Saturday, December 31

Religious Extremism in Israel

BEIT SHEMESH, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 25: (Israel ou...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
BEIT SHEMESH, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 25:  (Israel o...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
What next?

A direct line
Leads from
The anti-democratic legislation
In the Knesset,
Through the violent rampage
Of the settlers
In the West Bank,
To the fanatical hooliganism
In Beit Shemesh.

What next?

Published in “Haaretz” - Gush Shalom, December 30, 2011

The past few weeks we have all witnessed the specter of religious fanaticism in full force in Israel. We are all aware of the return to religion in Israel as the Israeli Electorate move further to the right.

The despicable discrimination against women based on religious grounds, justified in the guise of “modesty” based on Torah teachings on the one hand, as well as desecration of mosques and destruction of IDF property on the other.

In my previous article, I discussed the "Price Tag" violence by religious "hill top" youth - the offspring of the loutish settler movement which became an embarrassment to the Netanyahu Government coalition. The official reaction was that this is not "mainstream settler ideology just a small minority". The point was missed entirely. These religious right wing hooligans got their education from right wing rabbinical indoctrination in Yeshivot in the occupied territories. The teaching of fundamental Judaism and hate for the Arabs became part of their education curriculum in these Yeshivot.

The last few weeks we were witnesses to discrimination against women by Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox) in East Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh. It started getting ugly and violent.

The Mea Shearim Quarter in Jerusalem is the home of various Haredi groups such as Eda Haredit, Toldot Aharon and various other sects that refuse to recognize Israel.

These religious fanatics breed like flies and their numbers burst beyond the confines of the Mea Shearim Quarter. They found a new home in Bet Shemesh - a town that is pluralistic with modern Orthodox, moderate Ultra-Orthodox and secular people. 

These religious fanatics decided to take over and coerce the citizens of Bet Shemesh into adapting their life-style. They started demanding discrimination against women on the sidewalks, buses and public places. They cursed women, who in their eyes, dressed immodestly. They even spat at women who did not abide by Haredi "rules of modesty". The situation in Bet Shemesh became unbearable and even little pre-teen schoolgirls were threatened by Haredi violence and abuse.

The handwriting was on the wall for many years. However, under the Netanyahu Government coalition, hell and brimstone broke loose. It is obvious that the phenomena of right wing "Price-Tag" violence against Palestinians and Haredi violence against women share much in common. It seems a coincidence that both groups created violence more or less at the same time.

Both groups believe that what they are doing has the blessing of the Almighty, they have been given a large leeway over the years for their brand of Judaism which is akin to hooliganism and intolerance intermingled with a despicable racism unknown in Jewish history.

The blame for these negative religious trends must be laid at the door of the Netanyahu Government with its extremist right wing coalition partners. These partners are Torah Judaism, Shas, Yisrael Beitenu, Ichud Leumi, and a host of other splinter parties that are illegal settler- oriented.

They have created a monster that has gone out of control. Even the police do not have the power to bring order to a situation that is becoming unmanageable.

I cannot help thinking of the Pledge of Allegiance Bill initiated by Israel Beitenu demanding an Oath of Loyalty be sworn by Israel's non-Jewish citizens that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish State in order to become citizens. The Haredi religious fanatics and the "hill top youth" are damaging Israel's world image. Why are they are exempt from the Oath and get away with this loutish behaviour? Hardly anyone has been arrested. The Eda Haredit does not even recognize Israel's right to exist! Their ally is President Ahmadinajad of Iran! The reaction of PM Netanyahu over these despicable incidents has been weak in order to maintain his coalition at all costs. It has almost been apologetic. Arrests have been rare in both cases.

This is hardly surprising bearing in mind the many bills being discussed in the Knesset that are threatening Israel's once healthy and vibrant democracy. Maintaining Israel's identity as a Jewish state takes priority over maintaining Israel's democracy.

Israel's citizens are becoming more religious and right wing and this will erode democracy even further. If elections were held tomorrow the elected government with its religious partners will be more right wing and paranoid than the present one.

Israel stands a chance of increased isolation in the world. The "hill top youth" and Haredi violence share a common denominator and that is their hooliganism and the impotence of the present government to come to terms with the religious monsters that they have created.

Lip service against these trends is not enough. Action speaks louder than words!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, December 18

Israeli Illegal Settler Hooliganism


Palestinian demonstrators
Are being shot.

In face of rampaging settlers,
The army did not make
Even a single arrest.

For 44 years, the IDF
Has pampered the settlers
And enabled them
To mistreat the Palestinians.

Now the golem
Turns on its creator.

