Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

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Do we need another Holocaust story?

The Holocaust was horrible. I doubt anyone will argue otherwise. Even those who claim it was nothing special are redundant. No massacre was as systematic and well-organized as this. The Holocaust comes with built-in emotional appeals, so you can’t blame me for being skeptic about The Book Thief. The fact that it’s for Young Adults, became popular and is narrated by Death makes everything worse. It looks like something that aims for the heart strings. It will manipulate you with tragedy and then give you some easy answer.

Only it’s not what happens. This is more like Fault in Our Stars. It’s a novel that feels like the result of harrowing research. Zusak writes like he’s trying to cope with believing that the Age of Social Catastrophe really happened. It’s not about a Holocaust. It’s about trying to come to terms with how reality shifted since WWII.

It was a nightmare. The Nazis, Pol Pot, the Russian Communism, the War – it sounds like an extinction event. It must’ve shook everyone. How does civilization continue from such a devastating event?

Zusak creates a character whose own story could somehow encompass this mess. His protagonist isn’t a Jew or a slave in the Gulag. This would make his book too specific. She’s also not a person from the highest echelon of society, for whom death was a complete shocker. Liesel is somewhere in the middle. She knows what death is and she knows what happiness is. She doesn’t know what so much death is.

Zusak wants to prod into what grief is. He’s trying to come to terms with it and while the story doesn’t rely on ass-pulled happy endings, it’s less dark than Green’s famous novel about cancer. People die and bad stuff happens, but Zusak’s attempts at staying optimism aren’t convincing. They sound like denial of tragedy rather than confronting it.

Hans’ character is the worst bit. He’s like Atticus, remaining moral and good-willing no matter how terrible things are. We don’t get a reason why he’s like this. He’s an angelic figure at reads more like Zusak convincing himself that there were good Germans,

You don’t need Jew-loving Germans to make us sympathize with them. A bolder move would be to show us the German who either bought into Nazism, or just cared only about his own skin. This would be harder to do, but more insightful. Zusak already chose to tell the story about Germans and not Jews, for a change. Despite all their power, the Nazis were the losers and their story wasn’t heard. The novel reminds us that there was more in that time period besides dying Jews and the assholes who ran the camps.

Hans is better than Atticus, though. Around the middle Zusak lets him fall like he should. In fact, Zusak puts a lot of characters through breakdowns and allows each to have his own way of coping. He doesn’t manage to create a convincing enough psychology. His characters are too quirky. They stick to their quirks rather than reveal new things about their personality. Still, he gives each of them their own way of coping. It’s hard to write a convincing psychology, but an honest attempt gives extra points.

He also avoids the trope of showing a happy life that’s followed by a tragedy. That’s easy to do. Zusak’s Himmel Street isn’t a happy world of quirky people who are happy despite being poor. It’s a world of ups and downs, childish fights, hunger and friendship. It’s often disconnected from the big story of WWII but isn’t that the point? While war goes on, people are trying to live as usual.

It’s also interesting to see a 21st century view of war applied to WWII. There are no heroes and villains in this war. It’s just people doing their job. People are afraid of bombs, but don’t care much who they’re fighting against. War is ugly, regardless of which side you on. Thankfully, Zusak doesn’t take the leap to conclude there’s a grand conspiracy at works. He avoids ranting about fat white men smoking cigars, planning to bomb children for their own amusement.

His take on Hitler though, is a mess. He obscures his view in a children’s book. It’s either a cop-out or a clever way of saying how childish it is to paint Hitler as some senseless bad guy. There are some philosophizing about words, but they don’t lead to anywhere. Books are pretty important, words have power but is war the result of the failure of words? Or can war be caused by and solved by words? Zusak knows that portraying the Nazis as hating books is a straw man. Mein Kampf is their Bible. Where does he draw the line? He raises questions but never explores them enough to help me come to answer of my own. It’s just there.

