The Jewish psychosis of making a racist state
The article by Uri Misgav is followed by the petition from One Democracy
The symbol of the ultra-nationalist Kahane Chai* [see note] movement, banned as racist, being held aloft by Beitar Jerusalem fans during a match against Bnei Sakhnin. Photo by Hagai Aharon / Jini
‘Zero tolerance’ was made popular by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he cleaned up the streets, and it was achieved by force. In a ‘Jewish nation,’ will a proud Arab be considered a criminal, to be dealt with using clubs and pistols?
By Uri Misgav, Haaretz
March 03, 2014
I don’t want to live in a country in which, before a flight, the teacher Ezies Elias Shehadeh** is stripped of her clothing and humiliated to tears. There isn’t a place on the planet where the working assumption is that a teacher, who has a family of her own, seeks to blow herself up in midair. The regular security screening is sufficient. Anything beyond this is sadism, abuse by technocrats and people who follow orders. The banality of evil. Implementing l’esprit du commandant.
I no longer want to live in the most racist state in the free world. This spring I turn 40, and the country will 66 years old. Since childhood I have vowed to fight for a better future here, but when it comes to race theory everything has deteriorated. Cabinet ministers and Knesset members are forever promoting and ensuring determining Jewish identity, Jewish awareness and Jewish tradition. Haaretz last week softly denounced it as “ultranationalism,” but it’s not ultranationalism, it’s racism. The Hebrew edition of Haaretz also began publishing opinion pieces by the director of the Tel Aviv-based institute Psychology in Judaism, Yair Caspi. Were it not for the fact that we’re talking about the Chosen People and the master race, there’s no such thing as Jewish psychology. At most, there is Jewish psychosis.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those riding on his coat tails never stop demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. They never asked me. I don’t want to live in a Jewish state. I want to live in a state of human beings. In 2014, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett gets himself into a lather speechifying about the Judaization of the Negev and the Galilee, and heads a party by the name of Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home). If Germans were to return to speaking about lebensraum living space and to found a party called “Aryan Home,” we’d be plotzing. The same if they were to revive “selektzia” (“selection,” as when the Nazis decided which Jews to kill immediately and which to send to the camps). But we carry out selektzia by race, in our airports and also at the entrances of our shopping malls. If they want to inspect, they should inspect everyone. Democracy has its price.
Coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin pushes through laws that give “Christian Arabs” preference over Muslims. A month ago Levin visited Auschwitz and declared that “the Holocaust will never be forgotten and its lessons will continue to be learned even in coming generations.” Did he mean the lessons, or the patterns of thinking? Rank people according to a hierarchy of racist affiliation groups is a Nazi way of thinking. An entire race theory has developed in Israel, that is softened with pedantic shades of definition and rendered legitimate through the pretexts of history and security. There are Jews-only professions, Jews-only institutions and Jews-only communities. Like the Nuremberg Laws, only in reverse.
Jews in Israel enjoy extra legal and political privileges. Only they are allowed to sit in the government coalition, or even in the opposition bloc that obstructs the government’s actions, not MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) and her ilk. Only they may immigrate to Israel. You can be a psychotic American murderer, but if your name is Shmuel Sheinbein you’ll be welcomed with open arms. In Nazi Germany it was “Juden raus!” (Jews out), in Israel it’s “Juden In.” We have turned into a historic disgrace.
There’s a major soccer team whose symbol is the menorah that won’t hire Arab players, and whose fans chant that the Israeli Arab player Salim Tuama is a terrorist. But when an Arab member of the national soccer team or an Arab Supreme Court justice find it difficult to sing the words “a Jewish soul still years” in the national anthem, “Hatikva,” the racists roll their eyes. And the leader of their home, who also just recently returned, all agitated, from a tour of Auschwitz, demands “zero tolerance for the nationalist aspirations of Israeli Arabs.”
Zero tolerance is a term taken from criminology, made popular by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he announced his intention to clean the streets. In New York the goal was achieved by force. Help me understand where we’re headed: In a “Jewish nation,” will a proud Arab be considered a criminal, to be dealt with using clubs and pistols?
[Uri Misgav is a journalist. He has also lecture on journalism at Sapir College and taught Israeli history and geography at Kehilla (democratic) Elementary School. He holds a degree in political science and history from Tel Aviv University.]
By Rachel Lever, One Democracy
A petition posted by a signatory of the UK group Jews for Justice for Palestinians and titled Jews say No to ‘Israel as Jewish state’ has mined a rich seam of feelings from Jews (mainly in UK, USA and Canada) speaking in their own voices, about being handed a share of Israel.
Petition author Rachel Lever says “This is not a numerical poll, nor a questionnaire. It doesn’t calculate percentages of a sample or fit people into a pre-set choice of attitudes, but gives them a platform to speak for themselves, as Jews, to say how they feel about Israel’s claim to be “theirs”.
