Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Putting A (Well Behaved) 2-Year-Old To Bed


In my Visiting Bubbeh persona, I found myself babysitting two of my granddaughters the other night. Their eldest sister Y was out at a barmitzvah with her parents. They live in New York. 
R is 2 and FB is 6. 



R is in her preferred state of nudity+nappy. And purple socks. We are in the front room, where there are many books. 
-Ok, here's the plan. I'm going to read you these 3 books and then we'll go upstairs and we'll put pyjamas on you and then I'll read you 2 stories and then you'll go to bed. Ok?
-Ok. 
(Read 3 books. Go upstairs)
-Look at these pyjamas, aren't they cute! I got them for you. I am a major supporter of Peter Alexander. See, Eiffel Tower on the front! Pink! Ok on goes the top. And now the shorts! 
-NOOO!
-Oh you want them on back to front? Ok, why not. Happy?
Nods. 
-Which books do you want me to read? Oh this one? Longish? With 4 stories in it? Umm. Ok. 
(Start reading while FB hops and jumps and climbs and forages while R giggles)
-Um FB I think you should go to your room and wait till I'm done here, you're distracting R, ok?
FB-Sure. (Bunny hops out.)
R-Another book!
-Ok, that's what Bubbehs are for. Which one?
-Wild tings!
-Oh, I know that one! Where the Wild Things are. And here's the book! 
Wait, it's in Spanish. 


FB, is there an English version somewhere?
(FB pops head into room.)
-Sure. 
-Can you get it?
-Don't know where it is. 
-Oh ok then. I guess I'll manage. 
(FB pops head out of room.)
-Here goes: 'La noche que Max se puso un traje de lobo y comenzó a hacer una traversura tras otra, Su mamá le dijo: "¡ERES UN MONSTRUO!" y Max le contestó:"¡TE VOY A COMER!" y lo mandaron a la cama sin cenar-
-Need pishy. 
-Umm, ok, even though you are wearing a nappy, sure. 
(Off with the back to front shorts and the nappy.
FB, ever helpful, readies the step set for the toilet.)
R sits. Smiles. 
-Do you really need pishy?
(Dreamily)- Kaki. 
-Oh really? And yet there you sit, and nothing happening. 
You know, I think you are totally stooging me and you don't really need, right?
-Pishy kaki. 
-And yet you are doing nothing. 
(Shrug)
-Ok, that's enough. 
(Back on with the nappy and the back to front PJ shorts.) 
Let's go to bed. 
(R runs into sisters' room and snuggles into a bed, plays possum)
FB -She can stay there! I don't mind!
-Uh yeah, as if the two of you won't be running around as soon as I turn my back. 
Come on, into your cot!
-NOOO!
(I pick her up, and deposit her in her cot. She sits up.)
-Water. 
-Ohhkay. 
(I go to bathroom again and fill cup. She drinks.)
-Tenk you. 
-Ok, now lie down. 
-F'ozen!
-What?
-F'ozen! 
(Points to slim reader emblazoned with the ubiquitous princess sisters and Olaf the snowman)
-Oh ok. One more then. 
(Fortunately book has about 4 words per page. )
-Blanky. 
-Blanky?
-Blanky. 
-I didn't know you had a special blanky...FB, where is R's blanky?
(FB pops head back into room)
-Don't know, Y had it before and she put it somewhere. 
-Great. 
-You can just take one out of that cupboard. 
(Pops out)
-Ok (reach in, take random flannelette blanky)
-NOOO!!
-Hey, ok ok, what about this one?
(I take out almost identical one.)
-Yes. 
-So lie down, I'll cover you. 
(Lies down, snuggles under blanky.)
Shema
Kiss
Shlof gezunt. 
(Close door. Blessed silence.
That only took an hour and a half.)
FB -Can you read Willy Wonka to me?
-Of course. The night is young. 


*The photos used are not my grandchildren. Mine are much cuter. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tween girl

I've been wanting to write about this fascinating stage of childhood which we have come to call 'tweenage', 8-13 or 14, and when I started it came out like a poem. So I went with it. 


