With the approach of a new year, the list of hit songs of the year was released. I’m not a music critic and can’t comment on the different genres, rhyming schemes or quality of the songs. You can do that for yourselves.
I chose instead to read the lyrics of all the songs and found that almost all the texts were about male-female relationships. Many of the them spoke about what is and what is not permissible: cheating on one’s partner, hiding things from them, agreeing and disagreeing with them. All the boundaries have been breached. ‘Static and BenEl’ hint in their song: “Maybe she will agree if she drinks another glass or two…” and in another song: “The rumors are she says no to everyone / the rumors say no girl has said no to him / maybe he should be more open with her / then maybe something will happen.” I also read the lyrics about the girl who was spotted in Haifa with someone, who wasn’t her boyfriend, and a song about a woman who is told: “I don’t care what you say / it doesn’t matter what you think.”
I cannot but wonder where is the uproar from the women’s movements, the feminist MKs, the religious MKs and ordinary parents. Let me be quite clear, I am not advocating censorship by law, but it is permissible to voice an opinion and raise awareness about the themes of popular music in Israel. Because that’s what sinks in, what our children sing without even thinking of the meaning of the words, and what creates our children’s and teenagers’ outlook on life. The lyrics of these songs are far more pervasive than the life-skills lessons taught in schools.
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Esther Hayut was appointed this week as President of the Supreme Court of Israel. Will she be a legal activist or a conservative? What are her views on Basic Laws? The Knesset’s authority? These are all important questions, but only to a certain degree. Justice Minister Shaked’s thought-provoking speech about the state of the judicial system is also important, but once again not the most important issue. Not one of the congratulatory speeches in the past few days mentioned the most basic issues: the backlog of cases, the bureaucracy and the heavy workload of the judges.
When I was a legal affairs reporter, I spent many years in the corridors of power chasing down senior political figures to hear their opinion on high-profile cases. However, in the canteen I met the ordinary people, the ones who truly need the legal system. They told me about the real problems they encounter. They don’t care about the High Court decisions on fundamental issues which read hundreds of pages long. They are concerned with one simple question: How long does it take for justice to be done? The views of Supreme Court Presidents Barak and Cheshin are of no interest to the man or woman on the street. They want to know when the District Judge will set the next hearing in their case and how long they will have to wait till he or she actually turns up to begin the hearing. When the wheels of justice grind slowly, it is justice itself that is harmed. This is as basic as the discussions on Basic Laws.
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The month of Elul is a fitting time to consider a news item as a spiritual parable. When the list of Netanyahu’s phone calls to Amos Regev, the editor of the Yisrael HaYom newspaper was published, I looked at the exact times of each call – 22:35, 23:00, and an additional three calls until 00:30. Everything is recorded.
Our Sages tell us in Ethics of the Fathers: “Consider three things, and you will not come to sin. Know what is above you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.” This piece of advice is often mentioned before Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment. Take a look at the list of Netanyahu’s phone calls as part of your preparation for Rosh Hashana. It is a good reminder that all our deeds are recorded, even the small ones. Nothing is erased, everything is reckoned and measured, even if we are not the Prime Minister.
The same can be said about the scandal surrounding Eran Zehavi, captain of Israel’s national soccer team, who tore off his captain’s armband and threw it to the ground following the loss against Macedonia. If you wish, there is also a deep lesson to be learned from the reactions to his act. When religious people complain of behavior that “hurts their feelings” they are generally mocked and told to grow up and get over it. However, we now see that everyone has a symbol they hold dear. It is hurtful for any of us to see a meaningful symbol thrown to the ground, to see the lack of respect accorded to it. Zehavi desecrated his position in the team. The ensuing hysteria may have been exaggerated as if Moses had broken the Tablets, but it clearly demonstrated that there is indeed such a thing as hurting someone’s feelings and showing disrespect for a symbol.
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I recently had to drive from Jerusalem to Bet Shemesh and, based on previous experience being was stuck in traffic jams there and back, I allocated a whole hour for the journey. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Waze and indeed, by the drive itself. Route 38 was officially opened this month and has completely changed the drive to Bet Shemesh with its bridges, interchanges and multi-lane highway. A real pleasure. Similarly, the final, southern section of the Begin highway in Jerusalem was officially opened this week. After many years of traffic jams, the capital finally has a fitting entrance from the south. For some reason, these two dramatic items, did not make it to the headlines.