Saturday, November 27

What Direction are we taking?

Proclamations from states concerning the 2008–...Image via Wikipedia
There is a very negative trend in Israel towards non-Jewish minority groups who are Israeli citizens. The handwriting was on the wall when the Bill of Allegiance had passed its first reading in the Knesset.
The Jewish people had been a persecuted minority for centuries in the Diaspora prior to Israel's establishment. They suffered severe discrimination in almost all the professions. All that was left for them was various commercial enterprises and even money-lending. This had resulted in hate for the Jews increasing as they were viewed as usurers. They became the scapegoats for a long time.
Libelous stories against the Jew became widespread and their lives were turned into an unjustifiable hell.
The climax of it all was the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany. Nothing can be compared to this in its horror and this was an attempt at ethnic cleansing of the world of its Jewish population - the goal of the Nazi regime in Germany in its "final solution" plan.
Israel was established after the Holocaust in 1948 when the world voted for partition between Israel and a Palestinian state in the United Nations on 29th November 1947.
Today Israel has a severe problem in its relations with many nations in the world. The most outstanding example is its rapid deteriorating relations with Turkey. The PM of Turkey, Racep Tayyip Erdogan, has made many anti-Israel statements since the Gaza War of 2008-9. The Turkish flotilla debacle of 31st May 2010 sealed the fate of Israel's relations with Turkey that reached a new low with the death of nine Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara ship.
Israel's deteriorating relations with Turkey have had wider ramifications than expected and even Israel's traditional friends have begun to criticize Israel for blockading Gaza. Nevertheless, the result is that Israel's right wing coalition government has gone on to blame the world, who in their eyes are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. Is this really the case? There are those who say that the world expects more morality from Israel and thus the criticism towards Israel is the result of this.
Israel's reaction is controversial bills such as the Pledge of Allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Also there are signs of racism against the non-Jew in this pledge. The Jews have suffered so much from racism. The basis of Judaism according to Hillel the Elder, is: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman”. We have no right to use stereotype examples when we judge other nations and this includes the Palestinians.
Today we are witnessing a very dangerous trend in both Judaism and Islam. Both faiths are becoming increasingly fundamentalist in their attitude towards each other.
In Safed, an Israeli town in the north, famous for Cabbala (Jewish mysticism) and its artist's quarter has made news because of the racism against Arabs as residents. Safed's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu called on a ban on renting apartments to Arabs. This is in violation of the law. This is aimed at Arab students who wish to study at Safed Academic College. There is a hospital there as well which is to be enlarged and will include a medical school. Many Arabs are employed in the hospital and undoubtedly many Arab students will enroll as medical students in the future.
These potential students will be seeking board and lodging near to the academic colleges where they are enrolled. If this racist ideology of the Safed Chief Rabbi is not nipped in the bud, a dangerous precedent will be created between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel which could lead to a deterioration of relations between the two peoples which is problematic without this added racist ideology.
This example of racism towards Israel's non-Jewish minority citizens has been stoked up even further by many right wing "hell and brimstone" rabbis. This is not only peculiar to Safed but also in the main cities of Israel where Arab students are denied board and lodging close to the colleges and universities where they are studying. Many rabbis are justifying this in their warped and racist interpretation of Judaism. This is no different ideologically from the hatred of Jews as expressed by extremist imams in Islam as espoused by the wicked Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and their affiliated fanatic terrorist groups all over the world including the evil Ahmadinajad regime of Iran.
Maybe it is true that Israel's friends, including the US, expect more from us. We claim to be the only democracy with an impartial and fair judicial system in the Middle East. However, the increasing tendency of many rabbis exhibiting blatant racism and justifying it in the name of "Hashem" is appalling!
When racism is exhibited against the non-Jewish citizen in Israel and given the kosher stamp of approval by many influential rabbis, it draws Israel into the apartheid mentality of white South Africa. At no time in Israel's relative short history since 1948 has this been more evident since the election of the present right wing government under PM Benjamin Netanyahu. It is the most right wing government since Israel's establishment.
Where are the voices of moderation and reconciliation condemning racism in all its forms? Surely there is room for spiritual leaders in both Islam and Judaism to make their voices heard in the condemnation of racism between the two sides. There is no room for religious prejudice or hatred, which could so easily result in a blood bath if it is not curbed.

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