Reuvin Rivlin, the President of Israel
The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other.
With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.
Schlomo Sand, Israeli historian:
He urged the academy to take on this challenge and to eradicate the violence that threatens to scar Israel’s image.
Now, having painfully become aware that I have undergone an adherence to Israel, been assimilated by law into a fictitious ethnos of persecutors and their supporters, and have appeared in the world as one of the exclusive club of the elect and their acolytes, I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew.
Although the state of Israel is not disposed to transform my official nationality from “Jew” to “Israeli”, I dare to hope that kindly philosemites, committed Zionists and exalted anti-Zionists, all of them so often nourished on essentialist conceptions, will respect my desire and cease to catalogue me as a Jew. As a matter of fact, what they think matters little to me, and still less what the remaining antisemitic idiots think. In the light of the historic tragedies of the 20th century, I am determined no longer to be a small minority in an exclusive club that others have neither the possibility nor the qualifications to join.
I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologise. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of antisemitism is only too well known.
That last remark goes to the new "pro-Israel" strain of neo-fascism, as exemplified by the hideous Anders Brevik. Many would like to think that Brevik was a strange, isolated case. Not so.
Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath
(from the video embedded above):
With Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm, pushed by the right, by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who favored the transfer of 250,000 Palestinian citizens from Israel, who favored mass ethnic cleansing. What I found inside Israel/Palestine -- aside from this incredible group of dissidents, aside from these brave Palestinian farmers on the west bank who went out every Friday to protest the occupation, without arms, who were taken off to military prisons at night, put on trial and disappeared for months -- what I found was an entire society, a Jewish Israeli society, where the majority of people were determined to finish the job, were weary of the occupation and wanted a society without Palestinians. That's why they had elected Netanyahu, that's why they were supporting Lieberman, and that's why, every week in the Knesset, there was a new racist or anti-democratic law.
It's why the Israeli Supreme Court authorized the citizenship and entry law, which prevents Palestinians from inside Israel from marrying or reuniting with family members in the West Bank. Menawhile I, an American Jew, solely on the basis of my J-positive blood, could immigrate to Israel tomorrow and marry anyone I wanted, whether a settler in the west bank or someone from inside Israel proper. That was clear apartheid to me.
I saw the Prawer Plan unfold -- a plan, out in the open, which was a blueprint for the forced removal of 80,000 indigenous Bedouin who were citizens of the state of Israel. And I visited the village of Al-Arakeeb, an unrecognized Bedouin village. Spent the night there, and in the morning, watched the village wiped off the map.
While young American Jews are turning against the occupation in droves and developing critical attitudes on the state of Israel, young Jews in Israel are turning more right-wing than ever. And so every year, the Israeli Democracy Institute, which conducts the most comprehensive and authoritative poll of Jewish Israeli attitudes, showed a majority of young Jewish Israelis declaring a refusal to sit in a classroom with an Arab citizen of Israel. Refusing to live next door to an Arab. A majority of Israelis supporting the use of violent force in order to remove non-Jewish African refugees from Israeli society. A plurality of Israelis declaring support for internment camps for Arabs during wartime in Israel. Poll after poll showing rising racist attitudes and militaristic attitudes -- a product of an education system which is cultivating young minds to be good soldiers, not good citizens, and ultimately, the effect of growing up, tragically, in the only active settler/colonial state in the world.
The post-Oslo generation of Israelis is more right-wing than ever, and their attitudes grow more right-wing each year.
I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be called an anti-Semite for printing the thoughts of the President of Israel along with the observations of two historians of Israel. But I will be. Bet on it.
Whenever I write about Israel, I usually receive anonymous messages hurling puerile insults (which hardly qualify as hasbara
). I don't publish these remarks, although perhaps I should. The comments are so outrageous, stupid and hate-filled, publication would serve only to make Israelis look bad. You know what I'm talking about: Unimaginative Nazi-Nazi-Nazi
accusations. It's all utterly predictable stuff, scribbled out by bored young people who don't actually read my posts and who don't seem to take their own messages seriously.
It is well-known that the government of Israel pays for these petty acts of online harassment, usually with scholarships
. As readers know, I'm all in favor of education, and am thus happy to do my part to make academia more affordable.
Perhaps the kids who write these silly messages will attend Tel Aviv University and take a class taught by someone like Schlomo Sand.
(To my "special someone": Please let me know how many angry letters you must send in to this blog in order to get your scholarship. I presume that you have been given a quota. Question: Do the messages have to be published, or are unpublished insults sufficient to please your sponsors? Even though my preference on most days is to write about other topics, I would be happy to publish posts like this one on a more frequent basis, if doing so would help you make your quota. BTW: What's your major?)