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Monday, 30 April 2018

Jewdas or Judas? - Who’s Betraying Whom?

Keeping it in the family - Jewdas Rebellion Doesn't Extend to Palestine or 'Anti-semitism'

To Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies (or Bored of Deputies) Jewdas are a ‘source of virulent anti-Semitism’. Arkush and his fellow Zionists cannot be considered politically as of sound mind if they really believe this.  Zionism does terrible things to otherwise normal people.  It is nationalist mind rot.
This one tweet demonstrates that Jewdas really don't get it when it comes to the use of 'anti-semitism' as a weapon against the Left
Anyone who falls over backwards to welcome Donald Trump to power, given his anti-Semitic election campaign and at the same time has the audacity to call other Jews ‘anti-Semitic’ is beyond redemption.  It is unfortunate that Corbyn has treated Arkush as if he was bona fide and genuinely concerned about anti-Semitism.  Corbyn has completely failed to understand where this right-wing Tory is coming from. 
One thing Arkush and the Board cannot be accused of is a sense of humour.  These narrow minded petty Jewish nationalists, bigots and small-time businessmen don’t find the antics of Jewdas amusing in the slightest. 
All they can see is that Jewdas don’t sign up to 100% support of Israel and Zionism.  That is the only standard by which they measure people.  Zionism uber alles. Hence they dismiss Jewdas as just another group of ‘Jewish self haters’ – since to Arkush and company only fully fledged racists are mensches.  
Although Jewdas may be seen as outrageous by present day standards they are pretty tame and conservative by the standards of Jews yesterday. They are middle class dilettantes.
For example in the period before the first World War Jewish socialists and anarchists invaded the Great Synagogue in protest at the refusal of the Chief Rabbi to support Jewish workers’ strikes and the unemployed. 
William Fishman describes how on the 26th January 1894 some 500-600 unemployed entered the Great Synagogue seeking an audience with ‘the long suffering Chief Rabbi’.  They were forced to disperse by police armed with truncheons.  ‘The Evening News, among other dailies waxed indignant at the antics of this  mob of foreigners’ in creating a riot.’  ‘It is a natural result of our previous humane treatment of the Jewish immigrant... It is bad enough to have these people coming over to undersell our workers...’(p.209)
Now where did we hear that one?  Oh yes, the Tory press has always concerned about the wages of British workers being undercut by foreigners.  The same Tory press that hates trade unions that strike for higher wages!
In 1904 Jewish anarchists ‘marched in column to the Spitafields Great Synagogue in Brick Lane, smoking or brandishing ham sandwiches, as a gesture of defiance and rejection of their creed.’  (p.259)  It provoked a full scale riot!  Also mentioned is how the socialists (Bundists) ‘pelted a Synagogue which stands adjacent to their club and that they had arranged a concert for the day of fasting... invitations which they had sent to the principal Rabbis!’ (pp. 259-260, East End Jewish Radicals 1875-1914, William Fishman).
Note how Jewish anarchists and socialists expressed their hatred of the Jewish bourgeoisie led by Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, by openly brandishing their rejection of the rituals of the Jewish religion. Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and mourning and they had arranged a concert!  They marched eating ham sandwiches and smoking (also strictly forbidden).
Contrast that with Jewdas whose act of rebellion was to hold an ‘alternative’ Seder at which Corbyn brought the horseradish for the bitter herbs.  I have to confess when I was young those of us who rejected the Orthodox did much the same as the anarchists and defied not aped the rabbinical traditions.  These middle class rebels of Jewdas are indeed tame boys and girls in comparison!
I’m not condemning them they are in their milieu Jewish pranksters with an irreverence that is itself a Jewish tradition.   I myself had a fleeting relationship with Jewdas some years ago in so far as I penned a few articles for their website (which seem to have  disappeared).
I confess to having a sneaking admiration for some of Jewdas’s activities, their anti-racism and Birthwrong but they are middle class rebels on a day trip to the Left. They are defying their parents during the day only to return home in the evening.  It is all a rebellion with the Jewish family. 
Jewdas never once bothers to put this ‘anti-Semitism’ nonsense in the context of  how Zionism uses it as a political weapon against their adversaries (including themselves) nor relating this to the privileged existence of British Jews.  Nor do they ask how it is that Arkush and co. can be so worked up about the ‘anti-Semitism’ of anti-Zionists and the Left and so remarkably unconcerned about the real Jew hatred of Israel’s friends like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, or the Polish Law & Justice Party to say nothing of the anti-Semitic attacks against George Soros as the archetypal Jewish financier.
The privileged nature of British Jewry, which is concentrated in the middle class suburbs of London is taken for granted.  Not once is the class position of British Jewry today related to this concern over ‘anti-Semitism’ and what the latter might actually mean.  Anti-Semitism is a signifier for other things yet there is a poverty of ideas in Jewdas.
The reality is, despite the schmaltzy looking back to the days of Jewish radicalism which they and other Jewish groups engage in, there is no going back.  The large Jewish working class of the East End, in which a multiplicity of radical, socialist and anarchist groups thrived, where there were unemployed groups, 30 Jewish trade unions, anti-fascists, rent strikes and communists cannot now be recreated. The Jewish working class has died and with it the tradition of Jewish radicalism.  All that is left are faint echoes of which Jewdas, is a remnant. 
In days of old Poale Zion was a fragment that mainly existed amongst middle class Jewry.  Its successor calls itself the Jewish Labour Movement at a time when there is no Jewish labour movement.  They consist either of right-wing non-Jews in Progress or anti-socialist Jews who have decided that the Labour Party is too important to leave it to the supporters of Palestine. When there was a Jewish labour movement it was decidedly anti-Zionist.  Todays JLM is a living insult to the memory and traditions of the Jewish working class. When the JLM voted by 92-4% for Owen Smith against Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 I wondered how it was that Corbyn had gained 4%.
Idiot Labour MP Angela Smith can't even spell the word Seder
Like most people I enjoyed the discomfiture of the Board of Deputies over the Jewdas Passover (Seder) meal with Jeremy Corbyn in attendance.  The frothing at the mouth reaction of firstly Guido Fawkes, the Tory Blogger and then Arkush was an added treat, to say nothing of idiot MP Angela Smith who condemned Jeremy Corbyn for attending a ‘Seber’!
Jewdas are not even the equivalent of IfNotNow, a radical  Jewish group in the USA. IfNotNow it was whose picket of the Zionist Organisation of America in 2016 persuaded Steve Bannon, Trump’s fascist friend to stay away.  IFNotNow has undertaken a whole series of pickets and events aimed at targeting American Jewish politicians’ support for Israel over Gaza.  Seven were arrested invading Senator Charles Schumer’s office and 9 were arrested obstructing the entrance to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. Jewdas has done nothing comparable at all.
That was why I was outraged when on Twitter Geoffrey Cohen @geoffreyJewdas extended ‘solidarity and respect to @lucianaberger @ruthsmeeth and @johnmannMP who shared their personal experiences of anti-Semitism in the House of Commons today.  It’s not easy and they must not be dismissed.’
This was in reaction to a tweet from Luciana Berger praising her own ‘bravery’.  This debate, staged by the Tories in order to enable the Labour Right to attack Corbyn and the Labour leadership was a reactionary racist pageant.  We had the obscene spectacle of Tories applauding Labour traitors and ‘anti-Semitism’ was the means by which these racists did it.  Those who had deported and removed citizenship from the Windrush children were now overcome with tears at the ‘anti-Semitism’ that Smeeth and Berger had experienced. 
This debate and the nauseating speeches of Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann led directly to the expulsion of Black anti-racist activist Mark Wadsworth.
I messaged Geoff twice but he was too arrogant to respond, hence this post.  Jewdas clearly have no sense or understanding of how ‘anti-Semitism’ has been used, not least against Jews like myself and Jackie Walker.  Indeed Jewdas have attacked Jackie Walker, a Black-Jewish socialist in terms not dissimilar to the vile racist abuse she has suffered at the hands of the JLM and their supporters.   They have also attacked Ken Livingstone for speaking the truth to power.
Smeeth and Berger are despicable racists. The emails they have received have largely been abusive not anti-Semitic.  This has been a consequence of their own support for Israel’s murderous behaviour.  I am more concerned about the 40+ deaths of unarmed Palestinians in the West Bank or the incarceration for 8 months of a 16 year old girl Ahed Tamimi than Smeeth being told she is a racist scumbag.
Judging by the 10 messages Smeeth read out only one was explicitly anti-Semitic.  Whilst I don’t condone the use of anti-Semitic language, the real crime is her support for Israel’s apartheid policies not the abuse she has received. Smeeth was a paid worker with BICOM, the Israeli propaganda group.  She is a Zionist shill not a victim of anti-Semitism.
Jewdas’s comments fit squarely with Jewish privilege and exceptionalism.  What matters is not Palestinians under the heel of a state which calls itself ‘Jewish’ and which the British Jewish leadership helps to support but ‘anti-Semitism’.   Pass the sick bag Alice.
As for praising John Mann (who is not Jewish) that must obviously be one of those parodies for which Jewdas is justly famous.  Mann is perhaps the most odious of all Labour’s MPs and he has stiff competition.  I copy below the experiences of Amira Hass at Angela Smith’s ‘seber’.
Tony Greenstein
The organizers define themselves as anti-Zionist Jews, or non-Zionist, or just Jews; most of them didn't know that Corbyn was invited and when he came he didn't act like the leader nor they like the led

