THANKS BANKSY, and F**k You Too With Love

I am not a Hasbaraite.

Hasbara means to explain in Hebrew.

I am not a peace activist.

I am an arts advocate.

I bring people and art together.

I aim to depoliticize conflict by humanizing those who are different from ourselves.

Banksy is masterful at brining people and art together.

I went to Bethlehem this past week to see the Banksy hotel museum. Its aim is to discuss the wall. There is a wall that separates the Palestinian territories from Israel proper located in their West Bank and our Judea and Samaria.

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The installation was slick, sexy and a pop culture masterpiece. The space is whimsical and not to be taken too seriously. He even spray-painted over the brand name of the grand piano that sits in the hotel lobby.

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The upstairs gallery has changing exhibitions featuring Arab Palestinian and Arab Israeli artists. This is not advertised, but I know the difference between an Arab Palestinian and an Arab Israeli.

An Arab can be a Palestinian Israeli, but an Arab cannot be an Israeli Palestinian. Banksy does not realize the difference and does not address this issue…

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The permanent installation is a powerful exploit of the conflict. It walks the viewer

through the trajectory of the wall.

It is the most brilliant propaganda piece I have ever seen.

I was very uncomfortable, but that is part of what my line of work requires of me.

I deliberately go out of my way to make myself uncomfortable.

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How else will I experience otherness and learn to be empathetic if I do not expose myself to the very things that disturb me?

I listened to audio clips, watched videos and saw artifacts from the First and Second Intifada. I saw statistics from Operation Protective Edge and of course there is Gaza.

I have walked through many exhibitions about the Shoah. Holocaust museums are abundant in the U.S., Canada and Europe. This was similar only it actually exists in the physical space of the Nakba, which is catastrophe in Arabic.

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I took it all in. I was nervous, my stomach hurt. I was upset that yet another tool had been manufactured as a political weapon against the one and only Jewish state of Israel.

I was upset that if the entire Nakba were a lie it would not have survived this long.

I knew there was truth in it.

I was upset that Banksy keeps the conflict going.

I was upset that my Zionist friends in the diaspora keep the conflict going.

I was upset that Banksy put beautiful and soulful art with no agenda upstairs in the same place as this exhibition of doom and gloom.

Yet he did this methodically, strategically and without flaw in his execution.

Perhaps Shepherd Ferry would like to create a similar themed museum in Israel?

How does this help bring peace to the suffering people of the Palestinian territories? It doesn’t. It opens the wound and pours salt in it; then gasoline with a lighted match.

Thanks Banksy, thanks for doing this.

Thanks for making me feel like a piece of shit for the role my government has played in keeping this wall up, which separates our people.

Thanks for showing me that this wall is a promise to never have coexistence.

A thanks for showing me that Oslo was a failure.

Thanks for showing me that in 1967 we should have given residency to all Arabs and put them on a path towards citizenship. ( Of course you wouldn’t have this pretty museum then, eh?)

Thanks for showing me all the times Israel fucked up.

Thanks for showing me how much the Palestinians never did to fight the British Mandate in order to secure a state for themselves long before our return from our infamous 2,000 year exile.

So I really am a European colonialist, eh? Yes, my great grandparents were from France and Germany. Yes, I was born in the U.S. Yes, I understand that a person born in Bethlehem is stateless and I am not.

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So where do we go from here Banksy? What have you left us with? What good is it to show us the wall?

Despite your efforts in illuminating this tragic plight; I for one would like to see the wall destroyed. I would like to see them given citizenship after all this time. I would like to see integration, not segregation. But you have now made that even harder. You have added to the noise and you have skillfully planted a seed in the heart of every human who walks through the Walled museum hotel.

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The seed is not a seed of hope. It is a seed of despair.

Am I denying the artifacts you placed in the museum? No I am not. Am I in denial about the well-documented Five Broken Cameras? No I am not.

I want every Israeli to go see your masterpiece of despair. I want us to own every good deed that has gone undocumented, every error that has been meticulously documented and all the unsaid deeds that will never be mentioned on either side of the wall.

I have no problem with self-inventory, taking responsibility and being confrontational. I know the truth is ugly and it hurts, but guess what Banksy?

I am not of afraid of your museum. I am not afraid of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. I am not afraid of facts, names and dates. I am a Jew. I get it already…

I accept all of it, every inch of your museum.

I will continue to return and subject myself to the discomfort and each time I will experience a new take-away. I will continue to listen to my Palestinian brothers and sisters. I will continue to seek out their artists and their beauty. I will continue to show them as human beings who live in this land.

