This begins with a judicial-political dispute over natural gas but segues into the far-right’s intolerance of legal limitations. Their views would not have been heard in public in Israel a decade ago. Now they are commonplace and if the court objects, well just abolish it and create another.
It’s not just the anti-NGO law which has made Israel seem an alien in the family of European democracies says Uri Savir. It’s also the power of the religious establishment, the racism, the opposition to mixed marriage and, of course the Occupation, that makes Israel seem to have more in common with religious fundamentalists than the EU. The effect of any estrangement would be worse for Israel than Europe.
An Israeli TV commercial – marketing property in a ‘white’ neighbourhood when a vulgar Mizrahi family moves next door to proper, Ashkenazi Jews – has been quickly withdrawn. Viewers did not want the attitudes which the ad makers had clearly divined broadcast. Edo Konrad charts the contempt for backward orientals from the foundation of Israel.
Heike Schotten here argues that ‘terrorism’ became the universal threat after the collapse of the Soviet Union. To fit the US’s need for an external enemy the new threat had to be political, dark-skinned and religiously foreign – that is unknowable and outside ‘civilisation’. Enter Palestine.
Jerusalem Day – May 17th this year – continues to attract thousands of young men in a belligerent assertion of their power to take over a city. These are the new young nationalists of such concern to an older generation. The irony has been much noted: in their celebration of the ‘unification’ of Jerusalem they display how entrenched are the divisions of ethnicity, age, gender, politics.
This is a dynamic debate about power and class in Israel which rarely reaches the media outside Israel. You could say it’s ‘democracy’s’ most profound failure – the inability of ‘the system’ to produce political and economic equality creating an excluded underclass which votes for a far-right, anti-politics, racist position. Haaretz posts these two articles on the Mizrahim in Israel.
Jerusalem runs increasingly separate bus-lines. Egged carries the Jews. Palestinians, who comprise most of the drivers on all lines, travel on buses run by the (Arab) East Jerusalem Transport Association. Israeli Jews boarding from settler and Haredi areas routinely insult the drivers. Disturbing interview with 3 drivers.
As civil rights in Israel become more limited and precarious, so the number of civil rights organisations increases writes Naomi Shepherd. The orthodox religious have been trying to establish their hegemony in civil and military life; immigrants who do not pass their test (Russians, Africans as well as native Arabs) are excluded, making a mockery of Israel’s claim to be ‘the only democracy’ in the Middle East.
The Arabs of the Galilee, all Israeli citizens, have lived there a long time. But, like the Bedouin Israeli citizens, this is unacceptable to the World Zionist Organization – an arm of the Israeli state. They don’t want to build more homes for Jews in the existing towns – which would mean desegregation – so new towns must be built to install a Jewish majority. Equality for all citizens is not one of WZO’s principles.
75 years ago Jews were the primary target of those who hated immigrants and ‘aliens’. That was dramatically demonstrated in Germany/Austria in ‘kristallnacht’. Today in much of the world, gypsies and Roma, Muslims, Pakistanis and gays, Africans and asylum seekers are the likely targets. It is time for Jews to stand with these vulnerable groups and speak out against the ‘toxic sentiments’ behind the attacks.
Like many investigative journalists, Boston-born Max Blumenthal thought that if he put the facts out there, the public would respond. Not in America, not about Israel. So he tried again with his book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel aimed specifically at an American audience that doesn’t want to know. Even though Christian Zionism is ‘Israel’s safety belt’. Here, he is interviewed on the book for Democracy Now.
Israel’s High Court has ruled that a legal amendment to the Anti-Infiltration law, which has allowed detention without trial for up to 3 years, is unconstitutional, conflicting with Israel’s Basic Law upholding people’s dignity. One judge predicted this would not go down well in Tel Aviv and there have already been angry denunciation of the judges.
Most Israeli Jews have paid no heed to the chief rabbis (Ashkenazi and Sephardi) though the rabbinate controls marriage, divorce and conversion for all Israeli Jews. But this year, with two vocally racist candidates (Sephardi) and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi under house arrest on corruption and money-laundering charges, a petition against one of them has been signed by 30 leading artists and writers; others are dismayed that this state-sponsored institution is bringing Judaism into disrepute.
Ahead of President Shimon Peres’s visit to France to discuss the Middle East peace process instructions were issued that there be “no blacks or Arabs” among the baggage-handling staff, because “no Muslim employees should greet the Israeli head of state”. It follows on the heels of Air France being fined for taking a student nurse off a plane to Ben Gurion on the grounds that she was “not Jewish”…
Something stinks in the state of Israel says Israeli citizen Ilene Prusher. That something is racism, both the assaults on non-Jews by Jews and the wider refusal to give such racism its proper name. The irony of Israel, whose existence as an ethnic state has been justified as a defence against racism, should have spawned new generations of young racist gangs is lost on no-one – except for those who refuse to know that it’s there, and active, and violent.
‘Beitar is a symbol for the whole country’ says one fan of the football club – which is bad news for those appalled at the naked racism of the fans against the ‘Arabs’ (i.e. Muslim players) dropped into Beitar after arcane deals between Russian-Chechnyan despot Ramzan Kadyrov, and Arkady Gaydamak, Russian Israeli businessman and President of Beitar.
Using soldiers’ own Tweets and Instagram photographic pages, Ali Abuminah collects disturbing evidence of IDF soldiers exalting in violence, in killing Arabs, in taking aim at children, in getting out of their heads on marijuana. These are the men who enforce the occupation. The soldiers have deleted these pages. So far there has been no report that they have been reprimanded let alone excluded as unsuitable for Israel’s army.
The football club Beitar Jerusalem is notorious for the racism of its fans and the fact that it has never signed an Arab player. However, it has signed two Muslim players from Chechnya. Fans screamed abuse at them at their first training session. The offices of the club have been set alight in an arson attack. The core racist group, La Familia, perceives itself as defending the character of Israel as a Jewish nation.
Here is new form of hate crime against Muslims in Israel which shouldn’t be too difficult to solve. Israeli police confess ignorance. As in most cities, drivers wanting to sell their cars leave a note in the car window on with their phone number. The number on several such cars connects the would-be buyer to a profane, anti-Islam message recorded by a man speaking Arabic with a Hebrew accent.
The official – if barely legal – policy of the mayor of Jerusalem is simple and brutal: keep the ratio of Jews to Arabs at 70 to 30. Ben White describes the measures taken to ensure this result. An extract from Israel’s founding declaration, on equality for all, is included at the end.