Here is a selection of their comments:
Sussex, UK — I find that the more I abhor Zionism, the more Jewish I feel. I see the State of Israel as the Golden Calf falsely worshipped, with the tablets of the Law (our best traditions) lying broken on the ground. I do identify as a Jew, but England is my country.
USA: Israel … is a thoroughly racist, brutal, expansionist entity that every Jew of conscience should be ashamed of”
Berkeley USA – A state has never been the state of all people of a certain religion or ethnic group, and for very good reasons, spelled out in this petition. There is not a reason in the world to make an exception for Jews. I speak as a Holocaust survivor and child of Holocaust victims.
UK — Absolutely not in my name, Israel is the country of Israelis as the USA is the country of Americans … Netanyahu has no right to impose his vile values on me
Essex UK — Defining Israel formally as a Jewish State will force Jews around the world to identify with a country and an ideology based on ethical exclusivity, to the extreme detriment of any chance of a just peace in the Middle East
Chicago USA — I have been a human rights activist for 50 years and Jewish all my life. The idea of in effect discriminating against Palestinians is immoral and not Jewish
London, UK — I already have a country, the Palestinians have none
USA — States based on religion went out a long time ago
California, USA — I am appalled by Israel’s massive land theft and displacement of Palestinian people from their homes, refusal of Palestinian refugees’ internationally recognised right of return, de facto segregation and 2nd class citizenship within Israel’s 1948 borders, and constant destruction and displacement of Bedouin villages. These crimes against humanity do not represent me as a Jew
London, UK — I am totally opposed to Israel’s demand and the ongoing discrimination and apartheid to which non-Jews in Israel are subjected. I also feel angered and affronted by the Israeli Government’s attempt to hijack my identity as a Jew and that of my family and friends
Washington, USA — I cannot think of any universal statement more anti-semitic, whether uttered by a Jew or a Jew-hater, than to equate all Jews with Israel.
USA — I refuse to support all forms of racism
Canada — People ask me if I want to see Israel vanish. I say no, I just want to see regime change
UK — I completely agree with this petition, even though I have family living in Israel. That is their choice and I do not wish to be made to feel that Israel is my country when it is not. I’d prefer that Palestinians were given citizenship of Israel
Delaware, USA — A “Jewish only” state represents an apartheid regime which is abhorrent to all those who stand for justice”
London, UK — I never supported privilege as a white South African under apartheid and will not support privilege in Israel. As a Jew I would wish that Israel treated its minorities with the same degree of equality that I expect from the country in which I live.
Oakland, USA — I am proud to be an American and a Jew. I do not agree that any country, nation or state should determine which religion, if any, its citizens are to be affiliated with
USA — Israel the Nation State of the Jewish people would give superior rights to aliens of Jewish descent while discriminating against the indigenous non-Jewish population.
USA — No country, government, place, should be a religious state. None. Ever.
USA – Labeling Israel as a Jewish state is no less racist than labeling the US a “Christian” state and only fuels anti-semitism across the rest of the world.
UK — I live in the UK and am British. This is my home. I support this petition 100%.
California USA — The “Jewish state” has been a catastrophe for principles of equality and justice. It has threatened the continuity of the Jewish prophetic traditions that helped create and rested upon such principles
London, UK — I object to being associated with a country that has such a shocking human rights record, and that ignores international law and the Geneva Convention, just because of my parentage
Maryland, USA — I am a Jewish American who strenuously objects to designating Israel as a Jewish state. The land of Israel-Palestine must provide for the well-being and security of all its inhabitants. It must be inclusive of Jews and non-Jews, those who are religious or secular, and people of all ethnicities and races in order to bring about lasting peace, justice and security for all.
USA — The peoples of this planet need to learn to live peacefully together. Any “land grab” statements run against this.
USA — The Palestinian people continue to suffer an apartheid treatment by the Israeli government. There is no civil rights for them in an exclusive state
USA — I detest the politics of the state of Israel and its apartheid policies towards non-Jews – yet its government presumes to include /represent me because my mother was Jewish
Zionist youth leader: “I am a cult survivor”
USA — Israel does not speak for me. As a human being first and a Jew second Israel has no right in my name to violate international humanitarian laws and violate the injunctions in the Torah against scheming, stealing and breaking contracts. Israel has no right, through its discriminatory and inhumane policies, to make the world less safe for Jews.
USA — Judaism is not Zionism. Judaism is opposed and has always been opposed to Zionism
USA — I am a former teenage President of a Zionist youth group. I was fed on propaganda by my synagogue and Jewish community which made Zionism and Israel innocent of wrongdoing and vilified all Arabs. I recognise that I am a cult survivor, and wish to right the wrongs of the Zionist cult.
