Nineteenth-century novelist and editor of Le Figaro Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
might not be the name which instantly crops up when considering famous French
literati, but he is paradoxically ever-relevant to our Israeli reality. Why?
Because in January 1849 he observed in his satirical monthly Les Guêpes that
“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
The English adaptation of his
remark is “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
truism is nothing less than invaluable for understanding the news which keep
mercilessly bombarding us even in the midst of what’s supposed to be the
sweltering summertime’s silly season. Each new headlines appear to overshadow
the previous sensation. But should we be shocked in the first place? Or are we
being cleverly manipulated by agenda-merchants? If we took a leaf out of Karr’s
journal, we wouldn’t have been surprised by any recent events. Insight fortified
by hindsight would have steeled us against attempts to mess with our
Take the sad case of Moshe Silman’s self-immolation
are various psychiatric predispositions to dramatic suicide by fire. This
has become a not uncommon form of radical political protest.
17, 2005, Yelena Bosinova, 54, left her trailer home in Kedumim for the last
time. It was two days after Ariel Sharon had kick-started his disastrous
disengagement folly. Yelena wanted to reach Gush Katif to express solidarity
with the Jewish residents, whose expulsion was then starting. But she was
stopped at a police roadblock near Netivot. She couldn’t continue nor get over
the fact that the Kadima-led government was callously indifferent to
Believing that she’d make it impossible to ignore
anti-disengagement protests, she set herself on fire. It took her nine days to
But the more profound tragedy perhaps was that the Left-dominated
media which dictates our mainstream’s preoccupations couldn’t care less.
Bosinova barely got mention and was largely dismissed as an oddball, if not a
certifiable nutcase. Why, was the inference, would any normal person make the
ultimate sacrifice for some obscure altruistic cause? Bottom line – no one
remembers her. It’s as if she never existed and as if her horrific act never
happened. Perhaps we only remember those whom opinion-molders have a vested
interest in promoting.
Thus Silman’s horrific act was presented to
unsuspecting news consumers as unprecedented, as a defining moment of monumental
proportions, as the outcome of dreadful despair that might finally bring down
the government which the media moguls abhor.
Both Bosinova and Silman
inspired copycats, but in stark contrast to the dismissive attitude toward her,
there were no carping comments about his mental health. Unlike her, he elicited
maudlin sympathy, which was played to the hilt. Here the inference was
that the ultimate sacrifice isn’t unreasonable for non-altruistic financial
The identical anti-Netanyahu ardor came into play as Kadima
began to ignominiously disintegrate. No emphasis was placed on its origins as
the dishonorable illegitimate product of the machinations of Sharon and his
coterie of self-serving cohorts. Incredibly Kadima was lamented as the luckless
casualty of another “corrupt Netanyahu scam.”
But this too was a mere
rerun. Earlier, when Kadima headliner Shaul Mofaz took his party out of the
coalition a scant 10 weeks after he entered it, he afforded another opportunity
to sock it to the prime minister whom bias-disseminators love to hate.
they did with Silman, they presented Mofaz too as Bibi’s hapless victim. The
villain of the piece was the prime minister, who couldn’t in all fairness be
expected to commit political suicide by spurning all his allies just to further
Mofaz’s transparent prestige-enhancement ploys.
Mofaz’s belated loathing
for the Tal Law was furthermore disingenuous, considering that the very Kadima
administration in which he featured prominently had in 2007 extended it, well
after the legislation’s shortcomings were all too evident.
the fact that Mofaz joined the government almost immediately after Netanyahu
opted for early elections, as early as September 4. To postpone Elections Day
Mofaz climbed on the coalition bandwagon but scrambled right down as soon as the
September danger dissipated. It served the distortionist cause better to
present Mofaz’s latest flip-flop as born of desperation. This ruled out
highlighting the fact that Mofaz actually reverted to type, that his about-turns
are hardly unexpected or new.
When Sharon broke away from the Likud to
found Kadima, Mofaz in a righteous pose sent out letters to all party central
committee members assuring them that he won’t take the expedient course because
“you don’t leave home.” But before the mailman managed to deliver the envelopes,
Mofaz had expediently left home.
That was just the first in a long
inventory of embarrassing slip-ups and abrupt zigzags. Mofaz won Kadima’s
top slot only to be dragged against his will, his bravado notwithstanding, to
new elections. He next called Netanyahu a liar and vowed vehemently never to
enter a Bibi-led coalition. So what if, as we were reading his lips,
Mofaz deftly performed a volte-face and linked his fortunes to Bibi’s (for the
short haul)? His position-reversals were always to be anticipated. Nothing
new. The more things change....
