Amos Oz and An Israeli Spy


Over my Saturday morning coffee, I was confronted with several stories worthy of blog status but I decided to go with two, that are connected, but one of which made me laugh.

Newsweek has run a feature detailing how extensive Israel spying is in the U.S. and the fact that authorities in the U.S. have repeatedly hushed up incidents so as not to get the public all riled. However one incident just made me laugh and so why not share and make you laugh as well?

It seems that when Al Gore was V.P. , one of his Secret Service agents had to use the toilet. So the agent is sitting on the toilet – “meditating on his toes” as the official report states – when he hears screws popping loose in the air vent to the rest room. Then he sees someone starting to try to come through the vent. Turns out, Israel had planted a spy in Al Gore’s air vent. The agent’s first question was probably ‘do I reach for the toilet paper or my gun’.

As comical of a scene as that is – it gave me a good laugh anyway – it is systemic of a HUGE problem in Israel right now that has been growing unchecked, especially in the past decade. It also ties in to another article creating a stir.

The famous Israeli author, Amos Oz, wrote an op-ed calling Price Tag attacks the works of ‘Jewish neo-Nazis’. For those of you who don’t know, “price tag” is a name given to attacks carried out by far-right Israelis – almost always associated with settlers – which target non-Jews and non-Jewish institutions. They attack Arabs and Christians in the streets, slash car tires, scrawl graffiti and vandalize churches and mosques. Oz is right in that if these attacks happened to Jews in other countries, there would be outcries of anti-Semitism and justice by Jews everywhere, whereas, on price tag attacks, the Israeli government pretty much looks the other way.

A recent poll showed that the majority of Israeli’s think the West is against them. I feel sad for that stat because while there is a rise in anti-Israeli sentiment (and I have to add a lot of it can be attributed to Israeli policies and what I am writing about here) there is a large part of the West that is sympathetic to Israel. But by grouping everyone together, Israel risks alienating those that would be their friends. This is also to Oz’s point, using stereotypical caricatures to describe whole religions or races is not a democratic outlook but more rooted in fascism.

All this has one common theme and that is Israel’s inability, unwillingness, to turn its eye inward and judge itself. It sweeps its domestic situation under the rug (just ask the J14 movement) and refuses to deal with issues in a substantial manner. As a result, it behaves badly towards its friends for it has no standards to adhere too and no consequences to pay. The Israeli government and powerful groups in Israeli society act in manners it would never tolerate from anyone else.

The first step is to admit Israel might need friends. The Israeli Defense Forces this week cancelled one of its biggest training exercises because there is no money for it. If the West stopped financial aid to Israel, the IDF would be hard-pressed to continue holding on to its status as the top military in the region at a time when it is needed the most. This is one reason the U.S. has hushed up Israel’s activities here but the times are changing on that and the level of tolerance is dropping quickly which is why the Newsweek article is resonating with the public.

I fear that if Israel doesn’t get its own house in order soon, re-discover its identity once again, that there will be a heavy price to pay not that far down the line for it turning a blind eye to what is happening inside its own borders. And I am pretty sure whatever that price is, it won’t be funny like one of its spies being busted by a Secret Service agent taking a dump.

Categories: books, crime, Everyday Life, history, israel, Politics, religion, travel, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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