Tween girls
On the brink of they don't know what
Not little kids anymore, they think
Posing in front of mirrors (or any reflective surfaces)
Examining faces, imaginary blemishes
Hand on hip, pelvis tilted, looking back over shoulder at reflections
Shy smile, bold smile, batting lashes
Minx coquette and yet
Innocent. 
They can't know what lies ahead. 
And then giggles and tickles and being mean to little sisters
then being helpful 
To mum and then hating her and then wanting her stuff and her approval;
And then
Attitude. 
Clear skinned and coltish and pouty and laughing and cartwheeling and twirling
unselfconscious and self-conscious in turns
Sitting hugging knees, or with legs flung out, unashamed and then embarrassed
Flick hair up flick hair down 
Side pony tail then not, then braids then not, hair never long enough
Bikes and skates and scooters and longing for makeup
Hate boys like boys hate boys 
Dirty boys stupid boys 
Boys
Too old for play dates, too young to hang out at the mall Hanging on to older girls, sitting at their feet, worshipping and listening and learning
They don't know what
They are
Between
Tween




Thursday, 9 June 2016

Yizkor





I first encountered death of a family member when I was 18. My brother Yehuda had been killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. After that, my parents were subsumed with grief and went AWOL as it were, mentally and physically. They went to Israel to visit Yehuda's kibbutz several times after that, and would stay away for around 6 weeks at a time. 
It was during one of these absences that I first found myself without my family over a Yom Tov. 
I was spending Yom tovim and Shabbosim in the home of Rabbi ID Groner during the times that my parents were away, so over the years I would have spent every Yom tov there. I was a part of the 'family'. And although I'm not really a shul-goer, I did go to shul, and Yeshivah was my shul. 
So came the inevitable time of Yizkor. All I knew of yizkor was the Gabai's THUMP on the Bima, and the announcement 'Kinder arroys!' And of course when I was a Kindt, untouched by bereavement, that's what I did. I went out with all the other kids. Who knew what went on in the shul for those 15 or so minutes that we kids all milled around and chit-chatted outside? Old ladies stayed in and we went out. 
But at 18 at that time in the davenning, suddenly I didn't know what to do. Do I stay? Do I go? Is it only about parents or also siblings? For whom does one 'stay in' for yizkor? Never thought about it. The Tehillas Hashem siddur says only parents. But everyone else says siblings too. What is it about, if not remembrance, obviously, and why would one not memorialize a brother? So I stayed. I didn't say anything but I stayed. 
I saw old ladies (of course I am now older than many of those old ladies) weeping quietly and swaying with their faces hidden in their machzors. I heard murmuring of silent prayer. I heard the Kel Melai Rachamim, maybe for the first time, and then it was over. 
Afterwards, at lunch, R Groner told me that I shouldn't stay in because my parents were alive. Oh. Whoops. But I don't remember if I gave it much thought because when you are 18, even a traumatized 18, life beckons; well, it did me anyway. 
My mother was also not a big shul-goer, and had been raised in a traditional but pretty secular family. But she always made a point of going to Yizkor (Yisskeh, my Aussie mum pronounced it, as she mispronounced so many Jewish terms - 'Mejeshem' instead of 'Im Yirtzeh Hashem', Moydi Ani, Kenorah, a sort of pastiche of Tzvosser Yiddish and Australian vowels). She had bad knees and hips and walked with a cane from her mid 50's but she would go for Yizkor come rain or shine, to Yeshivah until she could no longer make the distance, and then to Adass which was much closer to home. She had lost her parents while in her 20's. 
She passed away when I was in my 20s and her 31st yohrzeit falls on 10 Sivan. Her last Shavuos was terrible, awful, and has cast a cloud over Shavuos for me ever since (and then my other brother died 2 Sivan, so.) which I try to dispel by making a Kiddush in her name. 
And I always go to Yizkor. Rain or shine. Just as she did. 
It's not as if I don't think about my parents every day. Your loved ones are never forgotten. 
It's not as if I don't dedicate Tzedaka to their names anyway, or at least I think I would, even without the prompt that the Yizkor prayer gives me. 
Those few minutes of time with others who have lost parents- and sooner or later, in the natural order of things, that means everyone- give me a few minutes to remember and to really focus on them, and also to realize how we are all temporal and temporary beings, yet we are also part of an endless chain. 
I still don't know what to do during Yizkor. The prayer that my parents - and, less officially, my brothers- are in Gan Eden and the pledge to give Tzedoka in their names take only a few minutes. Then the Av HaRachamim and then the chazan's Kel Melei Rachamim- it all takes about 3 minutes. What am I supposed to do the rest of the time?
Remember. 
That's all, I guess. 
Remember. 
Sometimes with my face shielded by my machzor as I weep silently. Like the other old ladies. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Yom HaZikaron 2016

