Download as PDF - http://bit.ly/NotAllMenOriAlon
Hidden Fortune Wheel, ECN&InfoWars, Sanctuary City DIY documentation and more Supportive Bureaucracy news (newsletter update 04/18/20170
My fellow Americans (and Global Citizens),
Last summer I offered Playful Paperwork services at the RNC and DNC. As part of my role as the Executive Empowering Clerk of the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy I issued Joy Permits, Forgiver’s Licenses, Racism Release Forms, Open Carry Permits for musical instruments, OK Parent Awards, Village Fool Diplomas, Pain Deeds, Apology Declarations, DIY Certificates of Recognition, Adults Special Achievement Stickers, Refurbished Report Cards and other official documents. During the Democratic National Convention I was interviewed by the popular conspiracy theory website InfoWars, and although I presented my work as a non partisan project my liberal agenda was exposed and I was bombarded with hateful comments calling to deport me (to wherever it is I came from). Even my beautiful unibrow was made fun of and the concerns I’ve raised were ignored. I managed to be in denial of these comments until I woke up on Nov. 9th and decided to rethink my artistic path.
I applied to be the NYT music critic. My reviews were published worldwide at the popular website Facebook and influenced numerous people.
Read more of my music reviews at my post election memoir Gender Neutral (Birth of Evil) here or at the file attached.
(From Gender Neutral) Invite the ECN to conduct Office Hours / intimate workshop at your community! Contact for details. Conditions may apply. See transFORMation attached PDF for more information.
This summer I am working with the artist Ana Gallira on a new compassionate art project, the Hidden Fortune Wheel - spin the wheel and win the unique existential opportunity to be in someone else's shoes! Explore how it is to be an immigrant, Muslim, Black, transgender, other gender, wheelchair bound, bankrupt, child, elder and more. Participants will be invited to imagine themselves in another person's shoes according to their results and share about their experience. I'll be traveling with the fortune wheel a lot, so stay tuned on social media and newsletter for locations and schedule (and LMK if you are interested in bringing the HFW to your institution!) The #HiddenFortuneWheel will be at the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY MFA Graduates opening exhibit on May 19th - 23rd.
May 6th - ECN Office Hours Spring Celebration at the Stony Kill Farm
May 13th,14th - Office Hours at Beacon Pop-Up Park,160 Main St., Beacon NY
May 26th - ECN Holiday (Love Yourself More Day)
June 17-18 ECN will offer Playful Paperwork at the Clearwater Festival
July 4th - Clown Visa, Global Citizen documentation and Honorary PhB (Professional Human Being Diploma graduation ceremony) in NYC (location TBD)
May is Stevie Wonder Early Career Month. Make sure you're following ECN Regulations!
From a recent workshop I led at Poughkeepsie Day School. Want your community high school students to reject colleges of their choice? Contact the ECN by replying to this message!
SAD NEWS!!! Kickstarter declined my project to raise $148,000,000 to reestablish the National Endowment for the Arts. Apologize!!
My fellow Empowering Clerks, Bureaucracy lovers and EPF managers,
Many people think we are entering dark times. But dark times can also bring the best in us. In the past few weeks I've seen so many people awaken, take action, care, show compassion and use creativity to generate love and happiness. I too vow to take theelection result as a call to action, and promise to serve and protect our nation as a Certified Village Fool (self-issued). You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one - more and more people have discover and use Supportive Bureaucracy services in their workplace, community and public spaces (the ECN also has a DC now! Just like the Neo-Nazis!). Since the election, we found a 318% increase in illegal issuing of Playful Paperwork forms (which we support) as people download forms, certificates and embosser templates at www.supportivebureaucracy.org and print documents themselves. 219% more people registered as Empowering Clerks and started Empowerment Processing Facilities (EPF) around the country (!) For example the ECN of Bend, Oregon conducted a Joy Permit issuing marathon during which hundreds of documents were issued. If you'd like to provide your fellow Muslim and Latino friends with proper documentation, we also have Certificates of Recognition available in Spanish and Arabic (and many other languages as well). Soon we'll have an official branch in Taiwan and our Racism Release Form is helping people around the country to reflect on their experiences regarding color and color blindness and is popular especially in colleges.