While the idea of Death narrating the story is pretty cool, it’s also not used to its advantage. Death’s tone is interesting. Current Western society (and a lot of cultures in general) despise death and view it as the most terrible thing. Check the panic around the idea that everyone has the right to die. Death’s tone is not cruel but almost detached. It’s a sad inevitability that we must accept.

There’s not much insight beyond this. Death is a psychopomp, but not much else. It’s not even a new spin. The problem is that death is presented as this general thing. There are various causes of death and we treat each of them differently. It would be better if Zusak used this to make Death more complex. Suicide, war, old age – we react differently to those deaths. Digimon Tamers gave us an original spin by personoficating suicide specifically. Zusak had a chance to portray all kinds of deaths, but instead it’s monolithic.

The stylized prose also doesn’t always work. Zusak knows what he wants. He’s trying to be poetic by creating a rhythm and separaitng paragraphs. His descriptions are sensual and not precise. Cliches still attack him. The weather is always mentioned, which is such a redundant technique that it doesn’t matter how much purpose it has. The poetic style also often leads to more telling than showing. While there are interesting reactions to disaster, in general the characters don’t have enough to do. We’re being told about them, and they end up more quirky than humane.

It would’ve worked if Zusak was more determined what kind of book this was. If the whole thing was supposed to be pseudo-poetic all the way, then the occasional ‘manipulative’ moment could be excused. If your whole story is one large poem, everything will probably be exaggarated and an angelic figure like Hans would be easier to swallow. Too often the poetic stylings cover up the characters instead of revealing them.

It’s an interesting enough book that doesn’t justify the hype, but doesn’t deserve to be lumped as another brain-dead best seller. It resorts to failed tricks as much as it has original ideas. It reads more like an interesting experiment by a writer who has a great book in him, rather than a hack who can only pull the heart strings. Hopefully, the sales will make Zusak take his craft more seriously.

3 stolen books out of 5

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The End of Evangelion

Let’s get rid of the obvious first. The End of Evangelion is inaccessible to anyone who didn’t watch the series. This shouldn’t be a point against the movie, though. There are enough great sequels who needed the first film. The fact this is two episodes smashed together to form a movie has no bearings on its quality.

There are far worse problems here. Evangelion was a brilliant series with a disappointing ending. Instead of using intelligence to lift up its story of saving the world, it went full retard. The deviation is only impressive if you haven’t been to the edge of weird storytelling. It contributed nothing to the series but was just a scattered essay with moving pictures.

The film was supposed to fix that, but sadly it doesn’t. Evangelion was never as deep as people say it is. It attempted subversions, but it lacked a theme to unite it all together. Religious symbolism and psychological portraits do not necessarily mean there’s a grand theme. They are ways to express ideas.

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The problems are already apparent in the beginning. It kicks off into a huge action sequence that lives little room for character development. It also perfectly replicates the intensity that made the TV show so fun.

Nobody talks about how fun the TV show us. The drama was engrossing and the action scenes were beautifully animated. Every metal bending, every hit, every explosion is full of power. The enemies have the unique, Angel-esque design and the scene is clean. The environment is bare, making it easy to follow exactly what’s happening. Michael Bay has a lot to learn from this film.

The film attempts the same psychological-monologue-slideshow thing, and it’s just as unnecessary and messy as in the series. It’s a little better, but the core problem remains.

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Moving to such territory is unnecessary. The story isn’t made for such experimental methods. At its heart, it’s a simple story about saving the world from the Unknown Enemy while realizing that humanity can be its own enemy, too. All you need for this story are characters who are convincing enough.

The monologues just go in circles, bouncing from one subject into another with no ideas concluding or connecting. This technique works in novels, but not so for films. You read novels in your own pace, so you take your own time to digest the word salad.

Movies set their own pace, so Anno is throwing at you images and words in machine-gun velocity. This could still have a chance of being entertaining, but experimental films often have a plot that works well with the method. You couldn’t tell the story of Pi without going full retard. It’s an abstract story at heart that happens only in Max Cohen’s head.

