You buy a pet, let’s say a dog. The salesperson tells you that the dog is gentle and obedient, but a few months later the problems begin. The dog barks, or, perish the thought, he bites. As a true democrat, you get everyone who lives in the house together for a meeting to decide whether to keep the dog locked up or let him run in the yard for a few hours. That is exactly what Yedioth Ahronoth did last week. As part of its column, “Daily Question,” it asked the members of the Jewish cooperative, its readers, to decide whether to impose a closure on the occupied West Bank or not. In this case, “no” does not mean ending the occupation, heaven forbid, but something like a partial closure, or an on-and-off one.
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Yedioth Ahronoth holds important discussions about the Jewish cooperative in which the readers are asked to give their opinions on various topics regarding the economy, politics and society. And so, between discussions about clothing and the best way to prepare squash, the readers offer their opinions about the way to run the neighbors’ lives. Don’t worry, dear Palestinians, tomorrow you will hear what the masters have decided for you. After all, the newspaper, out of the goodness of its heart, will publish the decisions.
But nations are not animals, and even those who are under occupation are not living on a farm that is locked up according to the considerations of the nation on the other side of the barricade. Incidentally, Arab citizens of the state are treated the same way. And all of this goes on within the framework of Israeli democracy; the Jewish collective has already decided, for example, via its assured majority in the Knesset, how to run the Arabs’ lives – what occupations they will have and where they will live (or, more accurately, where they will not live).
The vast majority of the Jewish collective feels that it is in its interest to continue tyrannizing the minority within it, while keeping Palestinians without fundamental rights in the occupied territories. The situation is bleak and explosive. The change, when it comes, will be painful because at issue is an entire collective of citizens, and not a small group of rulers. If you ask why the right wing wins, the answer is because it has convinced the vast majority of the collective that its material interest dictates the oppression of the other.
In a normal situation, the Yedioth poll would be taking place among the occupied people. They would be asked whether they wish to remain locked up or dissociate themselves from their occupiers. In Scotland, for example, the Scottish people were the ones to decide their own future. If it had been done the way it is here, the English would be asked to decide what was good for the Scottish, and a person living in London would decide on behalf of someone living in Edinburgh. But here, people have gotten used to looking at things backwards.
Incidentally, that is how things seemed when Ehud Barak decided, in his time, to hold a referendum on the future of the Golan Heights. At the time of the decision, the residents of Tel Aviv were asked to decide for the residents of Majdal Shams, Syrian Druze living under Israeli occupation. And then, to take the bull by the horns, the right wing in Israel tried to leave the Israeli Arabs out of the referendum. In a supremely democratic move, a bill was introduced stipulating that only a 60-percent majority would be sufficient for a withdrawal from the Golan Heights because the Arabs, in any case, would vote for it. This 60-percent majority was called a “qualified majority” at the time. As everybody knows, only the Jews are qualified here. At a second glance, it is a good thing the Knesset promoted such a bill since it was because of an unqualified majority, which included Arabs, that Yitzhak Rabin paid with his life.
Yedioth Ahronoth published the results of its poll yesterday, after several days of nerve-wracking anticipation. Here they are: Just 62 percent were in favor of imposing a closure on the West Bank, with 38 percent against. Our hope is not lost. If a young person were to think, mistakenly, that Herzl’s novel “Altneuland” was published only now, in 2014, he would also assume that this Herzl was a Palestinian who dreamed of a country freed from the Jews’ abusiveness.