Jewish and Democratic: A Satire

Anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the country need look no further than the biting sketch,'Cracker vs. Cracker,' by one of the country's acclaimed entertainment troupes.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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The government has declared war on the Arab residents of the Negev, who are already talking about a second Nakba.
The government has declared war on the Arab residents of the Negev, who are already talking about a second Nakba. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

A society that is obsessively preoccupied with its identity needs a psychiatrist rather than a legislature. Governments come and go, but time seems to have stood still. We haven't even had time to breathe a sigh of relief about the weakening of the extreme right, and already the troops of those brothers, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, are hoisting the "Jewish and democratic" flag.

But continue to search, respected readers, because if you search thoroughly, with a dollop of intellectual honesty, you will discover that you are striving to achieve a type of racism that does not go hand in hand with values of natural justice, the dignity of man, and proper administration.

The search for the definition of "Jewish and democratic" is reaching the point of absurdity. An Israeli Jewish intellectual with whom I spoke was horrified to hear that in the Galilee, Arabs constitute 53 percent of the population. So there has to be a Jewish majority not only in the country as a whole, but the majority has to be reflected in each and every region, and preferably an absolute majority. In the Galilee, I said defensively, the Jews were the majority until recently, but many have migrated to the center of the country in order to make a living. Should the Arabs prevent them, at all costs, from migrating?

At the end of the conversation I pleaded with the respected intellectual not to tell anyone that in Yafia, my home town, there is an absolute Arab majority.

But increasingly it seems to me that the entire "Jewish and democratic" issue is no more that a Zionist plot: At a time when the whole world and its cousin is involved in a stormy debate over the definition of the state, discrimination can continue, and even increase, as can the establishment of facts on the ground.

In the style of "Cracker vs. Cracker," (a satiric sketch by the famous "Gashash Hahiver" entertainment troupe, which strongly influenced Israeli popular culture for over 30 years) this could be called the "extension cord" syndrome: Poor Mr. Cracker allows his divorced wife to take over "the apartment, the car, the color TV, the refrigerator, the dishwasher and the fish washer," and still, when he dares to ask for the "extension cord" she bursts into tears of woe.

Here you have all the details of the plot in one sketch: Just dare to say that it's not natural for a country to be named after only part of its inhabitants, and immediately you'll be called an anti-Semite, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will utter woeful cries about those cruel people, the Arabs, who want to erase the Jewish identity that has been under assault for the past 2,000 years, and you, like poor Mr. Cracker, will toss over the accursed "extension cord" in a panic.

The slogan "the Jewish state" is used, among other things, as a smokescreen for what is now taking place in the Negev. The government has declared war on the Arab residents of the Negev; the objective is for every grain of sand to speak Hebrew. The government publicly discusses the uprooting of thousands of residents, by force, from their place of residence, to concentrated locations that will be called "villages."

The government hopes that the furor around "the Jewish state" debate will drown out the strident tones resulting from its behavior in the south of the country; that it will conceal the fact that instead of channeling resources to education, housing, infrastructure and employment for the deprived Bedouin, it is mobilizing hundreds of additional police for this national mission, which in the Negev is already being called "the second Nakba." And this time around these ugly things are being done under the watchful eyes of those whom columnist Ari Shavit calls "the Tel Aviv right." This beautiful right, which walks around at its parties in jeans and expensive designer shirts, nonchalantly holding a cocktail. That's it. No longer hilltop youth who arouse disgust. We are proud to present: The beautiful and the cruel.

But fear not. MK Ruth Calderon, in her contemplative voice, is promising us that she will work, perhaps in Aramaic too, to infuse new content into "Jewish and democratic." Where the hell are the hilltop youth? At least they're clear and not sanctimonious.



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