False Dichotomies


The Search for Chametz

Here’s a story that other people might describe as ‘heart-warming’. Just before Pesach, a few Arab-Israeli MKs announced the start of a campaign to encourage Israeli-Arabs to stop selling chametz in areas where there are lots of Jews (think Jaffa, Ramle, Haifa). The reason? To avoid hurting the Jews’ feelings. Because during Pesach, us Jews are forbidden from eating chametz, and we don’t need the temptation. The deputy speaker of the Knesset, Raleb Majdale, says that “so that the Jews will know to honour our festivals, we have to know how to honour their traditions and festivals.” Majdale goes on to say that the campaign is built on the principle of ‘reciprocity’, and he expects the Jews to show similar respect during Ramadan.

Another sponsor of the campaign, MK Sheikh Ibraham Tzartzur, goes on to point out that many secular Jews go specifically to Arab areas during Pesach davka in order to buy chametz, but argues that they are in a minority. From what I understand, chametz lives a prostitute-like existence during Pesach – i.e. it can be sold but can’t be solicited. And, while only the observant community follows the halachah and strictly purges all traces of chametz for their lives, even in the heart of Tel Aviv the cafes switch to fake bread and matza. While I’m in favour of religious freedom, I quite like the absurdity of a country going without chametz for a week. And if the pluralist principle is that everyone should be made to feel equally uncomfortable, I think that in this case the harm caused to the chametz seekers is pretty insignificant, although I’d be interested to know if this campaign means that Jews desperate for some soft pita will be turned away from Baqa-al-Gharbiyyah by Israeli-Arabs caught up in the campaign.


2 Comments so far

  1. Avram April 20th, 2011 6:47 am

    Interesting piece sir!

  2. Alex April 20th, 2011 7:55 am

    Thank you Piha.

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