Another Tack: The Perry Mason school of life

Back in 1940, as whodunit author Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Baited Hook got typically tangled, fictional legal wizard Perry Mason opined to his trusty secretary Della Street that “Every time you stop to figure what the other fellow’s going to do, you unconsciously figure what you’d do in his place.

“The result is that you’re not fighting him, but yourself. You always come to a stalemate. Every time you think of a move, you think of a perfect defense. The best fighters don’t worry about what the other man may do.”

Words to live by – unless, like America’s current commander-in-chief, the last thing you want is to conceive of yourself as a fighter. Continue reading

Another Tack: Ziva for prime minister

When things get tough – or just seemingly tough – the not-so-tough invent an instant leader, another new, shining hope for the shallow masses yearning for magical interventions.

Existential dangers that can’t be eradicated in one simplistic swoop are a drag. Admitting that some problems are altogether intractable can be oppressive, especially to generations reared on the 45- minute TV plot where everything is fixable in a tight time frame. Life’s burdens would diminish if reality only conformed to Hollywood scripts.

Given that, there’s just no denying that the ultimate candidate for prime minister of Israel is none other than Ziva David – the boob tube’s outstanding Israeli patriot, a self-disciplined and self-reliant Zionist warrior, a virtual one-woman army and a sharpshooter guided by an unerring moral compass.

She’s quite possibly the only Jewish regular on American TV who’s unapologetic, complex-free and not comically dysfunctional. She’s surely the only full-time Israeli character on any mainstream network hit drama.

Indeed, NCIS’s Ziva is probably the only positive Israeli sort on the screen anywhere. Sexy, brave, accomplished (fluent in 10 languages, even if she can’t get her English idioms quite right), she’s without an image handicap (save for her daredevil driving). She’s definitely one with whom typical Israelis can proudly identify – mostly because Ziva is proud of being Israeli.

And since in our day, charismatic media stars apparently constitute sought-after political saviors, why not Ziva? Who’s better? Her fetching features should make her a shoo-in.

So what if she’s not real? Continue reading

Another Tack: Losing proportions

How reassuring: Jerusalem Police commissioner Nisso Shaham has sanctimoniously added his two cents’ worth to the synthetic hullabaloo that gripped specified Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh neighborhoods – the sort to which I and my sort never go. Yet my non-Jerusalemite sort is the loudest in kicking up a righteous fuss about oddities that barely impact our daily lives.

Those of us who remember this country a little further back than the day before yesterday know that given anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox elements habitually sought to stoke the fires of contention. Their counterparts on the leftist fringes of our political patchwork were equally eager to fan the flames. For the latter, it’s politically expedient to ignite culture wars and lump the entire complex gamut of Israel’s observant Jews under the single, all-inclusive epithet of haredim (God-fearing).

The religious zealot who called a female soldier “pritzeh” (Yiddish for a woman of loose morals) was turned into a sectarian martyr when the prosecution – generally renowned for its languor and lenient plea bargains – charged him with no less than sexual harassment. The outsized photo of the secularist heroine in khaki, posing with self-important indignation, became the obligatory front-page feature for all tabloids.

And this brings us back to Shaham. Continue reading

Another Tack: Good manners and high morals

There sat Palestinian Authority chieftain Mahmoud Abbas in the front pew of the Church of the Nativity, reverently observing the Christmas midnight mass. He appeared so meek – the model of admirable moderation, good manners and high morals.

TV anchors and scribblers worldwide fell for his consummate act and expressed solemn appreciation for the affectation. Critical appraisal was conspicuously absent.

Abbas – the on-and-off and now on-again political ally of Hamas and Islamic Jihad – took great pains to quasi-usurp Christmas from Christendom and impart the impression that Christmas is intrinsically also a Muslim celebration, “a Palestinian holiday” from which bogeymen Jews alone deserve exclusion.

Significantly this aroused no protests – the subjugation of Christians in Muslim societies, and foremost in Bethlehem, notwithstanding. Continue reading