Saturday, January 7, 2012

About Antisemites and Kindergartens

Several months ago, the social protest in Israel was at its peak. The crowds took to the streets and called for Social Justice. The Israeli National Union of Students was prominent among the protest leadership – the union as such, and most especially its chair Itzik Shmueli.

A prominent issue at the time was the "Baby Carriages Protest" of mothers demanding free kindergartens. And lo and behold, at this very moment the Prime Minister is proposing that the cabinet implements free kindergartens to all! A happy end – or is it? Not precisely. A small question remains - exactly where will the money come from?

The social protesters had called for a cut in the defense budget, and noted that providing social security to Israel's citizens is as every bit as important as providing external security. Three months ago the Prime Minister went on record with the opinion that out of the annual tens of billions allocated to the military, three billion can be cut without compromising Israel's security. But that was three months ago, an eternity in this country's politics.  Since then, participation in demonstrations on the streets went down. What went up were the  dire warnings by the generals - about the dangers and challenges posed by the upheavals in the Middle East' about the coming wars in Gaza and Iran etc.  In short, the Prime Minister announcing a defense budget cut is now definitely out of the question.

There was also a proposal to impose a special tax on the richest of the rich in our country. Not much, just two percent - it certainly would not have led them to bankruptcy. But at the last minute before it was to be  voted on in the Knesset, the tax on the rich just vanished, evaporated into thin air. Just what happened? Perhaps, once upon a time, the  Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance will deign to give an explanation. Meanwhile, the tycoons get to keep their money and keep defaulting on payments of their debts.

So, where will kindergartens be funded from? No problem, a flat budget cut will be implemented in all government funding, other social activities will be curtailed and reduced and the money transferred to the kindergartens. "That's not at all what we wanted and demanded" cry out the social protest leaders. "We did not want the blanket pulled from one side to the other, one social budget cut for the sake of another. We demanded a significant increase in all the social budgets!"

But this time, the voice of the National Union of Students is missing among the renewed social protesters. At the moment, they have more important and urgent issues to deal, world-spanning issues. In short, the union is engaged in mobilizing the students of Israel to fight antisemitism. Yes, a struggle against antisemitism. What a wonderful cause. And it turns out that nowadays, it is no longer needed to take any risks in order to fight antisemitism. You need not even leave your home. In this day and age, it is possible to fight antisemitism from the comfort and convenience of the student's own home. Just in front of your word-processor with a cup of steaming tea at your side and get on with the job, fight and fight and fight, detect and locate and map out the nasty anti-Semitic sites of which the Internet is full and pull the ground away from under them.

"This is our chance, Israeli students! Our chance to provide correct and balanced information, help in the fight against the de-legitimization of Israel and against anti-Jewish hatred in the world!" exhorted the National Union of Students in the manifesto addressed to its three hundred thousand members. And best of all, you don't have to do it for free. Each student committed to engage in the fateful struggle against antisemitism for a at least five hours per week over the coming year will in the end be rewarded and remunerated to the tune of 7600 Israeli Shekels.

The only remaining question is this: just who are the antisemites, and how can we recognize them? Over long periods in history, there had been no great difficulty in this regard. Antisemites used to be quite obliging and even the most simple of persons could easily recognize them on sight. But since then, things have changed considerably, and nowadays you often need to be an expert with years of exacting studies behind you in order to locate and identify the antisemites.

Indeed, both here in Israel and all over the world, experts of this kind  are hard at work, tirelessly increasing and extending the scope of antisemitism and often making brilliant careers in the process. They have searched out and located antisemites in all kinds of unexpected nooks and crannies. Indeed, quite a few people have been exposed when even they themselves did not know they were antisemites.

So, when it's so difficult and complicated to diagnose just who the anti-Semites are, how can a first year student, harassed with preparing for difficult examinations, develop the unique sense of smell needed to scent out the hidden antisemite?

No worry! The government of Israel is providing to all and sundry, free of charge, a comprehensive preparation course guaranteed to make you a world class expert on antisemitism at record speed. What exactly will be learned in such courses? Well, the precise curriculum has not been published, but we can get some idea from the remarks of senior cabinet ministers and government officials.

For example, this week it was published that Prof. Yaakov Neeman, Minister of Justice in the government of Israel, called "Haaretz" newspaper by the name "Der Sturmer", the name of the organ of the Nazi Party under Hitler. So here, at one fell blow was discovered and exposed a dangerous antisemitic newspaper which disseminates antisemitic propaganda in Hebrew and English, in Israel and all over the world. Which creates a wide opening through which other major and minor antisemites could be located and exposed.

For example, Ha'aretz (sorry, Der Sturmer) reported on a group of five hundred nasty and rude Israeli parents, who came out in outspoken opposition to the welcome educational initiative of minister Gideon Sa'ar to have Israeli pupils go to the pioneering settlers in Hebron and Shiloh and learn from them about the glorious history of the Jewish people. Students attending the special government courses would immediately understand that these are not Israeli parents caring for their children – no, they are nothing but antisemites.

And here is another breed of these nasty antisemites, those who oppose Israeli theaters holding performances in the settlements. They went so far as the absurd suggestion that there might be a contradiction between Habimah Theater performing at settlements built in Occupied Territory and the same theater appearing at a prestigious international Shakespeare festival. Because of these antisemites there is now an intense debate going on at the site of the Globe Theatre in London - certainly a place where courageous and determined Israeli students can show their mettle.

And yet another example - the British Internet sites attacking such a great and wonderful institution as the Jewish National Fund. They dare to question the JNF's well-known role in making the desert bloom. Rather, those antisemites assert that the JNF is holding on to thirteen percent of Israel's territory and is willing to lease them only and exclusively to Jews and to nobody else, and that this is explicitly set out in the JNF's regulations and bylaws. And they further assert that the JNF is sending bulldozers to destroy Bedouin houses in Al-Arakib in order to plant a forest where they had been. Only antisemites can come up with such nasty accusations against good old JNF, and even get 76 Members of the British Parliament to demand that the issue be debated in the House. Clearly, dedicated Israeli students must immediately wade in and disprove all these nasty lies, once and for all.

Who is still interested in Kindergartens?