Friday, December 28, 2012

The Palin dynasty שלשלת הפלין

As some of you know, one of my “secret” vices is Palin-watching, to the point where I stumbled onto a blog devoted entirely to debunking the Palins. When thinking of the Palins (as some of us do), it’s hard not to associate them immediately with the failure of the very Abstinence Only “education” (hereinafter: "AOE’) that they espouse. Except wait a minute: It’s possible to view it from another angle, i.e., as far as they and the rest of the AOE-espousers are concerned, it doesn’t fail. In other words, no one promised that an AOE-based society would be inhabited by educated, prosperous, forward-thinking people; it guarantees only that no fetuses will be aborted. Well there you are: Sarah Palin was most likely pregnant when she married Todd, resulting in unaborted Track; and she already has two unintended grandchildren. So we have a bunch of babies being raised by teenagers (I’m stretching the definition of “teenager” here to include early 20s, not without reason).
The only mom in this picture to have a college degree is Sarah Palin. I’d love to ask her: Do you not want at least the same for your children? I can only conclude that in their heart of hearts, Palin and her ilk actually like the idea of perpetuating and entrenching patriarchy, or male hegemony over women. How else can we justify a world wherein women do not have control over their own reproduction? The very core of patriarchy, the very engine and foundation of keeping women down, is to prohibit them from choosing when and how many offspring to bear. Do the Palins find the idea of a passel of kids being raised by kids cute? Pregnant teens titillating?
I don’t doubt that a teenager has the ability to nurture another human being; it’s been shown that s/he can. But how many sub-educated, untrained teens have the wherewithal to provide what should be the legacy of all kids: enrichment of the mind, or what we call “the extras”: the extracurriculars, the lessons, the summer camp, post-secondary education? These should not be denigrated as frills, nor are they the exclusive purview of the elite. They are what those of us who can do so give our kids over and above a stocked pantry, a clean bed, and warm clothing. They’re what moves society forward as opposed to merely keeping our heads above water.

Besides, who ultimately shoulders the economic burden of AOE? Bingo — those of us who opted to plan our reproduction. It appears that the Palins are fortunate enough (read: wealthy enough) to provide for their multi-generational product of AOE, but most of the AOE-espousing demographic is not, and that’s where my problem lies: AOE has a cost, and that cost falls precisely upon the shoulders of those of us who oppose it. Palins, how fair is that?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't Protect Me This Way by Michal Wasser, Gaza envelope resident

As promised, here’s my translation of the Michál Wasser piece אל תגנו עלינו, לא ככה that appeared in Haaretz on November 15, 2012, during Pillar of Smoke. Wasser, a resident of Kfar Aza, teaches at Sha’ár haNègev School.
Don’t do us Gaza envelope residents any favors
First things first: Don’t protect me like this, please. Not this way.
Here I sit in my security room in Kfar Aza, listening to the explosions from the war-to-end-all-wars going on outside. I still can’t distinguish between “our” explosions and “theirs”; the kids are better at it than I. After all, their “musical ear” has been honed from an early age, so that they can tell the difference between artillery fire and a missile fired from a helicopter; between mortar fire and a Qassam. Blessed are they.
Is this what “defending the home front” looks like? I don’t get it: Did our leaders sleep through history class? Or perhaps they were fed the MaPa’i [party-line Labor] curriculum, or the [hawkish Minister of Education] Gid’on Sa’ar curriculum — unfortunately there’s hardly a difference between the two — and therefore misinterpret the word “defense”. Does protecting the citizenry mean Armageddon every few years? Has no politician ever heard of long-term planning?
Those who wish to defend me, listen up: Don’t send us the IDF in order to “win”. Start thinking long term, and not just ‘til the next election. Negotiate until we see white smoke. Extend a hand to Mahmoud Abbas. Stop the targeted assassinations. Look the other side’s civilians in the eye.
I know that most of the public will accuse me of being a bleeding heart. But I’m the one sitting here while mortars fall outside my window — not Sa’ar, not Benyamin Netanyahu, and not even Shelly Yachimovich and Yair Lapìd. I’m the one who chose to raise her children here, even though I have other options.
Go ahead and accuse me of not being patriotic, of being namby-pamby, but I can’t be accused of hypocrisy: My children served in combat units in addition to a voluntary pre-army year of community service. We live here and love our country. Our war is a war for its integrity, not its borders. It’s a war for our country’s democratic character and for the dignity of its citizens. It’s a war for sanity. So please: Stop killing civilians on the other side of that fence “in order to defend my life”.
If you really want to halt the hostility from the other side, open your ears and start listening: If we’re important to you, stop defending us with missiles and “preemptive killings” and “aerial softening”. Instead of Operation Pillar of Smoke, conduct Operation Hope for the Future. Sure: It’s more complex, requires more patience, and is less popular. But it’s the only way out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turn off the teat סגרו את הברז

