ISRAEL: Elections, and the prophecy of pot


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David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister. Each year, the date of his death is marked by a ceremony, and many politicians take the opportunity to deliver important policy speeches at the grave of the country’s founding father.

These days, a different brand of public figure pays Ben-Gurion a visit, bringing with him an even more different policy. Gil Kopatch, the head of the Aleh Yarok (Green Leaf, in Hebrew) party seeking a seat in Israel’s parliament in the coming elections, filmed a campaign ad at the graveside. Some were angered by the ad, and the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority protested before the Central Elections Committee for what it considered disrespect of the site, which is part of a national park. Justice Eliezer Rivlin, who chairs the committee, rejected the request to ban the ad, saying it was his job to permit freedom of expression for all, including the crass and distasteful.


This might not have been a big deal, if it weren’t for the party’s main platform issue: legalizing cannabis.

So, sitting on the grave, Kopatch talks to the dead leader:

‘You know, there are around a million Israelis who smoke this stuff. You know how much this costs me?! Loads. And do you know who grows and produces this? Hamas and Hezbollah. Yes, David. As defense minister, it is important that you know this. They’re making piles of money off of us. They take the money and buy kassams to fire at us. A pity, no? Why shouldn’t it be legal? You see, if it’ll be legal, we could grow it here on these arid Negev hills, make the wilderness flower. We will keep the money in Israel and use it for good causes, David, like raising the teachers’ salaries. ... The question is, though, what will Hamas and Hezbollah do with all the hashish they’ll be left with? The answer is simple: They’ll smoke it. They’ll smoke it, David, and be calm. Because a good Arab is a calm Arab. And this,’ concludes Kopatch with a puff, ‘is my security concept.’

So ...

And it shall come to pass in the end of days that they shall turn their stones into stoners, their hotheads into potheads. Not quite what the prophet Isaiah had in mind.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem