jewin' the fat


Top Ten: The Zionist Conspiracy

In honour of the biggest Zionist day in the calendar year this week, here’s a tribute to the ten or so biggest Zionist-stereotypes, all of whom claiming to hold the key to what a ‘true’ Zionist really is. The reality is, at the end of the day, that Zionism is not a political theory, power conspiracy nor a policy of a government (as detractors/hacks/ignoramuses may assume), it is an ideology which is inherently personal, and interpreted by the individual to facilitate self-determination as a member of the Jewish people.

As it turns out, a bunch of those Jew-Individuals got together a couple hundred years ago and, determined to do more than argue with each other on the value of a state for Jews or a Jewish state, actually set about creating it.

It is neither the plot of the 8th Harry Potter novel, 'Harry Potter and the Zionist Conspiracy to take over the world with superior money-handling skills and uber-developed business acumen mu-ha-ha-ha-hacking-cough-ha-ha!" (HT @ Diaryofanelderofzion.blogspot.com : he's a Zionist - he knows!)

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Under-estimated and Under-age
April 8, 2010, 10:03 AM
Filed under: Comment, Jewish Community | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I remember sitting in early morning Prayers in high school, a quietly fuming 14 years old and one detention note closer to threatening to turn the whole institution on its head. No, I wasn’t the kid who called in bomb threats to get out of History exams, nor was I the student who lit the computer room on fire, or the idiot who stood on a chair to get the teacher’s frayed attention and stuck his hand in the fully operational ceiling fan. They were the best of times and the worst of  times …  

Nope. I was a rebel with a cause, and that cause was the hypocrisy I could smell on every teacher in every carpet in every classroom. My school reeked of it, and I recall this morning in morning prayers because that is when I came face-to-face with the woman whose hypocrisy went so deep, even Easy-Off BAM’s poor example of grammar couldn’t have scrubbed it out. Looking back it was a simple matter of insubordination – a refusal to a direct order to open a prayer-book. But I stuck it out, protesting the inadequacy of prayer recited without proper intention, and made an offer of silent meditation in its place. My peace-offering rebuffed, I went to that afternoon detention with a smile on my face, content in the knowledge that I had stood up for what was right, and not submitted to what was expected.Lo and behold, over a decade later, I am (sadly) shocked to happen upon the same stench, thick and repulsive, all these years later. It’s still just as offensive, and although I am an adult, with power, influence and killer letter-writing skills, I can still feel the rage of underage subjection and underestimation stinging my senses.  

Except that this time, it isn’t happening to me.  It’s happening to other vulnerable, underrepresented young JC. And that is something I cannot abide.

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The Odd Couple of days
February 27, 2010, 5:07 PM
Filed under: Comment, Identity | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I found myself recently on a road trip, heading down the beautiful south coast with a ragtag bunch of friends and acquaintances. Amongst us were 2 Labor hacks, 1 PhD student, an Ethiopian immigrant, a Torres Strait Islander, a couple of Catholics and a range of couples, singles, old flings and potential new ones, as well as a guy who seemed to relish every opportunity to point out that myself and one other in the group were Members of the Tribe – though he didn’t see fit to put it as politely as that.

But I suppose, it was kinda my fault anyway. I did discuss it with my fellow Heeb – that is, our general Heebi-jeebiness. More specifically, after a few months MIA, I was interested to find out about his life, including his non-Jewish girlfriend, and how he was dealing with the clashes in belief and religious practice (she is an atheist). Perfect pre-dinner conversation. It started meekly enough, but before we knew it, it seemed everyone had an opinion on our musings, and were being quite vocal in their appreciation, or in this guy’s case, disgust. Then we entered the twilight zone, and bizarre-0-man provided the ultimate conversation buzz-kill:

My Grandmother warned me about people like you”. (Me? I thought? what, conservative? Opinionated? Pseudo Feminist? Middle Class? Sorry?)“She warned me about Jews. Don’t Trust ’em.”

The next day was shite. More rain, rain and rain. Good thing there was take-away fish and chip shop, Rugby Union on TV and a stack of board games, including Monopoly. (side note: I am not an avid Monopoly player. I am not interested in investment, and am far more likely to be seen frittering my wealth away on rent and chance cards, landing myself in Debt and in Jail. Now Risk. There’s a game for me!) So we settled in to play. Someone nominated me as the Bank, mostly because I was sitting closest to the board and already mesmerised by the pretty colours. And away we went! Soon it became clear that Jew 2 and I had put  a foot wrong, and not because we both were hemorrhaging money faster than Lehmann Brothers.  Rather because we were so unwilling to give up without a fight for our precious coloured paper.