Ms. Teafly of the Oregon ECN Branch during her Joy Permits issuing marathon after theelections. please use the #JoyPermit hashtag if you share photos with documents on social media!
Good news!! CSB Research Department recently found that with only 17 points increase in Love Production worldwide, we may be able to defeat Evil by March 1st, 2021 (not too bad isn't it?) Numbers don't lie - do your share in protecting our world and produce love more effectively and efficiently. To help you with that we made the Love Receipt, which allows you to provide instant recognition for people who give love.
Before the election I visited the RNC, DNC and two Trump rallies before the election. You can read more about the experience and see some images in my new artist book - Regulations are Flexible. For your convenience I uploaded it as PDF to www.Bit.ly/RegulationsAreFlexible and you can also request a printed copy by mail (no forms required just reply to this email :) If you like my work, please consider to Pay it Forward or support me via PayPal or check. Thanks!
Print all ECN documents for free, start your own ECN branch and post official notices in your community at www.supportivebureaucracy.org
As usual, the Empowering Clerks Network is spending 62% of its resources providing proper recognition for those who deserve it (95.3% of the population according to research). No election results will change that, and we are determined to keep providing you with the best possible service. We always have your back when it comes to paperwork, but recently we added a new service to our official documents - the ECN Awards. We offer special trophies for Caregiver of the Year, Compassion Master, Relationship Expert, Creativity Generator and more. If you'd like to provide trophies to members of your community please contact me for details or simply visit www.crownawards.com (they can instantly increase recipient's self esteem by 19%! Almost as efficient as the ECN Certificate of Recognition).
My friend and mentor Allen Spivack (The Other Man of Steel) receives the ECN Compassion Master trophy award. Want to honor your friends with ECN trophies? It's affordable, easy and fun!
Get ready for the holidays! Gift an ECN Compassion Card to your loved ones!
That's it for now. I have to admit that I wanted to drop the project all together as a reaction to the election, but I decided to keep doing my work thanks to the response I got from recipients and providers of services across the country, who used Joy Permits, Official Posted signs and other documents to answer some of their needs after the elections. I'm grateful for the opportunity to help others with my artwork, and hope to increase my efficiency rates in the future.
Speaking of that... Last week I started Compassionate America, LLC. Not only that it might be the first corporation in US history that was named by a mistake (I misspelled Bureaucracy and had to amend it so I looked for another name) but it also has no business plan whatsoever (!!!) I was simply anxious to get sued by Trump after I threatened to sue him and thought that it's a good idea to protect my family that way. But regardless, I'm thinking that maybe we should treat love and compassion like a business, invest our resources wisely and always seek growth. I hope to use Compassionate America as an umbrella organization to the Empowering Clerks Network and the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy to increase compassion stats using humor and Playful Paperwork. Wish me luck! And feel free invite me to offer services and present the project at your conference, event, corporate party or as a guest artist.
The Empowering Clerks Network is about to launch a new political campaign, promoting the use of participatory artworks by the US Department of State and various forces of the Military Industry Complex (resulting in an average saving of approx. $347 a year to each individual taxpayer) as an alternative to drone warfare. The Center for Supportive Bureaucracy will offer US Government to promote use of compassionate art abroad and in US soil in order answer some of the needs of the American people. As part of our research effort in writing the new policy proposal we interviewed artist Paul Ramirez Jonas, creator of Public Trust, a social practice work that was recently presented in 3 different locations in Boston. Together with thirteen Boston performers, Ramirez Jonas presented a billboard of constantly changing pledges – yours, mine, scientists, and those of our presidential candidates, making a piece of art about promises, those contracts we with make with each other and with ourselves, and the potent speech acts that keep a society together.
Here's an interview with Ramirez Jonas:
What inspired you to create Public Trust?
