AMERICAN JEWS DIVIDED OVER PAMELA GELLER’S HATRED

Never invite those who promote hatred of other religious and ethnic groups in the guise of advancing Jewish interests and values.
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Pamela Geller’s Intolerance Crosses Red Line on Bimah

Synagogues Shouldn’t Apologize for Silencing Hatred

Hatemongers Not Welcome: Pamela Geller has spawned headlines by winning invitations — then cancellations — from synagogues. No one should apologize for refusing a platform to her brand of anti-Islam hatred, writes Eric Yoffie.
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Hatemongers Not Welcome: Pamela Geller has spawned headlines by winning invitations — then cancellations — from synagogues. No one should apologize for refusing a platform to her brand of anti-Islam hatred, writes Eric Yoffie.

The recent decisions by a synagogue in Great Neck and another outside of Toronto to cancel appearances by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller — both were rescheduled at other venues — have made headlines in the Jewish press and raised interesting questions for the Jewish community.

There are important issues at stake here. They are not new, but they are not going away. So let’s think through, yet again, who it is that we want speaking at our synagogues — and Federations and JCCs.

My first observation: Diversity of views should be welcome. Debate should be promoted and controversy encouraged. A synagogue that shuts down discussion whenever a wealthy donor is offended may appease the donor but will ultimately drive away its own members and lose its standing in the community. Synagogues are expected to challenge accepted thinking and to shake things up, at least a bit.

My second observation: Synagogues must have red lines. A synagogue bima is not an open forum; it is a platform used by a Jewish religious institution to promote Jewish values and strengthen the Jewish people and the Jewish state. There are people who should never be invited to speak there and things that should not be said there.

With that in mind, it is important to note that refusing to host a speaker at a synagogue does not raise freedom of speech issues of any kind. Americans have an absolute right, guaranteed by the constitution, to express themselves openly and freely, from any street corner or soapbox. But they are not entitled to demand that a voluntary religious organization provide them with an audience; synagogues—and churches and mosques—have no obligation to host a speaker who expresses ideas that they find abhorrent and that contradict their most fundamental religious principles.

(A synagogue, in this respect, is very different from a university. Universities have red lines too, but they are far more expansive. Americans expect universities to be a place where the broadest possible spectrum of views is expressed, and—as we saw recently at Brooklyn College—it is almost always counterproductive for Jewish communal groups to oppose university speakers or one-time programs, no matter how offensive.)

Each synagogue, of course, must define its own red lines and decide how they will apply in any given case. This is never easy, and different synagogues will come to different conclusions.

When asked for my counsel, I suggest the following broad guidelines:

Remember that the task of the synagogue is to promote Jewish religious tradition and Jewish well-being. At the same time, as noted above, don’t be afraid of strong views and of those who dissent from what may appear to be the communal consensus.

Never invite those who promote hatred of other religious and ethnic groups in the guise of advancing Jewish interests and values.

Don’t be afraid of a diversity of views on Israel, but make your expectations clear: Invite those with a firm commitment to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; who, when criticisms are offered, will offer them with love and respect; and who are sensitive to Israel’s security needs and oppose terrorism against Israelis and Jews—indeed, who oppose terrorism in all forms and at all times.

And how do I apply these standards to current realities? To offer a few prominent examples:

Pamela Geller has no place in an American synagogue. She is a bigot and purveyor of hate.

BDS speakers have no place in American synagogues. They do not simply oppose Israeli policies; they oppose Israel’s very existence.

Peter Beinart and speakers from J Street should be welcomed. I have had my differences with Mr. Beinart and with J Street. At the same time, I agree with much of what they have to say, and I have always seen them as part of the Jewish family and the pro-Israel community. What is relevant here is that they meet the above criteria, and their voices are entitled to be heard.

I no longer oppose appearances in synagogues and Jewish settings by speakers for Christians United for Israel, a pro-Israel Christian group founded by Reverend John Hagee. Years ago, CUFI was a source of anti-Muslim sentiment; while their approach to Israel is very different from my own, the anti-Islam message has disappeared, and they too meet the criteria that I have set out.

Others in the Jewish community might offer different criteria or might apply them in a different way, but this much is clear: When deciding to whom we open our doors, we need a consistent, principled approach. Any synagogue or Jewish institution that does not have such a policy should develop one.

This opinion piece first appeared in the Jerusalem Post

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is the former leader of the Union for Reform Jewry. He writes on his ericyoffie.com website

Source

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Related (the other side of the fence)
Don’t Ban Pamela Geller — It’s Not Jewish Way (Click HERE to read)

50 YEARS AFTER ‘THE DREAM’, THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

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WHITE SKIN AMERICA
By Tom Karlson
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That White Skin

Another man gone done

He could not stand his ground                

Another man gone

Ah those riflin’

Standin’ your ground

Hoodie baitin’

Black skin huntin’

Legal lynchin’

Terrorizin’

White skinned privileged motherfucker

Judged prosecuted defended juried

Tag teamin’

three card Monty playin’

Strange fruit swingin’

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A shot to the heart

The dead man’s on trial

The shooter whines

Feared for his life

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The heads talk

And talk of

Post racial America

A black presidented America

A beyond reasonable doubt America

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Not a murmur

Of a million stop and frisks

A thousand legal lynchings

The 21st century Jim Crowed prison complex

And never not ever

0f white skin privileged America

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Another man done gone

He could not stand his ground

Another man done gone

Another man done gone

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR TRAYVON

 This week thousands of angry New Yorkers marched through the streets ….
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ISRAEL’S NEW CHIEF RABBI: WILL IT BE THIS RACIST OR THAT ONE?

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Rabbi Avraham Yosef (left), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu

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Following is a series of quotes from their writings. Quotes of Rabbi Eliyahu were collected with the help of Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Gadi Gvaryahu from “Tag Meir.” The response of Rabbi Yosef were collected from his anthology of response.

On renting apartments to non-Jews

Eliyahu (at a conference in Safed with [former Kach activist] Baruch Marzel, 2010): “If someone rents an apartment to Arabs, this is against halacha. It is permitted by law, I have been to the state attorney’s office. They charged me with racism. Nobody will shut my mouth.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to rent apartments to gentiles, it is forbidden to sell land to them. Question: Immigrants from Russia came to me, totally secular. They seemed like honest people. I don’t know about their Jewishness. Should I rent to them? Answer: In principle the law permits it, but if it is clear that they are not Jewish it is forbidden.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to buy olive oil from a gentile.”

On Arabs:

Eliyahu (Arutz Sheva, 2002): “It is forbidden to sit quietly. We must throw all the Arab students out of Safed College. I say this explicitly—I don’t fear anyone.”

Eliyahu (Questions and Responsa): “It would be worthwhile for someone to come and organize the consumers not to use the services of a hotel that employs Arabs workers. If they attend to the cleanliness of the food the way they attend to the cleanliness of their villages—the condition of the food is difficult … The time has come to speak the truth: Giving employment to enemies brings harsh results.”

On security:

Eliyahu (Questions and Responsa): “You must shout ‘Danger, terrorist’ and aim your weapon at him. By his reaction you can know whether he is a terrorist. One who comes to kill you, even if it is uncertain—hasten to kill him.”

On revenge:

Eliyahu (The Land of Israel Is Ours, 1998): God told us to exact revenge on the gentiles. It was He who brought Pharaoh and his troops to the Red Sea in order to drown them. Not to bring Israel out of Egypt, but to exact revenge.”

On the Supreme Court and the judicial system:

Yosef (Radio Kol Chai, 2010): “Judges cannot be counted in a minyan. It is forbidden to give to them, engage them or include them in any synagogue statement. Ignore their existence, and they will be as empty air. Even if the judge knows how to pray very well, from the moment that he was appointed a judge he disqualified himself from participating in a minyan, not to mention a prayer leader. He has raised a hand against the Torah of Moses.”

Eliyahu (Radio Galei Yisrael, 2010): “This is the most racist court in the state. There is no presence of Sephardim.” (To Galei Tzahal): “Who is the Supreme Court? They will not run the state for us. We will create disturbances so the court will fear us.” (To nrg.com/Maariv online): “For some reason this court is called by the names supreme, high and justice. The lives of soldiers are important in my eyes, but the justices are less important than the lives of gentiles.”

On women:

Yosef (Questions and Responses, 2008): “Is it permissible to elect a woman mayor? The question is one of halacha. A. Whether it is permissible for a woman to be elected to public office. B. Whether it would help in the observance of religion locally. To the best of my knowledge, the woman in Herzliya [Mayor Yael German] does not meet either of the two criteria.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to involve a woman in the zimun [the opening of Birkat Hamazon, the blessing after meals], even if it is for her husband or son. It is forbidden for a woman to cover herself with a shawl. A woman is meant to wear clothes like everyone else wears.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to shake the hand of an aunt. A girl’s hand may be shaken only if she is younger than nine. It is forbidden to shake the hand of a sister—if it is in a public place. It is permitted to hear a girl singing if she is younger than six—on condition that it is not in public. Is it permitted for a kindergarten teacher to speak at a parents’ meeting where men are present? There is no permission for a woman to speak in front of men.”

On democracy and the media:

Eliyahu (With a Jewish Head, 1998): “A revolution is needed. The entire nation is ruled by a very narrow stratum.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to say Hallel [the traditional prayers of thanks] on Independence Day. It is forbidden to shave on Independence Day.”

Eliyahu (With a Jewish Head, 1998): “People who don’t believe in God sit over the communications media and don’t permit anyone who thinks differently to broadcast.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to read newspapers on Shabbat. In practice one may be lenient in the bathroom. The [Haredi] newspaper Yated Ne’eman may not be read at all, even in the bathroom.”

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Accused Racists Leading Field in Chief Rabbi Race

By J.J. Goldberg

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The race for chief rabbi of Israel has been getting ugly since the collapse of a proposed deal between Shas and Jewish Home to elect their respective favorites. The deal would have amended the Chief Rabbinate laws to permit a second term for the incumbent Sephardic chief rabbi, a Shas favorite, and eliminated the age limit to permit the election of a favorite of the hardline, pro-settler of Jewish Home. The deal collapsed over liberal support for a more moderate Ashkenazi contender, as well as opposition to anything that benefits Shas.

The leading candidate for Sephardic chief rabbi is now Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed and son of the late Mordechai Eliyahu, former chief rabbi and longtime spiritual mentor of the National Religious Party. The younger Eliyahu is currently the subject of furious behind-the-scenes politicking by liberals who want to stop his candidacy, led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Labor Party lawmaker Eitan Cabel. The reason: a long record of extreme racism, including his notorious 2010 dictum forbidding the sale or rental of homes to Arabs.

Livni, whose Justice Ministry would be in charge of Chief Rabbi Eliyahu (since the Sephardic chief rabbi is the head of the rabbinical court system, which is under the Justice Ministry), met with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein last month to look for legal ways to block Eliyahu. Weinstein was dubious about the legal grounds, according to Nahum Barnea in today’s Yediot Ahronot. Barnea quoted Livni as insisting: “This is intolerable. After all, we’re talking about the position of chief rabbi. What will his election do to Israel’s image abroad? He mustn’t be elected.”

Livni wanted to base legal action on an indictment issued against Eliyahu in 2002 on charges of racism after he called for the expulsion of the Arab population of Safed. Weinstein pointed out that the state attorney’s office dropped the charges in 2006 after Eliyahu agreed to apologize, which would undermine the legal grounds for blocking him now.

On Wednesday, however (presumably after Barnea had filed his Friday Supplement column), Haaretz reported that Weinstein had agreed to conduct a legal inquiry if Eliyahu’s name is formally put in nomination.

The Haaretz story linked above includes some of Eliyahu’s most controversial quotes. The Israel Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has put together a longer list of Eliyahu’s most objectionable public statements.

Barnea points out, however, that stopping Eliyahu could be a mixed blessing. His main competition, Barnea reports, is Rabbi Avraham Yosef, a son of the former Sephardic chief rabbi and current Shas party mentor Ovadia Yosef. Though less prominent in the press, Barnea says, Yosef could be considered even more racist—and misogynistic and anti-democratic, to boot—than Eliyahu. In part this is a reflection of their ideological backgrounds: Eliyahu comes from the religious Zionist movement and recognizes the legitimacy of the state and its institutions, while Yosef emerges from a Haredi worldview that’s much more ambivalent on the question. It’s said, though, that Avraham Yosef is considered something of an extremist even within his own family.

