As Good As It Gets?

Welcome to Jewish reality, 2014.

I am not sure who has irritated me more this past week: the English oleh showing off to friends back in Blighty with continual “Look at me! Look at me! I am living under missile fire!” Facebook updates (perhaps the silly sod will now spare a thought for the poor, all year round, buggers in Sderot); the one who, two days ago, posted “Siren in Ra’anana”, as if Hamas had finally gone too far; or the booked summer holidayers asking “Should I come?”

“What about the missiles?” enquired one such, yesterday, to which I could only reply “What about them?” For me, their most chilling effect is forcing me into a confined space with my new south Tel Aviv neighbours (they are working class, you know).

Another messaged me “How’s it going out there?? Do I need to cancel my trip?” This seemed somewhat akin to concluding a comfort telephone call to an ailing friend by announcing that you are too shit-scared to visit them. What the bloody hell ever happened to solidarity?

As for the endless PR efforts on blogs and Facebook, I can’t help but think that they are preaching to the converted. The thing must be to get accurate reporting and analysis into the international press. And, even then, those who don’t like Jews – usually hiding behind the ‘respectable’ veneer of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism – are almost certainly irredeemable. It is in their blood.

Operation Protective Edge is the third such that I have blogged about since December 2008 (see my War in Gaza category). And this is now our reality: every couple of years or so, we will have to give the naughty . . . rather, wicked schoolboy – who, in spite of every inducement, won’t change his ways – a smacked bottom (if I may be forgiven for quoting my own Facebook update of last week: “Can’t help thinking of the Palestinian as the incorrigible class halfwit, who gets beating after justified beating . . . but still comes back for more.”) Thankfully unlike the pond life we are up against, we are both too moral to kill civilians living above (demonically positioned) enemy weapons’ stores and too life-valuing to risk our boys in a ground operation.

During these very months exactly seventy years ago, 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, and the majority gassed on arrival. I think, too, of the unspeakable horrors my antecedents must have suffered at the turn of the last century, in Lithuania and Poland, to force them to gamble on the entirely unknown (even we Litvaks didn’t yet have the Internet).

It has always been thus for us. So, while concerned about the current situation, I am trying to see the (relative) positives in the bigger Jewish picture (who said a degree in Philosophy was a waste of time?)

And now with our own state, IDF, and even “second strike” nuclear submarines – no one can f*ck with the Jews like they used to – this may well be as good as it gets.

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22 responses to “As Good As It Gets?

  1. Do not disagree with any of what you write but the question begs to be asked: How do you get the truth in to the foreign press (or British press for that matter) when they clearly do not want to accept, acknowledge or publish it? BTW she (Izzy) is a Lhasapoo and not really a kangaroo. I was pulling your leg.

  2. I do try preaching to the “non-converted” Mike – living in Spain and London as I do mostly face to face or sometimes email to email. But as you say, it’s nearly always a waste of time. People who both like and trust me in all other respects regard me as an apologist/propagandist at best and a downright liar more often than not, the instant I stand up for Israel. It’s as though I am two different people in their eyes. I’ve also had letters published in several UK newspapers over the years on subjects ranging from ritual circumcision to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, but never had so much as an acknowledgement for any of the dozens of comments I’ve submitted on either Israel or British journalists’ reporting on Israel. Organizations like “We Believe In Israel” try to convince me every day that writing to the press and my MP is not a futile act. But if that’s the case, why does nothing ever seem to change for the better? The international reporting of this latest crisis is as biased as usual; calls for divestment by academics and trade union leaders are more strident than ever. A stark example of just how things have deteriorated is how Israel’s remarkable “Iron Dome” is considered by the world’s press: Surely, this is the first time in the history of war that a government and its military has been expected to apologise for defending its own citizenry so effectively. Being condemned for aggression we’re well used to, but being denounced for “failing” to take enough casualties? Is this what foreign commentators mean by “proportionality”? I always wondered? If so, would they be happy if both sides took casualties in equal numbers? Or, do they mean that their “casualty equation” should be based upon a death to population ratio (which means that about 2.5 Israelis need to die for every Gaza resident)? Would they also prefer it if the Israeli army restricted itself to the use of mortar rounds and Grad style rockets fired willy-nilly into Gaza without any accurate targeting? You are of course right Mike, that these are questions which need to be asked, and notions which should be challenged not on your blog but on the pages of the London and New York Times. Any ideas how?

