The Ravishing Blonde

Blonds have all the fun: No one would dare tell Anastassia Michaeli that she has no right to an Israeli identity card or place in the Knesset, even though, unlike Hanin Zuabi, she wasn't raised here.


Anastassia Michaeli
Michal Fattal

Blondes have more fun. If browsing through men's magazines, of the sort that are read with one hand, have still not convinced the last of the brunettes, then the incidents - what may be called the pogroms - in the Knesset over the participation of MK Hanin Zuabi in the Gaza-bound flotilla have proven this.

There is no doubt: Anastassia Michaeli, the ravishing blonde, is having a blast. She shouts, she disparages, she threatens to beat people and she even makes placards, and all this in the name of war against another woman, and for the amusement of men - especially those who have an openly racist worldview, like MK Michael Ben Ari (a point of view that won a definitive and despicable victory over democracy when it was decided to strip MK Zuabi of some of her rights ). And there is the worldview of MK Yariv Levin, whose racist attitude derived from statements like the one he made Tuesday, when he told Zuabi: "You have no place in the Knesset of Israel - you are unworthy of carrying an Israeli ID."

The fact that a fairly anonymous Knesset member who is an Israeli Jew is directing such comments at an Israeli-Palestinian MK makes them appear patronizing, shaded with the sort of haughtiness that is not far from being racist. The answer to the question of whether Zuabi has a place in the Knesset is for the voters alone to decide, and her Israeli identity card is hers by law. So where does Levin get the audacity? I wish it would have been possible to ignore his comment as simple foolishness. But it represents something serious: the sense that there are quite a few MKs for whom the citizenship of all Israeli Arabs and their right to equality are issues that are still open for debate, the sense that citizenship and equal rights should be seen as a reward for good behavior that will be granted to them by fervent Zionists - especially those who, like Michaeli, do not quite know Hebrew but are certain that they understand Arabic.

No one would dare tell Michaeli that she has no right to an Israeli identity card or that she has no place in the Knesset, even though, unlike Zuabi, she was not born or raised here.

How sad it is to remember that when she started in the 18th Knesset, Michaeli was perceived as a perfect post-feminist model: an engineer by training who used to be a successful television presenter, a mother of eight, and pretty too - in short, the archetypal blonde nightmare that haunts every woman who dreams of being Miss Universe.

Zuabi, by contrast, has opted to remain single (something that was also used to slander her ), wishing to dedicate her life to political struggle in a clearly unpopular party and fending off the possibility of becoming a token Arab, or even just another nice woman who has a husband to protect her and knows when to shut her mouth and stay out of the affairs of men.

While Zuabi can serve as a model for many young Palestinian women struggling for equality in Palestinian society, Michaeli has proven to be a problematic type, mostly because of her struggle against Zuabi. Not only is Michaeli not a post-feminist, she is actually a pre-feminist: a woman who, in her attitude toward other women, adopts male chauvinist behavioral traits of the most primitive sort.

It makes sense, then, that she is the one who jumped down Zuabi's throat the last time there was a discussion of the flotilla in the Knesset, that she is the one who made a threatening gesture while shouting at Zuabi and waved a placard showing an image of an Iranian passport with the Balad MK's photograph on it. The public fails to realize that this is a terrible failure of the democracy that is the sole basis of the Knesset's existence, preferring to think that it's just mud wrestling for women, a cat fight for the pleasure of the men who, naturally, prefer blondes.