Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yet Another Day In the Life of The Light Unto The Nations (A Continuing Series, Extended Indefinitely)

Five stories from Haaretz, January 24, 2012

*The Rule of Law.

An editorial reports that Israel's High Court of Justice has ordered the government to evacuate a West Bank settler "outpost"--actually, permanent homes--built on privately-owned Palestinian land.  Three years ago, this same outpost, Migron, rejected a deal offered by the Israeli government to move into a nearby (presumably "legal") Jewish settlement, at government expense: "Then, too, the squatters and their political supporters not only rejected the generous offer but threatened to settle accounts with the prime minister and 'set the territories ablaze.' This is the price paid by the State of Israel for supporting - through action as well as inaction - the takeover of Palestinian lands while at the same time undermining the two-state solution and reconciliation with our Palestinian neighbors."

The editorial continues:  "The story of Migron is not only a story of contempt for the law, the legal system and justice; it is also a slap in the face to the international community....In 2003 the government of Ariel Sharon (in which Netanyahu was a senior minister) adopted the road map peace plan, which required Israel to "immediately dismantle" all outposts established after March 2001 - including Migron." The editorial concludes that despite the High Court order and Israel's international commitments, the Netanyahu government is again "conducting humiliating negotiations" with the settlers.

Any bets on the outcome?

*An Unbelievable Comparison: But You'd Better Believe It

Haaretz columnist Sefi Rachlevsky writes:
     "When the Nazi regime set out to create the image of the enemy, it was found in the image

of the Jew, the intellectual, the liberal, the socialist, the communist, the modernist, the homosexual. Years later, the circles from which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's murderer, Yigal Amir, came also invoked the image of an enemy with the very same features that adulterates the race and is a traitor to his country. …Somewhat surprisingly, all of them actually found the non-dangerous leftist Jewish intellectual scattered around the world as their demon....The spirit of the comments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as related by the editor of the Jerusalem Post, Steve Linde, are of the same realm. That Haaretz and the New York Times are Israel's must dangerous enemies follows the comment that the left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish."

"Even more serious," continues Rachlevsky, "It is coming from the government of a people that escaped the terror of Nazi racism, a government that is dealing obsessively with racial distinctions....It's a government that continues to fund and subsidize municipal rabbis under its auspices who called on Israeli Jews not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs. It's a government of a people who were refugees themselves that in the dead of night at Netanyahu's direction passed a law providing for the detention for three years without trial of African refugees."

Rachlevsky concludes: "Fascist regimes have been marked by… racism and internal violence and external gambles in defiance of the outside world. To the amazement of those looking on, the Netanyahu government is embracing this entire package."


*"It's About Time Somebody Made Things Clear to the Lebanese," says Moshe Arens

Moshe Arens, a former Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S, continues to be a major figure on the Israeli right.  What he wants to make clear, in his words, is that Israel "intends to do something about" the alleged influx of "tens of thousands" of missiles that Iran has sent to Hezbollah.  These "terror weapons in the hands of a terrorist organization...[are] a ticking time bomb" that threaten Israel and "Middle East stability," Arens writes.

He continues: "The Lebanese should not forget that it also represents a threat to the physical existence of Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. The Hezbollah missiles are deployed throughout Lebanon and have been deliberately emplaced in the midst of Lebanon's civilian population centers, in the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals....The Hezbollah missiles will have to be removed. When the time comes for Israel to neutralize this missile threat...there is bound to result wholesale destruction all over Lebanon. Hezbollah's missiles are a suicidal invitation to the destruction of Lebanon." (emphasis added)


*Religion, the State and "Modesty," Israeli-style

"It seems like insanity and ignorance have reached a new low point," begins a column by Uri Misgav, reporting that a rightwing "Center for Jewish Studies," funded by the government--including by the Education Ministry, no less--is distributing a picture of five family members who were murdered a year ago in a terrorist attack on a West Bank settlement; the picture of the mother,  however, is intentionally blurred, the Center explains, for reasons of "modesty."