To make his case, Barnea put together a list of parallel statements by the two for comparison. Here’s my translation:

Following is a series of quotes from their writings. Quotes of Rabbi Eliyahu were collected with the help of Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Gadi Gvaryahu from “Tag Meir.” The response of Rabbi Yosef were collected from his anthology of response.

On renting apartments to non-Jews

Eliyahu (at a conference in Safed with [former Kach activist] Baruch Marzel, 2010): “If someone rents an apartment to Arabs, this is against halacha. It is permitted by law, I have been to the state attorney’s office. They charged me with racism. Nobody will shut my mouth.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to rent apartments to gentiles, it is forbidden to sell land to them. Question: Immigrants from Russia came to me, totally secular. They seemed like honest people. I don’t know about their Jewishness. Should I rent to them? Answer: In principle the law permits it, but if it is clear that they are not Jewish it is forbidden.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to buy olive oil from a gentile.”

On Arabs:

Eliyahu (Arutz Sheva, 2002): “It is forbidden to sit quietly. We must throw all the Arab students out of Safed College. I say this explicitly—I don’t fear anyone.”

Eliyahu (Questions and Responsa): “It would be worthwhile for someone to come and organize the consumers not to use the services of a hotel that employs Arabs workers. If they attend to the cleanliness of the food the way they attend to the cleanliness of their villages—the condition of the food is difficult … The time has come to speak the truth: Giving employment to enemies brings harsh results.”

On security:

Eliyahu (Questions and Responsa): “You must shout ‘Danger, terrorist’ and aim your weapon at him. By his reaction you can know whether he is a terrorist. One who comes to kill you, even if it is uncertain—hasten to kill him.”

On revenge:

Eliyahu (The Land of Israel Is Ours, 1998): God told us to exact revenge on the gentiles. It was He who brought Pharaoh and his troops to the Red Sea in order to drown them. Not to bring Israel out of Egypt, but to exact revenge.”

On the Supreme Court and the judicial system:

Yosef (Radio Kol Chai, 2010): “Judges cannot be counted in a minyan. It is forbidden to give to them, engage them or include them in any synagogue statement. Ignore their existence, and they will be as empty air. Even if the judge knows how to pray very well, from the moment that he was appointed a judge he disqualified himself from participating in a minyan, not to mention a prayer leader. He has raised a hand against the Torah of Moses.”

Eliyahu (Radio Galei Yisrael, 2010): “This is the most racist court in the state. There is no presence of Sephardim.” (To Galei Tzahal): “Who is the Supreme Court? They will not run the state for us. We will create disturbances so the court will fear us.” (To nrg.com/Maariv online): “For some reason this court is called by the names supreme, high and justice. The lives of soldiers are important in my eyes, but the justices are less important than the lives of gentiles.”

On women:

Yosef (Questions and Responses, 2008): “Is it permissible to elect a woman mayor? The question is one of halacha. A. Whether it is permissible for a woman to be elected to public office. B. Whether it would help in the observance of religion locally. To the best of my knowledge, the woman in Herzliya [Mayor Yael German] does not meet either of the two criteria.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to involve a woman in the zimun [the opening of Birkat Hamazon, the blessing after meals], even if it is for her husband or son. It is forbidden for a woman to cover herself with a shawl. A woman is meant to wear clothes like everyone else wears.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to shake the hand of an aunt. A girl’s hand may be shaken only if she is younger than nine. It is forbidden to shake the hand of a sister—if it is in a public place. It is permitted to hear a girl singing if she is younger than six—on condition that it is not in public. Is it permitted for a kindergarten teacher to speak at a parents’ meeting where men are present? There is no permission for a woman to speak in front of men.”

On democracy and the media:

Eliyahu (With a Jewish Head, 1998): “A revolution is needed. The entire nation is ruled by a very narrow stratum.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to say Hallel [the traditional prayers of thanks] on Independence Day. It is forbidden to shave on Independence Day.”

Eliyahu (With a Jewish Head, 1998): “People who don’t believe in God sit over the communications media and don’t permit anyone who thinks differently to broadcast.”

Yosef: “It is forbidden to read newspapers on Shabbat. In practice one may be lenient in the bathroom. The [Haredi] newspaper Yated Ne’eman may not be read at all, even in the bathroom.”

Friday’s Haaretz has a story by Yair Ettinger reporting that a religious-Zionist website has taken down some comments made by Eliyahu in 2005, railing against the Gaza disengagement, that could further damage his candidacy.

The text attributed to Eliyahu urged revenge against secular Jews, calling on people to bring secular children back into the religious fold. The Kipa website (in Hebrew) first published the comments during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. A spokesman says the rabbi’s quotes have been taken out of context.

The text appeared in a column called Ask the Rabbi, where rabbis answer questions concerning religious law and offer personal advice. Rabbi Eliyahu frequents such sites.

Ahead of the nomination of a new chief rabbi, his alleged 2005 response was extracted by the information dissemination website 61 – run by Molad, the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, an organization associated with the left.

Eliyahu’s answer was in response to a question by a woman whose friend “had a lot of pent-up anger” after the withdrawal from Gaza. She wanted to know “how to channel his anger in a positive direction.”

The Rabbi of Safed reportedly replied: “Take revenge! Avenge the secularists who have brought this disaster upon us. Avenge the evil associated with this folly. Return them to the bosom of religion, talk incessantly. Restore them and their children to the faith. Do this wisely, with sensitivity and determination.” Shortly after these words appeared on Facebook and Twitter this week, they were removed from Kipa, with no explanation given.

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START OF ISRAELI FOOTBALL SEASON HERALDS IN NEW ROUND OF RACISM

As Israeli football season opens, violent racist attacks on Palestinians return too

 by Ali Abunimah
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With the opening of the Israeli football season this week, violent and racist attacks by fans have returned.

In this video, released by Israeli police, supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem football club violently attacked Palestinian workers at a McDonald’s restaurant. According to Ynet:

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At the remand hearing, police representative Officer Shlomi Ben Dor said that “on their way to the (Beitar Jerusalem) practice field, a group of fans stopped at the McDonald’s. One of the employees, of Arab origin, stepped outside to clean the tables, as several of the fans started talking to him. Once they realized he was an Arab they started yelling ‘death to Arabs,’ ‘Muhammad the homo,’ and other slurs the mind cannot tolerate.”

Ben Dor added “they started attacking the Arab and later on, when he managed to escape into the restaurant, the suspects, accompanied by others who have not yet been arrested, started… throwing chairs into the restaurant. Undercover officers at the scene arrested the suspects.”

Ongoing rage over Muslim players

The day before, after a rally to mark the football season’s opening, some fans expressed their lingering rage over the hiring of two Muslim players by the club:

Around 3,000 fans attended what is usually a celebratory occasion and the vast majority cheered the depleted squad.

However, after the players returned to the dressing room, a group of fans swore, spat and threw rocks at goalkeeper Ariel Harush and midfielder Dario Fernandez, attacking them for their support of Chechen Muslims Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev last season.

Harush and Fernandez required a police escort to leave the complex, with the Argentinian seriously considering leaving the club due to the incident.

Long-standing problem of violence and racist incitement

Sadly such incidents are not exceptional. Last year, for example, a mob of Beitar fans was caught on video rampaging through a Jerusalem area shopping mall attacking Arab workers and shouting racist slurs.

Notwithstanding the arrests of suspects in the latest McDonald’s incident, Israeli police and football authorities have done little to clamp down on violence and racist incitement by fans, from whom the chant “Death to the Arabs” is frequently heard.

Even ESPN aired a 15-minute documentary – which can be watched online – about Beitar fans’ notorious racism.

The racism should also be seen in the broader context of widespread racism in Israeli society against Africans and Palestinians.

Moving forwards or backwards?

In recent months – with the hiring of the Chechen players, Beitar’s outgoing owner and chairman made some effort to control the racist outbursts of fans who insist Beitar must remain a purely Jewish club.

But now the problem, at least at Beitar, may get even worse, with a recent change of ownership which saw Russian tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak hand the club over to Eli Tabib.

Tabib, the former owner of the Hapoel Tel Aviv football club, currently faces charges of violently assaulting and kicking a minor outside his home and then destroying security camera footage of the alleged incident.

Writing in Haaretz, Moshe Boker observes:

The worst thing to happen to Beitar with the departure of Gaydamak and [chair Yitzhak] Kornfein is the absence of anyone who will fight the extremist and racist fans. After a long period during which Kornfein ostracized and pursued them, and many of them were arrested, the fans feel responsible for Tabib’s arrival. Everything Beitar tried to rebuild over the last six months has been destroyed.

The problem is more widespread than just Beitar, as Haaretz observed last year, “The anarchy and lack of police enforcement have turned Israeli soccer into a source of violence, racism and hatred, and has even started to attract dubious characters, who at times manage the teams.”

The New Israel Fund (NIF), a liberal Zionist charity, which monitors and campaigns against racism in football stadiums, said in a recent report that there had been “progress,” in some areas of fighting football racism but said that Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv fans are still responsible for most incidents.

There were 38 episodes of incitement against minorities this year, including 18 at Maccabi Tel Aviv and 15 at Beitar Jerusalem, according to the report. Last year’s figure was 35 and two years ago NIF reported forty nine. It also noted an increase in fans condemning violence and racist incitement.

“Israeli Rosa Parks”

Amid increased international attention, Maccabi Tel Aviv has launched an anti-racism campaign. In this video, club players appeal to fans to refrain from making ape noises when African players are on the field, and from calling Arab players “terrorists,” among other habitual slurs. 

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In May, Haaretz writer Tamir Cohen appealed to the club’s star player, Maharan Radi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, to become the “Israeli Rosa Parks” by quitting the club:

Maharan Radi should be a symbol. He needs to be the one who says, “Enough.” He needs to leave the pitch and refuse to sweat for fans who make up racist chants about his people.

Despite the persistent problems, Israeli soccer has faced no international sanctions, and Israel was notoriously awarded the hosting of this year’s UEFA Under 21’s tournament in face of considerable international protests and objections.

It promises to be a long, hot season, especially for any Palestinian workers who happen to be in the path of rampaging mobs of racist fans.

 

 

Written FOR

RACISM THEN AND NOW ~~ THERE AND HERE

Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event.  One of my friends sat at the table next to me.  She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.” 

*Attack in Tel Aviv: ‘Jewish girls do not go out with Blacks!’

David Sheen

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An African refugee watches an anti-refugee demonstration held by right-wing activists in south Tel Aviv on December 31, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)
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A year has elapsed since the May 23, 2012 anti-African pogrom in Tel Aviv, and though there have been no other full-scale race riots since, the city continues to witness low-level anti-African attacks on a regular basis. Their occurrence is so commonplace that they rarely merit any mention in the media, but by North American standards, any one of these incidents would be considered scandalous. 

On Friday, I received an email from a fellow native of Toronto, Canada, who is currently living in Israel, detailing such an attack. In her letter, 27-year-old international development researcher Leah McDonnell describes how she was accosted the night previous [June 27], while out walking with a group of friends, as the city celebrated an outdoor art festival into the early hours of the morning. Without any provocation, two men who presented themselves as religious Jews and members of some kind of security force berated the group for befriending an African man and physically assaulted their dark-skinned friend.

It is important to understand the context in which these regular racist attacks occur. For the past several years, high-level Israeli politicians have competed with one another to vilify Africans in the most dehumanizing language possible, casting them as diseased, criminals and terrorists. In the last two years, the government has built both a desert fence to prevent any more Africans from crossing Israel’s border to seek asylum, and a series of desert jails to indefinitely hold without trial any others who arrive and increasing numbers who are pulled off the streets. In recent months, it has secretly deported thousands of Africans back to the countries they fled from, and is trying to bribe other African nations with arms shipments to convince them to take in all the other non-Jewish Africans living in Israel, 55,000 in number.

Although the government is considering proposals to sweep all the Africans off the city streets and into jails and out of the country, it has refrained from doing so on a large scale as yet, knowing that this will not photograph well. But its official policy, as publicly expressed by former Interior Minister Eli Yishai and never disavowed since, is to “make their lives miserable“, so that the Africans will pick up and leave of their own volition. With the blessing of the government, gangs of Jews continue to prey upon any African they can get their hands on, to add to the misery-making.

I include below McDonnell’s letter in full.

