Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Under-dressed Palestinian

I haven't blogged anything in the last three weeks. It turns out that the combination of a busy life and writer's block really can be a bitch. I love being busy, but still…

And the kicker is that there has really been a lot to blog about. In Israel we've had terror attacks, responses; Goldstone has retracted his report, then not quite retracted it. That's some good stuff to go off on. On the personal front, my mother was here for a wonderful visit, we spent a fantastic weekend at the Bar Mitzvah of a cousin, and Passover is just around the corner.

Basically, there's been no shortage of what to blog about, and hopefully I'll get myself writing about the backlog of topics, events and thoughts that have been bouncing around inside my head.

But today, I simply have to write.

I can almost hear you asking "Asher, what happened to finally break your writer's block and make you take a step back from your oh-so-busy life and blog again?"

Well, I'll tell you - Apparently, I am a Palestinian! Who'da thunk it?

Don't get me wrong – there isn't anything inherently wrong with being Palestinian. Once you weed through the supporters of terrorism and those who wish for the destruction of all Jews in Israel and abroad, you are left with a hell of a lot of very fine Palestinian people. I know this for a fact.

Even better, if I had been born 30 or 40 years earlier than I was, and if I had come then to the Holy Land, there would have been no question that I was a Palestinian because that's what Jews who lived in Palestine (which was not an autonomous independent country) were called.

So, discovering that I am a "Palestinian" isn't necessarily in and of itself a negative thing – it just came as a bit of a surprise to me for a couple of reasons – because it was based on a lie, and because of the source.

The lie is that Modi'in, Israel, the city where I live has been described online as "Modi'in, Palestine".

Put aside political arguments for a moment, and the question of "occupied territory in the West Bank". There is no country, nor has there ever been, called "Palestine".

It used to be the name of this strip of land which was controlled by the Romans (who gave it the name "Palestine"), then the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamaluks, Turks and finally the British until 1948 when Israel became a State. Until then, it was always a territory – never had a government, never had its own leaders, never had a flag, a national anthem, or independence.

But even if one accepts the idea of "occupied West Bank", no matter what your politics, Modi'in does not fall within its borders. We have a Green Line, which distinguishes between "Israel proper" and the "West Bank" – or if you prefer, outside of this Green Line are the "disputed areas" and inside the Green Line are the "non-disputed areas". And no matter how you slice it, Modi'in is inside the Green Line.

Why is this so relevant? Because if Israel were to decide tomorrow to give the Palestinian Authority what they claim to want – a return to the pre-1967 borders and statehood, Modi'in, Israel would still be a part of Israel (albeit very close to the Palestinian border), and not part of the deal.

But, according to the website which I saw, this little tidbit of reality simply is not relevant. Modi'in is in Palestine.

But the even more ridiculous / amusing / downright sad part of this is the source of this Revisionist history and geography. It is not, as one might think, a Palestinian website. It's not Al Jazeera, not J-Street, and not even a British "news" organization.

No, my friends, this source of history, geography and politics is none other than

That's right – I have had the link to AccuWeather's forecast for Modi'in in my Internet Favorites for several months and until last week, it was listed as Modi'in, Central Israel. Apparently the city upped and moved one night while we were all asleep and when I checked the weather forecast one morning I discovered that Modi'in is now in Palestine.

Go figure!

Now, I really want to give AccuWeather the benefit of the doubt. After all, they are all about the Weather and about being Accurate, right? That's even in their name! So I looked at the URL for the site, and I saw that the weather was based on a settlement about 10 minutes away from Modi'in called Mevo Horon.

OK – now we're getting somewhere. Mevo Horon is in fact outside of the Green Line and is in what is considered by many to be "disputed territory". In the scenario that I offered earlier that we return to pre-1967 borders and established a Palestinian state for the first time in history, then Mevo Horon would be included in the new state of Palestine (at the land itself would be, the residents would probably have alternate arrangements made for them).

But something still doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't it usually work that weather stations are placed in the larger cities and used as the basis for weather forecasts in the smaller towns and villages surrounding that large city? I mean, we don't check the weather in Kibbutz Shefayim in order to determine the forecast for Tel Aviv, do we? Or check Reston, Virginia to determine Washington, DC?

So why is the weather in Modi'in, a city of 80,000 residents and still growing based on Mevo Horon, a small moshav with about 1,200 people? Is it just me or is this a little bit backwards?

Still, no matter where Mevo Horon is located, and no matter what your political views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are, there is still no official entity called "Palestine" and if there were, Modi'in would not be considered a part of it.

As I said, AccuWeather – by its very name, is supposed to be about two things, and two things only – Accuracy and Weather. So, can anybody explain where revising geography or expressing a political opinion falls into that?

Even if one accepts the political view in and of itself – and I recognize that the majority of the world does accept this view, it is by all accounts a political opinion, and therefore not within the realm of what AccuWeather has a right or place to be expressing. Their role is share accurate weather (again – just look at their name if you have any questions about that). I really don't give a damn what they think regarding the very delicate and complicated political reality of the Middle East.

Of course, there is another ramification for me of how AccuWeather describes Modi'in – if they cannot even know with any accuracy what is happening here on Earth, how can I trust them to know with any accuracy what is happening miles above the Earth in the stratosphere where the weather is determined?

So, maybe what really bothers me isn't being a "Palestinian", but not really being able to trust AccuWeather to know what I should wear and how I should dress the kids every day…


  1. You have girls, what is the question? Burkas all the way, dude. No need for a weather report...

  2. This post about Accuweather proves the point I've been making to you in my earlier comments. Your knowledge from the inside of Israel is invaluable. Accuweather is located in the U.S., and everybody knows that the U.S. is the Center of the World, free to form opinions, perceptions and bits of knowledge about all those Outside of the Center of the World. My suggestion is that you excerpt part of this blog and send it to the poor, ignorant souls at Accuweather.
    Writer's block or not, what you have to share is valuable to the rest of us...keep doing what you're doing, and someday, put all this good stuff into a book. I missed your blogs while you were gone, but it's good to have you back. As a writer myself, let me share a tip for dealing with the "block": write something, just ANYTHING. It will get the juices flowing. Don't worry about writing EVERYTHING that's on your mind. Just write SOMETHING. (And I hereby decree that you are exempted from writing when necessary due to responsibilities for wife, children, career, and a visiting mom.) Pat Fulton

  3. Thanks Pat. It's always good to hear from you - your thoughts, perspective and encouragement mean a great deal to me. I did write to AccuWeather the same dya that I posted this, and have (no surprise) not yet heard back from them. I was going to wait another day or so before writing one more time to them.