Seven years ago, I decided to go to graduate school, because I don’t ever want to qualify for food stamps again. I want them to be there for people who need them, and I am all good with my tax dollars going to do that.
In fact, I’m pretty good with my tax dollars going to all kinds of things that make other people jump up and down and throw big fat tantrums. Things like public education – from pre-kindergarten through college – and health care and green space and road repair and publicly funded transit and art and music. I even like having my tax dollars go toward police and fire and prisons.
I’m not crazy for prisons, but there are nasty people out there who need time – sometimes a lifetime – to cool off and think about what they have done. I also think there should be education and constructive things for people in prison to do. Even someone behind bars can contribute good things to the world. Years ago, I reviewed a book called Cruciverbalism: a crossword fanatic’s guide to life in the grid by Stanley Newman. In it, he reported that because crossword puzzle design is a painstaking and time-consuming endeavor, a lot of puzzles are designed by prison inmates. (The book is a really fun read, and I highly recommend it.)
And speaking of cross words, I got an e-mail yesterday from my friend Saundra. Her son is my very favorite son-in-law. Saundra also has a master’s degree in library science, but she got hers at a more sensible point in her life. So she’s been a librarian for something like 30 years, and has deep connections in that world. I am a baby librarian, and still very idealistic. Or was, until Saundra’s e-mail asking whether I’d heard that the Council of the American Library Association, of which I am a member and which is meeting in Chicago this weekend, is taking up a resolution to boycott three American companies (Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola) for doing business with Israel – specifically the IDF, its armed forces.
I am having a big problem with this. For starters, the Council is doing this on a Saturday afternoon, which is the Jewish Sabbath. I know, I know – this is about Israel, not Jews. But…hmmmmm….Israel? Jewish state? Anyone see any sort of connection? I had a whole bloody comprehensive exam question on cultural warrant and its importance in librarianship. I have a problem with the resolution all on its own already. Now I have the extra problem of feeling like the ALA Council is a great big sneaky baby with its fingers in the cookie jar because it knows Mom is on the phone. Which I would not have had if it had scheduled this voting session on, say Sunday afternoon.
Then there’s the whole idea of the ALA Council voting on this. (I’m not going to even get in to the question of whether this is an appropriate issue for this particular governing body to address.) Really, ALA Council? I get the whole “commitment to social justice and fairness” thing. I even agree with it.
Which is why I just keep thinking “Aren’t we better than this?”
Here’s my problem: If the ALA wants to put to a vote a decision divesting itself of any investments in American companies doing business with Israel’s military, then it needs to do the same with American companies doing similar business in Sudan, Iraq, Syria, China, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Liberia, Congo, Angola, Russia and others. I could go on with my list of countries engaging in naughty behavior, but I won’t.
I also won’t get into how I feel about a group that prides itself on scholarship and accuracy of information taking on a really complicated issue in a manner that is reductive and simplistic. Not going to go there.
I have no clue as to what will happen on Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t planning on going, but if any of you library types think I should show up, maybe I will.
I’m going to end this little rant with a throwback post I wrote some five years ago. I was just playing with bloggy formats between grad school assignments, and I think I let about seven people see what I was posting.
A throwback post
Ugly and frightening pretty much sums up the latest chapter in Israel’s relationship with the rest of the world.
It’s hard for me to talk about Israel in general, because I love it so much and want it to thrive and be safe; and I also want to hear the Palestinian National Symphony and see the Palestinian National Dance Company perform before I die, because that will mean that there is a Palestine that’s taking care of itself and its people.
My views on the situation aren’t popular with anyone. My conservative friends think I’m a sellout for not marching to the beat of “Everything Israel Does is Right.”
My liberal friends think I’m a fascist for thinking that Israel has a right to exist at all.
The truth is that Israel needs to exist, and Palestine needs to exist. There needs to be two states – side-by-side and the Palestinian state needs to be contiguous. Both sides need to respect the borders and safety of each other and live like decent neighbors.
And Jerusalem, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims? Sorry, dudes. You need to share it. And I get the whole not wanting to share things. I am an oldest child. I don’t want to share anything. But I am practical. Plus, I have a younger sister. So, bad news, Israel and Palestine. You each have your own country, but you still have to learn to share. You are not only children. You are siblings. Get over it
My latest scheme to institute Peace in the Middle East involves feral cats. I have no idea how, but it seems that trying to solve the feral cat problem has caused as much anguish for some people as the Middle East situation has for others. And there are other similarities. Feral cats are stubborn and difficult to deal with. Dealing with them requires a great deal of finesse and patience. And there are no guarantees that you’ll get the results you’re looking for – trust, affection and a chance to get them neutered or spayed and the chance to love them the way they deserve to be loved.