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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Even I'm starting to find myself shrill and strident!

OK, I think we can all agree that political punditry is not my strong suit. 

This isn't to say I don't have some interesting ideas once in a while... but I find that I have no patience for the inevitable ax-grinders who love nothing better than to ignore reasonable points while hijacking the discussion to an ideological banana republic where worn-out dogmatic agendas live in comfortable semi-retirement.

It is lonely work being the only one in a discussion who is willing to entertain the possibility of more than one recipient for blame.  It just wears a person down to make a reasonable call for both government checks & balances and settler accountability, only to have the ax-grinders respond that if the unpatriotic, parasitic, violent, selfish settlers would only shut up and put the needs of Israel ahead of their own sinister agenda, then there would be no need for a silly government investigation.

But the most wearing aspect of my ill-advised forays into the political arena is, by far, the email. 

Commenters - even the semi-anonymous ones - tend to stay mostly wihin the white lines of polite discourse.  But those that send emails seem prone to gleefully ignoring propriety and going directly for the jugular.  A perfect example is this email I received during the night:

Dear Treppenshitz,

You like to play the role of 'liberal in settler clothing' but when the chips are down you always show your true kahanist colours.  Somone[SIC] else is always to blame when you settlers get what you so richly deserve, never the settlers themselves.  The people of Israel are sick and tired of religious fanatics scuttling every hope of peace.  If not for you people we would have been living in peace with our Arab neighbors for decades now.  You are the fly in the ointment and we will never have peace as long as you and your religious co-conspirators continue to resist the will of the Arabs and the Israelis.

You cry crocodile tears when teenage criminals get hurt trying to kill police but you have nothing to say for yourself when you people attack innocent schoolchildren and the Israeli soldiers that are there to protect them.

You are the biggest reason that the antisemites of the world hate us so much, and if I could think of a way to help them kill all of your kind I would be doing a huge favour to the rest of us real Jews who would finally be left in peace.

If you have any shame at all you will stop spreading lies about our police and Prime Minister and write a blog about your religious brothers in Maon, but I'm sure you will simply make some lame excuse for their terrorist acts so don't bother. Don't think I don't know what you're about asshole.

A real Jew*

Well, now... don't you all wish you could wake up to something like this in the morning?  Who doesn't appreciate a little ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day?

First of all, I have to give the writer full points for that parting shot.  It may seem like a small thing, but even though there was an unfortunate double negative, he/she seemed determined not to end that last sentence on a preposition, and I find that strangely reassuring.  After all, rule are rules.

Also, I would suggest to this eloquent writer that if the Palestinians had made use of settler-style civil disobedience instead of terror, they would have had their own state long since.

But ignoring the crazy factor, the kernel around which this email was constructed is a semi-legitimate dare for me to publicly criticize settlers for attacking children and soldiers. 

Let's pretend, for the sake of expediency, that I have never been critical of settler wrong-doing in the past (work with me here).  Why are a bunch of criminals from the village of Maon in any way analogous of the Prime Minister?  More importantly, who elected them as representatives of the settler movement?  Are they the moral compass of the religious right?  Have they been empowered by anyone to represent me/us?

For the record I am appalled, not only at the incident(s) described in the article to which last night's emailer linked, but by also by the seeming lack of indignation on the part of the community from which the attack(s) allegedly originated.  These are small, tight-knit villages where everyone knows what everyone else's kid got in math, who is having financial problems and what night their neighbor's wife went to mikveh.  It's not that settlers are nosy by nature, but it's hard not to know the most intimate details of what goes on in such a community.  So I find it difficult to believe that the mayor and security officer of Maon couldn't produce these mystery assailants fairly easily if they existed... and if they were so inclined.

This apparent reticence to self-police is one of the most troubling aspect of living under this big banner called being a religious settler.  But by the same token there have been many, many accusations of wrong-doing leveled against settler communities and individuals, by Palestinians and even by security forces, that have been discredited as intentional fabrications after even preliminary investigation.  So, at least some of the settler camp's image problem comes down to how much circumstantial evidence the court of public opinion requires before passing judgment.  I am a relative newcomer here, but so far it seems that many people are ready and willing - even eager -  to pass judgment and even mete out punishment without bothering with the inconvenient trappings of the legal system like 'burdon of proof'.

