28 August 2007

The unbearable ease of championing a case

I strongly suspect that if I were (to take one example) a member of a local SPCA branch, dedicated to one goal and one goal only, my life would have been much easier. Just save some cats, harass a few cosmetics companies, burn down a biochemistry lab or two - and your day is full. Some yogurt, a few carrots and a B12 pill, and you are ready for your hard-earned rest. Now being an Hasbara grunt make you deal with a variety of issues that tire you out, make you irritable and instead of yogurt push you into red meat, sausages and distilled grains...

And here comes up another issue. A non-Jewish citizen of Israel - Dima from Ariel (we know than even not being Jewish will not save the "settler" Dima from the ire of the Guardian readers) who complains about the problems his non-kosher blood creates for him with the Israeli establishment.

And you know what - Dima is totally right. He, like many people (including some biblical heroes) has decided to join the tribe, and more power to Dima. The problem is that, unlike several thousand years ago, we have a religious establishment that is tough as nails and in some matters even more stupid. And we have the Old Man who has decided what he has decided for reasons of the most broad political unity or whatever crossed his brain at the moment. And we are stuck with the righteous case of Dima who, if you ask me, is more a member of the tribe than many others, their maternal lineage notwithstanding.

So, it is very easy to champion Dima's case - the injured party is here for all to see, and the injury, as the offender, are clear and present too. And, in his endearing manner of a raging bull, Seth is on the case. His method of applying a heavy blunt instrument to all problems never fails to gain admirers and haters, being effective at least in this aspect.

I, however, being an Elder's cog (have I mentioned it already?), cannot overlook the holes in the largely one-dimensional story as conveyed by Seth.

First of all, the problem of the Aliyah (the immigration of Jews to Israel) which is being bandied without any sign of solution for too many years. The million or so immigrants that blessed the country in the nineties, brought with them a lot of much needed skills and a lot of ready and willing manpower, many of them still doing some work the Sabras and the veteran Olim consider below their status. Unfortunately, they also brought with them a sizable population of non-Jewish immigrants, and a part of this population, having nothing in common with the country, coming here using their family connections and for purely economic reasons, becomes more and more of a problem. The most extreme manifestation of this problem is a sharp rise of antisemitic incidents in later years - believe it or not. Here is just one case:

On May 4, the police have apprehended a TZACHAL (IDF) soldier, a resident of Ariel, suspected of membership in a Neo-Nazi organization from abroad. When his behavior in the Army has become suspicious, his activity was being monitored, according to Ynet. In particular, suspicion was raised by a swastika tattooed on his body.
Of course, my choice of a case (like Dima, this creature is from Ariel) was not incidental - maybe Seth should have reported on this one too, what do you think?

The problem is that our establishment has no legal tools in its disposal to cope with a case like this. And there are many more of the same ilk.

Secondly - the problems Dima complains (rightfully) about.
I'm angry that I can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Really, Dima (Seth). I, personally, see so little meaning in the disposal of my personal stiff that I am ready to swap places with Dima. I know that for Dima the importance of the case is more symbolic than anything else, still let's be reasonable. Separation of stiffs according to their (presumed) religion, laughable as it may seem, is an accepted practice in many countries.
I'm angry that I can't marry a Jewish girl in Israel.
I am angry about it too, Dima. However, many Jewish youngsters travel to Cyprus, Prague etc. to marry - for reasons other than not being Jewish enough. You will do so too, when the time comes. No sweat, really, and you can flip a bird to the Chief Rabbi as a bonus.

The last, but not the least: acceptance into society. And here Dima, willingly or not, with Seth being a faithful recorder, goes absolutely wrong. The problem here is rather semantic: Dima, as I and the million+ other immigrants from Russia, will remain "Russians" till death here. Exactly as Seth will remain "Anglosaxi" and others will remain "Moroccans", "Poles", "Romanians". It doesn't have anything to do with race or bloodline and everything to do with this accent that rarely dies and that intangible something that shows were one was born. Matters absolutely nothing. I have a pleasure of personal knowledge of many "Russian Russian" immigrants who are living full lives, totally absorbed, submerged and more Israeli than some... but I have been there already.

And Seth: Application of 2x4 below the belt should be counted as a foul; I mean this:
Instead, the likes of Dima will continue to soldier on, in every sense of the word, physically on the inside of Israel's borders, but in every other way an outsider.
As a dramatic closing line it may gain some points, however Dima is not an outsider, as he very well knows, even if his lot is not be buried in the military cemetery (and I wish for it not to be needed in any case) and to marry a Jewish (or any other) girl in Prague or Cyprus.