Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anti-Arab racism in Israeli society

Their Israel does not exist

Independent Australian Jewish Voices blogger Michael Brull beautifully skewers the parochialism and racism within the Australian Jewish News, a paper containing countless examples of paranoid, bigoted and clueless Jews. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. This is how Jews want to be viewed in the wider community? Some clearly do. Palestinians are all terrorists. The occupation doesn’t exist. And on it goes.

Perhaps this is the funniest. After the resounding success of the recent Jeff Halper tour, Jewish academic Dvir Abramovich writes the following:

When Prof Halper travels the world and describes Israel as an apartheid state, shooting his arrows into Israel’s heart, Jews are hurt. Not only because they may disagree with his assessment, but because the fibre of deep connection, loyalty and commitment to Israel means that any attack upon it resonates as if it were an attack on our sons, daughters and brothers.

Brull concludes:

That’s right, when Halper criticises his own government, Abramovich’s feelings are hurt. More than this, Abramovich seems to consider himself a more devoted Israeli than someone who actually lives there. Why is it that people who call themselves Zionists don’t feel at all inconsistent in not moving to Israel? And why is it that Abramovich feels more loyal to a foreign government than its own citizens, on the basis of their political views?

Perhaps Dvir would like to see the real Israel, rather than some imagined country that doesn’t exist. Reading the blog by Maariv journalist Noam Sheizaf would be a good start. His words are sobering and indicate the deep racism within Israeli society. Such as:

I have often claimed here that the public atmosphere in Israel is becoming more and more racist towards Arabs. A good example of this can be found in the comments (“talkbacks”) on all major internet sites…

This morning I decided to try and break Ynet’s laws. I found this short interview with MK Ahmed Tibi - taken from Yedioth Ahronoth’s magazine for men, “Blazer” - and I sent the following fascist comment (my Italic):

“Ahmed Tibi is a typical Arab. He might talk nicely, but that only makes him more dangerous. If he could, he would exterminate us all. The problem is that for now he can’t, so, with the help of the left, he uses Israeli Democracy to destroy us all. When will we understand that all the Arabs are a threat to the state of Israel and to the life of each and every one of us? This is a Jewish state – that means a state for Jews only. It is time we start to act to defend ourselves”.

By writing this, I’m not only breaking Ynet’s Terms of Use, but might also be in violation of the 1986 law against incitement to racism, according to which I might be liable to up to 5 years in jail.

Well guess what? My comment got published (no. 330, under the nick “Avner”), and I don’t think the police will be coming for me soon. If they do, they’ll need to locate the authors of most of the other 535 comments for this article (at the time of writing) – some of them make mine look extremely mild.

How can this be? It is clear that a similar comment against Jews, Blacks or Gays wouldn’t pass the monitor. Furthermore, I had my little experiment on Ynet not just because it is the most important news site in Israel, but also since it is known to have a very strict comments policy. Other sites will allow things which Ynet wouldn’t. And even on Ynet, one can describe all the Arabs as an existential threat to Jews, and to call for collective action against them – and pass for a legitimate side in a debate (and it wasn’t even a real debate, just a profile of an Arab MK in a men’s’ magazine). On other articles you can find worse examples – expressions of joy over the murder of civilians, specific calls for violence, etc.

Yes, we should worry about upsetting Jews and hurting their feelings.

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