Dec. 18th, 2016 10:19 am
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I watched the first few episodes of 'Fauda' last week. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the same thing that had struck me about 'Hatufim': all of the Israeli characters were secular, while the folks on the other side were for the most part devoutly religious. Depictions of Jewish religious practice were almost entirely absent, while mosques and imams and Koranic quotes were everywhere.

In a blog post a couple of years ago, I wrote:
The Israeli television series 'Hatufim' - adapted for American TV as 'Homeland' - tells the story of two Israeli POWs who return home after 17 years in captivity at the hands of a terrorist group. Throughout the series, Nimrod and Uri struggle with questions of loyalty and identity; over and over, both of them tell the women in their lives "I'm not the same man I was before." ...

Religion - Jewish religion, that is - is notably absent from 'Hatufim'. The Jews of 'Hatufim' are secular Israelis who go to the synagogue only for bar mitzvahs. It's unlikely that they are fastidious about observing the Sabbath or the kosher laws (although it's hard to tell on this latter point, as all the characters are vegetarian). The Bible is quoted only once - in a reference to the Mossad's motto, Proverbs 24:6.

Contrast this with the devotion to purpose the Children of Jihad (the fictional terrorist group), whose members pray regularly, listen to Koranic sermons, and are often found at the mosque. In a battle of wills - if we accept Sharansky's premise - which side is better armed?

I was reminded of this by a recent post at Jonathan Spyer's Facebook page, where he remarked on the confidence and assertiveness of the islamist side in Israel's muezzin controversy:
An interesting development regarding the ‘muezzin law’. The most instructive comments here are from MK Hanin Zouabi who says ‘It isn’t the noise that is harmful, but the outspoken presence of the Arabic language that emphasizes the place’s identity, along with a certain level of controlling the space. It is a fight over it and control of it. If the will pass, we won’t respect it. We won’t lower our voice in our own space.” This comment is instructive when one bears in mind that the complaints relate to the fact that the muezzin calls in many parts of Israel are set at a volume that requires Jews and other non-Muslims to listen to Muslim scriptural recitations in the middle of the night. That is, for Hanin Zouabi, control of ‘her’ space means imposition of control on yours too, with an absolute lack of concern regarding any rights and desires you might have. The overly loud muezzin calls are a feature of the Israeli landscape. I never heard anything like them in Aleppo, Idleb, Ankara, Baghdad etc. They relate precisely to the thing that Zouabi is talking about, and to the recognition of involvement in a totalistic national and religious contest. This is a manifestation of the Arab-Islamic nationalism which sees the entire region as ‘its’ space. Regional minorities who don’t want to end up in exile or on Sinjar Mountain would do well to listen carefully to her words. They relate to a relatively minor issue, but they are deeply instructive regarding the core dynamics of the region. I would add that while Zouabi’s words are primitive and in a way repulsive, they are also quite impressive. They are testimony to the ability that the Arab-Islamic nationalist outlook has of investing even the smallest things with national and religious significance. This is evidence, in my view, of a certain civilizational strength which should not be dismissed

Jonathan later commented on 'Fauda':

 the Arab Muslims appear in this series to be a far more rooted and dignified bunch than the Israeli Jews. But I think that this doesnt reflect the reality of the people who serve in Israel's security forces/services, but rather the prejudices of the authors of this show, and of the people who tend to write tv screenplays in Israel. They tend to be part of the old, shrinking secular-leftist elite, so they portray the Israelis as they wish they were, not as they actually are today (ie everyone in the show is basically native born, secular, and left of center.)

And I think this is right.  The image that's portrayed is a projection of the liberal media's world-view - although I think 'Hatufim' was a very, very good series, and much better written than 'Fauda'.
asher553: (Default)
Shimon Peres has left us.

Shimon Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died Wednesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.

asher553: (asher63)
OK, I have to get this off my chest. What ever possessed the Israelis to call their operation "Pillar of Defense" in English? The Hebrew name is "Pillar of Smoke", which is dramatic, concrete, and Biblical. But what in the world does a "pillar of defense" look like? It's a mangled metaphor. Just plain bad writing. Grrrrr.
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After my last trip to Israel, I promised myself that I wouldn't let more than a year go by before doing it again. That was last November, this is October, and here I am.

I'm staying at a decent, budget hotel on Allenby Street in southern Tel Aviv, and I'm upstairs from a bar and two pizza shops. I get a kick out of this area because it's so much the opposite from the pictures of Israel that you see in tourist guides. Anyway, I'm not far from the bus station, and I expect I'll catch the 405 to Jerusalem in the next couple of days.

