Special Apps

Don't shoot the messenger, especially when you find out about the death of Osama bin Laden on your new iPhone.

Just what I needed - for the Americans to liquidate bin Laden on the very morning when I am supposed to write a column. It's not enough that I'm confused because of Holocaust Day, Remembrance Day and Independence Day, not to mention revolutions, massacres and reconciliations; I've barely had time to get up in the morning when I discover that bin Laden has been murdered.

On the other hand, I found out about bin Laden's liquidation via my iPhone.

That's right, my new iPhone, which I allow to sleep next to me. I just opened my eyes, gave the iPhone a good morning greeting and pressed the mirror application - what a wonderful application it is: Press a button and the iPhone becomes a mirror. "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" I asked, as I do every morning. But I got no answer, because for that you have to download an app that costs money, and so far I am avoiding that.

Illustration (Amos Biderman)
Amos Biderman

"Well, are you getting up?" my wife shouted from the bathroom. "I'm in a rush for work, you take the kids today."

"Alright, alright," I said, as I downloaded the app of a cat that repeats what you say in the voice of a cat.

"Not funny," she said, and I recorded her, too, and played it for the kids, who didn't laugh in the least. Because it was the morning of Holocaust Day. Both of them were already wearing their white shirts. My daughter rehearsed the text she was going to read in the ceremony at school and my younger son was watching a program on the Children's Channel and was appalled at what the Hebrews, as he calls them, had experienced.

I turned on the GPS application, chose the address I wanted and drove according to the directions of the iPhone to the school - a place I have been driving to for the past seven years.

"Dad," my little son asked from the back seat, "how could they have done that, I mean, how really? Why?"

"Because, my sweet, there is something called racism. It starts slowly, people talk small and it grows, and what happens is that you stop seeing that the person opposite you is a human being. He becomes something else, an object, you know, like a box. You look at someone but you don't see anyone. You think he is not like you and then you can do whatever you want with him. At first you say you mustn't be his friend, then you say you mustn't live next to him, that it's forbidden to go to school with him; that this is forbidden and that is forbidden, until he becomes someone who is allowed to be killed. You don't even understand that it's forbidden - on the contrary. But that was back then, my sweet, today it's impossible to do that. That was a long, long time ago and people behaved differently," I tried to reassure him. "You have reached the destination," the phone told me, and there I was, at the entrance to the school.

"Take care of yourselves, kids," I said and recorded it with the cat - there was a gloomy atmosphere and I tried to amuse them. "Dad," my daughter said, looking right and left, "you're embarrassing us."

I got into the car and requested the instrument to get me home. I had just started to leave the parking area when the phone rang. What a lovely ring, like in some American TV series. My wife's picture appeared on the screen. "Why don't you put it on video call?"

"Because I don't want to see your face."

"What happened, what happened?"

"Nothing, nothing. So are you going to Yad Vashem today?"

'No," I replied, surprised. "No way. I have a column to write. I'm going home and you are making it hard for me to hear the directions."

"So you're going to abandon your wife?"

"What?" At first I was taken aback, then I laughed, because I realized she must have downloaded some app for her iPhone. We bought two on special. "Does it cost money?" I asked her.

"I want explanations now." She sounded determined.

"What in the world are you talking about?"

"About the article someone pinned to my Facebook board."

"What article?"

"An article saying that the real reason Juliano Mer-Khamis was killed is because of his parents' mixed marriage."

"What does that have to do with me? I never met the man." "Then listen," she declared, and started to read from the article of some Haredi journalist who is preaching racial purity. "The headline of the article is 'My blood runs cold when I see an Arab talking with a Jewish woman.' And about you he writes, 'Sayed Kashua, a young Arab author, lives in Tel Aviv with a Jewish woman, part of whose family was wiped out in the Holocaust, and that pig, too, has succeeded in becoming a Tel Aviv bon ton in the name of the wholesale slaughter of everything that leaves a collective memory of us as a people. As one family. As Jews."

"But it's a lie," I cried out.

"How do I know that?"

"It's true that my dream is to marry an Ashkenazi woman and live in Tel Aviv, but you know how hard that is here."

"All well and good, but it still says in the paper that you are living with a Jewish woman."

"Great, a newspaper. You know the kind of twaddle I write in the paper."

"That's true, but I need more proof."

An idea popped into my head. "You know what? I'm going to download the lie detector app right now."

"No, no," she shouted.

"Why not? Isn't it reliable enough?"

"I know, but there's no need."

"So you believe me?"

"If you're ready to download an application that costs money, I believe you."