Israel: The Herd Nation

Lieberman-style racism, with the precision of a Cupid, fires only one arrow: Arabs are forbidden to demonstrate, because we are strong, and we are also in danger.

A human herd is always a hypnotized and homogeneous one, with no ability to ask questions or act independently. And under cover of panic, one can do almost anything in its name. This is well known by everyone who makes a living off of herds - on the right and the left.

The herd lavishes love on itself that turns into violent hatred of others. Or sometimes, the direction is reversed: In wartime, it begins with fire and lead, and against this background, the "we" gradually emerges.

The moment the joy over Gilad Shalit's release was institutionalized, anything that interfered with the herd's love of itself was denounced. Egyptian television, for instance, dared to interview the captive and immediately reaped condemnations from journalist and commentator Ehud Yaari - who, as we all know, shuns interviews with abused Palestinian prisoners. For the same reason, it was clear that our television stations wouldn't show the joy of the freed Palestinians, since they have blood on their hands.

You might ask, are these the same editors who, in 2008, justified Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which produced a great deal of blood on hands, shoes and faces? But that's what you need a herd for: to turn the masses into heroic victims and turn the impotent into omnipotent.

"Empowerment," they sometimes call it, though it's generally called a hysterical mob.

Worst of all is that there is no herd whose self-love doesn't need a scapegoat. It could be a real person - Muammar Gadhafi, for instance - or it could be a symbol, like MK Ahmed Tibi.

Most members of our national herd aren't fans of soccer, a game in which there is always a scapegoat. But most of our national herd definitely would have been happy to nullify the "deal" - to bring Gilad home while continuing to hold the surplus prisoners in our fenced-off strongboxes: Ofer, Damon, Tel Mond, Nafha and all the other prisons.

This message came through clearly in virtually every discussion of "the difficult terms forced upon us."

And then, an opportunity arose for law enforcement personnel in Kfar Sava to take revenge on Israel's Palestinian citizens for "the deal that was forced on us". Under cover of the media's contempt for the rule of law when it comes to Arabs, and years of groundwork by the Yisrael Beiteinu party, 15 people were arrested - scapegoats - who will perhaps become new prisoners.

On October 20, a demonstration was held opposite the Sharon Prison to protest the fact that two female prisoners, both citizens of Israel, had been "forgotten" in the prisoner swap and weren't freed. Fewer than 40 demonstrators were there, and no one spoke, so they didn't need to get a license. It wasn't on a main road, but on a side street leading to the prison. There were no passersby. There was just the prison, surrounded by fences and concrete. Even those imprisoned in its darkness couldn't hear the demonstration, as the protesters didn't have a megaphone.

Yet the police arrested 15 of them. All those who didn't manage to reach the bus were arrested, and are now suspected of "incitement to terror." That was the start of an exhausting, silent road: No one bothered to cover the farce.

Here are the details: Contrary to what you learn in law school, extending a remand also requires another condition, which institutionalized racism swiftly grants the police - judges who hate Arabs. The police said the demonstrators were "dangers to the public" (after all, they're suspected of "inciting terror"), because one of them may have yelled "kidnap more soldiers."

This is the nature of hysterical panic as it played out in this courtroom comedy, after the police had received instructions from above. This narrative holds that Hamas in Gaza, or some underground group, heard the demonstrators, and now, because one of them shouted "kidnap more soldiers," it has made a decision to indeed go out and kidnap more soldiers.

Had it not been for this demonstration, the Palestinian people would have been content with the release of the 1,000 and remained dormant until the end of time.

Even worse than the blatant stupidity of the police and the court (which insist on putting more prisoners into our strongboxes ) were the statements made in court, along the lines of "they live at the state's expense."

That would not have been said of Jews. And had the demonstrators been Jewish, the judge would have laughed at the police's claim that they were "dangerous," or that they might "obstruct justice," and would have set them free.

No, this is not just the result of a feeling of powerlessness in the wake of the Shalit deal. Lieberman-style racism, with the precision of a Cupid, fires only one arrow: Arabs are forbidden to demonstrate, because we are strong, and we are also in danger. It's the hysteria of history's wingbeats.