Saturday, July 14

The Nation-State Bill is the Apartheid Road

The Nation-State Bill is on the road to be debated in the Knesset. It is the total opposite of the Declaration of Israel’s Independence that states that “ it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Nation-State Bill makes it legal to establish “Jewish Only” settlements and to exclude non-Jewish citizens of Israel. This bears a strong similarity to apartheid South Africa’s Group Areas Act of 1950 created by the apartheid government of South Africa and assigned racial groups to different residential and business sections in urban areas. An effect of the law was to prevent non-whites from living in the most developed areas.


What would happen if the US or Europe would legalize the prohibition of Jews living in certain towns? No doubt Israel would be in the forefront in accusations of anti-Semitism against these countries for passing these racist, anti-Semitic laws and rightly so. However, in Israel, there appears to be a growing racist phobia against non-Jews, especially amongst Netanyahu’s sycophants in the Knesset that would ensure a comfortable majority in the second and third reading of this despicable Bill if it reaches the final readings.  


In other words, it negates Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948.


The following illustration of the Nation-State Bill  comes from Haaretz


The ramifications and interpretations of what is a non-Jew can be defined as Arabs of Muslim or Christian faith, LGBT Community, Reform and Conservative (Masorti) Jews. There are many MKs in the Netanyahu Regime, who claim that Reform and Conservative Jews are not Jews. These MKs are mostly members of ultra-Orthodox Parties (Shas and Yahadut Hatorah) and even members of the right-wing religious Zionist Bayit Ha-Yehudi Party.


PM Netanyahu is reported to be determined to get this Bill passed before the upcoming general elections in 2019. He is desperate to get the extremist right-wing votes as well to increase his party majority in the Knesset.




If this Bill in its present format gets overwhelming support in the Knesset then Israel’s democracy will be compromised. The damage to Israel’s image will be great and it will be on the road to becoming an apartheid, fascist state.


The Israeli Electorate is becoming increasingly right-wing and it will not be surprising that King Bibi Netanyahu will increase his support. As it is today, the present Netanyahu Government with its sycophants is damaging Israel’s democracy.


The present Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, has already started her campaign to weaken Israel’s Law Courts by appointing judges whose views are conservative and serve her political agenda. There are members in her party with extremist right-wing MK views such as Bezalel Smotrich that have a lot of clout in the present government. Smotrich and Shaked are on record for demanding the release of a minor who has spent two and a half years in prison for his part in the in the July 2015 Duma arson murders of three members of the Dawabshe family. Smotrich’s ideology is very similar to the well known right-wing racist, the Late Rabbi Meir Kahane - the founder of the neo-fascist Kach Movement.


The next stage will be censorship of culture that is not supportive of the present government right-wing agenda. Israel’s passionate, Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport is doing a great job in destroying Israeli Cinema projects as well as theatre productions not conforming to her political views and those of the Netanyahu Likud shenanigans in the Knesset.


Press freedom and media will be the next victims of draconian measures. As the situation is today, people who support NGOs such as Breaking the Silence, B’tzelem, Peace Now and do not support the illegal settler movement and their unofficial allies Price Tag (pyromaniacs who burn and destroy Palestinian property) are ostracised and viewed as traitors. These are the inevitable measures that may follow as a result of the Nation-State Bill if passed.


The so-called mantra of Israel being an apartheid state will become a truth.

Friday, June 29

Scorched Earth in the South

Israel fiddles while the south burns! This is what is really happening on the southern Israel-Gaza border. Israel has no plan of action - just threats of retaliation and the sporadic attacks on Hamas positions which seems to be ineffective. Israel seems to be moving closer to a military conflict with Hamas in Gaza that according to reports “neither side wants”.

If this was not the case then Hamas would not be so involved with its ingenuity in sending young teenagers to the border launching incendiary kites with explosives to cause havoc and destruction of agricultural lands and natural habitat including wholesale slaughter of natural fauna as if they are to blame for the situation of dire straits of the Gazan Palestinians! Viewing burnt carcasses of defenceless wild animals exhibits the barbarity of Hamas in its motivation for the destruction of everything in its path. Nothing can justify this Palestinian epidemic of destruction, which in the long run will rebound on them. The Gazan youngsters are faced with a bleak future and Hamas exploits this - not to improve their situation but to entrench itself in power even more. They must be held accountable for the Gazan suffering and this has also resulted in Israel's stranglehold on Gaza's border to prevent terrorism coming into Israel.

