Friday, February 21, 2014
1. What could be more pleasing to the minister of stereotypes than Sapir Sabah? She is the fruit of Paradise itself. After all, the representatives of the camps do not always suit the superficiality of the discourse: Professor Robert Aumann, a Nobel laureate and a member of the Right, is not for the drawer. Ayoob Kara, a Druze intellectual and member of the right-wing, glitters from the outer reaches of the shelf. Secular Ashkenazi right-wingers such as Yuval Steinitz and Gideon Sa'ar do not awaken trust. And now, here is Sabah. Those manicured nails, that bleached hair. Bingo.
One would have to be stupid not to squeeze out all the possibilities inherent in a girl of 17 who is not particularly eloquent, and Mizrahi, expressing right-wing Zionist views. And if she is fighting for something, unlike Verete (a vegetarian who raises cats), she is definitely violent. Or she sprays her teachers and her school with gunfire. That was what appeared in Amos Biederman's caricature last Tuesday in Haaretz of the hot air.
How easy it is to cruelly harass a high-school student (and by mocking her hip measurements). All the boxes are checked, after all, as is the gun. Three weeks ago, Sabah was attacked by the emcees of the Shay and Dror show on Radio 103FM. Jokes suitable for kindergarten. A vulgar show in bad taste, with chauvinism and ethnic racism.
Here, given succinctly, are the statements that were made on Israel's most popular regional radio station at a peak listening time. "What's her name -- Sarit? Ah, Sapir. Sapir Sabah-Kapah-Kabah -- whatever your name is. Who are you? There's someone who makes the cucumbers, and you are supposed to be a [high] school student. You are supposed to accept what you are taught. The newspaper Maariv [they giggle] made a typographical error: They called her Safiah Sabah [they scream with laughter; the word "safiah" means "loose end"]. Safihs. Safihsa. Safihs-bah. Fichsa on you [plays on the Hebrew words for "yuck"; the last is repeated many times]. 'Verete,' by the way, means 'truth' in French. That's all well and good, but Sapir doesn't know that because she didn't study! She doesn't know how to study, so she doesn't know how to say 'Verete.'
"And what does Sabah mean? It means 'morning' in Arabic. Oh, wow. In the morning, she wakes up and says [in a Moroccan accent, full of contempt]: 'I am going to grab somebody and tear him apart. That is why my name is Sabah. I get up in the sabah [shouts in an Arabic accent]: Sabah, Sabah, get up, yes -- what, I am going to kill somebody.' Verete studied Jewish philosophy and Sabah is going to teach him Jewish stupidity. The word 'sapir' means 'fish bone' in Arabic, because she really gets stuck like a fish bone in the morning's throat [laughter]. Who eats fish in the morning? That is the name of this woman. That is what your name is. A fish bone stuck in the throat. Safihsa Sabag. Safiha-bah. Fichsa [yuck] on you."
These are the same radio announcers, who work on a station under a franchise and public supervision that opened two years ago, who kicked off their program two years ago with a live broadcast of a pornographic film that featured dwarves and gave graphic explanations of what was going on. These are the same announcers who joked when a 7-year-old girl, Noam Leibowitz, was murdered in a shooting attack on Highway 6 and they had trouble deciding what to call the attack since "on the one hand, it was a little girl, so it is a 'little attack,' and on the other, it is a big highway, so it is a 'big attack.'" How genius. How uproariously funny.
On the other side of the planet, students of the Rabin Comprehensive School in Beersheba were taken this week to see Motti Lerner's "Pangs of the Messiah," a play which describes the settlers we all know: a young man who murders nine Palestinians in the evening, a teenage boy who stabs a Palestinian out of boredom, a person who murders hundreds of worshippers on the Temple Mount.
Most theaters in Israel turned the play down. The Beersheba Theater accepted it. One of the students was shocked and spoke to the school principal, who said that the play reflected reality and she saw nothing unusual about it.
2. Even in a Paris café it would have been hard to miss the lengthy essay by Professor Eva Illouz that was published in the oh-so-refined Haaretz, comparing the Palestinians to 17th century African slaves: the slaves were used for the maintenance and expansion of the master's property but had no property of their own. Their lives and deaths hung on the master's decision, and their personal lives, including their sexuality and their marriages, were controlled by the master.
One example in Illouz's slanderous essay was the restriction of movement. The checkpoints create "a wide-reaching feeling of imprisonment. ... An essential part of Israeli domination is achieved by making Palestinian livelihoods depend on Israel, and monitoring permits of entry to Israel." I would ask how they want to establish two states here without monitoring the passage between them, but the main balloon is the well-known photograph of the checkpoints, the demagoguery that nourishes all the demons of apartheid on earth: the State of Israel imprisons grown people behind iron bars.
3. I drove to the Qalandiya checkpoint, one of the largest ones, at 5:30 a.m. I stayed there for two hours. The Palestinian side looked like any central bus station in Israel of the 1990s, including people selling sandwiches and coffee. On the left was a "humanitarian crossing" for women, children, men over 60 years of age, the sick and the disabled. On the right was a line that slowly moved forward.
During the busier hours, the wait was about 20 minutes, and there were metal benches in the waiting area. The restrooms were vandalized again and again, and officials of the Civil Administration now refuse to repair them.
Those who wish to enter Israel show permits, pass their bags through an x-ray machine, pass through a metal detector and put a finger on a biometric reader -- a process no different than what you do in airports these days. They do not encounter soldiers: the soldiers are in a locked control room, looking at the people passing by from behind armored glass. Yes, there is a passageway between metal fences. It is not pleasant to look at, but the passage is short.
The activists of Blue & White Human Rights, a Zionist human rights group, hand out flyers in Arabic: "If you encountered violations of your rights or violence, contact us." I met Shay Shahaf, Tom Nisani and Bar Shalev. Three secular young people, very nice. Wonderful youth-group leaders.
Representatives of non-Zionist groups -- B'tselem, Breaking the Silence, MachsomWatch -- also stand at the checkpoints. The difference is that the members of Blue & White Human Rights think that the checkpoint needs to be there, while the others do not. It is not the master ruling the slave, but murderous terrorism, that led to the checkpoint's existence.
Once it is obvious that a checkpoint is unavoidable, one must take care of its appearance. Tom wears a visible necklace with a Star of David pendant. "It is important to me to show that Zionism and the Jewish people are leaders in human rights," he says. What confidence and courage, to say that human rights do not belong to the left wing alone.
Tom helps someone who was not allowed to cross, and speaks with him in Arabic. Above his head is a Fatah poster showing photographs of martyrs with Al-Aqsa mosque in the background.