EV of Jewschool expresses his disgust. Granted, this had nothing to do with Michael’s post and took place at a bar where we were
Of all the Jewish holidays, Purim carries with it perhaps the most sheer bullshit (see below). Purim is not a night of celebrating the failure of past genocides or a theologically meaningful reversal of normal order or a profound metaphor for the hidden hand of God in everyday life. From my balcony in downtown Jerusalem, I’ll tell you what Purim in Israel is: a shoddy excuse for the worst kind of violent and destructive behavior, particularly on the part of the religious Jews who attribute so much meaning to their drunken rampaging.
It starts with the little sniveling brats. I live in the shuk, and for the past week the children (and for some reason, all these children are religious) have been having all sorts of fun with the firecrackers, smoke bombs, bottle rockets, roman candles and cap guns their parents were too busy being negligent assholes to not buy for them. Israelis are naturally a somewhat jumpy people, and nobody appreciates some worm of a child setting off explosions in one of the most crowded, and bombing-prone, areas of Jerusalem. And as if that wasn’t enough, the other night a couple of the little fuckers were firing bottle rockets from their balcony. Across the street. Into my building. Were their parents home? Of course! But why stop little Moishe from aiming fireworks at other peoples’ windows? Hahaha! Ad d’lo yada! Turn the world on its head! Purim is fun for everybody!
And then, against my better judgment, I was convinced to go out tonight. I was walking with a friend through the religious neighborhoods north of downtown, and what did my eyes behold at Kikkar Shabbat at the meeting of Meah She’arim and Geulah? A few hundred severely drunk young bochrim massing in the intersection, forcing cabs to stop, stoning them with rocks and garbage, and yanking open the doors and screaming at the drivers. Seeing as it’s, you know, not forbidden to drive on Purim, I naturally wondered at the cause of this lovely, normative behavior. So my friend asked a cab driver, and it turns out that these clever bochrim assume that any cab driver working on Purim must be an Arab. So, therefore, logically, it’s okay to stone them. What a liberating holiday, huh?
So after pushing through the violent crowd and seeing my friend off, I had to go back downtown, which required again walking through Kikkar Shabbat. By the time I returned, the boys had dragged two huge trash bins into the intersection and…see if you can guess…set them ablaze. Meanwhile, to add to the hellish dystopia, broken glass from shattered windows and garbage from the overturned bins littered the streets and car alarms and firecrackers went off about every ten seconds. But hey, it’s all for the “yiddenverse!” I mean, clearly it’s all part of the divine plan that we get toasted, take to the streets, break windows, stone “Arabs” (who are actually Jews) for the sin of working on a holiday and set public property on fire, right? I used to live in New Orleans and Mardi Gras at full swing was tame compared to this sort of wanton, inconsiderate chaos.
Downtown, in a welcome change, was mostly free of anarchic charedim and instead full of screaming Americans and wasted arsim traveling in small groups and spoiling for fights with people who made the grave error of looking at them, all to the continued urban soundtrack of explosions, car alarms, and gun-laden Israeli police zooming by on motorcycles (apparently nobody told them about the charedi riot five minutes away).
If I want to see the violent disintegration of society, I’ll go the fucking video store and rent Mad Max, which at least I can turn off.
I don’t know. Certainly I’ve enjoyed Purims past, although they all shared the characteristic of not being in Israel. Maybe it’s a Jerusalem thing, or a full moon thing, but trust me, mixing charedim, arsim and alcohol is a terrible idea. And no amount of Biblical exegesis or Talmudic doctrine can justify the disgusting behavior I saw tonight, overwhelmingly at the hands of the kippah-clad. Hand of God my ass. Instead of “blessed be Mordechai” and “cursed be Haman,” why don’t we try to distinguish between “freewheeling and fun public drunkenness” and “urban warfare”?
Screw Purim. I’m going to let the continued music of ambulances and explosions serenade me to sleep. I think I’ll just stay in bed until it’s over.