I don't read about Tel Aviv gangsters, drug dealers or rapists in the newspaper and say to myself 'this is what the secular left is all about... this is their agenda'.  Those bad actors are obviously marginal members of society and it would be foolish to use their actions to invalidate the law-abiding, humanist credentials of half the population.  I also don't wonder aloud why I don't hear any denunciations from that half of Israeli population or any attempt to distance themselves from such criminals.  Only the most cynical person would extrapolate such anti-social behavior as being representative of all the people among whom the perpetrators live.

So why are the violent criminals and crazies among the religious settlers seen by the Gush Dan set as representing all religious people... and all settlers?   The answer might be found in the fact that more than half the Israeli population has frequently demonstrated a disturbing willingness to believe the very worst about the remainder of their countrymen.

In my post about Amona I didn't say that all police were anti-settler or anti-religous.  I said that I believed the government deliberately deployed a police combat unit that has a long history of dealing in a very heavy-handed way with religious setters.  This was meant equally as an indictment of the government and the yasamnikim,  There was an offer on the table that would have eliminated the need for any police, much less a mounted police combat unit with a history of abuse. 

Since the clash at Amona took place, compelling evidence of systematic physical, sexual and verbal brutality against Amona protesters has been repeatedly 'pooh-pooed' by the government officials who deployed the Yasam... and all calls for an independent investigation of police, governmental and settler wrong-doing have been quashed by the very people who would come under uncomfortable scrutiny in such an investigation. 

Correct me if I've missed something, but doesn't this cry out for at least a semblance of 'separation of powers'?

Oy, here it is, time to wake up the family and I've done it again.  I have created another launching pad for the crazies and ax-grinders. 

I'm sure my statements about settler wrong-doing will be ignored.  I'm certain that my questions about who can reasonably be assumed to represent a segment of Israeli society will be tossed aside. 

But as sure as G-d made little green apples, you can bet that today's selection of comments will be chock full of sweeping generalizations about religious setters and how we all selfishly refuse to just go away for the greater good of the nation.

Just imagine what the email is going to look like!

* Full disclosure: I have removed two paragraphs from the middle of this email.  Partly because they contain excessive profanity... and partially because the author unintentionally gives away some identifying information about him/herself.  I have forwarded the email to the necessary people (ISP, police, local religious leadership), and I hope this individual will feel the pinch that being caught in the gears of due process can provide.


Posted by David Bogner on February 8, 2006 | Permalink


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There are politicians in Israel who have learned from the Arab countries that you can distract attention from pressing problems by blaming it all on the Jews.

In our case, they blame the settlers. This brainwashing has been going on so long that noone notices it - but it results in the outburst you received in your e-mail.

How else can you explain the fact that almost a thousand (more?) innocent Israelis have been killed by Arab terrorists in the past five years, and that not one Israeli has been killed by a settler, but we are the bad guys?

Especially when we are only doing exactly what the modern-day forefathers did - namely building communities in order to strengthen Eretz Yisrael.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 8, 2006 2:33:08 PM

I don't normally comment, and this whole mess of a past week is not a particularly inspiring start but... I do think you deserve a thanks - for writing something that I can be ok with and for showing the world (in which there are hopefully still a few people who can see) that there is a balanced way to attempt to begin to deal with the frightening reality we're facing just now... Thank You

Posted by: -y- | Feb 8, 2006 2:41:21 PM

Wo. That is one NASTY email. Wow. Good for you for sending it to the police . . . especially since this person comes right out and says, in as many words, that they would kill you if they could. Wow.

Your last couple of posts about Amona have been very impressive.

I just read over at Jpost.com that the knesset decides today whether to start a probe into the allegations of police brutality. I really hope they do. Unfortunately, even if the probe starts, it might be dropped after the March 28 elections. Grrr.