The fantasy in the DNA of Hamas of Israel’s total destruction is as strong as ever. This mantra is the reason why there is a stalemate in any form of even initiating peace negotiations. Israel has the power to destroy Hamas and take over Gaza but it has no desire to achieve this. It would be costly in human lives on both sides. It is a case of “better the devil you do know than the devil you do not know”. Israel is satisfied giving Hamas a bashing militarily here and there in order to bring them to heel.

The last few days, it seems that the motivation of the Palestinian youngsters to send incendiary kites is decreasing. Even the Israel media is not making headline reports over it anymore.
A kite with a Molotov cocktail is flown by Palestinians on the Gaza Israeli border, April 20. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The damage to agricultural fields and natural habitat is enormous and rehabilitation will cost millions of shekels.

Hamas will lick its wounds for a while, re-arm under the auspices of Iran and possibly Turkey for the next round of terror and destruction and both sides will continue to bleed. The Palestinians will bleed more as Israel employs effective measures to neutralise rocket fire from Gaza and soon they will have the know-how to neutralize the incendiary kites launched into Israel. Raphael Technologies are working round the clock on a laser system to destroy these kites and they will succeed.

The solution to the problem with the Gaza Palestinians lies in their rehabilitation. Israel needs to loosen the noose over Gaza and allow the people of Gaza to work in Israel as starters. This, of course, has to be accompanied by strict security checks in the beginning.

Money from financial sources in the International Community is essential to help rebuild Gaza and improve the quality of life of the Gazan People. There must be a means to prevent the money from landing in the pockets of the Hamas leaders, who have enriched themselves because of lack of transparency as well as allowing much of the world donations being transferred to the building of tunnels for infiltration into Israel to carry out terrorist acts.

Above all, there should be an initiation of secret channels of negotiations between Israel and Hamas through a third party. In order to get there, there must be mutual agreement to negotiate either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, both sides have no desire to end the conflict and this is the crux of the problem.

Friday, May 25

What is Bad for Gaza is Bad For Israel


There is no doubt that what is bad for Gaza is bad for Israel as well. I wrote about Israel’s blame for the creation of the Hamas terrorist group and if this is the case then Israel must be held accountable for the Hamas increase in power and influence in the Gaza Strip because of its “divide and rule” policies in the 1970s.

How different life in Gaza was in the mid-1970s when I arrived in Israel from Cape Town, South Africa in 1974. In those days I was a hospital pharmacist in Barzilai Hospital, Ashkelon. I travelled to Gaza quite often to do my shopping in the "shuk" in the main street of Gaza City. The vendors were helpful and pleasant. I never felt that my personal security was compromised. I had become friendly with the Arab nursing staff of Barzilai Hospital and we used to eat together in the restaurants in Gaza. I used to take the Gaza bound sherut to Gaza from Ashkelon. The sherut from Tel Aviv to Gaza always stopped in Ashkelon to take passengers to Gaza. 


Over the weekends, Gazans used to come freely to Ashkelon and spend time on the beautiful beaches and parks there. There were no restrictions or permits, nor was there any danger of terrorist attacks during that period. Many worked in Barzilai Hospital. Doctors from Gaza used to work alongside their Israeli counterparts and I remember we even had a lady pharmacist from Gaza, who worked with us. She even was a guest at my wedding. Barzilai Hospital even had cooperated with Shifa Hospital in Gaza in the treatment of patients. Unfortunately, this was not to last. A decade later, with the first Intifada in 1987 and the rise of Hamas, everything changed for the worse. The second intifada with its suicide bombings in buses, public places and restaurants had created a situation that became intolerable for both Israelis and Palestinians. 