Amira Hass (Hackney, London)
Apr 06, 2018 9:33 AM
The Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn attending an alternative Passover seder held by the radical Jewish group Jewdas in Hackney, London. Guido Fawkes
HACKNEY, LONDON  On Tuesday morning, at 7:30 A.M. Gaza time or 5:30 A.M. in London, I awoke to a headline on the popular Israeli news site Ynet: “Britain: Corbyn attends event of group that called for Israel’s destruction.” Given that I had left that very event seven and a half hours earlier, I can say wholeheartedly that the headline should have read: “Corbyn brings the bitter herbs to alternative seder in London.”
Jeremy Corbyn grows horseradish in his garden allotment. Slivers of the pungent root he brought were added to the maror, the bitter herbs, waiting in white plastic cups on round tables in the hall below St. Peter’s Church de Beauvoir, Hackney. These bitter herbs, a glass of whiskey before (begging pardon from my Muslim friends and Jewish friends who keep kosher) and songs in my father’s tongue, Yiddish, destroyed the flu germs that had ruined part of my vacation.
I lost the chance to publish the breaking news about the Labour leader’s healing horseradish because the organizers of the event explicitly asked the 100 participants not to tweet, report in real time on social media, or take photos. Last Monday’s was a private event, and nobody wanted paparazzi to pop up. Even so, somebody was evidently taking photos surreptitiously. Since the photos reached a right-wing British blogger, of all people, who immediately uploaded them to the internet with his distorted interpretation, one would assume that the unknown photographer was a mole planted in advance with a contrarian agenda. In the coming hours, the inaccurate, selective information that the blogger disseminated drove headlines hostile to Corbyn, in social and formal media, occupying more cyberspace than had been devoted to the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza a few days earlier.
The blog claimed that Corbyn had contributed beet roots to the seder; a simple journalistic inquiry would have shown the roots’ color to be very different. The blogger also said he had a recording of people present at the meal booing when the names of two leaders on the Board of Deputies of British Jews were mentioned (or, as the seder participants put it, “Bored of Deputies”). It is true that there were catcalls, but it’s only partially true. There was much longer booing when Ken Livingstone’s name came up – a former mayor of London and Labourite who had been suspended from the party after saying that Hitler supported Zionism.
The people behind the catcalls and the organizers of the seder define themselves as anti-Zionist Jews, or non-Zionist, or just Jews. They belong to the Jewdas Group – Radical Voices for an Alternative Diaspora, founded in 2005 by young people seeking to reflect socialist-minded Judaism in independent ways, and seeing the Bund as a model.
They seek to free themselves of the identification of Jews with Israel, without conceding their right to criticize Israel’s policy against the Palestinians. They spell the organization’s name Jewdas to remove any doubt that they are Jews, but it’s pronounced like Judas, the ultimate symbol of betrayal in Christian tradition. That symbol nourished 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitism.
The choice of a name that sounds like the most hated symbol in the eyes of the group’s non-Jewish environment suffices to grasp Jewdas’ nature – provocative, delighting in tongue-in-cheek statements and in needling history and mythology and religion. Its members, atheist and observant and all that’s in between, hang around in radical leftist and pro-Palestinian circles and flaunt their Judaism proudly, including by wearing yarmulkes and Stars of David.
In 2014, Jewdas published a guide for how to criticize Israel while also being aware that anti-Semitism exists and avoiding the trap of anti-Semitic stereotypes and prejudices. In September 2016, it published a Facebook post urging that Livingstone be sent into space “for his own good and everybody else’s, because he won’t shut up, so we are sending him to space where nobody will hear him.” This was interpreted by non-Jews as a call to oust him from the party.
Jewdas members participate in demonstrations against the extreme right and neo-Nazis, Islamophobia and economic austerity. They party a lot, because being Jewish is fun, and have taken trips to former centers of Diaspora Jewry like Andalusia and Marseilles in what they call “Birthwrong” – as a counter to the Zionist “Birthright” trips to Israel.
Most of the people at the alternative seder were young; many belonged to the LGBT community. Some wouldn’t be considered Jews under traditional Jewish law. Two – a man and a woman – are studying for the rabbinate. Some work as cantors despite not having been formally trained. One couple, who looked Indian, saw the gathering as they walked by and were invited to join, since the Haggadah says, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”
The seder included a prayer for the release of prisoners and the return of refugees. Participants sang a Yiddish hymn whose author, Shmerke Kaczerginski, dedicated it to the young fighters of the Vilna Ghetto; one elderly participant reminded all that the Warsaw Ghetto revolt began on Pesach eve. The Jewdas Haggadah also included Bella Ciao, an Italian partisan song in Yiddish translation. Also included was Rachel Bloom’s poem “remember that we suffered,” and its immortal words: “have we mentioned hitler?” In addition, they sang “The Internationale” in English and Hebrew. Corbyn joined in, or at least lip-synched.
They enacted a neoliberal dialogue in English between Pharaoh and his CEO over how to increase Egypt’s profits. The answer: Stop paying the workers. Corbyn laughed with everybody else. Each table was asked to propose ways of fighting Pharaoh. One table parodied a purist, isolationist left. Corbyn laughed in open delight. Others said humor alone wouldn’t topple capitalism; the slaves had to form a union that would declare a general strike in Egypt.
There were good jokes and bad ones, including what seemed (at least to older participants) like excessive and infantile use of the word “fuck.” The price was five British pounds per person, not including wine, grape juice or matzah, which everyone was supposed to bring for themselves. The church was paid 230 pounds for use of its hall. One member worked for three days to prepare vegan food for everyone, using Persian recipes she learned at home.
Most participants, including several organizers, didn’t know that one member of the group had invited Corbyn; they were surprised when he arrived with his wife Laura. He didn’t act like the leader and they didn’t act like the led.
Corbyn said the blessing over Elijah’s Cup, as written in the Jewdas Haggadah: “Legend has it that the prophet Elijah will come at some point to announce the coming of the messiah. We fill up the cup and open the door just in case Eli is outside waiting. As radical Jews, we understand ‘the Messiah’ as ‘the messianic age’ or ‘redemption’ or ‘revolution.’ So let’s fill this cup with the hope that socialism and revolution will be upon us soon.”
The seder table also had a Miriam’s Cup, “to remind ourselves of the women whose stories are often hidden from the seder, and everyone who is oppressed in a patriarchal society.” And there was a Geoffrey’s Cup – named for the group’s imaginary spokesman “Geoffrey Cohen” – “as a symbol of our struggle with the Jewish establishment.”
Last year’s Haggadah included a “prayer against the state of Israel” by “Geoffrey,” which urged, “Please god smash the state of Israel. Smash it in the abundance of your love and judge it.” Jewdas members believe this is what led the blogger to assert that it called for Israel’s destruction, and thus to suggest that Corbyn’s participation in the seder was evidence of either anti-Semitism or blindness to it.
According to the British media, however, the blogger based himself on a December 2017 tweet which said, “Israel is a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be properly disposed of.” Of this quote, one Jewdas member said, “That was surely some nonsense that somebody tweeted in anger.”
Tuesday morning, Corbyn’s participation in this non-Zionist Jewish seder was indeed depicted as further evidence of his insensitivity to anti-Semitism. As evidence it was mentioned that this dissident Jewish group even dared to claim that the recent organized protest against anti-Semitism in Labour stemmed less from a desire to fight anti-Semitism than from a desire to oust Labour’s elected leader because he’s a socialist and supports Palestinian rights.
But later in the day, the tone changed, as people stopped relying on the blogger and instead investigated the details for themselves and studied Jewdas’ history. The organization received additional donations, and one person wrote on its Facebook page, “I had never heard of Jewdas before Monday but now  I think I’ve found my people.”

