Calls to seal off ultra-Orthodox areas add to Israel’s virus tensions


Purposely ignorant, fundamentalist religions, continue to spread disease and death throughout the word.

Rules enforcement highlights problem of getting message across to minority community

Oliver Holmes and Quique Kierszenbaum in Jerusalem

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Bnei Brak.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Bnei Brak, which Israel has now declared a restricted zone. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

It wasn’t a typical police operation. Two Israeli officers were to go undercover, although not posing as drug dealers or arms traffickers. For this particular assignment, they were to disguise themselves as ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Their mission on Friday was to bust an illegal gathering in a synagogue. People were praying together, a practice that is now against the law in the era of the coronavirus. Once the officers got inside to confirm the crowd, more units barged in and dispersed people.

Forces left the area, according to police, but: “An hour later, it was reported that people had returned again.” At that point, officers handed out fines amounting to nearly £4,000.

The operation in the county’s north was one small part of a sometimes fruitless nationwide effort to impose Covid-19 restrictions on a deeply religious and often cut-off community that has been slow, or even opposed, to change their way of life.

Israeli soldiers deliver food to residents in Bnei Brak.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Israeli soldiers deliver food to residents in Bnei Brak. Photograph: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Officials fear the result has been an explosion of cases in neighbourhoods populated with the minority, which makes up more than 12% of Israel’s nine million citizens.

In the most extreme case, an entire city, Bnei Brak, has been surrounded with barricades. Israel’s cabinet declared the city a “restricted zone” last week, sending in 1,000 police officers who blocked residents from leaving except under special circumstances. The army has also be deployed to deliver food to the elderly.

One medical expert estimated up to 38% of Bnei Brak’s roughly 200,000 mostly ultra-Orthodox inhabitants could be infected, significantly higher than the national average.

Many Israeli ultra-Orthodox live in poor, often congested areas with large families where infections can spread rapidly. Some religious leaders have refused to order their people to stay inside long after the rest of the country was locking down.

When a population are told the Torah will protect them there is no motivation to comply with orders Jessica Apple, Haaretz

Chaim Kanievsky, an influential rabbi, had initially refused to close packed synagogues and religious seminaries, where hundreds of boys and men gather daily. “The Torah protects and saves,” the 92-year-old said. Only in late March did the rabbi relent, calling for lone prayer.

There have also been several anecdotal reports that ultra-Orthodox communities in other countries, including the UK, are suffering an above-average infection rate.

In Israel, the outbreaks have deepened entrenched grievances between secular and religious populations that have festered since the state’s founding.

Ultra-Orthodox Israelis, known in Hebrew as Haredim, or “God-fearers”, occupy a unique role, with laws allowing them to avoid military draft and live off stipends while they study religion, leading to secular resentment.

Jewish leaders fear ultra-Orthodox Jews have missed isolation message

Many abhor Israel’s interference in their traditions. Some are vehemently anti-Zionist, rejecting the country whose Jewish majority is mostly secular, which has frustrated government coronavirus efforts when public trust and obedience are vital.

Attempts by police to enforce quarantine restrictions in religious neighbourhoods of Jerusalem have led to sometimes violent standoffs. Paramedics have been hit with rocks.

“When a population that regards its religious leaders as infallible are told that the Torah will protect them and that the secular law enforcement agencies are Nazis and anti-Semites, there is no motivation to comply with orders,” wrote Jessica Apple in the progressive local Haaretz newspaper; her article also called for ultra-Orthodox jews to wear face masks.

Now the cabinet is discussing using the Bnei Brak lockdown as a model for other outbreaks, and local media have cited an unnamed health official as saying more ultra-Orthodox areas could also be sealed off.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish burial society workers with a coronavirus victim outside the Shamgar funeral house in Jerusalem.
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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish burial society workers with a coronavirus victim outside the Shamgar funeral house in Jerusalem. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalemite who used to take part in anti-government demonstrations, said some rabbis took a “long time to internalise the severity of the situation … and they truly believe that studying Torah is more important than anything else.”

However, he said the government was also slow to communicate with more radical parts of the community, many of whom have no internet, television, radio, smartphones or even newspapers and usually get news from posters stuck to noticeboards.

Meshi-Zahav, who runs a volunteer emergency medicine group that has been helping coordinate the Covid-19 response, has written posters on the rules. Still, he added: “It is not our job, it should be the Ministry of Health’s responsibility.”

He said he was concerned about growing anger. “In normal times, there are discussions on this, but now the seculars are saying, ‘you are infecting us’. This is terrible, there is a lot of antisemitism around the world, and now the seculars are doing this?”

“There are things they say that are correct, but to accuse a whole community? To generalise? Some people are using the situation to attack the Haredim.”

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man kisses the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City Marko Djurica/ File Photo

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French Cartoonist Zeon Arrested for Anti-Zionist Art


French Cartoonist Zeon Arrested for Anti-Zionist Art

In ostensibly free European countries, you can get in a lot of trouble for the wrong kind of humor – not just (deadly) trouble from jihadists “avenging” their prophet, but trouble meted out by government agencies and police officers.

For instance, in the Netherlands, in 2008, the home office of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot, a poison-pen critic of Islam,

… was raided by a team of ten police officers who had been dispatched by the Openbaar Ministerie, the federal Dutch DA’s office that works in conjunction with the Netherlands Justice Department. The cops confiscated Nekschot’s computer, his sketchbooks, and other materials, then took him to a detention facility where he spent 30 hours in a concrete cell before being released without charges — but after he had been made to promise to remove eight cartoons from his website.

In January of this year, a week after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala (above), whose humor dances on the edge of anti-Semitism and sometimes well over it, was arrested on suspicion of

… “incitement of terrorism,” for appearing to offer a [written Facebook] gesture of solidarity with Amedy Coulibaly, the Islamist gunman who murdered four hostages in a kosher grocery store in Paris last Friday, apparently in concert with the terrorists who carried out the massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s offices two days earlier.

Now it’s the turn of a French cartoonist who goes by the name of Zeon. I just learned that one day last week, at 7 a.m., four police officers of the ominously named Brigade de Répression de la Délinquance aux Personnes (BRDP)

… woke the cartoonist to take him before the judge [at] the High Court … of Paris [link added, TF]. A complaint appears to have been filed by the BNVCA (National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism).

The complaint focuses on these political drawings:

The judge has indicted the cartoonist [for] incitement to racial, religious hatred, by speech, writing, picture or means of electronic communication. Zeon refused to answer [any] questions. He was set free in late morning.

The Charlie Hebdo cartoons – though often crude and insensitive — didn’t break the law, and it would be hypocritical of the French prosecutors and bien pensants to treat Zeon’s work any differently.

