The Storm Over Bamba and Apathy Concerning Gaza

In an alert civil society - you keep things clean and throw the Bamba in the garbage bin. However on the other side of the colorful bag of snacks lurks a destructive apathy.

For four consecutive days and nights, millions of citizens of this country once again lived under conditions of fear and terror. The innovation was that, this time, no one tried to whitewash things. The mass terror was to be expected and it stemmed directly from an Israeli act of violence. Nevertheless, no one thought of expressing opposition. Better not to even ask whether indeed a terror attack had been foiled; whether the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees was one of those rare people in human history for whom there is no replacement; or whether indeed his assassination was beneficial or legal.

The assassination and the revenge were seen here as a divine edict, as a force majeure, as a storm in the southern skies - a quick strike that would blow away with the wind. The south was scared, the north turned a blind eye, and all together were amazed at the way Iron Dome successfully intercepted the missiles. And at times like these, there is no opposition in Israel.

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Not just at times like these. It is possible to imagine a situation in which Israel would have continued with another ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. And would anyone have raised his voice against that? Of course not. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's chairman Shaul Mofaz would be in favor of course, and so apparently would opposition leader Tzipi Livni (whose voice was once again not heard this week ); Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich is busy to the hilt with the tycoons; Knesset hopeful Yair Lapid would have made do with another ideological "okay, bye!"; the summer protest movement leader Daphni Leef is traveling across the seas to explain that Israel is not an apartheid nation; on the Facebook page of Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On there is no mention of what happened in the south; and the Arab members of the Knesset are isolated as usual from the public discourse.

And as if that was not enough - it seems to everyone that this is a normal situation. That's how things are and there is nothing we can do about it. A difficult reality in the south following an act of choice by Israel and no one even considers asking questions, casting doubts, offering alternatives. Hamas held its fire? Rubbish. It announced it had renounced violence? Nonsense. Once again Egypt turned out to be the only party that could bring back quiet despite its Muslim Brothers? So what? Speak with Hamas? What, have we lost our minds? Only a stand-up artist in the south raised that brilliant idea on television: To continue with assassinations in Gaza "until the inventory is completed." That's an idea and that's an idea. Laughter. An Israeli democracy that lacks an opposition, free of any alternative ideas for government - a global innovation.

But just a minute, there are storms here nevertheless. For two days a storm has been raging here over [the children's snack] Bamba, a storm which was almost wilder than the storm in the south. Had it not been for the summer social protest, the baby icon of the Bamba snack would have turned into the official mascot of Israel's Olympic team. Only decent public intervention prevented the disgrace.

The Internet was flooded with reactions, the minister of sports and culture threatened to intervene, the chairman of the Knesset's Education Committee called for an emergency meeting, columnists joined in the struggle, and the cute little Bamba baby will not march at the London Olympics. Psychosis and neurosis. Two days of newspaper headlines. All of a sudden, everyone is interested in sports and concerned about the moral standards of the Olympic team, and they have reservations about using a commercial symbol. Suddenly there is a protest, there is an opposition and there is a popular uprising. Even if this protest is justified in principle and there really is no place for commercial sponsorship of a national mascot, what about the proportions? Where is the proportionality? This exaggeration was intended for one purpose only - to cover the shame of apathy and to give ourselves the superficial appearance of involvement.

That is the other side of the apolitical nature of the summer protest movement - the connection between a vacuous patriot and a hollow protester. Because that's how things are in an involved democracy, that's how things are when there is an alert civil society - you keep things clean and throw the Bamba in the garbage bin. However on the other side of the colorful bag of snacks lurks a destructive apathy.

All the futile storms of the past months - Bamba, Big Brother, Pesek-Zman, Hatikva, and even the scandal of cancelling free train rides for soldiers for three consecutive hours per week - cannot hide the disgrace: In the land of Bamba, in Bamba Land, people come to life only the marginal and the meaningless. Let it be known: there is a direct link between the storm over Bamba and the apathy concerning Gaza. Both are driven by blind and cheap patriotism. And which mascot will march in our name at the Olympic stadium in London? That affects us much more deeply than what is done in our name in Gaza.