Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Connect The Dots #1: Wonderful Life

Last night, since Bethlehem is pretty much closed to Israeli Jerusalemites, I observed Christmas eve watching Frank Capra’s movie again. I won’t say how often I’ve seen it, but I noticed this time that George Bailey’s name, engraved on the suitcase Mr. Gower unexpectedly presented him, is written entirely in upper case. Anyway, I woke up this morning with that pleasant post-cathartic feeling, relieved that love endures, matter matters, and decency does not go unrewarded—in short, morning in America. Then I opened Haaretz to page one and reached for the Italian roast. I read:

  • a headline report that the prime minister has approved the hiring of more religious court judges—that is, Orthodox rabbis—by the state, to speed the mass conversion to Judaism of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. (About 300,000 Russian, Ukrainian, etc. newcomers from the 1990s were not Jews or even—as Jonathan Miller put it—Jewish, but were able to come to Israel under the Law of Return because they could prove that at least one grandparent was a Jew);
  • right next to it, a column about Mike Huckabee’s rise, noting laconically (but with obvious concern), that he is a Baptist minister, speaks of Christ at Christmastime—something that upset “not a few liberal commentators” (read, American Jews), nervous about the blurring of religion and state; and worse, that his foreign policy is a departure from an otherwise reassuring Republican consensus on Iran, because he is “calling for bringing to the table non-military options,” something ostensibly unwelcome to “Israeli observers”;
  • between the two, a teaser for an article inside the paper, “Your Wiki Entry Counts,” suggesting how Israelis should actively correct any anti-Israel bias on Wikipedia, by getting involved in its open editing process. (An example of the problem? “The entry on Israel mentions the word ‘occupation’ nine times, whereas the entry on the Palestinian People mentions ‘terror’ only once.”)

Note to Israeli Wiki-bias-correctors: you may find it easier to earn your wings by cutting out any links to page one of Haaretz.