hidden in plain sight (continued)

con­tin­ued from hid­den in plain sight

what are we hiding (from)?

As of this writ­ing, the phrase “hid­den in plain sight” appears in a Google search 142,000 times. It must refer to a wide vari­ety of con­cepts and sit­u­a­tions. How many things to we encounter and pass by that are as though they are hid­den from us in plain sight? I asked my col­leagues to con­sid­er some of this in rela­tion to a com­mer­cial that appeared on Israeli tele­vi­sion and has received some sig­nif­i­cant dis­cus­sion.

Some inter­est­ing response to the com­mer­cial can be found at Promis­ed­Land­Blog where the author shares:

in real­i­ty, if a Pales­tin­ian comes close to the fence to return a foot­ball or to wave a flag he is like­ly to get shot; the whole real­i­ty of the occu­pa­tion, is some­thing Israelis are refus­ing to see…

My friend and guide Rab­bi Wal­ter Zanger tells me that the like­li­hood of get­ting shot is a seri­ous over­state­ment. How­ev­er, my point is metaphor­ic: The sep­a­ra­tion bar­ri­er (some 90% of it is a wire fence) and the peo­ple from whom it sep­a­rates “us” has become so “nor­mal” that its exis­tence is “hid­den” in plain sight. A more “real­is­tic” pre­sen­ta­tion appears in this non-com­mer­cial video (which may be a metaphor for “wait­ing for the phone to ring” (towards the bot­tom))

The video is made by a satir­i­cal team Yos­si Atia and Ita­mar Rose. Accord­ing to an arti­cle on Ynet:

In their out­ra­geous­ly fun­ny short satir­i­cal movies, Yos­si Atia and Ita­mar Rose aim to expose Israel’s true face by break­ing every taboo pos­si­ble. From sui­cide bomb­ings to the occu­pa­tion, rape and homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, no cow is sacred. Their mis­sion, as they define it, is to make peo­ple look at their real­i­ty from a dif­fer­ent angle

Some­one else took the orig­i­nal Cell­com video did a bit of edit­ing, adding a cou­ple of brief scenes of what might be hap­pen­ing on the oth­er side. (A minor indus­try of spin-offs seems to be devel­op­ing on YouTube… each one a bit harsh­er than the pre­vi­ous.)

If Israelis and Pales­tini­ans want to come togeth­er, com­mu­ni­cate and share a good game of soc­cer or vol­ley­ball they can do that. There are venues. And, yes, I know: they are all in Israel, orga­nized by Jews, not Arabs (Mus­lims or Chris­tians).

what does it take to reveal what is “hidden in plain sight”?

For the past three weeks I have been wear­ing a lapel but­ton with the image of Raoul Wal­len­berg on it. (I have four dif­fer­ent but­tons that refer to him, two of them in the blue and yel­low col­ors of Swe­den pro­duced for The Raoul Wal­len­berg Com­mit­tee of the Unit­ed States.) The but­ton says “Help Save Raoul Wal­len­berg” even though the com­mon­ly accept­ed ver­sion sug­gests that he was killed by the Sovi­ets on this date, July 17, 1947. Raoul him­self is still hid­den. He does not have an offi­cial death cer­tifi­cate. Sto­ries of him appeared through­out the Gulag at least into the 1960s. I can count on one hand the num­ber of peo­ple I encounter dai­ly (tellers, clerks, friends) who pay any atten­tion to the but­ton and ask about Raoul Wal­len­berg.


I paused at the bronze repro­duc­tion of his brief­case and won­dered about him. “What would Raoul do?” As I fin­ish writ­ing this post on July 16, I am fast­ing, once again. Raoul was a man of action. He would prob­a­bly laugh at my fast­ing. I do not believe there is a moral equiv­a­lence, how­ev­er, in the words of my friend and col­league Rab­bi Haim Beli­ak:

A fast is per­son­al, if a minor sac­ri­fice. The fast is a ges­ture that lays pros­trate the very essence of a per­son. It reminds us that we are offer­ing our­selves to be a sig­nal of sol­i­dar­i­ty and con­tri­tion.

We know that the suf­fer­ing of the peo­ple of Gaza is far greater than our one day ges­ture can express. Nev­er­the­less, I am bol­stered in this ges­ture because it presents us with a reminder of Pales­tin­ian human­i­ty. We need that reminder because we are assault­ed with attempts to deny Pales­tin­ian human­i­ty. It is in the nature of wars and occu­pa­tions to demo­nize and demean. The oblit­er­a­tion of the human­i­ty of the Pales­tini­ans by block­ades that deny food, med­i­cines, and life — restor­ing mate­r­i­al con­di­tions is now forty — two years old.

How could we (rab­bis) be silent? How could we not hear the cry of chil­dren and moth­ers in their des­per­a­tion? In our ges­ture we sig­nal our hope for peace and maybe some day, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We don’t seek to deny the suf­fer­ing of Israelis by our ges­ture. We affirm the human agency of all par­ties to stop fight­ing and turn to peace.

at the Wallenberg briefcase

at the Wal­len­berg brief­case

If Raoul Wal­len­berg was alive today (were he not mur­dered on this date in 1947, or “allowed” to die in some igno­min­ious man­ner in the Gulag) which is rather unlike­ly, he would now be 97 years old. I hope that I have done my small part to bring him out of where he has been hid­den.

Help Save Raoul Wallenberg<br srcset=Sav­ior of 100,000 Jews” width=”300” height=”286” />

Help Save Raoul Wal­len­berg
Sav­ior of 100,000 Jews

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Pin Form: straight
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text Help Save Raoul Wal­len­berg Sav­ior of 100,000 Jews
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