Tuesday, 23 September 2008

My excuse for not updating my blog...

Is that it is hot. To hot to think, to write, to do anything productive. (Even read, which is a problem since I earn a significant part of my minuscule income from reading)

This also presupposes the obviously disputable fact that this blog is productive. Like any other public outpouring of random ramblings, it quite clearly cannot be deemed to so, but it does clear the mind from time to time and allows me to concentrate on more pressing things, so that helps a little.

Mrs Goy - or the Feminist Mrs Goy, as I've taken to calling her - observed the other day that with Tzipi's triumph in the Kadima primaries, Israel now has a woman at the head of each of the three arms of Government - Dalia Itzik is the Speaker of the Knesset, and Dorit Beinisch at the Supreme Court.

I'm guessing she thinks that this is a good thing.

I didn't have the heart to point out that, in any case, Tricky Udi is still loitering in the corridors of power, resignation or not. I tell you, they'll have to cart the man away in chains.

Mr Mofaz, whom I blogged about previously, seemed on the verge of tears when he conceded victory to Tzipi. He apparently wants to 'take time out from Politics'. If that is anything like Mr Barak's 'lost weekend' away from the political scene, I imagine that he'll be back in five years or so, well connected, newly minted and itching to cause mischief. If I were Mrs Mofaz, I'd watch out...

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I had lunch with my father in law last Friday, in a nice family restaurant in Ramat Aviv Gimmel. Tucked in a corner, apparently eating, conversing with a companion and chatting on his mobile all at the same time, was Abraham Hirschson. Mr Hirschson was Minister of Finance until not very long ago, when he was obliged to resign after being accused of all sorts of naughtiness involving money belonging to the National Workers Labour Federation (don't these people ever learn: never fuck with trade union money), and a charity involved with holocaust survivors from Poland. He resigned from office last July, and recently the Attorney General announced that he was to be formally charged with ' breach of trust, aggravated fraud, theft, forgery of corporate documents and money laundering'. A bit of a mouthful that.

He has an elegantly sculpted beard and sideburns arrangement, somewhat at odds with the old denim and polo shirt he was sporting. Me, I've never trusted men with kempt beards (nor women neither, come to think of it). I was briefly tempted to ask him whether his lunch was being paid for by the Histradut, the general trade union body, but thought better of it. Stones and glasshouses and all that...

Funny, when Mr Hirschson started to get into difficulties, people accused Tricky Udi of being exceptionally naive for appointing someone with antecedents as crooked as Hirschson to the post. Little did we know then...

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Completely non-Goy related: Two of my favourite writers, the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the music critic Alex Ross, have just been awarded MacArthur Foundation 'Genius' Grants. The lucky bastards. Congratulations to both.

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One writer whom I believe came very close to genius, David Foster Wallace died last week, at the age of 46. As a fiction writer, his output was sometimes uneven, but his observational journalism was, in my opinion, unparalleled. His capacity to place an event, no matter how apparently banal and trite, within its precise, informed social context is unmatched. His facility for words, and experimentation with form, syntax and the accepted rules of grammatical expression defy description.

I mention all this because he wrote an interesting, engaging and honest profile of John McCain, (MK I), for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1999, I think. Given McCain's transformation from the straight talker who abjured the dirty political tricks of his then rival, George W. Bush, to...well, a classic pol, really, it seemed apt that the New York Review of Books decided to republish Wallace's profile, slightly elongated, in book form a couple of months ago.

Israel and Israelis are obsessed with November's election - the phrase, 'but will it be good for the Jews' never seemed so apt - and although I am by no means an Obama groupie (at least, not any more, as the Feminist Mrs Goy reminds me), I think that any Israeli with dual American nationality contemplating voting for McCain would do well to read this account of what he once was first, and then decide whether they prefer the old him, the new him, or are simply confused by a man who has mutated so grotesquely, almost overnight.

Rest in peace, DFW

9 comments:

Lolade said...

You didnt indicate your feelings about Obama.

What do Isrealis think about him?

Goy said...

@Lolade

Israelis are, on the whole, a bit suspicious of him, because they don't think he will Be Good For The Jews. In this case, by taking their side in the interminable playground squabbles with the next door neighbours.

Of course, Bush set the bar pretty high - or low, depending on your viewpoint - for being a Friend of Israel, so Obama was always going to struggle to win people over in this part of the world.

That said, he did charm the pants off a lot of commentators when he visited a couple of months ago, and criticism has been notably muted since then.

What I think of Obama? I preferred him when he was the underdog to Hillary Clinton's steamroller of a campaign. He spoke more freely, more inspiringly, he seemed less concerned with alienating the political classes and instead more concerned with creating a new paradigm - which was great.

Now, he's boxed in, too calculating, less spontaneous, and is sprouting a lot of the same shit that most politicos do - I was really pissed off with his comments about One Jerusalem at the AIPAC conference a couple of months ago.

Of course, he is a victim of his own success, but still...

Not that it matters. I am not an American citizen, will not be voting and therefore my opinion is worth as much as a bucket of warm spit :-)

Lolade said...

Appreciate your candidness. But then what do you think about the One Jerusalem policy? Are you pro-Isreal or are you like some of us outside the Isreal-America equation who believe that both parties should meet each other half way.

