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Friday, 7 December 2018

The Jewish Laws of Xmas Trees

If Jewish readers can still feel their ribs after approximately six days of scoffing doughnuts - I can't - then the following rant by US comedian ELON GOLD will tickle them ever onwards until next Monday night.

Shabbat shalom and Chanucah sameach.

Natalie Wood (07 December 2018)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Why Karmiel Women Wasted Their Lucky Strike!

There are 120 seats in the Karmiel Municipality auditorium and today each one was filled, with more people sitting on adjacent steps facing the stage.

It was gratifying to see a full noon-time house of local women along with some men, including new Mayor Moshe Koninsky, helping to protest against apparent government indifference to the current, unprecedented and ever-escalating violence against women throughout Israeli society.

But those present wasted a golden opportunity. Today's Karmiel town hall crowd was like a metaphor for the 120 Members of the Knesset who enjoy the sound of their own voices bouncing off the four walls of the debating chamber, but have delivered barely 10% of a promised NIS 250M towards women’s shelters, extra help hotlines, additional manpower for police investigations into domestic violence and generally heightened public awareness of the ever-worsening problem.

This was an official timed strike, protesting most immediately against the 24 murders in 2018 - an average of two per month - of women in circumstances of extreme domestic violence and abuse.

Naila Awwad, head of the Association of Women Against Violence, has said that the proportion of Arab women murdered is double that of the general population and that ten of the slain women were Arabs.

But for those left to grieve, the phenomenon is simply a matter of degree and many reading this will surely confirm that the same inherent evil bedevils all strata of every society, be it here in Israel or anywhere else on the globe.

So why did the Karmieli protestors venture onto the municipality concourse only for a hasty photo-call? Why did they meet indoors away from public view unlike those publicising the same issue some weeks ago, who met outside the busy Lev Karmiel shopping mall on Sderot Nesei'ei Yisrael?

As we left the auditorium well before the meeting ended, a fellow Anglo retiree voiced a general feeling when she commented that a demonstration should always be outdoors, not only to publicise the relevant cause but to educate other people to its value.

How can that be achieved behind closed doors?

I - we - returned home very disappointed.

Natalie Wood (04 December 2018)

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Reality Behind Personal Jew Hate?

Jew HatePeople who have been astounded and appalled by what happened this week to Anglo-Jewish media lawyer, Mark Lewis will be confounded further by the experience of US historian Audrey Truschke who has been similarly bombarded by online anti-Jewish attacks. The difference is that she is not Jewish!

While Lewis was heavily penalised at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing for responding in kind to several years of the vilest possible antisemitism on social media, Professor Truschke, an expert in South Asian history has been the “target of vicious personal attacks on the basis of my perceived race, gender, and religion”.

As the assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University–Newark, New Jersey and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, California, Professor Truschke says:

“Two years ago, I awoke to the following tweet, “I hope another Hitler comes back and finishes off your people”, accompanied by a picture from 1945 of the bodies of dead Jews piled outside a liberated concentration camp. Since then, I have been regularly attacked with antisemitic language and tropes on social media, especially on Twitter”.

The reasons for the two sets of attacks appear to be poles apart.

Lewis, who is soon to emigrate to Israel, is a high-profile lawyer whose work against ‘phone-hacking’ helped to close the long established News of the World newspaper. Truschke, however, believes she is a victim of India’s contemporary ‘cultural wars’ between Muslims and Hindu nationalists and that the unwonted attacks stem in part from her work about the 18th century Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Truschke labours under an added burden that would resonate with Lewis and all lawyers anywhere. She claims that there is little freedom of speech in Indian law compared to that in the US and writes that the “Indian government bans books, on both federal and state levels.

“In addition, in the last few decades, American scholars have been subjected to lawsuits on the basis of their academic work and vigilante campaigns of violence. A chief concern, legally, is section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises insults to religious feelings done with deliberate and malicious intent”.

Here I add my own layperson’s view: The sort of deep down dirty racial hatred experienced by both Lewis in the UK and Truschke in the US and India is often used as leverage – and a cover - for something yet bigger and still more nasty.

As a schoolkid I once opened my (old-fashioned) desk to find the words ‘Go Home Jew’ scrawled inside the lid. I knew who wrote the words. They were not about antisemitism but personal animus.

So I conclude by asking both Lewis and Truschke to reflect on what professional jealousies their respective work and achievements may have engendered and who and what is really behind those hideous attacks.