  3. Just got back from dinner at friends – accompanied by Channel 2 news in the background – where we heard that we’ve suffered our first fatality. It was clear that my friend was on edge, worried about her daughter and new granddaughter in Tel Aviv. We are cowering in stairwells and bomb shelters, ‘unable’ to destroy the enemy arsenals, even though we know exactly where they are located. How absurd.

    I don’t have too many answers re the international press. One, though, must be making sure that our public figures and writers – the excellent Howard Jacobson, for example – speak out. They, at least, have some clout in those circles.

    And yes, Adam, this is all sick.

  4. dizengoff dave

    “the one who, two days ago, posted “Siren in Ra’anana”, as if Hamas had finally gone too far”

    brilliant… as ever!

  5. Hi Mike, I was disgusted by an article in ‘The Age’ in Melbourne over the weekend, foretold by it’s headline, which immediately sympathised with the Gazans to the exclusion of Israelis. Interestingly after about paragraph four there was discussion on the impact of all this bombardment on Israelis, but too little too late, for the large number of readers who wouldn’t make it that far into the article. Conversely, this morning on ABC radio the reporting was actually in Israel’s favour, including an interview with a senior Hamas official who was clearly not interested in any ceasefire or negotiation with Israel. I think the listeners were left in no doubt about his total disregard for the safety or wellbeing at all of his compatriots. I kept waiting for the sting, but incredibly there was none. This was a pure expose of Hamas’ intentions that no one could dispute. As we speak, I have friends on their way to Israel as part of a program, mothers of young children, who are obviously concerned, but recognise the importance of solidarity. May peace be quick in coming to Israel and her neighbours.

  6. Sean David Casper

    Mike, we’ve become complacent, lazy, materialistic and non-ideological. The Zionist dream has metamorphosed into buying the second and third apartment. Nobody wants to fight anymore to eradicate Hamas, so we have become satisfied with spanking their bottom every year or two and are even willing to pay the price of a little bomb-shelter time. As a high tech nation we expect to win our wars in the same fashion. Thus our blissful content with Iron Dome, Magic Wand, Arrow et al. We’re happy to “send in the boys”, so long as they’re all sitting up in the clouds flying F16’s. If anything, your reference of the Shoah points to the pre-war complacency that we suffered from – a dangerous malady. The Hamas, like their Nazi heroes before them, only galvanize and wake us up. We have made lots of progress since 1948, but still face the same daily struggle for survival just with different, new and more sophisticated threats to deal with. This isn’t as good as it gets.

  7. Tamar Meijers

    “We are both too moral to kill civilians living above””???? I am sure that you are aware that more than 200 civilians have been killed!!!

  8. Not even Hamas are claiming that “200 civilians have been killed” Tamar!!! Perhaps you should watch this montage from Egyptian TV which reveals that moderate Arabs – for all their support for “their Palestinian brothers” are completely informed and clear about Hamas’ human shield tactics – unlike you Tamar…

  9. “for the large number of readers who wouldn’t make it that far into the article”

    A little hard on your “fair dinkum” compatriots, Denise . . . though I know where you are coming from!

    And I know where you are coming from, too, Sean. Many (most?) of us – me included – want nothing more than for us to go in there, destroy the missile infrastructure and arsenals, and teach Hamas a lesson they won’t forget. But we all know the possible price. On the other hand, we have (I hope) a well-trained and motivated army, and that is what it is there for. But who’d be in Bibi’s shoes?! If you were, what would you do (apart from not shag Sara)?

    I am not sure whether you are playing dumb, Tamar, or whether I was unclear – I was referring to destroying the (suspected) huge arms stores and tunnels hidden beneath residential buildings.

    Tamar is Dutch, Adam, and, judging by her footballers in the really big games, probably only in favour of purely defensive measures. As for the clip, I am just concerned that the subtitles might be about as accurate as in this one . . .

