People are supposed to be mad at Israel these days, right? Like, super duper, boycotting, ‘you are officially off the list of trendy vacation destinations forever and ever’ mad? I don’t know, I’ve been too busy trying to invent an app that temporarily blocks any discussion of the Middle East in any capacity from all of my social media feeds, and also, possibly, brain. (Look, I’m tired. You understand. I’ll get over it eventually.)
But not everyone! Some people, even—or perhaps especially—non-Jewish people, are absolutely bananas in love with the homeland of Ben-Gurion, Bamba, and Bar Refaeli. For example, 23-year-old Jill Duggar-Dillard, scion of the infamous Duggar clan on TLC’s terrifying experiment in human fertility, 19 Kids and Counting, who just gave the following name to the first of what are sure to be her umpteen children: Israel David Dillard.
Yes. A new little boy has come into the world bearing the name of Israel. And lest you think it’s some kind of quirky retro choice, a la Israel, the 7th-century Bishop of Caucasian Albania, or an homage to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the late Hawaiian singer whose ukulele rendition of “Over the Rainbow” has provided hipster cred to an entire generation of car commercials, proud father Derrick Dillard appeared in the family’s first released photo proudly wearing an IDF T-shirt. So there you go.
Oy. So this is what it’s come to—the only people willing to slap the name Israel on a onesie anymore are a bunch of fundamentalist Christians who believe in getting the Jews congregated in one place for easy conflagration when the Rapture comes. Or something. In a way, it makes sense though—I’ve always thought the Duggars, with their modest attire, immense brood, and astonishing capacity for intrafamilial organization, would fit perfectly well in Monsey or one of the more militant West Bank Settlements: just swap in a brisket for the enormous packages of pork chops, a sheitel for the “crowning glory,” and there you go.
But Israel—given the Duggar penchant for mono-initialled names, I’m concerned. I can think of plenty of pretty and unusual girls’ names that start with an “I”: Isabella, Imogen, Iphegenia, Isolde—but boys? Apart from Ivan (as in the terrible) Ivor (as in the engine driver) and Ian (as in McKellen, obviously), literally every male name I can think of that starts with an “I” is also the name of an old Jewish man. Irving. Ike. Irwin. Ira. Isidore. The Duggar-Dillard men are going to be running around the yard sounding like the B’nai Brith Men’s Club softball league, who used to play every Sunday at the JCC until everybody’s knees and back started to give out. And maybe that was the Duggar-Dillard’s Judeophile point. Let’s just hope Costco keeps selling economy-sized lox.
Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.