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Incitement and violence: A week on Israel's slippery slope

How much farther down can we slide? Oh, I fear there’s still a long way down from here. After all, so far, our skin heads and settlers only beat up Arabs. Lots more to look forward to, no?

By Dror Feuer | Published originally on Globes, translated from Hebrew and linked by Shir Harel.

A. Nice week we had, huh? The sun was shining, in Jerusalem we discovered dozens of skin heads with Rabbi Kahane shirts who attack Arabs, an ifantry soldier’s cell phone revealed photos and videos documenting abuse of Arabs, including children: The soldiers forced them to dance and sing children’s songs – “I put my hands up, on my head, on my shoulders, and clap one two three.” Settlers continued to exact price tag after price tag from Palestinians. Dozens of cases in only the last several days. They throw stones, they beat people up, and not only with their hands but with iron rods too. They stab, they uproot trees, they burn cars, they light sheep on fire. Yes, you read that right. And not only in the occupied territories, but throughout the country. And not only settlers, by the way.

Evidence about pogroms against Arabs are piling up and adding up, in Bnei Brak, Safed, everywhere really, and Official Israel does nothing. Sometimes the police’s excuse for why they don’t arrest rioters is that they don’t want to contribute to a “flare-up in the area.” Yes, that’s exactly what they say.

Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier General Nitzan Alon said that “price tag events are not based on values.” That’s just brilliant. Maybe he could try just a little harder to come up with a more hollow and cowardly statement? “Not based on values.” What a pathetic joke.

But the truth is that Brigadier General Alon is wrong and also misleading: The price tag events that are washing over the country like a tsunami of sewage are extraordinarily values-driven. They are a direct result of a system of values which is based on hate, racism and a twisted sense of justice.

Does anyone really think the perpetrators of price tag do it because they’re having fun? No, these aren’t those empty youth who inhale air conditioner gas and drink vodka Red Bulls from open car trunks in parking lots and then stab each other. Nope, they are the most values-driven people around. All they have is their values. The problem is their values.

And speaking of values, even our Prime Minister, someone who knows a lot about values, said that this was  “a complete distortion of the concept of civil protest, the concept of human morality and the spirit of Jewish justice.” Beautiful words, no doubt, I only wish they were worth anything.

This week the Jerusalem District Court convicted settler Zvi Struck, 28, – whose mother calls him “Zviki” – of kidnapping and abusing a 15-year-old Palestinian boy while he was bound. You should read the verdict, it’s lovely weekend reading, really. Struck, one of our finest sons, not only abused the child, but also killed one of his goats. By kicking it. No, I tell you, those Palestinians, they’re simply animals.

And this all just comes and goes with little commotion, that’s the beautiful thing with this story. The court sentenced little sweetie Zviki to 18 months in prison, before deduction of a third, and ordered him to pay the victim 50 thousand shekels. I’m sure that if the scenario were reversed, and a Palestinian had handcuffed, beaten and abused a 15-yr old settler more than once, the sentence would be just as a light.

B. The important thing is that we good and gave it to Yoram Arbel and Amos Oz. What are they thinking, these two old Ashkenazis, that they can just go ahead and say whatever comes to their mind? Shame on them! Amos Oz dedicated a book Marwan Barghouti. Maybe he should have dedicated the book to Baruch Goldstein, and they wouldn’t have had to cancel the conference at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center that he was slated to speak at. And Yoram Arbel, if only he had dedicated the soccer game to Eden Abergil and not Anat Kamm, everything would’ve been ok.

Has anyone even dreamed of suspending – even for two days – one of the illustrious rabbis that regularly calls for the harming of soldiers, or justifies murder, or belittles the state, or supports a convicted rapist? Of course, this isn’t on the agenda, and meanwhile these rabbis have even been able to influence the Prime Minister to appoint a Shin Bet head that’s to their liking.

Yes, I know that now I should pay lip service and say that Barghouti is a murdering scum and that I condemn (as Arbel did, by the way) what Anat Kamm did. But I don’t condemn what Anat Kamm did. Kamm helped the public see what its army is doing in its name in the territories, how it kills and bombs, against the law. But the public doesn’t want to know about this, it wants to watch football, and it wants Yoram Arbel to keep his mouth shut.

Anat Kamm broke the law. Wow, suddenly we are nation of laws? And what about the laws that the settlers break every day? Let’s see this law directed with the same intensity and determination towards the Right too. This week the media published a story about ten activists, who following the bombing in Jerusalem, knocked on the door of the Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan’s house, a man they hate. There was no violence, lucky, they even received an invitation to meet with him in his office. It was all over with good humor.

How do you think the incident would have ended if ten leftists had come, following a demonstration in Bil’in, and knocked on the door of the head of the Shin Bet? Tell you one thing, friends, it wouldn’t end with an invitation to a meeting. At most, a meeting with the infamous George.

C. This is the Unofficial Israel. What Official Israel did this week we also know: The Nakba law, the acceptance committee law, the citizenship law. The important thing is that Netanyahu continued to demand that the Palestinian Authority to stop the incitement. Because I tell you, again, those Palestinians are simply animals, they overflow with hatred and prejudice, they are racist and murderous, and there is not, I tell you, there is absolutely no partner.