The cartoon with the scale, which Zeon drew in 2009, had been the subject of a legal complaint before, but on that occasion the judge ruled that the statute of limitations had run out. It’s not clear to me why the new complaint would fare any better. Perhaps the goal of the complainant is not to score a legal victory, but to judicially harass the artist.

You don’t have to like the Nekschot, Charlie Hebdo, or Zeon drawings in order to condemn what’s been done to their creators. The fact that all this work is controversial is only more reason to protest the attempts to muzzle these gadflies. People who say uncontroversial things don’t have to rely on free-speech protections; by definition, that valuable shield only benefits those who speak harshly or outrageously.

I would’ve expected the authorities in the land of Voltaire to understand that, and to act accordingly.

‘Half-Breed Jew’ Committed Holocaust, Claims Netanyahu Ally John Hagee


hagee-armageddon

[Comment:- someone please tell the Israeli government that the only reason this porcine toad is a Christian Zionist is because he’s praying for God to kill all the Jews, so that the Christians can have the land Israel stolen from the Palestinians.  And that by doing so, he is objectively pro-death, pro-sabotage and pro-theft. With genocidal “friends” like Hagee, does Israel need enemies?!]

Main article by Bruce Wilson

‘Half-Breed Jew’ Committed Holocaust, Claims Netanyahu Ally John Hagee

Who committed the Holocaust?

For the overwhelming majority of historians and, needless to say, Jews it’s a settled question: Hitler, and his Nazis. But Christians United For Israel (CUFI) head John Hagee, one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest American allies, has a different answer: “half-breed Jews.” Netanyahu meets frequently with Hagee, endorses CUFI, has spoken at numerous CUFI events, and lavishes Hagee and his organization with praise. Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently scheduled to speak at CUFI’s annual Washington summit, July 13-14 2015. John Hagee book Jerusalem CountdownHagee’s Christians United For Israel organization currently sells a book by pastor John Hagee, Jerusalem Countdown: A warning To The World, which on page 149 (2006 “revised and updated” paperback edition) claims Adolf Hitler was a “half-breed Jew” and states (p. 97) that Hitler was sent by God, as a “hunter,” to persecute Europe’s Jews and drive them towards “the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have-Israel.” In 2008 media uproar over Hagee’s “hunter” claim (as made in a 2005 sermon that was exposed by this author) led presidential candidate John McCain to renounce his long-sought endorsement from pastor Hagee. Hagee’s claim that Hitler was Jewish is not new. In a 2003 sermon broadcast internationally and marketed as a VHS cassette, John Hagee claimed [link to video of sermon] the Antichrist would be “partially Jewish, as was Adolf Hitler, as was Karl Marx.” CUFI head John Hagee also blames anti-Semitism on Jews themselves, writing in Jerusalem Countdown (p. 56) that “It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews… that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day.” Hagee’s book then traces (p. 57) the birth of anti-Semitism to Jewish idol worship:

How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for his chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings he had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.

In Hagee’s account “half-breed Jews,” Hitler included, have served as the human agents by which God implements a divine curse placed upon the racially pure (non-miscegenated) Jewish people. On page 149 of Hagee’s book Jerusalem Countdown, in a chapter with the ominous title “Who Is a Jew,” Hagee writes,

Esau’s descendants would produce a lineage that would attack and slaughter the Jews for centuries. Esau’s descendants included Haman, whose diabolical mind conceived the “final solution” of the Old Testament — the extermination of all Jews living in Persia. It was Esau’s descendants who produced the half-breed Jews of history who have persecuted and murdered the Jews beyond human comprehension. Adolf Hitler was a distant descendant of Esau.

In his next sentence, Hagee goes on to make the false claim that in the 1976 book Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, noted Hitler biographer John Toland “records that Hitler was part Jewish.” What Toland actually stated in his Hitler biography was “There is the slight possibility that Hitler’s grandfather was a wealthy Jew named Frankenberger or Frankenreither.” Hagee’s identification of a miscegenated race of “half-breed Jews” tracing back to Esau seems to originate in theological ideas from the fringe, virulently racist white supremacist Christian Identity movement, as described in books such as Religion and The Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, by leading authority Dr. Michael Barkun. While John Hagee has for decades loudly and publicly condemned anti-Semitism, his writings and sermons have nonetheless promoted some of the most influential and inflammatory anti-Jewish tropes of the modern era, such as the claim that predatory Jewish bankers control international finance and prey upon the masses of humankind.

John Hagee sermon, March 23, 2003

John Hagee, giving March 23, 2003 sermon

In a March 23, 2003 sermon broadcast internationally, Hagee claimed European Rothschild bankers, along with David Rockefeller, controlled the U.S. economy through the Federal Reserve — which according to Hagee was bankrupting average Americans by devaluing the dollar. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League identifies this type of Federal Reserve conspiracy theory, that places Jewish bankers at the center of the proposed grand financial conspiracy, as a “classic anti-Semitic myth”

promotional poster for Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew

Promotional poster for Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda film “Der Ewige Jude” (“The Eternal Jew”)

Hagee’s Jewish banker conspiracy theory was astonishingly similar to claims showcased in the 1940 anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew, said to have been produced under supervision of Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels [link to video footage] . The Nazi film claimed (see link, above) that Jewish bankers, led by European Rothschilds, had “spread their net of financial influence over the working man” and were using their influence over global finance to “terrorize world [money] markets, world opinion, and world politics.” In his March 23, 2003 sermon, that was marketed by John Hagee Ministries as a 3-VHS cassette tape series, Hagee explained [video link], to his megachurch members and to audiences viewing Hagee’s sermon on evangelical radio and TV networks across the globe:

It may be shocking to you but I believe that America’s economic problems are not created by market conditions, they are planned and orchestrated to devalue and to destroy the value of the dollar. It was done by an unseen government that I’ll discuss later in this message. [..] Our economic destiny is controlled by the Federal Reserve system that is now headed by Alan Greenspan. Think about this. It is not a government institution. It is controlled by a group of Class A stockholders including the Rothschilds of Europe and the David Rockefellers of America… So get this one thought. The value of the dollar is controlled by an agency which is not controlled by America. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in finance to understand that. The value of your dollar is controlled by an organization, the Federal Reserve that is not controlled by America. That’s a fact.

packaging of 2003 Hagee sermon series Iraq The Final War

Packaging of John Hagee’s 2003 3-sermon VHS set Iraq: The Final War, that contained Hagee’s March 23, 2003 sermon