Who, for example, would envy Audrey Truschke enough to engineer the cancellation of a public lecture in India?

Further, which individual would point the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority in the direction of Mark Lewis’s social media activity over a period of several years? Surely not notorious neo-Nazis, more likely those who had hoped this week’s hearing would have resulted not simply in a fine but a total ban, thus preventing his involvement in major pending cases.

I now await all developments in the above matters with concerned and sympathetic interest.

** At the time of posting this piece, neither Professor Truschke nor Mr Lewis had responded to my attempts to discuss the above.

© Natalie Wood (28 November 2018)

Saturday, 24 November 2018

They Exist. But Only Just!

A whimsical travel feature in India Today advises readers not to visit the mountain beauty spot of Ladakh.
Correspondent Samonway Duttagupta says the locale is remote and that India boasts far prettier destinations. What’s more, it is overcrowded, everything there is ridiculously expensive and much worse – the climate can become cold enough to cause ill-health and even death.
I Exist_But he does not describe the large numbers of Kashmiri Muslims who have migrated to the area and whose growing presence has adversely affected the centuries-old Buddhist traditions of those born there. Inevitably, the women are most badly treated and have been brutally shoved to the bottom of the social heap.
So much emerges from Shirani Rajapakse’s A Chill Flew across the Mountains, the penultimate tale in her short story collection, **I Exist. Therefore I Am.
There is never a good moment to read a book like this and several times I delayed posting my review as I found more and more comparisons between the domestic serfdom that Sri Lankan Rajapakse’s fictional characters endure and the oppressed reality for too many women worldwide.
Believe me: it does not happen only in dramatic fashion to forced labourers in Uzbekistan or Yazidi sex slaves. It occurs over and again every which way in modern democracies like the UK or even Israel where following the murder of a Netanya housewife by her husband – a police officer – nationwide public demonstrations were held urging action to stop violence against women.  KARMIEL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN PROTEST03
But I was distressed to note that the protests did not embrace the sort of non-physical but public humiliation meted to some female members of the religious Zionist B’nei Akiva youth movement, whose staged dance performance at a recent event in Katsrin near the Golan Heights was allegedly blacked out for spurious reasons of ‘modesty’.
I was also dismayed that the one woman who actively campaigned to be Karmiel’s new mayor was absent from the local demonstration.
Why did this well-known woman city councillor appear so indifferent to domestic abuse? Was her personal background to blame?
It is often noted that the affairs of the Jewish Diaspora and Israeli communities are a reflective microcosm of what happens outside. Should the answer to the conundrum therefore be the same as to that posed at the heart of Rajapakse’s book?
Why, as we near the close of the eighteenth year of the 21st century and vast numbers of us enjoy the countless advantages that implies, are so many young adult women still bound by antiquated tribal traditions of land, property and paternalism?
More important: why are these outmoded, unwritten laws sustained with such ferocity by family matriarchs so haunted by personal status that they despise the births and then continuing presence of any infant girls?
Must they be reminded of the difficulty of producing future generations without them?
In her introduction, Rajapakse cites a June 2018 global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation that ‘ranked India as the most dangerous country in the world for women’. No-one will deny that it has plenty of stiff competition!
She also refers to the December 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandeh (variously nicknamed ‘Nirbhaya’ and ‘Damini’) and other Jyoti Singh Padney.similar incidents that may have helped to change Indian law. But legislation has never altered constitutional prejudice. Only time and patience will do that. 
** I Exist. Therefore I Am is available at Amazon on Kindle ($7.99) and Paperback ($15.99).
© Natalie Wood (24 November 2018)

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Welcome: It’s Now ‘Avir Bayit M’Bayit’!

AIRBNB, the international short-term homes’ rental giant appears to have caved into pressure from the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions lobby.

But I suggest we waste no time, not one en of space bleating about this nonsense. Let's instead recall what happened when French telecoms giant Orange tried the same trick a few years ago.

Mouldy Orange soon morphed into Partner (formerly Orange) - Cellular Israel. So I suggested that any and all Jewish Israelis offering accommodation wherever they may live simply ignore AIRBNB and reinvent themselves under a new trading name like 'Avir Bayit M'Bayit' - ‘Air Home from Home’.

Like my idea?

Please share it!

© Natalie Wood (20 November 2018)

Thursday, 8 November 2018

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘For Jew and Country’

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘For Jew and Country’: T his is my contribution to the current World War 1 Armistice Day centenary commemorations. It is a short story written by my late mother, S...