A Loose Garment

Crafting a Life on Life's Terms


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Too Fierce To Care

I woke up recently and realized everything I thought I wanted six months ago had completely changed. Drastically.

One of the byproducts of my style experiment is the discovery that I don’t actually care about fashion. Which is not the same thing as not caring about clothes, but back to that in a minute.

Sometime in the last month I magically stopped caring what others thought of how I presented myself. This is not to say that I have gone to seed – rather that my only criteria for leaving the house now are my personal standards of aesthetics and hygiene. Those are certainly affected by the culture I live in, but my point is that I don’t think about it when I’m in public anymore, and I’ve totally disengaged from fashion mags, etc, without purposefully trying to.

What’s more interesting about this is how it’s renewed my interest in knitting and knits. Two reasons: One, I’ve discovered that, for me, pants are bullshit. (Insert giant exclamation point here – this was a huge shock to my androgynous closet.) But as a cyclist I need a compromise. Hence, knits in the form of leggings, etc. Two, turns out what I’ve really been interested in this whole time is craftsmanship. What fanciful delights can people make, and how well can they make them. Nevermind this whole trend-and-shopping business, what’s interesting to make and look at?

Now, as we all know, No interest in fashion + Strong interest in crafts = Middle Aged Cat Lady in Purple. Some of my favorite people are MACLIPs, so no judgment. Let’s just say that, gratefully, I’m not a cat person.

What’s actually been holding my interest all year is this . . . :


(My 3 month old pepper plants, started from seed)

. . . because they turn into stuff like this:


(Mmmmm, strata!)

This slow transformation into a Mini Earth Momma began, I think, over a year ago. While at MassArt, I realized that most of the students around me were really energized by the world of fashion and designers, and for me the opposite was happening. The more I learned, the less I wanted in. As a result, I told myself that activewear was my calling – and it very well may be. At least the center motivation for that (on a good day) is taking care of oneself. But don’t get it twisted – that’s still definitely part of the fashion industry.

I’m trying to embrace these shifts, rather than fight them. There was a lot of self-doubt mucking things up in my cranium, but at this point it’s mostly been cleared away. I’m starting to learn about farming and more about cooking, while still attending to things I said I would do from what feels like my past life. Exposed Seam is still very much happening, and I am still excited about it most days. Making stuff that makes it easier for people to get out and get active still very much interests me. And after a short list of personal items I’m keen to knit through, I’ll be returning to sweater & home design in my “spare time”.

In short, I’m becoming a homesteader. Laugh if it so moves you.

My favorite thing about all this is the liberation I feel today. Suddenly, I’m free from:

– the constant feeling of “if I only had X” and the time lost searching for “X” (in vain, usually)
– the time suck of engaging in media that isn’t truly relevant
– others’ opinions about what is worth my time
– the feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin

What started as an excuse to clear my closet of clutter and buy new clothes became a much bigger journey. All the in-between steps of sorting out my colors and venturing back into heels (a failure, btw) were useful in and of themselves, but also because they were breadcrumbs along the trail to the true destination. Once I had enough puzzle pieces sorted out, the picture became clear: I have seen the real me, and she is too fierce to care.


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Cha Cha Heels


Illustration by Ruben Toledo

Urban Spring. It’s a time marked as much by the outcroppings on women’s feet as it is by the buds on the trees. I am not immune to the desire for my feet to look like delicate flowers, but with size 9’s attached to some “powerful” legs, I’m also realistic about my possibilities.

I went through a period about six years ago, where I decided not to wear heels anymore. It involved me being at a heavy metal concert accidentally wearing high heeled boots, as I’d gone to the venue straight from work. I remember looking at the mosh pit thinking, “Oh my god, if this gets out of hand, I’m going to be trampled.” There was so much beer on the floor that the idea of running for cover without some non-skid soles seemed impossible. That night, I went home and consigned or donated all my heels. All I could think was, “How many scenarios are there where wearing heels puts me at risk?”

