Just Some Random Thoughts

Not long ago Karen and I were watching a documentary where famous people in Israel spoke of their childhood. One guy remembered how mad he was about playing gogoim during recess. 
I specifically remember that part, because I was mad about gogoim, too, when I was in grade school. 
And it got me thinking like an old geezer. You know, those guys who tell you “When I was your age I walked to school in three feet of snow! Barefoot!”. 
I thought how innocent, how primitive it was – in the cutest and coolest way possible – that I was fascinated with a game, whose main objective was to collect as many apricot pits you can.
I can vaguely remember asking my parents back then to buy more apricots so I would have more ammo for the game. Although, they say they don’t remember it having any influence on my bowel movements. Maybe because I just opened ’em up, took out the pit and chucked the fruit. Shame, Israeli apricots rule (that is, unless they’re imported these days).
My friends and I would carry empty shoe boxes with holes of different sizes we carved out in them, and during recess we would aim hard (usually the one-eye-closed, tongue-out, right-foot-in-the-air stance worked best) and try to dunk those pits in the holes. The smaller the whole, the more pits we would get from our mates.
That was me back then.
The apricot-pit-chucker.

The Whole-Wide-World

Ehud Banai is my favorite artist. Not only in Israel – in the whole-wide-world. Well, maybe along with Stevie Wonder. But still…
For those who don’t know him, I would call him Israel’s Bob Dylan: Not a great voice, but a genius when it comes to songwriting and lyrics.
There are more than a few songs of Banai that can literally move me to tears.
Unlike those cheap, untalented singers claiming to be “Mediterranean”, no one accomplishes fusion between East and West better than Banai, playing Arab chords on his electric guitar.
One song that seems to do it even more for me lately, as the father of two gorgeous girls, is a lesser known single from 1996, “I will bring you”.
What shall I bring, My little girl
What shall I bring you, As a gift
What shall I bring, My little girl
What shall I bring you, As a gift
I will bring you a lover’s song
I will bring you Star-light
I will bring you Wind from the sea
I will bring you The whole world
I will bring you Children’s laughter
To scare off all your fears
I will bring you, in both my hands
I will bring you my whole life

I will draw the journey to you into a picture

And I will bring it to you, as a gift

I will write the journey to you as a song

And I will bring it to you, one bright morning


Shoulder-length Hair

Another song I love of Banai is Haknafe Metuka (The Knafe is Sweet, knafe being an Arab desert).

There’s a line in there that always gets to me, because I remember who he was talking about. He was talking about guys like me, age 18, growing our hair after high school and before our military service, before they were going to chop it all off. Some last moments of rebellion.
Who is sitting today, for hours
Taking it all in
‘Till this whole shuk
Looks like a hallucination
I buy some coffee, and olive oil
A wanderer for one day
Hair down to my shoulders
Draft notice in my hand


I used to say to my buddy Shai: “How can I ever leave this country, when I know that the moment I hear Ehud Banai while abroad, I’ll break down and cry knowing I made the wrong decision?”
The sounds of Banai’s guitar, Yair Dalal picking on his ud, and even the grand orchestra accompanying that booming voice of Um Kultum as she belts “Inti Omri” – all those strum on different and special chords in my gut.
I realize that just as much as I am a product of the Western Israel and American parents – a guy who loves his cheeseburger and his rock n’ roll – I am also a product of this land I grew up in, the Middle East.
I curse in one of the oldest languages around, I make my kid a pita with hummus for a mid-day snack, at kindergarden she eats chopped vegetables with tahini.
It has nothing to do with the occupation-shmockupation. It has nothing to do with the religion that I have no connection to. It has nothing to do with the fact that I sometimes believe there is no hope for this place.
It’s only about characteristics ingrained in me and in my children.
It’s who I am.

8 Responses to “Just Some Random Thoughts”

  1. 1 Shelly
    March 1, 2010 at 12:29

    How fortunate you are to live in a place that, deep down inside, you feel so connected to. A very sensitive, touching post.

    • 2 Ami Kaufman
      March 1, 2010 at 13:13

      But is it a blessing or a curse?… 🙂

      • 3 Shelly
        March 1, 2010 at 15:00

        Both, but definitely leaning towards blessing. The blessing comprises the special feelings you have about what makes up your daily life, the feelings that move you, your being touched by the melodies, the lyrics, the cuisine, the landscape, the happiness of your children in their surroundings. The blessings are multiple.

        The single curse is caring. Because Israel and being Israeli are so dear to you, you care too much and are deeply affected by the never-ending deluge of bad stuff.

  2. 4 Aviv
    March 1, 2010 at 14:39

    I think you can get attached to any place after enough time. (Obviously it depends on the person, on the place and the experiences at that place).

    I know two baby-boomer Israelis who lived in the US for many years. As is usually the case, the wife followed as the husband pursued his career aspirations. When they lived in the US she missed her family and childhood friends. They moved back to Israel almost 20 years ago and guess what – There are lots of stuff she misses about the US too, like US college campuses, shopping for clothes without having to worry about them shrinking in the wash or a draconian return policy, and the orderly way people stand in line.

    And BTW, you talked about cursing in an ancient language: If you think about it, most Hebrew curses are really Arabic anyway.

    • 5 Aviv
      March 1, 2010 at 14:40

      (Having said all that, I feel exactly the same)

      • 6 Ami Kaufman
        March 1, 2010 at 14:46

        🙂 I guess it could be the “grass-is-greener” syndrome, eh?

        And as for the curses, not all of them are Arabic – but probably the best ones are… 😉

  3. 7 Liron
    March 1, 2010 at 19:46

    ccupation-shmockupation. that’s right.
    just write more of these posts and I’ll be happy and even leave a reply.

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March 2010

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