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I will continue to hold out my hand to them and open myself up to anything and everything that comes into my path as I live my life here in this land. I will continue to visit the other side of the wall and I will never stop being human.

The wall is in the psyche of every Israeli and every Palestinian. The wall was built to protect us from terrorism. The wall was built to keep them inside. The wall was built to ensure we would never cohabitate. Yet now, so many want this and the wall is still there, reminding us that it must come down.

You literally just made the wall stronger than it was before. Thanks Banksy.

Yes, it is art- and each individual must interpret it for himself and herself. Each person will be affected differently by this exhibition. I for one am thanking you for making me more determined than ever before.

You see, my people are not going anywhere. The Palestinians are not leaving. I will swallow it, I will be the bigger person and I will lead by example.

I will keep chiseling away at the wall within my own heart and maybe my fellow Israelis and Palestinians will choose to tear down the wall in their heart too.

 

 

 

 

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THERE IS SUCH A THING AS PALESTINE AND I WAS STANDING IN IT TODAY

There is such a thing as Palestine and I was standing in it today.

Technically speaking there is not a country called Palestine. However there is a peoplehood who identify as Palestinian Arabs. They live in what is technically called the Palestinian Authority territories.

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They are not going anywhere.

Neither are the Israelis.

We are both here and the world needs to get over it.

In a court of law, truth is not a defense.

Regardless what the world believes about this region, we live the reality on the ground and we know the truth. We here in Israel do not require anyone’s permission to live the truth. Therefore, our truth is not a defense, but living here is.

Today I went to a place called Rawabi. It is a beautiful and affluent community built by Palestinian Arabs and Qatar money. Even though this is an amazing paradise in the West Bank (We Jews call it Judea and Samaria), it is uninhabited. I did not see one single resident or car while I was there.

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There was an enormous Palestinian flag, a stunning sculpture garden and landscape.

There is no refugee camp in Rawabi. It is for the rich, elite and privileged Palestinians. These are the ones you will never read about. There are also, but not limited to, American Palestinians. These are allegedly their vacation homes.

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(Qatar flag)

As I drove through J&S I noticed all of the construction in what the world calls the West Bank. I was laughing to myself because the building is via the Palestinian Arabs. It is not the PA though (Palestinian Authority). To be clear, they are broke, but this is private money I observed.

Interesting… never thought of the term Palestinian settlements before. I wonder if Palestinian settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East?

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After this most instructive excursion, I went to Ramallah. I saw the Mukataa, which is the fortress that protects Mahmoud Abbas. Leaders often need fortresses to protect them from their own people. (Yes I know there are other reasons for a Mukataa.)

I saw Arafat’s mausoleum. I saw beautiful neighborhoods in Ramallah and of course the refugee camps. There are amazing restaurants and it is quite frankly a lovely Arab city.

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As I made my way home back to Jerusalem where I live, I couldn’t help but gaze out the window longingly. I asked my host what would happen if he and I got a bunch of individuals together; Arab and Jew, Israeli and Palestinian and we bought a piece of land here in J&S (West bank). What if we hired our own private developer to build us our own neighborhood (settlement)? Why can’t there be a normal community that is not segregated? Why can’t we just create our own subdivision here in J&S and live together? Who is really going to stop us?

Presently we live across the street from each other. The way J&S (West bank) is structured you have Palestinian Arab communities on one side and across the street which they share is the Israeli side. So yes, there is some interaction, but not the way you would have a natural exchange if we were integrated into the same neighborhood.

My friend told me that depending where it is, the PA would never agree to allowing me to buy land and build if they discover I am Israeli and a Jew. Likewise the reverse is true. The Israelis would not sell to my friend when they discover he is a Palestinian Arab.

I really love living here. It is a wonderful and magical place. It is more diverse than anyone could imagine, yet there is one thing that annoys me- the segregation.

This is good old-fashioned racism on its face. There is no other word for it.

I am done discussing the “occupation,” the “settlements,” one state versus two state… it is old, the world is late with it and we here have outgrown these boring and unproductive circle jerk arguments.

Here in Israel and in the PA territories, we know what is really going on. No one is going to say it out-loud though. That’s fine I suppose…

I wonder if I would be labeled as a peace activist if my Israeli and Palestinian Arab friends attempted to go forward with this real-estate venture? How stupid, me a peace activist…

For crying out loud, we just want to be normal, we just want to live where we want to live, go where we want to go, talk to and hang out with whomever we chose.

Yet, our governments do not allow this. Or do they?

To be fair, I know for a fact that Israelis and the government itself have tried desperately to create opportunities for both sides to be together.

