Lately in Israel, there’s been a wave of media coverage surrounding the relationship between the Haredi community and the rest of Israeli society. This avalanche stems from a number of recent stories including: a Haredi man spitting on a young religious girl walking on her way to school, Haredi soldiers disobeying orders by walking out of an official ceremony where female soldiers were singing, attempts to create gender-segregated public buses, Haredi men verbally assaulting women on buses, efforts to remove images of women from public advertisements, and the vandalizing of stores because of the books they choose to sell. Efforts to promote, and sometimes even enforce, notions of religious acceptability vis-à-vis “modest” dress and Sabbath observance have occurred --- sometimes sporadically, sometimes more consistently --- for quite some time.
I recently saw some interesting videos on Youtube. No, I’m not referring to the woman cooking while drunk, though that was hilarious (and yet oddly profound) or the trailer for the latest Muppets movie (oh yes my friends, they’re back). I’m talking about the video discussing the events leading up to 1967 in an attempt to explain why the term “The Occupied Territories” is “just not political correct” or this video featuring the rhythmic heart and soul of Jerusalem made by Israeli artist Kutiman. Or this series of videos covering a television segment while Dr. Jaques Gautier, a Canadian non-Jew who spent twenty years writing a 1300-page dissertation of the legal ownership of Jerusalem (and by extension, the West Bank). A small spoiler alert: He concludes that legally, it’s property of the Jews. And another gem floating around cyberspace is Andrew Klavan’s cynical, satirical and funny solution for the conflict in the Middle East.
I got the call during my American Conservatism course, while discussing Schumpeter’s theory of Creative Destruction. At first, I thought it was about a credit card and my payments to my cell phone company. Apparently, I needed to transfer over to a new card, as the old one was expiring. In any case, the credit card company was calling my father, who in turn was calling me about it. I let his call go to voice mail.
After class, I checked my phone and found a cryptic message from my father: Call and report. Now he can be terse at times, but this didn’t sound like the norm. So I called him up and heard the news.
“Are you alright?”
“Fine,” I answer. “Why, what happened?”
“There’s been a bus bombing.”
My friend at The Jerusalem Post takes credit for PaliLeaks. Not the story, mind you, just the catchy title that’s been floating around lately for the “Palestine Papers” leaks that have been broadcast by Al-Jazeera and published by The Guardian.
After a week of breaking stories revealing intimate details from the peace process’s cast of characters that we’ve all come to know and love (to complain about over coffee), we’ve seen our share of PaliLeaks. As it was noted by another writer at the Post, one of the first things that come to mind about the Palestine Papers is that it is no WikiLeaks. These are not the writings of relatively obscure diplomats; rather they are heavy hitters like Livni, Abbas and Qurei. Nor are they correspondence from the field back to Washington about the latest updates from places normally relegated to the back of the paper. This is Israel, the Middle East, page 1 around the globe, regardless of just how tired the public is of the never-ending Mediterranean story.
I remember reading across the top of the page the Hebrew word "Asown" and thinking to myself if it meant "tragedy" or "disaster." Below it, a horrific wildfire leapt off the page, while a torched bus seemed ready to collapse in on itself.
The nuances of the word, though subtle, were there: was the Carmel inferno a human tragedy or a national, natural disaster? Where was the headline's focus? The answer of course was both.
The flames in Israel's “green gem” in the north claimed the lives of 44 people and shook the nation to its core. Then again, it is the Israeli way of life to first be stunned at the magnitude of a tragedy before swallowing our emotions, picking up the pieces and moving on to tomorrow. The country's seen so much sadness that the only way to cope is to press on amid the concerns of our daily lives.