In Israel ‘It’ll Be Just Fine,’ Until It Isn’t

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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ZAKA takes bodies away from the scene of the disaster at Mount Meron, two nights ago.
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Mount Meron as a fable: It’ll be just fine, the ultra-Orthodox said. It’ll be just fine, the police said. It’ll be just fine, the politicians said. And all of them were right. For many years, everything was just fine. A bit crowded, but just fine.

Until this year, so we’ll keep on saying it’ll be just fine, until once again it won’t be just fine. Very not fine. Next year we’ll sit on the balcony, like in the song, and we’ll count the migrating birds. And Mount Meron will be the safest place on earth for two or three years of learning lessons from the incident. After that we’ll forget, we’ll go back to saying it’ll be just fine but it won’t be just fine. Until the next thrill.

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Mount Meron as a fable: “It’ll be just fine” is a cornerstone of Israeli society. Along with “nobody’s sucker” and “we’re the best, bro,” we’ve built a braggadocio culture.

It’ll be just fine, they said before October 1973, and in the years between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, everything was just fine, until it wasn’t. It’ll be just fine, they said before November 4, 1995, until Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

From a prime minister who was abandoned to his fate, we’ve moved on to a prime minister who’s protected in a lunatic and ludicrous way. Before the last election I saw how dozens of security people stormed television studios before an interview with the prime minister and rifled through the pockets of dozens of jackets hanging in the dressing room, lest someone plant a powerful bomb there. Grotesque.

It’ll be fine, we’re also saying about a blockade of the Gaza Strip that has lasted for 15 years, and it’ll be just fine. The United Nations declared Gaza unfit for human habitation after 2020, that year went by and nothing happened. Those who said it’ll be just fine were absolutely right.

One day maybe it won’t be just fine, and then we’ll look startled. When that happens, no one will take responsibility for the warning on the Gaza cage that nobody paid attention to. It won’t be just fine if 2.5 million people are imprisoned behind fences for decades, even if it seems to us that it’ll be just fine. It might explode, even though we said it’ll be just fine.

This assurance “it’ll be just fine” serves us as blinders, an insurance policy with no cover for the rainy day that will certainly come. At the end of the week, it came to Mount Meron.

It’ll be just fine, we also say of the daily bombing of Iranian targets anywhere. We’ll growl and we’ll goad – and it’ll be just fine. Until it won’t be just fine, and once again we’ll be pulling victimized, surprised and affronted faces. Until then, we’ll keep blustering and bombing, because it’ll be just fine.

It’ll be just fine, we’ll say of every building going up on terrifyingly rickety scaffolding, without safety gear. It’ll be just fine, until one day that isn’t just fine a construction worker will plummet to his death.

Anyway, this too is pretty much just fine, because the worker is never Jewish. It’ll be just fine, they said before the teenagers were killed in a flash flood, like they said before the attack on a Gaza City suburb using obsolete tanks. It’ll be just fine, they also said when our boys tried to assassinate Khaled Meshal in Jordan, and Jordan was our ally.

It’ll be just fine, we also said of the breached airport and the elementary schools for ultra-Orthodox boys that remained opened when the coronavirus raged. It’ll be just fine, with a quarantine that was barely enforced. Ultimately it was indeed just fine, despite the lawlessness and thanks to the vaccines without which that too would have ended in a much bigger disaster.

It’ll be just fine, they said of the occupation that has no end. It’ll be just fine, even the whole planet Earth. Sea levels will rise by the end of the century by at least a meter. Alexandria and Port Said will be submerged and obliterated, and in their wake Tel Aviv as well – but it’ll be just fine. The environmental protection minister is Israel’s least esteemed cabinet member, after the water minister, and no one wants the job. It’ll also be just fine before every driver dangerously and illegally passes the car up ahead.

It’ll be swaggeringly, boastfully and dangerously just fine, and unless proven otherwise, we’ll never correct or learn anything. We’ll meet a few years from now at Mount Meron, after the brief years of correcting. Once again it’ll be just fine there and people will be suffocated to death.

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