I remember during Sukkot how the mayor of Efrat invited people from the neighboring Palestinian village to join them. They did so, and of course they would because that is normal human behavior. Yet the PA was waiting to arrest them upon their return.

I wonder if Israelis are ever arrested for attending a dinner or a party at a Palestinian Arab’s house? Nope, never heard of it… although they would caution us for our safety, but that is the only context I can think of.

In the U.S. we went through the process of desegregation. In the 1970’s we implemented forced busing in order to put blacks and whites together in the classroom. This did not work well because it was ‘forced.’

When you are talking about bringing two different peoplehoods together, it must occur naturally and willfully. There must be a reason for both sides to want to make the choice to be together.

I also remember affirmative action in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This was of course more aggressive and it inadvertently caused reverse racism against whites.

People were not hired for jobs based on their qualifications, but on the color of their skin.

Eventually though, Americans got through these growing pains and it gave birth to a new generation of African Americans who would go to university, acquire jobs and become a part of the work force, thus contributing to American society.

When it comes to race relations it takes both sides to work together. Yet what if one side does not want to do this? It would appear that the side that is stronger, better equipped with resources and more socially advanced should be in a leadership role and thus lead by example. Yet what if said entity is too caught up in the distraction of say- 40,000 NGO’s who meddle in the day-to-day affairs here? What if said entity is preoccupied with the UN, the EU and the US to have the profound realization that this solution can only come from within, not externally?

The answer is clear.

This solution will come through bottom up leadership. The days of top down leadership are over… for now.

We the people are living the peace you think does not exist.

To be blunt, I am completely finished with reporting to social media the events of my day. The conversations I have with people who actually live here are in fact actual moments that take place in real time.

Yet people on Facebook who live on the other side of the world tell me that I am wrong. How can a real life experience be right or wrong? This is not an opinion issue- it is simply me sharing a moment of my life.

How can strangers lecture someone while sitting in the cushy diaspora with their handheld device be an expert on my life or Israeli life?

Do I quit sharing these amazing moments that happen to me?

Do I stop documenting the people and places I meet and listen to?

Do I cease to tell the world the truth about what is actually happening here on the ground?

People believe what they want. Willful ignorance is the new truth.

The conflict is not only a giant ATM machine where numerous entities profit, but the conflict here is also perpetuated by racism.

Arabs hate Jews and Jews do not trust the Arabs, therefore they have become bigoted. We have hate propaganda and reverse propaganda. For some Israelis it is a softer side of bigotry, for others it is open and unabashed. However many shades of bigotry there are, someone has to confront it.

It may as well be me since I give not one fuck.

Throughout my life I have learned that the secret to dealing with racism is a personal inventory, not an institutional one.

Deep inside every human being there is a tiny inner racist. That little inner racist must be kept in check at all times. If not then we ignore it and go into denial. This is where racism takes hold- in the silence of our apathy.

If every time I wrote about my Israeli Palestinian friends and the Jewish Arab experiences- I could substitute these words with ‘whites’ and ‘blacks.’ Maybe this would bring the issue home more clearly?

Am I a kumbaya type person? No, hell no. Am I a bleeding heart? Nope.

What am I then?

I am a pragmatist.

I am a realist.

If what you are doing isn’t working, that means you are suppose to do something else instead.

I am an innovator.

I do not do things the way the rest of you do them and I never will.

This is why I get results that other people do not get.

I am divergent.

I develop in different directions.

I interpret all matters differently.

I use unfamiliar premises as bases for inference.

I avoid common limiting assumptions in making deductions.

 

Does this mean I am a better human? No.

Does this mean I am smarter? No.

I am just a person, an everyday human being.

I am a Jew.

I am just confronting that tiny inner racist and holding it accountable.

I cannot make any of you do this.

I can only hold myself to my own standard of care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Are Not Listening

We are not listening. Rather, we are reading; and all of our reading has made us deaf.

The Arab Jewish dialogue is an ancient one indeed.

Throughout our tumultuous history in this land we have always come together as clans and tribal people to speak of issues that concern us both.

Today in a world of technology, the conversation is not limited between clan families and tribes. The conversation is a huge cacophony of hundreds of voices that participate simultaneously on social media. Each one is talking and vying for a space on the international stage of Facebook. All of these voices compete to be heard in the noisiest platform that has ever existed.

Is anyone actually being heard?

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Do I really know my neighbor because I read an Op-Ed about them written by a person who has done a ton of reading?

Do I really understand the Palestinian Arab voice if I draw my conclusions based on what the Times of Israel bloggers say?

Am I truly grasping the inner voice of a Palestinian Arab if I obsessively read my Facebook newsfeed all day?

