The Years of Living Forgetfully

In the preface to his wonderful book of essays, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century, the late Tony Judt wrote of the “perverse contemporary insistence on not understanding the context of our present dilemmas … on seeking actively to forget rather than to remember, to deny continuity and proclaim novelty on every possible occasion.”

I was reminded of these words while watching the interminable Israeli self-justifications on TV during the recent bombing of Gaza. Neither the missile-weary residents of southern Israel nor the representatives of the army and government were able to frame the conflict in any but the most context-less, self-serving and solipsistic of terms. The Palestinians of Gaza were launching attacks on Israel without provocation and Israel was well within its rights to respond as massively as it did. Period. Continue reading

The Arithmetic of Winning the War

By Michael Eilan

The mere mention of a ceasefire must have the pundit class rippling their fingers over their keyboards. It’s time to do the silly sums of who won and who lost. It’s all done on a virtual sphere that forgets that the people who really lost were those who lost their lives.

The cost of victory or defeat is borne by those who lost a love one, were maimed, lost their homes or who have to tend to a member of their family who was physically or physiologically scarred. Over the years both we and the Palestinians have developed extremely powerful social and other support mechanisms to ease the pain. It’s the strength of these support mechanisms that gives our leaders the audacity to engage in yet another round of fighting that will be judged lightly by the pundit class and much more seriously by the equally stupid class of military strategists. Continue reading

War brings out the best in Israelis

The receptionist and I were the only people in the doctor’s waiting room when the siren sounded. We looked at each other, more bemused than concerned, for a few seconds, until the doctor came bustling out of his office with the patient who was with him at the time in tow. There’s not much point in being in the waiting room if the doctor isn’t there, so the receptionist and I followed them into the stairwell, which apparently was the designated secure space. The actual secure room was locked and no-one knew where to find the key.

We were soon joined in the stairwell by lots of other people, each and every one, it seemed, engaged in something to do with a smart phone. The reception in the stairwell was bad and overload soon brought the network to its kneews. Lacking information, we hung around for about 10 minutes before resuming from where we had left off. Continue reading

It’s great he won, but Obama can’t save us from ourselves

According to early statistics, Jews voted 69% for Obama and 30% for Romney. I guess some of that may be an instinctive “Jews vote Democrat” thing, but I doubt if it’s much. It’s fair to assume that the bulk of Jewish voters assessed the candidates on the various issues – including, of course, support for Israel – and made a rational decision.

To put it another way, they shafted Bibi. And they shafted Bibi’s buddy Adelson, who pumped an obscene amount of money into Romney’s campaign on Bibi’s behalf. (I should have friends like that. When I was sharing an apartment with my friend Bullfrog, he would count his tomatoes to make sure I wasn’t eating them.) In fact, the delightful image of Adelson kissing his money goodbye was probably the best part of Obama’s victory for me. Sweet revenge (though not for long; January 22nd looms.) Continue reading