“Ah, the Jews are out in force today … you guys should be good at this, you know, gouging people for rent … Jews hate to lose money …Yeah you love money … well, it is what they were born to do …”

Now once again, perhaps we had led them down the garden path a bit – you know, played along, laughed it off. Pretended the 7th or 8th jibe didn’t sting far more than the 1st or 2nd. Well eventually I went bankrupt (I told you), and it was with a sigh of relief and a deep sense of gratitude to whomever bought me out and let me escape to check my Gmail. Out of the fry pan and into the fire.

After the Rugby, it was dinner time and the hordes were hungry. We shopped, cooked and feasted, and while we sat around drinking wine, licking our fingers and picking at leftovers, someone brought up the unusual topic of hazing, on university campuses. So I thought ‘hey, I’m amongst friends, a little sharing never hurt’, and offered my experience as an executive member of a Jewish university Campus group, and the spectacle we presented to the first-year group which involved four heads of campus in Sydney, our hands tied behind our back, and an apple that had to be eaten. Again, within an instant, my story about consensual adult public fruit-eating  has turned into a travesty of sexual rights and abuses, and I was being accused of being just as bad Nazis for forcing honest, hard-working Germans to vote for them in 1936.

WHAT THE DEUTSCHMARK?!

Now, I could have reminded this human-rights defender about the history of pre-war Germany, and still bristling with the desire to stick my fork in his leg and his fresh t-bone up his nose, my Jew-in-arms came to be defense, but without much effect. Apparently asking consenting adults to engage in harmless, though messy showboating for the amusement of 18 year olds is akin to supporting a dictatorship with genocidal tendencies. Thanks for bring that to my attention. Oh silly me. Isn’t my face red now, hmm?

In an effort to stop my outrage bubbling into violence, I busied myself with cleaning up, while more wine was poured, and the group wound up covered in chocolate and eating nectarine slices. Happy families indeed. The next day it was home time and I woke early to make it down to the beach for a swim before everyone woke up. As I got dressed upon my return, I noticed a familiar black white and red poking out of my bag. ‘Must’ve been her Nazi voting instruction manual’, I hear you surmise.

Nope. It was my rip-off I Heart Israel T-shirt, bought in Occupied Palestine with a serious dose of Irony and Zionism, no less. I threw it on indifferently and as I rolled up the sleeves, I realised why my anger had suddenly dissipated. I could have called this guy any number of names under the sun, most of them a reference to his lack of understanding, knowledge or appreciation of culture, history and sensitivity. I could have called him out on his disrespectful language, tone and reference, how he, as an Indigenous Australian should understand the danger of antiquated, unsubstantiated prejudice and baseless bigotry.

But it all melted away. I let it go. Because you can wear your heart on your sleeve and your identity with shame, or pride, or joy or irony or contentment. The point is, you get to choose,  no one else. No matter what they call you.

PostScript: We have booked another escape for an upcoming long weekend to that same gorgeous spot of southern coastline, and we have instituted a strictly non-negotiable ‘no bigot’ policy. That’s right. This time, this Jewess gets to choose who comes along for the ride. And I’m calling shotgun.



Older and/or Wiser

First things first – Happy New Year y’all. Here’s hoping that resolutions were made and broken, champagne glasses emptied and dignity lost in the fun and fury. It’s 2010, and we are officially living in a sci-fi novel – Brave New World indeed.

Secondly, an apology – I have let life, love and living get in the way of blogging. Especially because, if you weren’t aware, I’ve been Mid-East side for the past month or so. And in among all the crazy, I have let slide this little venture. … Mostly because I didn’t want to spill Jameson on my lap top. And despite being in the thick of it, with a million and one things to write reams and reams about, to put it simply, I’m on holiday, and cbf. So Sorry.

But then again, it has been a fairly decent while in cyber-terms, so here’s my resolution. I will make a concerted effort to not be a lazy ass, and get back on the blogging-bandwagon. Starting now.

2009 was a memorable year. It taught us the value of money, once we lost it, and the stupidity of trusting financial institutions. It also taught us that hiding $1 million in a mattress can backfire. It began with a bang that shook Gaza, and is still shaking the world, and ended with a silence on Darfur that is deafening.

 2009 was brought to you by the colour Green, and Twitter became (and still is) the protest medium of choice for thousands of young Iranians. 2009 was the year Australian politics got (mildly) interesting – and the first year an Abbott and a Bishop ruled the Liberal Party. It was also the year that his Honour, the Honorable Honorary Jew himself, Malcolm Turnbull, found himself out on his ass (but still with that amazing BRW Richest 200 fortune to fall back on), Nathan Rees locked us out of parliament, and the year Kristina Keneally found the spare set of keys.

