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Media Shuk-Up

(Published on VirtualJerusalem.com - 2000)

So there I was, shlepping vegetables through Machane Yehuda market on a sunny Wednesday morning.

Just as I was debating the price of artichokes with grocer Simcha and remarking at the injustice that they get weighed with their useless (and heavy) stalks attached, a large oblong, gray fluffy object was shoved in my face. I wasn't that startled, shopping in the shuk is always an experience of shoving, being shoved and having things shoved in your face. I was about to turn around and thrash the cretin with one of my carefully rehearsed, stinging Hebrew expletives, when an American voice rang out asking whether I spoke English. I barely had time to reply before Simcha, in a state of obvious excitement at coming face to face with an American television crew, hurdled his vegetable stand exclaiming, "You know Oprah? I love Oprah - you tell Oprah that Simcha come to Chicago to meet her, yes?"

The NBC reporter gave Simcha the kind of look you'd give someone who just vomited all over your new Gucci suit - vaguely sympathetic, and mildly horrified, coupled with a strong desire to flee. Simcha, amazingly, got the message and shuffled miserably back to his store muttering uncouth Arabic curses under his breath.

"So, would you mind answering some questions for us?" asked the well-coiffed and perfectly made-up reporter, "we're doing a short news piece on events in Israel this week and would like feedback from people who live here."
I agreed readily, it's not every day you get the opportunity to air your views on American TV and subvert the bull they screen on the major overseas TV networks!

Question: Are you afraid to come to Machane Yehuda today, the day Sharon takes office and given Hamas's threats to launch more terror attacks in response?

What I answered: I will not succumb to Hamas's threats and intimidation. I am not frightened; I will continue to live my life, to shop amidst the good people of the shuk who are trying to make an honest living. We Israeli people are strong and steadfast and will not buckle under threats of terror and annihilation. Am Yisrael Chai!

What I would have liked to answer:
Of course I'm afraid you prissy twit! I have mastered the 400-meter shuk sprint, managing to buy an entire week's groceries in less than four minutes. That's quite a feat for someone wearing a ten-kilogram bulletproof vest! I never leave home without donning a clean pair of underwear, and I carry my dental records with me at all times.

Question #2: What do you think of Israel's new prime minister, Ariel Sharon?

What I answered: What can you say about a man who is credited with leading Israel to victory in the Yom Kippur War? He isn't afraid to say what he thinks (would you if you were his size?) and holds Israel's security paramount. As an Israeli citizen I stand behind our elected leader and his government and support the course of action he takes in these troubled times.

What I would have liked to answer: What do I think of him? As an Israeli taxpayer I am a bit perturbed that my taxes are going to increase in order to keep Sharon's refrigerator well stocked. Moreover, does the fact that he is a lawyer (he got his law degree in 1966) a politician, and a farmer mean that he is gifted with the ability of telling expensive lies while simultaneously sticking his arm up a cow's butt? I would imagine that to be an extremely useful talent to have in the Knesset.

Question #3: Do you think Sharon's unity government will achieve lasting peace?

What I answered: I think it has an excellent chance of succeeding where former governments have not. With Sharon at the helm and the more moderate Peres as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I believe the unity government is well equipped to take the peace process forward.

What I would have liked to answer: "Lasting peace" you say? That's the funniest thing I've heard since George W. Bush won the U.S. elections! And, what pray tell, do you define as "lasting," madam journalist? An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year? I dare say you probably mean an eternity. May I suggest you give up your day job as news reporter and transfer to Saturday Night Live!

Question #4: What do you think of Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat?

What I answered:
Well, Arafat has recently been forthcoming on the issues and we can only hope he is truly interested in peace for the welfare of his people and for the stability of the region. It would help if he would call for an end to the violence and speak out against terrorism, but seeing his past record of violence against the Jewish people, I do feel it is hard to trust such a figure.

What I would have liked to answer: If Chairman Arafat was reincarnated as Pinocchio; his nose would be longer than the Nile River and ten times more polluted. I think he has as much intention of making peace with Israel as he does of trading in his black and white kaffiyeh and military fatigues for a Dolly Parton wig and a cerise feather boa.

Question #5: Do you ever think of leaving Israel?

What I answered:
No, this is the Jewish homeland, I belong here, and I don't want to be anywhere else!

What I would have liked to answer: Why on earth would I want to leave? Where else can I live with the daily excitement of dodging bombs and bullets? Where else do I get to surrender fifty per cent of my salary to the government? Do you seriously think I'd give up working on Sundays? Who needs to own a ten-room condo in Manhattan when you can buy a basement studio apartment in Jerusalem for the same price, and get all the stray cats you'll ever want for company, for free! Ah, Israelů.

And then my moment of fame was over. The cameras were turned off, and the media team, looking rather anxious to get back to the safety of their bulletproof vehicle, disappeared at lightning speed. Later that night, the following spliced, twenty-second interview appeared on the NBC news:

Reporter: What do you think of Hamas?
Slon: They are good people who are trying to make an honest living.
Reporter: Do you think peace is possible with the Palestinians?
Slon: Arafat is truly interested in peace and has called for an end to the violence and terrorism, but seeing the past record of Jewish violence against the people, I do feel it is hard to take the peace process forward.