Today, Yom HaZikaron, I addressed the high school students of Yeshivah College in Melbourne. I don't know if many knew about Yom HaZikaron, but I think they do now. Here is the text of my speech.



Thank you for inviting me to speak.

My brother, Yehuda Pakula, was 17 when he left Australia in 1968.
He left for several reasons.
He wished to explore his roots in Israel, as our mother’s family came to Australia from Tzefat, pre WW1.
He wanted to visit ancient places about which he had learned in the TaNaCh while at school in Yeshivah College, where he had just completed year 12.
He was inspired by the recent miracle of the 6-Day-War, and wanted to be part of the thrilling story of Modern Israel.
AND
He had been the target of one too many anti-Semitic attacks, where he had been pushed off his bike, beaten and called a ‘bloody Jew’.

He bought a one-way ticket to Israel and swore that he would not return to Australia.
We must be careful what we wish for. He never did return.

After meeting family and doing some touring, he did Ulpan on Kibbutz Sde Eliahu and integrated very quickly into the kibbutz community, eventually becoming a Chaver Kibbutz and then a member of the ‘Yachdav’ Garin. He was expert in driving heavy tractors to till the fields for planting. He had found his niche.
He enlisted in the IDF January 1971, underwent basic military training and joined the Armed Corps as a tank driver.

He was on Miluim, reserve duty, when he was stationed at the Mezach, on the Suez, and was one of the first casualties of the Yom Kippur War, falling on the 6th of October, killed by a sniper’s bullet fired across the Suez. He had been due to be married in November of that year. He was 22.


His platoon were forced to surrender after a week of fierce fighting, under constant artillery attack by the Egyptians. They were out of food and ammunition, and the IDF had not been able to rescue them. The commander of the unit, Shlomo Erdinast, aged 21, insisted that the Red Cross be present for the surrender, which took place on the 8th day of the war, a Shabbos. The men had washed themselves and their uniforms as best they could so as to not go down in history humiliated and in tatters, rather as proud representatives of Israel.

Erdinast had also insisted that the Red Cross supervise the return of the 5 fallen to Israel for burial. But this did not happen; Yehuda and his fallen fellow soldiers were left where they fell. The bodies were not returned for burial until after the 1978 Camp David Accords.  They were left for 5 years in the desert. After the Accords, IDF soldiers with specially trained dogs were brought to find the remains which were identified with their tags and with dental records. Yehudah was brought to Kever Yisrael in Har Herzl military cemetery.

Yehuda’s death was a terrible tragedy in a terrible war, and it took a terrible toll on my parents.
 My father was a Holocaust survivor who had lost most of his family, including his first wife and 2 sons, murdered by the Nazis.

My mother never recovered emotionally and died 11 years later of cancer, but grief definitely played a part.

I was 18 and my parents were devastated. There was no such thing as grief counseling then, and we survived in our own ways.