Gideon Levy on Israeli denial: ‘Anyone who raises a question is demolished’

There are 2 religions in Israel - Zionism and Security


Gideon Levy is a prophetic voice in Israel.  One of the main columnists on Ha'aretz and a legend in his own time.  Together with Amira Hass he provides the main opposition in Israel to the march of hysterical racism and Apartheid.  During the  2014 attack on Gaza he needed a bodyguard to travel around Israel.

Gideon's address was not a sophisticated analysis of Zionism so much as an empirical description of what Zionism has done to Israel.  He describes, correctly, Zionism as a totalitarian ideology.

Perhaps what comes across most clearly is the conviction of Gideon Levy that Israel is a racist, totalitarian society that cannot change of its own accord.  Israeli Jews are too comfortable, they don't or care about the Occupation 10 miles away and they are proof of Martin Luther King's conviction in Letter from a Birmingham Gaol is that the privileged will never change of their own accord.

Tony Greenstein


A week ago Gideon Levy spoke to the Israel lobby conference in Washington. Many people have shared the video of the Haaretz columnist, so I’m providing a transcript below of key passages.
Outside pressure is all that will change Israel. BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is the only game in town. The Jewish lobby in the U.S. is the most important force in supporting Israel. The shameful Israeli propaganda over the attacks on the Tamimi family, the protesters in Nabi Saleh, shows how desperate Israel is, and maybe that offers hope.

Zionism is a totalitarian ideology that brooks no dissent. Everyone kept saying, Israeli soldiers could change things by talking about the occupation, but when Breaking the Silence came forward it was crushed. “Anyone who raises a question is immediately erased, demolished.” And the media play right along with the propagandists.

The two-state solution is over, the embassy decision proves it, and international friends should be pushing for equal rights for the two peoples between the river and the sea.

On the importance of American pressure to counter the Israel lobby:

Maybe you are holding the key for any kind of change, any kind of hope. Because the hope for change within Israeli society is so limited, it’s non-existent. People like you can really be a game-changer. Some of my ex-best friends are on their way now to the real thing, to the AIPAC conference, which will start on this weekend, politicians, journalists, to what I call as the annual drug dealers conference. They will discuss how many more drugs will they send to the Israel occupation-addicted state. How much more friendship will they express, and how much more money and weapons will they supply. And I can tell you in the United States, as an Israeli, we don’t have a bigger enemy than the Jewish lobby, we don’t have a bigger enemy for justice, for peace, for equality than those who think that if you supply the drug addict with more drugs, you are his friend. That if you support him blindly and automatically whatever he does, you are a friend.

