Everyone questioned why US President Trump’s envoy Orthodox Jew Jason Greenblatt, before starting his first round of facilitating peacemaking in the Middle East, took off his yarmulka. Was it to show that he’s impartial between Jews and Muslim Palestinians?
The truth is that Israelis don’t care.
In Europe and elsewhere lawyers, politicians and others struggle heavily with the question how much people could show or advocate their religion on the street or at the beach or how much they should hide it during work hours. However, the average Israel does not give a hoot.
- When we call a company’s service number, we are thoroughly uninterested if we are helped by Moshe, Machmud, John, Illia and what their accents are, as long as we understand them and they understand us and can help us.
- Our doctors can be veiled, yarmuka-ed, decked out with crosses, have giant beards, side curls or be bareheaded, as long as they are good physicians.
- The person at the window of the post office can seem a communist, ultra-Orthodox, a Christian Palestinian, a religious Jewish Ethiopian, a Russian environmentalist or a Turkish Jewish new immigrant, as long as they help us well.
No one will see them as representing their beliefs or background at work. Rather, they do their job, represent their employer but do not need to hide their personal way of life, their marital status, gender, etc.
No one in Israel will think that civil servants who do not hide their religion make a statement against the separation between state and religion. No one.
Harry Kissinger never took off his nose to look more impartial.
So we can be completely sure about the meaning behind Jason Greenblatt taking off his yarmulka. He’s not Israeli.