Thursday, November 09, 2006

Maybe they should have signed a prenup

I recently finished reading Tom Friedman's book From Beirut to Jerusalem. I found it really interesting, somewhat baffling (the entire religious scene in Lebanon officially confuses the hell out of me), and very enjoyable. I learned a lot. One thing I learned is that I hate it when Tom Friedman uses metaphors like this:

Although Israelis and American Jews began dating and fell in love after 1967, they never got married; they never made that total commitment to each other. Theirs was a romantic fling--an affair. As with any love affair, it was only skin deep; the two parties didn't really know that much about each other. In many ways, American Jews liked Israel for her body and Israelis liked American Jews for their money. Theirs was not a love based on true understanding, mutual respect, and mutual commitment. The relationship worked as long as the two parties dealt with each other in a facile, superficial manner--as long as not too many Israelis moved to America and saw how attractive life there really was compared to life in Israel, and as long as those American Jews who went to Israel never got off the tour bus or, if they did, met only heroes and dead people and got right back on again.

But, as in any romance, there comes a moment when the starry-eyed couple discover who the other really is, and, just as important, who the other's relatives are hiding in the bedroom closet. Only if the relationship survives that process of mutual discovery can it really last. That mutual-discovery process began for American Jews and Israelis in the mid-1970s. American Jews suddenly found themselves exclaiming to Israelis, "Hey, I fell in love with Golda Meir. You mean to tell me that Rabbi Meir Kahane is in your family! I went out with Moshe Dayan--you mean to tell me that ultra-Orthodox are in your family! I loved someone who turns deserts green, not someone who breaks Palestinians' bones." Israelis eventually found themselves equally aghast and exclaiming, "Look, American Jew, just because we are dating doesn't mean you can tell me how to live my life. And anyway, American Jew, if we are in love, then you should move in with me. You cant just date me so that all your neighbors will ooh and aah, and then drop me off at the end of the evening. You also can't start taking aerobics classes and building up a physique of your own that my daughter finds so attractive she wants to move in with you! That's just not fair."

Look, I get the point, but really?

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