Myself and several of my friends (6 of us in total, one being African) were out to celebrate Laila Lavan, or the “White Night”. As we were on out way back home, our night took a very dark turn.  We were walking to the South and were at the corner of Ha Aliya and Levinski when we were approached by two young men wearing matching black security uniforms and kippas [skullcaps].  They first asked, “Is the kushi [nigger] with you?” 

A conversation between my friend and the aggressors went as follows: 

My friend:  “He is my boyfriend, leave us alone.”

Aggressor: “In that case we have a few questions for you.”

My friend: “I am not interested in your questions.”

Aggressor: “Why? Are you an idiot? We are from the security!” 

At this point they started to scream at us, demanding to know if we were Jewish, then if we spoke Hebrew.  My African friend tried to say, “What happened?”, in honest and utter confusion of the events taking place.  One of the young men answered by putting his finger to my friend’s face and angrily told him, “You don’t talk”.  The other started to scream, “What happened? What happened?”, as if he had been personally offended – he then started to brandish pepper spray in a threatening way and yelled, “Jewish girls do not go with Blacks!”. We tried to separate these aggressors from our friend, putting our bodies in between theirs, yelling, “No, stop, go away!”.  

The men kept tugging at our friend, trying to push him and us out of their way.  We started to walk, trying to evade them.  They followed us down the street.  One of the men tried to punch our friend, but was held back by his accomplice; we can only assume that, as we were in front of a store, they did not want to attract any further attention.  

They both continued to follow us while trying to grab our friend, attempting to push us out of the way.  Three of my friends managed to distract the men, blocking them from our African friend.  The other three of us ran down the street, then turned onto a side-street, leading us away. 

 I then ran back to meet my friends who stayed to distract these attackers.  When I reached them the men had vanished.  They told me they yelled very loudly, “I don’t know you” and a couple passing by on a scooter stopped and yelled, “Do you want us to call the police?”.  The men then dispersed.  I am so thankful the couple stopped and offered their assistance. 

Afterwards, we all gathered at a nargila bar to sit and relax after this terrible event.  One of my friends sat at the table next to me.  She looked very troubled and she started to speak. “This is the same reaction my grandmother faced in Germany when the Nazis would stop Germans from walking with her, because she was Jewish.” 

 

 

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ZIONIST HARASSMENT ON THE WALLS …

Why are communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly the victims of racist vandalism at the hands of Jewish Israelis? Why were cars in Abu Ghosh damaged last week? Why were gravestones in Jaffa desecrated last month? Why was a school in Wahat al-Salam defaced last year?
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Israel’s racists step up attacks on Palestinian citizens

David Sheen *

Men stand near wall sprayed-painted with graffiti

Graffiti reading “Arabs out” and “Racism – Assimilation” in Abu Ghosh, 18 June.

 (Jim Hollander /EPA)

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Why are communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly the victims of racist vandalism at the hands of Jewish Israelis? Why were cars in Abu Ghosh damaged last week? Why were gravestones in Jaffa desecrated last month? Why was a school in Wahat al-Salam defaced last year?

Are attacks on these communities reprisals for anti-Semitic attacks that emanate from them? Is it because the sons of Wahat al-Salam crash cars into Jews? Is it because the youth of Jaffa perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israelis? Is it because the residents of Abu Ghosh provide protection to anti-Zionist suicide bombers?

The attacks listed in the first paragraph of this article actually occurred, but the ones listed in the second paragraph are totally false — I just fabricated them. No residents of these communities have been accused of committing crimes motivated by nationalism — or anti-nationalism, for that matter.

Even if any of them had been, it would not justify the collective punishment of these communities. But it would at least provide motives for attacks on these communities, motives that some Israelis might sympathize with: “revenge” for prior attacks on Jews, “intimidation” to prevent future attacks on Jews.

But again, residents of these communities are not suspected of having committed any hate crimes against Jewish Israelis. So what could be the motive for attacking them? In addition to the prescriptive messages spray-painted in previous attacks — “Arabs Out” and “Death to Arabs” — the perpetrators of the most recent acts of vandalism also included another slogan, one that does point to motive: “Racism or Assimilation.”

“Racism or assimilation”

For outsiders unfamiliar with the internal Israeli discourse, this phrase needs to be parsed. The vandals have posited these two nouns — “racism” and “assimilation” — as either-or options for Jewish people living in Israel. Aligning themselves with the first option, the perpetrators are acknowledging that their attacks on Palestinian communities are motivated by racism, and they are calling for more of the same. The other option, the alternative to racism, is the choice that they loathe: assimilation.

What is this creature called assimilation, and why do these self-professed racists hate it so much? Assimilation is simply the process by which individuals, or groups of individuals, adopt ideas from other individuals and groups of individuals. These racists want to prevent Jewish people from adopting ideas of other people because they want all Jewish people to adopt their own ideology: Jewish Dominionism.

Dominionists seek to transform the State of Israel from a democratic ethnocracy into a theocratic ethnocracy. The current government, a relatively secular regime that grants extra privileges to Jewish people on the basis of their ethnicity, is insufficiently Jewish in their opinion. The Dominionists want all affairs of state and all public spaces in Israel to conform to the rules of Orthodox Judaism.

If the Dominionists’ dreams were realized and they were able to forge the face of the state, what would it look like? At the first public conference of the Dominionist “Derech Chaim” movement in March, I listened to the movement’s leaders flesh out their shared vision for the future. They bemoaned the legal obstacles that hinder the accomplishment one of their main objectives: physically separating Jewish citizens from non-Jewish citizens in Israel.

Segregation

Dominionists do not make up a majority of the Jewish population in Israel; if they did, they would already have turned Israel into a full-fledged theocracy. But their desire to physically separate Jewish people and non-Jewish people into separate areas is shared by the secular segregationists, who do make up a majority of the Jewish population.

Secular segregationists do not want the country to be governed under the strict rules of Orthodox Judaism, but for their own racist reasons they would prefer to not have to see any non-Jewish Arab people as they go about their daily lives. When they seek medical attention at hospitals or recreation at amusement parks, there seems to be an increasing consensus among the majority of Jewish Israelis that religious segregation is a positive phenomenon.

To be sure, there are parts of Israel in which Jewish people and non-Jewish people choose to live close to each other and get along fairly well. They are few and far between, but they exist, and among them are Abu Ghosh, Jaffa and Wahat al-Salam. It is precisely because Jews and Arabs live there in relative peace that these communities are attacked. It is the option of Israelis and Palestinians living in a multicultural environment that the Dominionists want to eliminate.

If the government of Israel not only enabled segregation but also simultaneously enabled groups of Jews, Arabs and others to establish multicultural institutions and heterogenous communities, it could at least claim to be adhering to a libertarian interpretation of the right to equal treatment under the law. But there is only one such Palestinian-Israeli intentional community in the entire country — Wahat al-Salam — and as its first Palestinian resident told me just days before he died last year, it exists not because of the Israeli government’s efforts, but in spite of them.

While (what are likely) disorganized groups of Dominionist hooligans carry out physical attacks on mixed Arab-Jewish communities like Wahat al-Salam, highly organized groups of Dominionist activists move into mixed Arab-Jewish towns across the country with the avowed objective of preventing “assimilation” and eventually driving out the non-Jewish residents (Amy Teibel, “Devout Israeli Jews moving to Arab-Jewish cities,” Associated Press, 4 October 2012). And in the last three years, top Israeli political and religious leaders have stepped up their efforts to segregate areas of the country into Jewish and non-Jewish.

Racist rulings

In 2010, first dozens, and then hundreds, of chief rabbis on the government payroll issued a religious edict forbidding Jews from renting apartments to non-Jewish people. The rabbis justified their racist ruling by citing passages of the Bible which call for ethnic cleansing the land of Israel and implementing complete racial segregation (Deuteronomy 7). Their ruling still stands, and no disciplinary action was ever taken against the rabbis.

In 2011, Israel’s parliament, the Knessetpassed the Communities Acceptance Law, colloquially called the “Kaadan Loophole Law,” because it circumvented the Kaadan case at the high court, which made it illegal to bar a person from purchasing property just because he or she comes from a different culture. The new law granted hundreds of villages in Israel the right to veto home sales on the basis of the buyer’s background.

new government bill currently being debated in the Knesset would permit Israeli businesses to give preferential treatment to people who have served in the army. Although the law would also have a negative impact on some other groups, it is a thinly veiled attempt to sanction discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who, as a rule, do not serve in the military. If the law is enacted, it would essentially extend the legal right to segregate by religion to land developers in any area of the country, including downtown Tel Aviv.

After last week’s embarrassing attack in Abu Ghosh, just as a long list of Hollywood stars were visiting Jerusalem only a couple of kilometers away, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to condemn the attack, saying that it contradicted the values of the Israeli people, and of the Jewish religion (“PM: ‘Price tag’ attacks contradict values of Jewish people and state,” The Jerusalem Post). While that may be true for some Israelis, and for some adherents of Judaism, these racist attacks are clearly in sync with the values of large number of Jewish Israelis, including secular segregationists such as Netanyahu himself, and the Jewish Dominionists that are his power-brokering political partners.

*David Sheen is an independent writer and filmmaker. Born in Toronto, Canada, Sheen now lives in Dimona.

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RACISM ON THE RISE IN ISRAEL

Instead of fighting suspicion and hate, politicians have in fact fueled these sentiments in recent years, by enacting laws that foster unequal treatment. Because of these laws, Arab schools can be deprived of funding if they remind their students of the 1948 expulsion, a day of mourning for Arabs and a day of joy for Jewish Israelis, which they have celebrated since independence. Communities are even allowed to turn away Arabs wanted to move there — so as to preserve their “Jewish identity.”

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Suspicion and Hate: Racist Attacks On Arabs Increase in Israel

By Julia Amalia Heyer

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Photo Gallery: Racist Attacks on the Rise in Israel
DPA

Arabs are being beaten and insulted in Israel, where the number of racially motivated attacks has risen dramatically. The unresolved conflict, fueled by nationalist politicians, is shifting from Palestinian areas into the Israeli heartland.

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The horror is etched on her face and caught on camera. Revital Wolkov is sitting in the driver’s seat of her white Toyota, staring over her right shoulder, through the broken rear window, directly into the lens. The hole in the window is shaped like a large butterfly.

Wolkov, 53, teaches history in Ramat HaSharon, near Tel Aviv. She was attacked and her car was damaged, merely because an Arab colleague was sitting in the passenger seat. It happened in March, but it wasn’t the only attack of its kind.In the spring, several Jewish teenage girls asked a women standing at a bus stop in Jerusalem whether she was an Arab. The woman, wearing a headscarf, replied that she was. One of the girls pulled the hijab from the woman’s head and spat in her face. The others kicked and beat the woman. A police officer stood nearby and watched. Hana Amtir, 38, three months’ pregnant, locked herself into her house for three days before filing a complaint with the police.

In a beach bar in Tel Aviv, an Arab waiter was clearing away bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup, but the men sitting at one of the tables weren’t finished yet. “Damn Arab,” they cursed, and then proceeded to beat the man, who was later hospitalized. None of the other guests came to his aid.

Youths attacked an Arab cleaning man working for the city of Tel Aviv as he was emptying garbage cans. They broke a bottle over his head. The man, covered with blood, asked them why they were doing this to him. “Because you’re an Arab,” they shouted.

Such attacks have become commonplace in Israel, but it isn’t Jewish soldiers beating Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. The attacks have nothing to do with militant settlers or an autonomous Palestine, although these conflicts are always at the back of people’s minds.

For decades, Jews and Palestinians have been fighting over the same piece of land. Some of them even share the same citizenship. Three quarters of Israel’s 8 million people are Jews, and 1.8 million are Israeli Arabs. However, their paths rarely cross in everyday life. Israel’s Arabs are not required to serve in the military, and many of them live in primarily Arab towns and neighborhoods, with their children attending Arab schools. They earn less on average and are not as well educated as Israeli Jews. Officially, they have the same rights as Jewish citizens, but in reality they are often the targets of discrimination.

‘We Have a Racism Problem’

The Jewish majority, influenced by terror and the constant threat of attack, sees the Arab minority as a “fifth column” of its hostile neighbors in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the entire region.

Instead of fighting suspicion and hate, politicians have in fact fueled these sentiments in recent years, by enacting laws that foster unequal treatment. Because of these laws, Arab schools can be deprived of funding if they remind their students of the 1948 expulsion, a day of mourning for Arabs and a day of joy for Jewish Israelis, which they have celebrated since independence. Communities are even allowed to turn away Arabs wanted to move there — so as to preserve their “Jewish identity.”

