Saturday, July 24, 2010

Now really, this is Zionism

"The country is in thrall to such anti-democratic sentiment and mob rule racism, manifesting at such breakneck speed that it is hard to keep up. In the last few months alone two Arab citizens of Israel were "disappeared" by the state's secret police; an Arab member of the Knesset was stripped of her parliamentary privileges for being on the Gaza aid flotilla; and now a Palestinian man from Jerusalem has just been convicted of rape after pretending to be Jewish and having consensual sex. This verdict, in effect turning the obfuscation of race into a criminal offence, also reveals the extent to which Israelis consider Palestinians to be abhorrent. Meanwhile, the Israeli children of migrant workers are threatened with expulsion, as a government campaign warns against hiring foreign workers. Zero tolerance for the "other" in Israel has widened to include anyone questioning a twisted concept of loyalty to the state. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) lists 14 antidemocratic laws currently working their way through parliament, from the demand that Arab citizens pledge allegiance to a "Jewish democracy" to attempts to gag Israeli rights groups. Acri representatives are denounced as "Arab-lovers" and "traitors" when they attend parliamentary hearings. All this has widespread support – in fact, one of the few causes to bring thousands of Israelis on to the streets was a recent ultra-orthodox protest for the right to segregate Ashkenazi children, of European origin, from their Middle Eastern Jewish classmates. Israeli human rights campaigners, appalled by this escalation of intolerance and racism, point to the three-week pounding of Gaza in 2008-9 as the opener of floodgates. Yael Ben Yefet, a Tel Aviv council member and the subject of a hate-deluge for supporting migrant workers, says that "something snapped" after the Gaza assault, in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed. "It released Israel from the last of its humanitarian constraints," she says. "Now everything is possible."" (thanks Abbas)