If you want to make me really happy, go read some of my first few posts, including classics such as "This is a mop" and "Election Ads: Apply Directly to the Forehead." My second post ever-- how to make Israeli Salad-- is still one of the most visited posts on this site, thanks to all of the random people googling to impress their Israeli boyfriends (at least, that's my theory). When I google "Israeli Salad," I get my own blog as the second hit, which means that I now officially consider myself the world's second-most leading expert on the preparation of Israeli salad and, hence, by logical extension, on all things Israeli. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Hehe. Or maybe all this "I actually kept a blog going (more or less) for one year" euphoria is going to my head. (Plus, my husband says I come in fourth when he searches for "Israeli salad," which is just outside the medals. Darn it.)
Anyway, today I want to post about a phenomenon I've noticed since moving to Israel: Israelis are a lot less obsessed by every little shift in Israeli-Arab relations than the rest of the world. I mean, obviously Israelis care about "foreign policy" on a different level: if we go to war with Iran, nukes fall in our backyards. Hamas shoots missiles at Sderot and they land in our cousin's daughter's kindergarten. We launch a massive invasion into Gaza and that's our brothers, sisters, and children there on the front lines. Israelis have passionate (and polarized) opinions about politics and about the way Israel should navigate its relations with Arab nations and the Palestinians.
But so often, I see blaring headlines in American media about Israel and run to Israeli newspapers to find out the rest of the story.... only to discover that the lead news story in Israel is the finale of cochav nolad. For example, foreign media is currently obsessed by the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. Israeli media has certainly covered this story, but ultimately it doesn't surprise most Israelis very much. The reaction of any Israeli I've asked can be summed up as "If the Mosad did it, it should have been done much more quietly." Or, for example, while Iran is a big news story here, Israelis are certain that Iran is developing nukes, so all of this breathless are-they-or-aren't-they speculation loved by NPR is passed over here. Israelis also tend to be quite cynical about the future of Israeli-Arab relations; they've seen every headline before, so they don't get all excited over each new possible development. And, frankly, daily life goes on.
To show you what I mean, consider the English and Hebrew websites of Yediot Ahronot, one of Israel's leading newspapers. Yesterday, this was the front page of the English edition, www.ynetnews.com (click any image to see a larger version):
Basically all of the stories are about Israeli-Arab relations, which I guess makes sense: that's all that people outside of Israel tend to see (or care about) in terms of our little country.
But here was the front page of the Israeli version, www.ynet.co.il:
Here's a translation (thanks to the creative word choices of Google translate):
I kind of feel badly that Tamar (whoever she is) is getting drilled, but what strikes me most about the Hebrew headlines is just how ordinary life within Israel feels when you're here. The top story was about a major traffic jam on "kvish hachof," one of our main highways. The article on the bottom of the screen that gets translated as "Occupation"? It's not referring to occupation of Palestinian lands, but to occupation for your hands as you make homemade Purim goodies. (It's actually a pun-- "mishloach yad" means this kind of occupation, while "mishloach manot" are the gifts we send on Purim.) The second story, which Google elegantly translates as "What do Csbdihh can not" is not an essay on what to do when UN inspections fail. Its title is actually "Ma osim ceshehabedicha lo matzliach," or "What to do when a joke falls flat," and it features an interview with two young people with special needs.
And, in a sense, this is what I've tried to convey through this blog. How ridiculous, beautiful, and ordinary life in Israel can be. How Israelis are stubborn, loud, quirky, and kind. How the question of "what do you use to mop a floor" can be more important to the daily life of a new olah than "what do you think about granting the right of return to Palestinian refugees." Certainly, the second question could impact my daily life even more than dirt on my floors, but life in Israel is so much more funny and full than NPR headlines would have you believe.
Here's to another year of being Israeli! Thanks so much for reading. Comments and links make me warm and fuzzy inside every time.
P.S. If you want to read good coverage of the Hamas assassination controversy, I highly recommend the daily updates being posted by www.israellycool.com. Also, Ruti Mizrachi posted a really beautiful edition of the Jewish blog carnival, Haveil Havelim, over at Ki Yachol Nuchal. Check it out!