There is something about loneliness and the desire to connect. I heard this before and searched for it in this film. While the conclusion does touch that in a symbolic way that works, everything else was over the place like I remembered. Shinji is a neurotic and angsty teen, but his type of angst isn’t focused on enough. Is he a person who gave up on connecting to people like Mirai Nikki‘s Yukki? Is he an obsessive person who sees everything in absolutes like Max Cohen?

Perhaps I missed something in the series, but nothing here connected to a single theme. It starts to look like Digimon Tamers is an attempt to remake Evangelion with coherency. At least Tamers has a theme and symbols that point to it.

I once read that Anno said Evangelion could mean anything the viewer wants to. If so, then the show is about nothing. This isn’t how vagueness works. A story should not give simple answers, but it still needs to ask questions. Asking questions means it confronts a subject, and it’s not just about anything. Medabots asks whether weapons only lead to destruction, or whether they can be used for fun. The vagueness is in how the series makes strong cases for both viewpoints.

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The film still gets by because of its visuals. Despite the attempts at philosophy, the second part works in the same way the first part. Its epicness is exciting. It’s not as meaningful as before. We get monologues, instead of seeing characters in action but the visuals are still beautiful, and there’s a sense of self-importance that actually makes it fun. It stretches itself so far so just seeing how crazy it will go is entertaining. Despite the philosophizing, the film never forgets it’s a visual medium and that it should take advantage of it.

It’s an interesting addition to the Evangelion canon, but it supports the haters more than the fans. Instead of giving Evangelion a coherent ending, it shows how the series never had a grand theme to begin with. Knowing your limitations is important. If Evangelion stuck to its story of saving the world, it would’ve been fantastic. Still, a scattered but creative mind still has plenty of worthwhile ideas.

3.5 Angels out of 5

 

George Orwell – Why I Write

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George Orwell is a towering figure in writing. He defined how we think of totalitarianism, and created a language that’s a tool to demonize any regime or opponent. That’s ironic, because this demonization is one thing Orwell avoided. He’s an unavoidable author whose status is almost mythic. He’s a symbol.

Authors rarely become symbols. The activity is too solitary and unexciting. Orwell is one of the few famous writers who clearly wrote with hopes to improve the world. A lot of fiction is personal, even the satirical. Catch-22 reads more like a person trying to find humor in his military experience, rather than hoping the generals will read it and change their modus operandi.

The importance of the first essay relies more on the fact Orwell wrote it. It shows the human beneath the writing and the terms he invented. His four main motives are interesting, and I have a hard time thinking of another one. It’s more interesting to read how Orwell was a lonely nobody in the beginning. The writing is a little jerky, feeling as if Orwell is afraid to let everything out. He’s uncomfortable writing such a personal thing. There’s also an air of self-criticism, which is important for any serious intellectuals.

The second essay about the English culture/people is a problem. Too much of what Orwell writes is personal observation. It’s interesting and well-written, but nothing really verifiable. You have to take Orwell’s word for it. Since it’s a political piece, it’s harder to take that leap.

At least Orwell never demonizes anyone. He recognizes Hitler was the enemy back then, but there’s no joy or bravado in that idea. We need to defeat the enemy because he sadly exists, but that’s nothing to celebrate.

I’ll refrain from commenting on Orwell’s economic ideas, since I’m completely ignorant in that subject. You have to start somewhere, and Orwell is a decent beginning. He’s blunt that he’s in favour of Socialism. Again, his critique of Capitalism never descends into demonization. The essay doesn’t elaborate too much on the difference between Socialism and Capitalism, but Orwell gives the impression that he has sound reasons for his opinions.

One problem that happens over and over in that essay is Orwell’s calling some facts obvious. Phrases such as “anyone who understands” or “anyone who had eyes” and so on appear frequently. They’re not next to obvious facts. Maybe they were obvious back in the day, but in modern times you’ll have to look in history books to make sure Orwell is making sense.

