For some inexplicable reason, I always seem to mix up both the titles and authors of “Cry, the Beloved Country” and “Another Country”
The former was published in 1948 and written by South African author Alan Paton and is set in apartheid, South Africa. The latter, written by American novelist James Baldwin was published in 1962 is primarily set in late 1950s Greenwich Village and Harlem.
There is no logical reason why I should mix up these two brilliant works of literature, yet I constantly do.
Both books should be compulsory reading, not only for all teenage students but for those studying English literature and its development. I would add James Baldwin’s 1953 semi-autobiographical novel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” to that plea.
Of course no doubt the WOKE Brigade have already put trigger warnings on these books or maybe even banned them completely as being unsuitable reading material.
Julie Burchill writing recently in the UK Daily Mail sums up, in my opinion skillfully, the disparaging arrogance of the WOKE Brigade, and why we should NOT bow down to their demands. “Rise of the new Puritans: Once it was religious fanatics who sucked all the fun out of life but today it's joyless young social justice warriors, writes JULIE BURCHILL, as she reveals why she refuses to bow at their altar of wokeness” https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-11150581/Julie-Burchill-reveals-refuses-bow-social-justice-warriors-altar-wokeness.html
For the most part, the WOKE Brigades of the UK/Western Europe and the US have not found a firm foothold in Israel. Thank goodness. That is not to say that WOKE is not alive and thriving in Israel, because it most certainly is.
WOKE in Israel is driven by elderly, blinkered out-of-touch rabbis who seem to think that they are still living in 18th and 19th-century ghettos. And by their followers who blindly adhere to their every word. Indeed, there are countless stories regarding the antics of their followers who seem unable or unwilling to think for themselves.
I believe that religion is a private matter. That said, I accept that the national religion of Israel is Judaism, just as the national religion of the UK or US is Christianity and Islam is the accepted religion in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Nevertheless, religion should not be enforced, it should not be compulsory to follow a religion, any religion.
Who I wish to marry, be they female or male is my sole prerogative. Should I wish to marry, again it's up to me to decide who officiates at the ceremony. It’s not for others to dictate what I eat or when I eat. Likewise, when my time comes, it is up to me to decide if I want a religious burial, or indeed how my body is treated.
In some ways, the orthodox and ultra-orthodox in Israel are spiraling towards a prospect akin to the Inquisition.
I have written many times in these pages that I am in awe of those who can embrace religion, any religion. I just can’t see it.
How for example can we equate the Jewish year of 5782 (2022)? According to Hebrew time reckoning, we are now in the 6th millennium. The Hebrew year count starts in the year 3761 BCE, which the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides established as the biblical Date of Creation.
How do we balance this with known, proven scientific facts? For example, early humans were beginning to walk upright seven million years ago. “Seven Million Years Ago, the Oldest Known Early Human Was Already Walking” “Analysis of a femur fossil indicates that a key species could already move somewhat like us” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-oldest-known-early-human-walked-upright-7-million-years-ago-180980628/
If we take our region (commonly referred to as the Middle East), it’s a proven fact that the first modern humans began moving out of Africa starting about 70,000-100,000 years ago. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/world-history-beginnings/origin-humans-early-societies/a/where-did-humans-come-from
The website “The Oldest Cities In The World” offers a glimpse of early civilizations in this region which predate Maimonides's calculations.
And give some thought to this recent discovery.
“Giant prehistoric elephant tusk uncovered in southern Israel” “Academics seek to study rare find to learn about significance of such remains in early human culture; Antiquities Authority says fossil will go on display after preservation” https://www.timesofisrael.com/giant-prehistoric-elephant-tusk-uncovered-in-southern-israel/
Can it be that the world, according to Jewish tradition is only in the 6th Millenium when all the available facts point in a different direction?
