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OK, something has to be done. I just can’t cope anymore. Yesterday, the child almost got us both run over when he insisted on rescuing an abandoned flag in the middle of the street. The day before, he came home with his mother bearing aloft another one that looked as if it had been used to kindle an Independence Day mangal. And now he’s just turned up with yet another one, this time smelling strongly of cat pee.
Lord alone knows when it’ll end. It’s not as if I need yet another Israeli flag...My newsagent gave me two free flags with my newspaper the weekend before Yom Ha’atzma’ut: Clearly he feels that my household is in need of Zionist reinforcement. Then there was the one I was blackmailed into buying at the traffic lights a couple of days earlier. “What, you don’t want a flag?” the vendor demanded, glaring at my unadorned car meaningfully. It was one of those ones with a fiddly plastic hook that slips under the passenger window and allows the flag to flutter proudly as you speed down the motorway – until it springs free and spreads itself dangerously across the windscreen of the car behind.
So the house is full of flags, and the small child – who has taken on the task of adopting abandoned blue-and-whites from the street, and who knows where else – is adding to the number by the minute.
Something has to be done. But I can’t imagine what. I can’t just, y’know, throw them away. I’m pretty certain that that’s illegal...
Or perhaps not. Take my neighbor, for example. He puts a flag up on his balcony each Independence Day, then promptly forgets about it. After Lag Ba’omer, the white starts to take on a decidedly brownish hue; then the blue gets mercilessly bleached by the summer sunlight. By Succot, when he usually gets around to removing it, the “flag” – and I use the word loosely – looks more like a floor rag.
Perhaps he’d appreciate receiving a supply of replacements to rescue him from his ritual desecration of a national object. Or perhaps not. He may take it the wrong way and think that I’m questioning his patriotism. Or, worse yet, he may decide to put them all up together, and thus present me daily with a row of fluttering rags-that-used-to-be-the-flag-of-Israel. Not good.
I could donate all the flags to Taglit, I suppose. It’ll soon be Birthright season, when fresh-faced youngsters from the galut are brought over here to engage with their Jewish history. And with each other, by all accounts. Apparently it’s all to do with finding suitable Jewish life partners.
I must say, I’m rather envious of them: When I was their age*, I would have paid good money to go on a holiday like this. And they get it for free.
No, I’ve changed my mind, they can’t have my flags. They can jolly well buy their own. In any case, they’d just spend the money they save on cheap booze...
There’s soccer on the TV, which reminds me of John Pantsil. Perhaps I could take a leaf out of his book.
As most Israeli soccer fans would know, Pantsil is a Ghanaian international and ex-Hapoel Tel Aviv left back. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he managed to get Israel closer to the tournament than at any previous – or subsequent – point, by waving the Israeli flag about after his team won a match.
Perhaps he did it out of fondness for the good people of Israel; on the other hand, there may have been rather shrewd motives behind his actions. Pantsil was out of contract at the time, you see. And possibly influenced by the groundswell of gratitude he generated**, Yossi Benayoun recommended him to a team in the English Premiership, where he still plays. So he did get something out of it.
If I remember correctly, Pantsil’s national football authority was obliged to apologize to the usual suspects after the fact for his “naive” action. And I can imagine the response of some of my lefty friends abroad if I took to waving the flag of Israel everywhere I went. Nah, I don’t fancy getting into arguments about the Euphrates and the Nile yet again...
Meanwhile, the child is in the bathroom, diligently washing the flag I
complained about, the one that stank of cat pee. And I’m still not sure
what to do with them.
And then it hits me: Someone, somewhere in this country makes an
absolute fortune each year. Think about it – what other non-consumable
product can you think of that is sold over and over to the same
audience each year, and sold with the absolute certainty that they’ll
be back again the following year?
There you have it. Sorry, I’m going to have to go now, I’m off with the
child to rescue as many discarded flags as I can, to be washed, ironed
and stored away until next year.
Next year, my son, we’ll be millionaires...*OK, even now.
**It most certainly was not on footballing grounds alone. But then I’m
Nigerian, and thus biased against all things Ghanaian. Don’t ask, it’ll
take too long to explain.
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