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Using rape to justify racism

On the eve of November 71938, following the brutal expulsion of his family to the Polish border, a 17year-old Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan, walked into the German embassy in Paris. He was carrying a recently-purchased pistol in his pocket. Grynzszpan asked to see an official, was brought to the office of Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath, pulled out his gun and pumped five bullets into him. Grynszpan’s act was a protest against Nazi Germany’s policies towards its Jews. Tragically, as so often happens when persons are reduced to representations of people or regimes, Grynszpan shot the wrong man: vom Rath was considered to hold anti-Nazi attitudes, and had been attracting the interest of the Gestapo.

Vom Rath died of his wounds two days later. Hasbara Minister Goebbels used his death to organize the largest pogrom in Nazi Germany up to that point, which was termed by the cynical Berliners “Reichskristallnacht” –  “The Reich’s Crystal Night” – in order to mark the official essence of the pogrom. SA goons and other good German citizens murdered 91 Jews; the mobs demolished 7,000 Jewish businesses and burned a thousand synagogues; thousands of Jews were attacked by German patriots, often drunk; about 30,000 Jews were incarcerated in concentration camps.

When the smoke cleared, the regime instituted several other iniquities: it confiscated the insurance money intended to compensate the Jews for the damage to their property; it levied a fine of a billion marks (about $5.5 billion in 1938 rates) on the German Jewish community. All of Germany’s Jews were considered guilty of Grynszpan’s act. (He himself would disappear, and in all likelihood was murdered in some concentration camp in late 1944 or 1945.)

In the last two weeks, there were three incidents of rape, all allegedly carried out by non Jews – two allegedly by Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, and one allegedly by a Palestinian illegal resident – and the Israeli government and media lost their minds. Those rape incidents were prominently displayed in the media, and the usual creeps rolled from under their stones. MK Danny Danon wrote on Thursday night (Hebrew) that “it looks as if an enemy state of infiltrators was created within Israel. It is time to declare war on it, and state one goal we must stand [inarticularteness in the original – YZG] – expulsion now! Before it’s too late.” MK Michael Ben Ari, who was refused entry into the United States due to his terrorist affiliation, led a small demonstration that night toward refugee support centers in southern Tel Aviv. According to reports, there were some 10 Kahanist demonstrators, who shouted at female counter-demonstrators they hope they would be raped by foreigners. A refugee center reported that they received threatening phone calls, including one saying “I want your address so I can burn you, to do your girls what they are doing to our girls, you daughter of a whore.”

This phone conversation came several hours after Eli Yishai – no small fry, just the Minister of the Interior, one of the most powerful in the Western world, and the inheritor of most of the powers of the British High Commissioner – called for the detention and expulsion of all the refugees (Hebrew). Yishai claimed most of the refugees are “criminals,” and added that anyone aiding them is a “yefeh nefesh (bleeding heart) who wants to harm the Zionist enterprise.” Yishai called the two rape incidents “a threat to our Zionist vision.” The crime attributed to a small number of people will serve as reason to harm all the Africans living in Israel.

As the Israeli government puts little stock in freedom of information, I couldn’t find the accurate number of rape incidents in Israel in the last few years. Yet, according to the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, 4,705 cases of sexual crimes were opened in 2010, 78 percent of them due to complaints by women. In the first ten months of 2011, the number was 3,672. Assuming the rate remained the same during the last two months, we can extrapolate the number to be at some 4,406 cases (Hebrew) – about 12 reported incidents per day.

Not all these incidents are rapes, but we can assume that the rate of rape cases was high: according to reports from 2009, Israel is eighth in the world in the numbers of reported rape cases, with a rate of 17.6 rapes to 100,000 residents. Given the population mix of Israel, and the fact the media salivates over every case of rape by a non-Jew, we can safely assume most of the rapists are kosher Jews. Most rapes do not happen in the streets, but in homes, by a person the victim knows – often knows well.

So why do the media and the government focus on the few rape incidents attributed to refugees? After all, if the goal is rape prevention, then by Yishai’s standard we should arrest all of the men of Kiryat Malachi, or at least those with political pretensions – one of the town’s mayors is now suspected of rape, and another (former president Moshe Katsav) was convicted of it – and find a country dim-witted enough to take them.

