June 12, 2009
By Gideon Levy
So let’s take a look at what’s happening in our country after U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech. A historic speech like his was supposed to make waves in Israel, stimulate discussion and spark debate. And here is what has happened: Our own Barak, Defense Minister Ehud, who used to be considered at least as brilliant as Obama, told Etgar Keret in an interview with Haaretz yesterday: “Where does the [Palestinian nation] live? In a cage? A jail? A swimming pool?” And Barak’s own answer to this question: “It lives in its country.”
After the prime minister’s top diplomatic adviser determined that two states is a childish solution, along comes another statesman and determines that we’re all children. Stupid children, it must be said, to whom you can sell any bit of nonsense, including all the nonsense in that interview.
The Palestinians, who cannot travel from one village to another without permission from Israel, who have no basic human rights and who have been trampled underfoot, humiliated and imprisoned without any sign of sovereignty, are already living as a free people in their country. If the defense minister really thinks so, then there is grave cause for concern: Mr. Security is deranged and has lost touch with reality. If he doesn’t think so, then he’s messing with us. Which is worse?
In yesterday’s Haaretz there is also an interview by Klil Zisapel with President Shimon Peres. Out of respect for his name and status we will not quote here all the nonsense he had to say about concealing the Nakba – the Palestinians’ catastrophe of 1948. We shall only mention that he replied to the question with the sentence: “Nanotechnology existed in the days of Moses.” Apparently Obama’s speech did make waves. Now Peres, too, is a nano-statesman. Another small businessman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, is working to change the law so he will be able to revoke Israeli Arabs’ citizenship. A representative of the oppressed classes, he also says that millions of shekels should be allocated to settlements in the territories which, he says, have been suffering “discrimination” for many years. Neither Yeruham nor Rahat, neither Bnei Brak nor Sakhnin – Efrat, of all places.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation has proposed a law: three years in prison for commemorating the Nakba. Communities in the Segev Bloc in the Galilee are demanding a loyalty oath to Zionism as a condition for living there. And what’s next on the slippery slope?
Ze’ev Braude, a Jewish settler in the West Bank who shot Palestinians in view of the cameras, will not be put on trial; the prosecution’s justifications are convoluted. National Union MK David Rotem and Yisrael Beiteinu MK Uri Ariel, members of nationalist-racist parties, both of them residents of settlements the United States and the world call illegitimate, are the Knesset’s representatives on the committee for selecting judges.
An attempted attack by Palestinians on horseback, or maybe muleback, is depicted in the media as a prevented mega-terror attack, a consequence of the smuggling of sophisticated and advanced Iranian weaponry through the tunnels, which we are being told about in horror day and night.
El Al is apologizing for having called the fence a “separation wall,” as though it were a department of the Foreign Ministry; the prime minister is saying that the demand to freeze natural growth in the settlements is “not fair,” as though it were possible to talk about fairness when discussing the settlements. The opposition leader, Kadima MK Tzipi Livni, is refraining from saying whether she would freeze the settlements, between shopping trips at the swanky boutiques of Tel Aviv’s Hamedina Square, as frequently reported in the gossip columns. She is improving her physical appearance beyond all recognition, but she is behaving as though she were the leader of the opposition in Luxembourg.
Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled (yes, he too is a minister) is proposing that Israel impose sanctions on the United States, like the mouse that roared; National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, an avowed Kahanist and a roarer as well, at Israel Defense Forces soldiers, is proposing a pathetic evacuation of some piddling outpost. Dudu Topaz is more interesting than Obama. Everyone is competing on who can jab the dagger deepest into his flesh as he writhes in the town square.
Not enough? Someone has murdered an egg-laying she-turtle weighing 60 kilograms because she annoyed his dog. Demonstrations? Only over opening a parking lot on the Sabbath. Serious discussion? Only about value added tax on cucumbers.
The cucumber season is in full swing, despite Obama’s challenge. Nevertheless, you have to be happy: The top people are running from Jacob Perry’s wedding to the bar mitzvah of businessman Roni Maneh’s son. Thus the U.S. president has been told: It’s a waste of your time. There’s no one to talk to in Israel. Talking isn’t going to do it. And let’s hang a sign on our door: Please do not disturb – we’re busy