Saturday, May 29, 2010

Little Nazis

I was so distraught at the bickering and fighting going on in my home last week, I just sat in a semi-vegetative state in front of my computer googling Jonathan Rhys Myers to find out if the Tudor King hunk is in fact Jewish.  And I stumbled across this site saying that his mother's maiden name is Myers and that if he plays the "Jewish card" in Hollywood, he'll be alright.  Well, I looked at the site I was on, and it was some neo-Nazi site called Stormtroopers.  Somehow I got into it because they were just going on about how the Jews control this and the Jews control that, and suddenly I didn't feel so depressed any more because, well, we're just so in control of everything.  Especially good to read, since I felt so out of control at home.  I perused photos of the members (don't remember how I got on to that) and see a bunchy of just regular folk, some, whose dislike for Jews stemmed from the fact that when they were among Jews, these White folk often felt ignored, transparent, left out.  Jews can be cliquey.  That's true.  Whatever.  I guess we better start inviting more neo-Nazis for a Shabbat meal at our homes to make them feel welcome :-).  

I read on and saw that their descriptions of how to detect a Jew were oh, so, 1930s/1940s.  I remember flying on Lufthansa with Israelis and the flight attendants must have mistaken me for one of "theirs' because they spoke to me in German (and I answered back in that language - my folks were Austrian).  My husband is also an Aryan Jew.  Big blue eyes and blond hair.  Hell, I bet if he posted his photo on that site, he would be their Aryan poster boy.  The site insists that Jews are a race. Hmmm.  A trip to Israel might confuse them with our multi-race Asian, African, Nordic, Semitic Jewish brothers and sisters. 

And it's Saturday morning, and I'm back on the site, grinning like mad. The site insists that Jews don't do blue collar work like paint and fix cars.  Hubby works at a construction site.  He's one of the crew.  He's a proud, blue collar, Aryan Jew.  So maybe we can't buy everything we want to buy.  We should.  We're Jews.  We should be stinking, filthy rich. But we don't even own a car.  These White Power guys do.  Even if it's a pick up truck.  What the hell happened??!  I should have made it in Hollywood.  Something! As a Jew, I should have some success in my life.  Shouldn't I??  At least that's what the members of this White Power web site believe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I hate politics and am not too fond of politicians either.  They ruin my interfaith meetings.  On the day of our latest interfaith meeting, where we were going to get together to watch the film "Arranged" about a friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a religions Moslem woman, I got a call from one of the Moslem participants.

"We won't be able to come to the meeting, because the issue of settlements is hot right now."

"Isn't it always a hot issue?"

"Yes, but the PA police in some areas are not even allowing Palestinians with work permits, who work in the settlements, to work in the settlements.  They are confiscating their permits."

"Huh?  But no one is working in a settlement at our meetings.  This has nothing to do with politics."

"It doesn't matter. It's too risky to meet with settlers right now." said the voice on the other end of the line.

"Your permits will be taken away if you visit us?"
"It could be."

"Thinking about it, don't you think it's good in a way that your people are cracking down on settlement building?  Isn't that what you really want? No settlement expansion?"

"The people have no other income.  Their income is being taken away.  It's terrible."

"Indeed.  What if the PA people who get all this funding from Europe and all these other places, use that money to specially compensate the workers who are no longer allowed to work in settlements by their own Palestinian police at your own checkpoints" asked I, surprised that there were also Palestinian checkpoints.

"That's a good idea. "

Yeah.  I'm a real whiz at good ideas.  Maybe I should even be in politics.  But I'll admit.  I'll be similar to our politicians.  I'll take bribes.  But they'll be selective bribes.

Say, some land dealer wants to build Arab-Jewish housing on the perimeter of Jerusalem, and wants to win the tender.  Sure!  I'll take some bucks and give him the tender.

But if they want to tear down a beautiful Arab historical home in West Jerusalem to build a 10 storey housing project and offer me millions, hmmmm.  I won't do that.  Not for any money. And I'll grant thousands of building permits for East Jerusalem residents who never were able to get permits before.

But I'm stuck in my mini-political world.  I called some other Moslem participants who come from a different part of the country the afternoon of the meeting.  They had a different story.

"X told us yesterday that there were permits for us.  But today, he said that he's not bringing anyone in because of the 'situation'.  But when he found out we might come anyway, he then told us there were no permits.  What's going on?"