The Ariel University kerfuffle
constitutes yet another example of cynically induced amnesia. Here too was a
pretext to hammer the government. This time the veteran universities, some
smaller and more limited in scope than Ariel, posed as Netanyahu’s
If Ariel were recognized for exactly what it is – a university –
they, the older institutions, would be denied budgets. We all know how
cash-strapped they already are (their wastefulness aside). Yet another
university would make them so much worse off.
The fact that Ariel has a
student body of 13,000 didn’t quite matter. The premise seemed to be that these
students needn’t be considered or catered for, regardless of the courses they
take, research they do or degrees they earn. Some are less desirable than
others, especially if the objectionable sorts attend class just beyond the Green
Line. The fact that Ariel looms large in the Settlements Bloc blueprint and is
slated to remain Israeli under any deal couldn’t mitigate the intuitive
However, for the sake of historical accuracy it must be noted
that although Ariel is Israel’s first outside-the-Green-Line university, this
story too isn’t strictly-speaking new.
Indeed, it’s repeated almost
compulsively each time a new university appears on Israel’s map (even when
incontrovertibly inside that hallowed Green Line).
University threw a terrifying temper tantrum throughout most of the1960s and
into the early Seventies –for almost an entire envy-driven decade when Tel Aviv
University took off. Israel, the argument was shouted indignantly from every
available lectern, didn’t need any more universities.
At the time, Hebrew
U had near-exclusivity, fearing no competition from the engineers of the
Technion, the religious then-diminutive Bar-Ilan and even smaller Weizmann
Institute (which offers no undergraduate degrees).
But secular, ambitious
and comprehensive TAU signified a fierce threat and consequently drew heavy fire
from its infancy.
No dirty trick was spared either. No holds were barred.
The case put forth most stridently and recurrently was that the upstart
interloper would devour budgets that could otherwise go to the truly deserving
halls of academe....
Sound familiar? It should.
been-there-heard-that impression is hardly limited to our own domestic
shenanigans. What-was is apparently what-is elsewhere too. That must be why the
US-sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) not only excludes Israel from
its deliberations but assiduously refrains from counting Israelis among victims
There’s a perverse logic here. It follows the old Russian
adage that “there’s something disagreeable about Jews because they’re always
associated with unpleasant things like pogroms.” Any connection to Israel in any
context is sure to sour the Obama administration’s best-laid plans to appease
the Islamic world and pretend that the progenitors of terror can be reliably
recruited to combat it.
There’s no room for input from Israel which has
amassed more than a little expertise in counterterrorism, while there’s active
courting of such outstanding Wahabi strongholds as Saudi Arabia which has
amassed more than a little expertise in exporting terror. It, after all, gave
the world Osama bin Laden, most of the 9/11 perpetrators and lots more of that
It’s unrealistic to expect much from the GCTF, hyped as “a major
initiative” when Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched it last
September. It was programmed from the get-go to be Judenrein.
“high-level” conference on terrorism’s targets in Spain earlier this month
omitted mention of Israelis. Worse yet, it wasn’t merely the 11 Muslim states
within the 30-member forum who made-believe we don’t exist. Maria Otero, US
undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights,
speechified at length about “victims of terrorism,” but, alas, didn’t allude to
Are we surprised? Hardly. We’re used to it. From way
For instance, in 2005, while condemning global terrorism, Pope
Benedict XVI lamented bloodshed in Britain, Egypt, and Turkey. For some reason,
Israel wasn’t listed on his roll call. That predictably raised a few eyebrows
and the pope was reportedly miffed because we dared take
Subsequent attempts to whitewash the oversight only made matters
worse. The Vatican contended that Benedict cited only “recent incidents.” Nonetheless, a suicide bombing in Netanya on July 11, 2005, came after the July
7 targeting of London’s mass transit passengers and the human toll in Netanya
was greater than that of the Turkish outrage which followed later.
lest any of us dismiss this as an isolated glitch, the pope repeated it this
week when in his traditional Sunday blessing he expounded on his “deep shock” at
the “senseless violence” in Aurora, Colorado, but made no reference to the
slaying of Israeli tourists little over a day earlier in Burgas,
No matter. We get the point. Our blood tends to be invisible
for the pope and Otero too.
This brings us to the immortal lyrics crooned
by Jon Bon Jovi: The new improved tomorrow isn’t what it used to
Yesterday keeps comin’ ‘round, it’s just reality.www.sarahhonig.com
same damn song with a different melody...
You know the more things change
The more they stay the same.
Never and forever Just keep comin’ back
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>