Thursday, July 28, 2005

Israel: The Feeling, The Mood, The Reality - Part III

In the center of town, on Ben Yehuda street, there is a festival going on: a trapeze team is doing acrobatics in the air; a tightrope walker is balancing his act; two jugglers are passing knives back and forth; a magic show for children has just come to applause; and all along the “Midrachov” (main pedestrian street), the street venders, from nuts to hot dogs, vend their goods.

A mother smiles at her child; a couple dances to the jazz band playing on the stairs in front of Bank Hapoalim; a man exhales, releasing streams of content cigarette smoke; a stooped man will take your picture for five shekel; the beggars will give you a red string in return for your generosity; two mimes walk by, their faces masked white; the fireworks explode, lighting the sky in colorful rain. It is summer in Jerusalem.

Still, is this mood – is this feeling – the reality? The events of the past few weeks seem to say that it is not.

I wander over to a cotton candy stand, and ask a man how he balances this regular summer’s eve with the irregular current events. “Just because I’m having a good time doesn’t mean that I don’t know what’s going on”. What is going on? I ask this self-conscious Israeli. “Israel is about to embark on a civil war,” he replies in reference to the nation’s split on whether or not land for peace is the answer. “So”, I question, “what are you doing about it?” “Me? What should I do?”

That seems to be the question, “what should I do?” Of course, being Israeli, there are those that have it all figured out, they say the government should do this and (Prime Minister) Sharon should do that, the soldiers should disobey when ordered to pull people from their homes in Gush Katif, and the Jews in the Diaspora should make Aliya to Israel. But, when asked, “What are you going to do?” most Israelis, uncharacteristically, have nothing to say. Even the cab drivers, notorious for their opinions, are mute when confronted with this question.

Yes, there are those few that are active in their opposing of the disengagement, but the majority is not. The ironic thing is, besides for a few orange t-shirts and bracelets life in mostly anti-disengagement Jerusalem goes on with virtually no change, not unlike life in mostly pro-disengagement Tel Aviv. So, what real difference is there between those who see the backing out of Gaza as a problem and those who see it as a solution?

All the responses given seem to imitate that of the man by the cotton candy stand: they just plain and simply do not know what to do. There seems to be a lack of leadership – not only in orange Jerusalem but in blue Tel Aviv as well.

“We will take it from there”, is a woman’s response to what will be after the disengagement. But, do you think it is worth the risk, pulling out and not really knowing the consequences? “These are desperate times and they call for desperate measures”.

So, is this lack of leadership, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the only thing they have in common?

“No”, says a person sitting near me on an Egged bus, “we are all Jews – and that is part of the problem”.

Or, maybe it’ll be the solution.


Blogger Dovid said...

First of all, I must commend you; that was a very well written blog.

Now to the issue: I don't think it has to do with a lack of leadership. If you you equate leadership with military leadership, maybe you're right. But if you think of our leaders as people who try to keep the peace, although there is no indication of a presence of competent leadership, nothing suggests the opposite either.

While both sides are passionate and vocal of their oppinions, a civil war between Jews is everyones worst nightmare. So, while passions flare in hearts, people want to deny the situation 'till it's in their faces and they are forced to act. This is true on either side. The right is silent because they are still hoping for a miracle, and the left is silent because they have confidence that they will prevail with their evil plans. But when one side will get desperate, things will get a little more exciting...

7/28/2005 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto, Dovid.
Jake, thanx for the first few paragraphs! They really made me feel like I was back in Israel- I loved it! Keep blogging!

7/28/2005 8:23 PM  
Anonymous sempem said...


great writing.

just one note on a previos entry. "A saint in fur". Have you lsot your mind? just look at it. Repulsive!!!

7/29/2005 1:07 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

im not really sure what you mean. please explain.

7/29/2005 5:17 AM  
Blogger Dovid said...

Jake, was the directedd to me or to Sempem?

7/30/2005 5:38 AM  
Anonymous sempem said...


I imagine you are reffering to "a tzadik in peltz". in that case the word 'saint' is a very poor translation.

'saint' comes from other religions. im sure u know that the Rebbe ... always reffered to one of the twin cities as S. Paul, and furthermore, paulo brazil. (whcih has nothing to do with, paul the saint).

7/31/2005 2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

though not everything has to be taken so litteraly.. it was a very good poem.

7/31/2005 3:21 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

Though I appreciate your comment, you are greatly mistaken. The word "saint" is neutral – it does not come from Christianity as you have supposed. All over Jewish writing, both Chabad and other, words like “saint” and “saintly” and “sainted” are used.
The other religions’ use of the word does not deem it un-kosher for our use – if it did, then the word “holy” should be unfit for use as well, after all the Pope is called the “holy see”.

The Rebbe (and we should do the same) did not does use the word “saint” only in a non-neutral context, a la Paul or Paulo (which, by the way, is the Spanish version of Paul, and was founded in 1554 by Jesuits), but in a neutral, and definitely in a holy, context there is no problem. It is the suffix (Paul, Francisco…) which turns the prefix (saint) into something unholy and not the other way around.

7/31/2005 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

god. why are you guys so nitpicky?

8/30/2005 3:43 PM  

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