I think for the world's peace, it should be amicably resolved even though I know that it's tough. Wars over land are fought everywhere moreso when you guys have been at it from when the Bible was being written.

I just wishfully think that things can turn out the way "A Westside Story" was resolved, amicably. Have you seen that short film about the Palestines and Isrealis?

Goy said...

Me, I'm pro peace. Which means an equitable and fair solution to the crisis.

In practical terms, this means nothing. It is impossible to satisfy both parties. The real problem is that, on both sides, 'extremists' control the debate, set the goalposts, etc. And the outside world tends to relate to these positions as the 'standard' point of view, that of the man on the street on both sides...

Israel - not entirely surprisingly - gets a lot of the bad press, because they are the 'Goliath' now, not as was the case up until 1967 and the 6 day war. And it is in their remit to make the first step, by conceding territory, accepting the Palestinian's right to self determination, and so on. But it isn;t so east when you have child like lunatics like Nasrallah, Mashal and, in the distance, Ahmedinajad vowing retribution and vengance upon the 'Zionist project', 'driving the Jews into the sea', and so on...

Peace is not impossible. But it will only happen when enough ordinary people stand up and say - our leaders are not speaking in our name. But it will take a lot of courage - on both sides - and I don;t see it happening anytime soon.

No, I never did get round to seeing 'West Bank Story'. I hear it's great...thanks for reminding me about it. I'll go and look for it.

As for 'One Jerusalem'...depends on what you call Jerusalem. As it is, the city is, de facto, a divided one. IF the Holy Sites issue could be resolved - fat chance! - everything else would be simple...

Lolade said...

My sister returned from pilgrimage to Isreal last month and she described how difficult it was getting around the city of Jerusalem. They needed passes to cross from Bethlehem into Jerusalem and vice versa.

Very interesting how the city is still so divided. She said Christians are being persecuted by Jews, is that true? Said that many Christians have fled from their homes.

How true is the story of the film Kingdom of Heaven?

Goy said...

Bethlehem, technically speaking, is not part of Jerusalem - although it is a short distance from one to the other. More significantly, full control - whatever that means - was passed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo accords, which means that it is de facto Palestinian territory. Israeli nationals cannot enter there without explicit permission of the Israeli government - think of it as travelling from one country to another...

Are Jews persecuting Christians? Good question. Firstly, whilst I technically consider myself agnostic, I am listed on my ID card as Christian. Does that disadvantage me in any particular way? Not really, other than in the general sense that Israel is officially considered a Jewish State, and this state of affairs confers certain advantages upon Jewish citizens of the state. It'll take too long to explain now - maybe another time...

Most Christians in Israel/Palestine are ethnic Arabs. I would argue that they get it worse from religious Palestinians - for this, read Hamas and Islamic Jihad - than they get it from the Jews. Having said that, ALL residents of the West Bank are subjected to restrictions on movement, travel and so on that make life rather difficult.

In Israel proper - ie, behind the so called Green line that marked the armistice after the war between Israel and the Arab states in 1948, it is worth noting that Christians - Arab Christians - have, statistically, a higher standard of education and per capita income than any other ethnic group - including Jews. Of course, statistics being statistics, this is not the full story, but it is a bit indicative...

Kingdom of Heaven? It isn't historically inaccurate - ie, it doesn't lie - but if I remember correctly, it leaves a lot of stuff out...

Who organised your sister's pilgrimage? was the group wholly Nigerian? Is there a lot of interest in groups from Nigeria coming to do pilgrimage to Israel?

oh - the word 'Jew' can be used to identify a whole range of religious and political opinions, running the entire spectrum of acceptable - and unacceptable - opinion. You always get crazies in Jerusalem who hate Christians and go out of their way to be unpleasant. They are a minority, a tiny minority. Most Jews are blissfully unaware/uninterested in Christianity...

Lolade said...

I have surely learnt a lot from exchanging this blog exchange with you about Isreal than I have done in reading, not like I have read so much though. Thanks.

My sister's trip was organised by a Nigerian tour group under the auspices of the Isreali government. Many Nigerian pilgrims do come every year. My dad was in Isreal too about 7 years ago. I bet you guys make a lot of money from tourism/pilgrimage.

Nobody said...

Goy said...

Bethlehem, technically speaking, is not part of Jerusalem - although it is a short distance from one to the other. More significantly, full control - whatever that means - was passed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo accords, which means that it is de facto Palestinian territory. Israeli nationals cannot enter there without explicit permission of the Israeli government - think of it as travelling from one country to another...


I paid a visit to Beit Lehem two years ago without any authorization. I've even blogged about this on my blog... Regarding this Christian thing and statistics. Discrimination and education/living standards have nothing to do with each other. Jews were discriminated everywhere. But it had no bearing on their academic and economic standing. Having said this, I would dismiss claims about some special targeting of Christian Arabs in Israel. It's true that the last years have seen a steady increase in animosity between the Arab and Jewish populations. But this is going both ways with Jews avoiding venturing into some Arab places. Otherwise there is no discrimination directed specifically against Christians.

Goy said...

@Nobody

Point taken, concerning the connection - or not - between discrimination and education/living standards. I think what I was trying to say is that, with a hight level of education - and, probably - personal autonomy - one is better prepared to insulate oneself against mindless bigotry. But clearly this isn't always the case...

thanks!