Jerusalem Day: Israelis let their hair down about coexistence

“But, you know, coronavirus wasn’t the real virus here. You know what the real virus is? Arabs.”

 Men dance with Israeli flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City on the eve of Jerusalem Day, Saturday night. (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)
Men dance with Israeli flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City on the eve of Jerusalem Day, Saturday night.
(photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

The scene is a unisex hairstylist in a suburb of Jerusalem – Sunday morning. What follows is a verbatim enactment that hasn’t been embellished, though names have been changed.

Varda is cutting Ronit’s hair; Motti is waiting for Shlomo to finish with a client. They’re discussing the wane of the COVID-19 pandemic and the wisdom of giving vaccines to minors.

They exchange a few pro- and anti-vax musings. Varda, clipping away at Ronit’s locks, abruptly changes the subject.

“But, you know, corona wasn’t the real virus here. You know what the real virus is? Arabs.”

“But, you know, coronavirus wasn’t the real virus here. You know what the real virus is? Arabs.”

Varda

Motti, in his mid-40s, wearing shorts and bare-headed, puts down his phone and looks up.

 A SCENE FROM the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March outside Damascus Gate in the Old City, last year. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) A SCENE FROM the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March outside Damascus Gate in the Old City, last year. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

“Yes, you have that right. You know, I think that the police would come after me if they knew what I was thinking. They are a virus and they need to be rounded up and put in extermination camps. There’s no way that we’re going to be able to live together. It’s us or them.”

“There’s no way that we’re going to be able to live together. It’s us or them.”

Motti

“That’s a little extreme, but you’re right in principle,” responded Ronit, unable to move her head.

“And what about that zero, Nitzan Horowitz, saying we shouldn’t be allowed to march on Jerusalem Day?” asked Varda. “We can’t march in our own capital? We might as well have accepted Uganda if that’s the case.”

“It’s shameful,” piped in Motti. “But look at what Ariel Sharon did. He was one of us, but he got in power and gave up Gaza. You can’t trust any of them. At least [Itamar] Ben-Gvir is standing up for the Jews.”

The four nod in agreement, as Shlomo puts the final touches on his client and motions to Motti.

“We’re all to blame for this situation where we’re so weak that we can't march through our own capital. I am to blame too because all I do is talk about it and don’t do anything,” Motti said, getting up.

He takes his seat in the barber’s chair and fusses with his hair.

“Shlomo, just a little off the top, OK?”