The answer is no and here is why:

It is illogical to presume that I- an American, Israeli Jew comprehend fully the inner thoughts and feelings of a person who has lived their entire live in the Middle East, speaking Arabic- a language I do not know.

It is equally illogical for any Palestinian Arab to believe that they have me figured out. How could they possibly understand who I am and what I want by reading their Facebook newsfeed? Does the collective Jewish community speak for me as a separate, unique entity? No.

Would you go on a date with a person you only read about through the expression of someone else’s words and not their own?

No, you wouldn’t.

Would you date a person you learned about through a biased third party without actually having a dialogue with the person you are suppose to go out with on a date? No, you wouldn’t.

This is what we are all doing right now. We are talking about talking amongst people whom we do not literally talk with.

We are discussing the possibilities of living together here in this land- i.e. dating a peoplehood without actually going on a first date.

Oh, but you say you know them because they stab us; they have suicide bombers, glorified and compensated shahids- thus they are known by their actions. OK, what about the millions who do not do this?

Oh, that’s right, they agree with it, because they look the other way.

They eat the candy that is passed out to them after the successful murdering of our own. Yes of course, the media tells us this and so it is reasonable to apply our distain for them broadly.

We have collectively decided that our leadership can spoon feed us what to think, feel and believe about our neighbors.

I have never liked the idea of someone drawing conclusions about me without actually experiencing me for him or herself. This means sitting down and having an actual dialogue with me.

People have stereotypes about Israelis, Americans, Jews, women, specific age groups, socioeconomic status, level of education- the list goes on and on in order to produce what we all think will give us an accurate snap shot into the soul of another human being. It would be easy for a person to look at my trappings and superficial background in order to deduce an opinion of what kind of person I am.

Yet if you ask an individual who knows me in real life and has spent time in a relationship with me- I know that their opinions and even extrapolations based on their real life experiences with me will be more accurate. However, it is my ability to speak for myself that ultimately represents me to the world- not what others say.

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Here is what is missing from the Arab Jewish conversation:

Presence.

One can feel another human being’s energy by being in their presence. One can experience their vibe, that indescribable feeling that only comes from sitting in the same room next to that person.

A connection is made in those moments when you are in close proximity to the individual you are listening to.

Presence is how we achieve human engagement. Social media interaction is a bad imposter for this. The human substitute only measures ‘usage’ in a thread.

Language.

There is a language barrier at times here in this country.

When that happens, that language failure requires the individual to become creative in an instant. They have to dig deeply to convey their sentiment and this creates an urgent desire. When your grammar beings to fall apart, you have to reach inside yourself and project outwards what you are thinking and feeling.

Language in these moments of cultural difference must be understood through unique context and felt by listening not with ears, but with an openness of two souls connecting on the most basic human level.

Listening.

We think we know so much about each other, yet the longer I am here listening to the other side, I realize I do not know them at all.

I know their history, I know a great deal about the Palestinian leadership, but I do not know the average Palestinian Arab on the street.

Why should I even try to listen? Because when I do, I realize that they are each an individual with their own perspective made up of of their own perception of reality. Each individual has had his or her own fair share of unique experiences here both good and bad.

Yesterday I saw a post by a Palestinian Arab; a real life friend of mine on Facebook. I got upset because I interpreted it as anti-Israel. I asked about it and indeed, I misunderstood.

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There is no substitute for being in person.

Presence.

Language.

Listening.

Perhaps my job is to listen in order to demonstrate that there are Jews who will judge the individual on personal merit and not collective behavior nor the media and reverse propaganda of an entire peoplehood.

I do not like that the world has done this to my people.

The world is gullible and will believe anything. Humans accept what they are told. This has been weaponized by the media against Israel.

Therefore, why should I perpetuate the same behavior and do it to the other side?

This blog is nothing compared to my short posts about daily life here in Israel. I get more out of the human experience in a 20 minute cab ride with a random Arab- or coffee with a Palestinian Arab friend, than all the blogs, Op-Ed’s, Facebook posts, media articles and rants combine.

Lastly,

My naysayers tell me I am wasting my time listening to Arab Palestinians.

I believe I am the bigger person.

I believe once you start being the bigger person, it is permanent.

It is not a la carte. You do not pick and choose when to be the bigger person. It is a lifelong commitment and a burden.

Someone has to be the bigger person.

Israel is the bigger person.

Cut through the noise and listen to one of them.

Get off your newsfeed.

It will blow your mind.

Presence.

Language.

Listen.

 

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BETHLEHEM: STREAM OF CONCIOUSNESS- My personal diary entry for November 24, 2016

Bethlehem- Stream of Consciousness

My personal diary entry for November 24, 2016.

