As I drive around Tel Aviv and its vicinity, I can’t avoid the myriad of signs with patriotic slogans. Until recently, when Netanyahu was still quiet and hasn’t yet started to throw mud at everybody, I liked seeing those road signs, they encouraged and comforted me. But then, I understood that someone is shamelessly using me again. At this moment the government is pleased to see us united in solidarity because it can then continue its reckless behavior. Moreover, the government took the assistance of activists from the protest against the judicial overhaul for granted. These activists used their excellent infrastructure to aid those in need, allowing the politicians to remain free to pursue their petty politics. An excellent example of this was the government’s treatment of evacuees from Ofakim. They were initially sent to ‘to be refreshed’ in the Dead Sea hotels, but the state refused to extend their stay there, despite Ofakim being clearly unsafe to return to. Upon hearing this, the much-slandered New Israel Fund stepped in, providing the necessary funds and payed directly to the hotels. We, the citizens and civil society, act as both recipients and providers of goodwill, while our government and coalition remain detached and manipulate the citizens.
I have a second home in Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev Mountains. In recent years, ultra-orthodox residents have moved into this tiny town and caused lots of strife and ill feeling. They harass the LGBTQ community and incite against them. The homes of those religious people are covered with huge signs against single mothers and the “coercion” by the LGBTQ. Still, when my neighbor in Mitzpe Ramon, who displays one of these signs on his home, asked if his rabbi from Ofakim could stay in my home until it was safe to return, I agreed without hesitation. I considered asking him to remove the sign, but decided against it. It was a gesture of goodwill with no strings attached.
Every day, in a small vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv, I, along with many other volunteers from various walks of life, prepare hundreds of meals for those in need, including reserve soldiers, evacuees, and the elderly. Various organizations and individuals continue to generously donate money to support this initiative. The restaurant currently operates solely in this capacity and not as a regular restaurant.
So, I noticed that the patriotic signs only make me angry right now. Perhaps when the Prime Minister and his government finally resign, I will be able to derive some comfort again from signs that promise that only together we will win this war.