Black Box / Raining Sovereignity

'Sovereignty' is a wonderful slogan to wave about in order to arouse national pride and in order to promote esprit de corps in times of crisis. But is Israel truly a sovereign country?

There was a moment when I was about to burst out laughing at the sight of the bunch of functionaries who gathered in Ashkelon on Tuesday evening to gaze at a bent remnant of the Qassam rocket that landed on their city and uprooted a number of grayish red paving blocks of the type called Ackerstein. This is all the damage the Qassam did in Ashkelon, but judging from the frenetic activity in the television news broadcasts, which swooped down on the twisted tin as though it were a great treasure, it appeared as though at least an atom bomb had fallen.

And one could see how, gradually, at the pace of Channel 1 military correspondent Amir Bar Shalom's questions, the gray bureaucratic face of the mayor changed as he metamorphosed into the heroic municipal leader under threat of mass destruction. Yes, they will have to fortify the schools. And they will have to prepare for what is to come in cooperation with the defense establishment. O fortunate Ashkelon: You have emerged from your anonymity and you are joining the list of cities that suffer from "terror."

The masses of verbiage that was heard all of Tuesday evening about the three damaged paving stones of Ashkelon is instructive mostly with respect to the bleak psychological condition of this nation, which sees "damage to our sovereignty" in every piece of metal that is thrown onto it from the neighbors' yard. And there will always be the cunning politician who will give this seemingly legal confirmation, like Justice Minister Haim Ramon, who was seen on Tuesday's "New Evening" show (Channel 1, 17:000), preaching to Dan Margalit this populist nectar: "No country would agree to such an attack on its sovereignty," or "As a sovereign state we have the right to defend ourselves from attacks on our sovereignty."

"Sovereignty" is a wonderful slogan to wave about in order to arouse national pride and in order to promote esprit de corps in times of crisis. But is Israel truly a sovereign country? And what is the nature of this "sovereignty?"

A small, marginal and even somewhat disgusting proof that our sovereignty is an entirely fluid thing was given that same evening from the lawn of the American ambassador's residence in Herzliya Pituah. There the Who's Who of the Jewish people celebrated the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day. Because Ayala Hasson, the political correspondent of Channel 1, staked out her claim there, as she spoke the cameras moved over the elegant Israeli crowd sipping cocktails with that American pseudo-casualness while awaiting the remarks of the ambassador who, according to Hasson's predictions, would be speaking about the abducted soldier in Gaza and the Qassams. As though if he did not speak about the subject, it would be a sign that America is concealing its face from our people. And no one sees the contradiction between this crazy anxiety about a foreign ambassador's utterance and the pretension to "sovereignty."

Further evidence of the baselessness of the statement that "no sovereign state would agree to such an attack on its citizens" can be found in the Israel Defense Forces' partial entry into the territory of Gaza. And indeed from the moment Israel appoints itself the decider, according to its own convenience, of where its sovereignty begins, and enters and pulls out and expands and contracts the borders of its sovereignty, it renders the concept of its own sovereignty meaningless. And Haim Ramon can shout until tomorrow that we will not be silent about "damage to our sovereignty."

The carnival has happened

The gay pride carnival in Jerusalem slated for the month of August was in effect already celebrated this week, in two stages, one crazier than the other. The first carnival was on Tuesday morning in the meeting room of the Knesset Interior Committee, when all kinds of bearded religious clerics wearing strange headgear, black and embroidered in gold, from the three monotheistic religions, joined together in a wondrous way to demand the cancellation of the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, the holy city. The greatest expansion of this Purim-like event was given by the Channel 2 News (20:00). There, a representative of Islam was heard stuttering in embarrassment that "among us there aren't things like that, not of this magnitude," and his remarks elicited a wave of laugher in the audience. And the representative of the Vatican in a French or Italian accent, rode in after him with typical self-righteousness (let us but remember the plague of pedophilia in the Catholic Church). And the representatives of Meretz, supporters of the parade, were no less ridiculous, when they offered King David, whose love for Jonathan was dearer to him than the love of women, as an argument in favor of holding the parade. Which sent the ultra-Orthodox representative Shraga Gafni out of his mind, and he yelled at them from the side like a crane flapping her wings in pride at her Jewishness. A scene of great gaiety.

But all this was nothing compared to the fracas on the "Politika" show, on which two minutes after the discussion of the gay pride parade began (Channel 1, Tuesday, 21:45) the participants went completely off the rails. Menachem Ben proposed holding a parade in Jerusalem of men who like to sleep with goats and MK Nissim Ze'ev of Shas proposed holding a parade of swine on the Temple Mount, and the weird representative of Islam asserted that homosexuality is a disease and whoever feels a need to do it, should do it in secret. The two representatives of the gays - one of them the person who was stabbed and wounded by an ultra-Orthodox chap as he marched in the gay pride parade - joined in the screaming and it was not really possible to follow the arguments of any of the participants, even the enlightened ones.

Because this is the nature of a carnival: It is wild, chaotic and dripping with sweat and spit and it releases the violence that is inside everyone. On second thought, this is just one more reason why it is nevertheless worth holding the parade in Jerusalem: It will force all of those who are opposed to it to take to the streets.