Melbourne trains got an overhaul, Brendan Fevola got pissed and lost his shit at the Brownlows, and Nate Myles got pissed and actually took a shit in a hotel corridor. The British Supreme Court ruling against the Jewish Free School told us how to be Jewish, and John Safran’s Race Relations showed us how to be crude – ish.

Settlements, Satire, Sexting and Sagging – we remember 2009. Another year older, but not necessarily wiser. Except for Ron Weiser. That guy is a champion.



I’m dreaming of a Crunk Christmas
December 27, 2009, 10:21 AM
Filed under: Comment, Israel | Tags: , , , , ,

There is nothing like experiencing religious fervour in Jerusalem. Home of the Jerusalem Sydnrome (wiki Wiki wiki), and the world’s greatest neighbourhood scrapfight, it is the place to be for the spiritually inclined and religiously observant.

And so what better place to ring in the birth of Jesus Christ than the City of Peace itself? As an Australian Jew, Christmas was long understood as a means to drag one more public holiday outta the government under the guise of religion, while spending the eve of said holiday getting tanked at the Greengate Hotel, then eating a fully kosher Christmas lunch, and lying on a secluded beach, with the rest of the Jewish population of Northern Sydney.

 

It was obvious that this was not going to be one of those festive holidays. For starters, it was cold, and rather than sprawled on their couch with the fan turned up to ‘Max’ sleeping off the food-coma, people were rugged up and streaming through the streets, with one destination in mind. The Old City.

So after finishing up Sheva Brachot at my girl D, we got our ‘jacket’ on, and made a beeline for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the heart of the Old city, which was closed. FAIL. Next best was Christ Church (originality abounded), a messianic Church, filled to bursting with earnest pilgrims seeking spiritual enlightenment, and some festive cheer. Then there was our rag-tag group of 11 – seeking spiritual SLR shots and festive cheers (in liquid form). So after a bit of Psalm-singin’ and Photo-flashin’, we made a sharp about-turn, and headed back into the city to seek a more … traditional christmas fare. After the first couple of bars, and several shots later, I met a frum friend of mine, and we made our way to Gan Sacher , a huge park near the entrance to the city. A friend of mine was DJing a local rave, known for its propensity to incite local police with breaks, beats and debauchery. Did I mention it was in a tunnel?

Needless to say, the night was a rollicking success, and after several hours of pounding musical ecstasy, it came time to retire to the comfort of a friend’s place for an ecstasy of an entirely different variety. what a way to celebrate a birthday.

This is me, signing off, so have a Merry Christmas Bitches, and a Happy Freakin’ New Year!



I’m leaving on a jet plane
November 30, 2009, 8:49 AM
Filed under: Comment, Israel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Travelling to Israel is a pretty heady thing, from the longer-than-long-haul flight, to the change in hemisphere, time-zone, season, language, civility, politics, religion, lifestyle – Just touching down and finding one’s way to a bed to sleep off the jet lag is no small feat.

After a few trips, spanning almost two years in total, I am going back for more – previous posts on Israel and travel have no doubt provided a snapshot of things to do, see and experience over there, but while packing for this particular trip, I found something that jogged my memories. A little slip of paper that took me back to a Jerusalem bank queue, where I scribbled down all the things that had made my year so unforgettable.

And now, a year older, but not so much wiser, I find myself looking back, wondering how much will have changed, and how much will have remained the same. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a little reminder of why I keep coming back.

So here they are: Things I will miss

Thongs in bars – My Thongs – Mike’s Place – Gilli – Alex – Alex 2 – Hebrew – The US Consulate guys – Jager bombs – Walking everywhere – Daniel’s sense of humour – Shmee’s Breakfasts – Sitting with a beer and salad with Shachar – My Jenny – Blues Music – Being a Whore with Jenny – eating Iraqi food with Daniel in the Shuq – Selichot at midnight at the Kotel – Sleeping on Shachar’s couch – The view out over Jerusalem – Pesach at Dan – Shabbat Sirens – Deserted Streets on a Saturday – The Muezzin’s call on the way home from work – Telling Eefke about my latest conquest – Shuq shopping – Shabbat at the Shorer family – Shabbat at the Dov family – Ori making fun of my shoes – Learning the bus routes – Lusting over clothes in Mamila – Breakfast at the Rupin – Complaining about work with Jill – Tel Aviv Summer Days – Jerusalem Summer Nights – The Bolinat on a Friday – Arguing with Zak about money/politics/religion etc. – More Blues music – My Tan – Kareoke at Eefke – 20 NIS Jerusalem <-> Tel Aviv Shirut – Watching the sun rise 4 days a week – living in Rehavia – The Beach – Tiyulim – After work drinks – 24 hour breakfast with the boys – Hanging with Whitney eating hot wings – The Crazy Landlord – Ben in uniform – Purim – Playing hostess – Picnics in Gan Haatzmaut with my girls – Playing tour guide – Housewarmings



Jew is as Jew does

We knew it would happen eventually, and you know what they say – when the shit hits the fan, everyone gets covered in it.