Bezalel Smotrich has in the past made it clear that he favors a return to Biblical law to govern Israel. Given that Smotrich qualified as a lawyer, I find this hard to accept. Is he saying that “modern” law is not suitable for governance? “Smotrich would impose biblical law on Israel” https://www.sdjewishworld.com/2019/06/04/smotrich-would-impose-biblical-law-on-israel/
It's not clear to me where Itamar Ben-Gvir, Avi Maoz, and the rest of these ultra-nationalist despots stand on this issue. Given Maoz’s ultra-conservative, anti-LGBT views, he perhaps does support Smotrich.
What would such a move mean for Israel? A return to the dark ages for a start, mirroring Iran and Afganstein.
I am not well versed in Biblical law, I assume that those not married by a recognized Orthodox rabbi would be considered living in sin, having committed adultery. Presumably, such couples would be given a chance to repent, to admit the error of their ways, before being stoned to death.
Likewise, I assume all those couples with a common-law partner, straight or gay would be in line for stoning. Which of course is what's in store for all LGBT Israeli citizens.
It’s a sobering thought that we are just a hop, skip and jump from this abhorrent panorama.
Think about these two recent related news stories.
“Turkish pop star Gulsen placed under house arrest over a joke about religious schools” https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/29/europe/turkey-gulsen-colakoglu-house-arrest-intl/index.html
Under Smotrich and presumably Moaz, the above could happen in Israel. How many of us will be locked up, or worse?
“Lapid makes historic appearance at LGBTQ event” “He is the first serving prime minister to ever attend an event by IGY, which works with queer youth across all of Israel.” https://www.israelhayom.com/2022/08/28/lapid-makes-historic-appearance-at-lgbtq-event/
No doubt Smotrich & Co., are calling for prayers and biblical curses because of Lapid’s actions.
Smotrich & Co. would do well to remember that people are individuals with feelings and the majority can still think for themselves rather than be lemmings that blindly follow.
No doubt Smotrich, Ben Gvir, Moaz, and their band of crazies would be happy to emulate the Saudi authority's stance on negative social media use.
“Saudi woman given 45-year sentence for social media posts — rights group” “Nourah al-Qahtani receives verdict on appeal after being convicted of ‘using internet to tear country’s social fabric’ and of ‘violating public order,’ Khashoggi-founded NGO says” https://www.timesofisrael.com/saudi-woman-given-45-year-sentence-for-social-media-posts-rights-group/
“Israeli Jewish voters have moved significantly rightward in recent years, data shows” “Percentage of those who identify as right-wing has grown from 46% in 2019 to 62% now, with both center and left shrinking” https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-jewish-voters-moved-significantly-rightward-in-recent-years-data-shows/
The above headline should not surprise anyone. The trend has been visual both here in Israel and elsewhere for several years.
We can argue that in Israel to some extent its been driven by Benjamin Netanyahu and his desire to remain PM at all costs. In case anyone has forgotten it was BiBi or as I have seen in recent weeks, BooBoo who originally pushed Smotrich and Ben Gvir into a marriage that benefits Netanyahu.
In recent days Netanyahu has attempted to do the same with the Haredim. Although, at least for now he appears to have been rebuffed.
“Netanyahu seeks to keep Haredi UTJ party united, but some prefer he not interfere” “With the Degel HaTorah and Agudat Yisrael factions at odds over several issues, the opposition leader is worried they could split and potentially fall below electoral threshold” https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-seeks-to-keep-haredi-utj-party-united-but-some-prefer-he-not-interfere/
Once upon a time Netanyahu was an Israeli patriot. Just think about his military service, his early foray into government service, and the cesspool that is Israeli politics. And his initial stint as PM. Somewhere along the way, Netanyahu became corrupted. Maybe “she who must be obeyed” was the driver to his turn about. If so, he is a weak fool.
There is much truth in the proverbial saying “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The saying conveys the opinion that, as a person's power increases, their moral sense diminishes.
A good portrayal of BooBoo’s personality?