The third essay is just a description of hanging. The prose is fantastic. There’s no point to it other than make the scene come alive, and Orwell does it. The prose is simple, with no stylistic quirks. It also has no bullshit. This prose was wooden in 1984, yet here it captures the sense of ‘this really happened’ that all realist authors aim for.

The last essay is not only the best, but should be spread around. Orwell’s criticism apply to every language. Complex language is overrated, especially when you’re dealing with ideas. If the purpose is to make readers understand you clearly, your words shouldn’t be a dense forest.

Complex sentences may work in fiction. Tone and describing sensory information is something authors do all the time. Fictional prose always borders on poetry. When you’re writing essays or talking about ideas/politics you need to be clear. You want to send a specific message, not something vague that can mean different things depending on the person.

There’s no reason for an intellectual person who understands his ideas to bury them. Words can be used to transmit ideas, or to blur them. The examples Orwell gives are a headache, and the way he transforms a Biblical passage into ‘intellectual language’ is hilarious.

He’s wrong about jargon, though. Jargon exists so the writing will be cleaner. Jargon takes a complex idea and sums it up in one word. These words are often obscure because people who use them often are passionate about their field and discuss these ideas constantly. Some even have subject-dependent meaning, like how ‘texture’ has its own meaning in music.

Of course, some people can use it to cover up not saying anything. You can feel your music review with ‘harmony’, ‘texture’, ‘idea’, ‘time signature’, ‘octaves’ and you still won’t be able to explain why The Beatles are so good. The way to test these people is to ask them what a certain jargon word means. An intelligent person will be able to explain it.

I’m glad Penguin Great Ideas put all these essays in one accessible book. Why I Write is an attention-grabbing title, and all of these essays help understand who Orwell is. Two of them are too personal and would only matter for writers or fans of Orwell. The last essay is a must-read no matter who you are. We all use language, after all.

3.5 politicians out of 5

Saul Bellow – Herzog

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Feminists got it wrong with the whole ‘strong female character’ thing. Anyone who talked a little about fiction should know that by now. What’s more puzzling is how they got that idea in the first place. When they obsess over the strength of female characters, what are the example of male characters they wish to emulate?

Herzog belongs to the line of books that trap you inside the character’s head. It’s less of a story than a psychoanalysis of a character, which you probably already read in Pornoy’s Complaint and Catcher in the Rye. Like in those novels, a lot of effort is put into developing the main character. Also like these novel, the character is far from strong, independent and beautiful. He’s a wreck. He’s self-destructive. He’s a joke. Like the best characters, we’re encouraged to explore Herzog, not to wish to be with him.

That’s the key to making a great character. Good characters are not ones we wish to be, but ones who have an interesting psychology we want to explore. It’s easy to make a strong, independent women. All you’re actually making is a Clay Golem from Diablo II. Attempting a character like MosesĀ is a harder and more rewarding effort. It’s not a wonder this style gave birth to a lot of acclaimed novels.

Herzog is weaker than those novels though. Bellow is talented, and the writing flows so smoothy it was jarring at first, considering I read Frog Music before it. Bellow has the skills to make enjoyable prose, but he doesn’t use it enough. He fails in the same way that other Jew failed, Bernard Malamud.

Paul Auster saw what was wrong and fixed it. A rambling style is fine. It could even lead to a great work, even if it’s difficult. This style works when all of the ramblings comes clearly from the character’s head. Everything the character says, then, reveals something about it. Even repetition, or copy-pasting paragraphs can have its purpose. The repetition of Something Happened is annoying, but it does wonders to build its character.

Bellow’s ramblings often seem to be outtakes from his essay collection. I understand Bellow was pretty prolific and had a lot to say. If you can’t say it via literary means, then maybe this fiction thing is not for you. Too often there are whole paragraphs which lose contact with the story. It’s not just when the letters Moses writes to others that these paragraphs appear. The novel is written in third person, which may make you want to take drugs. Any character study must be in first-person, because the third-person creates too much distance. When these snippets of essays appear in the mouth of the third-person narrator, the brain turns itself off.