Every time someone abroad says something against Jews or against Israel, the state jumps up, demands condemnation, dismissal and what not. But what about us? Why we, we’re allowed to do anything, because we are the only democracy in the Middle East. If any other country had created legislation preventing Jews from remembering the destruction of the Temple, for example, one could only imagine the holy anger that would arise around here. But really, how can you even compare, I mean those Palestinians, …etc.

D. So can anyone really still claim that we are not a racist state, an apartheid state, a state that’s violent, full of hatred, discrimination, and exclusion? A paranoid state, in which citizenship is conditional, that in it memory is allowed only under certain conditions? That the right to live in this state is only for Jews, a country where a policeman can perform a physical search on a citizen just because he feels like it (that’s of course only if you’re not a Jerusalemite skin head who loves Kahane, in that case a search would only serve to flare up the scene, and who wants a flare up? We just want some quiet here), a state that’s made shutting people’s mouths one of its main activities, the rock of its existence? Yes, this is where we live.

The slope is slippery and we are sliding down fast. Our main problem is that the silent majority continues to be silent. Even in the Knesset, more than half of MKs didn’t even bother to vote on the laws mentioned above. Some, like Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak, even dare to see themselves as belonging to the peace camp. These are the same people who allow the likes of Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel, and other racists to do here as they see fit. This is our main shame.

E. How much farther down can we slide? Oh, I fear there’s still a long way down from here. After all, so far, our skin heads and settlers only beat up Arabs. After all, in the meantime people like me and you can still speak their minds – not that it does anything – but we can still speak it. There’s still plenty of room for us to slide down into. And it seems like we’re heading in that direction. Lots more to look forward to, no? How great that daylight savings time has begun and now there’s an extra hour every day to destroy this country.

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    1. louis

      A great piece. Bursts the myth that still too many are inclined to believe. This is a must read for the Jewish Diaspora!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Woody

      Amazing piece.

      Reply to Comment
    3. — You had me until “apartheid state.”

      — It’s essential to critique Israel’s failings, and this week we saw many. However, it’s also essential that we be careful with the language we use when doing such critiquing. Yes, the Nakba and citizenship laws are beyond troubling. But an apartheid state? I’m sorry — Israel 2011 is not 1985 South Africa. An acute study of history would bear that out.

      Reply to Comment
    4. @LOUIS The trouble is that the Jewish Diaspora doesn’t want to know. They have their own idea about Israel, how brave and wonderful the country and the people are etc. Even if you give them proof, videos on youtube, eye-witness statements from completely indepndent and relliable sources, these intellectual, cream of the crop Diaspora Jews won’t believe a word. Their total vocabulary when it comes to Israel consists of: anti-Semite, terrorist, Jew-hater, n*zi.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Danny


      Reply to Comment
    6. Igor

      @Seymour, you forgot the “Self-Hating Jew”…

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jack

      one flaw in the article -the author compares the nakba law to preventing jews from remembering the temple mount..the nakba law dosent prevent anyone from remembering anything, just that the state of israel won’t pay for such commemorations with public funds.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Shir

      @Jack – not exactly. It’s not just that the State won’t give public funds to those commemorations. It’s that it can withhold state funds that would be “otherwise forthcoming” to an organization. That means state funds that an org is eligible for for completely unrelated reasons can be revoked if that org publicly commemorates the Nakba. So basically if you commemorate the Nakba, you’re on your own. You’re excluded from the equal playing field of civil society.

      Reply to Comment
    9. max

      “Evidence about pogroms against Arabs are piling up and adding up”
      “So can anyone really still claim that we are not a racist state, an apartheid state,”
      — can’t we criticize without resorting to such incendiary, inappropriate terms and comparisons? Is stating “a state that’s violent, full of hatred, discrimination, and exclusion” not enough?
      The latter is not only true while the former false, it can also serve as base for discussions while the current text aims at aggravating the hatred and in no way intends to fix what needs to be fixed.
      So honestly, is it about finding your like-minded friends or trying to improve the situation?

      Reply to Comment
    10. max

      Here’s my summary of the post:
      1. Zviki’s sentence was too lenient; we all know that a Palestinian would have gotten more
      2. There’s nothing to be upset about a writer dedicating his book to a person jailed for murder
      3. A broadcasting channel has no right to listen to its audience
      4. Anat Kamm may break the law because the settlers do
      5. Jews celebrating Israel’s Independence Day would be welcome in Palestine
      6. Our Prime Minister should not only condemn the Price Tag idea, he should also act as the judicial arm and punish it
      Now I happen to agree with several of the underlying problems mentioned, and in general with the recognition that Israel is becoming a less tolerant place. But, I’m looking for ways to communicate these observations in order to be able to discuss them and find remedies. Obviously this post has a very different agenda.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Piotr Berman

      Little amendments to Max’s summary:
      2. … to a person sentenced for murder in a kangaroo trial with secret evidence.
      3. The point is that a broadcasting channel follows popular sentiments, but what are those sentiments? which leads to
      4. The public, the military and the courts are deeply upset by disclosure of secret documents, but not by the murders that were disclosed. It seems that there is almost a universal consensus that murders, by the right people and for a good cause are good.
      5. Knesset is consistently busy with semi-harmless witch hunts. The basic goal seems to be to identify traitors, and if the traitors did not break any laws, invent a new law or at least humiliate them.
      6. “Price Tag” is the official policy of the state. So the arcane point is that the citizens should not take the lawlessness into their hands … too much?

      Reply to Comment