Posts Tagged ‘politics’

An essay on being awesome – for my husband on his birthday

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Sometimes I get tired of flying the flag for feminism. Which I also find quite bizarre, because half the time I don’t feel like I’m arguing for feminism at all- it just seems like plain old common sense.

For several reasons I’ve been exposed lately to a lot of casual sexism. And I’m tired of talking, talking, talking, using such obvious facepalm logic to dispell people’s ridiculous arguments and MY GOD, how do these seemingly intelligent people spout this trash?

I used to try to explain about standpoint feminism as opposed to postmodern-feminism. Yeah, that went over really well. Now I try to keep it simpler – I explain what majority privilege means, about the right to bodily autonomy, I explain, talk, argue, explain.

I keep promising myself that next time someone (woman or man) says something idiotic like “Feminism has ruined everything” or I see a FB post saying “When women argue about xyz, they further the stereotype of all women being hysterical harpies” or I hear someone say something like “she was drunk, so partly responsible for her rape”, I’ll ignore the slap and the tiny adrenalin spike in my fingers, and figurately keep on walking. Because it’s not only tiring explaining to someone why (um, obviously) women have a right to a career, or that telling a woman when she offers an opposing opinion that she is being a typical, hysterical woman is actually the female equivalent of metaphorical castration, pretty much invalidating everything she says henceforth, or how ANYONE has the right to NOT BE penetrated unless said person, who is capable of giving consent, says some variation of “please, oh my God, yes”, but it’s also disheartening to realise that what seems to be obvious, common sense, the basis of decency and respect, is perceived as extreme. I don’t like being seen that way. I don’t like feeling sanctimonious, strident, lecturing. Worst of all, I’m often angry and dissappointed in myself for not just shutting up.

And then I come home. With Moran, I don’t feel opinionated, argumentative, extreme. This is the norm. We talk, debate, disagree, agree, argue. We often discuss politics, society, history, and what to make the girls for supper. I love how analytical and logical he is (although with a massive blindspot – coughmoneycough- that eludes all reason). He learned a long time ago that there is no point trying to argue dirty with me, like using pointless analogies to make a point (someone once said this to me: a woman is like a flower, and must be taken care of or she will die) because I will call that shit out.

He taught me not to make claims that I can’t back up (or at least to realise when I’m doing it) and to know when people are doing the same. He has shown me how to see things from the opposing POV. I used to hate it when he would play the devil’s advocate – now I enjoy the mental exercise. I keeps us sharp and allows us to analyze situations rationally from different angles.

These traits seemed so obvious to me – I mean, why wouldn’t he be like that? Why wouldn’t anyone be like that?

Nnow I see how exceptional he is. It can’t be easy to live with someone (man or woman) so opinionated, so full of impatience at the slowness of society to just bloody well catch up already with, well, logic and reason, so easily inflamed by casually-made, thoughtless comments, so obsessed with naval gazing. But he is (almost) always engaged, interested, ready to debate and discuss, agree or push back.

His intelligence, clarity and strength of conviction mean that he never feels threatened by me, in any way, and that is a relief. I don’t have to hold myself back, pretend to be less than what I am. Our life together is never dull – good, bad, but never dull. And he likes it that way. He is my biggest cheerleader.

Moran has taught me to be less petty and more understanding in my relationships with other people – to realize that we are all flawed, and that’s ok. When I’m down, frustrated, depressed, the things he says bring me up, up and out.

I have learned from him the value of taking responsibility, and saying sorry when I’ve done wrong.

And he loves us, his family, unconditionally. He was there for the <insert string of horrible adjectives here – they all pretty much fit) births of both our girls, and witnessed things that should not be spoken of. Ever. And his love, loyalty, and attraction to me has never waned. That’s exceptional.

He loves our girls more than anything in the world, and that brings me joy.

He is also really, really funny. His humor is just the right mixture of satire, quirk and pitch black darkness. And he laughs at my jokes a lot. Making Moran laugh, with his crinkly eyes and beautiful smile, is an awesome feeling.

After 13 years together, I am so grateful to be able to come home to him. He makes my world infinitely better and bearable in so many ways.

Happy birthday Moran.


It’s all about the numbers

May 19, 2011 2 comments

I have an American friend who loves Israel. She is neither Israeli nor Jewish, and she has really tried to educate herself about the country, the politics, the people. Her opinions are right wing and she sees things from a very biblical perspective. Most of her US and Israeli friends (both real and facebook) seem to share her views.

