Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

Here goes gratitude

Emoticon by Traderb90, via Wikimedia commons
Emoticon by Traderb90, via Wikimedia commons

I’ve been told my posts are too strident, that I’m always complaining. So here goes an attempt to exercise my “gratitude muscles”:

I’m grateful for climate change. In this heat, my chili plants are putting out more and hotter chilis than ever before. Since my environment minister is too busy worrying about noise pollution near her house, there are no restrictions on watering and my chilis are ecstatic. Okay, the eggplants have turned a bit bitter, but who can blame them? Plus, who would have thought we would think 35 degrees (centigrade) was cool?

I’m grateful for terrible trio – Ben Gvir, Rothman and Levin. They have reminded us how vital and fragile a thing is democracy. Without them, we would have continued to take our rights for granted. They are breaking something we might, if we really try, put back together even better than before.

Ditto for the ultra-Orthodox parties, for admitting out loud they have zero investment in the idea of democracy. If democracy in the country rests on a single sentence in its Declaration of Independence, the current slacker lifestyle of the Haredi community rests on a shaky band of extortionate concessions that keep the wobbly coalition going. Like crypto-billionaires, they are keeping their heads down, hoping we won’t notice. Thankfully, we have noticed. They are reminding us the country is not split in two – it is split into many pieces. And we are reminding them that democracy may not be the ideal kingdom under the messiah they have been waiting for, but it beats human dictatorship any day.

Without them, we would have continued to take our rights for granted

I’m grateful to the air force reservists who resigned. They are exposing the lies on which our military is built. The first lie is that the IDF is separate from politics. If that were true, why would we have a minister of defense appointed by the prime minister? Why is it the prime minister who declares war? And why is the military paying the price for the governments’ failures to advance any sort of peace process?

They are exposing the lie that our army is a “people’s army.” That idea went out with the last of the socialist Knesset members. Like it or not, the pilots who regularly bomb targets in Syria and the intel, cyber, tech and computer units that keep tabs on our friends and enemies are the professional core of the army. About half the young men and women who finish high school or yeshiva do not enlist at all, and a great deal of those who serve in fighting units do so out of a belief in serving their country.

There is a reason the reservists are referred to as “volunteers.” Generals can plead with them, politician can denigrate them, but ultimately, their stance in saying they have had enough is quite strong.

So yes, I am grateful to them for resigning en masse.

We’ve been called a stubborn, impudent people, and that is something to celebrate this week

I am grateful to all the women, men and children who marched to Jerusalem in the July heat, to those who carried children on their backs and wiped the sweat from their eyes with damp caps. I’m grateful to the point of tears for the beautiful sight of thousands marching toward the cable bridge at the entrance to the city.  To everyone who brought the marchers food and water, who showed up to demonstrate Saturday evening at one of the hundreds of protest sites around the country. I grateful to everyone who has refused to give in, week after week. We’ve been called a stubborn, impudent people, and that is something to celebrate this week.

I’m grateful we’re heading for a general strike. I’m looking forward to shutting everything down, for mayhem and chaos. Like Yom Kippur, kids will be out on bikes and traffic will come to a standstill – just with a lot more noise.  Yet in spite of our environment minister, the air will clear for a few minutes, and we might all see one another plainly. We’ve all chosen sides, so we can, thankfully, stop with the “all one people” trope. We’re not all one people, and that’s fine. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for those who stand for seeing our differences and making room for all of them.

I’m grateful – I am – for the birds in the loquat tree that wake me up at sunrise, for the heat-stroked flowers in my garden, for my family and friends. I have been blessed. And yet, I am impudent and stubborn, and I’ll continue, thankfully, to “complain.” Because if we can’t talk about what’s broken, how will we know what to fix?

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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