Another Tack: Kitsch can kill

In his 1984 book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Czech author Milan Kundera philosophized that “kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession.

The first tear says: ‘How nice to see children running on the grass!’ The second tear says: ‘How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!’ It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.”

Transported to today’s Israel, the one transfixed by the Schalit family’s pressure-mobilization extravaganza, Kundera’s definition may be paraphrased as ”how nice to be moved by the Schalits’ plight.”
The second variation would be: “How nice to be moved together with all our other trendy compatriots by the Schalits’ plight.” Continue reading

Another Tack: Nadra’s rights be damned

To protect her we’ll call her Nadra.

She hails from a large Sharon-region Arab town and used to be as modern, fashion-conscious and hip as my daughter. The two met while working in one of the nearby shopping malls. It was a few years ago. Nadra always did the Saturday shifts because, as a Muslim, she saved the employer legal headaches. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement and Nadra was paid double-time.

We knew her in jeans, cute tank-tops and assorted eye-catching coiffeurs.

Over time Nadra opened up to my daughter and revealed that her parents, ostensibly not traditional and certainly not Islamic zealots, had found a prospective husband for her in Jordan and were planning to marry her off there. Continue reading

Another Tack: It’s only a paper moon

You just gotta feel for poor Barack Obama, so misunderstood, so misquoted, so taken out of context. And it so keeps on happening. Over and over. It almost smacks of a malicious design to misrepresent. Take the latest instance, for instance.

There was Obama’s own hand-picked (first African- American) NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, telling Al Jazeera that Obama himself stressed to him that henceforth NASA’s principal goals are to encourage children to learn math and science, expand international relationships and “foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science… and math and engineering.” Continue reading

Another Tack: Isolation II – My American cousins

When one of the world’s more influential economists, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, took pains on his recent visit here to dissociate himself personally from Israel’s obvious odiousness, I was hardly surprised. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what in Israeli statecraft incurred Krugman’s displeasure, but his annoyance seemed de rigueur.

Why? Because Krugman sounded so much like my own blood relations in Obamaland. It was from them that I gained incipient insight into Israel’s isolation – even within the Jewish context. Continue reading

Another Tack: Isolation I – How not to be Ill

There was a rapturous turkey trot in old Turkey the other day. Led by President Abdullah Gul, the Turks and their guests jumped for joy and did their springy one-step to celebrate Israel’s obvious ostracism.

“This is a clear manifestation of how Israel isolated itself,” Gul, who chaired the summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, exulted. Twenty-one of CICA’s member-states (with the single exception of Israel) “deeply deplored” its interception of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Continue reading