Friday, March 7

Right wing religious settlers replacing ultra-Orthodox for Government Favors?

Ariel Uri Yehuda
Ariel Uri Yehuda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The latest mantra in Israel is equality in military service. This means that Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) will be enlisted to do army service like everybody else in Israel. Their National Insurance stipends will be cut and they will no longer reap the benefits of money from the state while they study Torah. Sounds just, if not altruistic, or in colloquial terms it is really "Israbluff".

Let us not fool ourselves into believing this. Money that has been channeled into Haredi institutions is now channeled into right-wing religious Zionist causes at their expense. The guru of these causes is the Minister of Economic Affairs and Religious Affairs, Naphtali Bennett. He is also the leader of the Bayit Hayehudi Party, an extreme right wing Zionist religious party that is not interested in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He also seems to have considerable support and is an important person in the coalition that pressurizes Netanyahu.

PM Netanyahu is pandering to his right wing cronies and is giving them more attention than they deserve. The Bennett, Moshe Feiglin, Danon, Akunis and Elkin factions are steering the government into a dangerous, extremist, right wing direction. The illegal settlers have never had it so good. The present Minister of Housing, Uri Ariel, who is astrong supporter of the illegal settlements enterprise, shows very little concern for housing within the green line. His main concern is accelerated building in the occupied territories and killing the two state solution.

What is worse for Israel - money for the illegal settler enterprise and its right wing religious Zionist supporters, or the ultra-Orthodox institutions, which are non-Zionist? Both are bad for Israel. However the former is worse, while the latter has no problems with a solution to the conflict as long as their partisan requirements are met.

The right wing are against a two-state solution and are in favor of  prolonging the occupation indefinitely. They are against a settlement freeze and wish to continue usurping Palestinian Land destined to be part of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the future.

We have witnessed a massive demonstration of ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. The purpose is voicing their opposition to conscription into the IDF or even doing civilian national service. The amount of demonstrators who participated were estimated to be about 600 000.

The benefits given to settlers living in the occupied territories are good. They get taxation concessions, subsidized housing. Rates and municipal taxes are also less than in Israel within the green line.

On 4th March 2014, PM Netanyahu addressed AIPAC in the US. His speech to all intents and purposes was impressive. He said all the right things that members of AIPAC want to hear. He emphasized the danger of Iran in the Middle East and its hate of Israel and the US. It also happened that a day later, the Israeli Navy intercepted a ship with Iranian missiles destined for Gaza. This gave Netanyahu a much needed boost. Naturally Iran denied responsibility for the shipments.

After all who are the AIPAC members? Most of them are wealthy, diamond studded, armchair Zionists with good connections in the US Administration and are unaware of the omissions that Netanyahu purposefully made in his speech. They are also ignorant of many unpleasant realities in Israel. These realities are not pleasing to the ear or conscience of those concerned with basic human rights. Of course it is paradise compared to the bludgeon going in Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Hamas-ruled Gaza. He never spoke about the occupation or civil rights for the Palestinians in the occupied territories not being equal to those of the illegal settlers.

He also kept on harping ad nauseam about recognition of Israel as the Jewish State and making it a condition for recognition by the Palestinian leadership in order that negotiations proceed as if Israel's Jewish majority is not de facto.  No other country recognizing Israel has that condition attached, not even Egypt and Jordan, so why the Palestinians? Is that so important? It is enough that they recognize Israel as a state without the verbose description of its Jewishness. Israel is listed as the State of Israel on its official letterheads and not the Jewish State of Israel. The fact that the UN recognizes Israel as the State of Israel has not created a problem. Israel's leaders have not requested the UN to recognize Israel as the Jewish State of Israel. It is obvious that Netanyahu is pressurized by the extreme right in his party. They call the tone.

There are other omissions in Netanyahu's speech. The treatment of refugees from Darfur, Sudan and Eritrea does not exactly reflect the Jewish heart which Netanyahu is so proud of emphasizing. The treatment of foreign workers is shocking in many cases. The list goes on.

Young married couples have problems getting housing at reasonable prices. If they move to the occupied territories the benefits as mentioned earlier are there for the taking.

Netanyahu's speech had so many omissions that for those, who know the seamy side of Israel, felt these omissions conspicuous by their absence.

The occupation remains a serious obstacle in reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians as well as improving relations with the Arab world. No matter how much Israel's public relations campaign for Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, and justifying the measures it takes for ensuring its security, will lack credibility. Israel's
Price Tag Vandalism against non-Jewish Holy Places

Demonstrations in Jerusalem against the ballot

Example of Price Tag Vandalism

PM Netanyahu addressing AIPAC
democracy falls short in the territories when it comes to the Palestinians. Destruction of Palestinian property by Price Tag hooligans goes unpunished. No arrests have been made. The settlers take the law into their own hands.

While the occupation and encouragement of settling in areas designated for the future Palestinian state continues, Israel's colonial image will remain and the Palestinians will be viewed as victims of that colonialism. White-washing this situation as well as digression by rhetoric on the Iranian threat to peace will not improve Israel's image. It adds grist to the mill of BDS supporters.

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