(The following story was inspired by the Yiddish comedy routines
of the late Dzigan & Schumacher, zl. If they are watching
from above, the author begs their forgiveness. Zayt mir mokhel.)
Prisoner R: Guard, how much do you want for that newspaper?
Guard: 10 Shekel
Prisoner R: But its written on there that the price
is 7 Shekel.
Guard: Since when do you believe everything thats
written in the newspaper?
Prisoner R: Youre lucky that you have a monopoly on
newspapers here. Hand it over.
Prisoner L: I see that youre reading a paper, could
you tell me what todays date is?
Prisoner R: It wont do you any good, that guard sold
me yesterdays paper, the mamzer.
Prisoner L: Is there anything new in the paper?
Prisoner R: It says here that the economy is up, employment
is down, and peace is right around the corner. Same old hogwash.
Prisoner L: I see that you dont have much faith in
our countrys leaders.
Prisoner R: Theyre all a bunch of phony diplomats.
They say one thing, mean something else, then they do something
completely different. Wait, heres an article thats very
troubling. It seems that the Gush Katif settlers were having an
anti-disengagement rally and a Peace Now group held a counter rally
nearby. There was an altercation and it got ugly, with some injuries
Prisoner L: You dont have to tell me about it. I was
there. I was the one who hit a settler on the head with a beer bottle.
Prisoner R: Whyd you do a dumb thing like that for?
Prisoner L: I dont know. I regretted it as soon as
I saw the blood gushing from him. I think that I had too much beer
to drink and my anger exploded. Im fed up with those religious
extremists who are occupying Palestinian lands. Those 9000 settlers
are violating the humanitarian rights of the 1.3 million Arabs living
Prisoner R: Is that so? You not only had too much to drink,
youve also been watching too much Al-Jazeera TV.
Prisoner L: Who are you to reprimand me? Who did you kill
to wind up in here?
Prisoner R: You should have a little more respect. Do you
know with whom you are speaking? I am Mikhail Abramovitch, known
all over Israel. I never killed anyone. I am a reputable broker.
Youll see. My lawyers will have me out of here in an hour.
Prisoner L: What did you do, broker rocket launchers and
missiles to the Arabs?
Prisoner R: Heaven forbid! I deal with Arabs but I only
sell them luxury goods like fine Cuban cigars, Scotch whiskeys,
and Italian clothing.
Prisoner L: For that they put you in prison?
Prisoner R: Well the government calls it smuggling and tax
Prisoner L: Arent you afraid to go into the territories
to deal with them? Youre not afraid of getting hurt or shot?
Prisoner R: No, they know me already. They think that Im
on their side and against the government. Besides, they want my
Prisoner L: Where do they have the money to buy luxury goods?
I thought that theyre all living in poverty.
Prisoner R: Thats what they want you to think. Theres
a lot of money coming into the territories. UNRWA has a budget of
500 million dollars, UNICEF spends 17 million, and the Palestinian
Authority received over 2 billion dollars from the Europeans and
Americans. The problem is that the money isnt going to the
people. Its going into the hands of a select few that have
the proper connections. Theyre the ones that want the luxury
Prisoner L: That still doesnt give us the right to
humiliate the Arabs and violate their human rights. Our treatment
of the Arabs is the leading cause of the worldwide increase in anti-Semitism.
Prisoner R: What do you young Israelis know about anti-Semitism?
In Russia, I grew up with anti-Semitism. It permeated the air we
breathed and the water we drank. I lost my job and career to anti-Semitism.
Prisoner L: You mean you werent always a crook?
Prisoner R: When I was your age, I was a promising young
geneticist at Moscow University. I have a PhD in Microbial Genetics.
Prisoner L: How did you lose your job?
Prisoner R: I was a Jewish activist. My group used to meet
secretly but the KGB was always watching us. One day, when I left
a meeting, a policeman was standing nearby with a big German Shepherd.
He tried to provoke me. He said, Jew, you see that dog, thats
Prisoner L: So what did you do?
Prisoner R: I was a brash young man and fell for the bait.
I called back to him, Well, lets see. If the dog is
circumcised, hes my brother. If not, hes your brother.
So they arrested me for insubordination and Zionist activities.
Isnt it ironic that in Russia I was arrested for Zionist activities
and in Israel Im arrested for anti-Zionist activities?
Prisoner L: So how did you get out of jail?