I don't know.  I really don't know anymore.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Holy Cities in the Holy Land

We had our last interfaith meeting in Abu Dis.  Our coordinator tells us this may be our last meeting at his office because the main supporter of his NGO is upset with the fact that he is meeting "settlers" and withdrew all funding.  He tried to tell them that we don't talk politics and it's a meeting over our religions and around other "safe" cultural themes, but unfortunately, these people don't see beyond the trees, and are stuck on the rigid green line thing. They make their own fences and walls it seems. As it so happened, I was the only "settler" at the meeting.  The rest were from Nablus and Christians from Germany and Norway -and a Reuters reporter. 

We were told that Abu Dis may become area A in a matter of a couple of weeks.  The guy who told me seemed so happy.  It's a step for the Palestinians but to me it means I won't be able to visit the city legally.  I'll either have to sign a 10-page army document or come in illegally.  What a fucking drag.

We spoke about Holy Cities in the Holy Land.  It could have been a charged subject, but it wasn't.  I simply noted that Judaism considered four cities in the Holy Land.  And I didn't mention the more "charged" political entities of Palestine or Israel - thinking perhaps that we should rename the area to just plain The Holy Land with the coexistance symbols of the Sulha.  Oh, so getting back to the presentation, the cities are Jerusalem, holy to Jews for over three thousand years, corresponding to the element of fire - because of the ancient Temple sacrifices.  Then there is Hebron, where our forefathers are buried.  That city relates to the element of earth, because of the holy burial place.  Safed is the city of the Kabbalists - so that is corresponds to the element of air because of its spirituality.  Tiberias is the city where the Jerusalem Talmud was written as well as the home of many great rabbis in the 18th and 19th centuries - and corresponds to element of water because it's on the Sea of Galilee.

The Palestinians asked me about the the Hebron thing and that it caused quite an uproar because Bibi named it a top Jewish Heritage site.  I told them, that because Bibi did it, that caused the uproar.  If it was me telling Hebronites that the Cave of the Patriarchs is like the 2nd holiest site, no one would have said boo.  But you can't change these facts that it's a Jewish holy city, as the Koran can't be changed, I told them. 

Being that there was no Christian presenter, I read through a list of lesser known cities where Jesus walked and talked and performed miracles.  The Christians laughed because I made no mention of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.  Revisionist?  Not really.  I just, well, didn't mention them because I focused on the lesser known places and it totally slipped my whatever-is-left-of-my-mind.  Silly Jewish girl they must have thought.

Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest city for Moslems, and what I never knew was that before the Kaaba was built in Mecca, Moslems faced Jerusalem.  Just like us Jews when we pray.

And speaking of similarities, I attended a lecture in Jerusalem of Tzvi Misinai who spoke about the Jewish origins of Palestinians.  The audience was mostly Orthodox Jews who were curious and never heard of such a thing.  "What about the Arab massacres of Jews in Hebron?" one asked, when discussed how we lived in harmony at one time.  The lecturer said that the rumor that Jews were murdering Arabs in Jerusalem spread to other parts of the country and outsiders came in and perpetuated that lie to instill fear - the deadly F word - in its Arab inhabitants. 

He mentioned the rituals of some of the local tribes, especially the lighting of candles on Thursday and Friday nights (the Thursday night was to throw the Turks off track to prove that it wasn't a Jewish Sabbath thing) and praying in caves and marrying within the clan.  He even mentioned one Palestinian family I know and said they know they're from Jewish origin.  Indeed, I had even asked that person once about his origin and they looked at me and said they didn't know.  But I remember the look on his dad's face.  His dad is in Palestinian politics.  They don't like to be found out.  It was a disturbed look as if I did indeed uncover a family secret. 

Tzvi is distributing pamphlets in Arabic, Hebrew and English about the origins of and testimonies from Palestinians.  He believes in one state for one people - but that one people would include the Palestinians who wouldn't  have to convert to become the People of Israel.  They would be first-class citizens - all with Israeli ID and Israel would be fully democratic.  Interesting thought.  But that would mean people would have to see them as brothers instead of enemies.  A complete change in the mainstream Israeli mindstream would have to happen.  I wonder if  the lecture changed the mind of some of the people in the audience who probably never had any deep heart-to-heart conversation with any Palestinian. 

In the 11th century, there was an edict in the Holy Land that if one does not convert to Islam, the remaining families would have to leave the land.  Rather than leave, they converted to Islam.  This also is probably the reason why there is such a fierce tug of war over the land.  Because if they would do anything, absolutely anything, to stay on their land, then nothing and no one could ever take it from them.  And we shouldn't have to.  We should live on it together.