Between the Lines (7 Oct): Disloyalty to the Jewish democracy

Headlines: Disloyalty to Judaism and Democracy

  • Netanyahu has decided to support a proposed bill, which would require new citizens to proclaim their   allegiance not just to Israel, as they are required to do right now, but specifically to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”. The law would apply only to non-Jews, and all outlets agree that it was specifically tailored to deny citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs, and wish to become citizens. The coverage is largely neutral, though, focusing on coalition intrigue and the impact on the peace talks. Nobody referred to the irony of this proposal: by specifically targeting minority rights, this new bill is itself disloyal to Israel, both as a democratic state, and as a Jewish state.

Front page of Haaretz, English edition, 7 October
Front page of Haaretz, English edition, 7 October
  • And on the same note: after the first day of school, two Arab students were informed they can no longer attend. The reason: they are out-of-towners, classes are packed, and the local council of the Jewish town wishes to give preference to its own residents. The patronizing and racist tone of the local mayor’s response, however, leaves a very bad taste.
  • Yedioth reports that in return for another brief period of settlement freeze, Netanyahu wants Obama to reaffirm a letter sent by his predecessor, George W. Bush. In this letter Bush acknowledges that the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state will probably undergo “mutually agreed changes” that take account of developments on the ground since 1967, “including already existing major Israeli populations centers” (i.e. settlement blocks).  Yedioth wildly misrepresents this letter as a carte blanche for Israeli annexation and even abridges a direct quote to reinforce this misleading impression.
  • Coverage of the Yom Kippur war protocols enters the third day, with interviews with some prominent actors who are still alive. Yawn.

The Sidelines: We are beyond reproach

  • Netanyahu responds to yet more evidence of IDF soldiers humiliating Palestinian detainees. He condemns this phenomenon and promises a crackdown, yet still insists that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world and treats detainees with respect.
  • A far-right MK doesn’t care if mosques are burned down (Ma’ariv, Hamagazin)
  • The state of Israel, including President Peres and Netanyahu, will officially commemorate a murdered former minister, who called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and for killing innocent civilians in retaliation for terrorist attacks (Ma’ariv).
  • A Jewish MK changes his name so that people would stop thinking he is Druze.
  • Following a ruling by the Supreme Court, the finance minister is planning [Heb] to add, for the first time, Arab towns to the list of places entitled for income tax relief.
  • An Imam was arrested for supporting terrorism, because of “extreme” comments.
  • Two Israeli Arabs may have been wrongly convicted of murder (Yedioth).
  • Only 12% of offenders (in misdemeanors, excluding the most serious crimes such as murder, rape or manslaughter) are indicted. The best haven for criminals? The Judea and Samaria district, which polices Jewish settlers in the West Bank: 6% indictment rate.
  • A prominent Israeli businessmen and philanthropist raises an important point: you cannot talk of dismantling settlement without thanking and caring about the ordinary people who will be evacuated.
  • Turkey cancelled a joint military exercise with Israel and did it with China instead.
  • A blogger was arrested for photographing policemen (Ha’ir)
  • The deportation of the children of illegal migrants is delayed because the holding facility is already packed with Eritrean refugee minors, that are held in jail for some reason (Yedioth).
  • A foreign worker was held prisoner in her employer’s house (Yedioth).
  • Israeli scientists are returning from abroad (Yedioth).
  • Among the guests in the wedding of the son of a Rabbi investigated for sexual harassment: the justice minister, and former president Katzav, on trial for rape (Yedioth).
  • Few [Heb] Ethiopian Jews manage to gain an academic education.
  • Very broad coverage [Heb] of the inequities and flaws of Israel’s SATs.
  • Huge gaps in municipal service between rich and poor areas (Ma’ariv, Hamagazin).
  • A large bookstore chain uses anti-spam law to prevent its workers from organizing (Ha’ir).
  • Implementation of the controversial privatization of state land has begun. The Israel Lands Administration promises to prevent the concentration of large tracts of land in the hands of a few individuals.
  • Ma’ariv’s weekend supplement profiles opposition leader Tzipi Livni, head of the Kadima party. The article focuses on her restrained and low-key opposition style.

The Bottom Lines: The Punishment Fits the Crime

  • Shameful: Holocaust survivors cannot get promised benefits because the finance ministry is withholding funds.
  • Negev Bedouins will be punished twice: they do not have access to health clinics; and if, as result, their children cannot be vaccinated, the families will lose most of their social security benefits, according to a bill proposed by the finance ministry.
  • Lod Arabs are also punished [Heb] twice: they are the main victims of the recent crime wave, as well as the police crackdown that has disrupted life in the city. With paramilitary police talking of war and re-conquering the city, is it any wonder local Arabs are skeptical?