Hagee also aired his Jewish banker conspiracy theory in his 1996 book Day of Deception that was reprinted in 2000 in an edition billed as having sold “over 1.1 million copies.” Hagee’s Day of Deception is still sold, by Thomas Nelson publishers. In the book, Hagee makes clear that European Rothschilds (not Rockefellers) have majority shareholder control of the Federal Reserve. In his March 23, 2003 sermon, Hagee predicted that Jewish financiers were behind a satanic Illuminati plot, based in Europe, that would bring the Antichrist to power. This Antichrist, who in a prior sermon Hagee had predicted would be both partially Jewish and homosexual, would according to Hagee [video link] slaughter up to 1/3 of the world’s population and “make Hitler look like a choirboy”. Hagee’s claim that Hitler was “partially Jewish” fits into an emerging American right-wing revisionist genre, with both evangelical and secular expressions, that is rewriting the Holocaust by recasting the victims of Nazi persecution, such as Jews, liberals, communists, and homosexuals, as having been themselves the architects of Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. John Hagee’s pro-Israel form of Christian Zionism is an extremely complex phenomenon which over the past several decades has come to play a significant role in Israel politics. (see this analysis, from Boston-based think tank Political Research Associates, by PRA Fellow Rachel Tabachnick, on the tortured admixture of philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism that characterizes the movement). But Christian Zionism is not new. In the early 1920s, a leading American industrialist — one of the giants of his age, wrote,

Every Jew ought to know also that in every Christian church where the ancient prophecies are received and studied, there is a great revival of interest in the future of the Ancient People. It is not forgotten that certain promises were made to them regarding their position in the world, and it is held that these prophesies will be fulfilled. The future of the Jew, as prophetically outlined, is intimately bound up with the future of this planet, and the Christian church in large part-at least by the evangelical wing, which most Jews condemn-sees a Restoration of the Chosen People yet to come. If the mass of Jews knew how understandingly and sympathetically all the prophecies will find fulfillment and that they will result in great Jewish service to society at large, they would probably regard the church with another mind.

 Henry Ford's The International JewThe author was Henry Ford, who in the 1920s commissioned the writing of the infamous anti-Jewish tract series The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem that expanded upon anti-Jewish conspiracy theories outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious anti-Jewish propaganda document forged by the Russian Tzarist secret police.

Henry Ford placed blame for the start of World War One squarely on Jewish finance. “I know who caused the war: German-Jewish bankers,” declared Ford in 1915. In his 1920 tract series, articles such as “Jewish Power and America’s Money Famine” attributed the economic misfortunes of average Americans, such as farmers, to alleged Jewish control of gold supplies. Henry Ford paid for The International Jew to be translated into German and distributed in mass quantities in Germany. In post-WW2 testimony at the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunals, it emerged that Ford’s anti-Jewish tract had deeply influenced leading Nazis such as Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach. The extended quote above, by Henry Ford, was originally published in Ford’s tract series The International Jew. As may be the case with some contemporary Christian Zionists, Ford did not believe himself to be an anti-Semite. For years the automaker annually gave a new Model T Ford to Rabbi Leo M. Franklin, who lived in Ford’s former Detroit neighborhood.

After Ford began publishing his series The International Jew, Franklin began to refuse Ford’s annual Model T gifts. When Ford questioned the rabbi about it, Franklin replied, “you’re attacking Jews. I can’t accept anything from you.” Ford replied, “No, I’m not attacking Jews, I’m attacking bad Jews. I would think you’d be supportive of that.”
Rabbi Franklin went on to become a co-founder of the Anti-Defamation League.

Israel: The Original Terrorist State


Israel: The Original Terrorist State

Bruce Hoffman’s riveting new history of pre-1947 Palestine reviews the violent birth of the modern Jewish homeland

Civilians and soldiers attempt to rescue victims trapped in the debris of the ruined wing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, Palestine, on 24 July 1946, following the explosion of a bomb in the basement two days earlier. (Tablet Magazine; main photo: Imperial War Museum)

Today, the phrase “Palestinian terrorism” immediately conjures up Arab violence against Jews—suicide bombings in buses or restaurants, Hamas rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. Seventy years ago, however, a reader who encountered those words in a headline would have thought of terrorism not against Jews but by them. From 1944 until 1947, Palestine witnessed a series of assassinations, abductions, and bombings, perpetrated by Jewish terrorists against the occupying British. During that period, some 140 British soldiers and policemen were killed, along with dozens of civilian bystanders. In the end, the terrorists got what they wanted, when Britain announced its intention to withdraw all its forces from Palestine and leave the fate of the country up to the fledgling United Nations.

“Does terrorism work?” asks Bruce Hoffman on the first page of Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947, his riveting and deeply researched new history; and the answer, in this case, would seem to be yes. Of course, there were many factors leading to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. The British Empire was on the decline everywhere, as the crushing economic toll of World War II forced Britain to curtail its overseas commitments. The Holocaust had created sympathy for the Zionist cause, above all in the United States, which kept up a continual pressure on Britain to admit Jewish refugees to Palestine. Most important of all, perhaps, the Jews of the Yishuv—the prestate settlement in Palestine—had created the infrastructure for a state, complete with an illegal but tacitly tolerated army, the Haganah.

Still, it is possible that none of these factors would have succeeded in winning Israel’s independence, if the Jewish campaign of terror hadn’t raised the cost of the British occupation so high. In writing Anonymous Soldiers, Hoffman made use of the previously classified archives of MI5, the British intelligence agency, and the book mostly tells the story of Palestine from the British point of view. As we read the memoranda and committee reports, the urgent telegrams from Jerusalem to London and the orders and reprimands that flowed back in return, we see something remarkable: the inner workings of a world power as it is utterly defeated by a few thousand determined militants.

Those militants belonged to two clandestine organizations, whose complex genealogy Hoffman explains in detail. Their story begins in 1929, when a series of Arab pogroms against Jews broke out across Palestine; altogether, 133 Jews were killed and more than 300 injured. These attacks made clear that the Yishuv needed an organized self-defense force, which it found in the Haganah (the Hebrew word means “defense”), an amateur volunteer group that was now put on official footing and greatly expanded. It was placed under the control of the Histadrut, the Jewish labor federation, which was the leading political institution in Jewish Palestine.

Within two years, however, a group of soldiers associated with the Revisionist Party—the more nationalistic and right-wing alternative to Labor Zionism led by Vladimir Jabotinsky—split from the Haganah over ideological and tactical differences. They became known as Haganah Bet, and “unlike the Haganah,” Hoffman writes, “the Haganah Bet did not see itself as a self-defense force.” Instead, it trained its recruits in offensive operations “including sabotage, bomb making, and hit-and-run attack—in other words, the core tactics of terrorism.” In 1937, after a new round of Arab attacks broke out across the country, much of the Haganah Bet returned to the original Haganah, whose policy insisted on havlaga or self-restraint.

But a hard core of radical officers refused to submit to the Haganah’s discipline. Instead, they announced the formation of a new armed group, the Irgun Zvai Le’umi (National Military Organization), which became known by its Hebrew acronym Etzel, or more commonly simply as the Irgun. (The title of Hoffman’s book comes from the Irgun’s hymn, which begins, “We are the anonymous soldiers without uniform/Surrounded by fear and the shadow of death.”) In the late 1930s, this group directed its attacks primarily against Arabs, planting bombs in Arab cafés and markets and killing dozens of innocent women and children.

