"In all the whole town, the most wonderful spot is behind Sneelock's Store, in the big vacant lot. It's just the right spot for my wonderful plans," said young Morris McGurk " if I clean up the cans."
When I was small, one of my favorite books was "If I Ran the Circus" by Dr. Seuss. It was the story of a preposterous idea with an ironclad internal logic, a fantasy of contortion and construction which grows and grows until it takes over everything – with absolutely no heed paid to any one of the possible disastrous consequences.
It's a book that explains what might happen if the West Bank ran the rest of us. That is, if the settlement movement, out there behind Mr. Netanyahu's store, ran the state of Israel.
For some reason, it was that book that popped into my head as I was listening to the prime minister address the Sunday cabinet meeting. "The government supports settlements at all times, especially these days" he began, with an oddly Seussian lilt to the cadence of his prepared remarks.
The prime minister had been pressed to explain why two days before, his defense minister – decrying "intruders" who had acted in "brazen" disregard of the law – had forcibly evicted dozens of settlers who broke into and took over two buildings in the West Bank flashpoint of Hebron.
The eviction sparked a mutiny in Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling right-wing bloc, with two of the scariest clowns in the settler-circus coalition, MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Oren Hazan (Likud) threatening to absent themselves from a vote on a vote which Netanyahu does not want but politically sorely needs – the much-vilified, much-hyped, right-elite-driven NGO Bill.
Not to worry, the prime minister assured the settler-rich, settler-subservient cabinet in a display of high-flying, daredevil, split-second bureaucracy unlike anything Israelis experience under any other tent: "The moment that the processes of purchasing [the structures] are approved, we will allow the two homes in Hebron to be moved into, as has happened in similar cases in the past."
Then the prime minister, flying without a legislative safety net, took the trapeze even higher, adding a crowd-gasping flip. "The process of checking [the legality of the alleged purchases of the houses] begins today. We will do this as fast as possible."
In an apparent finale, he let go of the trapeze and appeared to wing it, adding another breathtaking clerical turn: "In any event, if it is not completed within a week, I will see to it that a report on its progress is provided the cabinet."
It was his landing, though, that confirmed the true status of the cabinet as the Settlers' Big Top. Throwing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon under the clown car, Netanyahu signaled that he was moving to strip Ya'alon of the authority to evacuate settlers from West Bank homes. The power to do so would be transferred to an unspecified committee – at the request of settler circus ringmaster Naftali Bennett.
No worries. Naftali Bennett merely took another leaf from the example of young Morris McGurk. Just a tree to chop down in a vacant lot, junk to haul out, a few tents to put up. And there you are.
"The Circus McGurkus! Collossal! Stupendous! Astounding! Fantastic! Terrific! Stupendous! I'll bring in my acrobats, jugglers and clowns, from a thousand and thirty-three faraway towns. To the place that you'll see 'em, ladies and gents, right behind Sneelock's Store, in the Great McGurk tents!
"And I don't suppose old Mr. Sneelock will mind, when he suddenly has a big circus behind."
As long as we let Mr. Sneelock, or Mr. Netanyahu, have a fancy suit and stand out front as the titular master of ceremonies, he'll be fine with it.
"After all, Mr. Sneelock is one of my friends. He might even help out doing small odds and ends."
In fact, whatever we settlers ask him to do, he'll be fine with it. Even if, some day, we need him to take a fall for us. He is, after all, expendable. As opposed to us.
His nerves are like iron, his muscles like steel. And he plunges! Down! Down! With his hair still combed neat. Four thousand six hundred and ninety two feet!
Then he'll land in a fish bowl. He'll manage just fine. Don't ask how he'll manage.
That's his job, not mine.
For the rest of us, that could be the only good news in any of this. That, and the clown corps, which may be the only group in this entire huge circus of ours which is capable, one of these days, and inadvertently, of bringing the big top of occupation down on their own heads.
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