About two years ago, right around the time we were getting married (surprise, surprise), I changed my mind. It all started with the pale gold Stuart Weitzman pumps I chose over my John Fluevog boots to wear with my wedding dress. (A nice Jewish boy for a nice Jewish wedding, right?) As much as I wanted to pull a Betsy’s Wedding and score one for feminism, when you look at the dress you can maybe see why I ultimately chose some classic pumps:

Which brings me back to spring fever, and my current experiment. I’ve rid myself of a few pairs recently, and surprisingly none of them were heels. I find it interesting that I want so badly to make high heels work for me, when they only marginally fit my lifestyle. I know I’m not alone in this, since there’s even a blog called Biking In Heels, and she’s from Cambridge no less. So what is it that makes me desire traditional femininity as much as I do modern liberation?

Linda Grant tells a story in her book The Thoughtful Dresser about a display of relics at the holocaust museum at Auschwitz. In the midst of this pile of shoes, meant to represent a day’s worth of camp prisoners, there was a lone, red high heel. Not only that, the shoe turned out to be an authentic possession of an actual camp victim. Grant’s synthesis of this is on point:

Whenever I have bought expensive, painful, unnecessary shoes, I have thought about her, the now anonymous woman who arrived at the camp wearing the shoe (and its partner) or carrying it in her luggage. She was not anonymous then. She had a name, a life. Freedom, in its way, was the right to buy expensive luxuries, to own nice things. Fashion exists, whatever you think about it. It’s everywhere, even in the gruesome relics of an extermination camp.”

Is it not hilarious that I was worried about a mosh pit and muggers, while this woman wore red high heels to meet her death? Granted, they didn’t all know what they were in for, but enough people knew it was unlikely to be good. These shoes clearly either brought her joy, defined her status, allowed her to feel more human, or all of the above. And all of which are crucial when your humanity is being stripped from you.

The book was a very quick, super read, and I recommend it to anyone who wants an insightful, lovely take on why we get dressed. It definitely prompted me to embrace my inner RuPaul, yet also accept that my definition of glamour will not be someone else’s – especially as I get older.

Speaking of getting older and practical considerations, my big problem is that I can’t wear pumps without them literally falling off my feet when I try to walk at any length. I finally got serious about this and enlisted the help of Google, which led me to Kelly at Alterations Needed, a great style blog which has quickly become my new favorite. Specifically she has a great post about how to comfortably wear high heels.

I took her advice and bought Foot Petals’ Tip Toes. And while she didn’t mention these in her post, I also bought the Amazing Arches, since I need all the arch support I can get. (Getting older, remember?)

Between Linda Grant’s inspiration and Kelly’s practical tips, I feel like I can take as much or as little femininity into spring as I damn well please. Which is a nice seat of power to be in. If you see me at a concert though, expect Keds.


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I Had My Colors Done

Since I now have a database of every piece of clothing I own, it’s a few mouse clicks here, insert a pie chart there, and voila! A visualization of all the colors in my closet, based on the percent of total pieces each color makes up.

Here’s what it looked like based on the raw, unadulterated data:

Rather cacophonous isn’t it? I look like a woman with three or four distinct wardrobes. There’s this nouveau preppy sort of thing going on in the top left corner, some incongruous browns defiantly staking out territory in the southwest, and the Great Black Eye, aka the gaping abyss where my style should be.

Looking at this chart, it suddenly made perfect sense why I’m always wearing the same things with the same other things – crossover in my wardrobe is nearly impossible. Once I find a few things that go together, that’s what they go with because everything else is dissonant.

I had eschewed the idea of shopping with “my colors” in mind years ago, based on the belief that if I just bought what I was drawn to, then I would naturally be drawn to everything in my closet and therefore have no problem! It never occurred to me that if on Monday I’m drawn to Karen O. and on Friday I’m drawn to Karen Elson, this might not work.


(Karen O. vs. Karen E.)

Why look at this in the first place? Because one of my top 3 goals in this project is to buy a lot less at a much higher level of quality. The Bangladesh tragedy is just another reminder, one of many times that this sort of injustice has been done to people in the name of profit and personal style. With that fresh in my mind, I cannot afford, either literally or morally, to own any piece of clothing that can’t be worn with maximum versatility and peace of mind.

