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Thursday, March 02, 2006

In the eye of the beholder

Just for the record... I maintain that yesterday's post did not violate my 'no politics for a week' promise.  I asked a perfectly reasonable question about parenting.  It's not my fault that nearly everything in this part of the world has political overtones.

Take for example the photos at the end of this post (no, Photo Friday didn't come a day early).  Depending on one's point of view, one might see:

a)  a symbol of Israel's sovereignty/freedom flying gracefully over beautiful meadows of red Kalaniot (Anemones) on a peaceful spring day.


b)  a symbol of Israel's military occupation flying over a conquered land and oppressing even the beauty of nature.

On this beautiful pre-spring morning the sight of red kalaniot dappling the hillsides under an IAF helicopters is a proud, potent symbols of Israel for me.  It doesn't make me think of politics... but I can understand how for some, the helicopter - and even the hillsides full of kalaniot - are inextricably tied to politics.


Sorry, but that's just part of living in Israel. 

The soldiers flying the helicopter are not political symbols.  They are early twenty-somethings performing their national service and dreaming about their lives after the army.

The helicopter is admittedly an instrument of war... but it also helps secure what passes for peace in this part of the world.

The hillsides and meadows under which the soldiers and helicopter flies belong to my physical and spiritual homeland... and I well up just thinking about my incredible privilege of being able to walk these hills as a free Jew... after 2000 years.

And the flowers.  What about the flowers?  Surely no one could possibly read politics into something as simple and beautiful as a red poppy, right? 

So I thought... until I was talking with one of my older coworkers the day after the recent passing of one of Israel's most beloved singers; Shoshana Damari.  He explained to me that when her trademark song, 'Kalaniot' became popular at the end of the British Mandate period, it was enjoyed by many as a derisive jab at the red berets worn by the English soldiers.  I had never heard that before (and frankly I wonder how sound his memory of that period is), but it demonstrates how even something as innocent as a flower can potentially be tainted by politics.

Some will look at these pictures and see only occupied land overflown by a symbol of Israeli occupation and tyranny.  I see members of the first Jewish army in two millennium enjoying a spring morning flight over the flower-strewn hillsides of my country.






Beauty (or politics) is all in the eye of the beholder.


[Helicopter photos are Copyright  2006 Israel Ministry of Defense - All Rights Reserved.  Last picture is mine.]


Posted by David Bogner on March 2, 2006 | Permalink


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» anemone from Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective
In modern Hebrew the flowers are known as - kalaniot, meaning "little brides". For some great photos of a field of kalaniot, go here. [Read More]

Tracked on May 17, 2006 6:16:26 PM


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Beautiful pictures!

And yes, that song originally was also used as a shot to the red beret-wearing British soldier. I've heard and read that many times over the years.

Posted by: lori | Mar 2, 2006 1:32:47 PM

I dunno, all that red splattered around the hillsides makes me think of something not quite positive...

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Mar 2, 2006 1:46:03 PM

gorgeous photos, but I'd like them better without the helicopter.

Remember, some of us will look at these photos and fall somewhere inbetween the two views you shared in your last paragraph. I am drowning in shades of grey. Black and white, right and wrong... they just don't work for me these days.

And, yes, beauty lies (as do all subjective opinions) in the eye of the beholder.

Posted by: nrg | Mar 2, 2006 2:12:28 PM

Hmmm...are those Black Helicopters or black helicopters?

Posted by: Chedva | Mar 2, 2006 4:16:12 PM

You just can't tear yourself away, can ya?
The pictures are beautiful. (not the helicoptor - the red, the greens, the flowers)

Posted by: Shevy | Mar 2, 2006 4:18:39 PM

Beautiful pictures.....makes me realize that since the year I spent in Israel in 88-89, that I have not had the pleasure of enjoying ALL of the seasons. I look forward to experiencing them all after our aliyah this summer!

Posted by: EmahS | Mar 2, 2006 5:19:14 PM

actually, im with lori on this one.

the last picture was quite beautiful, though.

