Below, my latest Jewish Chronicle piece. Accessing the JC online is a real nuisance, something I talked about with JC editor David Rowan, and it's all to do with advertising apparently, but it probably won't be long until David Rowan sorts it out, because he seems a "sorts out" kind of guy, looking at how much sharper the JC is these days. I'm really looking forward to the week I make a direct appeal for the CTRT fund in the JC, because I want to compare the response with the amazing response from Guardian readers - but that's a few weeks away yet. In the meantime, here's what I wrote this week:
Hello. My name’s Dina and I am a Dependent Jewish Voice.
I figured you’ve heard an awful lot about the others, the Independent Jewish Voices (herewith known as the In-crowd), and probably you’d like to hear about me now. We do have some stuff in common, me and the In-crowd. For example, Harold Pinter and I share a manicurist, something I wrote about in the pages of the Guardian newspaper, which is something of a house journal for us Voices. You can read all about it on the Guardian website, a place you can find a lot of stuff about the Voices. One of the main strands of thought you find on the Guardian website is completely partial criticism of Israel; the other place you find that sort of unmitigated Israel-bashing is in the pages of the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz. It’s one of the reasons I feel so at home on the Guardian. Internal dissent, one of the oldest Jewish traditions we have.
The difference between me and the In-crowd though, is that they are independent, of course, and I am dependent. On what do I depend? Well, these days it’s drugs, mainly. I depend on a series of drugs to fight the cancer in my body. When one stops working, which happens pretty regularly actually, I depend on the doctors to have another drug up their sleeve to stall things a while longer.
As it happens, since having cancer, it’s probably easier to list the things on which I no longer depend, dependences I once took for granted you might say, but no longer can. For example, I no longer depend on:-
1) being around to see my grandchildren
2) taking the next five years for granted, and the five years after that, and so on
3) feeling that the doctors actually know what they’re talking about
4) booking tickets for something special with my kids and being able to take them, instead of having to have a suddenly-scheduled operation
5) feeling ordinarily tired instead of cripplingly tired
6) enjoying food
7) being winter-pale; I’m turning yellow at the moment, something the doctors say they will deal with, but in the meantime the fact that Queen Esther was reputedly green and stunning is absolutely no consolation whatsoever
8) eating food and gaining weight; these days I drop pounds no matter what I eat and,
9) bizarrely that is no longer any kind of cause for celebration – in fact it sickens me now every time I see a magazine headline about losing 20 pounds for summer.
Lord, there’s just tons of stuff I used to depend on that has simply been snatched right away from me. It’s why, I guess, the things I am still able to depend on matter just so much.
Last week we were in Israel with the children, and I took my oldest and youngest child to something called the Time Tunnel, a fairly overpriced theme park type of ride right in the centre of Jerusalem, in the basement of Beit Agron, actually, where most of the newspapers have their offices.
You strap yourself into these seats, and in front of you a huge screen fills with images of the history of Jerusalem – in twenty minutes they get through several thousand years, with sound and motion added in.
Apart from nausea the strongest impression you come away with is how flimsy, how fragile those milliseconds were when the Jews lived securely in Jerusalem. And you walk away wondering if that’s how it’s going to look in two hundred years time, like this time we’re having now – this complex, troubled, deeply imperfect but secure time – will be just another blip in a series of others’ empires: another Ottoman, another Christian, another Moslem time. You wonder whether we are going to sit once again by the rivers of Babylon, and weep.
And you wonder whether we’re going to bring it on ourselves, by virtue of our own infighting, our hatreds of each other based on nothings, the emotional vacuum which we fill with mutual loathing, which brought the Temple crashing down in times gone by.
If you’re a Dependent Jewish Voice like I am, this troubled time is too much to relinquish. Of course there must be justice for the Palestinians – is there anybody who thinks differently? But we need justice too, we need a homeland we can depend on. We are living in the age of cancer, when mothers can no longer count on holding their children’s children, and now more than ever we need to know the mother country will be there for the generations to come.
My name is Dina and I am a Dependent Jewish Voice.
Dina Rabinovitch’s book, Take Off Your Party Dress is published by Simon and Schuster (£7.99). www.dinablog.com