The blog celebrates its first year!

Posted: October 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, this is personal | Tags: , , | 11 Comments »

It’s been exactly a year since I’ve posted the first item on this blog. I thought of writing a political blog for sometime before, but never really got to it. I’m obsessed with politics – there is no way going around that – and as the political climate changed here in Israel, I felt a growing desire to voice my opinions, but it was only after traveling to cover the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2008 that I really understood the importance and impact of blogs. That’s also when I decided to write in English – the language of the international debate.

I think this point needs some further explaining. English, as most of my readers could figure out immediately, is not my first language. I’ve never even lived or studied in an English speaking country. Writing in English was a daunting task at first – in remains a constant challenge, even after 181 posts. I make typos and grammar mistakes which embarrass me very much (this is a good opportunity to thank my friends who e-mail me with corrections every now and then), and while expressing myself in Hebrew is fairly easy and natural for me, everything takes at least twice the time in English, and more often than not, I am not that as happy with the result. I mean, these are my words and I stand behind them, but sometimes I don’t really recognize myself in them. I guess I am still searching for my voice.

On the other hand, writing and editing in Hebrew is what I did on my day job until a month ago – and when I started writing this blog, I didn’t want to take the job home as well. I felt that if I really want to say something in Hebrew, I can do it through my work, or on other platforms, and even reach more people. And on top of all, I think that my two cents just worth more in English. My opinions, or something close to them, are well represented, even today, in the Hebrew media and blogosphere. The Israeli-English blogosphere and media, on the other hand, is a bit more limited, and more often than not, written by Olim from English speaking countries, most notably the US. I guess this is only natural, but still, it makes a difference.

Just for example, Jerusalem – the city, the people living in it and their views – is better represented in the English speaking media, while the Hebrew media is extremely Tel Aviv-oriented (it’s enough to say that the only Jerusalem-based paper in Israel is in English). I’m not saying that this is good or bad, just stating what I believe to be a fact. There are other differences between Israeli-born Jews and Olim (another example: I don’t think you will hear an Israeli-born-Jew under forty who uses the word “Sabra” anymore), which varies from cultural preferences, political ideas and points of interests to the style of writing – all of them lead me to think that something is missing within the voices coming out of Israel.

But there is even more to it. I have a friend who has a rock band. In interviews, he is often asked why he chooses to sing in English. “I don’t understand the question,” he often replays. “English is the language of Rock n’ Roll, no?” English is also the language of the internet. The flow of ideas and the unexpected encounters is part of what makes blogging so interesting these days, as opposed to the old media. You can’t do that in Hebrew.

Naturally, being very critical of Israel and Israeli politics, some people think that I should stick to Hebrew. I got some comments of this nature, especially recently. It’s an old Jewish instinct: “don’t shame us in front of the Goyim!” I intend to dedicate a post to this issue, but for now, I just wonder why this kind of accusation is never raised before all those expressing extreme-right racist or fascist ideas in English. Don’t they shame us just as well?

Although this is kind of a personal summery of the recent year, I don’t want to use this post for statements on politics and the direction in which Israeli society is headed. If you read me, you know what I think, and as a rule, one should try avoiding dark general prophecies of this sort, and concentrate on actual ideas and events as much as he or she can. I always prefer writers who have a bit of ironic and self-aware tone than those who think themselves to be the Oracle of Delphi, with the whole nation waiting to hear their words (a common tendency in the editorial page of Haaretz). So I would just say this: my first post was on racism, and reading it again today, I wouldn’t have changed much in it.

I’d like to thank all those who read, linked or shared this blog (not the Pakistan Daily Times, who used my translation of the Ben-Zion Netanyahu interview without linking or giving credit), and especially those who wrote comments or e-mails. I hope you will find this blog interesting enough this year as well.

11 Comments on “The blog celebrates its first year!”

  1. 1 Ami Kaufman said at 5:07 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    Mazal Tov!
    Noam, I can easily say that you are one of (if not THE) best Israeli-political blog in English these days.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. 2 rick said at 5:08 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    mazel tov! I found you via lisa goldman & I got stuck to your blog. I like the discussions here & the open cultivated precariousness of ideas or truth. good luck for the next year!

  3. 3 spux said at 6:01 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    Congratulations on your anniversary, I hope you continue blogging for many more years to come.

    Personally, I find the quality of the writing to be first rate and had no idea writing in English was problematic for you. It makes me appreciate the effort and thought that goes into your blog even more.

  4. 4 Lisa Goldman said at 6:03 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    Actually, I think you are doing a pretty good job of developing your own voice. And your blog is fabulous. Mazal tov on one year of intelligent, thoughtful writing.

  5. 5 Roi Ben-Yehuda said at 7:16 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    I concur with the comments above. Your writing is original, thought-provoking and informative. Mazal tov on an excellent year. Looking forward to read more.

  6. 6 Aviv said at 8:30 am on October 22nd, 2009:

    Can’t believe it’s been a year already. I guess I can agree there’s room on the Internet for everybody, and the public debate in English, in and of itself, serves Israel well. (The Kahanist blog is disgusting, btw).

    To the great debate.

  7. 7 Jami said at 2:19 pm on October 22nd, 2009:

    You are by far the best English writing Israeli blogger I have ever come across. You are doing Israel a great service by writing about her with a clear mind and honest heart.

    Thank you so much for the efforts you’ve put into this blog during the last year.

    And if you weren’t writing in English, I would have continued to feel very dejected by Israeli politics and public opinion (since I speak very poor Hebrew). It’s a relief to see that not all Israeli’s are so closed minded.

    Thanks again.

  8. 8 haya said at 8:59 am on October 23rd, 2009:

    Keep the good work. What you are looking for will be revealed to you after a long run and you will feel and know it for sure.

  9. 9 noam said at 1:41 pm on October 24th, 2009:

    Ami, rick, spux, Lisa, Roi, Aviv, Jami, Haya – many thanks!

  10. 10 Hadas said at 12:25 pm on October 26th, 2009:

    I know it was written a few days ago but I hope it’s not too late to say it’s a wonderful achievement. Keep up the good work!

  11. 11 Tamar said at 12:41 pm on October 31st, 2009:

    Mazal tov on a year of honest reporting — facts, opinions, experiences, and questions. Your writing is fresh, original, and respectful. I love the (ironic?) name of your blog, and your grappling with hideously painful realities, trying to make sense of chaos, and offering a platform to explore and discuss charged issues without screaming, demonizing, or worse.

    As a sabra over forty, I didn’t even know that fellow natives under forty do not use the term. Please enlighten me: What (political) point am I missing?

    Last, I’m delighted that you outed the Pakistan Daily Times for publishing your work without due credit. While imitation is often the highest form of flattery, plagiarism is not, and it is a crime.

    And, if you want edits on your English, let me know, and I’ll send them offline. Just promise to correct my spoken Hebrew when we meet! I wouldn’t dare write it;-)

    May you continue to go from strength to strength!