Saturday December 14, 2019
Home Opinion My yoghurt st...

My yoghurt sticks are not offensive!

1
//

By Rebecca McCourtie

Despite the title of this series, I have always considered myself to be a good girl. Sure I have done the odd naughty thing on occasion, like had one too many vinos or dropped the F-bomb when it hasn’t been appropriate to do so, BUT I pride myself on the fact that I am on the verge of 30 and I have never been ‘kicked-out’ of anything. I have never been kicked-out of a bar. I have never been kicked-out of a pub or a club. I have never been kicked-out of a cinema. Fact is, I have never been kicked out of anything because I am a good girl… well, until today! Today I was kicked out of a church!

rebecca 4Allow me to back-peddle if I may and explain to you where exactly I am. Contrary to my assertion above, I did a naughty thing. I came to Jerusalem. I came to Jerusalem even though I told my Mum I wouldn’t. You see, my Mum and I have a very close relationship. I tell my Mumma err-thing about err-thing. The one thing she didn’t want me to do was visit any place that might be dangerous. Given the media coverage we get in Australia, this included Jerusalem. OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking: ‘cut the cord already.’ It may seem odd for some that I have a metaphorical umbilical cord attached to my Mum that has lasted thirty odd years and crosses continents, but I wouldn’t have my relationship with her any other way. That ol’gal has had my back through everything. From my first steps as a baby to my giant leaps around the world, that woman has been, and continues to be my solid! I would never want to do anything that might cause her to fret over me. So you will understand when I say: I lied out of love. I couldn’t come to Israel and not see Jerusalem!

I didn’t plan to go initially, but once over here I saw that all the tourists were visiting and no one seemed to tell me that it was dangerous. In fact, quite the opposite. Given that Jerusalem is one of Israel’s biggest tourist revenue sources, it is the most highly guarded and security present area. So you see, I have never lied before and I never plan to lie again, but on this occasion I thought it best to save everyone the angst. So I am here in Jerusalem and I have just been kicked out of a church!

rebecca 3

Essentially I spent my day just wandering the streets. I didn’t really have a plan to tick every box on the tourist map, I just wanted to wander and absorb the atmosphere. I think that is always the best way to get a feel for a city. So, as I wandered I happened to wander upon the Coptic Patriarchate. From the outside, the old stone building with all its intricate carvings and awnings looked breathtakingly spectacular. Naturally I decided to wander inside for a closer look. As I walked through the stone arch entrance I stopped to watch the people mid-praise/prayer/worship or whatever you like to call it. I am not very religious. I like to think of myself more as a spiritual soul. I basically try and live a good life of kindness and love. I don’t feel the need to partake in organized faith. I do, however think it beautiful for those who do.

As I stood and watched people kneel at the base of a stone slab, I wondered what, or rather who it was. ‘Was it meant to be Jesus?’ I thought to myself, simultaneously walking around the site to try and catch glimpse of a plaque that might answer my query. I didn’t even get half way around the bloody thing when a scary looking priest ran up to me and said: ‘no, no, no- you OUT! You come back covered.’

‘WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED IN THIS HOLY HOUSE’ I thought to myself as I was being enthusiastically ushered back out of the stone arch I had walked through moments earlier. The dude had to be joking. There were men walking around in shorts the exact same length as mine, but apparently I was the only one causing offense. I mean, common! It was just my knee-caps and a little bit of thigh. Jesus came from a time when people didn’t even wear panties, and here I was being told that the modestly covered yoghurt sticks I call legs were offensive! It was outrageous! Anyone would have thought that I was wearing arse-munchers and sporting a mad camel-toe with the reaction the priest afforded me. Not to mention the fact that my legs were far more decent than the veiled woman who was practically dry humping the tomb at the very same moment I was being kicked-out! I just wanted a quick walk through and then out. Unlike her, I had no immediate intention of physically mounting and crotch-thrusting any part of the interior. Alas, I was still deemed the offensive one and escorted out of the presence of the Lord in my shorts that were ‘too short.’

