible. Much like New Hampshire allows people to tape over the state motto "Live Free or Die" on their license plates if they are hardcore pacifists. Giving people such choices allows us to judge what level of racism they embrace.

      Delete
  3. "But when the chosen people grew more strong,
    The rightful cause at length became the wrong." Dryden "Absalom and Achitophel"

    Good review in the most recent New Yorker of a newly released memoir by Iris Origo entitled "A chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940." It chronicle's the beginning of the end of Il Duces efforts to make Italy great again through military aggression and the fateful alliance with Hitler. Origo's "War in Val d' Orca," which described life on Lo Foce the Origo's Tuscan estate, as the German army retreated up the peninsula is one of the finest accounts of what it was like to be on the ground as war raged all around with multiple combatants: Germans, Italian fascists, Communist Partisans, Non-Communist Partisans, American and British forces. Would make a great film. I'm surprised George Clooney hasn't taken it on.

    Tom




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    Replies
    1. Tom, that sounds interesting, but which issue? I have the Aug. 6/13 issue, and there's nothing like that in there.

      Delete
    2. Don't know how recent that review is. But I am reading one from last year. This is from the review. A close associate of Mussolini described to her the Duce’s contempt for humanity: “A sentimentalist about ‘the people’ en masse, he is completely cynical about all individuals, and measures them only by the use he can put them to.” Pretty much describes Trump.

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    3. It's in the Thursday, August 2, issue.

      If you are fortunate enough to visit Tuscany south of Siena you can visit La Foce (but only on Wednesdays) and learn about the Origo's. Their memory is revered by the locals for their work in turning a wasteland into productive farmland and the role they played in the war. There's also a good biography of Iris.

      Tom

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    4. Tom - There's no such thing. The New Yorker publishes on Monday. The last two issues were July 30 and August 6 & 13, and nothing in either issue contains anything like what you describe. Did you see this online maybe? Or are you confusing the New Yorker with the New York Times?

      Delete
    5. I saw the article on line. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/not-a-moment-too-soon-iris-origos-war-diary?mbid=social_twitter

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  4. The article is titled "Not a moment too soon: Iris Origo's War Diary." By Cinthia Zorin. The occasion for the piece is that the New York Review Of Books is publishing the Origo book this week.

    I did read it on line, and the date at the top of the page is Thursday, August 2.

    I believe the New York Times is one of those big things made of newsprint, that, to pinch one of Neil's better metaphors, is like a website they fold over and throw at houses in the morning. Or used to in my case.

    The New Yorker is, of course smaller, printed on shiny paper and made occasionally available to me by both my dentist and my dermatologist as I linger in their waiting rooms. However, for daily consumption I look at both publications on my computer screen.

    Tom

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, guys. Good stuff. Maybe I'll go read that book.

      Delete

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