The Bigger Picture

A series of minor catastrophes can't stop the Nakba looking great in HD.

I don't know how to explain this, but something happened to me recently. A kind of nationalism that I never knew was in me suddenly emerged and began to rule me. Maybe it's the influence of Israeli discourse, which is dripping with chauvinism; maybe it's the "Nakba Law" passed by the Knesset, and maybe it's actually the revolutions all around us that filled me with a desire to commemorate Nakba Day this year, together with my children.

As opposed to the superficial and predictable speeches of the prime minister, who bases his entire philosophy on scare tactics and describing an enemy whose goal is to exterminate us, for me commemorating Nakba Day doesn't include any desire to destroy Israel and has nothing to do with hatred of Israel. On the morning of Nakba Day I was set to take a trip with my children to one of the Arab villages in the Jerusalem area, and I said to myself: As long as the school system, the government and the media sell themselves a noble story about the pioneers who returned to the land of their forefathers, there will be no chance of understanding who here is really prepared for painful concessions.

Illustration (Amos Biderman)
Amos Biderman

"Acknowledgment," I declared to my children, as we stood in the doorway, "acknowledgment that Grandpa, who was killed in 1948, also has a share in the story of this place."

I was already outside the house when the phone rang. "Hello, have I reached Mr. Sayed Kashua?" asked the charming voice on the other end of the line.

"Yes," I replied proudly ("Mr." does that to me ), and the speaker identified herself as the representative of the cable company to which we subscribe. In a very affectionate tone she told me she was happy to inform me that they had decided to let me join their VIP department. "The VIP department," she added, would provide various and sundry benefits, including a direct phone number to the service manager, without my having to wait ages for a recorded response like ordinary people.

"Wow," I said to her, "thank you very much, I'm very happy about the acknowledgment."

"Dad," asked my daughter, pulling on my shirt sleeve, "have they acknowledged the Nakba?"

"No," I whispered, "more important. VIP department."

"We're very proud to have you join our department, is there anything I can do for you, sir?" asked the girl with angelic politeness. And I, being a VIP, couldn't refuse. After all, she so much wanted to help, and I was also embarrassed by the fact that I don't have an HD connection, and that I still haven't asked them to install their VOD converter - which can record or order a speech by the prime minister, or stop it in the middle. I had a feeling that I was the only one in the department of influential people who still made do with a basic package and a pre-1948 converter.

"Yes," I heard myself saying in a strange voice, which came in the package with the title VIP, "yes, to tell the truth, I've been wanting for a long time to ask for your new sophisticated converter, but I didn't have time. I was simply..."

"Yes sir," she replied, of course you're a very busy man, that's why we're here. It's an amazing converter and I'm sure you'll enjoy it, you and your entire family. With your permission, I'm writing down the order."

"Dad," chirped the two children who were standing next to me with hats on their heads and knapsacks on their backs. "Nakba Day, Dad."

"Just a minute," I whispered to them, "I'm arranging VOD for you, and with a discount yet."

"Sir," the representative of the beautiful people returned to me, "I see that I can send you an installer today. Are you busy?"

"No," I told her, "I actually took a day off," and immediately regretted it, hoping she wouldn't think that - God forbid - it was because of the Nakba or something strange of that sort. "You know, I do that sometimes for the inspiration."

"Our technician will be at your house within two hours," she said. "Is that suitable, sir?"

"Of course it's suitable," I replied, and she said "Have a nice day, sir."

"All right, so we'll go to the Nakba in another two hours, so what? What's the hurry? As though the Nakba will run away if we postpone it a little," I said to the children.

"So where did you take the children?" asked my wife, calling from work. "We're at home," I stammered, telling her about the technician who was on the way. "You took a day off! You didn't send the children to school because of your VIP package?" she shouted angrily.

"All right, I'll take them later," I promised, "meanwhile I'm having a Nakba activity for them at home. Do you know how much they're suffering? There's knocking at the door, it's the technician, don't worry, in 15 minutes I'll take their picture in an abandoned village."

The technician brought the converter, but he was unable to connect it. "The converter is far from the Internet, it's not me. Because you're in the VIP department there will be a technician coming who knows what to do." About two hours later another technician came, who said it would be really ugly and he would have to install a seven-meter external cable from the Internet to the converter. But there may be another solution, for which they would send another technician. The third technician claimed that the specific Internet connection I had in the house wasn't compatible with the specific converter that the previous technician had brought.

"Dad," said my daughter when it was almost three o'clock, "the Nakba!"

"All right," I shouted, "don't you see that I'm stuck here without VOD and without television? A bit of understanding, what am I asking for?"

"Dad," she continued, "soon Mom will be coming back, and if she finds out you didn't do a Nakba Day with us, you'll turn into a refugee."

"You're right," I said, loading the children into the car. On the way I spoke to my brother, who knows a little about wires and technology, and he explained how to solve the problem the three VIP technicians had been unable to solve.

"So where are you?" asked my wife, just as I was standing in line at the Bezeq store in Romema (this time she was calling from home ).

"We're just hiking between the villages of Sheikh Badr and Lifta."

"Very good." I heard my wife calming down.

I exchanged the wireless router for the model my brother had told me to get, and I dashed to Office Depot in the mall to purchase two outline network connections.

"We're hungry," said the children, when I had the equipment in hand.

"I'm a little worried," said my wife over the phone. "There's a lot of tension and chaos because of the Nakba, are you watching over the children?"

"You have nothing to worry about, right now we're eating on the lands of Malha village," I said, as I paid for two children's meals at McDonald's and got a balloon as a gift.

My wife was really emotional when we returned home. She hugged the children and gave me a kiss. "I don't know how you suddenly became so brave."

"We wanted to inform you that we're taking care of the problem, the senior echelons in the company are also involved," said the VIP representative, updating me over the phone. "There's no need," I informed her, smiling in front of the amazing picture on the screen. Palestinians from the refugee camps were climbing the fence. "Look," I said to my wife proudly, pointing to the television, "look how well you can see the Golan Heights."