The suspicions are nothing new, as they reflect the underlying conflict in this country and beyond its borders. Nevertheless, attacks by perfectly normal Jewish Israelis on their Arab countrymen have been so brutal in recent weeks that the commentary has been surprisingly unanimous. The media on both the left and the right, otherwise rarely of the same mind, have condemned the attacks.

The Israeli press can be hard on its country and unsparing in its criticism. “We have a racism problem,” wrote the newspaper Ha’aretz. And Yediot Akharonot detects the process of dissolution of a “society that has never managed to establish a binding system of values for all of its components.”

Of course, it’s unfair to measure the severity of the problem against the highly charged atmosphere of the Israeli debate, because while anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are part of mainstream political thinking in the Arab world and often even encouraged by governments, Israel openly discusses racism at home. And, of course, the Israelis treat their minorities better than many Arab countries treat their Jews or Christians. But Israel has also set itself a high moral standard, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consistently describing his country as a beacon in the darkness.

Sharp Rise in Attacks

According to the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, a group consisting of several organizations, racially motivated incidents have almost quadrupled since 2008. There were 16 reported cases in that year, compared to 63 between March 2012 and February 2013.

One of those incidents was directed against Revital Wolkov and her colleague, Suhad Abu Samira, 25, a Muslim woman who was wearing a black hijab when the attack occurred. The two teachers were on their way to a funeral service when Wolkov parked her car in a Jewish section of Jerusalem, where many religious Jews live and the Arab translations on street signs are often painted over. When the women got out of the car, they heard people shouting.

“There was an entire group of children and young people standing there,” Wolkov later said in her apartment. At first, the women didn’t understand what they wanted. The youths spat, threw oranges and water bottles at them and shouted: “Arab whore.” Samira began to cry and the women fled into a doorway.

Wolkov experienced the Six-Day War as a child and the Yom Kippur War as a teenager. She was also a soldier and fought in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the wars did not turn her into a cynic. Her face turns rigid when she talks about that afternoon. After working as a teacher for 26 years, her first instinct was to seek dialogue, so she left the doorway and returned to the youths in the parking lot.

Why are you doing this, she asked?

“You Jewish slut, you’re friends with the Arab whore,” they said. The words still echo in her mind today. Then they began throwing rocks and Wolkov fled. When she returned, her car windows had been smashed and the tires slit.

Israelis Feel Superior But Threatened

Wolkov’s parents emigrated from Yemen. She has brown skin, and she knows what it feels like not to look like everyone else. Wolkov was a good student, and yet a teacher once said to her, in front of the entire class, that he wouldn’t have thought that a Yemini could be so good at mathematics. Even though Israel is supposed to be a homeland for all Jews, its society, like societies elsewhere, is divided by skin color and ancestry. Ethiopians and Yemenis are at the bottom of the hierarchy, while Jews of European descent are at the top.

“This is the Middle East. Nothing is normal here. Everyone is traumatized,” says Wolkov. Many Israelis feel superior, she explains — militarily, morally and culturally — and simultaneously threatened. “Those who are afraid begin to hate,” she says.

People who live in Israel can easily feel like castaways on the high seas. There are the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas, whose rockets are pointed at Tel Aviv, and there are the mad television preachers and politicians from Iran to Saudi Arabia, who want nothing more than to see Israel destroyed. Those who live there constantly see images on television of hate-filled people around the world burning Israeli flags and, even in the two Arab countries with which Israel considers itself to be at peace, angry mobs storming the Israeli embassy. And although Israel is the strongest military power far and wide, its citizens are filled with a deep-seated fear.

This leads to overwhelmingly anti-Arab sentiments. For instance, a survey by the University of Haifa found that more than half of Jewish Israelis don’t want to live next to Arabs. In another study, 63 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement “Arabs are a security risk and a demographic threat to the country,” while 40 percent felt that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate.

Arabs Seen as Enemies

Residents of Tel Aviv’s affluent northern neighborhoods collect signatures to prevent Arabs from moving into the area. In other cities, homeowners are berated for selling or renting to Israeli Arabs. The mayor of Nazaret Illit in northern Israel wrote a newsletter to congratulate residents on keeping the city’s Jewish population constant “at 82 percent.” He also called upon citizens to “fight against the right of everyone in Israel to live where he or she pleases,” and even to employ “methods we would rather not discuss.”

“Arabs are being attacked just for being Arabs,” says Mordechai Kremnitzer, a law professor at Hebrew University. He speaks slowly and sounds worried. “Given our experiences, it ought to be clear that this sort of thing cannot happen,” he says.

Do Jews have to be better people, just because they are victims of anti-Semitism and racism, of persecution and genocide? Is this even possible, given the trauma and ongoing conflict they face?

The state of war is now part of everyday life, says Kremnitzer. The decades of being an occupying power showed the Israelis that they are stronger than the Arabs, he explains. And an Arab, whether he lives in Israel or in the Palestinian territories, is only one thing for many people, says Kremnitzer: the enemy. It’s also oddly schizophrenic that someone can be a soldier serving with the occupying army in the West Bank by day, with almost unlimited power, and then, in the evening, return to being a fellow citizen with his Israeli Arab neighbors.

“Our soldiers are taught early on that the others are inferior to them,” says Kremnitzer. Almost every Jewish Israeli, male or female, serves in the army today. In his capacity as vice-president of the Israel Democracy Institute, Kremnitzer wants to meet with the country’s justice and education ministers. It is imperative that those in the government take action, he says. One in three children is now born into an ultra-Orthodox family, and most attend religious schools, which, rather than teaching students about universal values, drum into them the notion that the Jews have a biblical right to their land.

Instead of advocating peaceful coexistence, some politicians, especially nationalists and the ultra-religious, prefer to draw attention to themselves with anti-Arab statements. Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai referred to illegal African immigrants as “intruders who are contaminating the country with diseases.”

Extreme Rhetoric

A lawmaker with the governing Likud Party referred to them as a “cancer in the nation’s body.” Africans are also increasingly the targets of attacks, in areas like south Tel Aviv, where adolescent gangs have it in for the immigrants. Their leader is a former member of parliament with an ultra-right party.

Knesset Speaker Juli Edelstein wrote on Facebook that the Arabs are “a deplorable nation.” And Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister until recently, wants to transfer Israeli Arabs to Palestine in the context of an exchange of territory and to revoke the citizenship of those who are “disloyal.” He even once called for the execution of Arab lawmakers who had met with Hamas politicians. But half of the Israelis feel that Lieberman has fascist tendencies.

Although there are also politicians who protest against such sentiments, the extreme rhetoric still percolates into the collective consciousness. And with the police often sympathizing with the attackers, it’s no surprise that those responsible for racist attackers are not always punished. “There isn’t enough punishment for these actions,” says legal expert Kremnitzer, adding that many of the culprits have no sense that what they are doing is wrong. “They believe that politicians support what they do.”

Football fan Asi, 23, says that he isn’t a racist, just a nationalist. “I have no problem with Arabs, as long as they raise the Israeli flag and sing along when our national anthem is played.” Lieberman used the same logic to justify a bill he introduced calling for new citizens to deliver an oath of allegiance.

Asi, who lives in a small village near Caesarea, supports the Beitar Jerusalem football club. On a Thursday evening, he and other Beitar fans are standing at an intersection in Herzliya. Asi has a friendly face and a neatly trimmed beard. Like his fellow fans, he is here to demonstrate against the club’s owner.

When it was revealed in January that the Club planned to sign two Muslim Chechen players, the stands in the stadium became filled with hateful signs, with words like “Beitar — Pure Forever.” The fans chanted: “We are chosen, we are holy, but the Arabs are not.”Beitar Jerusalem, says Asi, that’s the holy menorah on a yellow background. The team, he says, can only win as a Jewish team, which is why Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to play in the club.

Beitar’s management has since cancelled the contracts with the Chechens and sent the two men back home. There were simply too many problems, the club wrote in a statement.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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Ironically, in an OpEd in today’s Ynet, the zionists claim that the Arab population in Israel loves racism …. how sick is that?
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I think the Arab citizens of Israel who complain don’t know or appreciate how good they have it. They should be thankful for the right to speak out without the police banging down their door and dragging them off to a dark jail cell to be held without trial.
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‘Racism’ or extinction

Op-ed: Most Arab citizens have it pretty good; prefer living in Israel than in any Arab country

Dan Calic

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Once again we hear voices crying out that Israel is a “racist” state. Should we be surprised? Not really. Why is it that every other group of people can have at least one national homeland where they are the clear majority? Yet, if the same privilege is accorded to Jews it’s called “racist,” or the other famous term – “apartheid state.”

Israel is located in the center of the Middle East. This region is comprised of 22 Arab countries, which cover over five million square miles, with a combined population of more than 350 million people, over 90% of whom are Muslim. The 6+ million Jews who live in Israel make up roughly 1.7% of the region’s population, so the Arabs enjoy an overwhelming majority of the regional ethnicity.

The Jews and Israel have been under constant threat of annihilation since the day independence was declared in May 1948. Have the 350 million Arabs lived under such a threat from Israel for the past 65 years?

Within Israel itself, slightly over 20% of the population is Arab. They enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. They vote, own homes, businesses, property, serve in the Knesset and Supreme Court. Plus, they are excused from serving in the army. Is there a single Arab country where Jews enjoy these same rights? Not one.

The majority of Arab-Israeli citizens will tell you they have it pretty good, and would prefer living in Israel than in an Arab country. Moreover, a couple of years ago, when the PA threatened to annex eastern Jerusalem, the Israeli Office of Immigration was flooded with Arabs wanting to apply for Israeli citizenship. What does that tell you?

So why all the talk of racism? Some may say Israel needs to be more “democratic.” Well, in fact, everyone in Israel gets to vote. So why the complaints?

It seems the problem is pretty easy to identify. The basis for the complaints can be based on only one thing: Jews are the majority and want to remain the majority.

Danes are the majority in Denmark, Swiss are the majority in Switzerland, Muslims are the majority in 22 countries, but no one is accusing any of these countries of racism. Yet if six million Jews are the majority in a country which is the size of New Jersey this is deemed “racist,” one cannot help but wonder what truly motivates those who make such accusations.

Israel is a democracy which among other things allows freedom of speech. Thus, those who voice such complaints are allowed to and are protected under the law. Would Jews be allowed similar privilege as citizens of Arab countries? Hardly.

I think the Arab citizens of Israel who complain don’t know or appreciate how good they have it. They should be thankful for the right to speak out without the police banging down their door and dragging them off to a dark jail cell to be held without trial.

If Israel is seen as “racist” because it’s the only country in the world where Jews are the majority, let the accusations come, and consider the source of the accusers.

If Israel acquiesces, the Jewish nation becomes extinct, which is precisely what the accusers prefer.

WELCOMING THE STRANGER IN ISRAEL, UNLESS THEY ARE BLACK

The Torah, (not the King’s Edition) clearly states in Deuteronomy 10: 19 You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.’ Those that read only hatred in the Torah are not only destroying it, but are destroying the Jewish people as well.
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The State of Israel does not provide these people homeless shelters, which is particularly problematic for women, since sex is sometimes a precondition for being taken into an apartment.The bitter irony here is, of course, that we might have expected that a nation shaped by the refugee experience would find humane ways to deal with today’s displaced people.

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Israel’s Heartbreaking Policy to African Asylum-Seekers

Nation Founded by Refugees Now Turns Its Back on Them

Unwelcome: Few refugees in Israel are granted official refugee status and asylum.

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Unwelcome: Few refugees in Israel are granted official refugee status and asylum.

By Leonard Fein

Meet Omer Olivier. Mr. Olivier is an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been living in Israel for the last seventeen years without official status. Although he has filed a request to be recognized as a refugee, his lack of recognized status means he cannot work legally nor get medical services.

And so, typically, it goes for those who claim refugee status in Israel. In recent years, there have been 4,322 applications for refugee status; according to Physicians for Human Rights, three have been processed and approved. (The figures are murky. A different report estimates between 35,000 and 38,000 asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom, knowing how slim are the odds that they will actually be processed, let alone approved as “legitimate” refugees, have not applied for asylum. Of those who have applied, less than one percent have been processed and accepted as refugees.)

The stumbling block is Israel’s refusal to examine people who claim refugee status on a case-by-case basis. By Israel’s preferred definition, asylum seekers are in fact infiltrators. So much for being gracious to the stranger.