  10. That’s a fair point Mike, but I don’t think there’s much scope for misreading the body language of the various presenters. And I doubt somehow that they were doing a serious assessment of Hamas football skills or table etiquette for that matter (the food did look pretty delicious I must admit). If you can find an Arabic speaker perhaps he/she can check it over. Who knows, it might be even better…

  11. Oh! And I just viewed your clip – it had to be Spurs didn’t it!! Which f—ing gooner did this version?!!

  12. Oh, twicefold!! I just checked. it wasn’t a f—ing gooner, it was a f—ing Spurs fan! Do we have no depths to our sense of irony?

  13. John Fisher

    I don’t know why any of the commenters above are still surprised and bothered. We are in our usual role as scapegoats – in true Biblical sense – for the western world’s citizens’ guilt and self-loathing over their own nations’ “collateral damage” approach to military intervention (Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Libya, Pakistan…)

    At times like this, I take comfort in the following anecdote:

    The late Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth President and former UN Ambassador, wrote that, at the conclusion of the infamous “Zionism is Racism” vote in 1975, Daniel Patrick Moynahan – his US counterpart – strolled towards him across the floor of the General Assembly. Grabbing Herzog in a bear hug, Moynahan whispered: “F**k them!” and took a leisurely walk back to his seat.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  14. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” (For the non-Cyril-educated.)

  15. Roger Cohen gets it just about right in the following, though fails to take into account Bibi’s view – shared by me (see Unfriending the Cousins) – that, even ignoring Hamas, there is no one progressive and brave enough on the other side to do business with . . .

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/opinion/roger-cohen-israels-bloody-status-quo.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

  16. Robert Lakin

    Nice.

    As one who posted about “Sirens in Ra’anana”, it was less about Hamas going too far then a “shit’s gettin’ real” notice for overseas friends.

    As for Roger Cohen, he doesn’t do Yehuda Amichai’s poem “Tourists” the justice it deserves by using only a snippet. For the complete work, see: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/yehuda_amichai/poems/52.html

  17. Precisely the cause of my irritation, Robert . . . the “shit” had “got real” long before John Fisher had cause to choke on his morning marmalade on toast!

  18. For anyone who hasn’t seen my call to arms (or, at least, laptops) on Facebook, this is what former BBC DJ Andy Kershaw posted to his FB homepage on 12 July . . .

    “Here we go again…

    When is the wider world going to face up, at last, to a glaring reality? That Israel is a backward, infantile, thuggish, thieving, racist, terrorist state.

    Israel plays the victim card, time and again, as an excuse for, and a decoy from, its daily victimisation, humiliation and persecution of an entire people. And, appallingly (and promiscuously), Israel deploys, yet abuses, the suffering and memory of Holocaust victims to justify these inhumanities on others.

    If you steal the land and the nationality of these people, cage them into the most densely populated concentration camp on earth, then deny them an economy, jobs, freedom of movement, their elected government, sufficient clean water, and other basic human dignities, shouldn’t you expect those same people to lob missiles into your stolen fools’ paradise?

    In a more enlightened age, there would have been an International Brigade to help the Palestinians resist this thuggery. I’d join.”

    Not a word anywhere from Mr. Kershaw, though, on the up to 170,000 opposition deaths in Syria in the last three years. No Jews involved there, of course.

    Please take a few minutes to tell this lowlife what you think of him, following his 12 July update here . . .

    https://www.facebook.com/theAndyKershaw

  19. Please forgive me Mike for giving a link to rival blog to yours – more complementary in fact than rival – but I think that most of your readers will love this latest post by my friend Edgar here in Spain. It’s merely another angle on what we are discussing here…
    http://edonthings.com/

  20. Just bear in mind, Mike, that Andy Kershaw’s ideal state, which he loves with a passion, is North Korea. And that he’s got a conviction and done jail time for hitting his ex wife when he was already under injunction not to harass her. By the way, haven’t worked out from the blog whether you are moving from Tel Aviv to Berlin or not. Great place, Berlin. My mother was born and grew up there. My parents met there. Great place to live. If it wasn’t for the history, and you’d be surprised how many of the players are still around. And you hate coming across anti-semitism? And you want to move to Berlin? Well, Hannah Arendt would have approved!

  21. And while we’re about it this guy Sam Harris also has something important to say. If anyone ever spoke for me it’s this guy…

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/why-dont-i-criticize-israel

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