I am still readjusting to my summer routine at home in Galilee. I have no choice in subscribing to ‘Al-Ittihad,’ the only Arabic daily in the country. It is delivered to my front door whether I pay my subscription or not. And I do subscribe to the International New York Times mainly for the sophisticated four-dimensional Sudoku and the Jumble puzzle. With that comes the English Haaretz, selective and sanitized for English readers as I presume it is. I scan all three papers over a fresh cup of hazelnut drip coffee for a break from my morning writing routine. A constant supply of the scented delight is courtesy of dear friends in Hawaii. It usually works wonders in transforming one to the idyllic mood of vacationing in Hawaii.
But it is a bitch to read the news here; it is not about the surf on North Shore: “The people behind BDS are ‘the people responsible for 9/11, for the terror attacks in Madrid and London, and for the 250,000 people already killed in Syria,’ Yair Lapid, an Israeli ‘centrist’ opposition leader, tells a NY synagogue,” says one news item. I know I am innocent of all such accusations. Still, I add this one to the list of cautionary notes in the back of my mind; it is my responsibility to prove my innocence to my Jewish friend who will visit me later today. BDS sounds like Ebola. Would my sympathies with the movement cause him to die?
As if to confirm the guilt feeling gnawing at my subconscious another item speaks of the impending change in Israeli law that will do away with the need for prosecutors of Palestinian children accused of stone throwing to prove any intention to do harm to Israeli soldiers. Essentially, this will free the Israeli occupying forces from the standard procedure of extracting an admission of ill intent from Palestinian children. Everyone accused of such act will receive an automatic ten-year sentence. If you stop to think about it, this is a significant gesture of benevolence on Israel’s part. It frees the children, usually abducted from their beds at ungodly hours of the night, from the routine beatings to obtain those admissions of “intent to harm.” And the new law reduces the period from 20 to a mere 10 years in Israeli military prisons. Think of the benefits that accrue to the kids on the way, a free rounded education: you learn Hebrew from your jailors and the basic tenants of Islamic religion from jailed Hamas functionaries.
And there is the snippet I had already seen on Facebook: Israeli police train their dogs, usually German shepherds (I know every thing Germans is bad for Jews but these are mainly for use against Arabs) to attack the source of any cry of “Allahu akbar!”—God is great, one of the most commonly used phrases in the Arabic language. It is a compulsory part of a Moslem’s prayer routine. By my calculation, Moslems are required to repeat “Allahu akbar” 102 times a day at a minimum during their five prayer sessions. Just imagine an army division with their trained dogs passing by a mosque at prayer time. And you automatically blurt out the phrase anytime you are upset by something you see or hear. Here, for example, I find it hard to refrain from asking for God’s wrath to be poured on the infidels’ heads by shouting “Allahu akbar!” myself. One has to be very careful though. Not long ago a religious Jew with questionable mental faculties decided to test the system’s alertness by shouting the Islamic phrase at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall and was shot on the spot by a vigilant guard.
It is beyond my ability, intellectually and emotionally, to recount all the upsetting news I read at one sitting. But some have a unique flavor that causes one to drool were they not so stupid. Take for example the headline spread across the entire front page: Aida Touma Heads the Parliamentary Committee on the Status of Women. Then in smaller letters the clearly bragging statement that she is the first Arab ever to head a parliamentary committee. How many committees does the Knesset have? And how many sessions has the Israeli parliament had? We are talking of hundreds if not thousands of opportunities for such a precedent to be set. No one seems to have the intellectual courage or honesty to ask the question, not among the slighted 20% minority or among the aggressor majority. And this is the democracy stick with which Israel defenders hit us over the head every time we complain: Israel is a democracy and you have the right to vote.
At a lecture last night, my friend Gideon Levy expressed his support for the one-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. “It is already one state. What is left is to struggle for equal rights for all who reside between the river and the sea.” To illustrate the daunting nature of the challenging task facing all of us believers in the one-state cause he mentioned the fact that Mekurot, the Israeli water supply company, charges Palestinians in the occupied West Bank five times what it charges settlers there. The obvious solution is to end occupation and demand equality for occupied Palestinians by granting them citizenship. Except that now I read in the paper that on average the Ministry of the Interior grants Jewish citizens of Israel five fold what it grants Arab citizens in budgetary support to their respective local authorities.
Gideon, it is your ethnicity, not your citizenship that makes the difference.
We are talking not of Palestinians under occupation but of those of us who were “liberated” nearly seven decades ago to be among the first citizens of the state. But “our” state has defined us out of its Jewish essence. We are no longer even fit to be its “hewers of wood and carriers of water,” witness its continued importation of foreign labor while our unemployment rate sores in the double-digit range. The news from China is that it will not permit its citizens to be employed in the OTs. The commentators are outraged by this ‘political’ move. My own interpretation is that it is tit for tat. It is in response to the new rule that Israel is imposing on members of the imported Chinese labor force. They, almost exclusively men, are now required to sign a binding document, a pledge to abstain from sex while in Israel. Standard racial purity practices, you know! It must feel good to be a Palestinian laborer from the Occupied Territories in comparison, at least in consideration of quelling basic sexual urges even when there is little difference in terms of anatomical structures. At least you get to escape from the temporary shacks you construct as shelters at the construction sites and go home once a month to practice sex with your own kind, even at the risk of damaging the said tools, what with climbing across barbwire fences and jumping over high walls with glass shards.
It is enough to give one a case of mortal despair, this Israeli democracy. Recently, at a lecture I gave at a hospital in the USA I used the F-word in referring to the results of the recent Israeli elections. A gentleman objected sharply saying: “You can’t mean that. You can’t refer to anything in Israel as fascist.” I asked him what did he call a country where at football games and political rallies calls of “Death to Arabs’ ring out regularly and the system doesn’t bat an eyelash? He got up and left in anger at my impudence. I want the creep to come and read the paper with me right now. I want to rub his nose in it. Yes: F…! F…! F…!