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On International Holocaust Day, reminders of local racism are abundant

Imagine this:

You’re sitting in the bleachers at a Yankee game. You brought The New York Times with you, just in case things get slow. Or at least for the seventh-inning stretch. You read about how Steinbrenner is considering buying a new player from Haiti, or the Dominican Republic.

Suddenly, you lift your head and see a huge flag hovering over the fans, written in large black print: “NO SPICKS!”

You drop your beer, right?

Well, that’s pretty much what happened during a Beitar Jerusalem game. During a league game last night, Beitar fans rolled out a sign saying, “Beitar, pure forever,” in response to the team’s intention to hire two Muslim players from Chechnya.

Of course, the usual condemnations of politicians and other public figures came. They’re just as useful as U.S. condemnations of settlement expansions. (Even Kahanist Baruch Marzel condemned the act, showing basically any racist can hide behind kind words. Although, in his same Facebook message he promised to come to Beitar’s next game in the Arab city of Umm el Fahm. We’ll be very lucky if this goes by quietly).

I’ve written a few times about the racism of the capital city team, so it’s not really that surprising.

I guess what touches a nerve with most people is the coincidental timing of it all – today being the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Here’s what Rabbi Michael Melchior wrote on his Facebook wall about Beitar:

This morning we awoke, in the state of the Jewish people, on International Holocaust Day, with huge signs in yellow and black reading “Beitar (Jerusalem’s soccer team) Will Forever Remain Pure.”

We are returning to an agenda of racism that is spreading like wildfire in our midst. How fortunate we are to have Arcadi Gaydamak (owner of Beitar Jerusalem), who was sentenced this week to three years in prison in France for corruption, to teach morals and values in our country! In contrast, we have his coach, Eli Cohen, who said that so long as there are no Arab players on the team, then everything is fine. And the team chairman, Kornfein, who rationalized that the players joining the team are not really Muslims, but Chechens.

To add insult to injury on this momentous day, a radio station called this morning asking me to comment on the news about a young Druze man, Rani Tarif, a student who works as a security guard at a government office, who was repeatedly called out, disgraced and prevented from entering nightclubs around Haifa with his Jewish friends.

Just as we require nations of the world on this day, and rightly so, to create a plan of action against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, it is not enough for us to say we will not cross over into racism and then do it anyway. We need a comprehensive plan put in place in the educational and legal systems, and in the entire public sector, and we must show zero tolerance for all forms of racism. “Kee B’Nafshenu Hee” – Because that is who must be.

Here we are, remembering the crimes of hatred and racism, while the hatred and racism amongst us is rampant. Last night it was Beitar. Two days ago it was Yair Lapid and his refusal to sit in a coalition with the “Zoabis,” referring to the Arab parties.

One of my Facebook friends asked a good question: Is there really a difference between a politician who doesn’t want Arabs on his team, to fans who don’t want Muslims on theirs?

And if that isn’t enough, Israel finally admitted today that it administered birth control shots to Ethiopian women. The issue was first reported five years ago, but was until now denied by the authorities. Haaretz reports today:

About six weeks ago, on an Educational Television program journalist Gal Gabbay revealed the results of interviews with 35 Ethiopian immigrants. The women’s testimony could help explain the almost 50-percent decline over the past 10 years in the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian community. According to the program, while the women were still in transit camps in Ethiopia they were sometimes intimidated or threatened into taking the injection. “They told us they are inoculations,” said one of the women interviewed. “They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.

Why was this done? Who wants fewer Ethiopian children in Israel?

Sure, I know racism is everywhere. It exists in every country. In the stadiums in England, Germany, France and more. On the streets of New York, New Orleans and Gaza.

I guess I just had higher hopes, after all we’ve been through.

But on a happy note, here’s an initiative I saw today that made me smile. An organization called Roots, which helps the elderly and Holocaust survivors who live by themselves, takes old clothes they don’t wear anymore, fixes them up and is selling them online. All proceeds will go to the foundation. Check it out:

http://hdpro.co.il/rootsfashion/

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Jogortha

      Sad to read. Within a generation the lesson of a Genocide were forgotten…

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        Racism exists throughout the world, and always has.
        In most cases its manifestations appear through exclusion and tribalism.
        The problems start when it goes beyond that.
        Education against racism will always need be a full time operation.
        The first post compares racism to genocide.
        You can have racism without
        genocide, but you can’t have genocide without racism.
        Confusing the two, does not reduce racism, but might increase genocide by making it appear commonplace and normal.

        Reply to Comment
    2. JKNoReally

      “Sure, I know racism is everywhere”, but I’m going to make a headline that’s just about Israeli racism on Yom Hashoah, because the racism that should really be front and center is the kind that allows demented weirdos to accuse Jews of being like Nazis. Not Berlesconi, or the Sunday Times, or anyone with a big public megaphone – soccer fans holding signs. So much moral clarity, I am speechless.

