Israel Lite: Campaign fever

We had been told by the local party leaders that English-speaking 'gray panthers' were needed for support.

By CARMELITA LEE
August 14, 2008 16:22
4 minute read.
Israel Lite: Campaign fever

family cartoon 224.88. (photo credit: Rinat Gilboa)

Ari and I have to be very quiet on Shabbat lest we raise the ire of our sleeping princesses, Miriam and Nitzah. They're adults, having moved home from necessity - another "wake up and welcome to Israel" moment. For a while they had their own place in Mevaseret, then they opened a restaurant. Sheesh. Ah well. Now I understand the reason why, while I have a relatively empty nest (the other five are married and scattered from here to Phoenix, Arizona) I have this incessant need to still maintain a five-bedroom house. I thought I would be entertaining a lot of guests, but thanks to God at least we had the room to say yes to their needs. Sigh. On this particular day we had a cool breeze pulling through the penthouse. Ari was slouched on the couch, feet planted firmly on top of the coffee table. He knows better, but then I've given up the battle. I raise my eyebrows instead, telling him, "We'll never buy another, you know." That doesn't compute into anything he understands. Saying, "The neighbors might see it and think we were raised in a barn," results in his retort, "The neighbors should mind their own business." I tell him, "What will our friends think when they visit and see the scratches on the table from your shoes?" netting a condescending "Doll, your friends come to see you, not the coffee table." Such a funny man. He offers up an evil grin and begs, "Punish me." Ari was relaxing with a number of issues of The Jerusalem Post that he had saved through the week; I was sprawled on the floor trying to make a poster for an upcoming political rally. We had been told by the local party leaders that English-speaking "gray panthers" were needed for support. It had been suggested at the prior meeting that we should lie down in the street and stop traffic. I thought that was particularly intriguing, noting the walkers and canes that were in the room. I thought wistfully back to my protest days, when my hair was down to here and I was svelte as a pelt. Knowing my Israeli brethren and their driving habits, I was pretty sure if we lay in the street some of us would be squashed. Forget it. I would be happy to hold a sign, but wasn't about to get my new stretch capris dirty on a street in Tel Aviv. "What shall I write on my sign, Ari?" "Shhh. You'll wake the princesses," he said, peering over the top of his paper. "I know. Send our bills in English?" "Shhh." "How about, the Russians have a Russian help line, we want an English help line?" "Too wordy." I sat there with my markers and my blank poster. "Ari, come on," I said, "be some help." "Wow," he said, "I can't believe the shenanigans of our leaders. Listen to this." He took off reading quietly from the Post, an article that covered the fibs and flubs of different politicians, everything from a simple faux pas to major fraud. "That's why we have to be careful who gets elected." "I know. I'm trying to make a sign." "What?" "A sign. A sign. Don't you listen to me?" "Shhh, you'll wake..." Out came the eldest. "Do you people know how to be quiet? It's Shabbat. I'm resting," she said. "Or I was. Any coffee made?" "Hello, Daddy," she purred. A kiss to the top of his head. The younger one came out, annoyed. "Can a person get any sleep around here?" "It's 11 o'clock, you've been sleeping for hours," I say. Oy, the daggers. "Hi Daddy." She pats his shoulder. "What are you reading? Mom, where's the coffee?" Ari tells them about the troubles in Israel, the poor leadership, how it should be and could be done better. "Daddy, you should run for office, you're just so smart." He's grinning, pleased with himself. He spoiled them rotten. I watch the Mr. Coffee do its magic, thinking, hmmm, Ari? President? Prime Minister? I mean, with me whispering in his ears, telling him how it should be, we could get the bills sent in English. The wheels were turning. I bet he'd help me make a poster if he was running for office. "Yeah," the older one pipes up, "think of what you could accomplish." The three of them plot and giggle while I make up a tray with coffee, toast and jam. I sit back down beside my markers, trying to think of the issues most important to new immigrants. "What're you doing, Mom?" "Trying to think of campaign slogans for our political rally next week." "You're not political," she said dryly. "I'm not?" I guess she never looked at my Vietnam protest photos, me slender and with feathers in my waist-length hair. "Well, then, you tell me what I should write on my poster." "Ari," I said, "you dragged me to that political meeting and volunteered my time, so now I'm doing what I said I would do, so help me!" "The girls think I should run for office." I jump on the opportunity. "Well, grand," I say, "you have an opinion about everything. If you were running, what would you want me to put on your sign?" I waited, my marker posed over the blank sheet. "Ari for prime minister," Ari pipes up. The girls go into peals of laughter. "What?" "Ari for prime minister. Ari, you know, A-r-i..." "That's not funny, Ari," I say. "I don't know," he says. "Put what you want. What you said first." "Send our bills in English?" "No, that one is stupid," he said. The girls pulled me away from my poster and invite me to the balcony to enjoy the early morning sunshine. After Shabbat I called my team leader and offered to lie on the street.


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