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Demonizing and conflating Arabs and ultra-Orthodox

The debate over recent child subsidy cuts rests on empty myths and demagogic misinterpretations of Arabs and Haredim.  They are not simply parasites and they are not the same, but Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner is upset and that’s what matters.

Haredi children. (Credit: Shutterstock)

It is seldom worth writing an entire blog post just to deconstruct that of another commentator, especially when terrible global events are more important than poor punditry. But reading Shmuel Rosner’s latest post in the New York Times, my heart sank. The piece isn’t just foolish – it actually contributes to the most divisive dynamics of Israeli society through demagoguery and mistakes (at best). As if we don’t have enough trouble.

Rosner aims to decode the politics surrounding recent budget cuts that chop Israel’s child subsidy benefits. The cuts, spearheaded by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, are predicated on the notion that Israel provides too much incentive for people to have children, and as a result, Arabs and Haredim have more kids than they can afford at the expense of joining the workforce. As an aside, it is curious to watch the social justice choir now thrashing Lapid for harming families, when that party campaigned on these kinds of promises and is presumed to have won handily among social protest types. But I am not analyzing the cuts themselves; rather the debate they have sparked (or rather, perpetuated), and Rosner is a classic example.

He explains that Israelis want a secular-Jewish and democratic Israel. So when the populations benefiting most from the subsidies turned out to be either non-secular or non-Jewish, he explains, the state is less enthusiastic about supporting so many children.

First, can we stop with the myth that Israelis desire an Ahad-Ha’am kind of Israel full of people who look like, well, Shmuel Rosner? Too many Israelis support non-democratic policies or principles (they are complicit if not explicit – most notably in allowing the occupation to continue), and the secular Jewish state has never, ever existed. So if people really want it, then this really isn’t a democracy. One of those pieces is missing.

But more importantly, Rosner’s explanation of the thinking behind the cuts rests on one of the laziest mantras in Israeli discourse – so wrong-headed it’s almost shocking. It goes like this: Arabs and Haredim are ruining the country. Arabs and Haredim will make up a majority of schoolchildren. Arabs and Haredim this, Arabs and Haredim that – oh my!

First of all, this is sickening. We are referring to human beings. They are individuals, not germs.

Second, it’s time to lay to rest once and for all the weird implication, too often from policy circles too, that as groups they are identical twin threats, leeches or anomalies in Israeli and modern life. Rosner is in good company, but the tendency to conflate them into a lump sum is simply bizarre, and thoroughly wrong.

Yes, both are minorities, and both have high rates of unemployment and accompanying high poverty rates, but that’s about where it ends. Their economic conditions stem from radically different circumstances. As a gross generalization, Haredim chose particular interpretations of Jewish religious law that require high levels of isolation from modern economic and social institutions. Arab communities, to generalize crudely, preserve some cultural and sociological aspects of traditional life, while banging desperately at the door of modern economic, social and political institutions in Israel that are too often bolted shut in their faces.

The stale slogans about Arabs enjoying equal protection under Israeli law, or being allowed to run for elections, have become pathetic to all but the most ignorant: Haredi parties have sat in almost all governing coalitions in Israel save for  just a few (including the current one) – giving them power far beyond their numbers. Arabs have sat in none, giving them zero power in the Israeli executive and hardly any lawmaking clout although their population is twice the size of the Haredim. The veneer of equal protection before the law was always a myth – unequal resource distribution and public-sector employees were the clearest examples of discrimination untouched by the law. And since the previous Knesset passed a series of mean-spirited legislation directed against Arabs, even this veneer has been dissolved.

Put simply, the Arab community lived in this land before Israel existed, was muscled out of any leadership role statehood, and ever since, has been seeking a way in. Haredim, until recently, have been granted disproportionate “in“ status politically, which they used primarily to fulfill their own desire to stay “out” socially and economically. This incontrovertible reality is almost never noticed in Israeli policy or political thinking.

