I live in a rather tiny village – no more than 60 family homes, on a small Galilean mountain top. The village’s infrastructure are somewhat (meagerly) supported by “The Jewish Agency of Israel“. I’m not quite sure what exactly they are doing to help the village. They did buy the land for the village, but, after all, we had to buy the land from them (though I’ve signed a legal piece of paper giving them the right to evacuate me from my home “in accordance to the national interest”), and the infrastructure (roads, sewers, electricity, etc.) are paid for by the settlers themselves (that is, by us). But I needed to register at their offices and get their formal approval to join the village. So far so good. True, I have been denied some inessential assistance by a religious clerk who resented the fact that my wife and I are not “officially married” by a Rabbi. But that didn’t matter much. At least it didn’t matter enough for us to rush and get a religious matrimonial ceremony at the nearby Rabbinical institution. But my resentment of religiously defining my life is not the issue of this entry.
The issue here is ethnicity.
This village, having been raised and nurtured by the Jewish Agency, is naturally enough a Jewish village. That is, it is meant for Jews. Not that we even have a synagogue. The local kindergarten has some biblical schooling and teaches about Jewish holidays and traditions, which I have nothing against (as long as they don’t start stuffing hard-line religion in, which they don’t. After all, they don’t teach children that homosexuality is wrong or any heaven-v.s.-hell kind of nonsense. True, I would have liked my child to learn a bit about other religious traditions too – like those of the neighboring Bedouin villages. But it’s a very good kindergarten as it is), and we have occasional (loosely attended) parties at Jewish holidays. And that’s about it. Most of us are completely secular, and, living in a country with a moderately high degree of religious coercion and abuse, we try to live our lives as happily oblivious of religions traditions as we can. No, this is not a religious matter, nor a cultural one. Rather, it is an ethnic issue: the Jewish Agency, like most of my neighbors, is terrified by the idea that a member of a non-Jewish ethnic minority might infiltrate our Jewish village. The Jewish Agency, like most of my neighbors, uses a special code-word when invoking that fear: code name Zionism.
Now comes the funny bit: we already have Bedouin within our village. The Bedouin neighbors from the village next to us visit our playgrounds all the time, with no friction that I am aware of. But most important of all – there is a Bedouin family living on the edge of the village, whose lands the Jewish Agency is desperately trying to buy for quite some time. Negotiations are going on for years now, and without buying these lands, our village’s future development is stalled.
The geographic reality is that the Bedouin family is a part of our village. The ongoing Quixote attempt to shut our eyes at this simple fact is ludicrous. They are situated in the middle of the area saved for future development by the local planning committee. The village development maps have a black hole in them, representing the spot where the Bedouin are situated, as if they were some element of nature, a tree, a national park. There they are, at the village edge, but no one ever seems to notice them.
For most of my neighbors, then, being a Zionist amounts to wishful thinking, or rather wishful seeing. Their delusions come with a heavy price tag. Had this single Bedouin family been incorporated into the village, given local voting rights, become part of the local committees, etc., their lands could have been treated within the local framework, and the village development would not stalled. What price should we have paid for it? None. Why is it not done? Because we are programmed to ignore non-Jewish minorities. It is considered “anti-Zionistic” to incorporate them into our settlements.
All this is bad for us. It is economically inefficient. It generates a warped, illogical, and convoluted development. It is morally wrong. But… is it Zionistic?
Well, what the heck is this Zionism anyway?