No my friend, those are not friends, those are enemies, and I can’t tell you how happy and proud I am to be here today and not there tomorrow.

The totalitarian nature of Zionism inside Israeli society:

Zionism is one of the two religions of Israel. And as any religion, you can’t question it. The second religion is obviously the religion of security. Anyone in Israel who dares to raise any kind of question marks is immediately perceived as some kind of traitor.

We are getting it with the milk of our mothers… It’s very hard to understand from the outside, how an ideology became part of the DNA. How an ideology became something that must be taken for granted. [Growing up] I know what I thought about those very very few who claimed they were not Zionists or god forbid, anti-Zionists. They were the Satans, even though they were Jews and Israelis.
I don’t recall one example on earth where an ideology is so totalitarian, is so saint, is so holy, that you have no right to put any kind of doubts, question marks, nothing, not about the past, not about the future, not about the present. Nothing. It’s unbelievable when you live in a state that where if you declare you don’t accept this ideology, you are not part of the place, you are not part of the society. You have no place there. “Go to Gaza, go to Damascus. Don’t stay here.”

When it comes to Zionism, there is no difference in Israel between left and right. When it comes to occupation, which is part and parcel of Zionism, there is no meaningful difference between left and right…. The difference is only by rhetorics.

Israel will not change if Benjamin Netanyahu is removed as prime minister. There is no light around the corner.

By the end of the day when you judge the real policy, not the rhetorics, yes Labor and the left are having much more sympathetic rhetorics… Shimon Peres… didn’t stop talking about putting an end to the occupation… He didn’t stop talking about it’s not democratic and it’s not justice that one people governs another people, beautiful beautiful ideas that Benjamin Netanyahu and those rightwingers would have never said. But Nobel prize winner Shimon Peres is the founding father of the settlements project. So what do we get out of this nice rhetorics except showing a nice face of Israel and doing the very very very same crimes.

When it comes to the basic, Israel is really united…

Occupation is off the table in Israel. Nobody talks about it, nobody discusses it, nobody is concerned about the occupation…  It’s like the rain, like the sun.. Some like it, some like it less. But nobody thinks that anything can be done about it. It doesn’t bother us so much, that’s the truth. It’s only a half hour from our homes, but who hears about it and who cares about it. And the crimes are on a daily basis.

The Israeli media are in the tank on Israeli propaganda about the Tamimi family.

The media hardly covers them, and if they cover them, it will always be according to the Zionist narrative. A terrorist of 12. A girl of 14 with scissors in her hands as an existential threat to the state of Israel. A girl who is slapping a soldier as someone who deserves life sentence. Not less than this! A girl that one hour before her cousin was shot in the head 50 meters from her home. So now the Israeli army claims that this was fabricated. I mean, even the Israeli propaganda lost its shame.

The Israeli claims about the Tamimi family show that the propaganda has never been so desperate:
When Israel dares, dares to claims that this child Mohammed Tamimi whom I met a few days after he was injured, he lost half of his brain, that he fabricated his injury, then you see that Israel is really desperate. If Israel needs this kind of level of propaganda, if Israel is getting so low, in denying shooting in the head of a child of 15– and claiming that he falls from his bicycle– then you know that things are getting worse. Maybe it’s a  hope for a new beginning, but right now look how low does it get there.
No society lives in as much denial as Israel

It’s totalitarian– no society lives in as much denial as Israel.

And all those are passing Israeli society as if nothing is happening. No question marks. Very little moral doubts if at all. A coverup. Living in denial like never before. I cannot think about one society that lives in such denial like the Israeli society, and again it includes left and right. Except of the very devoted extreme left, activists, let’s remember them. But they are really small figures and totally totally delegitimized…. The occupation must go on, Ahed Tamimi must stay in jail forever, and the crimes must continue because we have no other choice.

There are three core values of Israeli culture that enforce the totalitarian discourse.

The first value: we are the chosen people. Secular and religious will claim it. Even if they don’t admit it they feel it. If we are the chosen people, who are you to tell us what to do.

The second very deeply rooted value: we are the victims, not only the biggest victims, but the only victims around…. I don’t recall one occupation in which the occupier present himself as the victim. Not only the victim– the only victim….

There is a third very deep rooted value. This is the very deep belief again everyone will deny it but if you scratch under the skin of almost any Israeli you will find it there, the Palestinians are not equal human beings like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life like us. They were born to kill, they are cruel, they are sadists, they have no values, no manners… This is very, very deep rooted in Israeli society.

And maybe that’s the key issue. As long as this continues, nothing will move. We are so much better than them, so much more developed than them, more human than them.

All our dreams will never become true so long as this core conviction will not change.

Breaking the Silence should have been an “earthquake” in Israeli society. But it was crushed.
Anyone who raises a question is immediately erased, demolished. Look at the Jewish lobby so called in Israel, and Breaking the Silence. For years we were dreaming of the day that  soldiers would stand up and tell the truth. Not Gideon Levy the liar the traitor… no, soldiers who have committed those crimes will just come and testify about what they had been doing.

And here it came. Over 1000 testimonies, of soldiers who in a very brave way gave their testimonies about what they have been doing in the occupied territories thoughout the years. This should have been an earthquake in any healthy society. It’s our sons. But what happened? Nothing. Breaking the Silence was immediately delegitimized by the establishment with the typical collaboration of the Israeli media. I’m afraid to say that Breaking the Silence is crushed today. And this was just one example.

Israeli society has a very clear intention to crush any type of criticism, from within or outside.

The occupation is not temporary.

It was never meant to be temporary… There was never a statesman in an influential position, prime minister or so, who really meant to put an end to the occupation. None of them. Some of them wanted to gain time in order to strengthen the occupation… Some others wanted to be perceived by the world, to be hugged by the world, as people of peace. But none of them had the intention to put an end to the occupation. How do I know it? Israel has never stopped building settlements. And anyone who builds one house in the occupied territories has no intention whatsoever to put an end to the occupation.

Israelis have it too good to even think about occupation. And the brainwashing is too deep for the facts to get through.

