Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Politics Shmolitics

One could/can be driven crazy by the news here. One can also be driven to extremes to avoid the news, the sound of the news - the beep, beep, please pay attention to the news on the radio hourly, the talk of the news and of course, the news itself. There is too much news. There is too much news because of where we are in the world. That is to say, surrounded by our best buddies in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, not to mention Iran and that doesn't minimize Jordan and Egypt and Iraq but suffice to say, not foremost on the list.

Then, there's the endless analysis of Israel's relationship with the US, the recent elections, the Bush White House, the new Senate and Congress, Condaleeza Rice and whomever else is topical Stateside. We also have Europe with which to busy ourselves - Tony Blair and the BBC's current invective on Israel's situation, our best buddies in France and now, with Olmert's recent trip to Russia, Putin weighing in on things. Every comment, every quote, must be considered, quoted, talked about and opined about.

This week marked the GA - General Assembly ( grand Jewish convention of all the big mucky mucks in US for those not familiar) in LA. I heard more about the GA then I have ever heard about in my life. Who was going from here, when they were speaking, what they would speak about, what they spoke about in great depth and finally, that their luggage had been lost and that they would have to arrive at the GA without their stuff for at least a day.

We have the constant moaning and groaning about the state of the government. I'm talking government officials - corruption, financial misconduct, sexual harrassment, abuse of power. I can't stand hearing any more about Ramon's kiss - did he use tongue, did he take her number first, was the wiretap illegal. Then, we have Katzav - whom didn't he harrass sexually over the years? His mother may not believe that he did anything and his wife is standing by him proudly, I've heard that before. Olmert is known to be a wheeler dealer and has a few questionable real estate deals that are being investigated - at least it appears, so far, that he's kept his pants zipped over the years. Now we have new ministers - Lieberman, a Russian, a bigot but maybe an equalizing influence for the more that million Russians who vote in this country and maybe Barak, returning to a ministry post. It's fascinating that new ministers can just come in, even if they are in a different party than orignally elected in by the public. Very different then what I have been accustomed.

And I've left out reading the papers. One can read the J'lem Post, which is like reading the New York Post - conservative, right wing, generally always sides on the right. Or, one can read Ha'aretz, for their unrelievedly liberal, left wing reading of the situation. One can also read Ma'ariv and Yed'i'yot for their more middle of the road views, althought generally to the right of Ha'aretz, not that that takes much. I find myself siding with Ha'aretz, because I'm not content with the way things are being conducted militarily of late but that's something I can describe at another time. Suffice to say that I don't feel that the current military and gov't leadership has been very smart in how they've been conducting themselves with our enemies and say what we will about having the right to defend ourselves, that doesn't give us some sort of higher moral ground to stand on when civilians lives, homes and livelihoods are destroyed. Ultimately, that's what people remember and that's all they really care about - home, food, family, safety. Oh well, we'll let that alone.

I know many people who avoid the news, don't listen to the radio and only read selections of the paper. I find myself reading the paper and trying to understand the currents that run through the country. Hard to say if I'll sustain that or find it too much as well. Certainly, it's interesting learning a new country's method of governance, what they like to talk and report about and how the regular Joe on the street responds. I miss the New York Times - just the feeling of it and the notion of holding it, folding it, sniffing that inky smell. I'm reminded of an essay by Tom Wolfe from his book, The Painted Word, about reading the New York Times.

"PEOPLE DON'T READ the morning newspaper, Marshall McLuhan once said, they slip into it like a warm bath. Too true, Marshall! Imagine being in New York City on the morning of Sunday, April 28, 1974, like I was, slipping into that great public bath, that vat, that spa, that regional physiotherapy tank, that White Sulphur Springs, that Marienbad, that Ganges, that River Jordan for a million souls which is the Sunday New York Times."

Isn't that a great quote? Well, reading the J'lem Post and Herald Tribune don't quite come close to that experience but hey, it's better than the Oregonian (with apologies to friends in Portland).


Lisa K said...

I just got back from the GA--I guess you've heard about it. Funny, no one here who isn't a Jewish professional seems to know about it. This year's GA was crawling with Israeli politicians, and for a change they had a coordinated message to deliver: Iran is the biggest threat we face right now. Bibi's refrain was: "It's 1938, and Iran is Germany."

It was a good GA, though, and I saw lots of people, including Rachel G., and a friend from college days who I haven't seen in 25 years.

Beth Steinberg said...

But I feel that they're not going to get anywhere on the Iran thing. Geopolitics, oil and such are more critical then Israel's fear of Iran going nuclear. Not that anyone wants to see Iran nuclear but as long as everyone can fill their hummer in the land of bush...

Regina said...

I just saw your scathing indictment of The Oregonian - a paper enjoyed for it's Foodday section and the fact that it runs Doonesbury and, um, well, you know, it carries local stuff. Ah, well. I guess not every great city has a great paper.

Loved the Wolfe quote. I've transitioned to the NYTimes online (hey, it's free) but it took time to make the switch from the real paper copy.

Beth Steinberg said...

I will say that I inserted the Oregonian tag knowing that it might get a rise out of you West coast types. I also am trasitioning to the NYTimes online and it's sad to give up the thrill and smell of newsprint. That said, it is cheaper and available. The Wolfe essay is one of my faves - I recommend that collection of essays.