Once Britain entered World War II, fighting against the Jews’ greatest enemy of all, Nazi Germany, the Irgun announced a suspension of hostilities. This gesture, however, was bitterly opposed by a small fraction of its leadership, including Avraham Stern, who had spent months in a British prison. Upon release, he left the Irgun to found his own groupuscule, which became known as the Stern Gang. After Stern himself was killed by the British in 1942, it took the name Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), and was known by its acronym, Lehi. If the Haganah’s membership numbered in the tens of thousands, and the Irgun’s in the low thousands, Lehi claimed at most 250 or so followers.

Yet these were committed terrorists, inspired by the idealistic assassins of Tsarist Russia, and they managed to pull off one of the most spectacular outrages of the whole period: the murder of Lord Moyne, the highest British official in the Middle East, in 1944. (That operation was plotted by the future Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.) By that time, the Irgun, too, had resumed its armed struggle against Britain, believing that once the defeat of the Nazis looked certain, it was time to begin pressuring the British on the future of Palestine. The Irgun was revitalized by the arrival in Palestine, in 1943, of Menachem Begin, a veteran activist and survivor of Soviet prisons (and another future prime minister), who commenced an audacious new campaign of attacks. The bloodiest of these was the bombing of the King David Hotel, in July 1946, which killed 91 people.

None of this history is new, but Hoffman excels at describing the complex internal politics of the terrorists, the Yishuv, and the British administration, which were constantly evolving. The mainstream Yishuv, which controlled the Haganah, regularly denounced the outrages of the Irgun and Lehi. But since the British had deeply alienated the Jews of Palestine by restricting Jewish immigration and deferring to Arab hostility, the Yishuv was not especially eager to cooperate with the British in actually cracking down on the terrorists. Indeed, for a brief period after the war, the Haganah and the Irgun actually joined forces.

The inability of the British to stop the terrorists, meanwhile, had officials in London and Jerusalem tearing their hair with frustration. They were caught in the familiar dilemma of the occupier: The more they cracked down on terrorism, the more the civilian population rallied to the terrorists’ side. The Irgun, never large or very popular, could nevertheless operate with impunity, and it answered every British escalation with a new response. When the British started flogging captured prisoners, Irgunists kidnapped some British soldiers and whipped them; when the British executed Jewish terrorists, Irgunists assassinated British policemen. As Hoffman shows in extensive detail, the British were never able to commit enough troops or police to Palestine to control it effectively. Instead, the occupying administration was forced to retreat behind heavily guarded camps, which the Jews mockingly referred to as Bevingrads, after the hated British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin.

What it came down to, in the end, is what terrorism always comes down to: the assertion of will. The relentless terrorist campaign convinced the British press and public that the Jews’ will to create a state in Palestine was greater than Britain’s will to keep ruling it. Indeed, by 1947, the British must have wished that they had never conquered the country from the Turks in the first place, or inserted themselves into the Arab-Jewish conflict with the Balfour Declaration. Ironically, as Hoffman argues, what made the Irgun’s campaign of terror possible was British restraint and moderation. Despite all the provocations, the British never responded to terrorism with mass punishments or reprisals in kind. A different kind of occupier, one not averse to the spilling of Jewish blood, could have pacified the country quickly, if it chose to.

Anonymous Soldiers does a wonderful job of elucidating this enormously complex and important period in Jewish history. Hoffman does not attempt to answer all the moral and political questions his story raises, but no reader can avoid asking them. Was the terrorism of the Irgun and Lehi morally justified, since in the end it did help to win a Jewish state? If so, what are the implications of that judgment for today’s Palestinian terrorism, which is also conceived as an armed struggle against an occupying power, and which uses many of the same techniques pioneered by Begin? (Indeed, Hoffman ends his book by noting that a copy of Begin’s memoir The Revolt was discovered in the library of an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.)

Hoffman’s story offers two possible morals, which point in opposite directions. One is that a determined national liberation movement will always triumph in the end, since the occupier’s will to remain is always going to be weaker than the occupied’s will to freedom. If this is true, then presumably the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is only a matter of time, and every day that Israel resists such an outcome means more lives pointlessly lost.

The other moral, however, is that Israel only exists because of the ability of Jews to defend themselves with force. The British could be driven out of Palestine because they had a home to go back to; but the Israelis have nowhere else to go, and so they can never give up fighting. If this is true, then the struggle which began in the 1920s is destined to go on until the Jews convince the Arabs that they are in Israel to stay. (This was the view Jabotinsky advanced in his famous essay “The Iron Wall,” more than 90 years ago.) Whichever you believe, it’s clear that the future of the Jewish state depends on the correct interpretation of the story Hoffman tells in Anonymous Soldiers.

Life and Loathing in Greater Israel: A Review of Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’


Life and Loathing in Greater Israel: A Review of Max Blumenthal’s ‘Goliath’

by Jim Miles

Goliath – Life and loathing in Greater Israel.  Max Blumenthal, Nation Books, 2013

From Foreign Policy Journal

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/

Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

This is a powerfully written book, a mixture of current events, historical data, and personal anecdotal comments and stories.  Throughout there are pervasive themes that clearly outline the nature of the Israeli state as it exists today. From May 2009 up to early 2013, Max Blumenthal passed “many prolonged stays in the Holy Land,” from which he derived this current assessment.

The over-riding themes—and they tend to intermingle within the right wing ideologies of the Netanyahu/Lieberman government—are all based on the demographic threat that Israel perceives to be the main problem, which has always been seen as a problem from the earliest Zionists.

While in the past there were some at least minimally effective two-country advocates, the current situation has developed into one of over-riding racist state fascism.  This expresses itself in the ongoing settlements developments, now more overtly antagonistic to the Palestinians; the many race based laws prohibiting Palestinian participation in society, accompanied by overt acts of racism to Palestinians and African refugees; and open expressions of hostility indicating the desire to simply get rid of both groups.

The idea of a “Jewish and democratic state” also comes to a crashing halt as there are many instances of political leaders essentially indicating that they would choose Jewishness before democracy.

The first section of the work provides the current events background that gives rise to the Netanyahu/Lieberman

Israel Attacks Syria, Adding Complexity to Syrian Civil War


Israel Attacks Syria, Adding Complexity to Syrian Civil War

Israeli Officials Refuse Comment Amid Conflicting Stories of What Was Attacked
by Jason Ditz 

Fresh off of weekend claims by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom that Israel was considering attacking Syria, they did exactly that, sending warplanes through Lebanon into Syrian territory and launching air strikes that killed two people.

Exactly what was hit, who was killed, and why the attack was launched at all remain matters of intense speculation, and with Israeli officials refusing any comment on their attack, conflicting stories from Syria and the United States are being pushed.

