LONGREADS OF THE YEAR: April-June 2013
“Forget Marriage Equality; Israeli Gays Want Surrogacy Rights”, by Zvika Krieger, The Atlantic, April 4, 2013
Having children in Israel carries a certain nationalist resonance, as well. Israel struggles to retain a Jewish majority in the land it controls between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. According to some estimates, however, the Arab and Jewish populations are coming precariously close to parity. This is part of the reason why Israel’s policies on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are among the world’s most liberal, and why IVF is generously subsidized through the national healthcare system. (Israel leads the world in most IVF treatments administered per resident, with a ratio that is 13 times that of the United States.) “In my conversations, I hear having children described as the queer contribution to the building of the Jewish state,” says Frederick Hertz. “I don’t think an American gay dad would talk about having kids as building the American state.”
“Losing a Friend at the Front”, by Tal Kra-Oz, Tablet, April 12, 2013
Alex was older than me when he died and now he is years younger. As the rest of us grow older and have children of our own, the tragedy and loss will only deepen, as will the guilt. Alex was better than most of us; he certainly worked much harder in life than most of us. Yet his potential, which should have grown larger every year, remains increasingly unfulfilled. Like so many of the other fallen soldiers we honor in Israel today, Alex died “before his time, his life’s song in mid-bar stopped,” to quote H.N. Bialik, Israel’s national poet. But Alex has a legacy far richer than that of many who outlive him, one of decency and kindness and friendship beyond measure. He died a completely unnecessary death, but his meaningful life, short as it was, surely outweighs that.
“The Outsider”, by Debra Kamin, Foreign Policy, April 12, 2013
"Sayed wouldn’t accept my saying it, but I think that the series made a great change in Israel society," says Shai Capon, director of Avoda Aravit and one of Kashua’s closest confidants and drinking buddies. “It’s the first time that you see an Arab as a vulnerable human on Israeli television. Not as a terrorist and not as a victim. It took the first fear out of the title ‘Arab,’ and the audience, the Jews, could see … someone who just wants to be loved.”
LONGREADS OF THE YEAR: January-March 2013
“The Death of the Party”, by Michael Cohen, Tablet, January 10, 2013.
But for all that Yachimovich does, it is what she doesn’t do that has garnered so much ill will, particularly in the run-up to the Jan. 22 election. During this campaign, she has given no major speeches or comments about the occupation, about Iran, about the Arab Spring, about the future of the settlements, and so on. Unless she is asked, she has practically nothing to say about any of these issues. In her political manifesto titled Us she remarkably makes no mention of the issues that have been at the heart of Israeli politics since the country’s founding. It is the most startling element of her rise to power: She is the head of a party long associated with the vision of a two-state solution and yet has nothing to say about the existential questions that will shape Israel’s future. When asked about how she would bring about peace with the Palestinians, Yachimovich regularly mouths the platitude that she supports the Clinton Parameters from more than 12 years ago—but not much else.
“The Party Faithful”, by David Remnick, The New Yorker, January 21, 2013.
Much of Naftali Bennett’s support comes from mild-mannered religious suburbanites on both sides of the Green Line, but he has also been blessed by some of the more vehement fundamentalists on the scene. Avichai Rontzki, from 2006 to 2010 the chief rabbi of the I.D.F. and now the head of a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, helped Bennett form the Jewish Home Party. Rontzki has said that soldiers who show their enemies mercy will be “damned,” and, after a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians that he opposed, he said that the I.D.F. should no longer arrest terrorists but, rather, “kill them in their beds.” Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of the settlement of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, once called Baruch Goldstein “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust”; he endorsed Bennett before moving on to a smaller, more reactionary party.
“Israel’s Alaska, the Golan, stays calms amid the gathering storm”, by Mitch Ginsburg, The Times of Israel, February 20, 2013.
Khallas and his wife Michal – they get along far better than their biblical namesakes – settled in the Golan Heights in the summer of 2006. When they arrived there was still talk of land for peace. Both of them moved knowing there was a certain chance they would be uprooted. Since then, they have brought two children into the world and acquired a dog. They have built their house with their own hands. They have helped invigorate a wizened HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz, creating a thriving secular and religious community in its place. And so, when it came time to choose their 30-dunam plot for agriculture, a gift of the government, they considered the virtues of tangerines over olives and of different soil types but never gave any thought at all to Syria.
“I didn’t think about the border at all. There were 40 years of absolute quiet here,” said Khallas. “It was the quietest place in the country.”