I am very very skeptical about change from within Israel because life in Israel is far too good, and brainwash system is far too efficient. To have a dialogue today with most Israelis citizens is even for me an impossible job…. Brainwash is so deep and the denial is so deep and the ignorance. They know nothing. Anyone in this hall knows so much more about the occupation than any average Israeli, including those who served there in the army… So to expect a change from within this society, when restaurants are packed, when life is beautiful, when there is hardly terror in Israel… The only violent attacks are mainly now in the occupied territories… Tel Aviv is living a very, very peaceful secure life. To expect this society to stand up and say, No more– out of what? What incentive? The hopes for change from within Israeli society are really very, very minimal…. People like me, my only hope is from people like you.

Trump’s move of the embassy to Jerusalem is good news in the end, for it removes any illusions about the U.S. role.

It means that the United States has declared officially the death of the two state solution… The United States has declared officially what we have known for many years, the United States is not and cannot be a fair mediator…. United States is officially a friend of the occupation and only of the occupation… For the long run I see it as an achievement, end of the masquerade, end of the lip services. And I’m very grateful, you’ll be surprised, to Donald Trump, who brought us there.

Activists should fight the Zionist project on three fronts. First, stand up for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against efforts to criminalize it.

One must be is to fight this unbelievable process of criminalization of criticizing Israel. This must stop and we shouldn’t give up… When they call you anti-Semites– they get paralyzed. If you call someone an anti-Semite in Europe he is paralyzed, and they take advantage of it in a very manipulative way. Don’t let them! You should be proud in raising your voice. BDS right now is the only game in town. BDS is a legitimate tool. Israel is using it, by calling the world to boycott Hamas, to boycott Iran. You have the full right not to buy products from sweat shops in South Asia…. What does it mean that you should apologize for boycotting something that deserves boycott?

We have one  proof why BDS is the right thing to do. Look how Israel gets nervous about BDS, and if they get so nervous about it you can know that is the right way… Those sentences very soon will become a violation of Israeli law. You are not allowed to call people to boycott Israel, but let’s challenge them.

Two and three– counter Israeli propaganda.

The second challenge is to try and tear especially in this country the lie that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. We need it desperately… It’s all about telling people the truth. A state that possesses one of the most brutal tyrannies on earth cannot be called a democracy, period.
The last lie I suggest to you to fight is the lie that all this is temporary…. ’48 never stopped. Let’s remember it. It’s the same policy, those are the same methods. Same brainwash, some explanations and excuses. As long as this continues, no one can claim that this is temporary. The occupation is there to stay.

The two state solution is over, and we must struggle for equal rights, between river and sea.

For many years I was a great supporter of the two state solution…. I thought the two state solution is a reasonable and achievable solution. Total justice will never be achieved in this part of the world, and I thought that this would be a relatively fair, just solution…

The very dramatic fact, today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, there are exactly 50/50: Six million Palestinians and six milli
on Jews… It is roughly half and half, two peoples equal right now. If someone thinks that one people can dominate another people, and let’s get back to Zionism… the basic of Zionism is that there is one people which is privileged over the other. That is the core. This cannot go on. And if it goes on, it has only one name… apartheid.

Even if it sounds now like a utopia, even if it sounds now like something unthinkable, it’s time for us now to change the discourse, it’s time for us to talk about equal rights, about one person one vote. Let’s challenge Israel. Israel will say no, then we can officially declare Israel as an apartheid state.
We shouldn’t give up… I truly believe that Palestinians and Israelis, Palestinian Jews, can live together. We tried it in the past. It is being tried today in all kinds of small frameworks. We can really live together, believe me, I’d rather have a Palestinian prime minister than Yair Lapid or Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the question period, Levy said that the occupation would not last even for a few months without American support. And that Israel would change if it is truly isolated by Europe, so that Israelis face travel restrictions. Yes, outside pressure will at first unite Israel, but that will soon change.

I can assure you after the first rhetorics of, we are all united against the world, they hate us, then rationality will come into the picture.

When Israelis will be prevented from going to Macy’s for their shopping, or to Galeries Lafayette in Paris for their shopping, this is the day that the occupation will be over.

Israel’s Fascist Right is on the march


The Mainstreaming of Israel's Alt-Right

This is an interesting article by Newsweek of all publications.  To listen to the nonsense coming out of racist Labour politicians like Emily Thornberry, Joan Ryan et al, you would think that Israel was the embodiment of western democratic values in the Middle East.  The 'villa in the jungle' to borrow the racist phrase of the last Labour Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.
Yair Lapid is leader of Yesh Atid, a centrist party tipped to be the second largest party in the next Knesset
The reality is that Israel is the most right-wing, racist society on the planet.  It is a society where hatred of Arabs, Africans and non-Jews is visceral.  What is worse is that this hatred is encouraged by a far-Right government which includes a 'Justice Minister' Ayelet Shaked who has advocated genocide.  

This is the consequence of Israel being an ethno-nationalist society, a society based on only part of its population.  A society obsessed with racial purity, because being Jewish in Israel is a national/racial not a religious category.  In Israel race is defined on the basis of religion, something which often confuses people.  To make matters worse the Israeli Jewish population is itself divided between those who define themselves as Israeli first or Jewish first with a majority saying Jewish first.  Not that this matters to Israel's Palestinians because they are excluded from the tent and confined to the margins.
Although the article is well worth reading on the growing influence of Israel’s neo-Nazi far Right although it doesn’t deal with the reason why Israel’s alt-Right is growing so fast.  When Lehava calls for preventing Arab-Jewish relationships they are going with the grain of society.  There is broad consensus in the whole of society that Jewish-Arab relationships are a danger to society, because a Jewish state cannot tolerate large numbers of mixed couples.  That is the nature of the racism of Israeli society.  Mixed relationships, mishlinge, were also a problem for the Nazi state and this one topic consumed most of the time at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 which was devoted to planning the Final Solution.

Lapid is a Zionist consensus, from 'left' to 'right'.  So Yair  Lapid, of the secular centrist Yesh Atid declared that It bothers me, I admit. I say that if tomorrow my son came to me and said, ‘Dad, I want you to meet Rona, not Rina, and she’s Russian Orthodox or Catholic and we’re getting married and the kids won’t be Jewish’ — would that bother me? It would bother me greatly.'

Israel is a Jewish state, or more accurately a State of the Jews and the Jews are defined as a Jewish Nation.  What that means is that Israel consideres itself a state, not just of its own Jewish citizens but all Jews, wherever they live.  One of the central tasks of Zionism is the 'ingathering of the exiles'

What Israel is not is a state of all of its citizens.  That is why it’s an apartheid state.  Non-Jewish citizens do not have equal right with Jewish citizens.  That is why there is no Israeli nationality but a central Jewish nationality and over 130 other nationalities.

