“Don’t leave, you’ll miss all the excitement,” a writer from Ma’ariv advised
It was five minutes after a group of eight migrants from Sudan and
Eritrea along with the four MKs who invited them were supposed to arrive in the
Knesset’s dingiest, oldest conference room. And the only people there were five
reporters, about a dozen cameramen and one parliamentary aide who had no idea
what was going to happen.
People are just running late, I thought optimistically and stayed put.
writer has been reporting on
the Knesset for decades, and he usually knows what he’s talking
Earlier that day I sat in traffic caused by the migrants’ protest
in the Wohl Rose Garden outside the Knesset, which turned the five-minute drive
from Mevaseret to Jerusalem into an hour-long one. Frustrated that I was running
late, I received a text-message with the information that Knesset Interior
Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) asked Knesset Speaker Yuli
Edelstein not to let the migrants into the building.
Two hours later – as
we reporters sat in a row against the wall of the conference room, typing
impatiently on our smartphones – Regev’s request loomed large.
MKs were trying to convince Edelstein – who never gave an answer about letting
the migrants enter in the first place – to ignore Regev, and if that didn’t
work, they were going to appeal to Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal
What’s the status? we asked the one parliamentary aide in the
“I don’t know, the refugees are waiting in the security booth,” she
responded, referring to the Africans who crossed the southern border into Israel
by the Left’s favorite generalization.
Yisrael Beytenu backbencher MK
Shimon Ohayon – or his shrewd spokesman – saw an opportunity to get some media
attention and sauntered in front of the cameras.
“It would be absurd for
the Knesset, which passed a law to put infiltrators in a holding facility, to
allow them to enter. The Knesset speaker should keep the infiltrators out,”
Ohayon said emphatically, using the Right’s pet name for migrants.
spokesman scurried over to the bored reporters – “Did you catch that? Did you
hear him? Want to write about it? I’ll text you what he said,” – and all of our
Several snarky tweets later, I poked my head out of the
room and spotted Labor MK Merav Michaeli and asked her, in Hebrew, for an
“We’re waiting for an answer,” she responded in the feminine, as
is her wont, though “we” included males.
I approached the security guard
posted outside the conference room door and asked if the migrants were really
waiting inside the security booth. He didn’t know, but advised me that there’s
no chance they’ll be allowed in. I reported my findings to the
“Don’t leave, the MKs are going to come and talk,” the
parliamentary aide pleaded.
I sat next to grumbling reporters from
and Israel Hayom
“We’re waiting for Godot,” I lamented,
and the Israel Hayom
To pass the time, I Googled
Samuel Beckett’s play and found the perfect quote: “What are we doing here, that
is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the
answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting
for Godot to come.”
Also, “Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody
goes. It’s awful.”
A Russian-language TV news reporter approached me and
said, “It’s all over, Yuli isn’t letting them in.”
“Are you sure, can I
report that?” I asked her.
“I’m not sure if it’s on record; it was just a
phone conversation in Russian,” she shrugged and left.
minutes after waiting for nothing to happen, the Knesset members walked in and,
simultaneously, Edelstein sent a message saying he’s barring the migrants from
the building in light of “tension and the general public
“The entry of infiltrators to the Knesset may cause a
provocation and bring violence and disorder,” Edelstein’s spokesman wrote,
adding that the head of Knesset security advised him to bar the
In the end, instead of migrants, all we got was a press
conference of MKs debating whether or not Edelstein did the right
“Israeli citizens should know that next time they want to protest,
they may not be allowed in to the Knesset,” Michaeli warned, this time in the
feminine and the masculine.
“Dialogue isn’t the danger, it’s the
solution,” Hadash MK Dov Henin intoned. “There is no democracy without
Inserting some drama into the lackluster event, Meretz MK
Michal Rozin declared: “The government is lying. Don’t let them fool
On the Right, MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said she showed up because
she thought she’d get to meet migrants and explain to them why they should leave
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with talking to them,”
MK Shimon Ohayon of Yisrael Beytenu, seeing another chance
for exposure, sidled up to the table and put in his two cents: “Edelstein did
the right thing.”
Then, the press folded their cameras and laptops and
left, without getting what they came for.