Jonathan Zausmer

Is it a goat or a pig?

I woke up this morning to a foul stench in the air. It started with a dream, and then on suddenly awakening, I could still smell it. I searched the house, but – no trace of its source. I went outside – the same foul smell. I took the car and drove kilometers in every direction, the smell was everywhere. It smelled of goats maybe, or even worse, pigs. Now both these animals arouse associations that we are familiar with. In the case of goats, there’s the old Jewish fable of the rabbi who advises his poor congregants to fill the house with more and more goats, and when they complain that it’s unbearable, he orders them to get rid of them, and of course living with a single goat remaining seemed like luxury. In the case of pigs, well I refer you to the epic work by George Orwell: Animal Farm.

The litany of demands, changes in law, discriminatory practises made legal, abuse and abrogation of key principles in Israel’s declaration of independence, pig-like grunting of members of the new Israeli parliament, climbing up trees by bleating-like goats,  for offices of power, control, status, and the punishment of those that challenge the leader, reminds me of,  to be direct – again, Orwell’s famed novel. 

For reference, review simply the outline in the Times of Israel article here (the list is long and has since been added to).

Let’s be clear here: even in apartheid South Africa in its most extreme phase, the courts were NOT controlled by the government. There was no override clause. Now while it is true that many judges saw themselves as part of the system and capital punishment was meted out, there were others who were fair and not subject to the whim of government. Capital punishment existed, but guess what? That is now to be part of our new system here in Israel. While the world moves forward, we recede into the ghetto, known in the old South Africa as the “laager”.

Even the fondly named “dersh”, professor Alan Dershowitz has criticized planned legal reform in Israel: Note, Dershowitz is a conservative hard line supporter and defender of Israel. If he is talking about abuse of the legal system, we are in trouble.

A simple example of the insanity that we now see is the cancellation of the “grandchild clause” which enabled the vast influx of many Jews from Russia and the old Soviet Union, and Reform Jewish people from other countries into Israel thus strengthening Israel’s citizen base, its army, its population to say nothing about the huge contribution to the high tech economy which has created vast wealth for the country in recent years. But the ultra religious factions and nationalist fundamentalist extremists are in office and they want a “pure” Jewish race here. This reminds us of some of the worst, most despicable regimes in history….can you smell what I’m smelling? Is it goat or pig?

I’m running with goat, only because I am an eternal optimist and a possible descendant of Don Quixote. Here’s the scenario: Netanyahu is filling the government with every goat available: Capital punishment – fine. Pure Judaism – fine. Discrimination by law by refusing to serve a citizen due to their race, color, language, affiliation – fine. Bring it all on. Endless financing for ultra orthodox – fine. Government controls the courts – fine. Rampant settlement and land siezures in the occupied West Bank, fine. Ultra religious yeshiva youth equated with soldiers who serve – fine. Recidivist criminals to be in cabinet – fine. And so on and so forth. I’m thinking,maybe he is crowding the house with every goat available. The end game being, 1. He receives a “get out of jail card” gratis, and 2.Later the smell, howling, wall-climbing goats are simply too much to handle, they are beginning to fight and feud and butt each other and the whole thing falls apart so he can start from scratch without a jail sentence on his head. Call me Don rather than Jon. 

And here is the other scenario. And maybe it really is pig that I now smell.  I’ll put it out there, though I fear it might be the truth. Israel slowly recedes into a laager. Jewish people from overseas find they will not be welcome as reform Jews or due to their lack of purist race credentials. Diaspora Jewry disconnects far more rapidly from Israel both in identity and support. Academic institutions exclude Israel from campuses in rampant anti-Israel upsurge. The Israel – Apartheid analogy turns into reality. The precious relationship with the United States begins to unravel. The economy goes south, due to overloaded funding to a non-productive sector of the economy. People begin to leave the country as things deteriorate. Sanctions – economic,  academic, culture and sport. 

And now for a final word regarding goats and pigs. The goats can get a bit much. They bleat like sheep, climb walls and smell pretty bad. Pigs on the other hand tend to eat anything and they defecate where they eat. They screech and snort and for Muslims and Jews alike, they are not appropriate, neither for eating or as pets and least of all, as in Animal Farm, definitely not for controlling our lives. 

Disclaimer: Both goats and pigs are among the five most intelligent animals on the planet. They can be delightful animals in their own way. Thus, the use of these terms above is purely for analogy and not a condemnation of these animals. Therefore legal action by either pigs or goats is not required. 

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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