I've been sleeping intermittently since about 6pm. They had some loud music downstairs around 1 or 2am, I think the cops made them turn it down.

I'm feeling a LOT more comfortable getting around in Hebrew, this time around. Ate breakfast at the Bialik Cafe, on the hotel's voucher, then went back there for dinner. The waitress handed me an all-Hebrew menu so I really felt like a native. It's not a kosher place and I'm pretty sure Heh-Aleph-Mem spells "ham" (which figured prominently on most of the items), so I ended up getting a green salad, and that was pretty good.

It's probably safe to say there's not much that goes on in this neighborhood that's kosher, but if I can find a place that's K, or vegetarian, it'll make my life easier. Burger Ranch isn't vegetarian but it is K, and I'm thinking of checking it out. I'm going into carnivore mode for this trip.

But, no ham. Even if the menu is in Hebrew.
asher553: (Default)
Also posted at Dreams Into Lightning 2.

Yitzhak Shamir dies. MEI: 'Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has died at age 96.' Read the post to find out what happened to a certain Yitzhak Yzernitzky. Netanyahu recalled a controversial statement of Shamir's and observed, "more people today realize that the man saw fundamental truths and did not sway with the changing trends." Peres said, "He had courage, and he lived as a patriot, weather you agreed with him or not." The BBC has more - but curiously makes no mention of the mysterious Mr. Yzernitzky.
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'Benzion Netanyahu, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netnayahu, was laid to rest at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, at a plot for bereaved parents at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.

The late Netanyahu died early Monday morning at the age of 102.

Speaking at the funeral, the prime minister said said that his father had shown him what commitment was, both to the state and to family.

The prime minister recalled the death of his brother Yonatan, who died in the Entebbe rescue raid. Since his death, Netanyahu said, his father changed his focus to international terrorism, with the belief that it is possible to fight terrorism by fighting states that sponsor it. ...'

'The father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benzion Netanyahu, was laid to rest on Monday evening at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem.

"You always showed us what it means to be committed to the nation and state, father," said the prime minister, "but more than that – what is your commitment to us." '

'At a meeting of Yisrael Beiteinu MKs Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offered condolences to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the loss of his father. “I knew Professor Ben-Zion Netanyahu personally. He is one of the great men of this generation, a philosopher and very well-informed and intelligent. ...'

Remembered by a friend and political rival:
[Originally published 2010 July 6.]
'There can be few friendships stranger than Benzion Netanyahu’s and mine, for on the urgent question of Israel’s security we could not be more opposed. Benzion, a disciple and former secretary of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and to this day an uncompromising Zionist Revisionist, believes that the State of Israel should occupy both banks of the Jordan, presumably by force. At the time of the Oslo Accords, when my wife and I visited Benzion, surrounded by his books in his comfortable Jerusalem home, he denounced the accords as “the beginning of the end of the Jewish State” and admonished his son Bibi, then as now prime minister, for having relinquished Hebron to the Palestine Authority under the agreement. ...'
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I'm back to posting on Flickr.


During my recent visit to Israel, I had the chance to make the trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a few times. This began with the trip from my hotel to the main bus station, which is in south-central Tel Aviv. I could have taken a taxi but I preferred to walk; the walk took me south on Allenby street, and I recorded some of the sights. Those pictures are in the group titled "South on Allenby".

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I'm still digesting the impressions left by my 2-week visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. By far the biggest thing, though, was meeting up with Paula, my ex of some 25+ years ago. It was an amazing and wonderful experience. I don't think we ever could have been compatible as a couple, but she is a very special woman and it was great to be able to renew this friendship.

I got to see lots of Tel Aviv. I traveled almost everywhere on foot, because I wanted to really see the city and build a mental map of the place. Didn't do much touristy stuff but got to see a lot of the city - Tel Aviv is not very big, and flat, so it's extremely walkable. You can get almost anyplace in the city within an hour or two on foot.

Visited Jerusalem four times. It meant a 45-minute walk from my hotel, down Ben Yehuda and Allenby, to the Tachana Merkazit (main bus station), then a 1-hour trip on the 405 to Jerusalem. From there, you can walk down Jaffa Street to the Old City.

More soon.

Back Home

Nov. 17th, 2011 11:13 am
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I'm back in San Francisco after 2 weeks in Israel. I stayed in Tel Aviv and visited Jerusalem. Lots of pictures to post. I'm especially fond of the ones I took on Allenby Street, heading into southern Tel Aviv on the way to the bus station.

Here's a first look:

I'll crop these later to get rid of that time-and-date notation. Stay tuned for the whole batch.

Tel Aviv

Nov. 7th, 2011 04:45 am
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Corner of Ibn Gabriol and Prophets.

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