Shabbat Goy: Hero of his people

What Israel needs in these troubled times is an African Anti-Defamation League – with me as spokesman.

ADL cartoon 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ADL cartoon 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“So what do you think about infiltrators?”
“What, the film? Haven’t watched it yet...”
“No, the word.”
“Oh... can’t say I’ve ever paid much attention to it. What can I say? Twelve letters, too many vowels...”
“No, what do you think about Bibi suggesting that all the Africans in Israel are infiltrators?”
“Not a lot. I mean, I don’t think much of Bibi, but even so – why ask me?” “Well... you are... I mean... how does one put this? ...a black African...”
And so, an idea is born...
“Can you believe what they’re saying this time?” Mrs. Goy flings the newspaper in my face the second I open the door. It’s an article about miscegenation and the threat it poses to the Jewish people. You know, the stuff the United States left behind in the ‘50s, South Africa in the ‘80s.
Mrs. Goy doesn’t like all the nonsense being spouted about good Jewish girls being seduced by the filthy goyim, I gather. I keep telling her not to take it personally, that no one would mistake her for a good Jewish girl; but that just inflames things further.
“Can it wait?” I ask. “I have a plan.”
Mrs. Goy has heard my Plans before. She raises a skeptical eyebrow.
“Someone wanted to know my opinion today about being described as an infiltrator by Bibi,” I explain.
“Don’t you see the opportunity? All these sensitive, liberal types lost in the forests of political correctness...”
“You’re calling Bibi a sensitive, liberal type? Lieberman? Yishai?”
I IGNORE her sarcasm. “They need a guide, someone who can reassure them that they are saying and doing permissible things as far as the migrant community is concerned. A seal of kashrut, in a manner of speaking.”
I roll my eyes. “Don’t you get it? What Israel needs, in these troubled times, is an African Anti-Defamation League!”
Mrs. Goy looks sidelong at me. “I’m not sure I want to know where this is going, but continue...”
“What’s missing from the conversation is balance. The opportunity for the African communities to add their voices to the conversation. Or for someone to add his voice to the conversation on the African communities’ behalf. An appreciation of the hurt that these words flung about so casually causes...”
“And this has what to do with you, precisely?”
“I can be that voice!”
Mrs. Goy laughs hysterically.
“No, I’m serious. What I can do with the African Anti-Defamation League – let’s call it the ADL for short – is challenge the spiteful unpleasantness that is gaining traction in the public discourse. The stuff about African immigrants bringing crime and disease and public disorder to Israel.”
Mrs. Goy stops laughing and looks at me seriously.
“You do have a point, but there is a small problem.”
“What’s that?”
“You’re not exactly a dispossessed and disempowered African migrant, are you?” I roll my eyes. “You’re missing the point. It isn’t what I am that is important. It is what I represent.”
Mrs. Goy sits down and buries her head in her hands. She murmurs something indistinct. I ask her to speak up.
“I said, it would be deceitful for you to represent your experiences as those of a typical african migrant.”
I shrug my shoulders. “You may know that, and I may know that, but does the general public? What my community needs is an articulate, passionate voice. Someone who can form a bridge between them and the Israeli mainstream.”
I draw myself up to my full height. “I can be that voice.”
Mrs. Goy stands up. I wish she wouldn’t do things like that, given that she is taller than me.
“Very noble. And what can you bring to the debate, given that you pretty much never venture out into the real world but spend your time surfing Youtube and Facebook?”
“It’s research.”
“Research, besmirch. You live in North Tel Aviv. You wouldn’t recognize the plight of the migrant communities if it stood up and smacked you across the face.”
“I’ve read about it. Isn’t that enough?”
“As a matter of fact, no. You have no connection with their world. You are here because you chose to come here. You have no appreciation of the events that may have forced them to come here, whether refuge or economic sanctuary, or whatever. You don’t even speak their languages. And I bet most of them speak better Hebrew than you.
“They,” Mrs Goy continues, “have to go out into the real world and do some honest work from time to time. Unlike some people I know,” she finishes, casting a meaningful look in my direction.
“Not fair. I work very hard,” I retort.
“Whatever, believe what you want. You haven’t answered my question.”
I shrug self-deprecatingly. OK, maybe a bit equivocally. “I know what the Africans are suffering. I can feel their pain.”
“Because you are black?”
“Because I am black.”
“You see!” I pounce on her words. “There you go, blaspheming against the primary tenet of the Christian faith. Taking Jesus’s name in vain. The Africans are Christians, you know. Well, some of them...”
I’m not sure whether Mrs. Goy wants to laugh or cry.
“Next thing, you’ll tell me that evoking Jesus’s name is as bad as the blood libel.”
“As a matter of fact, it is.”
A thought occurs to me. “But then, since you’ve proven yourself to be a friend of the Blacks, I suppose that’s OK.”
I pause for a minute, before continuing casually. “So, what’s for dinner?”