Today the living and economic conditions, as well as the suffering of the people of Gaza, are enormous. Gaza has no fresh drinking water and many people rely on sporadic supplies that are sold. Electricity cuts are enormous and Gazans suffer from lack of electricity most of the time. There is no future for the young people, There is no work and most of the people live in dire poverty. The health services are inadequate and on the verge of collapse.1.

Adding insult to injury is the total blockade by Israel that isolates Gaza from the outside world. Nobody can leave the Gaza Strip 2. that has become a total cesspool of human suffering. The overcrowded conditions are intolerable in many areas of the Gaza strip. What will happen if an epidemic of typhoid and dysentery break out? These epidemics have no borders and it could threaten Israel as well.

Both Israelis and Palestinians are in a deadlock of hate with no signs of any solution. 

Children wander around the streets in dismal poverty. Young people loiter around, unemployed, listless and with no motivation for anything. They are fodder for the hate propaganda of Hamas that blames Israel for their woes. While the people of Gaza suffer 3, the strength and influence of Hamas increases. They fill the poverty-stricken youth with hateful propaganda and encourage demonstrations against Israel such as we witnessed over the last couple of weeks reaching a climax on 14th May when 64 Palestinians were killed by IDF sniper fire. They goad the Gazans that by their actions and tearing down the fence they will be able to liberate themselves from the Israeli Occupation and that the establishment of a Palestinian State replacing Israel is just around the corner. 4

A solution to the Gaza tragedy is very complicated and Israel must also play its part in finding a solution as it is a matter of urgency and it is not in the hands of Hamas, who remain adamant in their non-recognition of Israel. Hamas’s strength lies in maintaining the poverty of the Gazan People and filling them with lies and propaganda against Israel in order to hasten its total destruction. There is no accountability or transparency under Hamas nor is there any human dignity and democracy under Hamas rule. Hamas exploits the Palestinians in order to maintain power. Financial donations for the rehabilitation of Gaza is used for arming Hamas militants (terrorists) and the building of infiltration tunnels for them to infiltrate into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks. Other donations also land in the pockets of the wealthy leadership of Hamas. The Gazans do not benefit and the UN does not even care a damn nor are there any international inquiries into this tragic situation.

It appears that the only way, despite the security risks involved, would be to lift the strangling blockade on Gaza.5 Israel should allow work permits for Gazans to enter Israel to obtain work under very stringent security checks. The world community must also play their part in donating money for the rehabilitation of Gaza thus ending its isolation. The financial donations must be transparent with controls so that the monies are not used for military purposes or financing terrorism against Israel, nor for the personal enrichment of the Hamas leadership at the expense of the Gazans' welfare as has been happening since Hamas has been in power in Gaza. This also means reconstructing a harbour and airport These measures are not without risks. However, Gazans, who find meaningful employment in Israel and elsewhere as well as education, will cease to be monopolized by Hamas and this evil monstrous organization will weaken eventually. 

We must remember that an impoverished Gazan population is where the strength of Hamas rule lies. An economically strengthened Gaza that can be productive is bad for Hamas.

It will probably be unlikely that this evil Hamas organization would allow Gazans to seek work in Israel if Israel removes the blockade as this is where Hamas strength lies - in Israel’s blockade! They use this blockade as an excuse to encourage hatred for Israel and in this, they have succeeded.

The removal of the blockade would also weaken Hamas and hopefully, the Gazans will rise and finish these savages once and for all! Of course, the lifting of the blockade will also be accompanied by stringent security checks on those who enter Israel.

These ideas of a solution may seem unrealistic at this stage or maybe far-fetched to many but perhaps the solution to the Gaza tragedy lies in this direction.

References:

  1. Life in the Gaza Strip BBC 15 May 2018
  2. Harsh Living Conditions in Gaza fuel little-to-Lose Mentality PBS News Hour
  3. World Factbook - Gaza Strip CIA
  4. Israel TV: Confident Hamas planned victory rallies for its leaders inside Israel 
  5. Hamas under pressure to deliver Improvements in Gaza Al Jazeera




Friday, May 18

Israel Must Bear the Responsibility for the Creation of Hamas

The situation in Gaza has become intolerable for Gazans. Israeli pundits, including the Israeli Government, have laid the blame for this inhuman situation on Hamas and its allies. If this is the case then we must widen the blame game even further.

All fingers must point to Israel. Prior to the establishment of Hamas, Israel had been playing dirty politics by adopting a policy of “divide and rule” (הפרד ומשול) in order to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat. Hamas rose as an offshoot of the Gaza Mujama al-Islamiya branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which had been actively encouraged by Israel to expand as a counterweight to the influence of the secular Palestine Liberation Organization. 1 Israel had ruthlessly given its support to the predecessors of Hamas:


“Israel's military-led administration in Gaza looked favourably on the paraplegic cleric, who set up a wide network of schools, clinics, a library and kindergartens. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin formed the Islamist group Mujama al-Islamiya, which was officially recognized by Israel as a charity and then, in 1979, as an association. Israel also endorsed the establishment of the Islamic University of Gaza, which it now regards as a hotbed of militancy. The university was one of the first targets hit by Israeli warplanes in the [2008-9 Operation Cast Lead]”. 2.


‘The Islamic associations’, the Israeli weekly magazine Koteret Rashit observed in October 1987, ‘have been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authorities’ who were ‘convinced that the activities [of the Islamists] would weaken both the PLO and leftist organizations in Gaza.’ While most of these activities were funded largely by contributions from the Gulf states, some former Israeli intelligence officers claim that money also came covertly from Israel itself. 3.

The Muslim Brotherhood had been founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna to reclaim Islam’s political dimension lost with the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in the wake of the First World War. ‘Allah is our objective’, the Brotherhood declared in its founding statement. ‘The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.’

Surveying the wreckage of a neighbour's bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile's trajectory back to an "enormous, stupid mistake" made 30 years ago.

"Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel's destruction. 4.

In retrospect, Israel had a huge hand in the creation of Hamas as a balance to combat the PLO under the leadership of Yasser Arafat in the 1970s. We all see how they had helped to create this monstrous organization that had backfired against Israel to this very day and it will remain so for many years to come.

The decision by Israel in those days can be viewed as one of the gravest errors that Israel had made. It had bounced back at Israel with a vengeance and together with Israel’s right-wing has dealt a death blow to any peace agreement in the foreseeable future.

The lowest common denominator that links the right-wing Israel Government to Hamas is their opposition to the Two-State Solution. The former is in favour of a One-State Solution with a certain amount of autonomy being given to the Palestinians to run their own affairs. This is similar to the old Bantustan Policy of apartheid South Africa that will ensure the inferiority and powerlessness of the Palestinian People. The latter wishes to replace Israel with a Palestinian State that is ruled by Hamas that today does not recognise Israel's right to exist nor is it even prepared to negotiate any form of a peace agreement let alone a solution to the conflict. The newly revised Hamas Charter of 2017 makes this perfectly clear.

One does not have to be an expert on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict to conclude that there is no common ground between the two sides to even initiate negotiations on a solution to this festering conflict. The Palestinian Authority under the failing leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is becoming irrelevant.

The present unrest in Gaza with its demonstrations and rioting that has cost the lives of 62 Palestinians over the past week is a terrible tragedy. On the one hand, Israel has a right to defend itself against this unrest that threatened to break the security fence and create havoc and bloodshed on the Israeli side of the border. The moral dilemma that has arisen as to whether Israel's Defence Force was justified to use sniper fire to kill these demonstrators (many of whom, though certainly not all were armed). The answer to this is not all that clear-cut. Bearing in mind that the death of any human being is a tragedy, it would have been more justifiable to use non-lethal methods of violent riot control and arrest those responsible for the damage caused to property as well as injury to innocent people.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas. Accessed 14 May. 2018.
  2. The monster Israel Helped Create Pandemonium
  3. How Israel Helped Create Hamas Washington Post.
  4. How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas WSJ








Sunday, April 29

The Demonstrations of Gazans on the Israeli Border

 The Gazan Palestinians have been demonstrating for a number of weeks now. There is no doubt that these demonstrations are being orchestrated by Hamas. Only this time they have changed their tactics. They want to give the international media the false impression that it is a popular, peaceful uprising against the occupation and that Hamas is not responsible for this unrest but rather the will of the Palestinian People to fight the occupation. Note that there are no Hamas flags near the border.



