A land with no moral limits

A selection of articles on a few aspects of the state which Israel has become, 1 and 2 from Haaretz, 3 from Jewish Forward. Notes and links on the hysteria about Jewish women marrying Arab men.
Protesters hold anti-Arab posters. This one says: “Jews lets win! Jewish women to Jewish men”. Photo by demotix

Not neo-Nazis, Judeo-Nazis

Amos Oz got it wrong again. Bloodcurdling bureaucracy and the banality of evil, here in the land of milk and honey.

By Uri Misgav, Haaretz
May 30, 2014

Amos Oz got it wrong again. It’s not neo-Nazis. It’s Judeo-Nazis. Scions of a unique group which Yeshayahu Leibowitz prophesized so well immediately after the great victory of 1967. Racism, murderousness and profound hatred originating in a religious-messianic worldview that is fueled by the occupation and settlement enterprise.

Of course at this stage, they’re on the margins. But history has proven that the question is how the center responds to the margins. In the wake of the most recent outbreaks of Kristallnacht-inspired rioting, the settler right hastened to label the rioters disdainfully as “graffiti-scribbling youth.” In the buses, more and more stickers are cropping up in Hebrew and Arabic with the warning: “Don’t even dare think about a Jewish woman!” Posters and articles warn not only against “assimilation” but also against Arab employment and housing. Behind this perception there are people, arbiters of halakha or Jewish religious law, organizations, and political movements. Is anyone bothering to investigate, to arrest, to judge? Israel will never be the Germany of 1942, but there is a moral obligation to prevent it from becoming like the Germany of 1932.

Nazism began as a marginal and disturbed ideology that at a certain stage suited the interests of Prussian militarism, the political right and wealthy businessmen, who were horrified at the blossoming of socialism. At first they snickered in secret at the Nazis, afterwards they aspired to exploit them for their own purposes, in the end it was too late.

In the state of the Jewish people it’s already too late. There is no place where we can take the shame and the terror. The center is apathetic. The left is defeated and afraid, in despair, emigrating, fighting among itself, just as in Germany of the early 1930s. Meanwhile generations of Israelis, incited and consumed with hatred, are flooding the public space, and there is nobody to confront them.

Salvation won’t come from the Tzavta theater. They don’t give a damn about Amos Oz. They’re on YouTube with David the Nahal soldier and on Facebook, where one Israeli, a retired Israel Defense Forces employee, suggested collecting Oz’s books and using them as fuel for the Lag Ba’omer bonfire.

The big story is the atmosphere. Thirty years ago the entire country was in an uproar when Shin Bet security service agents killed two terrorists who were captured during a bus hijacking. Today anything goes. When there’s no border there are no limits. That is the price of the occupation and the rite of victimization.

A boy emerges from a known opening in the separation barrier in order to pick herbs, and is shot to death. Little girls return from school walking through a settlers’ orchard, and are detained for hours by Judea and Samaria District police after the owner of the estate complained that a few cherries were picked. A security guard at a border crossing kills a judge as a result of an angry exchange, and suddenly it turns out that the cameras weren’t working. When the cameras work from the Palestinian side, we questions quality of the film instead of asking how two boys were killed at a demonstration.

Only the accursed poetics works overtime. For example, when it turns out that a soldier from the well-oiled IDF “communications division” decided to join the firing at demonstrators for the fun of it. Or when an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, one of the “living witnesses” that the government is so eager to have accompany trips to the extermination camps, slips and is seriously injured at the end of a visit to the Majdanek camp. The Education Ministry rejects all responsibility, responding to a lawsuit by saying she “freely chose to join the trip to Poland… and if the supposed accident really did take place, it happened due to the negligence of the plaintiff, who didn’t pay attention to where she was going.” Here you have it, bloodcurdling bureaucracy and the banality of evil, here in the land of milk and honey.

Amos Oz calls perpetrators of hate crimes ‘Hebrew neo-Nazis

Writer and Israel Prize laureate says ‘hilltop youth’ and ‘price tag’ are whitewashed terms ‘for a monster that should be called by its name.’

