Straw Dogs

How some people find inspiration in self-immolation.

One again, Taguiv Ben-Moten, the Internet commenter − aka ‏(mainly to himself‏) as “Greyhound” and “The Andalusian Dog,” and other aliases that are always being stolen by “leftist impostors” − was the first to respond to the heroic and despairing act of Moshe Silman, who immolated himself during a protest demonstration last weekend. Within two seconds after the report flickered across his laptop screen, Taguiv’s fingers were tapping out the reaction: “Terrific! Terrific! The more the merrier! Another transparent Oslo-style trick of the pampered Nazo-Tel Aviv left, which just wants attention!”

As usual, and as will happen often in the realm of art, he himself did not know the source of the inspiration that descended directly into his fingers, bypassing his consciousness. But there it was, shimmering on the screen: complete, perfect.

Like the inspiration vouchsafed Mozart, who wrote the overture to “Don Giovanni” in one stroke; like Bialik’s spark, which “flies, ricochets into my eye, and from my eye to my verse, and from my verse hurtles into your heart” − so too was Ben-Moten’s inspiration: partly automatic, partly a metaphysical divine gift. Like every great artist, he did not try to fathom the mysterious. He considered himself a kind of medium, an instrument, through which passed truths stronger and greater than himself.

Let’s take the above response, for example. Whence did it bubble up and froth? Where lay its source? After all, not only is he himself a Tel Avivan ‏(okay, border of Givatayim‏), and not only did he himself advocate the Oslo Accords at the time, he even took part in some of the protest demonstrations, as he too was a small fry who could barely get through the month. But, as was his wont, he let his fingers do the talking.

So the response ricocheted, landed and immediately became part of a cluster of pixels. Seemingly, the facts, which were quickly clarified − the man was not from Tel Aviv but from Haifa, had no ties to the left and nothing to do with Oslo − placed Taguiv’s comment in a highly ludicrous and grotesque light, like most of his other comments. But the premature ejaculation, far from causing him a flush of embarrassment ‏(what did he care − he had signed as “Former Leftist”‏), became sacrosanct in retrospect, like a factual truth transcending any fact. The fact is that the immolation took place in Ashkenazo-leftist Tel Aviv; the fact is that it was aimed against Bibi and Steinitz; the fact is that it was a provocation designed to topple the government, as the Rabin assassination was a provocation aimed at toppling the Bibi-led opposition. Everyone knows there is no limit to the Oslo criminals. Take, for example, Olmert’s acquittal on two counts of the indictment. “What did you expect from the Hitler-Communist judges? They let the kapo go so he can hand Jerusalem to Obama in exchange for envelopes,” his fingers typed automatically.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau was no mother to them, knew not that they had set forth on the road.

According to a persistent rumor that has been making the rounds on the Web for years, there are vast subterranean chambers in the government compound where dozens and hundreds of “paid commenters,” equipped with state-of-the-art scanners, locate every response that is unfavorable to the royal couple and operate an app that accuses the traitor of being paid by mysterious elements. ‏(By whom? The Politburo? The Elders of Zion? Doctor No? No, worse: by a terrifying, world-dominating body called the New Israel Fund, which is the root-and-branch cause of all the woes in the universe.‏) No wonder that the fiercest witticism in the lexicon of Israeli comments, in which even the legitimacy of the individual to hold an opinion of his own is derided, is “Who is paying you?”

It’s true that conspiracy is the heart and soul of the Internet, but it would be ridiculous to suppose that Taguiv Ben-Moten and his ilk need to be paid to comment. Maybe the opposite; because the response, as such, has already become part of his being, the purpose of his life, his self-definition, a conditioned reflex that no longer requires encouragement or direction.

Our friend is long since not right wing or nationalist or Zionist. He has undergone a reduction and now is solely, exquisitely, a Bibist. He has trained himself to defend tooth and nail an unclear entity, fluctuating and zigzagging in itself, whose very name is pronounced in Dada language, with two infantile syllables. That’s because in this new medieval era, everything is so simple, so binary, almost pleasant in its non-demandingness. It’s either Bibism or anti-Semitism; either kowtowing to every whim of the king and the queen, or treason against the realm.

Like many others, Taguiv too melted, thawed and resolved himself into Bibism, becoming a Pavlovian response mechanism. Long ago, reasoned political views about the territories, the settlements, the distribution of resources fluttered on the edges of his consciousness. No more. They all melt into air when the computer is turned on and the sites of the hunting grounds appear, and Taguiv Ben-Moten, aka “Greyhound,” instantly runs with the barking pack, snouts sniffing the air with a wonderful sense of smell. Without being asked, without being required, without asking for anything in return, their whole being is concentrated in a myriad of calculations faster than any particle accelerator, focused only on guessing which way the wind of their master is blowing and whether the event, opinion or report is harmful or beneficial to him.

Mofaz in the government. “They can all go to hell.” Mofaz not in the government. “He always was a nothing.” An infant left in a car in the heat of the day. "And they complain about Sara. And how many victims did Oslo kill?” A fire in Mevasseret Zion, no water to put it out. “And the Ashkenazim had the gall to laugh at Bibi’s fire-extinguishing squadron.” What else? Free parking authorized in Tel Aviv for all residents of the city. “And the northies, led by the rat-mayor, are accusing Bibi of election economics. Where is Ahmadinejad when we need his bomb?” His landlord slides an envelope under the door, with a notification that his rent is being doubled, but he is still busy on the keyboard. “Go demonstrate in Berlin, you drugged anarchists.” Because it could be paradise here, if not for all the interruptions.