The Kinneret Laundromat

The Kinneret Covenant erodes the three foundations of consensus in Israeli society: the democratic system, the civil worldview and the Zionist principle.

Perhaps the Kinneret Covenant could have been dismissed with a giggle. The yellowish document, in exceedingly inferior and embarrassing style, seeks to usurp the beautiful and solemn words of the Declaration of Independence, and may not even be worthy of a response. However, use of the Declaration of Independence as a basis, and the creation of the false impression that the Covenant is a quasi update of a document that needs no updating - only implementation - requires unmasking of the dangers lying at the foot of the mountain of good intentions of the Forum for National Responsibility.

The Kinneret document is a grand laundromat of words with a megalomaniacal tone: "We have gathered here"...

In whose name? The document erodes the three foundations of consensus in Israeli society: the democratic system, the civil worldview and the Zionist principle. The term "National Responsibility" assumes that the partisan political system, which members of the forum have on various occasions pronounced a failure, is not as responsible as they are. This is a stinging slap in the face to democracy. And what do they propose in its place? A hazy peace between Effi Eitam, IDF representatives, and Noa Ben-Artzi?

The wording - "We, citizens of Israel, members of the Jewish People" - obscures the civil affiliation in favor of the ethnic affiliation. This new discourse proposes a wondrous expanse of activity for the National-Ultra-Orthodox ethos ("the Jewish settlement in Hebron") on the one hand, and the Pan-Arabism of Azmi Bishara on the other. But what significance do these two poles have when compared to the shunting of Zionism to a place where it loses its moral justification?

"The clinging of the Jewish People to its heritage, its Torah and its land is a human and historic event almost unknown in world history [What about the Indians? And the Tibetans?]. It is this clinging that conceived Zionism."

This seemingly naive wording "transfers" Zionist history to the messianic provinces of Gush Emunim. The Kinneret Laundromat has expunged from the history of Zionism the revolt against Jewish history, the revolutionary idea of creating a new society, the separation of religion and state, et al. It is no accident that the settlements do not appear in the covenant. Under the patronage of the left's representatives on the Forum, we only hear the voice of the National-Ultra-Orthodox ideological discourse.

Another infuriating matter is the use of the present tense. As opposed to the Declaration of Independence, which defines future aspirations, this covenant of those who are concerned about "the future of the State of Israel" candy-coats any distortions that may arise from its definitions. "The State of Israel is a democratic state," the covenant determines, negating any possibility of arguing about the democratic nature of a state that rules over another people.

The covenant proceeds to offer this comment: "Israel does not seek to rule over any other people." Who is this "State of Israel?" The government? The people? The socio-economically deprived, or the well to do? So why is it that we have nevertheless ruled over another people for the past 35 years?

"The State of Israel is a peace-seeking state." This definition places full responsibility for making peace at the doorstep of our neighbors, along the lines of the `50s-era dogma, and in utter contrast to Yitzhak Rabin's act of peacemaking. This is an unadulterated whitewash of the protracted institutional discrimination against Arab citizens. But even here, the Laundromat contradicts itself. Who is it that respects the rights of the minority? "Citizens of Israel, members of the Jewish People"?

The wording of the covenant suggests - as those in the settlement movement contend - that the Jewish existence of Israel is in danger. This distortion is only exceeded by the partnership made by members of the forum for "National Responsibility" with the IDF. It is difficult to believe that the drafters of the covenant failed to comprehend the basic flaw of any partnership between those who purport to shape the civil image of Israel and the military establishment.

Anyone asked to sign the covenant must demand satisfaction for the insult to the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps that will be the sole positive outcome of this bizarre exercise, which uses the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, the man who was assassinated because he was not willing to gloss over general agreements on matters critical to the well-being of society and the state.