The worst lies Israel told itself this week – Haaretz
The Israeli masquerade ball reached a new peak this week. In one room, Rogel Alpher and Yaron London could be seen holding a philosophical debate over the place of altruism in a cost-benefit analysis of the salaries and benefits of Israeli army officers. “If those fools would go on thinking they are risking their lives and disrupting their families’ lives for a higher ideal, it would help us cut the payroll costs and benefits of these unfortunate combat officers, which would benefit the paychecks of us all,” London wrote in a letter to Haaretz, as if winking at Alpher behind the officers’ backs. It came in response to two recent opinion pieces by Alpher in which he “revealed” that career military officers serve only their own interests.
But both men ignored the fact that the discussion took place in Israel, not in an American business school specializing in game theory. Israel is where the army stands as nearly the only remaining area of consensus, the glue that holds the disparate components of society together, in the absence of any other binding identity. In Israel, where soldiers’ lives are valued more than those of civilians. Who are they trying to con? Don’t everyone’s children and grandchildren serve in the army? Don’t the soldiers risk their lives daily on behalf of the state?
In another room, the literary editor of Haaretz, Benny Ziffer, could be seen, in colonial dress as befits a British colonialist, touring one of the empire’s colonies while writing his memoirs in a leather-bound journal. Ziffer had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, over for dinner recently at his home, and published his impressions of their visit. The occasion, it turned out, was so refined that Ra’anana turned into Istanbul, Bibi and Sara into “two fascinating guests who had seemingly come from some distant place: she with her marvelous sense of humor, he with his dizzying knowledge and his phenomenal memory for details.”
As if Israelis needed Ziffer’s poetic descriptions to know who the Netanyahus are. As if anyone ever doubted Benjamin Netanyahu’s education and command of language. As if his problem were whether or not he could recognize specific artworks, rather than the fact that for 20 years he has devoted his life to setting the various parts of Israeli society against one another, and does not hesitate to use any means possible to block negotiations and head off any possibility for compromise and peace in the region.
At the same time, Naftali Bennett, disguised as the revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel, fights for the rights of workers in the West Bank. As if this were not occupied territory in which Israel has ruled by force over millions of stateless Palestinians, as if there were no connection between workers’ rights and human rights, as if it was possible to think outside of any box, including that of language itself.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, meanwhile, did not miss the opportunity to wear the costume of a superpower’s foreign minister, or even that of the secretary general of the United Nations. She warned Holland’s ambassador to Israel and members of the European Parliament that if the European states did not agree to joint supervision of their contributions to left-wing NGOs in Israel, the government would propose legislation on the issue. Europe must be shaking in its boots. At this rate, Netanyahu will threaten not to accept the additional military aid the United States has offered as compensation to him for the pain and suffering caused by the world’s choosing to ignore his position on Iran. Or did that already happen?
Yair Lapid bested them all with his originality: He simply donned a prayer shawl and visited the Western Wall. Netanyahu’s best mediocre student exposed the method he learned from his mentor: “Outside, in English, we will support it … but here, in Hebrew, let’s admit the truth – today we face the greatest failure of all,” Lapid said about the Iran agreement.
It seems Israel is closer to the day that it will stop distinguishing between the lies in English and the truth in Hebrew. Meanwhile, Israelis will have to continue paying for all these poseurs’ fictitious biographies.