Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
The IDF killed a dangerous man with blood on his hands. In reaction- hundrends of missals are being shot from Gaza to Israeli cities.
This is how children of south- Israel spent their Purim vacation, and now they can’t go back to school and hang out with their friends. Families spend days and nights in shelters, knowing stepping outside means taking a risk.
Isn’t it exactly what those who see Israel as a killing machine are protesting against? Killing innocent people for no apparent reason?
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March 11, 2012 | 11:44 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
I love Oscar week. There is something about it that makes me wake up with a smile on my face and carry that feeling with me until I fall asleep.
Usually I am more of an Emmy kind of girl, but the past couple of years, I just get so excited once the Academy Awards nominees are announced. I don’t really care who wins what (as opposed to the Emmy’s) - I just embrace the atmosphere. This year was Israel’s tenth nomination ever for Best Foreign Film, and the fourth in my lifetime.
A million words (or a thousand photos, if you like) cannot describe the special vibe that goes through every single Israeli once the nominations are announced. All the news channels stop focusing on Iran, the drought of the Kinneret and the climbing gas prices, and for a few weeks focus on honoring the Israeli artistic creators and performers. Newspaper headlines are brightly colored. There are special interviews and much reminiscing about past Israeli nominations.
For a few weeks- Israel is at its prime. It is almost magical, the way everybody unites for one cause: to honor Israeli culture. Suddenly people find themselves going to the cinema to watch Israeli films instead of the new Mission Impossible; going to see a play instead of partying at a nightclub; purchasing the new Shalom Chanoch album, instead of the new Glee soundtrack… Most importantly, the Oscars have the effect of making peace among ourselves. It is as if all of our differences seem irrelevant. Religious, secular, eastern, western, rich, not so rich; we all get together for one cause - supporting Israeli creation.
I remember the last time I had this feeling. It was last summer. After five years of struggle, Gilad Shalit returned home. All Israel got together for a shared cause. We all wanted to see our son, our brother, reunited with his family. Every single Israeli saw Gilad as a part of his/her own family, and that public pressure was the main reason Netanyahu agreed at last to the release deal.
Those moments of togetherness make me feel proud of my small country. We are many different people coming from different places, all living on a very small piece of land. Most of the time we are divided into a million different opinions - until something like an Academy Award nomination comes along. Then, suddenly, we are no longer the divided society. We are all Israeli.
The day after we lost the golden, handsome man, politics once again reared its ugly head. An Iranian source was quoted as saying: “This is the first step of Israel’s doom”. I even heard people blaming our loss on Anti- Semitism. Well, here we go again…The Hollywood pixie dust fades away and the world keeps spinning. To my personal opinion, but it is just me, Iran won because their movie was better than the Israeli one. Not because they may or may not have a bigger nuclear weapon. Well, I guess there’s always next year…
March 8, 2012 | 3:32 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
The Israeli Apartheid week is now at its peak. I write this sentence, and something about these words being put together simply doesn’t fit.
“Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of university lectures and rallies held in February or March.” According to the organization “[t]he aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement”. This is what Wikipedia has to say about this official week.
Just so I’ll make sure I understood Wiki correctly: Once a year, people come together in order to make the world hate us even more. They give lectures and protest at Universities for what is instinctively defined as an apartheid system being held towards the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
It makes me feel helpless, reading about these events and not being able to protect my country. People who don’t have the slightest clue about what’s been going on here feel free to use severe, painful words and make terrible accusations and shocking comparisons. Apartheid? Really? I sometimes wonder if the people who take part in those events ever visited Israel. It seems to me like those people sit at home, watch the news (which, as we all know, is not always so objective) and go on a crusade. Things here are far from perfect, but there is a long way from “imperfect” to “apartheid”. Using such an intense phrase will only make things worse. Not better.
The situation in Israel can replace the existing dictionary definition of the word “complicated”. Every Israeli citizen is well aware of this complexity, and most of us feel clueless every day as the daily paper arrives. Ever since I started my Political Science studies I’ve become even more confused. But with all this mess, one thing I know for sure: the world isn’t black and white. It can’t be. There are bad things that happen all the time, all over the world. Our leaders are forced to make difficult decisions every single day, decisions to which many object (the American army in Afghanistan is in fact a case in point). Not all decisions Israeli leaders made throughout the years were the right ones, and Israel sometimes has too much pride to admit a mistake. But the thing is that these mistakes are hardly being made. Most of the decisions being made by our leaders are logical and rational. Even though they sometimes seem like they should enter the Guinness Book of Records for “most stupid”. The situation here is so fragile that every single move can be perceived as completely wrong to one of the sides of the conflict. This, I’m afraid, can never change.