The US claims that Israel attacked an “arms convoy” en route to Lebanon, carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons to the Hezbollah faction, which would make Israeli attacks in Lebanon less convenient.

Syria, on the other hand, claims that the attacking warplanes struck a military research facility near Damascus, killing two workers and wounding five others. They accused Israel of doing so to aid the rebels.

Experts say that whatever was hit likely had nothing to do with Syria’s chemical weapons program, which Israeli officials have often cited as a likely target. Such an attack would’ve caused massive environmental damage and would’ve been readily confirmed.

Whatever the case, the attack will have a major impact on Syria’s civil war, complicating the conflict and adding credence domestically to Assad’s claims of a Western conspiracy against him. Though it is highly unlikely Israel launched the attack in coordination with Syria’s Islamist rebels, the perception of an Israeli role in the war for regime change could shift popular opinion both in Syria and in the various nations from which Islamist fighters are flocking

Top 10 Myths About Israel’s Attack on Gaza


Top 10 Myths About Israel’s Attack on Gaza

These misconceptions are spread by the American media.

1. Israeli hawks represent themselves as engaged in a ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians in which Hamas refuses to join. In fact, Israel has refused to cease colonizing and stealing Palestinian land long enough to engage in fruitful negotiations with them. Tel Aviv routinely announces new, unilateral house-building on the Palestinian West Bank. There is no peace process. It is an Israeli and American sham. Talking about a peace process is giving cover to Israeli nationalists who are determined to grab everything the Palestinians have and reduce them to penniless refugees (again).

2. Actions such as the assault on Gaza can achieve no genuine long-term strategic purpose. They are being launched to ensure that Jewish-Israelis are the first to exploit key resources. Rattling sabers at the Palestinians creates a pretext for further land-grabs and colonies on Palestinian land. That is, the military action against the people of Gaza is a diversion tactic; the real goal is Greater Israel, an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over all the territory once held by the British Mandate of Palestine.

3. Israeli hawks represent their war of aggression as in ‘self-defense.’ But the UK Israeli chief rabbi admitted on camera that that the Gaza attack actually ‘had something to do with Iran.’

4. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinians of Gaza as “bad neighbors” who don’t accept Israel. But 40% of the people in Gaza are refugees, mostly living in refugee camps, from families in pre-1948 Palestine that had lived there for millennia.

They were expelled from what is now Israel in the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing campaign. Israelis are now living in their homes and farming their land, and they were never paid any reparations for the crimes done to them.[pdf] “Israel’s failure to provide reparations to Palestinian refugees over the past six decades is in blatant violation of international law.” Israel does not accept Palestine’s right to exist, even though it is constantly demanding that everyone, including the displaced and occupied Palestinians, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Click to enlarge.

5. Israeli hawks and their American clones depict Gaza as a foreign, hostile state with which Israel is at war. In fact, the Gaza strip is a small territory of 1.7 million people militarily occupied by Israel (something in which the UN and other international bodies concur). Israelis do not allow it to have a port or airport, nor to export most of what it produces. Palestinians cannot work about a third of its land, which is reserved by Israel as a security buffer. As an occupied territory, it is covered by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations by their military occupier. Indiscriminate bombing of occupied territories by the occupier is clearly illegal in international law.

6. Israeli hawks see themselves as innocent victims of bewildering Palestinian rage from Gaza. But Israel not only has kept Palestinians of Gaza in the world’s largest outdoor penitentiary, they have them under an illegal blockade that for some years aimed at limiting their nutrition without altogether starving them to death. I wrote earlier:

“The food blockade had real effects. About ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. A recent report [pdf] by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that, in addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers. “

If any foreign power surrounded Israel, destroyed Haifa port and Tel Aviv airport, and prevented Israeli exports from being exported, what do you think Israelis would do? Oh, that’s right, it is rude to see both Palestinians and Israelis as equal human beings.

7. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinian residents of Gaza as followers of Hamas, a party-militia of the Muslim religious right. But half of Palestinians in Gaza are minors, who never voted for Hamas and cannot be held collectively responsible for that party.

8. Israeli hawks justify their aggression on the Palestinians on grounds of self-defense. But Israel is a country of 7.5 million people with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, helicopter gunships and F-16s and F-18s, plus 400 nuclear warheads. Gaza is a small occupied territory of 1.7 million which has no heavy weaponry, just some old guns and some largely ineffectual rockets. (Israelis cite hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza in 2012; but until Israel’s recent attack they had killed not a single Israeli, though they did wound a few last March when fighting between Palestinians and Israelis escalated.) Gaza is a threat to Israel the way the Transkei Bantustan was a threat to Apartheid South Africa. As for genuine asymmetrical threats from Gaza to Israel, they could be dealt with by giving the Palestinians a state and ceasing the blockade imposed on them, or in the worst case scenario counter-terrorism targeted at terrorists rather than indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

9. Israeli hawks maintain that they were provoked into the attack. But actually Ahmad Jabari, the Hamas leader the Israelis assassinated earlier this week, had been engaged in talks with the Israelis about a truce. Assassinations achieved by the ruse of openness to peace talks are guarantees of no further peace talks.

10. Although most American media is a cheering section for the Likud Party,in fact the world is increasingly done out with Israel’s aggressiveness. Boycotts and sanctions will likely grow over time, leaving Israeli hawks with a deficit…

Juan Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan

Australia’s Disneyfied Israel


Australia’s Disneyfied Israel

by 

For two weeks this month, Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), visited Australia as a guest of the New Israel Fund Australia Foundation. Only 18 months old, NIF Australia has already achieved a significant aim of its creation: to begin anew a conversation about Israel and Judaism in Australia.

Hagai El-Ad standing in front of the Melbourne skyline. (Photo by Arielle Perlow via New Israel Fund Australia)
Hagai El-Ad standing in front of the Melbourne skyline. (Photo by Arielle Perlow via New Israel Fund Australia)

The Jewish community here—dominated by Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and migrants from South Africa and the former Soviet Union—is acutely aware of the importance of multiculturalism and of respecting human rights in Australia. But, paradoxically, though hardly uniquely, the communal leadership has ensured these values aren’t applied in its engagement with Israel.

Blinded by fear of anti-Semitism and the need to over-protect Israel and our conversations about it, the community has landed firmly on the Zionist Right. With a leadership composed almost exclusively of middle-aged Religious Zionist men, the community has developed a thinly veiled enmity towards left-wing Jews and Zionists. Instead of fostering a pluralist Zionist conversation, they largely promote a limited set of views. The lessons of tolerance, human rights, and equality have, over time, been lost and replaced with a myopic Zionism.

