In the Situation Room

Opinion

vanessa davis

By Janet Aviad

Published November 17, 2010, issue of November 26, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hamatzav means “the situation,” and can refer to any situation — the economic situation, the weather situation, your medical situation. However, within certain groups, at certain times, the expression came to refer to the Israeli political situation, and specifically to the Israeli-Arab situation.*

I first heard the expression when I became active in the early days of Peace Now, during the Begin and Shamir administrations. In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, discussions that did not begin with “oy vey” began with “ma hamatzav?” What had happened that day? What was the situation on the ground? Were there new settlements, or was there new violence, or a peace initiative introduced by an American president? You asked ma hamatzav? — “How’s this country going?” — the way you’d ask ma nishma? — “How are you?”

When we referred to hamatzav, it was as if we opened a situation room. We were determined not to stand aside and permit acts we opposed to be done in our names, and saying “hamatzav” made us feel like political strategists clinically assessing something assessable. It made us feel like we had the power to change it.

A good friend told me that his professor used to ask, jokingly, “ma hamatzav of the situation?” — what is the situation of the situation? Since 1967, we have contemplated different situations of the situation. We hope that that this time the situation will improve, but hamatzav seems to have a will of its own.

Janet Aviad is the director of Keren Karev, the Israeli branch of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.