This is a big lie and it is obvious that Hamas is behind these “peaceful” demonstrations and there have even been attempts by some Palestinian demonstrators, including children to breach the security fence and infiltrate into Israel. The purpose of this infiltration IS NOT to have “kumbaya” with Israelis. It is rather to carry out acts of terror and murder of innocent Israelis under the facade of “peaceful protest”. The scenario of unarmed, peaceful protest makes for great propaganda by Hamas against Israel and it appears to be working posing Israel as the heartless oppressor not allowing the Palestinians their right of protest. It may be argued that the use of sniper live ammunition is not justifiable. The use of non-lethal ammunition against demonstrators, who have breached the security fence, is an acceptable option. Live ammunition should be reserved only for life-threatening situations which do not appear to be the case here. The use of live ammunition strengthens Hamas in its resolve to use of women and children as human shields. This, of course, does not help Israel in its attempts to stop the violence. Hamas tactics somehow create more international antagonism towards Israel including in the UN. They have been warned by Israel not to infiltrate into Israel but to no avail. We must remember that Hamas terrorists are indiscriminate when it comes to murdering Israelis.


Many people, who view the scenario of sniper-fire, view Israel as the evil Goliath and the Palestinians armed with slingshots and Molotov cocktails as the David. This is the impression that Hamas behind the headlines portrays to the foreign media. Even the UN shows a bias towards Israel as it usually does when there is Palestinian unrest.

The Hamas mantra of seeking Israel’s total destruction as well as its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist is the slogan behind these demonstrations. The exploitation of young children and women is a well-known tactic of the evil Hamas terrorist organization that tolerates no opposition to its tactics and Palestinians, who do not agree with Hamas are arrested and even put to death in a kangaroo court system.  Hamas is not interested in Palestinian human rights or democracy, let alone human dignity. They are fighting for a Palestinian State to replace Israel. It has nothing to do with the occupation of territory after the June Six Day War of 1967. As far as they are concerned, Israel has occupied territory since the Day it was established in May 1948.

When Israel has to deal with the Hamas Palestinian Leadership with its mindset on Israel’s destruction and using the impoverished Palestinian people to riot and kill Israelis, how can any form of negotiation even be initiated?

The tragedy in Gaza has been wrought on the Palestinians by Hamas and their multi-millionaire leadership that have pocketed all the monies donated by various countries for rehabilitation of Gaza. It is not in the interests of Hamas for the Palestinians to be rehabilitated or having a decent future. By weeping crocodile tears they enrich themselves even more. Many countries in the free world fall for this ploy which is what makes the situation in Gaza so untenable. Hamas feed their people with hatred and their religious leaders constantly preach sermons of hate against Israel and the Jewish People.

It appears that the unrest at the Gaza border is not going to subside for a while and it will continue until the Palestinians are tired of demonstrating and it will just decrease in numbers of participating demonstrators over time.

The question one should ask is: How would other countries react to demonstrations on their borders by hostile elements, who wish to achieve unrest and destruction of their respective countries as well as having a bloodlust to kill innocent people?

The cause of Israel’s total destruction and its replacement by a Hamas-ruled Palestinian State is the mantra behind all these demonstrations. Those people, who sympathise with  Hamas and its portrayal of their cause are not aware of what Hamas hopes to achieve. It is definitely not for the freedom of a democratic Palestinian State but another ISIS (Daesh)-like state slated to replace Israel. If we bear these factors in mind, Israel has the full right to defend itself by any means the IDF seems feasible under these circumstances.  

On the other hand, the Palestinians are deserving of a state that is democratic, promotes human values and dignity. Israel must recognize that an end must be made to the occupation that is eroding Israel’s democracy and human values. This can only be achieved if there is an honest desire on both sides to negotiate an end to the conflict. A desire to destroy Israel is not negotiable. Under the present circumstances, it is obvious that there is no motivation on either side to reach any form of agreement.