Because a Jewish state means a permanent Jewish majority, the idea of  mixed marriages and a dilution of the primary race is seen as a threat to the state itself.  That is why Lehava thugs patrol areas of Jerusalem unmolested by the Police attacking Arab males who are seen as likely to establish social or personal relations with Jewish women.
The suggestion that Israel can do nothing about Lehava, as the article states, is for the birds.  The article quotes Israeli authorities as saying that ‘there is little they can do to stop Gopstein—that he is protected by free speech.’  Utter nonsense. Israel's Palestinians are closely monitored on social media and any threats they make result in instant arrest.  Of course Jewish abuse is not punished.

For example Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian Israeli poet, was imprisoned and is now under house arrest, because she mentioned ‘resistance’ in an online poem.  The reason Gopstein has not been prosecuted and gaoled is because he is Jewish.  Even when he threatened to burn down churches and mosques he was not arrested. See for example VATICAN CALLS ON A-G TO INDICT EXTREMIST JEWISH LEADER FOLLOWING ENDORSEMENT OF BURNING CHURCHES

Raed Salah, leader of the Northern Muslim League, was convicted of racial hatred and gaoled for 9 months because it was held he made a comparison between Israel’s behaviour and the Jewish blood libel, a comparison which incidentally he disputed.

Nonetheless, despite its weaknesses this article should be read by people as it outlines very well where Israel is now heading.

I also attach an older article beneath it from the Jerusalem Post, when Tzipi Hotovely, who is now acting Foreign Minister of Israel, invited Benzi Gopstein into the Knesset to address a Committee on the 'problem' of combating inter-marriage.  Racism in Israel starts from the top down.

Tony Greenstein
 
By Yardena Schwartz On 3/7/18 at 9:50 AM
American-born rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, in Jerusalem, where he was known for his extreme views, such as expulsion of all Palestinians on the West Bank. He was assassinated in New York City. David H. Wells/Corbis via Getty
Updated | On November 5, 1990, at a Marriott Hotel on Manhattan’s East Side, Rabbi Meir Kahane had just taken his seat at a Zionist conference when El Sayyid Nosair, a 34-year-old Egyptian-American, shot him in the neck. Hours later, the Brooklyn-born rabbi—known as the most racist politician in Israeli history—was pronounced dead.

