I didn’t write earlier about the weird­ness of seeing Cha­nukah things in the shops here. (Hmmm. I said I was going to run this journal with a Chicago Manual of Style until I got back from the US but I don’t have it with me. For now I’m sticking with the Aus­tralian spelling of Cha­nukah and not the US spelling of Hanukkah or whatever because I have no idea how many Ns or Ks it’s sup­posed to have. Or Hs for that matter.)

In Aus­tralia, I think there are both pro­por­tion­ally and (obvi­ously) numer­ic­ally fewer Jews. To get fancy things like men­orahs and Jewish table cloths, you go to a Jewish store. In America, you walk into a Bed, Bath and Beyond, where the Hal­loween pot holders are being phased out as the Cha­nukah pot holders are being phased in. Thanks­giving ones are nearby and the Christmas ones will be out soon. But in the mean­time, you can buy a $99 Water­ford crystal dreidl. But of course. No longer just a children’s toy, now the dreidl can be the tacky gift for the prin­cess who has everything. We even went into a reg­ular phar­macy tonight in New York that had Cha­nukah themed pot holders and gloves and placemats ready for the hol­iday.

I shouldn’t be so sur­prised, but I am. I’ve spent so much of my life as part of a cul­tural minority that this main­stream recog­ni­tion is quite shocking. As was walking into the B&H camera store with Doug this evening (huge store) and seeing every second staff member wearing yar­mulkas and 80 per cent of those with full curls and tal­lises beneath their shirts.

Mean­while, I hear on NPR that talks in the Middle East have once again stalled because Israel insists the Palestinians recog­nize it as a Jewish state and the Palestinians say no other country has a reli­gion so tied in with its state­hood, so why should we? I am so frus­trated with the child­ish­ness I see in the Israeli pos­i­tion. Who cares what they call it? Will Jews be allowed to live there? Yes? Good. Can you come to an agree­ment about per­petual rights of return for both groups of dis­placed people? Maybe. Drop the labels already. They are divisive and unhelpful and make me ashamed of my her­itage, when it should be a proud his­tory of eth­ical treat­ment for the stranger at my door.