July 22, 2015

Radio Ramallah vs. Halfon Hill


So last week I said that I wanted to start describing my left wing ideology in a more or less chronological order, and this is what I want to start doing now.
Despite of my chronological obligations, I think it makes sense to first describe my general way of thinking, which could be stated thus: 'The aim of Zionism in general, and of the State of Israel in particular should be the creation of an Eastern Democracy.'
It seems to me that more or less all of the political spectrum represented in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), would not agree with this statement, (certainly not the Jewish parties), either in theory or in practice.
Generally speaking Israeli left wing politics is influenced by western democracies in general, and left wing parties in these states in particular. Sometimes one might hear the left wing fighting against the discrimination of Arabs (or even Israeli Jews of Mizrahi origin), but my impression is that the main claim in these cases goes something like: 'They don't know how to be Western like us, so they are further back, and we should, out of the goodness of our hearts, help them move forward.'
Generally speaking I can't understand the vision guiding Israeli right wing politics, at least in the last quarter century. On the one hand the Israeli right wing is 'For Mizrahi Jews', but it does not really incorporate Mizrahi Jews in key positions. On the one hand it is for equal opportunities to Israeli Arabs, on the other hand it is not. On the one hand it says that we are the only democracy in the middle east, on the other hand it sabotages the aforementioned democracy out of fear, coupled with admiration to the states surrounding us. The least I can say is that I don't get it.
Now I think, and will tediously explain later, why I think that my vision is not only 'nice to have', but rather, the only possible vision under the current constraints (the State of Israel is a very small force in the middle east, or in any other region that we'd care to define ourselves as a part of), but for the rest of this post, I'm just going to explain the title.
'Radio Ramallah' is a song appearing at the very end of the very influential 1986 disc 'Dust and Ashes' by Yehuda Poliker. The lyrics to this song were written by Yaacov Gilad, an Ashkenazi Jew, who was in his youth a member of a communist youth movement. The song describes the life of an adolescent  in 1965 who draws his ideas about Rock music from the Radio Ramallah station (an Arab station, beyond the border in 1965). Layla, his favorite broadcaster stops broadcasting after the conquest of the city and the radio station by the IDF in 1967, as a part of the six Day War.
This represents my vision in its tragic form. We may draw some inspiration from the countries (and the cities) around us, including 'western' inspiration, but the wars are disturbing the realization of this vision.
The movie 'Halfon Hill Does not Answer' is a very famous Israeli 1970s comedy usually screened at least once every Israeli independence day. It represents my vision in a comic way. According to the movie both the Israeli and the Egyptian soldiers have relatively low interest in matters of defense. There is some 'action' in the film (the character of Victor Hasson is taken captive by the Egyptians and then freed by the Israeli forces), but the impression created is that Hasson is not really a captive with the Egyptians, but rather an good conversational partner regarding such issues as the proper way to make black coffee, and the relative merits of different Cairo neighborhoods (the actor playing Hasson, Shaike Levy, did make Aliyah from Egypt.)
It is worth remembering in this context the Hasson was taken captive after taking the wrong path to the sea, wishing to fish.
In conclusion, there are certain flashes resembling my ideas in Israeli culture, but certainly they are not central in it...