(This post has not been edited on purpose)

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I met my colleague (and after today, my friend) in Gush Etzion. It is a lovely community as are all of the developed settlements.

The bus driver played Michael Jackson the entire way there.

Unsaid friend (If I mention their name it will put them at risk) first showed me Bet Jala

Who the fuck writes this text as historic tourist attraction material?

http://www.beitjala-city.org/index.php/en/beit-jala-city/the-occupation/background

This is in area C. I felt safe and the energy was chill, it was good.

Jews patronize the restaurants and it feels normal.

 

Then we went to Bethlehem.

The energy was different.

Even though it has a strong Xtian community (Lies work both ways, social media says the PA kicked the Xtains out- I was there, it’s not true.) Duh, the Xtians are the privileged ones in Pali society. They create all the tourism dollars. It looked like a massive Xmas fest. (Xmas is in a few weeks)

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The graffiti is in all PA territories. Each one tells the story of a terrorist/martyr.

There are mosques, but they are empty. If 17,000 people are in one section of the city and there are 3 mosques in a 1 km radius, and only 1,000 people- say 300 attend each mosque, then the number of observant Muslims is staggeringly low.

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Bethlehem thus is rather secular. I saw tons of women without hijabs. Easily as many with…

There is business, commerce, dinning, shopping. Although I saw no cafes, hmm?

No parks, no green space, only one museum and it was Xtian.

On one hand you have UNRWA refugee camps and on another you have people living in grand houses. The Palis who earn a handsome income do so because they have work permits for Jlem. The cost of living is a fraction of what it costs in Bethlehem. Essentially, the person who has the luxury of earning an Israeli salary yet has the low cost of living as a benefit of being Pali- is experiencing personal gain.

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There is no “normalization” in this scenario. However, such a privileged person would not want to upset either side because they require a perfect balance in order for their economic advantage to work.

So many Europeans own land and real estate in Bethlehem. The Italians, the Germans, it was unreal. And when the UN and UNRWA hire for positions, many are European- not Pali. So who is the real occupier? I say Europe based on my observation. The conflict is an ATM for everyone. Everyone except the Palis.

They are the losers in this game of chess. They are the ultimate pawns that will never be made the queen.

I noticed a change in the energy in Bethlehem. It felt different than Beit Jala.

Since BJ is in area C it is under the PA – but with IDF oversight and Israel controls construction, permits, etc. It is very secure and Jews and Arabs interact freely.

Yet in Bethlehem, there is not one Jew. Interesting that I didn’t see the traditional graffiti of hate propaganda in BJ, but of course Bethlehem is a notorious and deeply PA place.

I suddenly felt out of place- even though Bethlehem is a very Xtian city. The celebration of painted murals of terrorists is inescapable. There is not one square inch of concrete not dedicate to the hate against us Jews.

 

It was illegal for me to be there as an Israeli citizen.

I know I was taking a risk, but justified that I had minimized it since I was with a Pali who was a resident and citizen of Bethlehem.

When we went to the restaurant, the server not only didn’t look at me, but also never acknowledged me or asked me a question. My friend ordered for us and of course spoke entirely in Arabic- even though English is everyone’s second language. There is no use of Hebrew at all there…

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When I returned to Jerusalem last night, I felt the energy change. I felt like I was home. I felt like I had just spent 10 hours somewhere else in the Middle East, far, far away… I love how I am treated in Israel.

The Middle East is an inherently sexist place. Israel has its own version of it though and it is unique only to Israel.

In Bethlehem, I felt like I was beneath everyone (not because I am Jewish or even Israeli, but because of my gender).

In Israel the sexism is posited differently. I am treated well as a woman, I am treated like royalty. Men will stop what they are doing to help me, assist me with anything even when I am too proud to ask.

They want to take care of us. At first I didn’t like it – I am only accustom to asserting MY will. Then my girlfriend once said –
“This is a sexist country and you are going to love it.”

She knows I am a post-modern, Camille Paglia feminist.

Yet much to my surprise, she was right.

I am happy to be around real men.

Hyper masculinity has been merged with the sensitivity of the Jewish soul.

The years of military, the years of the international community hating on us has somehow bred an interesting species of the Jewish male here.

They have this inherent sense of responsibility for us.

I am every man’s sister or daughter.

Accept for when I’m not…

 

There is a directness that has zero nuances, which I find refreshing.

Women might be put off or even hurt by this, but it saves much time.

I suppose my Americaness is well suited for the aggression Israeli men possess- in fact my Americaness can harness their energy and feed my own sense of who I am as a woman.

I do what I want.

I say what I want.