What is it with Olmert thinking that he can decide whether there should be a probe, when HIS administration is what the complaint is about? Who does he think he is? Grrr. I hope the Knesset will do what he has not.

OK, getting off my soap box now.

Posted by: Sarah | Feb 8, 2006 2:52:20 PM

The only generalization that is ever right is the following: Treppenwitz can always be counted on to make me think and make me laugh or cry (depends on the post).

Case in point is "Even I'm starting to find myself shrill and strident!"

The comment about ending a sentence with a preposition was brilliant on a number of levels.

To your point, though: ask yourself why the country has been so susceptible to anti-settler propaganda (to adopt your way of thinking). I'll take it a step farther: ask yourself why I have been so susceptible to anti-settler propaganda. I am a religious (kippah srugah) zionist (aliyah since the Intifada II began) who used to be way more Right (I would have described myself as Mafdal) and who has loved ones on the other side of the green line (one of whom left Amona with stitches and the other who was pushed to the ground by a policeman there).

The fact of the matter is, Centrist Israel perceives the extremism that comes out of the Right (be it the calls for Refusal, at Kfar Darom or on the roads last summer or in the wacko curses placed on Sharon or at Amona or, gasp, in the dark history of the Rabin assasination) as being rationalized and defended by the settler leadership and the bulk of the settlers. We simply do not hear the rabbis and other leaders stepping up at clearly saying "no violence". Maybe they are doing so. We just don't hear it. But I, for one, am trying to listen hard.

It isn't enough for the bloggers, even the best of 'em, to be calling for moderation.

All your sane readers know what you are about, Treppenwitz.

(BTW, your analogy of Tel Aviv mafiosos not representing secular Israelis is off base. Both because you rarely hear secular Israelis defending mafiosos (as opposed to the occasional defense of violence by settlers) and, more importantly, because they aren't breaking the law in the name of the secular Israelis and their causes.)

Posted by: President, Kippot Srugot for Kadima | Feb 8, 2006 2:58:56 PM

well.. yeah.. and tell that person that their mother also dresses you funny! so there..

Posted by: shabtai | Feb 8, 2006 3:00:41 PM

David, your post is excellent as usual.

I'd like to comment on one legal point: Someone who sends you abusive email has no reasonable expectation of privacy, nor does s/he have any copyright rights over what s/he sent. In law, it's traditional that mail belongs to the recipient, not to the sender.

Accordingly, you would be well within your rights (A) to publish the letter in full, and (B) to publish the author's email address and any additional identifying information included in the letter.

I believe that you should do so with this and any other abusive email you receive. Many people on the Net believe that they can write stuff in an email that they would never have the guts to post in a public forum, on the basis that email is "private" and thus their target has no recourse. As noted above, this is a completely false assumption, and such abusers should be exposed and - at least - humiliated.

There is certainly room for vigorous debate here; after all, the whole point of blogging is to kick ideas around. But the debate should be kept civil; and people who make personal attacks - especially those who don't have the cojones to do it out in the open - need to be stepped on.

Of course, this is not instead of going to the police; it's something to do in addition, especially when email trolls write stuff that's hurtful but not quite at a level that will get the police interested.

Posted by: Don Radlauer | Feb 8, 2006 3:52:17 PM

Ditto to what Sarah said. Whew! I would be pretty rattled to get an e mail like that. But I just had to laugh at Treppenshitz. Sorry!

Posted by: Essie | Feb 8, 2006 4:13:34 PM

I agree with Don. The net is a funny place and there are a lot of people who think that they can say anything they want without fear of consequences.

Earlier this week I was engaged in an email exchange with another blogger in which their comments entered the real of ridiculous and then crossed over the border of ludicrous.

When I offered to share their thoughts on a larger scale (my blog) they went nuts and tried to scare me with some silly rant about the freedom they enjoy in email.

If someone is dumb enough to threaten you I haven't any problem with documenting their threat and posting it for all the world to see.