How to make harmony out of hodgepodge? With Photoshop:

Removing some of the worst offenders, rearranging and expanding a few old friends, and welcoming one or two new ones, I got a much more promising layout. The big difference now is that if I look across the circle from any one color to another, they can pretty much all be worn with each other. That means, ideally, no seasonally appropriate piece would lie dormant.

Since I’m still trying not to buy anything before my 33rd birthday (which is many months away), I cleared out as many pieces as I could for now, which meant almost all the mismatched colors (brown, aqua, purple . . .). But as we discovered last week, black is an old habit that’s hard to break. If I were to rid myself of all my black pieces now, I’d be out all my basics and then some.

So this is a plan for moving forward. Slowly but surely I’d like to replace most of the black in my wardrobe with a nice warm gray or taupe, especially my winter coat. I’m dying to knit myself a mint green cardigan, and as far as I’m concerned the more lilac the better. And you can better believe that new, improved wheel is coming with me when I finally do go shopping.


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Parting With My Dark Past

Giving away the nice things is always the most difficult. I never miss old t-shirts or worn out sneakers after they’ve departed, but the really sharp pieces that represent a particular fantasy, those are tough to let go of.

Last week I did a pre-spring survey of my data so far. Any seasonally appropriate item that I hadn’t worn at all, gone. Anything I hadn’t worn at least 5 times was either altered (in the case of some jewelry), given a stay of execution until fall, or added to the Boomerangs pile.

Mostly, it felt good to lose the dead weight. There were six pieces though which gave me serious pause. The 18 year old me would have been astonished to discover I owned these now, and mortified at the thought that I would part with them:


A Ralph Lauren vest in my favorite fabric – faille


Another Ralph Lauren, this time in sexy black velvet


A cute, romantic looking belt from Urban Outfitters


Opera-length black leather gloves, from my MIL no less (whom I do not want to picture wearing them)


Black lace glovies from a local vintage shoppe


And the pièce de résistance: the black felt cloche from Salmagundi

Why yes, I am a Smiths fan – how did you know?

That cloche probably kills me more than any of them. It’s made from a vintage mold and the shape tempts me to keep it around as an objet d’art. Of course, my better judgement is taking it, along with the rest, to Oona’s to see if they’re interested.

Because I love these things, I must set them free. How much better to look across the street one day and see a young goth in Harvard Square rocking my leather gloves and a corset, than for them to rot away in my closet! If I let these things go, I’ll be able to enjoy them as a museum goer would, taking in the art of others around me. I’m doing myself an aesthetic favor in more ways than one.

This also touches on the fact that, at 32, I no longer want to wear costumes, because I no longer need them. I read this yesterday and think it captures that feeling perfectly:

. . . what you wear tells a very personal story about you. As young women most of us aren’t yet sure what story we want to tell, or we want to tell many stories at once . . . But with age, the narrative begins to gel. You’ve made decisions that have defined you. Who you are, what you are – conveying both to the world matters to you. This is why . . your clothing starts to matter more, too. – Amanda Fortini, Elle, April 2013

In other words, once upon a time, I wanted to tell the world this . . . :

but in reality, it looked something like this:

In the last 7-ish years, that has morphed into this, which I’m dissatisfied with:

So through my current experiment, I’m reaching for this . . . :

but it will probably end up looking like this:


(Photo from Boston Street Style)

Bottom line, I am ready to tell a more colorful, richer story.


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No new clothes until I turn 33


Illustration by Karen Rosemary Sorenson

I’ve been keeping an Excel spreadsheet of everything sartorial that I own, marking off how many times I wear each item, since about mid-February. I decided at New Year’s that my motives for buying new clothes and accessories have become increasingly suspect, and wanted to see what would happen if I swapped my regular spins through Marshall’s for a daily seat on the meditation cushion.

So far, so good. I haven’t bought anything new since January 1, and I actually decided this week to donate one pair of shoes and trash another (which I had loved all up, I promise). Originally, the plan was not to discard of anything until my birthday in December, but the numbers don’t lie. Keeping track of what I actually wear in cold, hard data makes it tough to justify keeping something with a big fat zero in the “times worn” column.

