(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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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.