Prime, or: Crime Minister

My 1st verso-rhyme

My pen's not for intrigue
~but~ I'm fuming
at our Prime Minister's
great arrogance;
insane power complex
all-consuming;
ugly machinations;
and grievance dance!

P.S.

The political insanity that Israel has been embroiled in for the past two years (four elections have been held during that time period!) is primarily Prime Minister Netanyahu’s fault from my perspective. This is not a matter of left- or right-wing politics. It’s a matter of an indicted Prime Minister facing trial and having lost the trust of the citizenry to the point that he cannot cobble together a stable governing coalition to remain in power.

The reason I say that that this is not about left- or right-wing politics is simple. There is no question that the majority of Israelis support a right-wing government; and the only reason that Israel doesn’t currently have one is because of Netanyahu. In other words, he is striving to keep himself in power at the expense of the well-being of the entire State of Israel.

There literally seem to be no limits whatsoever to the lengths that Netanyahu is willing to go to remain Prime Minister. He’s willing to lie; break the law; incite against government institutions; employ racist propaganda; prevent the passage of the state budget; you name it.

The Knesset hasn’t been able to pass a budget for two years(!), and, therefore, many critical government services haven’t been available to the weakest sectors of Israeli society. Last year, Netanyahu had the opportunity to pass a budget, which he had agreed to pass, and he didn’t. Why? Because preventing the passage of a budget was the only way for him to prevent another politician (Benny Gantz) from taking the reins of government.

I desperately hope that his politically disparate opponents manage to form a broad coalition and remove him from power. The coming several days are critical to this endeavor. A country’s politics must not be held hostage by, nor revolve around a single individual – the current, ongoing reality continues to do untold damage to the State of Israel, its people, and its democracy.


P.P.S.

Netanyahu needs to go, Israel needs a reset – opinion

(written by the editor of the Jerusalem Post)

You think that way because you’re a poet

The frame maker’s wife

My wife is avidly into jigsaw puzzle and painting by numbers.

Several weeks ago, she glued several of her completed puzzles unto backing boards; and I brought them to the local frame maker’s shop. Then, last week, it came time for me to pick them up. The frame maker cupped some cardboard around the wire on one of the frames, wrapped them together for me, and advised me to carry them by the wire. I was nearly at the bus stop when the wire broke.

I carried the three frames back to the shop with both hands (which is what I had intended to do originally), and the frame maker replaced the wire. I watched him working with great curiosity. “This is really interesting,” I said, “Most of the time we purchase things when they’re complete, and we have absolutely no idea what went into making them.”

“You think that way because you’re a poet,” responded the frame maker’s wife and requested a link to my website.


Living in poem

I constantly walk around mumbling words under my breath nowadays, attempting to articulate that which I am experiencing. This is something that I have been increasingly becoming aware over the course of the last year, ever since I started writing poetry.

I’ve also started looking more closely at the Jerusalem skies and at local flora. These are things that I never did before; I was usually in such a rush to get somewhere. Just yesterday, I noticed some fuzzy deep red flowers that had fallen from a tree and pointed them out to my six-year-old daughter. As soon as I drew her attention to them, I thought to myself, “Wow; what has happened to me?”

As writing poetry has become a passion, I haven’t only been noticing differences in how I think – I’ve been noticing that my more recent poems feel different to me. It’s difficult to explain, but when I write a poem, I feel that it expresses more than the words within it. It even expresses something more than my intended meaning. My poems are expressing – me. Poems are comprised of words, of course, but what they mean and how they are experienced go far beyond that.

When I a poem feels complete, I often experience a rush of relief – a sense of… it feels so lovely to have expressed myself!


Politics, religion, and…

I follow U.S. and Israeli politics very closely, and I enjoy political conversations with other well-informed people. Also, while I am no expert on religion, let alone Judaism, I enjoy theological discussions with others who are open to considering religious ideas critically from different angles. To a large extent, there is often a great deal of overlap between religion and politics, especially so in Israel, where the Chief Rabbinate is an official organ of the State. Of course, plenty of intelligent people are interested in neither politics, nor religion, but I often find that my conversations with such people on other subjects are relatively short-lived.

Now, this is not to say that I only think about religion and politics. In fact, that’s very much not the case, but at any given moment, I don’t necessarily know what it is that I am thinking about because many of my thoughts seem to defy my comprehension. Such thoughts are more like… impressions, perhaps. More like… sensations. And it’s precisely these sorts of thoughts that I am able to express in my poetry. Sometimes I find that crafting a poem helps me better understand that which is on my mind. Sometimes my poetry doesn’t directly relate to these hazy thoughts, but I am nonetheless left feeling that they had a hand in shaping my verses.

So when my conversations with others inevitably taper off, I often find myself reflecting inwards and mumbling words under my breath. I often find myself longing for my computer keyboard or, at the very least, a pad of paper and writing implement.

I was reminded of this at a recent family gathering for Israel Independence Day. It was terrific to see my cousins, all of whom I love and think of highly, but it didn’t take long for our conversations to die out. It wasn’t for lack of affection or curiosity, but we simply did not have very much to say to one another after hugging and catching up… and, as usual, I quickly found my mind brimming over with words that sought release.


Blogging & identity

Often, I reflect upon how well my blog represents me as a person.

There are many things that I don’t write [about] here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish, where I have full control over the subjects I raise and the comments I respond to. This leads me to feel that there is something inherently artificial about blogging… something… as though… it’s as though I’m fooling myself in a way. After all, this isn’t real life – it’s merely an imaginary realm that I’ve thrown myself into.

