The HEJERA PLOTby Y. I. Hy (C) The Hayut Foundation, P.O.B. 8115, Jerusalem 91080, Israel.
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5.1 Begin had started his HEJERA session with Akiva late in the evening
Begin had started his HEJERA session with Akiva late in the evening. He waited until he had seen the television news and debates, as was his habit, and only then did he start this very private session. He had barely noticed the passing of the time, so it was only now that he realized that both his family and his aides had long since gone to bed. Opening the closed window, he realized that it was already dawn. The quite street in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, where the Prime-Minister's residence is located, was particularly quiet now - at last free from demonstrators. From the direction of the Old City came faintly the drawn-out chants of the muezzins. He heard steps echoing in the street and saw an old Oriental Jew on the way to the synagogue. The Prime Minister had at least an hour before his work day would start, and he was still too excited either to rest or to start any of his mundane activities. So Begin made a decision. He put on his coat and went out the door, where he said "good morning" to his security officer and asked to have no escort until he returned in about half an hour. Leaning on his cane, he followed the old man to a small synagogue in which a handful of old people had already gathered. The worshippers were overjoyed to see the Prime Minister in their humble house of prayer. Not only did they feel honored as they had never been before, but it so happened that Begin was the tenth man to arrive; thus the full morning service could begin. One of his fellow worshippers gave Begin a prayer shawl [Talit], while another gave him a set of phylacteries [Tefilin]. Begin felt himself enveloped in their love no less than in the old man's prayer shawl.
Although he frequently declared in public his respect for the Jewish religion and went to the great synagogue at the Chief Rabbinate nearby, Begin was by no means a man of prayer or a regular synagogue-goer. But on that morning and in that little synagogue, surrounded by those humble people, Begin prayed with all his heart. He had never felt so good praying in his whole life. He had made up his mind.
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5.2 Returning from the prayer, Begin started his public campaign to invite the PLO to the World Zionist Congress
Returning from the prayer, Begin started his public campaign to invite the PLO to the World Zionist Congress. He encountered much surprise, even shock, but no real practical difficulties. His colleagues soon accepted his contention that there was no chance that the PLO would accept this in any case. The Labor opposition had long since learned the dangers of trying to out-Begin Begin. So after he had privately briefed them on his intention, they decided to not decide for the time being, at least until they could see which way the wind was blowing. The anti-Zionist Communist Party quickly denounced the whole idea as a "Zionist plot", which convinced Begin and his followers even more that they were on the right track.
Even though Begin's party had at best the slimmest majority in the Zionist organizations, there was no real opposition once his people set to work on it. The old Nahum Goldman, who was the president of the World Zionist Organization for many decades and who pursued a policy independently of the Israeli government, had recently died and had left no successor of any stature. He had been particularly, even venomously, critical of Begin, and Begin detested him heartily. Now Begin had considerable satisfaction in knowing that he was doing something much more radical for the causes of peace and Zionism than even the old gadfly Goldman would have dared to propose. "Goldman would have never even dreamt about it", mused Begin with satisfaction as he was arranging the big show. "All his allegations against me, that I could not think anything positive with regard to the Palestinians, all his incessant diatribe against me in his high international circles as a mean little provincial power-broker, all the scorn he used to heap on me, all this will be remembered with scorn for him".
The invitation to the PLO was not made directly, but through the international mass media, which of course made an enormous hullabaloo over the matter - their uproar even accentuated by the embarrassed silence of the PLO. A few of the most anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish newspapers and periodicals even decided to change their editorial policies radically, rediscovering long-forgotten virtues in the Jewish culture and religion. The international standing of both the State of Israel and Begin himself improved dramatically. The lecturers retained by Israeli embassies and cultural organizations all over the world suddenly became celebrities and were swamped with speaking engagements. Some national societies for friendship with Israel suddenly found themselves high-status social clubs, and formerly antagonistic statesmen were practically waiting in line to schedule official visits to Israel. The Israeli papers were reporting these events with enthusiasm, while the perennial spate of worried speculative articles trying to anticipate the next wave of political pressures and economic sanctions disappeared from their pages. Now there were simply no threats, veiled or direct, to write about.
There was also another aspect to this feeling of relief. Even the Israelis themselves had not previously realized how frustrated they felt at "Zionism" having become an international curse-word. The unconscious frustration had been repressed by isolationism, and by a xenophobic blaming of "the Goyim". But now it seemed that the dams of denial and self\-delusion were bursting, and the vital energies of Israel were flowing into virgin or at least deserted and underdeveloped domains. The Israeli Left, which had been all along maintaining good international relations, was especially pleased and embarked on many new cultural-exchange operations. On the Right side, there could be discerned developing interest in interfaith dialogue, which was almost unknown among Israelis. Serious attention was being directed for the first time to such phenomena as the non\-Jewish Zionism of many American groups and of several Black African and Afro-American cults, such as the RasTafarians of Jamaica, phenomena which had previously been ignored or derided.
From these non-Jewish Zionists came the proposal to found "The United States of Israel". They offered themselves as the substitutes to the lost Ten Tribes. As is well known, Jewish tradition maintains that the complete redemption will come only when the ten tribes would return to rejoin Judah and Levi, to restore the structure of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Therefore - the proposers suggested - rather than keep searching beyond the legendary Sambation River groups of people who don phylacteries to this day, let the Lovers of Zion from all over the world declare their tribal affiliations, choose the tribe with whom they identify and complete the Covenant of the Twelve. This is the natural complement of the idea of letting the Arabs join the Zionist movement, said the proposers. It will preserve the demographic and cultural balance between East and West. The declarations of Christian organizations, white and black, from the USA that they are forming into Tribes of Israel encouraged - paradoxically - even Israelis who demanded the division of the country out of fear of losing its Jewish character to join the adherents of the Greater Israel.
Meanwhile there drew near the time of the said Zionist Congress. Everything went according to the original plan. None of the new invitees has expressed a willingness to participate in it. All the same, in the opening night of the Congress - a hot night in late August - there gathered representatives from scores of television networks from all over the world. This strong showing of the media contrasted strongly with the greyness of the delegates, party officials, including veterans who have already been to ten congresses or more.
A girls choir came upon the stage, to start singing the anthem. All the audience rose to their feet. In the quite that formed, there rose the scared cry of the security man from the entrance: What is going on here? What is it? Will anyone tell me what to do!!
All faces turned to the back. By the entrance doors there formed a long file of people wearing checkered Keffiyahs, red and black, who asked to enter by their groups, each group carrying a sign: the delegation of Nablus, the delegation of Jenin, the delegation of Ram'allah, the delegation of Hebron, the delegation of Bethlehem, the delegation of Jericho, the delegation of Gaza, and more and more and more.....
(C) The Hayut Foundation, P.O.B. 8115, Jerusalem 91080, Israel.
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