Opinion |

We Won't Worship the Zionist Golden Calf. Deal With It

It’s clear why the government is so touchy when anyone dares question the official story of Israel.

Samah Salaime
Samah Salaime
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Waving flags during a march marking Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City May 17, 2015.
Waving flags during a march marking Jerusalem Day near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City May 17, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Samah Salaime
Samah Salaime

What is the meaning of the total mind-war the State of Israel has declared on every artist, researcher or political activist who tries to jab, ever so delicately, at the Zionist narrative?

Anybody who does, or might, undermine the story told by Israel – a tiny, successful country that advocates peace and human rights, the only democracy in the Wild Middle East – will get a great big shoe tossed at his head, manufactured by a blue-and-white factory in some settlement.

Here is the policy suggested by Miri Regev, Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and many others of Israel’s leaders.

For his part, the prime minister vows to revoke the pitiful, understaffed allocation of National Service volunteers that B’Tselem gets (after the watchdog organization criticized Israeli settlement policy at the UN last week), which will of course lead to the organization’s collapse. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will boycott the members of the Joint Arab List, with whom he never did meet and never did heed. Bennett will boycott UNESCO, whose envoys he never did allow to visit sites in Jerusalem, while Regev will boycott the Haifa municipality.

Even the deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, came out of her sukkah especially in order to demand that all relations be severed with the Minerva Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem because of its relationship with B’Tselem. The only one who has evidently stayed loyal to the state and avoided the umbrage of parliamentarians is singer Eyal Golan.

What this chorus of boycotters is demanding is that the Palestinian people, which certain ministers claim doesn’t even exist, recognize the Jewish people and its right to the “Land of Israel,” arising from the fact that it was here thousands of years ago and its remains are found, of all places, right below the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. There lies the proof of the rights of the persecuted, unfortunate people.

My grandmother Raya, who lived in the village of Sajeera which was destroyed in 1948 – destroyed, naturally, without any military intervention, and whose residents went off on a picnic that would last 70 years in the refugee camps – well, anyway, my grandmother of blessed memory would say:

اللي عراسه بطحه بيحسس عليها،

which means anybody running around with something on his head that doesn’t belong to him, constantly has to check his head. The origin of this pithy saying is a story about a little village where one of the residents had the habit of stealing chickens. The clever village sheikh devoted his Friday sermon to the issue, and ended with the following sentence: “We can all see who has a chicken feather on his head.” The thief immediately felt his head, to get rid of the telltale feather – thus revealing himself.

The moral of the story is that a person who takes something not belonging to him, and continues to deny it, will have to constantly take care not to be caught.

The Palestinians in this land have stuck to their story and not budged an inch from it. Moreover, the great majority accepted and understood the new reality – that of the Jews who had lived here as well as the new ones coming from all over the world. And despite the clear preference given to Jewish citizens and the persisting oppression and discrimination toward the Palestinians, we were all required to say thank you for being allowed to stay here rather than being sent off to join the Palestinian national picnic.

During the very first days of the state, as its institutions were being built, everything possible was done to delete the Palestinian narrative in favor of the perfect Zionist narrative.

But maintaining and adoring the Zionist golden calf is hard work, especially given the fact that additional occupations after 1967 continued to eat away at Palestinian land.

It is clear by now that it isn’t enough to lock the national archive; it won’t suffice to bar everybody with a big mouth from the public discourse; rewriting the history and civics books won’t do the trick.

All this hard work is being done because there is a group of people out there digging away, and I don’t mean underneath Al-Aqsa; there is the generation of grandchildren of the Nakba that can’t stand silent anymore, because it isn’t afraid, because it learned the rules of the game of Israeli “democracy,” and even began to enjoy it (until Ayelet Shaked changes the rules).

We are fluent in Hebrew; we don’t stammer or apologize. Happily, a small group of brave Jews also arose around us and they, too, think something wrong is going on; with them we can build a dialogue, in which we can also critique one another. Some are Ashkenazi and some are Mizrahi but all have a place in this new, powerful dialogue that seems inevitable, given the rising tide of fascism. We, the Palestinian citizens of the state, even know that our Jewish partners may pay a price for letting go of the Zionist Jewish narrative in favor of a democratic, equitable narrative.

In reaction to this healthy wave of enlightenment, what is Israel’s elected leadership doing? Linking Zionism and religion, that’s what. When we place Israeli society in front of the mirror, which doesn’t exactly reflect the most flattering image, only the Lord can save the Chosen People from its own deeds; only a return to religion and Judaism will bring salvation and strengthen the connection between the Jew and this little piece of land.

Thus, in the name of God, who has no Facebook page where he could confirm the rightness of this, Israel justifies more settlement, more expropriation, more military campaigns, all seasoned with hate and demonization of the Palestinian who wants to murder Jews just because he’s thirsty for Jewish blood.

The prime minister knows perfectly well that there’s nothing more convenient for ruling the country than having a frightened Jewish people. The policy of neutralizing every sliver of creativity and information that promotes the other narrative and, from our perspective, the Palestinians and their partners in the battle for justice and peace, just proves who has a feather on their heads.

The author is a social worker, feminist and blogger.

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