Shameful behavior.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 8, 2006 4:19:00 PM

I'm sorry you had to deal with that first thing in the morning. Yuck.

I must disagree with you on one point: I don't think you're being shrill or strident. I think you're being clear-sighted and level-headed, balanced and fair, even in your anger. On the other hand, the person who wrote that e-mail is spewing hatred and prejudice around just because he/she can. Doesn't take much of a brain to do that, does it?

I know where I'd rather spend my time.

And I'm glad you reported the e-mail to the police.

Posted by: Rahel | Feb 8, 2006 4:40:22 PM

The email just begs for a Fisking that I don’t have time for.

Oh, no! I just ended a sentence with a preposition! Churchill said of the grammatical rule against doing that: “It is a rule up with which I will not put.”

“Treppenshitz” would mean what, exactly? Not having an intelligent response when visiting your neighbor and so, after leaving his home, cr*pping on his stairs? That sounds like what the emailer did.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Feb 8, 2006 4:43:37 PM

Color me silly, folks, but I applaud David's restraint in withholding information which could serve to identify this charming individual.

First and foremost, nothing positive can come from further engaging this individual. Clearly, this person will not (or can not) be either civil or rational on this topic. If nothing David has said to date registers with him/her, than an "outing" will most likely not help.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, by taking the high ground David protects his integrity and reputation for being a reasonable person -- something this person is clearly incapable of doing. In addition, David demonstrates that [even] a Religious/Zionist such of himself is capable of walking away and NOT scuttling the opportunity to end a vile episode in a peaceful and dignified manner.

I agree with Don, Jack, and all the others who've stated that the ability to abuse the anonymity of this media mustn't be encouraged, and to simply "let it go" isn't the correct course of action. But the proper authorities have been notified. This is now their responsibility. Besides, knowing this nutter's name isn't going amount to anything more than "rubbernecking on the information highway."

Seems you've hit the big time honey! All the major celebrities get whack-a-doos stumbling for attention! ;-)

Posted by: zahava | Feb 8, 2006 4:46:57 PM

If nothing David has said to date registers with him/her, than an "outing" will most likely not help.

What about a tar and feathering. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Feb 8, 2006 6:05:21 PM

QUOTE: "You are the biggest reason that the antisemites of the world hate us so much, and if I could think of a way to help them kill all of your kind I would be doing a huge favour to the rest of us real Jews who would finally be left in peace." ENDQUOTE

QUOTE: "Oh why are the violent criminals and crazies among the religious settlers seen by the Gush Dan set as representing all religious
people... and all settlers?" ENDQUOTE

You won't accept the answer to this question David.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 8, 2006 7:03:44 PM

I've been withholding my opinion on this whole thing for a while because (a) I haven't been here for long, and (b) I unfortunately do not yet live in Israel, so how could I form an accurate opinion of who is biased about whom?

However, I would like to applaud you, David, for staying level-headed and doing your best to address the points and arguments (however kindly phrased) that others have given. I can't say that I 100% agree with you (I think that the Yesha leadership needs to try just a bit harder to bridge the widening gap, though the gov't and Israeli left definitely need to shape up, too), but your arguments are always intriguing and carefully expressed.

One quick note, President for...:

You've said that you don't hear settler leaders stepping up and clearly saying 'no violence'. I have to say that I think this is somewhat unfair. Most of my news from Israel comes from the media, and the rest secondhand through friends, family, and bloggers. But I strenuously try to get as many different accounts of things as possible, and I can definitely find some settler leader on nearly every case saying something along the lines of 'no violence'. It's just that Ha'aretz doesn't choose to quote them, Arutz Sheva does. And given the unfortunate quality of Arutz Sheva's 'journalism', *any* information they tender is immediately dismissed as 'extremist BS', whether or not it is relevant. That's like ignoring what is reported in Arab newspapers just because they hate Israel.

The problem is that there are always 'settler leaders' who will make an inflammatory statement, and in the best form of reporters, they will take the worst statement and make it even worse by taking it out of context and sticking it in a headline.