My parents and I were flown over to Israel by the Israeli Government in December, shortly after Yehudah’s death was confirmed as his platoon which had been taken prisoner by the Egyptians was released after 5 weeks, in prisoner exchanges. We stayed on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu where we all were assigned jobs; for my parents, my father especially, work was therapy as he was skilled with a sewing machine and mended all the kibbutzniks’ clothes.

It was a strange, difficult time in Israel after the war. People were mourning; every family had lost someone or had a wounded son.
To give you some perspective, the population of Israel at the time was under 3.5 million; 2,688 soldiers had been killed and about 9,000 physically wounded. These numbers do not take into account psychological injuries. There was a sort of numbness in the people, which ran parallel with frenetic activity and partying of the youth. The economy was pretty poor then and people were struggling. I was only 18 and spent a lot of the time on kibbutz. It took me years to even realize that I was also psychologically affected, not least because my parents, my mother especially, were prisoners of their grief and were functioning at a very low level, getting the bare minimum done in order to live; it was a very quiet house.



Fortunately I was able to focus on my medical studies and with the seeming carelessness of youth, I had a busy social life and was active on campus, editing the student newspaper, getting involved in student politics, campaigning for the release of Soviet Jewry etc. Around 1970 Ali Kazak had come as a PLO lobbyist and started whipping up pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiment on campuses. There were rallies and there was violence but I feel it is far worse today.


Unfortunately, Israel has had to make too many sacrifices in fighting for her freedom and very right to exist.

But, until Moshiach comes, we must be prepared for this terrible ongoing loss of life in defence of our land; we must be strong and of good spirit, Chazak veAmatz, because Eretz Yisrael is all we have.
It was true for Yehuda and it remains true today.

Far all those, nearly 28,000, who have fallen in defence of Israel, and as victims of terror:
YEHI ZICHRAM BARUCH.

Am Yisrael Chai.




Sunday, 8 May 2016

One Damn Thing After Another

Suddenly the house is so quiet. Suddenly I have time to organise my thoughts and put them down in writing. And of course, I go blank.
After the torrent of events and celebrations and some glitches - good old raisins and almonds, sweet and bitter- suddenly I am drained. Depleted of adrenaline. Just plain old tired, with my 60 year old body creaking and groaning and whingeing about everything. Shut up, already! Here, take a Celebrex and leave me be!

The last of the Pesach visitors left this morning and after weeks of Party Central, endless noise, people wandering about looking for things to eat, Olympic-level grocery shopping, sampling every kosher eatery in Melbourne after Pesach at the behest of My Daughter The Chef, after the Seudahs and Yom Tovs, including all the celebrations for 2 new grandsons and a Sefer Torah, after all the 2, 3 and 4-year-old grandchildren battling for control of the toy stroller/easel/scooter/teddy- quiet.
Even my work phone has gone quiet- not complaining! Need a break!

And the weather has gone all wet and mopey, after 2 weeks of almost perfect days, children playing in the garden, meals fressed al fresco. Today- grey and windy. (Sort of how I feel.)

And Mother's Day yesterday. Bless. Mother's Day is not for mothers of young children, and if I ever hear another idiot say 'But EVERY day is Mother's Day', I will afflict them physically. All I ever wanted for MD was to be left alone for the morning and not to have to do laundry or cook or work or anything. I never wanted poxy breakfast in bed - yuk- but I was polite enough to fake it until the kids actually understood that I didn't want it. When the kids were grown and had kids of their own, we started doing brunches at home, because people who take small children out to brunch on MD are delusional. Adults can take out their mothers, do whatever they want, why not? But it is only torture to take out a bunch of young kids,  and I can assure you that the mothers of said kids are not having a good time.  I speak as a grandmother of 13, KA'H, B'H, ptu-ptu-ptu, but even one small child will make eating out unbearable as a rule. So please, be sensible, save all that for when your kids are grown up enough to actually pay the bill.

And the 'Yoms'. Yom HaShoa last week, Yom HaZikaron this week. As a member of a family of 2nd generation Holocaust survivors who also lost a brother in the Yom Kippur War, I feel bookended by misery. I still don't know how they switch from sorrow to elation the way they do in Israel, from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut; flick. From wailing sirens to dancing in the street.

