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Sep 26 2011

UN Day 5: No Pumping, Just a Wee Bit of Anti-Semitism

By at 4:00 pm

President Obama at the United Nations.

Read Jordana’s previous accounts of the UN from Day 1, 2, 3, and 4.

It’s Monday morning after the week of General Assembly meetings, and I have just about recovered.  I didn’t even write Day 5, which was the biggest day of all as it was the day of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speeches before the General Assembly. And you know why I didn’t write it? Because I was really, really busy.

I wrote my take on the speeches here, so I won’t rehash. It was incredibly exciting to have a front row seat at what may prove to be an important moment in Jewish history. Okay, not literally the front row – that’s where the United States Ambassador to the UN sits – but the front row of the media box, which is an awesome vantage point and as close as I’ll get in this lifetime.

What I didn’t write about for the Jerusalem Post, and will share with you, is the fascinating element of being a reporter mingling with reporters from all over the world. This took on a particularly personally-relevant tinge during this General Assembly, as the main issue was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinians’ bid for statehood and how all the drama would play out.

Whether the reporters were from France or Brazil, their eyes were trained on the same story. But our seats in the media hangar enabled us to hear what those writing the stories for their audience back home thought of the story.

“It’s really unbelievable,” one reporter, talking about Obama’s speech, said to another reporter on break. “They’re such a small group of people, and yet they control the world.” She said it in a nonchalant way, almost in passing, to another reporter. The other reporter nodded in agreement as they went on to discuss how expensive the food options were in the media room (which, for the record, was accurate).

Now, I don’t know where this reporter was from, and I didn’t look at her name tag or ask.  But I have a funny feeling she wasn’t talking about the Republicans. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 23 2011

UN Day 4: Every Woman Here Has Seen My Nipples By Now

By at 1:36 pm

mahmoud ahmadinejad UN 2011I’m beginning to think that being a mother is the best possible preparation you can have for any job. After all, when you’re a mom, you are accustomed to unreasonable demands that will require you to bend time and space. Pick up two kids at two different activities that end at the same time, but are fifteen minutes away from each other? No sweat. That’s what we do.

I didn’t submit my dispatch on Day 4 until now, the morning of Day 5, because there is only so much a human being can do. Thursday was the UN’s Durban commemoration or Durban III. This is the tenth anniversary of an anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa which went from being against racism to being a platform for anti-Israel sentiment. The UN’s decision to hold an official commemoration of the event this year – an event that many nations feel is a stain on the UN rather than something to celebrate – was greeted with much uproar. Especially by Israel, a veritable punching bag at the UN generally.

So many nations opted to boycott the Durban commemoration, and many protests and conferences in opposition to the UN goings-on are transpiring. Which brings me to a bizarre dilemma: how does one cover Durban and anti-Durban simultaneously? Because, of course, they are happening at the same time. Did I mention that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also speaking at the UN, as is UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan – all of which are extremely relevant to Israel, and hence to me?

Throw in the pumping, and it doesn’t give much time for phone calls home to check on the baby, the other kids, or Wonder Husband. You know it’s bad news when the babysitter calls you to make sure you’re doing okay.

So the way you do this is by having help (a recurring theme in my life, to be sure).  Another Jerusalem Post reporter will cover the Durban commemoration – everything is webcast, leaving me free to race around by the UN. Like all reporters who have covered the UN General Assembly before, I only wear flats. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 22 2011

UN Day 3: Exhibit A of Why There Is Not Peace On Earth

By at 12:16 pm

The line to get into the United Nations for press this morning just before 8 am was a veritable polyglot scrum. People from all over the world, waiting to get into a place where all nations can join together in attempts at harmony. To me, that sounds a hell of a lot like the line for Disneyworld’s It’s A Small World. It’s hard to say which line moves faster.

I got to the security screening tent, where people wearing flak jackets yell at us to turn off our cell phones. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I did so anyway and put my stuff through the scanner. The breast pump got a raised eyebrow from the male security guard, but he let it pass through.

As I picked it up and shouldered my backpack, I walked toward the media center. I was preoccupied by a response to my post yesterday in which I dared say that I feel that breastfeeding, and in particular pumping, can be a real pain in the ass. I find this a noncontroversial point – having to be hooked up to machinery, if I’m not with my baby, every three hours is no picnic and even borders on unpleasant. That would be true even if the machine was something Sarah’s rabbi found in her drawer instead of what I’m talking about… okay, maybe that would be more enjoyable than the nipple-tweaking going on here. But there were still people who responded to that post saying that I was being selfish, that my priorities were in the wrong place — in short, accusing me of bad mommying.

