Thursday, September 27, 2012

Racism (aka, here we go again...)

A friend of a friend just posted a link to an article with the comment, "She says it much more eloquently than I ever could."

The article, found here, concerns the NYC MTA's decision to allow ads that say, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” to be put up in 10 subway stations within New York City.

I agree, the ads are inflammatory-- and are meant to be. I think there are other ways of saying things, and, no I don't believe that all Muslims are bloodthirsty barbarians (or savages, to use the ad's wording).

This is the discussion that followed on the comment thread (note: I have changed the commentor's names to first initials, except mine which I have labeled "me"); M is the friend of the friend:

D: Great article, THANKS!!!
D: Zionist racism -- a redundancy? -- is rarely confronted with such eloquence
M:  I agree. I'm terrible. All I keep thinking is that I'm tired being called all these stupid names because I basically exist. I've been really quiet about this whole debacle for that reason. I'm glad there are people who are much more level-headed than I am.

D: I just had an extended e-kerfuffle with a prominent "liberal" film scholar. The guy finally showed himself as a racist, claiming that the UN had been bought by Arab money. This profound neurosis runs deeper every day. It must be confronted, which I usually do by calling my interlocutor a twat.
D: We're about to nuke Iran and few people care..
M: If the UN had been bought by Arab money, the UN is sure doing a crappy job keeping up their part of the bargain, no?
S: It's appaling, this whole thing - I'm kind of surprised the MTA allowed these to be posted - I understand the free speech issue at play in all of this, but these are just plain horrible. Would the MTA let the Westboro Church post an ad, too then?
M: I do wonder if we really are gonna nuke Iran... the US has been threatening it for years now.  
M: Sara, the MTA had been fighting it for a while, and originally told the organization that they couldn't go up. It got taken to court and, in the words of the MTA spokesperson, "their hands are tied."
E: These ads are vile. I say this as a human secularist, as an American, and as a person of Jewish descent. There is nothing in them I can agree with or support. Yes, they absolutely have the right to say it, but freedom of expression is not freedom of consequence of expression. This is the very wrongest way to have this conversation. I agree that we owe ourselves, future generations and America a chance to have this conversation in a meaningful and hate-free way.
Me: While I agree with the right to free speech and that the ads are inflammatory, I have a very big problem with a basis of her article. Ms. Sarsour wrote, "Geller elaborated that there is no Palestine – a view not held by most Americans." Whether or not most Americans hold the view that there is a place called "Palestine," the fact is-- there hasn't been since 1948, when the British Mandate of Palestine ended. Just because many people believe something does not make it true-- the world isn't flat, is it?

My friend's father can correctly say he was born in Palestine-- indeed, he was, when the area he was born in was under the British Mandate of Palestine. No one born since May 14, 1948, can say that he or she was born in Palestine, nor can he/she claim to be a Palestinian-- can anyone born in Massachusetts claim to be British, because at one time Massachusetts was a British colony? No, because the British colony of Massachusetts no longer exists.

D: Palestine was stolen via terrorist acts -- ask Rahm Emanuel's daddy, a former Irgun terrorist who shot babies. So you have old folks walking around with keys to their now bulldozed homes. Telling them to wake up and smell the coffee is just plain immoral. There are UN resolutions that call it illegal, too.
[note: D combined and deleted some of his original comments; each new comment is marked with a "-." the original of this was:
-Palestine was stolen via terrorist acts -- ask Rahm Emanuel's daddy, a former Irgun terrorist who shot babies.
-And so you have old folks walking around with keys to their now bulldozed homes. Telling them to wake up and smell the coffee is just plain immoral.
-There are UN resolutions that call it illegal, too.
-Marek Edelman fought Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto and, as a Universalist, claimed the PLO had a right to fight against Zionist oppression
-This issue ain't going away. Thank goodness for Israeli youth -- they're moving Left.]   
Me: There are lots of individuals that I can name who have argues on both sides, regardless of the issue.
In terms of infants-- would you like me to start naming the babies who have b
een killed in terror attacks?
 This was not meant to turn into a pissing contest of who has done more wrong to who and who is more in the right. I brought up a historical fact, and you turned it into "Here are examples of the bad Zionists who stole Palestine." I agree that there was a place called Palestine, however I also state that it no longer exists. Simply having existed once upon a time does not make something exist at this moment. To go back to my earlier example-- what about the British colonies that no longer exist as British colonies? Can I, having born in an area that at one time was under British rule, claim British nationality? Or if I was born in Turkey, can I claim to be Ottoman?

And what do you say to and about people like me, my husband, and the other medic on duty two nights ago who, when we got a call to an Arab village for injured people, got out of our nice warm beds and in the middle of the night went to take them to the hospital? The Red Crescent was supposed to take them (there is a Red Crescent ambulance station in that area, by the way) and didn't show up until 20 minutes after we got there (in our defense, we wanted to take whoever we could asap-- the patients wanted to wait for the Red Crescent, and then decided to go with us). We took those patients to the hospital of their choice. And when they got there and saw that there was no doctor on duty (don't ask me why), they decided they wanted to go to another hospital. And we took them.

So don't only thank goodness for Israeli youth-- thank goodness for the people who don't care if their patients are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Arab, Israeli, or anything else and treat them regardless. (you do know that homicide bombers and terrorists get treated as well, right?)

