How Does One Respond to the Israeli Right's Ignorance?

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MK Miri Regev, December 2, 2014.
MK Miri Regev, December 2, 2014.Credit: Emil Salman

Following the incident in which Lebanon’s Olympics delegation barred the Israeli delegation from sharing its bus, Culture Minister Miri Regev issued an angry press statement saying, “This is pure anti-Semitism and racism of the worst kind.”

So a Haaretz op-ed columnist looks at this statement and asks himself, “What, the honorable minister can’t distinguish between religious/racial hatred and a political/military conflict? And moreover, anti-Semitism is a form of racism, so to say that it’s both anti-Semitism and racism ... what does one do with this?”

Look, he says to himself, when the soccer player Alon Mizrahi once said that he “wants to play in Europe, and I’ve said this both in the media and on television,” and even added that he actually wants to play “either in Europe or in Spain,” the pillars of the earth shook with laughter and scorn.

And now, similar egregious nonsense is being spouted not by a soccer player on Israel’s national team, but by a minister in Israel’s cabinet, and nothing happens. The only person who dared criticize her ridiculous statements – but who unfortunately, and perhaps also in a racist manner, called her crude, derogatory names – was not only dismissed from his job, but also managed to divert the discussion from the minister’s stupidity to his own crudity.

But in truth, the writer continues his musing: Perhaps the ones keeping mum are right – not only in worrying about their own livelihoods, but also because in fact, there’s nothing to say to the stupid ignoramuses who control our lives. After all, this arrogant person says to himself, what would you say to them? That the earth revolves around the sun, and not around the State of Israel?! That Spain is in Europe?! That the Inquisition and bleach (which have similar spellings in Hebrew) aren’t the same thing?! What?!

After all, such stupidity and ignorance don’t characterize Regev alone, but also former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who wrote that Copernicus was one of the wise men of ancient Greece; and MK Nava Boker, who mispronounced the name of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as “Gabals”; and MK Anat Berko, who explained that there is no Palestinian nation because the “p” sound doesn’t exist in Arabic; and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who never “happened” to see a single play by Hanoch Levin. And all this is without even mentioning MK Oren Hazan, or even telling them, “Take a moment to look at Wikipedia, you idiots!”

And now, faced with idiocy like theirs, you’re going to sit down and write well-reasoned articles, with historical examples and wordplay and references to important cultural assets? And all that for whom? For people who can’t tell the difference gerbils and Goebbels or who think that Bar Minan (an Aramaic term for a dead person) is the brother of Bar Refaeli?

And in any case, what difference does it make? After all, their answer is always a collection of arguments along the lines of “the nation of Israel lives,” “there is a God,” “the Eternal One of Israel doesn’t lie,” “let the Israel Defense Forces win,” applause, “traitor,” and “how many of you are there, anyway?”

And this last argument, that “you’re barely 1.5 percent,” is definitely a winning one. Because truth and justice, as you know well, are a matter of majority and minority. Here’s a fact: When the entire world thought the earth was the center of the universe and only Copernicus thought the earth revolved around the sun, who was right? And when the Jews of Salonika were ordered by the Germans to assemble in Freedom Plaza, who was right, the 60,000 Jews who showed up and were sent to Auschwitz, or the tiny minority of 2,000 Jews who fled to the hills? They wouldn’t even have passed the electoral threshold, those 2,000 stupid Jews, right?

So what can we do, you ask? We’ll go on writing for each other and hope for the best, which won’t happen.

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