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Double life – Center of the world

cohen-sharonBy Daniela Fubini*

Reality check: we are a Middle-Eastern country slightly bigger than New Jersey which happens to be one of the smallest states in the USA. And we are not, last time anyone counted, the 51st State.

Nevertheless, we discussed the recent American Presidential elections as if it actually mattered to anyone in Washington what Israeli citizens think about Trump or Clinton (any Clinton). Facebook threads became heated as ticking bombs, people insulted openly anyone thinking differently. All among Israelis, the vast majority of them holding more than one passport, true, but not so many and American one. A clear “center of the world” syndrome.

But then, only hours after all the fuss and emotional twist of Trump taking over against most commentators’ forecast, here we found ourselves again, Israelis of all our small portion of the world united: this time to mourn the loss of an immense poet, song writer and performer, our very own Leonard Cohen. And again, all the available Facebook walls, all the online front pages became endless obituaries. A Cohen, no less. Who actually blessed with the traditional Birkat HaCoanim the public at his last concert in Israel seven years ago. And right in the midst of the personal mourning of many Israelis who honestly appreciated his music and expressed their sadness, pictures started rippling of young Leonard Cohen with an amused Ariel Sharon, and Matti Caspi at the guitar, in the battlefield of the Sinai during the Yom Kippur War. No, he hadn’t arrived from Canada only to cheer our shell-shocked troops. He was living in a Greek island at the time.

Still, seeing him and the other two standing, surrounded by soldiers, in such an unlikely position for any concert, in such a tragic and defining moment in Israel’s history, made me realize that we were, in that picture, the center of the world. The eyes of the whole globe, long before “globalization”, were on us in those heavy days in October 1973. Maybe the “center of the world” syndrome started back then. And maybe we should find ways to get rid of it for good.

*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.