On the other hand, I very strongly feel that there is something more true about my poems and reflections here on the Skeptic’s Kaddish than I often have the opportunity to express to others in person. I may be presenting an idealized version of myself online, but it’s also a version that reflects deep feelings and notions of mine, of which I am often unaware or confused by until I run the tips of my fingers across my keyboard…

Some of my best friends are anonymous

On the one hand…

When I step back and think about it, the blogosphere seems such a strange realm; and I’m old enough to have grown up without the Internet so I have perspective on this. Still, one need not have been born before the Internet era to be struck be the notable differences between people’s “in person” relationships and “online” relationships.

For example, what would it mean to have an anonymous “in person” friend? Here on WordPress, on the other hand, it’s entirely normal that some of the people that I interact with most regularly are anonymous.

Also, for most who do not blog anonymously, there necessarily exist limits as to what we can comfortably post because our blogs are public. Would we write publicly about difficulties in our romantic relationships, careers, childhoods, etc., given that our loved ones, coworkers, and friends could read those posts?

Indeed, while I certainly believe that meaningful relationships can be birthed, developed, and sustained online, we must consider how much we actually know of our “long distance” friends. given that we have, essentially, no access to their lives other than the glimpses they grant us. What are they like offline? What are we like?


On the other hand…

Speaking personally, I tend to feel disconnected from many of the people I interact with in person, largely because my head is often very much in the clouds. So many others seem to be focused on practical, earthly matters that wear me out.

Despite my skepticism regarding anything supernatural, I find conversations about belief, the history of religion, the sociology of religion, etc., very stimulating. Also, politics – deep political analysis fascinates me. And, of course, poetry – the exploration of the human spirit and reality filtered through the human eye.

In a sense, therefore, when I think about this blog on WordPress, and when I find myself wondering how well it actually reflects who I am despite all that I omit from it, I feel that it actually reflects much of the real me. This is where I thrive, in the realm of words and concepts, which lend themselves to introspection, poetry, and musings. These are the kinds of interactions I wish I could have with people “in person” – I’d love for all of my conversations to be over images and verses.

Really, as I consider this further, I feel that one cannot possibly know me very well today without taking an active interest in my Skeptic’s Kaddish. Here is where I explore life’s meaning.

Received: 2nd COVID-19 vaccine shot

… and I feel fine

It has been more than a week since my wife and I received our 2nd vaccination shots against COVID-19, and we are both in good health and feel well (I am 41-years-old, and she is 36-years-old). After both our 1st and 2nd vaccination shots, our arms were sore at the injection sites, but otherwise we experienced no noticeable side effects.

A younger cousin of mine (~38-years-old) who works in the entertainment industry here in Israel finally got vaccinated (even though she did not want to) because of the pressure put on her by her employer (and general society). To be honest, I didn’t have much sympathy for her vaccination skepticism, as I’ve written before. Simply put, these vaccines are the single best hope that our global society has for defeating COVID-19 and shifting back in the direction of normalcy.

For those who harbor concerns over the potential ill effects of receiving these vaccines, I recommend watching the following video, which is neither too long, nor too complicated to understand:

As of today, the State of Israel has now vaccinated more than 4.4 million people (48% of its population). Of the overall figure, more than 3 million people (33% of the population) have received the 2nd dose of the vaccine.

For those who are wondering how Israel was able to jump the cue when so many other countries are now struggling to get vaccines, the answer is pretty straightforward: some chutzpah… and a small population (1/33rd the size of the US). Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s embattled Prime Minister, has basically staked his career on the vaccine rollout, and he convinced Pfizer to supply Israel with enough vaccines (around 10 million) to cover the whole population, in exchange for sharing data in a kind of real-world vaccine trial…

Jamie Magrill, Times of Israel, Feb. 22, 2021

Putting aside whether or not I am comfortable with our Prime Minister sharing the Israeli public’s health data without its consent, which I am not, the fact remains that the State’s deal with Pfizer is now a fait accompli. Either way, the vaccine was made readily available to me and my family, and I did not hesitate in the slightest to take advantage of that privilege.

I’m aware of that privilege every day now: as I walk through the rainy, wintery Jerusalem streets, my body is working for me, building up immunity to COVID-19 and significantly lowering the chance of me becoming a super-spreader at work or in public.

-ibid.

Given that all human beings are in this boat together, as I see it, the major challenge now facing humanity is: how do we get the COVID-19 vaccine into the bodies of every human on the planet?

Especially in those countries lacking reliable and effective health infrastructures?


Introducing… ‘Green passports’!

The State is finally easing out of its 3rd lockdown (our daughter returned to preschool on Tuesday of last week, thank goodness), but now there’s a caveat: for full access to all of Israel’s recreational facilities, one must hold a ‘green passport’. These ‘passports’ are chief among the reasons that many Israelis are getting the shot (including my cousin, mentioned above).

The Israeli government has been campaigning hard, for its part, on all the benefits that vaccinated citizens will enjoy. These include access to leisure and cultural facilities (including gyms, sporting events, hotels, and swimming pools); and -in the future- mass events and travel. All Israelis who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease are eligible for a ‘green passport’.

The government, you see, cannot force its citizens to get vaccinated, but it can make life very inconvenient for those that do not. Some may consider this draconian, but I am fully supportive of this initiative. Simply put, vaccination against COVID-19 is humankind’s greatest hope for defeating this global pandemic. It was certainly my privilege to get vaccinated early (compared to the rest of the world) because I live in Israel; but – I also consider it to have been my responsibility.