Op-Ed: The Banana, the Chimp and the Terrorist Release
My friend Ohad Kamin once taught me how to catch a chimpanzee:
Take a barrel and make a fist-sized hole in it. Insert a bunch of bananas. That's all.
The chimpanzee comes, smells the bananas, sticks his hand into the hole, grabs the fruit - and then he is yours. He can't get the bananas out of the hole but he won't let go of them to re-gain his freedom.
You are probably wondering what the chimpanzee and the bananas have to do with the terrorist release. Who is the chimpanzee and who are the bananas? Who is the trapper and who is trapped?
The bananas are our natural and legitimate desire to live normal lives; to die of boredom and not, Heaven forbid, in a war; to flee any type of meaning, identity - and liberty, which is the flip side of responsibility.
The bananas are John Lennon’s magical song, “Imagine.”
Since the inception of Zionism, we have attempted to be normal; to flee the burden of our Jewish identity and destiny and to just be like everybody else. All we wanted was to be a nation like any other nation.
Reality (a synonym for G-d) however, does not allow that to happen. The world knows who we really are, has expectations of us, gets angry with us when those expectations are unfulfilled and pressures us.
Initially, it was easy for us to flee the questions of destiny for the safety of the plane that dealt just with existence. Our existence, after all, always seemed to be hanging by a thread. Without even noticing, we took advantage of our precarious existence to keep running from our destiny. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem became our Holy Temple. After exiting its gates, nobody asks any questions.
Paradoxically, however, the more that we attain our goal and build our modern, strong and thriving state, the existence consciousness retreats and the destiny question takes over. Without it, mere existence loses its meaning and validity. The destiny question turns up the heat, demanding its place in our national experience.
It demands its place, while we flee.
Strangely, we no longer flee from our destiny to existence: We flee from our destiny to the endangerment of our existence. After all, it is clear that when we retreat, we get war, not peace. In reality, our destiny protects our lives here. But that conflicts with the Zionist dream of normalcy.
Our Prime Minister is the image of this state of consciousness. He precisely personifies the outer shell of Israeli consciousness. He does not see social elites – certainly not military elites – as “something to die for” (Lennon). All he sees is existence. Our PM gives us exactly what we want: Another 24 hours of the illusion of normalcy.
The problem is that this normalcy, coming as it does to replace destiny, negates the goal of our existence here, crushes our right to exist and exposes us to ever-intensifying pressure.
In this way, our PM is forced to continuously juggle our security in an attempt to appease the monster and to feed it as little as possible while trying to buy us one more boring day.
The monster demanded an Israeli retreat. The monster demanded a construction moratorium: Netanyahu clearly understands where that will lead. So with supreme alacrity reserved only for the most talented of jugglers, the Prime Minister has managed to buy us another few days of normalcy in exchange for the release of aging murderers – and the ungrateful Religious Zionists throw tomatoes at him.
We are the chimpanzee and the bananas belong to us all. We hang on to them to try to be normal. And like the poor chimp, we lose our liberty and endanger our lives in the process. But we do not get to eat any bananas and to be normal. Our destiny is the foundation of our existence; any attempt to escape it endangers us. Just remember Oslo.
We are practically willing to commit suicide to escape from ourselves. Did we really not understand that when we would flee Gush Katif we would get missiles on Tel Aviv?
There is an additional, internal circle. Inside the barrel are smart little monkeys with colorful circles on their heads. These small monkeys can release the chimp and themselves. But they are trapped in their own bananas.
The sense of destiny is supposed to be much more dominant for the little Religious Zionist monkeys. They have also proven that they know how to pick bananas no less efficiently than the chimpanzee; in academia, the army, politics and in every other facet of Israeli life. The Religious Zionist monkeys were supposed to have been our great hope. “The crocheted kippah generation,” Ephraim Kishon admiringly called them.
But just like the chimp failed to fulfill the expectations of the world, which morphed into mounting hatred, so the Religious Zionists failed to fulfill the expectations of Israeli society. They do not want to shoulder responsibility. They are comfortable inside the barrel, in their own, sheltered neighborhood. That is the banana to which the Religious Zionist monkeys cling. They are losing their purpose in exchange for their comfortable life within the confines of their sector.
Ministers Livni and Gideon Saar were right in their retort to Bennett’s criticism of government policy: “If you don’t like it, leave,” they counter-threatened. Ultimately, the little monkeys will be driven out of their barrel – without the bananas – and replaced by a different group of small monkeys with a less colorful circle on their heads. But those monkeys understand that if you want authority, you must shoulder responsibility.
And so, we all remain bereft of liberty, clinging to a banana that is impossible to eat.
There is really no way out of this situation except for leadership that will restore our Jewish destiny to our national consciousness, implement policies based on that destiny and ensure our liberty – as well as meaning and our existence. That is why I established Manhigut Yehudit, joined the national ruling party and gear all my actions to taking the reins of leadership.