Violent haredim – should silent majority be the same?
Photo: Eli Menblaum

Time for Israeli civil war?

Op-ed: Silent majority may have to resort to violent, non-democratic means to save Israel

Here is what I would really like to do.


First of all, I'd like to form the "Bikini squad" – a group of 20 nice girls who like to walk around in bikinis even when it's cold outside and really enjoy traveling by bus. And the thing is, these girls' favorite cities in Israel are Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, with their beautiful mountainous scenery. And if there is one thing that can truly make their day, it's a trip on a segregated Beit Shemesh bus. Wearing a bikini. All of them.


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Another thing I'd like to do is to ask every female 12th grader who cares, to inform the IDF that right now she just can't join the army, regrettably. She would have loved to enlist, but it's important for her to serve where she can contribute, and as IDF rabbis feel that her very female existence threatens national security, she feels she can't make the kind of contribution the IDF needs at this time.


Besides, one of these days she may inadvertently hum some song – a major disaster according to current IDF doctrine that she would not want to be responsible for, of course. Moreover, if officer course cadets cannot attend a ceremony featuring female singers, it may mean that the IDF is going to lose the next war in any case. Rumor has it that the Syrian army is developing its doomsday weapon, a whole regiment of singing female soldiers, and no reasonable 18-year-old female wishes to be on the losing side of a war.


Hence, our female 12th graders shall wish the army good luck and grant it a full exemption from the need to contend with their menacing femininity. After all, they know that the IDF has enough threats to contend with as it is.


Next, I'd like to tell Deputy Health Minister Litzman that his cough doesn't sound too good and that I'd be happy to see him heading to the emergency room tonight. The deputy minister shall arrive and discover a line that looks like an audition for American Idol – a few thousand people crowded together and waiting for someone to take a look at them.


For the first time in his life, Litzman shall see a corpse at the emergency room. It will be the corpse of Israel's public healthcare system, which he himself suffocated to death along with Finance Minister Steinitz.


Litzman will also see 20 old people lying in the corridor, one bed after another, like bumper cars in a sadistic geriatric facility. He will also see the elderly women abandoned on benches, clinging to their canes, hopeless, trembling, weeping and suffering great pain but unable to contend with the numerous loud and aggressive people who hide the reception desk. All of them only want one thing – to live. Or better yet, to get the attention of a staff member for a few seconds.


I'd also like to arrive at the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu during the day, hand him over a cardboard box, and say: Listen, I feel really bad about it. But you know, the situation isn't great, the whole industry faces a terrible crisis and we really tried to avoid it. But between us, it's not like someone actually remembers the last time you did something truly significant here. In short, you got my hint. You have 30 minutes to pack your stuff before the security guards accompany you out of the building. Good luck.


Yet I would like more than that. I want an underground. I want late-night activity. I want to set facts on the ground. I want revenge.


The rules have changed

However, I'm on the wrong side to want all that. I'm on the side of the majority – or is it a minority by now. The silent, scared majority that cannot believe what it sees and that has trouble recognizing the place it lives in. The majority that quietly hopes that its children get their hands on a foreign passport, just in case.


I'm one of those Israelis – I assume you can refer to us as "sane" – who were educated to do everything aside from violence. "We won't be like them," was our educational slogan and the main argument our parents offered to the typical six-year-old question: "Why aren't we kicking the crap out of them?"


Because we're not like that. Because that's not our way. Because we shall not be taking the law into our own hands – they are busy carrying our shopping bags. Because we adhere to significant universal values that espouse tolerance, reconciliation, education and non-violence.


We'll be getting mad on Twitter, on Facebook, in letters to the editor and in one-on-one talks. We shall show them who's the boss, using the most menacing and effective weapon of all: Whining.


We shall not be like them.


And therefore we shall lose. We'll continue to lose. Because the radical Right, the radical haredim and the lowliest politicians in Israel's history know how to be like them. They only know how to be like them. And they're violent – in word and deed – and they're aggressive, and they set facts on the ground, and they wake up at night in order to spray-paint and torch, and they view the law and our courts as something that doesn't pertain to them.


"Just not a civil war," we mutter to ourselves yet another sane, old mantra. But why not, actually? What was bad for the US, England, Spain, France, Greece, Finland, Russia and Yugoslavia can't be good for us too? It is very possible that the State of Israel's current and future form needs and is worthy of more than passive resistance on our part.


Some 400,000 sane Israelis hit the streets this summer in order to say something simple and apolitical: It can't go on like this. Later we returned home and read about ourselves in the newspaper. We also read that it's over.


Yet it's far from being over.


This has to do with the kind of place we wish to and are willing to live in, and at this time nothing that is less than rolling one's sleeves, hitting the streets and possibly a few head butts aimed at painful body organs will bring change. The rules of the game have changed and they are no longer only democratic. Israeli democracy was hijacked in the last elections and is being held hostage, and someone will have to save it. Based on past experience, a Facebook group won't do the trick.


So should we try the Bikini Squad?



פרסום ראשון: 12.31.11, 13:59
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