Published in “Haaretz”, December 16, 2011 Gush Shalom

The "kippa, peyot and tzitzit" hooligans are at it again! They have attacked Palestinians and destroyed their olive trees without even a single arrest by the Israel police or Security Forces.

However, when their vandalism destroyed and damaged IDF property as well as injuring two IDF officers, then words of condemnation and promises to arrest these louts were made by PM Netanyahu.

The religious, extremist louts, who damage mosques by committing arson are seldom arrested if ever. All this violence and hooliganism began when there were rumors of illegal settlements being dismantled by the Security Forces.

Right wing religious hooliganism swept out of control. Religious louts attacked an IDF base. They attacked the very institution that protects them in the occupied territories. Two army officers were injured by stones thrown at them during the attack.

The army hardly responded. It is still unclear as to whether the soldiers were in a state of shock from the attack or just never had the tools to deal with the Jewish louts.

As if this was not enough, these hooligans continued on their journey of hooliganism by burning and destroying mosques as well as stoning Palestinians. The reaction of the police was slow and cumbersome. What would have happened had it been Palestinians on the rampage doing the same thing but instead of mosques they had destroyed synagogues? The IDF would have been merciless in their reaction and it is reasonable to expect a massacre of the perpetrators.

The hill-top youth hooligans are a result and a creation of the illegal settler movement which has gained greater legitimacy by the right wing Netanyahu coalition with its racist ideology. They have encouraged hatred for Arabs, Palestinians and the left wing. They even pass laws threatening human freedom, freedom of the press, and the independence of Israel's Law Courts. The government wishes to interfere with the election of judges, giving preference to judges with right wing views.

The right wing religious louts who attacked the IDF base and destroyed mosques as well as spraying racist slogans on the burnt mosque walls inherited this loutish behaviour from somewhere. They received their idealism from racist rabbis who are heads of bigoted yeshivot in the occupied territories. The louts suck the hate from these racist rabbis like a newborn baby suckles from its mother's breast. The hatred is built in the twisted Halacha of these abominable rabbis. The Ministry of Education ignored this hate and by not doing anything must bear part of the responsibility for this racist violence that ran amuck.

There does not seem any end in sight. The settler movement is in denial by stating that it is a small minority of youth engaged in this racist hooliganism. This is not the case at all! This dangerous violence is on the increase because of the indifference of the government to Jewish violence against Palestinians. If one denies the existence of a reality then that reality boomerangs on the deniers. Nobody is immune to it.
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me”.

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

The authorities have made some arrests but it is only the tip of the iceberg. These hooligans' faith is Judaism and not Islam and they will be released shortly. They are not Palestinians and for this reason these incidents will soon be forgotten until the next time.

Jewish terrorists are “kosher” but not Palestinian terror. The proof of this will be seen within the coming weeks.

This is not the first time that Jewish religious louts have destroyed mosques. It has happened many times in the past. It would have been another blip on the TV screen soon to be forgotten had they not attacked an IDF base.

There is even doubts expressed by spokesmen of this loutish Netanyahu coalition as to whether these hooligans should be defined as "Jewish terrorists" rather than wayward youth. Present at the scene of terror as usual is the patron of these youth - non other than the honorable Knesset member, Michael Ben Ari of the extremist National Union Party whose platform is close to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane.

These hooligans are a disgrace to the Israeli people and they are legitimizing terror that could cause a knee jerk reaction by Palestinian extremists. This could create a situation that will go out of control.

While the right wing louts of Yisrael Beitenu, Ichud Leumi and a host of other extremist racist parties and their racist rabbinical allies continue in their systematic destruction of democracy, it only adds fuel to the fire of hill top youth violence which has been going on for some years. Nobody until now has ever been arrested. Only when the IDF base was attacked did the authorities do something and made some arrests.

Israel's electorate is becoming more apathetic and right wing. The Avigdor Lieberman and Vladimir Putin ideology is taking root and is becoming more active in delegitimizing Israel's non-Jewish minorities whom they regard as potential terrorists acting against Israel. Their warped ideology must also bear some of the blame.
The emaciated left wing has been conspicuous by its silence because it has been cowered into a corner by the government. The left wing as represented by the Labor Party is a sop to the right. Meretz barely exists. It is left to NGOS like B'tzelem, Gush Shalom and Shalom Ahshav to condemn this Jewish terror.
When this ugly cancer of the offspring of illegal settlers is not halted by existing laws but and not carried out by the appropriate authorities, we are doomed to further isolation and estrangement by the world of nations. This right wing hooliganism is more widespread than the government believes.