I tend to work iteratively and slowly. I make similar pieces, or pieces that build on each other even if that is not superficially obvious. I have been using speech acts as the basis for participatory pieces that are based on some sort of exchange. I often think that if I want to make situations that require an exchange with the public I am limited by what the public has on them at all times: spare change, keys, phone, IDs, credit cards, money, their name, their voice, etc. Thus I have used the participants voice quite a bit. Two years ago I made a modest piece also called Public Trust that asked for people to give me lies that I would then notarize and turn into truths. The piece was very successful but I began to think that there was no consequence to it. It was a little too playful, you could get away with anything. Thus I began to think of promises and promissory statements as having more inner tension since they could become lies or facts depending on the future actions of the participant. I also liked the religious, ethical, and societal implications of promises. Finally, in that serendipitous way in which making art happens, I was also reading Agamben’s tremendous book, the sacrament of language, an archeology of the oath, and that sort of sealed the deal.
Your project provides a service, offering community and participants a reflection of their promises together with other public promises. What were the most inspiring or interesting promises (or combinations of the private and public ones) so far?
I know it sounds trite, but I really do like them all. I think my standouts are the ones where how it happened was significant. I had two instances of two very different but very hostile participants who yelled at me, questioned the work, were openly belligerent who walked away without participating. Only to, in both cases, come back two days later and make a promise.)
(As seen in the video, one of the ways to make a promise was with an official pinkie promise O.A.)
In a recent interview Marina Abramovic said that in the last ten years people stopped asking her 'why is this art?', and the public now accepts performance art as a 'valid' form of art. However, social practice artists still face the exact same question. How often do people ask you that question, and how do you respond to it?
I am rarely asked that question. I strive to create a meaningful experience based on fairly familiar modes of operation. In other words, when I show outside of museums and galleries, I base my work on modes of operation that are pertinent to those public spaces and experiences. I want to make situations where people participate because they find them meaningful, engaging and accessible – not because they are art. It is important to me that it be art, but it is not important to me that it be perceived as art by the participant –unless it helps the interaction. I think that because of this when I am asked if my work is art, it is more often than not a question that comes out of curiosity, not out of doubt. "By the way, is this art?”, versus, suspicious looks “is this art?"
What is your promise?
It is based on a quote by Michael Barenbaum who said: "Try not to be a perpetrator. Try not to be a bystander. Try not to be a victim.” My promise is to try not to be a bystander.
What is your favorite artwork (or a few if you can't name only one)
Tania Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International
Pablo Helguera’s The he School of Panamerican Unrest
Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski’s Conflict Kitchen
Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More
Merle Laderman Ukeles’ Touch Sanitation
Mel Chin’s Revival Field andThe Name of the Place
Suzanne Lacy’sThe Oakland Projects
Pedestal of the World by Piero Manzoni
Joseph Beuys 7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration
On Kawara’s date paintings
Both Public Trust and the ECN use objects and methods of the authority and legal system, which many people feel disempowered or even threatened by. Was it part of your choice of using these tools?
Yes, because for better or for worse these are systems that we know how to interact with. A form is easier to interact with than a blank piece of paper. And if you use it well it is more generous than the illusion of freedom that a blank page gives.
Do you have any hopes or fantasies about Public Trust in many other locations around the country and the world, or of such projects being a service that actual government offer to citizens?
I have collaborated with city governments in at least two projects and it was extremely rewarding. I have a high degree of respect for civil servants… 99% of the time they really get that they are in charge of our commons.
Until the CSB starts its extensive collaboration with the Military Industry Complex, here is another beautiful bureaucratic art that inspired me a lot, the short movie Validation and the winner of the ECN Awards of 2016, the Yes Men NYT Hoax (both I think are masterpieces in their beauty, inspiration, humor and intrinsic truths they make us see)
Today I'm heading to Cleveland Ohio for the Republican National Convention. I plan to issue and distribute some 7,000 thousands of 6 months Joy Permits (can be renewed online or using white out),Open Carry Permits for Musical Instruments, Adults Special Achievement Stickers, Racism Release Forms, Refurbished Report Cards, DIY Certificates of Recognition, Forgiver's Licenses (Class A & B) applications and other Playful Paperwork documents. I believe that humor and compassion can help us reconnect to our humanity and to one another, and that one good guy with a musical instrument or an art project can prevent one bad guy from conducting an event of mass hatred. Racists are people, needing love and compassion like the rest of us, perhaps even more. Therefore I visited the Trump rally in April and didn't confront anyone with politics, but with paperwork. Lots of paperwork.