Rosner tepidly admits that both communities are changing. Birth rates are declining, more Haredim are joining the workforce. Stunningly, he avoids any observations or data (abundantly available) about increasing Arab economic and social integration, such as women’s advancement in higher education and improvements in employment. By his own admission in an unrelated part of the piece, their birthrates are far closer to Jewish Israelis, than Haredim.

In other words, Rosner is making the following argument: Arabs-Haredim are parasites. The natives are nearly invisible, but maybe there’s hope for the Jewish part of the pair. Economic punishment is a tad upsetting, in a ‘love-me-I’m-a-liberal’ kind of way – but it may be just the push they need.

He summarizes with this jaw-dropper explaining why the cuts are really after all OK with him:

I must admit that, like many other Jewish Israelis, I have come to feel alienated from and impatient with Haredis and Arabs. As a result, I see less the needs of their children than the burdens they’ve placed on Israel.

The burden Arabs have placed on Israel? Let me get this straight: the establishment of Israel destroys a community and its people’s way of life, relegates them to second-class citizens, and Rosner (whose male, white, Ashkenazi elite demographic runs the country to this day) has the gall to feel alienated?  In his defense, I daresay Rosner is a faithful representation of some hefty portion of Israeli Jews – but that’s no excuse.

A modest proposal: maybe if Rosner started seeing his fellow citizens (Haredim too) as assets and human beings, he would come up with at least one idea of substance. In the meantime, he is the one alienating the people of Israel.

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    1. Kolumn9

      The Haredim have a male workforce participation rate of 48% (compared to 86% for secular) and nearly each family relies on government handouts in one format or another. The families are large and the population growth rate is among one of the highest in the world. This is the underlying structure of the Haredi economy and it is unsustainable. More importantly there is no good reason why I should pay more taxes so that a Haredi man can study in a yeshiva and bring 8 kids into the world. He is an individual and a human being. He is capable of making his own decisions and he should be capable of dealing with the consequences of those decisions, which in this case are that he is going to be forced to go get a job and the next generation will have to prepare themselves to also get jobs. That his rabbi has been telling him up until now that god or the Israeli taxpayer will take care of him and that he need not learn math, English or technology is not my problem. His rabbi is wrong. Neither god, nor I will take care of his well-being. He is on his own.

      The Arabs have a female workforce participation rate of 29% while the male workforce participation rate is around 76%. The parallel rate for secular Jewish women is 80% (Haredi women are at 66% and have on average larger families). There is absolutely nothing but a cultural explanation that would explain why only 29% (47% lower than their male counterparts) of Israeli Arab women participate in the workforce. In other words, in the Arab community, the women choose not to work or the men choose to not let them. In either case I don’t see any reason why I should be subsidizing such cultural choices as made by individual human beings.

      The Haredim and the Arabs will change the face of the state of Israel. Of that there is very little doubt. At the same time I see no particular reason why I should be paying for the individual cultural choices made by the members of these communities in a manner which is fundamentally unsustainable given their population rates. If the Arabs and the Haredim are going to play a bigger role in the state they are going to have to do as fully contributing and responsible members and not as groups that persistently present bills of increasing size to the rest of Israeli society. So, yes, at the moment these communities are burdens on the rest of Israeli society and the narrative you choose in the matter doesn’t change this fact, nor require anyone to apologize for acknowledging it.

      Along with being sensationalist (parasites?) and obnoxious (sickening? someone questioned they were human beings?) your argument basically boils down to blaming everyone but the individuals in the Arab and Haredi communities for their poverty and dependance on welfare. These are after all human beings are they not? Presumably capable of making their own decisions and capable of dealing with the consequences of their actions? Or are they just sacks of straw that you set up in human shape whenever you have an urge to vent your fury at the ‘system’?

