Sometimes, when there is an ongoing story that could have important implications for life here in Israel, I follow the news. This week, I had the strange feeling that the news was following me. On a trip to the North, I found myself in Akko. As lunchtime was fast approaching I chose, at random, a restaurant from the many lining the streets.
A glance at the menu in the window was enough to get me inside and sitting down — steak with a choice of mashed potatoes, rice or chips. I took a menu from the waiter and checked my choice. But looking more carefully, I was astonished to see, in very small print, that the steak could only be accompanied by chips “for children.”
Resisting the urge to throw a childish tantrum, I called the waiter. “Steak with chips.” I said in a strong and confident tone.
You can order a plate of chips, I was told, but your steak only comes with potatoes or rice.
I asked for the restaurant’s definition of a child — perhaps, at 75, I could just scrape by. The waiter would not commit himself, but was sure that a 75-year-old did not get chips.
I had to accept that I was not a child, but being an adult does have some advantages – after studying the menu, I ordered a beer.
No beer today, I was told, Ramadan. But you are serving food, that’s just as forbidden. The waiter didn’t bother to reply. I finished my steak with potatoes in puzzled silence. There was a logic here that I did not understand.
Later in the day I watched another adult behaving rather childishly as she failed to get what she wanted. Theresa May even managed a rather theatrical tear as she gave up her premiership of the Disunited Queendom. (The United Kingdom has never been more divided and there hasn’t been a king for many a year.) Her problem, it seemed, was Brexit. For my younger readers, those lucky 5-year-olds who get chips with their steaks, who might not have heard of Brexit, don’t worry, when you are grown up Brexit will still be with us; it will be your task to try and understand it.
Watching Mrs. May, I was reminded of the old story of the newspaper reporter looking for the mayor of a small town in the Pale of Settlement. He asks for directions to mayor Cohen’s office. Mayor Cohen? You mean Thief Cohen, go that way. Mayor Cohen? You mean adulterer Cohen, go this way. Mayor Cohen? You mean Swindler Cohen, go here. When the reporter finally catches up with Cohen he asks him why he wants to be mayor. For the honor, of course, replies the mayor.
Supporting Mrs. May, one of the shortest-serving prime ministers of modern times, is now beyond the pale. She has been condemned by most commentators and leaves with no significant achievements. She is learning the hard way that, when the chips are down, no one is her friend.