My Name Is Taylor – The Holy Riot in Front of Binyanei Hauma

One of my favorite movies of all time is the screen adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel Monkey Planet to the big screen as the blockbuster film Planet of the Apes in 1968.  Despite the passing of the years, advances in computer graphics and good acting, as well as great producing and directing in the recent reboots, I think the original is the best.  Even at the height of the Vietnam War, it was controversial.  It challenged every accepted norm in religion, the superiority of man and our continued future reign as the dominant species on Earth.

Ever since I saw the film as a kid, I identified with Colonel George Taylor who was portrayed by another of my favorite actors, Charleton Heston, although now I feel like him more than ever.  Rod Serling of the classic Twilight Zone series was one of the script writers for Planet of the Apes, giving it that special twist. Certainly, Israel has a lot of similarities with Serling’s classic television series in many ways.  Well, last night was such a step into the zone.

On Sunday evening, January 26th, haredim basically shut down the city with their stupid riot. I thought of that scene from the Planet of the Apes where Taylor is in a cage yelling “It’s a madhouse, a madhouse!” He lost access to his love the beautiful female Nova as Taylor is sprayed down with a fire hose by his keepers and tormentors in a change of cages.

Because of the idiots, I couldn’t go to see my kids after work, losing precious time I have with them as a divorced dad.  I think that such holy work of the Jerusalem Faction should not be ignored, hence my present rant, because I speak for the frustration of a lot of hard working people that have to work their butts off to pay the taxes for a good portion of these miscreants.  In general, most outside of the haredi community serve in the Army and in general take crap like this every week and seemingly now daily for the foreseeable future.  I thought the young men were supposed to be engaged in Torah study, no?  Instead the street in front of Binyanei Hauma opposite the express rail station looked like an amalgam of all of the first five Planet of the Apes movies, complete with water cannons and police on horseback.  Who will win this war?  After all, it is a kultur kampf.  Winner will take all.  We will see if we can have a sane society or a theocracy with our own self-appointed ayatollahs looking after our virtue, even if they have none and we don’t want them bossing us around.

Almost every day in Israel is a struggle, but the last year has been off the charts on almost every level. The elements of the haredi community who do the rioting, as annoying as they are, are certainly only a part of the problems Israel faces.  In their case, I must regretfully state that I think most of the rest of them are complicit, at least in their acceptance of the ever increasing lunacy of the fanatic fundamentalists.  Again Rabbi Litzman, your silence is deafening.

I can state not so politely that I can’t tell you how often I have regretted aliyah due to the stubborn and stupid malfunctions here in Israel on basically all levels, especially when I am working eight jobs but am poorer than ever before in my life.  Sorry for getting this off of my chest, but I think I speak for a lot of immigrants to this country.  Frankly, the actual daily abuse, petty and worse, gets on a person’s nerves.  You don’t get used to it, at least not if you are a normal, thinking individual and so please don’t gaslight me that I’m imagining it when it happens every single day that you are just so glad to be over with.  You don’t have to be crazy to become Jewish and to move to Israel, but it probably should be added to the job description.

We came in 2006, largely for the Jewish education of my children.  While I dressed aliyah in Zionist colors, I really just bugged out like George Taylor.  I figured there was a better planet.  I apparently was wrong.   After coming to Israel in 2006 with my young family, a divorce and a later move to Jerusalem where I have now resided for five years, I must declare the place insane.  While my relationship with the haredi community is the most complex and conflicted, frankly the majority of the population, particularly in Jerusalem has the manners and inclinations of a hand grenade with the pin pulled.  Additionally, I could back up my general observations with statistics (there isn’t room here, just read the papers) for what I see anecdotally daily-the population is treating each other ever more viciously.   After five years in Jerusalem, I have been ran over by a car (with several other close encounters) and lived near almost continued riots in the haredi area I used to live in where hooligan elements of the that community regularly like the Jerusalem Faction try to burn down the neighborhood, try to lynch the coroner, molest children and won’t seat the elderly and handicapped on buses, all with no condemnation from the haredi religious parties.  For instance, did any of them apologize for last night?  Don’t hold your breathe waiting. I felt safer in Chicago.

Whatever your stripe, religious, political or cultural, don’t pat yourselves on the back.  The political system here is such a joke, it is appropriate that the state of Israel scheduled its third snap election in the last year to fall near Purim.  Why not have two such days in one year?  Bibi rules by playing off one extremist group against another instead of consensus building.  His courting of past untouchables in Kach is just one example of that, not to mention his corruption charges.  Admittedly, my native Chicago and the state of Illinois have a long tradition of corruption and the US government as well.  After all, maybe this is why Bibi and dumb Donald get along so well.  Watch out though, you might want to ask the Kurds about how their great ally America has screwed them five times.  Sometimes, with friends like the Donald, you really don’t need more enemies.

Unfortunately, the joke is not funny and gets less so as time goes on.  This dysfunctional society had better get its act together.  We may have war on three fronts this year.  Dysfunction brings death, especially in the armed forces (just ask IDF ombudsman General Brick when he said the IDF was not ready for war when he retired at the end of 2018).

Frankly, the state I moved to is, to quote Dirty Harry, a legend in its own mind.  The “startup nation” is where it is because of immigrants, donations to Jewish organizations here from overseas Jews and Christians and US government money, particularly military aid.  If the financial pipelines are shut off, Israel is screwed.  Consider that some 1 out of 9 Israelis live overseas.  They either can’t stand it here, mentally or financially and a lot more want to leave and could if they had the means.

Frankly, I’m only still here now because of my kids and now some group of morons takes even the privilege of seeing them away from me.  It’s time Israel takes a good look in the mirror and fixes basic problems (like letting 10% of the population run the country by free reign and free ride) before a war forces it to with all of the attendant and tragic injury and loss of life due to infrastructural, societal and political collapse and stupidity.   The region we live in is full of failed states. Civilization and society is fragile and it can happen to us too.  It has happened to us before and it can happen again.

Until then, my name is Taylor, because I think I may have crash landed on a strange planet and I’m not sure if it’s my own.  Increasingly, it seems like the Planet of the Apes or the Twilight Zone and I keep asking how I came to be a willing part of it.

About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.