Today I came across this: Project 333. Dress with only 33 pieces for 3 months. How about 33 pieces until you’re 33? Too perfect, right?

I am tempted to jump on her bandwagon, but also feel a little stupid for not having come up with the idea of charging people $15 a pop to receive some motivational material re: wardrobe simplifying myself. Thus, torn on whether or not I should fork over the cash. But I do love the idea of trimming the closet now instead of later.

Things I have learned in Q1 of this experiment:

- Activewear is the number one thing I wear the most of. (Yes, I work from home. No, that is not a good reason for this to be the case.)
– All my t-shirts are either uncomfortably large, uncomfortably small, and/or have company logos on them.
– All my pants are hipsters, since that’s what’s been in style for the last 10 years. Turns out, I should be wearing high-waisted pants a la mid-20th century. (Long torso, short legs.)


Tiny waist and a round thing in your face . . . oh wait.

- The reason the only high heels I wear are boots or lace-ups is because I have been buying my shoes in the wrong size pretty much this whole time.

I’ll be blogging about this moving forward, especially now that spring is (technically) here and wardrobe options get more interesting as a result. You can see my inspirations, clean-outs, and stylings on my Pinterest page.

Vive le simple!


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To Jew or Not to Jew, That Is the Question

I’ve been thinking about Jewish identity as relates to food the last few weeks. Two factors play into this:

1. Matisyahu now looks like a young Scott Thompson. (from Kids In The Hall, eh?)

2. We have a chef-friend who is very into the pig, and also into the Jewish. He and his wife are great friends of ours, and they seem to be able to combine prosciutto and Shabbat with impunity.

Last year I read Kosher Nation and found it to be helpful really only in one regard: it left me feeling that Kosherization by organization is a racket, especially with regards to meats. The 1970’s idea that perhaps local, fresh, humanely raised, potentially organic meats and produce may be the “new Kosher” very much appeals to me. I think it’s fair to say Sue Fishkoff somewhat takes that stance in her book as well.

That at least left me feeling clear on where I stand with regards to certification of foods. But it didn’t leave me any less confused about kosher prohibitions in general.

A saying I find very useful is “Take what you need and leave the rest.” The problem with that is, with Jewish law, where do I draw the line? And if the answer is that everyone’s line is drawn at different points that happen to work best for them, then where is the boundary of Jewish identity?

These are questions most Jews (er, well, at least most Reform rabbis) deal with on the daily. Is it okay to be a Cafeteria-style Jew?

The other question is, how much of my desire to bend the pork-and-shellfish rule is really out of cultural and peer pressure? No one is actually pressuring me, but I have this internal struggle of wanting very much to fit in with my Italian family and my pig-loving friends, and to share fully with them in foodie delights.

Food is a really big deal for me. Earlier in life it was a big deal because my relationship with it was disordered, so I spent many years selfishly imposing dietary restrictions on myself and those around me. Now that my eating and self-image are largely healthy, I feel a sense of responsibility to not impose unnecessary restrictions on myself or those I love. I consider food central to personal relations, so I have a real desire to remove barriers to bonding.

On the other hand, some restrictions are more important than bonds, or even forge bonds themselves. To wit: alcohol is an absolute no-go for me in any form. This is so crucial that if it were difficult for me to bond with someone in the absence of alcohol, I would let them fade away. Likewise, there are many people I have gotten to know well and now cherish because we have this alcohol-free commonality.

My husband lies in between, just like my Judaism. We share some crucial restrictions, as well as a love of our faith. We also share a love of most foods, but he comes with a desire to avoid, at minimum, pork-and-shellfish, and sometimes the meat-with-dairy issue as well. He’s welcome to do that, and up to now I have happily done the same. I worry that should I ultimately decide otherwise, it would cause a rift in our bond, which is the most important personal bond I have.

Which brings me back to Matisyahu. My first thought when I saw his new look was “I wonder how his wife took this.” Obviously this would have been a dialogue – you don’t spring that shit on your spouse if your relationship is solid – so she was probably really supportive. But if you’ve been married to someone who’s been frum for a decade, likely since you met them, it could be an adjustment.

