The following – completely true – short story is dedicated to all those people that are longing for the “democratic past” of Israel under “Mapai”.
In the middle Seventies, I was active in “The Workers’ League”, a small organization of the radical left that split from the famous “Matzpen”.
Two of our comrades were a couple of new immigrants from France. They came as Zionists but soon were disillusioned and became active in the Anti-Zionist organization. At the time that our story begins, the wife was working in a kindergarten that provided special care for children with Autism.
At the time there were not many institutions caring for these children. The kindergarten, in West Jerusalem, was affiliated to a local hospital. Our comrade was a specialist in her profession and did her best to help the children. She was loved by the management, the children and their parents.
Then, for some bureaucratic reason, the responsibility for the kindergarten was transferred from the ministry of health to the ministry of education.
As every Arab teacher knew very well at the time, in the ministry of education the last word about all appointments was given to the almighty Shin Bet – the Israeli secretive “internal security services”.
It came out that the Shin Bet’s authority didn’t spare Jewish teachers also, even not a kindergarten teacher that cared for autistic children. As soon as the ministry of education took control of the institution they informed the management that the leftist teacher should be immediately fired from her job.
Finding a new qualified teacher for the hard task was not easy or fast, but the security authorities in the ministry refused even a temporary stay of execution until a replacement could be found. The parents faced a real problem also, as they couldn’t send their kids to the kindergarten without a teacher. Many of them had to skip work and stay at home. They organized a protest of their own, but, of course, their selfishness will not deter those responsible for the state’s security from fulfilling their sacred task.
All this was regular “no news” in the “Jewish democracy” under the “leftist” Labor Party. I wouldn’t waste your time with it unless there was a strange twist in the plot.
The teacher’s husband’s father happened to be one of the leaders of the Jewish community in France. When he heard the story he thought it is too foolish to be true. He didn’t support his son’s and daughter in law’s political activity in any way. But he thought that there is no reason that the teacher will be removed from work in a kindergarten where she obviously couldn’t have any subversive influence on the kids…
He remembered that he has a good friend. They went together to the same school and were active together in the Zionist movement. His friend made “Aliya” long time ago. By the time of our story his friend was already a pretty important minister in the Israeli government.
So he called his friend and told him of the extraordinary senseless persecution of his daughter in law. The minister quickly agreed that this doesn’t make sense and promised to speak with the responsible people and solve the problem.
The old French Jewish leader waited for a few days to hear from his minister-friend. There was no news. He tried to call him, but his good friend, untypically, was not answering his calls. He left messages in his office and home – but couldn’t get any response.
It was only a long time later when the two old leaders met by chance… The question of returning the daughter in law to her job was not relevant any more. The Israeli minister came to his old French friend and apologized: “I really tried. I did my best. But, you know, it was a security issue. I couldn’t do anything about it!”