Attached is a press release about the trip, feel free to pass it along.
Please download and print the ECN new Racing Release Form (RRL - 789) and leave it in key locations at your community (see photo below of the RRL-789 at a DMV counter).
Download ALL documents, Stickers, Permits and Diplomas at www.supportivebureaucracy.org and issue them to your community.
Please read and share Checkpoint Charlie, a postage stamps comics collection of mine about fascism in the US (attached PDF)
If you want to help me fund the trip travelling and printing cost, please send a PayPal donation to email@example.com or use this link. Thank you!
Last thing - I'm making an artwork about the experience of being fired from a workplace. If you'd like to share with me your story (anonymously) please reply to that email with your story.
For freedom! Stay tuned for updates on social media about my trip.
Executive Empowering Clerk
Center for Supportive Bureaucracy
This is an official communication from the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy
Issuing official documents since 2006:
Forgiver’s License (Class A&B) • Joy Permits (JP-33) • Refurbished Report Cards (RRC-202) • DIY Certificates of Recognition (COR107) • Adults Special Achievement Stickers (ASAS-46) • Pain Deeds (PD336) • Certified Apology Declarations (447-D) • True Friend Diploma • OK Parent Award • Loving & Liable Entity (LLE) certification • Life Celebrating Obituaries • Validation Ticket • Typewriter Matchmaking Service • Letter Writing Service
Racism Release Forms at the DMV counter. Download, print and distribute yourself atwww.supportivebureaucracy.org
Claim an object to be property of humanity using a 4"x2" sticker. Download and print atwww.supportivebureaucracy.org
See more warning notes by the ECN at www.supportivebureaucracy.org
Forgiver's License applications of a refugee from Sierra Leone who suffered torture during the Civil War and an eight years old who forgave her sister for hitting her
THIS IS AN OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION FROM THE CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE BUREAUCRACY
This is an official communication from the Empowering Clerks Network (LLE) - Center for Supportive Bureaucracy (ECN newsletter May 2016)
Dear fellow bureaucrat,
First, welcome everyone who joined this list through Miranda July's Instagram post! I'm honored she likes the project and so glad to have you guys here! To confirm your subscription, please share something vulnerable with someone you love or perform an act of kindness to a person who acts in mean ways (A741). You're welcome to order from our large catalog of Playful Paperwork documents or simply become an Empowerment Processing Facility (EPF) and print them yourself & issue and distribute them in your community, following Empowering Clerks Network regulations of course (G-786, K-775, F-79 and L-71).
Two weeks ago I offered office hours as an ECN representative at a Trump rally in Poughkeepsie NYand issued numerous Joy Permits, Adults Special Achievement Stickers, DIY Certificates of Recognition and other official documents. On the way there I was nervous, anxious and worried that something bad or violent would happen. I handed hundreds official documents, was mostly ignored and didn't have a significant conversation with rally attendants ('I don't need a Joy Permit, I have Jesus' or 'these protesters, they need Joy Permits!' were common responses). I plan to write a more detailed article about the experience soon, in the meantime here are some bulletin points regarding that experience -
It's almost always good to go out of our comfort zones, even if just for a short period of time (KJPL-45).
Learn more about the ECN visit to Trump rally at the Radical Therapist interview!
2.A/3 The Center for Supportive Bureaucracy is EXPANDING!
Congratulations Ms. Teafly, the founder of the Oregon division of the ECN. Teafly just won the Awesome Foundation grant, that'll allow her to establish her fully functional EPF and print lots of paperwork including Forgiver's Licenses and Happiness Insurance cards. She also plans on building a portable office-bike-trailer with all necessary paperwork and typewriters (how cool is that??) to serve the people of Oregon. Watch an interview with her here and if you think that it's great - why not do it yourself? So many people have been printing and issuing Joy Permits and other document themselves, if you have a home printer - you can do it too! Becoming an Empowerment Processing Facility only takes a few mouse clicks - visit www.supportivebureaucracy.org to learn more. And if you have a new model of Canon Pixma or Epson, you can easily print Forgiver's Licenses too and dramatically increase compassion stats in your community! Ask us how if you're interested, many documents are available to download at the website right now. Many Empowering Clerks report that issuing documents to their fellow human beings is a meaningful, powerful and joyful activity that helps their self-growth and self-esteem.
