Opinion |

It’s Okay Not to Be a Zionist

Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper Israel Hayom denigrates Zionism by expecting an Arab woman to be a Zionist. It invests money in witch hunts to pave its way into the hearts of the masses

Emilie Moatti
Emilie Moatti
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Blogger and journalist Makbula Nassar in 2008.
Blogger and journalist Makbula Nassar in 2008.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky
Emilie Moatti
Emilie Moatti

Love has many faces. There are people who, when they love, respect the other’s space. There are people who send texts just to say they’re thinking of you. There are people who love flowers, and there are people who isolate you, search your phone, follow you and tell you that everyone around you wants only one thing. In other words, that for everyone else, you don’t exist, and if it weren’t for him, nobody would give you a second look. Obviously, we should be dubious about that last person’s love, and all our alarm bells should go off.

Love of country also has many faces. There are people who shed tears when the national anthem is played and people who kiss the ground at the airport when they land. And there’s the uncreative majority who live their lives in Zion and have tied their fate to this place and its institutions. Sometimes you’ll see a flag on their balcony on Independence Day, and other times you won’t, because they didn’t manage to buy one. But they’re here, and they’re the majority.

And then there’s the free daily Israel Hayom. When it has run out of tricks, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson are no longer what they once were, it needs to remind everyone of how burning their commitment is. So it takes some Arab woman like Makbula Nassar, the head of the National Road Safety Authority’s road safety campaign in Arabic. It takes this Arab woman who wants a Palestinian state to be established – just like Netanyahu and most members of his Likud party – and it has a story.

But it didn’t suffice with a story trying to understand her. (What’s there to wonder about? She’s an Arab.) Instead, it turned it into a front-page banner headline with a portrait.

After all, in this free newspaper’s view, the only way to show loyalty is through hatred of the other – blind hatred, one that gives no thought to the impact. To find favor with the right-wing leadership, Israel Hayom denigrates Zionism by expecting an Arab woman to be a Zionist.

This is apparently the paper’s only way of winning love, because only someone devoid of self-confidence seeks division and bolsters his own side through hatred. And if a woman, and an Arab one yet, happens to wander into the arena, why not? Just like men who know that nobody will love them and therefore invest money in greasing the wheels, their product, this free newspaper, invests money in witch hunts to pave its way into the hearts of the masses.

But the masses aren’t stupid. The masses don’t need to crucify a non-Zionist Arab woman in order to feel Zionist. The masses want to celebrate love, not hate.

In a letter to the editor two years ago, novelist Amos Oz wrote, “In 1948, had it not been for the Israeli left, with its kibbutzim and moshavim, its Haganah and Palmach, there would have been no Palestinian people and no Nakba. On the contrary, the Palestinians would have gained a quarter of a million Jewish homes.”

The average Israeli is satisfied with this knowledge, the knowledge that in 1948 we were the victors. Parts of the masses, through its leaders, even demonstrate the nobility of victors and call for turning the Declaration of Independence into a constitution, because this is precisely where that elusive trait of nobility lies: Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

Freedom of conscience for everyone, including Makbula Nassar.

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