Puzzling?  Misgav explains:"So here you have a woman who was murdered a year ago with her husband and young children, prevented from appearing with them now in a family picture for fear that the viewer will see her as a sex object, a source of immorality and the evil inclination." (emphasis added)

Misgav continues that there has been shock and "public fury" over the incident, but he is not impressed by it: "This shock, as justified and natural as it may be, also entails a significant amount of hypocrisy and willful blindness. The Jewish religion, like all the monotheistic religions, was invented by men....it was constructed thousands of years ago in the prevailing conditions of ancient human society, and therefore perpetuates and preserves male paternalism. Believing Jewish men say a blessing every morning to thank God 'for not making me a woman.' When he nevertheless decides to marry one of them, he estimates her worth in cash by means of a marriage contract, and then becomes her ba'al, a Hebrew word that means both "owner" and "husband."

Misgav then makes his main point: "But the real issue is not religion, but the status it is granted. There is no other country in the Western world where the supremacy of religion is as blatantly enshrined in law, including the Basic Laws that comprise a de facto constitution, as it is in Israel. From birth to burial, and in matters of marriage, divorce, food, the day of rest and daylight savings time, Israeli citizens are subject to religious regulations and to the religious establishment.... Many Israelis do not have the strength and decency necessary to confront it. They are too hopeless, or too frustrated, or too obtuse, or too blind. What is left for them is the occasional attack against incidents of "extremism," as though the everyday situation were not extreme.  The state, with its ongoing weakness and the cynical and irresponsible coalitions that rule it, is perpetuating this craziness."

*However, The News Is Not All Bad--Sort Of.

Akiva Eldar reports on a new Israeli academic study that found that "more of the Israeli mainstream than previously thought has adopted a critical approach on 1948"--meaning the Nakba, or the Israeli killing or expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians from what became the land of Israel.


"The study argues that by the end of the 1970s," Eldar writes, "most media and scholarly articles in Israel used the critical approach. Virtually all newspaper articles and research studies from the end of the 1980s to 2004 referred to the critical narrative on the Palestinian exodus. The same is true in about a third of books written by veterans of the 1948 battles....The paper shows that the vast majority of studies recognized that Israel had expelled Palestinians in 1948."  And in the most surprising finding, "all history textbooks authorized by the Education Ministry since 2000 have replaced the old Zionist narrative with the critical approach."

Eldar comments: "This is a ground-breaking finding on a change in Israel's official collective memory. In effect, it's a rejection of the Zionist narrative that 'there was no expulsion in 1948.' The willingness of key Jewish-Israeli institutions to alter their attitudes on such an important and sensitive issue casts a positive light on Israeli society. It's a sign of maturity."

Unfortunately, the news is not all good.  Eldar cautions that "Politicians [still] think that the evasion of any responsibility for the Palestinian catastrophe appeals to most Israelis," and as a result "Politicians from all Zionist parties refuse to acknowledge a right of return for the Palestinian refugees, " and even "vehemently reject a more modest demand by the Palestinian side--that Israel accept partial responsibility for the Palestinian exodus of 1948."



Anonymous said...

"Fascist regimes have been marked by… racism and internal violence and external gambles in defiance of the outside world. To the amazement of those looking on, the Netanyahu government is embracing this entire package."

Making comparisons between Israel and fascist regimes is absolutely verboten (pardon the pun), so that makes "embracing this entire package" the safest posture for Bibi's government to assume. No one outside of Israel would dare to articulate what they're actually seeing, and if someone inside Israel notes it, well, it's just part of the spirit of free speech and lively debate in "the only democracy in the Middle East."

delia ruhe

Jerome Slater said...

I would make a distinction here. What is truly verboten is not so much a comparison of Israel with fascism, but with Nazism. However, the term "Israeli fascism" has been around for quite awhile, and is increasingly common on the Israeli left.

But you're right--you are far more likely to find warnings that Israel is on the road to fascism in Israeli political discourse than in what passes for serious discourse on Israel in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

the Israelis will not keep marching down that dirt road.

Netanyahu's government hasn't much more time on its clock and we may well see the happy day (and may it be soon) when they finally indict Lieberman.