Most Israelis didn’t mourn. Two years before, the Israeli government had banned his political party, Kach, for its anti-Arab platform. Kahane had called for the forced expulsion of the millions of Arabs living in Israel, whom he often referred to as “dogs.” As the Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi puts it, “Kahane turned his political agenda into a kind of Jewish jihad with an explicitly religious, apocalyptic message.”
Yet 27 years after Kahane’s murder, on another November evening, hundreds of Israelis gathered in West Jerusalem to commemorate the anniversary of his death. It was one of 25 such events held throughout Israel that week. At the podium, Jewish extremists took turns praising the rabbi, calling him a righteous prophet whose politics were ahead of his time.
Among those in attendance: Kahane’s prodigy and successor, Ben Zion “Bentzi” Gopstein. In 2005, he established Lehava, a nonprofit whose Hebrew name translates to “preventing assimilation in the Holy Land.” Gopstein’s group sends patrols of young men to “defend” Jewish women from Arabs. It also runs a hotline for people to report Jews having interfaith relationships, or renting or selling apartments to Israeli Arabs. Lehava has grown into the largest radical right-wing organization in Israel, with chapters in every city and more than 10,000 registered members—most of them young adults and teenagers. The group spreads its message and recruits members in schools, city streets and community centers.
Though Gopstein operates under the guise of fighting assimilation—a cause familiar to many American Jews—his critics argue that mission is just a front. Lehava, they say, is as dangerous as Kach. And like Kahane before him, Gopstein is rallying people around the goal of expelling Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank.
Benzi Gopstein, Israeli leader of the extreme right-wing movement Lehava, poses on August 11, 2015, in Jerusalem. Israel police had questioned him after he condoned torching churches amid an uproar over hate crimes, including the deadly firebombing of a Palestinian home. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty
But unlike Kahane’s views, which stood on the margins of Israeli society, Gopstein’s perspective has become mainstream—a shift, analysts say, that reflects Israelis’ dwindling faith in the prospect of peace with the Palestinians.
Critics argue that Israeli lawmakers have also enabled Lehava, even as they’ve demonized left-leaning human rights groups. Yet Israeli authorities say there is little they can do to stop Gopstein—that he is protected by free speech, and because his group is a nongovernmental organization, it has avoided the legal restrictions placed on Kahane’s political party. “Lehava is doing this very smartly,” says Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler, a law professor at Hebrew University and a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank.
But the group’s critics aren’t giving up. Last fall, the state attorney’s office announced its intention to indict Gopstein on charges of incitement to violence, racism and terrorism, along with obstruction of justice, pending a prehearing. (The charges all relate to statements he’s made in recent years. Among them: that Palestinian men who flirt with Jewish women deserve to be beaten.) Gopstein is still awaiting his prehearing. In the meantime, to the dismay of his distractors, he is a free man, with a large and growing following.
"The Israeli army, the Shin Bet and Mossad, they know how to deal with Muslim terror,” says Gadi Gvaryahu, the chairman of Tag Meir, one of the organizations battling Lehava. “Yet the state of Israel doesn’t know how to deal with right-wing extremists. People like Bentzi Gopstein are more dangerous to Israel than Muslim terror.”
 ‘You Can’t Coexist With Cancer’
Several months ago, I met Gopstein in the lobby of a Jerusalem hotel, and he appeared giddy. A Jewish teenager had just left her Arab lover. Gopstein had been calling her for months, urging her to do so. Now, she finally had—because she was pregnant with his child. Gopstein says this was important because now the baby would be raised Jewish instead of Muslim.
Since founding Lehava, he says, he has “rescued” at least 1,000 girls like her. And in Jerusalem, Lehava activists are known for harassing—and sometimes beating—Palestinian men. Gopstein’s work has sometimes gotten him into trouble. Weeks earlier, police detained him, along with 14 members of Lehava, for threatening Arabs who were dating Jewish women. “Every time they arrest me, more people join my cause,” he says, smiling. In 2016, he was questioned by police after calling Christians bloodsucking vampires who should be expelled from the country. In 2014, he was detained after Lehava members set fire to a joint Jewish and Arab school in Jerusalem. The group also sprayed graffiti on the school’s walls. "You can't coexist with cancer,” it read.
In each of those cases, Gopstein was released the same day. He has never been indicted either. The last time Israeli authorities put him behind bars was in 1994, when the government banned Kahane’s political party. (The ban was in response to a massacre committed by another Kahane prodigy, Baruch Goldstein, who opened fire in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, killing 29 Muslim worshippers and wounding 125 others.)
The Justice Ministry refused to comment on Gopstein’s case while the investigation is underway. “He’s always been found not guilty because they have nothing,” says Gopstein’s attorney, Itamar Ben Gvir. “They don’t even have one example of Bentzi telling people to commit an attack. Praising Baruch Goldstein [which Gopstein has done] isn’t illegal. You can think it’s an awful thing to say. You can think it’s a wonderful thing to say. That’s a democracy.”
Yet Gopstein’s actions, critics say, speak to his real agenda: anti-Palestinian hatred. “Gopstein wants us to believe that he’s just worried about the future of the Jewish religion, but he’s not,” says Gvaryahu. “We never heard him fight against assimilation in the United States, and here the intermarriage rate is really insignificant.” Indeed, just 2 percent of Jewish Israelis have a non-Jewish spouse, compared with 44 percent in the U.S.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, has a unit for Jewish terrorism, but a spokesman tells me it’s the police’s responsibility to deal with Lehava. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the local cops have been trying to prevent and respond to violence committed by Gopstein’s activists, but there is only so much they can do. “Police operations take place all year round in connection with Lehava,” Rosenfeld says, speaking in October, shortly after Gopstein’s latest detention. “Those suspects were released after significant evidence was presented against them. The police recommendation was to continue holding them. But at the end of the day, the decision made by the court, unfortunately, is what it is.”
Gopstein’s critics argue that Israel should treat him the same way it treats his Palestinian counterparts. But Israel has a long history of handling Jewish radicals differently. In 1984, the authorities determined that a Jewish militant group was plotting to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s holiest shrines. A court convicted 25 Jewish settlers of waging an underground campaign of violence against Arabs in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. All were soon released, except for three who were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison—but they wound up serving less than seven years. Jewish settlers cheered their return home. And they weren’t the only ones. Many of the Jewish extremists arrested in the 1980s and 1990s quickly re-entered Israeli society, becoming settlement leaders and political activists.
Israeli supporters of Lehava chant slogans outside the wedding hall where an Arab-Israeli man and a Jewish woman got married on August 17, 2014, in the Israeli coastal city of Rishon Letzion. GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty
More recently, in 2005, a Jewish extremist went to prison for stabbing marchers at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade. In 2015, three weeks after his release, he stabbed a 16-year-old Israeli girl to death at the same event. Gopstein and Lehava activists protested against that parade, calling it an “abomination,” and have continued to protest it every year since. “Israel should put much more into fighting Bentzi,” argues Gvaryahu. “It’s about time.”
Yet Gopstein’s supporters believe the state has treated him too harshly, protecting free speech for Arabs and not for Jews. “What they’re accusing Bentzi of, you can say the same about the Arabs,” says Ben Gvir, Gopstein’s attorney. “Thousands of Arabs praise Palestinian terrorists, and no one is indicting them.”
Human rights groups call that argument absurd. Israel has imprisoned 470 Palestinians for social media incitement since 2015. Among them: the Arab-Israeli poet Dareen Tatour, who was arrested in October 2015, jailed for three months and remains under house arrest for publishing a poem and two Facebook status updates, which her attorneys claim Israeli authorities translated improperly. Tatour was indicted for incitement to violence and support of a terrorist organization.
Some, such as Shwartz-Altshuler, say this disparity is not caused by racism or bias but by outcomes: Because Arabs commit more terrorist attacks against Jews than the other way around, they’re more likely to be convicted of incitement. “The fear is that those incitements on Facebook in Arabic will make someone who sees them take a knife and go stab someone,” says the law professor. “On the other hand, Israeli authorities are well aware of the dangers that movements like Lehava pose to Israeli society”—and yet perhaps less concerned they’ll lead to deadly violence.
But are they doing enough to contain that danger? Jewish extremists have committed some of the most horrific crimes in Israeli history—from Goldstein’s massacre to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister who championed peace with the Palestinians. His assassination—by Yigal Amir, a Jewish radical—came after months of right-wing Jewish incitement against Rabin and his peace efforts. It remains the only assassination of an Israeli head of state in the country’s history.
This poster is indicative of the racism in Israeli elections - a government party promises to campaign against inter-racial sex and relationships
“The fact that Kach was considered a terror organization means that any group stemming from it is essentially also a terrorist group,” argues Fady Khoury, an attorney at Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Unlike the U.S., Israel has no constitution—and so no fundamental right to free speech. Instead, Israeli courts protect this freedom on a case-by-case basis. “The courts are very careful when it comes to pressing criminal charges against people over speech,” says Shwartz-Altshuler. And when it comes to people like Gopstein, the professor claims, “the Supreme Court is more afraid of government censorship than of what Lehava is saying to Israeli society.”
Ultimately, Israel may not have the power to stop Gopstein, since he is not a politician and has not committed any known attacks. “Kahane was not banned from speaking outside the Knesset,” notes Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and a former member of Kahane’s Jewish Defense League in New York. “A democracy, especially a democracy under siege from constant war and terror, needs to walk a fine line between allowing freedom of speech and ensuring that freedom of speech doesn’t result in violence. Lehava needs to be reined in when it crosses the line. And it has repeatedly crossed the line. At the same time, Lehava’s ideas cannot be banned.”
Hard-Right Turn
In recent years, there have been political efforts to derail Gopstein, but they have largely failed. In 2015, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon tried to designate Lehava as a terrorist group. A year later, he was forced out of the government and replaced by Avigdor Lieberman, a hawkish figure who once said that disloyal Arab citizens of Israel should be beheaded. “Extremist and dangerous forces, Ya’alon warned as he resigned, “have taken over Israel.”
Since Kahane’s days, Israel has moved far to the right. Today, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 48 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Israel should expel its Arab citizens, who constitute nearly 20 percent of its population. Twenty years ago, 32 percent of Israelis considered themselves left-wing. Today, that figure is 19 percent, according to the IDI, the Jerusalem-based think tank. A November report by IDI found that 51.5 percent of Jewish Israelis feel that to preserve Israel's Jewish identity, Arabs and Jews should live separately, and 58 percent say that people who aren’t willing to say Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people should have their citizenship revoked. Today, the government is even considering legislation that some observers say would make Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority state more important than its democratic values. This would be the first step, some observers claim, toward establishing the country Kahane envisioned.
Part of this hard-right shift, analysts say, has to do with the trauma of the violent second intifada, or uprising. Between 2000 and 2005, Israelis lived through a long series of almost daily suicide bombings in cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It also reflects a loss of faith in the peace process. After Israel and the Palestinians signed the historic Oslo Accords in 1993, many had hoped the bloody, decades-long conflict would end. Instead, both sides are locked in a stalemate, and Israel has fought two wars with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.
Arab-Israeli Muslim groom, Mahmoud Mansour, and his Israeli bride Morel Malcha sit in Mansour's family home in Tel Aviv on August 17, 2014, ahead of their wedding ceremony. Their union was met with extreme protests from Lehava, which militates against the "Jewish assimilation and intermarriage." Daniel Bar-On/AFP/Getty