I was angry that the men who were wearing shorts the same length as mine were allowed to remain inside. Was I inappropriate because I was a woman? Surely the priests had more respect for men than that. To deem my legs a distraction was to undermine the intelligence and the perceived level of inherent self-restraint in men. It was a disgrace that even in today’s day and age my gender was an issue.

rebecca 1This little saga stands as a stark contrast to my time in Tiberias, where the man I was volunteering for took me and a few other volunteers to a hippie gathering/ kibbutz. That was a place where clothing wasn’t mandatory, but rather forbidden. I have never seen so many naked people in one concentrated area before. The smorgasbord of bodies was amazing. People come in all different shapes and sizes, literally (and I don’t mean just THAT part of the person)! Up and until that point, I had always thought of myself as slightly hippie/ alternative. I mean, I travelled to India for crying out loud! I was totally spiritual and alternative! Right? WRONG! I realized as all the hippies embraced each other and lay uninhibited in the water with their ‘privates’ not so private, that my ‘alternativeness’ stretched as far as buying organic fruit and veg from the market and occasionally rubbing coconut oil into my hair, not bosom bumping with a complete stranger on an elevated rock in the middle of the Jordan River. Needless to say I broke the rules and kept my clothes on. I need at least dinner and a few drinks before I take my clothes off for anyone!

I leave Israel in less than 48-hours. I am ready to leave. I have had some good and some bad experiences while roaming the ‘Holy Land.’ The Orthodox Jewish man who shoulder bumped me into the gutter in Tiberias and didn’t say sorry= BAD! The lovely Israeli ladies who I met in Poland and who invited me to stay at their house= AMAZING! Let me tell you, you know that you have met a quality pseudo-aunty in Israel when you leave her house hobbling from the weight of your over-stuffed belly.

So yes, Israel has been a mixed bag of adventures that I feel has definitely enriched my life. It is time to go though. Given that the Mediterranean weather has turned my hair into kindling and I now pose a fire danger every time I walk out into the sun, leaving for a cooler climate is in the best interest of my personal safety and that of those who are in my immediate surroundings.

Until we speak again…

  • Udi Avital

    Hi there
    My name is Udi, a tour guide form Jerusalem. Spent there most of my adult life and I find your post fasaniting
    Visiting the old city is the closet experience to time travel you can have. And when you visit the Coptic church dating back to the first centuries you should remember that you’re a time traveller from the 21st century and they’re… not.
    Visiting Jerusalem without an awareness of its history and importance to western culture is a big miss. Sure you can walk the streets and get the vibe like any other city, but you’ll miss Jerusalem.
    Coming from down under I guess it will be a long while until you’ll come back, but you’re staying around this hamosphire I invite you to redo Jerusalem, with my local advices and tips.

    And a word for your mum, TV and papers sell ads. Their job is to exaggerate and make money off disasters and violence, better talk to the locals

SHARE
  • Udi Avital

    Hi there
    My name is Udi, a tour guide form Jerusalem. Spent there most of my adult life and I find your post fasaniting
    Visiting the old city is the closet experience to time travel you can have. And when you visit the Coptic church dating back to the first centuries you should remember that you’re a time traveller from the 21st century and they’re… not.
    Visiting Jerusalem without an awareness of its history and importance to western culture is a big miss. Sure you can walk the streets and get the vibe like any other city, but you’ll miss Jerusalem.
    Coming from down under I guess it will be a long while until you’ll come back, but you’re staying around this hamosphire I invite you to redo Jerusalem, with my local advices and tips.

    And a word for your mum, TV and papers sell ads. Their job is to exaggerate and make money off disasters and violence, better talk to the locals

Next Story

Netanyahu Personifies The Corrupting Force Of Power

What is sad about all this is that Netanyahu has all along put his self-interest above the party and the nation

0
Netanyahu
Having served as the longest prime minister in Israel’s history, insatiable hunger for power of Netanyahu and desperate need to escape the indictment was first and foremost in his mind. Wikimedia Commons

By Alon Ben-Meir

The long-anticipated indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally come to pass. For three years, Netanyahu spared no effort to scuttle three criminal cases against him, but failed. These charges and their implications have now become rather clear. They have occupied Netanyahu’s thinking as to how to save himself and maintain his position as Prime Minister. They have impacted Israel’s policies, in particular toward the Palestinians, and without a doubt the charges have adversely impacted Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government following the last two elections.