None of this is likely to happen, and with good reason. When it comes to Jewish men, they enjoy – again, with good reason – the presumption of innocence, even though they are much more of a risk to Jewish women than refugees are. The rate of yarmulke-wearing males among rapists is a phenomenon; I still laugh when I remember the pedophile rapist coming to court with a “Jehova is the King” t-shirt. Ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak has already earned the sobriquet “Israel’s pedophilia capital” (Hebrew). Jurist Dr. Aviad Hacohen insists (Hebrew) that 95 percent of the sexual attacks in Jerusalem are carried out by Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. Would Eli Yishai support detaining all Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox men in concentration camps – errr, sorry, “detention facilities?” Of course not.

An anti-refugee rally in Tel Aviv, led by Ben Ari (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

"This isn't Africa." An anti-refugee rally in Tel Aviv, led by Ben Ari (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

So what’s going on? It’s simple, really. When the Israeli media reports a rape by “foreigners,” it engages in dog-whistling. It informs its readership that something much worse than rape took place: the defilement of the blood and honor of the Jewish people, the defiling of the honor of a daughter of Israel.

It’s easy to forget, when you hear Ben Ari, Danon and Yishai’s latest statements, that they were inciting against the refugees long before these rape incidents took place. Ben Ari led several demonstrations against them, emphasizing supposedly illicit affairs between refugees and Jewish girls. Yishai termed them “spreaders of disease” several years ago, and led a crusade to deport the children of foreign workers born in Israel. Danon conducted possibly the most demented symposium in the history of the Knesset, arguing that Jewish girls are kidnapped in massive numbers to Bedouin villages – even though the police flatly said it is unaware of even a single such case of kidnapping (Hebrew).

So now one of the most powerful ministers tells the mob that all refugees should bear the sins of their fellows – and to hell with the rule of law and with the simple fact the suspects have not yet been charged, let alone convicted. This isn’t about the law; this is about a war in defense of Jewish honor. Danon, Ben Ari and Yishai are playing with fire: if an Israeli Reichskristallnacht breaks out, a pogrom against the refugees, they – and the media – will not be able to say their hands are clean from blood.


Police distort crime data, inciting violence against refugees

NGO threatened with arson and violence for helping Africans

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    1. One of the Rambam’s more controversial rulings possibly has a bearing on this: Mishneh Torah, Chapter 12, Halachah 10:
      “If a Jewish male enters into relations with a gentile woman, when he does so intentionally, she should be executed. She is executed because she caused a Jew to be involved in an unseemly transgression, as [is the law with regard to] an animal. [This applies regardless of] whether the gentile women was a minor of three years of age, or an adult, whether she was single or married. And it applies even if [the Jew] was a minor of nine years old, [she is executed]. This [punishment] is explicitly mentioned in the Torah, as [Numbers 31:16-17] states: Behold they were [involved] with the children of Israel according to the advice of Balaamו. Execute any woman fit to know a man through lying with a male.”

      Reply to Comment
    2. Sorry for the incomplete citation; that’s Mishneh Torah, Sefer Kedushah, Issurei Biah, Chapter 12, Halachah 10.

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    3. caden

      The Jews are the new Nazis is the classic move. You need to come up with something different. let me ask you this. How many Africans in Israel is acceptable to you. Give me a number, unless you think that if any African reaches Israel their good. BTW I notice they don’t seem to want to stop in Egypt too much.

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    4. Racism and a possessive sort of misogyny always seem to be packaged up together. I think they’re intrinsically linked. They were resent in the Deep South lynchings that happened whenever black men were accused of raping (or even just looking at) white women. The issue is never that a woman has been raped, it’s that purity (and property?) has been besmirched. You never hear the ‘our daughters’ rhetoric when the rapist is from the same ethnic and social group as the daughter. Shift the focus to the prevalence of rape in Israel (or in society generally), and the outrage melts and the hostility and the scepticism set in: the stats can’t really be that high, there must be false accusations in there, was she drunk, what was she wearing, was she asking for it…
      Recently I read two things of interest: ‘Our Sisters’ Promised Land’, a book on women’s peace work in Palestine/Israel; and an article on the connection between the fight for Abolition and the women’s rights movement. It made me consider why feminist groups have often treated racial justice an issue of specific feminist concern. This is perhaps part of the reason.

