From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)
Meron Benvenisti | Haaretz | 3 August 2003
The glorious saga of the operations to rescue the surviving remnants of the Jewish people had to end in a ridiculous farce; that's what happens when an establishment that has become outdated insists on using its final ounce of strength to squeeze out the last drops of the old myth, in order to justify the continuation of its bureaucratic existence. Once again the immortal words echo from the mouth of a courageous emissary: "I am a Jew. I have come to take you to Israel," and in a "secret and dangerous" operation they arrive in the homeland, via a circuitous route, six elderly Jews from the sad Iraqi Diaspora, in what clearly looks like scraping the bottom of the barrel of the ingathering of exiles.
For two weeks the emissaries from Israel begged the Jews of Baghdad, a community of 34 souls, to immigrate to Israel, but they had little success, even there, in a place where according to the emissary, "I have never seen people in such a condition." The farce was lost in the waves of excitement that overtook the Israeli immigrant community, on the eve of Shabbat. Many re-experienced, via the six elderly people of Baghdad, their first contact with their new home, an experience that creates solidarity among the generations of immigrants and shapes their collective identity.
Only hardhearted "Canaanites" and traitorous post-Zionists will dare to deny the validity of the Zionist revolution that is still alive and well, thanks to the existence of the "national institutions" that risk their lives to bring to the homeland immigrants from the CIS, most of whom are not Jewish, the Falashmura from Ethiopia, and the "lost tribes" from the slopes of the Himalayas and the lower Andes. All means are justified to fight the "demographic danger" that threatens to turn the Jewish people into a minority in its homeland, and the need to absorb the new immigrants requires us to continue the classical Zionist deed - the Judaisation of barren expanses of the country, the building of communities and of Nahal outposts in the heart of a "hostile Arab population" in the Iron Valley - and of course, in parts of the Land of Israel on the other side of the Green Line.
With profound seriousness and with breathtaking self-righteousness, the Zionist establishments continue to nurture the old slogans via propaganda networks with huge resources and manpower, and the six old people from Baghdad serve as a means to acquire budgets and sentimental assets. It's not their problem if these sickly old people will require the services of a collapsing health system, just as they are not responsible for the fate of the olim (new immigrants) from Argentina, who, with the conclusion of the period of their "absorption basket," (money and exemptions they receive during the initial period of absorption), are thrown into the ranks of the unemployed.
They are certainly not responsible for the social and cultural consequences of the immigration (in accordance with the Law of Return, of course) of hundreds of thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians who cannot marry in Israel. Not to mention, even in a whisper, the influence of aliyah (immigration) on the deepening of intracommunal hatred and the intensification of ethnocentric, Jewish-tribal extremism. Immigration is seen as an absolute imperative, no practical considerations can be compared to it, and its costs cannot be mentioned openly and publicly.
So the only thing left to do is to look on hopelessly while adherence to the third-millennium version of the myth of the ingathering of exiles, and the unrestrained physical development that follows in its wake, leads to an ecological disaster, urban disintegration, nationalist arrogance and uncontrolled greed on the part of contractors and their associates.
One is not allowed to mock the aliyah of the elderly Jews of Baghdad, since such an attitude is seen as undermining the sacred principles of the nation. But one is allowed to have a forgiving attitude toward the flourishing industry of obtaining Polish, Czech or Hungarian citizenship for the sons of the immigrants of the 1950s and the 1960s, who desire European citizenship. Who knows, maybe the American regime in Iraq will offer the Jews of Iraq benefits, which it will make it worthwhile to renew Iraqi citizenship, and the circle of the six elderly Jews from Baghdad will be closed. When will Israel become a homeland and stop being a country that perpetuates the temporary nature of an immigrant society? And when will they close the "national institutions" that perpetuate this in the name of "Zionist values"?