I met some of these “infiltrators” in a day-care center in Tel Aviv in mid-April. They are stateless people, unable to return to Eritrea for fear of arrest and worse, unable to establish legal residence in Israel. The ones I met were four years old. Thousands more, children and adults, are housed at a massive detention facility in the Negev, which I plan to visit on my next trip to Israel.

Often, the argument put forward in defense of Israel’s restrictive policy is demographic: Israel would be overrun were its doors to be opened. Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu has inexplicably asserted that these people are “a threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel.”

One obvious problem with this argument is that Israel is today a country with a population of more than eight million, and nowhere near the verge of being overrun, still less so were there a more thoughtful path to legal status.

Instead, Israel has determined that Eritrean and Sudanese refugees, the main asylum seekers, are simply not eligible for Refuge Status Determination, as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Refugees, which Israel ratified on October 1, 1954. And when the terms of reference of that Convention were broadened in 1967, Israel ratified that, too, on June 14, 1968.

The Knesset Information Center acknowledges that Israel is the only developed country that uses temporary collective protection as an alternative to granting asylum on an individual basis, even though the guidelines of the UN High Commission on Refugees clearly state that granting collective protection does not relieve a country of its responsibility to guarantee basic social and economic rights to asylum seekers.

The collective “protection” currently imposed on Eritreans and Sudanese is, in effect, a deferred deportation order; those who are “protected” by it lack work permits, health insurance and welfare benefits. That means that Israel must somehow deal with the 60,000 asylum seekers in Israel who have survived the trek through Sinai, where many have been repeatedly raped or otherwise abused. Once in Israel, they congregate in poor neighborhoods where two-way resentment festers.

The problem: Israel makes the conferral of basic social rights contingent on at least legal residence. The unprocessed asylum seekers lack legal residence, hence lack access to health and social services, are cut off from all local social service frameworks, are barred from legal employment. This drives very many of them into an existence of indigency and want, renders them dependent on charity and non-profit social assistance organizations. Some women find their way to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which reports that many require gynecological attention in the wake of their experience of rape and abuse.

This is not the case in many other countries, where legal status and social benefits are de-linked. While awaiting a ruling on their legal status, asylum seekers in most developed countries enjoy many or all the social rights due a citizen. That is definitively not the case in Israel. After being detained for months or even years, they are given a document that explicitly states that they lack the legal right to work. Lacking the legal right to work, they enter the unregulated job market, where they are often underpaid and overworked and not protected by labor laws and where they are dependent on a network of volunteers for health care.

Plus: The State of Israel does not provide these people homeless shelters, which is particularly problematic for women, since sex is sometimes a precondition for being taken into an apartment.

The bitter irony here is, of course, that we might have expected that a nation shaped by the refugee experience would find humane ways to deal with today’s displaced people. Israel is easy to love — but too often it breaks your heart.

Source

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website

LEGAL VOICE OF BLACK ACTIVISM SILENCED BY DEATH

“He could perform in a courtroom in a trial, and then he could write an excellent brief. Then he could do transactional work. Many lawyers can do one but not the others.”
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Leo Branton Jr., Activists’ Lawyer, Dies at 91

Associated Press

Leo Branton Jr. with Angela Davis during her 1972 trial on murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges. She was acquitted.

By WILLIAM YARDLEY

Leo Branton Jr., a California lawyer whose moving closing argument in a racially and politically charged murder trial in 1972 helped persuade an all-white jury to acquit a black communist, the activist and academic Angela Davis, died on April 19 in Los Angeles. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Howard Moore Jr., another lawyer who represented Ms. Davis.

Mr. Branton, a black veteran of World War II who served in a segregated Army unit, represented prominent black performers, including Nat King Cole and Dorothy Dandridge, argued cases on behalf of the Black Panthers and the Communist Party, and filed numerous cases alleging police abuse. But the case with which he was most closely associated was that of Ms. Davis.

“Friends of mine said we couldn’t get a fair trial here in Santa Clara County,” Mr. Branton told jurors in his final remarks, on June 1, 1972, in a courtroom in San Jose, Calif. “They said that we could not get 12 white people who would be fair to a black woman charged with the crimes that are charged in this case.”

Ms. Davis, a 28-year-old former instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles, was accused of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1970 death of a state judge who was shot with one of several weapons she had bought. The year before, Ms. Davis had lost her teaching job after she expressed support for the Communist Party. After the charges were filed, she became a fugitive, one of the F.B.I.’s 10 most wanted. She said the weapons had been stolen from her.

Her flight had been an important part of the prosecution’s case. But Mr. Branton, who had argued numerous cases of police abuse in the 1950s, urged jurors to view her behavior in the context of centuries of slavery, racism and abuse against blacks.

At one point he showed jurors a drawing of Ms. Davis bound in chains. Then he removed the drawing to reveal another showing her freed.

“Pull away these chains,” he said, “as I have pulled away that piece of paper.“

Some jurors cried, and after she was acquitted, so did Ms. Davis. She also hugged the jurors.

“Angela Davis Found Not Guilty by White Jury on All Charges,” said a headline in The New York Times on June 5, 1972.

Decades later, Mr. Branton said the case stood out to him not just because of the verdict or the distinctiveness of his final appeal, but also because of the defense’s preparations. During jury selection, defense lawyers hired psychologists to help them determine who in the jury pool might favor their arguments, an uncommon practice at the time, he said. They also hired experts who undermined the reliability of eyewitness accounts, which were important to the prosecution.

Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and defense lawyer who met Ms. Davis in 1970 when she was being detained before trial and he was an undergraduate at Stanford, said in an interview on Friday that Mr. Branton had emphasized to the jury “who she was as a person.”

“He didn’t want her convicted because of her race or her politics,” he said.

Mr. Branton was born on Feb. 17, 1922, in Pine Bluff, Ark., the oldest of five children. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University in 1942 before serving in the Army. He earned his law degree at Northwestern University in 1948 and soon moved to California.

In 1952, Mr. Branton represented 14 members of the California Communist Party who were accused of advocating the overthrow of the government through force. They were convicted in lower courts, but the convictions were vacated by the United States Supreme Court in 1957.

His survivors include three sons, Leo L. Branton III, Tony Nicholas and Paul Nicholas; a brother; a sister; and five grandchildren. Geraldine Pate Nicholas, his wife of more than 50 years, died in 2006.

Mr. Branton began representing Nat King Cole in 1958 and eventually helped him secure ownership of his master recordings from Capitol Records, said Mr. Moore, his fellow lawyer in the Davis case. Many years later, Mr. Branton represented the estate of Jimi Hendrix until he and others were sued by members of the Hendrix family. The suit was dropped in 1995.

Mr. Moore said he first met Mr. Branton when they represented different clients in civil rights cases in Mississippi in the 1960s. Mr. Branton was already well known for his work in Hollywood and before the Supreme Court.

“Leo was good in his seat and on his feet,” Mr. Moore said. “He could perform in a courtroom in a trial, and then he could write an excellent brief. Then he could do transactional work. Many lawyers can do one but not the others.”

From

MEDICAL RACISM IN ISRAEL

It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.
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Medical racism: Israel hospital director complains that too many African babies are being born

 by Ali Abunimah
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Israelis chant “Sudanese Back To Sudan” during a right-wing demonstration against African refugees in south Tel Aviv, 30 May 2012.

 (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

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It’s a “problem” that too many babies are being born to parents from Africa, a leading Israeli medical official has told lawmakers at the Israeli parliament.

Israel’s Maariv reported yesterday the official’s comments in Hebrew:

“In Tel Aviv, today, there live approximately 80 thousand infiltrators from Africa, who constitute about 15 percent of the city’s population. In the last year about 700 babies were born to Eritrean and Sudanese mothers, and we currently have an average of about two births a day,” thus reported today Professor Gaby Barabash, director of the Ichilov Medical Center, in a hearing the Knesset held by the lobby for returning the infiltrators.

The problem is that they closed down the fence, but they did not close down the natural growth, and the number of Eritreans born here rises from year to year,” said Barabash.

Barabash’s use of the term “infiltrators” as a general term for Africans marks his comments as part of the long-standing campaign of racist incitement by Israeli leaders and officials that has resulted in horrifying demonstrations and pogroms targeting Africans in Israel, many of whom arrive as refugees.

In December, David Sheen profiled Israel’s “racist ringleaders,” the political leaders and public figures most responsible for racist incitement.

Barabash’s comments are also in keeping with the general outlook in Israel where it is socially acceptable to define the births of non-Jewish babies as undesirable or as a “demographic threat” to the so-called “Jewish and democratic state.”

Even more disturbing, Barabash played on common racist tropes of Africans and people of color as bearers of diseases, recognizable from racist discourses in other places and times, including traditional European anti-Semitic rhetoric:

Professor Barabash reported high percentages of intrauterine deaths, and also contagious viral diseases among the delivering mothers: tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. The African population constitutes one third of the new cases of AIDS carriers [sic] diagnosed in Israel, and half of the cases of malaria carriers.

All of this testimony was taken at a parliamentary hearing organized by members who voice vocal support for mass expulsions of Africans and for the construction of a desert prison camp to hold them.

Recently, women of Ethiopian origin have accused Israeli officials of forcing them to take long-term contraceptives, allegations that came to light following an investigation into the precipitous drop in births to Ethiopian women in Israel in recent years.

A long tradition of Israeli baby-hatred

Barabash’s shocking comments also recall those made by Dr. Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher at the Israeli government’s Armaments Development Authority at the Herzliya Conference in 2003, who called for Israel to “implement a stringent policy of family planning in relation to its Muslim population.”

Ravid added: “the delivery rooms in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba,” an area with a large Bedouin population, “have turned into a factory for the production of a backward population” (“Herzliya conference sees verbal attacks on Israeli Arabs,” Haaretz, 18 December 2003).

Palestine’s indigenous Bedouin population has long been the target of Israeli forced removal from their lands and other racist practices.

And as David Hirst wrote of Prime Minister Golda Meir in his classic book The Gun and the Olive Branch, “The Palestinians’ birth-rate was so much higher than the Jews’ that her sleep was often disturbed, she would say, at the thought of how many Arab babies had been born in the night.”

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation and analysis.

 

 

Written FOR

50 YEARS LATER ~~ FROM THE GHETTOS OF BIRMINGHAM TO THE GHETTOS OF PALESTINE

Numerous studies document an increasingly frightened, racist society: large numbers of Israeli Jews would not allow an Arab in their home, neighborhood, or children’s school, favor preference for Jews over Arabs in governmental hiring, and both societies live increasingly ghettoized lives.
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Lessons from the civil rights movement on an important anniversary

By Alice Rothchild

 

Martin Luther King Jr.
A few months after writing the “Letter from Birmingham jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. (File photo) 

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the protests against Southern segregation in Birmingham and celebrate today’s anniversary of Martin Luther King’s penning of his fiery “Letter from Birmingham jail,” we are challenged by King’s deeds and  voice.

King wrote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He talked about the importance of grappling with the underlying causes of popular resistance; the powerful role of nonviolent direct action “to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

King was not only deeply committed to nonviolence, to fighting “the triple evils” of racism, materialism and militarism, but toward the end of his life, he also turned his passion to opposing the Vietnam war, thus entering the international realm and the struggle for human rights for all oppressed peoples.

 

Now, 44 years after his assassination and decades of unity between African-American and Jewish communities fighting racism and anti-Semitism, a new challenge is arising. African-Americans are feeling growing pressure to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters, despite mounting distress over the policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians. At the same time, the U.S. Jewish community is increasingly agonized and fractured over criticism of Israeli policies and the growing Jewish voice, from activist organizations to campuses, for an end to the occupation and for boycott, divestment, and sanctions towards Israel until there is a just resolution to the conflict.

What can we learn from King’s legacy about this contentious issue?

 

In October 2012, under the leadership of the Dorothy Cotton Institute, a delegation of African-American civil rights leaders, theologians, scholars and activists, (many of whom are Jewish), traveled to Israel and the West Bank to see for themselves. Informed by our experiences and knowledge of the segregated South, sit-ins, bus boycotts and nonviolent marches, many were unprepared for the striking parallels we faced.

“Why didn’t I know?” was a common, disturbing question.