Winnipeg, Canada — In terms of Jewish values, the state that calls itself Israel is one of the least Jewish states in history
UK — Of course there is a connection between Israel and the world Jewish community, but this is very different from Israel being the state of the entire Jewish people. This would mean that Israel is not the state of all its citizens, which nowadays is essential if a state is to be regarded as democratic.
Toronto Canada — I have no hostility to Israel, on the contrary, and I hope Israel will become a leader in Justice. The idea of states based on ethnicity cannot function peacefully in the modern world.
Toronto Canada — Israel is a rogue state. It does not speak for me or for all Jewish communities. It is a project that celebrates oppression and uses religion and myth to justify dispossession and ethnic cleansing. And it has visited horrific war crimes on the Palestinian people as it continues to imprison them in ever smaller patches of what remains of historic Palestine. “While there is a soul in prison I am not free”. NO to Zionism, and NO to a Jewish state.
London UK — Anything that says it is a state for one type of people is inherently a racist state. I reject the idea of a Jewish state as much as I do the idea of a black state, a white state or a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist state. The very best that “others” would experience would be benign second class citizenship and we know that the reality is much, much worse than that.
Brighton, UK— As a Jewish woman and mum I do not support apartheid, child imprisonment, occupation, ethnic cleansing, trigger-happy Israeli teenage soldiers, religious fundamentalism, racism, ignoring the Geneva Convention, oppression, sieges, stealing water … I’m sure I’ve missed things out, but you get the picture.
USA — I heartily agree with the proposition as stated. In fact, I’ve never seem it put so clearly.
USA — My Bubbie didn’t raise me to support racism. I truly resent Israel’s claim to speak for all Jews.
Israel’s demand for recognition as “the nation state of the Jewish people” has far-reaching implications. Israel knows this will impact Jews worldwide. This petition aims to give a voice on the matter to Jews concerned for justice, human rights and international law.
These are some of the issues:
♦ Defining Israel as Jewish would mean total denial of Palestinians’ historic connection to the country they lost in 1948. The “Jewish state” demand means refusal ever to allow any return of the 1948 exiles, thus closing the door to any enduring future peace, justice and reconciliation.
♦ If Israel is a State of the whole Jewish people rather than of its own citizens, its non-Jews will officially be second class citizens.
♦ The leaders of Britain’s Jews once said that a Jewish state “must have the effect throughout the world of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands”. If Israel is the Jewish state, Jews will be further implicated in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and its contravention of international law.
♦ Making “Israel” synonymous with “Jewish” will be used to silence critics and label them as “anti-semitic”.
♦ Enforcing international law and human rights will be harder if Israel can claim it is maintaining the recognised “State of the Jewish people” as a top priority.
♦ If this high-profile, protected and approved country can be based on ethnic-religious criteria rather than pluralism, tolerance and democracy, it will be a precedent for closed, authoritarian, fundamentalist regimes.
♦ This is not something that Jews can be proud of, nor one that most Israelis would find tolerable.
As a Jew I oppose Israel’s demand that it be internationally recognised as the “Jewish state” or the “Nation State of the Jewish people”.
I believe this will weaken peace, democracy and security worldwide, creating a dangerous precedent for states and conflicts based on ethnicity or religion rather than justice and human rights, and could be used to justify past and future ethnic cleansing and entrench a racially discriminatory two-tier legal system.
As a Jew I reject my automatic right to Israeli citizenship and refuse to be co-opted, just because I am a Jew, as a follower of a country that is not my own.
As a non-Israeli Jew I do not recognise Israel as my state, and find it abhorrent that the spare “homeland” which it is offering me comes at the expense of the entire Palestinian people, whose treatment tramples also on Jewish teachings of justice and universal humanity that are important to me.
I call on the world community to fight anti-semitism and racism wherever they occur and to open its doors and welcome everyone in need of refuge from persecution, whether or not they are Jewish.
The petition is still open for signatures and comments. To take part, find it here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/jews-say-no-to-israel-as-jewish-state.html And for an in-depth outline of what the “Jewish State” demand is about, see http://onedemocracy.co.uk/news/whats-so-bad-about-calling-israel-the-jewish-state/#more-2021
Notes and links
Kach was a far-right political party in Israel. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, an American immigrant to Israel, in the early 1970s, and following his Jewish nationalist ideology (subsequently dubbed Kahanism), the party entered the Knesset in 1984. However, it was barred from participating in the next election in 1988 under the revised Knesset Elections Law banning parties that incited racism. After Kahane’s assassination in 1990, the party split, with Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives) breaking away from the main Kach faction. The party was also barred from standing in the 1992 election, and both organisations were banned outright in 1994. Today both groups are considered terrorist organisations by Israel, Canada, the European Union and the United States. The groups are believed to have an overlapping core membership of less than 100 people.
The laws that enshrine Israel as a racist state, List and database from Adalah, October 2012