By Yossi Sarid, 02:16 06.04.12
From Passover 1968 to Passover 2012 not much has changed. It feels, in fact, like 44 years have not gone by since we celebrated the first festival of freedom after the Six Day war. There is nothing new under Hebron’s crazy sun, under its sickly moon. If the occupation is madness then Hebron is its distilled essence.
Ephron the Hittite made a bad bargain when he agreed to sell Abraham a cave in Hebron for his wife’s burial. How could Ephron have known that this is how the polite buyer’s descendants would look or that they would behave like this? This evening those descendants will once again “pour out their wrath upon the gentiles,” as the Haggadah recommends. The rejoicing will echo through the ghostly streets, among houses empty of people and full of longings.
Nor could former Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon have imagined what would be. Allon wanted to be remembered as the first to have supported the Levingers and the Haetznis, the leaders of the first Hebron settlers after the Six Day War. He had to move quickly, before Defense Minister Moshe Dayan grabbed the settlement trophy and put it on his shelf next to the war trophy.
Thus Zionism set out on a path of no return: From the first seder in Hebron under the aegis of Allon, though Sebastia – courtesy of Shimon Peres, to Migron. Ah Yigal, Yigal, a commander admired by his soldiers. Now he is rolling over in his grave, appalled by what has become of his handiwork. So too, giants of the settler movement Gush Emunim are no longer walking the earth. The generation of ideological founders is being taken over by hooligans, and it is hard to say which group is more dangerous. People have been replaced but the methods have not changed. Then as now, they buy a property legally as though there were a free market of buyers and willing sellers, as though Abraham and Ephron had risen from their dust. How idiotic and ridiculous is all this business with ownership and transfer documents, which pass from hand to hand under cover of darkness, from pander to straw man, from con man to forger, Jew or Palestinian.
Machpela House has been evacuated in the meantime, just as the Settlers’ Restaurant in Hebron was left for only a brief time. The invaders will yet return; the house will not return to its owners. This is just an evacuation in advance of tenanting later. In a little while it will emerge that it is all legal because we can always find a loophole to rule that a non-kosher animal is kosher.
Right after the holiday Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar will celebrate the victory of their righteousness in the festival of spring. She will invite the best theaters in Israel to the dedication of the house and they will comply with her, and he will increase the visits by students to this Sodom in order to learn about law and justice. And the defense minister will see to the security and will impose a curfew on the city. Each and every one of them is connected by strong bonds to the City of the Patriarchs, without which they have no life in the politics spearheaded by ultra-rightist Moshe Feiglin within the Likud.
The guests at the seder are seated, the table is set and the conductor of the seder opens after the first glass of wine. “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, who has chosen us from among all the nations, and has given us this festival of matzot, the time of our freedom, an assembly day of holiness, a memorial to the exit from Egypt.” And the especially devout will have also read the Book of Exodus in advance, in order to be familiar with the story of freedom and redemption in its entirety. In the transcripts of the negotiations Moses and his brother Aaron conducted with Pharaoh there is no way to understand: Why does the king of Egypt insist on keeping the Hebrews under his rule? Why doesn’t he let them go free? After all, he is afraid they will multiply within his country but nevertheless he does not let them go.
It is because Pharaoh is in a frenzy that is interfering with his judgment. He is no longer scared by the demography, if only he can oppress the others. Although the Egyptians are fed up with the Children of Israel, it is hard to relinquish the arrogance that comes with believing that Thou hast chosen them.
What would Egypt do without its slaves to torture, and what will Israel do without its Palestinians? Over whom will it be arrogant and over whom will it be a tyrant? There is a Hebrew saying that if we survived Pharaoh we will survive this as well – but no, we have not survived Pharaoh. History has transplanted his hard heart into our puffed-up chest. Pharaoh’s curse is upon our heads. And If we have not survived him, we will not survive “this” either.