Lapid's Longing

Eyal Megged
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Eyal Megged

How does one respond to Yair Lapid's new message, I asked a friend. He said: "Write what you wrote about Deri, but the opposite." What does that mean, I asked myself - should I write that contrary to Deri, Lapid will not reconcile between religious and secular people, but the opposite? That contrary to Deri, he will not calm the domestic strife, but the opposite? Or in brief, that contrary to Deri, he is simply unnecessary? Truth is, I don't think that would be accurate.

Perhaps Yair Lapid does have the ability to reconcile; perhaps he is necessary - to the education system, for example. Perhaps he really does have a few ideas more sensible than "raising the Mizrahi community's head high." But he certainly hasn't proved that he is "shrewd and wise." Not on Saturday at Kiryat Motzkin, at any rate. Because I don't think Deri would have uttered a wretched, outrageous statement like "we must finally be rid of the Palestinians."

I assume Lapid's linguistic advisers are telling him to change the verb "to be rid of" for "to part from" as quickly as possible. But even if he does, his slip of the tongue (if indeed that's what it was ) will continue to resonate. It will haunt him both from this side of the separation fence and the other, because there is no doubt it reflects a longing. Not only a private longing of Yair Lapid's but a national, fateful and destructive longing, which Meron Benvenisti describes so well in his new, earthshaking book "The Dream of the White Sabra."

It is because of this surreal longing that we didn't only defeat the Palestinians, fortunately, but also inherited them, unfortunately. It is because of this longing that together with the victory, we have annihilated an entire art of living here. Annihilated and denied. It is because of this longing that after uprooting the villages, fields and orchards, we got ugly housing projects, shopping malls and parking lots. Instead of fulfilling the dream of building a state based on Jewish labor, we fulfilled the real estate developers' desires.

My advice to Lapid is not only to replace the "to be rid of" with "to part from," but to get rid of and to part from the insane, deceptive dream that will bring us all to our end. We've already had enough dreams of being rid of the Palestinians and enough thoughts of parting from them. We've done everything to be rid of and part from them, yet we've achieved neither. And in the future - if there really is one beyond Lapid's promising party name - we won't be rid of the Palestinians either. We won't even part from them.

Perhaps instead of being rid of the Palestinians we should first rid ourselves of a few prejudices. Instead of being rid of them we'd better lose the illusion our parents bequeathed to us, of creating a new Europe here. There will be no new Europe here, but at best a new-old Middle East. Dreaming of Alteneuland means perpetuating Fatahland.

If we want to stay here (which isn't at all certain, judging by the alarming numbers of Polish, Romanian and Hungarian passports issued to Israeli citizens ), we must own up to the fact that despite ourselves, we must accept the Palestinians as neighbors. We must accept this inwardly, not just outwardly. Considering the glorious culture enveloping us in the emerging Jewish homeland, perhaps this won't be such a great nightmare as Lapid imagines.

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