So I guess this is what passes for a breather in my life! I sound like I am complaining, but I'm not. My life is privileged and amazing even if I don't go around hash tagging how blessed I am. It's just life: 'One damn thing after another', as Mark Twain put it.

But I don't know what to do with myself. So I thought I'd write about it.

(Huh, looks like the sun's out again.)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

WE SHOULD NOT EXIST

We shouldn't exist. We should never have been born, conceived, thought of. We, the children of the survivors who lost their first families, their spouses, their children, their extended families. 
My father should have been able to stay in Dzialoszyn with his wife and sons, his sisters, their mother. He should have been a successful tailor and his 2 small sons should have grown up and learned trades or professions, along with their unborn siblings. 
My father in law should have been able to live comfortably in Sosnowitz along with his parents and siblings. He should have married a nice Jewish girl from Sosnowitz and settled down to raise a family, who would then raise theirs in turn. 
Maybe some of them could have gone to Israel - which would have been established anyway and where Jews lived even before it was declared an independent state- to live a Zionist dream. But if not, they would have probably stayed in Poland. Or maybe gone to America to seek their fortunes. 
My father's and father in law's parents should have died in ripe old age surrounded by their loving families. 
Instead, my father followed 2 of his sisters to Australia, May 1939, as the situation for the Jews was not good. He kissed his wife and little sons goodbye and he hugged his mother and other sisters and promised to get papers for them to join him. 
He tried but he ran out of time. They all perished in the Holocaust. 
My father in law and one brother were the only survivors of their family. Parents, siblings, cousins- all murdered. After a 4 year convalescence in Davos, recovering from the unspeakable horrors of the camps, he went to Australia. He married another refugee from Russia and they raised a beautiful family. 
My father married a spirited Jewish Australian girl and had two more sons, and me. 
I married my husband, children of survivors and refugees together. We have children and grandchildren. We are blessed. 
But we shouldn't exist. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

WOULD YOU LIKE SOME ANTI-SEMITISM WITH YOUR HUMMUS?

I'm not writing this because I am upset about the Australia Day ad. It's a marketing device to sell more lamb, after some 5 years or so of creating an association between the eating of Australian lamb with the patriotism of Australia Day. The ad is pretty silly and has its tongue firmly in cheek. It tries to please everybody - there's Sam Kekovich, for the footy legend lovers! There's Lee Lin Chin for the Multi-Cultis! There's a bearded hipster type who has 'gone native' (hmm, poor choice of expression as you will soon see) and vegan in Brooklyn, allowing for some sledging of vegans. There are other people who are probably some sort of celebrities but I have no idea. It's a silly but pretty expensively produced ad which makes no concession at all to political correctness. I fond it pretty funny, but it won't make me buy more lamb because kosher lamb it hellish expensive and my lot aren't such big fans anyway. And thumbing one's nose at PC is pretty Australian, so I guess I like the ad more than I dislike it.
Now, one of the rules of life is that no matter what happens, there is always someone who will take it too seriously. And political correctness is the latest and greatest way to suck the joy out of anything remotely light hearted or humorous in life. And the next step in PC is not to open avenues of discussion but to shut down debate and shout down anyone who might have another opinion. So comedians such as Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld no longer give free shows on university campuses because there are too many people who take offence at the 'microaggressions' in their comedy routines, and the po-faced PC student activists have won. Way to go. <slow handclap>
And of course any political opinion that varies from the PC brigade's is protested and shouted down, often violently, no debate is allowed, and this occurs at universities. Back in the day, the university was the place where all ideas were supposed to be discussed and exchanged freely and fearlessly. But not now, in many such places of higher learning. Never let truth distort one's preconceived opinion or belief! And that's progress.

