Thursday, October 21, 2010

Actuality--to use the language of Hegel--of the Zionist Idea

"Liberal Israelis fear that these measures may import the Arab-Israeli conflict, which had been largely confined to the territories occupied by Israel beyond the 1948 partition line, into Israel proper. Adding to the psychological barriers, the Lod authorities have erected physical ones. This year they have finished building a wall three metres high to separate Lod’s Jewish districts from its Arab ones. And where the Arab suburbs are cordoned off to prevent their spread, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, encourages building for Jews to proceed with abandon.  His foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on the coalition’s far right, champions building quarters for soldiers’ families in the town. The equally chauvinistic interior minister, Eli Yishai, who heads an ultra-Orthodox party, Shas, grants building permits for religious Jews. A series of gated estates are sprouting across the city reserved for religious Zionists. “These blocks will ensure Lod stays Jewish,” says Haim Haddad, the town’s chief rabbi, one of the first to move into a new estate.  By contrast, old Arab houses are under threat of demolition. Now and again, bulldozers demolish a couple, stressing Arab vulnerability. A study by a liberal Israeli group called Shatil (“Seedling”) estimates that 70% of Arab homes in Lod lack legal status. Many municipal services, such as street lighting and rubbish collection, stop at the boundaries of Arab suburbs. Sixteen kilometres (ten miles) from Tel Aviv, Israel’s richest city, sewage flows through some of Lod’s Arab streets.
Once mixed districts are separating. Ramat Eshkol, a housing estate built for Jewish immigrants in the ruins of Lod’s old Arab city, bulldozed after the 1948 war, is today a squalid slum, housing mostly Arabs. Piles of rubbish make it grimier than refugee camps in Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory 35km to the south. Gangs cruise the streets. The local community centre has been shut for the best part of a decade, says its last employee: the Jewish Agency, a welfare organisation, does not want it “overrun with Arabs”.  Crime is rife. Police have uncovered caches of semi-automatics and grenades. At present Lod’s Arabs aim them largely at each other, waging clan turf wars and carrying out honour crimes. But Jews fear they could yet turn on them. After Lod’s eighth murder this year, Mr Netanyahu said he would stop the city descending into Israel’s “wild west”. He briefly sent in the border guard, Israel’s gendarmerie, reviving Arab fears of dispossession anew. Lod’s 120-strong police is Muslim-free.  Tension and fear increasingly mirror the West Bank. Arab locals refer to the Jewish newcomers as mustawtineen, meaning settlers. They also suspect the municipality of denying them services, to prise them out by stealth. Jews say that “the Arabs” pose a security threat because they could fire mortars at planes landing at Ben Gurion airport nearby. Some suggest raising bands of vigilantes. “I feel safer in Kedumim [a national-religious West Bank settlement],” says an Orthodox Israeli woman who has just moved her family of six into a new national-religious housing block.  Voting patterns reflect the divide. Arabs who once voted for Jewish-led parties now vote for Arab ones, if at all. A growing number veer towards Islamist groups that fill the vacuum left by the municipality with their own services. The most extreme consider co-operation with state institutions to be kufr, or unbelief. Jews, too, are attracted in growing numbers to hard-right parties. In the 2006 election Mr Lieberman’s “Israel is Our Home” took 22% of the vote, twice its national average."