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    5. They certainly are linked. The recent pseudo-science of ‘socio-biology’ expounds them as if they were inherent features of human genetics. I think these ‘selfish gene’-type theories are nonsense, because the gene does not sit there in the cell, thinking to itself, how can I ensure my preponderance over all other genes on this planet? But those who believe it does, erect a system of pseudo-natural law on the basis of what this mythical intelligent gene would do. For instance, they propound the idea that the rich should be free to engage in polygamy, because their wealth proves their evolutionary superiority over others. Naturally, people who actually are rich find such theories congenial. And people who are poor but marginally less so than the groups below them, have a special interest in saying, we may be poor but we’re white (or Jewish, as the case may be), therefore we must protect our precious gene pool. From this comes the right-wing populism that accuses ‘liberal elites’ of exposing their poorer co-ethnics to multi-cultural risks they don’t have to undergo themselves.

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    6. You can see one source of this in Meir Kahane’s 1987 book, “Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews.” I feel sure someone has produced a sociological, statistical refutation of his more exaggerated claims: according to him, as of the mid-1980s, there were “hundreds of thousands” of Israeli Jewish women or girls either married to or sleeping with Israeli Arab men. He began with a concrete statistic: 4,000 Israeli Jewish women married to Israeli Arab men. Then on the basis of impressionistic statements about the prevalence of Jewish prostitution, he arrived at his “hundreds of thousands.” I suspect he particularly aimed his polemic at Mizrachi parents, by implying that these Jewish prostitutes were Mizrachi girls who had been traumatically robbed of their Jewish virtues by the secular Ashenazi establishment.

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    7. Piotr Berman

      One day in 1921, a young black man, Dick Rowland, stumbled while entering the elevator of a Tulsa, Oklahoma building, accidentally bumping a white female elevator operator. Her startled cries–
      and the assumption that she had been assaulted –led to the young man’s arrest. Later, a white lynch mob gathered at the jail where Rowland was held–as did a small group of African Americans
      determined to protect him. A shot rang out, and pandemonium ensued. By the time the dust had settled two days later, more than 300 people were dead and an entire community had been burned to
      the ground.

      Another source: after Rowland was arrested, local newspaper had a blazing front page title: Lynch Negro tomorrow! Tulsa had a relatively large Black business district on the Black side of tracks, and the leaders came to the courthouse with their guns to prevent the lynch, but the White crowd, also armed, was larger and the largest pogrom in the history of US started. Afterward Oklahoma National Guard put Blacks in camps. Destroyed Black district never regained prosperity.

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    8. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      “Jewish men…are much more of a risk to Jewish women than refugees are.” This does not follow from your estimates, which are absolute numbers, not relative to population size. It may or may not be true, but you have to standardize by the numbers of Jewish and non-Jewish male residents.

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    9. caden

      Yossi is a polemicist, not somebody given to truthful statistical analysis

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    10. aristeides

      But if a Jewish man rapes a Jewish woman, the product is a Jew. No problem, the bloodline remains pure. otoh, if a Jewish woman gives birth to a half-black child, current law regards the product as a Jew, corrupting the bloodline.

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    11. aristeides

      Caden – I’ve decided that two Jews are an acceptable number to have in my neighborhood. No more. If they’re married and have kids, we’ll run them out.

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    12. caden

      Quite a few Ethiopian Jews in Israel. They appear black to me Aristeides. What about you.

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    13. sh

      @Rowan Berkeley – “I suspect he particularly aimed his polemic at Mizrachi parents, by implying that these Jewish prostitutes were Mizrachi girls who had been traumatically robbed of their Jewish virtues by the secular Ashenazi establishment.”
      Not sure about that. He apparently used Mizrahim to aim his polemic at the doubters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiuXUQgSLWU
      And since you seem to have read copiously about Kahane, you’ll know he wasn’t averse to prostitutes or the faults he found and despised in his hated others.

