Events and Life Mindsets

Free fall

The world feels more than a little crazy at the moment. Relative to what 2020 has been so far, that’s saying a lot. Lately, I’ve felt a bit like we’re in free fall, pretending that the air rushing past us as we hurtle down is just a refreshing breeze on a Spring day. It’s almost as if we’re all desperately hoping it can be ok again, faking it until we make it (if we do).

Societies are in massive upheaval, and few politicians are making any real sense (again, relative to what they usually do).

Annexation?! Really?

Here in Israel, our Prime Minister is intent on annexing settlements in the West Bank (aka Judea and Samaria) next month. I imagine that reclaiming that territory for Israel is what most Zionists hope for, but does this really need to happen now, and like this?

Israel, like most of the world, is still reeling from the initial wave of COVID-19 infections, and we see the beginnings of what could be a second wave emerging from schools (that is horrifying in itself). Our economy took a serious knock when Israel went into a lockdown to try curtail the virus’ spread.

Most Israelis are more concerned about paying their bills, not dying from this virus, and trying to return to a semblance of normalcy (whatever that is now). And yet our Prime Minister is intent on dragging Israel into war with our neighbours, International condemnation, and even more strain on our society.

What’s pretty clear is that annexation will either utterly undermine Israel as a democratic, Jewish state by adding millions of unwilling Palestinians to Israeli governance, or create a 21st century Apartheid. Neither option is a recipe for our continued survival as a nation.

And why? Good question. I imagine the prospect of Donald Trump losing the November elections, and the USA’s current proposal that theoretically enables Israel to claim more territory being rescinded by a Democratic president is a factor for Netanyahu.

About the virus

When our restrictions started to ease, many Israelis started to behave as if the virus had magically vanished. People quickly forgot about physical distancing, washing hands, keeping gatherings small, wearing gloves … all the habits we started to learn during our lockdown.

I can understand the need to feel like things are normal again. At the same time, these are not normal times, and the virus didn’t go away.

We’re seeing new waves of infections, and this time they’re starting in schools. Teachers are not always enforcing Health Ministry rules about wearing masks, and maintaining a safe distance between kids. Heck, some teachers our our kids’ school don’t wear masks, and this only encourages kids who are reluctant to wear masks, not to do so.

The fact that these new waves of infections seem to be starting in schools is shameful.

It’s not kids that aren’t paying attention to the rules we still have to try limit the spread of the virus. I looked out our window on the weekend, and saw a gathering of a few families at a park near us. They were sitting close to each other, and weren’t wearing masks (wearing a mask on your chin doesn’t count).

Wearing masks is unpleasant, but so is the prospect of being sick with this virus. I just looked at this group, and shrugged.

We each do what we can, and many people still wear masks, give each other space when passing in the street, or on parks. I worry that it’s not enough, and that our bubble will burst soon, leading us back into another lockdown, and more devastating human losses.

Black and LGBTQ Lives Matter too

Outside our borders, it looks like the United States is in utter turmoil with a questionable response to COVID-19 in the first part of the year, and the explosion of outrage, and protest over deep-seated prejudice against people of colour, and people in the LGBTQ community (I’m probably making a mess of the community reference, so apologies for that).

It’s jarring to see how pervasive racism, sexism, and gender-based prejudice is in a country that holds itself out as a bastion of equality and freedom. Of course, this isn’t a disease in the United States. I am almost speechless about this display of misogyny here in Israel.

Still falling

With all of this going on, I can’t help but feel like I’m in free fall. Again. I’m not sure what I can do about any of this, except do my best to be present with what I’m feeling, look after my family, and do the best we can each day.

This may be our new normal, but it’s not ok. Things won’t be ok for a while. That will have to be ok for now, I guess.

Featured image by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Events and Life People Policy issues Politics and government

Stand against racism

The wave of violence spreading across the United States is shocking, even as the growing protests are understandable. It boggles my mind that this country, the “land of the free”, is still mired in deeply routed racism, and inequality.