In the first case, Case 1000, Netanyahu is charged with receiving gifts from Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan in return for political favors. In the second case, Case 2000, Netanyahu was accused of striking a deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to provide Netanyahu with favorable coverage in return for politically targeting a rival newspaper. In Case 4000, the third charge, Netanyahu took steps to benefit his friend Shaul Elovitch, who controlled Bezeq, in return for favorable coverage on Bezeq’s news site Walla. The first two cases charged Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust; the third case added charges of bribery as well.

Netanyahu made a supreme effort all along to have these charges dismissed, claiming in the first case that it is acceptable to receive gifts from friends. In Case 2000, he claimed that he and Mozes were basically fooling each other and had no intention of following through, and argued in Case 4000 that asking for favorable coverage is not bribery.

In April of this year, Netanyahu continued his effort by initially trying to reinstate a 2005 immunity law which gave the Knesset House Committee the power to reject the Attorney General’s request to rescind immunity of any particular MK. In May, Netanyahu planned to push through a new law that would allow the Knesset to protect his immunity. This would have allowed the Knesset to ignore any High Court ruling on administrative matters, including potentially revoking Netanyahu’s immunity.

Netanyahu
For three years, Netanyahu spared no effort to scuttle three criminal cases against him, but failed. These charges and their implications have now become rather clear. Pixabay

And in July, realizing that he couldn’t pass such laws, Netanyahu claimed “No one is changing the law, it doesn’t need to be changed, and I won’t need it at all… it isn’t necessary at all because there has never been anything and there won’t be anything.”

The three indictments were a menacing dark cloud that hovered over Netanyahu’s head, and have had a significant impact on his political decisions. He sought to demonstrate that the charges were largely frivolous and that he is the indispensable leader that will safeguard Israel’s national security.

But the greater impact of these charges on his behavior was more related to the Palestinians. He needed to show toughness and an uncompromising position – not only to cement his right-of-center base, but to demonstrate that he is the only leader who can pursue policies consistent with Israel’s presumed national aspirations to control all of the ‘Land of Israel, including the West Bank. Other than continuing to expand and legalize settlements, he announced more than once that following the formation of a new government, Israel will annex significant chunks of the West Bank, to continue to please his base.

Perhaps the most important impact of the charges was his inability to form a government twice this year, in April and September. Because as a sitting prime minister he would not be indicted, he insisted that under no circumstances would he relinquish that position, knowing that an indictment against him will force him to face trial. This was given an even greater urgency after the second election, when he and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz attempted to form a unity government.

For the same reason, Netanyahu insisted that in a rotating prime ministership which both sides agreed upon, he would serve as prime minister for the first two years. Since Gantz refused, especially given Kahol Lavan’s larger mandate and Netanyahu’s pending indictment, Netanyahu is opting to go for a third election within a year, hoping against hope that he will emerge as the winner with a greater mandate to form a new government.

What is sad about all this is that Netanyahu has all along put his self-interest above the party and the nation. Having served as the longest prime minister in Israel’s history, Netanyahu’s insatiable hunger for power and desperate need to escape the indictment was first and foremost in his mind.

For a man who professes to love his country and has dedicated all his life in the service of the state, he failed to grasp that in the final analysis, Israel’s survival has not and will never depend on a single individual. Had he indeed been concerned with the welfare and the security of Israel, he would have agreed to serve in a rotating unity government with Gantz on Kahol Lavan’s terms, and spared the country the pain of going through a third election. His failure, and the subsequent failure of Gantz himself to form a government, may well push Israel now toward its third election in a single year.

Netanyahu
Perhaps the most important impact of the charges was inability of Netanyahu to form a government twice this year, in April and September. Because as a sitting prime minister he would not be indicted, he insisted that under no circumstances would he relinquish that position, knowing that an indictment against him will force him to face trial. Pixabay

In an open letter to Netanyahu in October, I wrote “It’s time for you to go. There is nothing you can do that others cannot do just as good if not better. Resign your post; turn to the Attorney General to drop the charges against you. The nation will forgive you for your good intentions and some deeds… Unless you want to end up in jail just like your predecessor, spare the nation the humiliation and pain.”

ALSO READ: Jio Mobile Service Gone to the Dogs?

Sadly, he did not heed such advice, regardless of its source, and now he may very well end up in jail and stigmatize Israel for having been led by corrupt leaders who seem to have always put their personal self-interest above that of the nation.

____________
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.