I’m talking of course about the imminent ruling of the Supreme Court in Britain, regarding the case of a Jewish boy who was born to an Orthodox Jewish father, and Progressive Jewish mother (a Convert). This boy, whom the courts have dubbed ‘M’, was denied enrolment to the Jewish Free School (JFS) in London, on account of the fact that the school adheres to a strict Orthodox-only enrolment policy. ‘M”s parents decided to sue on the grounds of racial discrimination, and so we find ourselves waiting with bated breath for the ruling that could change the very way we define ourselves, and our community as Jewish, right here in Australia.

Jewish

Up until now this has been protected by the laws in the UK governing religious freedoms, especially in running educational institutions. Now whatever you believe about the validity of a school operating for the youth of a particular religion, this case is basically proposing that rather than a religion, being Jewish is purely a blood-line – a ‘race’.  

In fact, this case goes to the very fibre of what a ‘Jew’ is in our contemporary society – a race, ethnicity, culture, nation, religion – and whether it is possible to have our cake and eat it too. 

I’ll begin with a story. As with most great stories, this is a tale follows a simple and popular narrative structure.

There is a boy. He meets a girl. At a summer camp for young (Jewish) people. Needless to say, by the end of the camp, they are smitten, and they begin to date. He is a good Jewish boy, from a nice family in Sydney’s north, and she is a sweet, funny Jewess from the south-East of the city. The relationship barrels along, sparks fly, plans are made and before you know it, he is on one knee on a beach proposing they spend forever together.

Except that Mother didn’t tell her daughter that when she married the girl’s father, she was impatient, in love and ill prepared for the tumult of Orthodox conversion. So she converted as a Reform Jew. And that her Orthodox-educated, raised and believing daughter, according to Halacha, is one too.

Now at this point, the story shifts focus, and for many, it becomes a crash course in choose-your-own-adventure – something that many are not prepared for at all. I mean, she was from the right side of the tracks – hell, she could even be more observant than he is, but it changes little in terms of the strict Halacha that governs these situations. And again, agree or not with the Jewish law, this is a purely religious standard, for those who wish to abide by it.

But what about civil liberties? Where is the space in this paradigm for human rights? The ability of a citizen of a country to choose his or her own destiny, regardless of their race, religion, class, sex or sexual orientations? Recent calls by prominent Muslim community spokesperson, Keysar Trad to integrate Shariah Law into the Victorian legal system were met with anger and condemned as being an affront to the very independence and multilateralism of justice. For all. Imagine if the laws governing Jewish marriage, death, divorce – were all suddenly absorbed into a secular, national system, and overruled by it. It will destroy a system that thrives in its separation of church and state.

Australians are beholden to a justice system steeped in British traditions, as according to our history as a former British colony. Our government system, our past times, eating habits – even the Jewish community in Australia looks to the London Beth Din to dictate the terms of Orthodoxy, and rule of matters of Jewish life and law.

So what happens if the British Supreme Court rules in ‘M”s favour?

Well, no doubt it’s decision would need to be accepted by the London Beth Din, and changes made to the JFS accordingly. It means that the right to define who is a Jew is taken away from the community, and given to the courts, in direct contradiction to the human rights of the individual to practise their religion freely and without prejudice.

It means for Australian Jewish schools, clubs and organisations, precedents are being set removing the autonomy of the institution, and the religious structure of the Australian community may begin to erode. It means that while our claim as a nation may be upheld, our religious rights as Jews may not be.

It means that the rights of the individual are protected in law, above and beyond the rights of the community. Unlike other peoples, Jews have ensured their survival over millenia through the power of tzdaka, the importance of tikkun olam and the power of the many, over the self-interest of the few. It would be a shame to start now.

It also means that for Australians, we may have to accept that being a Jew is no longer just an ethno-culture or religion, but strictly defined by the word ‘race’, a concept created by those groups who would have seen Jews eradicated – and almost did.

And that is something I, and you, and even those still perched on the fence,  should not be forced to abide.