The reason for this is because these snippets are pretty meaningless. There are people who think philosophy is pure bullshit and not worth anyone’s time. These people should have their rights revoked. Reading Herzog, though, you just might think these people may be on to something. What does a phrase like “the hedonistic joke of a mammoth industrial civilization”? It’s a great Marilyn Manson song title, but its meaning is lost. Philosophy should use jargon only when it makes the writing more clear. Piling a lot of big words is a way to cover up the lack of ideas.

Worse, there isn’t any lack to cover up. As a satire of the intellectual, Herzog is pretty good. Bellow is too slack on him, though. As a person that this book makes fun of, I wish I had such a great sex life. Intellectuals are often criticized for not being able to experience life. Yet, MosesĀ is a bit of a pick-up artist.

This is a theme ripe for exploration. Intellectualism, the desire to know shouldn’t distance us from life but to bring us closer. Yet you could easily find yourself reading too much instead of going out to see the weather has changed. Moses can’t enjoy a house out on the country, surrounded by green scenary, animals and quiet.

This intellectualism can easily wreck your relationships with other people. Spend too much time in heavy thinking, and you can become self-absorbed. We should gather new ideas and experiences not just from great dead authors, but with people who we can interact with. Bellow understands that too many books and you forget how to interact with a human being. Moses is a person stuck in his own world of ideas who can’t reach out to others. This causes wrecked relationships and with bad people, sometimes at the same. The reason he chose Madeleine was because of what it said about him. He managed to get a beautiful, intelligent women. Yet, he couldn’t see she was also not right in the head.

If Moses is such a social wreck, how could he have all these affairs? Intelligence is not sexy. Having a lot of sex is always a good thing. It’s a sign you’re well-adjusted socially. Perhaps this was written before people understood that anyone who preached to you how awful sex is was afraid to admit he wasn’t getting any.

There is a great author buried in here, but Herzog is too indulgent. The book fails exactly where its main character fails. It’s too self-absorbed, afraid to reach out to others (in this case, it’s afraid to reach out to its main character) There are wish-fulfillment fantasies and incoherent paragraphs. It doesn’t reach out enough for the reader. Like Moses, though, when it does it’s great. Moses is less coherent than Portnoy or Caulfield, but he’s an enjoyable pinata. Bellow is a good enough writer to not let the pen get away with him too much. Despite the occasional pointless paragraph and weird sexuality, Herzog is a good satire of intellectualism. It’s a must-read for anyone who reads a lot. We all need to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

3 Jews out of 5

Bernard Malamud – The Assisstant

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Bernard Malamud wrote a classic. He must have wrote one. There are too many good things in The Assistant. At its best, it’s a novel that gets why novels work. It’s a story primarily driven by the characters that still has a plot, instead of just a string of bad mornings. Malamud gets close to every character, and just when you think he wrote a villain he pulls back the mask to show us it’s a human.

He just had to spend so much time on inner monologues instead of showing.

If the novel was written by Raymond Carver, it’d be brilliant. Malamud writes the same kind of story Carver writes, but he fixes Carveer’s weakness. Despite being responsible for some of the best prose, Carver occasionally failed at plotting. Malamud manages to get the same intimacy of Carver’s writing while having a sequence of events that lead to a conclusion, instead of just a really nice closing sentence.

Malamud also knows that a plot shouldn’t be a series of hoops for the characters to jump through. Every event that helps push it forward has something to do with the characters. Malamud puts these events to challenge his character’s worldviews and see how they react to them. He even took the ‘dramatic death’ and found a way for it to merge with the story. He doesn’t pull them out of his sleeve whenever he’s worried that ‘nothing happens’.

It’s so good that it just emphasizes how useless these monologues are. Frank Alpine’s repetitive behavior of sin and redemption is clear enough. There are enough events to illustrate this. They make some of the best moments of the book. Malamud nails what it’s like to be a person so driven by good intentions. Frank wants to be, above all, a good person. He may try to achieve that by helping others, but in the end it’s a self-centered worldview. Whether you want to be a powerful or a good person, you are still the focus.