Let’s assume she’s awesome and they’re awesome and it’s all good. The same could be said of my husband and my marriage, so what do I have to lose? On the other hand, do I actually have anything to gain – even just my own food-related pleasure – by going fully treif?

I think this is really more about me learning to please myself rather than others. I want to please my husband by remaining kosher-style, I want to please my family and friends by being treif, and I want to please god and I don’t really know how. So in the final analysis, it looks like I’m going to have to trust my gut. (And to answer your question, of course the pun is intended.)


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Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Israel but Were Afraid to Ask

I started poking around Radio Canada’s website today because in anticipation for our trip to Montreal, I’ve been listening to a lot of radio en Francais. In the process I discovered that Radio Canada is a bit to the Palestinian side of things, CBC is smack in the middle, La Presse is middle-to-Israeli, and Journal de Montreal seemed almost downright pro-Israeli. But of course a native French speaker could correct my interpretation of this.

After the Israel Rally in Chestnut Hill last night, I felt obligated to talk more about the conflict, good, bad, and ugly. Knowing full well it’s a loaded issue and that I would probably hear some feedback that may be complicated, I posted the above observations on Facebook, qualifying it by saying I’m just thinking a lot about this and trying to fact find. I got the following response from a friend of mine (who is an actual friend in real life):

At least those Israeli children are alive! In the present conflict 104 Palestinians have died, (many of which are children), 866 Palestinians are wounded, 1643 bombs have been dropped on Gaza, and 832 homes have been destroyed. Compared too 3 Israeli deaths and a dozen injuries. Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison where unemployment is around 50% and most of Gaza is impoverished. (Israel, on the other hand, has one of the most robust economies with unemployment at around 6%) It is one of the most densely populated areas, around 1.6 million people. Israel has calculated the calorie count needed so that they don’t starve but nothing more. Meaning that Gaza is only getting enough food to barely survive. Medical supplies are being restricted from Gaza.

The US is giving 8 million dollars a day in military aid to Israel. The Palestinians are getting nothing. This is not anywhere close to an even fight. Saying that Israel has a right to defend itself from the Palestinians is like saying that an adult has a right to defend itself from a child. They are not on equal footing. Is it any wonder that some Palestinians would want to defend themselves against the Israelis when they have been slowly and relentlessly displacing Palestinians and pushing them into smaller and smaller spaces? Just like the white colonists in the Americas did to Native people. Israel has started to round up migrants from Northern Africa and putting them into concentration camps.

Jen, I’ve known you for quite a while. I have always known you to understand the side of the oppressed and marginalized. I know that you can think critically about controversial issues. Please, please please do not let up that critical eye when it comes to Israel.

She then linked to this Huffington Post op-ed: 5 Lies the Media Keeps Repeating About Gaza.

I started writing a response to her, trying to address her many points, and it ended up being impossible to make it simultaneously accurate, thorough, and short enough for a Facebook comment. So here is my response to what she said above. I am posting this in the hopes that even if someone only reads a small portion of it, it will get them to examine the conflict from both sides.

________________________________________

I know where you stand on this issue based on at least one previous Facebook post I have read of yours, so we haven’t ever discussed this before. However, because about 10 years ago I thought like you did, I think it’s really important that I address some of the points you lay out here.

I didn’t come to a different understanding of the conflict because of my faith. I came because I made a concerted effort to learn about the last 150 years of the area from several different sources, and continue to do so. With that said, here are my responses to some of your points:

“104 Palestinians have died, (many of which are children)” – this ties in with point #2 on the Huffington Post article list that you linked to. And also, Point #1 in the Huffington Post article, that the recent deaths of young Palestinians may be the recent cause of this escalation.