Sunday, April 15

Israel's 70 Years of Independence

Declaration of Independence
Israel has only one day annually that is celebrated without any religious constraints or “mitzvot”. This is a day that secular and religious Israelis celebrate as well as those who identify with Israel and its people. 

The Israeli Arab Citizens do not celebrate. There are no flags or symbols of celebration in their villages. It is a great pity that the two peoples - Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens are divided in their respective narratives causing the Israeli Arab sector not to celebrate Israel’s independence. Here in Israel, we have failed to achieve a common loyalty in Israel for all its citizens - Jew and Arab alike. It could have been achieved but Israel has failed to be the state of all its citizens for a number of reasons. The most striking, perhaps, is the non-inclusive character of Israel’s Jewish majority. An example of this is the non-inclusive wording of Israel’s National Anthem “Hatikva” - The Hope.




The wording of Hatikva could be modified to include Israel’s non-Jewish minority symbols of culture without changing the wording of Jewish desires and hopes. This could go a long way in promoting a common patriotism that is all-inclusive. This could also be done through education from an early age as well as encouraging the establishment of integrated Jewish-Arab schools, where education in unity among all Israel’s peoples could be achieved.

Culture Minister Miri Regev unveils the logo for Israel's 70th-anniversary celebrations, during a press conference on January 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israel’s 70 years of independence should be a nation-wide non-political affair that is inclusive of all Israeli citizens. The person in charge of all the festivities and ceremonial protocols this year is the divisive and controversial Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev. She is turning the 70th Independence Day celebration into a “Likudiada” political affair with her own agenda taking preference. She is punting so hard for PM Netanyahu’s survival in the midst of all criminal investigations against him by the police.  

Regev’s invitation of the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, to light the annual torch, is a disgrace in itself apart from going against protocol, in order for PM Netanyahu to be also one of the participants as well as being given an opportunity to make a speech rather than the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, as is the annual Independence Day tradition. President Hernandez is suspected of corruption as well as being an abuser of human rights. However, Hernandez is a strong supporter of Israel and has pledged to move the Honduras Embassy to Jerusalem. 
Hatikva - Israel's National Anthem

 Hernandez declined the invitation because of opposition in Israel. We must remember that Regev’s idea of democracy is her right to do what she wishes as her party is the majority party in power and this means that those who oppose her and her party are leftists and traitors to Israel. After all, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East as Israel’s rulers and its pundits claim. Others in Regev’s view are an obstacle to her agenda and are deserving of condemnation. She has megalomaniac tendencies that are divisive, racist and a total disregard for those who do not share her worldview and agenda. She is no democrat and does not even know the meaning of democracy. In fact, she makes no bones about her Moroccan roots at every opportunity that she regards as all-embracing and superior to other cultures that form Israel’s character. The whole 70th Independence ceremony became a storm in a teacup. Eventually, a compromise was made that satisfied the Likud and its shenanigans.


It is a great pity that this year’s Independence Day celebrations will have a right-wing political slant to it which will, unfortunately, spoil its non-political nature.

Wednesday, March 28

The Relevancy of Pesach of Today

Pesach (Passover) is here and apart from gorging ourselves to the hilt and reciting the Haggadah to celebrate the liberation from the slavery of the Israelites from Pharaonic Egypt over 5 000 years ago, much has happened to the descendants of the Israelites over the centuries.

Most observant Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora will be sitting down to the Pesach meal or Seder with all its symbolism of freedom from slavery in Egypt. The Haggadah is read before the Seder meal. Many feel that it is archaic and lacking in relevance. The reading is rushed through rapidly as it becomes a tedious exercise in resilience.  

While very few even think of Pesach from a wider more modern viewpoint and are so involved in outdated rituals as to what is Kosher for Pesach and what is not. The religious hair-splitting explanation over what is “kitniyot” –“legumes” that are forbidden to be eaten by religious Ashkenazim.    
 
The  11th Plague today that is missing - the corrupt Chief Rabbinate of Israel
We should be giving more thought to those who are still not free in countries that deny their citizens' basic human rights.