Teafly Peterson receiving the Bend, OR Awesome Foundation grant
We are pleased to announce that we are very likely to reach our goal of issuing 1.2 million documents by June of 2019, but it can only happen if thousands of concerned citizens will print Learner's Permits, Joy Permits, Refurbished Report Cards and other documents themselves. This summer we plan to launch our annual Refurbished Report Card issuing event in which teachers, adults and children will be invited to issue Refurbished Report Cards to one another. The Beacon NY Howland Public Library had already showed enthusiastic interest in hosting such event, and it's likely that your community can benefit from it too. Why wait? Simply download the RRC, print and issue to the people who are close to you! Or stand outside a school at the last day and offer the service to students. If only 0.04% of Americans would issue and receive a Refurbished Report Card, it might create a ripple effect that is beyond our imagination!
More details about the (national or international, TBD) Refurbished Report Card Graduation Fest - soon. Stay tuned!
ECN representative issuing a Clown Visa to Clay Mazing, founder of the amazing Emergency Circus at the Clowntown Healing Fest in Phoenix, AZ. Check out this beautiful project and support them generously! They are currently bringing joy to Syrian refugees all over the Middle East and are a living proof that humanity has a future.
As you sure know, the ECN has been walking hand in hand with the US Government for quite a while. A second collection of this fruitful dialog between the two entities has been released by Alfassi Books community publishing house now and is available to read online or at the attached file for a limited amount of time! (time is inevitably limited). Read our letters to the NY DMV to issue our Adult Special Achievement stickers together with car registration stickers, to the Family Court to recognize our Chosen Family Affidavit adoption, the USDA to help us offer Karma Inspection, the emergency notice urging everyone to open carry musical instruments in public places and more letters and special announcements here or at the attached PDF. If you want an actual copy of the new book or other official documents - simply reply to this email with your info, address and booklets/documents you're interested at. Orders are based on the gift economy - you can either support my work via a Paypal donation to this email or pay it forward to someone else. Enjoy reading!
The Empowering Clerks Network recently issued documents at the vigil in memory of Samuel Harrell, who was beaten to death by officers in Fishkill NY Correctional Facility a year ago. We'd like to thank the Beacon Prison Action for organizing this incredibly important 5 days event, hunger strike and call to action to reform our "justice" system, which was also covered by Democracy Now. We hope to soon offer document issuing workshops at local prisons for inmates and officers and to create official documents about the War on Drugs and the tragic mass incarceration in the US. If you're interested in joining us in this effort or can help us offer this service to people who are currently or were incarnated in the past, please contact us.
With the joy of giving service,
Ori Alon (licensed Empowering Clerk #439372A)
You're welcome to forward this message to a friend. If you do not wish to receive official communication from the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy simply reply 'stop'. Thank you!
PhD Diploma, Graduate School Diploma and an OK Parent Award at a Vassar College professor office.
Happiness Insurance, Aunty adoption, OK Parent Award, Joy Permit and more from the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy (newsletter 3/5/2016)
This is an official communication from the Center for Supportive Bureaucracy - Empowering Clerks Network
Dear Empowerment Agent #441902/L,
Last week the ECN offered office hours and trained new Empowering Clerks at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. The new clerks-social workers will issue a variety of official documents to their clients, and we hope that such documentation will increase compassion and self acceptance statistics. We also offered office hours at the Clown Town Healing conference in Phoenix AZ, in which we issued and distributed thousands of Joy Permits, Adults Special Achievement Stickers, Certificates of Recognition and more. The weekend was led by the Certified Prophet, Dr. Patch Adams. Adams is a pioneer of bringing humor to medical practice, and the ECN journey of infusing joy and spirituality to paperwork is inspired by his life work. Watch the movie about him with Robin Williams here and the 'real' Patch Adams Ted Talk here.
ECN Prophecy License acknowledge Mr. Adams unique contributions to humanity.