      Reply to Comment
      • “There is absolutely nothing but a cultural explanation that would explain why only 29% (47% lower than their male counterparts) of Israeli Arab women participate in the workforce.” : I believe the unemployment rate among young black American is around 50%. Since we may control or the Great Recession, all being equally exposed, we can rightly conclude that this intolerable high unemployment rate is the result of personal choice. Everyone chooses where they are, except me when I pay my taxes.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Arab men work (76%). Arab women don’t (29%). If there is discrimination in the Israeli labor market (there is) it would be at its strongest against Arab men. The only explanation is cultural – Arab women either don’t want to or are not allowed by their society to work.

          Reply to Comment
          • I don’t think comparison with earlier black and Hispanic statistics will bear this out. There is an additional overlay on type of job available for women, especially when they are disallowed even mechanical education. This can be driven in part by the minority culture, which requires women to perform non paid tasks “at home” (which can include tasks not at home).

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          • Kolumn9

            If you don’t think they will bear this out then present the data. In the meantime you have presented your suspicion of my thesis but no evidence to the contrary. And yes, of course culture is what is responsible for the women not working. That is the point. Likewise culture is what is responsible for more Haredi women working than men.

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    2. You are a brave (and a bit angry) soul, Dahlia Scheindlin.

      My impression (which admittedly comes almost entirely from 972) is that Lapid’s social justice vendetta is directed to the razing of others to produce “equality.” The Haredim, being both Jewish and religious, so near the settlers in sanctity, must be tainted as unclean; identifying them socio-economically with the Arabs will do the trick.

      Whatever motivated 14 (and I suspect failure to sustain any articulation of that motivation is one reason why it is dead), the razing of parasites is being substituted to bait the electorate. I doubt I would find much to like in the political cultural views of most Haredim, but agree that the common baiting of these with Arab Israelis is another bad sign.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        There is no need to identify the Haredim with the Arabs. At present the Haredim are less popular in Israel than the Arabs. This is the result of the Haredim having low workforce participation rates, high welfare dependency rates, low conscription rates, massive welfare programs resulting from the exploitation of the Israeli political system, and through all of it their politicians are self-righteous about deserving to be subsidized by the rest of Israeli society. Last elections they ran campaigns in Jerusalem trying to scare their own voters to the polls by frightening them with the idea that their children will be forced to learn geometry and heaven forbid maybe other subjects that will allow them to get jobs in the future. Then, after taking over the religious establishment of the state and forcing ‘secular’ Israelis into jumping through hoops before being able to conduct basic life ceremonies (including turning away those that were not ‘jewish enough’) they have the gall to raise the flag of individual liberty and anti-discrimination. The Arabs certainly should be upset that they are being grouped together with the Haredim.

        Lapid and Bennett’s social justice vendetta is directed towards razing a structural system that allows the Haredim as a society to continue a lifestyle that is dependent on government handouts while rejecting the responsibility for their own welfare by refusing to teach their young people the skills they would need to provide for their families. Israeli Arabs, as usual, are marginal to the political considerations of Israeli politicians.

        J14 is dead because the organizers realized that they are not going to start a left-wing revolution because no one wants one. The best they could do was get the center to vote for someone like Lapid which must be just a bit disturbing for the far left leaning J14 organizers. There was an article recently in Haaretz about many of the organizers of J14 having given up and left the country.

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        • Y-Man

          “Tt present the Haredim are less popular in Israel than the Arabs” uh, the Haredi parties just recently got left out of the reigning political coalition. Arab parties have never, ever been in one.

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          • Kolumn9

            That is a lie that is constantly repeated. In the 1950s and 1960s there were Arab parties that were part of the reigning political coalition. Feel free to look them up:
            - Progress and Development
            - Cooperation and Brotherhood

            The more recent incarnations of Arab parties in Israel are so obsessed with the Palestinian issue and take such confrontational positions vis-a-vis the state that they are currently incapable of joining any coalition which wishes to pursue policies actually beneficial to Israel. The Israeli Arabs could have probably had the best infrastructure in Israel if they had focused on sectarian social/economic issues for the past 30 years. The Haredim managed to use even smaller numbers of voters to create the political power that created government programs that allowed much of their sector to skip the ‘work’ part of work/life balance and the ‘army’ part of the army/work/life balance which categorizes much of Israeli [male Jewish] society.

