The state hasn't yet decided what it is: What it wants to be when it's big and what it will want to be when it's small, if we ever cast off the curse of the occupation. Does it want to be a worthy state, described as Jewish and democratic, or will it remain a state in the making, continuing "to redeem land" by the force of inertia and the force of the Jewish ruling majority?
The current chairman of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) undoubtedly likens himself to the legendary pioneer Yehoshua Hankin, and it's only a pity he doesn't drain swamps like Hankin did. The new law recently passed by the Knesset in a preliminary reading, known as the JNF Law, is a festering swamp which will yet bring back the Anopheles mosquito, which will yet bring back malaria. And maybe we should really replant eucalyptus trees and start everything over?
When Joseph sends his brothers out of Egypt to Canaan, to their father Jacob, he implores them, "Do not be quarrelsome on the way," because that is the way of a long, wearisome way - to trigger anger and strife, as it is written, "The people grew restive on the journey." The thing is that Israel is no longer a state in the making. True, it has not yet achieved rest, but it has come to the haven. And the country's Arab citizens have a part in that haven, guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence, which is committed to the complete equality of rights. In its 60th year, a mature and responsible Israel should ensure that its moves are steadier and more measured, and not go on stubbornly trying to cross the desert as though the exodus from Egypt had not ended.
Israel's enemies have had no better days than this week. The Israeli parliament decided by an overwhelming majority to strengthen their hostile voice so it can resonate from one end of the world to the other. We told you, British professors will say, the Zionists conquer lands from Arabs and expropriate land from Arabs, but the one thing they do not do is sell "Jewish lands" to Arabs. Too few stood up to protest, and the Israeli academic world, our colleagues, is treading water, which is also allocated in the occupied territories with the stinginess of discrimination.
The JNF's world chairman, Efi Stenzler, told me proudly this week that he is introducing the blue box - for donations to the organization - into kindergartens and schools this year, restoring the old glory. That brought to mind my school days, and especially those sky-blue Fridays, when the outstanding pupil of the week got to be the first to donate. The teachers Rachel and Yaffa read out his name, he stood up, the penny his mom gave him in his hand, and plunked it into the box, which responded with a cheery clink.
My two grandchildren will be entering first grade in another month. If anyone had asked me, which is not generally the case, I would save the shekel in their name; not because of the shekel but because of the hole in it, a black hole, because of a box that has dried up. Here's some advice for big donors, too. Do not donate a shekel until the JNF begs the legislature: Please, do not put that legislation in the law book, do not turn the Jewish National Fund into the Jewish Nationality Fund, do not do to Arab citizens what is abhorred by our donors, Jewish citizens wherever they may be.
At the beginning of the week, in the wake of the Iranian visit to Syria, there was a chorus of cries to establish a national unity government. It is not clear why cabinet ministers and MKs were upset. After all, just such a government already exists, and muscular, insular Jewry wields a huge majority in the Knesset.
In less than 60 years down the line, a lot less, the muscle-bound types will complain to the education minister for allowing the Palestinian version of the Nationality Fund to be taught in the schools. If it had not been taught, they will say, it would have evaporated, just like the Nakba, which disappeared as though it never was in the official story of the national revival.
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