Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Right To Make And Eat Felafel

Over at Anne's Opinions, she's tearing up Guardian Israel correspondent Harriet Sherwood. Most of the piece is about coverage of the new anti-BDS legislation, but she added something else that caught my Jewish foodie eye. Anne writes:

In a similar, and totally related, development, Harriet Sherwood reports on McDonald’s withdrawing its McFalafel from Israeli restaurants due to its unpopularity.

So far so tasty.

Then she scrambles her omelette by adding in this nasty little aside right at the end:

"Falafel is thought to have originated in Egypt, although Israel now claims it as a national dish."

Oh! Those thieving Israelis! Not only content to steal other people’s land, now they go and steal other people’s foods! They can claim it as their national dish but we liberal-minded people know better.

Once again Sherwood betrays her bias by inserting an unrelated dig at Israel.

May she stew in her own falafel oil.

This sort of tripe is not uncommon with anti-Zionist types. Assuming as they do that Israelis plopped into the Middle East like Martians from outer space, they are constantly on the lookout for examples of appropriated Middle Eastern foods and such, in order to better define Israelis as fundamentally inauthentic and nonindigenous. I thought I should add a note at Anne's blog, reproduced below:

Lemme ‘splain, Harriet. In 1948, Egypt had 75,000 Jews. Currently, it has less than a hundred. Most of those people headed to Israel, after state persecution and confiscation of their property. In 1956, the Minister of Religious affairs announced that ‘all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state’, and promised to expel them. Almost no one managed to stay after the 1967 war.

In Israel, these fine people continued to make felafel, and along with other Jews from the region popularized it with the multicultural population of the new nation.

Now, of course, not only is their right of return to Egypt not a potent talking point with left-wing pundits, but even their right to make and eat felafel is apparently up for grabs.


Where We Stop, Nobody Knows

This morning I interviewed over the phone for a job--teaching English in Oakland. I answered questions, and asked questions, and then I asked "What is your hiring plan?"

"We do this interview," the lady explained, "and then I'll observe some teaching, either in the classroom or on videotape. Then we'll be ready to hire."

"OK," I said. "I hope to hear from you..."

"No, you don't understand," she said. "I would like to see you teach."

I told her I'd get back to her.

I am not sure I can teach this fall. I'm not sure I can NOT teach this fall. I'm trying to stay calm about this. But given that I have now completed SEVEN MONTHS without getting any financial aid, or having a job beside this summer-school teaching gig that nearly sent me tumbling back into depression, making a living is getting scarier and scarier.

This is complicated.

Hard subjects

 The Jewish blogosphere has been dealing in a variety of ways with the news of the murder of 8-year-old Leibby Kletsky, who was killed in Boro Park after asking a man from the neighborhood for directions.

This article by Shmuley Boteach has been reprinted in a variety of sources, from the Jerusalem Post to The Algemeiner. And it is bothering me.

I don't want to be critical, even of Shmuley Boteach, at a time like this, but between utter disavowals of the alleged killer's humanity (which, frankly, I'm OK with), he seems to be saying that Hasidim choose to live in Hasidic neighborhoods in part to keep their children safe from the corruption of the world, and it is beyond him how this could have happened, in a neighborhood meant to protect children.

I don't know either, but I do know that no one raises their child in a neighborhood that they pick to expose their children to corruption. No one decides to move to a neighborhood they think might contain an average number of insane criminals. Everyone, to the best of their ability, tries to keep their children safe. And I know that I've read many accounts of similar crimes where people expressed shock that a child would be harmed or murdered in a community where people knew one another, and looked out for each other's kids.

He writes: I said the third reason why religious Jews live together is to protect their children from corrosive influences, to filter out elements of the popular culture and the media which are unhealthy for a child’s development. My God, given that’s the case, how do we make sense of a child being killed in a neighborhood set up to protect children? 

There's an odd sense for me that he simply can't make the necessary distinction here. "Corrosive influences" have nothing to do with psychotic murder. Neither do popular culture, or unhealthy media. Somehow he can't seem to understand that we're dealing with two entirely different things here. On the one hand, aspects of society that one can choose to allow or exclude in your child's life; on the other, pure evil that strikes like lightning.

