It's a Good Thing
She's in the Knesset
By Moshe Feiglin
28 Shvat, 5773 (Feb. 8, '13)
"I pledge my allegiance," Zuabi scornfully spit at the Knesset
inauguration ceremony, gathered her belongings and demonstratively exited
the plenum. At that moment, I was reminded of a different Arab woman. That
woman sat next to me, not in the Knesset, but in the Schneider Children's
Hospital in Petach Tikva. I sat in the hospital room, next to my unconscious
son. She entered at night, in traditional dress; perhaps she was from Gaza.
She was accompanied by a fifty-ish Israeli woman, from the "white tribe".
She looked like she had just come to the hospital from an ivory tower.
I watched from my corner of the room. The Israeli woman ran to and fro for
the Arab, serving her as best she could. She filled out forms, made sure she
was comfortable, brought her a chair, a cup of water. The other patients did
not even merit a glance from her. All of her kindness was focused on the
This went on and on, into the night. Not once did I hear the Arab say 'thank
you' or anything similar. On the contrary; she projected hostility. I do not
know if she recognized me or not. But one thing is clear: the more the
Israeli served her, the more the Arab hated her.
In the morning, I concluded that she was right.
"What do you think?" the Arab woman accuses the Israeli in her heart. "That
you can steal my land and afterwards bring me a cup of water and everything
will be fine? You are on my land, Mrs. Wealthy. This is my land, this is my
place, this is my hospital. You occupied me and now you expect me to thank
you for helping me to fill out forms in your language?"
The educated white woman is intelligent and very moral. She is bursting with
guilt feelings. The Arab doesn't have to say a thing. The white woman
already knows. She is meek. She understands. She knows that she is nothing
more than a guest here; that the salt of the earth, the bedrock foundation
of this land is the Arab. She tries to appease her; to merit just a drop of
legitimacy from the owner of the stolen house.
Somebody made a mistake one or two generations ago. Instead of assimilating
into Europe, they were enchanted by a foolish idea and came here for a
complicated adventure of identity exchange. They came to find a place for
the Jews under the sun in the Land of their forefathers – under a new
identity. The exile Jew fled to here – justifiably – from the religion of
the exile. He tried to establish a new nation instead of the Jewish nation.
He attempted to establish the Zionist nation; Israeli instead of Jewish. Now
this woman is stuck here with a family and children and a career and she
can't run away. So she tries to rectify the mistake; maybe the Arab woman
will forgive her. But the Arab hates her even more and the white woman is
sure that it is because of the "occupation" and the settlers. She is
convinced that if only we would give the Arab her cup of water and what we
stole from her in 1967, she would forgive us for what we stole in 1948.
It took time for the Zoabis to understand that they held a diamond in their
pockets; complete immunity from the law and the last remnants of Israeli
pride. When the Prime Minister of Israel shook the hand of the head of the
Organization for the Liberation of the Land of Israel from the Jews (the
PLO); when we adopted the justice of their cause, we brought the Zoabis to
the world. For if this is not our Land, it is their Land. There is no such
thing as betrothing a woman to oneself and to the neighbor.
The new Jew needs the Arab to adopt the Israeli identity that he invented.
For if only a Jew can be an Israeli – then we have accomplished nothing at
all and still remain alone with our Jewish identity. We have not found a
place among the nations, but a place separated from the nations; precisely
the exile condition from which we attempted to flee. Zoabi understood that
the Israeli needs the Arab to help him forget that he is a Jew. "True, I
broke the law," Zoabi insinuated at the High Court. "Let's see you stop me
from running for the Knesset. My entire party will drop out of the race and
we won't be there to hide your Jewish identity for you."
I thought of Pollard, whose life is slipping away from him in the American
prison. I thought of him and his Jewish judges. I thought of the American
Jews who bent over backwards to prove their loyalty to America. There, the
Jews are hostages of their hosts. Here, the Israelis are hostages of their
guests. It all depends, of course, upon who this Land belongs to. Those who
feel like guests live on borrowed time; they always have to please the
The Zoabis are not the only ones who understood this. The Bedouins in the
Negev understood it, as well. Begin (the son) wants to give them 62% of
their demands, to annul existing court decisions and to turn the rule of law
into a laughingstock. And the Bedouins, just like the Arab woman in the
hospital, refuse to say thank you. They demand 100% and like Zoabi – they
will get it.
What did we think? That in exchange for a Knesset seat Zoabi would surrender
her identity and solve our identity crisis?
It's a good thing that Hanin Zoabi is in the Knesset. Her colleagues still
suffer from a type of correctness toward the occupiers. They wait for the
National Anthem to be sung before leaving the plenum. As if all we have to
do is let them skip the anthem and bring them a cup of water and the problem
will be solved. But Hanin isn't playing around. She doesn't allow us to flee
ourselves. She holds an intelligent, scathing and vital mirror to our faces.
A mirror that constantly reminds us that we cannot exist here for long
without our Jewish identity.
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