I'm not sure this is a 'bias' per se in the media so much as 'sliminess of everyone who become a journalist' (any journalists who read this - please realize I'm exaggerating a bit. Some of my best friends are journalists! *grins*). Anyhow, the voices are there, they just aren't publicized very well to the general Israeli public.

And people are willing to hear what they want to... so they won't go seeking out alternatives to what they think is mere confirmation of how the Big Bad Yesha Council is always being intransigent and violence-mongering.

*shrugs* That doesn't mean that we should *accept* it when various settler leaders say things that are unwise. It just puts that into perspective.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 8, 2006 7:05:33 PM


QUOTE: "(BTW, your analogy of Tel Aviv mafiosos not representing secular Israelis is off base. Both because you rarely hear secular Israelis defending mafiosos (as opposed to the occasional defense of violence by settlers) and, more importantly, because they aren't breaking the law in the name of the secular Israelis and their causes.)" ENDQUOTE

The Left and the secular won't openly defend the mafioso but a huge raft of them support them by using their drugs and passing them on to foolish children. 'Casual' drug use is what supports criminal drug dealers.

Posted by: Scott | Feb 8, 2006 7:18:22 PM

Scott, The Left and secular Israelis support organized crime through their drug use? Thanks for keeping with tonight's program and sharing another ridiculous generalization with us. Good job.

Posted by: President, Kippot Srugot for Kadima | Feb 8, 2006 8:14:37 PM

Legalize drugs and end the problem.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 8, 2006 8:14:40 PM


OK. Who ARE the folks who smoke pot, take pills and snort crank?

Posted by: Scott | Feb 8, 2006 8:41:05 PM

Westbankmama... While we may like to think of ourselves as following in the footsteps of our forefathers, one can't discount the consensus that existed then which is sorely lacking now. Both sides need to figure out a way to climb down out of the tree and talk over the difficult stuff or we are all seriously going lose this country to the Arabs.

-Y-... I appreciate that you felt compelled to speak up, but I think there are plenty of people who would argue with your assessment of me as 'balanced'. Look, I will be the first o admit that I come to the table with an agenda. But that line I put at the end of most of my political posts isn't a joke. before, during and after every discussion I have about politics I think it is really important for everyone to admit to themselves that they just might be full of sh*t. You'd be surprised at how much easier it is to be flexible after admitting that to yourself. :-)

Sarah... I hope this doesn't set you off on one of your primal scream/rants! :-) I get a lot of creepy/scary emails... this was just one crossed the line with the 'k' word. I can handle someone calling me names, but I take threats seriously... especially since I use my real name and there are pictures of my wife and kids there for any nut job to see.

President of... You rarely hear settlers defending acts of aggression or vandalism either. In fact, the tiny minority of people who do make statements praising such destructive acts are among the same tiny subset of settlers who would probably participate in such acts. In short, they are as representative of the average religious settler as a Tel Aviv drug deal is of all Tel Avivis. The difference is that I don't see the drug dealer as representing anyone but himself while many Tel Avivis see the whack jobs in the settler community as representing all of us. See my point.

Shabtai... How could their mother dress me funny, and how would it help me to tell them that? I'm confused.

Don... As my wife has already pointed out, there is a point of diminishing returns in trying to out crazy the crazies. I don't know where that point is so I have decided to post today's entry as a warning of sorts. The email was just ambiguous enough that the police probably wouldn't be able to make a case for actually threatening me... but if this joker thinks he/she has nothing to lose I think things could get a whole lot worse.

Essie... You know, I am so used to seeing the title of my journal that I didn't even catch that until you pointed it out. Thanks. :-)

Jack... Thanks, but for now I'm gonna leave things with the steps I mentioned in my post.

Rahel... Have you read some of my responses to yesterday's post? I'd stop reading me if I wasn't so invested in the site. This stuff brings out the worst in me.

doctor Bean... Am I the only one who didn't catch 'treppenshitz'? Serves me right for just copying and pasting it without reading it carefully.

Zahava... Hold on, let me mark the date... OK, here we are, on Feb 8th 2006 Zahava agreed with me... thanks honey.