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    14. sh

      “Quite a few Ethiopian Jews in Israel.”
      Indeed. Quite a few other African Jews too. Egyptians, Libyans, Moroccans, Tunisians, Algerians. No need for quotas. Just a proper immigration policy (and borders of course).

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    15. Kolumn9

      This article is part of the never-ending series called “Using ‘Racism’ to justify any policy the extreme left prefers”. This is part of the ideology where what one can say depends entirely on the group that they are talking about. When all else fails, find the most extreme element, paint the majority with its colors and compare everyone to Nazis. Where it is possible make sure to support the argument by liberally quoting entirely irrelevant statistics.

      There is a group of people that is in Israel illegally. That group has been carrying out brutal rapes at a staggering rate. Every rape committed by any member of this group is entirely the result of a policy of allowing the continuation of the residence of all members of this group in the country. Were the borders actually preventing the illegal entry of people into the country these rapes would not have taken place. Any argument that pretends to equate between members of this group and legal residents is one that is determined to avoid considering the fact that this group should not be in the country in the first place.

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    16. max

      Nazism and Lynch in America brought up when politicians talk… I know you don’t wonder why you’re not taken seriously by Israelis.
      As Yossi mentions, Yishai has voiced his concerns about the Africans infiltrators for many years.
      What Yossi doesn’t mention, is that practically all news outlets ignored the legal issue and the build up of a time bomb (the infiltrators aren’t sent back for humanitarian reasons – legally they should be returned to Egypt – but aren’t given enough money and can’t always find work).
      So does anyone expect a politician to miss such an opportunity? Beyond Yossi’s irrelevant ‘context’, what’s wrong with Yishai’s demagogy?
      I of course omitted the real issue, reflected in Yossi’s title: keeping Israel a Jewish state is racism for Yishai and it’s raison d’être for Yishai.
      There’s really nothing more than that to this post

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    17. Elisabeth

      Hear, hear Rowan!

      Common sense indicates that the organism, not the gene is the object of natural selection. Indeed, these ‘selfish gene’-type theories are nonsense!

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    18. Thanks, Elisabeth.
      @SH: I haven’t really read copiously about Kahane. I haven’t read Robert Friedman’s biography of him. It just so happens that “Uncomfortable Questions” is easily available online. None of his other books are. He’s quite an entertaining popular sort of writer, actually. One of his books was called “Listen, Vanessa, I am a Zionist,” which is quite a fetching title. Some of the other titles are rather less fetching, such as “The Jewish Stake in Vietnam” and “They Must Go.”

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    19. “Nazism and Lynch in America brought up when politicians talk… I know you don’t wonder why you’re not taken seriously by Israelis.”
      One such politician was cheerfully and publicly greeting his supporters with ‘good morning, good Jews’ just a few days ago. Now other politicians – none of them men with a stellar track record on supporting women’s welfare and interests, it has to be said – are whipping people into a frenzy not over the fact that three women have been sexually assaulted, but over the fact that their assailants were of African origin and the victims Jewish. This in the wake of violent attacks involving Molotov cocktails on African homes. These politicians are deliberately igniting a tinder-box, and for that there’s nothing better than the timeless, ugly, and deeply sexist image of the undesirables raping ‘our women’. This exact same motif has been used and is being used in numerous other unsavoury contexts. Saying, “But this situation is DIFFERENT,” doesn’t make that motif any less prejudiced or any more truthful. I hate to pull Bibi’s poor overworked duck out of the poultry shed, but if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, then it’s probably the same sexist purity duck that seems to stick its beak into every argument involving the presence of ‘foreigners’. We can find EDL members making the same point in English pubs.

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    20. max

      Wow, Vicky, you just proved my point! Thanks 🙂
      You managed to explain yourself coherently without referring to Nazism and Lynching!

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    21. aristeides

      I see that K9 is still obsessing on his lie that the asylum-seekers are illegally in Israel. Not many tracks in that mind.

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    22. max

      aristeides, you seem to know little and claim a lot with no facts or support.
      You may also want to study the legal issue of “safe third country” and tell us what you think of it 🙂

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    23. Joel

      Yossi’s attempt to use invidious comparisons in order smear Israel with the racism is ugly, mendacious and puerile.

