Fear and loathing in Israel 2010

I can’t get away from it. Every place I go, everything I read, everything I watch – it’s always there. The racism is always there. Towards Arabs, towards foreign workers, towards Morroccans, Russians, Ashkenazim, Mizrahim.

This isn’t the place I grew up in. Where is that place? Where did it go? Racism has always existed in Israel, but something about the ease in its surfacing, something about how violent it is is different. It’s all out it the open, and nobody cares anymore.

I’m actually really, really scared.

This past year has really been the worst. Everyday there’s something new. And every day I’m more ashamed. I get that shiver of shame down my spine. The shame-chill.

I get that shiver when I hear my Prime Minister say that infiltrators are a strategic threat to Israel’s Jewish character.

I get that shiver when I hear my Interior Minister say that foreign workers will bring hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis, AIDS and drug addiction.

I get that shiver when I hear of municipal rabbis, paid by the state, with my tax shekels, ordering people not to rent property to Arabs.

I get that shiver when I hear that 53% of Jews support urging Arabs to leave Israel, and that 38% support giving Jews more rights than non-Jews.

I get that shiver when I see the Bedouin village of Araqib destroyed time after time in order to build a JNF forest.

I get that shiver when the Foreign Minister proposes a loyalty oath to the Jewish state, and if you don’t want to take it, you can go kiss your citizenship goodbye.

I get that shiver when Michael Ben Ari, a Member of Knesset, the parliament of the only democracy in the Middle East, says after removing the rights of MK Hanin Zoabi, an Arab MK, for her participation in the Gaza flotilla: “We took her rights, and we’re on our way to expelling her from the Knesset. The next one is MK Ahmed Tibi”, who Ben Ari later said “in a normal country would be breathing the grass from underneath it”.

I get that shiver when posh communities in the Negev and the Galilee campaign for legislation to allow the rejection of people who cramp their style, like Arabs.

Yeah, this last year has been the worst.

But today, this morning, when I opened my computer, the chills just wouldn’t stop.

In Ashkelon, someone threw a burning tire into an apartment where five Sudanese were sleeping. Whoever did it wanted to burn some black people. And why not? Look at what our Prime Minister and Interior Minister think of them.

And today, in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, where I live with my wife and two kids, there was a nice quiet little demonstration. Just a nice protest of worried people in their community. People who are trying to make their town a better place, a place where their Jewish girls can roam the streets freely, without meeting… Arabs.

The posters for the nice peaceful demonstration said: “Keeping Bat Yam Jewish. Arabs are taking over Bat Yam, buying and renting apartments from Jews, taking and ruining Bat Yam girls! Around 15,000 Jewish girls have been taken to villages! Jews, come on, let’s win!”

And when the nice peaceful demonstration began, one speaker said “Any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed; any Jew who sells his home to an Arab should be killed.”

And another one said “We are not racist, we are just Jews. The Arabs are coming and taking our daughters. We will not allow it”.

But the real shiver, the longest shame-chill of the day, came when someone on Facebook posted this, just under those words of the poster for the nice, peaceful demonstration:

“With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people.”
-Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Fear and loathing in Israel 2010
Just a little copyediting, and we're ready to go (Photo: Flickr / andre.vanrooyen)