      Reply to Comment
      • Larry D. of 972 describes one harmless racist event at an Israeli soccer game. If such a thing happened in the US, in exactly the same way, there would be law suits.

        Always true that it is easier to find others’ faults rather than one’s own. If you want examples of applied racism in Israel, consider the recent killings of young Bank Palestinians by IDF soldiers. This racism is masked by employing the label “enemy.” But these now dead young were not terrorists in any evident sense. The rules of evidence are astoundingly high when a Palestinian is killed; but not when a Jew is killed. This is racism as applied, and it is an affront to Shoa.

        Reply to Comment
        • JKNoReally

          If calling someone, who happens not to share your ethnicity, an enemy, is racism, is it racist to call a German concentration camp guard your enemy? Is than an affront to the Shoah? Great logic.

          Reply to Comment
          • The actual Palestinian dead, all young. Get back to them. You can do it.

            Once again: The rules of evidence are astoundingly high when a Palestinian is killed; but not when a Jew is killed. This is racism as applied, and it is an affront to Shoa.

            Reply to Comment
          • leen

            you should check out the stages of genocide as well as the definitions of genocide.
            Genocide as defined by international law is any of the following;

            (a) Killing members of the group;
            (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
            (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
            (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
            (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

            Article d rings true of the forced long-term birth control of Ethiopian women, which has yielded the results of decreased fertility rate of 50%. Now is the intent there? I don’t know, if there is evidence that Ethiopians have been considered as undesirables by Israeli government, then yes this is a persuasive case of genocide.

            The 8 stages of genocide as defined by US state department;
            (1) classification: us and them 
            (2) symbolizations: combined with hate speech, symbols may be forced on the said group 
            (3) Dehuminaztion
            (4) organization
            (5) polarisation 
            (6) preparation 
            (7) extermination 
            You can draw your own conclusion and whether this constitutes as genocide, but just because people are not being round up in camps and being exterminated does not mean the intent is not there. However there is an international legal definition of genocide.

            Reply to Comment
          • leen

            Not necessary. It is however racist to call a german who is not associated with nazis your enemy and seek out to kill him.

            Reply to Comment
          • Oriol2

            If I have understood you right, comparing Israel with Nazi Germany is abject demagoguery (certainly it is), but on the other hand it is perfectly valid to compare unarmed Palestinian youth with the guards in Auschwitz concentration camp.

            Reply to Comment
          • JKNoReally

            Well actually you don’t understand me right. I was pointing out that Greg’s argument about the concept of “enemy” being racist leads to absurd results – i.e. I don’t think the comparison I made is at all valid.

            Reply to Comment
          • I didn’t say that, JK. What I said was

            ‘This racism is masked by employing the label “enemy.” But these now dead young were not terrorists in any evident sense.’

            That is, the label “enemy” is being used to hide racism as applied–here. Not that the concept of “enemy” is inherently racist. Of course Israel has enemies. And just as of course, these recently killed young are not them.

            Total war is not a policing action, and Israel is engaged in the latter, now. Yes, it is very, very difficult to get it right. It is equally clear, however, that IDF command and control isn’t interested in that. To get it right, you have to act on the mistakes; this is never done, as far as I have seen.

            Reply to Comment
    3. dickerson3870

      RE: “This morning we awoke, in the state of the Jewish people, on International Holocaust Day, with huge signs in yellow and black reading ‘Beitar (Jerusalem’s soccer team) Will Forever Remain Pure’.”

      MY COMMENT: This should come as no surprise considering Beitar’s origins.

      SOME BACKGROUND ON THE BE(I)TARIM

      ● FROM WIKIPEDIA [Betar]:
      (EXCERPTS) The Betar Movement (בית”ר, also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. Betar has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group Irgun Zevai Leumi. It was one of many right-wing movements and youth groups arising at that time out of a worldwide emergence of fascism.[1] Some of the most prominent politicians of Israel were Betarim in their youth, most notably Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, the latter of whom idolized Jabotinsky.[2]. . .
      . . . The group initially praised Mussolini for his anti-communism and fascist principles, leading it to adopt the black uniform shirt of Italian fascism for a short period. Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, however, was seen as “cowardly” by Betar and led them to break with him shortly after.[8]. . .

      ● ALSO SEE: “The Hidden History of Zionism”, Chapter 6, by Ralph Schoenman
      [EXCERPT] . . . Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.
      When Menachem Begin became chief of Betar, he preferred the brown shirts of the Hitler gangs, a uniform Begin and Betar members wore to all meetings and rallies – at which they greeted each other and opened and closed meetings with the fascist salute. . .

      Reply to Comment
    4. Bill Inaz

      Muslim is a “race”?

      Reply to Comment

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