The problem as I see it is that we don’t give you, the American Jews, the right tools to handle all the hate being held against us. You don’t have all the information we have, and the only thing you can rely on are the international news. I guess this is why I wanted to write this blog so badly- to show you the Israel I know. To give you a different perspective of everything that’s going on here and eventually being twisted into accusations that break my heart.
I had the incredible opportunity to take part of an international conference held in Israel last month and hear Malcolm Hoenlein—one of the most famous Jewish figures in the United States. He said something that I carry with me every day, in every conversation I have with my American friends. He said that the only way we can put an end to this twisted hatred is to work together: Israelis and Jewish diaspora. Only by cooperating we can help migrate the misunderstanding about the situation in Israel. If us, Israelis, put everything on the table for you to get a better understanding, without hiding a thing, and you will spread the word and rationally debate those who make false accusation towards us—only then—we may be able to show the world a different, more correct, perspective.
Nowadays, a powerful counter-force to Israel’s haters at the States doesn’t exist. There are few against many. Israel is a remarkable example for a few against many. We’ve won many battles against bigger, greater armies, just like David was able to beat Goliath. But now we play a different game. We are fighting the Media War, where the recognition you get depends directly on the amount of people supporting your cause. We can still win this war. All we have to do is unite. This is our chance to show the world something different. This is our chance to stand up to false accusations instead of hiding behind them.
My friends and I are powerless to the Israeli Apatheid week and similar events, but you and your friends are not. Standing still is agreeing. Disagree.
March 6, 2012 | 2:17 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This past November, the world chose the new Seven Wonders of the World. The Dead Sea, located in Israel, was a leading nominee throughout the voting period, but eventually came 14th place. Israel is well known for its geographic location, and thus for its military and political actions. Sometimes I think this is the only reason people know of our existence. Honestly, this is a shame, for Israel is the one of the most unique places on earth, and a very small percentage of the world population is aware of it. Israel is mostly perceived as this teeny-tiny piece of land that for some odd reason people are fighting for. I heard of a research that was held a couple of years ago. Those who were behind it gathered a group of people of many nationalities and opinions, and asked them to describe an Israeli home. “The man of the house opens the door. The wife and kids are not allowed to leave the house, because it is dangerous outside,” they said. To the question: what color is most common in this environment? The common answer was: grey. The house and its environment are made of concrete. There are only cities. Barely forests. The society was described as very old fashioned and non-modern and the landscape was described as boring. When I heard about this research, the only word that came to mind was: really?!
Israel is the most fascinating place on earth! Where else can you find such a small piece of land with so many different landscapes? Within only 22,072 square kilometers (about 1/7 of Geogria’s territory) one can find various kinds of landscapes that cannot be found all together in any other country in the world. We have deserts, and one snowy mountain. We have three very different types of settlements (City, Moshav and Kibbutz). There are beaches and craters. There are mountains and valleys, archaeological findings and nightclubs. Where else can you find simply everything? So many sceneries, so many unique views. We have the most unique combination between the holy and the secular. Between silence and voices. Between old and new.
The world may see Israel as a grey, boring place. Where blood is spilled in vain and where it is not safe to leave the house. Many people choose not to visit Israel because of that.
I go outside every day. Once a month I go on a trip, mostly up north. A one hour drives for some green, city-free air. This monthly trip is my way of relaxation. One or two days where I take a break from everything, but still a phone call and an hour drive away from home. When I feel like getting a tan, I pick up my friends, and we drive for 20 minutes to the closest beach. When I feel like shopping ‘till I drop, I drive to Eilat for the weekend. A six hour drive for shopping without having to pay taxes. When I feel like connecting to my religion, I drive for 45 minutes to Jerusalem.
When It’s too cold outside- I drive to Yehuda desert. When it’s too hot outside- I drive to the snowy Mount. Hermon.
But sometimes I don’t feel like going anywhere. I sit at home, reading an article about the new Seven Wonders of the World, and think to myself: There’s no place like home…