Whoever wrote that scene - the one in the meeting room of the Knesset Education Committee on Monday, at the end of which Yisrael Beiteinu MK Anastassia Michaeli threw a glass of cold water in the face of her colleague, Labor MK Raleb Majadele - is by any measure a brilliant playwright. But is it also possible that there was some plagiarism involved here?: This scene seemed familiar to me from somewhere. Finally I remembered: Moliere's "The Miser"! Just a few little changes were made here and there to camouflage this act of literary theft.
In Moliere's play two household servants, Valere and Jacques, vie for the affection of their tight-fisted master, Harpagon. They try to prove their loyalty to him in every possible way and cast aspersions on each other, each for his own selfish reasons. Valere flatters Harpagon and proves to him he is a more faithful servant than Jacques, who for his part tries to fight back and disparages Valere before his master, in his attempt to prove that he is more loyal. At the end of one scene, when Harpagon has left the room, Valere - the servant who is actually more favored by his master - picks up Harpagon's walking stick and beats Jacques.
This situation is quite similar to the performance by MK Michaeli. Anyone who takes the glass of water scene too seriously is a fool. Just as with "The Miser," what we have here is a piece of comedy that is supposed not only to amuse the audience but also subtly teach the lesson that if you don't want people to jeer at you, don't get yourself into a ridiculous situation in the first place. Which is exactly the lesson the average viewer learned, I imagine, from the Knesset drama: that politicians of both the right and the left are clowns.
Fact: Those who responded with the most alarm to the embarrassing affair were the politicians themselves, who are worried lest it become public knowledge that each and every one of them is little more than a clown. Therefore, it can be said that Michaeli was punished by suspension from the legislature because she leaked a top-secret bit of information to the public: that all 120 of members of the Israeli parliament - and not only she and Majadele - are nothing but buffoons.
The only question that remains unsolved is who, in the case of Anastassia and Raleb, is the tyrannical, annoyed miser on whose behalf they are prepared to make jackasses of themselves, all in order to prove that he/she is more loyal to him than the other. Well, anyone who is looking for the Harpagon of this parliamentary comedy need not look far at all: Indeed, the irritable master in question is more or less anyone and everyone who is reading this column. That is to say, the Israeli-Jewish lord and master - any and every veteran Hebrew-speaker who is neither a Hamas-supporting Arab nor a racist Russian nor a wild-eyed settler nor an ultra-Orthodox Jew with straggly earlocks. The plain, ordinary Israeli.
This plain, ordinary Israeli, who is feeling as if he belongs to an endangered species, has recently developed a modus operandi exactly like that of Moliere's miser, who caresses his treasure chest and believes everyone is hatching plots to steal it from him. The rightists are trying to steal from him the good and beautiful democracy he once had, and are taking over his Supreme Court; the ultra-Orthodox are eroding the good and beautiful individual liberties promised him in the Declaration of Independence; the Russians are giving his good and beautiful state a bad name with their racism; and the wild-eyed settlers are disturbing his rest with their hallucinatory ideology. And the master - what does he want? Only to be left alone and not to have taken away from him what is his.
Then along come the faithful servants, who do all they can to find favor in his eyes. Anastassia Michaeli - and by extension the entire Yisrael Beiteinu party - is trying to prove to her master that it is she who will protect him from the bad Arabs who want to steal his treasures. Raleb Majadele - and by extension all the Arab Knesset members - is trying to prove that it is he who will protect him from the bad Russians who want to steal his treasures from him.
From all this it emerges that neither Michaeli nor Majadele are really to blame for the spat that ended with the throwing of a glass of water in the Knesset this week. The real blameworthy party in the battle between the two faithful-servant camps is the Israeli-Jewish lord and master himself, who takes concealed sadistic pleasure in this cockfight and therefore has no interest in stopping it. But if it were really and truly necessary to suspend someone from something for a time so as to teach him or her a lesson - it wouldn't be Michaeli, nor would it be from the Knesset.
As in "The Miser," where Moliere punishes Harpagon and takes his treasure chest away from him, perhaps the time has come for the precious Israeli treasure chest to be taken away from the Israeli Jewish master race, which is enjoying having everyone fawn over it, trying to curry favor, while it wrinkles up its nose scornfully, never satisfied, seeing itself as the eternal victim of robbery. And the day of this bitter lesson is getting closer.
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