Enter Ruby Hamad.
Her piece was forwarded to me, because I had no idea who she is, but I sure know now.
She starts off with a tirade about this ad, pointing out that the ad 'contributes to everyday cultural erasure.' The use of the term 'Operation Boomerang' in the ad, where Aussies overseas are brought home to Australia so they won't be deprived of lamb chops on Australia Day, well, that's cultural appropriation. On a day which many indigenous people of Australia call 'Invasion Day', to use an icon like the boomerang, to talk of bringing white people 'home' to Australia, is 'to celebrate the triumph of colonisation.'
As I was reading this, I actually thought she made some good points. Yes, the Indigenous people of Australia had a terrible time of it. Yes, the history of colonisation is a cruel one. When a Mother Country sends out its people in order to exploit resources or land or native peoples, the outcomes are rarely pleasant for either side, one the side that 'wins' is usually the invader, because they have more sophisticated weaponry among other reasons. We see how things played out over the centuries, some ways better than others. From Cortez and the conquistadores in the Americas, to the Portuguese in South America, to the Dutch in the East Indies, to the British in India, in Africa, in the Middle East, and the French in Indochina, and the Belgians in the Congo and so on. And the British in America, whether the 'Founding Fathers' or the military; and the British in Australia, looking for where to park their petty criminals while expanding the Empire.
The era of colonialism spanned many centuries. And that's just 'White European' colonialism. Do I have to go as far back as the Roman Empire? What about Imperial China? Or even modern China, in Tibet. What about Arab Slavers exploiting Africans, and forced conversion to Islam?
Long, long history. Mother country, sends out its people to exploit the resources of another country for reasons of expansion and acquisition of riches. Indigenous people suffer, die, are converted to different religions, are treated as inferiors. Strong establishes mastery over weak. Indigenous culture destroyed by disease, by alcohol, by conversion. That's the scourge of colonialism.

Now for the concept of 'cultural appropriation'. The boomerang as a 'potent and recognised symbol' used to celebrate the 'triumph of colonisation.' Using the recognisable symbols of a defeated people in mockery of them, or just for fun, or because it's there. I confess, I don't like it when Australians or other non Native Americans wear feather headdresses, at parties or for fun. I certainly don't like it when people dress in blackface or brownface for fun, and I have been guilty of this at times in the past (specifically on Purim, wearing a sari and brown makeup complete with bindi. I wouldn't do that now.) I have learned to be more sensitive to issues of race/ skin colour mainly from the US experience, where the twin historic facts of destruction of indigenous people and importation of African slaves have given rise in certain parts (but not all parts) of the country to a form of 'White Guilt'. The struggle to become a post-racist society is a real one, and it continues. (But would I boycott the Village People, because one member is an 'Indian Chief'? No. Would the group, if it formed to day, feature such a character? I don't think so.)

So for the first few paragraphs, Ruby kind of had me agreeing with some of what she had to say, although I didn't like the strident and sophomoric way in which she said it. But she had some decent points.
AND THEN.
And then. She managed to segue into an anti-Semitic rant.
Somehow, selling lamb chops as 'Australian', even though the sheep is not even a native animal! becomes how the Israelis  (i.e., the Jews, not the Israeli ARABS), have stolen hummus.
And in this act of cultural appropriation, they have erased the indigenous link of the Palestinians to their national food; not 'cultural appreciation', but 'cultural erasure'.
And it was then that I realised that Ruby Hamad is an anti-Semite who has completely swallowed the canard of White Jewish colonialism, fed directly by the 'Palestinian narrative' aka the bullshit story negating any historic truth, which fuels the current conflict there today.
Nobody seems to care about historic truth anymore, and this piece will go on forever if I spell it all out, so I will try to use bullet points to destroy her 'argument'.

  • Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel. We would not be sitting on the floor and mourning the loss of Jerusalem for the past 2000 years every Tisha B'Av otherwise. We would not pray for Jerusalem every day in every prayer, at every wedding, after every meal, after every Yom Kippur and Pesach Seder, if the connection to Jerusalem and Israel and the Jews were not a deep and true one. 
  • There has always been a Jewish presence in the land, whether after the Roman destruction all the way to the Ottoman Empire and after, in the modern era. All the attempts by the (Jordanian) Muslim Waqf to destroy the ancient historic record of the Jewish Temples etc, are doomed to failure, because the record is so strong. And try as you want, Mahmoud, the Menorah is a far more potent symbol of Jewish identity than anything you can come up with. And they just keep finding these coins and sherds emblazoned with menorahs EVERYWHERE.
  • From 1948, 800,000 Oriental Jews were stripped of all assets and kicked out of their Arab countries where they had been for hundreds if not thousands of years. Most of these Jewish refugees went to the nascent state of Israel and became Israeli citizens. I can assure you that these Levantine Jews knew what hummus was. (BTW, many spoke Arabic and followed Arabic customs, but they observed the Jewish religion. You could say that these Jews were also Arabs, but don't let that do your head in.)


  • Thus, to speak of the Jewish Israelis as if they were all of Ashkenazic origin, or 'white', is complete nonsense. Ditto, to say that modern Israel exists only because a bunch of Europeans who were guilty about the Holocaust decided to give Israel to them in order to assuage their collective conscience is a puerile and ignorant opinion.
  • Who are the ethnic Palestinians? I can tell you with certainty the the term 'Palestinian' was reserved for the Jews in Mandate Palestine, and an Arab would have been offended to be called that term. The Arabs were proud to be called Arabs. 'Arab' is not a nationalistic term; it describes a people of a certain culture who speak Arabic. The Arabs of the area had links over family and tribal lines which did not adhere to any borders drawn before or after 1948.
  • The term Palestinian, referring to Arabs, mainly but not exclusively Muslim, only came into common use after the 1967 war. There is no ethnic group called 'Palestinian' who have a special and unique culture. They are Arabs and they enjoy Arabic food and music and clothing and language.
  • If Jewish Israelis are colonialist, please tell me 1) what Mother Country sent them? and 2) what resources were they exploiting? What sort of colonialism is this? Answer: IT'S NOT. It's return to homeland.
  • I could go on and on, filling in the gaps and going over the historic record, but I think this is enough for here and now.
Ruby, I see it like this. The Jews in Israel SHARE with the Arabs a culinary tradition which relies on foods that grow in the area. A Jewish Israeli, as well as an Arab Israeli, is entitled to call the falafel an Israeli national food. Because it is. I'm sorry if you feel that this causes 'cultural erasure' of the noble Palestinian people. Jews and Arabs have a long and chequered history in the area, and I'm sorry if you think that having light skin or blue eyes makes a Jew less of a Jew and less entitled to be in the Jewish homeland. That actually makes you racist, I think. My (blue-eyed) grandfather and (brown-eyed, olive-skinned) grandmother were natives of Tzefat; they were Ottoman Palestinians. They had every right to be there and eat hummus as well as couscous and preserved lemons, and stuffed courgettes and ful, and so do I. 

Your attitude may feel oh-so-noble to you and your fellow travellers, but it's just another example of racist anti-Semitism, and it just feeds into the lies that perpetuate this tragic conflict. Not to mention the reversal of reality. It's not the Jews who want to 'erase' the Arabs; it's the Arabs, specifically the Muslims, who want to annihilate the Jews, and make no secret of it. If the Palestinians wanted peace, they would have had it a while back. They would be minting currency and printing stamps and welcoming tourists to the beautiful Gaza beaches and the historic (Jewish) heartland of Judea and Samaria, aka 'the West Bank'. But they, and all the Arab states, only seek the destruction of the Jews and the appropriation of their land which they have paid for over and over again, with blood and treasure, for centuries.

Yesterday I heard on the radio how avocado on toast was a 'classic Aussie breakfast'. Why, If I were a MesoAmerican, having my native avocado appropriated like that- why, I would ...what would I do? Nothing. Just eat it. Bon Appetit! (Oops, that's French!)