We should also be sensitive towards the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees in our midst and cease using the term “infiltrators” to justify their deportation from Israel to strange countries, whose inhabitants share their skin colour and nothing else - not language, not culture probably not even religion. They have suffered endlessly in their countries of origin and their lives 
Detail of the 'Maror' page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)
 are endangered there. They arrived in Israel to seek a better life for themselves. We should not be concentrating on “ghettoising” them in South Tel Aviv, where they are not even given work permits. They should have been allowed to live in other areas in Israel where they can work. The alternative to deportation is incarceration in prison for an indefinite period. Is this the new hospitality to the “stranger in our midst”?

The latest statement of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitschak Yosef (son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of which more is written later in this article) referring to black people as monkeys.

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict still defies a solution. The occupation has taken on a different perspective. It is a moral dilemma. On the one hand, it is desirable that there should be a move to ending the occupation of the Palestinians by Israel so that the Palestinians do achieve an independent state with freedom coinciding with human dignity and democracy. On the other hand, even if Israel withdraws all the settlers from the occupied territories on the West Bank, there will be no desire on the Palestinian side to sign a peace treaty. The corrupt, wealthy Palestinian leadership have no desire to recognize Israel’s right to exist. It is their bread and butter.The terrorist activity coming from the Palestinian side is not conducive to any solution in ending the Israeli occupation.

The migrant and foreign workers, many of them coming from the Philippines, India and Thailand are contract labourers. The caregivers of our aged are on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. While these people get free board and lodging from their employers. Time off is a gesture and not compulsory as there is no law to protect them from exploitation. Many caregivers do other chores in the home and do housework which is not part of their contract. They also do Pesach cleaning for the family.

I guess this is how we celebrate our freedom from oppression according to the teachings of the revered Late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said that the "goyim (strangers or non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews".  This "sage" has made many hurtful, racist statements in the past. This explains many paradoxes in our treatment of "the goyim". Sources in Judaism seem to back this up. If a contracted foreign worker's work permit expires, come hell and high water, he /she cannot renew the work permit under any circumstances.What about the situation of asylum-seekers whose future is a perpetual exile? It is a matter of time before the Israeli Immigration Police sniffs them out and deports them to a detention centre awaiting expulsion from Israel under demeaning conditions. They live in fear as this could happen at the whim of an unscrupulous employer or informer (“shtinker”).



"WE ARE TROUBLED when we see fear and hatred toward “the other” in Israel. In our beloved Israel, it is sadly common to encounter fear and loathing of “the other” with whom we share the land. Even in times of turmoil and insecurity, we must strive to empathize with our neighbours and treat all with dignity. We must commit ourselves to working together with Israelis and with Palestinians to realize a future of freedom, justice and peace.

 LET US STRIVE TO LOVE THE STRANGER and journey toward our Promised Land. Tonight, as we reenact our enslavement and celebrate our freedom from oppression, let us work toward loving the stranger, treating all with dignity and equal protection. Only then can we truly inhabit our Promised Land and reach the future we wish to see.

WE REMEMBER when we were strangers. Tonight, at our Seder, we remember when we were strangers. We recall the Exodus from bondage and reaffirm our memory that we were once the dispossessed, the immigrants, those who fled from the lash in the hopes of finding our way to our Promised Land. We remember countless times in the Jewish story when we have pushed away, wandering, vulnerable, even hated. Why do we tell this story year after year?

WE SEEK TO KNOW the heart of the stranger. The Torah explains: “Know the heart/the feelings of the stranger, for you once were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). We tell the story so that we remember to empathize with “the other,” so that we will not do to others that which was hateful to us. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:19). At this moment, we seek to know the heart and feelings of those who are treated as “the other” today and dwell on what it means to love them.  

WE ARE TROUBLED when we see fear and hatred toward “the other” here in America. In the United States, we sit down to our tables at a time of unprecedented anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiment, Islamophobia and the stirring of hatred towards those who look different than us. We remember tonight that once we were proud to call ourselves a nation of immigrants."


Happy Pesach!

חג פסח שמח!