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August 9, 2012

Hot, hot, this summer is so hot! When forced to walk down a mid-day street, undulating with heat, I pass people with tortured faces, as they seek shelter. We who can afford them run to the blast of air conditioners, once a rarity in Jerusalem. Thousands flock to the airport to get away for a week or two. To Europe, to forests and lakes and islands and the sidewalk café where no one knows you. And here, when this latest six-day spell of unbearable heat recedes, we’ll again drink in the cool mountain air like chilled wine, for a few evenings. We’ll be granted a brief respite until the next tsunami of insufferably hot air roars in on us and the merciless sun grinds into our heads and faces. Into our lives and our souls.

If God speaks through his weather, what is he saying? Is this endless heat actually a continuous, fuming blast of divine exasperation with what we are doing to His creation? That would make sense, given what is happening here….

During a recent demo aimed at renewing the limping social protest, middle-aged Moshe Silman killed himself by fire, despairing of ever getting back on top of his life. Copycat suicides and suicide attempts followed.  Social protest leaders, squabbling among themselves in ugly confrontations, staged competing demos last week in Tel Aviv. Just a year ago, hope swept the country as everyday Israelis from across the country marched and demanded that our government do what it must to make life livable here. Nothing essential has changed, it still costs nearly $100 to fill the tank of my car, and the government is relentlessly raising taxes, sporting a mask of responsibility.

Outrageously disproportionate funding is flooding the territories where only 4% of Israel’s citizens live. Like blindly confident athletes, the settlers declare the demise of the two-state solution, offering no alternative scenarios. The prime minister lauds the findings of his distinguished Levy committee, which declares the occupation to be non-existent. The justice minister has found a way to deny access to the Supreme Court, for Palestinians and foreign workers. As Pete Seeger sang, “…and that’s what they call justice in the state of Arkansas….”

The army has declared a limit on the number of Palestinians that we can bring into Israel for peace gatherings. How threatening we are, Israelis and Palestinians gathering to know each other as human beings.

Netanyahu’s endless trumpeting the threat of a nuclear Iran, his ever-ready Israel-the-eternal-victim diversion from the troubles we are facing here daily. He continues to leak the barely veiled plans for an Israeli attack which enjoys no support, not from our own military leaders, not from America, not from the rest of the world. Ehud Barak assures us that “only” 300 Israelis will die in Iran’s counter-attack. Who among us is on that list? Barak hasn’t offered an estimate of the wounded, the forgotten victims of every war, as the projected dead body count overshadows the maimed body count. Ultimately, everyone understands that political considerations will determine whether we attack Iran. In Netanyahu’s world, what is expedient will be what happens.

The right has no plan, other than to survive politically. Ask them how they see the future, if things go their way, and you cannot get an answer. They see no future, other than the prayer that the dream of 2 independent coexisting countries will not come to be. Ok, let’s say it will not… What are you offering, settlers?

Just over the northeastern border, the Syrian army is methodically killing the Syrian people. We have grown inured to the numbers, 60 dead one day, 130 dead the next. We can do nothing, and anyway for most Israelis they are “the enemy” and the slaughter there leaves people indifferent, at best.

We see what is happening, we even understand it. As we bake here in this deadly heat, we helplessly watch our beautiful, vibrant country slipping through our fingers.

I”m proud of my potatoes. This evening, inspired by Pini, who was reconstructing the bathroom door, (I shattered to smithereens the previous door when Aviv got locked inside, but that’s another story…) I made sliced potatoes, with the skins, little rounds of potato on a baking sheet, sprinkled them with olive oil and strew rosemary about, salt and ground pepper, and presto! 25 minutes later I had fulfilled an ambition heretofore unfulfilled. Each browned slice, crunchy on the outside, soft inside, the skin delightfully chewy. My country is on fire, but I can make potatoes. 

 Maybe during this fiery summer, we can make potatoes.






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  1. Lovely writing, Yoav. Could be that you’re documenting the demise . . .

  2. Marcia Kreisel permalink

    What powerful writing reflecting such a painful reality and without trying in any way to cover it with plastic flowers. Marcia

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