Jack... we could run him/her out of town on a rail! :-)

matlabfreak... Thank yo for stepping up and saying hello. I meant to thank you for the link on your site. I haven't had a chance to read too much yet, but you seem to have a lot of bright things to say. By the way, don't let being outside of Israel stop you from expressing an opinion. I only lose my mind and play the "shut the f*ck up until you live here" card about twice a year, and you have to say something really bone-headed to earn that. :-) I'll go along with you about the yesha leadership needing to be more vocal about bad actors. Come to think of it, the rank and file could do a lot more to condemn destructive behavior too.

Scott... I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it isn't just the club kids using and dealing drugs. There is a growing problem with substance abuse in the religious community as well. This is a perfect example of the perception gap that exists between the religious right and the secular left. each side sees the worst aspects of the other as the norm and worst aspects of its own community as the exception.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 8, 2006 9:51:38 PM

That e-mail saddened and disturbed me, not just because it reached a blogger, whose posts I enjoy reading and whose opinions I respect, but because it definitely says something about the growing split in our community. Sure, it would be easy for me to repudiate this individual as just another nutcase and move on, but the problem is, as you put it, that person is not alone, and there are probably many people out there. And they all think they are being helpful by sowing seeds of strife within the Jewish community and insulting and harrassing people, with whom they disagree. I don't know whether it's even possible to reach such individuals, quite possibly they are a lost cause; but it's very important to prevent people who haven't gone so far yet from taking the same misguided direction. And frankly, I'm not sure how to do this, considering that it's people like that e-mailer , who shout the loudest.

Posted by: Irina | Feb 8, 2006 9:54:41 PM

Scott, I'm not an expert on drug use in Israel; but I can tell you that it's well known here that a huge proportion of the customers of prostitutes are haredim. The generalization that all illegal activities in Israel take place only among the secular is a crock of sh_t; the fact is that a lot of this stuff takes place in all communities, but the secular don't cover it up as much as the religious do.

Posted by: Don Radlauer | Feb 8, 2006 10:01:58 PM

Well, you'll always have my support, Mr. B.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 8, 2006 11:14:22 PM

I think the fact that you admit that you come to the table with an agenda is a start, and the fact that you don't let it blind you is more then I'm seeing from most of this country. Balanced for me doesn't mean standing in the "center", it means admitting where you're coming from and still having a head on your shoulders. Admitting you might be wrong is certainly not a strike against. Thanks still stand.

Posted by: -y- | Feb 8, 2006 11:54:05 PM

Just putting my two cents here, David. I have found you to be quite adroit at writing about both sides of the issues with fairness and equality. I have learned more about this situation from your blog and other intelligent bloggers than I would from any e-paper. Shame on that person who e-mailed you- what we need right now is not bickering but healing...

Posted by: Regina Clare Jane | Feb 9, 2006 1:17:07 AM

I was going to shut up but Don got me going. This will shock all you tolerant folks, coming from me, but the extreme Right and the Extreme Left are the same. They look radically different but they are the same.

They follow men and not God. So they are prone to the same fallen spirit. The irreligious Right and Left practice the same hateful politics.

Fortunately the extreme Right is a completely disenfranchised tiny bunch of illiterate boobs but unfortunately the tenants of the hard Left are fast becoming the norms of western society.

I still maintain that western society has lost all cohesiveness because of the Left not the Right. Permissiveness, tolerance taken to ridiculous estremes, taking down all the guardrails on society's highways .....

Our youth now raise themselves; having their own self-supporting culture we adults know almost nothing about. This is due to the permissiveness of the Left.

We have legitimized 'free sex' and drastically oversexed every aspect or our society. Now sex is recreational and devalued. The illegitimacy rate is skyrocketing giving us many children raised without fathers. I could write a book about all the ills that flow from this and many have been written.

Now many want to legalize drugs. Hoo Boy! Another utopian experiment. They never learn.

