The ongoing exodus

India admires Netanyahu, but the thousands of people who lined the streets to cheer him, were also cheering us, the people of Israel.

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Sivan Rahav Meir,

Sivan Rahav meir
Sivan Rahav meir
צילום: עצמי

The Exodus from Egypt is not yet complete. This week we read in the Torah about the Jewish nation who left Egypt.

However, the Exodus is meant to herald an ongoing exodus from slavery to freedom and an attempt to improve our world and how we view it. We made some small steps toward these goals this week, as the following examples show:

I can now get back to my son and tell him that maybe, just maybe, the world is slowly coming to its senses. The US cut its funding to the UNRWA budget by half this week. During a visit to the UN with our son some years back, the friendly guide explained how the UN cares for refugees all over the world, and especially the Palestinians.

He told us that UNRWA is a very special agency which has unique criteria. Refugee status is awarded to the spouses of Palestinian refugees from 1948 as well as to their descendants for eternity. At the time I was unable to explain to my son why that should be so. And this week, it turns out that the Trump administration does not fully understand why either.

Earlier on in the week, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted his reaction to the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a terrorist shooting attack. We should certainly not take the spirit of this administration for granted. "An Israeli man, a father of six children was murdered in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the murderers and the Palestinian Authority laws will provide their families with financial rewards. Look no further to why peace has not been achieved. I pray for the bereaved Shevach family," Netanyahu tweeted, oops, I mean, Friedman.

And then Abu Mazen gave his speech. Although all we will remember from it was his stinging insult and curse Yakhrab baytu (lit: May his house be destroyed), but this wasn't the headline of the speech. After all, if Trump acts like he does, why shouldn't Mahmud Abas also be allowed to act a bit like him and speak Trumpian style. Why should foreign news editors only be in a quandary as to how to translate Trump's profanities from English and not how to translate Abbas' profanities from Arabic? The main headline from the entire speech should be his frank words about Israel and Zionism.

His mask was torn away, diplomacy was thrown asunder when he declared that "Israel is a colonial project." He wasn't referring to the settlements. He meant the State of Israel per se. "The Europeans wanted to get rid of the Jews and sent them here to steal our land." He continued with further conspirational theories, attacking the British for the Balfour Declaration, as if this is the most pressing issue today for the average Palestinian. The speech was a fascinating insight into Abas' internal world, to how he tells himself the narrative of what has been happening in this region over the past one hundred years.

When the world as we knew it yesterday is changing, then even in Meretz, the left-wing political party a new spirit is felt. Primaries for the party leadership are taking place and some of the candidates are trying to speak a new language: against elitism and aloofness, against a one-issue "boutique" party and for a different kind of discourse. One that talks more about peripheral areas, Judaism and the word that had been erased from the party's manifesto – Zionism – is making a welcome comeback to the party discourse. Avi Bouskila, one of the candidates declared this week: "Yes, I am a Zionist, and Meretz is a Zionist party." Another candidate, Avi Daboush, who studied at a Yeshiva High School and who lives in the South of the country has even stopped talking about the two-state solution. His election plan is called "Two States, One Homeland" and it does not include evacuating settlements.

Last week I wrote about the complaint filed with the police and the petition against objectification and exploitation of women in the advertisements displayed in Tel Aviv. The complaint was against a particularly provocative campaign for the Delta clothing company.

In a surprise move, the offensive adverts that prompted the complaint were all removed. In addition to this local success, Nurit Eylon-Hirsch, the attorney who filed the complaint, was able to form a fascinating coalition of interested groups who were party to the complaint. On the one hand feminist organizations, and on the other hand, religious and haredi women.

I am not sure why it didn't happen earlier. It is certainly true that they do not see eye to eye on everything, but they have joined forces to fight for what they do agree on. Miriam Zalkind, the attorney for the Israel Women's Network noted: "In 2018, there is no place for advertisements that present women as a consumer good and humiliates them. This is an abuse of women's rights as human beings and we call upon the public to be alert."

No one talks about Israel's "international isolation" anymore. The only time you will still hear this term is when the Right speaks about it sarcastically whenever Netanyahu makes an important visit abroad. His visit this week to India was especially important and successful. Netanyahu was honored in an unprecedented manner. I am not sure how he will land back in Israel straight to dealing with David Amsalem and Stav Shafir.

The visit was far more significant than the business deals and the cooperation pacts that were signed. It was the tone of the visit. Just take a look at the Prime Minister's Facebook page, full of blue skies and green pastures. Netanyahu has not enjoyed so much rest and pleasure since he paddled in the Mediterranean Sea with Modi. So let it be said loudly and clearly – India admires Netanyahu, but the thousands of people who lined the streets to cheer him, were also cheering us, the people of Israel, and the ancient and innovative ideas we represent.

I hope that Prime Minister Modi will not read the following item. It is something that would be embarrassing even if it were to happen in a remote, undeveloped village in India. Thirteen-year old Liel Almekias from Mitzpe Ramon was killed this week in an accident when the family car collided with a camel in the Negev.

Yes, he was killed by a camel! These animals are not supposed to be allowed to roam freely at night, but since when is the law enforced properly in the south of the country? We are the nation of cyber and hi-tech, a light unto the nations, a villa in the jungle – but to enforce our sovereignty in the Negev – now that is too much to expect. MK Betzalel Smotrich has proposed the Camel Bill which would force the camels to be fitted with an electronic chip in a part of the body that cannot be cut off. Thus, it will be possible to track down the owners and hold them criminally responsible for any damage or fatalities.

A Camel Registry would be set up, similar to a Population Registry, and the owners would be responsible for their camel's actions. Smotrich told me this week that "as soon as the first criminal will be sent to prison, the problem will disappear" and informed me that the bill will be discussed in the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee in two weeks' time in preparation for its first reading. How much time and energy were devoted to fake bills such as the Recommendations Law and the Death Penalty for Terrorists Law. How important it is to devote time and energy to life itself!








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