The Postman Knocks Twice: Unsolicited advice

Your fascination with force, political sloganeering and empty symbols has led to defeat after defeat. In your terminology, nakba after nakba.

Israeli soldiers scuffle with Palestinians during a protest against Jewish settlements near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 10 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli soldiers scuffle with Palestinians during a protest against Jewish settlements near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 10
(photo credit: REUTERS)
To Palestinian leaders, educators, imams: Palestine nationalism has failed. Your fascination with force, political sloganeering and empty symbols has led to defeat after defeat. In your terminology, nakba after nakba.
How about starting Arab constructivism; Zionism here started off that way: Honest people create small cooperatives, perhaps begin with moshav-type cooperative ownership of machinery in farm villages, co-ops for manufacture on a small scale, co-ops for groceries, farm supplies and so on.
How about stopping to blame everyone else and beginning to build? How about a few more capitalists like Bashar al-Masri, the founder of the new Palestinian town Rawabi? Where are the entrepreneurs to emulate the founders of Israeli industry? How about taking responsibility for yourselves?

To members of the Joint (Arab) List:
Take a lesson from Shas. Represent the people who elected you and not the PLO or Fatah. You might do some good for your electorate. Ask the mayor of Nazareth. How many of you pray five times a day anyway?
To Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the security cabinet: Decide. If Jerusalem is undivided, how can you impose shut-downs of Arab neighborhoods? If it is divided, let’s find a way of giving those who want Palestinian citizenship the right to choose it, with ensuing loss of Israeli rights and privileges. If Arab residents want Israeli citizenship, fine, but contingent on signing an undertaking not to engage in political violence on pain of losing that citizenship and services and privileges. Thus in times of tension, noncitizens can be kept out, and violent citizens lose their citizenship.
To the attorney-general, and the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption: If the provision not to engage in political violence is made a condition for Arab residents, it should also be a requirement for future Jewish immigrants. This would be in keeping with the fundamental equality accorded all.
To the members of La Familia: Required attendance in courses on citizenship, beginning with the teachings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder of Betar. Reporting to the police station for the duration of all Beitar soccer games. For those who need it, literacy courses.
To the Kahane and Hillside Jugend: Shut down funds to your yeshivot. Bring forth to trial the murderers of a Palestinian family by fire. If the accusation lacks evidence, preventive detention and a required course on how Crusaders, Nazis and Poles burned Jews alive. For their leaders, posting of million-shekel bonds to ensure no incitement.
To the minister of culture and sport, Miri Regev: Required reading of the many texts by Jabotinsky and statements by Menachem Begin about liberal democracy (repeat liberal) and the rights of minorities. Text will be selected by MK Dr. Bennie Begin. Meanwhile, adopt radio silence to stop embarrassing us. And yourself.
To the leaders of Bayit Yehudi: Required reading of the tenets of the Torah vaAvodah movement led by rabbis of the Religious Kibbutz Movement and the Ne’emanei Torah va-Avodah.
Required courses on the needs of all Israelis and fair allotment of funds and housing to those within the Green Line.
To Minister of Education Naftali Bennett: Disavow Rabbi Clint Eastwood so you can make my day. Required study of the history of labor movements and the writings of religious kibbutz founders. A special course for him on social justice. A required lecture by Hebrew University President Menachem Ben-Sasson on the educational and cultural breadth of the lamented religious-Zionist leader Dr. Joseph Burg.
For the minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked: Crash course in Israeli democratic legal precedents, in a seminar conducted by former chief justices, as well as the present president of the Supreme Court, Miriam Naor.
To the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Tzipi Hotovely: An advanced course in Jewish history, a beginner’s course in world history, and a passing grade in the elementary introduction to international affairs. One good foreign affair might also help. Guidance from.... Ooops....
To the “We are always to blame” crowd: Deprivation of Haaretz news coverage for three months and shared courses with Deputy Minister Hotovely.

To the “We are never to blame” crowd:
Required examination in advanced Hebrew comprehension. Lectures by Shlomo Avineri and other centrist Zionist intellectuals.
For the most extreme, sharing an apartment with Gideon Levy, the We-arealways- to-blame expert, for a month.
To the broadcast media: Stop panic-mongering and constant dinning of atrocities. Provide clean, straight and decent reporting. Stop repeating and repeating.
To the editors of the yellow press: Quit peddling blood. (Even a serious sister English publication’s headline was “Terrorism batters Jerusalem.” “Batters,” really?) To the misled children of Lehava: Remove those black shirts – (do you know who wore black shirts?); repudiate your ignorant, hate-mongering leaders; remember all people are created in the Divine image, and both Judaism and state law permit freedom of choice.
To the Ateret Kohanim and Third Temple group: Is the entire Torah contained in a modern idolatry of red heifers and is there no provision to respect the religion of the other? And what about other commandments about justice, righteousness, protecting the weak, the orphaned and widows? How about a bit of social justice?
To those who went up to the Temple Mount: Of course, you had nothing to do with the outbreak of violence. Does freedom of religion mean disrespecting another religion? Does the victory of 1967 (not your victory) permit you to behave with lack of respect? No non-Jews were admitted to our Temple centuries ago. Can Muslims not have a similar provision for their hallowed area?
To the king of Jordan and the imam of the Mount: How do you permit evildoers to stack rocks and firebombs in the area you are supposed to be keeping for your worship of God? Why castigate Israel and keep silent about Islamic inciters? Or is Islam indeed a religion of violence only?
To the rabbis of religious-Zionist yeshivot and institutions: Shame on those who incited. Shame on those who incite. Great and everlasting shame on those who do not speak out! To the “chief rabbis”: You’re still here?
To the UN: You’re still there?
To all of us: Let us go about our normal lives, with caution but not with fear, with faith but not with arrogance, with calm and not with panic.
We are a strong and experienced people.
We have overcome worse. We will overcome this as well.

Avraham Avi-hai held senior positions in the offices of prime ministers David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol. He is a founding dean of the Rothberg International School, former decadelong world chairman of Keren Hayesod-UJA and an author of three books.
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