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Bored to Death

June 6, 2010 – 9:53 pm11 Comments
flotilla australia

When one thinks of a "flotilla" in Australia, this is more what comes to mind

By Keren Tuch

Oh the irony, that so many Israelis dream of nothing else but to live in utopic Australia, whilst others, myself included, consider living in a war torn country where peace is a seemingly deluded dream.  Australia is a beautiful, peaceful country of which I am certainly privileged to be a citizen and will be proudly supporting the Socceroos in a couple of week’s time.

Yet I find this place so idyllic it can often be…well, boring.  To put it simply, one can live the dream here – beach, education, job, beach, money, security, beach.  But what often prompts me to look abroad is when my mind turns numb from reading front page newspaper articles about the misconduct of football players.  Or when the conversation at the work lunch table turns to discussing an article from a woman’s magazine on 39 ways to lose calories from an Easter egg.  Or when talk show hosts have nothing better to do but lambast the provision of new cycle ways in Sydney. Or when engaging in a discussion on refugees and asylum seekers, everyone has an opinion, yet most educated people have not had any contact with a single person from the “hordes” that are flooding our shores.   Sometimes life seems to be a succession of chai lattes – fun and enjoyable yet devoid of any substance.

But this week it would appear that Australians care about more than just Celine Dion falling pregnant at age 42. It appeared that we do care about the humanitarian plight of individuals in the Middle East.

As the drama of the flotilla unfolded, I was hooked to the cyber world, reading article after article, commentaries, opinion pieces and live video footage until it made me sick.  Sick from the hysteria and the hostile reactions it invoked worldwide.  Sick from the strategic blunder the Israeli military made.  Sick from ignorant citizens unwilling to hear how Israel could possibly have a legitimate excuse to use their firearms in self-defence.  In the cyber world, there was no escaping this mess.

At lunch at my work place, I was expecting a remark of some sort about the flotilla that has dominated the news this week.  Perhaps even a discussion where I was patiently waiting for an opportunity to hear what my colleagues had to say.  I had the link to the video footage on hand ready to disseminate if there was a hint of curiosity.   But that conversation never came to fruition.  Neither did it initiate with my non-Jewish housemate who knows my long-standing connection to Israel.  In fact, when an educated colleague saw me reading an article about the flotilla, I thought it was a good time for an open dialogue.  I received a blank stare followed by a shameful shake of the head when I asked ‘you know about the whole debacle that has erupted in the Middle East….’  Apparently not.  I had made the assumption that because it consumed much of my thoughts, everyone else cared.

It occurred to me that perhaps a lot of people at my work hadn’t heard about it.  It is quite plausible that they react no differently to the flotilla than they do to the weekly deaths of Pakistanis and Iraqis by suicide bombers, or the death of protestors in Thailand.  For every person who vehemently commented online, I wonder how many people just couldn’t give a damn, or don’t even know?

To my astonishment, this sobering thought calmed my fraught nerves from the heavy news of the week.  Although I was prepared to discuss the flotilla at work, it’s times like this that I’m truly appreciative of the light-hearted lunch conversations and the self-indulgent attitude of the average Australian to distract me from the brutal reality that exists beyond our borders.

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