Posted by: bin laden | Mar 2, 2006 5:56:42 PM

The helicopters also airlift people to the hospital to save their lives, if need be. An ambulance is not usually thought of as beautiful, but it can be the most wonderful sight if you really need it...

Posted by: westbankmama | Mar 2, 2006 6:07:04 PM

I love the contrast of bright colors... And the helicopter looks great, as well!

Posted by: Irina | Mar 2, 2006 10:28:30 PM

Kalaniot. Red and non-political. Yeah... Whom he's kidding?

Posted by: SnoopyTheGoon | Mar 2, 2006 11:38:54 PM

I'm with westbakmama

Posted by: Essie | Mar 3, 2006 5:13:04 AM

Makes a nice desktop background, after smoothing it a little in Paint Shop Pro. I'm with westbankmama too, just 'cause it sounds like the thing to do. Hey, I was wondering, was the camera on a hill or from a plane or helicopter?

Posted by: Seattle | Mar 3, 2006 8:35:51 AM

Oy. Pictures of poppies for pansies.

I'm with Irina. The helicopter looks great. The flowers are nice, but what could be cooler than an extraordinarily complex machine engineered by the finest minds to be flown by the most able youth for the purpose of detering or visiting death on my enemy?

Those who like the flowers but not the helicopter should consider what those hills would look like if the helicopters, the soldiers, the nuclear submarines, the tanks weren't there.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 3, 2006 9:36:25 AM

Lori... Thanks for providing confirmation.

Steg... Really, you should know better.

nrg... I wonder if you'd feel the same about a Norwegian, US or other nation's helicopter flying over a beautiful setting or if it's the fact that it's an IDF helicopter that's bothering you so much. Because someone who has a negative reaction to seeing IDF imagery is likely unconsciously against what the IDF has protected many times from annihilation. Not being snarky here... just an honest question.

Chedva... actually they are Blackhawk helicopters painted a very dark olive.

Shevy... When I think about what the helicopter represents, it too is beautiful to me. If not for the IDF Israel's enemies would have long since made good on their promises to throw us into the sea. On a more practical note, such helicopters often are used to transport injured Jews AND ARABS to the hospital.

EmahS... Glad to give you another season to enjoy. But you'll soon have all of them for your very own. kol HaKavod.

Bin Laden, I think you meant Steg and or nrg, and my comments to them goes double for anyone who would choose such an offensive screen name.

westbankmama... Thank you. I needed to settle down for a day before I could respond to some of the comments. The littlest things set me off these days.

Irina... Contrasts are everywhere you look these days.

Snoopy... Nobody, nor am I trying to.

Essie... You and me both.

Seattle... Another helicopter. Thanks.

Doctor Bean... Unfortunately I think they already did exactly that... albeit unconsciously.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 3, 2006 3:34:25 PM

beautiful images and very symbolic, the contrast between the object and the background of the flower covered land is moving. i will agree and hope that the chayalim in the helicopter are simply enjoying the view!!

Posted by: Sarah | Mar 4, 2006 1:13:08 PM

Sarah... And if they were actively on patrol securing the safety of the Israeli population that would be less OK. :-) I actually posted these pictures to see what kind of responses they would draw. Many people do not realize what a prejudice they have against Jews/Israelis protecting themselves. My earlier point that anyone who would have a negative reaction to seeing an Israeli warplane likely does not feel Israel has the right/obligation to protect itself against terrorism and aggression. I know this is not the case with you, but your reaction was still interesting to me.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 5, 2006 12:20:07 PM

Hey i was not saying anything negative whatsoever about military helicopters or Tzahal!

I was just saying that "pretty flowers" is not the first thing that comes to mind when i see "red on the ground". maybe they look better in person.

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Mar 5, 2006 10:02:20 PM

just saw this.. have been off in the mtns with many meters of snow...

Honestly, anything military would strike me the same way. Regardless of the nationality. Not that I underestimate or ignore the necessity of the military, but a beautiful landscape photo will always be less beautiful (for me)when interrupted by something man-made (esp with the potential for destruction).

Posted by: nrg | Mar 8, 2006 12:19:10 PM

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