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The Fake Outrage Over Israeli Minister's Wish to 'Disappear' Arabs

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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Poppies in a rye field at Wydhof farm of Madeleine and Ernst Bachmann in Flaach, Switzerland, in May.
Poppies in a rye field at Wydhof farm of Madeleine and Ernst Bachmann in Flaach, Switzerland, in May.Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

The main thing is to have a scandal de jour. Where would we be without it? This week, Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana hit the jackpot. Although he did say, in a talk with students at a religious high school, that “It seems we [Jews and Arabs] were meant to live together on this land in some fashion,” he also used a figure of speech that bothered many people: “If there was a button [to send all the Arabs here] on an express train to Switzerland ... I would press it.”

First, we have to give Kahana credit. He wished us Arabs “all the best in the world – in Switzerland,” where we would “live amazing lives.” So kind and thoughtful of you, Matan. What a shame that not everyone in the politically correct camp understood his good intentions, and pounced on him over the whole “train” and “Switzerland” thing, which called to mind the trains to Auschwitz and was therefore “an unfortunate choice of words” or “a problematic figure of speech” and so on.

But the choice of words was actually quite effective. Forget Auschwitz for a moment, not everything in life is Auschwitz, and focus on the fantasy: to “disappear” the Arabs from Israel. In this sense, Kahana hit the nail on the head for most of the Jews who call themselves Zionists. Of course, they would never admit it publicly – they are civilized people, after all – but they, too, would be happy to make the Arabs disappear.

What’s a little confusing is that the right would like to disappear Arabs to a place as far away as possible – Switzerland is fine, but six feet under is even better – while the more genteel and inclusive left would disappear them to somewhere closer. After all, even the two-state solution, the bon ton of the left, is tied to a deep desire for “separation” – another way of saying, “Do us a favor, you go stay in your corner and we’ll stay in our corner.”

How many Jews are prepared for all of the Palestinians who live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River to be part of the State of Israel? For these millions of people to be citizens with equal rights? A tiny minority. Because this undermines the Zionist idea. And therein lies the problem. The Jews understand that the options are either to have millions of second-class citizens (which will cause guilt feelings and draw the world’s criticism), or for the Arabs to disappear behind walls and fences and not bother them anymore. And this is how the problem is solved: The longer the Arabs continue to be second-class citizens in reality, the more the fantasy of making them disappear grows.

In this sense, Kahana was only continuing a long and storied tradition of the disappearance fantasy, one that spans the entire Jewish political spectrum – from Yitzhak Rabin (“The best solution for Gaza might be for it to sink into the sea, but since that is not possible, a solution must be found”) to Avigdor Lieberman’s threats of transfer and the “Us here, them there” slogans thought up by the country’s most brilliant political minds.

To my way of thinking, the latter is the most offensive. Because at least those who want to sink the Gaza Strip or to send Palestinians to Switzerland are not hiding their true selves: Jewish ultranationalists who are convinced that this entire place belongs to them and them alone. Those who only wish “to separate” or “put up a wall,” who say “Us here and them there,” on the other hand, present themselves as peace-loving humanists who seek only cooperation and coexistence.

The problem is that, to this day, I don’t see how it is possible to cooperate when you are here and we are there. Who knows, maybe when I’m off in Switzerland, living the super-amazing life that Kahana has in mind for us, I’ll find the answer.

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