Though the establishment sets its “red lines” for inclusion as being anti-BDS and pro-two-state solution, it has embraced, or at best turned a blind eye to, groups on the right, like Ateret Cohanim, which are active campaigners against Palestinian sovereignty. Meanwhile, NIF guests like David Landau, despite firmly fitting the criteria, are demonized. Similarly, NIF’s credentials and leadership are constantly brought into question.

The math just doesn’t add up: Setting boundaries for Zionist conversation, and then ignoring those boundaries to welcome speakers with anti-Palestinian agendas and to undermine liberal Zionists is, quite simply, rank hypocrisy.

The community’s leadership also deliberately weakens public expressions of liberal Zionism. The cancellation of a visit by Naomi Chazan to Australia in early 2010 served as the precursor for a prolonged global campaign against the New Israel Fund. It was as if, to the communal leadership’s sudden surprise, NIF was full of liberals and left-wing Zionists, and was therefore unworthy of engagement. I have been a victim myself, having been terminated as a columnist at the country’s only Jewish newspaper for daring to support a boycott of settlement goods.

Fully understanding the causes of this dynamic is difficult, but the unbroken right-wing communal leadership and the impact of the Holocaust no doubt contribute to wanting to protect Israel and Diaspora Jews.

Which is why El-Ad’s visit is so crucial. Throughout, a common theme of his talks was an urge to have a “real relationship with a real Israelnot a fake relationship with a ‘Disneyfied’ version of Israel.” Each time he said that, I watched the crowd lift their heads. It was as if they paused, reflected back on his discussion of the human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, of Bedouin displacement in the Negev, of Israel’s mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and realized this was the first time they were actually engaging in these real-world-Israel issues.

His visits to Jewish day schools, in particular, provoked such responses. The occupation, when it is dealt with, is not understood as something that necessarily creates terrible human rights violations and undermines the long-term viability of the Jewish-democratic Zionist project. The ‘aha’ moment with regard to the occupation and the realities facing refugees and asylum seekers, when El-Ad spoke, was that Israel faces these issues, and that bringing them to light is okay. In a small way, his visit contributed to a wider understanding of Israel.

Given everything Jews have been through, and given how close Australian Jewry has been to these catastrophes, it’s not surprising there is a desire to shelter or be sheltered. But creating an atmosphere in which views held by loving and concerned Zionists are marginalized is precisely the wrong way to go, not only as a matter of principle, but because of the way young Jews are disengaging like never before.

El-Ad’s message of human rights and his plea to challenge assumptions ingrained over the decades has further challenged the self-perceived right of the communal leadership to act as marshals of Zionist conversation, deciding who is allowed in and which opinions are kept out. Recently, because of organizations like NIF, members of the community have begun rejecting that paradigm. Being exposed to Israel’s wrongs brings an appreciation for how we can contribute to curing them. These messages don’t delegitimize Israel, they add to its strength.

Is Obama Right to Snub Netanyahu?


Obama is right to ignore Netanyahu

By Andrew Cohen, Ottawa Citizen September 24

In the Jewish calendar, the interlude between Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is called the Days of Awe. During these 10 days, Jews reflect on themselves and their faith.

Like observant Jews everywhere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will consider his conduct over the last year and seek forgiveness for his transgressions. He will have much to contemplate. Before the Days of Awe, Netanyahu had his Days of Audacity.

That’s audacity as in effrontery, not boldness. Netanyahu’s cardinal sin is interfering in the domestic politics of the United States, Israel’s friend, ally and benefactor, in a manner that is disingenuous, ungrateful and irresponsible.

Twice this month, Netanyahu has told the United States, publicly, to give Iran an ultimatum on its nuclear program. It should draw “a red line” that Iran cannot cross, he says. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red line before Israel,” he told a news conference this month.

His point: that if America is not going to set limits on the Iranians and nuclear weapons, it has no right to tell Israel what to do.

As if those dense Americans didn’t recognize themselves as “the international community,” Netanyahu later went on American television to drive home the point.

Let’s get beyond the coded conversation. The prime minister is saying that President Barack Obama is unreliable. He does this as the president seeks re-election against a Republican who attacks him for being soft on Iran and hard on Israel, who claims Obama is “throwing Israel under the bus.”

It is very simple and very dangerous, Netanyahu’s game. In portraying Obama as weak, he plays to the Republican canard that on Israel — as in events in Libya and Egypt — the president has no backbone.

This is beyond audacity. It is chutzpah.

No wonder Obama is snubbing Netanyahu when he visits the United Nations this week. He resents Netanyahu’s megaphone diplomacy, which tries to drag the U.S. into a premature, preventive war, as well as his ingratitude for America’s magnanimous financial and military support of Israel.

For months, Netanyahu has been warning that Iran is getting the bomb, a refrain from him and other alarmists we have heard for 20 years. In his messianic view of himself and Jewish history, Israel has no choice but to strike first.

Netanyahu continues to argue this amid growing opposition in Israel, particularly among influential insiders, such as Meir Dagan, who ran Mossad. Read Dagan’s assessment of Iran in the New Yorker, and see the emptiness — and recklessness — of Netanyahu’s declarations on Iran.

It was madness to speak of hitting Iran in January, when Netanyahu began his new season of sabre-rattling, and it is madness now. Attacking Iran isn’t about weak-kneed morality. It is about hard-headed practicality.

And practically speaking, it just doesn’t add up.

No credible intelligence suggests that Israel has the ability to destroy Iran’s capacity to make a nuclear bomb. It can delay it, yes, for six to 24 months.

Say Israel does attack Iran. Then what? Consider the consequences: a newly enfranchised but still illegitimate regime in Tehran, backed by popular outrage in the Arab Street; the expulsion of the international nuclear inspectors; a public commitment from Iran to developing the bomb “in self-defence”; a rain of rockets on Israel’s cities, launched by Hezbollah and Hamas; Israeli retaliation inviting regional war, drawing in Egypt.

No wonder Obama wants to let international sanctions and diplomacy play out. If they don’t, and the Iranians decide to build a bomb (which they have not yet), Obama might then decide to order an attack. If so, it would be carried out with America weaponry, with a better chance of success.

Apparently that isn’t enough for Netanyahu. He is gambling that a weakened Obama loses the election, and that Mitt Romney embraces Netanyahu’s view and takes his talking points from Jerusalem, much like the government of Canada.

That the United States has helped finance Israel’s (“Iron Dome”) anti-missile and other defence systems, that it has provided $168 billion in aid to the country since 1948, and that it has collaborated with Israel on anti-nuclear cyber-warfare against Iran — all does not give Netanyahu pause.

The prime minister’s audacity will bring him more trouble than he knows.

If he attacks Iran over the objections of the Americans, he risks shattering Israel’s most important relationship. If he doesn’t attack but continues to push the U.S. to present ultimatums, he risks shattering his relationship with Obama, who will be less tolerant of Netanyahu if re-elected.

