On Sunday, a wise and courageous Hebrew-language writer said some very harsh things. And not in the context of sales promotion for a new book. It was David Grossman, who on "Mabat," the daily news program broadcast on Channel One at 9 P.M., called on IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers to refuse to obey orders of the type given to the army on the eve of Yom Kippur, when in contradiction of a Supreme Court decision they were told to expel the temporary Arab residents from the caves and tents near Sussia in the Hebron Hills. A soldier who finds himself in such a situation, said Grossman, shouldn't lose his head, and should try not to be a part of this military shredding. The injustice was prevented in Sussia thanks to a delegation of leftists who stopped the soldiers from carrying out the expulsion, but in even making such a blatant injustice possible, said Grossman, we have taken another step toward recognizing that "maybe we are no longer us."
Writer A.B. Yehoshua looked much less wise, when in a discussion of his new book with the Middle East specialist Reuven Snir (Channel Nine, the academic broadcasts, University of Haifa) he presented himself as the pillar of common sense, who doesn't understand, on the one hand, the complex jargon of the periodical "Teoria U'bekoret" (Theory and Criticism), doesn't understand, meaning dismisses; and on the other hand, in speaking of the Arabs, Yehoshua claimed, in spite of the strenuous protests of his interlocutor, that the Arabs "are not in the Western culture" because, among other things, one doesn't see them at concerts. As opposed to him, apparently.
A lovely answer to the issue of the Jewish people's love of concerts was brought by a film shown on "Arta" (Sunday, 7 P.M.) about successful Israeli woman clarinetist Sharon Kam, who is married to a German conductor. At first glance, a film to arouse pride, when Kam joined the Artemis quartet in selections from the Brahms Clarinet Quintet and from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, or selections to the accompaniment of pianist Itamar Golan. But soon the artist doused the patriotic enthusiasm. In a long complaint, in fluent German, on the background of the Tel Aviv seashore, with her children playing in the sand with their father, Kam said that "in Israel, nobody knows what classical music is." When she told a grocer that she plays the clarinet and her husband is a conductor, he asked her if that is someone "who does this and that with his hands."
The photo of worldwide reconciliation
Yom Kippur - for anyone who shut himself in the house in front of the screen - seemed to be dominated by the sad photograph that was repeated over and over again on all the foreign news stations, the photo of the worldwide reconciliation between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, during the meeting at the Dehaniyeh airport, with the voice of the photographer saying something to them, and with them pushing themselves up with blatant lack of enthusiasm, one from his golden rococo armchair, the other from the sofa, and shaking hands.
On Yom Kippur, with strange symbolism, Pope John Paul II visited Armenia, which was commemorating 1,700 years as a Christian country. The head of the Catholic church was reconciled with the head of the Armenian church, and in some kind of memorial tent in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, the BBC broadcast the report showing the Pope placing a red carnation at the edge of a round installation with an eternal light in the center (BBC News, Wednesday, 9 P.M.). The Pope refrained from using the word genocide to describe the murder of the Armenian Muslim victims symbolized by the flame, and did not say a word about who murdered them. To mention forgotten genocides of Christians by Muslims is taboo nowadays, in the spirit of worldwide reconciliation.
How sad it was therefore, the next day, on the French 5 News (12:30 P.M.), to see the French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, 78, who was flown to Armenia to sing for the Pope. The microphone shook in his hand, and his voice is only a distant vestige of what it used to be. The voice of the Armenian people "whose parents did not educate them to hate, but to remember."
In Kabul it was not necessary to wash dishes
Holiday zapping: On the Austrian religious program "Church Diary" on SAT 3 (Wednesday, 10:15 A.M.), Dr. Eveline Goodman-Thau, the Dutch-born rabbi's wife who lives in Vienna, spoke of the solidarity and the pain of the bereaved mothers, emphasizing the end of the biblical verse: "Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled over her children, for they have gone" (Jeremiah 31:14).
At the same time, on CNN, there was a report about Anthony Loperlo, a cleaning man from the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. A simple American family around the kitchen table. The widow says: "He wasn't a vice president or a president. But at work he got respect, there he was like a president." On the Fashion channel, at 12:14 P.M., a display of women's underwear by Chantal Thomas. At 12:20 P.M., German SAT 3: A report on an Austrian Catholic, the son of a Catholic, who at one time decided to convert to Islam, and received the name Mohammed Naim, grew a wild beard and went to live in Afghanistan with his wife and his young children. Now they have been forced to return, to the shock of their Austrian neighbors, who wordlessly prune their hedges. Mohammed, formerly Friedrich or Franz, misses Kabul. There, he says, we ate with our hands, on the floor, and we didn't have to wash dishes like here. French Canadian News, 1 P.M.: After three years of preparation, it was decided to cancel the exhibit by 26 Canadian Arab artists, which was supposed to open at the Museum of Cultures in Montreal. The reason for the cancellation is unclear.
Beware of cooks with a sense of humor
I was happy to hear poet Mordechai Geldman say that he is sick and tired of those people who think that cooking is a means of connecting with a culture, and who waste his time with various descriptions of dishes they learned to prepare at various cooking courses. And these gastronomic nuisances do in fact have journalistic and television models, on local and foreign channels, who do their work while putting on a show, and pretend to laugh at themselves. Beware of cooks with a sense of humor, who are the most boring of all.
A cooking program I consider good is that of Johann Laufer, broadcast every Tuesday at 4 P.M. on SAT 3. The German humorlessness is a kind of blessing here, and one can be happy even with the clumsy setting of the table at which Laufer and his wife sit when the preparations are completed. In the middle of the Yom Kippur fast I found another solid cooking program, without gimmicks or tricks. It is called "Delicacies from Austria" (SAT 3, Thursday, 5 P.M.), and that week it was held at a famous old Viennese restaurant. The menu was simple: A smoked salmon terrine covered with cucumbers. After it came an oxtail goulash, accompanied by a boiled loaf made of leftover bread, cooked wrapped in a kitchen napkin. And for dessert: Creme Malakoff. The chef explained everything slowly and thoroughly, and hardly looked at the camera. His practicality captivated me ... I wrote down the instructions as he recited them. The next day, I went to look for an oxtail for goulash. I breathed a sigh of relief when they told me they were all out.
Marc Weitzman's war
A young, brilliant French journalist, Marc Weitzman, put his life on the line in order to preserve the honor of Israel in the culture program "Campus" (France 2, Thursday, 11:05 P.M.), on which he is a regular guest. Weitzman, one of the editors of the most highly regarded cultural magazine in France today, "les inrockuptibles," who wrote a book about Israel called "War Book," dared to claim on the last edition of "Campus" that the picture of Mohammed Dura, the boy who was killed in his father's arms during the first day of the Intifada, is a false propaganda photograph. The audience was furious. One young man burst out saying - the program is broadcast live - that in his opinion, the photograph of the attack on the Twin Towers is the false photograph, because one day it will become clear that it was not bin Laden who committed the act, but Israel.
After things calmed down, an interview in French with A.B. Yehoshua was broadcast, who seemed to be talking about the confusion of the Israeli left.
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