      African migrants in Israel are there either legally or illegally. If they are legal than they should be left alone. If illegal, they should be sent home.

      BTW. My in-laws live in Shapira and I’ve spent lots of time in that South Tel Aviv neighborhood and I’ve never once witnessed anyone mistreat a foreign worker. Fact.

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    24. aristeides

      Here’s Max, back for another round of namecalling.

      Africans are pretty conspicuous in Israel, with black faces and all. Yet they run around in the open instead of hiding like actually illegal immigrants. How can this be? Why aren’t they in fear of the deportation cops?

      The reason is – their presence has been legalized. As documented asylum seekers, they’ve been issued official permits. A permit that gives them LEGAL permission to reside in Israel pending the disposition of their cases.

      Some of them, I add, are not given permits but are held in detention for “security reasons.” But others are released from detention with permits. Their presence in Israel, therefore, is perfectly legal, and none of the repetitious lies of K9 or general obnoxiousness of Max can make it not so.

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    25. caden

      BTW Aristiedes, where do you live again. And how many Africans are there also?

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    26. caden

      I do enjoy the Israel=Nazi Germany analogies that Gurvitz is so fond of. But perhaps a new tack is called for

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    27. Rehmat

      There is no shortage of showing racism in Israel. For example, in July 2011 – a Management Forum conference was held in Jerusalem which was addressed by Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Keinan. According to Israeli daily Ha’aretz, women were not allowed to take any part in the conference, whether from the podium, as members of the audience or in the journalists’ enclave…….


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    28. I’m beginning to think of Israel as though it has an auto-immune disease. It has been at war, physically sometimes but conceptually always, that inward defense is creating ideological antibodies which eventually will truly harm the polity.
      If Yossi has reported the Interior Minister’s comments accurately (I know not Hebrew and often cannot spell my native English), they are inflamatory and not indicated for a high offical. I think this supports a case that Ministers should exit the Knesset, so there is no ambiguity over their pure administrative, executive functions; I know this exit issue has been raised in the Knesset before. As it is, a Minister may speak as if he is making a political statement as MK, not in his executive capacity. In result, you get bizarre statements such as the present. However, please believe me that in the Jim Crow South they wouldn’t seem so bizarre.
      This auto-immune disease can in the instance be called racism, misogyny, religious purity; but something more global is happening. Simply, it seems that purging is being equated with protecting. This apparently provides political dividends. That hell I keep mentioning is on its way.

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    29. Moriel Rothman

      @Yossi, thank you very much for this sober and important analysis. Well written, well argued, and well needed.

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    30. Anne-Sophie

      Thank you for this article! Now 4 years that I am involved with asylum seekers assistance, and you hit the nail on this issue! The recent escalation of hatred and racism is really a sign that the authorities are cowardly doing nothing to take responsibility of the immigration challenges that unfolded in recent years. Such a shame!! Not sure where all of this is going, but the generic opinion is losing even more compassion towards Africans, now (not to say that the compassion that was there in the first place was not so vibrant!).

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    31. Dear Yossi,

      I don’t want to patronise, but I notice that you are a tzabar, writing in English (or at least on an English language site), designed to be read by Jews born in Galut. I happen to agree wholeheartedly with your main point here. But can I suggest if you would like to make friends and influence people (which is presumably the point of public writing), then starting with a long and elaborate way of saying Israeli right-wingers are just like the Nazis is probably the most sure-fire way of putting off any potential supporters of your positions. I am as left as they come and can’t stand any of the politicians you talk about, but would never endorse such a comparison. Galus Jews are a little more sensitive to throwing round the Amalek/Hitler comparison/parallel.

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    32. max

      @aristeides, I admire the clarity of your argument: having no data, you simply conclude that since Africans are black, Israelis are not, then had they been illegal they’d be easy to pick up and deported.
      How clever!
      I must be a real nerd… asking myself why has none of the 972 ‘voices’ claimed the legality point, where to the infiltrators from the open Egypt-Israel border go to register, how many of them are there (as if there are 100,000 and 30,000 of them are registered, it may not make sense to stop people and ask for registration), how many of them may have no papers at all, what would the police do if they caught an unregistered petty thief, and where to would they deport such people?
      You see, so many question just to make sure that I have ground to claim that others are liars.
      Finally, I’d ask myself what do other countries with similar problems do? How is there population reacting?
      Is yours what’s called Liberal Clarity of Reasoning or Clarity of Liberal Reasoning?