In arguing for red lines, Netanyahu cited — and misread — John F. Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis 50 years ago. As Netanyahu tries to make the case for war, he would do well to heed JFK’s memorable warning: those who ride the back of the tiger often end up inside.

Andrew Cohen is a professor of journalism and international affairs at Carleton University.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

 

Israel is in the midst of a culture war


Israel is in the midst of a culture war

The right has been in power for a long time now, and now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

By Gideon LevyTags: KnessetIsraeli ArabsHaredimJerusalem

Anyone who says this is a matter of a few inconsequential laws is leading others astray; anyone who claims a reversible procedure is being deceptive; anyone who states reassuringly that this is a passing phase is trying to put one over. Even the person who thinks it’s just an attempt at regime change is under a delusion. What we are witnessing is w-a-r.

This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state. Our way of life is about to change, from cradle to grave. For this reason, it could be the most pivotal battle in the country’s history since the War of Independence.

We always knew that a few years without an external threat could strain the delicate seams: When the guns go silent, the demons roar. But no one predicted such an outburst of demons of every kind, all at once. The assault on the existing order is an all-out war, on every front; a political tsunami, a cultural flood and a social and religious earthquake, all still in their infancy. Those who call this an exaggeration are trying to lull you to sleep. The defeats and the victories up to now will determine the course of events: In the end, we will have a different country. The pretension of being an enlightened Western democracy is giving way, with terrifying speed, to a different reality – that of a benighted, racist, religious, ultranationalist, fundamentalist Middle Eastern country. That is not the kind of integration into the region we had hoped for.

The ferocious combined assault is highly effective. It targets women, Arabs, leftists, foreigners, the press, the judicial system, human rights organizations and anyone standing in the way of the cultural revolution. From the music we listen to, to the television we watch, from the buses we ride to the funerals we attend , everything is about to change. The army is changing, the courts are in turmoil, the status of women is being pelted with rocks, the Arabs are being shoved behind a fence and the labor migrants are being forced into concentration camps. Israel is barricading itself behind more and more walls and barbed-wire fences as if to say, to hell with the world.

There is no single guiding hand mixing this boiling, poisonous potion; many hands stir the revolution, but they all have something in common: the aspiration to a different Israel, one that is not Western, not open, not free and not secular. The extreme nationalist hand passes the antidemocratic, neofascist laws; the Haredi hand undermines gender equality and personal freedoms; the racist hand acts against the non-Jews; the settler hand intensifies the hold not only on the occupied territories but also deep into Israel; and another hand interferes in education, culture and the arts.

You can’t see the forest for the trees, and the forest is dark and deep. Take, for example, Friday’s paper. The news pages of Haaretz reported on a few such rotten trees: the managers of dozens of businesses in Sderot have begun requiring their workers to dress modestly; in Mea She’arim, the polling places are gender-segregated; nonobservant Jews in Jerusalem have been asked to wear a kippa at work; Carmiel’s Palmach School has been turned into a religious school; discrimination against Sephardic girls at schools in Jerusalem, Modi’in Ilit, Betar Ilit and Bnei Brak; withdrawal from a physicians’ training program for Palestinians as a condition for tax relief; the government’s new plan to fight illegal immigration. And one final touch: The foreign minister gave his imprimatur to the Putinist election in Russia. All in a single day, one ordinary day.

In 1948 the state was established, and in 2011 a war is being waged for its never-crystallized character. In between these two years, the state has been rocked by waves of immigration, by different governments and by contradictory trends, and throughout loomed the threat of war and other external dangers. Various islands formed, some of them beautiful, and sometimes it seemed as if an open, enlightened country was taking root. Now that belief is on the verge of being shattered. The right has been in power for a long time now, but it lacked the self-confidence to launch this crucial assault. But now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

We’ll meet again in a few years, in that other Israel, that will be different and distorted beyond recognition.

The Destruction of Israel


Make no mistake, Israel‘s existence is under threat
TheDrum By ABC’s Ben Knight

Updated September 24, 2011 12:17:39

Let’s imagine for a moment that at this time next year, by some
miracle, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas meet on the White House lawn to
sign the accord that will create the nation of Palestine. All disagreements are
forever resolved – from where the borders of the two countries will lie, to how
they will share Jerusalem as their capital.

Let’s also assume that all Muslim and Arab nations will keep their promise to
recognise Israel – and that the militants of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad
are consigned to the dustbin of history.

Israel is finally free to realise its full potential as a nation. Or, to put
it another way – Israel is finally free to let its own internal divisions and
hatreds tear it apart.

If you think Israelis and Palestinians don’t see eye to eye, the gulf between
secular Israelis and the ultra-orthodox religious is probably just as wide.

Go to Tel Aviv on a Saturday morning, and you’ll see one version of Israel –
secular, middle-class sun-worshippers, sitting in trendy beachside cafes,
munching on bacon and eggs, or hummus and salad.

Then, on the same Saturday morning, drive 40 minutes up the highway to
Jerusalem, where you’ll visit an entirely different country. Here, there are no
cars, and streets are closed off with police barriers – as ultra-orthodox Jews
in black overcoats and fur hats walk to the Western Wall to pray.

And no, the two groups don’t get along.

Secular Israelis work, pay taxes, and serve in the army. Ultra-orthodox, or
Haredi Jews, don’t.

Secular Israelis are prepared to die for their country in battle, but have to
travel outside it to get married in a civil ceremony.

Not surprisingly, it’s a pretty sore point. Especially as the demographic
balance is shifting fast.

Secular couples have, on average, around two children per couple. Haredi
couples have closer to eight or nine.

And it’s changing the very identity of Israel – away from the secular,
socialist civil society it was created as in 1948 – to something quite
different.

To see it in action, you only need to take a peek inside an Israeli
school.

Israeli’s government funds three streams of education; regular state schools,
ultra-orthodox religious schools, and Israeli Arab schools.

Back in 1960, only around 15 per cent of Israeli children were enrolled in
religious or Arab schools.

That figure is now around 50 per cent. In 30 years, it will be almost 80 per
cent. That is a frightening statistic for the nation of Israel.

Arab Israelis have long had lower education, and higher unemployment
levels.

But the real problem is in the religious stream.

In religious schools, children don’t learn mathematics, science, or English;
only the Bible. All day, every day. And Haredi men are expected to – and do –
continue that Bible study for the rest of their lives.

It’s all funded by the taxpayers. And the taxpayers are… secular
Israelis.

What does it mean? Well, if the figures are to be believed, in less than 30
years, Israel will have a population where the majority either can’t, or won’t
join the workforce – putting an increasing, and impossible burden on the secular
minority to pay the taxes and serve in the army.

This, in the ‘Startup Nation’ – the country that prides itself on its hi-tech
sector. Israel has the ideas, the inventors, and the entrepreneurs – but
already, it has to import workers from overseas, because there aren’t enough
educated Israelis in the job market.