The ECN recently started to work with a local Beacon NY doctor, Michael O'Brien MD, who will be establishing a new medical practice by the end of 2016. This collaborative will hopefully lead to efficient use of health related Playful Paperwork documents, for example the Happiness Insurance Card, Non Violence Prescription Form, Free Play Admission Ticket and more, with the assistance of our Secretary of Design, Ms Teafly. Obviously, more paperwork is needed in our health care system, and therefore the ECN now offers Happiness Insurance plan. If you have a Joy Permit, it's a good idea to insure it. You may choose your providers (people or actions that brings you happiness, like family, friends, creativity etc) and a copay method (things you're not thrilled about but do to maintain happiness like exercise or therapy). Your deductible is based on your Annual Karma Report (a formless form). The ECN-CSB UNITED takes no responsibility for your happiness, it is solely incumbent upon you to contact your providers in case of happiness reduction claims. You may file Form 77A to apply.
The ECN now also runs an adoption agency - the Aunt and Uncle Adoption Agency (AUAA) allows you to honor the chosen family in your life and adopt an uncle, aunt, grandparent or cousins. Please review the guidelines and make sure you and your chosen family agree upon the terms and conditions of the adoption. You can download and print the adoption certificate atwww.supportivebureaucracy.org.
ECN self-service station at the Howland Public Library Conflicts-Resolutions exhibition. You can easily open a self service station at your community as well.
As you sure know, the CSB communicates regularly with the US Government, in the form of sending all sorts of offers to public servants. A collection of these letters appeared in Official Letters from the Empowering Clerks Network, including ideas likeissuing Joy Permits together with Building Permits, training the County Clerk as an Empowering Clerk (the G-786), reinterpretation of the Second Amendment as the right to express oneself creatively (as it is more powerful than firearms) and establishing a Federal Compassion Agency (FCA). If you enjoyed these letters, stay tuned for the new collection of this fruitful collaboration, coming this spring
"Can I add a smiley face to the True Friend Diploma?" recipients of services in Phoenix AZ
We now also celebrate a variety of ECN Holidays, for example the 26th of each month is the ECN Love Yourself More Day. You can simply add the ECN calendar to your own calendar and receive notifications on special events, office hours and holidays. The ECN Calendar idea was brought to us by the professional Empowering Clerk Yoni Stadlin, founder of Eden Village (LLE) inspiring and wonderful summer camp.
ECN Pain Deed allows you to take official ownership over the pain you've experienced during a period of time and invest it in according to your preference.
PS - my comics collection Checkpoint Charlie was reviewed by The Great Red Oak Press. You can read the full review, 'Bleeding Between the Lines' here -
(...) "This is the truth that bleeds through the lines in Alon’s Checkpoint Charlie.
The title Checkpoint Charlie at first appears to be a reference to the ever famous American clown Charlie Chaplin, and it is in a way. Alon, like Bretch, is a huge fan of Chaplin and his disarming humor. Yet, then you turn the page your learn about the real Checkpoint Charlie… it is a place where an innocent man, a refugee from an oppressive society, was shot between the lines of two nation-states, and was left there to bleed to death between the lines, because everyone was too afraid to help or say something.
And this is where this art leaves us, bleeding between the lines of nation-states, those peculiar entities, in which all sensible people believe, which all purport to their citizens to exist as some sort of center for supportive bureaucracy. This art exposes the repulsiveness, absurdity, and pain beneath human fear.
Fear is what killed Peter Fetcher (the man who was trying to escape East Germany through Checkpoint Charlie).
Fear is what Ori Alon seeks for us to first feel (in the repulsion), then laugh at (in the humor), and then understand (in the bleeding through the lines on the page).
This is a comic book about America (and Israel), from an Israeli-American artist who deeply loves the people of those two places, as he deeply loves humanity, and his desperate cry to help us see each other as people again, and end war and militarism, and their mutual progenitor, fear." (...)
A short non-fiction piece about my recent visit to Israel. Any literary magazine interested in publishing it - please send me a brief cover letter, a short bio of your publication and why do you think your magazine is right for my writing (up to 250 words). Submission fee is $7 (paypal to oribeacon [at]gmail.com). Due to a large amount of submissions I won't be able to answer personally each submission, but I promise to consider any large or small publication without bias. Please share with your editors friends.
