Opinion

Netanyahu Upgraded Our Citizenship

The value of Israeli citizenship is declining. And now comes the little prince to upgrade it with the help of the ‘nation-state law’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, August 12, 2018.
Jim Hollander /Pool via Reuters

States need citizens: taxpayers, soldiers, residents of outlying areas, etc. In exchange the country provides an ID number, the right to vote, flower-laden military burial plots and love of country. 

How do we love it? As always, we close our eyes and imagine: We would pay taxes even if it there were no compulsory tax collection, we would go to the army even if there were no prison. After all, that was the way the French philosopher Pascal recommended believing in God: It comes with the rituals.

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There are parents who are proud to bring their children for the first day of school. Never mind school – if they don’t learn, supposedly free of charge, they’ll be kept in storage, more or less safely, until their parents return from work. But with my own eyes I saw people taking photos with their children at the entrance to the army induction center, and bragging about the sacrifice they’re bringing to the state, after this sacrifice was prepared in family, community and national rituals, from the ultrasound to the swearing-in ceremony at the Kotel.  

Bringing terror victims for burial is a mass love ritual. Television, as part of the state, mobilizes young blood, a public sing-along, “Big Brother.” In short, everyone loves our country. Those who profit with its help and those who lose everything because of it. 

War is an especially large love production. If there are many victims, the nation’s love for its country increases, because there’s nothing like voluntary sacrifice for reinforcing love, otherwise everything was in vain and there’s nothing worse than the futility of death. The dead, for their part, cannot say, “I’ve changed my mind,” or some such thing. At the rituals friends and family members speak for them, and what the dead say during this dubbing, is more or less: “I loved my country.” 

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There are other bonding rituals – BDS, anti-Israeli decisions, “tension in the south” (“We’re all with the residents of the Gaza border communities”); and elections (“I’m fulfilling my right to exercise influence, because it’s my country”).

In the future the state will of course give the right to vote to all the Israelis who live abroad, and then to all the Jews in the world, because Israel is their state according to the law and the Bible. Even the incitement by the little prince leads to love of the state: “The left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish!” “That’s not true!, we’re more Jewish than you!” and the quarrel always ends with patriotism versus patriotism.

And still, the leaders of the state and their lackeys live in fear. Hundreds of thousands already have additional citizenship – because of unemployment, bad schools, air pollution. And fear too – it’s impossible to cry gevalt every day over a genuine existential threat to our lives, and also to tell us that Jewish lives aren’t safe anywhere but here.

In short, the value of citizenship is declining. And now comes the little prince to upgrade it with the help of the “nation-state law.” After all, Palestinians in the occupied territories don’t have citizenship, and citizens are allowed to do whatever they want to them. Above them are the asylum seekers, whom we can incite against, imprison and expel as non-Jews.

Above them are the Arab citizens, Muslim and Christians (if they haven’t yet joined the “Christian-Aramaic” religion, which our beloved state recently invented). Above them are the Druze, who will be getting urban renewal, to the joy of credit and construction companies. 

Above them are Soviet immigrants, whom the state deceived, saying that even if they aren’t really Jews, everything would be fine in Israel. So, suddenly they’re discovering that grandpa wasn’t Jewish, and they’re separating mother from son, as they do to asylum seekers, or Africans who haven’t won a gold medal in some international championship.

But high up, very upgraded, as in a duplex, sits the national majority, first-class citizens. Even if they don’t have a European passport, and they’re stuck here forever, with one trick the little prince upgraded them. There are, as we’ve mentioned, upper-first-class-citizens: senior army officers, arms dealers, high-tech people, professors with sabbaticals, having babies overseas in order to give birth to Canadian citizens. Many of them attend the Druze demonstrations against the nation-state law, but not those of other Arabs. They don’t take this upgrade lightly, not by any means. (And when the children of Gaza cry, they sing “I Have No Other Country.”)