A couple of days ago she posted an article about the Israeli Arab protests on Nakba day. The comments that followed were along the lines of “throw them out” and “how dare they? They have equal rights in this country, education, medical services – now they bite the hand that feeds them?”

So. First off, who the hell are we kidding? While Israeli Arabs technically have equal rights under law, this is not how it actually plays out. Israeli Arabs experience all sorts of discrimination, and they are usually treated as second-class citizens. They get much lower budgets for education and infrastructure. They are consistently denied their rights, and it’s all done by the government and municipalities rather cleverly.

When I responded that it’s simply not true that Israeli Arabs have equal rights, things got really ugly. I continued to respond politely, quoting facts, suggesting that they do some research, but the responses to me for having the gall to suggest such a thing were…rabid (not from my friend, from her supporters).

The hard truth is that Israeli Arabs are treated by the majority of Israeli Jews as interlopers – unwanted citizens of OUR country. We just want them to be quiet and clean our homes and build our apartments. We need their labor. We like their humus. And we want them to STFU.

Israel, with its Jewish identity, poses a major problem for Israeli Arabs. How can they feel patriotic towards a flag that excludes them? Towards a country that does not want them?

Israeli Arabs also pose a real problem for Israel as a Jewish state– and it’s all about demographics. Here are the figures:

From Wikipedia: As of May 2011, the State of Israel has approximately 7,746,000 inhabitants. The State of Israel had population of approximately 7,746,000 inhabitants as of May 2011. 75.4% of them were Jewish (about 5,795,000 individuals), 20.4% were Arabs (About 1,571,000 individuals), while the remaining 4.3% (about 318,200 individuals) were defined as “others” (family members of Jewish immigrants who were not registered at the Interior Ministry as Jews, non-Arab Christians, non-Arab Muslims and residents who do not have a religious classification).

Almost a quarter of our country is not Jewish. And the Arabs having a higher birth rate. Simply put, at some point they are going to become the majority.

This issue has shaped Israeli policy and culture from the time the state was founded in 1948. I mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I are happy with our 2 girls, and don’t  plan on having more children. This is an anathema in Israeli society. We get lectured about this a lot. The average amongst my (secular, middle class) peers is 3 children. It’s not like the culture or state actually supports in any way families once they actually HAVE them (unless you are Haredi). We are still taxed up the bum and the cost of living here in one of the highest in the world, a direct result of lack of competition since our politicians are in the pockets of all the major companies in Israel.

But there is a lot of pressure to have children.

Fertility treatments in Israel are subsidized and are a fraction of the cost of treatments in other countries. I think this is a great thing – I’m just explaining why.

It’s also one of the reasons so much of the taxes I pay go to support Haredi families (another is the structure of our government, which results in smaller political parties having disproportionate power).

Trying to solve the demographic problem, we look to the religiously observant (BTW many haredim do not even believe in the State of Israel). Religiously observant Jews follow the biblical instruction to be fruitful and multiply, and they take it very seriously. The vast majority of haredim in Israel don’t work (and most don’t serve in the army). Yet they are supported by the state. Demographics.

Here’s the problem with looking to the Haredim to save us. Within the Jewish population they are growing fast. What happens if they become a majority? The ramifications for this country are massive. Economically, we will collapse. As the Haredi sector grows, the working middle class will simply not be able to shoulder the burden. Once they have their parties in power, the fragile (in some areas, depending on who is running which ministry, non-existent) line between religion and state will cease to exist. Like I said, many Haredim do not even believe in the State of Israel. How will that factor into the equation?

This is a disastrous scenario.

The other scenario is where Israeli Arabs become a majority at some point and come into power. It sure would sound nice if I were to say that I would have no problem with that, cause everything will be hunky dory and you know, fair.  Except that if I hazard a glance at our neighboring Arab states,  I can’t help but notice that they don’t exactly have such a great track record in terms of human rights, economies, democracy, education, moderation, women’s rights, separation of religious and state…for a start.

And while it’s certainly not the liberal thing to say – I want to live in Israel that has a Jewish identity.  I want the Star of David on our flag (although I really wouldn’t mind some other symbols up their as well). So go ahead, call me a Zionist.

But I also want Israeli Arabs to have equal rights, and I want them to have a feeling of belonging. I want foreigners to be able to come here as refugees from the horrors of their countries and be able to make a life for themselves and their children. I want freedom of speech. I want real democracy.

So what’s the solution?

Honestly? It beats me.