 

While Israel is usually presented as a vibrant, productive, democratic society, the delegates learned about a reality that is usually hidden from public discourse. We learned that from 1948 to 1966, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship lived under military rule with checkpoints and permits to travel within their own country. There are now more than 35 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Approximately 93 percent of Israeli land is in actuality for use by Jews only through the work of the Jewish National Fund and various state agencies. There are Jewish towns and Arab towns with major discrepancies in funding, infrastructure and schools, not to mention unrecognized Palestinian villages within Israel that receive no services whatsoever.

Numerous studies document an increasingly frightened, racist society: large numbers of Israeli Jews would not allow an Arab in their home, neighborhood, or children’s school, favor preference for Jews over Arabs in governmental hiring, and both societies live increasingly ghettoized lives.

 

Our experiences within East Jerusalem and the West Bank were even more troublesome; whether it was the aggressive Judaization of old Arab neighborhoods in the Holy City or the efforts by Israeli authorities to make it increasingly difficult for East Jerusalemites to retain their IDs. We witnessed the extensive systems of bypass roads (intended for Jewish settlers only), separate bus systems, the rapid growth of Jewish settlements, much on private Palestinian land, the crushing checkpoint system for Palestinians and the separation wall snaking through the West Bank.

Jewish settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law, Palestinians under military law. Settlements receive ample water, electricity and infrastructure; Palestinian villages are marked by their scarcity.

In Hebron where militant Jewish settlers, guarded by heavily armed soldiers, have established an enclave in the middle of the Old City, there are streets that are “Arab-rein” (“clean of Arabs”) and a high level of daily harassment by well-armed settlers toward the local Palestinian population.

 

Given Israel’s reputation as the victim of Palestinian intransigence and terrorism, the other surprise for some members of the DCI delegation was meeting Palestinians deeply committed to nonviolent activism, well-versed in the teachings of King and Gandhi, placing their bodies on the line Friday after Friday in the villages of Bi’ilin, Budrus, Nabi Saleh and others. We learned of years of boycotts and nonviolent marches, campus actions, Freedom Rides and a growing commitment to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

 

Just as King wrote, “Where do we go from here?” today’s African-Americans and American Jews are struggling with the terrible consequences for a society that was once a source of pride and comfort, but is now more publicly reaping the cost of privileging one group of people over another. Discrimination, racism and segregation are the prevailing reality and what leaders from Jimmy Carter to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have compared to apartheid.

 

Clearly, powerful forces within our own society, from Christians Zionists to AIPAC to our government-backed global military industrial complex make this all possible. This is further reinforced by a corporate news media frequently parroting the voices of the Israeli government rather than investigating the human rights concerns of Palestinians. But grassroots activists, joining together as part of an international movement, are developing a new discourse which is human rights-based, rather than focused on Jewish victimhood and exceptionalism at the expense of the Palestinian population.

Perhaps this can unite African-Americans steeped in the civil rights struggle and US Jews who feel Judaism has been hijacked by the increasingly isolated and dangerous policies of the Israeli state.

 

Alice Rothchild is a Boston-based physician, author, and filmmaker who is active in the US Jewish peace movement. 

Source

BELLA CIAO TO ISLAMOPHOBIA

New Version from Iran (Thanks to Redpossum)
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It’s been a bad month for zionism and Islamophobia …. a great month for humanity!
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First this ….. Canadian Students Back Boycott Israel Movement 
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Then this ….. The Jimmy Carter Protests that Weren’t  
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And now this ….. Pamela Geller Speech Cancelled At New York Synagogue 
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Here’s the full report FROM …. it claims that the synagogue failed to take a stand, but I’m satisfied with the cancellation!
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Bella Ciao To Islamophobia!!
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Shul Cancels Pamela Geller — But Fails To Take Stand

By Nechama Liss-Levinson

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It was after 11 p.m. yesterday that I first heard the news that my synagogue, the Great Neck Synagogue, had announced the cancellation of a speaking engagement by Pamela Geller, founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), described as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I breathed a great sigh of relief. I quickly stopped writing the piece I was working on about how my heart was broken by the intransigence of the synagogue and its leadership in confronting a moral challenge.

Despite the cancellation, I am still filled with pain. When the synagogue announced its decision to cancel Geller’s talk, originally set for April 14, it cited “security concerns,” particularly for member families and their children. This indeed may be the reason that the executive board of the synagogue cancelled the event.


In my heart, I hope it was not the only reason. I hope the leadership was (at least unconsciously) influenced by the virtual flood of phone calls, emails, and private conversations in which Great Neck Synagogue members, as well as others, made the point that even though Geller has the right to speak, the synagogue does not have an obligation to offer her its pulpit.

I wish my synagogue had spoken of the moral question. I wish the leaders had stood up and said, “We didn’t initially realize what Geller represents. Now that we do know, we will stand proudly against hate speech.” I wish that they had noticed that Geller’s concerns about radical Islam often morph into a vilification of all Muslims and the Islamic faith. Her language encourages denigration and dehumanization, rather than constructive discussion and cooperation.

What is even more distressing to me is the reaction that the cancellation has engendered. The commentary on the blogosphere, including a statement posted on Geller’s website, now denigrates the synagogue and its leaders. The vitriol and hatred in these postings are frightening. Both sides in this conflict feel that they are right, that they own the moral high ground, and that an evil is being perpetrated. But a quick survey of these postings will find that the supporters of Geller have totally lost the capacity for civil discourse.

I had planned to use two quotes from Elie Wiesel in my original post about the Geller invitation. His most famous one is: “Indifference to evil is evil.” And then, just days ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a young friend posted this, also from Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

I feel that these quotes give me added strength to do what I think is right. And then I read scores of quotes online from supporters of Geller,also using the example of the Holocaust as a reason that she should be permitted to speak. Most used the phrase, “Never again.” Who knew that even the Holocaust can be used to justify such disparate viewpoints?

When I got into my car this morning at 8:00 a.m., a radio newscast informed me that Geller had declared that her talk was cancelled due to “relentless intimidation, bullying and threats.” In fact, she said, “leftist thugs, pushed and prodded by Islamist supremacist…… threatened a march on the shul.”

I sat in the car stunned. What was true was that my husband and I had petitioned the Village of Great Neck for permission for a peaceful demonstration, which would have taken place across the street from the synagogue on the Sunday morning of Geller’s talk. It was clearly written in the petition that the demonstrators would be “polite and law abiding.” There were no microphones or speeches planned for our event, just placards with messages like “Say NO to Religious Bigotry” or “Great Neck Synagogue Members Support Religious Tolerance.”

The organizers were all members of Great Neck Synagogue, parents and grandparents, community leaders and community activists. We wanted to show that not all members of the synagogue agreed with the decision to invite Geller. We wanted to be able to stand proudly. We wanted, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, wrote, “to pray with our feet.” As of yesterday, we were the only group to file a petition to assemble on the day of Geller’s speech. I have been called many things, but this was the first time I have been branded a “leftist thug.”

Why did we plan to protest? We want our synagogue to be known for the many extraordinary programs in which we’ve participated: sending busloads of demonstrators to Washington D.C. to protest the genocide in Darfur; organizing a 25-person relief mission to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; sending food for the holidays to impoverished Jewish families as well as to the food pantry sponsored by a local church; and being home base for a Women’s Tefila group, which offers meaningful rituals for many of the developmental milestones that Jewish girls and women face. And so it seemed untenable that this synagogue would be stuck in such a terrible morass, getting attention for offering a platform to hatred and bigotry.

I am thrilled that the Great Neck Synagogue has cancelled the event for Geller. I remain brokenhearted for the underlying anxieties, fears and hatreds that it exposed.

 

 

ISRAELI HATE REACHES NEW HEIGHTS ON FACEBOOK

“May you die garbage Arabs, amen!”

This is only a small selection of therepresentative and typical comments posted under the picture of the three boys in the tent.

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“Castrate them!” “Burn them!” “Bullet in the head!”: Facebook Israelis react to photo of Palestinian kids

 Ali Abunimah 
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An image of three Palestinian boys sparked an outpouring of violent and sadistic fantasies after it was reposted to an Israeli Facebook page (Original source and screenshot of context).

 (Shadi Hatem)

Having regularly documented the horrifying racism and violent fantasies frequently expressed by Israelis on Facebook or Instagram, I thought I had seen everything.

But this may be the worst yet. On Wednesday, the picture above of three Palestinian boys in a tent was posted on a popular Facebook page titled in Hebrew “We are all in favor of death to terrorists.” Under the picture is the following caption:

Arab boys in the illegal Arab outpost established near Maale Adumim. What should the Israeli army do to them?

This is an apparent reference to the peaceful “Bab al-Shams” encampment established by Palestinians near Jerusalem to protest Israel’s plans to seize more land for settlements. The protest was timed to coincide with the visit of US President Barack Obama.

“Run the tent over with a truck/Merkava tank/a bus/ whatever it takes to crush and kill these children,” suggested Facebook user Lidor Swisa.

As of Friday there were almost 200 comments under the post offering suggestions of what the Israeli army should do – the vast majority fantasizing extreme sadistic violence and murder.

What makes this even more than usually disturbing is many of the Israeli commentators appear to be high school students themselves – perhaps only a year or two from mandatory army service when they will be empowered to carry out their fantasies.

Soldiers and adults join in the virtual pogrom

Kfir Brigade sergeant Ohad Halevy believes Palestinian children peacefully protesting should be “slaughtered” (Source).

But others, such as Shlomo Levi, are clearly already army-age adults. His suggestion?

“I’d have thrown nerve gas into the tent and closed it and made them breath it until the end”

Kfir Infantry Brigade member David Kozolovski justifies violence against Palestinian children (Source).

David Kozolovski wrote, “To all those comparing Jews to Nazis, Jews did not try to kill German civilians,” thereby justifying the orgy of violent fantasies against the children.

Kozolovski’s profile pictures on Facebook include images of him in his Israeli army uniform bearing the insignia of the Kfir Infantry Brigade.

Ohad Halevy, another soldier in the Kfir Brigade simply wrote “Slaughter them!” of the three children in the photo.

“May you die garbage Arabs, amen!”

This is only a small selection of therepresentative and typical comments posted under the picture of the three boys in the tent.

A minority of users objected to these pervasive comments. Lilach Lilush, said, “Excuse me … I disagree… what do you mean ‘eliminate?’ What are we, an arm of Hamas or Hizballah? We are more enlightened. We should just return them safely where they came from.”

Even in her objection Lilush could not but stereotype Arabs as monsters compared to “enlightened” Israelis. But still, hers was a very rare sentiment amid the frenzy of bloodlust that sees the three Palestinian boys in the picture as legitimate targets for extreme violence.

Widespread incitement and racism

Again, I stress as in my previous posts, that this horrifying racism and sadism towards Arabs seems to be pervasive among Israelis who use social media and reflects the much broader phenomenon of escalating racism in Israel against Palestinians and Africans.

Haaretz noted, for instance, in a recent article that racist incitement by Israeli public figures doubled in 2012. It also reported on how the kind of crude and shocking racism seen in these comments is common among Israeli schoolchildren in Jerusalem.

Nurit Peled-Elhanan has also documented in her recent book the pervasive anti-Arab racism and stereotypes that Israeli children are exposed to at school which may contribute to this horrifying phenomenon.

It is also notable that the “We are all in favor of death to terrorists” Facebook group has more than 41,000 “Likes” and images of Palestinians, Arabs and Israelis deemed traitorous “leftists” are frequently posted attracting similarly vile comments.

In his speech in Jerusalem this week, President Obama also observed that “Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.”

The violence is not just virtual

In at least one case we know of, an Israeli soldier, Maxim Vinogradov, announced on Facebook his intention to assist in the “annihilation” of Arabs just days before he went out and shot father of two Ziad Jilani at a checkpoint in Jerusalem for no known reason in 2010.

An example of the Israeli army’s routine brutality against children was on display on the very day Obama landed when dozens of children as young as eight were abused and kidnapped by Israeli soldiers as they were on their way to school in Hebron  a harrowing scene caught on video.

 

Written FOR

FACEBOOK OR ‘HATEBOOK’?

 FaceBook has become the zionists’ newest forum for spreading their hatred as can be seen in the following …
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Golani Brigade soldier: “May all Arabs die … I am a proud racist.”
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“May all Arabs die!” Israelis on Facebook express joy at Jordan bus crash that killed Palestinian pilgrims

 by Ali Abunima
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Israelis, including at least one person identifying himself as a soldier, reacted with genocidal joy on Facebook to the horrifying news this morning that 17 Palestinians returning from a pilgrimage had been killed in a bus accident in Jordan and dozens more injured. Early reports had put the number of dead at 14.