We scream (at least here in the US)about our lousy schools and how our kids aren't learning anything. Posh! It's the lazy self-centered parents. Their kids don't learn because so little is expected and required of them. The Left again. I won't go into the conspiratorial dumbing down engineered by the NEA and the teachers unions.

David wants Israelis to come down from the trees and work things out. The Left will never capitulate. They are convinced the Right are monsters and the root of all society's ills. It is their religion. They took over the US for forty years and we've beaten them back but they are poised to rise again because of conservative's weekness and selfcenteredness. You think George is bad for Israel. Just wait till you see Hillary.

Olmert thought he had a free reign. Look at what he did. Give him any more leeway and he will double and redouble his sick violent solution. His path to power.

What the God Fearing of Israel need to do is not work things out with the Left as all you will get is an adulterated still poisonous mixture. The observant and conservatives in israel need to get their sh*t together and make their voices heard and find some politicians with spine and godly values and put them in office.

If you cannot do this .... I'd get the heck out of Dodge because no land is worth living in hell.

One more thing: Quit thinking the Left is using language in the same way as decent folks. They speak 'newspeak'. Read Orwell and see how it works. Everything is obfuscation witht the Left.

Did I use enough labels for ya David?

Posted by: Scott | Feb 9, 2006 1:32:50 AM

Now many want to legalize drugs. Hoo Boy! Another utopian experiment. They never learn.

Right, because alcohol is not a drug. Oy.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 9, 2006 3:34:20 AM

I agree with you that we have to talk to each other and reach a consensus.

But I also know that here in Israel nobody respects a wimp, and that the sharp elbow is sometimes the best way to go.

The key is to know when and where to use each method. I'm still learning.

Posted by: westbankmama | Feb 9, 2006 10:32:06 AM

Irina... I don't know how to do it either, aside from encouraging a few people to share their ideas, hopes and fears here.

Don... While you are obviously correct about Haredim patronizing practitioners of the world's oldest profession, I always cringe when I hear someone make the claim that they represent a disproportionately large percentage of the people who do so. Yes, it may give us a sense of superiority to imagine someone dressed in the trappings of piety succumbing to his basest desires... but claiming that they hold some kind of corner on the market is just as problematic as saying that most drug users are secular lefties. Bad behavior is bad behavior, and no individual bad act should be weighed differently simply because of who is performing it.

tnspr569... Thanks... much appreciated. Maybe you could go out and start my car for the next few mornings. :-)

-Y-... That's very nice of you. Thanks.

Regina Clare Jane... If you can wade through all the hyperbole in Scott's comments you'll find the most appropriate response to this point. People like this are not trying to understand and are not open to making adjustments in their worldview. They only want to conquer those who don't agree with them and will steamroller over any opinion that conflicts with their own. Where Scott and I part ways is that I don't believe the lefties are better or more frequent practitioners of this trait than those on the right.

Scott... I'm probably the only one who bothers to read through your comments any more, and that's only because I am careful to see if I might need to redact something. You do yourself a disservice by repeating the same tropes in such a confrontational way. You don't need to convince me that you are bright, well educated and rich with life experience... I got that from your very first comment. But you have become like the warning labels on cigarettes and alcohol; Everyone sees them and most acknowledge that they are important... but few actually read them or changes their habits because of them. If you want to change people's minds or have an influence on their habits, you're going to have to change your method of communicating.

Jack... not helping :-)

Westbankmama... Most Israelis I know would probably take my willingness to allow gray areas in my personal ideologies to be the height of weakness. But I'm not particularly bothered to be seen as a wimp.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 9, 2006 1:22:10 PM

Umm...I can't exactly do that, seeing as I'm not near you at this moment. What's wrong with your car?

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 10, 2006 2:19:24 AM

Of course there are bad people in every group - even settlers. Accept the fact that the species thinks in generalities and picks the facts to justify whatever agenda suits. As far as settlers as the cause of many of the problems between Israel and the Arabs, I would guess that even without settlers ther would be another reason to justify the conflict.

Posted by: Gil Brenner | Feb 11, 2006 11:49:40 PM

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