We Israelis must go out in the street to condemn this racist settler violence in the strongest possible terms. This violence is a result of the occupation and the deligitimization of the Palestinians and their rights to an independent state. It is an evil ramification of over 45 years of occupation since the June 1967 War.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, December 10

Something is Rotten in the State of Israel

RAJAR, ISRAEL - AUGUST 5:    Israel's Foreign ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Something is rotten in the State of Israel! Are there raised eyebrows? Yes, maybe among Israel pundits in Israel and maybe in the Diaspora.

The rot is the threat to democracy as the Netanyahu ruling coalition with its undisciplined cartel of right wing extremists are coming out of the cupboard by introducing anti-democratic bills which are far from the spirit of Israel's historic Declaration of Independence.

The excuse for the introduction of these bills is to protect Israel from its enemies who are bent on delegitimizing Israel's right to exist. The definition of Israel’s enemies is becoming wider in its quasi-legal interpretation by right wing Knesset members.

NGOs (non governmental organizations) which are the watch dogs of human rights in many democracies are now under threat. There is talk of curtailing their overseas funding by limiting it to an unrealistic amount that will force them to close down.

There are a lot of new anti democratic bills in the pipeline that are threatening Israel's democracy. Discrimination against Israel's Arab population and non-Jewish citizens has already begun. The settlers in the occupied territories are gaining more and more protection by the government as the illegal settlements encroach increasingly on Palestinian lands. It has become more legitimate to make land grabs for illegal settlers. All is done in the name of maintaining the immoral occupation at all costs.

Essential organizations such as Adalah, B'tzelem, Peace Now, Mahsom Watch and many others involved in human rights activities, safeguarding minorities including Palestinians who have suffered great hardships and human rights abuses, are in danger of having their activities severely curtailed.

Over the years I have tried to avoid saying that Israel is an apartheid state with similarities to white South Africa of the past as the two situations are not the same. Today, however, it is becoming more difficult to avoid that comparison as the similarities are becoming less subtle.

Oh yes, numerous articles have been written refuting that claim. I myself had even written an article on that some years ago. However, I cannot say the same today. The articles always state that Israel's Arab citizens have their own representation of their choice in the Knesset, no segregated public amenities, equal opportunities, medical services, including hospitalization, and the list is almost endless. In white South Africa, racial segregation in public amenities and services was known as "petty apartheid". In reality, this is a misnomer because anything that is degrading racially cannot be viewed as "petty". In Israel, there is growing cancer of racism that is raising its ugly head. It has its origins in the nebulous neo-Kach factions in the Knesset of which Michael Ben Ari, Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu, Danny Danon (He attacks leftist politicians and is responsible for closing down the Radio Station All For Peace), Tzippi Hatovelly, Ofir Akunis of the Likud are representatives. Accompanying these "bastions of virtue", are a growing number of religious extremists who hate Arabs and a large number of right wing Israeli nationalists who spread venom against the left up to the point of death threats and "price tags".

When senior rabbis, who are respected leaders of their communities, make statements against renting apartments to Arab citizens and non-Jews in Tel Aviv, Safed, and other centres what more can we say? We have the ingredients that are the antithesis of Israel's claim to be "the only democracy in the Middle East". The problem is that there are no democracies in the Middle East. The Israel Government has the “chutspa” to criticize the Arab uprisings in their direction when they themselves are introducing anti-democratic and neo fascist legislation. There are even twinges of religious orthodox and ultra nationalist extremism that is a danger to democracy.

It is sad that Israel is slipping into the grips of fascism. It will not take long before anybody who criticizes Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and the exploitation of foreign workers will be accused of anti-Semitism and treason.

If an Arab Israeli family wishes to buy a home in a Jewish settlement within the green line, this is followed by an outcry by the majority of residents against the family and they have to appeal to the law courts to grant them the right to live in the same town with Jewish neighbors. Even one Likud Knesset member praised Senator Joe McCarthy who began a witch hunt for communists - imaginary and otherwise in the US.

Apartheid is alive and kicking in the occupied territories where Palestinians are second class citizens at best and treated as animals at worst by "Gods Chosen People" who believe that they are superior and are the parents of the loutish "hill top" youth who destroy Palestinian property and destroy their olive trees. They believe that they are carrying out God's will by settling the whole of the West Bank calling it “Judea and Samaria”. PM Netanyahu supports a two state solution in theory but he knows that it will never happen as that state is already “Judea and Samaria”.

After all, what is apartheid? It was the domination of a white minority over a black majority in South Africa of the late 1940s to the mid 1990s when Nelson Mandela was released from imprisonment.

All these undemocratic bills with their fascist overtones are isolating Israel and creating a national paranoia within Israel. The move to the right with its dangerous consequences of a growing Zionistic religious extremism will be Israel's deterioration into self righteous totalitarianism for the sake of self-preservation out of fear.

Enhanced by Zemanta