Monday, April 23, 2018

Natalie, Netanyahu, and Narishkeit.

There's nothing like locking the door and heading to the airport the day after 19.5" of snow....then coming home to 60°F weather. Even Mount St. Snirty has significantly diminished in size and scope. In a nutshell, it was a great holiday away from here. The beach was lovely, the Getty was a charming experience, and the L.A. Philharmonic a total wall of sound. I highly recommend it!

But that was then, this is now, and I'm still trying to figure out where I want this blog-thing to go next. 

Despite that, I am compelled to write about something I rarely write about: Israel.

The Western Wall - October 2017
This past week, the State of Israel celebrated its 70th birthday. I have never lived in a world without Israel. I believe with my complete heart and soul that Jews have the same right to live in their own country as the French, the British, and yes, the Indigenous Peoples of North America. I will not go into the history of the land itself, but let's just say the Jews built the temple in Jerusalem, the Mosque of Omar sits atop Temple Mount where both the First and Second Temples stood, and we have been a continuous presence in that city and on that land, despite exiles, persecution, and derision for more than 3000 historically verifiable years. That counts for a lot. 


I am neither fan nor supporter of Netanyahu and his current government. In fact, I believe the PM is an existential danger to the State of Israel. He should be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. His only loyalty is to himself and his re-election. He has  ignored the most basic tenet in Judaism: you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. He has wantonly sliced the fabric that binds Diaspora Jews to Israel by allowing the ultra-Orthodox to run the government. His policies on land annexation, Palestinian rights, and migrants are unacceptable to anyone with a moral compass and a sense of ethics. 

If invited to share a dais with him, I would most unceremoniously decline. 

Which is exactly what Natalie Portman did in declining to accept The Genesis Prize

The crackpots calling her traitor and other assorted foul things would call her EXACTLY the same thing if she sat on a dais with Feckless Leader. 

There is no difference.

In Israel, a friend's daughter has chosen to leave Israel behind because she can no longer support the direction in which the state is moving. Another friend's daughter, American by birth and Israeli by choice, author Jessica Fishman, has remained in Israel to fight the fight, but I cannot see her sitting on a dais with Netanyahu either. Recently, she wrote on her Facebook page:

April 11 at 9:30pm
With today being the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I want to remind everybody why we say never forget. We are reminding the rest of the world that they cannot forget the Holocaust. We are reminding the world so that it will never happen again to anyone, no matter creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other difference. This is more important now than ever. With the current nationalist undertones, with the world turning a blind eye to the massacres in Syria, with the famine in Yemen, with Israel sending away asylum seekers, with black people being systematically targeted in the American justice system, and so much more, it is more important than ever to remind the world. And now to turn this political, to those of you, especially to the Jewish people who voted for Trump, a race baiter, you have forgotten.
Natalie Portman is an Israeli citizen, no qualifications, no hesitations. As an Israeli, she gets to have an opinion. Not supporting Netanyahu is not the same as supporting anti-Israeli movements.

Ms Portman responded to accusations she had gone over to the dark side of BDS:
Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.  I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance....Do not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.
How is that different from a variety of people declining an invitation to visit the White House while Feckless squats in the Oval Office? 

It is not.

Back in the 60s, there was a popular bumper sticker that read:

Those of us who chose to oppose the Vietnam War were spit on, ridiculed, and told to leave. We, in turn, believed we were patriots, doing what needed to be done for the good and welfare of America. Were we disloyal? No. We were standing up against a war we thought was immoral and unjustifiable. And we ultimately stopped the war.

How is that different from what Natalie Portman is doing? 

It is not.

Labels implying she is anything else beside an outspoken (aka normal) Israeli, are garbage. I may not agree with how she's doing it, but hey! she has the right...nay, the obligation to stand up against a government with which she disagrees. 

I do it every week. Does that make me disloyal? Hardly.

There is plenty to disagree with over at the Knesset. Condemning her for that is pure narishkeit...nonsense. Why shouldn't she exercise the same right?

The Wifely Person's tip o'the Week
Israel is the only functional democracy in the Middle East.
Just as we are fighting to preserve ours, they get to fight to preserve theirs. 
Support dissenters; they form the bridge of compromise.


  1. Ramallah Natalie = Hanoi Jane
    Giving promotional aid and comfort to the enemy is a shande.

    I agree with the ToI blogger: "... Sadly, Portman chose the easy way out. Instead of facing this complicated situation, she chose to quit. Instead of taking responsibility and acting as a true Jewish leader, she chose to turn her back to her own people...What good did Portman achieve by boycotting the ceremony?"

    1. What is this was Feckless Leader on the platform? Would you be okay with her sharing that stage? Even if I don't agree with the methodology, I understand her reluctance to _appear_ to support Netanyahu. Would it not be far more hypocritical to ignore the circumstance?