Perhaps the quickest way to address this is to give the following as just one example of how Hamas operates: ‘Earlier, in November 2007, Ban had condemned a rocket attack launched from a UN-run Gaza school.’
Normally I wouldn’t direct you to Wikipedia, but this particular article on Palestinian rocket attacks is so thoroughly footnoted that I think it is a worthy reference. It also draws very clear attention to two things:
1. One of the reasons so many civilians die in Gaza when Israel responds to terrorist attacks is because Hamas makes it a point, and has been doing so for several years, to use civilian locations from which to launch their attacks, knowing full well the danger they put their people in. To say that the rocket attacks are an alternative to suicide bombings is something of a misunderstanding, as both involve the martyring of innocent people.
2. Palestinian rockets have been fired consistently on southern Israel for over a decade. This is not a response to a new threat or a recent activity, or as Huffington Post would have us believe the recent death of a Palestinian teenager. It is a response to years of terror. That Israel took so long to do something about it only shows how difficult it is for them to react as any other country that is able to would act when faced with persistent acts of terror against them on their soil.

“Israel has calculated the calorie count needed so that they don’t starve but nothing more. Meaning that Gaza is only getting enough food to barely survive. Medical supplies are being restricted from Gaza.”, as well as part of point #3 from the Huff Po:

So, this refers to the “Red Lines” which were the guidelines for economic restrictions that took effect after Hamas took power in Gaza (2007) and which ended in 2010. As of today, Nov. 2012, there are no food restrictions from the Israeli side of the border and food flows freely. Also, it’s notable that during that time, there was no lack of food in Gaza nor widespread hunger of any kind.
Here is a link to Gisha’s information on the Red Lines and their ongoing legal quest to get them fully exposed, ostensibly for the purpose of preventing other such measures in the future.
It is worth noting that Gisha is an Israeli organization. Meaning, there are many people inside Israel who do not agree with every single decision that the Israeli government makes, and who are working to ensure that Palestinians have a free and fair quality of life just like they do.
As for the comment about the medical supplies, the closest I found to any medical restrictions was a note on Gisha’s site that there have been instances where a Palestinian person who wanted to receive treatment in Israel could not get a pass from the Palestinian Authority, and therefore Israel could not let them enter for treatment without such a pass, which involved proof of payment. However they did not elucidate how often such a thing happens. All other references I found to this were either people throwing this idea around without any references (i.e., a rumor they heard that sounded like it must be true), or a specific reference to how Israel has never blocked the entry of medical supplies, even during the Red Lines period. I did find a link on Wikipedia noting batteries for hearing aids, and that at one point in the past wheelchair importation was restricted, but that is no longer the case.
Since this information comes from the mouth of the Israeli consul to New England, take it for what you will, but he said last night that Israel is specifically making any effort to get civilians hurt in the conflict over to Israeli medical centers for care. He also said, notably, that the IDF considers it a failure any time they have harmed innocent civilians during a reprisal. This runs in contrast to the Hamas policy of specifically targeting civilian Israeli locations, which have no link to military operations.
To address the last point under Huff Po #3 about Israel restricting exports and other items, I am certainly not going to argue in favor of the blockade, as many Israelis also would not. So, to that point I concede that I do not think it achieved the goal of making Israel safer and/or removing Hamas from power. It does seem to only have made life more difficult for Palestinians, strengthened Hamas’ resolve, and given them yet more fodder to position themselves as martyrs.

“The US is giving 8 million dollars a day in military aid to Israel. The Palestinians are getting nothing.”

This quote below is from the NYT article linked to in the Huff Po article:
‘Washington provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinian Authority.’
I looked into this further and it turns out that we’ve sent an awful lot of aid to Palestinians over the years, and continue to do so. Here is a link to a recent report of the US aid to Palestine.
If you meant in the way of weaponry, that is of course different. Given that the US categorizes Hamas as a terrorist organization, and is allied with Israel, it is unlikely they would supply the Gaza Strip with weapons.

“Saying that Israel has a right to defend itself from the Palestinians is like saying that an adult has a right to defend itself from a child.” as well as part of point #3 and point #4 from Huff Po:

Actually, saying Israel is defending itself from Palestinians is incorrect altogether. It is defending itself from Hamas, which is a terrorist organization, which has repeatedly terrorized southern Israel for the last decade (see above). No amount of hyperbole changes that fact.
It’s interesting that in the NYT article that Omar Baddar (Huff Po) links to in order to try to prove his point that Hamas is open to a two-state solution, and therefore not the problem, Khaled Meshal says “If occupation ends, resistance ends. If Israel stops firing, we stop firing.” But this was in 2011 and Israel had pulled out of Gaza entirely by Sept. 12th, 2005. So what occupation is he talking about?
Also, while Hamas has taken a big step forward by removing the statement about the eradication of Israel as one of their goals from the charter, it was in the charter for over 20 years (1988-2006). They currently also ambiguously reference the idea that future generations of Palestinians reserve the right to change their mind about that. So, while they definitely need to be given some credit for the change, it stands to reason that Israel would be hesitant to trust their dedication to a two-state solution.
To address the idea that it is not a fair fight, you’re right. There’s nothing fair about having to create a culture in your government and country that puts military action and fear of your neighbors at the center of life. I already addressed the fact that Hamas uses Palestinian people, including children, as human shields. Israel does have a far superior military, out of necessity, and over years of building. That is the primary reason so few Israelis have been killed so far – defense is a way of life for them.
That said, I certainly don’t agree with Gilad Sharon’s take on things, but then again I hardly ever agreed with his father either. One of the few things I think Ariel Sharon did right was pull out of Gaza, but that is my limited opinion.

“Is it any wonder that some Palestinians would want to defend themselves against the Israelis when they have been slowly and relentlessly displacing Palestinians and pushing them into smaller and smaller spaces? Just like the white colonists in the Americas did to Native people.”

This is where history comes in. The progression of Israel from Zionist settlers in the 1800’s up through the WWII has very little in common with the European colonization of the Americas. The land was owned by the Ottoman Empire, and the areas where Zionists settled were purchased legally from the landowners over many years. Admittedly, the area was never completely without conflict. What’s important to note is that where those tensions rose are generally where other nations (including but not limited to Britain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, France, and the Soviet Union back when it still existed) harnessed and magnified any disputes to serve their own political purposes. Sadly, one of those purposes in the early 20th century was Anti-Semitism, which while now only a part of the issue, still is an important part and should not be ignored when discussing motivations. To that point, over 20% of free Israeli citizens (i.e., not living in Gaza or the West bank) are Arab. It’s unlikely the opposite can be said of Jews in any predominantly Arab nation.
If you are thinking more of the displacement that took place immediately following the War of Independence in 1948, I agree it’s distasteful that so many Arab Palestinians lost their homes and had to move. What are more distasteful, however, are the facts that Arab Anti-Semitism precipitated that war, and that since it was fought generations of these people have seemingly had no place to go. Ask yourself, why is it that Jordan and Egypt didn’t welcome these people into their countries with open arms and immediately try to house and assimilate them as best and as quickly as possible? Why were they specifically delayed entry, and their territory used as base of operations for the PLO? Why now, when Egypt shares an open border with Gaza, is there still the majority of the burden on Israel to supply electricity and water? Why do Gazans still suffer when Egypt could potentially be doing more to stimulate their economy, without threatening the peace it has with Israel?
There is a NYT op-ed that is sort of the other side of the coin to the article you provided from Huffington Post. It addresses this idea that Israel is bearing an unfairly large portion of the burden for why Palestinian people are still in a bad way.
And I urge you, very seriously, to read about the history of the region. I can heartily recommend Israel by Martin Gilbert, and have Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem and Joe Sacco’s Palestine on my list as well.

“Israel has started to round up migrants from Northern Africa and putting them into concentration camps.”

MSNBC had a well-measured article on this.
I admit, I don’t like the sound of some of the racist remarks coming from the older Israelis interviewed, nor does the 52% negative poll hearten me. However, I can certainly appreciate the dilemma, because France, Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries all face this exact same problem. France most notably suffered some very serious racism issues in the last few years related to African immigration. So, while the use of the term “concentration camps” is both inaccurate and offensive, it is true that there is a problem across the board with racism and how to handle African immigrants, to which Israel is, sadly, not immune.

Last but not least, to address the point #5 in the Huff Po op-ed, I totally agree. I cannot personally envision a military solution to what seems at its heart to be an ideological problem. I do not know what it will take to get Israel’s government and Palestine’s governing bodies to finally agree for the last time, but I am guessing it may involve all the other fingers in the pie, which these days are mostly from Iran, getting out of the kitchen altogether.

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