Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the great secular crusader, has finally found God. And he has but one thing to ask of Him.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the moderate mainstay of Netanyahu’s right-wing government, published today a long, rambling post drenched in self-pity (typical enough, on the most reassuring of Jewish holidays). The post is titled “A (private) Prayer for Passover,” and it contains the following paragraph:
“There used to be a 16th century philosopher called Zeno, who asked: “Can God create a rock He himself cannot lift?” At the time they thought the question had no answer. That it was a paradox. Now we know that the answer is yes. There is a rock like that, and it’s called the Palestinians. And it’s true You can’t lift it, Father who art in Heaven, but could You roll it aside a little bit? Because this rock is a stone placed upon our hearts. They say You can’t stop a madman coming in with a knife to a school in Jerusalem, trying to kill students. But this is precisely why You are omnipotent. We need you in that place in which we always needed You: when all other possibilities failed. And even then, our Lord and Lord of our Fathers, it is not enough (lo dayenu).”
The paragraph has been picked apart by eye rollers – Zeno didn’t live in the 16th century (this, and only this bit, was later edited out from the post), he didn’t invent the omnipotency paradox (it was probably Ibn Rushd), how exactly several millions of people are one rock, which is also a stone, and who placed it on our collective heart. The most chilling bit, though, is the core of the “prayer”. Lord, make the Palestinians move away somewhere. Just anywhere. Get them out of our face.
Lapid may not be intelligent, moral, strategic, erudite, principled or good at math, but there is one quality that cannot be denied to him – he is a walking, talking, writing barometer of the Israeli public mood. This is how he got his stardom, this is why he scooped up all these profile votes: because he reflects to Israelis Israelis as they wanted to see themselves. And this inane little ramble touches on the the very heart of the Israeli attitude to Palestinians: They are a nuisance.
Thomas Friedman, back in his actual reporting days in the midst of the First Intifada, had a similar insight in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem: the rage of the Israelis against the Palestinian is the suburban middle-class rage of people who think they’re home-owners but are constantly reminded that their home is not only their own, and no, they most certainly cannot just kick their shoes off and relax. It is a violent rage (try reading comments on Israeli news sites), but it is curiously like unyielding irritation. And it makes any atrocity Israeli does to Palestinians easy to shrug off and look away from, so long as there is any hope it’ll get them to shut up.
In a way, this craving for Palestinians to shut up and eff off is why anti-normalization is actually soothing and anesthetizing to most Israelis – we’d find it a lot more difficult to deal with a constant, inescapable inundation by Arabic and Palestinian presence in thought, music, politics, art, in our streets and on our airwaves. It is so powerful a craving that Lapid, the crusading-secularist-de-lux, publicly turns to God. And freedom from having to hear of someone worse off than him – indeed, directly subjugated by him – is the freedom Lapid, champion of the crumbling middle class, is asking for this Passover. Something to think about on only on the Palestinian front, but on the social justice one as well.