Posts Tagged ‘Ha’aretz’

‘The Bad Girls On The List’

December 7, 2012

This piece first appeared as “Sexism-Free Israeli Politics Too Much to Ask?” on The Sisterhood blog at The Forward.

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Stav Shaffir on the campaign trail this week (photo taken from her Facebook page).

Is it too much to ask for some sexism-free Israeli political analysis? We all know that politics can get rough and tumble, and that Israeli pundits are not known for verbal restraint. But still, does a columnist have to throw gratuitous sexist remarks into an article on the Labor Party slate just because, well, just because?

Lest anyone think that sexism in Israel resides only among the ultra-conservatives or ultra-religious, allow me to bring a very recent example from Haaretz, Israel’s left-leaning newspaper of record (so to speak). The paper published a piece by senior political writer Yossi Verter on November 30 (an abridged version was republished in the English edition on December 2) on the various figures who made it last week into the top 20 spots on the Shelly Yachimovich-led Labor Party list for the upcoming Knesset elections. The article was titled, “On the way to the opposition: Shelly and Labor’s new Yachimoviches.”

From the headline, it sounded like a straightforward political analysis piece. The sub-headline seemed to give the same impression: “Labor’s new and colorful list looks good, but the chances for internal harmony or joining the new government are next to nil.” Then came a second sub-headline: “And also: some advice for the new member Merav Michaeli.” I was a bit suspicious, but I figured I’d give Verter the benefit of the doubt.

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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Reporter For A Day

June 16, 2011

This post first appeared as “Getting Rid of Journalists in Haaretz’s Third ‘Writers Edition'” on The Arty Semite blog of the Forward.

Author Etgar Keret interviews Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (photo by Tal Cohen)

It’s become a tradition since 2009 that in honor of Israel’s Hebrew Book Week, Haaretz publishes its “Writers Edition.” For this unique edition, all the paper’s reporters disappear and are replaced by well-known Israeli, Middle Eastern, Jewish and Jew-ish authors and poets. This year, 53 noted writers cover everything from breaking news to sports to the weather report.

The depressing main headline, “Netanyahu says there’s no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” is for a political interview author Etgar Keret did with the Prime Minister. The great Israeli poet Natan Zach writes an opinion piece on why he thinks Gilad Shalit will never return home. Nathan Englander gets an exclusive interview with Tony Kushner, the first time he has spoken publicly since the controversy over his receiving an honorary degree from CUNY. On the lighter side, Nicole Krauss reflects on her nostalgia for brick and mortar book stores, and Dorit Rabinyan tries her hand at sportswriting.

Nava Semel wrote a story on how a library in South Tel Aviv has become a beacon of light in the neighborhood packed densely with foreign workers, many with illegal status and who fear deportation. “Writing this article was my humble way to reveal to the public this project of good will and outreaching for the less privileged,” she wrote in an e-mail. “The wonderful people who embraced these kids are hidden under our daily hardship and tough existence.”

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© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Nakba Day

May 15, 2011

Palestinian refugees in 1948

It was more than a little disconcerting to wake up this morning to a JTA news alert in my email inbox (yes, I admit that I am one of those people who is so “wired” that I check my email on my iPhone before even getting out of bed) saying that Israel was facing infiltrations and/or confrontations on four of its borders. And there had been a suspected terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. It was definitely an “oh, shit” moment.

Later today, I read two articles (both, admittedly, in left-of-center publications), one an op-ed by Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz, and the other an analysis piece by Noam Sheizaf in the online magazine owned by a group of independent journalists and bloggers called +972. Both basically conveyed the same idea: that it is time for Israelis, Zionists and Jews – and any combination thereof – to recognize the Palestinian Nakba. (Nakba, meaning “catastrophe,” and how the Palestinians refer to what Jews have called “Israeli Independence” since May 1948. It is a term that I, and I am guessing also many other Israelis and Jews, had never heard until relatively recently.)

Israel managed to quell today’s disturbances on all fronts, but not without lives unfortunately being lost. But Israel had to do what it had to do. Israel’s borders are not like the border between the U.S. and Canada, and their breach is a threat that cannot go unanswered.

I find the fact that on the same day that Israel was justifiably defending its sovereignty and security, voices were calling for the Israeli recognition of the Palestinian Nakba extremely powerful. It means (at least to me) that you can be a Zionist without negating the Palestinian historical narrative, that you can support a two-state solution and work toward its implementation for the sake of both nations. It means that you can support Palestinian national determination while opposing a Palestinian right of return to territory that is now part of the State of Israel.

Facing skeletons in the closet and seeing history through more than one lens is not easy, but it is now necessary. Israel is no longer in its tenuous infancy. Times have changed. As Gideon Levy wrote, “This does not constitute a breach of faith. It is not treachery against the Zionist ideal: it is historical and intellectual honesty, perhaps courageous, but certainly something which the circumstances require.”

And as Noam Sheizaf put it so poignantly,

“At the end of every sentence you say in Hebrew sits an Arab with a Nargilah (hookah) / even if it starts in Siberia or in Hollywood with Hava Nagila,” wrote the Israeli poet Meir Ariel in his song “Shir Keev” (“Song of Pain”). I think it’s the best political line written in Hebrew. It tells us that whatever we do, regardless of the political solution we chose to advocate or how powerful we might feel, our fate here will always be linked to the Palestinians’.

Denying the Nakba—forgetting our role in it and ignoring its political implications—is denying our own identity.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.