I know it's different when it happens to people you identify with it. Hell, this one is different for me. Something like this happening in Boro Park is horrifying. My heart bleeds, and I cannot imagine how this must hurt not only family and friends, but the whole community. It hurts me. But something in this column, disjointed as it is, bugs me. A lot. It feels different when a child from a familiar, frum, community is murdered. I understand that. I'm not sure that Rabbi Boteach understands that it is not different, not if you're a grieving community of any religion, urban, suburban or rural, anywhere. Psychopaths come from all walks of life.

One question Boteach raises, I think there may be an answer to--he's baffled that rather than being abducted, the child seems to have walked up to the killer, who took advantage of the spur-of-the-moment opportunity. Failed Messiah says that the Shomrim had some information that the accused was stalking another boy in the community. I suspect that he'd been building himself up to something like this, and either frustrated by failure or overwhelmed by a sudden opening, he took the chance.

I suspect I'm so annoyed with Shmuley because I'm so stunned and saddened by this horror, and Shmuley pushes my buttons almost without fail. May this child's family, and all who mourn for him be comforted. I'm going to shut up now.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

From Alice Walker, On Her Latest Star Turn

A portion of Alice Walker's latest arrogant and ahistorical screed, blogged from Greece: Emphasis is mine.

I have never believed in the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. Whenever I saw the men gathering to talk about peace I was reminded of what the Indians said to the white colonizers of America who came to talk peace with them: ” Where are your women?”

This would make slightly more sense if the Palestinians, whom Alice clearly casts in the role of the Indians, had a tradition of including women in political negotiations. As it is, we have here two traditionally patriarchal groups, and while including the ladies might be an excellent idea, one feels that here the example is used simply to get those Indians in there somehow.

An occasional woman has appeared to take part in the talks, but overwhelmingly the process has been male driven. I like to think if women, in equal numbers to men, had been at the table things might not have turned out so badly. But perhaps, recalling the disrespectful young Israeli women at the check-points, this is naive. 

Israeli women aren't the right kind of women, anyway. 

In any case, it is when one sees the Israeli settlements, after hearing about them for decades, that the final “Aha” moment arrives. They are colossal, and, like the wall, they are everywhere. It is obvious, looking at them, gigantic, solid, white and towering, that they have been constructed to completely devour the rest of Palestine, and that the peace talks have been a ruse to continue their growth so that Jewish Israelis can claim the land by possession alone. Possession is nine-tenths of the law is one of the dictums I learned from my Jewish lawyer former husband. This belief might even be enshrined in the Torah. In any case it is a very old idea, and Israelis have made good use of it.

So, we a. don't need to worry about the peace talks, because the Israelis don't want peace anyway, and b. her Jewish lawyer former husband, apparently the origin of her nasty streak of anti-Semitism, pops up again. Brief note: "Possession is nine-tenths of the law" is not 'enshrined in the Torah", as Alice could very easily have found out by Googling it, or asking someone with even a slight knowledge of the text. The ugliness of that slap is matched only by the ignorance.

Dispossessed of land and houses, poverty stricken, refugees in their own country since the catastrophe of 1948, when Zionist terrorists drove them from their villages, towns and cities, Palestinian laborers have been forced to build these settlements for the Israeli settlers and, having built them, are rarely permitted inside them, except to service them. This is similar to our own history, in America: the genocide and enslavement of Native people, and the forced black and Indian labor that built so much of America, including The White House. Sometimes one wonders if this greed that devours the very substance of other human beings is part of human DNA. I don’t think it is; and, in any case, I hope not!

And, as usual, one doesn't even know where to begin with this tumble of lies, half-truths, and determined editing of history. Really, it's a mistake to even start trying to undo Alice's tangle of deceit. Elsewhere in the piece, she's still going on about "Jewish-only roads".

Bleah. This nonsense could scramble your brains.