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    33. klang

      If I were a Sudanese refugee and believed everything in 972 mag, Israel would be the last place I would go. I would rather risk it with the bedouins in the Sinai. Especially since Goebbels is hasbara minister, it means that Israel is going to exterminate all non-whites. The Sudanese in Israel must be clamoring to leave. Where is the flotilla to help them escape Israel?

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    34. Piotr Berman

      “Finally, I’d ask myself what do other countries with similar problems do? How is there population reacting?”

      House the refugees where it is cheap, i.e. in an economically depressed area, and have some discussions in the press in case of either rape or pogrom. Organize anti-immigrant political parties. This is more or less common theme. Then we have different possibilities.

      A. Sensible parties keep the radicals out of the government and try various small ways to make the situation better. For example, classes for refugees to teach them the national language and skills needed in the economy. Economic activisation programs for the distressed areas. There is no silver bullet but there are various things that can be done.

      B. Radical parties are in the government together with the sensible parties. We have some combination of sensible policies, official incitements and pogroms (small or rare, situation does not get out of hand).

      C. Radical parties rule. Oh my. Policies have to be prepared for the refugees from that country.

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    35. David

      @ Rowan Berkeley regarding your post on ‘selfish genes’. Selection is not driven by the volition of genes. The classic explanation goes like this: take a tree as an example, the structural features of a tree trunk are quite complex. With advanced engineering knowledge you could show that the tree trunk displays optimal organization for load bearing, stability, etc…Now no one argues the tree understands the principles of structural engineering? Selfishness is selected through external pressure, not internal control. The cell does not need to will its selfishness into existence. Imagine a group of individuals with variable genes content (i.e they are not all the same). If some of these genes prove advantageous, under selection pressure, then those individuals (and importantly those genes) proliferate. No conscious control is required. This has been demonstrated computationally and experimentally.

      Now with that said, the principles are often misrepresented (as you have exemplified) and/or appropriated for political purposes, as you duly have noted.

      Acknowledging the function of low-level operations of life does not mean the principles of selfishness need to inform our morality or social organization. We have the capacity to overcome this.


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    36. You mean that over time, for example, the genes of women who cannot remember that the natal ward is two blocks over and one block back from the main hospital building will die out?

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    37. Or K, Israeli Jewish

      If u ask me, it’s a Jewish honor to let refugees live here.

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    38. Rudy Haugeneder, Canada

      The story is a good warning about how quickly civilized people, including Jews, can become brutal and savage brutes.

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    39. Itsme

      It’s also sad and perplexing to note that Israel has one of the highest rates per capita for sex slavery with the majority of victims being under 16. According to Amnesty International and the US Trafficking report, Israel’s Ultra Conservatives are the main customer – especially of African virgins 10-15 years old. Rape groups ironically note the strict religious beliefs as to why they target children. UC women are not permitted to have sex approximately 2 weeks per month and condom use is not allowed. Because of fear of AIDS, UC men buy virgins and children to reduce the Men’s chance of contracting AIDS — even though it means raping a child and possibly giving AIDS to her. Also rape rates in Israel (30.6%) continue to climb and are currently above the US (26%) and 2nd to South Africa (43%). Although prison sentences are strong in Israel, there is still a “blame the victim” attitude that fuels the problem and makes conviction difficult. There is also a belief that Ultra Conservatives are somehow more law abiding, even though Israel’s own crime statistics for rape do not support that. UC Men also have a high rape rate against Palestinian women. Because rape is a crime of violence and domination, it would be interesting to find out how much of the rapes committed by UC Men is related to their religious beliefs – which tend to see women and non-conservative Jews as inferior and “loose”- verses rape being used as political/martial domination. Or if it is simply an environment which creates and nurtures a larger number of men with severe psychological problems because of lack of modern detection, counseling and treatment and refusal to acknowledge the problem.

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