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        • “a lifestyle that is dependent on government handouts while rejecting the responsibility for their own welfare by refusing to teach their young people the skills they would need to provide for their families.” : Sounds like vanguard settlers to me. Bennett seems to be saying the H are not useful enough.

          And, yes, Israeli Arabs are marginal to Israeli politicians–and to the courts.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            “Vanguard settlers” work. Their young people study secular subjects, go to the army, go to college and get jobs. Bennett expects the Haredim to do the same.

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          • Ariel are not vanguard settlers, which is why is use “vanguard.” I refer to the smaller outposts now responsible for constricting Palestinians resident. These are motivated by a combination of nationalism and religion not so distinct from the H.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            And still they work, go to the army and study secular subjects. You have no idea what you are talking about.

            Reply to Comment
    3. esti

      the piece is racist. pure and simple.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yishai

        Care to elaborate? Dalia’s seems like a pretty incisive analysis to me. You don’t even seem able to capitalize properly. Am I missing something?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      Dahlia, it’s classic divide and rule. It’s a tactic broadly analogous to when Mapai got the Histradut to boot out all its Arab members in the 60s to dampen the appeal of Herut among Selhardim. Basically, Yesh Atid have implemented policies their own voters are opposed to so they’re reframing their argument with the Haradei and Arab scapegoat, hoping that the appeal to bigotry works. That the article appears in NYT is probably to assuage the concerns of the Jewish donors to Yesh Atid that the criticisms coming from within Israel of Lapid are from Arab loving bleeding hearts

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    5. Repondo

      Historically, there were Ottoman, post Ottoman, and Israeli era Arab populations.
      The post-Ottoman community was poisoned the Grand Mufti. Few Arab resisted his predatory Muslim Brotherhood ideology.
      The post Independence War history has been marked by the Arab aggression, Arab war crimes, and terror crimes against the independent Israel.
      It is time to reform the Arab community into a strong civil society, with reforms in Islam, too.

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      • Y-Man

        “The post-Ottoman community was poisoned the Grand Mufti” the post-Ottoman community was poisoned by a giant fucking war that created a new European-born elite and created close to a million refugees. The Grand Mufti’s influence on this historical development is negligible.

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    6. Piotr Berman

      A right wing take on social issues is to vent about them, yeah, “parasites” etc., and then to conclude that there are lesser folks out there or to propose totally irrelevant solutions.

      This guy Rosen observes that there are low quality kids that do not help with problems that Israel has: being a small country and being “surrounded by enemies”. Hard to see how babies help with either of the two issues, whatever their quality.

      Slightly closer to Earth, Israeli right wing figured that enforced conscription of young people who emphatically do not want to be conscripted would help with something — although I still do not know with what. Creating special particularly badly trained military units yielded fruits this week in Qalandia.

      By the way of contrast, if we manage to forget about the enemies that “surround Israel” and concentrate on employment and family size, then the most straightforward solutions would be about education, job training, public transit, integrated housing and so on.

      From what I understand, education for Arabs and Haredim is underfunded and in the case of Haredim, it does not cover modern core of a curriculum. Public transit may be very inadequate for many Arab communities in connecting them with workplaces for women. I am not Israeli but I am sure that one can propose something rational and without any talk about “low quality babies”.

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      • Kolumn9

        A right wing take on social issues is to not pretend that social issues are entirely economic in nature.

        This guy Rosen observes that there are many kids growing up in Israel which were born into communities that are fundamentally incapable of preparing them for the modern world and for the modern economy. In the case of Israel it is its ability to maintain an edge in technology and education that allows it to survive in a region where it is surrounded by enemies and outnumbered by an order of magnitude and then some. Babies that grow up to be innovators and scientists certainly help with these problems. Babies that grow up to sit in a yeshiva all day and depend on government handouts for their subsistence are not.

        On Earth, the Israeli right wing figures that enforced conscription of all young people would ensure that the IDF is able to ensure that it can pick and choose the best people for the most fitting positions. Additionally it ensures that the rest of the population that does have to serve does not feel it is being taken advantage of by the state (or at least less so if the burden is spread evenly). Of course there is also the fact that after the army many young people who come from sectors where they are supposed to ‘emphatically not want to be conscripted’ end up as productive members of society after learning valuable skills in the army (ex: the Shachar program). Others who serve in combat units tend to come out of the army with the capacity and ability to interact with the wider Israeli society and with a desire to find their own place in it.

        As for your proposed solutions. Education and jobs training is being heavily invested in for the Haredi community right now, including forcing the Haredi school systems to actually teach children secular subjects like math, science and English. Public transit in Israel is actually pretty decent and is improving with the construction of new rail lines and new highways. It could certainly be improved in Arab areas but as I pointed it out already that doesn’t prevent a male workforce participation rate of 76% in the Arab community compared to 29% among Arab women. The non-participation of Arab women is a result of cultural constraints. Integrated housing is also problematic, mostly for the Haredim, because their entire lifestyle is an attempt to isolate themselves and their children from the influence of the secular world. Again, a fear of getting past the obsession with economics causes people on the left to fail in their analysis of both problems and solutions.

        The Haredim are poor because they choose to be poor. They are willing to sacrifice material success and to accept welfare from the state if it allows them to continue living in cultural isolation and learning Torah. A state might be able to accept if a few thousand people *chose* to live on government handouts and rejected to prepare their children for getting jobs. When such a group hits 10% of the national population and is doubling in size every 15 years or so this arrangement is no longer sustainable. For people on the left this is called oppressing the poor because indeed these people are poor. The only problem is that in this case they are poor on purpose due to religious and ideological reasons and their ability to maintain their lifestyle because the government allowed them to. This is in the process of being stopped. There is little in their lifestyle or ideology that would appeal to anyone on the left so it is really strange to see people on the left coming to their defense.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ – Your point about cultural constraints keeping Arab women at home sounds reasonable, but is in fact not borne out by research.

          In poor families with only one car and almost no access to public transport, one spouse is forced to stay at home. Add to this the lack of employment training opportunities in Arab towns, plus the prejudice Arab women face when they apply for jobs, and you can see that staying at home is not a cultural choice but rather a consequence of state neglect.

          http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/why-do-fewer-arab-women-have-jobs-in-israel-than-in-saudi-arabia-1.3606

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            We all look alike to you..

            Here is the data on female workforce participation around the world:
            http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS

            Here is a partial list of Arab countries:
            Egypt: 24%
            Syria: 13%
            Jordan: 16%
            Saudi: 18%
            Morocco: 26%
            Iraq: 15%

            A lot of Israeli households have only a single car, not just Arab ones. I know a lot of couples that commute to work in one car or in some other way deal with getting from places without great public transportation options to their jobs with only a single car. Also, and this is going to sound crazy, but a lot of people actually move in order to get closer to their jobs when transportation is the problem.

            The prejudice that Arab women face when applying for jobs and the employment training opportunities they have are very similar to what Arab men face. Arab men however have a labor participation rate which is 76% vs 29% for women. Interestingly the 76% male workforce participation rate is roughly the same as in the countries listed above.

            While I can certainly accept the argument that the government should do more to ease the integration of Arab women in the workforce I find the argument that culture isn’t the primary explanatory reason for Arab women staying out of the workforce to be convincingly unconvincing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Piotr Berman

            A simple empirical fact is that policies of the state can change transportation, education, zoning of industrial areas etc. very effectively, and the “culture” is constantly evolving and responds to such ramifications.

