Ali Abunimah’s Pizza analogy for Israel’s facts-on-the-ground negotiating style has taken the world by storm. I have it on good authority that the clip has been watched and enjoyed on the most extreme Israeli settlements. One settler was even heard to say “that guy’s really cool for a Palestinian, but he makes me hungry.” I think it’s time however, to take things to another level: dessert. Pizza’s fine for negotiating strategy and settlement policy, but for a more complete metaphor, describing the essence of Israel and everything it stands for, we need cake.
The guiding principle behind all of Israel’s actions is in fact having its cake and eating it too or, as the Hebrew expression goes, eating its cake and keeping it whole. Let’s take the idea of “Jewish and democratic” that is so vitally important that it takes precedence over all of the other topics on the negotiating table: borders, settlements, water, refugees, Jerusalem, etc. (without preconditions, of course). Jewish and democratic also permeates Israel’s Declaration of Independence, features in its Basic Laws, and is on the lips of every child from Dan to Eilat, from Ramat Aviv to Beit She’an. In the name of Jewish and democratic, the handful of non-Jews allowed to obtain Israeli citizenship without marrying a Jew (abroad because “intermarriage” is forbidden in Israel), may have to declare their loyalty to the unequal equality that renders them considerably less equal than members of the ruling democratic ethnicity. What could be more cake-consuming/preserving than that? Equality and supremacy with chocolate frosting. An “ethical code” for the commission of war crimes? Commando victims of aggression? One-sided cease fires and “preemptive” violations? Nuclear warheads for a nuclear-free region? It’s all cake.
There is another well-known saying about cake (or brioches, if you prefer). It is what those who have no bread are told to eat, by those who are both oblivious to and the cause of their suffering. The isolation of Gaza immediately comes to mind, or the unequal distribution of water in the West Bank, but in a broader sense, this attitude is also reflected in denial of the Nakba and the rights of refugees (while defining Israel as “the state of the Jewish people” and promoting unlimited Jewish immigration), in condescending statements like Abba Eban’s infamous “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” or the odious “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?”
None of this should come as any surprise of course. Everyone knows that Israel invented cake. Yuli Edelstein’s Hasbara Ministry is working on the video as we speak.