Sunday, March 18, 2007


Thank You, Raleb Majadle

28 Adar 5767 / March 18, 2007

Surprise! Israel's new Minister of Science, Culture and Sport, Raleb Majadele of the Labor party, refuses to sing our national anthem.

You see, our national anthem, HaTikvah ("The Hope"), expresses the idea that a Jewish State in the Land of Israel is the fulfillment of a dream of 2,000 years. It is a most succinct encapsulation of what this Jewish, Zionist state of Israel is about, at least to a large degree. And so, representing the nation's founding and guiding motivations, the anthem speaks of the "heart of a Jew yearning" and the "hope of 2,000 years."
As long as deep in the heart / The soul of a Jew yearns / And forward to the East / To Zion, an eye looks / Our hope will not be lost, / The hope of two thousand years, / To be a free nation in our land, / The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

But Majadele is an Arab and a Muslim, and he refuses to sing those words. As Majadele put it on this morning's Voice of Israel Channel 2 "Another Matter" radio news-and-interviews program:

"[The anthem] is Jewish and Zionist. I am not a Jew, nor am I a Zionist. I may be a member of a Zionist party, but I am not a Zionist."

Zionism is, at the absolute very least, the position that Jews have a right to national self-determination just like every other people; it is Jewish patriotism. The State of Israel is, then, an expression of that self-determination. If Majadele is not a Zionist, then he would seem to be opposed to the existence of the very state for which he is a minister! Shall we laugh or cry?

How will Majadele's non-Zionist and Muslim loyalties play out when he is exposed to sensitive security information regarding a clearly Zionist goal, like protecting the Jews of Hevron from Muslim attack, or like supporting Jewish immigrants (olim) from, let's say, India, Venezuela, Iran or Ethiopia?

Majadele - who told Voice of Israel radio that he has verses from the Koran on his ministerial office walls - has been in the Knesset since 2004. Has no one among the leaders of the Labor party asked these questions before? Shouldn't they have?

If the Labor party is indeed a Zionist party, as Majadele claims, then how can it be that it nominated a non-Zionist Arab to a ministerial post? How can it be that the party purportedly representing the founders and ideologues of the largest faction of the Zionist movement - including the man credited with founding this Zionist state, David Ben-Gurion - allows a non-Zionist Arab even onto its Knesset list, much less onto its short-list for a ministerial post, much less actually into the government? Is our government, in fact, Zionist?

And should anyone think that this is an issue for the Jewish State alone, the Voice of Israel interviewer, Dahlia Yairi, asked a very logical question of Minister Majadele: "Were you a member of the government of, say, England, would you sing the national anthem?"

Majadele didn't answer. After stuttering briefly, he launched into an (uninterrupted) monologue focused on Knesset Member Tzvi Hendel (National Union-NRP), who was interviewed beforehand.

Despite the security risks, which I hope our leaders are somehow mitigating, I am glad Majadele was nominated, I am glad he refused to sing HaTikvah, and I am glad he said what he did on the Voice of Israel. With any luck, only the most self-destructive Jew will fail to understand the essence of the opposition to the State of Israel, from Raleb Majadele to Ismail Haniyeh. It has nothing to do with "occupation," and everything to do with our being "a free nation in our land."

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