By Haaretz
May 10, 2014

Amos Oz. Photo by Ilan Assayag

The writer and Israel Prize laureate Amoz Oz said on Friday that those responsible for hate crimes against Arabs and Christians are “Hebrew neo-Nazis.”

Speaking at a Tel Aviv event marking his 75th birthday, Oz said that terms like “hilltop youth” and “price tag” are “sweet names for a monster that needs to be called what it is: Hebrew neo-Nazis groups.”

Oz added that in his mind, perhaps the only difference between neo-Nazis around the world and perpetrators of hate crimes in Israel is that “our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the support of numerous nationalist or even racist legislators, as well as rabbis who give them what is in my view pseudo-religious justification.”

Former Knesset Speaker and presidential nominee Reuven Rivlin, who also attended the event, said that such a comparison is out of line, Army Radio reported.

On Friday morning, anti-Christian graffiti was found on a wall adjacent to a Roman church in Jerusalem, the latest in a wave of hate crime incidents across Israel.

The Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service fear that right-wing extremists might exploit Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land on May 24-26 to carry out a major hate crime to drum up media attention.

The first triumphal march through East Jerusalem on Jerusalem day, 2011: She is wholly ours, this whole city is ours, this whole land is ours. Photo by Reuters.

‘Go to Hell, Leftist’ and Other Jerusalem Day Slogans

By Leanne Gale, Jewish Forward
May 29, 2014

As I made my way out of the Muslim Quarter, the dark alleyways suddenly seemed too quiet. Just moments before, crowds of ultranationalist Jewish celebrants had marched through this same space shouting “Death to Arabs.” Children had banged against shuttered Palestinian homes with wooden sticks and Israeli police had stood by as teenagers chanted “Muhammad is dead.” Now, all that remained were eerie remnants of their presence: “Kahane Tzadak” (Kahane was right) stickers plastered over closed Palestinian shops and the ground littered with anti-Muslim flyers. As Israeli police and soldiers began to unblock closures, Palestinian residents of the Muslim Quarter cautiously ventured outside. This is the only time I cried.

Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of the Israeli conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967. The March of Flags has become an annual tradition in which thousands of ultranationalist Jewish celebrants parade through the city waving Israeli flags. It culminates in a dramatic march through the Muslim Quarter, generally accompanied by racist slogans and incitement to violence. Israeli police arrive in the area earlier in the day, sealing off entry to Palestinian residents “for their own safety.” Those Palestinians who live in the Muslim Quarter are encouraged to close their shops and stay indoors, while any Palestinian counter-protest is quickly dispersed.

Growing up at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Long Island, I have fond memories of Jerusalem Day. We celebrated every year with school-wide assemblies and dances, singing “Sisu et Yerushalayim” (Rejoice in Jerusalem) and “Jerusalem of Gold” with pride. Even in high school, I never knew the political significance of the day or imagined that my joy might be at someone else’s expense. Today, I know better.

I made a conscious decision to attend the March of Flags this year. As an intern at Ir Amim, an Israeli organization committed to fostering a more equitable and sustainable Jerusalem, I helped coordinate a group of volunteers to document racist slogans, police responses to incitement, and restrictions on Palestinian mobility. While I thought I knew exactly what to expect, I find myself feeling numb as I write these words.

The sea of celebrants convened at the Damascus Gate, outside the Muslim Quarter, seemingly ready to fight. Most were wearing Kahane stickers or paraphernalia, and almost all chanted anti-Arab slogans. Whenever a percussion grenade would go off at the nearby Palestinian counter-protest, hundreds of marchers would run over to the police-line to watch, shouting insults as Palestinians quickly dispersed. Moreover, despite heavy restrictions on Palestinian entry to the area, there was more than one violent confrontation with the Palestinian press, Red Crescent volunteers, and local Palestinian residents simply trying to pass through in one piece.

Perhaps most striking were the children. I will never forget the young Jewish boy, no older than five, wearing stickers plastered all over his shirt: “Kahane was right” and “Don’t even think about a Jewish woman” (sponsored by Lehava). As youngsters milled through the crowd, my protective instincts kicked in to keep them from getting trampled. More than once, a young boy would look up to me, overwhelmed. I would guide him to a nearby parent, silently weighing the red sticker on his shirt.

