AGE: 5 up
Ephraim Sidon has written an amusing tale in rhyme, which is also a harsh satire. In the manner of Jonathan Swift, he describes the dictatorship of the few, with clear hints towards Israeli politics but bearing a universal message.
On the Isle of Nonsense, an imaginary distant island, live a peaceful people who go about in an orderly fashion and run their country wisely. The island is also home to a minority whose lifestyle is very different: they claim that man descends from the scarecrow and therefore always carry fresh vegetables, wear bathrobes over undershirts over shirts and underwear over their trousers. All this and more: every minority bride is required to replace her teeth with dentures so as not to bite her husband, and they are also forbidden to eat with a tablespoon or a teaspoon or to marry a donkey, a sweet potato or a rag.
The island council includes three minority representatives. One day, one of them stands up and proposes that all of the island's inhabitants foresake tablespoons and teaspoons and drink soup or fruit pudding with a fork. The representatives of the majority grumble but decide to accept the minority's proposal. Two months go by and once again the minority representative rises and proposes that all of the people on the island wear underwear over their trousers. Once again the majority agrees to the proposal, but the extortion does not end there. As time passes, the majority is forced to adopt all of the minority's strange customs, and all of the island's inhabitants look alike. "From now on you will also be able to marry us," says the majority representative to the minority representatives at one of the council meetings. But the response of the minority representatives comes as a rude awakening: "Have you forgotten that a member of the minority is forbidden to marry a sweet potato, a donkey or a rag?" These words contain not only an insult but also a profound lesson: people who give up their rights and do not fight for their beliefs are nothing but stupid rabble.
Illustrations: Yossi Abolafia