Wednesday, May 8

Israel's Independence Day Celebrations

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. 

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. 
Hatikva - Israel's National Anthem

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. 

Apart from the national anthem, there are other symbols of Arab Israeli culture that could be included and thus make them feel part of Israel's people rather than estranging them with all kinds of declarative laws that estranges them from Israel. 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.

 Arab and Jewish Israelis could learn each other's languages as well as secular subjects to equip them for their future. Arabic and Hebrew should both have equal status. Both Arab and Jewish Israelis should have the same standard of education and go to the same schools from kindergarten age until matric. In most western democracies, pupils of all faiths attend the same schools. When it comes to religious instruction, religious leaders of different faiths instruct the pupils in their respective faiths. 

Israel’s 71 years of independence should be a nation-wide non-political affair that is inclusive of all Israel's citizens. However, with the passing of the racist Nation-State Law last year, resulting in the grading of Israel's Arab Citizens as second class citizens that will estrange 20% of Israel's citizens even more. 

Another upsetting development is the attempt to politicise the law courts that have been impartial since Israel's establishment. The outgoing Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, had her agenda in interfering with the court system 

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. Ayelet Shaked will be replaced by Yariv Levin - a Netanyahu appointee, who intends to weaken the courts and make them subservient to the incoming right-wing coalition. Legislation will be passed to ensure that the court cannot overrule government decisions even if their legality is in question.  

Independence of the law courts will be compromised. Israel is going down a path that threatens democracy if the Netanyahu Government succeeds in appointing conservative judges to the bench. The opposition is weak and will whimper impotently against the incoming ruling government anti-democratic bills.

Thursday, May 2

Holocaust Remembrance Day has been Defiled!

Holocaust Remembrance Day has been defiled by our present leadership. Have we forgotten the lessons of the Holocaust and trivialised it?

For starters, the opening ceremony addressed by President Reuven Rivlin was the beginning of the hint of the direction in which Israel is moving. It is a direction of realpolitik played out by PM Netanyahu towards the far-right, neo-fascist leaders that are ruling Austria, Hungary, Brazil, Poland and the Interior Minister of Italy 1. The list will continue to grow as many European countries move towards the neo-fascist right. It appears that Netanyahu is cultivating friendships with these far right, neo-fascist leaders, whose record of anti-Semitism is a blemish on their respective characters 2. This is what President Reuben Rivlin had hinted in his speech. It was obvious that this remark was directed at Netanyahu."Today, Europe is once again pursued by the ghosts of the past. Ideas of superiority, national purity, xenophobia, blatant anti-Semitism from left and right are hovering over Europe," Rivlin said.  He spoke of rising anti-Semitism in conjunction with the anti-Israel sentiment, Rivlin said one cannot hate Israel and love Jews nor hate Jews and love Israel. Rivlin went on to warn of warming ties between Israel and right-wing leaders who have not recognized their nation's responsibility in "the crimes of the Holocaust."  

After having heard and viewed President Rivlin delivering his speech, which was a good speech denouncing racism in all its forms, my feeling was that Netanyahu is the total antithesis of President Rivlin. Rivlin spoke as a true statesman. I just felt that I could not watch Netanyahu deliver his speech and left my armchair in disgust! Words! Words and more words of the same re-hashed stuff that Netanyahu is so expert in delivering! This is King Bibi - the heartthrob of most of the Israeli Electorate today. A racist has no place speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony.

There is no difference between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, President Reuven Rivlin said at a previous occasion in an apparent rebuke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for saying that Israel is “the national state only of the Jewish people. 3

If we view the various right-wing neo-fascist leaders that Netanyahu has been courting over the past few years it is quite disgusting. It is finding a consensus on re-writing the history of the Holocaust to suit the views of the neo-fascist leaders, whose friendship Netanyahu has been cultivating 4.

Another subject that is really painful concerning the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day is the pitiful conditions under which many aged Holocaust survivors live in Israel. Many are caught up in crippling bureaucracy Israel-style in order to get reparations. Many have not received anything or very little and are living their last few years in poverty without getting any financial assistance 5. This painful subject is largely overlooked and the time has come for the government to give a hand to these survivors who have suffered so much so that at least in their last years they have a decent quality of life which to date they do not have 6.

  1. "Israel's Netanyahu Embraces European Leaders With Controversial ...." 17 Dec. 2018, Accessed 2 May. 2019.
  2. "Israel's Netanyahu Embraces European Leaders With Controversial ...." 17 Dec. 2018, Accessed 2 May. 2019.
  3. 11 Mar. 2019,,7340,L-5476970,00.html. Accessed 2 May. 2019.
  4. "Netanyahu's flirtation with the far right, by Dominique Vidal (Le Monde ...." 12 Oct. 2018, Accessed 2 May. 2019.
  5. "70 Years After WWII, Israeli Holocaust Survivors Suffer - Breaking ...." 11 Apr. 2018, Accessed 2 May. 2019.
  6. "Tens of thousands of Israeli Holocaust survivors are living in abject ...." 27 Jan. 2016, Accessed 2 May. 2019.