Every society has its challenges, certainly. Israel is no different. We have divides of our own. Despite that, it’s up to each of us to move beyond those divisions.

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier:

It’s the 21st century, this shouldn’t still be an issue to fight for. Racial equality should be a given.

Many organisations are sharing ways that we can support the protests against inequality. Here’s a post from Automattic that you may find helpful: Support the Fight Against Inequality: Resources and Ways to Act – The Blog.

Featured image by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash


Daily Maverick reveals evidence of the Marikana Murders

Many of us remember the old days when the police vans were yellow and were manned by white men engaged in a racially-motivated campaign to dominate, control and oppress the majority racial group in this country. It was a dark time in this country’s history and one which we hoped was firmly in the past when Nelson Mandela’s release from prison inspired a non-violent and hopeful revolution, transforming South Africa into a multi-racial and multi-cultural nation. Back in the mid to late 1990s there was a lot of talk about a Rainbow Nation. We haven’t heard that talk for a while and, instead, South Africa has returned to a group mindset focused on our differences, rather than our common interests and humanity.

Rather than moving away from a split and unequal society towards a united nation, the borders between us have just been redrawn and cloaked with rhetoric, Struggle jargon and over-used words like “transformation”, “redistribution” and notions of persistent white control. It’s mostly bullshit designed to keep the uninformed voting population firmly in the pockets of whoever is keen to retain control over the country’s political and economic future but it works so we have a government that under-delivers, over-promises and keeps pointing to the modern equivalent of the old “Swart Gevaar” (or however the old National Party government referred to the spooky threats lurking in the darkness of the old South Africa).

The violence at Marikana is another reminder than we are far from the society Mandela’s ANC envisaged and the nation we hoped for almost 20 years ago. It is a reminder that the more some things change, the more they stay the same. It is a reminder that the current regime has forgotten what it fought for and that the pigs have just moved into the farmhouse. The Daily Maverick has an article today which reveals how the police at Marikana didn’t just fire in self-defence, some of the SAPS’ members cornered protesting miners away from the media at the scene and murdered them:

Some of the miners killed in the 16 August massacre at Marikana appear to have been shot at close range or crushed by police vehicles. They were not caught in a fusillade of gunfire from police defending themselves, as the official account would have it. GREG MARINOVICH spent two weeks trying to understand what really happened. What he found was profoundly disturbing.

Of the 34 miners killed at Marikana, no more than a dozen of the dead were captured in news footage shot at the scene. The majority of those who died, according to surviving strikers and researchers, were killed beyond the view of cameras at a nondescript collection of boulders some 300 metres behind Wonderkop.

After all this time, we really haven’t come very far at all. Sure, the miners were belligerent and the photos I have seen show the miners were armed with an assortment of weapons. I wouldn’t have wanted to be standing there facing them but there is a difference between containing a violent confrontation and hunting the protestors down and shooting them as they flee. That is what the old SAPD did under a National Party government. That is what we saw in a virtual police state. This is what this country is becoming.

Image credit: Apartheid – A Crime Against Humanity by United Nations Photo, licensed CC BY NC ND 2.0

Art Creative expression Politics and government

Spear to the heart

This Zuma painting debacle is becoming sickening. An artist paints a work that criticises the president and the response is outrage and an implicit insistence that the president is beyond reproach and criticism. Today two people protest the painting in a bold but non-violent protest by defacing it (and apparently ruining it) and their protest is met with violence by security which failed to prevent the defacement in the first place.

The irony is that the security guard’s response, while it’s probably what he is trained and paid to do, is a physical expression of what the ANC is trying to do in Court this week. Why didn’t the gallery take more proactive steps to protect the painting from an inevitable protest like this? This was foreseeable and there must have been ways to stop this from happening. Instead we have this violent response to a protest action where a camera just happened to be rolling (boy, that does seem a little contrived).

I certainly didn’t see the younger guy resisting the security guard or trying to evade capture. What I saw was a disproportionate response to an act that could have been avoided or certainly handled better.