A Crier in the Desert

 In the coming days, the Knesset will discuss and probably pass the Muezzin Law.  MK Moti Yogev, who proposed the law, talks about protecting citizens from noise pollution and he got the backing from an array of MK’s and from the Prime Minister as well.

I have no doubt that Yogev has the health of Israelis in mind, and he is tirelessly working to protect all of us from dangers. It may be that I am ignorant, but I don’t remember hearing Mr. Yogev about the ever increasing air pollution in the Haifa area, the excess use of pesticides in all rural areas of Israel, the damage to our health from car and bus exhausts nor do I remember him talking about dangers to our health from smoking, alcohol abuse or drugs.

Maybe he is not worried about our health, but only about the “Quality of Life”?

But most likely, Mr. Yogev, is just looking for another issue to aggravate the Arab population, to show them once again who is boss, to show his constituents how active he is in making the Arab population feel unwanted.

Of course the Arab MK’s did not let this opportunity to scream “gewalt” go by and cries of “racism”, “anti-Muslim legislation” an “Arab bashing” were (and are) heard all over and some even went as far as calling the law a “Declaration of War” on the Arab population. 

So far, nothing new really.  Jews exploit their power to harass Arabs, and Arabs scream and kick.

This whole thing, which is, relative to the real problems Arabs and Jews face in this country, rather trivial, could have been approached and solved so differently!

Muezzin calls have been a feature of the Muslim world from the beginning, but not always loudspeakers were used. In Europe, where Christians have lived with church bells tolling for the same reason the muezzin cries: to call people to prayer, the issue was solved long ago through legislation and rules, whereby the church bells are allowed to be heard at specific hours and not beyond. And (almost) everyone accepts this.

Since I am sure that in Israel not only Jews are irked by being woken up at 4 in the morning, but also Arabs who did not intend to wake up for prayer don’t really appreciate the call of the muezzin and informal arrangements have been in place which are a compromise between the two sides.

Under normal circumstances, such a compromise could easily have been found in legislation as well. After all, it is reasonable to allow expression of religious rituals and at the same time accommodate those not interested in this ritual as much as possible and come to an arrangement that all, who have some consideration and respect for the other, will be able to live with.

Not in Israel. (Some) Jews will grab every opportunity to behave as the superior beings they feel themselves, and (some) Arabs will always respond as the mistreated underdog, no matter what.

Both believe the headlines that the eager news media will produce as a result of their altercation will advance them among the general population and will help them establish their reputation as fighters for their cause. And the result is further polarization and animosity and hate.

An interesting point on the sidelines is the initial opposition to the Muezzin law by the ultra-orthodox parties. They were worried that the law would be applied to the sirens that are used in Jewish religious communities to announce the beginning of the Sabbath. This was solved with a limit of the hours the law may be enforced. And Yogev is still trying to convince us that this is not a political game instead of a serious law?

Unexpected opposition to the law came from Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked. Even though I am certain she would not oppose the real intentions of Yogev and his friends with this bill, the changes and limitations made her come to the conclusion that the law is superfluous because there already is a law against noise. It just isn’t being enforced.

It is still uncertain if the law will pass or not, but it already did its job. Create further confrontations between Jews and Arabs, which have been exploited for their own purposes by both parties.

If it doesn’t pass, nothing will change? Who knows? But Yogev and his cronies will simply move on to a new issue of contention. It will get their name in the press, their voice on the radio and their face on TV. And it ascertains that hate between Arabs and Jews is kept aflame.

And if it does pass? Changes are that it will join the army of laws enacted by the Knesset, who nobody wants, nobody understands, nobody needs, and thus nobody enforces.

A light onto the Nations………………………