1 March 2017, Channel 10, Israel
Assaf Harel is a comedian who hosted the long running 'Good Night' program. This was his last monolgue.
I don’t want to dedicate this last monologue to a specific issue from the last few days, but to something more general: If you look at our life in Israel, it’s pretty great. Yeah, it’s expensive, and we’re far from earning what we would have liked. Clearly, the healthcare system could be better, and yeah, the politicians could be more impressive and less embarrassing, but if you look at our life from a bird’s eye view, we’re doing pretty great. Great weather, great food, great people, great beaches. It’s not so bad here, in general, and that’s exactly the point: that we’re doing great, but there are a couple of million people that we’re responsible for, and they’re in a horrible state. Infrastructure, food, healthcare, education. Millions who are living in abject poverty. Gaza is on the verge of plague. Hours on end without electricity or water. Israel controls everything that goes in or out.
“But they chose Hamas! Let them pay for it! Humanness? What does that have to do with us? What are we? Arab lovers?” Ever since the right wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages. It’s just that we’re on its good side, so it doesn’t really bother us. We’ve been abusing the Palestinians on a daily basis for years, denying them their basic rights. In Judea and Samaria, we’re taking their lands from them. Once, we used the Jewish National Fund to raise money to buy the lands. Today? We just pass a law saying we can just take their lands and that’s it. Soldiers shoot at stone-throwers because they’re a real threat, but if in Israel, someone throws stones, they won’t even be charged. Palestinian journalists are put on administrative detention without trial, because they wrote something. Every time we have a holiday, they’re under closure. God forbid they ruin it for us. For years, we’ve been deepening the hatred, the same hatred that we later complain about in peace talks. “Why do you incite your children against us?” “Why don’t you teach them to love us?”
Israel’s most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project, or Rafael weapon, is our amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometers away to our neighbours. A whole people, transparent, like it doesn’t exist. Not in the news, not online, not on social media, and definitely not in the hearts of the people. Nothing. We’ve got a great country, and great restaurants, and it’s fun to travel abroad. Just don’t tell us what’s really happening. We’re good. Don’t bum us out. But there are a few righteous in Sodom. People who see the Matrix and are trying to yell, to let us know what’s happening. Maybe we’ll wake up. Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din. Dozens of organizations that are only trying to tell Israeli society what is happening, and what do people say about them in return? Extremist left. Illegitimate organizations. Now, understand, anyone who says ‘extremist left’ is trying to create an equivocation with the extreme right. And this way, the delegitimization of murderers like Baruch Goldstein, or the murderers of the Dawabshe family, will stick to organizations like Breaking the Silence of B’Tselem.
“Because we must condemn the extremists on both sides, right?” But they’re forgetting one small detail: On one side, the extremists kill, and on the other side, the “extremists” talk. On one side, the extremists burn people alive, and on the other side, the extremists demand human rights. There is no comparison between the extreme left and extreme right, because there is no such thing as extreme left. It’s fiction; an invention of the last few years. When we speak of rape, do we also speak of extremists on both sides that must be condemned? Those that rape and those who are embarrased to even touch a girl? Both are problematic, or only one side? When we speak of animal abuse, do we also condemn extremists on both sides? Those that abuse animals, and those that adopt them? No, because anyone who calls for humanness will never be extreme, but the people in the camp in which there are murderers will look for equal sides.
The human rights organizations are the most legitimate and healthy thing today in Israeli society. They are trying to wake a dormant society, a blocked society, and are benefitting our security more than any settlement or outpost, and the reason that Bennett and Bibi are so busy saying that they’re illegitimate is because they’re saying the truth about the occupation and of what’s happening, and Bibi and Bennett know that on the day Israeli citizens wake up and discover what’s happening beyond the Green Line, what it does to our soldiers, to the children that are raised there, to the elderly, to the families, to the millions of innocent people, what it costs our budget, our society, our economy. On that day, people will ask themselves if the occupied territories are really worth it. Because, from a security point of view, every Commander-in-Chief and all the generals have been saying for years that it’s nonsense. “The territories don’t defend us!”
That’s why I believe — Perhaps I’m convincing myself — that in the end, the the right wing will lose, becuase they’re afraid of the truth; of reality. They try to suppress it; to hide it; to prevent people from hearing it; prevent people from talking. But, in the end, it doesn’t take much to sedate the satiated side of the apartheid. But there’s a whole other side; a whole other people, and they’re here even if we don’t speak of them or recognize them, and we’ll pretend like it’s only us and God and the Promised Land.
If only once, we can wake up before the war, because up until now, we only wake up after. We had to have the Yom Kippur war to have peace with Egypt. We had to have the intifada for the Oslo Accords. If only for once, we could be smart enough to reach a peace agreement before the war. Worse case: after it, or another one after that, but in the end, we’ll wake up.