Call My Bluff

We were brought up in a dichotomy. Mum ruled, and we adopted her lingua franca. Mum had an internal and external dialect. The Yorkshire Polish princess spoke with a distinct Yorkshire accent, she knew the spoken dialect – she rarely used it. Her internal dialect was subtler. Smog up North made for less visual clarity; this was more than compensated by the bluff Yorkshire conversation. In Yorkshire, a spade is not a spade it is a ‘bloody shovel.’

Polacks prefer subtle answers always conveyed by the Polish semaphore. The vocabulary is a dying art form consisting of a complex array of any numerous combinations of movements from the shoulders to the finger. While Mum said one thing the semaphore was the valid nuanced message. Subtle facial expression reinforced the semaphore. Nigh-on land-locked  Poland had discovered and adopted a complete set of nautical communications- semaphore and Signal Lamps. In any conversation, we listened to the speaker and watched Mum.

Our Mother solved the conflict between her two styles of communicating. Mum adopted the Warshowski golden rule. Whatever her father said became the Oral Law; there was one for every occasion. Yorkshire folk love idioms. We were brought up nurtured by a rich broth of phrases like, ‘A fool and his money—’ ‘Many hands make light work.’ Mum added Granddad’s Oral law which allowed Yorkshire bluffness: ‘I like what is right,’ and ‘ a liar is a thief.’

Speakers of untruths were called a ‘Blosser.’ Blosser was from the Yiddish to blow, and idiomatically its polite transcription would be to blow hot air- a bluffer. In the lexicon of those days, it meant more. Ms Benjamin took a distinct disliking from day one to Obama. If she had heard his arrant nonsensical ‘Leading from behind,’ her comment would have been, ‘Speaking from his behind- a true Blosser.’ Yes, Blosser means a lot more than bluffing; the hot air has more than one source.

All of which leads directly to our Israeli staple diet and obsession – Isro-Bluff. Isro-Bluff is Polish verbal communication adapted to our environment. Before we arrived, the Middle-East had mirages. We added the oral equivalent – Isro-Bluff. Of late, this phenomenon has been adopted and honed to a new level. Like everything else in Israel today, it is Netanyahu-centric; everything in Israel is described and ascribed in terms of our Prime Minister.  The North Koreans are amateurs. Unlike the North Koreans, we are not united in our opinion. Israel is split into two warring camps, Bibiphiles and Bibiphobes.

In the latest election, again  the two camps were evenly split. Who was to lead us? As we tussled with the issue along came Corona. And the scales were tipped. Bibiphiles pointed out a successful campaign. Again, they crowed, ‘We cannot exist without this man.’ Slowly reality started to bight. The Palestinians had done better, as had many other countries. We realised that the elderly and infirm, the population at risk, were thrown under the bus. Worse still, we had mobilised to ‘save the health system.’ The same health system Nethanayahu had decimated. Then we found out that the mobilisation had a been a hysterical over-reach. The questionable actions to save the health service was at the expense of undeniable crippling of the economy. Evident to all is superficial decision making and woeful execution. Bibi’s Churchillian moment became amateur hour; the erstwhile spirit of start-up morphed into a familiar state of cock-up.

This week the country is to enjoy yet another session of gross over-pre-occupation in the never-ending Bibi saga. We are to see Bibi fight the High Courts yet again. St George and the Dragon staged in Jerusalem.

On coming to Israel, I had to learn to communicate. Mum’s ways were a good start, but there is more. Hebrew is a beautiful descriptive language. Words nestle in groups a slight change in the construction of the word gives a subtle transformation in meaning. A delightful example is the word North. Add one letter and North becomes a compass. Yet another letter, and we have the word conscience. Your internal, moral compass is the bearer of your convictions. It points to the correct path.

The High Court has to decide. Have they the courage of their convictions? Can they face down Bibibluff? An indicted man can neither govern his city nor bear high office. Is it right that an indicted politician may become Prime Minister?

Will the High Court show they hear the voice of Leib Warshowski saying, ‘I like what is right?’? Or are they to be another set of Blossers?

About the Author
Born in Leeds in 1944, Michael Benjamin is a retired Psychiatrist and medical auditor, co-founder of Oranit, aspiring author and inveterate cynic.
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