Meanwhile in Jerusalem

The first thing you notice is that a meaningful slogan takes more time to be said than an idiot one: “Blood is blood cause we are all human beings” vs “Death to the Arabs”; “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies” vs “Death to the leftists”; “Racism and Tag Mehir, we won’t leave you the city” vs “Revenge”; “You don’t make democracy with occupation” vs “Arab motherfucker”; “We are all together without hate and fear” vs “We’ll kill the traitors”. This already plays in favour of the right wing mob pushing on the police line dividing them from the leftists. Among them a lot of skinheads covered in kippas, white shirts and black pants, ziziot, long curly locks, tight undershirts, hair gel. They are the same fascist faces you see in the European stadiums, street riots and wherever there is the chance of some violence for free. But here in Kikar Zion of Jerusalem it’s not only uneducated working class: it’s also yeshiva boys, students of Torah and Talmud. Extremist religious with their women, hair covered in a foulard and legs in long skirts. It’s them yelling at the leftists that they’re traitors of their people and of their Jewish soul, conspiring with the Arabs against their brothers. A drum gives rythm and courage to the fifty-one hundred protesters holding their lines on the staircase to the Bank Hapoalim, otherwise overwhelmed by the much cheaper and catchy slogans calling for revenge and blood. The situation is not that tense indeed, with people passing from  one side to the other to provoke, discuss, mock, under the constant supervision of policemen in plain clothes. No pushing, no punching, just insulting and delegitimating, sometimes explaining. So far nobody’s ready to break the spell.

From the leftist barricade I’m surrounded by a thick, gloomy sorrow, heavy like a stone in the desperate glance of students, workers, grandmas and grandpas. There’s also a young father holding his newborn in the arms, wrapping him into a sounding “Israel says no to violence!”. Good try, dad. From my observation point in top of the staircaise, close enough to make number with the anti-racist protesters but distant enough to make clear I’m a tourist, I see the laught in houndreds of opponent faces: they dance in circles singing Jewish traditional songs, they mock the chasteness of the pacifist taking it for weakness, they smile while making explicit gestures. For them it’s a party, the happy moment in which the Israeli people, thanks to the recent escalation of abductions and killings, got rid of its political correctness and finally broke free in its destructive power: it’s the time to destroy the enemy, once forever. The Arabs first, the leftiests second, and then we’ll think about the third.

In the last week every night it’s a hunting for witches. Organized in squads like our fascists in the 20s they go around looking for Arabs. They ask taxi drivers and sellers what’s the time, and by the accent of the answer they discover the identity of the person: in case of Arab, the lynch can start, quickly before the police arrives. The bystanders who try to intervene, leftists and traitors of their Jewish soul, find the same fate. No Arabs walk the streets of the center in these nights. 

From the staircase I see Israeli flags pop out among the laughing crowd, covering them while singing “A Jew is a soul, an Arab is a motherfucker” and “People of Israel live”. In the same way Berlusconi’s Forza Italia tried to privatize our nationalism in the only place where it appears, the soccer field, so here the racists try to privatize Judaism in the most delicate matter: security. With their locks and kippas and ziziot and dances and flags they’re physically instantiating a higher degree of Judaism than the secular leftists, dressed like Europeans promoting ideas of Europeans. Which in exchange do not sing “People of Israel live”, do not bring flags, do not hold a sign reciting the Fifth Commandment. They just scream it: “Don’t kill!” and receive back a dry and shameless “Yes kill!”, and that’s all. They don’t claim their Jewishity in any way, as if they were indeed betraying it, but they let the bloodthirsty mob call them “brothers”. This makes me sad. 

I ask the protesters if it’s legal in Israel to publicly instigate to racism, violence and death, they say is not. So I ask them why the police is not arresting the houndreds screaming it and writing it on giant signs right now in front of our eyes, they sigh and point out that ministers and parlamentars express the same opinions in the institutions: the reality is very different from the theory. They also explain me that there are actual movements for violence and revenge, like Lehava and Tag Mehir, and they point in the crowd at people wearing black: they even have shirts with logo and slogan! This makes me angry. 

I wait and I wait, expecting other people to arrive, other people, other Jews, to stop and join the protest against pogroms. My friends, my people, my world, the Israeli world I know: where are they? What else do they have to do while fascist squads conquer their capital city? The protesters are still a fistful of university students when someone from the racist mob decides the show lasted enough and the time came to break the spell, throwing plastic bottles and cans on the leftist crowd. Still no reaction by the police, which indeed is the Border Police, known to be the most nationalist and violent police corp. Only when the first glass bottle explodes on the staircase, one meter from me, a cop in plain clothes catches the kid who threw it and takes him to the police car: white kippah, skinhead with short locks bouncing around the ears, he’s not more than 16, like the most of his comrades. Some one houndred fascists run towards the police car abandoning the leftist protest, not violent enough for them, and start screaming “traitors!” and “Nazi!” to the cops which hold them at distance. 

In few minutes the fascists give up, the leftists clap hands and stop their singing: in a way they won Kikar Zion. But what about Israel? Who’s winning the immediate future of the Jewish State? A State whithout a Constitution to guarrantee the equal rights of its citizens, with some laws prohibiting racism and nobody to enoforce them; a State where everybody swears he’s for the peace with the Palestinians, but nobody thinks there will ever be peace; a State were a protest against indiscriminate violence and eye-for-eye vendetta is indeed a leftist thing, when the majority of the nation votes right; a State where people can gather in the capital city to call for pogroms, when you almost believed when they told you “Israel democracy is like Europe, but in the Middle East”; a State where your criticism is heresy cause “you’re not a Jew, you cannot understand”, while many things are clear and univocal, taking place every night in the streets of the center; a State where the best people I met are not sure they want their children to grow here. This, in particular, makes me desperate.

It doesn’t scare me how far are Gaza’s rockets from Jerusalem, but how Gaza is already in the Jerusalemites. 


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