After watching group after group storm into the Muslim Quarter, I finally decided to enter along with them, video camera in hand. It was not long until the crowd began to notice that I was filming. “Do you film them when they throw stones?” a young man shouted. “Why do you film us instead of them?”

I walked on, trying to remain calm in a threatening environment. A group of Jewish teenagers surrounded me. “So, are Jewish men not enough for you? You need to fuck Arab men instead?” And, “Go to hell, you leftist.” Another blew the sparks of his cigarette directly into my face.

The crowd continued down through the Muslim Quarter, shouting “Death to Arabs” as young Palestinian children stared out of second story windows. A mother carrying her child handed him a large poster, instructing him to hold it in front of my camera so as to obstruct my view. Anywhere I turned, the child turned his poster, until it became impossible for me to film. When I finally turned the camera off, another woman walked straight up to me. Her face inches from mine, she practically spat, “Shame on you. People died for this land. This is Jewish land. If you don’t like it, go to Syria. Go die in Syria.”

We often hear about the mythic “reunification” of Jerusalem. But the March of Flags, if we pay any attention at all, reveals the violence of Jewish power in the holy city. This violence has simultaneously violated the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and poisoned the Jewish community from the inside out. And these days, even as the daughter of a rabbi, I question if I have the strength to stay in the game.

Leanne Gale is a New Israel-Fund Shatil Fellow living in Jerusalem and interning at Ir Amim, an Israeli organization working to promote a more equitable and sustainable Jerusalem.

Notes and links

On Jerusalem Day see also Grotesque celebration of Israeli conquest
FACT SHEET: Lehava: State-Sponsored Incitement , IMEU, 2012

When politics interferes with marriage, it tells us a lot
By Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, The National, January 2011.

Let’s face it: Israel has a racism problem

By Ilene Prusher, Haaretz, 2013.
When an Arab attacks a Jew, he’s a terrorist, he’s been taught to hate. When a Jew attacks an Arab, he’s just a loner, an oddball, a bad egg. But we’ve seen so many bad eggs at this point that something here has begun to stink…..

Jews for a Jewish Bat Yam

From Israel Matzav [‘Torah Judaism’ online]
December 2010

It’s sad that such a demonstration is even necessary in Israel. But it is.

After a rabbis’ letter instructing Jews to not sell or rent apartments to Arabs, racist behavior reaches new low [not my view. CiJ]: An organization called Jews for a Jewish Bat Yam is expected to protest on Monday against the “assimilation of young Jewish women with Arabs living in the city or in nearby Jaffa.”

The protest will be held around 7:30 pm near the Bat Yam mall, not far from the police station. The organizers are also expected to show support for the controversial rabbis’ letter.

“It’s a local organization of Bat Yam residents, because the public is tired of so many Arabs going out with Jewish girls,” explained one of the organizers, Bentzi Gufstein. “In addition to the protest, we will hand out pamphlets explain the situation.”

The organization behind this local protest is actually the Lehava organization, which works to prevent intermarriage in Israel. The right-wing activist Baruch Marzel and a few local rabbis will participate in the demonstration, and the organizers are expecting hundreds more.

During the past week, posters have been hung around the city calling residents to come out and protest. Some of the posters explain: “I will not allow them to hit on my sister! What would you do if an Arab hit on your sister? Put an end to it! Recently we have learned of a grave phenomenon: Hundreds of girls from Bat Yam and the center get together with Arabs, they are integrated amongst us, their confidence rising. Put an end to it! Lower their confidence!”

Another poster reads: “Keeping Bat Yam Jewish. Arabs are taking over Bat Yam, buying and renting apartments from Jews, taking and ruining Bat Yam girls! Around 15,000 Jewish girls have been taken to villages! Jews, come on, let’s win!”

No, it’s not a ‘new low’ as YNet claims. The Jewish people survivied for 3,000 years because we did not intermarry. Those who intermarry – God forbid – are lost to the Jewish people. In the case of Arabs marrying Jewish women, the women soon find themselves tortured prisoners. I am personally acquainted with people who rescue these women and hide them from their husbands.

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