S: Yikes - that's really unfortunate, Margo. I guess it's nice to know the MTA tried...still doesn't really make it any better, though. I wish people didn't feel the need to resort to hateful name calling in subway advertisements as opposed to, well, an actual discussion. These kind of reactions harken back to New York a century ago, when instead of Palestinians, it was Italians and Irish...
[D posted and deleted the following comments; again, each new comment is marked by a "-":
-Lauren: you have a bizarre perspective. Operation Cast Lead? if you think the casualties on the Israeli side come anywhere near to the number o Palestinian dead, then you are, sorry, wrong.
-Your rage is irrelevant.]
Me: Daniel, I'm going to stop this now not because I don't have what to say or don't have facts to back what I say up, but because it's just going to turn into something ugly and hateful.

You have your opinion and viewpoint, I have mine, and neither of us are going to change the other's. So let's just stop, because this is not helping any progress.

D:  Lauren: you have a bizarre perspective. Operation Cast Lead? if you think the casualties on the Israeli side come anywhere near to the number o Palestinian dead, then you are, sorry, wrong. Your rage is irrelevant. People are tired of filtering discussions about war crimes through Jewish sensitivity. Be sensitive, be angry, be self-righteous. The occupation is going to end with or without your help. Israel is in the driver's seat, as the fourth most powerful military presence on Planet Earth. The idea of symmetrical responsibility is a fetid lie. Americans are sick of spending $10M per day on the longest-running occupation in the world. And, yes, young people in Israel are joining enormous protests against their government -- I'm with them.

My FB status:
[Lauren] would like to reiterate: Palestine no longer exists. It existed from 1920-1948; no longer. You cannot claim nationality or citizenship of a place simply because it USED to exist; I cannot claim British nationality or citizenship simply because where I was born was once under British colonial rule...

I debated replying to D with a list of babies murdered by terrorists, of names of people who "were on both sides" of a given issue, about the reasons for Operation Cast Lead and inform him exactly where the fire was getting shot at Israel from. I restrained myself. Not because I wanted to-- I want to rip him a new one-- but because there is no purpose in a one-sided debate. Someone wants to actually talk, I'm up for it. Someone wants to tell his side and insist he is right and throw out random facts-- wasting his time and mine.

I did like my point about someone being born in a formerly British area claiming British citizenship because they were born somewhere that USED to be under British rule. (British friends, field day with that one?)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cookies! And cooking/baking seasonally

See last week's post for details...

I baked cookies. Lots of cookies. Honey cookies, zebra cookies (chocolate with powdered sugar), and cheese danishes. Last time I baked the chocolate cookies I sent some with my cousin back to the army.

This time I made about 30 2-inch cookies of each honey and zebra (now made with real zebras! ...just kidding...) and probably about the same number of cheese danishes (half plain, half with raisins). We went to my [adopted] family for Rosh Hashana and brought the cookies over. We had wanted to pack some up beforehand for my cousin to take back to the army, but we didn't have good containers, so I just packed up the leftovers-- he's happy :)

And now on cooking seasonally.

Israel, like many other countries, grows fruits and vegetables. And like on other countries, fruits and vegetables have seasons-- meaning that sometimes they can be found, sometimes they can't, and sometimes they are more expensive and other times they are less expensive.

Eli and I like to make at least one vegetable dish for Shabbat-- we make a lot, and then we just eat it for the rest of the week. We generally go to the shuk [open air market] for some vegetables, spices, rolls, random other things. This is the conversation that ensues pretty much every week:
 -What vegetable do we want for Shabbos?
-I don't beans/cauliflower/sweet potatoes/roasted vegetables...I don't know, whatever they have that's not expensive
-Ok...but what do you want?
-I don't know, see what they have.
And that is how we decide our vegetable dish for Shabbos.

Deciding dessert and side dishes:
We decide our dessert and side dishes based on what is leftover in the house. That's how we came up with Dead Fruit Cobbler. We had peaches and nectarines that were going bad, so we made Dead Fruit Cobbler-- with the dying/dead fruit.

I feel like this post was jumping around a lot. Sorry. My brain is thinking very fast and I'm hoping this came out somewhat coherent.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodness, part II

So far:
-Meat (corned beef made by my mother; thank you Mommy)
-Stuffing kugel
-Honey cookies
-Challah (3 kinds- zaatar; pesto-nutmeg; oregano and rosemary)
-Dead Fruit Cobbler

Still have to do:
-Zebra cookies (chocolate cookies with powdered sugar coating/topping)
-Cheese danishes
-Clean/straighten up the apartment.


I'm in the mood to write.

I have the challah dough and the cheese danish dough rising outside, I started soaking the cauliflower (which I have to finish). I put away the roasted vegetables, and I guess I'll finish this later, after I have the cauliflower and stuffing kugels in the oven.

Then on to cookies...

Writing later.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"The chagim"

There is a time period in the Jewish calendar known as "the chagim," which is the pperiod of holidays that extends from the Jewish New Year (aka "Rosh Hashana") through Yom Kippur (aka "the Day of Atonement") until Sukkot (aka "Feast of the Tabernacles," or "the holidays where Jews build those little booths/huts in their backyards"). This is a period that is always in the fall, right after school begins. In NYC, school staff prays for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kiippur to fall on school days so they have extra vacation days; in Israel this is a period that causes a lot of backup. For example, deliveries.

I sent a lift. It's supposed to land a few days before Rosh Hashana; the guy already said to me, "Oh, nothing will happen with it until after Rosh Hashana." When I asked him if I could get it before Sukkot (about 2 weeks later), his answer was, "I'm not sure."

The chagim time period puts this country into a semi-slow-motion time period. While not everything comes to a halt, many things get considerably slowed down and it's perfectly accepted to say, "Well, it's the know, things are busy...after the chagim for sure." Well, what good is that when you need things before?

Good thing I brought a new shirt back for Eli for Rosh Hashana instead of sending it on the lift.