It’s not sustainable. Israelis know about it, and sometimes talk about it,
but Israel’s government does nothing. It’s just too hard – especially as the
political power of the ultra-religious is growing. It’s almost impossible to
form a government in Israel today without them.

Opposition – and resentment – is growing. Middle-class, taxpaying, secular
Israelis are already so angry about the mere cost of living – and that their
children cannot afford to buy or rent a home – that they have taken to the
streets in huge numbers.

But it’s hard to see how any government – however brave – is going to be able
to turn the ship around without committing political suicide.

Now let’s imagine that in a year from now, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud
Abbas have not reached a peace deal.

All of the current problems are still there; but Israel is even more
isolated, the Palestinians are even more frustrated, and sitting in the midst of
an ever more unstable and chaotic region.

This week’s UN assembly might have put Israel and Palestine back in the
headlines – but it won’t solve the conflict. And soon enough, it will all fade
from view again.

And all the while, behind the scenes, Israel’s
demographic time bomb is still ticking away.

Ben Knight
is the ABC’s Middle East correspondent.

Jewish Right Wing Crazy Looks to Partner With Terrorists To Fight Turkey


Israel Could Partner With Terrorists To Fight Turkey

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wants to play hardball with Turkey because the Turkish military has cut ties with Israel after Turkish citizens were killed in the infamous flotilla raid (and no apology has been issued). The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur explains how the PKK is involved.

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/09/09/315924/israeli-foreign-minister-…

Demons On The Streets Of Israel


Demons On The Streets Of Israel

Israeli Flag 

 

Demons on the streets of Israel
This is not a predominantly racist country, but we are guilty of failing to recognize victimhood in others.
By Anshel Pfeffer • Ha’aretz

Almost 30 years ago, my father employed a computer programmer who was an early and prominent support of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party. Innocently, I once asked him how an educated man, an accomplished linguist and mathematician, could support racism. “Jews can’t be racist,” he answered. “We allow anyone to convert and become a Jew and once he is a Jew, he is equal to us in every way. So how can anyone say we are racists?”

I have learned a few things since then. Among them, that having an education is no bar to holding obscene views, and that racism is not technically just about race. But the idea that Jews cannot really be racist is far from being a fringe belief. The reasoning behind this is not just theological.

Two millennia of persecution have ingrained us with the knowledge that whenever there is racism around, we will be on the receiving end. True, the Torah includes exhortations to exterminate whole nations, men, women and children, but those are relics of an ancient time with no relevance to today’s world. Or so we tell ourselves.

Most of the disparaging references to non-Jews in the Talmud were censored out a thousand years ago, mainly for fear of provoking more persecution. Racism always seemed like a luxury that a downtrodden minority group could not afford. Early Zionism may have ascribed to the notion of a “land without a people,” disregarding the Arab inhabitants of the land, but this was originally an English Christian notion and by the time 1948 was here, the new Jewish state enshrined equality for members of all races and faiths in its founding declaration.

Sure, 63 years later we still have not yet got around to ensuring that Arab citizens enjoy equal access to land, resources, employment, education and budgets, but we see that as just one more problem that our facile politicians and small-minded bureaucrats have yet to solve. Racists? Us? Have we not we given homes and livelihoods to millions of immigrants, many of them non Jews by any standard? William Safire wrote in the New York Times after the airlifting of the Beta Yisrael from Ethiopia became public that “for the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought to a country not in chains but in dignity, not as slaves but as citizens.” Yes, not everyone wants their children to learn with them in the same school, but that’s only because they have so much to catch up, that they bring down the academic level. And the segregation between Sephardi and Ashkenazi girls in Haredi schools? That’s only some weird religious observance issue.

After 1967, Israel assumed control of the lives of millions of Palestinians, without civil rights, and after three generations of Israelis became accustomed to letting Jewish settlers through roadblocks and stopping Arabs, and mainstream state-employed rabbis began channeling biblical hatreds, we still convince ourselves it is a result of the existential nationalist conflict between us and them. They were the ones who shouted Itbach al-Yahud [slaughter the Jews], treated prisoners inhumanely and attacked Jews worldwide whenever tensions boiled over in the Middle East. We sent sophisticated field hospitals to Haiti after the earthquake. Two weeks ago, when dozens of rabbis signed the letter against renting apartments to Arabs, former Knesset Member Rabbi Haim Druckman proposed to change the wording. Instead of Arabs, he proposed “hostile elements trying to take advantage of the equality between loyal citizens, realize the ‘right of return’ and banish us from our land.” Anything to maintain the illusion.

Well, finally the racist cat is out of the bag. The demonstrations in South Tel Aviv and Bat Yam against foreigners living in their neighborhoods can no longer be interpreted as anything else.

The group of teenagers that systematically hunted down Arabs on the streets of Jerusalem is not just a freak occurrence. The xenophobia is no longer political, or even solely religious. Rabbis stood by women in shorts at the demonstrations. Veteran Kach members such as MK Michael Ben-Ari were there, but so was Kadima MK Yoel Hasson. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, a member of Labor, said the demonstration in his city was “understandable.” I wonder how he understood the booing and jeering that greeted an Ethiopian immigrant speaker until he assured his listeners that he was Jewish and then called for the Sudanese to be deported back to their land.

The failure of successive governments to secure the border with Egypt, impose consistent regulation on the import and abuse of foreign labor and, above all, to develop coherent and up-to-date immigration and citizenship legislation, has finally unmasked the demons that were always lurking close beneath the surface. Finally, we have the damning proof that in hurtling down the slippery slope between legitimate concerns over immigration and downright hatred of foreigners, Jews are no different from the goyim.

There is a lesson to be learned here from the Diaspora. The parties of the far right in Europe have shed their old neo-Nazi ties and recast themselves as anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim. In doing so, they have tried to court the local Jewish communities, citing joint concerns over anti-Semitic attacks. By and large, these overtures have been shunned; most Jewish leaders responsibly knew where to draw the line between speaking out against Muslim hate crimes and the resulting racist backlash. Some of those very politicians who would never be allowed on any respectable platform in their own countries were welcomed here last month and taken on a tour of the settlements.

Israel, for all its faults, is not a predominantly racist or Apartheid-like country. But there has been a continuing failure of Israeli society as a whole to recognize victimhood in others; to understand that there were other genocides in the 20th century that need commemorating other than the Holocaust; that while an entire nation hopes to see Gilad Shalit returned to his family, there are 10,000 mothers on the other side who see their imprisoned sons as fighters and not murderers; and to realize that no amount of PR can ever change the impression made by 43 years of occupation of another people. These demons have been unleashed on our streets.

The government has a duty, finally, to build the southern border fence, to find ways to integrate some of the illegal immigrants and find alternative solutions for the rest, but all of us have a duty to ourselves – to admit we can also be racists.