Yediot’s Shaked: Israel can’t turn into a fascist state — it lacks a dictator — but that won’t stop it from trying
Raanan Shaked, a Yediot Magazine columnist, usually sticks to bitter-sweet satires of middle class Israeli family life. The past few weeks seem to have pushed him over the edge:
When do you realize that fascism — an overused word, so let’s use it — has already finished knocking on the door and then breaking it down, and is now sitting in your country with its feet on the table and treating some of its residents as a light snack? Perhaps when extreme right wing hooligans march down Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, curse and attack people sitting in cafés who have not done anything to them except for sitting there, as happened on Saturday two weeks ago? Perhaps it is when MK Anastasia Michaeli takes time off between births to lunge like an irritable anaconda that has spotted a mouse in the grass at MK Hanin Zuabi in an attempt to throttle her microphone with her bare hands, and then says: “I have a right to say… she has no right to speak” — this, incidentally, being the precise definition of democracy in the Yisrael Beiteinu dictionary?
It’s a well done column and, although some readers may be baffled by all the colloquial references, worth reading in full for a sense of the current public atmosphere in Israel.
The cartoon captions (see the column for an explanation for many of them) read: (1) A Real Israeli doesn’t dodge IDF conscription! (2) I’m a deputy battalion commander in the paratroops; (3) A Real Israeli doesn’t sit in cafés on Ibn Gavirol [a Tel-Aviv boulevard]! (4) A Real Israeli doesn’t order Pixies tickets! (5) A Real Israeli is a fan of Beitar Jerusalem [football club], listens to Amir Benayun and venerates [MK] Anastasia Michaeli.
Israel can’t turn into a fascist state — it lacks a dictator — but that won’t stop it from trying
Raanan Shaked, Yediot Friday Magazine, June 18 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Limor Livnat is one of the women — all right, I take that back; Limor Livnat is one of the men currently leading the broad political movement, in which Israeli politicians get up in the morning, and before taking their current backbone out of a glass, wet their finger, hold it outside the window, see where the wind is blowing — and it is always blowing hard to the right — and then go outside to bark with everyone in the desired direction and piss on the other side’s head.
Limor Livnat is the person who initiated last week’s historical reunion performance by Rita, Sarit Hadad, Shlomo Artzi, Dana International and Eyal Golan, which is supposed to compensate me for the cancelled performances of the Pixies and Elvis Costello in Israel. Thank you, Limor, really. What do I need Elvis Costello and the Pixies — dangerous people who contend, apparently under the influence of drugs, that Israel is imposing a siege on Gaza — when I have the great art of Sarit Hadad, as it peaked in her song, “I’m standing in the street and my heart is wet and sweet”? What has Costello done already that Eyal Golan did not do before him, and better, including Ilanit Levy? What have these Pixies contributed to the world that Dana International did not contribute? Come on, you are looking at a Eurovision winner here! Have these Pixies ever won anything in their lives except for a bloated liver?
Moreover, as someone wrote last week, and I pray to his God that he was not serious [reference to column by Hanoch Daum]: “Who needs performances in the park when people from Or Akiva win a million shekels and Marina [a star of in the Israeli version Survivor] dances in a bikini in 3-D on prime time television?” In other words: If the world turns its back on us, at least Marina will show us her behind.
When do you wake up and realize that your bed is located in a country that you don’t recognize? When are you awake enough to start thinking seriously about leaving, because you really don’t want to remain the last sane Jew among millions of Haredim — in black or orange; patriots — the Israeli euphemism for hotheads; and online commenters — the updated name for surplus and second-rate goods? When do you understand that your children are more important than you, and you are incapable of placing them indifferently on the doorstep of the violent Israeli education system and waiting for them on the other side — the day of the discharge from the IDF — with the hope that there will be something left of them that you will recognize?
Israeli, watch out, if you’ve come this far, you’ve lost your way!