Five Days in the Holy Land
Five days in the holy land. It's been more than three years since my last visit. I am here now, in America, a Jewish man who chooses everyday not to live in Israel. “I’m pregnant,” said the email that brought me here. And what’s here and there these days, what’s a promised land, what’s a cursed one? Give me your hand, said one leader to the other and so they danced naked in the forest while their people are still killing one another.
Rabbi Nachman, the 18th century Hasidic Rabbi left the Ukraine for his journey to the holy land. But he did not make it to Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself is an unfinished journey, trying to make it to all the dreams and illusions people have about it. One night I was walking out of the old city of Jerusalem. I cut my finger somehow, rubbed the blood on the walls of the old city pretending I’m the messiah, knowing how crazy it is. “If I’ll ever forget you, Jerusalem, my right arm would get paralyzed.” says the psalm that Jews have been chanting during the wedding ceremony, as they break the glass to remember the destruction of the city. Our friend Stephan thought it is a political statement and didn’t want to include it in his wedding. The convert lesbian Rabbi refused to conduct the wedding without it.
The Wall by Pink Floyd, that album flushed through my bare teenager soul. And here I am, some twenty years later, comfortably numb. I was once in a party in which they played Mami, one of Israel’s harshest protest songs: the story of a young Jewish girl that is raped by seven Palestinian workers. “We’ll fuck you ’cos we were fucked”. People danced, the land is being raped for centuries, the Greek, the Romans, the Ottomans, the British and the Jews all sodomize the land in one neverending occupation. They build walls and highways all over the ancient hills, but very few bridges.
I talked to a prophet in a cafe in Tel Aviv. He quoted this and that, explaining why it’s all bound to collapse, how capitalism, corruption and Netanyahu ruined Israel. One year there’s an election, the next year there's a war, he said. But he didn’t look in my eyes while he was saying that. It’s over. The dream is gone. The skyscrapers, the alleys, the guns, the souls of the unprotected folks who had to die through all of this. The cause and the price we had to pay. Wars are always stupid.
A silly pop song, an American one. I remember the first Mcdonald's in Ramat-Gan. I was ten, there was a one hour line in order to have a taste of the American dream. And now how I crave these hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the old city. The fig tree is poisoned, its fruits are filled with the juice of hate and intolerance. So are the dates, and even the hummus. And what makes a place? Its smell, its food, its music. Its ideas, its violence, its history. Cultures rise, cultures fall, it’s all just stories we tell ourselves.
There’s no privacy in Israel. In government offices and banks clerks scream questions about your private matters to the supervisor across the hall, always giving you a sense that they’re doing you a favor. Everyone smokes there. The single justifiable war America had fought in the last fifty years completely failed to make its way overseas. It feels like everything can get blown away any second, and there’s always enough smoke in the air to make it evident there is fire. The tone of voice there. The fact that I don’t miss it so much. It’s been three years since the last visit, and facebook gives me a taste of home without the aftertaste.
The Hebrew in Israel is often broken. "Nahag, shtayim Akhora", Driver, two back, said the woman who passed money to the shuttle van driver, a sentence that makes no grammatical sense, while passing to the driver twelve Shekels, six Shekels for each passenger who sat in the back. Languages have lives of their own, and so the Biblical Hebrew had to fit somehow into the shuttle van, the street and the checkpoint. Hebrew and Arabic make love for over a century, a passionate, forbidden affair. Bad words here and legal terms there, like semen and eggs.
Some things you just can’t translate; the puns, the context, the sense and the non-sense of a culture, they're often untranslatable. But I’m writing this in English, I can’t express it that way in Hebrew, not anymore. “It’s scary,” told me an Israeli writer, a wife of, who suddenly found herself in New York. “And what if I won’t have any language?”
The air got thicker, another war started, it’s only a matter of time. The temple is broken, the heart still functions.
I gathered my childhood memories in a small, portable container. Kissed my mom goodbye and went over to the Duty Free store to get a popular book, The History of Tomorrow. I never thought I’d leave. Was never too excited to travel, always happy to come back. Maybe it was the war, or the pregnancy, or New York. Anyway, I’m here now.