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.
It’s one thing to deplore vacuous messages about peace – see post below this one – quite another to offer an utterly racist message about murderous Palestinians as the staff at Israel’s Dublin embassy chose to do. It reveals not just how they think – but also their unthinking belief that others share their viewpoint.
Although he has been facing indictment on serious charges for some time, Avigdor Lieberman was still juggling with his pre-election team until the last minute – which was on Friday. With a reputation as a bully and a racist the foreign minister had a few admirers outside Israel but inside he stood for the most anti-Palestinian voters in the country,
One lot of Israeli citizens is to be expelled from its village in the Negev to make way for another lot of Israeli citizens. The first is made up of Bedouin who cannot get building permits and whose village is to be demollshed. It will be replaced by a new-build settlement for Jews. Adalah’s appeal against the decision by the National Council of Planning and Building was rejected. Reports from Ynet and Adalah.
Although, as Jesse Benjamin points out, foreign media have had little to say about the Jerusalem lynching (it doesn’t fit the stereotype, good Israel bad settlers) Israelis have responded with horror, anger and a recognition that the dominant political culture has poisoned youth values. The idea that all Arab (alien) men want to have Jews’ (owners) women is a familiar feature of racist and misogynist societies in which the ethnically dominant men should be lords of all. 6 items.