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Let’s not talk about politics

He has a sinking feeling about all those who don't want to rock the boat

Let’s not talk about politics. After all, it’s your grandson’s birthday; no one wants to spoil the party. Why divert attention from the birthday boy and upset all our wonderful relatives and friends who wish him only the best? We’re all here to raise our wine glasses, make a l’hayim and schmooze about agreeable subjects, the children, God bless them, the great weather, praise God, the price of real estate in Tel Aviv — well, that’s getting borderline political. Let’s leave out the real estate before someone mentions the homeless in the park. And by all means, let’s not breathe a word about the people who run this country like they’re driving down the coastal road without brakes. Let’s not even suggest that they are a threat to everyone here, including your grandson, God bless him.

Let’s not talk about politics. After all, it’s Friday night and the whole family is here. The set table, the lit candles, the chicken in gravy, rice on a platter and the smile on our faces as Grandpa makes the kiddush should be enough to keep everyone calm. No need to ruin the shabbat spirit with talk of controversy, from the subtle daggers that are wielded by politicians to stab rivals in the Knesset to the carving knives sported by mad natives to maim citizens of Israel. And please don’t turn on the news at 8. There is no reason to disenchant the kids with talk about this week’s violence; it can only spoil their innocence. No need to disillusion the young adults serving in the IDF; it might compromise their idealism. No need to disgruntle the getting-older folks who have already seen their most cherished hopes fade. And no need to destroy Grandpa and Grandma with the notion that the mess they are leaving us to clean up is no less corrupted than that old world they once sought to change.

Let’s not talk about politics; there’s no room for it in the workplace. We’re here to do our jobs and be team players, even if some of our teammates don’t see things eye to eye. So what if you’re in the right and you’re co-worker is so way out in left field you don’t know where he’s coming from? So what if you’re in the consensual center and every time you look around, you can’t tell if middle Israel is moving right or left? Let’s make our bosses rich, keep our families fed, and leave politics to the politicians, who expect us to just shut up until the next time they need our vote.

Let’s not talk about politics; there’s no room for it on this boat. Those who rock the boat just make things hard on the passengers, and we’re all together on this voyage. It doesn’t matter what you or I have to say; it has all been said before by those who get paid by our taxes to steer the ship of state. And if they are not held to account for their sense of direction or lack thereof, what can we, the voters, do about it anyway? Aren’t there enough things to complain about in Israel? Must we argue endlessly about who’s right and who’s wrong? Aren’t we all in the same boat?

But the officer of the deck on watch spoils the moment with the question: Why not talk about it now while we’re still afloat? The puzzled glances of the sunbathing wayfarers are challenged with a rude awakening: If we don’t right the ship now, we’ll all end up pointing fingers and saying “I told you so” on a sinking ship. At which point an old sun worshiper rolls his eyes and mutters, “Party pooper.”

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.