If you wish to know something about a given text, French philosopher Michel Foucault taught us, check what is not in it: From that which is left out, or pushed to its margins, you can learn about the main thing.
In anticipation of November 29, the Education Ministry published a small booklet, consisting of 100 basic concepts divided into three categories: heritage, Zionism and democracy. A quick scrutiny of the contents will find that the booklet makes no mention of Arabs, Bedouin, Druze, Circassians, Christians or any other minority living in Israel.
Indeed, next to the term "minorities" in the index there is a promising reference - "see minority rights." But a look at the three places referred to shows a brief discussion of checks and balances in the democratic system, intended to "prevent the creation of a dictatorship and trampling the rights of the minority by the majority;" a discussion of democracy as a regime based on "the minority's recognizing the rule of the majority" and a discussion of separation of powers that mentions again the importance of protecting human rights, especially "of those in the minority."
Who is this hidden minority, that is not mentioned at all in the booklet? The reader can only assume that it refers to people whose position is in the minority, because this minority can, according to the booklet, "turn into a majority at any time." Surely the education minister did not mean to imply that this is the Arab minority in Israel. A fifth - 20 percent - of the citizens of Israel are missing, therefore, from the booklet distributed by the Education Ministry to the citizens of Israel. They have no name, no voice, no mention or picture in the gamut of basic concepts of the state in which they live.
As far as the Education Ministry is concerned, they are invisible, not there. None of them is important enough to turn into a basic concept. None of them is worthy of mention, even in a derogatory way; the booklet simply erased Israel's Arab citizens completely. Only in the context of the wars of Israel is the actual word "Arab" used. Thus every child will know that an Arab is not a partner, a citizen, or part of democratic society, but an enemy.
The Arabs are invisible not only as members of a national minority but also as a religious one. Islam and Christianity are not mentioned at all. The innocent reader might think Israel is sacred and central to Judaism only - the Mosque of Omar and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher have disappeared. The description of Jerusalem's history skips lightly from the days of the First and Second Temples to the War of Independence. In between nobody visited "the empty city square." This is an infuriating parallel to Yasser Arafat's foolish declaration that the Jews have no historical ties with Jerusalem.
Only when they describe the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry did the writers in a moment of weakness mention Islam. Then, says the booklet, when the Jews of Spain lived under Muslim rule "many Jews reached high positions in the regime's service ... their economic situation was good and they were free to develop their culture in every way."
Such a golden age is not visiting the state of Israel right now, since its non-Jewish citizens do not appear even in a booklet released by its own Education Ministry.
The Christians and Muslims may console themselves with the fact that the Progressive Judaism movement or secularity are not mentioned either. Judaism is all religion and commandments. Hevra Kadisha is in charge of burials, and the only ones persecuted are the ultra-Orthodox, whose picture decorates the concept "human rights." The picture shows a demonstration of ultra-Orthodox people, one of whom is carrying a poster saying "no more incitement."
Israel is defined in the booklet as a Jewish and democratic state, by a peculiar, brief explanation. Israel, it says, "accepts every Jew wherever he is and respects the values of Jewish culture and heritage." One may assume the writers meant that every Jew may immigrate to Israel and become a citizen on the day of his arrival. Israel does not merely "respect" the values of Jewish culture and heritage, but gives them an official status. The definition notes that tension exists between the state's two characteristices - the Jewish and the democratic - and what is the best example of that? "Closing down businesses that sell hametz (leavened bread) on Passover."
Wiping out Israel's Arab and Christian citizens, the disappearance of the progressive streams of Judaism and the failure to mention women - not even one found her place among the 100 basic concepts and only the picture of Isabella, Queen of Spain, reminds us that women can have some sort of social status - left the only friction between Judaism and democracy in the realm of hametz.
Before the next survey appears about the failure of education, the Education Ministry should be informed, even today, about one basic truth. Ignorance is an acquired quality and is not difficult to cultivate. The booklet distributed last weekend should be buried and replaced by a worthier, more democratic one.
And if they do write and print a new one, here is a personal request: Would the Education Ministry please finance the booklet itself without advertisements? Thus no one will make the mistake of thinking that Bezeq, Yedioth Ahronoth or the Wow Internet service are part of the State of Israel's 100 basic concepts.
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