Tova Herzl

Harry Potter goes to Gaza

Just as well JK Rowling stopped writing fantasy and switched to writing for adults – her imagination pales when compared to the organizers of the gathering in Jerusalem on Sunday night. To mark Israel’s victory, some 30 members of the coalition, rabbis and other leaders joined several thousand supporters of the return of civilians to the Gaza Strip.

Oddly, the meeting, entitled “Settlement Brings Security – Return to Gaza and North Samaria” took me back to my undergraduate study of literature. Inter alia, the study describes genres such as drama, poetry and fiction. Fiction includes novels, among them historical, romantic, detective and fantasy.

The aforementioned gathering took place two days after the International Criminal Court in The Hague did not rule out the possibility that Israel engages in genocide. Judges from  friendly countries joined the concern that Israel aims to expel the local residents. Several hours before the Jerusalem meeting, the press reported that the United States is considering slowing the supply of military equipment, in order to pressure Israel and its prime minister. But here in Jerusalem, we witnessed a parallel universe. In a word – fantasy.

In fantasy, the plot is driven by the existence of things which are generally viewed as impossible or non-existent, like dragons and unicorns, and developments are often not connected to recognizable reality. There is usually a conflict between good and evil, and both are absolute, with nothing between them, no complexity. Often, the representatives of the good were selected by an external force, which empowers them in their struggle and enables them to fulfill their mission, against all odds.

A subdivision is the genre of fantasy is its relationship with the world as we know it.  Some fantasies take place in a separate world, while in others, a hidden world exists within our own world. The Harry Potter series is a good example.

For those who are unfamiliar – at the aged of eleven, Harry, an ordinary boy who lives with his relatives, discovers that he is a wizard, as were his parents. They were murdered by  forces of evil, which he must defeat. His journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry begins at Kings Cross station in London, platform nine and three quarters; the unusual number marks a division between reality and imagination. Homework and emotions in school are familiar from the real world, but the unnatural, like playing Quidditch on broomsticks, is evident throughout. But when Harry returns to his relatives, he functions like an ordinary youngster, according to the ordinary rules governing ordinary people. This is because there is a real world and a fantasy world, and the rules of one cannot be imposed on the other.

Not so in the land of super-heroes (a sub-genre in its own right). Elected and other leaders as well as many citizens believe that Israel can ignore the process which began (but did not end) in The Hague, because the force is with them (as we recognize from Star Wars, scientific fantasy). America will not be happy? Arms? Financial assistance? Diplomatic support?

Who cares? We have our own magic and our own rules, don’t bother us with that silly world of yours, which you, in your blindness, consider to be reality.

About the Author
Tova Herzl served twice as congressional liaison in Washington DC, was Israel's first ambassador to the newly independent Baltic states, and took early retirement after a tumultuous ambassadorship in South Africa. She is the author of the book, Madame Ambassador; Behind The Scenes With A Candid Israeli Diplomat.