I think parenting’s greatest problem is the sanctimony that can come with it — the feeling, nurtured by the welcoming availability of the Internet, that doing things your way when it comes to parenting gives you free license to openly denigrate what others do. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 20 2011

UN Day 2: The Sadomasochistic Juicer

By at 4:30 pm

It’s Monday morning, and I have a phone interview with the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations scheduled in five minutes. This should be a fascinating opportunity to get into the head of the person at the center of the maelstrom. The ambassador has only been on the job a few months, but has effectively been thrown in the deep end of the pool with Friday’s prospective showdown on Palestinian statehood. He’s a good person and I genuinely enjoy talking with him, and look forward to the interview.

It’s also coming up on time to pump my breasts, I can tell.  I decide to wait to do it until after he calls. My breastpump works splendidly, but when it does, it is accompanied by an unmistakable loud sucking sound that sounds like words depending on the speed of the pumping. Sometimes, the breastpump says, “Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.” Sometimes it says “Crapper. Crapper. Crapper.” Unless the breastpump has any insights to offer into the Middle East peace process, I decide, I really don’t need it squeezing my breasts like a psychotic, sadomasochistic juicer gone rogue in the background over the phone.

On an intellectual level, I know that breastfeeding is best for my now-two-month-old baby. But on a selfish, “What about me?” level, I will say that it can be pretty goddamn irritating.

I realize we mothers aren’t supposed to say stuff like that. We’re supposed to say that we love bonding with our babies, that young cherub-like mouth at our breasts, and knowing that we are doing something wonderful for their development. That’s nice. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 19 2011

UN Day 1: Bathroom Pumping & Tony Blair

By at 2:42 pm

This week, Jordana will be covering the UN General Assembly for The Jerusalem Post. Here’s her dispatch from yesterday, Day 1.

For many reporters, the drama of this week at the UN is simply a front-page story. For those of us who are more directly involved – such as me, by virtue of being Jewish and writing for an Israeli paper –  it’s unbelievably tense. This week will see an important moment in the Middle East and the world with the possibility of the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the United Nations. While the US has said it will exercise its veto on such a move in the Security Council, the Palestinians may approach the General Assembly for approval instead. The gesture is largely symbolic but is a big one for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It is a region of the world where symbols hold tremendous import, where diplomacy is exceptionally difficult and where mistrust is high. And my job puts me on the front lines, my pen poised to transcribe history.

It’s Sunday and the meeting of the Palestinian Donor Conference at the United Nations is this evening. It’s closed to the media, but there will be a “stake out,” a terrific phrase meaning a press conference with question-and-answer opportunities, so I need to be there.  I preemptively sign permission slips, make tomorrow’s lunches for the kids and make sure that their backpacks are ready to go to school in the morning, knowing that by the time I get home, I will barely have the wherewithal to pour a glass of wine.

Having finished breastfeeding baby G, I get ready to saddle up and ride, driving into the city to the UN from our New Jersey home. I’m leaving Wonder Husband at home with a baby who is much crankier than usual, i.e. screaming her head off. My husband seems unfazed and wishes me good night and good luck. I, on the other hand, get in the car wondering if the little girl, who has a cold, has an ear infection, too.

Immediately, the first contingency surfaces. Foolishly, I was so engrossed in finding out the schedule of speakers for the UN that I neglected to check the schedule of the Jets, who play in the Meadowlands: their thousands of fans use the same road I’m using. I drum my fingers on the steering wheel and decide to call my boys at their dad’s house. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 16 2011

Me, My Breasts, and Ahmadinejad

By at 10:07 am

united nations general assemblyThe film “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” an adaptation of the terrifically funny and true book of the same name by Allison Pearson, is due to emerge on screens nationwide this weekend. The film is meant to pose the dilemma of those who work out of the home and simultaneously parent – specifically if you have a vagina, since tons of men do this every day and seldom do we hear the admiring query, “Wow, he’s a dad and has a job – how does he DO it?”

In my book, you don’t need to have a job outside the home for me to wonder how you do it. Basically, if you’re a mother and show up in public with your hair combed, I wonder how you do it. If you are a parent and you shower every day, I wonder how you do it. If you’re a mother and you’re on time for picking up your kids when school lets out, I think you should get a bronze star. Silver is for you making it to the nurse’s office at school in under 10 minutes. Gold is for having a kid who doesn’t go to the nurse’s office. These things usually go unsung, and they shouldn’t. Because it’s really hard to make this whole operation work, much less to make it look as seamless as you do, and you should be proud of yourself for doing it.

Whether you have help or not, as I’ve made clear, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me: if you’re a parent, you have a huge job that is more challenging and time-consuming than anything anyone without kids can ever imagine. You remember to put your kid’s lunch in his backpack every day? If you think no one is clapping for you, you’re wrong. I am. I’m proud of you, little soldier!

So I’m writing this now because I find the opening date of this movie’s timing suspect – because I, newly-minted parent of three, also work outside the home, and next week is about to be the biggest week of my professional year. And I Don’t Know How I’m Going To Do It. Read the rest of this entry →

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