How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being a Zionist – Richard Silverstein/Tikun-Olam
I’d heard one too many sermons from decades’ worth of Reform and Conservative rabbis telling me that the solution to the Israel-Arab conflict was to pray a little harder for Bibi and Abbas to see reason and figure something out. They were all Jewish Rodney Kings saying in that sing-song voice: “Can’t we all just learn to get along?”
All that Zio-lite namby-pamby stuff just didn’t sit well in my Jewish gut. I resolved to search out a real Jewish solution. A Zionist solution. So I strolled on over to the local Chabad House: the brand spanking-new building they built for $20-million that was a down-to-the-last nail reproduction of the Rebbe’s headquarters on Eastern Parkway. They raised the shekels to build it from all those real estate developers guilty they’d made so much money so quick and that they hadn’t done anything Jewish since their bar mitzvah.
I wanted an authentic Jewish experience. No more of that Reform-ative half-way nonsense for me. So I went to the fabrengen and listened via video hookup to the Rebbe’s drusheh. He looked all of us square in the eye (as well as someone can do via video hookup!) and told us that we had to observe the mitzvah of saving our Jewish brothers and sisters in Zion. Not only must we make aliyah, but we must do so now and join the ranks of brave Jews who stood up for their brothers (no sisters in this sermon) in Eretz Yisroel. He offered all those among us free plane tickets who agreed to enlist.
I knew I’d been living a Jewish half-life. I knew all my previous nattering about Israeli democracy and all that peace and love stuff was a crock. What was needed was to get hard-core. A hard-core Jew is the only Jew worth living.
So I got on the plane the next day. I brought along my tallis, tzitzit and tefillin of course so I could daven in the aisle with all the chevreh. I made sure I wasn’t sitting next to any strange women. I had to get the boys to muscle a few shaygetzes out of their seats to make room.
When I landed at Ben Gurion, it was a breath of fresh Jewish air. I knew I was where I was meant to be. There were a few problems though. There was the matter of the gun in my luggage. The rebbe hadn’t said anything about arming myself, but I knew he couldn’t say that in words. After the rebbe’s sermons, a few of the boys set me up with a nice Glock that would do the trick should any Arabs come my way.
I told the Shabak agent who questioned me on arrival where I’d gone to Hebrew school to establish my bona fides. He had to consult a long list of kosher ones and couldn’t find mine . It was Conservative of course. So, looking suspicious, he asked me to open my luggage. From the look on his face, I could tell he didn’t like the Glock. But I showed him the old JDL poster I’d picked up declaring: “Every Jew a .22.” That was in my bag right next to the Glock. That satisfied him.
But then he must’ve read in my Shabak file about my blog and all the nasty things I’d said about his bros in the Shabak. I jumped into the middle of his recitation of a long list of offending blog posts I’d written, and stopped him with a flash of the Chai I wore around my neck and a knowing smile. Then with a flourish, I brought out the Rebbe’s psak din which rendered me kosher. A real baal teshuva. A kosher Zionist. The agent took one look, saw the Rebbe’s signature at the bottom, then kissed it with fervor usually reserved for the Torah scrolls parading around shul on Shabbat. I knew I was in. In the Holy Land. With My People. “Am Yisroel Chai,” I wanted to shout.
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Then he looked at me with that soulful look we Jews have for one another. “Ahi, baruch ha ba.” Which, since I didn’t learn much loshon kodesh in Hebrew School, I took to mean: “What took you so long. We’ve been waiting for you for a millenium! Now go out there and get yourself a few Arab notches on that Glock of yours!”
That wasn’t hard. The guy in the monit sure looked Arab to me. And he had on some of that horrid Arab-sounding music with wailing voices that sound like big cats in the jungle. He was dark-skinned too. And spoke Hebrew with a weird, suspicious accent I’d never heard in Hebrew school. I knew what I had to do. I told him to pull over and popped him one with my Glock. I knew from the IDF sniper manual I’d read on the plane that you don’t crap around with shots to the body. I went for the head. The kill shot, they call it. I was proud. My first kill. Now I was a man, a Jewish man. I even had visions of enlisting in the roughest, toughest outfit of all, the Israeli Border Police. They don’t take shit from Arabs. They kick ass (or whatever the Hebrew equivalent is).
But when I looked to the right of the driver’s slumped body, at the CD playing on his car audio system, I saw the singer on the cover. He had a chai around his neck and was wearing one of those knitted yarmulkes those Hilltop boys wear. The name on the CD cover was “Meir Benayoun.” Hashem forgive me. I’d killed one of our own! He wasn’t Arab, he was a Jew! One of those Arabs they call Mizrahi, but a Jew nonetheless.
When the police came they weren’t too happy. But at least I could understand the officer’s accent. And he looked so much more like the Jews I was used to from Brooklyn. Like a slightly darker version of Paul Newman in Exodus. We got to talking and he told me his bubbeh and zayde knew the Rebbe’s father from Poland. His family name used to be Millikovsky. But his parents changed it to Meir, in honor of the Other Rebbe, Kahane.
About the taxi driver, the policeman said he’d forgive me this time because he could tell I had a real Yiddishe neshumeh. After all, he said, the taxi driver was Mizrahi and all those Arabs start to look alike. Sometimes he can’t even tell the difference!
He warned me next time to be sure who I was shooting. Ask the next Arab I wanted to take out whether he’d been to Al Aqsa lately. If he answered yes, I’d know what to do. That seemed great advice. And then with a smile and a wave he said: “Happy hunting!” That was it. I knew I was where I was meant to be. A Jew at home. A real Zionist.
I was going to call this story, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Killing Arabs.” But I thought that might give people the wrong impression. They might think Judaism was a religion of hate and violence. When everyone knows, or should know, it’s a religion of love and peace…for all my brothers and sisters.
And stop what you’re thinking. No, of course those Arabs aren’t worthy of any consideration. All they want to do is kill us in our beds. The only good one is a dead one. I know this because the Rebbe told me so.
Since the Shabak and their pals in the settler movement, and all their enablers back home, tend to have a minimal sense of irony or humor, I remind them that satire is a powerful tool in the fight against murder and injustice.
Acknowledgement and h/t to B. Michael: