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Jewish supremacists visit social justice protests

How long can the social justice protests go on without defining what “social justice” means? While there was no official rejection of the Kahanists’ visit by protest leaders, some activists confronted them and skirmishes broke out

Yesterday far-right groups and prominent settlers, including extremist leader Baruch Marzel, showed up at the tent encampment on Rothschild Boulevard to “join” the protest,  donning “Tel Aviv is Jewish” shirts and other such racist garb. They expressed their desire for “social justice” in the form of more construction in the West Bank, and clarified that they do not want to bring down the government but rather empower it to bring about solutions. Ynet reported that some tent protest organizers had no problem with them being there, stating that it is a battle of all the people, right and left, while others clearly had a problem with their presence – and there were skirmishes between them yesterday.

Clashes between rightists and tent protesters (photo: Activestills)

Baruch Marzel, who lives in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside of Hebron, reportedly called out chants saying “Tel Aviv is Jewish, Sudanese go to Sudan.” This is obviously not the kind of person you want in your social justice revolution. I have come into contact with Marzel on several occasions, mostly while protesting illegal hilltops in the Hebron area, and I can assure you he is not a social justice activist.

Here is a report in Haaretz from one such action two years ago, in which Marzel physically assaulted an Israeli activist. It was all caught on tape, but unfortunately the YouTube channel carrying the video was hacked and removed. Here he is, in a photo I took that day, right after assaulting a non-violent Israeli activist:

He is also not very progressive on LGBT rights, to say the least:

Baruch Marzel and others protesting the gay pride parade in Jerusalem, 2009 (photo: Mairav Zonszein)

Yesterday’s spectacle of far rightists at the tent protest visiting from their illegal settlements in the West Bank was significant because they were scuffling with fellow citizens, rather than their disenfranchised and discriminated Palestinian neighbors who they usually scuffle with.  They brought their extremist politics to a turf filled with secular Jews, activists, anarchists, gays and transgenders, making them appear the odd ones out.

This should be a clear sign to those in the movement that there is a need to formalize and sharpen definitions of “social justice,” even at the expense of alienating fellow citizens and calling attention to the deep cracks that divide Jewish society here. Today a Facebook event was started calling for a protest on Saturday in reaction to the visit, which will specifically assert that Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a multi-cultural city and calling for unity and tolerance, not fascism, homophobia and racism. This is a step in the right direction.

Indeed it is shared values that should connect the people in this movement, not shared citizenship.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. sh

      “They brought their extremist politics to a turf filled with secular Jews, activists, anarchists, gays and transgenders, making them appear the odd ones out.”
      The protest is actively supported by its share of religious Jews too. Let’s not divide the religious from the rest on the basis of the likes of Baruch Marzel, please.

      Reply to Comment
    2. David

      Maybe Marzel and his friends could start a chapter of the Knights Templar in Israel. You know, when nutty flavors of nationalism just aren’t enough.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Shoded Yam

      @David
      .
      LOL :-D

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mitchell Cohen

      “The protest is actively supported by its share of religious Jews too. Let’s not divide the religious from the rest on the basis of the likes of Baruch Marzel, please.” [End of quote]
      Hear Hear!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Louis Frankenthaler

      We need to say it again and again and again and again… until we are blue in the face and then say it again… we want a social democratic state not a social and ethnocratic state, and there is nothing social or democratic about the Occupation… The struggle for social justice is political… social democracy is left… Mah la’asot?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mitchell Cohen

      @Louis Frankenthaler, מה לעשות? I guess to write off the overwhelming majority of the middle, working class that votes to the right of Hadash (and a large percentage of which are at least traditional in observance) and while having disagreements about what Israel’s borders should be, for the most part, are in agreement that they are not ready to give up Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. Good luck with that!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Louis

      Mitchel, first I do not think that Hadash is the benchmark so to speak… and there is no write off here… for 44 years democracy has been written off by the Occupation… Jewish State also is not the benchmark… it is a process of developing consciousness… it takes time but it can happen… things get put together… look at Kadima they know and their voters too know that social change of the kind demanded by this growing social movement is inconsistent with the Occupation… So I do not expect all to be as left as me but there is certainly a certain line in which there are things, like the racists written about in the article that do not belong in progressive social change movement…

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jan

      Baruch Marzel and his ilk should be packed up and sent back to America. Some of the worst of the worst Israelis were born in Ameica and Marzel is emblematic of them.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Mitchell Cohen

      Jan, actually I met my share of Russian olim in the army and through work that were secular versions of Kahane. Actually the American Olim as a whole are no more “hawkish” than the Olim from the FSU or most Mizrachi Jews in Israel. The Ethiopian Jews have a habit of voting right-wing as well. I would stay away from ignorant generalizations.

      Reply to Comment
    10. As a secular resident of Tel Aviv, I would prefer the valiant “settlers” at any time to all the degenerate-impotent protestors that flood the boulevards of Tel Aviv these days. For all the noise they have been generating in the last 50 years, I have not seen a single area where the theories&actions of the loony-left brought any good, to Israel or elsewhere.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Michal

      Wait – so the people who are the beneficiaries of the most heavily subsidized life in the region are joining the protests about social justice and cost of living? Are they volunteering to give up their subsidies in order to improve hospital care and doctors’ salaries, to provide free education for children? I’m not drawing any false lines between “religious” and “not religious,” because I and plenty of others consider ourselves to be “religious” and base our desire for social justice in our religious texts.

      Reply to Comment
    12. jenny

      Jewish supremicists? Are you prepared to admit that all those who write for 972mag are really Arab and Islamist supremicists who seek the suppression of Jews and Zionism?

      Reply to Comment
    13. hares

      those who write the 972 mag don’t have leaders that publicly state they are above the rest of the human race, like former Israeli prime ministers have

      :)

      Reply to Comment

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