According to The Jordan Times, the accident occurred as the bus descended toward the Jordan Valley “and slammed into a passenger vehicle causing it to overturn. The bus then slammed into a truck and the two vehicles crashed resulting in the deaths and the high number of injuries.”

Israelis overjoyed at horrifying deaths

“I couldn’t ask for a better morning than this,” wrote Facebook user Kobi Yaacov Saroussiunder an item about the accident on the Facebook page of Israel’s Channel 2, “Shame there isn’t another zero at the end [of the number of victims].”

Kobi Yaacov Saroussi is disappointed there weren’t ten times as many deaths.

There were dozens more similar comments. Facebook user Demri Alice wrote “Finally it’s possible to ‘Like’ something,” to which she added a smiley face.

In horrifying deaths of Palestinians, Demri Alice finally find something to “Like” on Facebook.

Many were brief. Tomer Reuven simply commented “Very good.”

“Great! Let’s hope everyone on the bus was an Arab!” said Eitan Wolfer Eifergan.

“I’ve never tolerated Arabs,” wrote Kobi Noga, “I’m an extreme rightist. We should kill them all.”

Kobi Noga, self-described “extreme rightist,” thinks all Arabs should be killed.

Shenhav Sharbit, using the perjorative term “arboushim” – roughly the equivalent of the N-word – said Arabs could “all die” and that was “all good.”

Shenhav Sharbit uses a racist epithet for Arabs to express her joy at their deaths.

Golani Brigade soldier: “May all Arabs die … I am a proud racist.”

In a screenshot from his Facebook page, Chen Shaptiban is seen in a uniform bearing the tree symbol indicating that he is a member of the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade.

Among the most horrifying of the many horrifying comments were those of Chen Shaptiban who, based on a photo on his Facebook page, appears to be a member of the Israeli army’s notorious “Golani brigade” which was recently in the news because some of its members have posted shocking photographs on Instagram. One of Shaptiban’s reactions to the road accident was this:

May all Arabs die. There is no place for Arabs in the land of Israel. Maybe it sounds terrible to some people in north Tel Aviv, but they too do not deserve to live in this state, and yes, I am a proud racist, proud of my state and the soldiers guarding it!

Objections to racism shut down with more racist abuse

Some Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli Jews objected to the pervasive racism. Facebook user Marwan Momo, for example, wrote, “You keep crying Holocaust Holocaust but look how you talk!”

Gilad Kapeliuk wrote, “The sickening racism does not surprise me …. I’m ashamed to be part of this nation.”

But Avigail Mishaiv replied to Kapeliuk, “Gaza is waiting for you with open arms. You can go and be proud over there.

Golani soldier Shaptiban also retorted, “Gilad, you leftists are the cancer in the state, traitors to the state, the garbage of Israeli society.”

Regev Cohen, responding to another Facebook user, whom he addressed with a homophobic epithet, wrote, “All the terrorists in the world, all the fucking martyrs, who are they? Arabs and Muslims” before referring to Arabs as “barbarians” and “human waste.”

Ori Avraham reacted to criticism of the racist statements from a user called “Irit” by telling her, “Do you know what the biggest dream of the Muslims is? To exterminate all the Jews by any means, so be quiet.”

Not an isolated incident

It is important to emphasize that the racist comments in this incident were not rare or exceptional, but numerous and pervasive.

While the comments above were collected from the Facebook page of Israel’s Channel 2, many similar racist comments could be seen just as frequently under the news item about the crash on the Facebook page of Walla! News, another major Israeli media outlet.

At Walla! for example, Elior Mizrahi commented, “Sabbath morning, a beautiful day!” and added a smiley face. Shai Hadad expressed the sentiment, “14 is too few, shame it wasn’t more.”

Nor is this an isolated incident. The Electronic Intifada has previously documented numerous examples of Israelis expressing shocking racism and calls for racist and genocidal violence on Facebook.

Today’s disgusting comments are also reminiscent of what happened when some Israelis expressed delight after a number of Palestinian children were killed in a bus accident in February last year.

It is also notable that while the habitual expressions of joy by Israelis at the deaths and suffering of Palestinians go largely unremarked, an Egyptian activist, Samira Ibrahim, was the focus of worldwide condemnation recently after her nomination for a White House award was withdrawn when it came to light that she had expressed joy on Twitter at the deaths of Israelis in the July 2012 bombing of a bus in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas among other objectionable and racist comments.

Words lead to killing

This shocking and pervasive racism is not harmless. Many of those expressing it are members of Israeli occupation forces who hold immense power over the Palestinian population.

In at least one case we know about, an Israeli occupation “border policeman,” Maxim Vinogradov, had expressed a desire on Facebook to assist in “annihilating” Arabs just one week before he shot dead Palestinian father Ziad Jilani at a checkpoint in eastern occupied Jerusalem, a killing for which Jilani’s family continues to seek justice.

 

Written FOR

WHAT AWAITS OBAMA IN THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM?

obama to jerusalem
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President Obama is due to arrive on a whirlwind visit to Jerusalem next week … is the following the ‘welcome’ that awaits him from many of his own citizens? …..
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Oops …. the video I wanted to present here was removed by YouTube (surprise, surprise) but has been saved on the site of What Really Happened …. You can watch it by clicking HERE. Before you watch it, bear in mind that it contains shocking rude and racist language.
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YouTube has a policy of banning any video on their site that does not show a favourable view of zionism, obviously we do not adhere to that policy.
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Keep in mind that there was not one Palestinian in that video which leads to the following question; despite the animosity shown to President Obama by zionists, what will he do for the Palestinians while visiting here? In an Op-Ed in the New York Times that question is dealt with …
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Will Obama Let the Oppression of Palestinians Continue?

Anthony Russo

 

By RASHID KHALIDI*

WHAT should Barack Obama, who is to visit Israel next Wednesday for the first time in his presidency, do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

First, he must abandon the stale conventional wisdom offered by the New York-Washington foreign-policy establishment, which clings to the crumbling remnants of a so-called peace process that, in the 34 years since the Camp David accords, has actually helped make peace less attainable than ever.

When the most recent iteration of this process began with high hopes at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, which led to the Oslo accords two years later, there were 200,000 Israelis illegally settled in the occupied Palestinian territories: today, there are more than twice as many.

During this time, under four successive presidents, the United States, purportedly acting as an honest broker, did nothing to prevent Israel from gradually gobbling up the very land the two-state solution was to be based on.

Until 1991 most Palestinians, although under Israeli military occupation, could nonetheless travel freely. Today, an entire generation of Palestinians has never been allowed to visit Jerusalem, enter Israel or cross between the West Bank and Gaza. This ghettoization of the Palestinians, along with the unrest of the second intifada of 2000-5 and the construction of seemingly permanent settlements and of an apartheid-style wall, are the tragic fruits of the so-called peace process the United States has led.

The “peace process” has consisted of indulging Israeli intransigence over Palestine in exchange for foreign-policy goals unrelated to the advancement of peace and Palestinian freedom. In the late 1970s this involved the strategic cold war prize of moving Egypt from the Soviet column to the American column.

The Camp David accord between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Anwar el-Sadat essentially set aside the “Palestinian question.” These constraints shaped the Oslo process, in which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized each other, while all fundamental issues like borders, refugees, water, Israeli settlements and the status of Jerusalem were deferred.

Toward the end of his first term, Mr. Obama essentially abandoned his already modest peacemaking agenda in exchange for a lull in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign for war with Iran. Palestine was again sacrificed, this time to bribe a belligerent Israel for temporary good behavior.

The American-led “process” has ultimately strengthened the Israeli far right and made Palestinian self-determination more unattainable than ever. Continuing with the Orwellian grotesquerie that is the “peace process” is contrary to any enlightened definition of American self-interest. It has burnished the image of the United States as Israel’s uncritical defender and enabler. Furthermore, it insults the intelligence of the Palestinian people. Despite the complicity of some of their leaders in a process that has left them stateless while the unending colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues, they deserve to be more than prisoners in their own land.

If Mr. Obama decided to devote energy toward resolving the conflict – a big if – it would not be easy. The Palestinians are deeply divided between supporters of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. An even bigger obstacle is Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing government, hellbent on territorial expansion.

In short, if the objectives of the entire peace process are not ending the occupation, removing the settlements and providing for real Palestinian self-determination, then what is the purpose of pretending to restart it?

There are two facts Mr. Obama would do well to keep in mind.

The overwhelming dominance of Israel over the Palestinians means that the conflict is not one that demands reciprocal concessions from two equal parties. In addition, peace has to be made between Palestinians and Israelis, not between Mr. Obama and his critics in the Republican Party, the Israel lobby and Israel’s right-wing parties.

If Mr. Obama cannot face those realities, it would be far better for him to just be honest: the United States supports this intolerable reality and is willing to bear the resulting international opprobrium. People the world over realize that America for many decades has helped produce a situation where, pious invocations of support for a Palestinian state notwithstanding, there is, and for the foreseeable future will be, only one true sovereign authority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River: the state of Israel.

Only Israeli Jews are full citizens of that land, while 5 million Palestinians live in a state of subjugation or exile and 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs live in Israel as second-class citizens. A “one-state solution” based on enduring discrimination and oppression is ultimately unsustainable. Its only remaining external support comes from the United States and Europe, whose citizens are increasingly aware that such a structure is deeply at odds with their own values, as apartheid South Africa was.

For Mr. Obama, a decision is in order. He can reconcile the United States to continuing to uphold and bankroll an unjust status quo that it helped produce. Or he can begin to chart a new course based on recognition that the United States must forthrightly oppose the occupation and the settlements and support an inalienable Palestinian right to freedom, equality and statehood. There is no middle way.

*Rashid Khalidi, a professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, is the author, most recently, of “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.”

IT’S OFFICIAL! ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID STATE

The Transportation Ministry defended the plan, saying it was the result of reports and complaints saying that the buses traveling in the area were overcrowded and rife with tensions between the Jewish and Arab passengers.
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
bench-jews-only
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Ministry launches ‘Palestinians only’ buses

Transportation Ministry sets up designated bus lines for Palestinian passengers in West Bank; insists lines are for general public, but only Palestinian villages have been advised of their existence

Itamar Fleishman

Racial segregation or transportation mitigation? The Transportation Ministry announced that starting Sunday it will begin operating designated lines for Palestinians in the West Bank.

The bus lines in question are meant, according to the ministry, to transport Palestinian workers from the West Bank to central Israel. The ministry alleges that the move is meant to ease the congestion felt on bus lines used by Jews in the same areas, but several bus drivers told Ynet that Palestinians who will choose to travel on the so-called “mixed” lines, will be asked to leave them.

While officially the new lines are considered “general bus lines,” Ynet learned Saturday that their existence has been made public only in Palestinian villages in the West Bank, via flyers in Arabic urging Palestinians to arrive at Eyal crossing and use the designated lines.
The Transportation Ministry defended the plan, saying it was the result of reports and complaints saying that the buses traveling in the area were overcrowded and rife with tensions between the Jewish and Arab passengers.
A ministry source said that many complaints expressed concern that the Palestinian passengers may pose a security risk, while other complaints said that the overcrowded buses cause the drivers to skip stations.
The ministry has also gotten reports of scuffles between Jews and Arab passengers, as well as between Palestinians and drivers who refused to allow them to board their bus.
The ministry reportedly considered several alternatives before deciding to opt for designated lines – knowing that the issue of so-called “Palestinian lines” would be highly controversial.

‘Buses meant to improve service’

Still, the ministry eventually decided to launch the lines, which will run from Eyal crossing – near the West Bank city of Qalqilya – to Israel.