            In the case of Haredim, they may choose to be poor, like some leftist may choose to be underemployed and waste education that could be used to market securities (or at least to work in think tanks with good salaries!) on journalism with hardly any pay. (Perhaps there are also underemployed right wing ranters out there.)

            Communist states were very good in creating employment, forcing to attend properly chosen education or job training, serving in the military, integrating housing, providing public transit and so on. Economy in XXI century cannot operate like that, but many pieces were sensible. Was it military conscription?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Some cultures evolve active defense mechanisms against the influence of all the factors you mentioned with the idea of preventing cultural change. The Haredi lifestyle is designed to dictate the nature of every social interaction and every social influence. Children are born, are raised and are married off in a brutally constricted and repetitive environment where they are prevented from access to wider cultural trends until they are in their mid 20s. Those that rebel against the structure are expelled and ostracized. The state would have to either bankrupt that society, brutally force it open to change it, or both. No amount of voluntary inducement is going to have much of an impact.

            Communist states were very good at destroying all axes of organization (religion, politics) that the state did not control and cutting off/controlling all ‘foreign’ communication/influence and in that way was able to heavily influence society and establish new social norms. A democratic and open country in the 21st century is incapable of that level of direct influence on society. The only thing it can do is ensure that whatever societies or organizations do exist or are created are self-sustainable both internally and in relation to the state and wider society.

            Reply to Comment
        • sh

          Your comment about public transit (transport I assume) is not correct. There are bus and train connections between a few main urban centers. In all sectors that live away from them, it sucks. Very clearly those who think it is good and improving either do not use public transport enough to have noticed this, or live in big cities. For those depending on public transport because they do not have a car, even reaching their towns’ railway stations (where one exists), situated, as these are in Israel, on the edges of, or some distance from, urban areas is problematic. In contrast to the Arab sector, the Haredi sector is better served than any other in Israel as far as country-wide public transport is concerned. But it’s segregated.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            I didn’t say it was good. I said it was pretty decent. It is way better than public transportation in most of American suburbia and in most places there is also an informal system of sheruts that runs when people need to get to/from work. Certainly it could be improved, but it can’t be used as an explanation for why a specific gender in a specific sector doesn’t work. Arab men and Haredi women work significantly more than the other gender in their societies. It is somewhat absurd to stick to trying to find a non-cultural economic explanation for example for Haredi women working more (66% workforce participation) than Haredi men (45% workforce participation). The same applies to Arab women (29% workforce participation) vs Arab men (76% workforce participation).

            Reply to Comment
          • Piotr Berman

            Better public transit than most American suburbia? Is it called “bigotry of low expectations”?

            In any case, in the case of Haredim the problem seems to be not the lack of resources but misdirection. Like education that does not satisfy proper standards, channelling education and services through religious organizations and so on.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Dave Boxthorn

      ‘male, white, Ashkenazi elite runs the country’

      Especially the 972+ part.

      Gush Shalom, JStreet, Shalom Achshav…

      And if you take away the ‘male’ part

      Machsom Watch, WOW, BTS, Hatnuah, Meretz…

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Indeed, were one to use the kind of analysis Dahlia Scheindlin wants to apply one would have to conclude that Dahlia’s article is yet another means by which the white, Ashkenazi elite runs the country.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Kolumn, They were satellite parties to Mapai, not truly independent Arab parties.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Dahlia, The parties were made up of Arab politicians that competed for Arab votes and got elected to the Knesset at which point they joined the coalitions. It would seem that you are suggesting that ‘independent Arab parties’ are only those parties that refuse to join coalitions?

        I believe that you are guilty of the no true scotsman fallacy — https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/no-true-scotsman

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn, Quite the opposite: That they never would have been there had they not been on a Labor leash, not as truly independent parties. And as I wrote, they were not in cabinet and had no executive (ministerial) power (only deputy minister) positions.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Arab politicians ran in a free election, received Arab votes and joined the ruling coalition receiving positions of deputy ministers.