Alpine’s biggest mistakes are whenever he completely succumbs to this selfishness. He does plenty of less-than-worshipful things. Since he’s so focused on being a good person, he thinks that by trying enough he could get away with stealing and stalking. He doesn’t. If your aim in life is to be a good person by helping others, you’ll never be. The center of this worldview is still you.

Like Carver, Malamud also has the talent of describing the dull. The people in this story are ordinary working class people. They’re poor, but it’s a dull poverity. They will never go through enough to become gangsta rappers. Whenever Malamud tells what’s going on in an ordinary day at the grocery, he writes a perfect description of the emotional state. These are people who are living in the monotony that doesn’t get better. They have little, but they still have too much to lose in order to throw at themselves at something.

With such a talent, why are there so many pages inside the character’s head?

Maybe Malamud needed to pad the novel. Maybe he didn’t want this to be a novella. He could have at least padded with dialogues, or more scenes at the grocery. All the monologues about redemption and love just tell us what we already know. Since they’re not written in first-person and the language can’t help us the understand the characters any better, he just beats ideas to the ground that he really doesn’t have to.

There’s a good story and some lessons to learn from The Assistant. It’s a good novel, but it reads more like a talented author operating just in first gear. If you already went over Selby and Carver and need more, read this. If not, get to Carver quickly.

3 milk bottles out of 5

The Elections in Israel

There were elections in Israel. If you haven’t heard of it, Israel is a country that’s known to make Muslims feel bad because of its rather secular laws and all the gays that don’t get executed. If you have followed the news of the election, you probably heard Netanyahu won. You probably also encountered a lot of insults with very little evidence that made you wonder whether 13-year-old Rage Against the Machine fans now run the news agencies.

Here are a few views from inside.

The elections are for the Knesset, the lawmaking body. The more votes a party gets, the more Knesset Members (KM’s, also known as mandates) get in. Then, after everyone finds their seat the coalition and opposition form. Coalition will always be bigger than the opposition, and it’s the governing body. It won’t necessarily be led by the biggest party. You don’t just need a lot of KM’s, but you also need a lot of other parties by your side.

Parties sometimes join forces and run for the elections as “lists”.

These are the big parties:

Likud – led by Netanyahu, recognized as the main right-wing party
Zionist Camp/HaMachane HaTzioni – A united list of Labor/Ha’Avoda party and The Movement/HaTnua’a. It’s recognized as the main left-wing party, and is led by Herzog from Labor.
Future/Yesh Adit – Led by Yair Lapid, is recognized as centrist
The Jewish Home/HaBait HaYehudi – a more far-right party led by Nafatali Bennet, and represents the more religious population of Israel
Meretz – The far-left party, led by Zehava Galon.
Israel Our Home/Israel Beitenu – A secular far-right party, let by Avigdor Lieberman, generally associated with the secular Russian population
Shash – An Ultra-Orthodox party
Judaism of the Torah/Yehadut HaTorah – Another Ultra-Orthodox party
All of Us/Kulano – Led by Moshe Kachlon, formerly part of the Likud
The United List – A union of the biggest Arabic parties. The controversial Chanin Zoabi is here. There’s a decent amount of illegalities going around in this party that are probably overlooked in order not to seem racist.
Together/Yahad – A much more far-right and religious party. It’s led by a former member of Shash, and includes Otzma LeIsrael (Power to Israel), a very far-right party that’s known to be borderline racist

There are also a lot of small parties, such as:
Green Leaf/Ale Yarok – A party whose sole purpose is the legalization of marijuana. It’s popular among self-centered morons
The Greens/HaYerukim – A party with an evironmentalist agenda
The Pirates/HaPiratim – Part of the global pirate movement
Orr/Light – A strictly secular party dedicated to the seperation of church and state
Economy Party/Mifleget Kalkala – A weird thing that sits very close to satire.