Gopstein says he’s merely expressing what most Israelis believe, which he insists isn’t racist. "Arabs who accept this state as a Jewish state can stay here. Those who don’t need to leave,” he tells me. “We don’t want to kill Arabs just because they’re Arabs. That’s racism. But Arabs who want to take our country from us? God gave Israel to the Jewish people, and people who don’t believe that shouldn’t be here. ”
A resident of Kiryat Arba, the radical Jewish settlement inside the mostly Palestinian city of Hebron, Gopstein rejects the claim that he encourages or even inspires his followers to commit violence. “I’m against doing illegal things,” he insists. “The solution is not to burn the Arab-Jewish schools; the solution is to close them.” And yet he doesn’t condemn those illegal acts and even defends Goldstein’s Hebron massacre. “I don’t think that what Goldstein did was bad. I just wouldn’t do it myself. He saw Arabs killing his friends and family, and he saw them being happy about their deaths. So he took revenge.”
Gopstein claims to have no interest in following Kahane’s footsteps into politics. Yet his influence is felt, even without him serving in the Israeli parliament. Members of the country’s ruling party have invited him multiple times to speak in the Knesset. The Jerusalem municipality allowed Lehava to post billboards in November, advertising the Kahane memorial and thanking Gopstein for his work. In 2015, the Education Ministry banned an award-winning novel about an Arab-Jewish romance from the national high school curriculum, after Gopstein launched a campaign against it.
Like Kahane, Gopstein’s ultimate dream is an Israel that operates according to Jewish law, or Halacha, where the only Arabs who live there are those loyal to a Jewish theocracy. “At this rate,” he says of Palestinian citizens of Israel, “it’s either us or them.”
This story has updated the titles of Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler and Fady Khoury​

MKS TOLD MORE EDUCATION IS NEEDED TO COMBAT INTERMARRIAGE



Likud MK Hotovely hosts hearing on marriages between Jewish women, Arab men in honor of Jewish Identity Day in the Knesset

By Rebecca Anna Stoil


Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2011 01:31
Tzipi Hotovely 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Marriages between Jewish women and Arab men took center stage at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women this week, when committee chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) hosted a hearing on the subject in honor of Jewish Identity Day in the Knesset.

“We must confront the fact that the country has not valued education, which is the only way to prevent Jewish women from forging life connections with non-Jews,” Hotovely said.

The struggle against assimilation only reaches headlines through stories about Jewish women marrying Muslim men, but it is important to remember that the phenomenon is much wider – 92,000 mixed families live in the State of Israel. There is a need to create a curriculum for girls in high schools that deals with Jewish identity. The fact that girls reach a state of intermarriage testifies to the fact that the education system was absent.”

Jewish Identity Day in the Knesset on Tuesday was sponsored by the Tzohar organization and by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), and featured a number of committee meetings, all focusing on aspects of Jewish identity in Israel. But not all the lawmakers thought that the subject was appropriate material for a committee hearing.

“There cannot be a hearing that seeks to determine with whom it is permissible to be married. It is a personal issue – there are things that the state should not be involved with,” complained MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al). “This hearing gives legitimacy to an anti-democratic and very dangerous situation in which the Knesset is expected to back up Halacha – the concept of Jewish identity does not need to make racism kosher.”

Sanaa elicited a chuckle from fellow MKs when he cited the Bible as proof of his argument.

“Ruth the Moabite wasn’t Jewish, but her descendant was King David,” he said. “I’d like to see what would happen if in France they held a hearing about what happens when Christians marry Jews.”

Yad L’Achim’s Zehava Drori said her organization took care of women who “are affiliated with all kinds of minorities.
The scale of the problem is very wide – we feel that there is a constant silencing of the phenomenon,” she said.

Yad L’Achim representatives said there was a growing phenomenon of “girls who are converted to Islam without even being aware of the significance of what is happening to them. The sheikh comes to their house, and converts them.”

Under Israeli law, mixed-religion couples cannot be married in Israel, and thus the women are converted to Islam. But the women, said organization representatives, do not understand that their children, though Jews according to Halacha, will be registered as Muslim.

Yad L’Achim says it is currently working with approximately 1,000 women, while in 2008, it only had about 500. Most of the women, it says, came from backgrounds of severe economic or emotional distress.

“It is not racist to oppose intermarriage – marriages between Jewish women and Muslim men are like water and oil,” said Sarit, a Jewish woman who had been married to an Arab man. “It is not racist because they are not bad, but there are differences in mentalities that are impossible to deny.”

Ben-Zion Gopstein of the Lehava organization said that “there are a number of organizations that work with these girls after they ask for help, but we need to reach them before they get to the [Arab] villages.

“This is Lehava’s goal. We go to schools and to entertainment areas and explain to girls what it means to be a Jewish woman. There are those who date and marry Arabs – including those from religious schools, and haredi girls.”

Gopstein said that in one religious girls’ school he had visited in Bat Yam, 20 percent of the girls at the age of 14 were dating Arabs. “The problem is the legitimacy that is given today to intermarriage,” he said.

“The Jewish Agency invests millions in the war against assimilation overseas, but here in Israel, every girl wants to be Bar Refaeli,” he continued, referring to the Israeli supermodel who is dating non-Jewish film star Leonardo DiCaprio.

Gopstein noted that “in this very Knesset, there is an MK who is married to a German man,” a reference to Labor MK Einat Wilf. But, he complained, “it is not politically correct to speak out about it. We don’t discuss this as being unacceptable.”