I think what I want.

I act.

I resist.

I deny.

I return.

This is permissible here- but you have to own it.

A woman’s dignity commands respect. Nothing else does.

You will earn this respect if you conduct yourself accordingly.

 

I am surrounded by women whose faces are literally painted on.

The amount of liquid eyeliner and false eyelashes is so numbing.

I am surrounded by a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy.

I will stick with my nude look; my face, my skin doesn’t need to be plastered and suffocated. My eyes should be seen and not camouflaged.

Tinted moisturizer has and always will be my best friend.

A coat of lip gloss and I’m good to go.

Three to four inch spiked heels surround me.

I laugh to myself. I remember my days at Saks Fifth Avenue as a resident artist.

Standing on the marble floor for 8 hours each day and looking like I came out of a can… processed and perfect.

Today I am not relying on any crutch. A man can see my soul through my eyes now.

I don’t have to hide, manipulate or become. I can just be.

I smile now- it is new for me, yet I do not recall making this a conscious choice- it happens all the time without me being aware.

They can see my heart every time I smile.

 

Every man in Israel is my brother and my father.

I respect them and they respect me.

I do not need a man.

Israel was never about that.

I belong to all of them and they belong to me.

Not in a sexual context, but something much deeper.

 

Jewish women need to talk about these things.

I am here.

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I STILL LOVE MY LEFTIST JEWS

I still love my leftist Jews.
Living in Israel has brought out my inner leftist.

Some of you think you know me, but that is not possible.
Social media is not an accurate indicator of one’s personality, character or disposition.

Some of you think I am right wing because I am a Zionist.
Yet the founders of Zionism were leftists.
Some of you think I am right wing because I defend Israel’s stance on security and I support law enforcement.

Yet none of these matters have anything to do with being a leftist.
Safety and security are not political ideologies.

I grew up in a right wing household.
I was a performing artist for the first 25 years of my life.
I have always voted Democrat (even though I know fiscally Republicans are smarter).
I am still and always will identify as an artistic being.
I never fit in with my family.
Quite frankly, I never felt that I fit in anywhere- unless I was with artists.

As a young person I was always considered eccentric, divergent, unconventional and sensitive. Everyone saw me as empathetic, creative, and tender hearted.
Most people would not use these terms to describe me today.
As adults we grow into some version of ourselves that will be most tolerated by society.
I figured out that the world was not made for artists because the lens in which we view everything is not as society sees it.
I love intellectuals, I love philosophy, obviously art- and I love aesthetic.
I would sacrifice comfort for beauty.
Yet this is not conducive to being accepted into a particular social group outside the liberal framework.

Israel is not about me finding myself as some of you have said this to me.
Israel is about me returning to myself; my original self. I am embracing the Kara that I was for the first 25 years of my life. Today she is older and wiser, but she gave up a piece of herself that apparently never left- it was merely buried in survival coping mechanisms in order to function.

I love leftists.
I know that the term has become ugly and we now use the phrase- “regressives.”
The “regressive left” is a terminology used to describe those who have contaminated classical liberalism with an astonishing assbackwards interpretation of what it means to be open-minded and truly enlightened.
Historically liberals have been characterized as the following: forward thinking, progressive, innovative, creative, flexible, reformist, modern and permissive.

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We are the philanthropists, the artists, the entertainers, authors, academics; we are the benevolent, charitable and altruistic people in society.

Like too much of any good thing when we swing the pendulum too far to the left we are seen as “bleeding hearts,” enablers, co-dependent and we are associated with the concept of “handouts” and everything being “free.”

We are blamed for crippling society financially because our economic plans are usually catastrophical. We are blamed for the existence of poverty, crime and addiction…         Quite frankly, I think these generalities contain much truth.

Yet if I can openly criticize something I just admitted to loving, then why would I align myself with them at all?

I cannot align myself, yet I can admit to what I am and what I am not.
I am a thinking human being who is capable of empathizing with my enemies.
I can think critically, objectively and if I go through several drafts and consult with a broad base of resources I can become dispassionate.

I judge each human being on the merit of their deeds and how they treat others.
There is no other criteria for me to discern another’s character.
Do I have opinions about Palestinian’s as a people? Yes, I have some generalizations.
Do I have any Palestinian friends or colleagues? Yes I do and that is because they have earned my trust. I see them as individuals because I have direct contact with human beings that I can attach names and faces to.
It is entirely thoughtless and lazy to assume a collective group of people is without a single merit among them.