            I am sorry but you are repeating yourself. You are arguing they were not independent *because* they were not hostile to Labor or the state of Israel. So, again, aren’t you arguing the no true scotsman logical fallacy in arguing that the only Arab politicians that are truly independent Arab politicians are those hostile to the state of Israel?

            Reply to Comment
    9. I have seen Noam make the same assertion as Dahila. I can see the old labor party trying to include Arabs out of ideological inclusiveness. I can also see the dismantling of labor (good or bad) as further isolating Arabs politically. Dahila’s core point seem to remain: Arab autonomy as such finds no favor, while the autonomy of the Haredim has been actualized in Israeli politics.

      Present Arab parties are seen as nonconforming or disloyal, and so are iced–a German phrase, “iced,” of which I have heard.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Moshe

      Why isn’t Europe and America being asked to share more of the burden of Israeli society? It is the fault of Europeans (and Americans, since they hail from European stock) that Jews needed a safe haven. If the holocaust had not happened, we would not be in need of aid to foster a society safe for Jewry of all stripes, including ultra-orthodox. Europe and the USA seem to have quite a lot of money when it comes to giving aid to Africans, who do absolutely no good for this planet, but none for Israel, who contribute more than nearly any other nation on earth.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        And you think a racist like you contributes anything useful to planet Earth, but Africans not? Derp. This comment has been edited due to inappropriate content.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Laurent Szyster

      “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” – George Orwell

      Fortunately for Dahlia, it does not cost the state of Israel too much to subsidy a handful of educated fools doing their “doctoral dissertation in comparative politics at Tel Aviv University” …

      And, fortunately for the people of Israel, virtually nobody takes them seriously. This comment has been edited for inappropriate content.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Rowan

      This is just great…I am in Paris now and I only wish more people in the rest of the world could read this intelligent (not to mention well argued) comment coming out of Isreal..you know this is more like the actual experience of visiting Isreal for a naive foreigner (me) who was amazed that it’s actually not full of fundamentalist Zionists and über hawks…they tend to be the voices that are heard overseas…that being said most of them come from the US.

      I appreciate that not everyone will agree with the editorial but from me , a non Jewish outsider…thanks. If I was warning a living, I’d send you some money !

      Reply to Comment
    13. The above comment by ‘Rowan’, of course, is not by me. I always use my full name. It’s very childish and unhelpful when people impersonate others in comments, Dahlia. I should delete it if I were you, to discourage it.

      Reply to Comment
    14. @RowanBerkeley – Quite the howler. This may come as a shock, but you’re not the only Rowan (or person) in the world. I happen to know the other one personally and he is indeed named Rowan. I do not know you – for all I know, you may be impersonating him. Either way, I got a good laugh, and I will refrain from harping on the childish, unhelpful nature of your message.

      Reply to Comment
      • rowan

        Hahahahahahaha…sorry everyone else to be the catalyst to bring the tone of this fascinating discussion down to school yard monty python levels of ridiculousness…(and thanks Dahlia)

        Can we agree Rowan Berkeley, that we are both Rowans, neither one more or less…maybe we can find a way of sharing this name in peace…you can use it whilst you are alive and i will too. You dont have to have a special ID card thats worse or better than mine, neither of us will be pushed into the sea, nor denied a passport, both of us have sufferings in the past and present that can make us fragile and spiky, and I acknowledge yours and you mine, I wont convince a bigger more powerful friend to deny your right to the name, we can both have it …and live happily ever after…

        yours

        Rowan

        PS
        I’d just like to say “I’m Rowan and so is my wife”

        Reply to Comment
        • It seems to me that it was not a good idea for me to return to this poisoned honeypot of a site. I shan’t do it again.

          Reply to Comment
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