Another portrayal of BooBoo’s personality can be summed up by Samuel Johnson’s famous quote “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
There is no question in my mind that once, many years ago Netanyahu was a patriot, a hero of Israel, along with many others. But that was in the past. Today he is a sorry figure trying to remain the puppet master at all costs whereas he should have retired and be living on a remote island sipping Piña Coladas and smoking his gifted cigars.
The question that many ask is how a party of so-called law and order is led by a criminal. OK, so he is innocent until proven guilty or the charges dismissed. But is this really what Israel wants or needs, a man on trial for corruption? It’s bad enough that Deri is a convicted criminal who has already served a prison sentence, leads a political party, and is by all accounts treated as some form of an illustrious being.
Ehud Barak, a former IDF chief of staff, defense minister, and prime minister of Israel, recently wrote an op-ed that appeared on the YNet site in English. The article is worth reading; it's not a gut feeling, but a well-reasoned assessment by Barak. https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rj88rioji
I have highlighted the following paragraph as an example of Barak's rationale.
"In recent years, Netanyahu has lost touch with any form of restraint, while his cronies label anyone who goes against him as "traitors." Netanyahu and his followers are waging smear campaigns against their opponents, including Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz, Gideon Sa'ar, and Gilad Kariv. They are pressuring politicians - such as former coalition members Idit Silman and Nir Orbach - to switch sides, using methods more fitting for an organized crime group than a legitimate political entity. “
Yet another example of BooBoo as the Crime Minister.
Netanyahu, like his good buddy Donald J. Trump, has a selective memory.
“Meron inquest finds Netanyahu, top cop Shabtai likely responsible for disaster” “Warnings also sent to other top officials, including ex-minister Ohana and former northern police commander Lavi, as panel prepares to release findings on crush that killed 45” https://www.timesofisrael.com/meron-inquest-finds-netanyahu-top-cop-shabtai-likely-responsible-for-disaster/
The following three paragraphs are extracts from the ToI article.
“The warning said that as former prime minister, Netanyahu “knew or should have known” that the Meron pilgrimage site was heavily neglected and a danger to the massive crowds that visit it annually.”
“Netanyahu did not act as expected of a prime minister to fix anything, even though the issue had been raised in serious reports by the State Comptroller,” the letter said, adding that the prime minister “did not ensure effective monitoring of the government’s handling of the matter,” and chose not to implement the recommendations of previous governments.”
“Asked by the commission’s Shlomo Yanai whether, as prime minister at the time and for years before, he took “public or moral responsibility for this disaster,” Netanyahu replied: “First of all, I take responsibility for what was in front of me, and that was the epidemiological disaster, and that I prevented… In hindsight, there was a catastrophe… I can’t take responsibility for what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that there was a critical safety problem.”
Does Israel want a Prime Minister with selective memory?
I recently came across the following paragraph, which I have not grammar-wise corrected, which refers to Donald J. Trump but could easily pertain to Netanyahu. Read the piece and substitute Netanyahu for Trump.
“It does not matter what you think about Trump the DOJ has got the goods on him. His own lawyer was played by him. The guy just cant quit, he never could. More importantly the idiots who follow and suport Trump do not realize he is destroying the Party. Just look at the candidates he chose just because they supported him. He just cant stop. Granted, we need to revitilize the Republican Party but first we must put Trump to sleep. He must get tagged with a felony to stop the bleeding and then get rid of him somehow. That will be easier said then done. Why? He just will not stop. Lastly, let me say he did a good job as President but we know now how dangerous the guy is.”
Every general election is important and yet somehow this time around it would seem to be critical to the future direction of Israel.
More than ever, “Silence is not an option”.
Borrowing from Stuart Lawernce’s 2021 book “You Can Impact the World for Change” our clarion call must be “Silence is NEVER an option – stand up, speak out, be the difference”.
I would also suggest readers check out a recent Joe Biden speech entitled “We, the People” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AqMnlNy-Ws
“We, the People, have the power to determine the future of our democracy”. American President Joe Biden
We, the People of Israel, have the power to determine the future of our country.