Sadly, right wing and left wing Jews get angry with me. This is certainly understandable and I must take ownership of it. I do not fit into the cookie cutter mold of a right-winger or a left-winger.
When I rant or vent, I suppose I do sound right wing. Yet when I am sitting in a café with a professor or a colleague of mine; I slip into the most natural leftist you’ve ever seen. So am I a dichotomy? Am I duplicitous?
No. It’s called balance. It’s called not letting one single person, ideology, political candidate or groupthink- dictate to me my opinions.
I suppose that when you quit seeking the approval of others, it is easy to arrive at your own conclusions even if no one else sees something as you do.

I love my leftist Jews.
I disagree with my leftist Jews.
If you come across a leftist Jew who is an intolerant, easily offended, censoring, helicopteresque, micromanaging asstard- then you have met a regressive.
You have not met a liberal.
A regressive is not a liberal.
Do I think that the liberals have been hijacked? Yes I do.
Do I think they can salvage the remnant of what they once were in terms of the values of classical liberalism? No I don’t.
Why not?
Because no one is teaching true liberal ideology anymore.
Interestingly, the right has begun to adopt some of the principals of classical liberalism.
They are becoming more tolerant, desiring plurality, favoring egalitarianism and supporting freedom of speech in the context, which it was originally intended.

Are there right wing nuts? Yes, of course there are. There will always be forms of extremism in any ideology.
To be clear, I am not in any way referring to any nation, any political party or persons… But I am talking about my leftist Jews.

I am not going to save haters from themselves. I am not the savior of Jewish Voice for Peace or JStreet. I cannot rehabilitate Students for Justice in Palestine and I cannot reclaim Hebron for Israel nor the Temple Mount.

So what can I do? I can be Kara, I can hold her accountable and I can change myself from within- and just maybe someone will want to do the same for themself.

I believe every revolution has begun with a seed and that germ of an idea has always been in the possession of women.
Women will always be the catalyst to bring about revolution.
I want women to start taking the initiative to have dialogue- real conversations between Muslims and Jews. I want Palestinians and Israelis to come together as women and begin to wield their influence.
This is classical liberalism.
I am trying something new. I am talking to people who are nothing like me.
I will let you know how it goes.

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#IAmAJew

When I walk my dog (my pug named Fig) each morning, I am in my pajama bottoms, a vintage cutoff Adidas t-shirt and leather flip flops- people look at me.

They may think I am a goy. Sometimes people are brave enough to speak to me. They may say, “boker tov” or “Shabbat shalom.” They are always men, (wearing a kippah) they are never women.

Often Jews ask me the following:

Them- “ Why did you make Aliyah?”

Me- “I do not only believe in the Zionist enterprise conceptually, I believe in it literally. I am here to give my soul and and my resources to the Jewish state of Israel.”

Them- “I have never heard anyone say it like that.”

Me- “I believe I have a responsibility. I also want diaspora Jews who are straddling the Aliyah fence to be tipped over as a result of me leading by example.”

Them- (silence…dumbfounded and sometimes this pause is followed by), “thank you.”

Me- “In America, a Jew has to try to be Jewish. In Israel a Jew is simply a Jew. In America, a Jew must go out and seek a kosher market. A Jew has to try very hard to keep Shabbat. Here in Jerusalem I do not have to try and keep kosher. Everything in my refrigerator is kosher because I am surrounded by kosher options. I do not have to try to keep Shabbat because when the siren goes off to usher in Shabbat, everything is closed and public transportation stops. I can observe Shabbat because it simply is Shabbat.

The difference between being in America and living here is this: It is the difference between trying to be Jewish and simply being a Jew.”

Them- (silence)

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I actually had a guy tell me last night that the only reason he wears a kippah is so that people in his neighborhood will let their kids play with his son.

They have bought into the trappings, the costume has become more important than the content. In a sense this is idolatry- but I will leave that alone for the rabbis…

Once we shed the trappings and strip down to nothing -we can release sectarianism and denominationalism and begin to take a very personal inventory. Each and every Jew must search his and her soul in order to identity what part of their Jewishness or what of themselves is colonized?

This is not an anti-religion post. I am not asking Jews to abandon Judaism.                                I am asking for something much deeper.

The one thing that should unite every Jew is:

History, Tradition, Culture and Language.

… and a book. We have a book.

Religious Jews do not have a monopoly on the Torah; there are plenty of secular Jews that could and do embrace it as our most ancient textbook as well as a prescription for statehood, organization and ethics.

The religious Jews here do not think I am Jewish.

The religious Jews do not think the secular Jews of Tel Aviv are Jewish.

They do not know that I have read the Torah five times.

They do not know that the fifth time was in Hebrew.

They do not know that I have read the Mishneh and Midrash.

They do not know the volumes of rabbinic commentary I have read.