Since the gag order was lifted last Thursday(April 8 2010), the Israeli public debate has been largely engaged in indignant verbal stoning of whistle-blower Anat Kamm and journalist Uri Blau. The most vicious attacks have focused on the treasonous criminality of the theft (Kamm) and possession (Blau) of classified documents. Indeed, Kamm has been charged with “aggravated espionage.”
A few writers (albeit mostly bloggers and Haaretz columnists) have tried to provide some reasonable context. In a country where the army is so closely integrated in society as it is in Israel, classified documents in civilian, certainly journalistic, hands are a very common occurrence. Noam Sheizaf and Amitai Sandy note how a similar incident from the recent past was closed with an ultra-light sentence and little fanfare, Yossi Gurvitch (summarized by Dimi Reider here) provides a catalog of very senior Israeli officials with a proven record of leaking top-secret documents and Yossi Melman reminds readers that the Deputy Chief of the Mossad received a slap on the wrist for a related offense.
Writing in Haaretz this morning (April 14 2010,) Aluf Benn neatly wraps this line of argument:
Let’s keep things in proportion…In a country where everyone serves in the army, all are exposed to sensitive information that cannot be erased or forgotten. Every plane of Israeli tourists abroad carries far more state secrets than Kamm’s lost compact discs…Even the closest-guarded secrets seem ludicrous in hindsight.
Satire should also have made a contribution. Sadly, there is not much of that left in today’s Israel. Eretz Nehederet (“It’s a Wonderful Country”) Channel Two TV’s Friday night program, which occasionally has a biting skit in its lineup, was off last week.
Coteret readers may remember up and coming Israeli journalist Danit Gottfried, who broke the news that Pastor John Hagee was funding Im Tirzu, the group behind the NIF smear campaign. Gottfried is now trying to rectify this situation. Proclaiming “One document found, 1,999 to go” (Kamm reportedly took 2,000 documents), she posted on her Facebook wall a classified document found in the depths of the Ynet website (apparently an old hoax, but, with its uncanny replication of IDF-speak mentality, could easily pass for an original.)
Although it’s stamped “guarded” — second level classification — the memo deals with an incident one would have difficulty describing as secret and still maintain a straight face. Read the full translation below (click on the image to see the original document in Hebrew.) It’s funny stand-alone, but doubly so in the current context. Indeed, as Gottfried’s post spreads quickly on Facebook Israelis are crowd-sourcing comedy with wisecracking comments.
— Guarded [“Shamur” classification”] —
Re: Soldier attacked by peacock during Sunday culture day
a. Description of the event: On September 9, 2005 the regiment went on a Sunday culture day to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. During the visit one of the soldiers provoked a peacock on display at the zoo and was attacked by it.
b. The parties involved:
i. Yigal Zaguri 72924690
ii. A peacock from the Biblical Zoo
a. Soldier Yigal Zaguri came on a visit to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem during a Sunday culture day for the regiment.
b. At the beginning of the visit the soldiers were told to stay away from the animals roaming freely on display at the zoo.
c. While visiting the fowl area the soldier Yigal approached one of the peacocks and began provoking it.
d. The peacock who saw the soldier as a threat attacked him and lightly injured him in the foot.
3. Further findings:
a. The peacock is a male and saw the provocation as a territorial invasion.
b. Soldier Yigal Zaguri is known to be a problematic soldier.
c. During the provocation another soldier was present and threw stones at the peacock.
a. Cause: The attack occurred because the soldier provoked the animal.
b. Points for future attention: Commanders’ alertness to the event and quick treatment of the casualty.
c. Results: A light injury to soldier Yigal Zaguri’s foot.
4. Lessons and conclusions:
a. A safety briefing should be given before any Army visit to institutions where there is contact with animals.
b. Units should be instructed on contact with animals at the base.
c. Soldiers must understand the inadvisability of provoking peacocks.
For immediate distribution in all IDF command courses
Daniel Peleg, Sergeant