Legally, however, there is no way to stop Palestinians from boarding “regular” lines: “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told, starting next week, there will be checks at the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,” a driver with Afikim – the company that holds the routes franchise for the area – told Ynet.
The volatile nature of the decision was not lost on the driver: “Obviously, everyone will start screaming ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ now. This really doesn’t feel right, and maybe (the ministry) should find a different solution, but the situation right now is impossible.”
Another driver said that, “Driving a bus full of only Palestinians might turn out to be tricky. It could be unnerving and it might also create other problems. It could be a scary thing.”
The Judea and Samaria Police is reportedly gearing for the move as well, and will deploy additional forces in Eyal crossing to maintain public order.
Police sources said that it is highly unlikely that Palestinians would be excluded from riding on existing bus lines, adding that the forces would “Do their best to execute the ministry’s decision.”
Afikim issued a statement saying that, “This plan aims to ease travel for Palestinian passengers and offer a solution that counters pirate bus companies that charge exorbitant prices. As for any question about removing Palestinian passengers from buses – that has to be addressed by the enforcement and security bodies.”
The Transportation Ministry issued the following statement: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.
“The new lines will replace irregular, pirate lines that charge very high prices from Palestinian passengers. The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
According to the statement, “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”
Source

ZIONISM // COLLECTIVE BRAIN ATROPHY

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Definition of ATROPHY …. (FROM)

Decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue; also : arrested development or loss of a part or organ incidental to the normal development or life of an animal or plant
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Here are the manifestations of the above …. as seen on YouTube via FaceBook ….
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 Israeli mob celebrates savage beating of Palestinian man, shouts racist slogans

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Full report by Ali Abunimah can be read HERE regarding the above incident.

PARALLELS BETWEEN US AND ISRAELI JIM CROW

Jim Crow in Palestine: parallels between US and Israeli racism

Curtis Bell *
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There are no shortage of parallels between oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

 (Issam Rimawi / APA images)

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama does a good job of showing what blacks endured before the civil rights victories of the 1960s. I visited there last fall and was especially struck by one particular image — a 1926 map of the small and isolated patches of Birmingham where city zoning regulations allowed blacks to live.

What struck me was the similarity of this map to maps of the isolated patches of the West Bank including East Jerusalem where Palestinians are allowed to live. The map then made me think about other similarities between the oppression of blacks in the Jim Crow South and Israel’s present-day oppression of Palestinians.

The methods for keeping blacks within their enclaves in Birmingham were more direct and brutal than the redlining agreements among banks and realtors that maintained a de factosegregation in the North. Municipal zoning laws in Birmingham prevented sales to blacks outside designated areas, and if a black person somehow acquired a house outside the designated area, even if just across the street, the house would be blown up.

Similarly, the Israeli legal system keeps Palestinians within restricted areas of East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. Palestinians living outside those areas have been evicted and their homes destroyed or occupied by Jewish settlers. Eighteen thousand Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel since 1967, according to theIsraeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The black areas and white areas of Birmingham were very different physically. The black areas often lacked municipal amenities or services such as street lighting, paved streets, sidewalks, garbage collection and sewers that the white areas had. Similarly, the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem often lack these same basic facilities and services, and the differences between Palestinian areas and those reserved for Israeli settlers are clear to all.

Arbitrary arrests

Suppression of the human rights of blacks in the South was maintained by both “legal” and extralegal means. State and municipal Jim Crow laws restricted residence, use of public facilities, use of public transport, interracial marriage and other aspects of life in the South. White courts and police forces enforced these laws and the whole system of segregation. Arbitrary arrests under vagrancy laws yielded large numbers of black prisoners (who were often forced to do hard labor). Nonviolent civil rights marches and protests were met with police and state National Guard violence.

Similarly, Israeli control over the lives of Palestinians is maintained by a system of laws, courts, police and Israeli military that discriminates against Palestinians. Laws restrict where Palestinians can live, where they can travel, what roads they can travel on, and whether they can live with their spouse in another part of the country. Permits to travel from the West Bank to East Jerusalem for work are tightly controlled and dependent on “good” behavior.

Administrative detentions” have led to the indefinite incarceration of thousands of Palestinians without trials. The Israeli military meets unarmed protests against theseparation wall and the taking of Palestinian land with violence.

Black compliance with the system of segregation in the South was ensured by extralegal as well as legal means, including economic threats, harassment of various sorts, and extreme violence. More than 5,000 lynchings were recorded between 1882 and 1959, and many beatings and killings went unrecorded. Violence against blacks increased as the civil rights movement grew in strength during the 1950s and 1960s. In one year alone 30 black homes and churches were bombed in Birmingham. The white-controlled legal system only rarely prosecuted white-on-black violence.

Daily violence

Similarly, harassment and violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank including East Jerusalem occurs almost every day. The settlers try to force Palestinians off their land or to leave the region entirely. The settlers threaten or attack children on their way to school and shepherds in the fields. Palestinian land, wells and olive groves are occupied. The Israeli military protects the settlers, and the Israeli legal system only rarely prosecutes settler harassment or violence.

Blacks in the Jim Crow South had no control over the governments that oppressed them and denied them their share of common resources. The 15th Amendment of 1870 gave blacks the right to vote, but that right was progressively taken away in Southern states following the failure of reconstruction. Discriminatory registration procedures were introduced and were enforced by violence. As late as the 1960s, many counties in the South, even those with black majorities, had no registered black voters. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally changed that.

Similarly, the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have no say in the government that in fact controls them. They cannot vote in the Israeli elections.

Palestinians did vote for a virtually powerless Palestinian government in 2006 in which a majority of seats in the parliament went to Hamas, a political party. The Hamas legislators were immediately arrested and jailed by Israel. Many were kept in prison for more than five years and the elected parliament has never been able to meet. Even if the parliament could meet, it would have only limited control over limited enclaves of the West Bank. Israel controls the water, electricity, borders, airspace, exports and imports of the enclaves, and the Israeli military enters the enclaves and arrests Palestinians at will.

Nonviolent methods such as marches, boycotts and direct actions are a critical tool for the success of any human rights movement, such as the American civil rights movement, that confronts a power structure with a monopoly on physical force. The civil rights movement in the United States maintained the practice of nonviolence to a heroic degree over many years, even in the face of violent repression from the Southern white power structure. Participants aroused the conscience of the rest of the nation and the world.

Tactics of resistance

Similar methods are now of central importance for the Palestinian rights movement. Protest marches against the separation wall, “Freedom Rides” on Israeli-only public transit, and “camp-ins” on land illegally expropriated for Israeli settlements are becoming common now in Palestine. Internationally, boycotts of all sorts and divestment from companies that maintain and profit from the occupation of Palestinian land are taking hold.

The blacks in the American civil rights movement made their appeal to the federal government for redress of wrongs committed at the lower levels of state and local governments. The federal government was already formally committed to the rights of blacks through the 14th and 15th amendments as well as various Supreme Court decisions. They also had authority and power over local governments.

The aroused conscience of the nation and of the world finally forced the United States federal government to act. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson could not continue to present the United States to the world as the land of freedom and democracy when its own citizens were being beaten for asserting their freedom and their right to vote.

Here too there are parallels between the civil rights movement in the American South and today’s movement for Palestinian rights. Israel cannot indefinitely present itself as a law-abiding, humane and democratic state when it denies the human rights of the four million or so Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The federal government of the United States shares responsibility for the continuing denial of Palestinian human rights, just as for many decades it shared responsibility for the denial of human rights to blacks in the Jim Crow South by not enforcing federal law. Now, and for many decades, United States diplomatic support has allowed Israel to violate international law with impunity.

The United States has blocked United Nations sanctions against Israel for such violations of international law as the occupation of Palestinian land, the colonization of the West Bank by placing settlers on that land, and the annexation of East Jerusalem, the historic home of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

America breaks own law

In addition, the United States federal government provides about $3 billion in military aid to Israel every year, and may be violating its own laws in doing so, as pointed out by a recent letter to Congress from 15 leaders of major American Christian churches (“Religious leaders ask Congress to condition military aid to Israel on human rights compliance,” Presbyterian Church USA, 5 October 2012).

The letter urged an “investigation into possible violations by Israel of the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act, which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of US weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’” The letter cited evidence for human rights violations on the part of Israel and for Israel’s use of US arms against Palestinian civilians.

The tactics for resisting segregation brought significant changes for blacks in the South. Hopefully, with commitment and perseverance, similar methods may someday accomplish the same for Palestinians.

*Curtis Bell is a peace activist in Portland, Oregon. He is a member of the board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, an organization that works for Palestinian rights within the Unitarian Universalist denomination.

Written FOR

NOT WHITE ENOUGH TO IMMIGRATE TO ISRAEL

Several hundred mixed-race Peruvian converts, also known as the “Jews of the Amazon,” are not being granted permission to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, despite meeting all the requirements for eligibility, Jewish Agency and Conservative Movement leaders charge.

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Peruvian converts denied permission to immigrate to Israel

Jewish Agency and Conservative movement leaders decry the Ministry of Interior’s continuing refusal to allow ‘the Jews of the Amazon’ to join relatives in Israel.

By Judy Maltz
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Peru
The Amazon River near Iquitos city where 284 Peruvian converts, descendants of Moroccan Jews, are waiting to immigrate to Israel. Photo by Reuters
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Several hundred mixed-race Peruvian converts, also known as the “Jews of the Amazon,” are not being granted permission to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, despite meeting all the requirements for eligibility, Jewish Agency and Conservative Movement leaders charge.

Jack Corcos, director of the Jewish Agency unit that approves eligibility for immigration, told a gathering in Jerusalem today that he did not understand the Ministry of Interior’s ongoing refusal to approve the requests by the converts to move to Israel. “There is no reason they should be waiting any longer,” he said during a session held by the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. “The whole story is very odd.”

Asked why the Ministry of Interior was holding up approval of these immigration requests, spokeswoman Sabine Haddad responded: “A discussion on the issue was held last week with the Jewish Agency and relevant parties from the Population and Immigration Authority. The issue awaits a decision of the senior echelon.”

The group of 284 Peruvians, who come from Iquitos, the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, were converted to Judaism by a Conservative rabbinical court in August 2011 after they had engaged in Jewish studies for five years. They are the descendants of Moroccan Jews who arrived in the Amazon in the 19thcentury seeking employment in the rubber industry, and who married and had children with local women.

If the Ministry of Interior ultimately decides to reject their citizenship applications, senior officials in the Jewish organizational world warn it could seriously undermine relations between the government of Israel and the world Conservative Movement.  “I can tell you that the Conservative movement leadership will not take this in stride,” said one such official. “As far as they see it, it’s an act of contempt – a total disregard for the validity of their conversions.”

Yizhar Hess, the director of the Conservative movement in Israel, who participated in this morning’s session, told Haaretz: “Hundreds of Jews are waiting today in Peru to immigrate to Israel, and their only sin is that they are Conservative.”

Most, though not all, of the Peruvian converts have declared their intention to move to Israel. The plan was for them to come gradually in several separate groups.

Hundreds of members of the Iquitos community have already immigrated to Israel in two separate waves — one in 2001 and the other in 2005. Unlike the current group, many of whose members are their relatives, they encountered no problems whatsoever in the process. Most of them live today in the city of Ramle, which is prepared to absorb the remaining members of the community. The Ministry of Interior spokeswoman did not respond to a question about why the applications of the current group were being held up, while those of the previous groups were approved promptly.

Under current immigration procedures, individuals who are not born Jewish are expected to spend nine months as active members of their local Jewish communities after they have completed the conversion process – regardless of what type of conversion they have undergone — before moving to Israel. During this time, their applications are reviewed by the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior, which does not have its own emissaries abroad, typically relies on recommendations from the Jewish Agency about the validity of conversions performed abroad.

The Jewish Agency last year notified the Ministry of Interior that it had determined the conversions performed on this group of 284 Peruvians fulfilled all the necessary criteria to make them eligible for immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return.

Based on this recommendation, they should have been able to immigrate to Israel in May 2012.

But, as Corcos reported to the Jewish Agency gathering this morning, Interior Ministry officials suddenly informed him that bringing this large a group to Israel required a special cabinet decision. When Jewish Agency officials consulted with their legal advisers, they were told that a cabinet decision is only required when the group members have not yet been converted, but rather, plan to convert in Israel, as in the case of the Falashmura from Ethiopia.

Haddad did not respond to a question about why Ministry of Interior officials insist that a cabinet decision is required for the Peruvian group to come to Israel, when Jewish Agency legal advisers have determined otherwise.

Rabbi Andrew Sacks, director of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel, was invited by Jewish Agency officials to participate in last week’s meeting with Ministry of Interior representatives because of his connections to the rabbis who performed the conversions in Peru. But as he sat down, he was asked by the Interior Ministry officials to leave the room, prompting an angry response from the Jewish Agency officials present. As Sacks stormed out of the room, he charged that the case of the Peruvians was “another example of racism in the Interior Ministry.”

Following the meeting, Sacks told Haaretz that based on his experience with converts, “when they are people of color, they are guaranteed to run into a roadblock and obfuscation in their attempts to make aliyah.” The ministry spokeswoman also declined to respond to this accusation.  

 

Source

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