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"Outside" - בחו׳׳ל

October 3, 2018

For those of you living "outside" of Israel" בחו'ל, or as some call it, the real world, the public discourse and the persistent media obsessions are seriously disparate from our local Israeli day to day chatter. Surprisingly enough, or not, only a fraction of Americans here are glued to their televisions watching Senate Hearings. Not every serious conversation in English is centered around the the state of American/British/Canadian/Australian...politics. And not every French national in Neve Tzedek is preoccupied with Macron's every move and/or the capture of the helicopter bandit. 

 

 

יש לנו טירוף משלו

We have our own craziness as you can well imagine. 

 

But the craziness is often centered around Israeli bureaucracy, inefficiency, low wages, high rents, the holiday schedule and all the stuff that makes living here a challenge. 

 

For עולים (Immigration based on Law of Return) who came later in life, there are greater stresses. We are tied between the world we know here and the world as it is viewed from "outside". We still care what people think. We know what it is to live and work in our birth countries and to have pride in its nation's goals and aspirations. And we know having national pride which is quite a natural thing in any other country is considered suspect by the international community. It is often painful and sad to read the news from abroad when flying an Israeli flag is branded an act of aggression. From "outside" the media is focused on what sells - impending political and human disasters - and is generally blind to the life as it is lived here.

 

I am not saying anything new. It is obvious that a sensational headline is much more interesting than the fact that they are building an aquatic center with a swimming pool (yeah!!) on the beach near our house. And it is not surprising that the the challenges facing freshman in the U.S. carry more weight in the press than the 4 month wait for an MRI at one of a handful of medical centers in Israel.  But...Why is this situation aggravated by the Israeli press?

 

Clearly all media plays to their audiences. What is different here, is that the media plays a different tune in different languages to the same audiences. The Times of Israel publishes in Arabic/Persian/French and English with a Hebrew news feed online (טיימס אוף ישראל). Haartetz (הארץ) publishes in Hebrew and English.  The Jerusalem Post is published in English and French and has a sister publication in Hebrew,  Maarav (מעריב השבוע‬). Yedioth Ahronoth (ידיעות אחרונות‬) publishes daily in Hebrew with with an English version called YNET.

 

I try to read across the political spectrum. But I read the news in English. My Hebrew is not sophisticated enough to get the nuance and full meaning from the Hebrew editions. But, I suspect...in fact I know because I understand enough, that the viewpoint is different in the different language versions published by the same group. This makes for an interesting mosaic (no pun intended) of ideas. A complex, complicated window into a complex and complicated country.

 

So why now am I rattling on about a topic that has been discussed ad nauseum

 

Simple answer:

I get news alerts on my phone from Haaretz. I don't enjoy the paper but I keep reading it to keep myself inline. I want to read articles that push me to think. I usually don't change my mind after I've read them. Those close to me might say this is so because I am entrenched in my views (they may be right). But frankly I think in is because the articles in Haaretz often do not present reasoned discussions or any discussion at all. I want the substance to be there. I search and search for some sort of logic but mostly the content amounts to jingoism. Articles begin with assertions that are never supported, simply assumed. 

 

We need a counter press in this country to challenge the right-leaning politics of the current government and many of the media outlets.  And it exists - in Hebrew. But it exists along with context that is missing from Haaretz English edition. The world does not need any more aspersions about Jews. And we certainly don't need Haaretz to be the English "voice of reason" emanating from Israel. 

 

Today I received an alert about an article regarding the "Judaizing" [sic] of East Jerusalem. At first I didn't read it. Then I read it. Then I started to think about how this reads בחו'ל "outside". What sort of word is "judaizing" to an audience abroad? What does it mean? Clearly it is related to its dictionary meaning of "making Jewish". But why is that intended as a slur?

 

Is it offensive for Jews to move to new neighborhoods or to make neighborhoods more Jewish? Or is it only offensive in East Jerusalem? Is it an offense for the character of a neighborhood to be changed by its new residents? Or is it only offensive if the new residents are Jews? Can you "judaize" a neighborhood in England for example? Isn't this the core of the issue about Islamization? Another term we can throw in the bin.

 

This is not simply rhetoric. There are real issues regarding demographics and property ownership in East Jerusalem and throughout the whole country. But it is harmful to the effective and fair reporting of the events and tantamount to a slur to use the term "judaization" to alarm and inflame an already sensitive and volatile situation. What message are they trying to convey? What message is reaching the readers of Haaretz in "the real world". 

 

I am offended by the term "judaize" as it has taken on an undertone of nastiness.  I am offended by the casual way it is tossed around. I am offended by the shallowness of the coverage in the English language press written and produced here. I am offended by the "handle" and the presumption of fault. I am offended that the left can't seem to think and walk at the same time.

 

I despair. I miss the "left". 

 

 

 

 

 

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