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Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a Jew. Such as this week, when I compared the reactions of Christian priests and Catholic monks and nuns to the natural disaster in Southeast Asia with that of my rabbis. France 2 devoted most of its evening programs on Monday to a broad fundraising campaign in aid of the disaster victims, under the title "Solidarity for all." Over and over Father Pierre, an elderly priest who for years has devoted his life to helping the homeless and the destitute, urged all viewers to open their hearts. In exterior appearance, Father Pierre resembled in every way one of the spiritual leaders of United Torah Judaism or Degel Hatorah, his scraggly beard trembling as he spoke and his words mumbled. The only difference was that while tens of thousands are in torment in that end of the world, Father Pierre weeps for those who lost even just a plate of rice and enlists the entire Christian doctrine, unconditionally, calling on children to send the pocket money they received during the holidays to the needy. Whereas here, Father Pierre's Jewish counterparts not only do not have a word in their hearts for sufferers who are not Jewish - their main objective is to obtain improve financial terms in return for entering the government.

I zapped back to the fundraising broadcast on France 2. Prisoners in a Calais detention facility donated 600 euros. In the small village of Germaine, the baker, M. Christian Carl, declared that for every cake he sells in honor of Epiphany, on January 6, he would donate 1 euro to the tsunami victims. Donations poured in from all over France. Just then, on Israel's Channel 10, a chaplain appeared, Rabbi Nir Avivi, who "supports refusal," because that is what Rabbi Mordechai Shapira commanded. "Look," he stammered. "I think, first of all ..." Tens of thousands may be killed, but he will go on maintaining, "Look, first of all, we are committed to the Torah." And that's the whole difference.

Gender bender

On Tuesday the Knesset marked "Hebrew Language Day." A crew from the "Mabat Rishon" current events program (Channel 1, 7:30 P.M.) approached Knesset members from various parties and tested them. Is the noun tsomet (junction) male or female? Matan Vilnai (Labor) failed the test. Rabbi Benizri (Shas) was asked whether gerev (sock) is male or female; he didn't know. Not did he know for sure what the Hebrew date was. Others showed greater ignorance. Ophir Pines (Labor) cried out, "Why are you testing me?" and fled.

These knowledge quizzes are no more than a curiosity and prove nothing, as MK Yossi Sarid (Yahad-Meretz) said justly. He was interviewed in the studio by presenter Geula Even, as one who knows proper Hebrew.

The MKs' linguistic march of folly can be seen in the way they bend and twist words that are not necessarily Hebrew, such as demokratia. MK Uzi Landau (Likud) told Channel 2 News on Monday (8 P.M.) that the prime minister's behavior is "non-democratic" and "dangerous to the democratic regime." On Tuesday, another of the defenders of pristine democracy, MK Effi Eitam (National Religious Party) was shocked on "Mabat Rishon" at the pressures and threats that were exerted on cabinet ministers and MKs to get them to support the disengagement plan, which makes the vote on disengagement "non-democratic." The demagogic brandishing of the word "demoktratia" for purposes of incitement is perhaps what the Knesset should have addressed on Hebrew Language Day. Afterward, when it is satisfied, if at all, we will clarify the gender of gerev and tsomet.

What a coincidence!

According to the official explanation of the IDF Spokesman's Office, as quoted on "London and Kirschenbaum" on Monday (Channel 10, 7 P.M.), the soldier who fired into the groin of Majdi al-Arabeid, a Palestinian cameraman who worked for Channel 10, in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, did so because he thought, mistakenly, that the cameraman was about to launch an antitank missile at him. The flimsiness of this excuse was demonstrated by the footage of Channel 10 correspondent Shlomi Eldar, who was with the cameraman when he was shot, which documented the shooting and wounding of the cameraman, together with the terror of the television crew, whose defense forces became its persecutor.

It was fascinating to follow the verbal and stylistic processing that the incident underwent in the "London and Kirschenbaum" studio. Shlomi Eldar described Al-Arabeid as a friend of long standing, and as a true professional who courageously stood up to the attacks on him by other Palestinians, who accuse him of betraying the Palestinian cause. He added that when the cameraman regained consciousness, the first thing he asked was how his friend Shlomi was. To which Yaron London responded emotionally by wishing "our colleague" a speedy recovery, graciously granting him equal status.

Thus is fashioned a story which describes in an elegiac tone, not so much the injury to a person but rather the injury to a person who worked for Channel 10 and was, curiously enough, a Palestinian. Of this Ionesco would have said, in his drama of the absurd, "The Lesson": "What a coincidence!" More simply put, journalism that turns coincidences, however shocking they may be, into the be-all and end-all, cannot be serious journalism. It follows that Channel 10 will never be serious even if it shows all the empathy in the world to its Palestinian cameraman.

Thanks for the inanity

The dating show "Foreplay," hosted by Galit Gutman (Channel 10, Monday, 9 P.M.), which is intended to find the best-suited man for a woman out of a group of four, this week departed from its usual practice and replaced the woman with a beefy fellow who has no problem with his homosexuality and is looking for the right guy out of four beefy guys who have no problem with their homosexuality. On the one hand, the program was a celebration of liberalism and normality in relation to homosexuality. The program showed that gays seem to be exactly like their straight colleagues when they place their physical attributes and their character traits on sale on television: that is, completely inane. All of them told their prospective partner that they wish him the formula of plastic happiness in the form of the slogan, "We'll have fun together."

It's sad to think that for this gays were burned at the stake in the Middle Ages and sent to concentration camps by the Nazis and tortured in various ways under the communist dictatorships and shot by policemen in the Stonewall riots in New York - so that beefy guy "A" will present beefy guy "B" with the statuette of a Cupid and they will both kiss warmly and receive, in gratitude for their inanity, a fun holiday in the Swiss Alps.