They do not know that I have read Buber, Rosenzweig, Mendelsohn and Arednt.

This list too: ( Tales and Maxims from the Midrash by Samuel Rapaport
Ethics of the Father’s- Pirke Avot
Kitab al Khazari by Judah Hallevi
The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg
Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria by Norman Bentwich
The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides
The Ethics and Theological Political Treatise by Baruch Spinoza
Chapters on Jewish Literature by Israel Abrahams
The Renascence of Hebrew Literature (1743-1885) by Nahum Slouschz)

They do not consider that my ancestors stood next to their ancestors at Sinai.

They do not consider that the “mixed multitude” at the Sinai event was comprised of precisely that:

Intellectual Jews, mentally retarded Jews, disabled and disfigured Jews, beautiful, old, young, men, women, children, heterosexual, homosexual, hermaphrodite, rich, poor, literate, illiterate, pagan, polytheist…

They do not consider that the Torah was given to all Jews for all time.

They think I am an atheist.

They do not know that I believe in HaShem, but my definition is very different from theirs.

They would think me to be a heretic.

I believe the One is incorporeal and non-anthropomorphic.

I do not believe in an interventionist G-d.

I am a Spinozist, which makes me a Pantheist.

I believe we are evidence of HaShem and so is every living thing in the universe.

__________________________________________________________

I am Jewish enough to be murdered by Hitler.

I am Jewish enough to be accepted by the Jewish state of Israel.

I am not Jewish enough for the religious Jews.

I am the majority of Jewry.

I am not the ‘new Jew’ nor the ‘post-modern Jew.’

I am the ancient Jew.

I am the Sinai Jew before we became institutionalized Rabbinic Judaism.

I am the original Pagan Jew.

I am the offspring of Sarah, Rivkah, Leah and Rachel.

I am the blood of Hannah, Deborah, Yael and Esther.

I was born this way.

I woke up Jewish.

I am a Jew by choice.

I am 1Jewess.

I am a French Jew.

I am an American Jew.

I am an Israeli Jew.

#IAmAJew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My First Rosh Hashanah Alone

My First Rosh Hashanah as an Israeli was spent alone

I took my dog for a quick walk and heard the mixture of sounds, which represent the mixed multitude of our people.

I heard the chanting of liturgy in several different synagogues. Some harmonize beautifully, while other congregations sound like chaos.

I heard families singing and laughing.

I heard children playing.

I could smell food from the houses.

I could smell weed drifting from my neighbors.

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I decided to spend the day reading and researching as I always do because that is who I am.

I realized this time was meant for introspection. In fact, tonight is when we annul vows we made to ourselves. It is very personal- it is not yet time to annul the vows we made to others.

The promises we made ourselves under duress or perhaps in a sever manner that was not meant to be, is something we reconcile and are absolved from.

What did I promise myself that I should not have?

I don’t know.

I set goals, but that is not the same as a promise or a vow.

I did make vows to others, but that is not what this night is for.

Why don’t I make vows to myself anyway? It is not forbidden.

Goals are about ambition, aspiration and a purpose of hope.

I like this very much and set goals every year. I also achieve my goals.

Yet why no promises? Do I promise anyone anything? Ever?

…My Gd no. I really don’t. Why?

I do not promise to love anyone.

I do not promise to avenge anyone.

I do not promise loyalty, or monetary support. Neither do I promise myself to anyone or a particular attribute that I posses.

I just am. I give what I can and am rather noncommittal when it comes right down to it.

I dislike promises. What if something happens that causes you to break that promise? Sometimes matters are out of our realm of control. I would only commit to something if I knew I could control it in its entirety.

What exactly can I control in its entirety?

I suppose everything is subject to the universe.

Perhaps promises can only be made by that which is supernatural?

The sun promises to rise and set everyday.

The moon promises to come out and show her face in the darkness.

The tide promises to pull the ocean away from the land.

These things are true and these things are unchanging. This is The One.

This is the Universe. This is HaShem.

I am not divine. I cannot promise anything. I am mortal and fallible.

I never promised my daughter I would always love her unconditionally, but that’s because I am her mother and that’s what mother’s do. It is involuntary. I never consciously chose to love her this way, I simply do.

My dog loves me unconditionally, but that’s because she is my creature and I am her human, she doesn’t think about it, it simply is.

And so it goes like this:

Parental love.

Canine love.

Could it be that we only get a glimpse of the essence of the unpronounceable One through parenting and having a dog?

Dog is God spelled backwards.

Parents create life.

Yes, having dogs and children.

No promises.

It just is.

 

Chag sameach

Shana tova

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