In order to get into the Knesset, you need to get a certain percetentage of the votes. That percentage is loosely translated as “Block Percentage”. A common thinking in many Israelis is to only vote for parties that can pass this percentage. Votes for parties that don’t pass don’t count in the end.

Now, which party gained my vote?

Choosing was a tiring process. I haven’t encountered enough reasons for or against Netanyahu. He did a few moronic things, such as responding to a report regarding rising prices with “Yeah, but Iran”. The Jewish Home is too religious. Like Likud, I haven’t encountered a reason to vote for Zionist Camp. If anything, the fact they poured so much money into a campagne that’s nothing but ad hominem made them look like little kids. The few times I saw interviews by Herzog, he seemed like he cared much more about replacing Netanyahu than anything.

Kachlon, aside from the reform he did with the mobile companies, didn’t seem to have much to offer. There wasn’t anything bad there, but nothing for it. Lapid seemed like a great option, but there was a lot of criticism against him. Some of which was horseshit (“He didn’t do anything!” the previous Knesset lasted barely 3 years), some of which made sense (He wasn’t very consistent, and what he said didn’t reflected in his actions). While I respect Lieberman’s bluntness, his party says little but keeping Israel safe. He actually has potential to be a right-wing party that’s also about secularism, but he doesn’t take his party much further.

While I agree with a lot of Meretz’s views, their method seems to be mainly “We’re not right-wingers!”. Their leader is especially very emotional. When it was revealed that a lot of members in Jewish Home are against gay marriage, Galon wrote a long Facebook post that was supposed to make me think Bennet and his buddies are on some ISIS shit. Lapid just mentioned he was for gay marriage. Meretz also seem to be totally unaware of the realities of Islamic terror.

The Ultra-Orthodox parties and the United List are a no-brainer. The Ultra-Orthodox parties care about almost nothing but the interest of the Ultra-Orthodox. The United List contains a few extemists (Chanin Zoabi is the most famous ones) who are actually breaking the law. Yahad is supposed to be on the extreme side of the right-wing, much more than Lieberman and Bennet. While I think Israel should remain ‘Jewish’, as in, this is the ethnic majority, the religion must stay out of the gouvernment.

So, I found myself looking at the small parties, the ones who don’t pass the percentage.

Green Leaf were worthless. They had a few interesting points in their website, but it was obvious their main concern is marijuana. The only reason to vote for them is if you’re a self-centered teen who thinks marijuana is actually going to save us. The Pirates had great ideas, but Orr had better.

There was a great Facebook post by Orr where they pointed out that the division is, in fact, not between right/left wings but between the religious and the secular. They are right. Meretz to Israel Our Home, all of these parties are talking about the same subjects. They have different views, but there is room for dialogue. The Ultra-Orthodox parties, however, are concerned mainly with their populations and ditto for the united list. Orr, unlike Meretz, also recognize we’re fighting a religious enemy. This is not just a nationalistic conflict, but a religious one – between Islam and secularism.

Orr didn’t pass the percentage, obviously. They barely got 500 votes. I don’t care. They’re the only ones who deserve my vote.

As for the result, my main disappointment is the structure of the coalition. Herzog and Netanyahu fought like little kids, and now we’re stuck with Ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition. It’s too bad they couldn’t see that it’s better for the country if they both sit together, rather than apart. I don’t know if I can blame them.

If I learned anything from the Israeli media during the elections, it’s that there’s no room for debates. Leftists are drugged idiots who will sell us and kill us all. Rightwingers are paranoid schizophrenics who want to kill every single arab. Political debates are terrible. People try to convince you to vote for their party not via evidence or logic, but by raising their voice and strawmanning. The idea that a party you won’t vote for can still have valid points escaped people. Go tell a Likudnik that Meretz’s secularism is needed, and he’ll go off on how crazy they are. Tell a Herzog fan that we need the right-wing’s caution, and you’ll be called a murderer.

The thing I worry about the most is not how the coalition will function, but that we haven’t hit rock bottom of discussions. Anti-intellectualism has been aggressively promoted, and I fear that in the next go round it will get even stronger. I hope not.