After a hiatus, I’m back with three quickie news items, all related to — what else? — religious coercion. We’ll take it in chronological order:
First off is convoluted. Ready? So a court ruled that [the bus company] Egged may not comply with advertising agency Cnaans complying with the ultra-Orthodox demand not to feature humans of any gender on bus ads. There. Did I get that right? Well, I have to correct myself: The ultra-Orthodox didn’t actually demand it, but they demanded that no images of women be used, so Cnaan came up with the solution of no humans of either gender being used.
Now, while I certainly don’t have a problem with humans of either gender being shown in ads (barring the ones that use sex to sell, of course), I do believe that Cnaan’s solution is fine, and fair, and violates no one’s rights. So we’ll be like the Muslims, i.e., no human forms, no one to offend, or as a great prophet of our generation sang, "No woman, no cry".
But no: Enter Yerushalmim [Jerusalemites], an organization that opposes women being excluded from the public sphere, who insist that they’ll fight this thing until ads featuring women are back. But why? I believe they’re barking up the wrong tree, which I’ll get back to later. Meanwhile, let’s move along:
Now, finally, after only six-plus decades of rabbinic tyranny, restaurant owners are opting out of kashrut licenses, while adhering to the laws of kashrut voluntarily. It’s called “kosher by conscience”. Just one little problem: The kashrut inspectors are threatening to haul such establishments into court for false advertising.
Five Jerusalem eateries are fighting back by taking the city’s rabbinate to court after being fined for daring to call themselves kosher without having paid the kashrut inspection fee, which is really nothing but blackmail. So along with Avigayil Aharon in Tiberias, make a point of patronizing these brave businesses: Adón Cohen in Talpiót; Café Carousela in Rehávia; Salón Shabazi in Nachlaót; Ichikidana in Machanè Yehuda, and Topolino in Óhel Moshè.
Now that we have that taken care of, here’s the icing on the cake: Top ultra-Orthodox rabbis urge followers to dodge draft. OK, now I’m mad. These guys are blatantly thumbing their noses at the state while taking the state’s money (i.e., our taxes) in the form of child allowances that allow them to remain in a permanent state of unemployment, otherwise known as Our Lady of the Perpetual Torah "Scholar".

As I told my brave friend, Rabbi Susan Silverman, who while arguing with an ultra-Orthodox woman asked her, "Do your children serve in the IDF? Because mine do", that's just a smokescreen for the real issue. In fact, the IDF should be removed from the equation, as Israel is already way too military-oriented, the army being the yardstick by which we measure everything.

Rather, the question should be: What are your children being trained to do? Because mine and my friends' will be training to heal your loved ones when they're ill, design and build your homes, distribute your consumer goods, extinguish your fires, run your government agencies (the ones that give you your stipends)...and so forth. I don't care how you run your life, but don't do it on my dime. For God's sake, get off the public teat! Can we Jews [and others] who grew up in the US imagine our taxes going to fund some evangelical perpetual prayer ministry?
And it is there, my friends, where Yerushalmim’s energies should be aimed, along with those of The Rest Of Us, as it’s only owing to the fact that the ultra-Orthodox are attached to the state teat that they feel so comfortable vandalizing bus stops bearing advertising featuring women. This situation is beyond warped; it’s deranged. We have got to elect legislators that will TURN OFF THE FAUCET. And you know I don’t go into all caps lightly. A Happy Hanuka to all.