Prisoner R: Eventually they let me out, but I lost my job
at the University. I had to make a living by dealing with the Black
Market. I traded in tobacco and liquor. Those Russians would do
anything for good tobacco and liquor.
Prisoner L: Now that youre in Israel, why dont
you go back to working as a geneticist?
Prisoner R: Its been twenty years since I studied
genetics. The field changed so much that I dont recognize
Prisoner L: Now I understand why youre so bitter.
But that doesnt explain why we should be occupying Palestinian
lands. We should be removing all those illegal settlements and give
the land back to them.
Prisoner R: You dont know what youre talking
about! Why dont you pick up a history book instead of a beer
bottle? The YESHA territories were never Palestinian lands. Most
of those Arabs are not indigenous to the area. They fled there at
the onset of the 1948 war. Then Jordan and Egypt illegally occupied
the area, and the Jews were driven out. If not for Chamberlains
White Paper in 1939, many thousands of Jews would have settled in
those areas during the British Mandate. The Jews have at least as
much right to that land as the Arabs.
Prisoner L: That was the past. But now there are 3 million
Arabs living there. If they had their own Palestinian state, there
wouldnt be a conflict anymore.
Prisoner R: Im shocked that you really believe that!
A Palestinian state would just prolong the conflict and cause permanent
friction with the State of Israel.
Prisoner L: How is that?
Prisoner R: When I was growing microbial cultures for genetics
studies, I knew that the culture followed an S-shaped growth curve.
A microbial culture in a confined area, such as a tube of nutrient
broth, would grow very rapidly then taper off as metabolic wastes
accumulated. Eventually, the whole culture would die off from the
accumulated waste products. That same pattern could also be applied
to human population ecology.
Prisoner L: What does that have to do with Jews and Arabs?
Prisoner R: Its simple. King David knew what he was
doing when he picked Jerusalem as his capital. The surrounding Judean
Hills provided increased surface area for population growth and
agricultural development. It also provided accessible underground
springs for a continuous supply of fresh water. However, the land
cant sustain continuous growth in such a small, confined area.
Eventually, the population would have to settle elsewhere or die
out. We see that happening already to Jewish populations in the
USA. Jews moved out of crowded urban areas into less developed areas
in upstate NY and Long Island. Now there are even Jewish communities
in Iowa and Montana.
Prisoner L: So what do you propose?
Prisoner R: The 1947 boundaries of the British Palestine
Mandate cannot sustain a growing population of 10 million Arabs
and Jews. The Jews have no other country to go to, but the Arabs
have more than 20 others with sparsely populated lands. So if youre
really interested in promoting the humanitarian rights of Palestinian
Arabs, you would advocate for voluntary resettlement to sparsely
populated areas in other Arab countries. If you gave them a decent
compensation package, most of them would be happy to leave. They
have no attachment to the YESHA territories. They would be happy
to live anywhere that they had decent living conditions and civil
rights. But nobody ever made them an offer or gave them the opportunity
to live elsewhere. The Arab governments insist that they must live
within the 1947 borders of mandatory Palestine. Under those conditions,
Arabs and Jews would be competing for scarce natural resources,
with disastrous results. Its definitely not a formula for
a lasting peace.
Prisoner L: So you mean that I would actually be helping
the Arab population by advocating for voluntary transfer with compensation.
Prisoner R: Now youre getting it. The effects of the
alcohol are finally wearing off.
Guard: Abramovitch, youre free to go.
Prisoner R: Its about time. What took so long? What
about my young friend here, can he come with me?
Guard: No, we have to get him a lawyer. He almost killed a settler,
a father with four young children. Were very lucky that the
rim of his orange baseball cap cushioned and deflected the blow.
He got away with only minor bruises.
Prisoner R: Ill get my lawyers to help you. Youre
not a bad kid. You just have to get your head screwed on straight.
When you get out of here, you have to visit that settler and apologize.
Guard, the next time that I come here, I expect to get a decent
bowl of chicken soup. When I looked into that slop you gave me,
I heard one noodle saying to the other, Where are you, its
lonely in here?
Guard: Abramovitch, I dont want to see you here again.
Why dont you get an honest job? I bet a shrewd operator like
you could probably become an agent for Shin Bet.
Prisoner R: Hmm, thats not a bad idea. Maybe Ill
give it some thought.
(c) 2005, I. Zwick, NYC